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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Myth buster: peanuts and alcohol cause you to pack on the pounds

There are so many myths in the medical community, so many wives tales, that there's no way I can possible get to all of them.  But, one by one, each is being proven wrong by science.  Yet rarely do you find this science published in newspapers, because they feast on the myths.  It fits right into their "if it feels good and sounds good it must be true" religion.

So recently a story in the UK Daily Mail says that scientists have proven that those who eat nuts, and those who drink alcohol, actually live longer than those who don't.  They proved that eating nuts, and drinking alcohol, does not cause people to gain weight.

Could you imagine this being reported on the front page of a newspaper, it would go against their goal of making alcohol look like the mighty evil that it is not.  Their goal is to make it look like every one who drinks is an alcoholic and potential trouble maker.

The truth is, however, that most people who drink are normal people like you and me.  We drink because we live stressful lives, unlike those people who live in Hollywood who get everything handed to them on a silver platter.  We work hard, and we come home and want to relax to a nice cold beer, or glass of wine, or rum and Coke, or whatever.

I'm sitting here defending alcohol and I don't even drink.  I'm sitting here defending nuts and I hardly ever eat them.  Well, it just so happens that I do have some in the cupboard, so in writing about this made me crave nuts.  So I got up and ate a handful.  And because they don't make you fat, I ate another.

I don't mean to go crazy here, because too much of anything can be bad, or so my mom said my grandpa used to say all the time.  Anything in moderation is a good thing, he used to say.  That's what I believe. Despite what the myth believing, fear mongerers would have you believe, anything in moderation is just fine.

Think of it this way. Three of my four maternal and paternal grandparents lived well into their 80s, and the one who died the youngest was 70, and he did not die of heart disease. In fact, not one of them did.  They lived that long eating fried eggs and bacon every morning.  The eggs were not cooked in fat free cooking oil as we do today either, it was cooked in the bacon grease.

And there's a companion story here, "Help yourself to some nuts this holiday season: Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease -- in fact, were less likely to die of any cause -- during a 30-year Harvard study."

Beer does not make you fat.  Tony Edwards is releasing a book soon whereby he uses scientific evidence to support this claim.  He has medical evidence that, he says, actually supports the idea that alcohol is actually good for you.

Dr. Charles F. Lieber, the same man who established a link between alcohol to liver cancer, said in 1991 that alcohol does not cause weight gain.  He said that there is no evidence that alcohol causes weight gain. So, in other words, it's not the alcohol that causes weight gain, it's the other stuff you eat when you are drinking.  It's not the fat free alcohol that makes you gain weight at a party, it's eating too many fattening cakes.  But the studies accounted for the fact alcohol made people eat more, and even accounting for this people who drank still lost more weight than those who did not.

The report continues:
In the Nineties, researchers at Harvard embarked on a survey of almost 20,000 middle-aged women, whose drinking habits and weight were tracked for almost 13 years. .At the start, the women were all roughly UK dress sizes 8 to 12. By the end, about 9,000 had put on significant amounts of weight, and some had become clinically obese. All other things being equal, you’d expect the fatties to be the drinkers. But they weren’t. In fact, the fatties were the women who didn’t drink, and the skinnies were the heaviest drinkers. The women who drank five grams of alcohol a day reduced their risk of being overweight by 4 per cent. Those who drank 15 grams (roughly one medium glass of wine) a day reduced their risk of piling on the pounds by 14 per cent. The figures were even more striking when it came to obesity. Drinking 30 grams (two medium glasses of wine) a day or more gave the women an incredible 70 per cent reduction in obesity risk. So it was the non-drinkers who turned into size 18s or more. In other words, this study showed that alcohol is not only non-fattening, but actually helps prevent weight gain.
Similar studies showed the same thing:
  • A six-year study of 43,500 people by the University of Denmark. Key findings: teetotallers and infrequent drinkers ended up with the biggest waistlines, daily drinkers had the smallest.
  • An eight-year study of 49,300 women by University College Medical School, London. Key findings: women who drank below 30 grams a day (around two medium glasses of wine) were up to 24 per cent less likely to put on weight than teetotallers.
  • A ten-year study of 7,230 people by the U.S. National Center for Disease Control. Key findings: drinkers gained less weight than non-drinkers. Alcohol intake did not increase the risk of obesity.
Despite the evidence, nutritionists, and the medical community, continues to be adamant that alcohol is bad for you, especially if you should be losing weight.  Yet the evidence shows, and there are many more studies other than what are listed here, that doctors should be prescribing their patients who need to lose weight, that they should have 2-3 beers or glasses of wine per day.

Yet you know as well as I do that the medical community is historically stubborn to anything new, even if it's proven by science.  Think of it this way, the medical community originally rejected the watch, the stethoscope, the germ theory, antiseptics, and the idea that the hypoxic drive theory is a hoax.

I remember when I was a kid my dad took me to a bar, and on the wall of the bar there was a sign that said, "Irish Drunkards live longer than doctors."  My dad pointed to that sign, and he said it was true.  He said some doctors are so serious, they die of stress.  People who get out of work and are able to have a couple drinks (and are therefore perceived as drunkards) are able to release their stress and smell the roses.  They live longer than doctors.  My dad said that probably 30 years ago, long before any study was ever done on the subject.  As I look back on that day now, I'm reminded of how wise I always suspected my dad to be.

So we have now disproved a couple wives tales.  Everybody thinks that eating nuts and drinking beer just packs on the pounds, and might even kill you.  Now we know this is simply not true.  Surely this is just one study, but those who believe the opposite have no studies to support their view.  So when you present them with studies like this, prepare for them to get mad at you and call such studies poppycock or "it's just one study."  They might even call you a liar because your evidence doesn't jibe with their agenda. 

Just recently I couldn't help to see the irony when a young, athletic man lying in a bed suffering from stage four lung cancer, and he never smoked or drank a day in his life.  In the bed next to him was an 92 year old successful business man who told me he has traveled to Florida every winter, and he drinks 2-4 glasses of vodka and coke every day, and has never exercised a day in his life.  I bet he even chows down on nuts as he's drinking his daily drinks and socializing with his buddies.  

I'm not trying to tell you that this study is right or that study is right.  That doesn't matter.  There are a lot of people who think that everything they do is right and they think you should do the same as they do, or believe the same as they do.  Don't let them control you, control yourself.  

For example, for those who are going on a diet to lose weight, the British Nutrition Foundation says that a glass of wine, or one beer, is equivalent to a slice of cake.  What they fail to tell you is that there is no fat in a beer, no fat in a glass of wine, and tons of it in a slice of cake.  

I have, mind you, in the past, lost weight by drinking a beer every day.  I have also lost weight by drinking 3-4 beers 2-3 nights a week.  So by my own observations, and without spending one cent on a study, I proved to myself long ago that the the idea you can't drink and lose weight is not true.  

Now if you want to stop drinking, fine.  If you want to eat no nuts, fine.  I'm not saying you shouldn't try to be healthy, and I'm not saying you should go against your religion, and I'm not saying you should go out and get drunk

That's not my point at all.  My point is that you are not going to gain anything in your life by forcing yourself to suffer based on a myth that not doing something (like drinking), or doing something (like exercise), is going to somehow prolong your life.  

There's nobody who knows more about you than you.  There's no one who cares more about you than you. So don't be afraid to follow your instinct, follow your gut, and live your life. 

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