Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A tale of three talks

This is Joseph

Apologies for the simplifications of the descriptions of the talk, but I am going for the main themes and not necessarily all of the nuances of the authors.  All three talks are worth watching.

Here is a TED talk on reversing diabetes by restricting carbohydrates and adding fat

Here is a TED talk about reversing diabetes by becoming a vegetarian

And here is a third TED talk, not on diabetes but improving hunger issues by eating unprocessed foods (third strategy)

Are you confused yet?

I think that there are two major points here that form an underlying theme that links all of these approaches together.

One, humans are remarkably plastic in our ability to adapt to different diets.  The low carbohydrate crowd have long brought up the Inuit, who eat an inherently low carbohydrate diet due to food source availability.  But there are cultures (in which many people live to very old ages) that eat relatively high carbohydrate (Japanese culture comes to mind).  So it would be very surprising if there were not a multiplicity of effective diets, and it is possible, if not likely, that there is more than one way to improve diets to stop diabetes and manage weight.  The best diet is one that the patient can actually follow and succeed with.

Two, and the reason for the third video, is that both of the strategies that appear in the first one naturally shift people towards more complex foods, the point of the strategy in the third one.  Generally speaking, that seems to be a common theme in the actual recipes given.  For example, the Zone Diet could use a chocolate bar to make up the carbohydrate portion of the diet.  But they then immediately bring up glycemic index, which pushes you towards fruits and vegetables.  The second video uses examples of carrots and vegetarian chili as food, not a 2 liter bottle of coke (which is a vegan according to the company).  The first speaker uses the example of sauteing mushrooms, again the use of a vegetable product.

So I suspect (I don;t know for sure) that these three approaches are a lot more compatible than it first appears.  It is hard to overdose on sugar as a vegetarian if I am getting my carbohydrates from apples and broccoli.

Now, I do want to point out that this is a very complicated topic and the research into it is ongoing and challenging.  Food is the classic example of something hard to remember: how many bananas did you eat last year?  But the search for common themes may yet be very useful in puzzling out what might actually be effective.  

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