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Various Nutrition Posts
Part Two

by Gary F. Zeolla
(a.k.a. Reepicheep)

Note: The material on this page has been revised and incorporated into the book Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible: It is available in paperback and eBook formats from AuthorHouse.


This compilation of posts I have made in the "sci.med.nutrition" Newsgroup is continued from Various Nutrition Posts - Part One. In posts where I am responding to another's comments, their comments are summarized in brackets.


Sugar vs. Honey

[Are there any differences between table sugar and honey?]

There are some differences:

1. Honey has minute amounts of nutrients while sugar has none.

2. Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar, so less of it can be used for the same sweetening effect.

3. Honey is a a "natural" and unrefined substance while sugar is highly processed.

4. Sugar is pure sucrose, while honey is a mixture of sucrose and fructose.

[Will both cause tooth decay?]

Any sugar if left on the teeth will cause tooth decay. So brush after eating any sugary food!

[Is one healthier than the other?]

That's a hard one to answer. As indicated above, honey does have some nutrients while sugar has none. But, the amounts of nutrients in honey are negligible. However, since honey is an unrefined substance it "might" have something in it we simply have not yet discovered is beneficial. For instance, some forms of honey have antioxidant properties, which have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Also, there is much debate as to whether the body processes sucrose differently than fructose. Some believe fructose is absorbed more slowly so does not "spike" the blood sugar the way sucrose does. But others believe the body digests both the same.

Personally, I prefer honey over sugar as it simply "seems" better to eat a natural food rather than a highly processed substance. But even then, I only use small amounts of it. It tastes great on oatmeal!

But I should mention, if you want a sweetener that actually has significant amounts of nutrients, then try molasses. It has significant amounts of calcium and iron, along with other nutrients. And molasses also tastes great on oatmeal.

And finally, a little hint, purchase or put honey and molasses in a "squeeze" bottle. That way, you can control more easily the amount that comes out.


Milk and Osteoporosis

[The consumption of milk contributes to the high rate of osteoporosis in the US since the calcium in milk is outweighed by the high protein content in milk, thus causing a net loss of calcium.]

The amount of protein in milk is not that high in comparison with the amount of calcium. So even if a high protein diet does increase calcium loss, the 8 grams of protein in milk is hardly a factor when the average American probably eats (I don't have exact data here), but about 100 grams of protein a day.

I would say the reason Americans have high osteoporosis rates is two-fold:

1. Despite milk being so prevalent, the average American only consumes about 500 mg of calcium a day (which is about half of the RDA). Remember, a lot of milk is actually sold in the form of ice cream, which is not exactly a high calcium source.

2. The high phosphorus content of the American diet, due to the high consumption of soft drinks and flesh foods (meat, chicken, and fish). Calcium and phosphorus should be in a 1:1 ratio in the diet, but the actual ratio is 1:2. This imbalance is especially due to the fact that

Americans actually drink twice as much soft drinks as milk. And it is this imbalance in the calcium: phosphorus ratio that causes loss of calcium, more so than protein would.


Excessive Iron

[There is some increased risk of heart disease form high iron intake. Men and post-menopausal women should switch from eating red meat to chicken and fish, and to non-iron containing vitamin supplements.]

A local news report discussed the link between high iron intake and increased risk of heart disease. And it was mentioned that men and post-menopausal women should avoid iron supplements and excessive amounts of meat. They also showed the "Nutrition Facts" on the side of a cereal box which contained 100% of the RDA for iron. However, they didn't specifically mention fortified cereals, but they should have.

Thanks to our stupid government and the WIC program, most cereals are now fortified with 45% of the RDA for iron. And note, that RDA is based on what children and pre-menopausal women need (i.e. 18 mg). Men and post-menopausal women only need 10 mg. So that 45% is actually 81% of the latter's needs.

Moreover, since the serving sizes for cereals are rather small, I would guess that most men who eat cereal probably eat at least double the given serving size, at least I know I do. So that would mean a man would get over 160% of the iron he needs for the entire day, just from a bowl of cereal! That is a lot of iron.

Such excessive iron was causing me GI problems. It took a little time to track down the source of the problem, but once I switched to buying all of my cereal at a health food store (which don't add iron to their cereals), the GI problems went away.

In addition, I have severe low back problems. And it seemed like my back problem improved somewhat when I stopped eating the fortified cereals. This would make some sense as one of the problems with my back is dehydration of the lumbar disks. An Internet physical therapist friend of mine told me that excessive iron is one theory as to what causes disk dehydration.

And now, it seems like my back bothers me more when I eat red meat. So I have been reducing my consumption of it, and am seriously considering eliminating it altogether from my diet.

Now the news report mentioned that the best way to be sure you don't have excessive iron in your system is by donating blood. I haven't tried that yet, but probably should. It would be a way of benefiting others along with possibly helping myself.

