Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Toddler Paradox - Nutritional Guidelines for Infants

Nutritional Guidelines for Infants – a little drop of sanity in a cesspool of nonsense, or simply further proof of the conflicted and confused world of the nutrition expert? 

From the 2012 Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines:

“Low fat diets are not recommended for children under 2 years of age. Babies and young children grow very rapidly and need the fat supplied in whole milk, cheese and yogurt, and in foods such as eggs and meat, to give the energy they need for growth and development. Young children also need some fat in their diet to provide the essential fatty acids required for healthy brain development.” 

But, unless you are new to this planet, you will be very familiar with the recommendations made for anyone who lives beyond their second year of life:

“Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
• Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
• Fruit
• Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as bread,      cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
• Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
• Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat.”

You may be thinking "yeah, so what?", but I've had a hard time grasping the rationale behind the conflicting advice for members of the same species. 


Maybe I'm just slow, but I'm not aware of another species who instinctively, and almost universally, believe that babies and infants require specific nutrition for optimum health and growth, but then, in the very early stages of their offspring’s development, behave as if those same food sources are harmful.

Of course I'm talking specifically about dietary fat, which is essential, but then quickly becomes 'atherogenic' and something to avoid.

I guess there may be animals that do this, but even if there are, I'm well aware of the dangers of transferring what happens in one species, to what happens in humans. Nonetheless, in an attempt to get my head around the logic, I can't help but imagine an African Wild Dog providing its newly-weaned pups with the internal organs of an impala for the first few weeks, and then deciding it is no longer suitable and instead giving them the lean muscle meat of the impala’s rump. Or stuffing savannah grass into their mouths.

Mate, what the fuck are you talking about?
In the age 2+ recommendations above, I've emphasized in bold those two areas where the adult African Wild Dog is removing the impala’s internal organs and visceral fat, dragging them out in the open and away from her pleading pups, to where the vultures can eat them. 

“Let the vultures have a heart attack”, I imagine her thinking.

But no, those dogs clearly aren't as intelligent as humans, so it would be ridiculous to suggest that you’d ever hear David Attenborough describing such a scene.
If my Mum did that, I would bite her. Really hard
Pointless animal comparisons aside, we’ve all had enough exposure to Nutritional Guidelines to understand that they’re a bit like reading a text book entitled “Ethics in Investment Banking” - both have almost zero relevance to what actually goes on in the real world and there is an inherent pious grandstanding by the authors in terms of what they advise is the route to Valhalla and what worth their nonsense has to the human race.

So, springing from a platform that presumes expert committees who produce nutritional guidelines are a special breed of conflicted, I would like to repeat their, unarguably, excellent advice for little kiddies:
  • Babies and young children need fat for growth and development. 
  • Young children need essential fatty acids for healthy brain development.
  • Babies and young children need the fat supplied in whole milk, cheese and yogurt, and in foods such as eggs and meat.
Cue applause.

If you’re in the habit of feeding your brain the fatty acids it needs, regardless of your age, I'm guessing there are a few questions that should be popping into your well-fed head by now, namely:
  1. Do these people really believe that body and brain development ceases at age 2?
  2. Why are humans given the all-clear to eat fat for the first 24 months of life when the rest of us are told it will lead to inevitable destruction?
  3. Do they hate babies?
  4. Wooah, did they really just say that vegan parents are child abusers? That is so politically incorrect. But yet so true.
  5. If French people are considered by some ‘experts’ as a nutritional paradox, does that mean French infants are a paradox inside a paradox? Enigma wrapped in a paradox’s swaddle cloth? A paradox squared?
Stupid jokes aside, and while it’s quite easy to imagine the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells chairing the guidelines working committee, it still doesn't explain why they've decided to pick this subset of 0-2 years, the population of which, they provide a completely contradictory set of rules.

I like to think I'm not silly, potential Dunning-Kruger notwithstanding, but when I decided to have a closer look at their reasoning, I wasn't expecting to find any intelligent answers. 

But did I find any? Maybe. Maybe not. 

This is so fucking exciting. Read on!!

