I was fortunate to start my journalistic career in sports and to move on to small business and now to write about health, specifically diabetes. So I avoided the cynicism that seems to come with the territory. Until now.
The unfolding scandals that several pharmaceutical companies deep-sixed many of the drug trials they had conducted that didn't turn out well for them disturb any of us who are following the news. But even more than that, two new books are making me deeply suspicious if not outright cynical about so much that the American medical establishment has preached for years. As a result I have radically changing my opinions about the best diet for people with diabetes.
The first of these books to open my eyes was Good Calories, Bad Calories by science writer Gary Taubes. He totally demolished the demonizing of fat, and I reviewed aspects of his work in four previous articles here, most recently in "The Fat Paradox."
Then, I just finished reading In Defense of Food by journalism professor Michael Pollan. Penguin Press published it a few days ago for $21.95, but it is already available for the Amazon Kindle, which my favorite Certified Diabetes Educator gave me. So I was able to get In Defense of Food's electrons for just $9.99.
Pollan's book is an eater's manifesto, and in fact carries that sub-title. What he means is that his book is for people, not the corporations that profit from our bad food choices or the nutritionists and journalists (ahem) who have led us astray.
I have read with great pleasure and enlightenment all five of his books -- on topics as varied as food, botany, gardening, and construction -- as well as many of his most important articles. Still, I faced his new book with a little trepidation.
Pollan's often-repeated mantra is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It's a great slogan, but my concern focused on what I thought might be his bias against animal protein and fat. On a low-carb diet it is just about impossible to avoid eating meat.
So I was delighted to find that Pollan and Taubes are on the same wave length. The person who exposed the whole fat paradigm as a historical disaster "is a science journalist named Gary Taubes, who for the last decade has been blowing the whistle on the science behind the low-fat campaign," Pollan writes. "In a devastating series of articles and an important new book called Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes has all but demolished the whole lipid hypothesis, demonstrating just how little scientific backing it had from the very beginning."
Now, "a great many scientists are beating a quiet retreat from the main tenets of the lipid hypothesis," Pollan writes. "The whole nutritional orthodoxy around dietary fat appears to be crumbling," says Pollan, citing in particular an influential article by a group of prominent nutrition scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health. In this analysis of the relevant research called "Types of Dietary Fat and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Critical Review," the authors "proceed to calmly remove, one by one, just about every strut supporting the theory that dietary fat causes heart disease."