December 30

Quote for the day

18  comments

From editorialist Hannah Lupien at the Sacramento Bee:

There is something to be said for fast food: It is quick, convenient and — especially — cheap. We all know that it’s bad for us, but when a bacon double-cheeseburger costs less than a head of lettuce, it might be hard to refuse.

Her editorial is about how poor folks can’t find cheap, healthy foods and, therefore, are at risk for diabetes, obesity and all the rest. And, of course, she is agitating for the government (who else) to do something about it.
My take is that cheap foods are only cheap foods in the buying of them. The long term consequences are not cheap, however. Even poor people have to pay to some extent for health care occasioned by their faulty diet, so money saved on cheap carbs is no long-term bargain. But the bacon double-cheeseburger that costs less than a head of lettuce can be eaten without the bun for no more money than one with the bun. In my opinion, what we need is more education as to what a ‘good’ diet is, but we’ll play hell getting our friends in Washington to promote a low-carb diet, when they are the very ones who have afflicted us with the food pyramid. And if our leaders rise to the bait and fund food for the poor as suggested by Ms. Lupien, they will just produce more of the same stuff that has driven the obesity epidemic they started by meddling in the first place back in 1977.


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  1. You can find 25lb of walnuts on-line for $4 per pound, including shipping, and I don’t even have to leave the house. That’s 2000 cals per day for 50 days, at about $2 per day (if I did the math right). Fast food being cheap or convenient is a myth.
    Hi Warner–
    I got 37 days at 2000 kcal/day, but you’re point is well taken.  It isn’t all that expensive to get good nutrition if you use some ingenuity.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  2. I’m near the end of Joel Salatin’s book, Hog Heaven and Holy Cow (Joel & his beyond organic, biodynamic farm Polyface is featured in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma). Joel describes very well something that dawned on me after eating at St. John restaurant in London last summer (known for Nose-to-Tail dining where there are *no* familiar filet mignon or tenderloins on the pricey menu, also for the similarly titled cookbook). The current preference for select cuts (especially boneless) of meat, poultry, even fish, creates a huge problem that prior generations did not have when more of the animal was used, that is, lots of waste with the less popular bits. Most markets don’t even butcher at all anymore, they just unpack boxes and perhaps make a few cuts. I can’t get marrow bones or chicken backs for broth at the majority of the markets in my area anymore (just the one German-style place, but unfortunately they are conventionally-raised animals). It is that “waste” stream after the “special” cuts are removed that creates the ever cheaper hamburger, chicken “nuggets”, fish patties, hot dogs, pet food, etc. Because the “waste” can be manufactured into something cheap and processed (& doesn’t look or taste like waste, that also subsidizes the price of the select cutsmaking them “cheaper” too. In and of itself, that probably isn’t such a big deal, but the waste generated by preference for “select” cuts is still larger than the possible uses (plus creates waste lagoons that leak, and lots of other hidden costs). Plus all this leftover stuff has to be kept chilled (I hope!) and transported to yet another processing facility. That accounts for stories of ground beef from three or four different countries in chub package. Not a lot of quick tracebility or accountability with that system.
    I’ll admit, there was a time not too many years ago when I never purchased or ordered anything with bones in it even though it was expensive for me then: too much trouble to prepare, to eat, too much “waste”, etc. But now that I am trying a wider variety of cuts (even a whole butchered lamb with lots of parts I had never tried), I am discovering that the bones are where the flavor is, not to mention probably better than any calcium supplement I could take, and can be much cheaper per pound. I’ve got good knives & teeth and fairly good manual dexterity: my excuses are gone!
    Joel has a lot of insight into other reasons why cheap food is so cheap at the retail point (imported cheap foreign labor, for example), and why good farm friendly food can be so expensive (excessive regulations way out of scale with production scale, not to mention downright stupid regulations, no subsidies that commodities get, etc.). He also makes a compelling argument about why cheap food is bad for the farmers and ultimately bad for this nation’s future food independence.
    I highly recommend his book (Hog Heaven and Holy Cows) and addressed lots of issues, including the cost issues with cheap not-so cheap food. It is very conversational in tone and is an eye-opening look into the farmer’s side of the food equation.
    And I have the “cost of good food” discussion all the time with family members who are thrifty and only look at the price, not the content; friends who find all kinds of money for expensive vacations, frills for the house, dining out, excessive stuff for the kids, huge vehicles out of proportion to their passenger count, etc. Seems people put food way down on their priority list, after convenience. Yet they still say “that” food is too expensive.
    Most people, well-off or poor, don’t know how to eat well on a modest food budget anymore because they don’t know how. They also can’t picture their budget without the pre-cooked bacon, tortilla chips, premade guacamole or salsa, soda, and all kinds of other things that they are buying now. I know very few people who make their own broth (a very cheap, nourishing base for all sorts of things), can/dehydrate/ferment/preserve food of any sort when seasonal abundance brings low prices, etc., and are willing to do the “processing” themselves. The food manufacturers have done a good job of convincing us that we just don’t have enough time (yet the hours of TV watching and other diversions seem to increase yearly). Broth & other inexpensive meals make themselves in a slow cooker for pennies of electricity (heck you don’t even need a stove!). Talk about multi-tasking!
    I’ll finish with a way I have reduced some of that “waste”. Weekly, I make raw ground whole chicken for our two cats, bones & all, except the skin. I had been tossing the skin, but ran across a recipe for Chicken Chips in Dana Carpender’s 500 Low Carb Recipes cookbook. Cut the removed chicken skin (I use organic chickens) into large “chip” sized pieces, then spread out on a broiler pan (I used a cooking rack on a sheet pan), and bake in the oven until golden and crispy (thick pieces may need more time). Remove and salt. Yum! I didn’t tell my 8 yo son what they were until he was hooked. Then he didn’t care (he likes pork rinds, too). They are great crumbled instead of croutons on a salad. So now if I am feeling feisty, if my tales of making raw cat food doesn’t gross someone out, I tell them about Chicken Chips :-).
    Sorry, I went on way too long but that cheap food vs. expensive food hits a nerve with me.
    Cheers,
    Anna
    Hi Anna–
    Feel free to discourse to your heart’s content.
    I would like to read Joel’s book (books), but right now my stack of unread books is already teetering. I’ve got to catch up before I can add new ones to the stack.
    I’m glad to hear that you spend so much effort providing great meals–I hope your family appreciates you. If not, you can always come live with us.
    Happy New Year
    MRE

