Saturday, November 9, 2013

Asia shows the way in its Street Food, the West shows the way to a Heart Attack

I am having a bit of a war on Western food (from English speaking countries) at the moment and combined with a recent post of mine over at Asiapundits on enjoying food and food waste, I thought I'd use my own site to highlight some attitudes towards health and our food and what we can learn from Korea specifically, and Asia in general.

I don't know much about the United States, but from what I can gather from the news, my American friends and the internet the people there tend to be a little more overweight than average, my country is not far behind and to be honest it isn't hard to see why.

Recently, I have been watching a program on National Geographic Adventure in Korea called "Eat Street".  It charts the truck street food trend currently in the US, Canada, and occasionally other countries like the UK.  It always happens to be on the TV when I am eating dinner myself, coincidentally.  While I usually tuck into Korean food for dinner, I can see what Americans on streets all over the country are eating.

It is actually quite an interesting program and usually makes me quite hungry, even after I have finished dinner.  Sometimes, however, I have to admit to being quite shocked at what some people can put down their throats.  Here are some examples:

I always hear of the customers of these establishments saying how they often eat there everyday or a few times a week and I wonder how their hearts can cope.  I also see parents feeding some of the more irresponsible things to their children, some of whom are already grossly overweight. 

Of course, excess is kind of the point to these food trucks, but it is a fair reflection of where we are in Western culture with regard to enjoying food.  There is a definite feeling of, "This is so bad for me, but I don't care, in fact that's what makes me like it more."  I sort of understand this attitude because I used to have it myself.  However, living in Korea and also travelling to other countries around Asia have given me a new insight into how we perhaps should be looking at the food we eat.

The street food around Asia sums much of this up quite nicely.  Korea is the only country I have lived in and street food is probably not quite as good as in many other countries in Asia, especially Thailand.  While the street food in Korea is not especially healthy (it is also not especially unhealthy either), it is also not thought of as a meal, just a snack often during a night-out drinking.  The portions therefore reflect this and it doesn't seem quite so indulgent as the clips above.

Somewhere like Thailand, on the other hand, has street food sorted.  You can get anything from quick snacks to full meals, freshly prepared and often quite healthy.  When I was there, I did not see gluttony on the street, just a varied and interesting food culture.  I have traveled to a number of countries now in Asia and a pattern I see is that street food in the Far East is more about smaller snacks and South East Asia tends to go for actual meals.

While some might argue that the lack of health and safety regulations for street food vendors in Asia might cause health problems of their own, in principle the food on offer does not clog arteries or drastically expand waist-lines.  The funny thing about Western food culture generally, shown in many of the street-food trucks featured in "Eat Street" is the pride people take in looking death in the face while they eat.

The "Double By-Pass Burger" with "Flatliner fries" by Heart Attack Grill

I know the above picture is all in good fun, yet at the same time I can't help but feel that it sums-up a very serious attitude problem towards our relationship towards food in many Western nations.  In Korea, I have noticed people eat food for a specific purpose - other than just filling their stomachs - and this is to make them feel good, feel stronger, or to make them healthier in some other way.  Even if some of these reasons are bullshit ones, there is still a real thought to what they are eating having positive effects on their body, rather than simply fulfilling a gluttonous desire for sugar and fat because it gives them a big hit of guilty pleasure.

The interesting thing is though, Koreans love the taste of their food as much as anyone and I have learned to love the pleasure of eating Korean food also.  Once I coupled this pleasure for eating with the genuine feeling of well-being it gave me and the feeling of being healthy, there was no turning back.  To put it simply, my diet is no longer a Western one, it is predominantly Asian and mostly Korean (because that's what I know best).  Even Western food that is not fast-food or street food does not tend to make it onto my plate anymore.  Generally, I find it too heavy, too fatty, and too oily and it just doesn't make me feel good in the same way Korean food does.

If street food tells us something about the culture of the country we are in, what does the street food of the US or the UK tell us?  I showed some of these clips to my students at school last week as part of a lesson on food.  While a minority thought that the food featured on some of these trucks looked like the best thing since sliced bread, the majority were shocked by what was being consumed and many laughed at the number of fat people eating it and saw it all as a fit subject for ridicule.  I have to say, when you look at it all from the perspective of a culture with a greater connection between food and what it does for the body, I must agree with them, there is something ridiculous about it.

