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No matter how many studies are conducted there will always be the odd few whose results are completely different. Rather than picking the ones whose results we like and ignoring the rest, scientists should look at ALL the evidence objectively and way up what the over all evidence is telling us. When Wallach and his companies actually bother referring to any scientific evidence as they often do on their websites , they use deliberate selective citation; only mentioning the studies which reported results that fit with their perspective, and often exaggerating the results of them anyway.
Wallach does this with virtually every topic, including those I have mentioned thus far, as well as many others. This has lead to people writing to me and asking me to explain how Wallach can be wrong when he occasionally refers to scientific studies to support his arguments. Wallachs company, like most other MLM companies that sell supplements, have a board of 'scientific' advisors; made up of various doctors and supposed experts. This is a ploy that MLM companies use to make themselves and their claims appear more reputable and belivable.
In reality, a company as wealthy as theirs would not have any difficulty in throwing together a bunch of people who will agree with anything if they are paid enough. This is no different to famous actors being paid to endorse a brand of cologne, or a famous athlete being paid to endorse food products. Not everything they say is wrong. On the odd occasion, Wallach and Co actually say something which is at least partially correct.
For example, they argue that Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are protective against heart disease, that folic acid protects against neural tube defects, and that calcium protects against osteoporosis though most other things he says about osteoporosis is completely wrong. Basically, they will support any stance that supports the use of any dietary supplements, because that is what they sell. For some reason, some people seem to focus entirely on these issues and forget to mention all the many lies Wallach also tells.
If someone tells 9 lies and 1 truth, they are still a liar, though true believer supporters are incapable of accepting the fact that their leader is capable of being dishonest some supporters even telling me that maybe he just made a few accidental mistakes. The mind boggles, though this is precisely what happens in a cult-like environment. The term I coined for this particular cult-like belief is called ' wallachism '. Wallachs company has attracted a lot of followers over the years, including people such as Gerhard Scharuazer selenium researcher as well as others including Paula Bickle, dental hygienist Edmond Devroey gynecologist and some retard called Bernie Owens who presents a radio show called 'the wellness hour' on KSCO AM which he uses to promote Wallachs propaganda and provide inaccurate heath information to listeners and callers.
You are welcome to write to me to give me your feedback, tell me what you think of this article and tell me of your experiences with Wallachs outfit. Email: stuart wallachism. But this living vetinarian does! The Power of Coincidence Vulnerability to Quacker y. News Copy From Emory University. In: Wallach, J. La Man. Rare Earths: Forbidden Cures. Double Happiness Publishing Co. Page Cystic Fibrosis; a parinatal manifestation of selenium deficiency.
In: Hemphil DD. Trace substances in environmental health. Columbia: Univerity of Missouri Press, Effect of double-blind cross-over selenium supplementation on lipid peroxidation markers in cystic fibrosis patients. Clin Chim Acta. Selenium and glutathione peroxidase levels in cystic fibrosis.
Common denominators in the etiology and pathology of visceral lesions of cystic fibrosis and Keshan disease. Biol Trace Elem Res. V, Kemeny, T. T, Pozsonyi, J, Sos, J. Toxic lesions of the pancreas. A J Dis Chil. Dedifferentiation of liver and pancreas induced by chemical carcinogens. Buchwald, M. Lets Play Doctor. Wellness Publications, CA.
The Research and the Goal:
CA Cancer J Clin. The Shady Activities of Kurt Donsbach. Quackwatch ; Feb 6 Quackwatch; Dec 11 Apparent Consumption of Nutrients Australia December Recommended Dietary Intakes for use in Australia; Canberra. Search for the Oldest People. National Geographic , January, Why we age: What science is discovering about the body's journey through life. Ney York.
Bone mineral in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Lack of unusual longevity in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Hum Biol. Gerentol, ,  Medvedev, Zh. Extraordinary longevity in the Soviet Union: fact or artifact, Gerentologist, Guiness World Records Guiness World Records Ltd. Handbook of Nutritionally essential Mineral elements. Health implications of iron overload: the role of diet and genotype.
Nutr Rev. Metabolism and Metabolic Effects of Trace Elements. In : Trace Elements in Nutrition of Children. By Chandra, R. Raven Press. Estimation of available iron. Am J Clin Nutr ; Effects of chromium supplementation on urinary Cr excretion of human subjects and correlation of Cr excretion with selected clinical parameters. J Nutr ; Absorption of calcium as the carbonate and citrate salts, with some observations on method. Osteoporosis Int. Medical Economics Company Inc. Boston: Riverside Publishing Company, Pediatr Dev Pathol.