  3. Hello Dr. Eades,
    I know you are a busy man, and I try to keep my questions for you to an absolute minimum. However, I can’t help but forward on to you the following piece I just read on Art Devany’s blog, in hopes that you might comment on it. Mr. Devany is a devout paleo guy, but with views closer to yours than Cordain’s I would say. Nonetheless, some of what he says goes directly against what I’ve read from you, and frankly, I’m going crazy trying figure out what the fat profile of my diet should be. It’s basically back to same old saturated fat/cholesterol thing. Common sense tells me you’re right, but when I read the blog entry below, it gave me pause. Anyway, if you have a moment….

    “Kinds of Fat and Fat Resistance
    December 29, 2006 09:43 AM
    I have been pretty busy the past few months on my invention and company. I have also been giving a lot of talks around the country. So, I have not been posting much. I thought I would end this year with a bit on fat resistance and with some encouragement for the New Year.
    It is true that my diet is somewhat higher in fat than either the ADA or AHA recommends. But, my sources of fat are primarily in the Omega 3 and unsaturated fats such as salmon, tuna, nuts, and olive oil. PaleoGal may have a point in observing that by eating low fat meats or trimming the meat to reduce fat content, that there is a bit of an inconsistency in my diet. This is only an apparent inconsistency though.
    I am altering my cell membrane fatty acid profile by choosing to eat this way. Membrane cholesterol content is important and my diet leads to flexible, permeable membranes with low cholesterol content. This has many benefits for cell plasticity and function, but it does make the membrane more susceptible to oxidative damage. Hence, the high antioxidant content of my diet.
    Altering the membrane fatty acid profile alters its insulin sensitivity. Excess cholesterol content diminishes insulin sensitivity. This is one of the reasons the ADA recommends a high carb diet, though paradoxically, this induces insulin resistance too. A cholesterol laden membrane impairs insulin sensitivity and reduces the stimulation of GLUT4. Thus, we might call this lipid (fat) resistance. Trivalent chromium reduces membrane cholesterol content, which may be the pathway through which chromium improves insulin sensitivity. See the Abstract below for more details (it is almost unreadable unless you are a specialist, but I want you to know there is research that clearly supports what I am saying).
    Thus, both elevated insulin. elevated membrane cholesterol, and elevated FFAs induce insulin resistance. Membrane cholesterol content is a contributing factor. So, protect your membranes.
    It is sometimes said that fish is brain food. The connection may be that fish sources of fatty acids alter the membrane fatty acid content of brain cells, making them more sensitive to the action of insulin. Certainly, the more pliable cell membrane that results makes the brain cells more flexible and more apt to generate new connections. This would promote learning and brain metabolism. The areas of the brain most susceptible to Alzheimer’s are the most insulin sensitive. Thus, the loss of insulin sensitivity through the mechanisms described may contribute to premature senility. I suspect the current epidemic of insulin resistant diabetes will be followed by an epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease or insulin resistant senility.
    Exercise induces GLUT4 upregulation and metabolism of glucose and FFAs. Why wouldn’t you do it? A diet low in cholesterol and high in unsaturated fats gives you the right composition of cell membranes. Why wouldn’t you eat this way? It is delicious and close to what our ancestors did. Add a bit of intermittent fasting, make the exercise intermittent, fun, and challenging and get leaner and smarter. That is the Evolutionary Fitness Way.
    Try it this New Year. And have a good new year.”
    Art Devany

    Hi Daniel–
    I am too busy right now to address all the issues Dr. Devany raises, but I plan a post on such at a later date. I can comment on a few of the issues, however.
