Sunday, 18 April 2010

Silly statistics on salt and sugar.

The Telegraph has a double scare in store. Salt and sugar in the same food! Oh, how can we survive? What will we do? Who will save us from this terror of essential nutrients that invade our body when we least expect it? Keeping us alive in defiance of Righteous diktat, these terrible foods stain our very souls with their sugary saltiness of Satan. Sweet and sour sinning - shocking.

If you believe this nonsense, if you succeed in cutting out all salt and sugar from your diet, you are going to die. Not quickly, it will take a week or two of intense agony before you succumb, but you will die much faster than a beer-swilling smoker who lives on pork scratchings and pizza.

If you eat too much sugar you will get fat. You will not necessarily end up with no teeth, that depends on whether you are familiar with the term 'toothbrush', but excess energy in any form will get converted to fat. The solution? Eat less and/or exercise more until you are at a weight you are happy with. Note: A weight you are happy with, not the weight the State demands you should be.

If you have too little carbohydrate in your diet you will first experience ketosis. Your breath will smell like acetone. That's because your body will burn fats for energy if it has no carbohydrate. It's an easy way to spot Atkins diet followers. It is not a good metabolic state to be in for too long. Your body is not supposed to work like that. Fat is there for those times when you don't get enough carbohydrate. You are not supposed to run that body on zero carbohydrate intake. You will break it. Reduce your carbohydrate intake to burn the fat off slowly and you'll feel better, you'll lose weight naturally and you won't end up with bat-wings and saggy folds because your skin will have time to contract as the weight goes down. If you want to be thin by tomorrow, that's up to you but you are going to do far more damage than you realise and you are going to end up looking as if you are wearing a sack.

If you run out of fat (which, as a good little drone, you aren't eating either), your body will burn proteins for energy. Since your brain needs glucose and a lot of it, your liver will have to work like crazy to turn protein into glucose and will end up with a lot of nitrogenous waste and that is going to do some damage to both your liver and kidneys. Both of which will, by now, be full of holes from ketoacidosis. It takes time but it takes considerably less time than alcoholic cirrhosis. Boozing yourself to death actually takes a lot longer than death by Righteous advice and it's more fun too.

If you eat too much salt, your kidneys will extract it from your blood and put it in your urine. If you eat far too much, you risk a kidney stone but eating enough to kill yourself would require serious, pathological dedication and astounding willpower in order to avoid drinking any water. On the plus side, if you do eat enough to kill yourself, your body will be pickled and will not need embalming. Suicide by salt is a very difficult path to take.

If you have too little salt, you'll die in pain. Ideally, there should be salt in your urine. It means your body has all it needs and has dumped the excess.

There is no need to measure your sugar and salt intake unless you have a medical condition that requires you to do so. All it takes is a bit of common sense and not getting silly about it. Eating sugar or salt by the spoonful is not going to be good for you. Not eating either at all will kill you.

So scare stories like this can have only one possible purpose. To kill as many idiots as possible.

Now, while I am not averse to a bit of stupidity-reduction in the population - there is far too much of it at present - I would prefer to reduce the stupidity levels by educating people rather than by making them even more stupid and then killing them. The State has evidently decided on the easy option.

The article is most definitely aimed at the stupid:

An analysis a number of popular breakfast cereals – many of which are marketed as being nutritious – showed that in many cases each bowl contains more than a quarter of the recommended daily sugar intake for an adult.

So? The five-a-day fruit and veg thing has been proven to be a made-up number, the booze units limit is a made-up number, the second and third hand smoke scares are entirely fabricated, and everyone is different. Someone working in the fields all day needs much more energy intake than someone sitting at a desk all day. A big guy needs more than a small guy. And then there's that magic word - 'adult'.

I am an adult. Nobody 'recommends' what I eat. I decide for myself. If I don't like it, I don't eat it. If I eat something that makes me feel ill, I don't eat any more of it. If I start to put on weight, I eat less and if I start to lose weight, I eat more. I count no calories and gauge my intake by whether my clothes feel too loose or too tight. These are not hard decisions for an adult to make. Adults do not need Nanny any more. Sadly, Nanny has prevented most people from becoming adult these days.

Many cereals also contain high salt levels, with the ten top-selling brands in Britain all containing more salt than a Cadbury Milk Chocolate Cake Bar or a Magnum Classic ice cream.

I don't know about you, but I have never considered chocolate or icecream to be particularly salty. So finding that a savoury food such as cereal contains more salt than icecream or chocolate comes as no surprise at all. How does that cereal compare with a bag of pork scratchings, I wonder?

Jonny Steel, (You're kidding. A Spandex-clad Food Avenger?) a spokesman for, said: “Consumers can end up thinking they are choosing a healthy cereal, often because some sound healthy or simply look healthy because of how they are marketed.

