This is the Home Page for our quick-read nutritional health column for regional newspapers. If you have a local publication that might want to carry it, let us know or pass the link onto them.
Would you lend an ear to this woman who is a science journalist, author, and the Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition, a nonprofit group that promotes evidence-based nutrition policy? She attended Yale and Stanford where she studied biology and majored in American Studies and then earned a master’s degree from Oxford University. Later she served as associate director of the Center for Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University. She was an on-air reporter for National Public Radio based in Washington, D.C. and originally she was a vegetarian of 25+ years from Berkeley, CA. Really, is there anything she can add to the discussion?
Kevin Stock, DDS spent nine months writing a report about protein. Maybe you remember him from my “Meet the Carnivores” column 15 months ago. He is one of those “meat only” eaters. Most folks would consider him a whacked out nutcase because he’s nearly as whacked out as I am. But, he might be onto something.1
Like many “health nut” Internet bloggers, both of us are scientifically bent. But we differ from the majority because Kevin eats meat exclusively and I market grass-fed and Omega-3 meat and eat it too. Since most Americans have been programmed to think meat is unhealthy for mankind and the planet, we’re both looked down upon as if we’re drug dealers, politicians, con artists, or whacked out nutcases.
In his 1933 inaugural speech Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror…”
For decades I’ve been a student of history both prehistoric and recorded. I’ve always found it fascinating and quite often out of step with common knowledge. When it comes to recorded history, it’s also eerie how it repeats itself. A little more than 50 years ago I read a book that contained many examples where whole populations went “off the page.” It was “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” a book Charles Mackay wrote in 1841. If you haven’t read it, you should get it now and read it.1
The human species has no choice. It can’t hide. Worldwide there are 7.8 billion people that require basic needs which go beyond food, water, clothing and shelter. In the modern era basic needs include sanitation, education, healthcare, power generation, first responders, the military, manufacturing, transportation systems, income, and more. So, until there’s an effective vaccine, the virus will simply run its course because we can’t all hide. No government agency can protect us from COVID-19. Consequently, until there is an effective vaccine or herd immunity is established, COVID-19 survivability is an individual responsibility.
Every able-bodied person has an equal opportunity to take care of themselves. But it takes desire, commitment, and knowledge. Unfortunately, nearly everyone has some desire but the majority lacks commitment and knowledge. The knowledge issue is a major problem because what people generally know is too basic or it’s based on myths. It’s made worse because most people are not willing students. Therefore, in this COVID-19 era life is far more challenging than maybe ever before.
A politician finally offered some good advice regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s drop dead obvious. It’s drop dead simple. Everyone can do it. It will increase longevity. It will decrease healthcare costs. It will make people more attractive. And for a fact it greatly increases the odds of surviving a case of COVID-19.
On top of the staggering number of possible positive cases, it may take way more than a 50% infection rate to eventually reach herd immunity. John Hopkins says: “Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.” A full 70% would be 228 million American cases.
I write a lot about nutrition and health and everything known about it is based on history. In today’s highly politicized environment, where every comment seems to invite ridicule and banishment, a simple mention of history can set off riots! But tell me what’s known that isn’t based on history. Either we learn vicariously or by previous personal experience. We just don’t start life knowing.
Philosopher George Santayana wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Think about it. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Their accomplishments were usually achieved after many failures. By knowing what their failures were and understanding why they failed can be as important as knowing about their successes. When we know exactly how something failed, we know how to avoid the same mistake. In spite of knowing history we also must understand that, because people are people, too often history does repeat itself. That can happen in a society or even individually when people stop thinking and follow misguided leaders or the mob.1 2
Back in early 1999 I had an amazing experience when I asked Dr. Dick Diven this question: “Is what I’ve been hearing about Omega-3 for real?”
I first met the late Dr. Diven in 1997 while attending his Low Cost Cow/Calf three-day seminar. He was a PhD animal nutritionist and beef cattle feedlot consultant. There were about 25 cattlemen in attendance. I wasn’t sure what he was going to talk about and whether he had a worthwhile course. Just the same I sat in the front row to be closer to “the heat.” As he started his introduction I was leaning back comfortably with my arms folded across my chest. About 10 minutes later I was leaning forward so I wouldn’t miss a word.
There seems to be a million different world views. They exist in every facet of life whenever two or more people evaluate the same object, event, or point of view and come to a different conclusion. Just ask accident investigators about viewpoints and they’ll explain how difficult it is to get the same story from more than one witness to the same event.
I write a lot about food’s impact on our health and wellness. I use anecdotal examples and peer-reviewed studies as often as possible. Yet it’s amazing how many people get upset or disagree with the information. Emotions can rule which illustrates why facts often rarely matter. In spite of trying to keep an open mind, emotion aside there’s one fact that won’t change my mind. That fact is “we are what we eat.”
On April 6, 2020, Reuters introduced a story this way: “The pandemic is encouraging people to give in to baser temptations. Porn, booze, tobacco, weed and chocolate consumption is rising. It’s perhaps understandable: Even the WHO reckons stress needs to be managed. But excesses now will only add to a bleaker and costlier future.”1
Then there is this recent “study” commissioned by Naked Nutrition, a firm that sells dietary supplements. It used an online questionnaire to survey 2,000 Americans and reported that at least half said they would never get their pre-corona body back.2
What’s your focus when it comes to eating? Do you seek pleasure or is survival your primary objective?
Holidays, similar to Memorial Day, give me an opportunity to witness and experience (minimally) what others eat. For most of my early life I never gave food much of a thought. I believed that my body could synthesize whatever it needed from whatever I ate.