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Old 01-06-2008, 12:36 PM   #11
LucienNicholson
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This is the best "rebuttal" to Taubes that I have seen. It is a response to a magazine article (an excerpt from the book, I expect).
Thanks for the link. I wouldn't call that a very good rebuttal, though. They didn't really do the things a scientist should do when his/her hypothesis is attacked. 1) Explain anomalies, like why people don't lose much weight on low fat diets and 2) They didn't really give a good explanation for chemical process of why people get fat. Honestly, I find Taubes much more persuassive.

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Modern civilization was built with carbohydrates. It seems to me that the carbophobes sometimes blur the distinctions between various forms of carbs (notably whole grains versus processed) and some of the anti-carb crowd argue with an almost theological zeal, which, like all theology, I find unpersuasive.
I don't know if you've read this from Jared Diamond of Guns Germs and Steel fame:

wfs
http://www.environnement.ens.fr/pers...ed_diamond.pdf

But, he gives a good account of what grains do. But, I can see where you're coming from, on the other hand.

I guess we have some waiting to do before the "scientists" finish reading the book and come up with a good response.
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:45 PM   #12
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This is the best "rebuttal" to Taubes that I have seen. It is a response to a magazine article (an excerpt from the book, I expect).

http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_02/bigfatlies.pdf

I'm still hoping to see a more complete response to the book, which, like a contemporary meal, is composed of overlarge portions.

Modern civilization was built with carbohydrates. It seems to me that the carbophobes sometimes blur the distinctions between various forms of carbs (notably whole grains versus processed) and some of the anti-carb crowd argue with an almost theological zeal, which, like all theology, I find unpersuasive.

I also enjoy endurance workouts (which are not nearly so catabolic as some would have you believe) and dump refined sugar in my coffee. I try to remain cheerful about my shortcomings, while continuing to take teensy steps to improve myself.
An interesting read. Unfortunately, the first ding is that it's written by the CSPI, the same people that villified saturated fats in favor of trans fats and are now tripping over themselves to backtrack from that recommendation in favor of "no saturated fat or trans fat". I don't feel bad about making such an ad hominem because they make a similar type of attack by noting that Taubes received a $700K advance, as if that somehow discredits him.

As for modern civilization being built on grains, check the records of what happened to human health with the onslaught of grains. Yes, agriculture is necessary for huge civilizations to flourish. But that doesn't mean people are flourishing on an individual basis.

Third, why would we expect an unbiased rebuttal from a biased source? The CSPI is anti-fat and therefore, they are going to attempt to deny anything anyone has to say to the contrary. Taubes very well may have taken creative liberties with what some of his interviewees said and if so, shame on him.

Note: I haven't yet read the book.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:25 PM   #13
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Everyone is biased, put quite simply.
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Old 01-06-2008, 03:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Tom Rawls View Post
Modern civilization was built with carbohydrates. It seems to me that the carbophobes sometimes blur the distinctions between various forms of carbs (notably whole grains versus processed) and some of the anti-carb crowd argue with an almost theological zeal, which, like all theology, I find unpersuasive.

I also enjoy endurance workouts (which are not nearly so catabolic as some would have you believe) and dump refined sugar in my coffee. I try to remain cheerful about my shortcomings, while continuing to take teensy steps to improve myself.
I believe there are plenty of studies that go back to ancient Egypt to show the affect of grain dependent societies and the sharp increase rates of heart disease, arthritis, bad teeth and the likes.

But I also enjoy endurance events here and there so carb loading in the form of tubers and brown rice is my prefered method vs gluten based carbs. Any event over 30-45 min will start a catabolic state only because of the rise of cortisol. Also it depends on the intensity as if it varies more anaerobically vs steady state aerobic then muscle loss can happen quicker. On my longer endurance, I do use a slight mixture of carbs/protein (like gatorade/whey and water) to sip on to keep the cortisol at bay and then try for more whole food replenishment pwo.

