Your five a day is going to kill you

This was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?

AN APPLE a day is supposed to keep the doctor away, but a small but passionate group of Melbourne medics believes apples and other fresh fruit are in part to blame for the extra kilos some of us are carrying.

And if you’re a bit of a fatty then you’re a salad dodging couch potato who’s already under a deferred sentence of self inflicted death, aren’t you? The Institute of Stands To Reason Dunnit (among others) has told us so.

It is a controversial concept that riles nutritionists, but anaesthetist Rod Tayler’s theory that restricting fresh fruit in the diet can result in weight loss has been borne out by the participants in a trial he is running at the Epworth Hospital.
Dr Tayler believes the biggest driver behind the rapid rise in the nation’s girth is sugar, not fat.

Actually I’m not sure this is all that new. Sugar is a carbohydrate and there are lots of low carb diets, Atkins being probably the most well known, and plenty of people who find that they lose weight that way. And it is, or should be, pretty common knowledge that fruits, berries and vegetables contain lots of sugars. It’s why they taste so good. Sweetcorn? Yes?

Mary McPherson, 60, was astounded to learn how much sugar she was consuming as part of what she thought was a healthy vegetarian diet that included four to five pieces of fruit a day. By reducing that to two pieces – ”some berries and a banana” – Ms McPherson watched excess weight fall off.
”It was a slow loss of weight but in six to eight months I dropped about 10 kilograms and I have kept it off,” says Ms McPherson, who now weighs 60.5 kilograms.
Instead of snacking on fruit, she ate dry roasted almonds. Occasional sweet cravings were satisfied with a single piece of dark chocolate. She also followed Dr Tayler’s advice to reduce refined carbohydrates such as white rice and pasta, replacing them with brown rice and sweet potatoes. But she struggled with his recommendation to cut back on alcohol and continued to enjoy two glasses of wine with dinner

Oooh, they’ll get you for that, Mary. Probably should have kept shtum about it or at least said you’d cut down like Katrina.

Katrina John, 26, a nurse who subscribes to Dr Tayler’s recommendations, says that by cutting out the two to three pieces of fresh fruit she used to eat each working day she not only lost one kilogram in a fortnight, she started thinking more carefully about everything she ate.
”Then I removed the dried fruit from the nut mix I used to have every day and I stopped drinking orange juice on the weekend and I think it all made a big difference,” Ms John says, adding she lost seven kilograms in seven months as she also reduced her alcohol and white carbohydrate intake.

Needless to say not everyone is thrilled to hear this.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton rejects the argument, saying there is no evidence for it, pointing out that Dr Tayler’s sweet study has not been published in a medical journal. ”I think what they are doing is mixing up fruit and fruit juice,” Dr Stanton says.
[…]
Dr Stanton says that overall fruit consumption in Australia is low and it is a struggle to get most people to eat the recommended two pieces a day.

Two? I thought it was five? And am I right in thinking that ‘nutritionist’, unlike ‘dietitian’, is not a legally protected term here? Not saying that Dr Stanton is unqualified or anything, and what she’s said there doesn’t seem unreasonable to me (and of course Dr Taylor being an anaesthetist is away from his normal field of expertise here anyway), but my point is that all this advice we get on what to eat and what not to eat is hardly clear. One week butter is good for you, the next it’ll murder you in your sleep. We must eat five pieces of fruit and veg per day, then we get fat if we do and anyway it was really only two per day all along.

What’s the right advice? Don’t ask me, I’m as unqualified to give advice on eating as they come. But what I can tell you is that moderation in all things seems like the most sensible approach as well as the most pleasant (the idea of an all sprout diet doesn’t bear thinking about), but I know it’s not an ideal I live up to in reality. And yes, I could stand to drop a few kilos – I did say I was as unqualified as they come. The point is that there’s no magic food and no magic maximum or minimum number for what’s ‘good’ for you. For many things too much is bad, and invariably too little isn’t a goo idea either. If you’re not happy or not well then probably you need to change something. Otherwise the only thing I’d really suggest is not to read the newspapers too much, because consuming more than five articles on health per week is incredibly dangerous and is likely to send you to an early grave.*

* Research pending. 😉

22 comments for “Your five a day is going to kill you

  1. November 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    The right advice is; a little of what you fancy. Make your own mind up and ignore the experts. 😈

    • November 7, 2011 at 6:22 am

      Spot on!

  2. james Higham
    November 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    This guff gets me so annoyed. Look, apples are good for you, so is most fruit, everyone’s been fine for centuries. The effing MSM is the problem here, giving a voice to these clowns.

