Bring on the starch, for your health!

Starch Still Getting a Bad Rap
By Don's Early Light, Donald J. Brix, Ph.D.
Just after the new year on the NBC Today Show, a young, energetic woman was ladling advice about getting and staying fit by exercising and eating right, catering, I suppose, to the throng that had just sworn to do so just a bit earlier, at or around midnight December 31st.

Always alert at these moments, to some utterance to which I can react with righteous indignation, I wasn’t disappointed. She dissed starches. She’s got lots of company. Hosts of people continue to believe starches are fat people’s food. That’s right. Butternut squash, brown rice, corn, sweet peas, beans, sweet potatoes, all sorts of white potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and whole grains are the alleged villains.

Betcha can’t remember the last time you noticed an obese person and found yourself thinking that the person had been gulping down too much winter squash or sweet corn, rice or sweet potatoes. No, you’d probably be thinkin’ too much high fat and sugar-heavy junk food. And you’d be right.

John McDougall, not one to mince words on this topic, sez, “The more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans we eat, the trimmer, more energetic, and healthier we become.” He oughta know. He's been shepherding patients into health by convincing them to base their diet around starch, and he's been at it for better than 30 years. The advice of the young woman on the Today Show, like lots of other nutritional advice we read about and hear, deserves to be ignored.

I’ve been reading about the Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico. A still rather primitive tribe of subsistence farmers noted for their remarkable ability to run incredibly long distances. They are also noted for the virtual absence of risk factors for coronary artery disease. This isn’t really surprising though since they get only 9 -12% of their calories from fat, a whopping 80% coming from complex carbohydrates (i.e., starches).

Then there are the reports about the Okinawans, among the longest living people on the planet, living relatively free from chronic disease. They get 69% of their calories from sweet potatoes, 19% from rice, wheat and barley, 6% from legumes – a remarkable 94% of their nutrition coming from starchy vegetables. Do the anti-starch contingent not know about this kind of epidemiological information, or do they just choose to ignore it? It’s a mystery.

In case I haven’t convinced you yet, consider this. Of the physicians and innovators of diet-based programs which successfully arrest, even reverse, chronic disease: Ornish, Esselstyn, Pritikin, Kempner, McDougall, Campbell, Barnard, not one recommends a diet that excludes starches. So whether it’s heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, chronic constipation, and more, they get their results by getting their patients’ fat calories down to 10% or lower, with no animal-based foods (except minor exceptions with Ornish and Pritikin), and loads of fiber-rich vegetables and fruits. They harbor no delusions about starches creating their patients’ health problems.

So, anyone wanting to dedicate their life to this path to secular salvation, grab your tattered, coffee stained copy of The China Study and step down to the altar. But hold on, something tells me I’m getting’ out in the ether here so I'll bail out with a quote and catch up with ya in a week or so.


“Animals are my friends . . . and I don't eat my friends.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Good eatin’, Don



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