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We are constantly subjected to often contradictory health, exercise and nutritional advice. One week the media and science are trekking us that a particular food or exercise is for us, the next week another study is released that says these exact same foods and exercises are actually harmful. Interesting examples are…
“Egg yolks are as bad as smoking” screamed the headlines in 2012, reporting that egg yolks clog up the arteries as much as smoking, contributing to a high risk of heart disease and death. This headline is still on the NHS choices website. Yet beyond the headline, the article admits that:
“there were limitations in the accuracy of the participants’ recollections of their egg yolk consumption; a lack of detailed information on how the eggs were cooked; there may have been additional risk factors contributing to artery ‘clogging’, not assessed by the study, such as lack of exercise or alcohol consumption; while it is reasonable to assume that fatty build-up in the neck arteries can increase the risk of heart disease, it is uncertain exactly what the increased level of risk would be”
But wait; a report published in the British Medical Journal only a year later concluded that “higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke”. It goes on to say that “most epidemiological research — the kind of research that studies large populations over time and analyzes their diets and their health — has found no connection between eating eggs and increases in heart disease”.
A detailed report from 2016 in The Telegraph shows that chocolate is good for us. It reduces cholesterol, increases flexibility in the arteries and keeps the brain working well into old age. The Independent seconds this by saying that chocolate improves brian function into old age. However, the NHS currently recommends a daily intake of 30g of sugar to avoid detrimental effects on health. Chocolate bars like Crunchie (26g sugar) and dairy milk (25g sugar) will use up almost your entire sugar allowance.
But now scientists have reported that some chocolate can contain high levels of lead and cadmium, two naturally occurring metals that can cause health problems.
Brazilian researchers tested 30 milk, dark, and white chocolate products sold in their country, some of which are exported to the U.S. They say dark chocolate had the highest amounts of lead and cadmium.Lead can cause headaches and anemia in adults as well as developmental problems in children. Cadmium can damage organs and disrupt hormone levels. The scientists published their findings in the journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The food pyramid
Originally designed in Sweden, the food pyramid was a guide to what types of food we should eat to lead healthy lives. Initially a project designed by the Swedish government to help citizens deal with a period of high food inflation, the food pyramid evolved into national dietary guidelines throughout there world. Yet even at the start, big corporations played their part in the shaping of the pyramid for their own gain. The originator of the pyramid, Anna Britt Agnsäte, said soon after its publication,
“When our version of the Food Guide came back to us revised, we were shocked to find that it was vastly different from the one we had developed. As I later discovered, the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry. For instance, the Ag Secretary’s office altered wording to emphasize processed foods over fresh and whole foods, to downplay lean meats and low-fat dairy choices because the meat and milk lobbies believed it’d hurt sales of full-fat products; it also hugely increased the servings of wheat and other grains to make the wheat growers happy. The meat lobby got the final word on the color of the saturated fat/cholesterol guideline which was changed from red to purple because meat producers worried that using red to signify “bad” fat would be linked to red meat in consumers’ minds”.
Thus were born the many influences on eating and exercise advice that taint most information that we are fed, right up to the present day.
In every study done, there is someone, somewhere with an agenda. Scientists need to make a living; to pay the rent. A great way of doing this is to do studies commissioned by large corporations. These pay well. So the next time you read a study on the dangers of eating eggs, ask yourself who paid for the study. Was it Kellogs?
Politics, “big food”, self interest, corporate greed and money all influence the many studies that make it to the mainstream media. The media itself has a vested interest in making a story sound shocking or interesting. Studies can be spun any number of ways. Latest study says chocolate is good for you…but was it paid for by the cocoa grower’s association? Latest study says chocolate is bad for you. Was this one done by an organisation of fruit growers? Always ask the question and proceed with caution.
As a guide, regular exercise, lots of water and eating unprocessed foods with lots of vegetables is the best way to prevent disease and be healthy. Trust me, I’ve done a study on it.