    • Uncle Badger
      November 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Yes, but only up to a point. The clowns themselves bear a great deal of responsibility, too. Since modern medicine got the hang of (many) infectious diseases it has struggled to maintain its caste status without a regular supply of miracles.

      • November 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

        I think you’ve hit on something very significant there.

  3. john in cheshire
    November 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I agree with all of you. Everything in moderation and ignore the ‘experts’. What does this boil down to ? Self-control? If you want to be a lardarse, then so be it but don’t complain when people talk behind your back (I’m sure there’s a joke in there but I can’t be bothered). Having said that, there are many more fat people around these days than there ever was. And they all insist on wearing tight clothing. At least Demis Roussos wore a tent.

    • November 7, 2011 at 8:45 am

      I’d never say there ought to be a law against packing a size 14 arse into size 10 trousers, but…

  4. November 6, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    An apple represents about 2% of a normal male daily calorie intake – so about 2.5% for women. If you like apples – eat apples. I prefer them in a pie.

    • November 7, 2011 at 8:39 am

      Let’s be careful with the idea of normal calories intakes, eh? If a given calorie intake is considered normal that leaves everything else open to the kind of denormalisation treatment smokers got, drinkers are getting and people who eat food, i.e. everyone, is in for.

      For what it’s worth I prefer apples in pies too, especially pies baked by Mrs Exile which are usually abnormally tasty.

  5. Uncle Badger
    November 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    What’s particularly amusing is that despite the five a day myth having been killed stone dead, the supermarkets love it so dearly they are still promoting it. Likewise the bogus nonsense about ‘hydration’.

    As usual… follow the money.

    • November 7, 2011 at 8:43 am

      Yes, it’s a bandwagon certain people always had a financial incentive to jump on, isn’t it?

  6. dearieme
    November 7, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Fruit juice is the threat – great tumblers of sweet juice without the accompanying fibre that slows down, and finally limits, your consumption of juice. It’s such a pity – freshly squeezed orange juice (for example) is utterly wonderful, but it’s awfully easy to drink far too much fruit juice.

    • Lemmi
      November 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Totally agree. You burn calories digesting the fruit but don’t digesting the juice.

  7. Maaarrghk!
    November 7, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I’ve just had my 5 a day.

    Now I feel a bit sick….

    • November 7, 2011 at 8:41 am

      I’m not sure if we should ask what they were if they’ve made you sick. Five whole pumpkins? Five durians? 😯

      • Maaarrghk!
        November 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

        Ever seen a Philippine Jack Fruit? Looks like a peanut before the shell comes off. Green, stands about 2 feet tall. Smells like shit.

        • November 7, 2011 at 11:03 am

          Sounds… uh, lovely. 😀

  8. Paul Harrison
    November 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    There is some hilarious “science” by Rod Taylor. Katrina John cut out the two or three pieces of fresh fruit she consumed a day – say her calorie burn was 2000 calories a day, her three pieces of fruit were an apple, an orange and a banana – total calories of approx 250 or 12% – Mary also stopped eating three pieces a day – Basically Rod Taylors diet consists of “eating less calories” – who’d of thought that would help you lose weight!
    I especially like the part about eating almonds and chocolate now. The 250 calories of fruit she ate was equivalent to about 350grams fruit, or about 45 grams of Almonds or 40grams of dark chocolate. So Rod’s rules seem simple – eat less, feel hungry, lose weight.

    • November 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      There is some hilarious “science” by Rod Taylor… Basically Rod Taylors diet consists of “eating less calories” – who’d of thought that would help you lose weight!

      Does Dr Tayler even have a diet? I’ve just re-read the article and I can’t see anything that says clearly that he does. Far as I can tell he just has a theory, and if it’s that eating sugar rich fruit means consuming excessive calories I can’t see how it’s a controversial theory that deserves to be called hilarious or science in scare quotes. It also appears, though it’s not stated unequivocally, that he’s involved in some sort of clinical trial. Not a diet, a trial. Agreed, nothing groundbreaking here, and I did say that low carb diets aren’t anything new. But the point here is that messages along the lines of ‘eat X bits of fruit per day to live healthily’ are an over simplification.

      • Paul Harrison
        November 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm

        “But the point here is that messages along the lines of ‘eat X bits of fruit per day to live healthily’ are an over simplification.”

