Respectful Insolence

I prefer my food dead, thank you very much

Most of the woo I write about, fortunately, I don’t have to deal with directly close to home. This is a good thing indeed, because it means that where I practice is blissfully free (for the most part) of pseudoscience. Unfortunately, earlier this year, I was in for an unpleasant surprise when I found out that there was going to be a showing of a rather annoying movie. It also occurred to me that I had never, to my memory, discussed the topic of this movie, namely the health claims of raw (“living”) food veganism. The vitalism at the heart of this movie and its accompanying “educational” DVD reminds me, more than anything else, The Beautiful Truth, which promoted the quackery that is the Gerson protocol. Whenever it occurs to me that there’s a major topic in health that I haven’t discussed in over six years of the existence of this blog, you know that sooner or later I have to rectify the situation.

Unlike The Beautiful Truth, which was about the Gerson protocol and didn’t feature any big names, this movie, Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, features at least a couple of big names. These include Morgan Spurlock, who directed and starred in the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, which featured Spurlock eating nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days and documented the effects that diet had on him, and actor and “raw food activist” Woody Harrelson. Both were interviewed for the movie, and a longer interview with Spurlock is featured as part of a promotional film series on the web that goes along with Simply Raw.

Here are two trailers for the movie. First, trailer #1:

Then, trailer #2:

And here is the introduction to the Raw for Life DVD, a companion “A-Z encyclopedia” of “live food” veganism that is being sold as a companion piece to Simply Raw:

As you can see, Simply Raw follows the story of six people, four of whom have type II diabetes, one of whom has type I diabetes, and one of whom is presented as having initially been diagnosed with type II diabetes but then diagnosed with type I diabetes. These six show up at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona to try to reverse their diabetes “naturally” with a “raw food” diet, having answered an advertisement for subjects in a “raw food challenge” to reverse diabetes. The center is described thusly on its website:

The Tree of Life is the world’s leading spiritual, vegan raw and live food retreat center. It was founded in 1993 to promote spiritual awakening and to support an inspiring, healthy and “alive” lifestyle through education and first-hand experience. The Tree of Life serves as an oasis for the realization of whole-person, whole-planet healing. It is a place where people of all ages, nationalities, and religious and spiritual paths come to experience physical, mental, emotional and spiritual renewal and well being.

Dr. Cousens, the founder of The Tree of Life, describes himself on the website this way:

Dr. Sir Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H), D.D. (Doctor of Divinity), Diplomate of American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, Diplomate Ayurveda, a physician of the soul, teaches and lives the sevenfold peace.

To the process of awakening and healing, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H), weaves a background as a holistic physician, medical researcher, world-recognized live-food nutritionist, psychiatrist, family therapist, homeopath, Rabbi, acupuncturist, Ayurvedic practitioner, expert on green juice spiritual fasting and detoxification fasting, ecological leader, Reiki master, internationally celebrated spiritual teacher, author, lecturer, culture-bridger, world peaceworker, to give a unique holistic approach to nurturing the hungry soul.

A homeopath and a reiki master? Is there any woo that Dr. Cousens isn’t into? It sure doesn’t look that way. Those are two of the most powerful woos in existence.

Leaving that aside, I’m more interested in what the claims made in this movie are and whether there is any science behind them. Even so, it is not irrelevant to look briefly at the person promoting these claims, as I have above, because it is clear that his methodology at The Tree of Life draws from a veritable cornucopia of woo. I should also point out that, before I move on, contrary to the claims in the trailer, science-based medicine (SBM) does not dismiss the contention that diet can have a profound effect on health. From the trailer, it appears that the movie argues the typical false dichotomy that really, really, really irritates the crap out of me. I’m referring, of course, to the lie asserting that SBM denies that food matters, that proper eating and a healthy lifestyle can greatly improve health and even reverse some health problems. What SBM demands is the evidence and science supporting claims for what diet can do for health and to ward off disease, something this movie is very short on.

“Raw food” versus vegan and vegetarian diets

Most people know what a vegetarian diet is and what the difference between a vegetarian diet and a vegan diet is. Basically, a vegetarian diet usually means a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds without meat or fish. There are different flavors of vegetarianism, ranging from considering it acceptable to eat animal products that are not actually the flesh of dead animals, such as milk and the cheese that is made from it or eggs, to veganism, which eschews any animal product and may even exclude any product tested on animals. Some examples include:

  • Ovo-vegetarianism: Allows eggs but no dairy products.
  • Lacto-vegetarianism: Allows dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-lacto-vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism): Allows animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
  • Veganism: Excludes all animal flesh and animal products.
  • Raw veganism: Permits only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

This is by no means a complete list, and it gets more complicated from there, as there are vegetarians who will eat certain meats and fishes from time to time, for instance limiting themselves only to occasional seafood or poultry products. Be that as it may, Simply Raw is obviously concerning itself with a raw vegan diet. The reasoning behind such extreme vegan diets is often more a matter of philosophy than science. In many (but not all) cases, the rationale is vitalistic-sounding. Note, for instance, the language used to describe The Tree of Life vegan diet. The words “live” and “living” are used frequently. That’s because there really is often a strong element of primitive vitalism at the heart of an embrace of raw food vegan diets. In essence, if you peruse raw food websites, it won’t be long before you find references to cooking as “killing” the food or “removing the life” from the food or to fresh, uncooked food as being “alive.” Perhaps the most hilarious example of this comes from a video I referenced when reviewing a movie. It’s not in Simply Raw, but it certainly wouldn’t be out of place there:

The claim in the clip above comes from The Beautiful Truth and argues that the uncooked baby carrot is “alive,” with a photo of a seeming aura of “energy” surrounding it, while the cooked carrot is dead. The conclusion? Cooking and pasteurization “kill” food, and raw food is “living.” Given that Dr. Cousens traces the parentage of his diet all the way back to Max Gerson himself, it wouldn’t surprise me if he saw nothing wrong with the video clip above. Be that as it may, various explanations are postulated for the supposed benefits of “living food,” in particular that cooking destroys enzymes in the “living food,” which is inarguable, but it is also inarguable that stomach acid and the digestive enzymes in the proximal small intestine rapidly reduce proteins, and thus enzymes, into their component amino acids. The sorts of claims that the more woo-ful raw food vegans tend to be along the lines of these excerpts from a FAQ from Living and Raw Foods, which bills itself as the “largest community on the Internet dedicated to educating the world about the power of living and raw foods”:

What are Living and Raw Foods?
Raw and Living Foods are foods that contain enzymes. In general, the act of heating food over 116 degrees F destroys enzymes in food. (Enzymes start to degrade in as little as 106 degrees F). All cooked food is devoid of enzymes, furthermore cooking food changes the molecular structure of the food and renders it toxic. Living and raw foods also have enormously higher nutrient values than the foods that have been cooked.

What are Enzymes?
Enzymes assist in the digestion of foods. They are known to be the “Life-Force” and or “energy” of food.

Food-qi? I wonder. Another example:

Is there a difference between living foods and raw foods?
Living and Raw foods both contain enzymes. In living foods, the enzyme content is much higher. Raw, unsprouted nuts contain enzymes in a “dormant” state. To activate the enzymes contained in almonds, for example, soak them in water for as just 24 hours. Once the almonds begin to sprout, the enzymes become “active” and are then considered living.

This is, of course, a load of hooey, to use a scientific and skeptical term. Using this rationale, the most “living” food of all would be a test tube containing purified enzymes, similar to what I used to work with back in the 1980s during a laboratory job I had one summer as an undergraduate. Of course, enzymes aren’t all. The other claim, such as this one by one of the “experts” who appear on Simply Raw (Dr. Joel Fuhrman), is that cooking somehow destroys living antioxidants, phytochemicals, and a variety of other compounds, without which the body can’t be healthy and “must break down. He describes processed food as “foods whose life has been taken out of them” and makes the claim that, without these micronutrients, cells accumulate “toxins” that need to be “detoxified,” while touting broccoli and various vegetables as having “incredible medicinal power.”

Far be it from me to denigrate diet as a therapeutic tool for chronic disease, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. There is plenty of evidence in SBM that losing weight and exercising can have a profound positive effect on blood pressure, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the very first thing that physicians do when they diagnose someone with hypertension or type II diabetes is to try to get them to lose weight and eat a healthier diet, knowing that significant weight loss can lower blood pressure and even often reverse partially or completely the elevated blood sugar of type II diabetes. Unfortunately, diet is a very, very hard thing to change, and it’s very hard to change one’s lifestyle. The problem with “complementary and alternative medicine” approaches to diet, such as raw food veganism, is that they often claim far more than they can deliver, while justifying dietary choices using by appealing to vitalism and mystical properties. Simply Raw follows this template.

Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days

Using my super blogger contacts, I scored a borrowed copy of Simply Raw to watch and review. The movie starts out as one might expect, introducing the six cast members who responded to a Craig’s List add to take a “raw food challenge” and “reverse their diabetes in 30 days.” This cast includes a perfect reality show-ready group of people with disparate backgrounds, including a construction worker, a retired chiropractor, a casino worker, a graduate student, a receptionist, and a postal worker. Following a typical reality show format, each cast member is introduced individually and portrayed making the long journey to Arizona. After everyone has arrived at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, introductions are made, and the drama begins.

What’s particularly irritating is that at the beginning of the 30 days, Dr. Couzens sits down with the six and tells them that “healing diabetes is easy.” He makes claims, such as that adding that cooking food decreases the protein content by 50% (which is utter nonsense; it’s more like 6%), 70-80% of the vitamins (it actually depends on the vitamin), and close to 100% of the phytonutrients (it also depends on the specific phytonutrient). There is even a scene of Dr. Cousens doing what appears to be live cell analysis on a blood sample of one of the six, pointing out what’s wrong with his blood. Live cell analysis, is, as regular readers here should know, rank quackery. Meanwhile, Morgan Spurlock opines that using diet to treat disease is viewed with contempt by modern medicine, a massive exaggeration. He even claims it’s viewed by “conventional” medical practitioners as being “like a witch doctor.” Hearing that, I couldn’t help but think that Spurlock might have a point, just not in the way he thinks. After all, the “live” food movement, with its blend of vitalism tarted up with science-y-sounding terminology, is actually not too far from a witch doctor telling his tribe about a magical spirits, a “life essence,” in food.

Simply Raw is basically a single-arm, uncontrolled clinical trial consisting of six patients. Actually, it’s not even that. It’s basically six anecdotes from six different people of vastly differing ages, races, and backgrounds. As a result, it’s hard to generalize from the results shown in the movie. Five of the six appear to respond very rapidly to Dr. Cousen’s diet, within days, but one woman named Michelle does not. Once she is taken off of her insulin, her blood sugar readings remain, at least initially, between 350 and 400 mg/dl, way too high. As a result, she seriously thinks about leaving, leading the other five to try to persuade her not to go. Not surprisingly, this is a bit of false alarm, although useful drama for the movie, and Michelle–surprise! surprise!–ultimately decides to stay. At the end of the 30 days, she actually does have a good response to the diet.

Another member of the six, Henry, a casino worker and direct descendant of the hereditary chiefs of the Pima tribe, is portrayed having a particularly difficult time with the diet. In fact, he just can’t stick to it, finding it just too hard. He is portrayed suffering from stomach pain, extreme hunger,, fatigue, lethargy, and depression. When Henry finally leaves, it is stated that he had lost 30 lbs, which strikes me as a rather dangerous amount of weight to have lost in two and a half weeks. (Henry went home on day 17.)

Another thing that disturbs me about this movie is the claim that type I diabetes can be cured with diet. Given that type I diabetes results from a failure of the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin to produce an adequate amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar, holding out the promise of getting a type I diabetic off of his insulin entirely is dangerous. Even so, the type I diabetic in the group (Austin) does succeed in reducing his daily insulin requirement quite dramatically. This is not anything amazing or spectacular. It’s well known that diet can reduce insulin requirements in type I diabetics, sometimes dramatically, but they still need insulin. In rare–very rare–cases, it might–might–be possible to get a type I diabetic off insulin, but only if his pancreas still makes a little insulin.

In one telling scene in the movie, a staff member named Keith asks Austin what he thinks his chances are of getting off of insulin completely. Austin replies, quite reasonably, “Probably a zero percent chance,” to which Keith replies, “I don’t buy that.” Elsewhere in the movie Dr. Cousens cites without description three cases of type I diabetes that he’s “cured.” (Remember, he claims to have treated many thousands of diabetics; so even if this claim can be taken at face value it’s not particularly impressive.) Not surprisingly, it turns out that Austin isn’t the fourth. For a while, in fact, Dr. Cousen’s diet regimen led Austin’s blood glucose to be even harder to regulate because it would drop so low that he needs to drink orange juice or something with sugar in it to bring it back up again. Ultimately, Austin decides to leave for a day trip to Mexico, where he buys two bottles of tequila, drinks a lot, and gorges on tacos and enchiladas before returning and settling down again. One of the more dramatic scenes occurs when Austin is confronted after Keith finds his plastic bottle hiding his tequila mixed with a soft drink. In any case, I can’t help but notice that Simply Raw, even taken at face value, belies Dr. Cousens’ claim that it’s “easy” to cure diabetes. Three of the six subjects had major problems adhering to the diet, so much so that one left halfway through the program and one “fell off the wagon,” so to speak, while one almost gave up during the first week. One wonders whether, in the long term, the remaining five subjects can maintain such a radical diet.

The end of the movie also belies the claims made in the promotional material and in the movie about how resistant “conventional doctors” supposedly are to treating diabetes with diet. Three days after the 30 day program, Pam (the postal worker) goes to see her primary care doctor, who is very happy with her 25 lb. weight loss, her lower blood pressure, and her controlled blood sugar. He immediately discontinues her insulin, hugs her, and congratulates her heartily for having learned that type II diabetes is best treated by “what you put in your mouth.” Later, this same doctor is filmed asking, “How do we ship all of my patients to Arizona?” That hardly sounds hostile to he concept of diet as a treatment for diabetes to me. Of course, the doctor probably doesn’t realize that Dr. Cousens’ regimen is basically boot camp. People stay at his compound, isolated from their family and friends and interacting only with fellow residents and the center’s staff, eat only the meals Dr. Cousen’s staff makes for them or teaches them how to make, and are subject to serious peer pressure from the other residents there not to give up. Even so, even in this self-selected group, even under a situation of isolation from one’s familiar surroundings, one out of six bolted; one out of six had a relapse, and at least one more almost left.

The Trojan Horse of raw food veganism

When I first sat down to watch Simply Raw, I was expecting a lot more woo. A lot more. And, yes, there was woo there, but not nearly as much as I expected. Most of it came in the beginning and near the end, when there was a lot of talk of “living” food full of enzymes and the importance of giving up the “dead food” and interviews in which it was claimed that 50% of diseases would “go by the wayside” if everyone started on a raw food diet. There was also one brief scene of Dr. Cousens doing live blood analysis, something that the vast majority of viewers would not have noticed. Surprisingly, the movie actually showed very little of what, exactly, Dr. Cousens’ regimen consists of. There were a few scenes of cooks showing the residents how to make various “live” meals, but the vast majority of the movie focused on the interpersonal relationships between the subjects and the difficulties they had following the raw vegan diet. I think this was intentional. I think this was the typical use of a Trojan horse to sell an alternative medicine world view.

Why do I say this?

The reason I label this film a “bait and switch” is because it takes knowledge that SBM has already developed, namely that it is possible to reverse type II diabetes with weight loss and exercise (indeed, these are almost always the first interventions suggested when a diagnosis of type II diabetes is made), which require a much healthier diet to achieve, and then makes the implication that reversal of type II diabetes can best be accomplished by Dr. Cousens’ raw food vegan diet. The Trojan horse is the co-opting by alt-med practitioners of the idea that diet can have a significant impact on controlling type II diabetes. Within the Trojan horse of diet lies the woo of raw “live” foodism, complete with the idea that cooked food is somehow “dead,” that “living food” is living because it contains enzymes that are destroyed by cooking, and various other mystical and pseudoscientific concepts about raw food, such as that it somehow contains a mystical “life energy” that is destroyed by cooking. True, in the movie, although Dr. Cousens does talk some about the concept of “living food” and their belief that cooking somehow kills food, neither he nor the other “experts” interviewed dwells on this concept, which is surprising, given that Dr. Cousens directed the movie. Instead, the documentary focuses on interpersonal relationships and, in particular, three of the original six who had such difficulty sticking to the plan.

Instead, much of the woo is in the associated promotional materials on the Simply Raw website. For instance, there is the Raw for Life Encyclopedia, which includes “experts” not used in the movie, and there are full length interviews with the “experts” interviewed in Simply Raw, including Morgan Spurlock, and some whose interviews were not featured. These “experts” include Gary Null (yes, that Gary Null!), Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com, and Dr. Julian Whitaker. Gary Null, as you may recall, is well known in “alt-med” circles for being one of the co-authors of an article entitled Death by Medicine, which basically blames “conventional medicine” for causing in essence as many deaths as lives saved. He’s a promoter of all manner of quackery, HIV/AIDS denialist, and anti-vaccinationist who, ironically, nearly killed himself with his own supplements. Mike Adams is even more out there than Gary Null. For instance, he is a raw food faddist who once attacked Dr. Mehmet Oz for not being sufficiently radical in his dietary recommendations. More recently, he has been blaming psychiatric drugs and the food industry for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage a week ago during which he shot U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in the head, killed six people, and wounded 20, even going so far as to brand Loughner a “Manchurian candidate” programmed by the government to kill Giffords in order to allow the government to stomp on civil liberties. I kid you not. Finally, Julian Whitaker is Suzanne Somers’ doctor. ‘Nuff said.

