Right now, if you try to eat a healthy diet using the principles described here, you’re going against conventional wisdom. The U.S Department of Agriculture’s nutrition website doesn’t match up very well with the biology of human nutrition. On the page Good Intentions, Bad Policy I describe how we arrived at those recommendations. It’s a classic story of the best of intentions resulting in a policy with unintended consequences.
We’ve gone down a wrong path. However, I don’t see any villains. Farmers and food companies aren’t trying to poison us, they’re just trying to make an honest living. The people at the USDA mean well, but they don’t know the biology. Likewise for the medical community and the public health professionals that are still embedded in the old paradigms.
Some of the people whose work I’ve relied on, like Dr. Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes, advocate changing public policy. Lustig and his collaborators recommend that sugar be regulated like tobacco or alcohol. Taubes has expressed similar sentiments. While I tend to agree with their positions, I think we have a serious education cliff to scale.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, I’m a Ph.D. biologist, and most of the ideas I’ve shared here were new to me when I started learning about nutrition in the summer of 2012. My wife is an M.D. and it was new information to her. I’ve shared this with many people since and it’s new information to practically everyone.
The direct effects of alcohol abuse have been known for millennia, but only in the past few decades has science, medicine, and public health studies explained the long term and less obvious effects more fully. Tobacco was trickier because the nicotine has powerful physiological and psychological effects, is additive, but the really nasty effects like lung cancers can take decades to appear. Only when a critical mass of scientific, medical, and public health professionals understood the problem did the U.S Surgeon’s Report on Smoking and Health led to aggressive efforts, and legislation, to restrict and discourage tobacco use.
The toxic effects of high sugar consumption are worse than the effects of tobacco and alcohol. However, we have a long way to go to change the thinking of the health professionals, let alone the policy makers and the general population. I’ll be curious to see if and when we get to a Surgeon General’s Report on Sugar. In the meantime, those of us who are early adapters to the new low carb/sugar paradigm are on our own. We need to carefully navigate a toxic environment, full of tasty, unhealthy temptations. In that spirit, please feel free to share this website; that’s why I’ve built it.