Perhaps I am being a little unfair, after all I did pick probably some of the worst clips of the most unhealthy food trucks to show you.  However, the healthy ones did tend to be exclusively non-American, non-Canadian, or non-English, and a great many of them had an Asian theme.  They also tended to feature much smaller portion sizes.  Huge portion sizes was something that shocked me on my only visit to the USA.  Here are some examples of the healthier food trucks on the show:

Of course it is just one TV show, but my experience of street food from back home is not a healthy one either; it mainly consisted of hot dogs, doughnuts, pork pies, pasties and not a lot more (not that Britain is especially world famous for its food culture).  I guess on a positive note the show does at least show how open most of our countries' people are to eating food from other places.  Unfortunately, however, the "good ol' fashioned" all-American food or English food that is served on most of these food trucks are often the worst examples of fat, grease, and general unhealthiness imaginable.

In reference to my post over at Asiapundits about waste and enjoyment of food, someone wrote that the poor attitudes to food we have in the West are mainly present in the cities and when you get outside of them people are eating locally-grown food and eating healthily and that I was mainly talking about a countryside vs the city phenomenon.  This was not my experience in England, however, and a little anecdote that sums-up our differences in food culture concerns the contrast in the schools that I worked at in England and my current school in Korea.

At break time in one of the rural schools I worked at in England (picture a classically old, rich English school in some of the most idyllic countryside you can imagine, it was a beautiful school) between stints in Korea, there would often be food in the middle of the staff room for all the teachers to enjoy.  100% of the time this would be cakes, chocolate or sweets.  While I tucked into some of this myself, I was often held back by a niggling guilty conscience about what the Koreans I knew would have to say looking at the scene.  I thought that they would say we were eating the kind of food kids would eat and that as teachers and adults we should be eating much better quality food, not to mention the number of over-weight teachers that were scoffing down cupcakes and fun-size chocolate treats.

The difference in my High school in Korea is like chalk and cheese.  Occasionally there is something sweet, but not nearly as sweet as back home, even the cakes in Korea seem to be lighter and less calorie dense (which is probably why they are not as tasty).  The vast majority of the time the only food that gets put out on our staff room table is locally-produced, seasonal fruits and vegetables.  It is a telling difference in culture.

When I see what is depicted of the US and what I see for myself in my own country, I wonder whether too many of us have a relationship with food that is totally dysfunctional and broken.  There is also a childish element to the way we eat; it is almost as if we need our mums on our shoulder all the time to tell us not to eat the things we know we shouldn't.  The fact that she is not there to do so means we can be naughty and do what we know is wrong anyway.

There is of course nothing wrong with a little indulgence every now and then, but when it becomes too commonplace we need to change our ways; there is an obesity epidemic in many Western English-speaking countries which is at the heart of a range of health problems.  This is down to our culture as much as anything else, a culture that is severely compromised in the food department.  We have slipped into some of the worst habits imaginable, consuming some of the worst food possible and doing very little physical exercise.  A connection between the health of our bodies and the food we put into our mouths has to be restored and looking to other countries that have better attitudes may help us break a rather dangerous spell of unhealthy eating that has been cast upon us.

Instead of doing this, however, we seem to be remarkably good at spreading our bad habits to other countries.  I hope Korea doesn't lose sight of what is great about their food as some of the younger generation appear to be slipping into the same bad habits as we are in the West.  Let's hope that Asia's food culture wins through in the end or at least the healthier aspects of our own food culture in the West.


  1. The problem is I believe Korean snack eating habits are heading more our direction rather than us heading towards healthier eating habits. You just have to look at the amount of bread and cake shops now days as well as the size of some of the middle school and high school children. Personally I find the fruit here quite overpriced and lacking in variety compared to back home and is something I struggle with the most here (as for the rest of Korean food it is well priced and delicious).

    1. This translated article supports what you're saying about generational change Darren.

    2. Yeah, it annoys me that many non-Western countries embrace the crap in our culture and refuse to accept the good aspects. Unfortunately, you are dead right, Korean food habits are becoming more Western and we seem to be changing very little. This is one of the aspects about the younger generation in Korea that I am not so optimistic about.

      I think Burndog may also have a point in the comment below in that as our countries become more urbanised we are turning away from a more traditional, healthy and sustainable relationship with food.

  2. I'll have to write a proper reply on the blog...but maybe rural England isn't rural enough? What I was saying about it being a rural thing related more to the preserving of fruits, and eating things from trees, and bruised fruits and vegetables and all that guff. In rural Australia we do all of that stuff and more...and I definitely noticed a lot more food snobbery in the city (Australian and Korean) than in rural Australia. The amount of food that gets wasted every day at my school is absolutely disgusting...especially the teachers! I can't understand why a grown woman/man would overload their lunch tray and throw half of the food away because they are 'on a diet'! It makes me sick.

