Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A new supervillain: Wheat

I got a link from Facebook to a interesting 10 minute talk on how wheat is bad for you.  There are no shortage of videos on the net about weight loss and how to live of course but this one seemed pretty legit especially given recent conversations I have had with people who are attempting to cut wheat out of their diets or at least drastically reduce consumption.  The trick with evaluating the truth of these sorts of claims is usually figuring out where the money is.  The video in question suggest you check out the link to the book which has a huge ass webpage explaining how great the program is and how important it is that you buy now.  Well gee, hyuck, if some dude on the internet says so, I better buy now!

Thing is, there is no guarantee that just because somebody is making money off a scheme that they are wrong.  I could sell a book using questionable marketing tactics that tells everyone to get one hour of exercise a day and eat nothing but green vegetables and it would undoubtedly make them healthy and slimmer - nothing wrong with the technique.  The devil is in the details and I expect that the people promoting the 'wheat is the only thing wrong with your diet' propaganda are partly right and partly wrong.  Eating stacks of Starbucks cakes, fast food burger buns and commercial cookies is obviously awful for you - the sugar, the wheat, all bad.  Eating a multigrain loaf of bread is unlikely to be an issue as long as the rest of your diet is reasonable.  Attributing nearly every possible ailment to wheat consumption is a great way to boost your 'don't eat wheat' diet program but not particularly truthful.

I recall the mantra of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Eat food.
Mostly plants.
Not too much.

Where food is something that doesn't come with an ingredients list.  If they have to list the ingredients then it isn't food.  If you can't tell what the ingredients are, it isn't food.  Follow that very simple formula and you can't go too wrong.  People can live and be healthy on everything from a pure meat diet like the Inuit from northern Canada to vegetarian or omnivorous diets all over the world.  The trouble comes from 'food' made in factories and the attendant Metabolic Syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.  Cutting down wheat consumption is probably a great idea for lots of people but we shouldn't confuse it with the obvious, simple solution of making sure we eat food.  You want to be healthy?  Eat this.

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