From page 73 of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (click to zoom):

You only have to look at the titles of their references to understand that the rationale for low fat foods at age 2+ is because they think that dietary fat will result in heart disease. There is no other plausible reason for them using these papers as supporting evidence, and if there is, they haven’t explained it even remotely well.

Bugger brain development, these people clearly want us to believe that the tenuous, and I believe incorrect, hypothesis that eating fat causes heart disease, is more important than the need for appropriate physiological and neurological growth. 


If that makes any sense to you at all, then I feel a great depth of sorrow for your dearly departed ability for cognitive reasoning.

From reference 719 - "it is increasingly clear that cholesterol concentrations can be elevated during childhood and adolescence and that increased concentrations in childhood are associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and CVD in adulthood."

"For children between 12 months and 2 years of age for whom overweight or obesity is a concern or who have a family history of obesity, dyslipidemia, or CVD, the use of reduced-fat milk would be appropriate."


So, now it's from age 12 months that low fat foods are appropriate. Fascinating.


Here’s where I try and make this post shorter than the guidelines themselves. On my quest for logic, I started with the Australian Nutritional Guidelines, the moved to the Infant Feeding Guidelines, which strangely is hard to locate in its original location, but is fairly similar to the overarching guidelines. 

There is also a food modelling publication, t
he front page which suggests it is put together by the Dietitians Association of Australia, so I guess it’s not surprising that it suggests that low fat dairy should be given to kids even earlier - from age 13 months. 
Low fat dairy after age 1. Plus the joys of polyunsaturated margarine. Yay.

There is also a 1,105 page document entitled "The Australian Dietary Guidelines Evidence Report" which is chockablock full of papers that supposedly back up the guidelines and most references to infants inevitably lead to cholesterol levels as the ultimate guide to health. Brilliant.


They do briefly mention on page 398 that Ness et al, a paper on the Boyd Orr cohort, found that saturated fat and total fat in childhood diet was found to be protective of all causes of mortality and deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease."
"not consistent" with the dogma...next!

But of course this was fobbed off and thrown on the "not included studies" list. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, that they don't deserve, that the study was crap (it seemed on par with a lot of the other papers they used), but i
t eventually becomes evident that reading thousands of pages of justification for recommendations that don't make any sense is a waste of life. 

Specifically, mine.

Fortunately, I found an interview of two of the experts involved in formulating the guidelines and they happened to be talking about the very issue I was trying to clarify.

Unfortunately, because I thought I had the logic sussed, they didn't mention cholesterol levels or heart disease at all. It was all about kilojoules and the extra energy in full cream milk.

apparently 98% of what kids' eat is not required for growth - take that fact to the bank, people.


Sounds terribly convincing
I did waste time checking out the American Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, where they made it similarly unclear:

"There is near universal agreement that human milk is the preferred complete nutrition source for healthy full-term newborns and infants for the first 6 months of life, with continued breastfeeding recommended until age 12 months…Human milk is high in fat (45–55 percent of total calories), saturated fat, and cholesterol."

But then, in the same publication: After age 1 - "However, the dairy fat in whole cow’s milk is a major source of atherogenic saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories and a poor source of the essential fatty acids LA and ALA."

Saturated fat and cholesterol in human milk is good, but if it comes from a cow, it's atherogenic. I had no idea cows were so dangerous.

So, hoping to put the issue to bed, it would seem that the people who wrote the Australian guidelines think that eating fat will make anyone over 2 overweight, but the actual guidelines suggest, by the references they provide, that it's actually the arterycloggingsaturatedfat that is the problem.

Whether it's the former or the latter, or a combination of both, I have come to the conclusion that the way they've gone about explaining it makes about as much sense as the Goldman Sachs employee who would dearly love you to believe that they have been recommending you invest in a specific collateralised debt obligation (CDO), but then putting their own money in an investment that bets your CDO will fail, all because it's in the interest of 'making markets' and it's all for the greater good. 