Come to think of it, given that Dr. Cousens is a homeopath and acupuncturist who apparently hasn’t seen a bit of woo that he doesn’t like, one wonders whether he uses pseudoscience like what Dr. Whitaker uses. Indeed, Dr. Cousens has his very own tag on NaturalNews.com. In particular, there are interviews with Dr. Cousens advocating “detox fasts,” where he appears to believe in “cell memory“:

Gabriel: And you may have a genetic tendency to diabetes. Okay, that’s cool. But the phenotype is your actual expression. If you live a live-food lifestyle, you will not express diabetes. You will keep a genotype — a phenotype that’s really healthy. And so what we do with the live-food diet is the foundation of basically turning on the healthy phenotype and turning off the diabetes phenotype, genetic expression. Now that’s the key to the program. That’s why it works.

Kevin: And once it’s turned on, let’s say, someone comes to you and the phenotype is turned on and then you turn it off using live foods and then someone goes back to the culture of death as you were talking about. Is it more readily turned on again?

Gabriel: Yes because the body has some familiarity.

Kevin: Yes. And when people make the switch, transitioning is an interesting experience — went from cooked foods to live foods and emotions come out and things surface. What’s your explanation to that?

Gabriel: Umm…

Kevin: I’m sure you see a lot of it?

Gabriel: Yes, and this is often why we recommend people to just go 80% first because usually with the dead food you’re putting dead food in the dead places.

Kevin: Okay.

Gabriel: You’re suppressing. The more you eat, it’s like a made ego for suppressing your consciousness. You go to live foods and suddenly, you’re putting live food in that place because you’re activating all the suppressed stuff that comes up. So, we like people to get up to 80%.

Okay. And just hold there until they kind of emotionally detox and physically detox because the live food is just forcing out every level of toxin. That’s how we look at it. So, maybe you need it to be refreshed after three months or six months. When people do spiritual fasting and the zero point which follows up which is part of our program here; you know we have right here then that process is greatly excoriated and really fasting on green, this is just probably the fastest way to make a transition because you lose your cell memory for the cooked food but you also detox very quickly.

Kevin: Is that cell memory?

Gabriel: Cell memory for the cooked food, yes.

No wonder Dr. Cousens buried all the real woo behind is raw food regimen in his accompanying encyclopedia. At least he didn’t include his Zeolite detox nonsense.

But there’s more. I’ve been on the Simply Raw e-mail list for over a month now, and I see what sort of dubious medical products the movie’s executive producer Alex Ortner is promoting through his mailing list about his movie. For instance, he seems to be quite enamored of “super immunity,” which is longevity and “detoxification” pseudoscience featuring Joe Mercola and David Wolfe; the tapping solution, which is billed as a form of “meridian tapping” or a variety of emotional freedom technique (EFT), a variety of “thought field therapy,” both of which are utter quackery claiming that finger tapping along meridians “releases the body’s energy flow”: Dr. Joe Vitale’s “blood pressure miracle,” which claims to be able to reverse hypertension “naturally” without drugs; the “seven day back pain cure,” which promises to cure your back pain without drugs, surgery, or much of anything else; and, just yesterday, in my e-mail I found an ad from Ortner hawking a plan from a “holistic” doctor and homeopath named Mark Stenger, who is promoting a method to “balance your hormones” — naturally, of course. (Is there any other way?) In other words, although the movie Simply Raw itself doesn’t delve too deeply into woo, it does make overblown claims for just what diet can do for type II diabetes, and its ancillary materials, such as the DVD encyclopedia and most of the other products Ortner is hyping in addition to his movie, are dubious in the extreme. The movie appears to be “gateway” pseudoscience, designed to suck people in with reasonable-sounding claims about diet and then sell them on a prescientific, vitalistic view of the world wrapped up in the naturalistic fallacy.

Trojan horse, indeed.

The only things live about live food is the living woo

“Live food” faddism resonates with a great many people, because, when stripped of its mystical underpinnings, the concept that eating fresh, unprocessed food makes sense to most people. Also, the naturalistic fallacy, which implies that raw “live food” is somehow more “natural” than processed food, remains very appealing to many people who distrust modern society and science. Moreover, physicians know that one of the most effective methods of treating type II diabetes is through dietary manipulations and weight loss. Certainly, that is the first move that is usually tried. Unfortunately, Simply Raw implies that the only (or, at least, the best) strategy for type II diabetics to achieve the goal of glucose control and getting off their medications is a radical diet that consists of raw vegan food. Implicit in that idea is the belief that cooked and processed food is somehow poisoning us. Of course, countering that is the recently developed concept that cooking might have been a major factor in the increase in human brain size during evolution, the reason being that raw “live” food of the type featured in Simply Raw is far less energy rich than meat and takes more energy to digest. In any case, the entire premise of Simply Raw is an exaggeration. There’s no reason why a raw food vegan diet should be the only dietary intervention that can have a major positive impact on type II diabetes, much less should it be necessary to adopt the dubious concept that you need to eat “living food.”

Of course, that is not the message conveyed by Simply Raw. It’s quite clear that the message of the movie is that the best way to reverse diabetes is through a raw vegan diet of “living” food. Worse, although it features what Peter Lipson likes to call the “quack Miranda warning,” the movie also suggests strongly that diet can reverse type I diabetes. Representing what is in essence a set of anecdotes from six, self-selected diabetics, all with no science, it’s also highly effective propaganda. No one, least of all me, argues that diet isn’t incredibly important as a therapeutic modality for type II diabetes, but the entire Simply Raw package goes far beyond that, promoting vitalism and other dubious concepts as part and parcel of what is necessary to reverse type II diabetes.

Comments

  1. #1 DLC
    January 24, 2011

    Is it me, or does this whole thing smack of vitalism of a sort like the ancient cannibal tribes used to practice ? Instead of eating their enemy’s heart to gain his courage, they’re eating raw carrots to gain their essence.
    Have to have Pure Essence, ya know!

  2. #2 Midnight Rambler
    January 24, 2011

    Huh…so they were basically given a fairly standard healthy diet (lots of veggies, no sugar or meat), but uncooked, and the dramatic conclusion is that it was all due to the rawness? How disappointing, even for quackery.

  3. #3 l
    January 24, 2011

    “Raw veganism” isn’t a kind of vegetarianism – it’s a type of alternative health woo, often promoted (as it is in this film) to people with no real interest in vegetarianism itself. It’s presented as a sort of food-as-medicine, and really belongs in the same category as other extreme diets (such as “paleo”, Atkins, etc.) which are sold etirely on spurious health claims.
    Veggies and vegans areusually motivated at least in part by animal welfare concerns, even if they also value benefits to their health of paying more attention to their diets and eating more veggies, grains, etc. No one would consider a “raw diet” follower who eats meat to be vegan, no matter what temperature they heat their food to, for this reason.

    The Vegetarian Nutrition Group of the ADA (dieticians, as opposed to ‘nutritionists’, are pretty free from woo) explains the differece as follows:
    “The American Dietetic Association recognizes that appropriately planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthful for all age groups. Completely raw diets are not recommended for infants and children due to concerns with nutrient adequacy” http://vegetariannutrition.net/vegetarian-diets/vegetarian-vegan-raw/

  4. #4 russ
    January 24, 2011

    I have been working as a kitchen hand for 8 months now in a vegan and raw food kitchen (we do serve some cooked food but specialize in raw). I am vegetarian and have been for years, but not vegan and not a raw foody.. I did notice woo in some of the books I’ve read about it, mainly vitalism, which I chalk up to the author trying to give a theoretical basis for her personal experience but lacking the scientific background to do so. At work, on a day to day basis, I don’t hear much of that sort of thing. We had a 2nd chef who was diabetic and went on to a raw food diet a couple years back and decreased his insulin use. We also have a chef who is a meat eater but has given it up for the duration of his employment (several months now); he eats only raw food now, and feels more energetic and balanced.
    @comment 2: Raw food “cooking” isn’t really like any other cooking, we use blenders and dehydrators much more than a regular kitchen would. Also, like veganism but more so, you need to pay attention to nutrition, to your body’s needs, what is going on inside you, much more than a meat-eater or a lacto-ovo vegetarian needs to.
    Of those people I work with who are raw foodies, many also surf and practice yoga or play sports, so they are healthier than the average person to begin with, but I have also heard from several people who tried raw food just for a while and found greater energy and mental clarity.

    The idea of living food (salads at least, even if you eat cooked meat too) just seems like common sense though.. we leave the roots on lettuce, herbs and other veggies til their final hour, so that they keep longer in storage than veggies that have been chopped up. Stands to reason that lettuce or kale picked 20 minutes earlier from your garden is going to have more nutrients than lettuce or kale thats been sitting in a crate and on a shelf for days.
    I admit that all this is anecdotal and I don’t speak from personal experience (outside of drinking green smoothies daily anyway, but balanced against my morning coffee), I’m agnostic on whether it is healthier than ordinary veganism, but I’m sure it beats a typical diet of heapings of meat, processed foods, starches and boiled vegetables.

  5. #5 l
    January 24, 2011

    In my (admittedly limited, anecdotal, not-a-study) experience,”raw foodists” and “paleos” are sort of like people who say they are “sensitive to yeast” or “toxins” in food, or people who claim to have allergies to wheat or other grains without any actual allergy testing.

    The similarity is that the ‘cure’ for what supposedly ails them involves a very low calorie diet, which usually leads to lots of weight loss very quickly. People who latch on to these diets seem to want to lose weight, fast, for whatever reason – perhaps they feel they are overweight, or perhaps they just want to get much skinnier than they already are.

    They seem to want to avoid admitting they are doing something as mainstream (or, in the case of ‘Paleos’, as _girly_) as dieting. So they latch on to ‘evolutionary’ or ‘medical’ reasons why they _have_ to cut the calories out, which makes it feel OK to pursue weightloss goals.

  6. #6 Giliell
    January 24, 2011

    The craziest person I ever met on the internet was a “frutarian” (even crazier than raw food vegans because he would only allow fruit and nuts, not even veggies), anti-vaxer, HIV-denialist.
    Those people never see any kind of balance. It’s either or.

  7. #7 herr doktor bimler
    January 24, 2011

    A review here of a relevant book:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/17/catching-fire-richard-wrangham-review

    Wrangham’s point is that raw food is much harder to digest than the cooked version. If nothing else, it’s a good way to lose weight.

    I’m personally unimpressed by raw, ‘live’ food because of all the struggling and screaming.

  8. #8 Andrew Dodds
    January 24, 2011

    I -

    Simple question: How could a paleolithic diet be classed as ‘extreme’?

    If the objective is that said diet simulates the diet we have evolved to then it is by definition non-extreme.

    Interestingly, the only reason why a raw food, or vegan, diet is actually possible nowadays is because the various vegetables involved have been modified heavily by selective breeding to have far more calories than the ‘wild’ types; as well as such things as central heating and sedentary lifestyles lowering our requirements.

  9. #9 Richard D
    January 24, 2011

    The whole notion of a ‘palaeolithic diet’ as being somehow an immutably good diet for all modern people annoys the hell out of the palaeoanthropologist in me.

    These people neglect to consider at what point to place our palaeolithic diet in both time and space. Is our ‘Palaeolithic diet’ supposed to be that of a late glacial Mammoth Steppe diet, which was no doubt heavily meat reliant? Or perhaps it was that of one of the first colonisers of tropical rain forests which was meat and carbohydrate poor?

    Also, do these people have any clue as to the antiquity of the evidence for the controlled use of fire? Those people weren’t making fires just for fun.

    Not to mention that we didn’t stop changing in our dietary adaptations at the end of the Pleistocene. Grrr rant rant rant.

  10. #10 prn
    January 24, 2011

    Don’t forget the “evolution” of the modern cobalamin plant was required, too.(e.g.’141)

  11. #11 Marina
    January 24, 2011

    I wonder what happened to Dr. Fuhrman’s stance on raw-foodism, as it is displayed on his website? He states:

    “Eating lots of raw foods is a key feature of an anti-cancer diet style and a long life. But are there advantages to eating a diet of all raw foods and excluding all cooked foods? The answer is a resounding “No”. In fact, eating an exclusively raw-food diet is a disadvantage.

    [...]

    Unfortunately, sloppy science prevails in the raw-food movement. Raw food advocates mistakenly conclude that since many cooked foods are not healthy for us, then all cooked foods are bad. This is not true.”

    http://drfuhrman.com/faq/question.aspx?sid=16&qindex=4

    Go figure.

  12. #12 l
    January 24, 2011

    @8 Perhaps there are some “paleos” who don’t pursue extreme diets, but the ones I’ve met pursue regimes that involve avoiding most fruit and veg and almost all grains of any kind. Usually, they give a quasi-scientific rationale involving “evolutionary” or “quantum” ideas about how the ‘natural’ human body ‘evolved’ to work. Every ‘paleo’ eater I have ever met has also pursued an extreme exercise regimen as part of the diet.

    Those I have met (again, in my anecdotal experience – I am not a social scientist who has studied this stuff) tend to believe that (contrary to mainstream belief as I understand it), hunter/gatherers did not get most of their food from gathering, and that the ‘truth’ of their (meat) diet has been ‘hidden’ from us by ‘the western diet industry.’

    In short, they sound an awful lot like raw-foodists, and eat in just as extreme ways. (I have also met a few who tie this to a gender argument – that men should adopt a ‘manly’ diet because most gathering in hunter/gathering tribes is done by women.)

    I’ve never heard a (regular) vegan suggest that all humans were once vegans – most I know present veganism as a possibility open to us now, rather than as an evolutionary necessity. I’ve had some people preach it to me as a _moral_ impreitive, but haven’t heard the caveman argument made. Again, not a scientific sample, just my experience.

  13. #13 Elin
    January 24, 2011

    Your headline conjured up images of Riker ‘enjoying’ some traditional Klingon food – now that’s living food for you!

  14. #14 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    January 24, 2011

    Richard D., I hear you and I agree with you. My main discipline is psychology, but part of my study profile overall involves a substantial subsidiary in archaeology and post-magisterial study in applied social/cultural (educational/occupational) ethno-psychology/psycho-anthropology. I hear stuff about ‘stone-age’ diets and about ‘neanderthal theories’ of autism and I wonder who the hell taught these bloody zeebs their science.

    And then I feel an intense sense of utter despair.

  15. #15 Ken Leebow
    January 24, 2011

    You state: “Unfortunately, diet is a very, very hard thing to change, and it’s very hard to change one’s lifestyle.”

    Unfortunately, this is a myth that keeps popping up … almost everywhere. It’s so prevalent that it is ingrained in the primary care (docs) environment and society at-large.

    So, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. With a little bit of knowledge and effort, it isn’t “very, very hard”.

  16. #16 Adam C.
    January 24, 2011

    Okay, if we take as given their claim that heating to 116°F kills the food, then WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN ARIZONA?! The temperatures there can easily get that high IN THE SHADE, and if they take it to their house of woo in a car, it’s going to have gotten higher than that due to the greenhouse effect.

    Really, even if everything they said was true, they couldn’t live by it anyway.

  17. #17 Giliell
    January 24, 2011

    No matter what the extreme diet is, be it (different flavours of) vegan, raw food, paleo, whatever. No matter how healthy the food might be for your body, when your whole existence circles around what you eat, the usual term is eating disorder. Whenever people follow a certain diet religiously, when they alone “know the truth” “have the key” “can cure AIDS/cancer/anything”, they have crossed the line between making food choices and having a mental issue.
    This is not meant to “insult” all vegetarians or vegans. There are plenty of resonable vegetarians and vegans out there who are reasonable people who still see food mainly as food.

    @”feel more energetic”
    Everybody who’s been on a weight-loss diet will tell you that they felt very energetic. Seems like our bodies try to give us an extra push to make sure we really catch that next momouth or we’re evolutionary history. No matter what the diet is based on.

    @evolutionary diet
    Thanx, my ancestors took a lot of pains and possibly diarreah to make sure I can process milk as an adult. I would shame their memories if I didn’t drink it ;)

  18. #18 Composer99
    January 24, 2011

    I think I know why people can get away with claiming that ‘science’ does not take diet seriously: it’s because the messages to eat a healthy, balanced diet and to engage in moderate exercise are so commonplace that they are usually filtered out as background information.

    (Another commonplace message would be to get a proper amount of sleep, and again it would be quite deceitful for sCAMsters to claim that such advice is propagated solely by themselves, not, I’m sure, that that stops anyone from doing so.)

  19. #19 Basiorana
    January 24, 2011

    The thing that kills me about paleo diets is that we have yet to find an ancient skeleton that showed no sign of malnutrition throughout it’s life. They seem to vary from “occasional periods of famine and missing a key nutrient for long periods of time” to “starved to death.”

    Our ancestors were smaller, weaker, and less intelligent than us because they ate that Paleo diet. And people think it’s GOOD for us.

    (Also the ones who see no dissonance in eating raw banana and apple in the same meal and calling it “paleo,” despite the fruits coming from different continents and being heavily engineered by man over thousands of years).

  20. #20 Greg Fish
    January 24, 2011

    You state: “Unfortunately, diet is a very, very hard thing to change, and it’s very hard to change one’s lifestyle.”

