Ken Thomas Starch-Smart Blog

Ken chronicles his fascinating journey as an engineer in charting and graphing himself into a whole foods plant based low fat dynamo!

Fad Diets

Fad Diets

There are countless diets inundating our society and they are all wildly different - most are polar opposites; some heavily promote a certain food while others say to never eat that food.  They all have an identifying trade name such as; Adkins, 80-10-10, South Beach, McDougall, Mediterranean, Engine 2, Paleo and so, so many more.  Over 700 different diets are listed at, and I’m sure there are even more because I am aware of a few that are not on the list. 

Each of these diets claims a method by which the diet works and how it is beneficial.  There are even scientific studies that support the diet claims.  What’s interesting is that many of the study provided “proofs” are in total conflict with other study provided “proofs”.  Intuitively, this brings the validity of such studies into question.  Which one is right?  Are any of them right?  Scientific studies are scientific, right?  How can scientific study results be in conflict?  In a world so built upon technology and science, how can we, as an advanced species, be so confused about something as basic as the food we are supposed to eat?    

It doesn’t take a lot of research to realize that most studies are performed for the specific intent of proving a desired point.  This is made even clearer when the question, that the study is to answer, is itself flawed.  For example Scientific American presented a study to answer the question, “What Makes You Fat: Too Many Calories, or the Wrong Carbohydrates?”  Notice how the question in the study title indicates the outcome.  Also notice, that the possibility of fat making one fat is not even considered.  This is a common fact distortion known as Reductionism.   In another study, a chart is provided comparing different carbohydrates intake in insulin resistance.  The horizontal scale of the chart lists grams of carbohydrates per day.  The vertical scale is the BMI of the study participants.  This requires the assumption that one's BMI is a direct correlation to insulin resistance.  It is interesting that a study, concerning insulin resistance, did not employ a direct insulin resistance measure (blood insulin / blood sugar).  Instead, unrelated data was compared to produce a “proof”.      

So, how can such studies be believed and diet / health be so confusing?  I think that in spite of our “advancement” as a species, we still suffer from a really bad case of attention deficit and blinding opinion.  The health benefits and detriments of different foods are literally quite pronounced, but our perception is obscured due to the time lag between consuming the foods and the positive or negative health results.  Further obscuring cause-and-effect is the unimaginable number of other variables involved at the same time.  This is very eloquently described in Dr. Colin Campbell’s book, “Whole”.  Adding to the confusion is the dynamic nature of our point of reference.  Our perception of well-being and vitality must change rapidly, or be glaringly different from our friends and family before we think something is off.  If most of our peers also suffer from achy stiff joints and are tired even before physical exertion, then you assume you are perfectly normal.  As a society, we are used to those sufferings and believe they are just a natural process of aging. 

With our cause-and-effect perception so diluted by time lags, emergency survival elements of our biology, all the other variables involved and susceptibility to powerful opinion shaping marketing campaigns, it is no wonder we are so confused.  Still, shouldn’t modern science be able to sort it out?  Well, yes – again, that is also covered in Dr. Campbell’s book, “Whole”.  The optimum diet for our biology is indeed known, not necessarily by studies, but by direct measure molecular, chemical, mathematical and mechanical biological physics.  As with any other mechanical apparatus, understanding its components and function makes its needs for optimum operation clear.  I believe this is yet to be widespread household knowledge because it is not popular and opinion always wins over hard facts.  As Dr. McDougall says, “People love to hear good things about their bad habits”.  This reminds me of a recent Scientific American article titled, “A New Book Examines What Laughter Was All About in Ancient Rome”.  In the article, several jokes were presented that has remained relatable throughout the ages.  The one I find fitting here reads, “An academic sees a friend on the street and says, “I heard you died!” The friend says, “Well, you can see I'm alive.” And the academic says, “Yeah, but I trust the guy who told me more than I trust you.”

Realizing that our perception is so distortable by “smoke and mirrors”, false associations, reductionism, Marketing Volume, Opinionation, etc. how can we ever be sure what is truly healthy?  I believe it is important to accept and understand that our perception is easily distorted and that no one is immune.  We all can marvel at magicians, but we all know that their “magic”, that seems unquestionably real, is truly a perception distortion – an illusion.  I believe we must avoid blind trust in likeable gurus and likeable “facts”.  I believe in perpetually seeking the truth.  I believe a strong education (or more important; understanding) of physics is a tremendous help.  I believe it is important to question.  I believe it is important to realize that essentially all of our common medical issues, such as aches, pains and tiredness are not natural.

I am writing this because I believe that I have been gifted with an unfair advantage in discovering the optimum (or at least very close to optimum) human diet.  My gift is Type-1 diabetes coupled with an unlikely circumstance that taught me how to meter and log.  This process taught me about insulin resistance two decades before I even knew there was a technical term for the condition.  Type-1 diabetes is considered a burdensome disease tying the inflicted, like a ball-and-chain, to insulin vials, syringes, glucometers, schedules and logs.  To the contrary, instead of a ball-and-chain, the requirements of these things are my liberation.  Educated by my glucometer and log, neither capable of opinion or placebo has taken me through nearly three decades of Type-1 diabetes with not only ever ascending health (which I would not have had without the diabetes), but not a hint of even a single diabetic complication.   For further reading, please see my Type-1 Diabetes Story here:

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Fad Diets Part 2

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  • Please stay tuned for the upcoming sequel to this Fad Diets post.
    This Fad Diets post intentionally did not answer what is not a fad diet. Instead, the post was to point out how fad diets are not only possible, but almost impossible to avoid. It was to point out how deeply diluted truth and reality is by all the noise of opinion and false associations. The specific intent of the Fad Diets post was to point out the depth and overwhelming intensity of that noise.

    The still in work Fad Diets Part 2 will illustrate what I believe is the real human diet and why I believe so.
    Thank you for listening!

    Ken Thomas

  • Hello Ken,
    I am looking forward to seeing your continuation of this discussion!

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