Food and its contribution to health

Richard Turnbull

Richard Turnbull

Richard Turnbull is a former fitness coach for the Springbok Rugby Team. He visited Orange NSW in the 1980s when the Springbok’s played country NSW, fell in love with the city, and ultimately moved to take up residence.

He has coached the local Emus rugby team to several premierships and currently works as a fitness and health therapist in the Wagga Orange regions. His passion is health and his concern is that the truth is often manipulated for commercial gain. This is his story:

Since the agriculture revolution which began around 10 000 to 12 000 years ago when humans transitioned from hunters and gatherers and settled into agriculture and introduced cereals and grains into their diet humans started developing many of the modern diseases. The Egyptians are a good example of peoples who ate very little fat or refined carbohydrates however their diet was high in unrefined carbohydrates, vegetables, fresh foods, fish, birds and yet they were riddled with the same diseases that inflict modern man such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Their diet consisted of low fat and high carbohydrates.

There are many examples of peoples who ate very little carbohydrates, such the Plains Indians of North America, peoples in Africa such as the Nguni and Masai, Eskimos and the Australian Aborigines who did not suffer from the same diseases as modern man until they were introduced to the modern diet which is high in carbohydrates as well as processed foods. Although there was a steady increase in modern day diseases since the Agricultural Revolution it was not until the late nineteen sixties and seventies where there was a sudden and drastic spike in many diseases especially diabetes, cancers and heart disease.

Recent scientific evidence proves that certain foods we as humans consume contribute to many of the chronic diseases. Diabetes is such a disease which probably poses the greatest threat to human health in those individuals who are insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is the hallmark of diabetes 2 and current research proves those foods high in carbohydrates are one of the main reason for the dramatic escalation of diabetes among the human race. Unfortunately the medical and health profession associations currently appear reluctant to acknowledge that elevated carbohydrate intake is the major cause of diabetes in those individuals who are insulin resistant and continue to follow the current nutritional guidelines.

So how did all the poor nutritional advice come about?

Since the USA and UK dietary guidelines, followed by other Western Countries, were introduced in the nineteen seventies and eighties obesity has more than doubled and diabetes has increased sevenfold. These dietary guidelines were introduced after the so called Seven Country Study by Dr Ancel Keys, a biologist at the University of Minnesota. Keys hypothesised that eating fat was the major reason why individuals succumb to heart disease. Interestingly Keys collected data from 22 countries but cherry-picked the data from the 7 countries which supported his theory that animal fat was the main cause of coronary heart disease in order to publicise his opinions. The other 15 countries consumed high fat yet had low incidence of heart disease. During the same time another outstanding Nutritional Scientist, Professor John Yudkin, University of London, gained international reputation for his book “Pure, White, and Deadly: How Sugar Is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It ” (1972, reprinted in 2012) which warned that the consumption of sugar was a factor in the development diabetes, and heart disease and not fat. His message was extremely unwelcome to the sugar industry and manufacturers of processed foods.

Keys, apparently a forceful character by nature, also ignored the work by Yudkin as well as other researchers and convinced the Medical and Health professions as well as governments that his hypotheses was correct and that fat and not sugar or carbohydrates was the reason for heart disease and other ill health.  Keys also used rancorous language and personal smears against Yudkin. Yudkin was demonised and lost his research funding. Today Yudkin is the hero unfortunately only after his death. It is now well known by reputable scientists that Keys’ research was skewed and as Noakes says in his book, Lore of Nutrition p 341, “The problem with Keys research is that he attempted to show causative factors on the basis of associational studies. This is pseudo-science. Associational studies can only ever develop hypotheses, which must be tested using Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT)”.

Once Keys convinced those in authority the food industry wasted no time in jumping on the band wagon, sponsoring vested interest research and modifying the food we consume. This is when the multi-million-dollar food and drug industry had started to profit from the fear of saturated fat and cholesterol.

Dr Richard Smith, a former British Medical Journal editor, wrote the editorial review on Teicholtz’s book “The Big Fat Surprise and I quote, “Over the 40 years I’ve come to recognize what I might have known from the beginning that science is a human activity with the error, self-deception, grandiosity, bias, self-interest, cruelty, fraud and theft that is inherent in all human activities (together with some saintliness), but this book shook me.”

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