    Unfortunately, this is a myth that keeps popping up … almost everywhere. So, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. With a little bit of knowledge and effort, it isn’t “very, very hard”.

    People are creatures of habit and when doctors tell them to eat better and exercise, they’ll often refuse to put in the necessary effort to get that little bit of knowledge and exert that little bit of effort to start eating smaller portions of more balanced meals and move around to stay active. That’s what’s meant by “very, very hard to change,” the general tendency of patients to relapse into their old ways and ease of discouragement when the pounds don’t start to shed the minute they get on that treadmill.

  21. #21 Basiorana
    January 24, 2011

    L: I knew a vegan who insisted that it was an evolutionary imperative and we had gone astray from that by eating meat. She was not a particularly science-minded type.

    Andrew Dodds: A paleolithic diet excludes most grains except raw grain mashes, and sometimes, rarely, tuber plants that are cooked lightly. However grains need to be cooked to properly release their nutrients. It also tends to be much too high in protein and fat for the modern person. It is not based in actual research but rather in an idealized image of caveman life. If it did what it said it did, it would STILL be extreme because we have not evolved to a diet that is actually good for us.

  22. #22 L
    January 24, 2011

    @basiorana –
    Thanks for pointing that out – I had no idea some vegans made an ‘evolutionary’ argument, which of course makes no sense whatsoever.

    (I had only heard the “we were all vegetarian before the fall” argument from non-vegan fundie christians in the past, so assumed that they were the only ones who made it.)

  23. #23 cactusren
    January 24, 2011

    “I think I know why people can get away with claiming that ‘science’ does not take diet seriously: it’s because the messages to eat a healthy, balanced diet and to engage in moderate exercise are so commonplace that they are usually filtered out as background information.”

    I’d say another reason for this is that doctors are notoriously unhelpful in guiding people with this sort of thing. I was having a lot of health problems a few years back (which ultimately ended up being related to blood sugar). Some of my symptoms were GI related, so I went to see a gastroenterologist, who prescribed me medication. When I asked him if I should change my diet, he just looked at me and said, “But you can take these pills”. I pressed him on the issue, and eventually he said, “Well, if dairy bothers you, you could try eliminating that.” I’d already tried that, of course.

    I know this is all anecdotal, but it’s incidents like these that can lead people to think that doctors don’t know or don’t care about dietary effects on health.

  24. #24 Dangerous Bacon
    January 24, 2011

    “Our ancestors were smaller, weaker, and less intelligent than us because they ate that Paleo diet. And people think it’s GOOD for us.”

    According to a common woo mindset, anything associated with a “primitive” culture is felt to hold the key to healthier living.

    We are forever hearing about some diet followed by an obscure/Third World people that is ever so much better for us than nasty “Western” diets. The assumption is that if we start eating the same things, or more likely just graft the “miracle” foods onto our existing diet we’ll live longer and be free of chronic diseases. As an example, take the coconut oil enthusiasts who point to limited atherosclerotic heart disease among Far Eastern consumers of this cooking oil – never mind that they’re consuming far less calories on average and have different genetic influences on their health (or that they have shorter life spans than Westerners).

  25. #25 mad the swine
    January 24, 2011

    The thing that kills me about paleo diets is that we have yet to find an ancient skeleton that showed no sign of malnutrition throughout it’s life. They seem to vary from “occasional periods of famine and missing a key nutrient for long periods of time” to “starved to death.”

    Our ancestors were smaller, weaker, and less intelligent than us because they ate that Paleo diet. And people think it’s GOOD for us.

    To be fair, hunter-gatherers tended to be healthier than Neolithic agriculturalists (Greg Laden’s blog talks about this occasionally, or see Wikipedia. Malnutrition in hunter-gatherers tends to be the result of not being able to find enough food, whereas agriculturists suffered from a poor diet in general. A Paleolithic diet provided by modern agricultural methods would seem to be the best of both worlds.

    (Well, that’s if you assume that 10,000 years of agriculture isn’t long enough for human beings to adapt to a grain-based diet.)

  26. #26 KeithB
    January 24, 2011

    Is there a name for a vegan that eats placenta?
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/686/is-there-really-such-a-thing-as-placenta-stew

    And, if you require insulin if you go off the diet than they have not “cured” diabetes, simply managed the symptoms.

  27. #27 DrMead
    January 24, 2011

    “There’s nothing worse than half-dead gagh.”

  28. #28 Militant Agnostic
    January 24, 2011

    Reiki and EFT – may favourite woos

    Richard D @9

    Is our ‘Palaeolithic diet’ supposed to be that of a late glacial Mammoth Steppe diet, which was no doubt heavily meat reliant? Or perhaps it was that of one of the first colonisers of tropical rain forests which was meat and carbohydrate poor?

    One of my son’s anthropology texts had a tabulation of the composition of various hunter gatherer diets and they were all over the place. Some were high carb some were low carb. Some were almost all meat and some were nearly vegetarian. Do paleo dieters eat human modified animals like cattle and pigs?

    Studies have been done on cooked versus raw food preferences in chimps and orangutans. They have similar preferences to humans. For foods that humans prefer cooked such as meat the apes preferred them cooked. The Apes preferred things that people eat raw like lettuce raw as well. For fruit and vegetables they didn’t have a preference either way.

  29. #29 Calli Arcale
    January 24, 2011

    cactusren — part of the trouble may be that doctors are a bit like a hammer. When we go to a doctor, suddenly we see all of our problems as being nails, and we ask the doctor to hammer them. But our problems are not all ones suitable to the doctor-patient relationship. It’s a bit like asking your mechanic to stop the car rusting; odds are, he’ll recommend repainting it and perhaps recommending a rock/bug deflector. But you’d be better off just washing it regularly. He’s a mechanic, not a carwash; you’re asking him what he can do for you, and he’ll recommend what he can do, even if it’s not the best solution.

    So you ask a doctor what to do about GI issues, and his/her first inclination will probably be to say “well, you can improve your diet, or I can give you these pills”. Even if they do give the diet advice, you’re not going to be seeing the doctor weekly or even monthly and there just isn’t any sensible way for the doctor to guide you through improving your diet. It’s not a doctors-are-stupid-yoiks problem, it’s a doctors-aren’t-the-be-all-and-end-all problem. Unfortunately, the main group which has realized this are the peddlers of woo, who have stepped boldly into the void. I wouldn’t mind so much except that many of their suggestions are dubious at best.

    My insurance company has started doing a thing where nurses call me periodically to discuss these sorts of things, in my case because I have a couple of chronic conditions which require management. It could use a lot of improvement (my biggest beef is that since it’s run like a call center, I never get the same nurse twice), and I know some of my coworkers find it intrusive, so clearly it’s not ideal. But it’s an attempt at addressing that. Perhaps what we need is more nurse-practitioners at clinics who are able to fill that role. It is not cost-effective to use doctors to guide people’s nutrition and exercise; it would make more sense to have doctors see you occasionally (annually, plus whenever you have a new concern) and nurses see you or at least call you more regularly. They say that one of the things that makes Weight Watchers effective is the regular weigh-ins; it’s harder to slack off when you know somebody’s going to be checking. (Procrastination is so very, very easy….)

    Doctors have good advice. But if you only see them once a year, it may not be something that you can usefully apply.

  30. #30 Giliell
    January 24, 2011

    @mad the swine
    Well, the wikipedia-article seems to be about another form of romaticised “oh they had it so good” wanna-be science.
    To proclaim that the hunter-gatherers didn’t desire more than what “nature provided in abundance” seems very far fetched for me. How can they know what our primitive ancestors who didn’t bother to leave a diary behind wanted? It seems like they eagerly adopted argricultural techniques and the advantages they provided.

    BTW, I’m always amazed how those pseudo evolutionary nutritionists fail to realize that I’m neither chimp nor gorilla.
    If you suggested to the females that they should live in a group with an alpha-male who can have sex with them and that they’re to have the maximum possi1e amount of children because “that’s how our ancestors did it as we can see in our cousins”, they’d have a good argument why they prefer to chose their mates themselves, thank you

  31. #31 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2011

    The DSM V will supposedly contain “Orthorexia” which describes many of the practices listed above.

    More about raw foodies/ vegans/ etc.: Adams lives in *Tuscon* ( which probably goes over 106 F regularly- come to think of it, I experienced 106 or 107 in Geyserville, CA- I guess that means that the grapes there were all dead on the vine) “cured” himself of type II diabetes with diet and exercise ( HealthRanger.com/ bio).
    Mercola advocates a paleo diet and diet typing ( some are veg / some are not) that sounds similar to Adamo’s blood type diet woo, which is popular in Japan.
    Null produces dried vegetable and fruit powders which are not heated above 106 F ( Oooh, “living powders”!). Via Orac’s link above, his website advertises his new on-line course, “Lifestyle Change for Community Leaders” (??) given at a local university (FDU, a/k/a “Fairly Ridiculous U.”)

    My favorite raw food story involves NY fashion designer, Donna Karan: she started the diet, did yoga, and wound up a few sizes smaller ( *very* important if you design clothes). In addition, she endowed Beth Israel MC to study yoga, meditation, and diet for those undergoing SB cancer treatment ( she lost her husband to lung cancer).

    Perhaps that gets to the heart of the issue: losing weight may be a great part of why people are motivated for extreme diet changes- as well as avoiding illness- and the “toxins” and hormones (inherent or added) that “pollute” your “purity”. Vegan Null refers to meat eaters as “ghouls” and “vampires”, quoting the unsavoriness of meat based on a 100 year old expose of the meat industry (“The Jungle”).The vegans sometimes mention that you will ingest the “fear” the animal felt as it was being slaughtered or its “aggression”. Thus, a sort of inverse vitalism- taboo and from the realm of myth as well.

  32. #32 Daniel J. Andrews
    January 24, 2011

    Meh. Food, dead or alive, is for those who can’t live on light.
    angelfire.com/stars3/breathe_light/breatharianism.html ;-)

    Spurlock’s Super Size Me should have focused on just eating the McD meals. However in addition to eating McD’s food, he also quit exercising. How many of his symptoms and how many of the poor results from his medical tests were the result of not exercising? True, he was trying to live the same way the average American lived, but he kept insinuating his test results were McD’s fault. If you’re used to exercising and you suddenly quit, you’re going to feel rather depressed even if you continue to eat well.

    Years ago I was told that partially cooking/steaming some vegetables allows you to extract nutrients/vitamins you wouldn’t be able to extract if they were raw. Anyone know if that is true?

    Incidentally, in grade school we were taught apples ‘breathed’ long after they were picked, which is why they stored apples in CO2 (to slow down breathing which slows down ripening–vague memory of CO2 inhibiting ethylene formation which induces ripening). hm, curiosity kicking in so google time…

  33. #33 Pablo
    January 24, 2011

    I guess I am confused. I admit, I haven’t paid real close attention, but do these people invoke chimps or gorilla to justify a vegan diet?

    One thing chimps are very well-known for is that they eat termites (ask Jane Goodall (who also ate termites, after seeing the chimps eat them)). Are termites part of a vegan diet?

    Or monkey brains, for that matter?

  34. #34 nostrum
    January 24, 2011

    The people I know who went paleo did so for diet reasons and not woo, but there certainly is some weird caveman mythology that doesn’t seem to jibe at all with history. Plus the thought of eating all that fat just kinda makes me want to hork a bit.

    The raw food diet always strikes me as a case of malnutrition waiting to happen. Some people do fine with it, and if they lose bunches of weight and feel great, fantastic. Making strict diet rules for yourself that exclude almost all processed foods is an effective way to lose weight. (counts for both raw and paleo) However, I’ve seen interviews with “true believers” for raw eating that look a bit too thin and have these sunken eyes. They look to my untrained eye like they might not be as healthy as they claim to be.

  35. #35 James Sweet
    January 24, 2011

    Don’t have time to read all the comments right now, so somebody might have covered this… in any case, in addition to raw food (sometimes) taking more energy to digest, the difficulty digesting means that there is no net gain of nutrients absorbed — yes, cooking denatures some of the nutrients, but it also makes it easier for your body to absorb what remains. So it’s often a wash, or in fact better overall for the food to be cooked (depends on the food of course!)

    All that said, most Americans do tend to overcook their food, especially their vegetables. This bothers me from a culinary perspective less so than a dietary perspective. Heh…

  36. #36 Orac
    January 24, 2011

    How many of his symptoms and how many of the poor results from his medical tests were the result of not exercising? True, he was trying to live the same way the average American lived, but he kept insinuating his test results were McD’s fault. If you’re used to exercising and you suddenly quit, you’re going to feel rather depressed even if you continue to eat well.

    Actually, Spurlock also ate a diet that was 5,000 calories per day (including lots of shakes), and, as a result, he gained a lot of weight very fast. How many of his problems were due to rapid weight gain due to too many calories and ceasing exercise versus the McDonald’s diet itself? It’s impossible to say with an anecdote of one.

  37. #37 nostrum
    January 24, 2011

    @Daniel Spurlock did at least a couple of things in Super Size Me that bugged the crap out of me. Not only did he stop exercising, he also force fed himself. In a scene early in the movie, he throws up after trying to eat a meal too large for his appetite. Would he have been fine if he’d stopped eating when he was full? We’ll never know.

    McDs is bad for you. The food is engineered to make people overeat it, but by so obviously stacking the deck, it undermines his message.

  38. #38 Lawrence
    January 24, 2011

    I’m sorry to see Spurlock associated with something like this – I really saw him as a humorous “voice of reason” type guy, and the McDonalds thing was taking the average American consumption to the extreme, for sure, but he made a great point that we don’t put the best stuff in our bodies.

    Now, well – I am disappointed.

  39. #39 Dave
    January 24, 2011

    Whenever I run across raw food fads, I remember Jeffery Steingarten’s “The Man Who Ate Everything,” particularly the chapter, “Salad the Silent Killer.”

  40. #40 NJ
    January 24, 2011

    Orac @ 36:

    How many of his problems were due to rapid weight gain due to too many calories and ceasing exercise versus the McDonald’s diet itself?

    IIRC, there were two people sponsored by AEI who also ate exclusively at McDonald’s and didn’t gain weight. One ate quite reasonably (lots of salads) and lost weight, I think. The other ate much like Spurlock but was also exercising to an extreme degree.

    Spurlock’s response when challenged with this? Attacking AEI – classic well poisoning argument.

    I have no love for AEI, but (again IIRC) it seemed as if they had pretty much destroyed his premise.

  41. #41 Aj
    January 24, 2011

    It has been a while since I watched “Supersize Me”, but I believe one of Spurlock’s conditions was that he would supersize his order whenever that option was suggested to him by the server at MacDonalds. Also, IIRC, he was going to try everything on the menu at least once.

  42. #42 ERV
    January 24, 2011

    I absolutely abhor people who subscribe to ‘good food’/’bad food’ philosophies, but I will admit there were some good ideas that came from ‘Supersize Me’.

    *snicker*

  43. #43 cactusren
    January 24, 2011

    Calli Arcale: I don’t really disagree with you on any given point, and I don’t expect a doctor to spend hours going over dietary advice with me. And if I had been visiiting an ENT or a neurosurgeon, I wouldn’t have even asked for dietary advice. But you’d think someone who specializes in gastrointestinal disorders might have some general advice on foods that are easy to digest, or that when asked, he might refer me to an NP or a dietician. He seemed to think I was crazy when I asked about what I should eat. Maybe most of his patients just want a quick and easy solution that doesn’t require them to change their diets, so they’re happy to have pills prescribed.

    Also, I’m sure there are doctors out there who are better about that sort of thing. I’m simply pointing out another reason why some people might think that SBM ignores diet–because many (though certainly not all) doctors do.

    That being said, my experience with proponents of raw food is that they’re seriously woo-ey. I once had a long debate with someone who claimed that we should only eat raw fruit because that’s what Adam and Eve ate. (She claimed to not even eat nuts or vegetables–only fruit.)

  44. #44 Heliantus
    January 24, 2011

    @ cactusren

    I once had a long debate with someone who claimed that we should only eat raw fruit because that’s what Adam and Eve ate.

    I was under the impression that eating raw fruits was a culinary experience which didn’t end well for Adam and Eve. Granted, mainly because the orchard owner was not pleased with their way of sampling His harvest.

  45. #45 Calli Arcale
    January 24, 2011

    cactiswren; yeah, you would expect him to have advice. Mine did, when I was diagnosed with GERD. It just occurred to me that this advice (when actually given) would be a heck of a lot more effective if there was followup.

    There are certainly some doctors who will tend to give pills to make the patients go away, for a variety of reasons. I’ve had doctors prescribe antibiotics for unproven infections which later turned out not to be infections at all. One’s a guy I know fairly well (he’s a family friend), and who prescribed an aggressive antibiotic regimen when I had a major incentive not to — I was breastfeeding a newborn. I wasn’t convinced it was bacterial, so I decided to wait at least 24 hours before filling the prescription unless things got worse. Next day, I woke up feeling fine and never filled the prescription. So I won’t deny that happens. I think it’s one of the major places where medical care can be improved and also made more efficient.

  46. #46 Not House
    January 24, 2011

    Reminds me of this story, where they had the revolutionary idea that if we put Aboriginal people on a low carb, high unsaturated fat diet, their diabetes would resolve. Clearly the work of Native American spiritual closeness to the land.

