What do you all think of the to-pasteurize-or-not-to-pasteurize debate? We think getting rid of hormones is at least a good step in the right direction.
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:
You’ll want to click out today’s most interesting news, Apples:
1) We Promise, This Is the Last Dairy Discussion
…for a while, anyway. This is merely to highlight the general conclusion that can be had from all the various dairy-makes-you-skinny debates: dairy obviously does not make you skinny enough. If dairy were the wonder tonic Big Moo would have you believe, wouldn’t we all have noticed by now?
Some of the studies are inconclusive, like this one just out (yet another one!). Some of the studies are total quackery questionable because they’ve been funded by Big Moo. Most of them, actually. Some of the studies make it seem like low-fat dairy is better. A recent one makes a case for regular old fattening dairy. Mark happens to think dairy is the ultimate Blunder Tonic.
While there’s no definitive dairy answer, how about some common sense? If you exercise, eat a lot of vegetables, and stay away from things like sugar and French fries, it just might not matter if your beverage of choice is soy milk, cow’s milk or hemp milk (yep, and it’s tasty). Folks who are unhealthy might benefit marginally from foods like dairy, but at the end of the day, no food is the magic answer to your waistline concerns or health goals.
Except, possibly, for spinach.
2) We Can’t Wait for All the Clever Headlines!
You just know the mainstream media is going to have a cliched-headline carnival with hemp milk. Oh, well, maybe they don’t get out much.
Thanks to Slashfood for the heads up on this yummy, high-protein unmilk. It’s available in chocolate, vanilla and regular (what will that taste like?).
Slash says: “Some of the benefits of Hemp milk are: it is high in protein and is a good source of balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and has lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and iron. It is the only product made from seeds that contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a controversial substance that may help fight cancer, treat problems with inflammation, and auto-immune diseases.”
3) When Will Law Makers Actually Give Two Figs?
Mark says sugar is the new trans fat, and others are sayin’ the same, too. Check out this handy little corn syrup summary. Then drop a line to these spineless saps and tell them you’re sick of Americans being sick. And say something to your senator, too. They don’t listen to Bees but they listen to you.
Because when a website actually brags about the fact that – yes – corn syrup is only as bad as sugar, you have to do something, Apples…
It’s a payday for someone, all right.
4) Tsk, Tsk
Parents seem to eat more fat than other adults, especially fat from kiddie-foods like pizza, chips, candy and snacks. Be honest, now – if you’re a parent, maybe you’ve snatched some of the French fries from the Happy Meal.
The important thing to remember is that these little bites add up to serious health problems. They seem harmless, but because most “family fare” is loaded with sugar, trans fat and chemical additives, moms and dads are subject to a free radical minefield (and a lot of extra calories).
And besides, kids shouldn’t be eating this stuff, either! They may seem thin and healthy now, but the long-term consequences of Cheetos and Powerade are visible everywhere you look. Kids turn into adults, and we adults don’t seem to be batting any health home runs these days. Start your kids on good habits young, and you’ll benefit, too (and hey, it’s one less thing for the teenagers to tell you you’re doing wrong).
Here are some easy switches that don’t require you to turn into Martha Stewart:
- Once a week, get the kids to wash and chop up veggies like carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli or jicama. Place fist-sized portions in zippered baggies until there are enough for each family member to grab one bag a day for the whole week. Presto, veggies consumed.
- Buy beef, salmon or turkey jerky instead of regular snack bags like chips, pretzels or other salty, sugary, empty junk. Trail mix (the kind that doesn’t have candy in it) and nuts are a great idea, too.
- This does take a little work, but it’s worth it. Buy a huge jug of 100% real juice. Dilute by half with water. Pour into as many rinsed-out beverage containers as you like. That beats soda and sugary drinks! You can do the same with caffeine-free tea (sweeten with a sugar substitute or a little honey if your kids aren’t used to the taste).
- For healthy, easy dinners that are way faster than the pizza guy, keep the freezer stocked with two things: ready-to-go protein like shrimp or chicken tenderloins, and a big assortment of frozen veggies.
