Science, settling

Gritting my teeth today over a large car service bill. However, it’s money well spent as it keeps our little SUV chugging along and less likely to end up letting us down at some critical juncture. It was a large chunk of change, but we only get this kind of expense once a year. Well thrice if you count what’s coming next.

Mrs S and I are about to undertake another epic road trip, this time to Newfoundland and back. Unlike ten years ago we don’t have the complication of the dog, which meant we spent a lot of time looking for ‘pet friendly’ motels who would charge thirty bucks extra a night for the privilege of having our dog with us. We’re also taking the road less travelled along the northern route where cell phone coverage is spotty at best. However, so long as the motels we book have decent wi-fi, we’re all good. We’ve also bought a nice big cool box for picnics en route.

Talking of comestibles and the politics of food, sometimes you just have to give a grim faced nod of ‘told you so’ and shake your head at the sheer capriciousness of the diet industry and the quasi-political organisations that keep on handing down doctrinaire dictations about what we should and should not be eating, having first lobbied the WHO into backing their unhinged assertions.

Over the past few years there have been a number of food scares. All of which seem to be falling by the wayside. Recently the Framington Study, an analysis of dietary salt intake, came up with the long suspected result that a salt intake greater than 2300mg per day is not as dangerous as some would have us believe. The results indicate that good old sodium chloride is not the death dealing masked super villain the hand waving anti-salt lobby would have us all believe. See this article for the alternative guidelines and follow links back to the study.

Of course the anti-salt lobby have pointed out the weaknesses in the study, but the evidence indicates that so long as your kidneys are functioning normally, any excess salt gets flushed out of your system anyway. So why all the fuss? Indeed, more rational voices have argued that a daily intake of 4-6000mg per day is essential for a healthy heart and that the 2,300 FDA guidelines are far too low and may even be damaging.

As always, it seems that moderation is key and maybe the health problems the ‘experts’ claim, along with their total low-taste lifestyle recommendations are just wild guesses. Like the scares over dietary fat, the alcohol intake guidelines and just about every other claimed killer, all the figures behind these claims seem to be plucked out of thin air. It could be argued that by setting the limits way too low they are actually devaluing the case against excessive dietary intake which may well prove harmful at 10,000mg / day. Or are the panicmongers doing what I used to do with Eldest when we were going out, telling her that we were going half an hour earlier than we actually were and to get her buns into gear? Pitching the upper limit way too low because they know no-one’s going to do what they’re told anyway. Well I’m certainly not.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it is that these Government Health guidelines too often have their genesis in advocacy organisations and commercial lobbyists (Sometimes working for the same people) who want to have their preferred product given more favourable market conditions. Like margarine was once promoted as ‘more healthy’ than butter (Hint; it isn’t). Or Gluten free diets for people without Coeliac Disease leading to an increased risk of heart disease. As with fanatic teetotallers pushing for yet another ban on booze, we’re still living with the consequences of that complete cock-up.

What the failure of all these guidelines should tell us is; a little bit of what you fancy is probably far better for you than stressing over Government guidelines that are based on 1) Wild guesses or 2) Advocacy directed ‘research’. Maybe Governments should stop giving out diet related advice as all they seem to do is get it wrong.

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3 thoughts on “Science, settling”

  1. “Maybe Governments should stop giving out diet related advice as all they seem to do is get it wrong.”

    I don’t know who listens to them. I certainly don’t.

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