This one. You can do it now; I’ll wait here. Oh, you need more encouragement? Read on.
This may be the one and only time I will shamelessly promote the work of any individual I didn’t give birth to.
Why? Because I think this actually matters (unlike so much of the other stuff I do).
Nina Teicholz’s book has been getting great publicity and stands a good chance of making the New York Times bestseller list. And with our help, she will. So let’s do it.
There is the obvious benefit that more people will read her book–books that are on the NYT bestseller list are frequently purchased by people who buy their books based on whether or not they are on the NYT bestseller list–and then maybe my future dissertation on the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines will actually find a publisher one day.
But wait! There’s more. For the one low price of Teicholz’s book, you, my dear reader, will get free at no extra charge, an additional bonus offer of the chance to change the conversation about nutrition in America.
It’s an excellent book in many respects (see below), but its greatest contribution is to clearly outline the tangle of politics and personalities, funding streams and tenure tracks that has essentially shut down any substantial debate on this matter, a debate that by all rights should be taking place right now on campuses and in conference rooms across the country. She convincingly describes the headwinds that any researcher who questions the status quo is going to be fighting: lack of institutional funding, lack of collegial support, or just deafening silence. It’s not a level playing field out there, and as Eric Westman says to Teicholz, “this situation will not allow science to ‘self-correct.'”
This is exactly what I found in the Department of Nutrition at University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a situation that I’ve heard described repeatedly–usually in whispers, after I promise never to divulge details–particularly from other graduate students in nutrition. This is not how science is supposed to work.
Teicholz also–in a chapter entitled “How Women and Children Fare on a Low-Fat Diet”–shows us why it is so important that the debate not be silenced or ignored. Because this is not just about science, but about a world view that has placed the health concerns of adult (mostly white) males above those of women and children. This is about civil rights. Our current dietary recommendations are based on moldy datasets involving a particularly narrow demographic and applied to all Americans, regardless of age, race, gender, or cultural heritage. As if this is not bad enough, these same policies, which have remained virtually unchanged for 35 years, have failed–miserably–to improve the health of Americans of any demographic. This is a travesty of public health, and we should all be horrified and outraged.
But what should horrify us most is that, despite the biased data, despite the abysmal public health outcomes, despite the decades worth of controversy, there is no serious academic, scientific, or policy debate on this issue. Not at Harvard, not at UNC, not at Yale, not in Washington, DC. There is a refusal to even acknowledge that–in the face of all of these contradictions and confusion–a debate would be appropriate. Teicholz’s work has prompted the very same “the science is settled so let’s stopping talking about it” pushback that her book so deftly demonstrates is at the heart of the problem. The CEO of the American Heart Association acts as if just occurred to her to recently defend the world against the dangers of those who might suggest that saturated fat is okay to eat, and never mentions Teicholz’s name once. Yup. Shut down the debate and ignore the person who started it at the same time. Go AHA.
It is this “science is settled” perspective that the public should find most alarming. It doesn’t matter what part of the carb-fat-calories-whatever-whatever issues you agree or disagree with. Clearly, there is plenty of room for debate. Clearly, the science isn’t settled. But the absence of any serious discussion tells us that the experts think this whole nutritiony sciencey thing is too complicated for us to worry our pretty widdle heads about and that any real debate would confuse our very tiny brains. We should just chillax and let the experts tell us what to do. That way, we get fat and sick, they get grants and tenure, and everyone lives (more or less) happily ever after.
If you are not mad as hell already, you should be. If you read this book, you might be.
And this, dear reader, is where you can make a difference.
Teicholz’s book is not just a good book. It’s a message–to book publishers, to policymakers, to the media, to researchers, to students interested in pursuing a career in nutrition. It’s a message that says: we want this issue to be taken seriously, we welcome debate and discussion, and we will accept some honest confusion and doubt in place of the charade of science we’ve been given. I encourage you all to buy a copy for yourself. And then buy a copy for every friend and family member you think might read it (or use it to press daisies, I’m not picky). Get a copy for your family doctor and your nephew in medical school. A copy for that high school senior that’s about to graduate. A copy for that guy at the farmers market who is always going on about how “lean” his pasture-raised pork is.
We need to put this book on the New York Times bestsellers list and keep it there until Teicholz is on Oprah and Oz and The View and 60 minutes and Rachael Ray and Space Ghost Coast to Coast. We need to get this party started and keep it going. You certainly don’t have to agree with all she says to appreciate that the conversation needs to continue.
