Popular Weird Dietary Theory Proves Wrong
For anyone trying to eat healthfully, it sure can be confusing. There’s a lot of bad advice out there. Some of that bad advice is based upon bad science or fake science. That makes it seem as though it is good advice. After all, it has a scientific explanation. Yet, bad dietary advice just makes eating complicated and unpleasant. Food should be simple and enjoyable. Read on and we’ll make it simple and enjoyable once again. The way it should be.
It’s always good news when real science debunks and discredits bad dietary advice. I’m really happy to share with you that recently a major scientific study has shown that some popular advice regarding carbohydrates is flawed. What this study shows is what I’ve been telling people for years. Eating healthfully can be simple and enjoyable. All carbohydrates can be part of a healthy diet.
Understanding the Glycemic Index
We’ll get to the meat of what the study found in just a moment. First, I want to explain the theory that the study was testing. That theory is something called glycemic index. It is a very popular theory. Doctors promote it. Academics push it. Industry caters to it. And policy makers have even considered passing laws based on it. So if you haven’t heard of it, consider yourself lucky. But in any case, armed with the information you’re about to learn, you now don’t have to fall prey to the theory.
The glycemic index theory says that some types of carbohydrates increase blood sugar quickly while others increase blood sugar more slowly. And actually, that much is true. But the theory goes on to say that the carbohydrates that increase blood sugar quickly are unhealthy. People who believe in the theory say that carbohydrates that increase blood sugar quickly can cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all kinds of other diseases.
In order to find out which carbohydrates are which, researchers performed tests. They asked people to eat foods and then recorded their blood sugar at intervals following eating the food. Based on the rate at which blood sugar increased, researchers assigned numbers (the glycemic indices) to the foods. Low numbers meant the food increased blood sugar very slowly. High numbers meant the food increased blood sugar quickly.
Glycemic index charts have been becoming increasingly popular since the 1980s. Many people use these charts to determine what foods to eat. They avoid foods with high glycemic index numbers because they believe that those foods will make them sick over time.
The Many Problems With Glycemic Index
The trouble with all this is that it has never been proven to be true or useful. And as a result, many people avoiding a lot of healthy foods unnecessarily. Here’s a sample of foods that are generally given a high glycemic index: potato, watermelon, banana, sweet potato, carrots, rice (brown and white), and popcorn.
On the other hand, here are a few low glycemic index items: peanut M&M’s, Chewy Chocolate Peanut Snickers bar, and Coca-Cola.
Confused? That’s because the glycemic index is not a good predictor of the healthfulness of a food. According to the glycemic index theory people would be healthier eating M&M’s, Snickers, and Coca-Cola. Meanwhile, according to the theory, people eating carrots, rice, and bananas should get diabetes and die of a heart attack.
The theory is bunk. But wait. There’s more.
Humans have been eating high glycemic index foods as staples for tens of thousands of years. And based on modern research of isolated groups of people who still eat traditional diets that are very high in high glycemic index foods, those people are extremely healthy. There are traditional cultures who eat as much as 80 percent of their food from high glycemic index carbohydrates, and yet they have zero cases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer.
Think about it for a second. Rice is a staple throughout Asia, Potatoes are a staple throughout the Americas. Cassava is a staple throughout many parts of the world. All have very high glycemic index values. But traditionally people eating those foods have been very healthy.
What The Study Found
Despite the fact that the glycemic index theory hasn’t been validated, it has been very popular for a few decades. Major organizations, including the Harvard School of Public Health have pushed for glycemic index values to be added to food labels. Finally, however, well-designed scientific study has discredited the theory once and for all. Previous studies have failed to demonstrate that glycemic index was of any value. But this recent study shows that the glycemic index theory is false.
A research team from the distinguished Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston conducted the study. They considered an incredible number of variables. And in the end concluded that glycemic index made absolutely no difference.
Right away, people who have their reputations invested into the glycemic index theory argued that the study was flawed. For example, one well-known doctor advocate of the glycemic index theory claimed that, “A low glycemic index diet may be more like the tortoise than the hare. It takes longer, but you get there in the end.”
Unfortunately for him, long term studies have consistently failed to show any difference between high and low glycemic index foods on health. And, as noted earlier, some extremely long term studies - traditional cultures - have shown that high glycemic index foods are healthy.
The takeaway from all of this is that we don’t need unfounded theories to guide what we eat. We already know what is healthy and what is not. Theories like the glycemic index theory are confusing. And if we think about food too much, we might overlook the obvious. For example, it is obvious that carrots are healthier than M&M’s. We know that intuitively. Furthermore, we have tens of thousands of years of evidence showing us that traditional foods are healthy. If they weren’t, humans wouldn’t have survived!
So what should you eat? Eat foods that you know to be healthy rather than consulting a chart. All fruits, vegetables, roots, traditional grains, meats, eggs, and dairy are healthy. You don’t need anyone to tell you that. And you certainly don’t need anyone to tell you otherwise. Trust your gut!