> at this point the food industry is almost guilty of mass murder for profit
Agreed. Now how to fix it?
I like Dr Greger's "How not to Die" book, as it brings a lot of scientific evidence to the table. He also has an app "the daily dozen" that helps people improve their diets.
Given the power of lobby groups I do not expect that we can effectively use gov't to change the status quo.
I agree there's been far too much effective lobbying (and spending on junk research) in and outside the government that separating agenda and getting any change to the status quo will be hard.
In the last few months I have been changing my diet because of cholesterol readings. It's annoying, because I like steak, and I like coconut, and bacon, and ghee, and prawns and, and, and...
Desire for such a diet has always been with us. The food industry has, for the first time, made it affordable for hundreds of millions of us. They are guilty only of mass feeding for profit.
How is that annoying? All of these things can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Why cut them out completely?
On the other hand, how the heck is the food industry supposed to moderate me, why also supplying these things that you point out are part of a perfectly sensible diet.
I don't understand your point. Of course we are addictive beings, that's why we invented laws and rules in the first place : so that we can live in order and not chaos. If we let people have access to everything they want (including killing half the planet, eating your children, murdering your parents), do you realise how chaotic the world would be ?
Murder takes away someone else's right.
But on the other hand, the government shouldn't be subsidizing heroin or food.
Liberty is extremely important, but we should always remember we're not alone.
This belief that everyone should be 100% free and have the right to be whatever he wants with his life is, if not the only reason, part of the reasons why we're in this mess today.
How has that worked out? The War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure, as was Prohibition, making gambling illegal, etc. Can you name one time that the government has ever successfully "shielded" anyone from something negative?
Why would traffic laws deter someone from not wearing their seatbelt but not deter someone from speeding?
If you look at the traffic laws that work well - stopping at a traffic light, not driving on the wrong side of the road, etc. compared to ones that don't like speeding, using your traffic signal, crossing the gourd, you'll notice that most people decide on what laws to obey based on the risk of injury to themselves or someone else.
Let's not forget the victims of the war on drugs. In Mexico alone that war has claimed hundereds of thousands of lives in the past 10 years while at the same time deaths from drug overdose have gone up dramatically in the US.
Something is very wrong with the response to this problem.
*Edited to include (or drugs)
This is a result of the vast improvements in healthcare and medicine in the past 50-100 years. It's not rocket science.
There are a number health effects no amount of pills or surgery can reverse because entropy, despite marketing. Eat enough peanut-butter bacon sandwiches and cause enough chronic inflammation damage from smoking, then become obese, get diabetes and cancer.
Take a look at this graph :
The industrial era. What happened in the last 50 years is that the quality/quantity ratio went to almost zero. Industries now produce a LOT of stuff for a LOT of people, but the quality of this stuff is insanely low, food included. Industrial food is sometimes void of anything good for your health.
In my view we have two options : rebalance the quality/quantity ratio, ie make a LOT of stuff of quality, or if we can't, drastically reduce the quantity of stuff needed. I let you imagine the consequences of the second option.
I'm optimistic, but scared.
If scale/cost was the only issue, we would not have a problem. You could replace most processed food in a typical naive modern diet with potatoes, beans, and/or eggs (which are extremely cheap) and increase the healthiness of the diet tremendously.
It is very cheap to eat healthy.
The problem is knowledge. The modern processed food/ad industry in the 20th century somehow managed to a lot of destroy traditional cultural knowledge in the west about cooking and eating, and replace it with its own brand new, untested ideas.
It's getting better, but very slowly. Too many people have been tricked by the newest big food lie: that choosing which foods to eat (eg, beef vs avocado) is not the most important thing, but rather what's important is the label -- it should be organic, local beef, not conventional, it must be an organic avocado, not just any old avocado. In this world view, eating healthy is reserved for those who can afford it and unhealthy industrial food is indeed unfortunate but a necessity. This world view is very convenient for food businesses, but is also wrong. In real life, the conventional potato eater is healthier than the organic white bread eater, despite spending much less money.
Adjusting for special dietary needs (diabetes, allergies, pku etc).
I ate a lot of food that came from cans, boxes and packages growing up.. and today its' far worse... I know a lot of people around my age (early 40's) who never eat any vegetables at all. none... Unless it's filler in something else they're eating. Lots of refined starches, more than enough meat... but very few actual veggies.
I mean, I'm not all about the veggies, I'm far from getting enough every day (per whatever standards), but I at least get 4-5 salads a week, and have at least 3-4 other times with at least a vegetable side that aren't starches (root-veg) a week. But man, there's something to be said for going from at least some, to almost none.
