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Show 1112: How and Why to Eat Sinfully

In this interview for broadcast March 3, 2018, find out why "forbidden" foods such as alcohol, steak or butter in moderation are unlikely to damage your health.
Dr. Aaron Carroll, author of The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully
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How and Why to Eat Sinfully

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Nutrition experts have demonized a lot of foods over the past several decades. Eggs, shrimp, butter, cheese and meat were all taken off the table because they are rich in fat and cholesterol. No cholesterol, but too much fat doomed nuts, coconut and avocados. More recently, wheat and foods made from it, like bread, crackers, pretzels and pizza, have come under fire because they contain gluten. We couldn’t blame you for wondering if there is anything left to eat. How did the concept of “bad foods” acquire moral connotations? Are you ever tempted to eat sinfully?

Dr. Aaron Carroll is a pediatrician who is very well aware of the problems that poor nutrition can cause. Nonetheless, he says we are getting too worked up about a number of foods. Conventional wisdom may say they are “bad,” but eating an occasional steak or drinking Scotch once in a while does not really make a significant difference in our health, says Dr. Carroll.

The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully

Starting back in 1894, nutrition guidelines stressed a varied diet. Nutrition science was in its infancy. But by the 1970s, experts were putting together guidelines on what Americans should eat based on what they thought was healthful. There wasn’t much, if any, evidence involved. Dr. Carroll hunts down the evidence behind bad foods to tell us exactly how much harm they will do. In most cases, it is less than you would think, so long as you are guided by moderation.

Tune in to find out why you don’t need to get too excited about a recent study that declared alcohol causes cancer. Calculating the actual risk shows that it is extremely modest. Dr. Carroll explains why we should stop worrying about “eating clean” and fretting about food. What should you remember?

  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink too much
  • Exercise
  • Eat sensibly

This Week’s Guest:

Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, is Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Research Mentoring at Indiana University’s School of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Comparative Effectiveness Research. His research focuses on the study of information technology to improve pediatric care, health care policy, and health care reform.

In addition to his scholarly activities, he has written about health, research, and policy for CNN, Bloomberg News, the JAMA Forum, and the Wall Street Journal. He has co-authored three popular books debunking medical myths, has a popular YouTube show called Healthcare Triage, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times’ The Upshot.
Dr. Carroll’s most recent book is The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully.

The photo of Dr. Carroll is by Marina Waters.

More info about Aaron:

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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comments (16 total)
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Glyphosate is a serious poison and it is poured on growing produce in our country like it is candy! Other countries have banned the use of this herbicide. The World Health Organization has declared it to be a known carcinogen and other countries have banned it’s use. Why, then, is it being allowed to be used in the U.S.? Why doesn’t anyone stand up to defend the health of the American people? This issue is at least as important as gun violence here in America and it has been going on longer. There needs to be marches on Washington to make American clean and healthy again.

Hi Guys
You were spot on when it comes to your comments about so much information leading to so much confusion. I am enjoying your podcasts and in particular this one with Dr. Carrol. The confirmation bias and big pharma companies being involved in ‘research’ should get all of us to grab a red flag and wave it wildly.

Are there ANY meds that don’t have fatigue as a side effect or adverse effect?
I’ve been on several different ones, and all make me feel as if I’m carrying weights around.
I’m 80 and am sensitive to other drugs.

I am 82 years old. I have no aches or pains, take no meds, no supplements and no doctoring. I, as my daddy taught me, eat lots of fat, meat and vegetables. I put sea salt in my daily water supply. I drink black coffee. I eat very little, if any, starches. I avoid potatoes and other root vegetables. I am an avid runner and am physically active. My goal is to teach other people to be nice to themselves. Healthy living is cheaper than being sick.

I have been wondering after hearing all that is bad for you and the companies are doing what isn’t good for you do they have a special food supply? Seems like they would be worried about they will eat. I guess that’s the way it is? I enjoy listening to your program. I tell others about it. thanks! 😮

Cheers to David!! I wish he lived near me in PA. We eat and think alike.

My wife and I both started eating low carb; no pasta, breads, or sugars, or processed foods. Satisfying amounts of red meat, fish, poultry , and butter or non trans fat to curb appetite between meals. plenty of fruit and vegetables. We exercise moderately. I’m down to 160 lbs. bad cholesterol is down to 84, good cholesterol is 50. BP is 125/70. We thought we were eating healthy before. Sugars and starches have been the problem all along. I think they call this the “Paleo diet”, though we did not know that at the time we started. We are both satisfied with the way we eat, and are in this way of eating for life.

I agree with you and your wife, Phil. I try to avoid sugar and other carbs. That’s how people with diabetes are supposed to eat, although I do not have diabetes. My husband eats lots of sugar, but has always been healthy and stays slim. He won’t eat anything if he knows it has sweetener in it! I made a pound cake and used mostly Stevia. Also used it cooking the pineapple topping. He loved it!

We have determined that eating an informed diet included in an informed lifestyle will maximize our longivity.

You’re assuming thatthe wheat we eat now is the same that our ancestors ate. I think Monsanto would disagree.

Yes… I read a study of ancestral wheat versus today’s wheat. What a difference!

Hearing gluten oversimplified as a problem most people don’t need to address colors my opinion of all his advice. I don’t think he fully realizes that often when dealing with chronic issues, patients are challenged by symptoms that may be relieved by trying a gluten free diet for a number of weeks. Wheat in this country is dosed with glyphosate at many different stages, including prior to reaping, which may be the real problem.

Excellent point Jennifer re not the same wheat. However, I believe Monsanto (creator of Roundup and GMO seeds/food) would not only agree with this position, but would be jumping up and down with joy! This viewpoint shifts the blame away from them for the rise in numerous diseases- cancer, diabetes, autism and a dozen more- that reflect the increase in Roundup in 1995. The pharmacy, dairy and meat conglomerates will also be pleased with this viewpoint. No research? The quantity and quality of research is solid. The conglomerates mentioned above have very deep pockets and financial interests, and actual responsibility to their shareholders, to squash and discredit this research to make this food topic frustrating for us. I refer this Physiciam to the research of Dr. Neal Barnard MD, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn MD and especially the profound work of T. Colin Campbell PhD. Dr. Campbell is the author of The China Study and professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University. It is unfortunate that this physician promotes the fallacy that healthy eating ( in my opinion whole food plant based Organic and non GMO) is synonymous with restrictive. That is a perception and attitude based on our “norms”. A change and a challenge….yes, but when the reward is reversal of lifestyle disease, worth at least a try. It may be restrictive in the same sense that suggesting children not play in the street, if they have always done so, would be restrictive. In view of the state of health in the US and the Health Care costs and the state of the world environment and agricultural crisis, I find this viewpoint irresponsible.
Marjorie Rodd

Over the years I, too, have become confused and frustrated over the constantly changing guidelines over which foods are bad or good for you. I have decided to avoid processed foods and eat more whole foods, especially produce. I believe that Mother Nature knows more about nutrition than scientists.

That’s why I eat a steak a year and a slice of pie instead of a meal. I learned to do that when I looked at an exquisite confection one day and asked whether its existence was more justified than mine.

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