There is truth in numbers.
I come back to this scientific fundamental frequently. Anytime I’m faced with a health report in the news, claim on the Internet, or post on social media, this truth reaffirms what I’ve learned.
“I know a guy”…”My friend says”…”I read somewhere”...These words are often followed by a claim about how one simple change can cause drastic effects. I don’t doubt that your friend lost 50 pounds cutting carbohydrates completely out of his diet. I’m sure that “some guy” “feels great!!!” on his all-grass-fed diet. And I believe there must be someone in the world swears that Greek yogurt is the miracle for their stomach issues.
But these stories are anecdotal evidence. This is not science.
This truth became explicitly clear recently, reading an article by Dr. Neil Barnard, where he questioned the scientific evidence reported by a woman who advocates for more butter, fat, and cheese. She actually wrote a book about it and is proposing that the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines also advocate for more butter, fat, and cheese as means to protect against heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. I wonder who funds her.
What fascinated me the most about Dr. Barnard’s rebuttal was his use of data. Simple numbers have so much weight against hypotheses and anecdotal stories. For instance, nine studies, involving over 1.3 million participants linked red meat and processed meat consumption with increased risk of early death from all causes (cancer to heart disease to diabetes to stroke). 48,000 participants were involved in two studies that showed a low-carb, high animal-protein diet (like the Paleo diet) is linked to increased risk of heart disease. A Harvard study of over 117,000 people concluded that whole grain consumption is linked to reduced risk of heart disease. This is over 1.45 million people’s worth of information.
Many of these studies were conducted over decades of research. The Harvard Nurse’s Study, one of the most cited studies in nutrition data for its depth and range of information, took place from 1986 – 2010. That’s 24 years of research.
To give you practical understanding of these studies, this means that any amount of red meat or processed meat (beef, lamb, bison, hot dogs, bologna, etc.) will increase your risk of early death. This is regardless of genetics, exercise levels, whether that meat is organic, and how much you can bench-press.
Eating a “noodle-free” stir-fry with only vegetables and chicken breast? This is linked to increased risk of heart disease.
And shunning all whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and even oatmeal) means you’re also shunning an easy way to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Yes, there is truth in numbers. 1.45 million people is science. “I know a guy” is just a story.
To read Dr. Barnard’s full article at the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine: CLICK HER
For Whole-Grain Baked Goodness, check out all the recipes under Baked Goods and Snacks