Buying a copy (or multiple copies) of this book says: We are not going to take this (silence) anymore. Hey Harvard, hey AHA, hey USDA and DHHS. Let’s talk.
Convinced? You can stop here, head to Amazon or your local bookstore & stock up, then pour yourself an adult beverage and kick back, knowing you’ve done your part. Oh, you want a real book review? Glutton for punishment you are. Fine. I wrote more words. Or you can catch a fine review here or here.
Adele’s Book Review:
If you are wondering how we got into the food-health mess we are in, and you are not satisfied with the “fat piggy Americans” or “Big Evil Food Industry” answers that get tossed around the internets, you really need this book.
If you bought Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories and really, truly meant to read it all the way through, but somehow could not, this is the book to really truly read instead.
Maybe you are thinking, hell, Adele, I actually did slog through Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories, and you want me to read another book on the same topic? Good grief! Can’t I just watch the FatHead movie again and call it a day?
I feel that pain. Like Taubes’ books, Teicholz’s book is thoroughly researched and well referenced. But it’s a very different book.
First of all, Teicholz writes like a dream. I get that parts of Taubes’ book tend to be as readable as an instruction manual for Windows 98 as written by David Foster Wallace. Teicholz has the facility of Michael Pollan, with a sharper intellect, more warmth, and a less condescending attitude. She assumes her audience is smart enough to follow her through the maze of science without wanting to stop to examine every risk ratio ever produced. At the same time, she brings us with her into those difficult moments in an interview when she has to ask a nice person a hard question. And she does ask some tough questions.
Second, she covers some very different territory than other books on this topic. One of the complaints leveled at the people who blame our current high rates of obesity and diabetes on carbohydrates is that this approach neglects to fully explore the possibility that a dramatic increase in consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (particularly soybean oil) may have also been a primary contributor to the increase in obesity and chronic disease. Teicholz examines this issue, along with the science behind transfats and the Mediterranean diet, with some surprising revelations. So while the subtitle “Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” sounds like it could have been tacked onto Good Calories, Bad Calories or Death by Food Pyramid (both fine books), Teicholz’s approach reveals a much more complex cascade of assumptions and accommodations that accompanied the calls to reduce the use of animal products in our diets.
Finally, even if you don’t care much about the whole fat-carb-blah-blah debate, her look at the personalities and politics of how nutrition science gets made is absolutely fascinating. Being in a communication and rhetoric program now, I hear a lot about the “constructedness” of science, that claims of fact don’t just emerge from the ether, but from a particular social and political context (which isn’t to say that researchers just “make up” science–you can’t “construct” a pancreas that secretes maraschino cherry juice–but what “facts” are presented to the public by scientists are shaped by many other influences besides the material world). Teicholz’s perspective is sympathetic–scientists are allowed to like sunny tourists spots too–but she doesn’t pull any punches. If you can’t separate science from sunshine, you should have stayed home.
Teicholz introduces the Atkins-Ornish “diet wars” (somewhere in me is a blog post on Dean Ornish and how crusading against Atkins apparently gave him, literally, a reason to live when he was a depressed and suicidal med student) and updates us on some of the folks–Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek, Eric Westman–doing the very real work of testing the ideas raised by Atkins. This is story that needs to be told, and Teicholz has just covered a few of the players, but she acknowledged the folks–including Gary Taubes–who have done a great deal to make sure that the debate that is so badly needed doesn’t disappear completely.
It’s a fascinating time in history. The very beginnings of righting a mighty colossal mistake. Teicholz’s book will fill you in on the major players to get you started. Stay tuned and between the two of us, we’ll keep giving you the play by play–and we’ll keep the conversation going. You can help. Buy the book.
37 thoughts on “Buy this book”
We thought of you, your wisdom, and your devotion to changing “the conversation about nutrition in America” when we received a notice that BFS and MND2 are linked together in a new book review in The Key Reporter.
It’s wonderful to see the pieces of the puzzle being put together like this. Thanks so much for sharing!
Evelyn AKA CarbSane is spot on as usual. I don’t know how you could continue to promote this book after being informed of Teicholz’ blatant misrepresentations of the Pima Indians and Shai study, among other things.