  47. #47 Scott
    January 24, 2011

    @ cactusren:

    Also consider that, just because something’s GI-related, doesn’t necessarily imply that a dietary solution exists. Or that, if such a solution exists, it wouldn’t be far more drastic than pills.

    Sometimes drugs ARE the answer, so I hesitate to read too much into your account. Perhaps he was out of line to not recommend dietary changes, but the information provided is insufficient to know that.

  48. #48 Mattand
    January 24, 2011

    Couple of random musings because no one asked:

    1. To this day, it absolutely boggles my mind that Morgan Spurlock got an Oscar nod for trying to intentionally kill himself with fast food, using an “experiment” that’s as poorly thought out as it is absurd.

    2. I wonder if the diet in Simply Raw is the one that Bill Maher follows. For all his criticism (deserved or otherwise) of the modern American’s diet, he’s always been a little tight lipped about what he eats.

  49. Just a side note about McDonalds diets. The nutrition info on their own websites has the salads, with dressings, supplying more calories than the burgers.

  50. #50 dedicated lurker
    January 24, 2011

    Oh, but some foods are simply wonderful live. Raw sugar snap peas are a delicious treat, as are most raw fruits.

    The whole “Supersize Me” thing struck me as dumb. Even the least health concious people I know don’t eat McDonalds for every single meal. I like the occasional meal from there myself, but like my cheesesteak addiction, I usually only indulge it once a month. In Kevin Trudreau’s first “natural cures” book he mentions people who eat at McDonalds fifteen times a week have increased health problems. My first thought was “Who eats at McDonalds more than twice a day?” and the second thought was “Okay, it supposedly causes cancer. Explain how my two relatives who got cancer (one died of it) didn’t eat fast food at all.”

  51. #51 J. J. Ramsey
    January 24, 2011

    Mattand:

    To this day, it absolutely boggles my mind that Morgan Spurlock got an Oscar nod for trying to intentionally kill himself with fast food, using an “experiment” that’s as poorly thought out as it is absurd.

    Remember, for most people, a personal story has far more impact than statistics from a rigorous study with multiple human subjects, and a personal story is what Spurlock provided. People don’t naturally think scientifically.

  52. #52 Calli Arcale
    January 24, 2011

    dedicated lurker:

    Oh, but some foods are simply wonderful live.

    And now I again remember my grandpa telling me about the Italians eating maggoty cheese. Yes, the maggots were alive when they ate them.

    *shudder*

    I’ve also had people tell me about eating baby octopus. I’ve had *cooked* baby octopus, but a friend of mine from Singapore told me about eating live baby octopus. You have to be quick and swallow it whole, he said, and you have to be sure to wrap it well around the chopsticks. Otherwise, it tends to grab your tongue and/or uvula.

    I definitely prefer them dead, or at least stunned into submission.

  53. #53 Mu
    January 24, 2011

    Who’d thought our ancestors developed all those elaborate spear heads just to stalk the wild carrot, and became two-legged long distance runners just to catch the escaping lettuce. But then, evolution is described as survival of the fittest, so we can see the whole clan taking off for a 5 mile run every morning before breakfast.

  54. #54 Sir Eccles
    January 24, 2011

    Preparing your own food means you aren’t eating all the pre prepared stuff full of HFCS (almost called it food). It’s hardly a surprise that they are suddenly able to manage their diabetes more easily.

  55. #55 Moxiequz
    January 24, 2011

    @Ken Leebow, #15:

    Unfortunately, this is a myth that keeps popping up … almost everywhere. It’s so prevalent that it is ingrained in the primary care (docs) environment and society at-large.

    So, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. With a little bit of knowledge and effort, it isn’t “very, very hard”.

    It’s not a myth. Orac said it was “very, very hard” not impossible. I believe that’s an entirely realistic assessment of human behavior in general.

    Speaking from personal experience I’d say that it’s been extremely difficult for me to change my eating habits. It’s been much easier to integrate more exercise into my life than it has been to reduce my caloric intake and improve the content of my diet.

    However, I have (for the most part) done that. I’ve lost 70lbs so far by watching my calories, improving my eating habits, and exercising more. Even still I have to be careful not to fall into bad habits like tearing through a (large) bag of potato chips while parked in front of the TV watching football. I still have weeks where I get lazy about shopping/food prep and end up eating more than I should or junk food five meals in a row or something like that. I’m fortunate to be in an area that has oodles of healthy grocery and dining options but it’s still a struggle to modify habits built over a lifetime.

  56. #56 Adam_Y
    January 24, 2011

    The whole “Supersize Me” thing struck me as dumb. Even the least health concious people I know don’t eat McDonalds for every single meal. I like the occasional meal from there myself, but like my cheesesteak addiction, I usually only indulge it once a month. In Kevin Trudreau’s first “natural cures” book he mentions people who eat at McDonalds fifteen times a week have increased health problems. My first thought was “Who eats at McDonalds more than twice a day?” and the second thought was “Okay, it supposedly causes cancer. Explain how my two relatives who got cancer (one died of it) didn’t eat fast food at all.”

    Theoretically you can eat crap and still turn out all right. I’m reminded of the anti Sprulock diet in which someone ate nothing but junk food and lost weight. In the process of loosing weight he actually lowered his colesterol.

  57. #57 Sigivald
    January 24, 2011

    Sir Eccles: Yeah, somehow glucose and fructose aren’t food if they’re from corn. That makes sense.

    It’s not like they’re basic simple sugars and therefore axiomatically “food”.

    Yeah, sugar is hard on diabetes. But that’s not somehow limited to The Evil Corn Squeezins.

    HFCS paranoia is just another form of woo.

  58. #58 Sigivald
    January 24, 2011

    ORAC said: “How many of his problems were due to rapid weight gain due to too many calories and ceasing exercise versus the McDonald’s diet itself? It’s impossible to say with an anecdote of one.”

    Well, true, it’s impossible to say definitively.

    But it’s not like there’s no data on the effects of eating (e.g.) 5,000 calories a day while not exercising at all, and the data we have suggests you’ll get fat and unhealthy feeling pretty fast.

    It’s not impossible that something in “the McDonald’s diet itself” (or more accurately in his choices as to which parts of their menu to eat from) might relate, though I’m not sure a month is long enough to get any significant deficiencies from things like avoiding fruits and greens.

    It certainly appears to be possible (both from experiments equivalent to Spurlock’s but with an opposed Intended Outcome), and from theory and looking at their menu, to eat nothing but McDonald’s food nearly indefinitely with tolerable nutrition and sensible caloric levels.

    One just has to eat a lot more of the salads, and drink more water than giant-sized sodas, and not eat a large order of fries with every meal.

  59. #59 Pablo
    January 24, 2011

    I’ve had *cooked* baby octopus, but a friend of mine from Singapore told me about eating live baby octopus.

    It’s got nothing on these guys

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmKFc5pf5Ko

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBwxkfFZFyU

  60. #60 Jojo
    January 24, 2011

    You state: “Unfortunately, diet is a very, very hard thing to change, and it’s very hard to change one’s lifestyle.”

    Unfortunately, this is a myth that keeps popping up … almost everywhere. It’s so prevalent that it is ingrained in the primary care (docs) environment and society at-large.

    I think it’s important to recognize that there is a decent amount of the population in the USA that have a very difficult time changing their diet and their lifestyle because of their economic situation. I’ve been able to change my lifestyle and diet and keep 45 pounds off for 10 years partly because I can afford the costs it requires. I have a car and I can afford to go to the expensive grocery store that has the good fruits, veggies and meats. There are a large number of people who live in the next town over from me that can either order take out or walk down the street, catch a bus, ride to the grocery store, pay $1 per orange, then schlep their goods back to the bus stop, ride the bus, and then lug the food back to their home. They are low income folks, and no one will even consider building a grocery store in the neighborhood. If healthy food is neither available nor affordable, lifestyle and diet changes are near impossible.

  61. #61 Sir Eccles
    January 24, 2011

    Sigivald: Let’s take a staple that pretty much everyone eats, bread. The majority of bread sold in supermarkets has sugar (of any form) listed as one of the major ingredients and we aren’t talking a little bit for flavor. There is no reason for bread to have any sugar what so ever. Flour, water, yeast, salt (optional). Now start looking at the ingredients of every other pre prepared meal or produce on the shelves. There is no need for them all to have all that sugar (of any kind) unless it is dessert.

  62. #62 rork
    January 24, 2011

    It’s more compassionate to kill lima beans by cooking rather than your teeth, especially the baby ones. Okra deserves to die, so do what you want.

    Seriously, although the raw-food theorists do sound scary, this article made me think I should have a raw vegetable selection to start dinner more often. I think it helps me eat less of the other stuff, and so may help me gobble a few less calories, and perhaps better ones. I notice with kids it helps if the cru de te plate appears before dinner, since once seated, the act of having to chew allot delays their attack on the higher-calorie foods, and they won’t comply, whereas when I bring one out early and without comment, little hands reach for it, almost unthinking. (not at all a criticism of the article, science, or comments so far, which are good).

  63. #63 Roadstergal
    January 24, 2011

    The one thing I keep hearing in the comments is annoyance with extremes, and I couldn’t agree more. Sure, fresh raw fruits and veggies are good, and minimizing red meat is generally for you. On the paleo side, sure, eating less processed food is generally good for you. But a generally good idea isn’t enough, it has to go to a crazy extreme…

    I wonder if these fad diets aren’t Hawthorne Effects – new diet, gets your interest, you’re invested in it, and you lose weight (all of these – raw foods, Atkins, paleo, etc. seem to involve drastic calorie reduction, even though it isn’t stressed). Then you lose interest because it isn’t new anymore, you start to put the weight back on, and go to the next thing. I wonder if there’s been a study of whether a substantial number of folk into these extreme eating plans hop from one to another…

    BTW, if paleos don’t eat termites as a protein source, and instead eat meat from massively-bred modern-day pigs and cows, I’m calling them out. :p (I was utterly disappointed in Colbert when he had that paleo idiot on his show.)

  64. #64 kraut
    January 24, 2011

    Nothing better than a medium rare steak – more on the rare side – and a nice crunchy mixed salad.
    Preferably from a whitetail I hunted myself.

  65. #65 kraut
    January 24, 2011

    “Preferably from a whitetail I hunted myself.”

    the steak, not the salad of course. This we grow ourselves.
    You don’t shoot salad.

  66. #66 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Sir Eccles:

    There is no reason for bread to have any sugar what so ever.

    Proof that you have never made a loaf of bread. What is the yeast supposed to use to create the gas used for leavening?

    Actually, I might try to see what I get by not using sugar and salt in a wee bit of bread this evening (when I make the three cheese penne pasta as a way to use up some soy milk a house guest left us with). I can pretty much predict it will not rise, nor have a good crumb.

  67. #67 the bug guy
    January 24, 2011

    @60
    I think you two are mostly agreeing that there is too much sugar in processed foods. @57 was just pointing out that HFCS isn’t a singular culprit, just part of a larger trend of too much sugar in processed foods.

    Personally, I laugh at people who boast about finding something with “real cane sugar” instead of HFCS as a good thing, even though both products simply have way too much sugar anyway, so it doesn’t really matter much about the form.

  68. #68 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Myself:

    Proof that you have never made a loaf of bread. What is the yeast supposed to use to create the gas used for leavening?

    Just looked at a loaf of commercial bread, it had no sugar. But it did have sour culture. I looked it up, and the yeast and bacteria are give enough time to breakdown the flour starch into the required sugars.

    By the way, the sugars are usually mostly rearranged molecules of carbohydrates. That is why browning tastes so good, you are actually turning some of the carbohydrates (including glycogen in meat) to sugars. Ummmm… I love carmelization and Maillard reactions.

  69. #69 Vicki
    January 24, 2011

    It seems to me that Orac’s point isn’t that 5000 calories/day and no exercise is a good idea, but that the problem is more the amount of food than that it comes from Macdonald’s. It’s like that guy who lost weight by eating all his meals from Subway: he kept getting the small vegetable patty with an assortment of salad on top, not a double meat cheesesteak or a large meatball sub with cheese and olives at every meal. Macdonald’s would sell me a single hamburger and a diet soda, if I asked.

  70. #70 sophia8
    January 24, 2011

    Sir Eccles@60: You’ve never baked any bread, have you? Unless you’re making sourdough bread (and you have a couple of days to wait for the yeast to get going just on carbohydrates alone), you need some sugar for the yeast to feed on.
    True, the yeast will eat most of the sugar, but there will still be trace amounts left in the finished loaf. Just checked my shop-bought bread and the contents list includes 1% of “sugars”. I’m not a food technologist, but I believe that could include sugars produced from the flour during the baking process.

  71. #71 Roadstergal
    January 24, 2011

    “You don’t shoot salad.”

    You obviously haven’t met any hardcore vegetarians. Many is the night I have come home late, exhaused from the hunt, with an array of freshly-shot carrots and a head of lettuce to mount on the wall.

  72. #72 Todd W.
    January 24, 2011

    You don’t shoot salad.

    You clearly have not seen Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, have you?

  73. #73 Pablo
    January 24, 2011

    Ummmm… I love carmelization and Maillard reactions.

    One of the “demos” I do at the end of second semester organic, when we are talking carbohydrates (and after proteins) is to give the class a demo of the Maillard reaction. I set up the bread machine early in the day and have it finish up in the middle of class. I bring the bread machine into the room during class, so that the students can smell the bread baking for the first half of class (although I hide it so they don’t know where it is coming from). By the time I get to the Maillard reaction, the smell is permeating the room.

    I’m cruel that way.

    Last year, instead of making bread, we made strawberry jam (freezer jam), talking about pectin.

  74. #74 Scott
    January 24, 2011

    Ah good, I see Sir Eccles’ nonsense has already been dealt with. I read that and my jaw pretty much hit the floor; arrogance of ignorance indeed.

    Sugar (in its various forms) is not just for sweetness. Cooking is all about chemical reactions, and some of the important reactions have sugars as one of the inputs. That’s not to say that many prepared foods don’t have a lot of sugar which IS just for sweetness, but such blanket statements are thoroughly inaccurate.

  75. #75 Jim
    January 24, 2011

    I think Sir Eccles was meaning that you don’t need to add table sugar or processed sugar – that flour starch is sufficient for bread rising. That’s certainly true, although I’d argue you’re missing out on some really tasty bread. I mean, any decent baker also knows that there’s definite limits on how much sugar you can add since it’s just as easy to overfeed the yeast as underfeed.

  76. #76 Giliell
    January 24, 2011

    @”sugar”
    Unless you use teh word in the colloquial sense of succrose, houshold sugar, the term isn’t very useful. Milk’s full of sugar. Bread is broken down into sugar, sugar is, after all, the one thing we live on.
    But in colloquial use: yes, there’s too much sugar everywhere in food that “isn’t supposed” to have any sugar in it. Or not much. A pinch of sugar will do wonders for tomato sauce, but processed sauce is usually as full of sugar as coke.
    Checking ingredients lists is a good way to stay clear of the worst things, but:
    -you need time, intelligence and an educations for that
    -(Fast Food) Restaurants usually don’t hand you them.

  77. #77 Scott
    January 24, 2011

    @ Pablo:

    Reminds me of my high school chem class. Before Christmas one year, we did “the supersaturation lab,” AKA fudge. Another year, it was “the colligative properties lab,” AKA ice cream.

    Nobody was ever willing to do the trinitrotoluene lab, though. That would’ve been ever so much more fun.

  78. #78 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    After seeing Sir Eccles’ command I just took a look at the bread I just bought to see how overly sugared it was. Sugar is certainly in the ingredients as expected (and as it should be of course) but it is listed right after salt so I doubt much was used, just for the yeast most likely. There are 19 grams of carbs per seving but 0g is from sugar according to the nutritional information.

  79. #79 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Jim:

    I think Sir Eccles was meaning that you don’t need to add table sugar or processed sugar – that flour starch is sufficient for bread rising.

    But it needs time. That is what a sour dough culture does. You mix the flour and water, then add some already made sour culture, or some yeast, or hope some random yeast spores land on the mixture. Then you let is sit for a couple of days for the flour starch to break down to sugars.

  80. #80 Matthew Cline
    January 24, 2011

    You don’t shoot salad.

    No, you tackle it to the ground unarmed, strangle it with your bare hands, then let loose a primal scream of victory over its fresh corpse.

  81. #81 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    While prepping my lunch, I took some warm water and put yeast in it. It just sat there without any bubbles. As I ate lunch I mixed in flour and then kneaded it. I covered and placed it in an oven where I heated the pizza stone to about 100oF (I turned off the oven). I’ll look at in about three hours.

  82. #82 Jim
    January 24, 2011

    Agreed, Chris. Statements like, “You don’t need sugar to make bread,” taken to their extreme, can lead to some really bad dietary practices (not to mention lousy food). Even if you mean that there’s not need to use an excessive amount of sugar or that you need to be careful about the type of sugar used, take the time to say it clearly and accurately or risk being misheard.

  83. #83 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Ugh, tell me about the lousy food! Yikes, I know about that.

    Like someone I know tried to make jam without added sugar, but was surprised when I told her that one way the mixture makes it to the jelly stage was by evaporating enough water to get the sugar she did add and the berry sugars down to the specific concentration.