Adults choose foods they like. I'm not a big fan of cereals but I have been known to eat them, but only the ones coated in sugar or preferably, honey. I'm not even a big fan of breakfast. A cup of coffee will keep me going until teatime if I'm busy, as long as it has sugar in it. Some people like a bowl of cereal for breakfast. They are adults, it's their responsibility, leave them alone. The analysis is written on the sides of the packet and if someone doesn't like what's in there, they can choose not to buy it. It's not difficult. It's not as hard as deciding what colour to paint my pergola.

“Yet, as with any product bought, shoppers need to make sure they read the nutritional information on the packet to understand the content, otherwise they could accidentally be consuming more sugar or salt than planned.”

Anyone who plans their salt and sugar intake without a medical reason has no life at all. They might as well just lie down and die. Those with medical reasons to do so are already checking the labels and do not need to be reminded by Jonny Steel, The Masked Breakfast Man from Planet Dubious.

I am sure there are many perfectly fit and healthy people whose health has been wrecked by tailoring their salt and sugar intake to Righteous approved levels, instead of letting their body decide what it needs and listening to it. If it says 'drink water', drink water. If it says 'salt and sugar', eat them. If it throws something back or rushes it through to the other end, don't eat that again.

Unlike the makers of Buckfast, who responded to Righteous demand that they change their product-that-people-like into a product-those-people-don't-like with 'Awa' an' bile yer heid, ya wee bawbags', Kellogg's have caved in.

Kellogg’s said it is working to reduce the salt content of its cereals, which it said also contain iron, fibre, fortified vitamins and folic acid.

If they reduce the salt it will affect the taste. People who like the taste now will not like the taste in future. They will buy something else. Something with salt in it. As for the rest of their cringing exuses, they will cut no ice with the Righteous. They don't care about the good parts. They are only concerned with salt and sugar. Which are also good parts but the Righteous don't want you to have any. They don't want to let you decide for yourself, they must control you in every minute detail. If that kills you, tough. You obviously weren't sufficiently standard.

The way things are going, it'll soon only be we smokers who are left alive, because we ignore all this crap. Hell, if we can ignore the threat of lung cancer, we are not likely to worry about the threat of getting a little bulgy in the middle or of peeing brine (although that might sting a bit, and would probably induce us to put a little less salt on our deep-fried black pudding in batter with chips next time. A little lifestyle adjustment. Adults can do that without being ordered to).

If you're following all this nonsensical advice to the letter, you're going to suffer really badly and might even die. But then that's the price you pay for abdicating adulthood and letting the Righteous decide your life for you. I mean, I can see where people might want to let someone else decide whether to fire a missile or whether to let a terminally-ill patient die. Those are very hard choices indeed.

But to let someone else decide what you can have for breakfast? That hasn't happened to me since long before I left my parents' home. It is not going to happen to me now.

It's my life, I only have the one, and I will decide what to do with it, thanks. If I mess it up, that's my problem. I certainly don't want anyone else messing it up for me.

It's really, really time this country let go of Nanny's skirts.


Dick Puddlecote said...

I sense some anger there, LI, and rightly so. But what's breakfast? ;-)

You got mail, BTW.

The witch from Essex said...

How many people actually know what the 'recommended' 6g of salt a day looks like ? Do they count the grains or wigh their daily ration ? Do they take a abacus out shopping and study the labels ?

As for sugar you are advised to divide the grams of 'carbohydrates from sugars' on the item of food by four to get the number of teaspoons.

These people that adhere to all this crap must have very sad lives indeed.

Bill Sticker said...

May I recommend this blog for reasonable dietary advice, and not a few contradictions of the Righteous' half baked (Sorry) assertions.

PT Barnum said...

I wish they'd stop messing with my food, these dogooding quangocrats. Sometime in the last 6 months they've taken all the sugar out of Alpen (the original kind, not the low sugar kind) and now I have to add it myself. Uh-oh, the Health Stasi will be knocking on the door any minute now........

Anonymous said...

Fat's a fine food, you can live on blubber. Salt is an essential mineral. Sugar, however, is a toxin. It stops the mechanism by which the body feels "full" after a meal and causes damage to the liver. It's degree of prevalence in the USA as HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) exactly mirrors the rise in fatties.
"Sugar - the bitter truth" explains the biochemistry. On youtube.

Anonymous said...

Leggy, just a quick question about the Atkins diet. Some while ago, I had a long "discussion" with my boss, who’d been on it and lost tons of weight (which, I should add, he has now put straight back on again), about this, and he told me that according to Atkins, ketosis won’t kick in unless the body is deprived totally of carbohydrates – which is why the diet is so strict about things like fruit and veg which contain some carbohydrates. According to Atkins, he said, just one little molecule of carbohydrate would stop ketosis in its tracks completely. I couldn’t see it – I would have thought that, sure, the body might burn off the carbs first, but once there weren’t any left, then regardless of whether or not you’d had some earlier, it would then start to burn off the fat, so that reducing very high-carb foods would be just as good as going the whole “Atkins” hog and withdrawing the whole lot. Who was right?