Look, anyone who is convinced of the diet-heart hypothesis or the 'calories in, calories out' hypothesis is not going to be convinced of any list of studies that I can provide that contradict either - so I will not waste my time. That might sound like a cop out, and it probably is, but we’re all guided by our individual biases. I may seem sarcastic and flippant about it all, and yes, I understand that you can’t relate the biology of a dog to a human, but I’m not seriously trying to. I'm talking about what constitutes logical thought processes and what your gut is telling you.

Not your macrobiome community, the other one.

Our biases are based on our upbringing, research and personal experiments, as well as the relentless back and forth between people on the internet who think they know the truth, and when you've taken all that into consideration, you have to make a decision. What it all boils down to is - does the recommended advice make sense to you or does it smell like stupidity wrapped in bullshit?

What is plain to see, when you dig through the opaque reasoning, is that the Nutritional Guidelines Working Committee, whose job it is  to guide the health of our nation, base their recommendations on the beliefs that: 
  • Eating fat, even saturated fat, provides essential nutrients for physiological growth.
  • Saturated fat may be nutritious but it also causes heart disease, makes you obese, and will start damaging arteries at a young age and lead you to chronic diseases in later life (fuck you, evolution!)
  • The trade off in this perplexing scenario is to recommend humans eat fat, but only for the first 2-2.5% of expected life span.
  • They really hope that this hedging of bets works. 



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Choosing your identity

January 26 marks the Australia Day public holiday, a day when most of us don’t have to go to work or school, and when some of us celebrate the fact that we live in a privileged and relatively free country, where we aren't subject to a rich man sitting in a big white building, thousands of kilometres away, deciding he would like to drop a bomb on us because terrorism

The choice of celebration this Thursday will typically range from staying home and doing fuck all to wrapping yourself in an Australian flag, getting drunk before noon and generally making a complete cock of yourself. 
          
I wrote some words a couple of years ago about why January 26 is not an ideal date to celebrate the beginning of a 220+ year demolition of our Indigenous peoples’ culture, so I won’t repeat it today.

A.B. Original (Briggs, Trials and featuring Dan Sultan) eloquently explain the general feeling in the video below.

Lyrics (for context) are here  

You can buy a copy of their album - Reclaim Australia - here or here.

It may not be surprising to you that the plentiful supply of cocks on the internet will voice their displeasure at humans such as Briggs and Trials. As is typical with sad, pathetic cowards, they’ll try to convince you that it’s not the artists’ message they are offended by, that they suggest (jokingly) that they’ll piss on your late Nan’s face, it’s the fact that their skin is not as dark as the cocks would like it to be. 

They will say that, because Briggs and Trials are “almost white”, that they have no right to be angry or to stand up for their cultural beliefs.

Of course, to an ignorant moron, that opinion might have some sort of perverted merit, but to anyone with a skerrick of common sense and knowledge of Australian history, it’s absolute nonsense.

For obvious starters, Aboriginal melanin is not a dominant gene. There is no atavism or ‘throwback’ to dark skin in offspring whose parents are from differing racial backgrounds. This fact was identified fairly quickly by colonists who thought it was mighty handy in their attempt to breed the Aboriginals out of existence. Pair female Aboriginals with white men, and after a couple generations, no more black fellas.

Blaming Aboriginal people for something the white man did to them is a common theme among ignorant cocks.

We therefore have a situation in Australia where some Aboriginal people, with strong Indigenous identity, but relatively light skin, are made to feel inadequately Aboriginal or undeserved of the attitude they may hold toward the disadvantage their people are subject to. 

In the eyes (eye?) of the cock, the fair-skinned Aboriginal is not allowed to feel aggrieved at the widespread poverty and chronic diseases that are rife in their people. Yes, it is clearly fucked up.

As it happens, my youngest has blue eyes and light brown hair. To the casual observer, he is a little white boy. And that he is, but from a genetic viewpoint, he has genes originating from cultures including Aboriginal, Dutch, German, English, Irish, Filipino and Welsh. As to what percentage of each makes up his whole, and what constitutes the largest proportion, is irrelevant to his identity as a person within his family and community. Calling him 10.45% Aboriginal is more indicative of your lack of intelligence than anything resembling reality.