    1. I did reply to this once before but it got lost somehow. Anyway, I have no idea about rural Australia and you could be right about rural England not being rural enough, especially in my area of England as you are never that far from a big town or city.

      I think you might have a point here about about rural areas, see what I wrote in the above comment and upon reflection I fully concede that what you are saying could be very true.

      By the way, I know exactly what you mean about some teachers wasting food. I have lunch with one of the English teachers a couple of times a week and she is terrible for doing this. In my school is seems to be a younger teacher thing, older teachers don't waste so much. Maybe all schools should have a little farm as and use food waste for compost or for feeding animals like pigs, I don't know. I feel exactly the same, I hate to see so much food waste.

  3. This is a great post, because it describes something that has been on my mind for some time now, especially after multiple viewings of "Eat Street." You're right in that many of the trucks featured on that show openly take pride in the fattiness and caloric excess of their food, but this should not be a reflection on all food trucks. The food truck movement back in the States is a good one as far as I'm concerned, as it exposes people to all sorts of food, often made with fresh, local ingredients. It is inherently anti-corporate and allows passionate cooks to make a decent living without the massive overhead of opening a bricks and mortar restaurant. Most food trucks just offer original, great food, and aren't out to win the artery clogging contest, but that's not what you see featured on "Eat Street."

    America has a massive obesity problem, but so do a lot of other countries, (including Canada, which somehow seems to escape the tsking fingers of a judgmental world--Mexico is #1 btw) and this is due to many factors--huge portions being one of them (I would put car culture at number 1, actually). That said, there some Americans who are trying to change our relationship with food, but this is usually reflected in higher income groups. In America, like much of the West, the poorer you are, the fatter you tend to be. The cheapest choices for poor folks in the States are often fatty, high calorie fast foods. Plus low-income people are much less likely to be educated about how the food we eat affect us. Anyway... nice, smart post, but the situation in America is more complicated than most people paint it.

    1. Nice comment. I specifically wanted to criticise the attitude towards excess celebrated in the programme and in the culture generally, however, I certainly think that the independent nature of the food truck trend, the use of local produce, and the variety of food offered are all good things, like you say. Thank you for pointing this out in your comment.

      I am sure there are many things I miss about specifically American food culture and I don't want to comment on the whole thing, as I definitely don't have enough knowledge about it. It is just that attitude towards over-indulgence that I don't sense to anywhere near the same degree in Asia generally, but that is present in many Western countries, especially English speaking ones, but others too, like Mexico, as you said.

      Many thanks for the comment.

  4. BTW--I saw the Jhal Muri Express episode and a bag of heavily seasoned puffed rice and seeds does not sound appealing in the least. Hippy bird food.

  5. Time for another link dump

    Healthy food is relative to the point of uselessness. The misinformation about diet and eating habits are generally bullshit. The healthiest thing you can do is exercise. Apathetic dieting will hurt your overall nutrition more than it will "keep you fit".

    For example, there has never been established a connection between fats and artery issues/heart attacks:
    On Saturated fats intake: “...was inversely associated with mortality from total stroke.”
    “that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

    The threat that fats posses to ones health is done in proportional interplay with carbohydrates. Heck, High fat, low carb eating preferences even yield weightloss.
    "we conclude that a carbohydrate-restricted diet resulted in a significant reduction in fat mass and a concomitant increase in lean body mass in normal-weight men"

    By extension, dietary cholesterol doesn't really affect the total blood-leveled cholesterol. What actually happens, is that the body produces less cholesterol as you ingest them to keep the it balanced.

    Even when you take in carbohydrates as an isolated influence, it comes off little more than a nuisance, assuming you exercise. Carbs are a short-term energy boost, and while they are rubbish at long-term fat storage, they are good in providing immediate energy platforms.
    "Typical glycogen (carb) stores only fuel the body for 90 minutes, depending on training status, exercise intensity and duration. "

    The problem doesn't start at the food, but who consumes it, i.e. Asians.
    It is known that Asians have a respectable carbohydrate tolerance, but studies have found weakened glucose tolerance in Asians, which would indeed explain why China's diabetes rates have been skyrocketing comparatively to western nations.

