Friday, August 2, 2013

Epidemiology - 100% track Record

I read the article at this link:

I was curious - was there any evidence to support all the blah blah about "heart healthy whole grains"?

As I suspect, the answer in this article from Harvard was "no".  All they had was a series of epidemiological studies to back up their assertions about the benefits of whole grains.

That leaves me wondering, as I have for years, why this health fad is so ubiquitous amongst the health authorities.  Here's the theory, as described in the article linked above:
The bran and fiber in whole grains make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol. Insoluble fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract. Fiber may also kindle the body’s natural anticoagulants and so help prevent the formation of small blood clots that can trigger heart attacks or strokes. The collection of antioxidants prevents LDL cholesterol from reacting with oxygen. Some experts think this reaction is a key early step in the development of cholesterol-clogged arteries. Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) found in whole grains may protect against some cancers. So might essential minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese. These minerals may also help reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes. And then there are the hundreds of substances that haven’t yet been identified, some or many of which may play as-yet-undiscovered roles in health.
Each of these conjectures is arguably flat wrong:
- Bran and fiber in theory work as they describe, but when tested, whole grain raise blood sugar higher and faster than regular grain based foods.  
- Lowering cholesterol has never, despite 40 years and billions of dollars, been proved to improve mortality.  
- Moving waste along:  all I can say is that you eat what they recommend you will probably need lots of fiber to help you "move things along."  If you don't, you won't.
- Interesting conjecture about anti coagulants and antioxidants - perhaps they work but there's no doubt that no one really knows.
- It's all great that grain has essential minerals, but if you want to talk conjecture, how the fact that grains are known to be laden with anti-nutrients that bind with minerals in a way that prevents you from absorbing them.  
In short, the folks in charge of the conventional wisdom have their own reasons for loving whole grains, but in many years of eating the least amount of grain I can possible get away with, I fell better than I've ever felt, my blood markers are the envy of my doctors, and I don't know anyone who's whole grained themselves to a healthier, leaner life.  I looks like another instance of epidemiology's 100% track record - that is, 100% wrong and counting.

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