It's all equvialent to what you do and like to do...but I try to stay away from grains if I can help it. Of course someone with lower bf% will have less issues with obesity but there are still other negative health issues associated with consistent grain eating. Moderation and rotational when in doubt.
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Old 01-06-2008, 03:51 PM   #15
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If anyone cares to read how Taubes responded to the claims brought up in the linked article and others,

(w/f/s)

http://www.reason.com/news/show/28721.html

It is kind of a long read, though, he does justify the use of his quotes. Further, in the beginning of his book, he says outright that the fact that he quotes scientists doesn't mean that they support his hypothesis at all.
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Old 01-06-2008, 04:50 PM   #16
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Lucien--

Thanks for the link to the Diamond piece. Thought-provoking.

Do the health problems associated with the large populations that agriculture can support result from the food that is produced or from the poverty inherent in those populations? Let me try an example: the cheapest calories you can buy today are those from the most highly processed foods. So those who choose to pay less for food or have the means only to buy the cheapest food will be getting the junk. Do we fault of agriculture and grains, per se, or is the problem more complex?

I didn't mean to suggest that the CSPI "rebuttal" (note the quotation marks) was persuasive, only that it was the best I had seen. For me, part of the challenge in discerning the truth is that I quickly beomce skeptical of people like Dr. Sears, who now looks as much like a carnival barker flogging his various offerings as a true medical man. People get so invested in their positions, literally, that it can be difficult to have an honest give-and-take.
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Old 01-06-2008, 04:50 PM   #17
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Lucien--

Thanks for the link to the Diamond piece. Thought-provoking.

Do the health problems associated with the large populations that agriculture can support result from the food that is produced or from the poverty inherent in those populations? Let me try an example: the cheapest calories you can buy today are those from the most highly processed foods. So those who choose to pay less for food or have the means only to buy the cheapest food will be getting the junk. Do we fault of agriculture and grains, per se, or is the problem more complex?

I didn't mean to suggest that the CSPI "rebuttal" (note the quotation marks) was persuasive, only that it was the best I had seen. For me, part of the challenge in discerning the truth is that I quickly become skeptical of people like Dr. Sears, who now looks as much like a carnival barker flogging his various offerings as a true medical man. People get so invested in their positions, literally, that it can be difficult to have an honest give-and-take.
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Old 01-06-2008, 05:24 PM   #18
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Default I've actually read the book! Well, most of it...

Kudos to your for finishing it! I'm still working through the book. It's quite a slog... I like it in general, and I understand his need to give the history of where the fat-causes-cholesterol-causes-disease comes from, but it's sometimes hard work up the enthusiasm to tackle the book because it's so dense.

I generally was convinced by the first part of the book which focuses on the problems with carbs and how they relate to health problems. I had a harder time swallowing the second part about how people get fat for reasons unknown. The conservation of energy is always brought up to argue this point, and of course that law is not broken. I think that the thrifty gene hypothesis and the set-point hypothesis are ackowledgements by the general medical establishment that there are many cases where fat people don't seem to eat a lot of calories and yet don't lose a whole lot of weight.

I think Taubes does make a good point that we freely acknowledge that kids grow or pregnant women get big (pleasantly so, Jamila!) because of the actions of both hormones and calories, rather than saying the kid got taller because he ate a lot. But when someone gets fat, we (the general public, not the PM nutrition nerds) assume it must be strictly a calories in/calories out thing.

I really appreciate the book because he looked at the science, at all the studies that generated the fat hypothesis. Ultimately, he suggests that refined carbs may be the actual root of the obesity/diabetes/heart disease problem and that this carb hypothesis would better explain the observed data. It's convinced me to reduce my carbs and go more paleo with my diet, that's for sure.

Really, the scary thing about the book is finding out how many of these national dietary recommendations were made with only the flimsiest of science behind them, or, in some cases, no science at all, just conjecture.

