Monday, June 27, 2011

Innumeracy and Insulin

      Innumeracy is the inability to deal with a way of representing numbers. For instance doctors often come to different conclusions when test results are presented to them as percents or natural frequencies(like 1 out of 2 versus saying 50%). However in my case presenting  myself with the natural frequency proved to block my reasoning while changing to percentages made ideas clearer.
       Gary Taubes in his excellent book Good Calories, Bad Calories argued that the reason that Americans are overweight is because we release insulin throughout our body, and sometimes this release is overstimulated. The reason it is overstimulated, Taubes argues, is that we eat too much carbohydrate in our diet. We eat too much carbohydrate because in the 1950's researcher Ancel Keys from the the University of Minnesota argued that the reason that we get fat is that we had too much saturated fat and cholesterol in our diets and since then this idea idea has ruled nutrition science, despite evidence to the contrary. Taubes went to the University of Minnesota to follow up on a study which was supposedly being conducted only to be told that it was discontinued because “they didn't like the results they were getting.”
          I'm at my local supermarket buying beef when for some unknown reason I start converting the energy insulin ratio of corn based foods into percentages. I buy the 80/20 and rush home to toss it in the freezer. I head to my computer to pull out the Glycemic Load database I made and start converting the corn based products to what I call Insulin %. 

Energy insulin ratio 1calorie to GL/g of                       Insulin %
Cornflakes (Kellogg's, MI, USA) 3.28 23.00%
CornflakesTM (Kellogg's Inc., Canada) 4.95 17.00%
Corn ChexTM (Nabisco Brands Ltd., Canada)9 5.24 16.00%
50 g portion (dextrose)5 3.89 20.00%
Cornflakes, high-fiber (Presidents Choice, 6.33 14.00%
Corn BranTM (Quaker Oats Co. of Canada, 7.02 12.00%
Taco shells, cornmeal-based, baked (Old El Paso 8.88 10.00%
Corn chips, NachipsTM 11.62 8.00%

Average percentage
Range of percentage 8%-23%

Walking through the store the beef I find typically ranges from 93/7 to 80/20. The fat % of the animals and the insulin % of the foods are strikingly similar and the minimum and maximum ranges are very close. Too much so to not investigate furthur. Are cows acting as an insulin buffer? They are releasing the insulin and storing fat based on their pancreas while by the time it gets to me that has already been done. I'm currently trying to dig up some data on what % Americans are overweight by in relationship to their normal weight or height. If anyone knows of reliable data could you post a link in the comments?

Of course I also know there's different kinds of beef like 
U.S. Prime - Highest in quality and intramuscular fat, limited supply. Currently, about 2.9% of carcasses grade as Prime
U.S. Choice - High quality, widely available in food service industry and retail markets. Choice carcasses are 53.7% of the fed cattle total. The difference between Choice and Prime is largely due to the fat content in the beef. Prime typically has a higher fat content (more and well distributed intramuscular "marbling") than Choice

What I'm trying to answer are these questions: Is human body fat storage a simple system of creating fat cells in ratio to the insulin released from the highest insulin release during any given meal?

Can the dietary promotion of an insulin % reliably predict your body fat %?

PS while looking for a simpler word than promotion or stimulation to describe insulin release I found these synonyms
incentive, incitement, invigoration, refreshment

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