    First, a careful study of the anti-aging and caloric restriction literature tells us that animals that live longer have lower unsaturation indices. The unsaturation index is a measure of the number of double bonds, and in a cellular or organelle membrane–the higher the index, the more double bonds, the lower the index, the fewer double bonds. It was long thought that the longevity brought about by caloric restriction resulted from a decreased production of free radicals, but it turns out that free radical production isn’t diminished by caloric restriction. What does happen, however, is that the unsaturation index goes down, meaning that the membranes are less prone to oxidation because there are fewer double bonds. It has been shown that increasing the amount of saturated fat in the diet (at least in animal studies) is another way to lower the unsaturation index.
    As to the idea that a lower unsaturation index reduces the function of the insulin receptor, that has pretty much fallen by the wayside. There is a fairly small range that the unsaturation index covers from highest to lowest, and the inter and intra membrane proteins (receptors, for example) appear to work about the same irrespective of what the index is within this narrow range. But, it makes sense that the fewer the double bonds, the less oxidation. So, if there is no negative tradeoff, why not work for a lower saturation index instead of a higher one?
    Although dietary saturated fat can minimally lower the unsaturation index, what really controls it is the activity of the desaturase and elongase enzymes. Dietary saturated fat can be converted to a monounsaturated fat and elongated by these enzymes, so saturated fat doesn’t always end up as saturated fat. There aren’t a whole lot of studies on the activity of these enzymes (why more bench scientists aren’t interested, I don’t know), but the obscure ones that are published indicate that insulin activates these enzymes, especially the desaturase enzymes. What does this mean?
    It’s pretty clear that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia shorten life. If we take as a premise that lowering of the saturation index promotes longevity through the mechanism of reducing the potential for membrane oxidation, then we can see how this life shortening effect of hyperinsulinemia would work. Elevated levels of insulin stimulate the desaturation of fatty acids, which are then incorporated into cell and mitochondrial membranes, increasing the unsaturation index and making these membranes more prone to oxidation. More oxidized membranes equal less functional membranes. Less functional membranes mean less functional organisms. Less functional organisms lead shorter lives (unless, of course, they are politicians–then they live forever)
    As to the idea that consuming fish and fish oil supplements making the membranes more unsaturated, think about it. An average sized 70 kg person with 15% body fat carries about 24 pounds of fat. This same person has probably 10 or 20 pounds of cell and organelle membranes (if they could be dissected out and weighed). How can the 10-20 grams of fish oil found in a diet heavy in fish and supplemented with EPA/DHA capsules decrease the unsaturation index of the comparatively huge amount of bi-layer membrane the average human has?
    And the idea that, if this fish oil could somehow miraculously increase the unsaturation index, we could protect the membranes by increasing anti-oxidants is, in my opinion, not particularly efficacious. For the last 30-40 years researchers have unsuccessfully tried to come up with the smoking-gun study showing that saturated fat is harmful. And, over the same period they have performed numerous studies trying to show some longevity benefit to taking anti-oxidants and have been just as unsuccessful. Taking more antioxidants in an attempt to increase longevity is the triumph of hope over experience.
    If you want to live longer, keep insulin low, keep your unsaturation index low, and be happy.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  4. Oops…was thinking of fat at 9 cal/g. Okay, so more like $3 per day. In general, you can get good fats (like nuts and olive oil) at good prices (low cost per calorie).
    I used to think that a healthy diet had the drawback of being more expensive, but bulk purchasing via the internet has changed the equation. Nuts, oils, chocolate, protein powder, spices, etc. are generally much less expensive on-line than in any store or restaurant. Over half of our calories now come from such purchases (i.e., from food that arrives at our doorstep).
    Hi Warner–
    You make a great point.  Thanks for writing.
    Happy New Year
    MRE 

