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Good and Bad Foods
Posted: 24 October 2011 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
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One thing is clear, there are plants (foods) which are bad for you.  My question is if there are foods that are bad for you, are there foods which are particularly good for you, better than just healthy foods?

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Posted: 24 October 2011 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m splitting this topic off into a separate thread since it seems minimally related to the issue of Energy Medicine that is the focus of the parent thread.


There is a lot of confusion generated by the sloppy distinction between “food” and “medicine.” Plants can be foods, and they can be medicine, as can anything you eat, but the issues associated with investigating the health effects of these different uses of plants and other “foods” are very distinct.

In general, individual “foods” are neither good for you or bad for you. They provide nutrients and non-nutrient components which have effects on health status. Some of these effects are fairly short-term and dramatic (think Vit C deficiency=scurvy), and others are long-term and complicated by interaction with many other factors (think dietary fats of various types as risk factors in cardiovascular disease). Eating nothing but Big Macs is unlikley to be a diet which provides optimal nutrition or promotes long-term health. But if you are a protein-malnourished and calorie deficient peasant, Big Macs could very well improve your diet and provide valuable nutrients. Just like “toxins,” the benefits and harms of nutrients and other food components are about dose and interaction with individual constitution, and unfortunately we don’t know how to identify the optimal diet for any individual, or even for broad categories of individuals to the extent such a diet even exists. We’re pretty good at telling people how to avoid the deficiency diseases that ravaged humankind for most of our history. And we’re getting better at identifying patterns of dietary behavior that affect health on a long-term basis as well as identifying individual characteristics that affect the relative risk or benefit of particular dietary patterns, but we have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

The notion that particular foods are good or bad for you is really a myth, then, and it is sustained partly by the confusion between foods as food and foods as medicine. If you ingest a food because it has some chemical in it you think will affect your health (e.g. St. John’s Wort for depression, fatty fish for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, etc), you are really treating these foods as medicines, as therapeutic or preventative treatments. Determining whether doing so is good or bad for you then requires investigating the proposed effects the same ay you would investigate any medical intervention: establishing plausibility and consistency with well-understood principles of basic science, in vitro and animal model research, clinical trials, etc).

The dietary supplement industry makes enormous profits in the nearly complete absence of any government regulation or oversight by deliberattely conflating the medicinal use of substances also eaten as foods. However, the reality is that the health effects of dietary behavior and nutrition, and the preventative and therapeutic effects of plant and animal components that happen to also be eaten as food, are really different subjects and have to be examined and studied in somewhat different ways.

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Posted: 24 October 2011 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The notion that particular foods are good or bad for you is really a myth….

Unfortunately, it’s an extremely effective means of making a sales pitch for any range of miracle diets which promise fantastic results for zero effort.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Write4U - 24 October 2011 05:11 PM

Are there foods which are particularly good for you, better than just healthy foods?

I don’t count that there are more healthy food than just healthy foods. I don’t get what you mean. But more healthy than fruits and veggies, water and whole grain I don’t know. It looks soemthing incredible and on the edge of fantasy. If you don’t mean organic food?

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Posted: 21 June 2012 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Just because something is “organic” doesn’t necessarily make it better.
Harriet Hall (the SkepDoc) summed it up well in her Top Ten Things You Should Know About Alternative Medicine:

6 What to eat: Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Organic has become a meaningless buzzword; I flinch when I see it on a label: it inclines me not to buy that product. What we really want is sustainable agriculture that does minimal damage to the environment and produces food that is nutritious, tastes good, and has no unnecessary contaminants. Organic food as currently defined doesn’t necessarily achieve those goals. Produce may have been trucked long distances using up fossil fuels and making it less fresh than local produce; it may cost more and not look as pretty. It may not use land efficiently. Absent pesticides, plants may produce higher levels of natural pesticides for self-defense—could that be bad for us? Sometimes locally grown foods that are not technically “organic” are a better choice. We should ask questions rather than reflexively buy “organic.”

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Posted: 21 June 2012 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Organic has become as much a buzzword as “natural” , but they are more than meaningless. They are intentionally misleading. Manufacturers use these terms to imply unproven benefits and reap increased profits. There is absolutely no proven benefit to things which are natural or organic ( as vague and undefined as those words are).

I would go a step further than her though. Her main complaint seems to be the vagueness of the definition. The fact is that no matter how you define these terms certain assumptions are being made which are not only unproven but may in fact be wrong. Even the concept of local grown food as being better for the environment is being challenged. I recently listened to a talk where they discussed a study looking at the carbon footprint of local grown food versus regional grown and distributed foods and it turned out for various reasons mostly having to do with inefficiencies and greater waste, that locally grown food resulted in a larger carbon footprint.