        Absolutely, i agree with this – but equally saying “eat less fruit and lose weight” is an over simplification too. In the same way its an oversimplification to say that the Australias obseity issue is caused by sugar not fat, and that fresh fruit is a leading contributory factor to this – and this was the point that I referred to as hilarious (point taken on the science part though – i should have said beliefs). I would imagine that fruit intake has increased slightly over the years as it has become a year round product rather then seasonal but i think its fair to say that when you look at countries that suffer high incidences of obesity such as Scotland and the US these are countries that are certainly more famed for their fatty foods then there excessive fruit intake. How many obese people would say that they are overweight due to excessive fruit consumption, or that fruit offers the least nutritional value of everything they eat and should therefore be the first thing that they give up. If this was fruit juice i’d say fine, but fresh whole fruit – I’m afraid i do find it a bit ridiculous.

        As for the clinical trial thing from what i read in the article its already been done but has remained unpublished.

        As for the “diet” comment it was based on the comments from Mary McPherson that said she was following Dr Taylors advice and was adjusting her diet accordingly – but agreed maybe not clearly a diet as its impossible to know outside of fruit, nuts, alcohol and all refined carbohydrates what it covered.

        One additional point is that i’d not say that this is a low carb diet (sorry theory), as Mary states that she ate sweet potatoes and brown rice and Mr Taylor suggests that he has no problem with veg.

        • November 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

          … equally saying “eat less fruit and lose weight” is an over simplification too. In the same way its an oversimplification to say that the Australias obseity issue is caused by sugar not fat, and that fresh fruit is a leading contributory factor to this…

          Indeed, which is why I said there’s no magic number. But aside from my extremely hyperbolic title and The Age’s headline I’m not sure anyone’s suggesting that it is that simple. Reading the article there are all the usual caveats: “in part to blame”, “can result in”, Dr Tayler believes” and so on.

          … that fresh fruit is a leading contributory factor to this – and this was the point that I referred to as hilarious (point taken on the science part though – i should have said beliefs).

          Fair enough, believing that would be hilarious (unless it turned out to be right). But that wasn’t quite what he said. He said he believes the biggest driver behind the rise in waistlines is sugar, and that fruit has lots of it. I doubt he’s suggesting that someone who consumes two spoons of refined sugar in their tea and scoffs a pack of TimTams a day is a lardie because they eat a couple of apples for breakfast. If it turns out that he is I’d certainly agree that it’s hilarious.

          … when you look at countries that suffer high incidences of obesity such as Scotland and the US these are countries that are certainly more famed for their fatty foods then there excessive fruit intake.

          But typically a shitload of sugars as well. So isn’t it a good idea that the assumption that it’s straightforward fat consumption is challenged and tested, even if only because a challenge that fails will make that more certain? Surely it’s of more than just academic interest to know whether the worst bit of the deep fried Mars bar is the fat soaked batter or the brick of sweet stuff in the middle.

          As for the clinical trial thing from what i read in the article its already been done but has remained unpublished.

          Could be, but apart from the nutritionist saying it hadn’t been published The Age use the present tense when referring to the study so I the impression it was ongoing. That’d be a valid reason for being unpublished in any medical journal, but of course they could have mucked it up the other way and really it is complete.

          One additional point is that i’d not say that this is a low carb diet (sorry theory)…

          Nobody’s saying it is. I just pointed out that this whole thing relates to fruit sugars, which are of course carbohydrates, and that since low carb diets are not new this should not be seen as a big shock new discovery.

          And absolutely yes, all this – the usual caveats/weasel words, the trial, the differing opinions – all of this means we should take it with a pinch of salt, which is about all the salt we’re allowed and which was also my whole point. What is good for us now will be dangerous for us by Christmas and will be good for us again by Easter, or as The Daily Mash put it “Is the celebrity diet we recommended last week killing you?” The only thing that looks definite is that Katrina John has definitely acquired Jedi powers and is Force levitating that orange, though that might just be a high shutter speed.

          • Paul Harrison
            November 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

            “Surely it’s of more than just academic interest to know whether the worst bit of the deep fried Mars bar is the fat soaked batter or the brick of sweet stuff in the middle”

            It is the sweet stuff in the middle – http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/nutrition-calories/food/mars/deep-fried-mars-bar/ 😆 I’m slightly scared that a percentage of people see deep fried mars bars as breakfast fodder!

            “The only thing that looks definite is that Katrina John has definitely acquired Jedi powers and is Force levitating that orange, though that might just be a high shutter speed”

            😆 😆 I do hope its the former.

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