Some One Had Blunder’d

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

–Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Before we begin, calm yourself by watching the video delicious sardines. I took it at an aquarium in Japan. It’s called the Sardine Tornado, which would be a great thing for Aquaman to be able to create, if you ask me.

Yesterday we saw that Americans now have new guidelines insisting we use fluoride toothpaste on very young children. This led us, by a circuitous route, through a number of “why’s” to wonder why kids’ teeth are all rotting away at younger and younger ages. Since it is well known that grain and sugar are the main culprits in tooth decay, gum disease, and other mouth deformations the question then becomes: do we have to eat these foods–or at least do we have to eat them in such great quantity–in order to live well? Is it possible that a child could not just survive, but actually thrive on a diet that didn’t include them?

If you read yesterday’s post you know what I think:

The main reason that grains are believed to be necessary for nutrition is that they have been “fortified” or “enriched.” …That’s how a box of Cocoa Puffs–which among any sensible people would not qualify as “food”–can have 50% of your daily RDA of manganese.

If your child eats the Standard American Diet (SAD), then yep, he or she will be malnourished without all the spray vitamins. If he or she eats a healthy diet, you don’t need all that garbage.

So let’s talk about this in detail. WHY do we have to fortify our grain? If grains are so good for us, shouldn’t they provide adequate nutrition alone? Is it possible that someone could get good nutrition without eating any?

Let’s start with our Standard American Diet (SAD) kids. We’ll call our SAD representative Sally and make her ten. I’m going to break down the nutrition and micro-nutrition as best I can for everything she eats today. One thing I’ve done throughout her meals: I’ve removed the “fortification” from the grains and cereals. That means I’m not counting them. No chemical spray vitamins, please. What we need to know is this: would SAD Sally have any chance on earth of getting anything like the nutrition that she needs without having vitamins and minerals sprayed onto her food?

Now bear in mind that all the calculations I’ve made are approximate. I’ve done my best to be completely accurate, and whenever possible I’ve gotten my information from sites that chemically break down the food for exactitude. That being said, they aren’t always 100% accurate, people digest foods differently (which changes how much nutrition someone gets out of it), portions vary, and food changes over time. Vitamins degrade, one jug of milk may not have what another jug has because of differences in the cow who gave it, children can be picky eaters, etc. Also remember that sometimes that zero in nutrition, unlike in mathematics, just means “negligible.” Despite all this, however, I believe we can get good enough information to generally answer the question.

I’m going to be very kind to SAD Sally today. I’m going to assume that she’s got some self-control. She’s eating breakfast at school, and I’m going to assume she’ll choose regular skim milk, not the chocolate or strawberry. I’m also going to let her choose a “healthy” cereal–Honey Kix–instead of Lucky Charms, or Trix, or Count Chocula. I’ll also assume she chooses this healthy wholegrain cereal and not the “breakfast pizza”.

After breakfast, our SAD child will have consumed the following major nutrients (Recommended Daily Allowances or other relevant information is next to each value when important):

  • Fat: 1.4g (Omega 6 to 3 ratio of 32:1. Healthy ratio ranges are debated, but somewhere between 2:1 through an upper limit of 7:1)
  • Sugar: 18g
  • Protein: 10.4g
  • Starch: 19g (“starch” is nothing more than sugar once the body breaks it down. It also spikes blood sugar faster than pure sugar.)
  • Vit A: ~88.3 (2,000IU)
  • Vit E: .15 (11mg)
  • Calcium: 301.67 (1,300mg)
  • Magnesium: 33 (240mg)
  • Iron: .5 (8mg)
  • Vit K: 0 (60mcg)
  • Vit D: 0 (unknown, but believed to be about 600IU)

BUT WAIT! All the vitamins and minerals I listed above are fat-soluble. That means you can only absorb them in the presence of fat. Since SAD Sally didn’t eat enough fat, most of those vitamins and minerals are not bio-available to her.

BUT WAIT! The whole grain corn in her “healthy” whole grain cereal also contains phytate, which inhibits the absorption of calcium, iron, and magnesium by anywhere from 50-97%. So even if some of those nutrients slipped in despite the lack of fat, the phytates make sure SAD Sally gets just about…ZIPPO!

