It’s tricky being in the advice business, especially the “what is right to eat” one. There are thousands of diet books enthusiastically embracing a “correct way to eat.” I’ve read a few recently published, written by smart, educated, scientific minds, several with medical degrees — strongly advising us what we ‘should eat’ to be our healthiest, giving us our best chance to avoid disease. They all agree on one thing: we should be eating real whole food and avoiding highly processed (junk). That makes sense to any dummy. Eating an apple, they agree, is healthier than a Snickers bar. Duh.
Since we are all so “food group” conscious, what the books don’t agree on are the ideal proportions of those whole food groups. Some are polar opposites over saturated fats, particularly from meats and dairy, whether they are good or harmful. One camp exposes a strictly plant based diet, showing studies of how animal fats are directly related to our maladies. Others point to similar studies showing why animal fats and good dairy may help cure them. Some champion low fat in general. Others high fat. Some encourage whole grains, yet others endorse avoiding them. There are loads of conflicting beliefs and recommendations. How can smart, educated, studied, professionals be so at odds about what whole foods we should eat? They all can’t be right. Or can they?
We’ve all been somewhat dimwitted when it comes to what we’ve been sticking in our mouths over the last century as we’ve radically changed our diets away from natural whole to processed food. We gain weight and have health problems, then try to reverse years of bad habits, so we listen to what we hope is smart advice. The thing is, most well-intentioned smart, nutritional advice givers, dedicated to helping people, don’t really know what is the best formula for eating. They can only look at slices of the pie.
We know that our bodies are a collection of atoms, too numerous to put a number to. We’ve learned that atoms join together to form molecules and that these molecules are in constant communication with each other. Life at the molecular level is highly dynamic and interactive. What we eat and breath, ends up communicating with our cells, made up of those molecules. Throw in coded messages from our non-stop thoughts and the quality of sleep, and our internal systems, from brain to toes, are constantly buzzing with vibrant interactions.
In affect, the advice-business folks make blanket claims about what is good or bad with blinders on. We are learning that our molecular messaging system is so complex that effects are sometimes not known for decades, or even generations, leaving us little choice but to make assumptions by looking at slices.
As a complex species we are somewhat the same, but each with unique messaging systems. Is there a “best diet” for everyone? From a logical perspective it’s highly unlikely. At the same time, what is also logical is that food (including the food’s source) which has been manipulated (altering the original intended message) is most probably sending less-than-desirable information to our cells, whether that food is processed, whole fruits and vegetables, or animal origin.
So a hearty thanks to those doing the hard research and giving sound advice, particularly those warning that vegetable oils and sugars are highly toxic. At the same time, it might be helpful for certain advise givers to qualify their advice and offer caveats, that studies have limitations and that their advice may not be for everyone. Anything less is a half-baked slice of delicious home-made pie.