Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Does it really matter?

I mean, does it really matter exactly how & why low-carb diets work? My thoughts...

There's a lot of in-fighting on the internet about low-carb & paleo diets etc. Which is "best", exactly how they work and so on. I don't believe that there is a best diet. Everyone is different (in genetics, environment, activity etc). To boil it down to the basics:-

1) Eat real food that hasn't been buggered-about with too much. Grains that have had the outer husk removed (e.g. white rice) are O.K. Grains that have been rolled flat or inflated to a large size by heating to >100°C are O.K. Grains that have been ground into dust are not O.K.

2) If eating "X" causes you problems, stop eating "X". If certain proteins cause you problems, you either have a genetic condition (e.g. coeliac disease) or excessive gut permeability. The first isn't fixable but the second may be. If certain carbohydrates cause you problems, you either have a genetic problem or insulin resistance. The first isn't fixable but the second may be.

The real enemy here is the food manufacturers. They don't want people to stop eating their highly-profitable Crap-in-a-Bag/Box/Bottle (CIAB), as it's bad for business. They also influence Governments. So let's stop fighting amongst ourselves and attack the real enemy any way that we can. Lead by example.


praguestepchild said...

Except the real enemy is the government, they are the ones who pilloried fat and promoted NADs such as grains, sugar and veg oils through propaganda and subsidies. Ditto for pharmaceuticals. To blame the market is to put the cart before the horse.

In my humble opinion, of course.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

What's in it for governments? What do they have to gain by pillorying fats and promoting NADs?

Subsidies cost them money that could be better used elsewhere.

Cynics might argue that sick people cost governments less in the long term.

praguestepchild said...

Why are governments so ridiculously politically correct? Is that the fault of corporations also?

Subsidies don't cost governments anything, they cost taxpayers. Governments have little incentive to spend money wisely as is obviously shown in real life. What's the biggest incentive for a bureaucrat, especially an unelected one?

Anonymous said...

Your choices have consequences. Eat what you want. But no diet is a panacea.

Even crap food has value. It's tasty. And that's healthy. It's a part of enjoying life.

In the future, beings will eat fantastic substances. They'll experience tastes we can't imagine. And they'll be better at dealing with the side effects.

--from Source.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"Why are governments so ridiculously politically correct?" I have no idea. I would have thought that the last thing they want to do is piss off the masses.

"Is that the fault of corporations also?" I don't think so.

"Subsidies don't cost governments anything, they cost taxpayers." I know, but why don't governments spend the taxpayers' money on something that will make the taxpayers happy instead of giving it to corporations?

"Governments have little incentive to spend money wisely as is obviously shown in real life. What's the biggest incentive for a bureaucrat, especially an unelected one?" To keep the masses happy, I would have thought.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"Your choices have consequences. Eat what you want." Unless eating what you want causes problems.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

@Sean: I don't consider corporations or governments as being inherently evil.

Corporations try to make maximum profits.

Governments try to keep the masses docile.

praguestepchild said...

""Governments have little incentive to spend money wisely as is obviously shown in real life. What's the biggest incentive for a bureaucrat, especially an unelected one?" To keep the masses happy, I would have thought."

Having spent some time consulting for the US government I can tell you that the last thing these bureaucrats cared about was keeping the masses happy. I was a teacher at a Native American school funded by BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and it was pretty messed up. I doubt that bureaucrats in other countries function much better but I don't think they could do any worse.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

No wonder you're so cynical of politicians & government. The US seems pretty fucked-up. There are far more people than politicians and they bear arms. The government must be wetting itself. I think that the government is going to try to take the people's guns away.

Do you think that all politicians are in it for the money? I'm not that cynical - yet!

Anonymous said...

My points are purposely philosophical. :)

"Unless eating what you want causes problems." - Nigel

Problems are relative to certain goals. If death is a goal, eating foods we label "poison" isn't a problem.

And problems exist relative to our ability to solve them. Eating a stick of margarine could be healthy, if we knew how to undo undesirable effects.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"My points are purposely philosophical. :)" O.K. I'm being practical. If a food causes someone problems, that reduces their enjoyment of life. I'm ignoring masochists, of course!