Lancet I: ,. Role of chromium in human metabolism, with special reference to type 2 diabetes. J Assoc Physicians India. Comparisons of chromium status in diabetic and normal men. Glucose and insulin responses to dietary chromium supplements: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. Failure of trivalent chromium to improve hyperglycemia in diabetes mellitus.
Effects of chromium and yeast supplements on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic men. Diabetes Care. Effect of inorganic chromium supplementation on glucose tolerance, insulin response, and serum lipids in noninsulin-dependent diabetics. The effects of chromium supplementation on serum glucose and lipids in patients with and without non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Chem Res Toxicol. Chromium III picolinate produces chromosome damage in Chinese hamster ovary cells. A prediction of chromium III accumulation in humans from chromium dietary supplements. Chronic renal failure after ingestion of over-the-counter chromium picolinate [letter]. Ann Intern Med. Suspected chromium picolinate-induced rhabdomyolysis. Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis induced by chromium picolinate. J Am Acad Dermatol. Chromium picolinate toxicity.
Ann Pharmacother. Vanadium: a review of its potential role in the fight against diabetes. J Altern Complement Med. Metformin for type-2 diabetes mellitus. Systematic review and meta-analysis Aten Primaria. Weight loss in obese diabetic and non-diabetic individuals and long-term diabetes outcomes--a systematic review. Diabetes Obes Metab. Keshan disease: an endemic ardiomyopathy in China. Human Pathol ; Peripartum cardiomyopathy: a selenium disconnection and an autoimmune connection.
Int J Cardiol. Stefadouros, Dale A. Raines, Abdulhalim J. Kinsara, Vasudevan Sivanandam, Gamal H. Annals of Saudi Medicine, Vol 19, No 1, J Natl Cancer Inst. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of gastrointestinal cancers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. W hy and how to implement sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium changes in food items and diets? J Hum Hypertens. Effect of modest salt reduction on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized trials.
Implications for public health J Hum Hypertens. By how much does dietary salt reduction lower blood pressure? III--Analysis of data from trials of salt reduction. Therapy of obesity-associated hypertension Dtsch Med Wochenschr. Primary hypertension and nephropathy. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. R , Fregly, M. Bernard, R A. Biological Aspects of Salt Intake. Academic Press NY Salt: a sacred substance. Kidney Int Suppl. Inverse association of dietary fat with development of ischemic stroke in men. Diet, lipoproteins, and coronary heart disease.
Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. Treatment of cholesterol abnormalities. Am Fam Physician. Effects of statins on stroke prevention in patients with and without coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med. Geographical relation between Alzheimers disease and aluminum in drinking water. The Lancet, January 14, , pp. And investigation of the chemical composition of Norwegian drinking water and its possible relationships with the epidemiology of some diseases.
Thesis no. Water quality and health-a study of possible relationship between aluminum in drinking water and dementia. Sosiale og okonomiske studier Oslo:Central Bureau of Statistics of Norway. Differences in mortality from dementia in Australia: And analysis of death certificate data.. Acta Psychiatr Scand in press.
Concerning the role of Aluminum in causing dementia. Experimental Gerontology 1 Neurotoxicology , Brain ageing and Alzheimer's Disease. Canadian Psychiatric Association J. Brain aluminum distribution in Alzheimer's disease and experimental neurofibrillary degeneration. Science Washington , Geneva, World Health Organization. Dietary Intake of Aluminum. In : Gitelman, H. Marcel Dekker Inc. Freeman and Company. Antithyroid and goitrogenic effects of coal-water extracts from iodine-sufficient goiter areas. Thyroid 3 1 , Antithyroid effects of coal-derived pollutants.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health , Geotoxicology of multiple sclerosis: Correlation of groundwater chemistry with childhood homes and prevalence of MS patients, Saskatchewan, Canada. Applied Geochemistry Suppl. Issue , The etiology of balkan endemic nephropathy: Still more questions and answers. Environmental Health Perspectives , The geologic aspects of environmental health. Environmental Geology, 4th Edition. Columbus, OH: C. Merrill Publishing Company, , pp Effect of linoleic acid intake on growth of infants with cystic fibrosis. Cancer-associated malnutrition.
Eur J Oncol Nurs. Conditionally essential fatty acid deficiencies in end-stage liver disease. Food and Nutrition, 2nd Ed. Chapter 13 Fat. The effects of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids on in vitro prostate cancer growth. Anticancer Res. Dose, timing, and duration of flaxseed exposure affect reproductive indices and sex hormone levels in rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. Prospective study of plasma fatty acids and risk of prostate cancer. Biomarkers of essential fatty acid consumption and risk of prostatic carcinoma.