Sorry SAD Sally! Please play again at lunch!

Here’s SAD Sally’s numbers for other nutrients:

  • Vit B6: .13 (1mg)
  • Copper: 74 (700mcg)
  • Phosp: 267 (1,250mg)
  • Thiamin: .113 (.9mg)
  • Ribo: .362 (.9mg)
  • Niacin: 1.11 (12mg)
  • Folate: 28 (300mcg)
  • Vit B12: .93 (1.8mcg)
  • Vit C: 0 (75mg)
  • Selenium: 7.77 (55mcg)
  • Iodine: 0 (120mcg)
  • Zinc: 0 (8mg)
  • Potassium: 0 (4.5g)
  • Manganese: 0 (240mg)

So as you can see, SAD Sally has pretty much eaten nothing but sugar so far for her day. Her Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios are off-the-chart bad, meaning her little body is rife with inflammation. Without any fat, the sugar and starch she ate hit her bloodstream like a runaway freight train. She’s going to have a giant sugar crash in a few hours and may start screaming, or crying inconsolably, or get unaccountably angry/sad/frustrated. Of course this will be fixed instantly with a little more sugar at lunch.

Without the right kind of fat, she’ll have trouble concentrating, thinking, controlling her emotions, and running her body’s biochemical processes.  She’s also more likely to get sick because sugar in general compromises the immune system, on top of which her breakfast is forcing her body to make its own saturated fat out of sugar to compensate for the lack of this essential brain building-block in her diet. This process is inefficient and robs energy from the immune system.

And her teacher wonders why SAD Sally can’t sit still, can’t concentrate, and dissolves into a ball of emotional wreckage at the slightest provocation.  (Don’t get me wrong-I’m all for discipline and teaching self-control. But it’s unconscionable to tell a child he’ll be punished for losing his temper and lashing out, and then deny him what he needs to control his hormones while simultaneously filling him with sugar.)

So SAD Sally goes on till lunch, at which time we’re going to be very generous again and suggest that she skips the pepperoni pizza and goes for the wholegrain PB&J, which at her school comes with a cheese stick and some wholegrain Goldfish crackers. The first problem is the whole grains. They may have more nutrients than white flour, but they also have lots more phytates. Have a look at this study done in Iran–a village rampant with anemia from iron deficiency, despite a high-iron diet. How could that possibly be? Turned out the problem was that wholegrain bread was the staple of their diet. All that healthy whole grain was stealing iron right out from under them. How about the Indians plagued by the double whammy of low calcium intake coupled by too many phytates because of their poverty diet: wholegrain bread?

Here’s SAD Sally’s lunch numbers:

  • Protein: 26.g
  • Fat: 28.8g (this is better, but a lot of that fat came from cottonseed oil in the peanut butter, meaning her Omega 6:3 ratio is still abysmal. And since it’s the wrong kind of fat it’s not going to help her with emotion, concentration, and attention.)
  • Sugar: 23.2g
  • Starch: 32.2g

Because she had some fat, her vitamins A, E, K and D and her minerals calcium, magnesium and iron are actually bio-avalable to her at this meal. However, since phytates are blocking the absorption of the following three minerals, she’s probably only getting the lesser number.

  • Calcium: 280mg 140mg
  • Magnesium: 72.3mg 36.15mg
  • Iron: 2.08mg 1.04mg

For vitamins:

  • Vit A: ~241IU
  • Vit E: 3.04mg
  • Vit K: 2.4mcg
  • Vit D: 0
  • Vit B6: .459mg
  • Vit B12: 0
  • Vit C: 0
  • Copper: 306
  • Phosp: 57
  • Thiamin: .099
  • Ribo: .06
  • Niacin: 5.62
  • Folate: 14mcg
  • Selenium: 2.4mcg
  • Iodine: 0
  • Zinc: 0
  • Manganese: 0

So for lunch SAD Sally has had more protein, thankfully, and some fat. But not enough. So far today her diet has been only about 18% fat, and unless she eats closer to 35% fat she’s at risk for all kinds of developmental disorders. She has, however, had tons and tons of simple sugar and starch. So far she’s had more than 41g of sugar, plus another 51.2g of plain starch. She still hasn’t had much real nutrition of any kind except calcium, which of course she can’t absorb well.