I'll admit, I do tend to favor lower-carb (I'm diabetic, I really have to), but the anti-fat fads of the late 70's through the 90's did more harm than good. Compounded by the proliferation of snack items and refined fats (mostly vegetable source), starches, preservatives, fillers and stabilizers is astounding.
I no longer have any children living with me, but I can't believe the number of ads for foods that aren't whole or at least minimally processed on TV, targeting kids... "fruit rollups", gellies, gogurt, soda, pops, drinks, fast-food and the rest... It's time to start saying no to kids, no to ourselves and trying to lead by better examples.
Another issue is thinness !== healthy. Metabolic syndrome is really dangerous when you don't show the typical outward symptoms right away. Body shaming doesn't work... We, as a larger society need to start making better choices for ourselves. And I say this as someone who has McD's for breakfast pretty much every day (breakfast sandwich, sometimes just an egg and sausage, no bun with a water to drink). If you eat fast-food, skip the side of fries and the sugar-water. Hell, use a calorie tracker for a week, and be surprised how much you really take in (including snacks, drinks, etc)... it can actually be hard to take in under 2500 kcal a day.
If you believe their research that is.
Citation needed. It's not like we'd have some food crisis if we didn't have a "food industry", by which people usually mean the actively harmful and inducing food staff that's mass manufactured, you know the 20,000 mass market varieties of sodas, chips, snacks, burgers and such.
If you just mean "agriculture at scale", we had that since ancient Babylon.
In fact, outside of floods and famines that are orthogonal to what we're talking about, many countries do just fine feeding their populations with 1/10 or 1/20 of such an industry as it exists in the US.
Edit: I also know a world-class chef who agrees that the McRib is one of the most tasty things ever developed. But you don't eat that every day...
We would have plenty only so many want to eat meat with every meal.
Growing up, our parents never added salt to our food, avoided as much as possible any processed foods and made everything from fresh ingredients.
After moving out and living with various people, shifting my diet multiple times, I generally feel worse now than I did before. When I fast and shift myself to healthier eating I feel better. What interests me is why most people don't feel "bad" when they're eating the food that I would feel sluggish from the next day. My pet theories are their body is accustomed to it/or they simply don't know what it feels like to not feel that way- if you know what I mean.
I thought it was self evident that anything that weakens you is likely to be bad for you.
Glad that these findings are going more mainstream.
Eating processed foods for years causes huge changes in the gut microbiome. Presence of different microorganisms means you'll process various foods differently from others.
You would be surprised. There's compelling evidence that small doses of things that normally weaken you (e.g radiation, alcohol, etc.) are actually beneficial to your health. 
Of course, I'd agree that eating less processed food is ideal, but don't let that get in the way of fasting or consuming alcohol.
There are also peculiar side issues such as declaring fish to be healthy not-meat means mercury intake would explode and the fisheries will be wiped out sooner than if we didn't. The net long term effect of wiping out the fisheries for all time might be worse than merely eating land based meat for that time interval.
Finally there are peculiar geographic problems where urban vegans absolutely refuse to admit there is some land suitable solely for beef production, or the hipster quinoa fad which for a grain isn't as bad as most but the fad primarily resulted in starvation in south america.
I think this guide will help you understand the bigger picture:
I'm not sure if I'm just now gaining the will power to stick to a diet or if I got to a weight I was truly uncomfortable with but I wish I could get my family on the same plan to avoid stuff like this.
Careful, you don't really know what, if anything, that's doing to your health without periodic blood testing. For example, my triglyceride levels shot off the scale and my doctor directed me to discontinue using Soylent immediately.
A breakfast is a meal. And the way you describe it, it can easily be upwards of 600 calories. Peanut butter is one of the most calorie dense foods on the planet and bananas add up very quickly in terms of calories.
Also iirc, a bottle of soylent is 400 calories, which is not insignificant.
So all in all, you still probably consume ~2000 calories, which is enough to lose weight, but also enough not to feel hungry by timing the consumption correctly. Small-framed women, for example would gain weight with the same diet.
> I'm not sure if I'm just now gaining the will power to stick to a diet
I wonder what is HN's obsession with sticking to specific diets? Generally speaking there is an infinite number of possible healthy diets that get you your macros at every calorie level.
It's easier to eat a healthy amount if your diet is pre-determined. No need to think of alternatives and mess up. The counterpoint would be that the monotony of the same foods also make it easier to "cheat" and revert your progress.
Correct. I ate very little in high school and college because I was wrestling however this is the least I've eaten on a regular basis since leaving college. I would rather my family eat like this then two - three large meals every day with snacks in between.
I could imagine with kids this would be difficult.
