The Clean Eating Delusion...

Hornsby
Hornsby Posts: 10,324 Member
https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-clean-eating-delusion/

In practice “clean eating” tends to be avoiding whatever food is the latest boogeyman in the pseudoscientific diet-advice industry. Today this often includes eating organic, avoiding GMOs, avoiding gluten, avoiding perceived “chemicals,” eating “natural” which can mean many things but often means avoiding processed foods and food additives, and sometimes eating raw foods.

It is important to emphasize that none of these food beliefs are science based. After 50 years of research there is no evidence for any health benefit to eating organic. After 20 years of research there is no evidence of any health risk to any currently available GMO foods.

About one percent of the population has true gluten sensitivity, called celiac disease. For everyone else there is no current consensus that gluten causes any problems. This story is more complicated, though, as there are also wheat allergies, and some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are sensitive to FODMAPs, which are in many of the same foods as gluten.

Avoiding “toxins” includes a large category of claims, but essentially misses the point that the dose makes the toxin. Sure, there are toxins everywhere – substances that in high enough dose will cause adverse health effects. Water is a toxin if drunk in sufficient quantities. The important question is, what is the dose? It is easy to scare people, however, with the notion that there are toxins in their food or water, without putting that information into its proper context.

Closely related to this is the avoidance of “chemicals.” This is a particularly naive position, as everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical (H2O). You can give even common substance a long technical chemical name and make is sound scary, giving rise to popular memes in which the contents of a banana or blueberry are listed in scary chemical names.

In order to avoid “Food Babe” level ignorance on this issue (“if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it”), some have made the distinction between natural and synthetic chemicals. This is a false dichotomy, however. How much processing or change to a naturally occurring chemical makes it synthetic? Also, there is no reason to suspect that chemicals which happen to occur in nature have any greater tendency to be healthful than synthetic chemicals. This is just another manifestation of the appeal to nature fallacy.

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about eating too much processed food, as it tends to contain lots of sugar, fat, and/or salt. This has to do more with trends in the food industry, rather than anything inherent to processing foods rather than eating foods prepared from scratch. This is where reading labels can be helpful, and there also needs to be pressure on the food industry to provide more transparency and healthful options. But avoiding processed foods is no guarantee of healthy eating either, as there are many unprocessed sources of excess fat, sugar, and salt.

Eating raw is nothing but pure nonsense. Cooking changes food, mostly for the better, making certain nutrients more accessible and digestion easier. Some types of cooking, or overcooking, (such as boiling vegetables) can remove nutrients from certain foods, but it is not necessary to eat raw in order to get adequate nutrition (and of course, microwaves are no better or worse than any other source of heat).

Raw eating often involves pure pseudoscience, such as the claim that it is better to eat food that is alive, and cooking kills food. Stomach acids also kill food, by the way. Raw claims vary from the pseudoscientific to the mystical, with claims about the essence of food.
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Replies

  • quiksylver296
    quiksylver296 Posts: 28,112 Member
    <3
  • RuNaRoUnDaFiEld
    RuNaRoUnDaFiEld Posts: 5,864 Member
    Good post!
  • auddii
    auddii Posts: 15,359 Member
    In for awesome resources.
  • echmain
    echmain Posts: 103 Member
    Wow, a rare breath of fresh air.
  • Serah87
    Serah87 Posts: 5,484 Member
    Awesome post!!! :)
  • FunkyTobias
    FunkyTobias Posts: 1,776 Member
    In.
  • punkrockgoth
    punkrockgoth Posts: 534 Member
    Thanks for this!
  • WinoGelato
    WinoGelato Posts: 13,456 Member
    Awesome @Hornsby
    Oh and the article is good too.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,027 Member
    Need a like button. :heart:
  • juggernaut1974
    juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212 Member
    55ebaccd614021eac2e1ce4f79bf84e7.jpg
  • LHWhite903
    LHWhite903 Posts: 208 Member
    Now this is what logic is all about! Seriously, educating the self on whatever diet one wishes to follow is very important.
  • RuNaRoUnDaFiEld
    RuNaRoUnDaFiEld Posts: 5,864 Member
    I keep laughing every time I read the "Food babe" part. I'm so stealing that saying :D;)
  • besaro
    besaro Posts: 1,859 Member
    "I again want to emphasize that I am not being judgmental here, just describing a psychological tendency that can lead to behavior that accomplishes the opposite of what it intends – health" lol, uhm no. but whatever.
  • auddii
    auddii Posts: 15,359 Member
    besaro wrote: »
    "I again want to emphasize that I am not being judgmental here, just describing a psychological tendency that can lead to behavior that accomplishes the opposite of what it intends – health" lol, uhm no. but whatever.

    That's a very insightful commentary on the article...
  • goldthistime
    goldthistime Posts: 3,214 Member
    Of course I agree. And I'm glad to see voices of reason on this topic and others here on MFP. But making certain kinds of foods "the enemy" for a period of time, IMHO, is more helpful than harmful. Steels your resolve until you can make some new habits. Also agreed that extended food phobias are NOT a good thing.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,577 Member
    Someone defining and then trashing the undefinable. ::yawn::
  • JQuinnLife
    JQuinnLife Posts: 102 Member
    Why write this?

    To bash other people's line of thinking? To prove that you are somehow fitness intelligent superior to those ignorant peons that choose to eat organic or gluten free? No you're weak minded and weak willed. Only willing to accept that eating whatever you think is healthy is the only way to "be healthy".

    After 20 years of research there is no evidence of any health risk to any currently available GMO foods.
    I'm not God, and I'm not smart enough to play God by creating GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD, or to conduct scientific experiments to prove whether or not they are safe. But I'm smart enough to guess that using super powerful pesticides that kill a huge portion of insect life probably has some effect on me. I'm smart enough to infer that maybe the food industry has a monetary interest in making sure we don't know exactly what effects GMOs have on humans.

    Regardless, if I decide to eat organic or not, *kitten* off why do you care? If the "healthiness" of organics is completely placebo, why does it affect you? More importantly, the vast majority of Americans are not unhealthy because of their internal debate over organic or GMO, it's cause they eat *kitten*.

    In order to avoid “Food Babe” level ignorance on this issue (“if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it”), some have made the distinction between natural and synthetic chemicals. This is a false dichotomy, however.
    Making that statement is powerful, “if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it”. For a person who knows nothing about nutrition, about what is healthy and what isn't, the simplest and most effective way of eliminating bad stuff from your diet, is pronouncing what's in your diet.

    And you're argument? Some chemicals are good in certain portions, which I decide upon. Great, tell that to the fat woman who's shoving twinkies down her pie whole that some of the chemicals in that twinkie are only harmful if consumed in large quantities.

    There is this constant struggle to dictate what is healthy: eat GMOs they're good for you, eat organic GMOs kill you, eat raw vegetables because it's alive, eat steamed veggies cause it's easily digestible.

    How about minding your own business, learning about the benefits and negatives of an eating style that you can accept to improve your own life?

    ....Well that wouldn't be as much fun as arguing on a forum: Carbs make you fat, eat Ketogenics.
  • Serah87
    Serah87 Posts: 5,484 Member
    I think someone is hangry. ;)
  • Hornsby
    Hornsby Posts: 10,324 Member
    Serah87 wrote: »
    I think someone is hangry. ;)
    For real. Lol. Comical.

    Email the guy and ask him why he wrote it if your interested.