20 minutes before you want to eat, drop a bag of your protein of choice into a big, hot pan. 10 minutes later, add a bag or two of the frozen veggies. Once it’s all cooked and piping hot, drizzle with any number of yummy toppings: slivered almonds, parmesan, spices and seasonings, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a little yogurt. Everyone will be happy, it’s cheaper than a decent pizza, and it’s healthy. Easy!
Around the Web:
Things so random and disturbing, you just might want to click. Somehow, it’s satisfying. We know. It’s okay.
- Junior Apple Annie B. wrote in to tell us about the dark secrets of the restaurant industry. During her starving student days, Annie worked for a major chain restaurant. She says:
“We were always totally grossed out by the chips and how people would wolf them down. If only they knew. When the chips arrived to us, they were in these big packages. You wouldn’t recognize them as chips – they were so covered in white lard or whatever the fat concoction was, it was like little edges sticking out of a block of glue. Disgusting! Then we’d have to shove the chunks into the oven to make them all fresh and toasty and get the fat to melt and ‘crisp’ the chips. I’ve never looked at chips the same way since.”
There is a really, really dark and disturbing side to food production. There are specific resources and legions of behind-the-scenes bizarreness you wouldn’t believe…except, behold. It puts the Bees into a real fuss – maybe we all know this stuff exists deep down, but…ewww. Is this really necessary? Apples? This is why we like fresh food.
I’m not surprised by this expose. Just as the Dairy Industry (Big Moo) has managed to “find” weight loss results when funding clinical studies, food manufacturers in general – and beverage producers in particular – “discover” nutritional benefits of their products and promote those discoveries to the public. Unfortunately, the nutrition science world is even more susceptible to corruption in studies than the pharmaceutical world!
As this article points out, it’s not so much that study results are deliberately misleading. The issue is that food manufacturers have many interesting ways of ultimately getting the results they prefer.
- Food companies pay for studies based on initial hypotheses that are already favorable.
- Food companies may conduct many studies but only use the favorable ones.
- Though conflicts of interest must be disclosed in any study, this is based on an honor system.
The Public Library of Science is one of my favorite resources for uncovering these sorts of shenanigans in the drug, food and beverage industries. In this particular article, PLOS finds that when beverage makers are involved in the study, the results are four to eight times more likely to be favorable. Coincidence?
THE LATEST PLAY IN THE STATISTICS GAME
We’ve all seen the ads touting dairy as a weight-loss aid. Every granola bar, breakfast cereal and block of cheese now brags about it. Welcome to yet another entertaining quarter in the ongoing Statistics Game. Dairy is a big topic and there are several studies we’re going to take a look at today. And by take a look, I mean tear apart.
As far as I’m concerned, “da-iry” hasn’t done anything great with the place (though the ad campaigns are always cute). The aliens can have it. We’d all be a lot better off without the so-called Wonder Tonic – and we’d lose weight a lot faster.
It is true that calcium plays a role in fat metabolism (a small role – more on that in a moment). But it’s also true that calories play a role in getting fat. Reducing calories from any source is going to help you lose weight much more effectively than simply drinking milk instead of, say, soda or juice. For one thing, milk has almost as much sugar as a glass of Coke (yes – check the labels). For another, milk is hardly nature’s perfect food for humans. Cow milk is nature’s perfect food for…cows. I realize that’s controversial, but it’s true. And relying on calcium for your weight-loss goals is like relying on vitamin C-enhanced Seven Up for your antioxidant needs.
I love a good slice of cheddar as much as the next guy and gal, but there’s no way any responsible health care practitioner should ever recommend making dairy a part of a healthy diet, much less a weight-loss plan. Hey, if you’re living on potato chips and pizza, a glass of milk might be a step up. I set the bar a little higher, and I hope you do, too.
