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Diet, health, and health costs


By YesYNot   Follow   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 4:05am PDT   4,528 views   40 comments   Watch (0)   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

Americans spend a ton on medical expenses and have poor health. This has been documented over and over. Many developing countries are eating diets more and more like the standard american diet with (relative to their previous diets) lots of meat and processed fast food. They are starting to see more and more 'diseases of affluence.'

Two diets becoming more popular recently are the whole foods vegan (WFV) diet and the paleo diets. Both diets shun sugary drinks, white buns (do some degree), and omega six fats. Paleo diets shun carbs across the board, and you lose weight eating a high protein high fat diet. WFV diets shun fat. No (or very limited) extra fat (oils) is added during or after cooking. Carbs make up about 70 to 80% of total calories, and you tend to lose weight by eating until you are full whenever you are hungry.

Dr. McDougall is an example of the whole foods vegan crew. Other doctors/scientists extolling virtues of similar diets are/were, Pritikin, Ornish, Esselstyn, Barnard, Campbell, fuhrman, and Lisle. McDougall did a test with Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1999, and participants saved 44% of medical costs in the first year by reducing the need for all sorts of medicines for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) is now on board, paying for employees to try the diet under McDougall's supervision. Ornish is the most famous for controlled studies on reversing heart disease with diet. Esselstyn did an uncontrolled study reversing heart disease in a number of patients.

On the opposite side of the protein & fat versus carb scale are the paleo / Atkins style crew. I don't know as much about this side, so may get things wrong here. It started with Atkins. Now, Robb Wolf & Loren Cordain are probably the two most famous paleo guys. These guys stick with the calories from fat and protein (from Atkins), but focus on nutrient rich organ meats, lean meats, and preferably natural grass-fed animals. Gary Taubes, science writer, wrote Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, is basically advocating an Atkins diet and cutting out carbs as much as possible. The Weston A Price foundation is promotes another Atkins similar diet.

Diet has come up in a number of other threads. I thought it would be fun to see what type of diets people on Pat.net are following & how they are doing.

Personally, I was convinced to try the WFV way based on a number of reasons, but seeing Forks Over Knives recently tipped the scales for me so to speak. In the first few weeks, I still craved meat and dairy here and there. After that, it's been very easy to follow. Food has been cheap. I've upped my fresh fruit and veggie intake dramatically. I've felt full, light, and energetic. Coffee is no longer necessary, so I have a couple of cups of black tea each day. I've been dropping about 1.5 lbs / week in a pretty consistent way. For reference, my BMI is now about 24. My blood pressure was not high when I started, but it has come down about 10 mm Hg over about a month.

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KILLERJANE   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 4:13am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 1

I have low blood pressure, coffee is good for me. 2-4 cups a day black.

Mr Happygoluckofus   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 4:53am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike (1)     Comment 2

YesYNot says

Americans spend a ton on medical expenses and have poor health.

I spend dick and have great health.

SO perhaps you answered your own question.

When I was a kid, patient took a regiment of Drugs 1.0 to cure what ever ailed them.

Now people are prescribed Drugs 2.0 to be taken for the rest of their life, or until their Liver fails, which all new drugs seem to place the patient in danger of.

Diet and exercise is still the best way to defeat diabetes.

I have a diabetic keyboard player, that I do cession work with from time to time. He had a job with excellent benefits, and was on insulin and all kinds of pills. If he looked at anything that had even a hint of sugar, he would get deathly ill. He couldn't eat anything. He lost his job, and went on an involuntary diet, and didn't have the money to take his meds.
He lost a ton of weight, and started eating when he ate anything that came his way. Though never poorer in his life, he never felt better.
He eats practically anything now, and it doesn't phase him.

Same thing with another friend on blood pressure meds, he lost his insurance. Someone told him to take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day, he did and hasn't had an episode since then.

YesYNot   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 5:23am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 3

^ The 'being poor' diet has always been good at fixing the 'diseases of affluence.'
Apple cider vinegar is supposed to ironically lower your acid level (renal acid load) through metabolic processes.