After school, SAD Sally goes home and, like 73% of American children, grabs a soda to drink on the bus home. 20oz of orange soda which gives her:

  • Sugar: 71g

And most of the sweetener in that soda (and in the jelly on her pb&j) is high fructose corn syrup because that’s the cheapest sweetener available. Her body doesn’t process the HFCS like it does the sugar. Sugar is a two-molecule substance in a 50-50 ratio that requires a little something called “digestion” to break apart. The manufacturers of HFCS have gotten past that pesky problem to create something with a 55-45 ratio and no chemical bond, so it goes almost straight to your bloodstream. Sally’s liver is now working overtime to deal with the toxin she’s thrown in there, and the free fructose may be punching holes in her gut while it does.

Another one-two punch to her immune system, by the way.

When she gets home, SAD Sally begs for a snack. Of course she does: she’s starving. Mom is really controlled and doesn’t give her candy. Instead, she gives her some healthier Cool Ranch Doritos. We’re not even going to pretend that SAD Sally would only eat 12 of them (a single serving size). From them, Sally gets:

  • Fat: 8g (Sadly, though, all this fat is from toxic sunflower and soy oils, meaning–among other things–that her Omega 6:3 ratio continues to be horrific.)
  • Starch: 15g
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Calcium: 20mg

For dinner, the family goes to McDonald’s, where SAD Sally’s parents insist on the healthy options. No french fries for her! No, she gets a hamburger, apple slices, and instead of soda a box of apple juice. She does get an ice cream sundae though.

  • Fat: 18g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Sugar: 85g
  • Starch: 23g
  • Iron: 2.8mg
  • Vit A: ~60IU
  • Calcium: 290mg
  • Vit C: 414mg 207mg
  • Vit B12: .9mg
  • Zinc: 2mg
  • Copper: 1mg
  • Phosp: 112mg
  • Magnesium: 21mg
  • Vit E: 0
  • Vit K: 0
  • Vit D: 0
  • Vit B6: 0
  • Thiamin: 0
  • Ribo: 0
  • Niacin: 0
  • Folate: 0
  • Selenium: 0
  • Iodine: 0
  • Manganese: 0
  • Potassium: 0

The good news is that since her bun isn’t whole grain it has hardly any phytates. Because she’s eaten fat, too, she actually gets to absorb the iron, vitamin A, magnesium, and calcium. The bad news is that the refining process removed nearly every bit of nutrition out of the wheat in her bun. All that’s left is starch: unless of course you spray stuff on it. But we’re not counting that today.

Among many other pieces of bad news are:

  1. More HFCS in the bun and ketchup
  2. More soybean oil in the bun
  3. Carageenan and soy in the ice cream
  4. The vitamin C in the apple juice and apples degrades so fast that only half is actually available to her by the time she eats them.

So what has Sally eaten today?
What she needed is on the left, and what she got is on the right. Next to that is the percentage (rounded) that she got of what she needed. The ones in bold are where she’s come out deficient:

  • Iron: 8mg–4.34mg  55%
  • A: ~4,600IU–389.3IU  19%
  • Calcium: 1,300mg–751.67mg  58%
  • C: 75mg–207mg  100+
  • B12: 1.8mcg–1.83mcg   100+
  • Zinc: 8mg–2mg  25%
  • Selenium: 40mcg–10.17mcg  25%
  • Potassium: 4.5g–0g   0%
  • Phosphrous: 1,250mg–436mg  35%
  • Manganese: 1.6mg–0mg   0%
  • Magnesium: 240mg–91.15mg  38%
  • Iodine: 120mcg–0mcg    0%
  • Copper: 700mcg–480mcg   69%
  • B6: 1mg–.589mg   60%
  • Niacin 12mg–6.73mg    56%
  • Riboflavin: .9mg–.422mg    47%
  • Thiamin: .9mg–.212mg   24%
  • K: 60mcg–2.4mcg   4%
  • E: 11mg–3.19mg   13%–20%
  • D: 600IU–0IU   0% (deficiency unknown, as most D is made by the body through exposure to sunshine: it all depends on the time of year, how much time SAD Sally was in the sun, and her own skin pigmentation.)
  • Folate: 300mcg–42mcg  14%

It’s horrifying.