  5. Oh, the lovely bones. I wasn’t gonna comment, but I can’t resist the bones. Yes, the broth provides calcium and other minerals in addition to collagen, the “gel” which is good for the digestion too. But I love bones for the fat too. I either poach or bake marrow bones for 1/2 hour or so and then dig out the marrow and save it for frying or for making pemmican or pie crust.
    Last summer I took a fresh caught halibut and deep fried it in tallow. Okay, the batter was a no-no, but it was heavenly. Crisp, light, non-greasy and didn’t upset my tummy the way commercial fried food does. I fry a lot these days. Who ever said (homemade) fried food was bad for you? If you leave off the batter, or at most dust with flour, it is wonderful.
    Hi Mary–
    Better than wonderful.  Just ditch the batter.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  6. I could have written Anna’s post word for word. Industrial food is not cheap at all, it only seems that way at the checkout/in the short run.
    America would do well to produce more Joel Salatins instead of the millions of pounds of nutritionally inferior, inhumanely treated, feedlot animals that it does.
    Amen.
    MRE 

  7. I used to be one of those poor people who couldn’t afford healthy food, and I was also too lazy to do any cooking. Besides, I’d always been told fat makes you fat, and carbs are healthy.
    Even after I started low-carbing it took a while to get into the habit of cooking.
    But yep…you either pay for healthy food now or doctors and meds later.