It's a bit like sodas, here. It's easy to get many or most of the calories you need from alcohol (especially beers) and sugary sodas. You don't feel sated so you still eat, now you've exceeded your calorie goals and you end up gaining weight (or maintaining a higher than desired weight). Eliminating sodas and alcohol moves your caloric intake to be, predominantly, food stuffs. Now you'll feel sated when you're full from your meal, and, with a bit of planning and practice, before consuming too many calories.
A lot can change for the individual organism and the whole biosphere with a simple diet change. I think a plant-based society is the only kind that could live harmoniously with our home planet and expand successfully onto other planets.
The major threat to future survival and to US natural resources is rapid population growth. The US population of 285 million is projected to double to 570 million in the next 70 y, which will place greater stress on the already-limited supply of energy, land, and water resources. These vital resources will have to be divided among ever greater numbers of people."
For instance, New Zealand lamb flocks are grown high up in the mountains, eating and drinking from local sources unsuitable for plant farming. It would literally take more arable land for the equivalent plant based diet.
When you're talking about scale, feeding 10's of thousands of people, plant based food sources win out.
Without those animals, that land would have been literally useless for humans to produce food.
That's such an edge case though.. Burger King and Mcdonalds aren't selling lamb burgers in large quantities.
What about all the cattle farmed all over the world? They're not all on a steep mountainside. Most will be on plains or more factory like conditions.
Lambs are usually slaughtered after 6 months. In Sweden, to use an example close to me, lambs have the right to live outdoor for two to four months during the summer depending on where in the country they live, which means that they spend at least 2-4 months indoors not grazing this non-arable land. They must be watered and fed, which increases energy consumption, and usually fed from land that could have grown crops for humans directly. Only a fraction of the energy we put into animals gets returned when we eat them, which means it's far more energy-efficient to eat the plants directly.
That's not necessarily true. I think you are underestimating the amount of land that's suitable for animal farming but not crops. It's a lot.
> Only a fraction of the energy we put into animals gets returned when we eat them, which means it's far more energy-efficient to eat the plants directly.
That's technically correct but still wrong. We can't eat grass and lichens, no matter how many calories they have. Animals can.
Other resources, such as fossil fuels and water, are used at a much higher rate when raising animals than when producing crops. Grain-fed beef production uses 100 000 liters of water per kilogram of food produced, broiler chicken 3500 liters per kilogram, and soybeans 2000 liters per kilogram. Water is a precious resource in many places of the world.
This is the way the world works today, but you don't argue for animal products over vegetables, you argue for grass-feed animals instead of crop-fed. You should vote with your wallet and only buy grass-fed meat, both when you cook at home, when you buy an animal-based snack, or when you go to a restaurant. I think that many meals would have to be vegetarian, because a purely grass-fed meat, dairy, and egg diet would be hard to uphold.
What is a generalization and is not true in many cases is that the meat we eat is produced in environments unsuitable for plant farming.
Maybe not oversimplification but deceiving. It makes it sound like we can eat grass.
That space for grass feeding could be used to grow much more food to feed humans directly.
Weather those calories were going to be used by humans or not that land is now used to feed some cows that will feed a few people. Instead we could use that land to grow plants and feed more people then with cows.
Also, AFAIK, that natural environment where cows are fed is mostly created by destroying forests.
At least in the United States, there is a fair bit of land that is both non-arable and yet perfectly sustainable for cattle (much of this land was historically home of a bovine species, the plains bison, in the first place). I'm thinking areas like certain areas of Texas, Wyoming, Montana, etc.
There are probably other areas in this regard, so I think it's possible to keep some meat and actually have it be relatively sustainable.
Everyone's overall point is correct, however, in that this does not apply to a lot of meat production today; keeping only the more sustainable practices would end up making meat a luxury product (as it was in earlier times).
Sometimes we can't grow crops on that land. And it's a lot of non-arable land.
However, beef can also be produced on marginal lands (grazing) that aren't suited to crop production. In this way, livestock can be seen as an efficient land use (caveat environmental damage from grazing, etc.). However, this does not represent much of current livestock production.
In seafood you also find a lot of toxins, especially mercury. So trying to get your omega3s from there comes with it's own problems.
Thank God for flax seeds! A cheap and pure source of omega3s. Freshly grind 2 tsps and mix in your food every day: you will have covered your omega3s, amongst other micro-nutrients.
Thankfully, fish is high in selenium (almost 1:1 to with mercury, thus canceling both out, in swordfish. Most others have ratios < 10:1).
But, yes. You can also supplement fish with higher sel:merc ratios to balance it out.
It seems like there's a bi-modal distribution where either you don't care about diet, or you ascribe metaphysical properties to food and how it was obtained and prepared. The later seems like ho-hum, nutrition is much more complicated than the FDA labels, but I have to believe it's possible to synthesize boring goop that gives you everything you need. I really don't care that much about eating.. as in, if I could flip a switch and never eat again, I would unhesitatingly do so.
