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Give us this day our daily bread.

Junkfood Science: Nutritional numerology

The latest study in the news, said to “confirm the health benefits of whole grains,” gives us another look at meta-analyses and chance to see just how shaky the science is behind many of our popular beliefs about “healthy” eating.

One of the most popular beliefs is in the special health-promoting properties of whole grains and dietary fiber. Refined foods are supposed to be “bad” for us and if we listen to today’s popular diet doctors and government spokespeople, white foods are nothing short of deadly and should be eliminated from our diet!

Yes, Get Whitey! He is bad, bad, bad, if your bread doesn't taste and look like sawdust you are going to hell my son.

For those interested, here are some fun facts we don’t often hear. Soluble fiber fibers are found inside plant cells and include pectin, dextrin and gum. Fibers in the cell walls of plants that are water insoluble include cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Like these researchers, when we think of “healthy” sources of fiber most of us think of foods like those listed on this government website (grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits).

You can bet that coffee, for example, isn’t included in most dietary fiber or wholegrain studies, even though a medium cup of coffee has 3 grams of soluble fiber — as much as an apple! Nor is beer, which has significant amounts of dietary soluble fiber and would make just as much sense. And while these beverages aren’t seen as “healthy,” we are quick to pay dearly to guzzle down “healthy” functional drinks containing the very same soluble fibers. Jellies are never included, even though they’re thickened with natural pectins. And what about guar gum, which is commonly used to thicken and keep our favorite puddings and ice creams creamy? Without soluble fiber ingredients, like locust bean gum, carageenan and guar gum, these foods would separate and become grainy messes. But the fiber in “bad” foods doesn’t “count” — even though it’s the same thing! :)

So beer and nachos with gallons of dip (full of guar gum), followed by ice cream is a way of getting my daily fibre, maybe I am a health freak after all!


Pigs live long and happy lives. Therefore, by eating lots of pig I too can enjoy a long and happy life. Can't argue with that logic, I assure you.

That might be so, Englishman but I know that when I came over here and
was forced, due to availability, to eat fibrous foods, the health really
took a turn for the better. If I don't include fibre for two days, I'm
usually in trouble.

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