    And don’t even get me on the recipes in the What to Eat When You Are Expecting cookbook where regular cane/beet sugar was never mentioned, but instead they insisted on using concentrated apple juice! Um, isn’t that just full of the dreaded fructose? (by the way, by using half the measure of sugar with some water the baked goods turned out much better)

    Oooh… I just got another idea to get rid of over a quart of soy milk. Perhaps I should cook it down and see if I can get it to caramelize like some kind of new age dolce de leche.

  84. #84 a-non
    January 24, 2011

    No, you tackle it to the ground unarmed, strangle it with your bare hands, then let loose a primal scream of victory over its fresh corpse.

    Somehow I don’t think you’re talking about salad anymore.

  85. #85 Giliell
    January 24, 2011

    @Chris
    You really read such a book?
    After I read half an hour on the internet on “what not to eat when you’re expecting” I decided that I could follow all their advice and starve or that I would probably be OK if I just cooked and washed everything thoroughly.
    I had two healthy kids and smoked salmon afterwards (inmediately!).
    And don’t get me started on fructose. They’re adding it everywhere, especially in stuff targeted at kids and advertise as if it were somewhat better than normal sugar and people fall for it because it comes from fruit and we all learned that fruit=good. We should start teaching people that fruit = good, in spite of the fructose.

  86. #86 JustaTech
    January 24, 2011

    The thing that amazes me about some of the Raw Diets I’ve read about is that you aren’t supposed to eat anything hot. Or even really warm. 106 won’t make decent tea, and would be pretty unpleasant for soup too. I get the impression that raw food is a diet directed at people who live in warm climates with year-round access to fresh produce. What’s totally do-able in LA might be impossible in Madison, WI.

  87. #87 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    On the topic of bad food. I found a book at my busstop called “Wow! This is Sugarfree”, supposedly for sugarfree, allergy free cooking (not sure what allergy free means, I am sure you can find people allergic to plenty of the things in there. I guess it is people allergic to eggs, dairy, or wheat most likely). Anyway, basically they do the trick Chris mentioned, they have replaced sugar with lots and lots of apple juice and other fruit juices. On top of that many of the recipes are simply boring, bland foods.

  88. #88 Jim
    January 24, 2011

    What to Expect When You’re Expecting is an excellent, if somewhat paranoid, book for the expectant mother. Since it was successful, it has spawned a succession of other similar books, of significantly lesser quality.

  89. #89 Sir Eccles
    January 24, 2011

    I’ve made plenty of bread thanks. Yes, mostly sour dough style which does not take days and days to get to work, over night is sufficient.

    I am referring to the average American white loaf that the average American who doesn’t want to spend $5 a loaf feeds to their kids. It’s cheap and plentiful and tastes of sugar rather than bread.

    By all means add sugar for flavor, but let me add it rather than have it forced down my throat in every ingredient I buy. Same with salt, I’ll buy low salt chicken stock (if I haven’t made my own) so I can season it myself and not be overwhelmed by salt.

  90. #90 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Yes, and I still have it on my shelf (my daughter likes the milk shakes made with milk, dry milk and frozen fruit). You can it used here. Twenty plus years fructose was the “good” sugar and sucrose was the “bad” sugar.

    Actually, neither is “good” or “bad”, it is just how much you use. I make a very good fluffy tapioca pudding. One of my secrets is cut the amount of sugar in half, compared to the recipe on the box. And it must always be the “fluffy” version with the folding in of beaten egg whites. Keeps it from being gluey.

  91. #91 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Sir Eccles:

    Yes, mostly sour dough style which does not take days and days to get to work, over night is sufficient.

    Doesn’t count, as we noted. I looked at the other white bread in my bread drawer, sugar was listed way far down.

    By the way, do you have any real statistics on how many “average American who doesn’t want to spend $5 a loaf feeds to their kids” there are? Because last time I looked the artesianal bread (like the sourdough) is what costs $5.

  92. #92 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    I bought the cheapest bread I could today (unsliced crusty french bread), it was $1.99 CND and the sugar content was almost negligible as mentioned above. My roommates have some other bread so I went and looked. One was a loaf of white bread and it had 2g sugar per serving and Wonderbread which had 3g of sugar per serving (both servings were 2 slices). So it is clear they have some more left over in the end but I am not sure that is terribly excessive. It was a small fraction of the overall carbs in each. In both the sugar was listed just before the yeast so I doubt they were putting insane amounts in. I would guess those two are fairly good example of the average bread many have.

  93. #93 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    Sir Eccles:

    Yes, mostly sour dough style which does not take days and days to get to work, over night is sufficient.

    Should clarify why that does not count. You specifically said “yeast.” You did not say sour dough culture, which has noted above has had time to let the flour starch convert to sugar. Stop trying to back peddle, and provide some actual evidence.

  94. #94 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    Of course, if it does turn out the average loaf of bread has excess amounts of sugar I would not be surprised. I simply object to the blanket statement that was made about sugar not being needed. I certainly would never argue that the food many people eat is good for them and that food companies do not load them up with excess amounts of salt and sugar. And while my diet is certainly not the best I have to say I was shocked when watching TV yesterday. A show on MTV about people losing weight was on and when they when through the woman’s pantry it was full of boxed, premade foods. It seemed like nothing she ate was fresh. If the average person does that I could see it being a problem.

  95. #95 Sir Eccles
    January 24, 2011

    Last comment on the matter, here is the recipe I used to use.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html

    It was very tasty.

  96. #96 Big Blue
    January 24, 2011

    Sorry to say, I am with Sir Eccles on the slow-rise bread recipes. You sugar-starter people just do not know what you are missing. See the “Five Minutes A Day” bread book series from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. You mix up a giant batch of dough on the weekend, put it in the fridge under a damp dishtowel to rise, and scoop out chunks to bake every night. It is both delicious and inexpensive (something like $1/lb. to make, howevermuch flour costs in your neck of the woods), has many variations, and if you are lazy like me and don’t wash the mixing bowl until someone protests, it eventually develops its own sourdough culture. Only ingredients are flour, yeast, salt and water, unless you wish to add herbs, cheese, olive oil drizzle, sunflower seeds, honey etc.

    Seriously, if you bake bread at all, you must try this. At least as convenient as a bread machine. No kidding. Very tasty, of course good quality flour helps too.

  97. #97 JohnV
    January 24, 2011

    @Chris

    “Actually, neither is “good” or “bad”, it is just how much you use. ”

    What are the physiological responses in a human being to glucose alone, fructose alone or sucrose?

  98. #98 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    JohnV, for that you’ll have to ask Dr. Laidler (I’ve seen him give the talk, and he is very funny).

    I will note that you are doing something very very wrong if what you eat consists of “glucose alone, fructose alone or sucrose.” Personally I don’t eat spoonfuls of sugar of any sort. It is an ingredient in food, and it is not the total amount. You need to eat a balanced diet where you get your fructose from actual fruits and veggies, with some use of honey and sugar made from either beets or sugarcane.

    By the way, in case you forgot: sucrose = fructose + glucose (a disaccharide made from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose). I still think demonizing one type over the other is pretty silly, especially since I have a 23 year old cook book that insisted only fructose (concentrated apple juice) or honey be used because “sugar” was bad. Now fructose is bad. Which, by the way, was the basis of Dr. Laidler’s talk.

    Sir Eccles, why don’t you just admit you made a mistake when you said yeast bread did not need any sugar? And the sour culture does the trick of turning flour starch into sugar for the yeastie beasties to work.

    Big Blue, I have that book. I tried one recipe and it was awful. I used to keep some sour dough starter, but I don’t make bread often enough to bother with it too much. I mostly make pizza dough and an occasional French baguette. Every so often I’ll run the bread machine (which is what I did to get the bread stuffing for the Christmas turkey). None of them require the use of much sugar.

  99. #99 Warren
    January 24, 2011

    “[C]ountering that is the recently developed concept that cooking might have been a major factor in the increase in human brain size during evolution, the reason being that raw “live” food of the type featured in Simply Raw is far less energy rich than meat and takes more energy to digest.”

    One must wonder, then, if the reverse might not be true – whether eating exclusively raw (“living”) foods correlates with a reduction in brain mass. The anecdotal evidence might be sufficient to warrant further research.

    Something akin to this was presented to me a couple of years ago, in the form of a rant against drinking cold beverages. Allegedly, this caused grease and oils to congeal in the digestive system, resulting in any number of health problems. Apparently, the “ancient Chinese practice” of drinking hot green tea was one of several measures that could be taken to soften up oils and ensure overall digestive health.

    I’m a layman in the area, but even I could see what was wrong with those claims. Homeothermic animals don’t usually have lipids congealing in their guts, after all…

  100. #100 megan
    January 24, 2011

    Unscientific ‘woo’ used to promote things is not beneficial. But the snide posts about fad diets, yet also dismissing the need for humans to revert to healthier diets by cutting out overly processed foods, high processed carbs, high corn syrup – SCIENTIFIC FACT – sounds like a bunch of employees and lawyers for Kraft foods and McDonalds are sock puppeting the blogs.

    Number one people with type II diabetes need to change their diets and if the way is doing something not harmful to their body, but just based on incorrect reasons, I see no harm no foul. I control eating foods or just stopped, that will raise my body’s blood glucose too quickly and tax my body’s inability to respond to insulin properly ending in early disability and death. Screw those trying to trash eating methods to help people facilitate that to keep from having half their money go to doctors, hospitals and pharmacists.

    Paleo-diet really ends up mimicking what many modern healthy ‘sans medicine’ indigenous cultures have as diets who ARE NOT rife with obesity, organ systemic problems like developed nations and the fact they are active isn’t the main issue. What also counts as a large factor is type of foods eaten. Much of the world did not gain the gene to properly digest milk. To try to act like milk in diets is something natural and normal for the whole human race is equally lying and harmful. If persons choose to forgo it that isn’t going to kill them…just not have as tasty a pizza or ice cream.

  101. #101 Cath the Canberra Cook
    January 24, 2011

    I have to weigh in – yes, you can make bread without a sugar starter. But except for sourdough, nearly all good breads still use sugar. You just need to make sure that it’s a very small amount unless you actually want a sweet bread. A scant teaspoon per 500g loaf is usually about right.

    Also, American mass market bread tastes *very* noticeably sweet to me, in comparison to Australian mass market bread. I find it quite unpleasant with a savoury sandwich filling, and intolerably repulsive for vegemite toast.

  102. #102 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    megan,
    Can you point out where people have dismissed the need for people to eat healthier? Admittedly I read many of the posts earlier in the day but I do not remember anyone doing this. When people are snide about this type of diet and the claims that are made about it they are not saying that you should eat whatever you feel like, eat highly processed food, and not care. Also, who is saying that milk is good for everyone to include in their diets? I do not see anyone claiming this. I think you are railing against posts that do not exist, or that you are inserting your own meaning into, beyond what was said.

  103. #103 Dave
    January 24, 2011

    OK. So I came home and looked at an actual loaf of bread: Arnold Bakery, Whole Wheat 1Lb 8oz. Suggested Retail price, $4.29, I believe I paid about $2.49 on sale.

    Serving size 1 slice.
    Servings per container 16
    Calories 100.
    Sugars 4g.

    So approximately 12% of the calories in the slice of bread are from sugar. As a taste thing, I can understand not wanting that sugar there. I certainly prefer the “drier” taste of artisinal or homemade. As a moral or nutritional thing, I am having trouble getting worked up over the fact that they typical sandwich has as much sugar in its bread as most people put in their morning coffee.

  104. #104 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    So I have this half gallon carton of soy milk. I bought it for a house guest who is lactose intolerant. There are no fans for it in our house.

    I managed to use about three cups in two large batches of blueberry/apple muffins. I was going to use two cups for the white sauce for an upscale Mac and 3 cheese, but I made some polenta with it at lunch, and it was not that good. Actually too sweet.

    So I just pulled it out and decided to look at the label. It contains (exactly as spelled, including capital letters):

    All Natural Soymilk (Filtered Water, Whole Soybeans)
    All Natural Evaporated Cane Juice
    Calcium Carbonate
    Sea Salt
    Natural Flavors
    Carrageenan
    Vitamin A Palmitate
    Vitamin D2
    Riboflavin (B2)
    Vitamin B12

    All Natural Evaporated Cane Juice! That is sugar without the molasses part removed! Why don’t they just say sugar syrup?

    (Some grocery stores that cater to immigrant populations will have actual chunks of cane for sale. It is very stringy and not terribly sweet, with a hint of molasses.)

  105. #105 DrMJM
    January 24, 2011

    I am new to ScienceBlogs. Could someone please explain why the author uses the word “woo” in place of a more well known or used word like “quackery?” Woo sounds a bit juvenile to me.

  106. #106 Militant Agnostic
    January 24, 2011

    Woo is a broader term – it can refer to paranormal beliefs, UFOs, free energy etc while the term quackery is pretty much confined to the medical realm.

  107. #107 Chris
    January 24, 2011

    DrMJM, and James Randi is actively promoting the use of “woo” to describe all sorts of nonsense.

  108. #108 Travis
    January 24, 2011

    Orac wrote about what woo was a few years ago. The post is here.

  109. #109 Kemist
    January 24, 2011

    Everybody who’s been on a weight-loss diet will tell you that they felt very energetic.

    Well, I didn’t. Most especially on a vegetarian diet. My stamina decreased enormously, so much that I avoided exercise almost completely – it left me too tired to do anything else (tired = threatening to pass out at any moment).

    Interestingly, the only reason why a raw food, or vegan, diet is actually possible nowadays is because the various vegetables involved have been modified heavily by selective breeding to have far more calories than the ‘wild’ types; as well as such things as central heating and sedentary lifestyles lowering our requirements.

    Tell me about it. It is currently about -30C where I live. I cannot express how much of a turn off raw vegetables of any form are after facing that searing cold. I’d be curious to see how a raw foodist might withstand an experience like winter camping, where resistance to hypothermia is an issue. I suspect it would be rather challenging even for a more garden-variety vegan. From experience, even with the best clothing, you need to be able to put out a lot of heat via brown fat, and that burns calories like you wouldn’t believe.

  110. #110 purenoiz
    January 24, 2011

    106 comments about uncooked food. I need to read the hyper ventilation after I cook some fish.

  111. #111 Denice Walter
    January 24, 2011

    @ DrMJM: the word “woo” itself sounds nonsensical, trivial, and juvenile: thus it perfectly illustrates the most salient and intrinsic qualities of woo. In addition, it rhymes easily with many other words/ syllables and can be used to snarkily transform many other expressions, e.g. “Woo Age”, “Deja Woo”,”Woo-topia”, and the oracian gem, “Woo-bicon” ( as in “crossing the-”).

  112. #112 Composer99
    January 24, 2011

    megan,

    Maybe you missed the part where Orac (the blogger) wrote the following:

    Far be it from me to denigrate diet as a therapeutic tool for chronic disease, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. There is plenty of evidence in SBM that losing weight and exercising can have a profound positive effect on blood pressure, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the very first thing that physicians do when they diagnose someone with hypertension or type II diabetes is to try to get them to lose weight and eat a healthier diet, knowing that significant weight loss can lower blood pressure and even often reverse partially or completely the elevated blood sugar of type II diabetes.

    I will not bother going through all the comments trying to find where people indicated there were very legitimate reasons to cut out processed foods, excess sugar, salt, fat, etc. from diets.

    You are free to have your opinion on foods, diets, and the like, and you are free to voice it, especially on this blog. You are not free, however, from people finding your criticisms without merit (on account of them not accurately reflecting the course of the conversation).

    Arguing against a point no one has made usually means you are engaged in a straw man fallacy, which I trust you will look up if you are not familiar with the term. Straw men get tossed around a lot here (mostly by defenders of quackery, but also by defenders of science-based medicine), and they quickly grow tiresome.

    I can think of little that will annoy (almost) everyone else more than building up a straw version of the commentary thus far and then tearing down the field of scarecrows with a Big Food shill argument (honestly – Kraft/McDonalds sockpuppets? Please).

  113. #113 Militant Agnostic
    January 24, 2011

    @100
    “SCIENTIFIC FACT” usually means “assertion for which I have no evidence”. At least that has been the experience in these parts.

  114. #114 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    January 24, 2011

    @kraut
    “You don’t shoot salad.”
    Oh yeah, smart guy, then what is my Salad Shooter for? Yeah, thought so. :)

    —————

    Here’s my New American Diet

    1. Don’t eat/drink HFCS.
    2. Don’t eat trans fat.
    3. Don’t eat anything wrapped in mylar.
    4. Don’t eat anything from a vending machine.

    1. Cuts out sugary drinks which are just empty calories.
    2. Cuts out most processed baked goods.
    3. Cuts out most junk food.
    4. Cuts out impulse snacking and a lot of 1, 2, and 3.

    —————-

    If paleos were anything other than major-league posers, they’d don a loin cloth, grab a pointy stick, and chase down a bison. Otherwise its just a lotta talk.

  115. #115 adelady
    January 25, 2011

    As for the earlier comment about some veg being better wholly or partly cooked being more nutritious, cabbage is the classic example. Sauerkraut, kim chi are not just ways of preserving cabbage, the fermentation and resulting acid partially break down the cellulose, thereby allowing easier digestion of the contents of the cells of the veg. Coleslaw works in much the same way.

    My husband wants to know if mouldy tomatoes have more “life force” than just plain tomatoes. He is also very taken with the notion of going into the garden to ‘stalk’ the celery.

