Diet? As I have written this series of blogs, I have noted with interest the comments that people have come up with, and the discussions that have followed. It is interesting, though not unexpected, that almost everyone has focussed, almost entirely, on diet, and little else.
There are those who are utterly convinced that the cause of cardiovascular disease is a high-carbohydrate diet. There are others who argue that this is not the case. There are also many who promote various dietary supplements, and vitamins and suchlike.
Within the mainstream, the discussions also seem to focus almost entirely on diet (and the effect diet has on cholesterol levels in the blood). Over the years the “experts” have moved on from cholesterol in the diet to saturated fat, to saturated/polyunsaturated ratios, to Omega-6 to Omega-3, to even- or odd-chained saturated and polyunsaturated fats… and on and on and on.
Perhaps because gastroenterology, immunology, toxicology, and the nutrition and
agricultural sciences are outside of their competence and responsibility, psychologists
and psychiatrists typically fail to appreciate the impact that food can have on their
patients’ condition. Here we attempt to help correct this situation by reviewing, in
non-technical, plain English, how cereal grains—the world’s most abundant food
source—can affect human behavior and mental health. We present the implications
for the psychological sciences of the findings that, in all of us, bread (1) makes
the gut more permeable and can thus encourage the migration of food particles to
sites where they are not expected, prompting the immune system to attack both
these particles and brain-relevant substances that resemble them, and (2) releases
opioid-like compounds, capable of causing mental derangement if they make it to the
brain. A grain-free diet, although difficult to maintain (especially for those that need
it the most), could improve the mental health of many and be a complete cure for
In the second half of the 20th century, conventional wisdom in the medical community held that overconsumption of saturated fats — the kind found in milk, cheese, meats and butter — was dangerous. And so, between 1968 and 1973, a well-planned, well-executed study involving more than 9,000 patients was performed to test this widely accepted relationship between diet and heart disease.
The results of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment were notable for two reasons. First, the findings contradicted much of what was believed at the time: The study demonstrated that people who ate a diet rich in saturated fats did not go on to have more heart disease than those who ate a diet rich in polyunsaturated fat from vegetable oil.
Plain sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie, turkey or Tofurkey, a calorie is still a calorie. At least, that’s what dieters have been told for the past half-century. Now, experts don’t agree
“By and large, we’ve been taking an accounting approach to weight loss,” says Dr. David Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. By that he means, health scientists have traditionally focused on the number of calories coming in versus the number of calories going out. But there are a lot of problems with that approach, he says. For one thing, it’s really tough to accurately keep track of your daily calorie intake. “Being off by just 100 calories a day could add up to a hundred pounds over a lifetime,” he says.
Watching a person die from cardiac arrest in an intensive care unit is devastating. It’s especially so when the person is a woman in her 40s who has been smothered to death by her own weight — and we doctors can do nothing to save her.
This 500-pound patient, who was at a county hospital in Georgia where I was working, had respiratory failure caused by obesity hypoventilation syndrome, a breathing disorder. It was just the tip of the iceberg of her medical problems. Her obesity had contributed to the development of heart failure, which led to kidney failure that necessitated dialysis. Her respiratory failure required mechanical ventilation, which placed her lungs at increased risk for infection. And so she developed pneumonia not too long after being placed on the ventilator.
While we “saved” her after the initial cardiac arrest, her weakened heart and body arrested again. Unable to overcome all of these odds, this patient died in the hospital’s ICU.