Monday, July 2, 2007

On Acquired Stupidity Syndrome (ASS):

Alli, the next big over the counter diet drug, works by preventing the body from absorbing 25% of the fat it takes in. It garnered an article in Newsweek (The Word is ‘Leakage’ by Raina Kelley, Newsweek, June 25, 2007) focused on what most people will consider its major side effect—“anal leakage.” I’m going to predict, like Newsweek, that this messy little problem will encourage a lot of comedians but won’t deter a lot of dieters. Clearly, hope springs eternal when it comes to the quest to eat whatever we want and to be as thin as Lara Flynn Boyle.

And clearly, for many people, something as obviously abnormal as anal leakage is not a red flag that this thing they’re putting in their bodies is bad news. It’s amazing to me that despite an abundance of evidence of the deterioration of our collective health—epidemics of infertility, Crone’s Disease, IBS, GERD, Cancer and heart disease-- how willing Americans are to put in their bodies substances that are, at best, questionable—“foods” that are essentially industrial waste products, poisons like mercury in minute yet real amounts, and drugs that are unnecessary-- simply because of good marketing, experts who are on somebody’s payroll (or just lack a reasonable degree of skepticism), or an abiding wish to be thin (which, let’s face it, is also a result of marketing). I call this Acquired Stupidity Syndrome because I think people choose to believe there’s no problem, despite common sense, because it’s easier to buy processed food than to cook, to take a drug than to eat better, to let “experts” think for them than to think for themselves.

Nutritionists say users of Alli must be sure to take vitamin supplements because the drug decreases the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble minerals and vitamins E, A, D and K. Did anybody hear that???? Fat is necessary! It’s good for you! It’s a whole lot more important for your body to get fat-soluble minerals and vitamins E, A, D and K than it is to weigh a certain amount (and it’s likely that when a person is getting the right balance of nutrients, obesity will be corrected).

Each of these nutrients does many important things in the body. I’ll hit the highlights:

Vitamin E is needed for tissue repair—it retards the aging process;
Vitamin A is an antioxidant—it protects against free radicals and cancer;
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and therefore for strong bones, teeth and normal growth;
Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, plays an important role in bone formation and prevents bone loss.

Some minerals (fat is needed for the body to absorb all of these):

Sulphur helps protect the body from infection, protects against radiation and pollution and slows the aging process;
Vanadium helps control cholesterol levels in the blood;
Magnesium deficiency can actually cause obesity!

The human body is an enormously complicated organism. It is unhealthy to be fat. It doesn’t necessarily follow that it is unhealthy to eat fat. Has anyone noticed that while the country has been busy decreasing its fat intake, the population has been getting fatter?! Maybe we need to rethink the “fat is bad” idea.

If you are someone with leakage from ASS (or any of its other symptoms) you may want to acquire some sense. Eat reasonable portions and a balanced diet made up of whole, real foods: naturally raised meat, eggs, butter, raw cheese, lacto-fermented foods like yogurt, properly prepared whole grains.* Exercise. Drink some water (that’s not laden with chlorine and fluoride and NOT stored in a plastic bottle) and enjoy the healthy body nature gave you, whatever its shape.

*Use links below to the Weston A. Price Foundation for more information on traditional nutrition.

Sources: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig

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