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  1. 1

    Doctor Whom

    Happy New Year Her Croakiness (Crankiness?)

    In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan – was possibly my best food read all year. Highly recommended to have on the shelf.

    The diet delusion / Gary Taubes.

    Taubes is a science journalist – a dying breed and a rare species in the beginning. He spent about 5 years writing this book – not to promote some crank idea or product – but to look at the science of weight loss, obesity and “diet”.

    Unfortunately he is used out of context by some “nutritionists”, but overall I recommend his book as a companion to Pollan on the bookshelf. These are books to own and lend not just borrow.

    From a review of Taubes @

    The biggest omission in the BMJ version was Taubes’ own ten point summary of his conclusions (on page 454).

    ““As I emerge from this research, though, certain conclusions seem inescapable to me, based on existing knowledge
    1 Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization

    2 The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis – the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.

    3 Sugars – sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically – are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.

    4 Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes.

    5 They are the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.

    6 Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behaviour.

    7 Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.

    8 Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance – a disequilibrium – in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this balance.
    Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated – either chronically or after a meal – we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.

    9 By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

    10 By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.”

    It is on these bases that Taubes suggests that the increase in obesity is, in part, a consequence of the recommendation of a low fat, and hence high sugar diet.

  2. 2

    Doctor Whom

    My other favourite food /cooking book is Harold McGee “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”.

    Now I finally have my own copy instead of borrowing from the library.

    A classic tome of gastronomic science and lore, On Food and Cooking delivers an erudite discussion of table ingredients and their interactions with our bodies. Following the historical, literary, scientific and practical treatment of foodstuffs from dairy to meat to vegetables, McGee explains the nature of digestion and hunger before tackling basic ingredient components, cooking methods and utensils. He explains what happens when food spoils, why eggs are so nutritious and how alcohol makes us drunk. As fascinating as it is comprehensive, this is as practical, interesting and necessary for the cook as for the scholar.

    If you want to know why its complicated to cook a poached egg McGee gives the science and the tips on how to use the science.

    I’ve found I’ve become a better and more relaxed cook by knowing the science – it helps to know the reasons and rules before you cut corners.

    I also just got to re-visit Elizabeth David and have spent a few hot days over summer perfecting her Boeuf Bourguignon. Not rational but hey it was an Oprah type burst of “passion” much valued these days.

  3. 3


    Happy New Year to you too, Dr Whom, and thanks for your reading suggestions. I am particularly interested in chasing up Harold McGee’s book, as my cooking enjoys all the help it can get. Am especially interested in the eggs issue, having a surplus thanks to productive hens.

    As for “Her Crankiness”, a longstanding contact who has evolved into a good friend recently revealed that he had always assumed from my work persona that I was a “humourless puritannical”. I am still chuckling about this.

    And now Cranky. OK, I shall try to smile more when Croaking..

  4. 4

    David Brown

    Taubes first point (1 Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization) is probably not quite true. Excessive omega-6 intake is strongly associated with heart disease and other chronic disorders. I suggest you watch this excerpt from a 37 minute video presentation by Dr. Bill Lands:

    The Full length version can be downloaded here:


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