A New Column: The Nutrition Mythbuster

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By Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS
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For the occasion of my first appearance in WholeFoods, I’d like to tell you a bit about me and what to expect from this column.

I started my career in health as a personal trainer, at the Equinox Fitness Club in New York. I believed most of what we were taught about training, weight loss and nutrition. I believed in low-fat diets. I believed that people were obese simply because they didn’t move around enough and that they ate too many calories. I believed in aerobic exercise for weight loss, and I regularly “prescribed” long—mostly joyless—hours on the treadmill for my clients who wanted to lose weight (which was virtually all of them). And I thought that if you wanted to lower your risk for heart disease, the most important thing to do was to lower your cholesterol.

Over the years, I learned that I was wrong about every single one of those things.

I was also wrong about saturated fat, soy, canola oil, aerobic exercise, high-fructose corn syrup, grains, high-carb diets and a host of other subjects. And if my career has been about anything, it’s been about setting the record straight.

The “conventional wisdom” on nutrition hasn’t been completely wrong about everything, but it’s been—and continues to be—wrong on many things, sometimes horribly so. Following some of this “conventional” advice has contributed to making us fatter than at any time in history, not to mention frequently sick, tired and depressed.

So this column is about “myth-busting”.

It’s also about engaging with you, the reader.

For years, I wrote the “Ask the Doc” column in Clean Eating magazine, and have written similar columns for Better Nutrition, Amazing Wellness and many other industry publications. Now, I’m going to be engaging with the readers of this site, and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity. I want this to be a place where you can ask tough questions, get honest answers to issues that are often clouded by special interests (food pyramid, anyone?) and where—when clear answers aren’t available—you can learn “both” sides of the story and make informed decisions about what actions to take concerning your health.

It’s hard to think of a subject about which people are more confused about than nutrition. There are smart, capable people—with lots of letters after their name—supporting all sorts of programs that at first glance seem wildly incompatible (and sometimes are!) Vegetarian diets, vegan diets, raw food diets, high protein diets, high fat diets, high carb diets, paleo diets, alkaline diets…not to mention a dozen others named after their authors (Atkins, Dukkan, Pritikin) or after some trendy location (Hamptons, South Beach, Beverly Hills).

And that’s just diet. Supplements are even more controversial, if that’s possible. It almost seems that a week can’t go by without some provocative  headline about nutritional supplements (“Omega-3s cause prostate cancer! Omega-3s benefit the heart! Vitamin supplements are useless! Vitamin supplements are essential!”).

No wonder people are confused.

Even those of us who do this stuff for a living full-time can’t keep up with the conflicting studies, the competing claims, the arguments for and counter-arguments against almost any nutritional subject you can think of, from alkaline water to supplements to diet.

This column is responsible only to you, the reader. I’m not trying to sell you anything and I’m not trying to convince you I’m “right”. This column exists for one reason only: to tell you the truth. To help you sort fact from fiction, to tell you what we do know, what we don’t know, and what we’re still discovering.

Is this column going to give you the ultimate answer on every nutritional controversy? No. No one—no guru, no matter how smart—can do that, and anyone who promises they can provide that kind of certainty in a field that is constantly shifting and changing is lying to you.

But my promise to you is this: I will answer your questions as truthfully as I can. When there is controversy, I will try to present both sides fairly. I will tell you my opinion—and I will tell you how I arrived at it. (And I will always invite you to disagree!)

And if the column is successful—as I hope it will be—you will be able to use it as an important resource to help you gather good, responsible information about topics that are relevant to your health and your well-being.

My goal for this column is to give you tools to explore the topics you care about intelligently. When I think the conventional wisdom is boneheadedly wrong—as it often is—I’ll tell you so, and I’ll tell you why I believe that to be the case. My goal is not to “convince” you that I’m right—it’s to help you think about the subject in a better, more informed way, and then, hopefully, arrive at your own conclusions.

In other words, this column is about empowerment. It’s about empowering you in your journey to optimal health.

So comment below with your questions and comments. Or, email them to KaylynnEbner@wfcinc.com. Each month, I’ll pick the questions that seem most relevant to the most number of people, and I’ll answer them. Along the way, we’ll bust a number of myths, shake off the dust on some past-their-expiration-date theories, and shine new light on the issues you’re interested in.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Let the games begin.

 

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is the co-author (with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra) of the best-selling book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease (and the Statin-Free Plan that Will). Known as “The Rogue Nutritionist”™ he was recently voted one of the 100 most influential people in health and fitness (by Greatlist.com). Dr. Jonny is a nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition, a board-certified nutritionist, and the best-selling author of thirteen books on health, including “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” and “Living Low Carb”. He’s a frequent guest on television and radio, and has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, NBC, and CBS. He is a past member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Men’s Health magazine, the Nutrition Editor for Pilates Style, and a regular contributor to Clean Eating Magazine, Better Nutrition Magazine, and Total Health Online.  He was recently invited to speak in China, giving lectures at both Beijing University and Shanghai University.

Dr. Jonny has contributed to articles for dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Time, Oxygen, Marie Claire, Diabetes Focus, GQ, US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Self, Fitness, Family Circle, Allure, Men’s Heath, Prevention, In Style, Natural Health, and many other publications. He appears regularly as an expert on ABC-TV Los Angeles and serves on the scientific advisory board of several companies in the natural products industry.

Posted July 16, 2014

Comments

As a diabetic with high cholesterol, finding a great breakfast is really difficult. Fruit has too much sugar, toast (even whole wheat) has carbs, cereal has carbs, eggs have cholesterol....what do you recommend?

Fantastic first column, Jonny. They don't call you the "Rogue Nutritionist" for nothing! You always tell it like it is. I always learn something new from you and look forward to reading your future columns.

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