What if modern Theories about Food & Digestion are Wacked.

- POSTED ON: Oct 19, 2012


We now have enormous access to miscellaneous information via the internet. This means that a relatively intelligent, ordinary person, with a bit of formal education (such as myself), can be exposed to a myriad of possibilities…   together with little or no personal ability to determine the accuracy of the information provided.

Online time exposes us to ideas that are relatively new to us, and leads us to discover data and publications… including books and videos … that would have been otherwise unavailable to us.
Such exposure and discoveries make me think about things in ways I’ve not previously considered.  There are many great Theories in the world which modern Societies in general consider to be true…but .. chances are, some of them probably are not.

Along with many other people living in the “civilized” societies of the present, I am interested in my own eating and digestive process. Yes, eating is necessary for sustaining life, but I want to know more about how I can enjoy food  without getting fat.  In a way, eating is like sex. If there was no enjoyment in the process, people would be doing a whole lot less of it.

  So, what if the details we THINK we know about Food and the Digestive system are inaccurate?

I find it interesting to consider the possibility that much of the knowledge which we take for absolute truth about diet and nutritional information (which is often referred to as “conventional wisdom”), might be WACKED. When I say “wacked”, I mean “out of order, crazy, not in proper condition, screwed up, incorrect, so messed up it could be broken.”

What if?  

What if the state of our current knowledge regarding nutrition and the body is similar to that previous accepted Truth = “the world is flat”? Societies of the past functioned for long periods of history with what we consider now to be only minimal knowledge. Back in time, people did a great deal of traveling before they discovered that “the world is round”. We now tend to think of them as ignorant, but they were as knowledgeable and forward thinking as was possible at the time. People in the future might consider those of us who live here in the present, to be ignorant and backward.

   I recently read the following about how “calories” were discovered:

Up until March 16, 1896 at 10:30 am, food was just that – something we ate to stave off hunger and to grow. Food was nourishment and a source of “protein” (back then this meant even rice, potatoes and wheat), typically, about 12-15% protein was recommended. All foods were assessed for “protein.” There was “cheap protein” and “expensive protein,” but people didn’t equate meat with protein any more than gluten in wheat. It was a time of affordable nourishment as a priority. People were starving.

On that day in March, Wilbur O. Atwater began his now famous calorimetry experiments and fundamentally changed how we look at food forever. After locking a Dr. Olin Freeman Tower up in a small chamber for 5 days Atwater took measurements of Dr. Tower’s metabolism. Four days earlier Dr. Tower began eating a fixed “breakfast, dinner, and supper” and continued throughout the 5 days. He exited on March 21 having gained 2 lbs.

Atwater’s measurements included both the change in temperature and the oxygen consumed/carbon dioxide produced. For the first time – food, mostly meals, had a number.

They went on to perform many experiments on how the body digests and absorbs the energy and then assigned “caloric content” of these foods based on experimentally measured averages. Remember, we didn’t know about vitamins and minerals yet – that begins 30 years later. Atwater was simply ascribing a caloric content to protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol. The question answered: How did the body react to food when input, waste, heat and composition were precisely measured? Did the laws of thermodynamics apply to people and food?

Eat, swallow, and poop. Now, we have a quantification of energy.

Atwater changed everything we knew about food. He made some groups angry, like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, for suggesting alcohol actually had calories, but he defined the notion of digestibility of food based on protein, carbohydrate fat, and alcohol energy content. He had good goals and unbelievable attention to detail, but he warned that these numbers shouldn’t be used too much outside the bounds of the food combinations that were studied.

On the not-so-helpful side of things, Atwater inadvertently launched the now common “macronutrient wars.” With this new data, the beef and wheat industry could go head-to-head on “affordable protein.” These battles have raged on for a century and soon food was being ubiquitously labeled with “proteins, carbs and fats” and today, diet dogma abounds on the mythical ratios for health.

When Atwater began these investigations, we were still trying to validate Lavoisier’s work a century earlier that equated the chemistry of a burning candle and the Human body’s digestion of food.

