January 2, 2009
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates
Not entirely certain Hippocrates actually penned those words, but they sound like words to live by. The knowledge of nutrition and its affect on our health is not only progressing, it seems as though it is accelerating rapidly. Along with that accelerated pace of knowledge comes many diverging points of view – all of which having apparent merits as told by their respective adherents.
The current schism, if you will, among the dietary experts is the between the ‘low-fat’ vs. ‘low-carb’ camps. It is safe to say that the current dietary orthodoxy holds that dietary fat is the primary culprit as to why people get fat. There is an alternative hypothesis emerging (supported by mounting clinical evidence) that it is not dietary fat that is the primary culprit, but simple carbohydrates.
It’s important to understand that this is not a new idea. In fact, this is a recurring theme in dietary research. As discussed in extremely thorough detail in the groundbreaking book by Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories, you can go back to the ‘Banting’ craze in the late-19th century to identify an early ‘low-carb’ diet that appears to have worked handsomely for those who adhered to it.
Further, there are any number of popular diets today that share many core characteristics: Zone Diet, Paleo Diet, etc.
Now, after about a half-century of unquestioned support of the the low-fat, calorie restricted diet, there is mounting evidence that, in the main, Atkins was right and that, with a few modifications, a non-calorie restricted diet that significantly limits easily-digestible (‘simple’) carbohydrates is the all-around best choice for better health for the vast majority of us.
The most straightforward and accessible book I have seen on the topic is Dr. Rob Thompson’s Glycemic Load Diet. I heartily recommend you get the book. It is a very fast read and Dr. Thompson gets right to the meat of the issue – and gives you recipes to boot. The main message to get from the book, however, is very simple (as is this overall approach to diet). Below I include the core message of the book – summed up in a few sentences (page 44).
Here’s my advice. Forget about the lists. Just don’t eat more than a quarter serving of flour products, potatoes, or rice at a time and abstain from sugar-containing soft drinks and fruit juices.
Dr. Rob Thompson – The Glycemic Load Diet, p. 44
While that is the summary of the reader’s digest version, at its core, its really that simple.
But, of course, I won’t leave it at that. Subsequent posts will delve further.