    From the book Genetic Disorders of the Indian Subcontinent:
    "...reported imparied glucose tolerance or diabetes, as measured by a 2-hour glucose tolerance test, to be 32% in Asian patients versus 15% in Caucasian patients..."

    So Caucasians ingest more of all the "bad" fats and carbs, but is also, inversely, more tolerant towards them.
    The problem, spelled out as a pop-up book presented to a scholar, is the Asians dietary incompatibility with western foods. Circle in the square hole.

    1. I actually agree that there is a great deal of misinformation about diet and I have read quite a bit that the link between saturated fat and heart disease is a spurious one. I am prepared to take all of these studies as true.

      However, one thing that is undisputed is that high fat and high sugar food are high in calories. This makes people fat and obesity is a major risk factor in a vast number of diseases. It is the over-indulgence side of Western culture I have a problem with, no so much what type of food we eat.

      This link shows the amount of calories per capita for different countries:

      You have to go a fair way down until you hit Korea, the first Far Eastern country and the Western nations almost exclusively take-up the first 20 or 30 positions. The US is number one.

      As an avid exerciser myself, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of it and the fact that in many cases in Western countries our calorie intake has not risen, and in the UK's case it has actually gone down, it supports the fact we are all doing less exercise. However, while it is possible to be slim and unhealthy, simple maths dictates that if you don't exercise very much, you need to eat less calories or you will become fat.

      I don't see this as a race issue at all but a cultural one. Korea's and Asia's attitude towards food is much better in my opinion, almost solely for one reason alone and that is most Asians still have a connection between the food they eat and the health of their bodies; as I said sometimes the stories they tell about this are total bullshit, but they are thinking about what they put into their mouths and how it will make them feel. Most Westerners are all about the pleasure of eating, often in the face of health.

      In my 4 or so years in Korea now I think there food development and what they eat has been more influenced by how it makes them feel than simply the pleasure of flavour alone and I feel this when I eat their food. If you look at all of Korea's main dishes they are lower in calories, and usually contain more vegetables.

      The modern world is probably making people exercise less everywhere and in this situation, Eastern diets and attitudes are better and it is shown-up when Western food habits enter these countries and consequently cause an increase in obesity.

    2. The problem isn't race in isolation, but the food complemented by the given culture. Assuming westerners can live by Korean diet, is dismissing carbohydrate tolerance. Again, Caucasians won't have the same general tolerance for rice, than they have for grain and lactose products.
      That is incidently why I brought up China's diabetes rates. Since, if diet had the same effect by notion of culture, then the diabetes rates should've been proportional to Western countries. They aren't, though.

      While the western culture is in on the pleasure of eating all too much than I dare to agree with, the counters for the upkeep of fat storages per necessity begs room for calculation, rather than the daily fish, given the necessary calorie intake by individual aspect. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to calories already, so why should this suddenly expand beyond borders, but remain unchanged?
      This is the point I argued from; that western cultures have a multitude of high fat diets, animal fats even, that is healthier for them in total, and can contrary to "your eat less, don't become fat" statement, make them give loss to unwanted fat deposits. High fat diets are the way to go:
      "Those who ate a lower GI meal had 20% higher levels of GLP-1 and 38% lower levels of insulin, suggesting an actual physiological mechanism behind the idea that fat and protein increase satiety. Though the specifics of the diet weren’t available, we can surmise that a lower GI means relatively fewer carbohydrates and more fat and protein."
      Especially combined with a low-carb intake.
      The vast majority of vegetarian complementary solutions are quarrelsome, since they barely reach the energy level that the ideal require, much less do they encumber long-term benefits, such as ability to increase Dihydrotestosterone that dietary fats does, by singular example, and instead are prone to instigate hormonal imbalances, though differently for men and women.

      Perhaps the most fallacious, when discussing this, is the quota for obesity. Being obese does not mean unhealthy. While obesity is a symptom of certain diseases, true, it is not the cause of them. In fact the bean-counter for the obesity rate in the west is the BMI (still to this day), and I don't think I have to elaborate on its lunacy. The inflated obesity rates, fit to an aesthetic ideal rather than a healthy ideal, maybe gives the impression of gluttony, but relating it to health issues, is like relating a water-spill in the kitchen to plumber work.

      Now if you argue that obesity gives, more accurately, a loss a benefit, or at least, isn't as beneficial as being fully optimized in the weight/energy ratio, then I'm glad we agree, as I welcome you to my side; Eugenics.

      Regardless, we can agree on one thing, in all of this: Less exercise, less healthy.

