drowning in the sea of nutrition “science”
I am quite tired right now but not to the point of going to sleep, just groggy enough to perhaps not write as great a blog entry as I would like to, but anyway,..
Alright then, I am not any kind of dietitian or nutritionist, so please don’t expect me to give any “expert” advice here. I am a confused dude trying to figure things out.
There are a few things I do believe to be true regarding nutrition : fast food and donuts and so forth – not healthy, and foods that are heavily processed with lots of chemicals – not healthy either. Another important thing, I believe some foods are good and some foods not. Some can help reduce pain – be it physical or mental, some foods make pain worse.
Other than that, what is true? It seems there are millions of people out there with various types of diets. I am not looking to lose weight, I am wanting to be healthy and feel good, but even then it seems there is a ridiculous amount of opinions out there regarding what is healthy to eat and what isn’t.
I am only listing a few diet names and plans and ideas here. But, if you talk to anyone interested in nutrition, you are likely to get a different story from just about any person you talk to. And look out for those folks who are selling supplements or other foods as part of a pyramid scheme! The products might truly be great and healthy and all that, but be careful, these people are trying to make money off you!! Their enthusiasm for their product is at least somewhat due to the fact that when they look at you they see dollar signs!!
Another thing to keep in mind, if a person is peddling a product or expounding on a nutritional plan, ask yourself, “Does this person look healthy?”
Granted, there are a host of medical conditions that are not visible, but, if the person on this or that diet or is selling this or that “miracle” product doesn’t look too healthy, steer clear. Signs of poor health could be bad skin, obesity, person being rather pale (well, maybe not that, some of us white folks just are pale, that’s how it goes), lack of energy, too much energy as evidenced by hyper-activity (or drug habit) anyway.. you get the idea, if a person swears by a certain diet or product, but looks unhealthy, use your common sense.
I met the woman who owns and operates an herbs store out here (not a really cool Chinese type of herbal place, just one of these hole in the wall stores with a bunch of bottles full of capsules or little glass dropper jars). She was overweight with bad skin, a somewhat surly demeanor, I’m thinking hmm… Not saying herbs don’t work, many do, but they ain’t workin’ well for that lady. It’d be kinda like walking into a health club and the person behind the counter having a beer belly – not exactly a place you’d want to return to.
So, my mom and aunt are friends with some people who are into various diets that they swear by. The two most recent diets are called the Blood Type diet and the Anti-Fungal diet.
I read part of the blood-type diet book and it didn’t seem to be backed by any hard science at all, no tests really and the author had a degree in some obscure field I hadn’t heard of before.
The theory behind this diet is that there are certain foods that are bad or good for you depending on your blood type. There are huge lists – yes and no lists for each blood type. For example, the type O diet is much more meat-heavy than the type A diet, but I don’t remember why.
I tried to go on this thing but am not for sure about my blood type. My mom kept insisting we tested our blood with a do-it-yourself kit we got in the mail, and that I was type O. I remember the test being inconclusive and a total waste of money. Good thing I did not pay for it. But, I tried the O diet somewhat anyway, didn’t improve anything for me. Type O folks are supposed to have bodies that can handle red meat very well, in fact, supposedly, they need red meat. But, I have a dairy allergy, and have suspected I am sensitive to beef as well. Hmm..
The Anti-Fungal diet is based on the theory that cancer and a myriad of other diseases and health problems are caused by fungi in our diet. Some high-fungi foods are anything with processed sugar, whole wheat (the anti-fungal guy says if we are going to eat wheat the white bread stuff has less fungus so we should eat that – this flies in the face of the whole grain theory), alcohol, anything with a lot of yeast, potatoes (but not tomatoes, even though tomatoes are also a nightshade plant).
Then there is the gluten-free diet, espoused by many folks, including Dr. Mark Hyman, who wrote a book called the Ultra-mind Solution, and had a special of the same title on PBS. I listened to his audiobook, which was mostly incomprehensible to me, because I am not a scientist. Just because a guy uses a lot of scientific jargon doesn’t mean he’s correct, I was thinking – it’s like a foreign language, I could not tell if what he was saying made sense or not, but at least there was some science behind it – real science or junk science? I don’t know. But, his ultra-mind diet has people going off gluten for 6 weeks, which takes some major planning, but I might do it anyway.
Is it important if the people who write the diet books have degrees? Does it matter? I honestly don’t know. There are hundreds of supposed experts out there with MD’s and PhD’s and many many of these people disagree with each other. Also, doctors get very minimal instruction on nutrition. They learn infinitely more about what pills to prescribe for what ailments, thus keeping both themselves and people in the pharmaceutical industry employed, and in many cases rich – especially the people working for the pharmaceutical companies.
