There’s not a day that goes by where we’re not being hit with conflicting “facts” regarding health. For years eggs were the devil. “Don’t eat too many eggs. Their high cholesterol content will give you a heart attack,” the experts proclaimed. And so we stopped eating those supposed coronary killers and switched to sugary cereals.
Now – decades later – the truth is coming out. As it turns out, sugar is the culprit behind most diseases, not the natural and nutritious egg. And so we start limiting the sweet stuff and start eating more eggs. But the damage has already been done to millions and millions of people – people who relied on those experts to guide their decisions and well-being.
And what about butter and margarine? So worried about saturated fat (a natural substance we thrived on for millions of years) we were steered towards the deadly, man-made, trans-fat-laden margarine. Once again, arrogance and ignorance came together and the outcome hasn’t been pretty. How many unnecessary heart attacks occurred as a result of this ridiculous recommendation?
And there are many more examples I won’t get into at the moment. The point is, scientists refuse to learn their lesson: man is not smarter than nature. Something made in a lab will never be healthier than the foods God put on this green Earth (or evolution, or whatever it is you happen to believe in).
So where am I going with all of this… and what does it have to do with diabetes and heart disease?
Well, it’s a long-winded prelude to a quick analysis of the Look AHEAD study. According to the findings, if you’re a diabetic, losing weight doesn’t decrease your chances of having a heart attack. Now, there’s a lot of BS floating around, but this one takes the cake. What an irresponsible conclusion – one that’s taking the media by storm and will arguably harm many down the road.
Let me explain…
Researchers divided 5,145 people into two groups. One received an intensive lifestyle intervention (i.e. diet modification and physical activity) while the other followed a general program of diabetes support and education. After following these people for 11 years, the intervention group lost significantly more weight than the other. Furthermore, they kept most of it off for the duration of the study.
But despite these changes, there really was no difference in cardiac events. As such, the logical conclusion is that weight loss won’t ward off heart attacks. So then why am I blasting it, you ask? Me – a “nobody” actually challenging the conclusions of such prestigious scientists, no less?
After looking at what these people were eating, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize why their weight loss isn’t protective against heart disease. And I quote…
“…all individuals are encouraged to replace two meals (typically breakfast and lunch) with a liquid shake and one snack with a bar. They are to consume an evening meal of conventional foods (which includes the option of frozen food entrees) and to add fruits and vegetables to their diet until they reach their daily calorie goal. Participants potentially can choose from four meal replacements, including Slim-Fast (Slim-Fast Foods Company, Englewood, NJ), Glucerna (Ross Laboratories, Columbus, OH), OPTIFAST (Novartis Nutrition, Fremont, MI), and HMR (Health Management Resources, Boston, MA). All products are provided free of charge.”
“…Look AHEAD investigators initially were concerned that the high sugar content of some meal replacement products might adversely affect glycemic control.”
When you encourage people to replace natural, whole foods with processed junk loaded with sugar, there’s a problem. But when you encourage diabetics to do this (i.e. insulin resistant people who have a hard time clearing sugar from their bloodstream) well… in my opinion, that’s criminal.
But what do I know? I’m just a nobody – not some prestigious scientist, right?
Listen, food can be the best medicine or the worst poison. And yes, you CAN lose weight on junk food provided you restrict your calories. Case in point, nutrition professor Mark Haub made headlines after losing 27 pounds on a 2-month diet of Twinkies (i.e. The Twinkie Diet; another travesty but that’s a different discussion). But just because it’s possible doesn’t make it a good idea!
With that said, I’m very curious what the outcome of the study would have been if these people had been eating real food – nature’s best. Not the crap they were instructed to. Something tells me the outcome would have been a bit different.
But again, what do I know?
In the end, the point I’m trying to make is this: use your common sense when it comes to contradictory advice. You can’t go wrong if you eat real, natural foods and avoid the junk made in a lab. By doing so, you’ll not only lose weight and keep it off. You’re also likely reverse diabetes and keep your ticker beating strong well into your old age.