Monday, July 17, 2017

Dietary Fad Alert!

It’s almost like I can see into the future.  At least these kinds of fads don’t surprise me anymore.  If you pay attention to behavior, they won’t surprise you either and better still, you won’t be caught in the trap of the latest health craze.

And what is the latest health craze?  There are so many it’s hard to keep track, but this one is right up there:  Lectins.  The Washington Post tells us, “Going ‘lectin-free’ is primed to become the next big thing in dieting.”  They characterize lectin-free as “the latest pseudo-science diet fad.”

The article explains that research over the years has found both positive and negative effects from lectins, a type of protein found throughout nature.  Unlike gluten, lectins are not a single compound, but many different ones with many different functions.  They have been researched for years in isolation, but there are not yet any definitive findings about health effects.  Some are toxic and some make it difficult for certain people to absorb certain vitamins, whereas others have beneficial qualities, such as assisting the body to resist cancer.

“The problem is that online health gurus are painting all lectins with the same brush, and playing up the negative effects without the evidence to back it up.”  These warnings are easy to find on line, but it’s like saying some members of the nightshade family are highly toxic so it’s dangerous to eat tomatoes, potatoes or bell peppers.

Much more information is included in this article, but it appears to be just one more publicity-seeking scare tactic used by people who fancy themselves “online health gurus” and crave attention over truth.

MSN agrees.  Asking if lectin is the new gluten, they put it bluntly: “Why you shouldn't fall for the latest dumb diet fad.”  In fact the Mediterranean diet, that some consider the gold-standard to reduce the chance of heart disease, “contains plenty of foods containing lectins.”

This is just one more case of foodie fanaticism.  As I wrote just last week, there is a “tendency for people to blindly adopt views on health and good eating regardless of a lack of scientific support.”

If you too have been a keen observer of behavior, you will expect to see in the near future people who are sure that going lectin-free is the best (safest and healthiest) answer for themselves and their families.  They will have fallen for the “latest dumb diet fad” and no discussion of science or logic will talk them out of it; they read it on Facebook or their favorite “online health guru” said it’s so.  If it goes far enough, the food industry will chime in with labels boasting “lectin-free” just to increase sales among science-challenged consumers.  We've seen this happen so many times with gluten, organic, GMOs, pink slime, sea salt and rBGH, why would anything change now?

And so it goes in America today.  Money is thrown away on so many unsupported beliefs, magical supplements and worthless gadgets.  And then we worry about consumer debt and retirement insecurity.  When will we ever learn?

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