As I think I made pretty clear in my post, I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with the contents of the book. But it is clear to me that there is enough diversity of perspective to warrant a policy-level conversation about saturated fat. My argument in this post–as I’ve said–is not about whose science is bigger in a battle of the blogosphere, but that it is time to take dissenting perspectives–perspectives that have been present since the beginning of the creation of the first national dietary recommendations–seriously in the policy, programs, and practices arena.
Testing … to see if this goes through before I reconstruct response 🙂
No, no thanks. I don’t need another book on nutrition and diet. My head hurts from all the arguing anyway. It doesn’t get us anywhere. There is no one right answer.
Besides, I learned all I need to know from Eat Fat and Grow Slim by Richard Mackarness, M.B.,B.S. (1958)
Eat what you want. See what works.🙂
Kenny, you just need to go ahead and write you OWN book 🙂
What!? Are you saying I’m not doing my part in changing the world? 😀
Okay, I’ve been to the Michael Pollan 🙄 school of pithy, succinct, quippy nutrition writing. He was eating some kale, but not too much.
Here’s the first draft of my book:
Eat what works.
…yada yada yada…*
You are healthy.
* Details once I’ve gathered penciled notes on old envelopes and other paper scraps
PS: Another of my comments might be stuck in the spam filter.
I like it. Call it the Yada Yada Diet? I’ll check the spam filter, but I’m technically on beach vacation sans internet (mais avec sangria). Not so adept at WordPress phone maneuvers esp avec sangria.
Interesting about Keys and the Finnish loggers.
Finland is one of the PUFA success stories, supposedly.
However Finland has very low soil selenium, this was linked to heart disease, and selenium was added to fertilizer there in the 1980s as a public health measure.
This has to be taken into consideration when assessing the Finnish CHD experience. Correcting a population-wide mineral deficiency will always be a big deal. Antioxidants – deficiencies thereof – are a neglected part of this story. Ross Walker in Australia is a pro-SFA cardiologist who gives antioxidants their due.
Can’t wait to read your existentialist analysis of Dean Ornish.
I’ve read a couple of negative reviews of TBFS from the usual suspects that focus on small mistakes in the text.
It seems to me that when that’s the tone of opposition to a book not short in detail and in page numbers, then it has done its job well.
I’m fine with people buying her book and using it to red-pen and orange post-it-note all her mistakes, and then call a conference–with experts on either side of the issue, oh, and maybe some real people on either side of the issue too–to talk about it and about the recent papers on sat fat and John Ioannidis’ work on epidemiology (while we are at it), etc. etc. But I’m tired of the “deafening silence” in the “real” world outside the blogosphere. When Gary Taubes’ book came out, Marion Nestle said she was “eager to read” Good Calories, Bad Calories. But somehow, she either never got around to reading it, or never got around to telling the public what she thought of it. Why not?
I’m really curious as to how the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will handle the science on sat fat that has come out since the 2010 report. More deafening silence?
Yes, Ornish. I’m glad somebody besides me thinks this would be something fun to read about 🙂
“When Gary Taubes’ book came out, Marion Nestle said she was “eager to read” Good Calories, Bad Calories. But somehow, she either never got around to reading it, or never got around to telling the public what she thought of it. Why not? ”
Indeed. I have complained about this on her blog several times, but Ms. Nestle does not respond to comments – from anybody. Her blog is one-way only, apparently. But the fact is that Gary Taubes is the big elephant in her room and she has been doing her damndest to ignore him all along…except when she agrees with him. Which she apparently does when it comes to sugar – she cited him as a reference in a post a few months ago that was very anti-sugar. So I thought “Hey, if he’s right on this one why is he so wrong on fat?”
I used to respect her but that has diminished considerably as I have watched this play out. Despite that, I still read her blog for the simple reason that she relays items related to the politics of food, but her nutritional advice…well, sorry, Marion. You just have too much invested in your point of view to allow for a change. And that’s not good science.
I am looking forward to reading Teicholz’ book.
Very well said. I get down on MN a lot, but you’re right, she is an excellent newsfeed for things related to the politics of food. That said, as a gatekeeper, there’s a lot of stuff that her readers will never hear about because she disagrees with it in principle. When we wrote a criticism of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report, she refused to even mention it because–according to MN–we were all “Atkins fanatics,” which was a little bit of a surprise to me as at that point I’d never read any Atkins book. That doesn’t bother me (I think I’ve been inaccurately labeled in worse ways, so whatever), but that was the first time it occurred to me that the information on Food Politics was so heavily one-sided. At that point, I also didn’t know about MN’s own role in creating the status quo she defends (and I was unaware of how little she actually knows about nutrition).