I think the take home message from these sorts of examples is that none of us should put too much confidence in our ability to make the best choices using simple common sense. Common sense often fails us and leads us down the wrong path simply because our understanding of the situation is too simplistic.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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macgyver - 21 June 2012 08:57 AM

I think the take home message from these sorts of examples is that none of us should put too much confidence in our ability to make the best choices using simple common sense. Common sense often fails us and leads us down the wrong path simply because our understanding of the situation is too simplistic.

Yep. But it’s damn hard to get most people outside of skeptical and scientific communities to understand that fact.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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There are some so-called “Organic” supermarkets I patronize, but mostly because the two which are in business around here…Fresh Market and Whole Foods…have outstanding meat sections, and very high health and sanitation standards which they abide by. (At least the stores I patronize do. Your results of course may vary.)

For just about anything else, particularly produce, you can find a lot of the same brands at a SuperWalmart, and for a much better price!

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Posted: 21 June 2012 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I often find that locally grown organic food does taste better than what I find in my grocery store.  If you want to buy it for personal preference, more power to you.  But don’t think that it’s better for you just because it’s organic.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Austin Harper - 21 June 2012 11:00 AM

I often find that locally grown organic food does taste better than what I find in my grocery store.  If you want to buy it for personal preference, more power to you.  But don’t think that it’s better for you just because it’s organic.

Nor does it taste better because it’s organic. If it tastes better, it’s because it wasn’t picked long before it was ripe halfway around the world a month ago. Also because many of the varieties that are locally grown on a small scale were bred primarily for taste, while commercial varieties are mostly bred for disease and insect tolerance, appearance, storage capacity, etc.  wink

The best example of this is the tomato. Supermarket tomatoes bear almost no similarity to home-grown varieties. I won’t even buy them in the winter.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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FreeInKy - 21 June 2012 11:45 AM
Austin Harper - 21 June 2012 11:00 AM

I often find that locally grown organic food does taste better than what I find in my grocery store.  If you want to buy it for personal preference, more power to you.  But don’t think that it’s better for you just because it’s organic.

Nor does it taste better because it’s organic. If it tastes better, it’s because it wasn’t picked long before it was ripe halfway around the world a month ago. Also because many of the varieties that are locally grown on a small scale were bred primarily for taste, while commercial varieties are mostly bred for disease and insect tolerance, appearance, storage capacity, etc.  wink

The best example of this is the tomato. Supermarket tomatoes bear almost no similarity to home-grown varieties. I won’t even buy them in the winter.

Yes, same with radishes and squash. Huge difference between home grown and supermarket types.

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Posted: 21 June 2012 09:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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mid atlantic - 21 June 2012 07:27 PM

]Yes, same with radishes and squash. Huge difference between home grown and supermarket types.

....and apricots. I HATE the mealy taste of apricots in the supermarket. I thought I hated apricots until I ate one fresh off a tree.

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Posted: 14 July 2012 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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There are a lot of healthy foods, particularly vegetables like spinach, carrots, kale, cabbage etc..  But always bear in mind that something that are too much is not good.  Avoid processed meat and foods with lots of preservatives. smile Generic online pharmacy

[ Edited: 01 August 2012 02:02 AM by magus ]
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Posted: 18 July 2012 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I’ll eat anything so long as it tastes good and doesn’t make me immediately ill.  I don’t really care where it comes from or what it’s made of.

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Posted: 18 July 2012 11:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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asanta - 21 June 2012 09:45 PM
mid atlantic - 21 June 2012 07:27 PM

]Yes, same with radishes and squash. Huge difference between home grown and supermarket types.

....and apricots. I HATE the mealy taste of apricots in the supermarket. I thought I hated apricots until I ate one fresh off a tree.

I’m with you. My grandparents had an apricot tree, and the fruit we got off it was wonderfully tart. They also had a pomegranate tree, and I loved picking the fresh fruit off that. A few years ago our local supermarket starting selling pomegranates. I tried one and was extremely disappointed.

At least I can get good peaches and strawberries at the store.

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Posted: 19 July 2012 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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OTOH, the cucumbers from our garden this year taste just horrible. Not sure what happened; they are usually quite delicious. Last year they were an “A+,” this year we got a “C–.” Thanks Zeus (and Smith’s invisible hand) for the “B” cucumbers from the store all year round.

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