Monday, March 12, 2007

Maybe You Should Eat Real Food

If I didn't make it clear in the last post why supplementation is confusing, check out this excerpt from T-Nation:

Nutritional Crime of the Century
by TC

There are a few people or groups you just don't screw with. You don't want to piss off the mob, the Klan, or the Crips, and you sure as hell don't want to make fun of Kim Jong Il's haircut.

But the aforementioned pale in comparison when it comes to the vindictive nature of most nutritional scientists and certified dietitians. Okay, okay, I'm exaggerating, but these last two groups — and I guess, at least peripherally, I'm one of them — have screwed you up. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but you were screwed nonetheless.

I bet you can't even look at a piece of food without consciously or subconsciously agonizing over its alleged nutritional value, judging whether it contains the correct amount of fiber, the correct macronutrient ratio, life-giving vitamins, antioxidants, and fatty acids.
Oh, you poor sap.

We puff out our chests and tell you what foods to eat, which vitamins to consume and which antioxidants (chortle) you should eat to fight cancer.

Then, then, when some study comes out, as it did last week in JAMA, that high doses of certain antioxidants (Vitamins A and E) could actually cause cancer, we cough nervously, clear our throats, and mutter something about the vagaries of science.

Take a look at the following list of chemicals, all anti-oxidants:
4-Terpineol, alanine, anethole, apigenin, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, caffeic acid, camphene, carvacrol, chlorogenic acid, chrysoeriol, eriodictyol, eugenol, ferulic acid, gallic acid, gamma-terpinene isocholorgenic acid, isoeugenol, isothymonin, kaempferol, labiatic acid, lauric acid, linalyl acetate, luteolin, methionine, myrcene, myristic acid, naringenin, oleanolic acid, p-coumoric acid, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, palmitic acid, rosmarinic acid, selenium, tannin, thymol, tryptophan, ursolic acid, vanillic acid

Must be the label of the latest vitamin from the Centrum people, right? Nope, they're the antioxidants contained in a simple piece of thyme. (Thyme is the green crap your mother sprinkles on the rib roast to add flavor.)

And don't think for a second that thyme is some wonder food. I just used it as an example of how antioxidants are everywhere and how their number is legion.

Yet garden-variety nutritionists deem to study a handful of them here and there and make blanket recommendations. They ignore the possible complex interactions between them and other chemicals; they don't take into consideration that maybe the alleged healthful benefits of any one antioxidant might be dependent on being ingested simultaneously with one, two, or a dozen other antioxidants or phytochemicals. They ignore what I've publicly worried about for years, that taking large amounts might actually turn antioxidants into pro-oxidants — chemicals that actually cause free radicals to be formed.

What balls. What hubris.