“I dream of a day, when as medical professionals, we will shed our mental baggage and cure ourselves of new idea resistance.” – Peter Attia, MD
Peter’s 16-minute TED Talk is a powerful outline of his personal epiphany — conversion from belief in the conventional obesity paradigm to an altogether different (and I believe, enlightened) way. The conventional obesity paradigm holds that people are overweight, obese or have Metabolic Syndrome, simply because they eat too much and move too little — they’re either gluttons, lazy or both. An alternative hypothesis holds that the reverse is in fact true — that is, we actually eat too much and have too little energy to move BECAUSE the hormones of insulin and insulin-like growth factor direct our bodies to convert our food intake into stored fat rather than burned energy. Therefore, if we eat the wrong type of food, we’ll be malnourished and continuously starved. If we continue eating the same type of food — our appetite will never be satiated. We’ll stay hungry. Exercise will make us more hungry — an unending, vicious cycle. Bottom line reason for the imbalance: the type of the food we eat — primarily sugar and other simple carbohydrates — leads to insulin resistance and excess insulin production; this hormone imbalance then wrecks havoc with our body homeostasis.
Peter Attia and Gary Taubes, co-founders of Nutrition Science Initiative — NuSi.org — intend to wipe out obesity and metabolic syndrome. They aim to commission skeptical rigorous scientific research, which will prove, disprove or clarify the alternative hypothesis and clear the way for a new dawn in nutrition.
Dream no small Dreams! Hercules’ sweep of the Augean stables pales in comparison to the challenge these guys have undertaken. “Nutrition science” is now a hodgepodge of pseudo-science, misinformation, and self-serving special interest group clamor with just a smidgeon of rigorous science seasoning. Rigorous, skeptical search for truth in this realm is long overdue. It will take much more than diverting a couple of rivers to wash away dung accumulated from the massive misinformation campaigns that have helped enable obesity and metabolic syndrome to balloon into a worldwide pandemic — dragging chronic diseases of diabetes, heart disease, cancers and many others in tow.
Their alternative hypothesis: a low carbohydrate, relatively high-fat diet will enable the body to self-regulate into balance. Note: this alternative hypothesis is not yet proven. Then again, neither is the conventional generally accepted obesity paradigm proven. I’ve high hopes for NuSi.org quest. Both Attia and Taubes are very capable and appear on the right track.
Humans and our predecessors evolved eating an omnivorous diet of real food over the past million years or so. The “ancestral or paleo diet” is highly likely to be more palatable to our specie than the high sugar, “low-fat”, processed food porridge — Standard American Diet (SAD) that has become staple over the past 40-years or so.
I’ve been reluctant to write new blog posts, because it seems that what I have to say has been said much better and more succinct many times before. Gary Taubes and Peter Attia both exemplify this. Gary Taubes is a scientific journalist. He’s spent over 10-years of his life in rigorous nutrition research. See garytaubes.com — specifically, Works. Start with his Science Magazine article from 2001, The Soft Science of Dietary Fat, and the New York Times article 2007 article, Unhealthy Science. He wrote “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health” in 2007 directed primarily to medical professionals. He then refined that presentation with “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About it” in 2010 for a more general audience.
The Nu.Si.org>About Us>In the News page lists recent NuSi press. In that article list, IdeaMensch feature on Peter Attia quoted Peter cite his 2nd favorite book (after “Good Calories, Bad Calories”) — the provocative “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me); Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts”, by Carol Tarvis & Elliot Aronson (March, 2008). Tarvis & Aronson present a default persistent psychological pattern traced by the human mind at work. Their hypothesis credibly explains how/why apparently absurd & thoroughly discredited paradigms persist — why science is said to advance so slowly; one death at a time; why the conventional obesity paradigm is so entrenched and why NuSi.Org challenge is so daunting. All the more reason to persevere!