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  9. I saw an editorial like that one in my local paper the other day and just shook my head in amazement. If these people who think they’re getting a better food deal by buying fast food would look at the week’s grocery ads, they’d know there was no way they could even buy a meal from the $1 menu that could possibly be as satiating and cheap as what they could cook themselves.
    Here’s a sample from my local grocery store’s ad for this week:
    Large eggs – $1/dozen
    Chicken thighs – .49/lb
    Boneless chuck roast – $1.99/lb
    85% ground beef – $2.19/lb
    Wild caught Pacific Salmon – $1 each (5 oz portion)
    Baby Carrots – $1/lb (regular or organic)
    Large Celery Stalks – $1/lb
    Red Delicious Apples – $1/lb
    Fresh Express Garden Salad Blend – $1/bag
    Plum Tomatoes – $1/lb
    Avocados – $1 each
    Mangoes – $1 each
    Even if you only bought 7 of the $1 items on that list, you’d still have more food, and it would be significantly more satisfying (not to mention better for you – even if you bought some of the higher carb veggies and fruits) than buying a single $1 item each day from a fast food joint. And who buys only one $1 item from a fast food place and calls it enough food for a day, much less a full meal?
    Oh by the way, I shop at the so-called “expensive” grocery store in this area, and I can still do better than cheap fast food, even though the items on that list are on sale for exceptionally good prices this week.
    Hi Calianna–
    Thanks for the informative post.  I appreciate all your effort.  It truly is eye-opening.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  10. I have been poor and I have been not so poor. One thing that I know, if I had to low carb on a poverty shoe string, I could do it, healthily. I probably would be even healthier because I would eat not only cheaper cuts of meats but more of the dirt cheap organ meat.I can adapt any food to my diet, except beets. I would have to shop at the bargain grocery stores like Aldis. I would have to make my portions smaller, like back-in-the-day so I probably would weigh less. What a worthwhile challenge.
    Hi Mary–
    Right you are.
    You don’t like beets?  I’ve never heard of anyone not liking beets.  We eat them all the time since MD had her insight on how to prepare them.  I’ve always loved beets, but we never had them because MD always thought they tasted like dirt.  When we welcomed our second daughter-in-law into the family, we discovered that she liked beets and cooked them all the time.  When MD tried the DIL’s beets, she really liked them.  MD asked what her secret was for keeping them from tasting like dirt.  Said the DIL, “You’ve really got to scrub them hard.”  So, they tasted like dirt when we fixed them because, well, they had dirt on them, I guess.  Once MD scrubbed the heck out of them, then cooked them, they tasted great.  Since I liked them a lot before, I suppose I just don’t mind the taste of dirt.
    Cheers–
    MRE

  11. re: your follow-up response to my question about saturated vs. unsaturated fat and the oxidation of the cell membrane:
    THANK YOU!!!!
    Your thoughtful and speedy responses to continue to impress, Dr. Eades. Please feel free to keep up the absolutely awesome job you are doing!