My boy, and my other slightly browner offspring, will grow up knowing where their ancestors originated from. They will be influenced by their Dutch grandmother, Aboriginal mother, grandfather and cousins, and their white-mongrel Dad. Whether they will immerse themselves in their Gurindji ancestry and identify proudly as Aboriginal, I have no idea. They may just as easily travel to Maastricht, learn to speak Dutch and work in their distant relatives’ Tapas Bar. Either would not surprise or bother me in the slightest and they may not consciously make a decision either way.

What I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that, if they were to identify as Aboriginal, they would likely be mocked by stupid cocks for doing so. I would hope my kids have the strength of character and identity to ignore the stupid.

We should all ignore the stupid. 

For fuck's sake, change the date.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Accredited Practicing Dietitians - Humansplained

Dietitians travel through the mainstream nutritional advice system and deliver nutrients and other information to where it is required, and quite often, where it isn’t required. There are two types of Dietitian:

1.    The “bad” Dietitian who delivers advice and nutrients based on outdated, false or biased research, and who doesn’t question the source of this information or even attempt to investigate alternative options to the mainstream consensus. The levels of “bad” Dietitians in the system is indicative of insufficient fat soluble vitamins and animal flesh, which are essential for the brain and logical thought processes.

“Bad” Dietitians are wedded to the hypothesis that the advice they deliver is being ignored because people are “stupid and lazy and eat too much” and this leads to “advice-resistance”. The “advice-resistance” hypothesis is easily disproven by something called “logic and problem-solving ability” i.e. the fact that humans are getting a lot sicker and fatter on their advice.

The “bad” Dietitians over-consume “scientifically proven” nonsense on the goodness of low saturated fat, high carbohydrate foods and this leads to increased levels of “bad” Dietitians accumulating in the halls of the Heart Foundation and Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). Eventually these clogged up hallways restrict information flow and progression of logical thought and this leads to high levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia in the general public, as well as massively increased profits for food and pharmaceutical companies.

2.      The “good” Dietitian is one with an open mind, who spends time reading actual research papers rather than Heart Foundation propaganda and understands that advice equivalent to ‘eating less and moving more’ is about as helpful as a suggesting a tube of ringworm cream for melanoma. “Good” Dietitians are typically patronized, laughed at, subject to claims of negligence and condemned for the mass murder of little kiddies everywhere. They are also not invited to DAA Christmas parties.

“Good” Dietitians clear “bad” nutritional advice from the system by listening to their clients, investigating realistic solutions to problems and applying them in a tailored manner instead of a ‘one-size fits all solution’.

The best way to reduce your intake of “bad” nutrition advice is to ignore the “bad” dietitian and listen to the “good” dietitian. Or, even better, do your own research, listen to your body and adapt your food choices to suit.

Listen to less shit, exercise your brain. It’s not rocket science.
 
indeterminate possum, but it was 'bad' at not falling out of its tree
……………

Addendum

The whole “good” and “bad” cholesterol thing has been shitting me for years and it’s obviously evolved into a farcical joke whereby “good” can be “bad” and “bad” is only “bad” if they’re ‘small and dense’ or there are ‘too many’ “bad” particles, otherwise, “bad” is irrelevant. And the “bad vs good” paradigm goes completely out the window when you’re discussing Cholesterol Ester Transfer Protein (CETP) Inhibitors. Or just being sensible, for that matter.  
Bad dog, but he's light and fluffy, so he's a good bad dog

Maybe it’s just the inverted commas that are annoying. It’s pissing me off having to type them.

The impetus for this post was an article where the journos were referring to APOE E4 being the “bad” APOE and the E3 was the “good” APOE. It’s not enough that they are full of shit and shouldn’t be allowed to report on anything other than celebrity gossip, but they can’t even be original with their condescending explanation.

It was that article and also the increasingly ubiquitous reference to “good fats” and “bad fats” in mainstream terminology. Of course the inference is that saturated fats are bad and avocados, fish and vegetable oils are good, but they rarely specifically explain what their definition of good and bad is. I get the feeling it’s a conscious attempt to be vague because they're trying to distance themselves from decades of crap advice that all fat is bad. Maybe if they don’t get into specifics, they can change their story later on without feeling embarrassed. You know it's only a matter of time before they’ll have to.
 