    3. I still have a few issues with you here.

      No doubt there will be some differences in how the different races have evolved in relation to the food available, however, there are a few constants applicable across all races. A diet high in fruits and veg is beneficial and I see better habits in this regard in Korea, one of them being the lack of eating sugary desserts in favour of fresh fruit or tea.

      High GI foods are, like you say, the enemy when it come to diabetes and weight gain, but Western countries certainly take in far more of these in my experience. The traditional Korean diet is not especially high in carbs, lots of rice, yes, but not much else. They have no where near the consumption of sweets, chocolate, biscuits and savoury snacks we do in the UK. They simply have better habits that are applicable world-wide. The type of carbs you eat is also something to consider as many complex carbs will be low GI (wheat is also higher than rice), sugary snacks are of course very high GI.

      Caucasians still have intolerances to wheat and milk, although at much much lower rates than Africans and Asians, but at higher levels than they do of rice, for example. Rice is a better option even for Westerners and soy milk (despite high food intolerance to soy, it is lower than dairy) is better than dairy milk.

      BMI is troublesome, for instance I come out as overweight in many tests based on BMI, when in actual fact I only have about 11% body fat (well below normal). Muscle mass is not taken into account. However, based on observation and pleading to intellectual honesty here, obesity rates in Western countries are higher because people are obviously fatter, you really only have to walk down the street in Korea and in the UK to see an obvious difference. The guidelines for being called overweight are also different in different countries. Taking myself as an example again, I am overweight on a Korean medical exam, but low-to normal on a Western exam, so I think many of the racial varations are partly accounted for.

      On the vegetarian side of things, Korean people eat a lot of meat these days, however, I do not believe there are any significant drawbacks to a vegetarian diet. I have seen studies that hint that there may be and studies that go the other way and say it is beneficial. I am inclined to think they mostly cancel each other out and that there is not much difference.

    4. Oh no, 'course sugars can be a problem by overindulgence for anyone regardless of race, but my argument regards to sugars transcends that of race. Exercise. Stated again, the carbs fall off if they don't get a chance to stick. This is my point. Carbs and sugars burns off exercise much better than the more healthy satiated fats. I really don't see a problem with intake of sugar, if exercise is adjusted for, relative to dietary health. A McFeast is out of your system by the first fart.
      It's only a problem if you make it a problem. The worst thing sugars do isn't done to the fat debosits, but the dentes. Some internal organs as well, but again, really only becomes a problem, if you don't exercise, or if that is all one ever eats, which would be ludicrous to the point of me stating: "natural selection".

      The bmi arguement wasn't argumented from a racial standing either, because I don't have to adjust for it to point out its fallacies. Bmi notoriously assumes low muscle mass by default, that is indeed true.
      What you didn't comment on, was the bmi's artificial calculations made from an average, but the bmi isn't utilized for averages or even for discussion of averages, but for individuals. It ignore waist size. It squares height! For NO reason! Mathematically it doesn't make sense. It's an ad hoc and can therefore only measure other ad hocs, such as the "aesthetic ideal" previously stated.

      The real point is, that it is completely non-sensical, if not backwards, to apply a geographically based diet to a geographically and genetically distant party. It makes no sense.
      No, rice does not come out better in terms of glycemic load comparatively to even grains with carbohydrate tolerance unadjusted for. Only with the absolute worst of grains, like cardboard bread, is where carbs completely overload the fibers, and nutrients. Multitude of breads have adequate fiber/carb balance, and if you calculate it as whole grain, then it completely destroys rice.
      The healthiest part of rice is barely even rice itself, but rather what is on them. Niacin, iron etc. which are added in the processing stage. You might as well just down a reddened beef, at each meal then, and at least get some of the good fats, rather than just the carbs from the rice.

      I have to bring something up the mention of soy.
      "...Subsequent blood tests showed that this was enough to send Price's estrogen back in the healthy direction. Several months later, his estrogen levels—once higher than those of most women—were in the low-to-normal range for healthy men. They've remained in that range ever since, but the physical changes to his penis, his loss of sexual desire, and his heightened emotions have persisted..."

      One of many I have in my backpack.
      I said vegetarian supplements tend to have dangerous effects on the hormones, and I wasn't joking one fucking bit. This is, in part, what I was talking about. Soy is far from the only one though. The fat diets are so far what works best for westerners. I have yet to see studies done on the many vegetarian supplements on other races, but I doubt soy has the same effect on Asians.
      The longterm effects of hormonal distortions and imbalances isn't limited to anti-personal behavior, gender-health, but can also bleed into and affect IQ, metabolism. Shit, even McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner is smalltime compared to the rejection of muscle mass in men, heightened infertility in women, by the effect of hormonal distortions on longterm scope.
      I reiterate: Exercise. Best.

