bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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No big fat surprise that butter is being touted as the next Superfood

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Why, oh why must we take everything to the extreme? Is it because simple healthy eating is boring? We have to have “clean eating”, “superfoods”, “low-fat”, “low-carb”, “cleanses”, “high-protein”, yada yada. The latest mantra to irk me “slather on the butter”. I know, I know, I said it first “real dietitians eat butter”. But this doesn’t mean that we have to eat it to excess. What am I on about now? An article in the Daily Mail that I came across on the weekend: Can eating fatty meat, whole milk and lashings of butter help you LOSE weight?

Okay, most of us in the nutrition world have accepted that low-fat was a grievous error. Taking anything to the extreme is a nutritional error. Just because something is not “bad” for you, or even good for you, doesn’t mean that you should consume more of it. The logic seems to go: apples are delicious and nutritious; therefore, an entire bag of them must be even better. In this case, we’re not even referring to foods that we know to be healthy when consumed regularly. We’re referring to foods that were unfairly demonized but have not been shown to lead to good health when consumed daily.

Perhaps, the article in the Daily Mail does not accurately portray Nina Teicholz’s book The Big Fat Surprise. I haven’t read the book, so I can only comment on the news article. Encouraging people to eat more cream, high-fat red meat, butter, and other foods high in saturated fat is not the solution to the obesity epidemic that the Daily Mail would have you believe. Yes, you can lose weight eating anything; remember the Twinkie Doctor? This doesn’t mean that you’re healthier (especially in the long-term).

Apparently Teicholz claims that removing the fat from milk means adding more carbohydrates. No. When you remove fat, you are not adding anything. Yes, an equivalent quantity of skim milk will be higher in carbohydrate (not sugar though) than whole milk. That’s simply a result of what’s left behind when you remove the fat. It’s also higher in protein, minerals, and vitamins. We wrongly vilified saturated fat, let’s blame carbs.

Health and the battle against obesity should not be a nutrient blame-game. How about we stop demonizing and glorifying foods and nutrients and accept that there is a place for bread and a place for butter in a healthy diet.


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Jennifer Aniston weight loss secret?

Is it just me, or are the facebook spam ads getting more insidious? As much as I loathe FB it does prove useful for blog fodder at times. Has anyone else seen this ad in their feed?

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Note that the link at the top says “Shape.com”. Make you think that it’s an article in Shape Magazine, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. If you take the bait, it brings you to Shape.com-11.tv… and an “article” about How to Lose 7 lbs of Stomach Fat EVERY Week with Just 2 Diet Tips. Jennifer Aniston uses this simple trick to melt fat off her legs! The website looks like a cheap reproduction of the true Shape website. If you didn’t know better, and didn’t check the URL, you might actually believe that you were reading an article in Shape.

However, the “article” is yet another thinly veiled advert for (have you guessed yet?) garcinia cambogia. It’s pretty much the same idea as the green coffee bean ads masquerading as news articles I’ve blogged about before. Is there any merit to the use of garcinia cambogia for weight loss? In a nutshell, nope. If you want more than a nutshell, I recommend this write-up by Gemma Critchley, a fellow dietitian in the UK.

The notion that Jennifer Aniston ever had 32.5 pounds to lose is pretty ludicrous in and of itself. I’m pretty sure that at any recent weight, if she were to lose 32.5 pounds she would be hospitalized. However, I can see how the allure of quick, easy weight loss paired with the notion of having a body worthy of celeb could make people want to believe in the validity of garcinia cambogia. Sorry guys, bad news. Jennifer Aniston has a body like that because it’s her job. She puts a LOT of time, money, and effort into being super slim. Instead of wasting money on expensive, useless supplements, we should all get off facebook, get outside, and learn to love the bodies we have.


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DDT and obesity

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You know how I feel about mouse studies. It’s very difficult to create circumstances that accurately mimic real life in the lab. It’s even more difficult to create circumstances using mice that can be assumed to be the same for humans. A recent study reported that perinatal exposure to DDT caused an increase in diabetes and insulin resistance in mice.

It was quite interesting that the only difference between the mice exposed to DDT in the womb, and those not exposed, appeared to be a decrease in body temperature. They ate the same amount of food, exercised the same amount, and yet they gained weight, apparently because of decreased thermogenesis.

What are the implications of this for those of us who are human though? Well, if you live in a country where DDT is not banned as a pesticide, or is used to control malaria, it may be a concern. It may also be a factor in women (apparently the DDT did not have the same effect on male mice as it did on the females) who were exposed to DDT in the womb before DDT was banned (1972 in Canada and the US). However, it does nothing to explain the current rise in obesity rates and rates of type 2 diabetes in North Americans of all ages. Type 2 diabetes rates in children continue to rise. This study does bring more validity to the argument that pesticide exposure may be playing a role in the obesity epidemic. However, DDT is certainly not the culprit in our neck of the woods.