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The ingredients of longevity nutrition
Efficacy of a combination of FCHG49 glucosamine hydrochloride, TRH low molecular weight sodium chondroitin sulfate and manganese ascorbate in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. Structural and symptomatic efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in knee osteoarthritis: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. N Engl J Med. Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: part I, review of the clinical evidence.
Med Health R I. Effects of oral administration of type II collagen on rheumatoid arthritis. Control of rheumatoid arthritis by oral tolerance. Arthritis Rheum. Oral type II collagen treatment in early rheumatoid arthritis. John Adams began smoking a pipe at age 8, and lived to be James Madison smoked until his death at 85 [ link ]. I am not, of course, condoning smoking, snuff, or drinking, but making a point about the protective properties of basic nutrition. Was it better luck, stronger genes, smarter doctors, or safer drugs that enabled them to live that long.
No, no, no, and no — it was all related to their basic nutrition. It goes without saying that none of them took drugs or supplements — at that time they simply didn't have any. The former president Bill Clinton born barely survived a massive heart attack at 58, despite his fling with the South Beach Diet and extensive exercising with a private trainer. Despite his gilded lifestyle before, during, and after the vice-presidency, Al Gore born is affected by metabolic syndrome, which is apparent from his substantial truncal obesity.
Vice President Dick Cheney born experienced his first heart attack at age 37, and his heart has been propped up with an implanted cardiac defibrillator since His list of chronic conditions is so long, the ambulance and cardiac resuscitation team follows him wherever he goes. By the late s, or early s, the scientists knew more or less what was missing from the contemporary diet, and attempted to fix it. The first Recommended Dietary Allowances were released in Since then the RDAs have been hotly debated, and updated 11 times. But the basic tenets of DRI remained the same as RDA, and the debate over the best sources for these nutrients is still far from settled.
As you can imagine, I clearly represent the basic nutrition side. Once you recognize the difference, there are two ways to attain health and longevity. Which one would be more nutritious and healthier for you? Even a newborn is smart enough to answer these questions without giving it a second thought:.
Here are the core ingredients of basic nutrition. Extended and exclusive breastfeeding. Until the widespread availability of reliable formulas in 's, most children were breastfed exclusively until the development of deciduous milk teeth, and, depending on lactation strength, well past that point. Children were strong, sturdy, and disease-resistant. Unprocessed natural water with a high mineral salt conten t.
Until the widespread availability of tap water, which is heavily processed i. This kind of water provided all essential minerals and trace elements throughout life, particularly calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and iodine. These minerals are essential for normal heart function, bone strength, collagen production, and blood oxygenation iron and thyroid health iodine.
No overhydration. Because there was no refrigeration or proper storage, fresh water was consumed mainly at the source to prevent digestive infections. The rest of the water was obtained mainly from food, fermented dairy, and low-alcohol beverages. This prevented overhydration and loss of essential minerals with urine. Natural meat from small grazing animals. Fresh dairy, organ meats, and the minimally-processed meat of grazing animals provided many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and microelements.
Consumption of organ meats and fermented dairy from free-range, grazing animals. Organ meat, particularly liver, offers the highest concentration of minerals, trace elements, and vitamins particularly the B-group. Organ meats also provided plentiful vitamin B, which is essential for health, but not available from any plant sources. Today organ meat is rarely consumed. Naturally-fermented dairy provided abundant predigested proteins, high-quality fat, and easily-assimilated minerals. These kinds of products are no longer broadly consumed.
Year-round exposure to UV-rays. No exposure to antibiotics and antibacterial drugs. Intestinal flora is known to produce biotin essential B-vitamin and vitamin K. People in rural longevity zones had never used antibiotics and antibacterial drugs, such as mercury.
Most of the farm-raised fish, fillets, and warm-water fish lack similar quality fat and vitamins, even if regularly consumed. Cooking techniques. People in longevity zones consume most food as soon as they are harvested, raw, or use low-temperature cooking methods. These factors preserve most of the micronutrients in these foods.
Natural ratio of macronutrients. Wild-caught fish and seafood, particularly from warm waters, are also lean. Carbohydrate consumption was low and sporadic, particularly as one moved away from the tropics. Negligible dietary fiber. Fiber in food was always avoided, and still is outside of English-speaking countries.
