The Better Side of Conventional Wisdom about Diet and Health

My interest in diet and health makes me curious enough to perservere through overly lengthy informercials giving various diet and health claims. A few days ago, I watched this infomercial for the Trim Down Club. Let me give you a report of what I heard, to save you the time. Although there are a lot of important things about diet and health that the informercial didn’t say, I agreed with everything it did say, with one exception. The exception is that the infomercial gave the usual flawed advice to spread one’s eating out over time. It is possible this is good advice when someone is eating foods that have a big insulin kick (see “Forget Calorie Counting; It's the Insulin Index, Stupid”) so that an especially big meal of those kinds of foods would have a very large insulin kick, but even then the accumulating evidence on the virtues of periodic fasting (often called “intermittent fasting” or IF) calls that advice into question. (A Plea: I would love to know what research article or articles people cite to claim that eating lots of small meals throughout the day is better than a few big meals. I would be eager to write a post on such an article.)

Here are the areas of agreement:

  • Sugar is bad. Orange juice is a good example of a high-sugar food people falsely think is innocent

  • Transfats are bad. Old-style margarine is a good example of a food high in transfats. However, they neglected to mention that there is a partial ban on transfats in many countries. (See the Wikipedia article “Trans Fat.”)

  • Many highly processed foods that pretend to be good are actually bad. Typical types of “whole-wheat bread” are a good example. (See “The Problem with Processed Food.”)

  • Nonsugar sweeteners are problematic. (See “Which Nonsugar Sweeteners are OK? An Insulin-Index Perspective.”)

  • Processed soy products are bad.

  • Processed meat is suspect.

  • Stress can make one feel hungrier.

  • Drinking green tea can make you feel less hungry and may have other benefits.

  • Combining high-insulin-index foods with high-insulin-index foods can reduce the size of the insulin kick and therefore the hunger rebound effect you are likely to face. (In here is an assumption that the total quantity of the high-insulin-index food you eat is likely to go down somewhat when you are also eating a low-insulin-index food. But that may be true for extremely high-insulin-index foods: see “Does Sugar Make Dietary Fat Less OK?”)

Surprisingly, despite the discussion of a lectin-free diet further down on the Trim Down Club webpage flagged above in its current incarnation, the informercial made no direct mentions of lectins (unless I missed it as the infomercial droned on and on). If you are interested in lectin-free diets, see my post “What Steven Gundry's Book 'The Plant Paradox' Adds to the Principles of a Low-Insulin-Index Diet.”

The reason I titled this post “The Better Side of Conventional Wisdom on Diet and Health” is that the infomercial emphasized that the Trim Down Club employed many licensed or certified dietitians. The advice given seems close enough to conventional wisdom, that I can easily believe that a substantial fraction of licensed and certified dietitians would be willing to sign on to this advice. The advice I give in my diet and health posts goes further beyond conventional wisdom. I strive to give reasons for the advice I give that I hope at least give you a way to evaluate my advice.

For annotated links to other posts on diet and health, see “Miles Kimball on Diet and Health: A Reader's Guide.”