Good fats in a bucket

Have a good one. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Sheep in wolves' clothing?

When I was physically growing up, if we did have a pet, it was always a cat.

Is that the best start to a blog post you've ever seen? I've been considering shutting this thing down for a while now, and if I was going to go out on a high, now's probably a good time.

Nope, not today. Back to cats. 

Actually, there was the time our family thought it was a brilliant idea to bring a wild rabbit, from our uncle's farm, into suburbia. As you can imagine, that didn't end well.

The absence of dogs suited me fine because school holidays invariably involved a visit to one of my Uncle and Aunties' sheep farms, where the border collie working dogs provided enough dog exposure for me to realise that city life for an active dog would be mind-numbingly boring unless they had some sheep to round up. I loved those dogs and their names and faces are burned into my memory – as well as their speed and intelligence and their bright eyes that exposed their zest for life.But they were not born for city life, something that was clear, even to a little kid.
A dead-ringer for "Scottie"
My wife, on the other hand, always had at least one or two mutts in her family, which is probably why she’s been very keen to expose me and our progeny to the wonders of dog-ownership. After years of stalling, because I like to think I'm not stupid, and realised that I would probably end up feeding them and cleaning up their shit (I am clearly psychic), nearly 2 years ago I succumbed and we bought a little black spoodle* and a brown one followed about a year later.

No, I'm not about to blather on about the pros and cons of dog ownership, how cute our dogs are and what funny things they get up to, or discuss whether, like cats, dogs simply pay us attention because we feed them. 

No, this is another food and nutrition thang. As a virgin dog owner, it became obvious very quickly that vets are on par with General Practitioners in terms of what they say should be entering a particular digestive system. I would have thought vets have less of an excuse for being idiots, because any person with intelligence greater than a handbag full of bubble gum should realise that a dog…is not even remotely close to something resembling a herbivore. 

The teeth should be a dead give-away here, with not even the most ardent militant vegan being able to suggest, with a straight face, that dog’s teeth are suited to rice and broccoli. I'm clearly not a canine anthropologist, but I thought most, if not all, domestic dogs evolved from the Grey Wolf, and I don’t believe they were considered a pest by early man because they ate everyone's potatoes.

I admit, I may be full of shit and totally wrong there, but it suits my argument and desire to put a post up, so...on we go.

One of the most confusing instances of being a new dog owner occurred when, on coming home from a visit to the vet for routine needles, my wife presented to me some dog toothpaste and a thimble-like instrument for brushing our dog’s teeth. 

My darling spouse is not known for elaborate jokes, but I had to stop and consider the possibility for a minute. No, apparently the vet thought it vital that we torture our puppy by sticking our fingers in its mouth on a daily basis. 

I'd never heard of the concept of brushing dogs' teeth, but my confusion was allayed to a certain extent when I realised what the ingredients were in the ‘vet recommended’ dog food.


Cereal, vegetable fibre and vegetable oil doesn't sound like something a dog would eat voluntarily, but I s'pose there must be enough animal product or flavour in there somewhere to resemble 'food'.

Just as it is with human nutrition internet content, you can't get too far without some expert suggesting processed bullshit is essential for your dog, otherwise they will not get their required nutrients. It all sounds terribly familiar.

I'm pretty sure the sheep dogs on my Uncle’s farm were fed mostly kangaroo and lamb off-cuts and you couldn't stop them from lapping up the blood when a ewe had been freshly slaughtered. I can’t remember them eating food from a tin, but I s'pose they did from time to time. All had great looking teeth and were in peak physical condition – they had to be to do their job.

So, call me negligent and an animal hater, but I resisted the urge to brush our dogs' teeth. I don’t stick my fingers in their mouths and we are all quite happy about that. Incidentally, one of my boys has this strange habit of picking the sleep out of their eyes. Yes, they hate it, but a kid's gotta have hobbies.

