Saturday, April 10, 2010

Let them eat corn

I'm fascinated by the media war over high fructose corn syrup. This is how I basically summarize how the whole thing went down:

Princeton researcher: High fructose corn syrup caused weight gain in rats when used in a blind study. We also found that it metabolizes differently than sugar and turns straight into adipose fat.

Corn industry: High fructose corn syrup is perfectly healthy. That rat study is dumb. Nobody could eat as much high fructose corn syrup as those rats ate.

Princeton researcher: Our research still showed that it does metabolize differently than sugar - and in an unhealthy way.

Corn industry: No it doesn't. It metabolizes the same as sugar cause we say so. So there.

You can read more about the study here and what the corn industry says here .

I went to my riding lesson yesterday morning despite having an arthritis flare-up. I decided that I would go and just do what I could do and I'm glad I did. I was able to do a little over half my lesson before I said I needed to stop because my shoulders were getting so achy. This particular flare-up seems to be hitting me in unusual places including my jaws. I'm trying not to think about it too much so I won't go down some weird scary, fretty road of "what will happen if the arthritis eats away my temporal mandibular joint the way it has my thumbs, wrists, knees and ankles?" Ugh.

Anyway, it was a good lesson despite its short length. We worked on cantering for the first time ever in my lessons which I'd been dreading because Girlfriend's canter is more of a gallop ... as in she wants to go straight from walk to gallop. It is definitely smoother than her trot, but she was trained to take her corners fast and at a sideways slant and it takes a lot of concentration to keep her upright and slow and steady at a canter. And a lot of back muscle to keep my balance right in the center of the saddle. Surprisingly though I really did feel a little better after my lesson. I have no idea why exercise is good for rheumatoid arthritis but my rheumotologist preaches "exercise so you won't be crippled!" so there's something to it. Of course in this case the rx-strength ibuprofen and falling asleep on the heating pad the night before may have helped too.

I had lunch today with my friend, Beth (who is one of my favorite friends - waving to Beth - "Hi!') I told her about how my husband had gone to a discussion group of folks he thought wanted to discuss neurology and neurophysiology but a good portion of them wanted to discuss psuedo-science or "woo-woo science" as we call it. There really are a few woo-woo things I'm into, such as Reiki and acupuncture because I've experienced both of those and they have helped me. But I know that as of yet there are no scientific explanations as to why they have helped me and I don't try to pretend there is. Unlike the standard "The laws of thermodynamics prove there is life after death because energy can not be created or destroyed!" (this argument drives me nuts because they never take into account the transfer of energy through decomposition of the dead body which seems like the obvious example of that particular law of thermodynamics - not the soul ascending to heaven). And once again, the irony here is that I do believe we all have souls that will go to some other reality when we die, I just know that the laws of thermodynamics are not proof of that.

Anyway, we were talking about how psuedo-science is so common and widely accepted, like the whole Jenny McCarthy anti-vaccination kick and how incredibly damaging that could turn out to be if enough people don't get their children vaccinated because of misinformation and then these serious diseases start to come back. That is definitely the reaction of a very very privileged society - a generation that has never actually seen first hand what polio or rubella can do to a person or what an actual epidemic is like. I wonder if lots of people in third world countries who have seen epidemics and serious diseases wipe out friends and family - how many of them worry about unfounded rumors that vaccines will cause autism or that the trace amounts of mercury will damage their children's IQ (based on non-scientific rumors that contradict scientific findings that show current vaccines are safe)? I imagine they are thinking, "I don't want my baby to get polio!" but I could be wrong.

I wonder also about vegans in poorer countries. Are there vegans in third world countries? That also seems to me a philosophy of the comfortable and privileged. If you have access to any food in the world just by walking down the street and pulling out your debit card, then one does have the luxury of philosophizing on what they are going to eat. But if your choice of food is beans, rice, goat, eggs and milk, it seems that it would not be very appealing to choose to be a vegan. I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of our culture with all these rich girls purposely starving themselves to death to be super models and people refusing to eat animal products because of their philosophy that it is cruel?

Then there is also the issue of pernicious anemia from a long term vegan diet but when I brought that up to a vegan once she told me that all the medical research had been backed by the beef and dairy industry and it was all a lie. Ok.

Beth said that her client, Phil Plait is so annoyed by psuedo-science that he has made a career of debunking it. Now I must read some of his writing and keep an eye out on when he lectures again. I wonder if he too is backed by the dairy and beef industry?

This page is a sobering testament to the need for critical thinking in our society.

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