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 6:01am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike (1)     Comment 4

CaptainShuddup says

I spend dick and have great health.

You also have great luck. Keeping in shape and eating well will lower your odds of getting sick, but anything can happen at any time. If something does happen you will go running to the doctor and take your meds just like everyone else.

APOCALYPSEFUCKisShostikovitch   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 7:04am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 5

CaptainShuddup says

Same thing with another friend on blood pressure meds, he lost his insurance. Someone told him to take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day, he did and hasn't had an episode since then.

That's an astounding claim. You heard this directly from your friend, the hyptertension victim?

Quigley   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 7:26am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 6

Beware anecdotal evidence! It's used by hucksters selling you fraudulent products! Sure that lady your friend's neighbor's poodle's manicurist knows took that supplement and was miraculously cured of cancer, but that's not real evidence.
Then again, with scientific studies, care must be taken to find out how they did it (double blind test or open reporting?), how large the sample size was, if there was a control used, and if the interpretation of the results is valid or just speculative hand waving!
It can be really difficult to find Truth! But, it's worth finding.

errc   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 8:10am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 7

Anecdotal evidence can be useful data. Conduct a scientific experiment on yourself, and see what works. Different people react differently to different food.

On my own journey, I've found that avoiding sugar has worked best for me. Especially the sugary drinks, so outside of the occasional beer, the only thing I drink is water. Now I don't have much a taste for those juices and drinks anymore, especially the artificially sweetened crap. Water is very easy on the budget as well.

I think its important to define food for yourself. I don't eat for sport, its just a means of fueling my body. So I eat a lot of animal proteins and fats, as they are the most satiating and nutritious food fuels for my buck. I eat what's in season and local, with produce,,,,as best I can. Avoid grains and sugars like the plague.

After a year of eating like this, I've shed most of all the extra fat I was carrying (which was a bunch). The dentist didn't have to do much of anything at my last cleaning, and I've regained my 20/20 vision

When I'm poking around the interwebs, I search for paleo recipes, as that is what my dietary inputs most closely resemble (I don't think its as similar to atkins as the OP suggests). However, using the term diet confuses people, because I did lose a bunch of weight, and people associate diets with fads or temporary changes. Its just a way of life.

Three women in my family went vegetardian for over a decade, and after seeing such marked improvements in my health, they all re-incorporated meats one at a time. All have noted improved health, and just a general sense of feeling better. Why wouldn't they, now that they're back to eating bacon

YesYNot   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 9:02am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 8

errc, Thanks for posting. I saw a few of your other posts and was curious about the full story. Do you have a lot of energy. Do you say feel like going for a walk or jog after work or sitting down? ^vegetardian? Fruedian slip or just feeling a little defensive?

There's no such thing as a double blind diet study. Also, there are a number of reasons that effects of diet (I'm using the term to describe what you eat not a weight loss effort) on health are poorly understood (1) not much money in it relative to other health treatments (2) hard to study (people lie & monitoring what they eat is hard) (3) the body is too complicated for A is good / B is bad type solutions. But that does not mean that diet has no impact on health. It just means that you will not hear much instruction from doctors throughout your life. When you show up complaining about x,y,z in mid-life, they might ask you to try exercise and dietary change, but will quickly write you a script.

Personally, I think that either the paleo or whole foods vegan diets would work for most people as far as losing weight. It's more complicated than carbs make you fat or fat makes you fat. If you are eating very few carbs, you are in ketosis & eating a little more carbs will make you fatter. If you are eating very low fat whole foods, then you are getting plenty of fiber and eating more carbs does no harm. In that case, eating more fat makes you fatter. Somewhere in the middle of the fat / carb extremes, there is a land of crappy fats (good for preserving potato chips and crackers, but bad for you), refined carbs (sugar and white flower), and little to no veggies. That area, ironically thought of as a safe middle ground, is likely to make you fat.

jhall   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 9:23am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 9

errc says

All have noted improved health, and just a general sense of feeling better. Why wouldn't they, now that they're back to eating bacon?