Could SAD Sally eat like this once in a while and be ok? Of course she could–those recommended daily allowances don’t mean you have to have exactly that much every single day in a row. You just have to average out at about that much regularly in order to avoid disorders and diseases. But SAD Sally isn’t eating like this once in a while. She’s eating these foods and foods like them all the time.

And remember that the numbers here aren’t ideal doses of these nutrients-they’re just the minimum necessary. Furthermore, I’ve given her credit for all the nutrients, even though some of them were not bio-available to her. The horrifying truth is she probably didn’t even get as much as I listed above. Her fat intake was not even 14% when she needs at least 35%. And her simple sugar, the one thing she did not need one microgram of, is 198.2 grams!

She’s a typical kid–which means that she’s eating sweetened cereal for every weekday breakfast and normally throwing away her fruit and vegetables at the school lunch because she hates them. Kids who eat nothing but starch and sugar almost always hate vegetables and fruit. Why eat apples when M&M’s are so much more delicious? Why eat broccoli when bread is so much more physiologically satisfying?

I hope you appreciate the gravity of this situation. I don’t know how to emphasize it enough: SAD Sally would soon die on this diet if that’s all there was. If SAD Sally lived on the African continent and thus didn’t have access to Flintstone multivitamin pills, and didn’t have her McDonald’s bun and Honey Kix sprayed down with vitamins and minerals, international aid agencies would be begging you for money to keep her from dying from malnutrition.

Now let’s try another child. We’ll call her Primal Patty. Primal Patty’s parents don’t feed her low-carb–don’t worry.  A lot of people panic thinking their child will be completely deprived of carbohydrates if he doesn’t get plenty of grain and sugar. That’s not the case. But what Primal Patty’s parents don’t do is feed her grain or simple or refined sugars, though she might be allowed some cake at a friend’s birthday party sometimes. All these meals are from primal and paleo websites featuring actual meals that actual American parents are feeding their actual children today.

For breakfast, Paleo Patty has an egg fried in butter, two strips of bacon, a small banana, and a cup of raw milk. From that, she gets:

  • Fat: 26g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Carbohydrate: 22g (we’re not calling this sugar because it is not simple sugar either in refined white form or HFCS. It’s complex carbohydrates from things like banana.)
  • Vit A: ~921 UI (4,600)
  • Vit E: 3.38 (11)
  • Vit K: 12.95 (60)
  • Vit D: 0
  • Iron: 1.28 (8)
  • Calcium: 368.1 (1,300)
  • Magnesium: 71.6 (240)

Good news for Primal Patty! She’s consumed 36% fat this morning, which is ideal for her growth and development needs. That fat is also well balanced, so her inflammation markers are down and her brain, immune system, and hormone production system all have the building blocks they need to do their job normally. She’s got a much better chance than SAD Sally of actually getting through this morning without some kind of emotional breakdown. She also won’t have a sugar crash and didn’t compromise her immune system, because the carbs in her banana aren’t refined and the fat in her breakfast made sure they entered her system at a nicely measured rate. Since she ate lots of healthy fat, all those fat soluble vitamins and minerals were very bio-available for her. Here’s what else she got:

  • Vit B6: 2.36 (1mg)
  • Copper: 215.5 (700mcg)
  • Phosp: 438 (1,250mg)
  • Thiamin: .23 (.9mg)
  • Ribo: 1.16 (.9mg)
  • Niacin: 3 (12mg)
  • Folate: 53.1 (300mcg)
  • Vit B12: 1.65 (1.8mcg)
  • Vit C: 11.75 (75mg)
  • Selenium: 52.9 (55mcg)
  • Iodine: 61.25 (120mcg)
  • Zinc: 2.76 (8mg)
  • Potassium: 8.44 (4.5g)
  • Manganese: 1.2 (1.6mg)

