“The second day of a diet,” observed Jackie Gleason, “is always easier than the first. By the second day you’re off it.”
The Great One never was one for taking his own advice: in the spring and summer of 1969, he went on a super-strict diet and lost about 100 pounds, only to discover that a skinny Ralph Kramden is not a funny Ralph Kramden. Ratings declined, and CBS, looking for any and all excuses to make over its lineup, canceled Gleason’s TV show.
Forty-five years later, we know much more about dieting than we did in Gleason’s time, and what we know is this:
[H]ealthiest diet isn’t a specific diet at all. It’s the absence of a diet.
This is not a sudden, world-changing, mind-altering finding. It is not well suited to a blaring news headline. It is not share fodder on social media. What it is, however, is a realization that surfaced gradually and methodically: Science will never conclusively prove that a single diet is the best diet.
You want to live longer, you say?
The University of California-Irvine’s 90+ Study has tracked thousands of Americans who’ve made it to age 90 and beyond, yielding an unprecedented wealth of information about their lifestyle habits. For lead investigators Claudia Kawas and Maria Corrada, the most surprising finding they made is that most participants didn’t seem to be too concerned with their health. Generally, the 90-year-olds said they didn’t really keep to a restrictive diet. Nor did they abstain from alcohol, quite the opposite actually! The researchers found that up two drinks a day no matter the type was associated with a 10-15% reduced risk of death. They also discovered other things that might disturb ardent dieters. Vitamin supplements did not affect lifespan in any way, and being a little overweight starting in middle age positively affected longevity.
This will not, of course, cause the promoters and the haranguists to back off: as Upton Sinclair once noted, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
(Via Cold Fury.)