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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Eating Cloned Animals

Meat and milk from cloning are safe, 2 FDA scientists say

This article is about a week old...sorry, I've been busy with alot of stuff. So the FDA has determined that consuming meat and milk from cloned animals is safe. For some reason, that doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies. The FDA is well known for having huge industry ties when it comes to pharmaceuticals and there would be little surprise among most consumers to find out about ties to the food industry. The real shaft of the deal is that food from cloned animals won't be labeled. I think those of us that would rather not consume cloned animals should be able to look at a package and determine that it is from a regular ol', standard bred animal, whether those reasons be for health or morals.

This is further justification for eating grassfed meats or hunting your own game. Grassfed meat producers are a) typically smaller and are not going to drop $60,000 on cloning one animal and b) actually care about the animals and the meat that they turn out. There are quite a few good places to purchase grassfed meat online: Slanker's Grassfed Meats, Tallgrass Beef Company, Northstar Bison, and lots of local places .

How Vitamins Affect Workout Performance

Vitamins and Workout Performance

This article from Science Daily articulates why a proper diet is essential for athletes to perform at their best.

Active individuals lacking in B-vitamins -- including college athletes and other elite competitors -- may perform worse during high-intensity exercise and have a decreased ability to repair and build muscle than counterparts with nutrient-rich diets, according to recent Oregon State University research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

The B-vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate. These micronutrients are necessary during the body's process for converting proteins and sugars into energy, and are used during the production and repair of cells, including red blood cells.

Here's the kicker...fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the B-vitamins, while grains deplete B-vitamins. Considering the high carb, high grain diet of most Americans, B-vitamin deficiencies are a very real deal. This evidence (which thinking nutritional folks already knew) reinforces the need for a nutrient-dense diet consisting of meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit and starch, and no sugar. Sugar is another "food" that depletes b-vitamins. A Paleo-style diet is the way to go.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chalk Up Another Win for Omega-3's

Fish Oil Improves Baby's Hand-Eye Coordination

I came across this study today which further validates the use of supplemental omega-3 fatty acids, especially the EPA and DHA found in fish and cod liver oils.

High-dose fish oil supplements given during pregnancy appear to be safe for the baby and even improve later hand-eye coordination.

The main point of the article is that Omega-3's improve hand-eye coordination in the unborn baby when given to pregnant women.
However, the children of women in the fish oil group had significantly higher hand-eye coordination scores on the Griffiths Mental Development Scale than those of the control group (114.0 versus 108.0, P=0.021). Despite adjustment for maternal age, maternal education and duration of breast feeding, supplementation remained a significant independent factor (P=0.008).

Fish oil is good not only for the baby, but also for the mother and all of us that are not and/or will never become pregnant. Omega-3's serve to reduce inflammation, which is a culprit in most any illness. Go to Pubmed and search for "fish oil" and any illness you can think of. Fish oil and Cod Liver oil are both excellent sources of DHA and EPA, the long-chain fatty acids that comprise some 60% of the brain.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


This is a cool website a friend linked me to.

Snackers Likely To Eat More Low Fat Food

Snackers Likely To Eat More Low Fat Food

Recent studies from Cornell University show that the calories consumed in "low-fat" foods lead many people to eat 28 to 45 percent more calories than they would if they were eating the full-fat version.

There's a very simple mechanism at work here. The human tongue predominantly tastes only fat and sugar. Protein is rather bland without seasonings and the most delicious cuts of steak are also the fattiest. The more sugar in a fruit or vegetable, the less bland it is. When you make something "low fat", the fat has to be replaced with sugar or no one will eat it. So "low fat" is often higher sugar than the original product, but that's okay with some people because "it's the fat that makes you fat." Of course that's a myth, but nevertheless. The reason people eat more is because sugar stimulates the appetite. Once you stimulate those taste buds, it is very hard to turn down eating more. I have the same problem; I can willpower my way past the cookies and fudge and candy for days. But if I have "just a bite," one bite becomes ten.

It's an evolutionary mechanism. We evolved in an environment full of protein (animals), but relatively sparse in terms of fat and sugar. Wild animals are only fat at certain times of year and plants only flower and fruit during certain seasons. Those that could find the high-energy fat and sugar were most likely to pass on their genes and survive.

Naturally, the healthiest thing to do is to avoid snack foods. Special occasions, sure. But don't make Wednesday night a special occasion just cause it's a Wednesday. And when you do eat snacks, eat the original version, which is the one you really want anyway. Eat a bit less of it and call it a day. The fat will help to satisfy you anyway.

Pancreatic Cancer: Add Another Side Effect to Soda's List

Two soft drinks a day ups pancreatic cancer risk by 90%
I came across this article on Medpage last week.

The crux of the article:

Consuming two cans of fizzy drinks a day can double your risk of developing one of the most fatal types of cancer, say researchers.
People who add sugar to cups of tea or coffee are also at higher risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.