    5. Another tidbit, because I feel like it. A study on vegetarian diets vs common omnivorous diets in women.
      "There was a positive correlation between fecal weight and fecal excretion of estrogens in both groups (P less than 0.001), with vegetarians having higher fecal weight and increased fecal excretion of estrogens."
      "...are prone to instigate hormonal imbalances..." was what I said. This was by hypothesis, and the study in question was found shortly after, posting my response. The pro/con discussion in vege diets usually revolve around nutrients, not hormonal fluctuations. Soy by singularity should be enough to veto nearly anything, given how prevalent it is in stuff.

      AND even if, EVEN IF we assume and dismiss everything I have said, throw it out the window, and pass it off as an "infamist moment", then do you really think the best possible solution within the limitations of social engineering, is to change a geographically based diet, to another geographically based diet?
      Here's what I'd propose: You cut off universal/tax based (even free) healthcare, and make people responsible for their wellbeing. Encouraging people by circumstance, the same way their unhealthiness is staged, to care for their own well being, the same way perhaps you, or I am, concerned for the body's maintenance.
      Creating tariffs based on carbohydrate levels, extending in the glycemic loadings, oh wait, not all carbohydrates are bad, so they have to be exempted. There's also fats, and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
      Incriminatingly unproductive from a effort/payoff ratio, should we tackle this discussion from your side of the bridge.

      Speaking of incriminatingly; this post length.

    6. I sorry, I still have some issues.

      Let me first acknowledge a mistake I made with respect to GI relating to rice and wheat. Only brown rice is lower in GI, however, seeing as Far Easterners tend to mainly eat white rice, this is not that applicable, even if they do mix grains often.

      Some areas of agreement:

      - Exercise is important and severely under-rated
      - Saturated fat is not necessarily the demon it is made out to be BUT it is still widely condemned by the medical community as something that is not desirable in the diet in high amounts.
      - BMI is not the most reliable way of measuring body fat.
      - It is not desirable to change geographically based diets.

      Let me deal with the last point first. I am not advocating we all change to a Far Eastern diet, it is the attitude towards food that needs to change. The indulgent nature of West food habits is the danger. It is perfectly possible to have a good diet based on traditional home-grown UK, US, Canadian, etc food. My argument is that we actually don't do this, Western countries have become increasingly poor-quality food orientated since the 1980's, and in combination with a reduction in exercise, obesity levels have soared. My argument is that if we had more people who were concerned about how the food they take in makes them feel and what it is doing to their health, rather than eating it for simple pleasure, we would be better off.

      I am also slightly uncomfortable with your logic on adaption to food in different areas of the world. While it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that certain races have been eating certain foods for longer, therefore they are better adapted to it, this might not be the case. Only if the eating of a certain food source were to convey a better ability to pass on their genes would this actually be the case. In milk's case there is clear evidence that shows people of European decent have a greater tolerance; this must have been because at one time milk would have been an essential food source and without it people would have not survived or not been fit enough to pass on their genes. This might not be true for all food sources, however, we must be careful to state general trends on all foods eaten in certain parts of the world.

      A good example of this is wheat. More people in the West have an intolerance to wheat than rice, but this would not make sense under your theory. We have whole food aisles in supermarkets labeled 'gluten free', we do not have such a problem with rice...... to be continued.

    7. Soy only seems to be detrimental in high supplementary doses: Soy as with everything seems to be ok in moderation. It is precisely the lack of moderation with respect to sugary and fatty foods that I am arguing many Western countries are guilty of.

      For every article you can find on the benefits of dairy, I can find just as many that state the negative effects of dairy, like this one Perhaps this is negated by scientific consensus that dairy is good? If you say this however, you can't have it both ways as it is still the consensus that saturated fats are bad and the vast majority of nutrition experts will advise against high intake of them. Many articles against milk consumption point to the increased risk of osteoporosis associated with high-protein Western diets that are high in dairy and meat consumption. Low protein Eastern diets actually seem to result in reduces rates of osteoporosis.

