Sunday, November 29, 2020

Beware High Protein Diets

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“Brown Rice is Carbo”

I have a friend in Australia whom I got to know through our interest in hifi. I informed him about this website and he complimented me on a job well done.

Then he referred to an essay in the hifi section, “Brown Rice and the Art of HiFi” and pointed out to me that “Brown rice is carbo”.

“Yes,” I replied. “Carbohydrates is the most important food for humans. Don’t get taken in by all those crazy people who advocate high protein diets. They are sowing the seeds of cancer, gout, kidney failure and other serious diseases.”

That remark got him concerned. He was, in fact, following one of those high-protein weight loss diets that has become popular in recent years. His daily meals consist of fruits, vegetables, cheese, 200g of canned tuna for lunch, a 250g beef steak for dinner.

He has cut out “all simple and complex carbohydrates” – meaning he does not eat any rice, bread, pasta and other carbohydrate foods.

He had been following such a diet strictly for the past three months and, yes, he did lose weight.

Our email exchange reminded me of how popular these diets are. In fact, they are being promoted in Singapore by a major public organisation, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) whose chief executive officer also happens to be the chairman of the Singapore National Healthy Lifestyle Committee.

“The Magical Diet”.

They call it “The Magical Diet”. But because the NTUC is such a household name – among other things it runs Singapore’s biggest supermarket chain called NTUC Fairprice and an insurance agency, NTUC Income – this diet has also become called “The NTUC Diet”.

When the diet was introduced, I had written to the newspapers expressing my concern.

For some reason, my letter was not published. Maybe because my language was too strong, but the newspapers did not publish even after I submitted a more mildly-worded version.

I have reasons for the strong language. I feel strongly about this. High protein diets are highly dangerous.

Please consider it carefully. Please do more research. And please help pass the word around.

There is today plenty of medical evidence that link, directly or indirectly, a high meat / high protein diet with practically all major diseases including various types of cancer (colon, liver, pancreatic, etc), heart disease, kidney failure, gout, etc.

So even though such a diet may lead to rapid weight loss in the short term, it is a sure path to serious illness in the long term.

Illogical Diet

The logic, or illogical, of the “Magical Diet” is not difficult to understand:

1. Eat your usual “junk” foods – including sausages, ice cream, processed cheese and other foods that contain harmful, some potentially cancer-causing, chemical additives – but just don’t go overboard.

2. “Wash out” the junk by eating plenty of beetroot, a food that is known in natural health circles to have “cleansing” properties.

Incidentally, there is an Asian equivalent – white radish or daikon – which has similar cleansing properties. This is why the Japanese serve tempura (deep-fried foods) with grated white radish to wash out fat. But the Chinese and Japanese know better than to eat excessive amounts of white radish because that would weaken the body.

3. Minimise your intake of carbohydrates which the body needs. By depriving your body of what it really needs, it turns to burning up stored fat and so results in weight loss.

And so the diet works. But at what cost?

Many people – including, sadly, a number of medical professionals who concoct various fad diet programmes to fatten their wallets – have come to confuse weight loss with good health. Even though obesity is a serious health problem, losing weight is not the be all and end all. You can lose weight easily by just falling sick!

The more sensible way to lose weight is, of course, by eating healthily and leading an active lifestyle.

A Healthy Diet

The wide concensus today – among nutritionist / dieticians as well as natural health practitioners – is that a healthy diet should consist primarily of:

1. Grains, particularly whole grains such a brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Apart from some Ritz biscuits and toasted bread, which are not particularly healthy, the “Magical Diet” is devoid of grains.

2. Vegetables, including vegetable protein such as beans and bean products like tofu and tempeh.

There is also wide concensus that eggs, meat and other meat products should be avoided or at least minimised.

And, there is growing realisation that milk, cheese and other dairy foods may actually be more harmful than healthy. (For a fuller discussion on dairy foods, visit the website of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, www.pcrm.org)

The Magical Diet being promoted by NTUC Income and its CEO Mr Tan goes against current views about healthy eating which have been built upon decades of medical research.

It also goes against tens of thousands of years of human history – which, surely, ought to carry more weight than even the longest-term medical study. The human race has all along flourished on a diet of mainly grains and vegetables – with very little animal protein.

Now, Mr Tan is telling us that a group of British “magicians” (Are they beetroot farmers? I wonder.) know better about how we ought to eat.

Mr Tan’s promotion of the “Magical Diet” shows a very shallow understanding of what health is all about. I call for his immediate removal before he creates more health havoc!

May Ling
Macrobiotics & natural health practitioner of Chinese decent. May Ling provides a Yin-Yang perspective to holistic health and natural healing. Contact: mayling@cleanseplan.com

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