The day God got it all wrong?

I have recently been given a book by my mother detailing the scientific and biblical rational for adopting a vegan diet called the ‘Hallelujah diet.’  On another front, my wife’s mother has also given us the book ‘Sweet poison’ by David Gillespe to review.  I want to say right up front that I respect a person’s right to choose a vegan diet as there are valid reasons for doing so (as a spiritual discipline or for a personal statement against ending an animal’s life) as I respect the right to limit the intake of sugar in one’s diet (I would recommend this).

Nevertheless, in perusing these two books I must admit that I have been rather disturbed by the tendency of the respective authors towards demonising a particular food group they deem to be unhealthy.  In the case of the Hallelujah diet meat is presented as a food that damages one’s health and must be avoided at all costs.  In the case of Sweet Poison it is sugar, namely fructose, that is the enemy that must be expunged from our diets if we are to maintain our health.  This would include cutting out certain fruits containing fructose.

The problem with both of these perspectives is that their plea to expunge a food group from our diets for the sake of our health is not based on good science.  In the case of sugar, David Gillespe points to certain studies ‘proving’ that fructose damages the health of animals.  However, more than one dietician (the scientists behind nutrition) has pointed out that these studies gave the test animals 200 times the normal intake they would normally have.  Of course this will cause problems.  But this does not mean that there is no safe level of fructose input.  In fact, the brain’s source of energy is sugar, meaning sugar is a necessary part of a healthy diet.

In the case of the Hallelujah Diet the case is prosecuted via the emotive argument that meat rots in the gut, causing us harm.  But to my knowledge there is no study that supports such a contention (my wife is studying dietetics and none of her text books even hint at this kind of problem) and a study put out by those behind the Hallelujah Diet indicates that those on the diet frequently suffer the effects of several major mineral and vitamin deficiencies.  I would say that there is little danger to our health posed by eating meat if it is done as part of a balanced diet.  In a balanced diet appropriate amounts of soluble fiber comb the intestines preventing any problems in relation to food being stuck in the gut.  These discussions remind me of the emphasis on a fat free diet.  However, while it would be prudent to limit our intake of certain fats, dietitians now emphasise that our bodies actually require a certain amount of fat to remain healthy.

In the end it is a balanced diet that is the best way to go as both meat and sugar are necessary for healthy nutrition of our bodies (in appropriate quantities).  I know that not all Christians will agree with me but I can find no compelling biblical reason for eliminating entirely one or more food groups from our diets.  Did God get things wrong when he gave humans permission to eat meant or included fructose in fruit?  The key challenge I wish to leave the reader with is to urge you to take the time to find out what goes into a balanced diet.  With this knowledge you may be able to take some real steps towards protecting your health in the long term.

Darren J Clark

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3 Responses to “The day God got it all wrong?”

  1. ‘Balanced’ is a funny concept in our diet, as it is a recent invention. Before agriculture, our diet was very different and yet it was a diet that allowed us to evolve to where we are today.

    The fact is: we understand very little about diet and nutrition. We THINK we know a lot more than we do. I also find it funny that many people ‘believe’ in diets because they have some connection to their beliefs – but then feel the need to self-justify with science. PETA for example, might have a noble purpose, but it means that they cannot deal with disconfirming evidence. People on the Paleo diet, to me, are hooked on a sort of romanticism that also might cause them to deny evidence.

    Some diets are the equivalent of ‘Intelligent Design’ – beliefs that attempt to find science to back themselves up rather than a series of facts that lead to theories.

    BTW – fructose was much less common in our diets early on. The toxicity is in the level. Check out ‘Robert Lustig’ on Youtube. I grant that he can be wrong, though.

  2. I’m not religious, but I think that putting up things like that in church are a great method to getting people to make better nutritional choices:)

  3. I guess I use the term ‘balanced’ as my wife is studying dietetics (to do with the science behind sound and poor nutrition) at a very reputable Uni in Brisbane (QUT). With the advent of this field of study there has been a burgeoning emphasis on ensuring we avoid demonising one particular food group or element in the way we and approach food. The point I want to make is that it is not wise to demonise and exclude one area of our food but to try and ensure we get an appropriate amount of each food group. The science has developed only recently but has a incredible ability to inform us on how to do this to help us avoid certain preventable diseases in the future.

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