Not too long ago, I wrote about a study that looked at the Great Depression and increases in health. There were some parallels drawn to the current “Great Recession”, and how we might end up with better health as a result. But, as one reader pointed out, perhaps that won’t be the case. The reason: Our diet has changed drastically to include refined carbs and sugars, and that the widespread presence of these types of calories could mean that things may not play out the same way. The book Good Calories, Bad Calories points out that our food now is much less healthy for us.
Deeper examination, he says, shows that heart disease and other diseases of civilization appear to result from increased consumption of refined carbohydrates: sugar, white flour and white rice. When researcher John Yudkin announced these results in the 1950s, however, he was drowned out by the conventional wisdom. Taubes cites clinical evidence showing that elevated triglyceride levels, rather than high total cholesterol, are associated with increased risk of heart disease-but measuring triglycerides is more difficult than measuring cholesterol.
It’s an interesting thought. And one that we should take into consideration when thinking about the impact of the recession on health. In many cases, these processed foods are much cheaper now, and less expensive than their less refined counterparts. What if, by saving money on food, we are actually setting ourselves up to pay more in health costs down the road? It’s an interesting side to the question, and one to consider. Buying foods that are less processed and refined may be more expensive at the outset, but what if it’s cheaper in the long run in terms of overall health costs?