Let me add, in the article’s defense, a member of the committee whose report we were criticizing has told me it’s an excellent article and fairly represents the way science is handled by the USDA/DHHS process. She’s gone on to reference it numerous times.
Maybe after the Ornish blog, I’ll get around to the “Insider Politics of Food Politics” blog post?
Adele, this book is not thoroughly researched, it is abominably referenced. In the second chapter she totally misrepresents the findings of Hrdlicka and attributes the diet of Central Plains Lakota to the Native Americans in the Southwest.
You are impressed by the chapter on women and children? Really? Women and children have fared well on diets FAR lower in fat than 30% — try closer to 10% — around the globe through miillenia. I would urge you to read Hrdlicka’s book and look at the appendix. Or do a very quick search on Google Scholar for the traditional Pima diet. (Teicholz doesn’t mention them specifically in the book, but used Gary Taubes’ “Fat Louisa” graphic in her TEDx talk, in which she also mangled the diet of the Masai). Their diet was heavily dependent on carbohydrate — legumes, grains and cactus fruits.
Lastly, though I could cite tens more cases of issue with this book, I’ll mention the Shai study in Israel. She brings it up several times stating Atkins was healthier and better than the Mediterranean diet. Only there were few if ANY statistically significant differences between those diets. A 6 year followup was published over a year ago. Dr. Eades, who reviewed her manuscript is well aware of this as he blogged on it as proof of fattening carbs. Really? Because the Atkins folks had gained back the most weight. Interestingly, the subset of the study group that lost the most weight in the initial study? The women … on the Mediterranean diet. But I guess Teicholz didn’t bother to read the complete study, and she dismisses the others where Atkins diet didn’t fare as well because they were less well “controlled”. Shai was just another free living study with a minor “help” in that appropriate foods were available in the workplace cafeteria for lunch. This is journalistic malfeasance on her part.
But the devil’s name is Ancel Benjamin Keys. SIGH
Evelyn, we don’t have the option of sending all the women and children to Kitava, or back in time to Pima-land.
The superiority of low-carb over Mediterranean diet was in metabolic risk factors, glycemic control, and so on. These differences were more significant than weight difference.
Anyway, there’s a Mediterranean low-carb diet and ketogenic diet. You can have your cake and eat it, as long as you don’t eat cake.
Never mind the journalists, it’s always wise to defer some authority to the clinicians. They actually see what happens to people other than themselves.
Well put, George. Y’know, in the end, I don’t really care what people eat. But I do feel a responsibility to those folks that I met in clinic who kept asking me why they had never been told that there was any other way to lose weight or reduce blood glucose or feel better in general, except by eating a low-fat low-calorie diet and by exercising. A low-carb diet did not always end up being the right choice for everyone that I worked with, but for the folks for whom it did work, it was a life-changer. Why should they not be given that option? And why should information about low-carb diets be treated as if its a recommendation for arsenic enemas? It’s just food. We have no more solid evidence that a low-fat, low-calorie diet is well-tolerated or “safe” (whatever that means) or effective than we do information about low-carb or Med diets. It is really necessary to have One Diet to Rule Them All? I don’t think so.
Who said they need to go anywhere?
There was no superiority over MDTN, the comparisons were to LF George. Diabetics did better, especially long term, on MDTN. Many of the differences were not statistically significant or clinically significant either way any which way, but Teicholz claims they are.
Nevermind the tons of other studies that show the opposite, no result at all, etc. There’s nothing that special about Shai study for Teicholz to ignore others. She says it’s because it was well controlled. Ha.
Welcome Evelyn. It’s not unusual or surprising for people to look at the same evidence and reach vastly different conclusions. This is what happened in 1977 with the Dietary Goals (see the 2nd edition Supplemental Views) and in 1980 with the Dietary Guidelines (see the 1980 report, Toward Healthful Diets). This is kind of the point, no? Your beef with the reading of the evidence that Taubes and Teicholz give indicates to me that there are real questions, concerns and animadversions that deserve serious debate. Unfortunately, the debate taking place in the blogosphere, while valuable, does not articulate with academic, scientific, or policy arenas (necessarily). The debate with regard to the science is important, but the nature of that debate changed dramatically when the 1977 Dietary Goals chose one interpretation of available evidence over another, and this interpretation became national policy.