Until recently there was no means of processing insoluble fiber into edible food. Liberal consumption of low- alcohol wines and ales. Wines and ales were a primary source of water and carbohydrates. The natural acidity, low sugar content, and presence of ethanol preserved wines and neutralized pathogens. Also, these beverages contain minerals, microelements, and phytochemicals — plant substances known for their anti-inflammatory effects. The original RDAs were formulated for people in prisons, orphanages, and on public assistance, hence the reliance on cheap food.
Breastfeeding is limited or absent. Few children receive exclusive breastfeeding past 6 months of age. Very few children receive extended breastfeeding. Asthma, anemia, bone disease, cavities, depression, diabetes, obesity, deformed jaws, chronic colds, and digestive disorders are widespread among children. For most, antibiotics replaced innate immunity. Devitalized tap water. Surface water i. Tap water is behind arthritis, osteoporosis, tooth loss, cardiovascular disorders calcium and magnesium deficiency , thyroid dysfunctions iodine , gray hair, wrinkles, and atherosclerosis copper , diabetes chromium , and many other conditions.
Excessive consumption of water causes rapid depletion of minerals stored in bones. The more demineralized water you drink, the more minerals are required to maintain blood homeostasis. Consequently, most Americans experience bone disease and tooth loss long before reaching the midlife point. The perils of overhydration extend well past bone disease, as described in detail in the second chapter of Fiber Menace — called Water Damage. Devitalized food.
Practically all plants are grown on overused soil, devoid of essential minerals and trace elements. Fruits and vegetables are collected before maturity to preserve appearance, and stored in conditions that cause oxidation and loss of vitamins. The quality of meat, fowl, and fish is low because of industrial growing techniques, while their contamination with antibiotics and growth hormones is high.
Practically all dairy, even some organic, is made from dry milk mixed with tap water. Fat is removed to be sold at a substantial premium as heavy cream, sour cream, and butter. No daylight exposure. Minimal daylight exposure and the widespread use of sunblocks causes profound vitamin D deficiency in most of the population. Rickets, scoliosis, and osteomalacia all bone-softening diseases has become equally widespread and common.
Compromised or absent intestinal flora. Endogenous in situ biosynthesis of biotin and vitamin K by bacteria has been compromised in the population from the widespread use of antibiotics and antibacterial drugs, as well as by common pollutants, heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides. This has lead to a broad number of neurological, skin, and mucosal disorders, hard-to-stop bleeding, and many other ailments. Chronic deficiency of essential fatty acids. Wild-caught raw fatty fish is an expensive rarity for most of the population.
High-temperature cooking destroys perishable essential fatty acids. On top of that, fat is scorned, and most fish is consumed as fillets stripped of fat. This leads to developmental problems, depression, bone disease, blood disorders, heart disease, and many other problems.
Intensive food processing. Gas and electric stoves, ovens, and microwaves allow for extended high-temperature cooking, substantial denaturation of proteins, rendering of fats, and destruction of delicate essential fatty acids. Even when foods are consumed that have seemingly adequate amounts of necessary nutrients, intensive cooking may cause malnutrition.
Overconsumption of certain nutrients. Vegetables fats and carbohydrates are routinely overconsumed in contemporary diets. This imbalance is behind the widespread occurrence of metabolic syndrome prediabetes , obesity, and degenerative diseases. Excessive consumption and dependence of dietary fiber. The consequences of fiber overconsumption are the focus of this site and Fiber Menace. Digestive disorders caused by fiber render an already meager diet even more deficient.
Overuse of distilled spirits. High-proof distilled drinks have zero nutritional value relative to young wines , cause rapid dehydration, loss of minerals with excessive urination, liver disease, and dependence. What sparked your interest into studying food? Mark Schatzker: I like eating food, and this all really started as I was like a travel food writer. It really started, right after I graduated from university, I went to Chile to visit my brother who was working there. We went out to the beach one weekend and we brought some steak, and it was mind-blowing steak.
It was steak from Argentina, and it was the kind of steak you put a morsel in your mouth and you're just like, "Oh my God, what just happened? That was the best steak I've ever had. So I asked what I thought was a simple question, which was why did that steak taste so good? And it took me like ten years to answer. It's a really complex question, it turns out. But then you start to ask these deeper questions like what is deliciousness and why does food taste good? Why do humans eat meat? Are we supposed to eat meat?
