Monday, February 20, 2012

Eating butter didn't give Paula Deen diabetes

There's been a lot in the news a few months ago about Paula Deen going public as having Type II diabetes. I have to say, in spite of often agreeing with the substance of these articles (I think the way she chose to handle things is indicative of much that is wrong with our culture and with maintream medicine), I find myself being exasperated by a lot of these articles. That's because they almost always end with something along the lines of:
Butter is bad for you? Who knew?!
Because everyone knows that butter is bad for you. I mean eating too much saturated fat gives you Type II Diabetes, right?

Um, no.

Type II diabetes is a disease where the body has an inappropriate insulin response to sugar. Not fat. Sugar.

Not only that, but this idea that the mainstream health profession has been pushing since the 50s, that fat, especially saturated fat, causes heart disease, isn't supported by the weight of scientific evidence at all. In fact, a certain amount of saturated fat is necessary in the diet and has a protective effect on the heart!

There have been numerous articles about how we've been mislead about the dangers of fat. Most of these came out in response to a massive meta-analysis of other studies that was published in 2010, which shows that the research done since Dr. Ancel Keys first postulated that a diet high in saturated fat is what caused heart disease, actually shows no correlation.

It turns out even Dr. Keys' data doesn't show this correlation. He committed the cardinal sin of scientific research. He cherry-picked the data to show what he wanted to by limiting his original paper to six of the 22 countries that had data available. If he'd included all 22 countries, no correlation would have been found. And, in his 1970 study, he reported on only seven countries of which three didn't even show the correlation. Yep, that's almost half of them!

But the American Heart Association has pick up on Keys original hypothesis with a vengeance and they aren't about to reverse themselves now. It would make them look stupid. At least that's what I figure is their reasoning, because I think they already look stupid for pushing something that has no scientific basis.

It does show how of much of our food advice is steeped in politics and not in science though.

So, as much I lost respect for Paula Deen with the way she chose to handle her diabetes diagnosis and subsequent public announcement, I just can't get behind this demonization of butter. If you are going to demonize whole food groups (not that I recommend demonizing whole food groups, but it seems to be the American way), why not demonize carbs? At least there's some scientific oomph behind that one.

In the end, as much as we're conditioned to blame butter for everything, using butter in her recipes is not what gave Paula Deen diabetes. It was a combination of genetics, being overweight, and eating too many simple sugars.

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