  12. Good point on the beets, MRE. I actually have a distaste for canned beets because of the severe earthy taste. My parents, however, love to use canned beets as the base of a vinegar pickle (also including onions and hard-boiled eggs), which I find even more distasteful.
    I’ll give well-scrubbed fresh beets a try sometime.
    Hi Bradley–
    I checked with the bride and found out how she does the beets. First, she scrubs them hard with a vegetable brush under running water. Then cuts the tops off, then she either roasts or boils them. (Based on my experience with her, she boils about 10 times for each roast.) When she roasts them, she puts them in a roasting pan and sticks them in a 400 degree oven for 45 min to an hour depending upon the size of the beets.  She takes them out, slips the skins off, then puts butter, salt and pepper on them.  To boil them, she cuts the tops off, puts them in a pan of slightly salted water cut side down, heats them to boiling, then turns the heat down to a slow boil and boils them for 45 min to an hour.  She then slips the skins off, slices, and adds butter, salt and pepper.  MMMmmm.
    To show you how clueless I am about the whole thing, I didn’t even know beets had skins.  I asked MD why it would matter whether or not the beets were scrubbed if the skins were coming off before eating anyway.   She said it was because the dirt, like a spice covering the skin, would permeate the body of the beet during the boiling or roasting process.
    Whatever, they sure are good.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  13. I think the cost of good food and the time to source and prepare it is one of those myths or disingenuous arguments that will continue to live on, no matter how much it defies logic (like the one about how we “need carb-rich foods for energy & nutrients). It’s another excuse not to do something, make changes, wallow in self-pity, keep the economy going, etc. I liken it to the folks who go along with “seeing” the Emperor’s new clothes. Those of use who see the naked Emperor are delusional :-).
    For example, at our New Year’s Eve party in my own house a neighbor friend told me in a rather insulting way (I’m hoping it was the wine, but perhaps her manners “filter” fell off) that I “it’s great what you are doing this for your family but you live in a bubble” because no one else can because it costs too much/takes too much time, etc. In other words, I do not live in the “real world”. I can see how on the surface, it could look like that. I do not “work” except to take care of my family & household (I call that unpaid but worthwhile work) and I manage to pursue my own interests, plus my research scientist husband makes a good living, and we only have one kid, etc. But we also do our own gardening, do not have a cleaning service, do much of the repairs and remodeling on our house, etc., unlike a lot of people we know near us.
    She doesn’t know me well enough to know my life before we met: how my mother (an 18 yo and , non-college educated bride) managed to feed our family well with frugal creativity and an urban organic garden and make sure we had the necessities in the feast-or-famine years of my childhood (my father was self-employed and is a very good person and has great ideals, but was not a good provider). My husband’s childhood in the UK was even more difficult economically; he grew up in public housing on welfare after his parent’s divorce. We both put ourselves through college and had continual jobs from a young age. So I think we both know a lot about limited budgets and never-enough time, even though it may not appear so now.
    Atypical for me, I didn’t respond to the “bubble” comment (hard to believe, I know), but I was quite taken aback by the ferociousness of her tone and how long went she on about it. I don’t think I imagined that it was a bit too personal. I think somewhere I have struck a nerve, although we are quite friendly and she has joined the same CSA program and started bying raw milk sometimes and we talk about food and cooking a lot.
    What I find interesting is that I pretty much only hear this argument from prosperous folks who typically had “economically comfortable” childhoods (struggling folks usually want to know more and learn how). Money was rarely, if ever, short in their lives and they have mostly associated with people of comfortable means (I don’t necessarily mean rich). They continue to make a good living, so they don’t really have any sense of what economic struggle is when it comes to the basics necessities. But they are acutely aware of their lack of time and at least in one case, think that anyone who has the time to make food a priority isn’t in touch with reality (one “proof” that I was out of touch with reality was that I spend about 1.25 hours per week making cat food with organic chicken [which even with the new grinder for the bones is cheaper in the long run than the commercial cat food we used to buy and eliminates stops at the pet food store]) but it was ruining our cat’s health and running up vet bills).
    Hmmm, maybe that’s it! She is our vet, and I went AMA (against medical advice) and started raw homemade food instead of the Rx stuff for renal disease, sold by the clinic. The cat’s improvement was rapid & the cat is now acting & looking years younger. I even paid for more blood tests to be extra sure the new raw diet was helping instead of hurting. The change to a species-appropriate diet (instead of meat-flavored cereal or cooked meat) and resulting health improvement in our older cat only strengthened my resolve to feed my family better. I guess that would be threatening to someone who’s professional opinion was that the cat was going to die fairly soon and the best I could do was make him comfrotable. Now he is chasing his tail again and runs around the house after several years of poor health.
    BTW, regarding some comments above, I do not mean to imply that all “comfortable” people are so unaware of what struggle means, but I do often see this as a common thread.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one to take grief for investing time in & having high standards for food & nutrition. Anyone have any snappy comeback suggestions? I thought about saying at least I don’t get notes from the teacher asking me not to send a Twinkie to school for my kid’s snack (she was outraged to receive that note) but I bit my tongue. I need to keep it cordial so I can continue to set a good example 🙂
    On the other hand, if I am delusional, I think I can take hearing it from this crowd.
    Happy New Year’s to everyone. Wishing you all good health and peace. And thanks to the good doctor, because this is such an informative and thought-provoking blog (& often entertaining, too).
    Anna
    San Diego, CA
    Hi Anna–
    Thanks for the kind words about the blog.
    Your story reminds me of an article I read a couple of months ago on research on the generosity of liberals verses conservatives.  According to the article, the researcher was stunned to discover that while liberals bemoaned the fate of the poor, conservatives actually gave way, way more money to them than did the liberals.  The researcher (obviously a liberal) couldn’t believe it and figured it was because conservatives had so much more money that what they gave, although larger in an absolute sense, was smaller as a percentage of their income.  The researcher them controlled for income levels and found the same thing: people labeling themselves conservative are more generous than those labeling themselves liberal.
    I have no dog in this fight.  I’m only reporting, not opining, so don’t get mad at the messenger.  If anyone has an article refuting this, send it along, and I’ll put it up.
    Cheers and Happy New Year.
    MRE 

