Tuesday, October 26, 2021

There Is No Magic Ingredient

When I read internet discussions, I notice how people will often go and search for a magic ingredient which is responsible for (presumably them) being fat and unhealthy.

Often it's "the government", "medical system", "seed oils", "corn syrup" and as I have found recently, apparently folic acid. (Those are just examples, by the way.)

One thing that is seldom named is personal responsibility. Your health is your own and if you don't trust medical advice, it's up to you to search for better info, what with the resources we have nowadays at our fingertips. 

In my experience, it's not so much one certain ingredient or a type of food, but rather, your overall diet. People will often say they are fat because of the official "food pyramid" as it promotes eating too much carbs. However, I have yet to encounter where the official health advice promotes drinking liters of soda, and eating high GI sugary foods or even white bread. Vice versa, nowadays they are on a very vigourous anti-sugar crusade and will warn you against stuff like French fries or white rice.

I have no opinion about seed oils as I try to only use cold pressed virgin olive oil and butter, as for corn syrup, I have been forever eating jams containing it and it hardly ever influences my weight. May be because I restrict myself to 2 teaspoons a day?

Have been forever taking folic acid and it didn't make me fat, either. I have read about many diets through the years and one of the most researched and beneficial appears to be the Mediterranean diet. It's quite common sense and not very restrictive, allows for both meat and poultry but emphasises fish, allows you some high quality alcohol, too, and stresses minimally processed foods. Sweets and quick carbs are restricted. It's not low fat, either, since you are encouraged to use plenty of olive oil. It encourages you to cook your food instead of going for TV dinners.

It's quite difficult to change your eating patterns but I do believe it's worth it, and it will benefit you more than supplements though they have their place, too.


  1. Agree with everything you said; as well that people are more sedentary than we should be for optimum health and fitness. Too much TV and computer time rather than walking or movement outdoors. I know I sit too much! But, "You can't outrun your fork!"

  2. Yes, I agree! Moving is very important for overall health, but unless you are training for triathlon, you do need to moderate your calorie intake:)

  3. Also, as you get older you put on weight easier so one needs to be more vigilant...

  4. The US government food pyramid has always been BS. Funny that people trust an entity that supposedly wants you to eat more fruits and vegetables, but approves stuff like processed seed oils and high fructose corn syrup (though I do like a bit of Karol syrup on a waffle sometimes). This same entity also claims that vitamin supplements do not work, but then recommend them for bread and other items on the grocery shelf. So if supplements don't work, then white bread should not need to be fortified, right?

  5. Here nothing is really fortified, outside of vegan dairy substitutes, and not by law, either, since you can find unfortified varieties. I'm not sure about the US but here they say that a well-balanced diet should ideally provide all the nutrients you need. As in vitamins won't help if you have unhealthy eating patterns, which I agree.

    I also don't think the problems is only seed oils. They are in all commercial bread sorts and we have been eating them for ages and aren't fat. Of course, if one eats kilos of bread and gets fat because of it, it's then easy to turn around and blame seed oils...

  6. I'm arriving to this post (and your blog) late, but I do think there's probably three or four major factors that accounts for the fattening of the West (America in particular), which you touch on:

    1. Unlimited calories. Simply never having a limit on food availability is huge. It wasn't that long ago before food itself was scarce, or income was limited and food prices high enough that one simply couldn't afford to eat whatever, whenever. Unfettered access to any and all food tends to unleash the inner glutton.

    2. Sedentary lifestyle. Part and parcel with the change in social order that brought unlimited calories is the rise of entertainment obsessed culture that prefers to sit on the couch and watch TV or play video games. Hard manual labor to make a living or keep house is rare now thanks to all the convenient machines and technologies we have.

    3. I recognize your point on there not being one single thing, especially given the previous decades of utter nonsense when it comes to dietary recommendations (low fat diet anyone?). That said, I think there is now a strong case that the unlimited calories combined with a heavy consumption of carbs is likely the main culprit for the majority of people. Especially sugar. The progress on biology and dietary nutrition has really come along and there appears to be a strong link between high sugar and carb consumption in concert with generally high calorie intake and the resulting insulin responses, to include build up of insulin resistance, that leads to weight gain. Since it's very difficult to eliminate calories in the long term (both psychologically due to their availability and the physiological response of the body to starvation), it seems more achievable to reduce carbs, particularly if folks can get themselves to ketosis, a proven fat burning state.

    We live in unique times, and man was never designed to have limitless food and inactive lifestyles. Combine that with the best tasting stuff is sugary, and we've got a recipe for disaster.

  7. Welcome to the blog!
    I should say that in general, I see your point, however, I don't think that long term ketosis is healthy or natural, as human body was made to run on carbs. But there are carbs and carbs, sugar and white flour aren't really healthy choices.

    1. Thanks for the welcome. I take your point, though it's hard to envision what is truly natural or healthy given that the human body has existed for millenia in times of mostly limited caloric intake and hard physical labor. We've really stumbled into a new paradigm of limitless calories and soft living, and it shows with the obesity epidemic.

      Long-term ketosis seems to not be a problem in folks that do it to treat diseases like epilepsy. But the beauty of it is that you can exit it at any time, with no ill effects noted having entered or exited it. It's just the way the body responds to not having access to carbs, and it seems well-suited for helping people to lose weight. I think for most people it's beneficial to do it for a limited time, much like fasting.