      When it comes to vegetarian diets, well as I said, Far Easterners eat meat and their ancestors would have eaten meat too, but there does not seem to be any difference in health between vegetarians and meat eaters However, I know you will point to hormonal changes, but there have been suggested links between eating red meat and cancer (even in small amounts), especially of the colon, dealt with here: Again, I have seen evidence on both sides of the debate, as both sides have a vested interest in showing the other side as less healthy. The evidence all put together makes me think there is not much difference to overall health, but specific health problems may more likely as a result of a vegetarian or a meat eating diet.

      You also failed to mention the negative effects of Trans Fats,, far more prevalent in Western diets and especially heavily used in fast food restaurants and a range of diseases have been linked to Trans fats without too much conflicting evidence

      Finally, BMI. Whilst admitting that it isn't especially accurate, it can have some use in identifying trends; see this map of world obesity rates based on BMI,_2008.svg

      This is obesity based on BMI, granted that BMI doesn't take into account muscle mass and some other factors, but what is more likely; that these figures are completely unreliable at showing trends in fat percentage in different parts of the world showing genuine obesity or that BMI can give us a good ballpark idea? I think when you look at the evidence coming in for higher calorie consumption in the West, obesity stats and observational evidence just by travelling to different countries, we can all see that Western countries are truly fatter, more obese and therefore have greater chances of a range of diseases associated with it.

      I think there is much more research that needs to be done to ascertain what food is genuinely healthy and genuinely detrimental and who in the world is doing things the best with their diet. Once again, I am not saying we should all change our diets to a Japanese, Korean, or another Asian nation one. I only think that we need to learn from the way they think about food and focus our thinking more on what food can do for our bodies more so than what it can do to satiate our desire for pleasure and indulgence.

    8. 'Course transfats are bad. That's like bring up that sticking your head in the boiler is bad, in a debate pro/con steam trains (haha). I thought transfats were a given, but yes. Transfats not great.
      You however commit the mistake of linking coronary heart disease with transfats (directly), meat (in your article), but no. What causes coronary heart disease is carbohydrates, not fats. Transfats are ripe with 'em, the same way the ocean is ripe with water.
      In fact the red meat article is super fallacious. Red meat is unsaturated, not saturated fat, contrary to the article. Unsaturated, (but also saturated fats) raise the HDL while lowering LDL. Only in the presence of sticky carbohydrates and transfats does LDL increase.
      Even then LDL has only really shown to have a clear indication of progression of Atherosclerosis, than the quantifiable state, furthermore, with LDL showing itself to be responsible for contributing fat to cell membranes, ligand (natural antigens, for example in form of neuropeptides, and hormones necessary for emotional high plebeianly described as "love) identification, and ability to bind proteins on cytoplasmic levels, suggests that it is called the "bad cholesterol", because people don't its potential yet, with regards to cytoplasmic research being in its infant stage.
      The most direct link to heart disease and alike, occurs with carbohydrates, and then again, again, again, exercise would be the best measure against cholesterol on the artery wall with respects to this, assuming one is ingesting healthily alongside. Carbs are pretty much just efficient energy. There is really no good, or, bad or "complex carbs", just carbs, and misinformation. Its how you use them, that determines their benefits.

      Talking about misinformation. WOW. That milk article.
      Ho-holy shit did I laugh.
      Not only does it relate heart disease to fat, and to milk through lactose, but tries to relate milk to malignant neoplasm...Uhm, malignant neoplasm in the form that it would take to consumption is called DNA damage, and it is common. As in "common" like breathing is "common". Dna damages comes through cellular metabolism or water (regular drinkable water). It is common, because there is also something called DNA repair. This is why we don't get cancer or procure abnormalities, from drinking water.
      The way malignant neoplasm present itself as a function of death rates is usually caused by what is called sporadic cancer, with a majority of that caused by epigenetic disjunctions of the DNA repair (unintentionally back at eugenics haha). Milk doesn't even register.
      I am hard-shipped to find ANY way milk isn't beneficial outside the mention of lactose.
      I also found the article to promote leafy vegetables and beans to have a form of calcium better than that in milk, which is absolute bullshit, since calcium-rich vegetables contain substances like oxalates, phytates and other fibers that interfere with calcium absorption in the gut.
      Also, India is the leading consumer of milk with a heart disease/death rate of 18,5 and America consuming less milk with a heart disease/death rate of 24% (average). Uh...
      At this point I just stopped reading. Clearly an animalrights-based splintergroup with nonfactual agenda-policies. Ridiculous.

    9. Blah blah, Bmi is mathematically and scientifically unsound. It can calculate artificial obesity because it calculates it from and artificial ideal. Yada yada, moving on.