Mmmmmm. Bacon.

My diet is low carb (but I'm not giving up beer!), plenty of yogurt, eggs, meat, and as much fresh stuff as I can get. In the winter lots of stews, soups, root vegetables. No coffee, just tea. My chronic health condition doesn't bother me a bit, but I could lose a few pounds. I know, the beer...

futuresmc   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 11:19am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 10

YesYNot says

^ The 'being poor' diet has always been good at fixing the 'diseases of affluence.'
Apple cider vinegar is supposed to ironically lower your acid level (renal acid load) through metabolic processes.

Actually this isn't true anymore. Being poor used to mean not eating regularly and thus loosing weight and the health concerns associated with overeating. Being poor today means eating low nutrient foods, so some of the poorest people end up obese but malnourished, which gives you the diseases of poverty AND affluence at the same time.

HEY YOU   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 4:53pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 11

Pig Out
http://queentije.hubpages.com/hub/Factsabouteatingpork

"A retrovirus lives in all pork cells and this viruses lives through the heat that we cook in! so we eat our tasty meat ,and guess what goes inside our body? You got it, a retrovirus!"

YesYNot   befriend   ignore   Tue, 7 Aug 2012, 10:56pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 12

futuresmc says

Being poor used to mean not eating regularly and thus loosing weight and the health concerns associated with overeating.

Good point. Being poor in the US usually means having enough money to eat McDs and get fat. Rice & beans, potatoes, lentils, oats, etc. are still cheaper, though. So, even in the US, if you have a pot and a stove, it isn't just being poor that is the problem.
If you get calories from grains, legumes, and potatoes and get nutrients & flavor form greens and spices, your grocery bill will be small and you will be healthy.

bluhat55   befriend   ignore   Wed, 8 Aug 2012, 12:39am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 13

I do the Crossfit/Paleo diet lifestyle that's now becoming popular. I used to only be able to do CF once or twice a week, I would be wiped out and my recovery time was measured in days. I switched to a full on paleo diet 3 months back with the help of a nutritionist who was skeptical and thought I was crazy by cutting out grains/beans/breads/carbs.

3 months after being on paleo, I've gone from 18.5 BF% to somewhere around 14%, I'm 36 and able to keep up with more fit looking 26 year olds. My recovery time is measured in hours now where I frequently exercise vigorously 2-3 times a day. (i.e. Yesterday I rowed on the lake at 5:30AM for two hours, for lunch I did a CF of 2 mile run and 2k row in 23 minutes, after work I played sand volleyball for 3 hours and then went swimming in Barton Springs pool before bed...This is not an uncommon thing for me)

tl;dr= A paleo diet changed my life ... fuck corn

thunderlips11   befriend   ignore   Tue, 23 Oct 2012, 5:18am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 14

bluhat55 says

tl;dr= A paleo diet changed my life ... fuck corn

WORD. I tried going USDA/SAD/Food Pyramid for one month and lost a pound - probably water weight. Never felt so tired, irritated, and miserable. And for the first and only time in my life, I lost hair; it came out in clumps.

Nutritionists are really just "Bro Scientists" with a better vocabulary than the average Gymhound.

Nir Barzilai, a scientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has this to say about health and living longer about a study on 300 Ashkenazi Jews, average age 100:

The most important thing we've found is that most centenarians have a lot more than average H.D.L. proteins, the good cholesterol, in their blood. Also, they had a lot more of them when they were younger, because their children have a lot more than their peers do. Also, size matters with the protein molecules. Eighty percent of the children of the centenarians had larger than average high density lipoproteins.

...

The most common thing this group had is that they did not reveal any particular lifestyle secret for their own longevity. When asked specifically, none has exercised. None was a vegetarian. Not a single one ate yogurt throughout his life.

In fact, 30 percent were overweight. Some smoked. The fact that they had a strong family history of exceptional longevity seemed to be the main commonality. This supports the notion that they have special genes protecting them from their environment.

:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/24/health/a-conversation-with-nir-barzilai-it-s-not-the-yogurt-looking-for-longevity-genes.html

Genes. Some people can handle copious amounts of carbs; some can't, it goes straight to the belly.

I notice that people of shorter statute and prone to lean muscle mass do better on high carb diets; people of average stature do not.

suspiria_2   befriend   ignore   Thu, 25 Oct 2012, 6:31am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 15

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

pay attention to the details. it isn't just about food, but the entire lifestyle.

elliemae   befriend   ignore   Fri, 26 Oct 2012, 2:32am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 16

suspiria_2 says

it isn't just about food, but the entire lifestyle.

sure! we need to eat better, work smarter and relax more. And be physically active in productive ways. Sitting on your ass on the couch eating potato chips doesn't help your body at all...

thunderlips11   befriend   ignore   Tue, 30 Oct 2012, 6:08am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 17

Here's a really interesting bit about nutrition, saturated fat, and how oversimplifying things creates problems.

http://tinyurl.com/94rl853

Another problem is that endurance athletes are often the fitness advisers. What an active, perpetually training endurance athlete eats and what a person doing the recommended 30 min x 3-4/week needs are two very different things. Endurance Athletes like cyclists who put in several hours a day of intensive cardio can consume a diet much higher in carbs than mostly sedentary workers, who, at best are only walking around the office a few times during lunch hour or hitting the treadmill MWF for 30 minutes.

Turning everybody in cycling or track fanatics isn't going to work; it isn't working now. As mentioned in another thread, the obesity epidemic really began in the early 80s after the popularity of the Pritikin Diet: Americans consume 20% less fat than they did in the 70s. Problem is, they've replaced the fat with starchy foods and especially sugary drinks.

It's not usual to see a dieter push away meat, eat a whole wheat bagel instead and wash it down with a $4 expresso drink from Starbucks. Hey, coffee is a neutral food (but the 8oz of lactose - milk sugar - in it, ain't)! And it's not usual to see that person fail royally.

Another thing I see at the gym here is middle aged people chatting on cell phones on the treadmill. If you have the breath to talk, you ain't getting your heart rate up high enough and are wasting your time. Also, the calories burned displayed are usually off by 100%+. If it said you burned 700, you probably burned 300, and probably not even that much.

elliemae   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 12:23am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 18

IMHO, people don't poop enough. My doctor & I had this conversation - the drug stores are full of products that help artifically stimulate your digestive system. We need to get healthy from the inside out.

Seriously. A healthy diet, along with exercise, is designed to help your body utilize food and efficiently expell waste. Heartburn, anxiety, pain, and poor quality foods contribute to people becoming constipated. Inflammation too. We have developed a sedentary lifestyle and expect to fix it with medications. So people eat the wrong stuff, don't exercise and rely upon medications to help eliminate the food.

I'm not a clinician, nor am I an expert. But in my 25 years of experience, I've noticed that so many people complain of indigestion and constipation. This leads to headaches, stomach aches, etc. With exercise and a better diet, they can feel better. Instead of looking for the easy fix, they need to supplement their diet with fiber or eat a balanced diet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psyllium

It's a start.

YesYNot   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 1:09am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 19

What if the focus on fats, carbs, and protein is too simple.

Pritikin didn't advocate eating lattes, low fat cakes, potato chips (high fat), sodas etc. From Wikipedia:

The Pritikin Program was often described by Nathan Pritikin, its creator, as “mankind’s original meal plan.” That’s because the focus of the Pritikin diet is unprocessed or minimally processed straight-from-nature foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes (such as black beans and pinto beans), whole grains such as brown rice, starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, lean meat, and seafood.

Gary Taubes often creates this straw man argument by claiming that we tried the Pritikin diet. But, the message was largely simplified to 'low fat,' and it wasn't even followed well. People simply replaced a few high fat cakes with sweet and salty fake oil cakes. The typical American diet is moderate fat, very low fiber, and high in refined carbs. It is nothing like what Pritikin originally recommended.