  14. I know this won’t work for most people, but when I first moved to ‘Vegas sixteen years ago I was struck by how cheap you could eat at the buffets. Alas, I had not discovered LC and limited them severely for fear of fatal weight gain. After discovering LC six years ago I also discovered that I could go to a weekend champagne brunch, enjoy a two hour feast and not eat again that day. Depending on my mood this could cost between $10 – $25. If I were on a tight budget, I could eat at the lunch buffet for about $5 once daily and NEVER be hungry! That’s a food stamp budget!
    Hi George–
    MD and I eat at casinos often when we are at home in Tahoe for the same reason.  As long as you eat and don’t eat and gamble it’s a real bargain.  Used to be that the food kind of sucked, but Las Vegas, Reno, and Tahoe have really improved their menus over the last few years.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  15. You can pay for healthy food now or pay for medical care later, right? According to
    this article
    , the time between “now” and “later” appears to be getting much shorter, as it is seen that health care costs are significantly higher for obese children.
    I wonder how parents rationalize allowing their children to be obese. It’s one thing to do it to yourself (I used to just avoid turning sideways in the mirror), harder to see how you can ignore it in your children, especially if you have to make extra trips to the doctor (who hopefully is pointing out the origin of the extra health issues).
    I’m reminded of one little girl, probably about 4 years old, whom I observed during one of my son’s soccer games. She was very overweight, to the point where she had no neck, and her eyes seemed almost shut. Because of her age, I thought she must have some hormonal problem, or be on some kind of medication that caused her to retain a lot of water. That made me a little sad. Later I saw her walking around with her own jumbo bag of cheetos, nearly the size of her torso. That made me a lot sadder, because it meant that her parents were responsible for her condition.
    Dave
    Hi Dave–
    I see these same kids all the time and it makes my heart break.  The parents often use food, particularly sweets, as a reward for these kids or use it simply to keep them quiet.  We as a nation are facing a health disaster in the not too distant future, I fear.
    Best–
    MRE 

  16. Dr. Eades,
    I ready with interest, your response to comment 3 of this post. One thing that particularly caught my eye was your next to last paragraph:

    And the idea that, if this fish oil could somehow miraculously increase the unsaturation index, we could protect the membranes by increasing anti-oxidants is, in my opinion, not particularly efficacious. For the last 30-40 years researchers have unsuccessfully tried to come up with the smoking-gun study showing that saturated fat is harmful. And, over the same period they have performed numerous studies trying to show some longevity benefit to taking anti-oxidants and have been just as unsuccessful. Taking more antioxidants in an attempt to increase longevity is the triumph of hope over experience.