Looks like it's the sugar causing the problems again. The soft drinks may introduce an even greater threat due to their carbonation and acidity, but the article doesn't really lay out the difference in the increased risk. And pancreatic cancer is a BIG deal:
Almost all the 7,000 people who get pancreatic cancer annually in the UK die shortly after diagnosis, partly because the symptoms are spotted too late.
Only two per cent of patients are alive five years after first being treated, although surgery followed by chemotherapy can increase survival rates.

Of course, there's always the chance that the soft drinks only point to a general lifestyle more at risk of cancer and since the study was a retrospective diet survey (notoriously inaccurate), it could be a case of correlation not equaling causation. Perhaps people that drink 2 or more soft drinks per day are also more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise. Smoking, along with the high sugar content of the diet, is a known risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Regardless, why test it? You really won't miss the soft drinks from your diet, your skin will be healthier and you will just generally feel better. They didn't really classify what is a "soft drink" in terms of size, but I'm willing to bet that 12oz or less counts as one. Think about that the next time you pick up a 44oz or 64oz Coke from BP. And a large at McDonald's, et al is like 32oz. Those are all more than one soft drink.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The New Epidemic: Double Diabetes

Double Diabetes

I read an article some time ago about "Double Diabetes" (aka Type 3 Diabetes aka Type 1.5 Diabetes). Then a couple days ago I came across this one. Basically a person with Double Diabetes has both Type 1 (insulin deficient) Diabetes and Type 2 (insulin resistant) Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes, a category which 5-10% of diabetics fall into, is typically an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the pancreas' insulin producing cells such that they don't function anymore, hence insulin deficiency. Type 2 Diabetes is a disease of lifestyle. It is characterized by obesity and high blood sugar. It is termed "insulin resistance" because the muscles have closed down their insulin receptors due to overstimulation (i.e., too many carbs creating too much insulin). Once the muscles shut down, the body shuttles everything into fat to protect itself against high blood sugar.

What happens in Double Diabetes is that a person with Type 1 may overuse their insulin to cover a poor diet, such as that pushed by the ADA, resulting in obesity and resistance to the action of their injections. Or a Type 2 diabetic may continue to eat a poor diet (the same diet that caused their diabetes in the first place) and cause their body to secrete ever-increasing amounts of insulin in an effort to force nutrients into the muscles, eventually resulting in pancreatic burnout.

The scary part:

For instance, recent studies suggest that as many as 30 percent of newly diagnosed diabetes cases among children involve youngsters with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

30%!!! Three of every ten kids diagnosed as diabetic are being diagnosed with both diseases. Unless steps are taken to change the direction of obesity in this country, today's kids are going to live shorter lives with a lower quality of life than their parents. The fix is simple: eat a diet based on whole, natural foods that can be killed with a stick or picked from the ground, namely meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.

IQ and Vegetarianism

Higher Childhood IQ = Higher Likelihood of Being Vegetarian

This study came out that shows that smarter children tend to end up being vegetarian later in life. Of course, that doesn't mean they're healthier. Many smart people tend to overanalyze things and like to hold the "moral high ground." There is likely some carryover of that into vegetarianism as the smart folks strive to be above us heathens that would dare eat animal flesh. However, those that listen to their bodies know that animal products are necessary for optimal healthy.

One interesting finding:

The study found that vegans had an average childhood IQ score that was nearly 10 points lower than other vegetarians (95.1 for vegans versus 104.8 for other vegetarians; P=0.04). However, this result could be unreliable because of the small sample size: only nine study participants were vegan, the authors noted.

So called ovo-lacto vegetarianism can be done in a healthy way if one pays attention to ensure enough protein and fat are taken in. On the other hand, veganism is a wholly unhealthy endeavor, only being categorized as healthy because it is healthier than the SAD (Standard American Diet). Humans evolved to eat animals and our genetics simply will not allow us to thrive without the high-density energy sources that are animal flesh, along with the vitamins that are only available in animal products.

Britain: Consumers Force McDonald's to Close

Consumers Support Farmer's Market Instead of McDonald's; McDonald's Closes

In the town of Tavistock in the UK, consumers have changed their buying patterns to purchasing locally grown produce from the Tavistock farmer's market. Because they are choosing unprocessed foods over unhealthy, highly processed McDonald's, business was no longer viable for McDonald's. The local Mickie D's has decided to close it's doors. That's what happens when consumers make choices based on their health. It's really not that hard to eat right: build your diet around meat, vegetables, nuts, and seeds; add in some fruit and starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, squashes, pumpkins); and avoid sugar. None of those things will ever lead you near a fast food joint.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Paleo Diet Newsletter

Dr. Cordain's Paleo Newsletter

Dr. Loren Cordain, author of the excellent book The Paleo Diet has put out another of his monthly newsletters. This one deals with all of the detrimental effects of milk. Cow's milk is for cows.

Diet Coke to Be Fortified with Vitamins

Coke will try anything

Here's a laugher. Coke is putting out a Diet Coke drink fortified with vitamins and minerals. Rest assured that this is a marketing ploy; no soft drink, diet or otherwise, is ever going to be healthy. Water, tea, or black coffee are the only good choices of beverages for health.

