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The Stupidest Questions We Asked Nutritionists This Year

Like you didn’t want to know if McDonald’s French fries could cure baldness, too

It’s a toss up in these parts as to whether we ask urologists or dietitians/nutritionists stupider questions. Which is to say that we know dick about our diets and the food and drinks we’re putting into our bodies. (And that we also know dick about dicks.) It should be noted, however, that this is a group effort. So while the bylines of staff writers Andrew Fiouzi and Ian Lecklitner appear on the most ridiculous of these requests, they’re primarily doing it on behalf of the collective, taking one for the team by asking highly accredited academics the dumbest shit you can imagine — for example, the five queries below. It’s amazing said highly accredited academics still return their calls and that Fiouzi and Lecklitner haven’t tendered their letters of resignation yet (or at least made some else pick up the phone).

Before both of those things inevitably happen, though, let’s get stupid!

Stupid Question #1: “What Kinds of Salt Are Most and Least Healthy?”

Salt is just salt, right? Wrong. Well, sort of. Apparently the main differences between salt varieties comes down to trace minerals. By this standard, Himalayan pink salt is best with 84 trace minerals. On the flip side, pickling salt doesn’t have anything but sodium chloride in it, making it the worst. So while the question doesn’t seem that stupid at first, the negligible nature of the answer quickly downgrades it.

Stupid Question #2: “Is Eating Pizza Every Day for 37 Years A Viable Diet?”

Apparently a 41-year-old man named Mike Roman has been eating cheese pizza for dinner nightly for nearly four decades. This obviously isn’t great for the waistline or overall health, but hey, we thought it was worth checking with a professional anyway. But as Lecklitner writes, with the help of nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction:

“‘Refined flour used to make pizza has a high glycemic index due to the absence of fiber — that means it will spike your blood glucose levels,” Friedman says. “It can also increase blood pressure for several hours after eating it. This is why it’s not uncommon to feel lethargic and want to take a nap after eating pizza.’

“‘Pizza also contains an excessive amount of sodium, which has been linked to causing an increased appetite, making you overeat,’ Friedman continues. ‘This is why you can easily go from ‘I’ll just have one more slice’ to scarfing down the entire pizza. Excessive sodium has also been linked to an increased risk of hypertension.’

“Finally, there’s the cheese, which contains casein, an animal protein that may promote the growth of tumors. And while Roman sidesteps toppings, Friedman makes sure to mention that such meaty garnishes are terrible for us. “Pizza toppings, like pepperoni and beef, increase saturated fat and cholesterol intake,” he warns. “Processed meats used on pizza also contain nitrites, which research shows can increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.”

Let’s chalk this one up to wishful thinking more than outright stupidity.

Stupid Question #3: “Can McDonald’s Fries Cure Baldness?”

More wishful thinking, or maybe a sign of how gullible/desperate we are. When news reports cited a study that showed that dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent commonly used to prevent oil from splattering while frying foods such as McDonald’s French fries, successfully produced “hair follicle germs,” Lecklitner immediately got back on the phone with Friedman to see if all that grease would both quench our hunger and replenish the follicles atop our head. Once again, Friedman was here to disappoint:

“‘Ironically, eating processed foods — like fries from a fast-food restaurant — may accelerate the development of wrinkles and hair loss,’ explains Friedman. ‘In this preliminary study, dimethylpolysiloxane was shown to produce follicles that could grow hair when transplanted into mice; however, the chemical was only used as a base to grow the follicles — it doesn’t trigger hair growth on its own.’”

Stupid Question #4: “Why Is Chinese Food So Good When I’m Drunk?”

Stupid, but definitely worthy an answer, which Friedman happily provided to Lecklitner:

“‘Being under the influence of alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat [two ingredients that are notoriously abundant in Chinese food],’ he explains. “Alcohol also increases the secretion of ghrelin (a hormone that makes you hungry) and decreases the secretion of leptin (a hormone that makes you full).’ This makes large-portion sizes — a common aspect of Chinese food —  ideal when you’re 15 drinks deep.”

Stupid Question #5: “I’m So Hungover I Think I Might Die. I’m Also On a Diet. What Should I Eat?”

Can you tell we drink a lot? In fact, maybe these questions are so stupid because we’re so frequently drunk and/or hungover and our thinking is perpetually fuzzy and/or addled. Either way, another answer worth knowing — especially because if you’re a proponent of intermittent fasting, the nutritionists Lecklitner spoke to basically said you should take a cheat day when hungover. Unfortunately, as Lecklitner writes, the good news stops there:

“All in all, healthy eating when you’re hungover boils down to the same nutritional advice we hear time and time again: Eat more fruits and vegetables. ‘I don’t know why people believe that a fatty diet is good for a hangover,’ says Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. ‘Our body is really craving fluids, vitamins and produce when we’re hungover.’”