Primal Patty is off to a great start. For lunch, her mom sent leftover taco meat (grassfed beef and a little liver) containing both chili powder and cumin; strawberries; cucumbers; a nectarine; and some cheddar cheese. She drank water. Here’s what she got:

  • Protein: 40.35g
  • Fat: 32.5g (all perfectly balanced again, so no inflammation, oxidative stress or immune system compromise)
  • Carbohydrates: 15.75
  • Calcium: 510.35
  • Magnesium: 94.7
  • Iron: 6.7
  • Vit A: ~3,900IU
  • Vit E: 10.7
  • Vit K: 17.15
  • Vit D: 22.93
  • Vit B6: .96
  • Vit B12: 26.17
  • Vit C: 54.3
  • Copper: 3000
  • Phosp: 4,891
  • Thiamin: .31
  • Ribo: 1.4
  • Niacin: 12.92
  • Folate: 140.4
  • Selenium: 46.95
  • Iodine: 0
  • Zinc: 9.88
  • Manganese: .8
  • Potassium: .43

At this point in the day, Primal Patty is doing great. Good nutrition, low sugar, 35.1% fat for her brain and other systems, and plenty of protein for her muscles.

Like a lot of kids, Primal Patty wants a snack after school–though unlike SAD Sally she’s much less likely to whine, scream, or demand a snack because she’s not starving at a physiological level. Dad whips out some blueberries and Greek yogurt–full fat and without added sugar.

  • Protein: 18.25g
  • Fat: 10g  (balanced type once again)
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Calcium: 299
  • Magnesium: 31.45
  • Iron: .34
  • Vit A: ~260.5
  • Vit E: .25
  • Vit K: 7
  • Vit D: 4.9
  • Vit B6: 1.10
  • Vit B12: .91
  • Vit C: 4.53
  • Copper: .02
  • Phosp: 237
  • Thiamin: .14
  • Ribo: .36
  • Niacin: 1.08
  • Folate: 19.2
  • Selenium: 5.4
  • Iodine: 71.05
  • Zinc: 1.5
  • Manganese: .11
  • Potassium: .41

For dinner, the Primals have a steak salad, consisting of  steak with olive oil and spices, bell pepper, salad greens, avocado, and lime juice.

  • Protein: 27.2g
  • Fat: 93.02g (most of this comes from the olive oil, which not only keeps her lipids nicely balanced, but actually mitigates against inflammation.)
  • Carbohydrates: 1
  • Calcium: 47.44
  • Magnesium: 65.6
  • Iron: 5.08
  • Vit A: ~1,123IU
  • Vit E: .2
  • Vit K: 78.51
  • Vit D: 0
  • Vit B6: 1
  • Vit B12: 1.6
  • Vit C: 118.1
  • Copper: .1
  • Phosp: 309.44
  • Thiamin: .05
  • Ribo: .2
  • Niacin: 11.4
  • Folate: 97.21
  • Selenium: 25
  • Iodine: 0
  • Zinc: 6.18
  • Manganese: .3
  • Potassium: .94

Low sugar so she’s not crazy while she does her homework; nor screaming and crashing at bedtime. Plenty of fat for all the reasons already stated. Now let’s look at the grand total, again with what she needs on the left and what she got on the right. Anywhere she was deficient is in bold print with percentages to show how much of the minimum she got:

