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WBB: Low-tar cigarettes, low-fat yogurt, healthy whole grains and other half-truths

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Posted: 9/4/2015 12:00:00 PM

Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2015-09-04
on the Wheat Belly Blog, sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index of WB Blog articles.

Low-tar cigarettes, low-fat yogurt, healthy whole grains and other half-truths

Pall Mall ad aimed at women

Followers of the Wheat Belly books and lifestyle understand a basic truth in logic: Just because something is less bad does not necessarily make it good.

Low-tar cigarettes have less of the toxic compounds that leave the brown residue–“tar”–after tobacco is burned, but smoking low-tar cigarettes does not reduce risk for lung cancer, mouth/throat cancer, or cardiovascular disease.

From on the impact of tobacco advertising:
Claims of low ‘tar,’ less ‘tar,’ or even lowest ‘tar’ have been circulating in cigarette advertisements for decades. This theme features ads which revolve around deceptive low tar claims which try to out-do each other, some going as far as to claim less than 1 mg of tar per cigarette. By ‘tar,’ tobacco companies are referring to the brown, sticky accumulation of chemicals amassed when tobacco is burned. This residue is considered to be one of the most damaging components of smoking, as it contains a multitude of identified carcinogens and causes harmful build-up in the lungs. It is therefore no surprise that, early on, tobacco companies began to make their cigarettes appear less harmful by advertising reduced tar levels. Low tar cigarettes are intended to keep concerned smokers from quitting by providing these smokers with what appears to be a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, lower tar ratings have no bearing on the safety of the brand in question. As internal tobacco documents have revealed, tobacco companies have been fully knowledgeable that lower tar cigarettes were not actually safer or healthier.

Something might be less bad, or contain less of an undesirable ingredient, but that does not necessarily mean that the product in question is therefore good.

Low-fat yogurt may have most or all the fat removed (the one truly healthy component of dairy products, by the way), but is typically loaded with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and has the whey protein that stimulates weight gain or blocks weight loss via insulin provocation. Low-fat yogurt is not a health food, but has the appearance of being less bad.

Likewise, 14 epidemiological studies that graded consumption of white flour products (bad) versus whole grain products (less bad because of greater B vitamin and fiber content) demonstrated reduced weight gain, less type 2 diabetes, less heart disease, and less colorectal cancer with greater whole grain consumption–that is indeed true. But those studies did not demonstrate that such conditions are less likely compared to NO grain consumption: less bad is not necessarily good. There are indeed many studies that compare grain consumption with no grain consumption, even if they haven’t received the sort of press given to, say, some new robotic surgical procedure or cancer treatment. But such studies demonstrate dramatic health benefits when no grains are included in diet, the sorts of benefits we see play out every day in the Wheat Belly community. (References can be found in Wheat Belly and Wheat Belly Total Health.) By removing grains entirely, we remove the appetite-stimulating, inflammatory, autoimmunity triggering, blood sugar raising, and hormonally disruptive effects grains exert on humans.

This seems like a straightforward, common sense sequence of logic: remove something that is less bad from the diet and there will be benefit. Yet the flawed logic of replacing bad with less bad has thrown off an entire generation of dietitians, physicians, and government agencies charged with providing nutritional advice who have all embraced the less bad whole grains, going as far as urging all of us to make them the dominant ingredient in diet every day. In the Wheat Belly lifestyle, we eliminate the bad–white flour products–and the less bad–whole grains of all types. That’s when wonderful things happen.

D.D. Infinite Health icon