I think you'll find that most people on this board don't buy the standard 1980's advice to minimize your fat intake and get most of your calories from carbs like pasta and whole wheat bread and yogurt. Some here (myself included)find the Protein Power and the Paleo Diet particularly compelling. It seems to me that even the establishment is starting to come around:

Saturated health might not be so bad:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22116724/

Milk might not be so great after all:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22349307/

Even the American Diabetes Association says low-carb diets (horrors!) might be okay:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...122801106.html

As was acknowledged earlier, I think that there are differences between inviduals which cause some people to be able to tolerate carbs better than others. I suspect that a higher activity level probably allows one to tolerate more carbs as well, which is handy, because they're pretty helpful for endurance events.
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Old 01-06-2008, 05:42 PM   #19
LucienNicholson
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Lucien--

Thanks for the link to the Diamond piece. Thought-provoking.

Do the health problems associated with the large populations that agriculture can support result from the food that is produced or from the poverty inherent in those populations?
I tend to believe that the problem is with the grains themselves. I think most people on this forum would agree. There are a few reasons that I can think of. I don't think they are in dispute by many people.

1) Grains have anti-nutrients that have been associated with auto-immune disorders. 2) Chemicals in grains bind to nutrients and make them unusable by the body. 3) Grains have a high GI which leads to hyperinsulinemia. 4) Grains don't have B12, which is only present in meat.

Like Diamond pointed out, with introduction of grains, average height decreased and a host of other diseases flourished, such as rickets, berri-berri, and pellagra. By federal law, manufacturers of grain products have to fortify grain because it is so devoid of nutritional content, compared to meat. I'm sure you'd find that even the richest ancient Egyptian royalty were shorter than Eskimos or Massai, but were "richer" in other ways.

I live in Hawaii. White rice comes in 50 lbs sacks here, since everyone can afford it. I've noticed that the less well-off tend to eat rice with every meal and subsequently, they are overweight. When I stopped eating rice--sacrilege in Hawaii--somehow I dropped 30 pounds. My food budget went up, but I had to drop 2 pants sizes. I think that the less you can spend on food, the more grains a person will eat. Heck, a box of Ding-Dongs costs less than a pound of spinach. In a nutshell, having less money predisposes one to eating more grain-based products.

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Originally Posted by Tom Rawls View Post
For me, part of the challenge in discerning the truth is that I quickly become skeptical of people like Dr. Sears, who now looks as much like a carnival barker flogging his various offerings as a true medical man. People get so invested in their positions, literally, that it can be difficult to have an honest give-and-take.
I can see your point. I've started the Zone, but modified it by dropping carbs and adding fats. I find that it is actually a good way to keep your blood sugar low and I haven't noticed a drop in performance. The way I see it is if you want an honest give and take, look past all the marketing, try it out and evaluate for yourself. The measuring alone at least lets you realize how much of what you're eating.
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Old 01-06-2008, 06:26 PM   #20
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I tend to believe that the problem is with the grains themselves. I think most people on this forum would agree.
. . .

3) Grains have a high GI which leads to hyperinsulinemia. 4) Grains don't have B12, which is only present in meat.

I live in Hawaii. White rice comes in 50 lbs sacks here, since everyone can afford it. I've noticed that the less well-off tend to eat rice with every meal and subsequently, they are overweight. . . . Heck, a box of Ding-Dongs costs less than a pound of spinach. In a nutshell, having less money predisposes one to eating more grain-based products.
Lucien,

I largely agree with people here, but will post on issues where I have misgivings. I do this as a way to challenge my own thinking and test the received wisdom. We tend to be tribal, clustering with like-minded people and reinforcing each other. As a doubting Thomas, I'm inclined to ask questions.

For example, I have quoted your items 3 and 4 because while they are true in isolation, I think they may be misleading when presented in isolation. If you eats refined grains only, they have a high GI, but do people eats grains alone, without protein and fat? Grains don't have B12, but you only need to eat occasional animal products to get whatever B-12 you need. In the context of an overal diet, is the lack of B-12 truly an issue?

Your point about Hawaiins and white rice concludes where I started my question. Processed grains provide the cheapest calories you can find, and those with limited means are likely to eat more processed-grain products and be at higher risk for the problems resulting from the consumption of "empty" calories. Is the problem rice per se, or is the problem that polished (processed) rice is so cheap?
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