Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Question everything.....

Euripides said, "Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing." Oh, this sentiment certainly holds true when we talk about diet and health. When people ask me questions, I find I contradict myself or sound extremely uneducated because the nutrition field is always changing. Many simple questions have complicated answers and, often, there is no ‘right’ answer. Let me give you a couple of examples:

Are dietary carbohydrates bad for you?
Eh, no....well yes...well some are better than others.

Does soy food protect against chronic disease?
Depends on what disease you have in mind!

Should I use butter or margarine?
Try olive oil.

What about high fructose corn syrup, harmful or not?
Conflicting results.

What is a prebiotic and probiotic? And why are they good for me?
Oh boy, do you have an hour?

Through my blog, I will try to answer these questions, but be warned - you may be frustrated by the response!

My friends often ask me questions about diet and health. I’ve classified these inquiring minds into two personality types: the comedians and the skeptics.

The comedians ask questions like, “How many calories are in a Snickers bar?” or “Why is a tomato a fruit and not a vegetable?”or “French fries are potatoes, so they count as a serving of vegetables, right ?” As a former professor once said “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and so let me respond to the above: 271 kcal (2 oz bar), botanically speaking its a fruit (contains seeds) and NO!

And then you have the skeptic – the person who wants to hear your opinion on the topic, but doesn't believe a single word you say. They usually start with a statement like, “My grandmother ate RED MEAT and POTATOES daily, used BUTTER on mounds of WHITE bread and enjoyed her nightly hot whiskey - she lived until she was 90 years old.” Fair enough! This dietary pattern worked for one of their family members – she enjoyed all the foods that we tell people to eat in moderation! Sometimes I find I just can't hold back. I try, but I just can't. I probe further, “So tell me, did your grandmother exercise?” “Oh yes, walked everywhere....no car.....three miles to the nearest shop.” (Note: If the nightly hot whiskey didn’t tip you off, event takes place in Ireland.) I usually follow this question with something along the following lines - “Things are so more convenient nowadays – closer stores, more variety of foods and bigger portions.” Who can argue with that? Bottom line? Your grandparents' genes have left their imprints on you, but your environment has changed and thus we need to consider the interaction of the two.

So from skeptics and comedians to curious minds alike, I welcome your questions. I can't guarantee I'll know the right answer or that I'll even get to your question but I will try! Keep an eye out for our weekly “Question everything” post. Email me at beyondnutrients@gmail.com

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