As you may notice, I keep coming back to the question, “who can we trust?” And, unfortunately, I don’t have an absolute answer. I do have many more questions, such as regarding these foods and food issues:
Organic vs. not-organic – Pesticide free food sounds like it’d be better than non-pesticide-free food. I hope this is the case. And organic farmers supposedly take better care of the earth.
The Soy Controversy – Some nutritionists swear by soy, saying it is a miracle food which reduces inflammation and lowers rate of cancer. Others say it is a phyto-estrogen and bad, especially for men. Me, I don’t think I need extra estrogen, thank you.
Some months ago, I typed in “dangers of soy” or something like that in google, and the first link that showed up was a sponsored link from some national soy council or other group like that – basically a lobbying firm for the soy industry, and they had two people with advanced degrees on there of course saying soy was wonderful. Scrolling down found other links saying soy was horrible for people.
I just tried again, with those same key words “dangers of soy” and got a sponsored link saying most soy is bad. Let’s pause a moment while I type in “benefits of soy..” Drum roll please..
Oh. Lots of benefits! Of course! But with that google search, still some contradictory links to sites with other people with advanced degrees, saying soy is bad. Hmm.. Dr. Andrew Weill thinks soy is good, is he a trustworthy guy, just because he seems like a guru with a big bushy beard? I like the guy somewhat, but is he right? Maybe he is right about most things, but what about soy?
How can there be such a drastic dichotomy? This is worse than the previous debate over eggs. I think most recently it has been largely determined that eggs are mostly healthy, especially if they are from free-range range chickens, fed with a natural diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
So, what to do about soy? This is an especially serious question if one is or is contemplating becoming a vegetarian or vegan. Where do veggie folks get their protein if not from soy? Beans and nuts I guess..
Some sources I’ve read say tempeh is an ok form of soy to eat, because of how it is processed, and miso might be ok too.. but…
One other nasty thing regarding soy. Something like 90% of soybeans harvested these days are genetically modified soybeans created by the mega-corp. Monsanto. Do you want genetically modified food? Chances are you are already eating it anyway, but if you are like me, you probably don’t want food that eggheads have been messing with and tampering with in a lab. Kinda scary.
As for me, I am not currently a vegetarian. It is hard to do considering I live in a family of meat eaters, and also, when I’ve gone vegetarian, even after many months I still had cravings for meat and also vegetarian meals never filled me up, no matter how much I ate.
Still though, I might go off most meat again.. more on that later.
What about gluten? It’s in a LOT of stuff. Gluten is a part of wheat that acts as an adhesive. It supposedly is quite bad for people with ADD, Asperger’s, Autism. But not all who go off gluten notice health benefits, nor do their caregivers notice any health improvements.. hmmm…
As far as the anti-fungal diet and blood-type diet.. not ready for those yet. I don’t even know what blood type I have, and I might try going gluten-free (because I probably have Asperger’s Syndrome) first, and also because I am damn curious about Dr. Hyman’s Ultra-Mind solution. His theory being what we eat drastically effects our mental health. Considering food is digested and whatever we eat goes into our bloodstream and into and out of the brain and so forth, this makes sense.
What about meat and why am I often iffy about eating it?
Red meat, as I mentioned, I have a sensitivity to dairy. I finally got myself almost entirely off dairy and .. still have sinus problems, still have tinnitus, but sinus problems are a little less, and tinnitus sometimes less bad, and I’m not sad to be off dairy. Cheese was so fattening anyway.
I don’t really mind being off red meat, although I hadn’t been off it for long.
I am considering eliminating poultry as well as eggs, too. I’ve been eating 2 or 3 eggs for breakfast each afternoon (yeah, I get up late). Eggs, according to Dr. Hyman, contain gluten. According to Dr. Hyman, many foods contain gluten, not just grains. Eggs? Gluten? Really?
Meat – ok, you have probably already read that some people who eat meat insist on eating grass-fed organic meat. This is probably a good idea, considering most cows, pigs, chickes, turkeys, etc. are raised in really nastily unhealthy places and fed corn, which is not what they would normally eat. If you want to buy grass-fed meat, just google it – plenty of farmers selling it online, but the cost will be higher. Not a bad idea I think, if you can afford it.
Most meat you buy in the supermarket, and any meat you eat at a fast food place is likely to be loaded with chemicals, anti-biotics, hormones, etc. My mom read an article about how most meat is so filled with hormones that some men even start to grow breasts. Dear mother of course lost the article, so I don’t have the source for you to look up, I’m just telling you what she told me.
If you want to seriously take a look at food, I would recommend viewing “Food Inc.” It is NOT easy to watch, but I believe it is important. I will probably watch it again soon.By the way, the soybean/Monsanto connection I mentioned earlier – I learned about that from the film “Food Inc.” Can we trust the people who made that film? I don’t know.
Other food issues..