  116. #116 Rohan G
    January 25, 2011

    Sorry to comment off topic, but I don’t know how to make this request to you other than here. Orac, could you please write a post about Dr Thomas Levy’s book Curing the Incurable with Vitamin C. I have a non-skeptic friend who believes in his stuff but I can’t find any proper debunking of it on the interenet – certainly nothing as good as what you do. Cheers.

  117. #117 adelady
    January 25, 2011

    The other thing that annoys me about so-called paleo diets is that seem to take no account of the extreme seasonality of foods.

    I know one group of indigenous Australians in this state had a lfestyle close to paradise. They spent the summer basically at the beach near the mouth of the river – standing at the waterline wriggling their toes to gather, effortlessly, feasts of shellfish. Some of them obviously went to a bit of trouble to catch swimming fish – which they cooked – shock, horror!

    When the weather cooled they moved upriver to gather mature roots, fruits and seeds. And they had to make do with *cooking* (more shock and horror) fresh-water fish and shellfish. There was also an abundance of small animals and edible birds as well as some green leafy veg. Eggs were also available – in season, late winter / spring.

    Importantly, it was never possible to have the eggs, the roots, the sea-caught fish at the same time. I’d have a lot more respect for people who claim to have a ‘natural’ diet if they stayed with foods strictly within season – and basically ate a very restricted diet appropriate to each different season.

  118. #118 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    January 25, 2011

    @kraut
    “You don’t shoot salad.”
    Oh yeah, smart guy, then what is my Salad Shooter for? Yeah, thought so. :)

    —————

    Here’s my New American Diet

    1. Don’t eat/drink HFCS.
    2. Don’t eat trans fat.
    3. Don’t eat anything wrapped in mylar.
    4. Don’t eat anything from a vending machine.

    1. Cuts out sugary drinks which are just empty calories.
    2. Cuts out most processed baked goods.
    3. Cuts out most junk food.
    4. Cuts out impulse snacking and a lot of 1, 2, and 3.

    —————-

    If paleos were anything other than major-league posers, they’d don a loin cloth, grab a pointy stick, and chase down a bison. Otherwise its just a lotta talk.

  119. #119 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    January 25, 2011

    @kraut
    “You don’t shoot salad.”
    Oh yeah, smart guy, then what is my Salad Shooter for? Yeah, thought so. :)

    —————

    Here’s my New American Diet

    1. Don’t eat/drink HFCS.
    2. Don’t eat trans fat.
    3. Don’t eat anything wrapped in mylar.
    4. Don’t eat anything from a vending machine.

    1. Cuts out sugary drinks which are just empty calories.
    2. Cuts out most processed baked goods.
    3. Cuts out most junk food.
    4. Cuts out impulse snacking and a lot of 1, 2, and 3.

    —————-

    If paleos were anything other than major-league posers, they’d don a loin cloth, grab a pointy stick, and chase down a bison. Otherwise its just a lotta talk.

  120. #120 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    January 25, 2011

    Wow, accidental double post separated by an hour. “Hello, Guinness Book?”

  121. #121 Chris
    January 25, 2011

    Gregarious Misanthrope:

    2. Cuts out most processed baked goods.

    When I was diagnosed with (genetic) high cholesterol, included with all the diet recommendations was to avoid commercially made muffins. I never liked them much anyway since they are too sweet and oily. I substitute applesauce (from my apples, no sugar added or needed) and ground flax seed for some of the egg and oil in my blueberry muffin recipe. Since I am always fiddling with the recipe, recent house guest had me write down what I did.

    adelady:

    He is also very taken with the notion of going into the garden to ‘stalk’ the celery.

    Pun groan! ;-)

  122. #122 Jarred C
    January 25, 2011
  123. #123 Andreas Johansson
    January 25, 2011

    ‘Tis funny to hear Americans talk about cane and beet sugar. Over here in the EU, production of same is subsidised and that of HFCS is not (or at least not as heavily), with the result you find cane or beet sugar added as a filler and/or taste enhancer to about everything, incl. ground meat. Accordingly, health conscious people (both the sane sort and the other) complain about it.

  124. #124 Militant Agnostic
    January 25, 2011

    Gregarious Misanthrope

    If paleos were anything other than major-league posers, they’d don a loin cloth, grab a pointy stick, and chase down a bison. Otherwise its just a lotta talk.

    That was the real benefit of the paleo diet. You got plenty of cardio excercise runing down the bison followed by a frantic sprint when the bison took exception to being poked with your pointy stick.

    roadstergal

    BTW, if paleos don’t eat termites as a protein source, and instead eat meat from massively-bred modern-day pigs and cows, I’m calling them out.

    Eating termites is “girly”. I thought it was funny that the author of a book called Neanderthin would eat bacon in large amounts. I suspect a wild pig would have lot less fat and whole lot less sodium.

  125. #125 Candy
    January 25, 2011

    I have to admit I rather like the idea of bludgeoning Brussels sprouts to death, and then performing some sort of victory dance around their pulverized little corpses. I hates ‘em, I does.

  126. #126 Andreas Johansson
    January 25, 2011

    Militant Agnostic wrote:

    Eating termites is “girly”.

    I cannot help but suspect that if, back in my Scout leader days, had given my charges the opportunity to eat termites, the boys would have been distinctly more enthusiastic than the girls.

  127. #127 Giliell
    January 25, 2011

    @Chris
    Well, maybe those books were better in the USA 20 years ago, they were all crap 4 years ago in Germany. But those books I “inherited” from my aunt that were 20 years old were mostly crap, too. OK, I have to admit that my aunt is a bit on the “naturalistic” side, so were all the books. But on her defense, she always drew the line at the important questions. That’s how she ended up with a dozen books on all natural childbirth and two C-sections.

    But back to the sugars:
    I don’t say there’s a “good sugar” and a “bad sugar”. But fructose and glucose are processed differently by our bodies. Fructose doesn’t kick off insulin, which makes it good for diabetics and people who have to worry about their blood sugar.
    But on the other hand, insulin also plays an important role in telling you that you’re full and can stop eating.
    That means that just replacing normal household sugar which is only 50% fructose with the same amount of pure fructose might be a bad thing to do because it makes people eat more.
    And I think that’s especially bad if food targeted at children is advertised with “all sweetness from fruits”, which doesn’t mean that they didn’t add sugar, but that they added fructose instead of succrose. And since people are taught all the time that things made of fruit are good for you, they fall for it.

  128. #128 Wow
    January 25, 2011

    “followed by a frantic sprint when the bison took exception to being poked with your pointy stick.”

    Fnurr fnurr…
    :-)

    I remember reading that running a herbivore to death was the most energy effective way of getting calories from meat. Humans being EXTREMELY efficient long distance runners (well, not *me*, but I’ve been modernised to uselessness), beaten only by the wolf, “we” can easily run a ruminant to ground and take our time killing it.

  129. #129 JohnV
    January 25, 2011

    Chris I’m well aware of the two sugars that make up sucrose. That’s the whole damn point, although I appreciate making the most absurd interpretation of my question possible.

    Thanks for the link, it was interesting reading even though it didn’t answer my question.

  130. #130 Agent Smith
    January 25, 2011

    Here is my diet:

    Eat less calories. Period. End of Story.

    The rest of the stuff is ridiculous. If SuperSize Me had tested based on the same amount of calories and the same exercise plan, he will have continue along with his same weight. Apparently he was surprised to find out that major overdoses of calories and lack of exercise are bad for you. The rest was sensationalist bullshit.

  131. #131 Diane
    January 25, 2011

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned this, but isn’t the number one cause of food poisioning improperly washed raw fruits and vegetables? Or am I recalling incorrectly?

    I personally don’t really like raw vegetables enough to serve them at dinner. Even a light steaming makes a huge difference.

  132. #132 zombie attack_laurel
    January 25, 2011

    *sigh* I read the title, and thought we were talking about zombism – the ultimate raw, living-food diet.

    Q. What do vegetarian zombies eat?

    A. “Graiiiiiiiiiinssssss…”

  133. #133 sophia8
    January 25, 2011

    chris @79:But it needs time. That is what a sour dough culture does. You mix the flour and water, then add some already made sour culture, or some yeast, or hope some random yeast spores land on the mixture. Then you let is sit for a couple of days for the flour starch to break down to sugars
    I’ve been making bread for myself for years (OH prefers the dead* stuff from the shop). Yes, you can feed the yeast with just flour, but that’s a really slow process. If you want to have a loaf within the day and you haven’t any sourdough starter, then you need to add some kind of sugar. I use a yeast that been bred for fast rising, plus Vitamin C powder to speed it up some more – I can have a loaf ready in under three hours that way.
    Lots of people are ignorant about sugar. Doesn’t matter if you use household sugar, cane sugar, honey or whatever – it’s ALL sugar (though honey or malt extract can add some flavour). Sometime during the 70s, I came across a book entitle ‘Sugar-Free Baking’ – the recipes simply substituted maple syrup for sugar!

    *irony

  134. #134 augustine
    January 25, 2011

    Wow. Nutrition experts, this group is not. Can’t wait for an exercise article to come up. The ignorance would surely ooze. But it would be entertaining because it would be ignorance with snark.

  135. #135 Chris
    January 25, 2011

    Giliel:

    Well, maybe those books were better in the USA 20 years ago, they were all crap 4 years ago in Germany.

    Hah! I never said it was good, considering it wanted to use only concentrated apple juice or honey for sweetener! Someone I know calls that series of books “How to make a mother feel guilty.”

    JohnV, I did not see the point of your question. Who just eats the pure sugars anyway? If you are going to say all fructose is bad, then you have to stay away from fruit and veg. If you are going to say glucose is bad, then stay away from honey. If you are going to say sucrose is bad, then stay a way from all fruit, veg and honey. It makes absolutely no sense.

  136. #136 Calli Arcale
    January 25, 2011

    I’ve been doing some *actual* sugar-free cooking, since my MIL was diagnosed with diabetes, and it’s challenging. I was excited when I found a bottle of agave syrup which promoted itself as an alternative sweetener with a lower glycemic index. Look at the nutritional facts, and it was pretty much identical in # of carbs from sugar as the honey sitting next to it on the shelf. I was still curious what it tasted like, so I bought some. It’s similar to maple syrup; my picky daughter actually likes it, so it was a good buy after all.

    For sugar-free cooking, you pretty much have to either substitute “fatty” for “sweet” or use artificial sweeteners (which are useless for feeding yeast, though of course that in bread, the real problem isn’t the sugar, it’s the vast quantities of other carbohydrates). This can yield good or bad results, because they don’t behave the same way chemically. For cooking, it’s usually not a problem. For baking, it can be a very big problem. It depends. There’s probably a fair bit of space for innovation in this area; so many of our modern cooking methods are just variations on themes going back a couple hundred years or even several thousand years.

  137. #137 Scott
    January 25, 2011

    A strictly fat-free diet is also nigh-impossible. There are so many things that HAVE to have fat in order to have a decent texture, regulate the temperature at which they cook, etc. Fortunately I didn’t have to try and eat one for all that long, and crippling pain whenever I slipped up was quite an effective teaching tool.

    Gall bladder disease is NOT fun.

  138. #138 Bunbun
    January 25, 2011

    @100 Militant Agnostic FTW.

  139. #139 mad the swine
    January 25, 2011

    Also, American mass market bread tastes *very* noticeably sweet to me, in comparison to Australian mass market bread. I find it [...] intolerably repulsive for vegemite toast.

    Are you sure that’s not just the vegemite?

  140. #140 purenoiz
    January 25, 2011

    Tangential off topic comment, be aware.

    One of the the things I snicker about with the whole paleo diet is the revere for Neanderthal. A giant tough brutish fellow with a brain larger than ours (shaped differently as well). Neanderthal is extinct. So um yeah, great diet choice.

    The extremism by which raw foodies live makes no sense if you follow the evidence, which they don’t. Hence the woo is rich in their fields, woo nourishes plant growth.

    2 books I like, that discuss nutritional needs for human brain growth from Lucy til now.
    “The Tipping Point” by Michael Crawford.
    “Survival of The Fattest, the Key to Human Brain Evolution” By Stephen Cunane

    The tipping points main flaw is the Aquatic ape theory, Cunane does go down that road but stops short of saying our ancestors we like dolphins, that is mammals that returned to the sea, and then came back out again, he looks at where are the easiest and most robust places for the evolving brain to get the basic nutrients it could utilize for expansion AND also provide for the the slower development of the child. This is apparently another uniquely human development process, when compared with other hominid. The authors both do a good job comparing wild game to cattle, particularly paying focus on fatty acid profile.

    Why? ISSFAL looked at the research, and n-3 Alpha Linoleic Acid does not readily convert into n-3 Docosahexaenoic acid in humans. This link is to their fifth statement, which you can download as a word document. Interesting stuff really.

    I bring this up for two reasons, 1 million years ago our ancestors didn’t have the logic nor the capacity to hunt large game, or cultivate crops (agriculture is the newest tool in our toolkit). Only after our ancestors had sufficiently grown our brains, could they develop the persistent hunting techniques used by the tsung! bushmen, spears or make clothing suitable for crossing the bering straight. We did not evolve as vegetarians. We did not evolve as raw foodists, nor did we likely evolve on the savannah’s of Africa ( it would not provide us with ALL of the nutrients we needed to start growing a larger brain). You can ignore the requirement of our brain for certain key minerals and fats such as Iron, Iodine, Copper, Zinc and Selenium, Arachadonic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid. Chemical reactions people, take away an element, and the reaction isn’t the same.

    Back to the topic.
    What ever happened to moderation? Orac is correct that changing ones lifestyle is hard. I went vegan for 8 years, it was easy since it was part of the community I was a part of. The punk rock ethos of DIY said don’t buy junk food, make your own! If I had tried to do it on my own, with out any support I am sure I would have quit sooner. One can look at the larger spectacle of our society being played out. The economics, and societal norms support a lifestyle of extremism. Go big or go home! Super Size me has become the national attitude, if not body shape. So yeah, changing your lifestyle will be hard given that you have to swim upstream to do it. Try being lactose intolerant and going out to dinner, you quickly find your options limited. I don’t think it’s laziness or sloth, but a genetic predisposition towards conservation of energy, and making changes requires more brain energy ( where did I read this?). Changing old habits, swimming upstream against cultural norms etc, it isn’t easy. It isn’t impossible either. But going raw is not a cure for anything other than a glut of free time.

  141. #141 purenoiz
    January 25, 2011

    Hey Augustine,

    Please be so kind to enlighten us with your nutritional wisdom. What exactly do trolls eat, other than unvaccinated children? I’m trying to figure out if you are a Sally Fallon food fool or a brain dead raw food snob? Please let your intellect and knowledge of nutrients flow upon us.

    Why do I sense that the flow will be like my bathroom sink at 2 am? drip, drip, drip.

  142. #142 Yojimbo
    January 25, 2011

    At the risk of further flagellating a moribund equine, one more note about bread. I use “instant” dry yeast, and there is never a need to add sugar, as the yeast beads are coated with nutrient. And, though 90 deg. F is an ideal environment, you can get perfectly good results with flour, salt, yeast and water at room temperature in 2-3 hours. No souring needed – though I often use a biga (early fermentation – not sour) or levain (slightly sour)for rustic breads.

  143. #143 lilady
    January 25, 2011

    I wonder why we are all debating the use of a minute amount of sugar used to feed starter yeast to make bread versus sourdough starter. Both breads are delicious.

    At issue here is the overloading of sugar in baked goods in the form of beet, cane or corn syrups and the use of these sugars in other prepackaged goods. Cooking from scratch where you know the ingredients and know how to adapt recipes, is the way to go.

    Years ago, valid concerns were raised about the sugar (cane, beet, corn syrup and sugar based-thickener) content of jarred baby food. Such sugars were found in their fruit, vegetable and “junior” entrees. Regulations were put in place and baby food no longer has added sugar in any form. Even back then, it was known that infants can develop food preferences based on the “sweetness” of sugar-adulterated baby food.

    We, as a society are facing the alarming rise in childhood obesity problem manifested by children with elevated cholesterol/triglyceride levels and early onset of type II diabetes.

    I just viewed a TV program segment about the lawsuit directed against a fast food chain that includes toys in their kiddie boxed meals. The thrust of the lawsuit is to remove the toys from the boxed meals, the theory being that parents could “ween” their children away from fast food. One of the named plaintiffs spoke about her four-year-old’s “attraction” to the plastic toy figures included in the kiddie meals (fast camera pan to the four year old who has dozens of these trinkets). Perhaps this mommy should have take control and not ever used fast food to feed the youngster.

    We are all concerned about burgeoning health care costs and its impact on our ability to pay for good medical care. What I am also concerned with is the shocking percentage of youngsters who are overweight and who are diagnosed with early onset obesity-related type II diabetes and elevated cholesterol/triglyceride levels. These children face chronic hypertension/cardiac problems and are at real risk for the onset of blindness, circulatory problems and kidney failure once they become adults.

    We need to educate children and the parents who feed them, about healthy, well balanced diets.

  144. #144 Giliell
    January 25, 2011

    lilady wrote

    I just viewed a TV program segment about the lawsuit directed against a fast food chain that includes toys in their kiddie boxed meals. The thrust of the lawsuit is to remove the toys from the boxed meals, the theory being that parents could “ween” their children away from fast food. One of the named plaintiffs spoke about her four-year-old’s “attraction” to the plastic toy figures included in the kiddie meals (fast camera pan to the four year old who has dozens of these trinkets). Perhaps this mommy should have take control and not ever used fast food to feed the youngster.

