Poor Science Rant

Good morning world! Happy Saturday! It is the weekend and today I will be trying out some of the brunch recipes I have found during the week. Last night I went to the gym for the first time this year and it was great. A little bit late to the New Year Resolution admittedly but the flu did kind of kill me over Christmas and then it just wouldn’t go away, but in the end, enough was enough and back I went. I did a good little cardio session to get back into things, but I am really looking forward to some good old weight training sessions in the coming week. OK, that is the diary section over.

Rant Ahoy! I have been reading a lot about the paleo diet this week. I like the basic principles- lean meat, vegetables, fat is ok, no diary, and avoiding processed food. It’s a difficult plan if you are vegetarian as most dishes contain meat, and some of them, a LOT of meat. However, that isn’t my problem. I think I have two (main) problems:

Problem 1 (not that important in the grand scheme of things): Just because you can make cakes using paleo approved ingredients doesn’t mean it is ok. I am pretty sure cavemen weren’t hanging out in caves making cupcakes with coconut flour and drinking blueberry mojitos. Isn’t that just cheating? I mean, yes, most people like cake, and I am suspicious of people who don’t like mojitos, but mojitos contain a fuckton of sugar…is ‘natural’ sugar any better? Surely you have to process the coconut a little bit to get the sugar (and the oil for that matter). Stuffing yourself full of sugar can’t be good whether it is from a coconut or classic tate and lyle processed. Anyway, I understand that we all need treats (my fridge currently contains the very definitely not paleo kitkat), but to claim your paleo treats are better than my kit kats seems disingenuous at best.

Problem 2: The science. Apart from the fact paleo diet clearly doesn’t reflect what cavemen were eating- bacon? Clearly a product from farming times. Wine? Vinoculture is by definition farming. I understand some of these things fall under the 85:15 principle- 85% caveman, 15% not caveman, but also not whatever you like. Wine is fine, kidney beans will probably kill you and must under no account be eaten ever. Why? I read some articles, published under the auspices of science. But the scientific arguments for not eating kidney beans on the first page made me want to scream.

  • If rats eat kidney beans in great enough quantities they will die. OK. But if I drink water in great enough quantities I will die. Arguing that we should not consume something because in large quantities it is poisonous is blatantly ridiculous. Especially when it is poisonous to another species (extrapolating from animal studies to humans will require another blog). Foods that are recommended on the paleo diet become poisonous in great enough quantities. Poor science!
  • Kidney beans can be poisonous if not cooked properly. Oh No! So can chicken! This is not a reason not to eat kidney beans.
  • The nutrients in kidney beans are not as good as those in meat. Ok, this may be true, but by this point I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust anything else, when the previous two arguments (outlined in great detail in the article, not by me) are clearly facetious at best, and utter bullshit at worst. However, even if our bodies don’t process kidney beans as efficiently, it doesn’t mean we can’t access those nutrients stored in the bean.

The reasoning on kidney beans also excludes peas, lentils and peanuts. Although I don’t think anybody has ever died from eating an undercooked pea, and they are tasty and green and they go really well with bacon, so it seems a real shame to exclude them. Scientific communication needs to be clear and accurate, there are enough people pedalling bullshit and w’woo’ regarding diets and healthy living, and some of it is downright dangerous. Anti-vaxxers I am looking at you. To see such poor arguments presented in what purports to be a scientific paper makes me want to cry. And also kill. Still, the cynical part of me says, it probably sells a lot of books, as people reading it suddenly realise all their health problems could be solved by not eating peas. But how do I not eat peas they cry? Don’t worry, there are 6 books advertised next to the article to help you rid your diet of evil.

There was only one bit, right at the end, I agreed with, and it wasn’t really sciency- if it makes you feel bad then don’t eat it. Simples!

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