"Eating a stick of margarine could be healthy, if we knew how to undo undesirable effects." I believe that prevention is better than cure.

Galina L. said...

I used to live in Soviet Russia, post-communism Russia, Canada, now live in USA. My impression is that any government is unable to do anything efficiently because they try to micromanage complex system which has tendency to create a chaos in the system. As a result there are unintended consequences all the time from any policy. If they tried to make population to eat more grains we would eat less.
I think the goal of companies to make a profit pushes over-consumption of everything food included. It is what we get if we want to live in thriving (more or less) economy. Probably, people who live on scarce resources are in a more metabolically healthy environment, but people are naturally driven to seek comfort.
My prediction that in affluent societies will be more division between healthy well-off people who eat high quality food and masses who overeat cheap human chow, get early fat and unhealthy.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

According to What are the world's most efficient governments? , Finland has the most efficient government. It's democratic and socialist.

Everybody wants their standard of living to increase, which means increasing resource consumption & waste production per person. The number of people is also increasing.

I predict a riot!

Galina L. said...

Riots don't last, but create more chaos.

LeonRover said...

Panem et circenses -Bread and Games - in the Late Roman Republic

The current equivalent is SnackFoods and 24HourTV.

Gallina has the right idea -

"My prediction that in affluent societies will be more division between healthy well-off people who eat high quality food and masses who overeat cheap human chow, get early fat and unhealthy."

praguestepchild said...

A common fallacy for both the left and right is to lump together welfare state practices with free market practices.

Denmark scores very high on economic freedom but also has a strong welfare state.

Sweden does well in certain aspects, they've introduced school vouchers for instance and have very little public debt. A very good friend of mine who is a Swedish ex-pat and has little good to say about Sweden admits that the government bureaucracy is often well run. This is not to say that it is desirable, of course. My friend can do his Swedish taxes via a website, and when he has to deal with a Swedish tax authority they are usually quite helpful. Contrast this with where he lives now, Russia, or with the Czech Republic where the bureaucracy is simply Kafkaesque (It's no coincidence Kafka lived here!).

How to account for the difference? Obviously 50 years of communism didn't help but I think there's more to it than that. My impression of Austrian bureaucracy is similar. Austria and Czech Republic are surprisingly similar actually. Of course they were both in the Holy Roman Empire so perhaps it's inherited from that bohemeth.

I agree with Galina, which really goes to what I consider the most important point raised by Hayek. Top down systems destroy information.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"My prediction that in affluent societies will be more division between healthy well-off people who eat high quality food and masses who overeat cheap human chow, get early fat and unhealthy." Eloi and Morlocks, eh?

Ref: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054387/

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Sean, I read http://praguestepchild.blogspot.com/2011/07/hayekian-argument-against-socialism.html

I agree with you that the state shouldn't fix prices. However, without state intervention (competition law), corporations fix prices!

Galina L. said...

Nigel, I didn't see the movie, may be I should read the book.
I think there are always marks of division in a society. It used to be the safety, style of clothes, jewelry, expensive furs, big houses, servants - the items sort of going out of style. Nowadays it is not a problem to buy any piece of clothes for almost everyone, even cosmetic surgery is getting more affordable. People want to advertise their status. Also, the discoveries in medicine are getting more astonishing and more expensive. Population is growing and it is hard to imagine a healthy food would be available for everybody). It is easy to imagine a narrow group of people with an access to expensive natural food, expensive medical treatments ,paying a lot to feel young and live healthy life for many years. Long-life health and young appearance may take place of furs and diamonds.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Galina, I have a bad feeling about the future.

Ever-increasing population, consumption and waste production on a finite planet are unsustainable. Relying on technology to get the human race out of the hole it's digging itself into is risky. As an ex-engineer, I know that not everything is possible. I don't think that there's going to be another "Green Revolution". The last one resulted in the population expanding to absorb the increased supply.

Galina L. said...

