April 16, 2008

The "French Paradox"

Outside of the medical community, the "French paradox" probably sounds like a joke about cheese and surrender, but it is a very real phenomenon. It has been observed that the French suffer a low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats and cholesterol.

A new study released in the journal Euromed (Volume 1:3, April 1, 2008 pp 13-26) applied the French paradox to other populations successfully. In an eight year, double-blind, randomized controlled trial, Americans from two urban areas were fed either their usual diet, or a typical French diet, including, but not limited to, wine with all meals (except breakfast, if breakfast occurred before 8am), foie gras at least three times weekly, butter-based sauces, and crusty bread. In another arm of the study, an urban French population was given a "typical American" diet, including, but not limited to, at least one meal of fast food daily, four servings of soda-pop, and other specialty foods, such as Philly cheese steaks, Chicago hot dogs, and Detroit coney islands.

While Dr. Etienne D'Estang was sure to mention the results were by no means conclusive,

"it appears that a typical French diet, which includes red wine, foie gras,
and butter, can improve the health of populations unaccustomed to such
habits. Our study did not reveal the reason behind this effect, in
which Americans who were on the diet gained an average of 21% increase
in longevity, but it appears to be a certain je ne sais quoi. On l'autre main, the French population exposed to typical American merde lost an average of 50% longevity."

Now I like her style, but I couldn't find anything that explained the metric for "longevity." Either way, I'm pretty sure its not hard to imagine that switching away from the "typical American" foods could do anything but benefit you. America really is a fat nation and its apparently getting worse with our kids. I know I have gone through spans where I could consider what I ate anything but healthy. But as time has progressed my body has begun failing to deal with the rigors of an unhealthy lifestyle.

I will admit I'm a lucky one and I would eat anything I wanted and didn't gain a pound, but the effects have been felt recently. I guess its true that age does get to you but I didn't think 24 (25 on Friday!) would make me feel so old. I now realize a lot of that was my lifestyle and that has changed but it wasn't easy. Most of the unhealthiest places to eat are quick to remind you how easy and cheap it is to just get something. And people really do have limited time to shop, prepare and cook meals for most meals of the week. But I'm here to tell you that its possible and the earlier you start the faster you'll feel the effects.

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