Aren't we supposed to eat meat? If we're not supposed to, why does it taste so good? But then even I started to get interested in cattle themselves, because I spent a lot of time with farmers and ranchers, and they would see things like- I'd go and visit a ranch, and the rancher would say, "Well you know, those cows over there are mama cows, and they're over in the field with lots of legumes, clover, and alfalfa, and they're eating that stuff because they're pregnant and they need the protein. But over in that field, those are steers, and they're laying on fat so they're not so much interested in protein as carbs, and that's what they're going for.
And you sort of scratch your head and you think, "How do they know? They don't know what carbs are, they don't read Men's Health. Mark Schatzker: And yet somehow they're eating the food that they should be eating.
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And that led me to this very interesting domain of science where they talk about things like flavor feedback, and how animals are guided by an intuitive sense of what they need. But basically, those cows were eating what they were eating because that's what tasted good to them at the time. So of course this brings up another question, which is are we like that? Because we don't think we're like that. We tend to think that deliciousness is out to get us, and we have to kind of resist, that food is fuel, and that we can outsmart all this kind of machinery - bodily machinery, brain machinery - and the possibility is we're getting it all radically wrong.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, man this is super interesting stuff. And you kind of highlighted- and the name of the book, 'The Dorito Effect' is fascinating in and of itself. But this big shift took place around the time that the Dorito was invented. So can you talk a little bit about that story?
The kind of history of the Dorito? Well there was a guy named Arch West who could have walked off the set of that show. He was a Madison Avenue ad guy in the 's. So he moved his family to Dallas, and shortly after he got there, the Frito Company merged with the Lay's Chip Company, became Frito-Lay, a company we've all heard of. So shortly after that, Arch West takes his family on a trip up to California. Really interesting little side story, he goes out for his favorite lunch one day, which is prime rib, and on his way out of the restaurant, he meets the guy who started McDonald's.
And they have this conversation- what was the McDonald's guy's name? For some reason I'm blanking. Mark Schatzker: Ray Kroc, exactly. Meets Ray Kroc, Ray Kroc compliments his daughter's beautiful golden hair. Asks, "Have you ever eaten at my restaurant? So these two titans of the food industry have this interaction and basically talk about hair and then go their separate ways, never to talk again.
But the real important moment on that trip came a little while later, Arch West was driving south to San Diego, and he passed what he called a little Mexican shack. And he was the kind of guy who just had to stop, so he pulls in there, and he tastes for the first time a tortilla chip, and he's really taken by it. And he has this vision, he says- he thinks to himself, "Tortilla chips are going to be the next big thing for Frito-Lay. So he goes back to Dallas, he springs this idea on the corporate brass, and they just sort of look at him funny and they say, "Why would we sell tortilla chips when we already sell Fritos which are kind of the same thing?
Just more like a different shape happening. But Arch West is so convinced about the future of tortilla chips that he actually funnels discretionary funds to an off-site facility where he figures out how to make them, he comes up with a name which in a very bastardized pigeon Spanish means 'little pieces of gold,' and he re-pitches it, and he says, "Gentlemen, I give you Doritos.
And I know what you're thinking, this is the moment everything changed, Americans started gorging on junk food, and we started getting bigger, but that's not when things changed because what happened next is really interesting. The original Doritos bonked. Nobody got them. In the southwest, where there was like a Hispanic kind of Mexican cultural influence, people knew. Yeah, tortilla chips are great.
You can dip them in bean dip, dip them in salsa. But everyone else said, "This snack sounds Mexican but it doesn't taste Mexican. And this is when everything really did change because he said, "Let's make them taste like taco. And it was a really good comment because right up until about that time, different things had different flavors. Like if you wanted to experience the flavor of fried chicken, you had to eat fried chicken. And if you wanted to experience the flavor of cherry or the authentic flavor of strawberry, you had to eat those things.
We had some fake flavors back then like really fake tasting strawberry chewing gum, or really fake tasting strawberry ice cream, but flavors were really in the domain of nature up until that point. But Arch West knew that there was new technology, which let you impose flavor on anything you wanted.
For the first time in the history of our species, we could make a triangular piece of fried cornmeal have the zingy tang of a taco, the same savory depth. It doesn't taste exactly like a taco, but it tastes kind of like a taco, and you put one in your mouth, and you want to keep eating. And just think about that for a moment because we're talking about something that on the surface we're all a little bit frightened of, right?
Carbs, fat, salt. The original Doritos had all that stuff, nobody wanted them. Then they dust on this sprinkling of flavored chemicals, and a snack that no one wants becomes a snack that people literally cannot stop eating. Shawn Stevenson: Man, that is so fascinating. So what did they use? What was this technology that allowed scientists to start to extract and understand these different flavors?