I am less interested in the “my science is bigger than your science” perspective than I am in what happens when policy gets involved. Again, it is not unusual for a situation to arise when (it seems like) Something Must Be Done, but exactly what that Something is isn’t quite clear. Policymakers are often in a situation where the evidence that might indicate a course of action is inconsistent, inconclusive, or just inadequate to the policy task, i.e. when different groups of people look at the same evidence and reach vastly different conclusions about what might be done. (My husband, a systems analyst, says the same thing happens in IT work.) But when that is the case, there must be a clear and compelling reason to act on one interpretation of the evidence over a competing interpretation. First, there must be really be a problem. Was there one in 1977? There also must be considerable assurance that the benefits of the action taken will outweigh its risks. In 1977, this was also unclear. In order to determine whether the course of action was warranted, a plan for evaluating the action based on its impact on the defined problem and including unintended or unforeseen consequences is also necessary in order to proceed. There was and there remains no such evaluation of our national dietary recommendations. Finally, should such an evaluation indicate that things are not working out as planned, there needs to be a “back-out” plan. We don’t have one of those either.
The problem–from my perspective–is not low-fat, high-carb Dietary Guidelines to prevent chronic disease; the problem is Dietary Guidelines to prevent chronic disease. The DGA, as policy, were premature, near-sighted, and poorly-planned. The fact that they were based on a low-fat approach to health, rather than some other nutritional angle, is matter of social, cultural, and political context, not science. Apart from adequate and essential nutrition, there may be a relationship between diet and chronic disease, however I am not convinced that the relationships have ever been clear enough or consistent enough to indicate that we can create a national dietary policy for which the benefits outweigh the risks. But policy was created anyway, and here we are. So what now? We can continue to keep doing what we’ve been doing–whatever that is–or we can agree that what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked out all that well and try something different. I have no idea what that “something different” might be, but we’ll never find out if we continue to insist that everything is fine, the science is settled, so just shut up and go home. You don’t want to hear that (I don’t think) and neither do I.
Adele, we are not talking about differences in interpretation here though. You are promoting a book that purports to turn the “science” on its head. I think it is important that the person doing so is disseminating disinformation.
Teicholz states forthrightly that Americans have dutifully followed advice and cut fat from 43% to 33% of the diet. Where did she get this statistic? There are two sets floating around and both show a cut of 3-4% from the high to the mid 30’s. Further, this “cutting of fat” intake is on a percentage basis only, as it is generally agreed upon that we are consuming more calories than we used to. So we added more carb on top of fat and eat quite a high protein diet compared to the vast majority of traditional peoples.
Speaking of which, Teicholz basically lies about these throughout the book. It is not in question that the traditional diet of the tribes in the Southwest are based on legumes, grains and cactus fruits but included some game, fish and clams. This was an upwards of 70% carb diet, no more than 15% fat. Yet she said that Hrdlicka witnessed them eating mostly buffalo where the source of that claim is about a Central Plains tribe in a mass media accounting of the Battle at Little Big Horn published in 2006. Seriously? The Lakota then? Well yes, they ate a lot of wild buffalo meat and tripe and intestines. They also ate a lot of potatoes, turnips and corn.
It is unconscionable to me that anything more than 25% fat TOPS is being portrayed as “low fat” and that somehow eating more fat than we already are/were is a key to health. Does butter belong in a healthy diet? Sure. A stick a day? Highly doubtful. There is so much dishonesty on the facts here when, for example, cultures eating predominantly rotted seal flesh or cultures eating a ton of coconut are held up as examples of healthy high fat diets so — break out the bacon, fry up a steak and put some more butter atop for good measure? Just steer clear of the potato and some of you may want to lay off the fattening greens.
You’re an RD. Tell me, does the protein deamination process require dietary fat? This is what Teicholz claims in footnote XIX in Chapter 10. Rabbit starvation is not due to insufficient fat in the diet to process protein, it is due to insufficient supply of dietary fat OR carb for energy as we can only process so much protein and remove so much urea. If you tried to get calories on a mostly protein diet, the most an unadapted person could likely tolerate is 300g = 1200 cals. Steffanson did not experience “rabbit starvation” due to insufficient fat — they began the experiment at what the dietary macros were estimated to be: 45% protein, 55% fat and negligible carb. The problem they ran into was protein toxicity.
