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Comments on yesterday’s article: Dr. Greger

Yesterday, I posted an article by my friend Ariel Belloso from NutritionRaw to my website and sent it to my ezine subscribers.

I’m sorry if it wasn’t so clear that the email wasn’t from me. In any case, we often post articles by guest writers that we respect.

Ariel and I have very similar health philosophies based on Natural Hygiene, so I thought that his article had an interesting point of view to offer, even though I might not share it 100%.

It may have been seen by some as an attack on Dr. Michael Greger and his website 

Both Ariel and I highly respect what Dr. Greger has accomplished with his website. But what Ariel was trying to say, and what I also completely agree with, is that we have to take health recommendations based on studies with a grain of salt. 

But we know that rigorous science doesn’t take into account only one study to come to an important conclusion about a particular topic. However, oftentimes any diet advice can be justified using some kind of scientific study, often one that’s weak or funded by industry. 

I agree that science must orientate many of our decision. But I think Ariel’s point is that science in itself is not enough, especially when it’s corrupted or weak science, or when it’s interpreted poorly.

With all the respect I owe to Dr. Greger, I personally think that a good portion of his diet advice is based on weak and unconvincing science, funded by industry interests. 

I don’t mean to say that his general message is wrong. But I think that he cherry-picks studies when it comes to more minor nutritional aspects.

For example, he’s done many videos on the dangers of salt, and pointed out how flawed scientific research is when it’s funded by the salt industry. 

On the otherhand, based on one small, meaningless study done in Japan, he recommends to consume miso, a salt-rich condiment, because the study results seemed to show that the miso “conteracted” the bad effects of salt. 

So here we have the bulk of the research that shows one thing, that salt is bad for you, but one tiny study that seems to indicate that miso is good for you.

My conclusion would be to stay with the overwhelming evidence and avoid salt entirely. 

Here Dr. Greger may be playing the devil’s advocate and trying to say that “if you’re going to use salt, at least use miso.”

My point of view is more: don’t use salt, but if you do, use as little as possible. 

I think that when you give people free license to do something, even when it’s not totally justifiable, they overdo it. 

The same Dr. Greger proved in other videos that the common myth that a daily glass of wine is good for the heart was based on false interpretation of research data and death statistics in France. 

The miso thing is a minor point, but shows that nutritional studies, or statistics, can be misinterpreted because of lack of information, or wrong perspective.

So something else must guide you in your nutritional choice than just scientific studies.

Ariel’s point is that you must also use your LOGIC. 

To stay with the miso/salt argument, the logic is pretty simple to follow:

– Physiologically, humans are adapted to a low-salt diet. We’ve known that for a long-time. We’ve adapted the ability to conserve sodium because in the past, it was scarce.

– We know that many tribes living outside of civilization’s influence did not use salt and did not need it. We also know that their blood pressure was much lower than what is the norm in today’s world.

– Thousands of people have lived on salt-free diets and no one died from not consuming enough sodium. 

So LOGIC here tells us that salt is not something the human body has physiologically adapted to. We also know that it affects our health because everywhere salt is consumed, the average blood pressure is much higher, and raises with age, as in tribes where no salt was consumed.

Now, there can be studies that might show that people on low-sodium diets have certain health problems, or whatnot, but all of those studies are interpreted by people who are trying to prove a point: that salt is ok to consume, because of industry interests.

And certain studies may lead us in the wrong direction because they’re bad studies, or their data is interpreted in the wrong way.

So if one study seems to prove something that’s contrary to logic, something more is needed to create a new nutritional rule that we must now follow. 

Who’s with me on that?

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.