I agree with Ellie on the fiber issue. But you are probably much better off getting your fiber from whole plants rather than supplementing a low fiber diet by taking soluble fiber out of a can.

errc   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 1:16am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 20

Ellie, I'm going to have to strongly disagree. Poop is waste. Food is fuel. Lots of poop means inefficient utilization of the fuel. Unless I stray from my usual food inputs, the most I poop is one little pooper in the morning, and that's probably half out of habit. Also disagree strongly with supplementing ones diet with fiber,,,,fiber, what is it good for?

http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-up-reviews/fiber-menace

http://www.fibermenace.com/gutsense/transition.html

joshuatrio   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 1:17am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 21

Gotta have my carbs. Eating a bowl of spaghetti at night increases my bike commute time to work by 1-2 minutes.

errc   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 1:42am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 22

Carbs are ok in moderation, when they come packed in fiberous fruits and veggies. Those of us that live in cold climates benefit from upping our fruit (fructose) intake heading into the cold seasons, because that's the bodys signal to store some extra fat.

I like spaghetti myself, but the noodles are so unhealthy, so I use spaghetti squash which you can doctor up and is much more flavorful than noodles. Mix it up with some eggplant and meatballs and homemade tomato sauce, for the win!

errc   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 1:57am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 23

It's not usual to see a dieter push away meat,eat a whole wheatbagelinsteadandwash it down with a $4 expresso drink from Starbucks. Hey, coffee is a neutral food (but the8oz of lactose - milk sugar - init,ain't)!Andit's notusualto see thatperson fail royally.

I went to a "paleo pot luck" at my crossfit box recently. I love food, and I love sharing good food with others. Nothing made me happier then seeing the whole crew of people who are conscious about their health, enough so that they are regularly in the gym working on fitness, absolutely gorging themselves on heaping plates of delicious food!

I can only imagine what a SAD'er at a normal gym with conventional wisdom and the advice from Harvard health and usfedgov as their guiding light,,,would look like at a pot luck. Poor confused, malnourished souls

Quigley   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 2:52am PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 24

From info I've recently acquired, the most beneficial component of our diet to focus on is probably Omega 3 fatty acids. These reduce inflammation and give neurons something to use to repair themselves and replace old cells. Women especially will benefit from this as they are biologically directed to stockpile this fatty acid and will be driven to overeat if they can't obtain enough of it.
The best source is fish, but if you don't like fish or can't get it, cod liver oil comes in gel capsules that will get the job done and are cheap. It's interesting to me how this very old school remedy may be just the panacea our nation of fatties needs to regain health and normal weight.

Quigley   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 2:55am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 25

I also suspect a link to Alzheimer's disease with its prevalence having increased in step with the saturation of the American diet with vegetable oil that contains omega 6 rather than omega 3. It's a disease that medicine can't seem to fix. Makes sense it would have its origins in something simple like nutrition.

joshuatrio   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 5:26am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 26

errc says

Carbs are ok in moderation, when they come packed in fiberous fruits and veggies.

For sure - my wife makes a killer dish. Really simple. Just some wheat pasta, and sliced (lightly cooked) zuccini, squash, peppers, onions topped with a little bit of grated cheese.

She's also resorted to make EVERYTHING from scratch.. salad dressings, bread, all desserts (cut out the hydrogenated oils). Probably about 70% of what we eat are fruits/veggies, the rest meat and carbs (bread/pasta).

Being a bike commuter, you gotta have carbs. If you don't, by day 2 or 3 of commuting, there is no life left in your body. All the fruits/nuts/vegetables are no substitute for bread and pasta... : )

errc says

It's not usual to see a dieter push away meat,eat a whole wheatbagelinsteadandwash it down with a $4 expresso drink from Starbucks. Hey, coffee is a neutral food (but the8oz of lactose - milk sugar - init,ain't)!Andit's notusualto see thatperson fail royally.

That's funny. People on a diet, sucking down latte's.

edvard2   befriend   ignore   Thu, 1 Nov 2012, 5:38am PDT