But let’s keep telling fairy tales, half truths and outright lies, because having an honest adult conversation about how the dietary guidelines really were never the problem to begin with would be too difficult.
So if “the dietary guidelines really were never the problem to begin with”–what’s the problem? We don’t follow them? That’s a problem with the guidelines then isn’t it? If you are a policymaker and you make a policy that (apparently) 2/3 of the population refuses to follow–and thus doesn’t seem to prevent the problem that the policy was created to solve–that is a problem. It matters not to me whether you take the stance that the DGA don’t work because people don’t follow them or that they don’t work because people do. Let’s face it. They have not done what they set out to do, which is to prevent chronic disease and obesity. I think this warrants a closer look at their creation and what has happened since then.
You got a better idea?
Thank you Evelyn, you are as always the voice of sanity. It is frightening and makes me furious that even registered dietitians who should have received some basic scientific education fall for the Media hypes fabricated by Taubes & Teichholz and uncritically endorse their gross and intellectually dishonest distortion of the evidence and the state of knowledge in nutritional science.
I heartily endorse disagreement with the contents of this book. Please feel free to discuss on a national level.
Done! Ordered via Amazon.
Awesome. We’ll do dysfunctional parenting summit bookclub 🙂
I would have bought the book anyway just based on your enthusiasm, but when you mentioned Space Ghost Coast to Coast the deal was ON. 1-click.
A discussion of dietary guidelines on SGC2C. If only this would come to pass, my life would be complete. Yay 1-click 🙂
I bought the book the day it came out and then bought a copy for my sister. It’s a subject I’ve followed for awhile and was so happy to hear that it could be a NYT best seller. I so hope that happens because the more people who read it, the better. I’ve gotten angry reading it and I hope others do as well–we definitely need to right the wrongs of the last 40+ years. Thanks so much for the post and review. I’m looking forward to reading more–I hope this is finally the beginning of honest discussion and debate.
I second your anger. That’s what I hope for most too, honest discussion and debate. It’s not like we have to agree or settle the issue. This isn’t a situation where one side gets to win and the other one loses. We’ve tried that already, and the folks who lose are the folks that public health should be trying to protect. The failure to acknowledge our failure in this regard, while shoveling the blame on to the individual, is insult added to injury.
Thanks for this brilliant, passionate post! I ordered Nina Teicholz’s book this morning, you’ll be glad to hear! (I’m a nutritionist specializing in the Mediterranean Diet — not the low-fat, high-carb bastardization of this way of eating; rather, I recommend a highish-fat, low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet that also includes red meat and cheese (argh!).
Btw, I’m very curious about the Ornish post you’re promising — please write it soon!
Thanks for the encouragement! Ah, the stories there are to tell. I do have the summer off & that would be a fun post to write. Stay tuned.
I certainly will. Right now I’m binge-reading some of your previous posts — devoured your broccoli/steak post and paleo challenge redux think piece. Love your refusal to engage with black-and-white thinking; so many beautiful shades of grey! Keep on thinking and writing outta the box!
Is it totally uncool to be a Counting Crows fan these days? “Gray is my favorite color …”
Wow – if there has ever been a bastardized version of the Mediterranean Diet it is certainly your interpretation of it. Seriously, the most striking similarities between the al different cuisines gathering around the Mediterranean basin – next to the abundant use of olive oil and fresh fruits and vegetables – it is their heavy reliance on gluten-rich Durum Wheat as an ancient staple crop and the very limited amounts of red meat and saturated fats (which are highly pro-inflammatory, btw.) in the diet.
Hmm…Addressing the “pro-inflammatory” aspect of red meat:
The problem with nutritional information in general is that there are very few randomized, controlled trials on anything related to nutrition. So, most of the studies are epidemiological, which cannot prove causation. Thus, the many “red meat is bad” studies. None of these prove causation.
Furthermore, the “Mediterranean Diet” has no real structure. It’s whatever you want it to be. A real “Mediterranean Diet” couldn’t be determined within a single country (look at Italy, for instance, with dramatically different diets depending on where you are), let alone across the Mediterranean.
The real problem is these rules are pushed on us without randomized controlled trials. My daughter is in second grade and learning about “my plate”. Based on my own experience with eating a high carb, low fat diet, and then switching to a low carb, high fat diet, the “my plate” is completely wrong. It’s totally incorrect. But these rules — which are unsupported by controlled trials — are being forced down our throats. That shouldn’t be the case.