When you read about food, there are many articles that talk about all the health benefits of any particular food. Looking at a particular nutrient of food, like the omega 3 fatty acids, is another popular topic. Omega 3 fatty acids are give many positive attributes. One article I read, stated that there are 17, count’em 17, science-based, I mean real science baby, benefits of eating omega 3 fatty acids. Even the name sounds cool. I am the Omega Man, the preventer of many health problems. Lot better than being called Celery Man. According to the article Omega 3’s can help with mental disorders, blood pressure, brain health for the fetus and in early life, and may even help prevent cancer. I am out the door to get 20 pounds of salmon and 30 cans of sardines. This article will take you to many studies, to back up all 17 claims. I read them, and they all have some flaws, and come to conclusions, that may not be correct. Many health agencies want you to get 2 servings a week of a fish, that is high in omega 3’s to reap the benefits. However, fish oil supplement companies want you taking the product everyday. If you google the benefits of eating almost anything you will find results that are positive. I googled garbage, dog poop, and processed foods, and they all came up with benefits, when they are consumed. If you continued this process on any food, you would assume you could eat anything and live a long healthy life. Could that be true?
At first your answer would be no way. When I googled the benefits of eating garbage, I came across a site, that said why do people eat garbage. My first thought was, I didn’t know people ate garbage, unless they were homeless. But the garbage that this author was writing about, is food purchased at fast food chains, and highly processed foods. He describes how nearly 90 percent of America’s budget is spent on junk food.1 What is more appalling is that nearly 60 percent of food eaten in America are ultra-processed,2 convenience foods that can be purchased at your local gas station. These processed foods also account for nearly 90 percent of the consumption of added sugar in the U.S. Now lets say that this is all true. I have no doubt that it is true. You have to wonder then, how does anybody make it to 85 years and beyond. There are three diets that are describe in various sites. The Mediterranean diet, which is a middle European diet, the Natural diet attributed to Asia and Japan, and then the good old Western or American diet. You could conclude that if you are on the Western diet, that you probably won’t make it past 40. If you have doubts about all the benefits that certain foods can give you, then possibly you should have doubts about all the harm that food could do. Are there any conclusions that can be drawn from this hodgepodge of claims and so called data?
Lets look as some things that we absolutely know about nutrition and health. There are absolutely a number of diseases, directly related to nutritional deficiencies. They range from Scurvy, Rickets, Iron deficient anemia, Pellagra, and Calcium deficiency diseases. If your diet lacks certain vitamins. minerals or other essential nutrients you will get sick. There is no denying that. There is no question that people have a sensitivity to certain aspects of food. Gluten, certain preservatives, and spices may make some people sick. Once you eliminate the sensitivity issue, when you look at so called bad diets, it may not be what’s in them, but what’s not in them, that may be causing all the problem. The other issue, may be the amount of food, that is consumed rather the content. What would happen if you put people on a plant based diet but they consumed vast amounts of that food, especially things like nuts and whole grains along with vegetables and became 40 to 50 pounds overweight. Do you think they might get some of the same health issues that overweight individuals get from a processed animal based diet. There are many more variables I can make up, but it shows why these so scientific studies are difficult, and may not be all that scientific. When it comes to food, variety and common sense, are the key ingredients. To answer the question at the top of the page, can food really do that? I think we all know the answer is no.