Garage Strength: An Interview with Gary Taubes
Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, speaks informally in this video interview about a range of nutrition and diet issues. Much of the discussion focuses on what really causes excess weight gain, including the role of carbohydrates and fats.
The points I consider most interesting are those highlighting the pervasive bias found in science and research. Here Taubes focuses mostly on the bias and pat agendas that hobble nutritional science, but he has studied a broad range of scientific disciplines and found the same phenomenon across the board. Unless you’re talking about trans fat, for example, there are no conclusive studies showing that dietary fat is the culprit in cancer, heart disease, obesity, etc. Big studies like MRFIT and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) show no effect. I remember reading quotes from a director of WHI that included terms like “surprised,” “disappointed,” and “unexpected.” These are not terms an unbiased, objective researcher would use. The WHI director even insisted on referring to a lowfat diet as a healthy diet despite the evidence of her own study showing there was nothing particularly healthy about it. Scientists can be so blinded by their biases or agendas that they view these contrary results with uncomprehending confusion. They seem to think such an event has never happened before. It has, in fact, many times.
There are good scientists. Then there are those of the scientific high priesthood who cling to their dogma and can’t comprehend that they might possibly be fundamentally wrong about something like fat. I would say that is, in fact, the most compelling impact of the interview. Based on my personal observations, however, even many well-educated Americans are innocent of the lack of objectivity among the scientific community. Until they wise up, there is little hope of sorting through all the confusion out there.
Taubes provides other examples of scientific delusion, mentioning Ancel Keys and his data cherry-picking ways. He also points out the lack of evidence that a high fiber diet is essential. The traditional Masai tribes of Kenya ate practically no fiber and yet suffered no constipation.
One more interesting point that runs contrary to conventional wisdom involves vitamin C. Shipwreck survivors and old sailors did not always succumb to scurvy. The ones who ate a lot of crackers (that is, carbohydrates) got scurvy. There is evidence that carbohydrates significantly increase the need for vitamin C. I’m not qualified to evaluate all of the scientific details presented by Taubes, but apparently neither are many scientists. I do know that what he says is consistent with my personal experience and my low-carb thumb is UP for this one.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2010.🖨️ Print post
“Masai tribes of Kenya ate practically no fiber”
“they have depended very largely on milk, meat and blood, reinforced with vegetables and fruits”
George Henderson says
P.S. food on scurvy-ridden ships was not just high-carb but also maggot (meat) mite (cheese) and weevil (wheat) infested. Much of the available nutrients had already been extracted by these pests, leaving an unpalatable hard, caked mass in the case of flour, and cheese that could be used by the carpenter in place of wood.
Captain James Cook prevented scurvy by sourcing fresh fruit, or veges, or meat on his travels. He knew they were all good against it.
George Henderson says
One feature of traditional diets is preparation to remove, ferment or otherwise moderate fibre in vegetables. No-one collects bran and adds it to meals.
The meta-studies by Park et al. appear to show no benefit from higher fibre intakes. Even though fibre is a marker for other beneficial substances (potassium, antioxidants). And a marker for less white flour or sugar too, one presumes. Which suggests there might be something about fibre that actually lessens the benefit from these things.
Prebiotic fibre is just refined carbs for bacteria, which surely need a proper mixture of nutrients just as we do.
Taubes’ books, as I remember, recommend a diet in which animal fat and protein, the primary energy source, is supplemented with some whole fruit, greens and low-carb vege. Similar to Richard Mackarness in Eat Fat to Grow Slim, or Barry Groves, UK low-carb pioneers, as well as Donaldson and Pendleton and Atkins.