Omega fatty acids.. some foods like cold-water fish (which are?), olive oil, and flax seeds have Omega-3 fatty acids, which are supposedly extremely beneficial, and even help with pain management and depression. Other foods, like most meat, and soybean oil, sunflower, and safflower oil have Omega-6 fatty acids which are considered not good, especially if you have more Omega-6 in your system than Omega-3. Is this all true? I don’t know.
Nightshade plants are said to be bad – these are potatoes, tomatoes and egg plant. Some people can handle one, but not others…
Fish… as I mentioned, some fish are supposed to be excellent because they have Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish also tend to be less fattening than other meat, and still have lots of protein. But, wild-caught fish have mercury in them to some degree, and farm-raised fish are usually far worse! These fish are often fed chemicals, perhaps hormones, anti-biotics, lots of yucky stuff.
Dr. Hyman says that smaller fish are likely to contain less mercury, because they are smaller. Is this true? I don’t know.
Sea food.. Buying a seafood meal at Long John Silver’s or Taco Bell? That shrimp you are eating was probably raised in a shrimp farm.. in China. The Chinese really don’t give a shit about much.. including how they raise their exported sea food. They’ll dump anything into those shrimp ponds.. It’s up to you if you want to eat that. If you are in a supermarket looking at a bagged shrimp meal, look for the product of China label. You will probably find it.
Is it even possible to buy wild-caught seafood these days? I hope so. I can’t usually afford it if it is wild caught, and will NOT be eating any seafood from a fast food restaurant.
Rotation diets.. this is just not eating the same food all the time. I’ve heard that eating the same few foods all the time because the body is not getting enough nutrients and also eating the same thing all the time can cause the body to build up an allergy to the overly consumed food. This is something I definitely need to work on. I am guessing the rotation diet plan is a good one.
Plastic – food being shipped in plastic wrap, keeping food in plastic containers. Guess what? Plastic is chemicals! Yep, lots of nasty chemicals get in your food because of plastic. I even read that plastic has some form of synthetic estrogen (how come we never hear that this has a testosterone-type chemical component in it? I’m assuming an imbalance of testosterone is bad, even for men). I’m guessing plastic containers probably are bad for us, but if you buy your food in a store. It was probably packed and shipped a long way in a plastic container even before you bought it.
Microwaves.. I’ve been wondering about microwaves for awhile. I don’t know about much science, but still have been wondering. I read somewhere that microwaving food causes the food not only to get hotter, but the molecules to be altered in some nefarious manner. This is probably true. I’ll have to do more research on this later. But damn, it just seems strange to zap food like that.
Teflon-coated pans. I heard these are bad – teflon being a bad chemical. Other types of pans being better.. Ok, what kinds? What is best?
Why am I writing this blog?
I am hoping to get comments, so write people, let me know your thoughts.
What will I do about nutrition and who will I believe?
If I lived alone, I’d try to go gluten-free, and might try this anyway, even though it is much harder with tempting food in the fridge blocking the way of my food. I suppose I could buy my own fridge, but I don’t have the money.
I might go mostly meat free, because in some ways I’ve been feeling worse lately, and I’ve been eating a lot of meat. It seems I feel more pain, not just more tinnitus, but pain in my arms as well.
One food guru, Dr. Perricone, if I remember correctly, talks about an anti-inflammation diet, and, again, if I remember correctly, pain has to do with inflammation, and inflammation has to do with meat. I could be wrong.
But, it seems I feel worse on meat. Maybe.
Past three days, though, I’ve overall been better psychologically, without any dietary change except the most recent, which was not eating red meat. I’ve hardly had any red meat the past 2 weeks. Would that account for the past 3 days? Or is eating all this chicken in various forms good for my mental state?
I DON’T KNOW!
Damn this is frustrating. We can try SO hard to get better that we end up sicker.
Some people can eat anything they want, even smoke, and be healthier physically and mentally than me.
But, I gotta deal with me, and you gotta deal with you.
Ok, so far, I’ve cut out dairy, and red meat, considering cutting out chicken and eggs, not quite ready to take the gluten-free plunge, curious about becoming a vegan so that I may be nicer to animals, and would love to meet some wonderful (but NOT fanatical) vegan babe (someone other than Alicia Silverstone) who can initiate me into the vegan way – minus the soy perhaps.
But in the meantime, I will not be a vegan. Will still eat fish, but maybe that’s it for animal products.
I guess that will do for now? I don’t know. One of the problems of dealing with mental health issues is having less energy (or a bad kind of unpleasant-feeling energy) and a more foggy or distracted brain – making it harder to make positive changes.
But I feel the need to do SOMETHING, damnit!!
What are you doing? What works for you?
Actually, maybe I should not ask that. It is probably all subjective as each of us has a body that is in many ways unique and different from everybody else’s. Still though, I am curious what you have to say.
Whoever you are, I hope that, unlike me, you are not drowning in the sea of nutrition “science.”