The ingredients of longevity nutrition
Mark Schatzker: A very important device called a gaschromatograph. And a gaschromatograph is really good at analyzing substances that exist in minute amounts. So before the gaschromatograph, science knew an awful lot about food. We knew about vitamins, we knew about minerals, we knew about carbs, we knew about the omega-3s and the omega-6s, but we didn't know about flavor because flavor exists in food in tiny, tiny quantities.
Like we're talking parts per million, parts per billion, even parts per trillion. Then in the mid's, a device called the gaschromatograph is suddenly available, and what that does is it volatizes the chemicals in food and puts them through a coil, and in the coil they kind of arrange into all their constituent parts. So they just start marching out the other end one by one so you can split them all up, and you can capture them, and then you can go analyze them using technology called mass spectronomy.
And then you know what the flavor chemical is and it's really easy to go, "Hey, why don't we just make these ourselves? Shawn Stevenson: Right. Man, when reading your book, I started to realize all of the different flavors- because this is so fascinating if people get this. There's a difference between a thing and a flavor, and that just really struck me because we've become a culture that's just immersed in things that aren't actually supposed to taste like it does, tasting like something else.
So what I mean by that is-. Mark Schatzker: We've never questioned it, right? We've never thought, "Orange Fanta tastes like an orange. Is it supposed to be that way? Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, so fascinating. I'm thinking about like all of these different things, these 'fruit' snacks, fruit punch. And even the name itself, like what is a fruit punch?
It's like a punch in the face. Like it's a punch in your mouth that you just can't even process. It's just so fascinating that this was like something that somebody came up with, and it started around this time with the Dorito. Shawn Stevenson: Well simultaneously, you also mentioned that- because we're looking at this paradigm with food now. We have this increase in flavor with these things that are things that aren't necessarily supposed to have this particular flavor.
But then we have natural foods that start to have a reduction in flavor. So let's talk about that. Why is that happening? Mark Schatzker: Exactly.
A Public Mirror
This is the other side of the flavor coin, and in some ways even more alarming. This is actually the question I originally started to ask because one of the things I noticed when I was doing my steak book is that the steak you go and buy at the supermarket doesn't have a lot of flavor. And then you go to Argentina and you taste one of these grass-fed Argentine steaks and you're like, "Oh my God, what was that? And then I started to notice everything's getting blander. The people I would talk to would say, "Well this is high output agriculture. We keep growing more of everything.
So if you look, for example, at the Dorito itself, the corn that it was made from in the mid's was already very different from the corn that went into the original Fritos in the 's because our yields of corn have just been getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. If you look at things like tomatoes and strawberries, we grow like an order of magnitude more.
We're getting ten times as much fruit from the same acre of land as we used to. Now on the one hand, this is a really good news story because we have more mouths to feed and we have less farmland than we did years ago. So if it was not for these agricultural innovations, there would be a lot of hungry, and even dead people.
So it's really good that we cranked up our ability to produce food. However, the question we never ask is has this come at a cost? And we started to get a whiff of that in the late 's. There was a study that came out in the British Journal of Nutrition that found that actually whole foods, which are called whole, they're wholesome, are getting less wholesome. It found that there was less vitamins, less minerals than before. It was alarming that it caught the attention of a biochemist at the University of Texas.
His name was Don Davis, and he thought, "This doesn't sound great," but he wasn't sure if they did the study right. So he did an extremely rigorous study looking at like fifty garden fruits and vegetables, analyzing them for vitamin content, for mineral content; 's varieties versus 's varieties. And what he found is that on average there's an across the board decline that these foods are- he calls it the Dilution Effect. There's just not as many vitamins and minerals in them as there used to be which is alarming. I mean on a very basic sense, these are whole foods, this is the stuff that's supposed to be good for you, it's getting less good for you.
It seems intuitive, right? Because you think, "Well of course, I put a strawberry in my mouth, it tastes like cardboard. I put one of those tomatoes in my mouth, we know how terrible tomatoes taste. But what the really interesting link that I was looking for, and wanted to forge, and which brought me to an absolutely fascinating body of science is the link between flavor and nutrition because this is something we never talk about. Because here's the thing, all those vitamins that Don Davis was studying, they don't have any flavor.
This is why nutritionists have avoided flavor from the get-go, because they don't taste like anything. Once I got into the animal science, and oddly into the science of tomato flavor, that the curtain was pulled back and I realized there's this absolutely fundamental connection between the flavor of the food that we eat and the nutritional content.