It is about the actual theme of the post . I think it matters what people think about why their diet choices work. I have to set my priorities and try to see some logic in recommendations. I based my strategy to loose weight on the insulin theory of obesity. It means limiting carbs, less meals during the day (no snacks of any kind), limiting the amount of food(no buckets of salad with my meat), narrowing eating window. Also, no food I couldn't stop eating (common sense). Gary stopped for unknown reason on carbs limitation.( Well, we suppose to limit carbs in order to lower the total amount of secreted insulin, why to ignore everything else that works in the same direction? It doesn't make sense.) I had to accept, the more I read about how our body works, the more I realize I would never know enough to be certain or at least comfortable in my knowledge about the subject. I am officially giving up. It follows that I admit that whatever I consider was the mechanism of my weight-loss, was grossly simplified in my head. However , experience matters. Based on the experience, carbs restriction was the most important for me part of my plan. FR has a very minor significance. It was good I was not scared into the "safe starches" land away from ketosis.

Galina L. said...

Nige, I hear in you what my father was talking. He was the most brilliant person I ever met, very talented engineer with PhD in the mechanical engineering. Working for the military made him even more pessimistic. I don't know about the future,there are not many reasons to believe it would be something remotely closed to perfection. So far humanity managed to solve upcoming crisis, and every generation was sure that nothing good was coming. Besides obvious logic considering resources and population, me and you are at the age when people are getting pessimistic and changes annoy more and more. (Tweeter is annoying and fashion is ugly). We don't know which possible solutions people would use for their problem.

I remember reading the book about the Shackleton's journey. Besides describing the whole ordeal, there is a lot of talk in the book about the significance of Antarctic region for global economy because there were a lot of whaling stations there and the whale fat was then what the oil is now. No one back then could think some day whales would loose the industrial importance. It will be another thing after oil we don't know about, and another set of problems related to that unknown solution.

I also guess sometimes what would people do when they run out of Earth space. May be they would be eating incests again. Before that they would become less wasteful I hope.

I am sorry to rant about well known facts. I am taking a brake from gardening now.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I can't reply or approve any more comments for a while as I'm going out for the night (again!).

LeonRover said...


"My impression of Austrian bureaucracy is similar. Austria and Czech Republic are surprisingly similar actually."

Add BudaPest and Hungary to that.
The post Habsburg bureau-crazy, made even more peculiar by 50 years of interacting with the Nomenklatura can be quite exasperating. (I spent a little time there in the recent years.)

But Keynes, he say, "In the long run, we're all dead".

So these would be my sentiments from the scaffold.


Anonymous said...

"The real enemy here is the food manufacturers."
Absolutely false.

Like any business, food manufacturers make and sell what consumers want to buy. Consumers voluntarily choose to buy their products.
Consumers want to buy the current crap offered by food manufacturers for two reasons

1. Government, near-government organizations, charitable organizations funded by government and all sorts of other non-profit organizations recommend that consumers eat the current crap offered by food manufacturers. Consumers, via taxes and voluntary donations, pay for dietary advice offered by these organisations because they believe them to be a source of unbiased advice. Except it isn't. Governments encourage food manufacturers to make large donations to these same organisations via tax incentives and the advice offered becomes nothing more than paid advertising for the food manufacturers.

2. Governments have been allowed by their citizens (consumers) to enact laws (rules and regulations) that restrict competition amongst manufacturers of all consumer goods including food manufacturers. Supposedly this power was granted to governments to protect the consumer. What it really does is help the politician line his own pockets by offering favoured businesses protection from competition in return for campaign donations, post-public servant employment or just plain graft. The powers granted to governments by consumers greatly reduces the choices that consumers would have in an unregulated food marketplace.

Food manufacturers would adapt and offer a wider variety of foods (as well as more paleo friendly foods) if government was not intervening in all aspects of the food marketplace. The currently favoured manufacturers would be forced to adapt because new competition would be able to start up without onerous government laws. Organisations offering dietary advice would not need to remain paid advertisers for the food conglomerates.

The real enemy here is government.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Anonymous said...
"Like any business, food manufacturers make and sell what consumers want to buy."
Food manufacturers make what they know they can persuade consumers to buy (see link below).

"Consumers voluntarily choose to buy their products."
You underestimate the power of advertising & marketing. Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFsz886ATKg

"The real enemy here is government."
Your government is corrupt and is your enemy. Who corrupted them? Big business. See Bias Part 2.

Anonymous said...

"You underestimate the power of advertising & marketing."