  • Iron: 8mg–13.4mg
  • A: ~4,600IU–6,205IU
  • Calcium: 1,300mg–1,225mg  94.2%
  • C: 75mg–189mg
  • B12: 1.8mcg–30.33mcg
  • Zinc: 8mg–20.32mg
  • Selenium: 40mcg–130.25mcg
  • Potassium: 4.5g–10.22g
  • Phosphrous: 1,250mg–5,875mg
  • Manganese: 1.6mg–12.41mg
  • Magnesium: 240mg–263.35mg
  • Iodine: 120mcg–132.3mcg
  • Copper: 700mcg–3,215mcg
  • B6: 1mg–5.42mg
  • Niacin 12mg–28.4mg
  • Riboflavin: .9mg–3.12mg
  • Thiamine: .9mg–.73mg   81%
  • K: 60mcg–116mcg
  • E: 11mg–14.53mg
  • D: 600IU–27.83IU  (deficiency unknown, as most D is made by the body through exposure to sunshine–it all depends on the time of year, how much time Primal Patty was in the sun, and her own skin pigmentation.)
  • Folate: 300mcg–310

Amazing, isn’t it? The only things Primal Patty didn’t get today are a few milligrams of calcium and tenths of a milligram of thiamine. She’s much less deficient in either of these than SAD Sally, and her diet will likely balance that out over time.

Speaking of balance, don’t worry about those really high numbers. The copper and Vit A are from the liver, and the Primals don’t feed Patty liver every day. Organ meat is only two or three times a week, and even that vitamin A level is still within the Upper Tolerance limit. Her niacin is a bit above the Upper Tolerance, but read the fine print and you see that there is no known adverse affect from naturally occurring niacin. Only sprayed on, drunk down chemical niacin causes problems.

And let me tell you too–I’ve spent the last week with these numbers, whenever I had time. When you looked on the Paleo website at a picture of Primal Patty’s very lunch, we’re ingrained to look at the bright green cukes, red strawberries, and orange nectarine and think “Wow; so healthy.” Ditto the steak salad. Well please don’t conflate “healthy” with “pretty.” I’m here to tell you I’ve run the numbers, and Primal Patty got the bulk of her nutrition today from the liver, raw milk, yogurt, and beef. I wouldn’t want to give up vegetables and fruit–they’re delicious and they do have some unique trace nutrients that we don’t want to do without on a regular basis. But don’t make any mistake here–the absolutely essential foods are the animal ones. If Patty’s parents were desperately poor, they could still keep her healthier than SAD Sally by just investing in some liver or raw dairy.

Now our final “why” for today. WHY? Why is it that it’s Primal Patty’s parents who are forced to justify what they’re feeding her?  How is it that the garbage SAD Sally is eating has come to be not just the norm, but somehow considered superior to a meal like Patty’s?

In a growing number of schools today, Patty’s parents would have run the risk that her lunch would have been ripped away from her and replaced with crackers and breaded “chicken” nuggets, and they themselves fined for not sending a “healthy” meal and–if they refused to include grains and less fat in her future meals–she could even be expelled. Why?

Ok, I kind of know why. I know there are parents who send chips and soda to school with their kids and call it a meal. But why are there so many parents like that? Some of them are just bad parents, yes, and others are utterly stupid. But isn’t it also because no one knows anything real about nutrition? Those chips are wholegrain–healthy! Those things have “real fruit flavor” in them–healthy! That thing’s low-fat, and consequently stuffed with extra sugar to make it palatable–healthy! Those Goldfish crackers are wholegrain–healthy! It says “natural” on it–healthy! It’s fruit juice; it has to be better than soda–healthy! That’s what all the headlines say. That’s what all the advertisements say. That’s what the government says. That’s what her school says. You can’t possibly know any different unless you really take time to study it out–and what parent has time to do what I’ve just done on this post? Very few I know.

The very government taking food away from kids at schools, and castigating Primal Patty’s parents for not feeding her wheat, and spraying the wheat with minerals, and subsidizing the corn industry so that HFCS is the cheapest sweetener on the planet, are the same ones preaching the low-fat, wholegrain, eat-a-ton-of-juiced-fruit mantra that got us here in the first place.

They’re the same ones encouraging parents to abdicate more and more of their responsibilities. We should be feeding SAD Sally all her meals at school! And while we’re at it, we should take care of all your healthcare, too, now that everyone is just one, sprayed–down box of Frosted Flakes away from malnutrition.

The Light Brigade were a military force and as such had to ride into the valley of death whether someone blundered or not. We, thankfully, don’t have to. We must reason: WHY?

 

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