Monday, June 4, 2012

Doolally Sally? or Hippy Misgivings

I recently came upon this article (see below for excerpt). I was all for Sally Fallon's back to traditional simple food approach. I still want to be, but flip! So many points in the article just set my eyes rolling.

There were some things I really agreed with like MSG labelling (or lack of, including re-naming to hydrolyzed protein) and the goodness of bone broths. Also the over processing of cereals etc
I struggle with my hippy tendencies: 
  • I love growing vegies as I think it's so much healthier without the pesticides, plus I enjoy the natural taste of old fashioned varieties.
  • I want to buy land and grow vegie trees, start a permaculture school and weave my own jumpers.. possibly dye them with nettles (but it has to be done well and in a funky style inline with Espirit)
  • I don't use fluoride toothpaste and believe that comfrey and arnica works to prevent and dispel bruises (just because I experimented with it on my own family and my Dr gave me some!).
  • I like my kids to play in the trees and dirt rather than on plastic play equipment

There's a certain kind of behaviour that sets my teeth on edge about "natural, herbal, hippy" folk and that's when they try to use facts to convince others of their views. They use a fact.. here Sally's used tests from the 1940s to back one of her claims and then has a 'feeling' at the end of another or a "nah nah nah nah naaaah, yeah, your putting toxins in because you just are." A bit harsh you say? Well that's how I feee-e-eeel about someone I respected having said so many looney, bendy, incredible things. I'm annoyed. Now I don't know what to think.

You'll see what I mean. I went straight to the rat trials as it looked interesting.  My response is below the article.

Dirty Secrets of the Food  Industry
By Sally Fallon This presentation was given at the annual conference of Consumer Health of Canada,
March, 2002.

The Rat Experiments
"Let me tell you about two studies which were not published. The first was described by Paul Stitt who wrote about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat, water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that got nothing but water and vitamins lived about two months. The animals on water alone lived about a month. But the company's own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two weeks---they died before the rats that got no food at all. It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock.
Results like these suggested that there was something actually very toxic in the puffed wheat itself! Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes, which turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance. (incredulous. *eye roll*)
Another unpublished experiment was carried out in the 1960s. Researchers at Ann Arbor University were given 18 laboratory rats. They were divided into three groups:
one group received corn flakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box that the corn flakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water.
This experiment was actually designed as a joke, but the results were far from funny. The results were never published and similar studies have not been conducted."

_ _ _

Here's why Sally's rat trial point fell apart for me:

  1. She talked about these studies not being published as if it was being kept a secret from the masses. Stuff like this is published all the time, proving links with cancer etc - people just don't care, or there isn't the right budget to put into marketing the results to make people notice enough to make a difference.
    There are so many health journals out there plus the kind like the Academy of Nutrition and dietetics etc who would have happily have published findings like that.
  2. Since they were "done as a joke" is one HUGE bell clanging "Don't take me seriously" and clearly means that guidelines may not have been followed. The strict observation that goes into rat studies (and it's done for pretty much everything - even Stevia) is so much so, that when followed, some journal somewhere will publish it. Publishing means it's METHOD was credible. As I said before, there are a tonne of Natural/Alternative medicine journals that would have loved to publish findings as these, so not being published is another clanger that it must be taken with a large dose of salt.
  3. The biggest clanger of all was the fact that Sally surmised from these unpublished "joke" studies that rats had died from a toxic substance within the puffed grain = "insulin shock". This condition is otherwise known as hypoglycemia. That's right folks! High insulin levels - raised due to the only food their eating to be high GI. NOTHING TOXIC in the manufacturing or protein structure, just high pressure and steam. That's it!

I had alot of respect for Sally as her theories about food were music to my 'sourdough healthy home food' sympathetic ears, but I was so blown away by the mindlessness of her rat study conclusions, that I've stopped soaking my grains while I think on it all a bit. It is really disappointing because now I'm wondering what other supposedly healthy habits I've been doing that are merely misguided opinion and not fact..

Puffed corn isn't a great snack owing to it's high GI-ness but better than lollies (and after some low GI food!)

Oh and if you have some published studies on why certain foods are better, then I'd love to see them.

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