Consumers voluntarily select from the choices that are available.
Government laws restrict their choices. Advertising is restricted by government. Consumers can only view advertisements that pass government regulations.

"Your government is corrupt and is your enemy."

"Who corrupted them? Big business."

Government that rules by force is always corrupt. It is a continual process. Politicians make false promises to get elected and then, while in power, enact laws that line their own pockets at the consumers expense. Next election, repeat cycle.
You have it backwards. Governments allow businesses to be corrupt. Businesses are forced to either pay the politician's graft and follow government edicts or cease operations.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

We're going to have to agree to disagree. You seem to have a severe case of bias in that, to you, big business = good and government = bad.

They're in it together.

Do the words "cartel" & "monopoly" not mean anything to you? Without any state intervention, big business would be free to screw you over big-time.

Unknown said...


I realize I'm getting into this discussion late, but you brought up the same concept at "Free the Animal" today, so I think it's still relevant.

There are (at least) two stories you need to check out:

The villain du jour for the government is the raw milk movement, which the mainstream dairy industry naturally wants shut down. However, the dairy industry does not have the power to shut the raw milk industry down, but the government does. Thus, the dairy industry makes large donations to politicians who then have their underlings (bureaucrats) enforce rules to put the raw dairy producers out of business.

Keep in mind: the bureaucrats do not work for “the people;” they work for other bureaucrats who, in turn, work for elected politicians. “The people” do not need to be kept happy for the bureaucrats to keep their paychecks: the politicians do. And in order to keep the politicians happy, their largest donors need to be kept happy.

You have acknowledged that these politicians are corrupt and have attributed that corruption to the corporations who support them financially. That is putting the cart before the horse. The corporations would not be making large donations if the politicians and bureaucrats had no power to regulate things in their favor. To counter this, you want to give the politicians more power.
The fundamental flaw in logic is thinking that giving the government more power to regulate our food supply will lead them to regulate it in a way that is to your liking. Right now, much of the kind of food supply promoted by the paleo movement in the U.S. is under attack by the government, in order to please their corporate donors. Yes, the corporations have advertisements and such, which can reduce demand, but advertisements cannot get a sheriff out to a farm to shut it down – regardless of demand. Only the government can do that, and they are.

The government is supported by the industrial food industry (among others) and it will continue to protect it. The way to end this protection racket, and keep government agents from being the hired thugs of the food industry, is to take away their power to do so -- because the money supply is not drying up, and the government will go after anyone who threatens it. You might say that the problem is a system that allows politicians to accept donations from special interests, but try enacting a law that restricts that -- since the politicians who accept those donations are the ones who write and pass laws.

As for wasting the tax-payer’s money, as prague said, that is irrelevant to bureaucrats. It’s other people’s money. Donations hit the politicians directly. Tax-payer money will be given regardless of what the politician does – under penalty of fines and/or imprisonment (also a power that corporations don’t have). There is no money to be made in preventative medicine, or even in cures. Money comes from treatment, thus the government is also in the pocket of the modern medical/pharmaceutical industry. There is no incentive to reduce health-care costs when the healthcare providers are large donors.

You might say that this is a “cynical” view, but I simply think I’m being observant and realistic. If that's cynical, so be it. In the U.S., I simply don’t see the government protecting the “little guy” just because it’s the “right thing to do.” Hoping that giving them more power (which corrupts) will somehow make them see the light is simply delusional.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"“The people” do not need to be kept happy for the bureaucrats to keep their paychecks: the politicians do."

I disagree. The American people have the right to bear arms (at the moment). There are way more people than politicians.

Brent said...

Due to character limitations, I had to take this part of my post out:

As for this revolution you're talking about, I'm not holding my breath. "The people" outnumber the bureaucrats, but "the people" are much like cows in CAFOs (and we are treated that way by the food industry). Just keep feeding them, and giving them their 150 channels of mindless entertainment, and they're happy (see "Amusing Ourselves to Death"). "The people" more likely to trample someone who is standing in the way of a bargain on "Black Friday" than to rise up against the government. But the government is trying to figure out a way around the constitution to disarm the populace anyway -- just in case.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Sadly, you're probably right (on the arms thing also). I don't believe that anyone can save the general population now, but you may be able to influence your own friends & relatives by setting a good example.