Our dogs' diet consists of raw chicken necks and hearts and some biscuits with the least amount of rubbish we could find. 20% fat, 28% protein and I imagine the rest is probably nonsense. Believe it or not, but that's about as good as you'll find. 

Look, a dog is not a human, and what they eat isn't terribly high on my list of things I like to think about, but when it determines whether I have to dodge sloppy shit in the garden or get the hose out to help relieve a constipated animal, it becomes a priority. The quickest way to clog up our dogs' digestive systems is to feed them some lean meat when I've not had a chance to get chicken necks from the shop. No fat or bones = clogged up sphincter. 

I'm not a vet. I'm not an expert in dog genetics or nutrition. I'm just reasonably observant. I'm not expecting anyone to pay for a study on the incidence of obesity and diabetes in dogs any time soon, but I imagine the results wouldn't be particularly surprising.

Of course the obvious solution to the canine obesity and diabetic epidemic should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway - feed your dog smaller portions of the celebrity-vet-recommended food and make them exercise more. 

Or perhaps...feed your dogs food. Not too much. Mostly plants. 

Carn, it's not rocket science. 

*A spoodle aka cockapoo are a mix between a poodle and a cocker spaniel. Being new to dog ownership, I was a little surprised at the nastiness that certain dog ‘lovers’ can spew in regard to this and similar designer breeds. Apparently selectively breeding a dog is cruel and we should only buy unwanted dogs from the pound. To those people I say "I'm not responsible for all the dogs at the pound, so go fuck yourself". We paid a shitload of cash to have dogs that don't shed hair everywhere and I'm quite OK with that. 


Dragon Fruit Farm at Sunset - totally relevant

Friday, 26 August 2016

Having the appropriate credentials to speak

Every now and then I feel the compulsion to throw something (anything) on here to keep it ticking along. This is one such moment.

People who quote their heroes on a regular basis are almost always incredibly annoying - as an example, venture into the world of amateur finance and see if you can avoid quotes from that stupid old prick, Warren Buffett. Spend any time reading mainstream health and you will inevitably get hit with that ridiculous Michael Pollan quote. 

It's fucking infuriating.

This is why, despite being very tempted to quote Voltaire on occasion, because he was clearly a genius, I have resisted that urge. Today, at the risk of being a tiresome wanker, I am giving in, and provide the following from Noam Chomsky. 

I found it interesting because, apart from the obvious, it could easily be applied to one of my other interests - the often bizarre world that nutritional authorities inhabit. 

So here you go:

“In my own professional work I have touched on a variety of different fields. I’ve done work in mathematical linguistics, for example, without any professional credentials in mathematics; in this subject I am completely self-taught, and not very well taught. But I’ve often been invited by universities to speak on mathematical linguistics at mathematics seminars and colloquia. No one has ever asked me whether I have the appropriate credentials to speak on these subjects; the mathematicians couldn’t care less. What they want to know is what I have to say. 

No one has ever objected to my right to speak, asking whether I have a doctor’s degree in mathematics, or whether I have taken advanced courses in the subject. That would never have entered their minds. They want to know whether I am right or wrong, whether the subject is interesting or not, whether better approaches are possible… the discussion dealt with the subject, not with my right to discuss it. 

But on the other hand, in discussion or debate concerning social issues or American foreign policy…. The issue is constantly raised, often with considerable venom. I’ve repeatedly been challenged on grounds of credentials, or asked, what special training do I have that entitles you to speak on these matters. The assumption is that people like me, who are outsiders from a professional viewpoint, are not entitled to speak on such things. 

Compare mathematics and the political sciences… it’s quite striking. In mathematics, in physics, people are concerned with what you say, not with your certification. But in order to speak about social reality, you must have the proper credentials, particularly if you depart from the accepted framework of thinking. Generally speaking, it seems fair to say that the richer the intellectual substance of a field, the less there is a concern for credentials, and the greater is the concern for content.

One might even argue that to deal with substantive issues in the ideological disciplines may be a dangerous thing, because these disciplines are not simply concerned with discovering the facts and interpret them in a manner that conforms to certain ideological requirements, and to become dangerous to established interests if they do not do so.” 

This steak's credentials were obvious