    I am curious as to what you think of some of the following research on pomegranate juice and green tea. Link (large pdf) and link. (There is considerable other research, but I just picked two)
    Do you think that these, and other pieces of research are flawed, or do you think that the benefits to the substances caused by something other than their antioxidant properties?
    Furthermore, there seems to be a large body of research that seems to correlate the amount of fruits and vegetable consumption with health and longevity. (Here’s one that I picked at random from Google.
    Again, do you think that the research is flawed or that the benefits from fruits and vegetables are caused by something other than their antioxidant properties?
    It may well be that antioxidants are important, but that they must be taken in the correct ratios and not in isolation (I don’t know what those ratios would be.) Perhaps this is why fruit and vegetable consumption may be useful, but not supplement consumption?
    Finally, I have also seen numerous research pieces concerning fish oil. For example here (pdf) and here.
    Unless the studies are flawed, it would seem that small amounts of the fatty acids could improve function in the brain (and by inference perhaps other areas too)?
    Thanks for your Blog. It has been very interesting and informative reading.
    Albert
    Hi Albert–
    Oh dear.
    Somehow I knew this was going to happen when I dashed of a short response to a long question instead of  waiting until I could do a proper post on the subject.  Then I compounded my error by drawing attention to it in another post.
    What I was trying to say vis a vis antioxidants is that the vast majority of studies have not shown that supplementation with antioxidants has increased longevity.  Since supplemental antioxidants don’t appear to increase longevity or promote significantly better health, then it stands to reason that these same antioxidants in plants probably don’t do a lot either.  Having said that, I do believe that plants contain substances that promote longevity and promote health.  These substances are not necessarily antioxidants per se.
    For example, a number of plants, particularly the cruciferous vegetables, contain sulforaphane, which is a potent phase II enzyme inducer.  Free radicals are produced within the mitochondria and do their damage there to the mitochondrial membrane, an exceedingly important structure.  Antioxidants of the supplemental variety can’t get into the mitochondria where the damage takes place to quench the free radicals.  The mitochondria themselves have a free radical damage control process that involves the induction of enzymes that produce antioxidants within the mitochondria to quench the free radicals where they are before they can wreak much havoc with the delicate membranes.  The so-called phase II enzymes are extremely important in this process and can be induced in larger numbers, faster, by sulforaphane.  Another way–as I mentioned in the answer to the comment–is to decrease the number of double bonds in the membrane itself, making it less prone to attack.  Free radicals can’t do squat to a saturated fat because a saturated fat contains no double bonds, and only double bonds are game for free radical damage.
    There are many other substances in plants that perform similar duties yet aren’t’ considered antioxidants.
    I was taking issue with the idea that one can make one’s lipid bi-layer membranes more supple by consuming a lot of polyunsaturated fat, then protect them by taking antioxidants.  I still stand by that.
    I didn’t say that fish oil is not a good thing.  I take it and take krill oil as well.  I don’t think it works its magic by increasing the unsaturation index of the cellular and organelle membranes.  One simply can’t take enough to do this given the mass of the lipid membranes throughout the body and the amounts taken and/or eaten as fish.
    The long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish oil and krill oil do promote health, but in a different way than by increasing the saturation index.  For one, they reduce the inflammatory response, but they do a number of other things as well.
    Hope this answers your question.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  17. Wow, talk about memories of my mother on a budget! We came to this country with nothing, yet my mother managed breakfast, brown bag lunches for my father and us,and dinner on what little my father started off with.
    Dinner always consisted of a meat, side vegetable, rice or potatoes, and a tiny dessert.
    My mother had gone to the kind of high school were home economics was an all day affair and a serious study. This stood my family in good stead when we came to this country.
    It makes me so angry when editorials such as in this post just make excuses for the ignorance of a certain class. It’s intellectually and morally lazy and a lot less bother than fixing the situation, and getting back to the school standards we had in the fifties. I mention the fifties because public high schools in California could at that time compete with any prep school in the northeast. After certain Republican politicians got their hands on the public school system, we went from being in the top ten of the fifty states, to being in the bottom ten. Yes, that makes a difference when ignorant parents raised in substandard schools themselves, don’t know enough to feed their children.
    Hi LC–
    Glad to hear from you.  I thought my expression of strong dislike for John Edwards had maybe run you off.
    I agree with your take on the editorial completely.  But, now that the California public school system is in the hands of the Democrats and has been for years I don’t see any major improvements.
    Politicians of all stripes tend to screw up everything they touch, and I dislike them all.  I’m a firm believer in the old H.L. Mencken quote: Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
    Don’t stay away so long.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

  18. Hi, I replied earlier about being able to live low carb in a state of poverty. I just checked that post today and see that my dislike for beets surprised you. Here is something even more surprising, I have no idea what they taste like. They just do not look right to me.:-0 I know it is an “I will not eat green eggs and ham. I will not eat them, SamIam” syndrome.
    I also wanted to mention that El Pollo Loco used to have , on their dollar menu, a piece of chicken and a salad. They have a very creamy cilantro dressing that I usually get with it.
    Geez, you mean I went to all that trouble to describe how to cook beets for nothing.
    Thanks for the tip on El Pollo Loco.  I’ve never eaten at one.
    Cheers–
    MRE 

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