In this day and age of “fake news,” it’s becoming even harder to see clearly in the world of health and nutrition. While some health trends come and go, what’s troublesome is the fact that what’s considered to be true seems to change every year.
I’ve noticed two health trends in 2017 that I found particularly irksome…
“Eggs are back.”
I was listening to Sam Harris’ podcast recently, as he often has interesting content, and his guest spoke about how we are losing our faith in experts and transferring it to non-experts. Often experts seem to get something wrong, and for that reason, people start to doubt them. He gave the examples of eggs and cholesterol, which doctors “got wrong for decades.” By that, he meant that for years we assumed that eggs were unhealthy and would raise our cholesterol levels, based on flawed experiments that were recently refuted.
I noticed how this new truth that eggs are no longer unhealthy is now proclaimed as if it were self-evident and indisputable.
In reality, the studies that supposedly proved that eggs do not raise cholesterol levels were:
– Often paid by the egg industry
– Were all flawed, because they randomized groups with high cholesterol and did not test the effects of eggs on people with truly healthy cholesterol levels.
Most people already have a high cholesterol score. Therefore eggs are not going to raise it further. This does not prove that eggs did not contribute to their high cholesterol, however.
But again, it seems that you’ll have trouble convincing your friends and family that eggs are NOT healthy at your next party, as “eggs are back” has been accepted as the new truth by mainstream media.
The No-Sugar Challenge
Last year, countless people gave up sugar with the same level of determination and willpower as someone giving up alcohol or hard drugs. You might have come across these “no-sugar challenges” on YouTube or social media network.
The truth is that white sugar, while undoubtedly unhealthy, is not equivalent to a drug and not solely responsible for the obesity epidemic. I classify it as one of the least reprehensible items one could consume on an occasional basis.
The flaw in thinking in this no-sugar trend is the mixing up of processed foods and the relatively harmless use of a little white sugar.
When people give up sugar, they must also give up all processed foods that contain it:
– Pastries, cakes, and cookies (that are full of saturated fats)
– Chocolate (full of saturated fat and often dairy)
– Commercial tomato sauce (full of salt and processed oil)
– Ketchup (full of salt)
– Flavored yogurts (dairy products)
Many, if not most, of the benefits that come from these no-sugar challenges, come from this diet overhaul and not specifically from the elimination of sugar itself.
Don’t get me wrong: refined sugar is not a healthy food. However, someone eating a truly healthy diet overall and sprinkling a little white sugar on oatmeal or drinking some fruit juice on occasion is not going to harm their health that way.
What this no-sugar trend does is shift the blame from animal foods and processed food products to a single component: sugar.
Sugar is, therefore, the perfect scapegoat, taking the blame for health problems that have much more complex causes.