Sunday, August 16, 2009

Good and bad nutrition research:
My purpose here is to definitively (wherever possible) or tentatively (where the data are incomplete or nonexistent) answer a series of key questions about adult human nutrition using relevant rigorous scientific principles and methods. The data clearly show that much current advice about dietary pyramids, food supplements, megavitamins, and weight loss regimens is frequently unproven, erroneous, or even harmful and is often based on pseudoscience or derivative incorrect professorial opinion.
Bottom line:
First, a healthy person (given RDA intake of the substances in Table 1) can proceed with a normal (see below), stable weight by eating predominantly fat or carbohydrates or protein or various combinations of these because of the body’s ability to interconvert and utilize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins (amino acids) as needed. In other words, fat, carbohydrate, or protein can serve as the principal source of calories.

Second, the body has a remarkable ability to maintain relatively constant blood levels (homeostasis) of many nutrients. Even more remarkable is the ability of the central nervous system, testicles, and ovaries to maintain nutrient homeostasis. For example, in two carefully studied cases, even huge fluctuations in (orally) ingested potassium or vitamin C barely changed the concentrations of these substances in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or the brain. We now understand the biochemical, molecular, and genetic bases for such remarkable homeostasis in the CSF and brain. This has profound implications for attempting to prevent cognitive decline with certain nutrients as discussed below.

In defense of industrial farming:
Lynn Niemann was a neighbor of my family’s, a farmer with a vision. He began raising turkeys on a field near his house around 1956. They were, I suppose, what we would now call “free range” turkeys. Turkeys raised in a natural manner, with no roof over their heads, just gamboling around in the pasture, as God surely intended. Free to eat grasshoppers, and grass, and scratch for grubs and worms. And also free to serve as prey for weasels, who kill turkeys by slitting their necks and practicing exsanguination. Weasels were a problem, but not as much a threat as one of our typically violent early summer thunderstorms. It seems that turkeys, at least young ones, are not smart enough to come in out of the rain, and will stand outside in a downpour, with beaks open and eyes skyward, until they drown. One night Niemann lost 4,000 turkeys to drowning, along with his dream, and his farm.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The veterinary evidence strongly suggests that the rate of growth of health care costs in the U.S. is not explained by our health insurance system. We generally for pet's health care completely out of pocket, yet from 1984 to 2006,
health care spending per person rises by 350 percent, vet spending per dog rises by 335 percent, and vet spending per cat rises by 340 percent.
So, if you want to cut costs, go after the absolute level of spending, not the rate of growth. (Unsurprisingly, Robin Hanson has radical proposals for how to achieve this.)
This reminds me of 1984 and of The Prisoner. How fitting that it's in Britain. While I'm on the topic of strange things from across the pond, I'll note that Germans are hoarding lightbulbs.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Advances in development (Human Development Index) apparently mildly reverse fertility declines. See the graph.

Saturday, August 01, 2009