      On evolution through proximity, well, you actually came to understand the lactose tolerance acquired through such evolution. There's sub-saharan aboriginal tribes with lactose tolerance specifically because of this. Evolution takes short leaps, if non at all.
      Evolution is lazy, so of course Europeans aren't more "tolerant to wheat", whatever that means, because of that, BUT they are less tolerant to carbohydrates, which was/is the mean in a lot of food sources for Asians, despite its high glycemic load. Grain are fare more scarce in carbohydrates and big on fibers, in fact that is the only difference of grains in between. White pasta and whole wheat pasta, for example, have pretty much the same carbohydrates (although nutritionists will tell you otherwise), the difference lies in the fiber, which whole wheat have more of, increasing the food volume, and providing reduced appetite. While I agree, ahead of you saying it, that fiber isn't all good; tampering with LDL, make some nutrient through food less extractable, etc. but rice has the same properties.
      What rice doesn't have, is the same carbohydrate levels, and that is wholesomely represented in South Korea's case
      What problem? If we take into account that obesity numbers are almost universally inflated, the stats match. The west consumes the least carbohydrates relative fats, and produces an optimal protein output. There is no problem. The consumption is, as I see it, the forerunner for evolution. The only thing the west needs is exercise, and they'd be utilizing the ("over")consumption on all fronts. Pushing the genetic capacities, instead of just conforming to the limit, is what it's all about.

      Finally to the soy.
      Fats stabilize hormones that are related to cholesterol, and quaintly, a lot are. Again, diets argued relative to (useless) nutritionary standards.
      The majority of vegetarian supplements forcibly regulates metabolism, and intake of proteins. Metabolism is connected to the hormones, though, and any attempt to regulate metabolism is going to have an effect on the hormones. Which it does. Especially in individuals with stable hormone structures, such as men. Take soy which is A LOT of things. Soy is ripe with genistein, which interacts with the estrogen.
      A denial of soy's impact on hormones, is a denial of its organic compounds and molecular structure.
      This would be far more accepted truth if scientists was actually smart about their stupid theories.
      The problem with the studies of hormone alteration, is done in context to reproduction, but something like male infertility really only occurs should estrogen (fx) unbalance be present in the fetal stage and infant years, especially if the estrogen is artificial. The actual damage become apparent, when you study the effects of unnatural hormonal additions or fluctuation relative to brain development, mental health, and gender-specific gene frequencies, such as hair and muscle growth in men.

      The debate to rule them all.

    10. I'm gonna have to continue this debate.

      The point about milk was that you really can find a number of sources questioning the supposed health benefits of it, not that I believe every article on the subject is true, especially the one I linked, here are a few others:

      All these articles are fairer, from a more reliable source, and show clearly the conflicting sides to the debate about the health benefits of milk, that was all I wanted to point out. Basically, you can go on the internet (especially in the cloudy field of nutrition) and pull off any number of articles bashing one type of food or the other.

      Let's try and find some common ground again:

      - Soy's hormonal issues are something I am not going to argue with you about, I believe you, but the real problems seem to be associated with high consumption. My argument is that different diets will open you up to different health risks, yet not be especially prone to being overall worse for your health.

      - I have no problem in stating that carbs are the enemy when it comes to obesity.

      Where I still disagree:

      - Are you seriously telling me that the West does not have an issue with obesity and that the West is similar in obesity levels to the Far East for example?

      - I am sure BMI is inaccurate, but in its simple ability to give a ball-park figure, I think it has some usefulness. The fact is that people with high BMI's are more likely to be fat, that is really all you need to say to at least find some patterns that deserve further exploration.

      - I don't think red meat is a healthy as you make it out to be, a simple visit to wikipedia shows the many cons associated with it

      - Your claim about red meat being unsaturated in fat is false, the composition of fats vary between saturated and unsaturated, but the fat is red meat does have high amounts of saturated fat too.

      - Whether we in the West eat more carbs, fat, or protein, the fact is that our calorie intakes are higher, which I believe is a cause of obesity and ill-health. I believe this is down to over-indulgence; the main factor I am arguing about in our diets. In the US, for example portion sizes in restaurants are crazy. I discovered this myself when I took a short visit there. My blog post shows some examples of this; you just don't see the same pattern in the Far East. This last point is the point I want to emphasise the most.

      Thanks for the debate by the way; I ultimately know a hell of a lot more about this subject than before we started (one of the great things about debating).