So the moral of the story is, excessive iron is a problem. As such, sorry Paleolithic Diet people, but a high meat diet seems unlikely to me to be the "ideal" diet. Now I guess you could argue that our ancient ancestors' got cut and bleed lot from hunting all that wild game, but that would be reaching.


Low-fat diets NOT cause of American weight problem

I have seen claims in this Newsgroup that the promotion of a low-fat diet is the reason for the rising weight problems of many Americans. Currently about 33% of Americans could be classified as "obese" whereas 20 years ago it was only about 25%. And the claim has been made this correlates with the beginning of the promotion of low-fat diets.

First off, it should be obvious that correlation does not equal cause. But that said, I give the following reasons for why the low-fat diet as promoted by nutritionists is not the reason for the rise in weight. However, due to misconceptions caused mainly by the advertising industry, low-fat promotions might be an incidental cause, as I will explain later.

1. First and foremost, the vast majority of people in the US are NOT following a low-fat diet as promoted by nutritionists. The best evidence for this is that the average American consumes 16% of his or her calories in the form of added sugars. The nutritionists' low-fat diet does not include such high amounts of added sugars (Note this figure does not include naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruits and milk).

2. When a nutritionist says to eat a low-fat diet, s/he is saying to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals. However, the average American only eats three servings of fruits and vegies (and half of that in the form of French fries and potato chips). Such low amounts of fruits and vegies (and the form in which they are eaten) are further evidence that people are not following a nutritionist's low-fat diet. Moreover, most grains eaten in the US are refined, not whole grains.

3. What the ad industry has done is taken the low-fat message and perverted to mean that any food low in fat is somehow "good" for you. And similarly, people make the mistaken assumption that if something is low in fat it is also low in calories, and hence they overeat it. However, it should go without saying that such assumptions are false.

"Snackwell's" cookies are NOT what nutritionists have in mind when they say to eat a low fat diet. Neither is pop, of which Americans consume on average 19 ounces per day, or the wide variety of other sugar-laden foods that are low in fat, but also low in all nutrients, except calories. (Note: "pop" is Pittsburgh-eze for soda or soft drinks for those who don't know).

4. A part of a low-fat, or any kind of diet, is exercise. Yet only 26-28% of Americans exercise regularly. Furthermore, with the proliferation of energy saving devices in the past two decades, Americans are expending less and less energy on day to day activities. I mean, we don't even have to get up any more to change the TV channel. And everyone reading this right now is engaging in a sedentary activity rather than something more vigorous.

5. More Americans than ever are eating more food outside of the home. And the portion sizes in restaurants, both fast food and regular ones, have been gradually increasing in recent years. It seems each restaurant is trying to outdo the other in how big their serving sizes are. We have "super-sizes" - "biggie-sizes" - "dino-sizes" and the like.

Further, people are encouraged to order the larger sizes since, proportionally, it is cheaper to order a "super-size" than a "medium" item. The super-size might be twice as big as the medium yet only cost pennies more. So what was an average serving-size of a food years ago would now be looked at as a small size today. Restaurants are able to offer such price scales as the cost of the actual food is only a fraction of the total cost of the product.

The bottom line of all of the above is there have been a lot of changes in the US society in the last two decades. These have mainly led to increased food consumption, especially of highly processed foods, and decreased physical activity. And it is this increased consumption and decreased activity that is the cause for the growing weight problem in the US, not any dietary pattern being advocated, but largely not followed by the populace.

Follow-Up on Above Post

Following are a couple of very important points I "missed" in my original post.

1. The amount of fat has NOT decreased in the American diet, only the percentage has. The reason for this is:

2. The number of total calories has increased, mainly from refined sugar.

So the cause of the American weight problem is simple: people are eating more calories!

This point is brought out very well in an article I was reading on the Web site for "American Fitness Professionals & Associates. Under "Health Info/ Articles" is an article titled, The Great Debate: High vs. Low Protein Diets taken from The McDougall Newsletter.

In a subsection titled, "Fat Doesn't Cause Obesity" is the following excellent paragraph:
We are consuming the same amount (actually a little more) of fat now than before. But, in addition, we are consuming over 250 more calories of refined flours and sugars over the past 15 years. Because of the added refined carbohydrates, the percent of fat in the diet has gone down between 1980 and 1990 (men 38% to 34%, women 37% to 34%), but the actual amount (grams) of fat consumed has remained the same (men 99.8 to 98.8, women 62.6 to 67.8), and the diet American diet now has more calories (men 2,457 to 2,684, women 1,531 to 1,805). The reason for the rise in obesity is no mystery—Americans eat a high-calorie, high-fat diet.

This compilation of posts is continued at Various Nutrition Posts - Part Three.

Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. This book is available from the publisher AuthorHouse and from conventional and online bookstores. ISBN: 1587218526

Note: Many of the statistics in my posts are from various issues of Nutrition Action HealthLetter published by Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Various Nutrition Posts - Part Two. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Disclaimer: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet or exercise program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

The above items were posted on this Web site November 7, 1999.

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