    Me answered
    Wow, I’m really somebody who makes a lot of excuses for people, but that’s just plain stupid. The kid is four, she can hardly drive to the fast-food restaurant herself.
    When your kids are that small you’re in control, at least in general terms.

    But it’s always amazing how blind parents are when facing the fact that their kids are overweight. When the kid is ten, it’s no longer puppy fat. When the waddle instead of walking, they’re no longer on the chubby side.
    My blood pressure always gets up when I see those poor creatures still being pushed in a stroller when they’re already 4 or 5, holding a bottle(!) with something that’s clearly not water or a herbal infusion.

    Heck, how do I add quotes here?

  145. #145 Prometheus
    January 25, 2011

    Adelady (#102) brings up a good point:

    “The other thing that annoys me about so-called paleo diets is that seem to take no account of the extreme seasonality of foods.”

    In fact, in some areas, that seasonality was so extreme that the Neanderthals (and H. sapiens) resorted to the dietary practise known as “starvation” (or, on occasion, “cannibalism”).

    The raw foodies seem to overlook a number of “inconvenient truths” about paleology, biology and chemistry. To begin with, our ancestors (and our nearest “cousins”, the Neanderthals) used fire at least 125,000 years ago (hint: about the time our species originated). So, to say that we evolved with a diet of uncooked food is historically (or is it “pre-historically”) inaccurate.

    Secondly, no matter how “alive” that baby carrot is on the plate, it will be dead shortly after it reaches your stomach. And those “live” enzymes? Well, one of the primary functions of the stomach (acid, proteolytic enzymes, etc.) is to “kill” (denature and/or break down) functional enzymes. A few, to be sure, get through intact, but not most.

    If it makes people feel better (in a psychological sense) to “stalk” the wily celery and eat it raw and wriggling (ala Gollum), may they enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors. But that won’t change the fact that a gently cooked carrot (not cooked into a grey-brown mush the way my relatives back in England seem to prefer them) has 90+% of the nutrients that it had when it was raw. If the loss of less than 10% bothers you, eat another helping.

    Prometheus

  146. #146 David D.G.
    January 25, 2011

    It’s well known that diet can reduce insulin requirements in type I diabetics, sometimes dramatically, but they still need insulin. In rare–very rare–cases, it might–might–be possible to get a type I diabetic off insulin, but only if his pancreas still makes a little insulin.

    Exactly. Dr. Cousens’ claim that he can “cure” diabetes at all, let alone only with diet, is absurd and misleading. At best, an idealized personal diabetic diet might be able to make a person no longer need to inject insulin, but that is NOT the same thing as “curing” diabetes. It’s just managing diabetes by diet alone instead of diet AND medical intervention. And, as Orac points out, that’s only as long as the person holds to the diet with an iron will, something that very few of us have (or want to depend on even if we have it).

  147. #147 Inquisitive Raven
    January 25, 2011

    I’ve made yeasted (not sourdough) bread without sugar. The recipe called for ten minutes of hand kneading/loaf. It also used whole wheat flour, if using white flour, you might be able to cut the kneading time. It also told you how to test whether you’d done enough kneading by both visual and tactile clues, so you could use a dough hook in a stand mixer. Since the recipe also made a big deal about kneading being necessary to adequately develop the gluten, I’m guessing what was going on is this: In addition to the gases produced by the yeast, properly leavened bread requires something to trap the gases. Gluten fills this role in wheat based breads; xanthan gum is commonly used in gluten free breads. The yeast is quite capable of digesting the starch in the flour, but if it’s producing less CO2 than it would if given sugar, then it becomes even more critical to trap the CO2 when not using sugar than it would be when using sugar.

    Re: type 1 Diabetes

    Before insulin, diet was successfully used to control type 1 diabetes, well, diabetes mellitus in general since the different types weren’t recognized then. Unfortunately, it was a damn near starvation diet. Note, it didn’t cure type 1 diabetes, but it was apparently enough to keep patients going for years. A friend of mine maintains that if it hadn’t worked, her grandfather wouldn’t have survived long enough to become a grandfather. Please note that the grandfather started using insulin as soon as it became available. I should note that the diet in question wasn’t AFAIK, a raw food diet, just an extremely low calorie one.

    @russ

    One of the benefits of cooking is that it supposedly breaks down the cell walls in particularly hard to digest vegetables which makes their nutrient content more available. I wonder if running those veggies through a blender has a similar effect.

  148. #148 Matthew Cline
    January 25, 2011

    @augustine:

    Wow. Nutrition experts, this group is not. Can’t wait for an exercise article to come up. The ignorance would surely ooze. But it would be entertaining because it would be ignorance with snark.

    Please enlighten us as to what we got wrong, especially with regards to raw foods diets.

  149. #149 azazazaz
    January 26, 2011

    I know this is a little off topic but I really had to link to the Arrogant Worms song.
    I hope you’ll all get a laugh from it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmK0bZl4ILM

  150. #150 Muzz
    January 26, 2011

    Crits of ‘Supersize Me’ here forget that it was a test not of what high fat or caloric intake will do to you but how McDonalds sold their food and themselves to people. The kick off was a quote from some executive, from memory, who said in the aftermath of one of those legal cases (Micky Ds shutting down pamphleteers the front of stores) that the food was good enough to live on, or words to that effect.
    Spurlock took that quote and the way the food was sold in the ‘States to create his little test. It’s a gimmick, sure. But an interesting and illustrative one.
    He did include that one guy who ate McDs every day, but never bought the meal deals and was perfectly healthy.

    The film has become a bit of a cause celelbre for for those who ascribe almost supernatural evil to McDs and fast food in general. Spurlock may even be such a person (I got the impression his vegan chef girlfriend certainly was). But in and of itself it’s a pretty honest and impartial piece of work as activist documentaries go.
    McDonalds, to their credit, changed their ways quite a lot after it came out.

  151. #151 Chris
    January 26, 2011

    Muzz:

    McDonalds, to their credit, changed their ways quite a lot after it came out.

    They had salads, juice, basic hamburgers and chicken sandwiches before Spurlock overindulged himself.

  152. #152 Giliell
    January 26, 2011

    @Chris
    That’s true, but it’s also a fairly new developement. Plus, those things are more expensive. Pricing schemes do matter. Often the supersize serving is cheaper than buying a single Hamburger, a small soft drink and a salad.
    And supersize servings ARE a problem. Last time I went to the cinema, the small soft drink was 0.5l, medium was 1l and large was 1.5l.

  153. #153 Kristen
    January 26, 2011

    Chris,

    By the way, in case you forgot: sucrose = fructose + glucose (a disaccharide made from the monosaccharides fructose and glucose). I still think demonizing one type over the other is pretty silly, especially since I have a 23 year old cook book that insisted only fructose (concentrated apple juice) or honey be used because “sugar” was bad. Now fructose is bad.

    IDK what caused it, but recently* I developed an inability to absorb fructose unless it is accompanied by an equal (or greater) amount of glucose. I’m not saying HFCS is the culprit, though; I can’t have fruit juice, most whole fruit (except berries), honey or anything containing HFCS (can’t have sugar alcohols, but can have sucrose). So in my experience fructose is fructose is fructose-even if it is derived from corn.

    My theory on diet is very similar to Militant Agnostics. Don’t eating anything too high in sugar, salt or saturated fat, eat as few things that come in a package as possible unless it has less than five familiar ingredients. I don’t agree with everything Michael Pollen says, but he sums up the rules of healthy eating very eloquently:

    “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

    *Very recently, I’m not quite clear on everything this entails.

  154. #154 Chris
    January 26, 2011

    Giliel:

    That’s true, but it’s also a fairly new developement.

    Twenty years is fairly new? Who knew? I know that when my kids were little I usually got them juice instead of soda, and a salad for myself.

    Kristten, you would have hated that cook book! I know a source for glucose though: the candy and cake decorating supply store.

  155. #155 Kristen
    January 26, 2011

    Chris,

    Indeed, I would have. I can have table sugar (albeit not much) which is good since I decorate cakes. I have yet to find a good recipe for buttercream frosting that doesn’t contain confectioners sugar, I can’t handle it for some reason.

    I think the take home message is: too much sugar is bad, and fruit juice has just as much sugar as pop. Sugar in all it’s forms is best consumed as an occasional treat and in the tastiest form possible (which is subjective).

  156. #156 Chris
    January 26, 2011

    Kristen, I have made a very evil buttercreams that do not use confectioner’s sugar, Italian and Swiss.

    One involves egg whites and sugar over a double boiler, then whipping in butter and the other involves egg white, egg yolk or whole egg beaten well and then continued beating while very hot sugar syrup (soft ball stage?) is poured over with butter after wards. It has been a while, so you’ll need to look them up.

  157. #157 Roadstergal
    January 26, 2011

    Before insulin, diet was successfully used to control type 1 diabetes

    Maybe for some unaggressive (generally late-onset) T1D cases. Aggressive cases of T1D, which is how it tends to present in young children, would almost invariably progress rapidly to coma and death in the pre-insulin era. File this along with vaccines in the ‘people don’t know how bad it was’ folder.

  158. #158 Muzz
    January 26, 2011

    Chris: It may depend where you are how much difference it made. I know that here in Aus (and this bit of it) the salads were all but invisible, not to mention terrible and over priced. The orange juice was that bitter preservative laden stuff that’s virtually undrinkable.
    There was no real effort to make people aware of its existence or worth knowing about. There was always a chicken burger of some sort but it was basically a large nugget in a bun (and Aus has a good selection of chicken chains already, so why compete there)
    After SSM an entire menu was added full of salad rolls and chicken flat bread things. They trumpeted their health credentials and new fresher local ingredients etc. A massive change from before and it was undoubtedly related to the movie.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think its fair that Maccers is the repeated whipping boy for the fast food industry’s ills, imagined or otherwise. This is just about what the movie said and what changes it caused.

  159. #159 Calli Arcale
    January 26, 2011

    Muzz — why was it undoubtedly because of the movie? I think the movie and McDonald’s shift to healthier options was not a causal relationship — instead, I think they shared a common causative agent, to whit, a shift in public opinion regarding fast food restaurants. A movie isn’t going to get McDonald’s to change their practices. Market research will, however, if it shows that the market is shifting. The same market shifts were what created a suitable market for the movie Supersize Me.

  160. #160 Muzz
    January 26, 2011

    Calli: While you’re quite correct in pointing out the overstatement, the changes did address almost exactly the issues brought up in the film. McDonalds had weathered a fair bit of bad PR along those lines up until that point, with long running lawsuits in the UK (and I think one here as well) and felt no need to change. Indeed I doubt their bottom line had seen any hit. But I don’t know. Super Size Me was being used as story fodder for current affairs shows for weeks on end (providing focus for their more general ‘fat kids’ sensationalism). A shift in public perception of fast food resturaunts is a valid interpretation, but the appearance of this new market wasn’t something most other chains sought to capitalise on that I can recall (except for the likes of Subway pointing out they they weren’t McDonalds, but that was already a fairly common approach of theirs).
    I can’t dismiss SuperSize Me’s role in popularising disdain of McDonalds menu as being merely part of a trend, is what I’m saying. Large corporations also aren’t perfectly rational actors reacting to markets either. They’ll kneejerk and preempt just like anyone else (heck there’s surely argument to be made that “everyone knew” McDs wasn’t health food before, but ate it anyway. Why change now?). Their image would seem to have been damaged and they sought to change it, for good reason or not. I think any market research at the time would show Super Size Me being a very prominent factor in that, even if it’s bad sociology to say it’s the only one. But I don’t know.

  161. #161 Giliell
    January 26, 2011

    @Chris
    Here on the other side of the pond you didn’t find anything remotely healthy on a McD menu 20 years ago. Not even 15. 10 years ago there was like one overpriced salad (and if you don’t pay attention a salad can have more fat that a Big Mac). I would say that it’s really only like a bit more than 5 years that they’re really trying to marketing “healthy” food with low fat and such.

  162. #162 Chris
    January 26, 2011

    I have just learned that. It must have been due to competition to the other fast food restaurants. The 1990s seemed to be a time when fast food places were trying for healthier. And yeah, those salads could be very dangerous if you are not careful, especially the ones covered in cheese.

    Though on this side of the pond, they did offer healthier options when Spurlock did his project. And there seems to be a wiki for everything: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald%27s_products . Salads introduced in 1985, my favorite light chicken sandwich is now gone (we don’t go anymore, kids are bigger).

    Also, McDonald’s is not the only culprit with high calorie options. There are several restaurant chains with high fat options like a tower of onion rings with sauces, potato skins full of cheese and cheese covered meats. Ugh.

    In some chains recently I have taken to substituting a salad for the french fries, and ordering items without cheese.

    I do remember that 25 years ago we only went to McDonald’s in France just so we could be in a smoke-free area. I assume that has changed. I don’t remember that was a problem when we visited Denmark and the Netherlands a couple of years ago (I think I also substituted a salad for potatoes at one of those ubiquitous Argentine grills in Maastricht)

  163. #163 dedicated lurker
    January 26, 2011

    Chris – I’m still upset they discontinued the BK broiler. That was a good sandwich and I always got it without sauce. I also try to substitute french fries for mashed potatoes if they are available. Yeah, they’re not great for me, but they don’t have the salt and fat. (There’s always far too much salt on fries anyway.)

  164. #164 Cath the Canberra Cook
    January 26, 2011

    Thanks, mad, I had to check in again to make sure that someone had taken the straight line bait that I left.

    As a proper patriotic Aussie (*) I love my vegemite toast, I do. Salt and leftover beer yeast, what could be better with buttered toast?

    (*) which is to say, not very patriotic at all, because excess patriotism is unAustralian.

  165. #165 Giliell
    January 27, 2011

    @Chris
    Well, I’m not a fast food person anyway. I admit that I usually just use Mc D for a clean toilet in foreign cities ;)
    Thankfully, most countries in Europe now have decent non-smoking laws so you can go to normal restaurants without ending as a smoked kipper.
    I never said it was only McD. I mentioned the example of the soft drink sizes at the cinema and that is certainly not run by Mc D. It’s a problem that is current in our societies. In Germany, supersize-restaurants are the latest fashion. I get sick if I only see the stuff they’re serving. It’s not only a supersize serving, it’s also abundant in fat and it stands to reason that if you pay 15$ for a 2lb Schnitzel, it can’t be quality meat.

  166. #166 Chris
    January 27, 2011

    Yes, Giliell, you have to watch out wherever you are. Even expensive restaurants can be evil. There is a neighborhood place that is very French inspired, the food is very very good. I am sure that much of it is due to the amount of butter they use (which is why it is better to walk up the hill to it!). Also, last weekend we went to a small Italian restaurant where I had a wild mushroom pasta that was absolutely incredible: the sherry infused cream sauce was the key! (I could not finish it, and had the rest for lunch later in the week)

    By the way, I make it a habit to only drink water when I go to the movies. I don’t like the idea of leaving to use the toilet due to the size of the drinks! (often hubby and I share)

  167. #167 Travis
    January 27, 2011

    Movie pop is simply giagantic. I had not gone to a theatre for a long time until recently and I was shocked! It was a bucket of pop!

    I rarely have any though, even at home. My gf is type I diabetetic and one of few drinks she enjoys is some sort of diet cola so I do occasionally have one of those.

    I do have to admit I love a fatty, awful meal. Just not very often. Sometimes I even watch Man Vs. Food and which I could try a few of the things he has taken on (it actually makes me hungry sometimes).

  168. #168 Giliell
    January 27, 2011

    @Chris
    I think the main difference between the “evil” meal at the fancy restaurant and the fast food restaurant lies in the way those two restaurants are “used”, marketed and perceived.
    I think you can see it in the way you yourself decribe that mushroom pasta: It was not only food, it was quite something. The whole issue would probably be neglectable if fast food restaurants were frequented like fancy Italian or French restaurants (and there’s the vile Greek restaurant just down the road where they serve the meat just pink and the Tzatziki is sooo creamy and…): You go there every once in a while, spend a wonderful evening and then go back to normal. But fast food restaurants aim to be part of your normal diet, people go there once a week or more often. Kids grow up with it as something fundamentally good and normal. and conditioning works really well at that age.

  169. #169 Calli Arcale
    January 27, 2011

    I seem to recall reading not so long ago that “slow food” restaurants were, by far, the worst offenders in terms of sheer calorie count, packing *thousands* of calories into some meals. Portion sizes have become ridiculous; at many restaurants, I can easily get enough food for two satisfying meals just from ordering a single menu item. That’s to say it’s necessarily evil — I don’t think there should be anything wrong with occasionally feasting — but as people start to see restaurants as places to go regularly rather than just for special occasions, a problem begins to emerge. It’s the old portion size problem.

  170. #170 Chris
    January 27, 2011

    Aaagh! Portion size! My daughter likes to go to a particular Korean restaurant near the university. We share one lunch order, and still had leftovers for her lunch the next day!

  171. #171 Pablo
    January 27, 2011

    I’m usually not a big fan of chinese food, but the local joint has a really good orange beef. For $8.95, you can get the dinner. It generally gives us about 4 – 5 individual meals.

  172. #172 Giliell
    January 28, 2011

    @Calli
    Well, that’s not what slow food is about. Slow food is about savoury food made with fresh, local ingredients. Because it is about celebrating food.
    I mean, I don’t go to a fancy restaurant for doing a weight-reduction diet. I don’t go there for a quick lunch while doing the shopping.

