"To make food cheaper and faster to produce, fast food restaurants started using lower-quality ingredients and increasing the portion sizes of their meals. This led to an increase in calories, fat, and sodium content in their menu items, which contributed to the rise in obesity and other diet-related health problems"

One minor nitpick on the above quote is that fat consumption is actually down, carbohydrates and sugar consumption are up. In the misinformed "fat free" craze, many manufactures began offering "low fat" alternatives that loaded up instead on sugars. It's the sugar/carbs and insulin resistance that ensues, that is primarily to blame for obesity and chronic health issues, not fat.

To your general premise though, you are correct. As I wrote: "food processing tends to strip nutrition from food...Bacteria, like any other organism, seek out nutrients. To extend shelf life, food needs to be unattractive to bacteria and insects, thus the nutrition must be removed.

For the same reason, modern food production has thrown our Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio woefully out of balance. Omega-3 fatty acids break down and spoil quickly, so food production and selective breeding began selecting against Omega-3 long before science had even identified its existence. In the meantime, the availability of Omega-6s fatty acids has exploded. We are getting far too little of the former and far too much of the latter."

In short, we are getting more calories and less nutrition, this is the core of the problem.

Source: https://www.lianeon.org/p/the-paradox-of-processed-food

Expand full comment

Great point on the fat free craze. Sugar (and processed carbohydrates) are the worst culprits. Thanks for the added nuance.

Expand full comment
May 8, 2023Liked by Andy Johns

I love that you pointed out the problem fast food and media. A lot of people understand the importance of organic, unprocessed foods but spend hours on instagram and don’t pay attention to the stress induced unnecessarily by constant Apple News notifications. At least I didn’t until I took stock of my mental health and what was “mental junk food”. The cool thing was I took the same approach to media as I did to my diet. (Elimination diet works for food and media).

1) eliminate all social media and news apps tv movies etc 2) add in sparsely and assess how much it helped or hurt your mental health and assess if there was any benefit. Today I spend less time on social media platforms and when I do there is usually a reason (education, art etc) vs scrolling pointlessly. My mental health has improved tremendously and I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Thank you for writing in detail about this. I read a book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman in college and I often find myself wondering what he would write if he were alive today. Postman argued that TV was causing us to be distracted, unproductive and unhealthy. I’m sure he would have agreed with this essay. Would love he know more about how you maintain “social media mental hygiene” lol if that makes sense

Expand full comment

I deleted all social media 5 years ago, except Twitter and linked for work purposes. I curate my feed as much as I can to avoid seeing most junk. And I never click on news articles. I put a browser block on my laptop so I can’t view any social media on there. I’d love to get rid of it altogether, but retain a small amount of it for my writing.

Expand full comment
May 3, 2023·edited May 3, 2023

I am currently on the tail end of a 9-year journey where i screwed up and then fixed both my physical and mental health multiple times (as i was figuring it out). It was triggered in 2014 when a dentist drilled the cusps off my teeth, and my whole skull/spine/neurological system degraded massively in a matter of months (ie. probably the equivalent of 20 yrs of aging)...which clued me into some extremely important biomechanics of how the human body works.

And when im done, which im nearing and hope to finish in a few months, i will have gone from a chubby/formless body to an extremely good one for 46 yrs of age while having done zero exercise in over two years and eating whatever want... namely lots of crap (i often eat lots of chips or ice cream before bed just to prove my point). I will also have gone from a highly assymetric to a highly symmetric face.

My cognitive function and energy have also improved massively each time i improved. In 2020 i was completely exhausted from work by 5pm and now i can easily motor working till 10pm each night of the week and end the week not even tired.

My mental health went from being in the toilet (and seeing a therapist weekly) in 2020 to being happy naturally almost 24-7 (ie. never any pills) now and not feeling any need or desire to even talk to a therapist in a long time.

And i have close to 10 others doing my experimental method (which entails wearing a dental appliance that is a bit like a nightguard but with different phsyics while also doing some jaw stretches that unwind the spine and inflate the skull over time) and although its still early days.. results are consistently positive.

Now i'm not trying to prove anything to the world or convince you of anything.. i'm simply stating facts that point to a different root cause than the one you allude to.

I can look at a person's face and neck and tell a lot about their mental and physical health. I can point out folks with a perfect profile and neck on the street and can guarantee you that most of them will have a story that they can eat whatever they want and their bodies and mental health do not change much.

People like to point to genetics.. but are we not forgetting that like 98% of Americans were not obese 100 years ago? If evolution & natural selection are correct than this should not have happened.

So we blame lifestyle. But are we looking at the data? From the time i was a kid in an american high school in the 80's, obesity has gone from about 15% to 40%+ of the population while lifestyle has only changed marginally since then. We sat and watched TV and played video games as much then as we do now. And many folks ate more fast food then than they do now.

My point is... perhaps society is looking at correlations and not root cause. Look at things from a purely data perspective and you will find exceptions to all these 'rules' of society.

I know amazingly beautiful people who do no exercise and eat lots of crap.

I know people who are massive their whole lives and were always dieting and exercising.

I know people that came from Africa to america and have parents with beautiful bodies yet they are somehow an exception to their family's genetics and are massive.

I know many people that were in great shape and then either did braces, invisalign or extractions and their whole bodies and faces changed massively in a couple years.

If we are saying that we understand root cause.. than why can i point out so many exceptions?

My main point is.... look at data, challenge our common societal perceptions and look for root cause.

It is only because i challenged myself to think for myself.. that i'm not a vegetable of some neurological disease or dead today.

Expand full comment