Am I also right in thinking that it’s ketosis in extremis which leads little starving children to develop the oedema which gives them the classic starving-child sticky-out tummy? Something to do with water needing to combine with carbs to be efficiently excreted? Or is that something completely different?

TheFatBigot said...

I know when I am short of salt, it is when I feel the need to have more salt. I know when I am short of veggie-vitamins, it is when I get the urge to have more veggies.

It's all like sex really. You need it when you feel you need it. When you've had it you might feel the need for more.

Some need lots of salt others need less, some need an apple a day others need an apple, an orange and pound of sprouts. We all know what we need because our bodies tell us.

It's slightly different for singers. Your habits will determine the quality of your voice. They can eat whatever they like but a soprano should have sex no more than once a month. An alto once a fortnight, a tenor once a week, a baritone once a day and a bass all day every day.

Uncle Marvo said...

It does make a change to read something written by someone who clearly has a grasp of the subject, having listen to the biggest load old tosh imaginable on Radio Four since 6 o'clock this morning.

Many years ago, I was told, at school, that an experiment had been done wherein some people had NO salt at all. I seem to remember that this was for around a month. Apparently they went mad, and when they ate some salt they immediately became sane again.

This must have been cobblers, because I have yet to see a definition of "mad" that I'm happy with.

Brill article, Leg, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I have for a long time been of the opinion that they are putting something in the water supply to make the nation compliant. The constant reference to two litres per day seems to suggest this is the required dose. How else can the population of this formerly great nation have descended into such a pitiful state, in such a short time? It started with compulsory crash helmets and seatbelts and has just snowballed over the last twenty years.
So it’s only us with private water supplies, and those that consume far more alcohol than tap water, that are still right thinking! Drink up!

PT Barnum said...

@ Anon 0856

And for those who can't imbibe alcohol, only use water for tea and coffee, since boiling the water removes the mind drugs ;)

English Pensioner said...

If I don't have a couple of spoons of sugar in my coffee and another couple on my cereal for breakfast, by eleven o'clock I'm starting to feel dizzy, and would be more dangerous driving than if I'd had a couple of drinks.

Barry the Jackal said...

It's not rocket science is it? If you're hungry, eat something. If you're not, don't. Don't cover every meal in salt, don't drink three litres of Coke a day. If you haven't peeed in days, drink more water; if you're going every ten minutes, drink less. Don't live on a diet of chips, or if you do accept your health might not be what it could be. Take your time and enjoy your food, no-one's about to steal your plate. Go for the occasional walk. Eat some cake; not the whole cake. Have a glass of wine or two; don't finish the bottle before breakfast every day...

Wish more people could take responsibility for themselves. Kellogs is made to change the composition of their cereals, because people who want to *plan* their salt intake are nonetheless unable to look at the side of the box. Ridiculous!

Stewart Cowan said...

@ Anon 08:56

I have read articles which suggest that people who live in areas where the water supply is fluoridated have lower IQs - by as much as ten points.

I also remember reading (don't know where) that Maggie Thatcher was keen to get N. Ireland's water fluoridated to make them more docile.

Of course, fluoride was used in Nazi slave labour camps and I think Soviet gulags to make the prisoners more complacent and easier to handle.

Uncle Marvo said...

I buy elephant-strength flouride toothpaste because I had a dental problem.


Grrrrrrr. Sadly, no.

Stewart Cowan said...

P.S. Does anyone else object to their food having 'vitamins' added?

Why does fruit juice have 'added vitamins' when it is supposed to be full of vitamins anyway?

And even if a food isn't full of vitamins, why do the food companies see it as their duty to add them?

Could it be an attempt to turn an otherwise nutritionally-devoid processed foodstuff into something that might be of some benefit to the body, or is something more sinister going on?

Stewart Cowan said...

Uncle Marvo,

That's a topical application, though (hope you have a good rinse afterwards).

Uncle Marvo said...

You're not meant to. It washes it off.

Stewart Cowan said...

Does it work?

Anonymous said...

I always wondered who came up with these GDA things. Since they are slightly useless. Those who need to take note ie 'Fat Bastards'... sorry Obese, take no notice. Those who do take notice, as you say, have no life. Therefore the information is as useless as 'Serving Suggestion'.

geewiz said...

"Many cereals also contain high salt levels, with the ten top-selling brands in Britain all containing more salt than a Cadbury Milk Chocolate Cake Bar or a Magnum Classic ice cream"

I read that one the other day and was scratching my head about it afterward. Absurd comparison.

naturalnoble said...

Anon 1:44 - what you're referring to sounds like kwashiorkor (no idea on spelling) which IIRC is caused by protein deficiency.

Michael said...

As a Scot, I love our language:

'Awa' an' bile yer heid' is one of our greatest phrases.


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