The Second Version

04/07/07

Healthy and Unhealthy

The debate about food is taking a dangerous direction in my opinion. The new puritans and other assorted authoritarian folks are beyond trying to persuade using words, but are leveraging on the power of the government and other institutions to make our diets healthy by law. For our own good, of course!

I'll begin with a categoric assertion: there are no inherently good or bad foods.
The only thing that actually matters is the amount assumed. As the old saying goes, it is the dose that makes the poison, and that is true even for nasty stuff like nerve agents.

So what we have is foods that can be eaten often and in large amounts with very little adverse effects, while others should be limited because a large intake of them can be harmful. Of course, these effects are generally relevant on a statistical basis: the people with certain eating habits are more likely to manifest health problems than others.

In practice this means that one doesn't have to agonize over eating a supersize meal at McDonald's, or better a batch of fried bacon and chips or a fiorentina steak. If the rest of your meals are properly balanced and do not contain too many calories realative to your energy expenditure, you're gonna be fine even with the occasional binge eating.

The total energy income is another important point. If you introduce more energy than you consume, you're gonna get fat; that is nothing more than a mass/energy balance. Excess energy can be introduced by eating any kind of food, even "healthy" ones. But admittely, it is much easier to do that with fast-food and processed meals.

Finally, a small critique. Grilled meat does contain PAHs and other nefarious substances, but the risk isn't huge in my opinion. As I said, a balanced diet will counter that, but there is more: grilling is an ancient cooking method - possibly the oldest. That means that modern humans evolved together with grilled meat, and it's plausible that some sort of resistance to its toxic substances developed.

And now what's for dinner?

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