The singular macro evil does not exist – it is all about nutritional balance

When I intend to learn more about a particular subject, I do not often take the intermediary route and read newspaper or web newspaper articles, but do instead go directly to and read the research material in question (which can be books and/or digital articles). This is related to the body and brains concept, since it helps a person to develop intectually and knowledge-wise if one learns to cope with studies by oneself, rather than to use the help from other people in order to understand research.

However, sometimes a specific newspaper or web newspaper is the right choice if some scholars do share their knowledge to other people through these kinds of media channels. One example is an actual article from New York Times, written by Aaron E. Carroll, who is a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. In this text he says something substantial and important about nutrition, and refute contentions regarding both high-fat and high-protein intake. It is most wisely to read it in its entirety, but the quotes below highlight some of its main points. And one of these is that there is not really any singular ‘evil’ with regard to nutrition, at least not one of the usual macro suspects (fat, protein and carbohydrates). Instead it is about degree in relation to individual needs.

The scary findings from two paragraphs up are from a subanalysis that looked at people only 50 to 65. But if you look at people over 65, the opposite was true. High protein was associated with lower levels of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality. If you truly believe that this study proves what people say, then we should advise people over the age of 65 to eat more meat. No one advises that.

Further, this study defined people in the “high protein” group as those eating 20 percent or more of their calories from protein. When the Department of Agriculture recommends that Americans get 10 to 35 percent of their calories from protein, 20 percent should not be considered high.

This nuanced and problematized depiction of what research ‘really shows’ is then summarized in the following passage:

All the warnings appear to have made a difference in our eating habits. Americans are eating less red meat today than any time since the 1970s. Doctors’ recommendations haven’t been ignored. We’re also doing a bit better in our consumption of vegetables. Our consumption of carbohydrates, like grains and sugar, however, has been on the rise. This is, in part, a result of our obsession with avoiding fats and red meat.

As I have said before, it is – and once again in the Aristotelian sense – much about to find a proper nutritional balance. Avoid the extremes, at least as long as they really are bad for you, and eat at most moderately of carbohydrates (especially sugar) if you do not have a certain reason to modify the intake in these respects. And do not be afraid of a relatively high intake of protein, and eat fats every day, but do not over-consume them.

Jag brukar ofta undvika att ta mellanvägen och ta del av forskning, till exempel om näringslära, indirekt genom nyhetsartiklar, utan gå direkt till ett litet urval av studierna i fråga och läsa dem. Det är kopplat till mitt koncept, body and brains, och leder i alla fall på sikt till mer intellektuell och kunskapsmässig utveckling.

Ibland händer det dock att experter inom ett visst område bidrar med material i tidningsartiklar, och då är det givetvis helt i sin ordning att fokusera på dem. Ett sådant, färskt exempel återfinns i New York Times. 

Denna text, som skrivits av Aaron E. Caroll, professor i pediatrik vid Indiana University School of Medicine, tar upp den vanligt förekommande föreställningen om att vissa särskilda näringsämnen är skadliga, i stället för att fokusera på att det handlar om balans mellan olika makronutrienter och andra näringsämnen, och detta i förhållande både till individuella skillnader mellan människor och givetvis mängden av det ena eller andra som äts.

Återigen handlar det alltså om att tänka nyanserat och kritiskt och att finna en rimlig balans. Aristoteles i ett nötskal. Dessutom finns det inget näringsämne, åtminstone bland makronutrienterna (fett, kolhydrater och protein) som är skadligt i sig självt.