Shawn Stevenson: Man, that's exactly what I wanted to talk about today. And you state in the book that essentially our food-related problems are due to a largescale flavor disorder, right? We've got this simultaneously happening. Real natural foods, fruits and vegetables, their flavor is being reduced. So I want to talk about that first, the actual flavor itself.
You gave the example of chicken in the book. And also at the same time, this increase in processed food having so much more flavor that's just kind of- you have no chance against it. Both of these things are happening at the same time, and wonder why people aren't eating more whole natural foods. Mark Schatzker: Yeah, so let's take the example of a tomato. There was a guy who has been working on this for years at the University of Florida, his name is Harry Klee, and he was initially tasked in the late eighties by Monsanto to produce a genetically modified tomato because everybody in the tomato industry- everyone knew tomatoes taste really bland, what can we do about it?
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They all thought it was because tomatoes are picked green, and then they're kind of like stored in a warehouse, and then when they want to send them to a supermarket they just fog them with ethylene gas, which is like a ripening hormone. Turns the tomatoes red, you go to the supermarket, tomato looks red, you take it home, you slice it, and it tastes totally bland.
They all thought, "If we can just slow down the ripening process, we can get the tomatoes to ripen halfway on the vine, then we stick them in a box, ship them to the supermarket, and then they kind of ripen along the way, and they'll be ready to go and awesome. So that's what Harry Klee did. He developed one of the first GMO tomatoes, which was essentially programmed to ripen slowly. It worked, the tomato took like three weeks to ripen instead of a week, and it didn't taste any better. And at this point, Harry Klee decided he'd had enough of industry, he got a job with the University of Florida, and literally dedicated the rest of his life to trying to unravel the mystery of tomato flavor, because it's a mystery we all know.
Most tomatoes taste terrible, but then like in July or August, you get an heirloom tomato, and you put a slice in your mouth, and it's just like this flavor symphony is raging in your head. So what Harry Klee found is that tomatoes have essentially forgotten how to be flavorful. They don't have the genetic ability to be flavorful because we've been breeding them for what we call agronomic traits.
We want our tomatoes- we want a lot of them, we want them to have a good shelf life, and we want them plants to be disease resistant. So these are the traits that we keep selecting for, and what's happened is kind of a reverse evolution. When you don't select a trait, you lose it. It's the same reason we lost our tail. It's reverse evolutionary pressure.
And over the decades after all this aggressive tomato breeding of not choosing flavor, we've lost flavor. You can take a modern tomato, it doesn't matter how you grow it. It can be in your backyard, organic, you can sing it lullabies, it will not be flavorful. So this is the story of so much of the food we grow because all we care about is quantity and price. We want more of it, we want it to be cheaper. Nobody ever sits down and tastes it and goes, "Is this a better tomato?
Is this a better carrot? Is this a better cucumber? And yet we all know it because so much of this food is just underwhelming. So you make a salad, and you're dumping Ranch dressing over it, you're putting croutons and bacon bits, you're doing anything to just make it taste good because it's so insanely bland. And yet we also know in the back of our heads, it doesn't really have to be this way.
Because some of us have been lucky enough, you might travel to Greece or Italy where they grow some really wonderful produce, and you have a very simple salad with just a little bit of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt, and it's like a revelation. You're just like, "This is the best salad I've ever had," and they haven't done anything to it. That salad recipe wouldn't work here because our greens- especially like supermarket January greens are so bland.
Maybe you can pull that off at a farmer's market. So, so much of the whole foods that we grow, meat as well, chicken is the best example. The chicken we grow- so chicken in the 's, the chicken that our grandparents or great-grandparents would have eaten would have been around sixteen weeks old when it was at the supermarket. The chicken we eat today is six weeks old, so it's essentially a giant baby. Chickens are ultra-fast growing, they're incredibly cheap, and they're incredibly bland. It is so difficult to make chicken flavorful. We brine it, we put dry rubs on it, we make sauces, we do anything we can to make it just taste like something.
Shawn Stevenson: So, so fascinating. You know, one of the things that also jumped out in the book is this concept- you shared the story of Debby in the book, of incentive salience. And we're looking at this paradigm where we've got all these artificial flavors, and actually looking at brain imaging scans, and seeing what's going on in the brain. Because the reason I want to talk about this before we get into some of the other things is a little bit to do with food addiction.
Because I thought you talked about this so elegantly, and even kind of funny in the book, and just kind of bringing this right to the forefront of what's going on for us when we're experiencing this thing. Mark Schatzker: Yeah, absolutely. I got very interested in this idea because one of the things I resist, as I've told you, my interest in all this sprang because I really love to eat, I travel different parts of the world, sometimes we go to fancy restaurants, sometimes we just eat by the side of the road.