    @Sizes
    One of my favourite Italian resturants serves pizzas the size of cartwheels. But it’s normal there to order one pizza for two people and share it.
    When we went there for the first time, we made the mistake to order two servings of pizza bread as starters (with four good eaters). Usually a serving of pizza bread is 3 or 4 slices of French bread with a bit of garlic butter. This was two whole cartwheel pizzas with garlic butter.
    Well, we took it home for the next day. But I was really afraid that the police might pull us over on the way home. I would have been charged with “assault on an officer” if I’d opened the window :)

  173. #173 Calli Arcale
    January 28, 2011

    Giliell — I agree about what slow food should be about, but it’s still hard to deny that portion sizes have gone up dramatically.

    The bottom line, I think, is that restaurants (of any type) cannot be blamed for the rise in obesity. It’s a much bigger issue than that, and while I tend to think educating people to eat healthy is the best solution, I’ve been unimpressed by most of the attempts. I don’t have any suggestions for better attempts, though. Maybe it’s just a phase our society has to go through before we start collectively valuing a healthy diet.

  174. #174 anne
    January 30, 2011

    If you can’t make bread without either adding sugar or using a sour dough starter, you must be using a different kind of yeast than I do. I make bread regularly, with only flour (different kinds), water, yeast, oil and a little salt. Takes about 3 1/2 hours. It rises faster w/a spoonful of sugar, but tastes better if you give it a bit of extra time to rise, be kneaded out, and rise again. If I want to make sweet buns or similar, I buy a different yeast made specifically for that purpose (one that can survive a high sugar content).

  175. #175 Chris
    January 30, 2011

    anne, there are fast rising yeasts that have a coating of sugars.

  176. #176 katthedley
    February 2, 2011

    I wonder why we are all debating the use of a minute amount of sugar used to feed starter yeast to make bread versus sourdough starter. Both breads are delicious.

    At issue here is the overloading of sugar in baked goods in the form of beet, cane or corn syrups and the use of these sugars in other prepackaged goods. Cooking from scratch where you know the ingredients and know how to adapt recipes, is the way to go.

  177. #177 mrz80
    February 8, 2011

    I am not a vegetarian because I love animals. I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.
    – A. Whitney Brown

    Vegetarian – Cherokee word for “lousy hunter”.

  178. #178 Wendi
    September 13, 2011

    This is a thorough examination of a movie I have similar opinions of. If you are interested in this topic, feel free to visit my website obsessedwithhealth.wordpress.com to learn more about raw veganism and the health problems associated with the diet.

  179. #179 Scott
    November 28, 2011

    Although this is by no means a rigorous scientific study and leaves out many factors like exercise it was an interesting read. The URL is http://www.lenkaslivefoods.com/raw-foods-research.html

    The full article and study are below –

    Raw Foods Diet Study

    Raw Food Diet Study An Investigation of Over 500 People Who Have Eaten a Raw Food Diet for Over 2 Years
    The Iowa Source, August 2006

    Inspired by her own positive experiences going raw, Zajic went on to obtain a Masters in Vegan and Live Food Nutrition from the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona, where she conducted an in-depth 500-participant survey of raw foodists. The study’s findings showed that people who followed an 80 to 100% raw foods diet for 2 years reported marked improvements in immunity, digestion, allergies, weight moderation, chronic illness, and mental, and emotional well-being. Says Zajic, “There seems to be no question that, at least initially, eating a raw foods diet can reduce or cure many health complaints.”

    The Study

    The purpose of this study was to examine the dietary practices, attitudes, and experiences of U.S. and international individuals who have been practicing the raw foods diet for at least two years. The hope was to identify any significant positive and negative trends existing within this segment of the population, thereby furthering the understanding and refinement of the diet for both raw foods leaders and educators as well as for the general public and providing the impetus to conduct more detailed and specific scientific research in areas of concern and/or lack of knowledge regarding the live foods diet.

    The study designed was a descriptive survey, using a self-administered, predominantly on-line questionnaire. The primary areas of interest were: respondents’ personal information, their first introduction to and subsequent journey on a raw foods diet, diet and eating habits, overall physical health, weight fluctuations, women’s issues, mental/emotional/spiritual health, and exercise and physical activity. Analysis was text-based and simple descriptive survey statistics were calculated.

    In brief, the survey was begun by 864 self-reported two-year plus raw-foodists of various ages and nationalities. For three and a half months, the survey was open to the public on-line. Hard copies were also available and collected. Ultimately, the survey was completed by over 525 people. Results showed consistent improvement in virtually all areas examined, most notably in immunity, elimination, allergies, over or underweight, chronic illness, and mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

    The following are the primary improvements observed in the categories of “Personal Information”, “Diet and Eating Habits”, “Weight”, “Overall Physical Health”, “Exercise/Physical Activity”, “Women’s Issues”, and “Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Health” of the Living Examples Survey:

    Personal Information

    Out of the 864 respondents who began the survey, 66.2% were female and 33.8% were male. Therefore, there were roughly twice as many female respondents as there were male. Although there are other factors that may have contributed to the higher percentage of female respondents, it is relatively safe to conclude that there exist a larger number of female raw-foodists than male. These observations have been confirmed by both long-term live foods teachers Gabriel Cousens, M.D. and David Wolfe.

    Diet and Eating Habits

    With regards to eating habits, the frequency of overeating among respondents shows a definite and significant decrease since they adopted a live foods diet. Those who reported NEVER overeating increased in number from 7% before live foods to 34% after live foods, and those who reported overeating only once or twice per week increased from 35% to 54%. This may possibly be attributed to the high nutritional and water content of living foods as well an increased visual and taste stimulation provided by fresh living foods. Also, there seems to have been an overall decrease in the number of respondents reporting eating disorders before and after adopting a live foods diet, with the percentage of respondents reporting NO eating disorder on a live foods diet rising from 61% to 82%.

    Weight

    In terms of dieting and weight changes, the percentage of respondents who reported NEVER dieting since transitioning to a live foods diet rose from 44.4% to 71.6%. The number that reported dieting “very often” before live foods dropped from 24.7% to 12.4% after live foods. 82.5% of respondents lost weight after switching to a live foods diet. 75% of those not already at their ideal weight reported reaching it after transitioning to a live foods diet. 56% reported re-gaining some of that weight, although most of those people (57%) only regained 25% or less of the weight they initially lost. This seems to have occurred primarily within the first two years on a live foods diet (89%). Of the 4% of respondents who gained weight after transitioning to live foods, 57% remained at that higher weight. Most (62%) of those that re-lost weight they initially gained on live foods lost 25% or less. This weight gain seems to have occurred primarily within the first 6 months (65%). Overall, 82% of respondents who were not at their ideal weight before live foods reported being closer to their optimal weight since transitioning to a live foods diet.

    Overall Physical Health

    The survey results indicate a definite decrease in the overall amount of sleep needed by respondents since transitioning to a live foods diet. Those who reported needing over 8 hours sleep/night dropped from 59% to 19% Those who need 6-8 hours sleep/night rose from 36% from 64% and those who now need even fewer hours (6 or less) sleep/night rose from 6% to 16%. There was also a significant improvement in sleep quality among respondents with the percentage of those who reported no insomnia rising from 40% to 59% since transitioning to live foods.
    Respondents reported improvement in all skin conditions surveyed, namely eczema, skin eruptions, dryness, oiliness, and susceptibility to sunburns. An overall improvement was seen in all aspects of hair health, such as increased strength/thickness and luster, and decreased thinness/weakness, oiliness, dryness, dullness, and dandruff. There was an overall improvement in nail health, such as increased strength and decreased brittleness, chipping, ridges, and fungus. The number of respondents experiencing body odor after adopting a live foods diet decreased sharply, with the number reporting no body odor whatsoever rising from 12% to 52%! There was also a significant increase in respondents who reported never or rarely having bad breath – from 32% to 83%! There was a moderate decrease in the number of respondents who reported perspiring easily after transitioning to a live foods diet – down from 51% to 41%.

    Results show slightly higher numbers of respondents reporting a “good” or “excellent” sense of sight (from 56% to 69%), touch (from 84% – 97%), and hearing (from 77% to 88%) on a live foods diet, and significantly higher numbers reporting a “good” or “excellent” sense of smell (from 68% to 93%) and taste (from 68% to 97%) on a live foods diet.

    Almost half of respondents did not know their resting heart rate before and after live foods but among those who knew that information, the percentage with resting heart rates between 60-70 bpm or less rose from 26% to 42%, and the percentage of those with resting heart rates higher than 70 bpm dropped from 19% to 9%. Again, about half of respondents did not know their blood pressure before and after live foods, but among those who did, there seems to have been a move towards normalization of blood pressure at 140/74 or less. Of the 81% of respondents who were aware of their cholesterol levels before and after live foods, there was a 24% increase in those who reported having normal cholesterol levels on live foods. With regards to circulation, 62% of respondents reported poor circulation before live foods and only 29% reported it after live foods, a decrease of 53%! This indicates the significant benefit of a live foods diet in this important area.

    The number of respondents who reported having NO post-meal symptoms rose from 8% before live foods to 46% after live foods. Each of the nine post-meal symptoms surveyed showed a significant reduction on a live foods diet, especially bloating, indigestion, and fatigue/weakness. Results show a significantly decreased number of respondents (from 79% before live foods to 51% after live foods) who felt their appetite was “strong” or “excessive”.

    Elimination appears to improve dramatically on a live foods diet, as indicated by the number of respondents who reported two or more bowel movements per day increasing from 25% to 78%! The number of respondents experiencing constipation decreased sharply from 73% to 30%, hemorrhoids from 33% to 18%, bladder/kidney infections from 23% to 7%, and foul-smelling stool from 57% to 23%. The percentage of people reporting diarrhea, however, remained about the same before and on a live foods diet. Laxative usage seems to decrease on a live foods diet, with the number of respondents who indicated they never use them increasing from 68% to 81%. Of interest here is that the percentage of respondents taking enemas rose from 26% to 63% on a live foods diet. The percentage of respondents who reported using over-the-counter laxative products dropped from 36% to 2%.

    Immunity to colds, flu’s, and infections showed a tremendous improvement on a live foods diet, with 53% of respondents reporting getting sick easily before live foods and only 3% after live foods, a dramatic decrease of 93.4%!

    Interesting to note is that the percentage of respondents describing the condition of their teeth as “good” or “excellent” rose from 51% to 68%, with most attributing it to diet (43.5%) and oral hygiene practices (23.6%). Tooth sensitivity also seems to decrease on a live foods diet, indicated by a drop from 73% to 52% in the number of respondents who experience it “sometimes” or “often”. There was a drop from 49% to 25% in the number of respondents who reported receding, inflamed, or bleeding gums.

    A live foods diet may have a significant effect on the rate of addiction. There was a 62% increase (from 44% to 75%) in the number of respondents who felt they were “addiction-free” on a live foods diet! There were decreases in all specific areas of addiction surveyed (alcohol, smoking, eating, drugs, sex, and other).

    A live foods diet seems to be significantly responsible for a sharp decrease in medication use. Results show a marked reduction in virtually all categories surveyed. Most significant were the reduced numbers of respondents reporting the use of antacids (from 20.3% to 1.3%), antibiotics (from 31.6% to 0.6%), antidepressants (from 15.1% to 6.9%), anti-fungals (from 9.6% to 0.6%), aspirin/ibuprofen (from 34.9% to 5%), recreational drugs (from 20.9% to 11.3%), and tylenol/acetaminophen (from 18.7% to 3.8%). One category that actually showed increased use among respondents after transitioning to a live foods diet was thyroid medication, which rose from 8.5% to 14.5%.

    Results show a substantial decrease in the number of respondents reporting allergies on a live foods diet in all categories surveyed (food, animal, grasses/trees/pollen, dust/mites/mold, chemical, other). Overall, 52.5% (from 40% to 61%) more respondents reported being allergy-free after switching to a live foods diet.

    There was a decrease in the number of respondents reporting chronic illness on a live foods diet in all categories surveyed with the exception of thyroid disorders which showed a slight increase (however, the small number of respondents for that category makes it difficult to draw any firm conclusions). Most notable was the increase by 68% in the number of respondents reporting NO chronic illness “after live foods”. Also of great significance was the reduction in the number of respondents reporting chronic fatigue (from 16% to 3.6%), candida (from 21% to 5%), depression (from 27% to 7%), anxiety (from 22% to 8%), weak immune system (from 17% to 0.2%), hypoglycemia (from 15% to 2.6%), fibromyalgia (from 5.6% to 1.5%), osteoarthritis (from 4.8% to 2.8%), and cancer (from 2.7% to 0.4%). Asthma, skin disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, and migraines/sinus headaches also showed improvement.

    Results indicate a normalization of sexual drive on a live foods diet, with those reporting “high” or “excessive” sex drive dropping from 29% to 26% and those reporting a “moderate” sex drive rising from 43% to 48%.

    It is interesting to note that there was a substantial decrease indicated in stress levels among respondents on a live foods diet. Those reporting “a lot” of stress in life after transitioning to live foods dropped from 56% to 20%.

    Exercise and Physical Activity

    The survey results show a dramatic increase in energy levels among respondents since transitioning to live foods, specifically from 31% to 88% in those who reported having “good” or “excellent” energy levels! Cardiovascular endurance improved for 67% of respondents on a live foods diet versus worsening or staying the same. Flexibility improved for 73%, and muscular strength for 58%. Again, these improvements were largely attributed to the change in diet (88%) and the natural by-product of that change in diet, “physical health” (54%). Arthritis/joint problems, muscle stiffness, back/neck pain, sciatica, and muscle cramping all showed improvement on a live foods diet. The number of respondents who selected “not applicable” (i.e. did not experience any of these conditions), rose by 88%! Respondents seem to be exercising more on a live foods diet than they did previously. 67% indicated they do so “every other day” or “daily” versus 46% before live foods. Furthermore, they report feeling “good” or “uplifted/invigorated” after exercise in larger numbers (89% versus 56%).

    Women’s Issues

    Women’s menstrual cycles showed improvement on a live foods diet. In terms of comfort, the percentage of respondents describing their cycles as “alright” to “very comfortable” rose from 27% before live foods to 53% after live foods. Most attributed this improvement to their change in diet (72.3%). All cycle-related symptoms showed dramatic improvement on a live foods diet, including PMS in general, cycle-related depression, moodiness/irritability, bloating/water retention, nausea, headaches, tender/swollen breasts, cravings for sweets, low backache, heavy flow, cramps, and irregular periods, and there was a definite reduction in the use of pain relievers. Furthermore, there seem to have been reductions in yeast infections, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.

    Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health

    One of the most dramatic and encouraging areas of improvement observed among respondents was that of “Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Health.” Here, 68% of respondents felt they had developed intellectually “quite a bit” or “tremendously” since transitioning to live foods. 81% felt they had developed emotionally “quite a bit” or “tremendously”, and 77% felt they had developed spiritually “quite a bit” or “tremendously”. Overall, the vast majority of respondents (87.5%) reported an improved mental/emotional/spiritual state after transitioning to a live foods diet, and, most attributed this primarily to their change in diet (88.2%), followed closely by spiritual/energetic healing (50.5%) and self-inquiry (50.3%). The percentage of respondents reporting a “good” or “excellent” mental/emotional/spiritual state after transitioning to a live foods diet rose in all categories surveyed including: general sense of well-being (36% to 91%), enthusiasm/optimism (43% to 91%), patience/tolerance (29% to 84%), self-sufficiency (54% to 88%), openness to change/flexibility (53% to 89%), non-attachment(32% to 77%), memory/focus/clarity (36% to 82%), creativity (48% to 82%), efficiency/multi-tasking (53% to 82%), relationships (37% to 80%), occupational satisfaction (34% to 71%), faith/hope (47% to 85%), passion (for anything) (53% to 88%), intuition (52% to 91%), compassion/love (55% to 90%), social comfort (36% to 77%), comfort being alone (61% to 89%), depth of meditation (28% to 68%), spiritual desire and interest (50% to 85%), quietness of mind (25% to 74%), non-causal contentment (30% to 80%), non-causal peace (32% to 80%), and non-causal joy (31% to 79%). There was an increase from 32% to 51% in the number of respondents who felt they were experiencing ecstatic bliss “sometimes” on a live foods diet versus before, and an increase from 6% to 31% in those reported feeling ecstatic bliss “often/always”!!

    Based on these results, it was concluded that people who have been on a raw foods diet for two years or more experienced and generally continue to experience significant improvements on many physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. There appear to be very few, if any, consistent negative effects or areas of serious concern that can be identified from this preliminary study.

    Further research needs to be done to investigate in detail each of the general areas examined in this study as well as: 1) the impact of a raw foods diet on women’s weight and hormones in the long-term; 2) the impact of a raw foods diet on thyroid levels in the short and long terms; 3) perceived and actual nutritional deficiencies as a result of a long-term raw foods diet and their effect on the rate of re-adoption of cooked and/or animal foods and, in general; 4) the frequency of sustained satisfaction with and benefit from a raw foods diet among long-term practitioners (i.e. 3 years more).

    A Raw Foods Diet has been agreed to be and defined as consisting of at least 80-100% living (fresh, unheated over 115ºF, unprocessed, unadulterated) foods by the International Living Foods Summit held at The Hippocrates Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida on January 14th, 2006. Leaders and experts from 8 countries convened at this historic summit to establish scientifically based standards for optimum health.

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