Dairy, in limited amounts, isn’t something I worry too much about. I don’t think it’s an ideal human food, especially since most of us lack the enzyme needed to digest it and essentially force ourselves to become accustomed to the stuff. But you could do worse than the occasional dollop of cottage cheese or scoop of sugar-free yogurt, especially if you favor organic dairy. (Which, by the way, you should: regular dairy is typically full of antibiotics, hormones, and contaminants like pus. Yum.)
Enter dubious study #1.
Though Major Moo (the dairy industry) paid for six clinical studies – yes, they funded their own studies – the main one is what I’m calling the Tennessee Two Pounder. The University of Tennessee loves Major Moo, and Major Moo loves T. U. The lead researcher in the study was astounded by the amazing benefits of dairy, which he discovered after
being paid millions of dollars conducting the study. For a few million, I can be amazed by just about anything, but I still wouldn’t be amazed by the results he got: a mere two pounds on the “it’s not a dairy diet” dairy diet.
When this whole Major Moo campaign started last year, I was pretty suspicious. I don’t conduct my own studies of my supplement line for a reason: it’s unethical and no matter how honest a businessperson might be, you simply can’t help looking for more than might be there. Two pounds is not amazing. It is not impressive. You can lose two pounds by skipping dinner for two nights (really).
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (a group of 5,000+ docs and 100,000 other health-minded folks) has sued Major Moo this fall for what it says are grossly misleading ads. Major Moo spent over $200 million on six clinical trials and a slew of ads recommending 24 ounces of milk every 24 hours. Though Major Moo is insistent that they’re not pushing a “dairy diet”, the PCRM says the ads are misleading, that plenty of people have actually gained weight (that part’s true) by following the 24/24 recommendation, and the actual studies are suspect, anyway.
Note: PCRM promotes vegetarianism – I don’t – but I think they’re right on the money with this issue.
Enter dubious study #2.
It just gets better. Another dairy-funded study says that mice consuming dairy in lieu of other foods lost weight faster. That makes sense, but it’s not because dairy is a magic food. Dairy is what I call a “dense” nutritional food. It’s easier to cut calories if you’re satisfied, and dairy is a rich food. However, this particular study left me saying “Whaaaa?” The report on the study carefully explained the mice, the milk, the parameters. And then, at the end, the researchers (remember, funded by Major Moo) announce that low fat milk is the best bet for losing weight. The entire study focused on calcium’s role in weight loss, and the conclusion was about something else entirely.
This kind of bait-and-switch is a big problem in the world of studies. Hey, maybe low-fat milk is better (I personally don’t think so, because it is higher in sugar and is more refined than regular milk). But the study’s conclusions were illogical and misleading.
Enter dubious study #3.
A retrospective study in Seattle found that people who consumed higher levels of calcium gained less weight as they aged than people who didn’t eat much calcium: 10 pounds versus 15 pounds. Fine. I personally wouldn’t brag about my product causing only slightly less weight gain, but that’s me. Here’s what gets me: after accounting for exercise, diet and lifestyle habits, the actual role of calcium in this number was only 3%. Three percent. That means 97% of the weight gain was related to everything but calcium.
I do have a degree in biology. I’ve spent 25 years researching and developing health supplements. The statistical significance standard of 15% is right up there with the Hippocratic Oath. 3% is not significant. It is not even meaningful. So I’m perplexed at this quote from a doctor analyzing the study:
“While calories consumed, exercise and metabolism account for 97 percent of the fluctuations in body weight, calcium explains about a 3 percent variability of body weight in U.S. adults,” said Robert P. Heaney, who studies the effects of calcium at Creighton University in Nebraska. “Three percent isn’t bad.”
He’s right; three percent isn’t bad. It’s just pointless.
1) Yes, calcium helps with fat metabolism – a bit. Other things – like cutting calories – work better and retrain the body more effectively.
2) Lots of foods and supplements have calcium. Milk has a lot, but it also has a lot of sugar and calories. It often comes loaded with antibiotics, hormones and contaminants. It’s not an ideal food for most humans.
3) Look for significant changes when trusting a new study.
4) Don’t immediately trust new studies…when the outcome benefits whoever paid for them.
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