Hey nutrition police and your fellow travelers

Other than the fact that most of your recommendations only cause weight loss because they’re so unpalatable they’re just another form of starvation, do you actually know the biochemistry of the nutrients you love to rave on about?

Let’s take your favorite – fiber. Fiber is the wonder drug of dieting and nutrition. Stuff yourself full of it, no matter what it tastes like, and you’ll be turning back the clock and be 17 again (naturally the beanpole you were when you had your hormone induced growth spurt) and you’ll be ready to star in your own TV commercials. Hurrah and right on!

But tell, me, biochemically speaking (that’s actually science, you know) what is fiber. Well naturally there are lots of smoke and mirrors about this but push comes to shove it is merely polysaccarides. Lots of variations, but catch that part of the term ‘saccaride’, you remember what that is. Now since ‘poly’ merely means many this isn’t very helpful, but when ‘many’ is not a huge number and these chains of certain atoms (we’ll get to those in a moment) are not too branched polysaccarides are also known as starch. And with the right enzymes, like those that occur in flour (including whole wheat flour, in fact it has slightly more) ‘starch’ gets cleaved into ‘sugar’. That’s right, sugar.

So all that fiber you’ll in love with. It’s just sugar. So next time you’re having your bowl of gruel think that instead you could be having a nice cup of processed white sugar.

Oh, you think not, do you! Well, it’s all just a matter of what chemistry happens in the GI tract (you remember chemistry, don’t you, that subject you nearly flunked in high school and would never have taken if it weren’t mandatory by those pesky science standards).

So get with it folks, learn about these wonderful world of your most vilified nutrients – carbohydrates. Now, just a reminder of those chemistry lectures you slept through – carbo, that means carbon, and hydrates, that means that awful chemical, dihydrogenoxide, you remember that one, as in WATER! So you chain together some carbon atom, stick on some hydrogens (how many is related to yet another of your favorite rants, saturated vs unsaturated and trans (do you actually know what ‘trans’ in transfats means (think cis as its opposite)). You remember -COOH and -OH, don’t you. Now you’re remembered what carbohydrates are, aren’t you. Depending on the chain and what little group of atoms is at one end and what’s at the other, you have triglycerides, AKA, fat (what kind of fat, simple matter of more chemistry of the bonds between the carbons, the rest of it shakes out from there).

So fiber is one of those evil carbos.

Now since we’re not termites (actually the bacteria inside termites) we can’t digest some types of carbos, certain of the polysaccarides, that you like to think is miraculous. All those whole grains, oh yum, and despise that evil sugar and white flour. All a matter of chemistry my friends.

So here’s the answer (the same with vegetarian and vegan) – instead of putting indigestible filler in your food, EAT LESS or EXERCISE MORE. Done, all the magical mysticism of 95% of “nutrition” is an overly complex way of simply saying, “all things in moderation.”

About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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2 Responses to Hey nutrition police and your fellow travelers

  1. But if you are a diet doc, you will never get a book contract by advocating common sense and everything in moderation.

    • dmill96 says:

      I guess. I get part of what I read and it seems to have some grounding in facts and science, but so much is just “viewpoint”.

      An amusing tidbit I learned is that America’s new fascination with quinoa (awful stuff, not even good for bread baking, but alone – just awful). Apparently it really only grows at high altitude in Peru. For generations subsistence farming villages have cultivated it with stable (albeit poor) communities. But instantly the U.S., which suffers from “rich man diseases” (due to too much food, esp. the high cal stuff) now wants a rich man solution and has driven up the price so high the Peru farmers can no longer afford it. Of course the farmers get little of the vastly increased price because that’s mostly in the distribution channel up through Whole Foods. So, great, America’s new diet food is completely socially irresponsible. I wonder how many of the hippie-type food nuts realize what they’re doing to local communities thousands of miles away with their nutrition fads.

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