Atwater wasn’t a fan of bread and simple sugars and advocated that more legumes and vegetables be incorporated into the diet. People thought of food very differently then – remember, nourishment. After Atwater died, we learned so much more about the role of vitamins and minerals, but at that time it was much more simple and in some ways, easier to make decisions. When the first food pamphlet (after his death) was published in 1916 – Food For Young Children by Caroline L. Hunt, I’m sure it wouldn’t have met his approval had he been alive. In it, you can see the beginnings of what would be a century dominated by special interest and food political agendas.

In the little over a century between 1796 and 1900 Lavosier and Atwater made HUGE progress on energy and in the last century we’ve made progress on vitamins and minerals.

We have taken Wilbur Olin Atwater’s life work and reduced it to … pervasive, unintelligible, and misguided recommendations for people.

The key to weight loss AND health is to start talking about food, and not label it with macronutrient names based on a fictional notion that the most significant factor of a food is the majority of the macronutrient present within it.

 The above-article comes from the personal blog of Ray Cronis, which is known as Thermogenex, located at www.hypothermics.com. It says that

Ray Cronis studied chemistry in undergraduate and graduate school and began his career as a Material Scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. During his 15 years at NASA, he worked on a microgravity material science, physical & analytical chemistry, and space station environmental control an life support systems. Ray co-founded Zero Gravity Corporation with Peter Diamandis and Byron Lichtenberg - creating the world's first private parabolic flight operation. He is not a medical doctor, but is informally currently exploring the issue of weight loss by way of basic thermodynamic principles.

  Click the link if you’rd like to see “
Food For Young Children” (1916) by Caroline L. Hunt, which is the pamphlet referred to in the article above.

As part of my Dieting Hobby, I often consider things such as these,  simply because I find them interesting and/or inspiring.  I don’t feel it necessary to make a personal decision as to whether the ideas are truly “correct” or “incorrect”. Here at DietHobby my philosophy is: 
ake what you like and leave the rest

Leave me a comment.

Please Login to comment on this blog.

Existing Comments:

On Oct 19, 2012 wrote:
Hi Phyllis, After fifteen years I have come to the conclusion "Modern Theories about Food & Digestion are Wacked". If the foundation was based on soild fact and not one persons theory; there would be no obesity. People everywhere could eat and enjoy whatever they wished without any consequences.

On Oct 19, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Hi John, *** "People everywhere could eat and enjoy whatever they wished without any consequences."*** Wouldn't THAT be nice. =)

On Oct 20, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
Absolutely! the only 'catch 22' if you will would be each individuals tolerence for the 'amount' of food each consumes. Not guided or coerced by some 'manufacured boardroom study', or TV ad about what is 'good' and what is 'bad'.

On Oct 20, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
              I've found my DietPower software program very helpful with that "catch 22" in that ...over time... consistenly logging into my food journal provides me with excellent feedback about what "amount" of any food is appropriate for my own body.

<< Previous Blog
Search Blogs
DietHobby is a Digital Scrapbook of my personal experience in weight-loss-and-maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all. Every diet works for Someone, but no diet works for Everyone.
- View 2021
- View 2020
- View 2019
- View 2018
- View 2017
- View 2016
- View 2015
- View 2014
- View 2013
- View 2012
- View 2011

Mar 01, 2021
DietHobby: A Digital Scrapbook.
2000+ Blogs and 500+ Videos in DietHobby reflect my personal experience in weight-loss and maintenance. One-size-doesn't-fit-all, and I address many ways-of-eating whenever they become interesting or applicable to me.

Jun 01, 2020
DietHobby is my Personal Blog Website.
DietHobby sells nothing; posts no advertisements; accepts no contributions. It does not recommend or endorse any specific diets, ways-of-eating, lifestyles, supplements, foods, products, activities, or memberships.

May 01, 2017
DietHobby is Mobile-Friendly.
Technical changes! It is now easier to view DietHobby on iPhones and other mobile devices.