I tried Soylent for a while, which I liked well enough, but they are optimizing for things I don't particularly care about like vegan ingredients and sedentary nutrition profile. Lately I've been using 100%FOOD which I like quite a bit in the triple protein profile, and is helpful for my activity level.
It is, but to make it as bioavailable and "healthy" as regular food is a challenge (and extremely expensive).
Contemporary goop uses synthetic micronutrients (as opposed to more bioavailable organic) and extracts (as opposed to full-profile concentrates).
This is also ignoring that Soylent's ingredient profile is likely incompatible with a large part of the public.
What gets me more is the amount of "natural" flavors added to food... when you have a hypersensitive sense of smell and taste man some of that stuff is nasty, and 19 of 20 can't even smell/taste it. It may be natural and some people will respond positively to additives, but it's really harsh to some of us.
Even if it's not clear that salt intake and saturated fat is bad for you, why take the chance? Three choices:
1. Salt/saturated fat are bad for you and you eat too much of both -- bad outcome.
2. Salt/saturated fat are not bad for you and you eat too much of both - neutral outcome
3. Salt/saturated fat are bad for you and you limit your intake - good outcome.
I don't think anyone is arguing that too much salt and saturated fat are good for you, so the three scenarios above are the logical choices.
If the scientific studies are wrong and you cut back anyway, you have "lost nothing".
If they are right and you cut back, you have gained. There is no benefit by taking a chance that the accepted wisdom is wrong.
Pascal's Wager makes sense in that you have mutually exclusive options. Dietary choices don't work like that.
Practically speaking, if you avoid certain ingredients, you expose yourself to more of others.
Psychologically speaking, the average person only has so much willpower. It's best spend avoiding the worst foods and pursuing the best ones. Spending energy on pointless diets affects one's ability to pursue good ones.
During the weekend, I don't go crazy but I don't go out of my way to eat healthy.
If I do want something to sweet, I buy the smallest portion.
I am in the middle of drastically restricting my salt and fat intake under a directive from my physician and I assure you I am quite thoroughly miserable and do not expect that to change in the foreseeable future.
I would not be at all surprised if home-cooked low-salt diets have lower adherence to the point where the average benefit is much higher for a moderate-salt diet.
> Cardiovascular disease claims 610,000 lives in the United States each year. It is the leading cause of mortality nationwide, accounting for one in every four deaths.
> A new analysis, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shows that a substantial portion of these deaths could be prevented by healthier eating.
Nothing new; has been shown numerous times. Article does not state how this analysis is different.
> In 2015, more than 400,000 [2/3rds] deaths from cardiovascular causes were linked to unhealthy diets, according to the research
According to the article, for a healthy diet we need to eat more:
* whole plant-based foods (nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains and fruits), and omega-3 fatty acids
...and we need to eat less:
* salt (sodium), trans-fat, saturated fat, processed meat, sugar
> Ashkan Afshin, co-author of the study, said: “some of the leading risk factors are not high intake of unhealthy foods, but low intake of healthy foods.”
> Over all, the results of the study were consistent with global patterns.
Now my observation. When they talk about what we should eat more of, the instruction is clear (only omega3s are cryptic). But when stating what we should eat less of most of it is cryptic.
Well let me decrypt it for you... reduce or stop eating:
* meat/dairy/eggs (bad fats, bad protein, toxin build-up)
* processed foods, like oils & sugar (they have been separated from their original form thus lacking fibers and nutrients)
* non foods, like chemicals (sugar replacements, preservatives, colorants, etc.)
If you want you can have a ton of nutrients for the same cholesterol/calories by choosing whole plant-based foods.
So in the absence of choice, eggs are great. But most of us have so much choice nowadays, that eggs are clearly an inferior option.
Where was I advocating "low fat" foods?
> You are just spouting bullshit nutritional advice that has contributed to the obesity epidemic since the 1950s.
Yes I advocate for "whole food plant based" diet. After doing my research. But please tell me how WFPB has "has contributed to the obesity epidemic since the 1950s", because I do not get it.
> Dietary cholesterol does not directly affect blood serum cholesterol.
You say so. But do you think that replacing 5 eggs per week with whole plant foods is not going to lower someones blood serum cholesterol? Because I think it does.
You make it sound obvious but it's does not sound like that to everyone. How is one nutritional healthy food better or worse than another nutritional healthy food?
And the "eating cholesterol gives you high cholesterol" statement is in the same league as "eating fat makes you fat". It's not necessarily true and an oversimplification.