But I really became interested in this idea of flavor and deliciousness. And what a lot of people say is that the problem with our food culture is that we're surrounded by too much delicious food. And I'm sitting there going like, "I don't really buy it. It gets you in the moment, but nobody would ever say this is really great, right? It's not like Beethoven's Fifth, or something truly memorable. So I got interested in this idea of food addiction, and most people think - especially the morbidly obese - they think that their problem is that they just like food too much and they don't have the good sense to stop, when you and I have the good sense to stop.
But of course that doesn't really make any sense because these people want to stop, and they're in the grip of something they can't control. So when they look at- when they take people who have let's say a problematic relationship with food, they have difficulty controlling what they eat, and they put them in a brain scanner, what they find is that if they show them let's say a picture of a milkshake, they experience this burst of desire for it that's just like off the charts.
They'll see that picture of a milkshake, and they'll want it a lot more than you or I will want it, but then they'll actually taste it, and their enjoyment of it will be equal to what you or I might like, or even below. So they're in this crazy relationship where their problem is that they want food a lot, but they don't actually like it anymore. They might even like it less. And I think that tells us something really interesting, is that something that we've done with our food has really distorted our relationship with food. We're making food more cravable, but we're not actually making it taste any better.
And I think we all know this to some degree when it comes to things like Doritos or potato chips, we've all been there. You go to a Superbowl party and there's the big bowl, and you're like, "No, I'm not going to have any. And you have one, and would you say that was the most delicious thing you ever ate in your life? Not a chance. But what you experience more than anything is just like your hand is going back to the bowl, it's like you're trying to pull it back. There's this compulsive element. And that's this experience we've created, is that we've made food in a way more compulsive, but not really that delicious.
I think if you asked a lot of people what their most delicious food experiences would be, it wouldn't be that stuff. It would be like a pie that their grandmother made them, or like a chicken that their mom roasted, or an incredible steak like the one I had in Argentina. Mark Schatzker: Or an amazing tomato, or a peach, think of how good peaches are in the summer. You know, you bite into that thing, and the juice is running down your chin. I mean that's a food moment. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, man and that's what life is too. It's kind of like this is- like music is the soundtrack to our lives, food is as well in a way, you know?
And it speaks this language. And again, you just kind of detail it in the book, and also specifically sweet foods speak a very strong language to not just humans but a lot of other animals as well, but specifically for human physiology. So I want to talk about our hardwiring to desire sweet. We went back and literally looked at when it was extracted from sugar cane, and how it kind of found its way into Europe, and the whole story behind it.
But then we got into present day because now we can test things, and we can see- we can give rats in a lab the opportunity to choose cocaine or artificial sweetener, and you see them get addicted to the artificial sweetener rather than the cocaine. It's so crazy to see this. What is it about sugar that makes us so- kind of we're hardwired to eat it. Let's talk about that. Mark Schatzker: Yeah, well you know, as soon as we come out, as soon as we're born, sugar makes us smile, sugar is something we want.
It's a source of energy. And obviously sugar has come under a lot of scrutiny in the last several years, everybody is talking about it. I'm not in full agreement- because here's what I would add. It's actually not sugar that we want. It's sweet foods that have a sweet taste, but also something else, and this is why I think the flavor industry is so interesting. Because if you look at all the sugary sodas in the supermarket, just imagine them in your brain all the sugary sodas next to one another. They are all nutritionally speaking the same thing; sugar and water.
There might be like a little caffeine, there's caramel color, but they're basically sugar water with some carbonation. It's the flavor that makes them delicious. It's the flavor that makes Dr. It's the flavoring. Would any of us drink those if not for the flavoring? I don't think anybody would. I've given my kids sugar water and they're like, "No thanks, it doesn't taste very good. It plays such a big role. So the sugar, that's the macronutrient that's implicated in things like insulin resistance and obesity. I don't dispute that once that sugar gets in your stomach it's doing stuff, but what we have to ask is why is it getting there?
And we are hyper-incentivizing it by making it taste more delicious than it deserves to be. Shawn Stevenson: Very interesting. And also- so this is a good place to kind of segue into we're looking for something else. It's not just the sugar, but the sugar can indicate that there is some other potential value in the food, you know?
For example, eating a properly grown peach, like you talked about. We're going to get some other things packaged into that. So let's shift gears and talk about how flavors can actually indicate potentially nutrition.