And here's your bonus link of the day: The Biochemical Effects of a Coke

Enjoy reading about what's happening in your body after you ingest this crap.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Let the Market Decide; We Don't Need Regulation

Consumer Pressures Push Starbucks Towards rBGH (rBST)-free Dairy

This article ties into my earlier posts on trans fats, both the successful ban in New York City and the potential ban in Louisville, KY. Consumers have pressured Starbucks into moving towards dairy that isn't produced with Bovine Growth Hormone. See, we don't need government regulation of what we can and can't eat. That's what a free-market economy is for; companies won't do that which isn't profitable. What we need regulation on is that companies must provide the information that x, y, and z are in their products and then let the consumer decide if they want to consume those items. If KFC is forced to say they each piece of chicken has 50g of trans fat and consumers continue to eat it, why should the government step in? On the other hand, if a restaurant discloses it's nutrition information and consumers stop eating it, the restaurant will quit serving that item or change the ingredients such that it is profitable again. Consumer uproar pushed McDonald's away from styrofoam many moons ago. And now consumers have asked Starbucks to serve them milk without the growth hormones, which are in the milk and are probably not too healthy for humans either. We don't need more regulation. If the government would just require that the information get into consumer hands, consumers will decide what is best for them.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Protein Debate Featuring...

...Doctors Loren Cordain and Colin Campbell, each top-notch in their respective fields. Dr. Cordain has made his mark in the realm of Paleolithic nutrition and runs The Paleo Diet website and Dr. Campbell is a worthy adversary with is research into low-protein vegetarian diets and avoidance of all animal products. Robb and Greg over at The Performance Menu put this debate together and it's awesome. It's 33 pages long, but is well worth the read. In typical medical fashion, each doctor writes his essay and the opponent offers a rebuttal; there are no follow-up rebuttals. Take your time and digest it, then consider the arguments made and any questions that the two doctors may leave you with.

And if you care about nutrition, health, and exercise, along with some great recipes, subscribe to The Performance Menu. It's only $30/year for 12 issues. You won't find a better source for top-notch nutrition information (and unfortunately I get no money for saying that).

Monday, December 11, 2006

More E. Coli

E.Coli at Taco Bell; Green Onions Blamed

There was another E.Coli outbreak last week, this time at Taco Bell, that bastion of healthy eating. Officials have traced the outbreak to green onions. Given that I've written about E.Coli once before during the spinach outbreak, I won't go into all the details again. But the salient point is that E.Coli 0157:H7 (the offending strain that causes humans so much trouble) is not of vegetable kingdom origin. It comes from the manure of our improperly raised cows, those fed corn and other grains instead of grass. This manure may then be used directly as fertilizer or "just" taint the groundwater. Officials talk of regulating the produce industry; what they really need to be doing is taking a look at the feedlot meat industry and ways to reduce the growth of E.Coli, not just ways to control it after the fact. Obviously not having E.Coli 0157:H7 around is a better option than trying to destroy it afterwards.

Another point I'd like to throw out there is that E.Coli 0157:H7 is a direct example of natural selection in progress. The grain fed to the cows causes a much more highly acidic environment in the stomach than normal. This acidic environment kills off all but the acid-resistant bacteria. These acid-resistant bacteria then multiply, as all creatures do. Over time, those that are the most acid-resistant are given a better chance to pass on their DNA and behold, 0157:H7 becomes a new strain of E.Coli. It is a glaring example of survival of the fittest; 0157:H7 is most fit for a highly acidic environment and therefore, it thrives. If you change the environment by feeding the cows grass such that their stomach is not an acidic environment, 0157:H7 proliferation dies off quickly.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Low-Protein is Good BS

Long-Term Low-Protein Diet Reduces Markers of Cancer Risk

Does Too Much Protein In The Diet Increase Cancer Risk?

Ahh yes, back to damning the gluttony of us barbarian meat-eaters while extolling the virtues of a vegetarian lifestyle living in peace and harmony with plants and animals alike. These two articles discuss a recent study that comes to the conclusion that eating less protein lowers the risk of cancer. Let's look at some of the details:

The study involved three groups of people. The first ate a low-protein, low-calorie, raw food vegetarian diet and was made up of 21 lean men and women. Another group consisted of 21 lean subjects who did regular endurance running, averaging about 48 miles per week. The runners ate a standard Western diet, consuming more calories and protein than group one. The third group included 21 sedentary people who also consumed a standard Western diet, higher in sugars, processed refined grains and animal products. The subjects were matched for age, sex and other demographic factors, and no one smoked or had diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, lung disease or other chronic illness.
Fontana and colleagues found significantly lower blood levels of plasma insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the low-protein diet group than in either the equally lean runners or the sedentary people eating a standard Western diet.
The average body mass index (BMI) in the low-protein, low-calorie group was 21.3. BMI averaged 21.1 among the runners and 26.5 among those who were sedentary. BMI is a measurement of weight divided by height squared. People with a BMI greater than 25 are considered overweight.

Is it just me or does it sound like they are comparing a great number of variables and coming to a conclusion about only one of them? So let's first look at the obvious variables:
- Fruit and vegetable intake: The vegetarians would obviously consume more.
- Animal product intake: The vegetarians would obviously consume less.
- Protein intake: Details above.
- Raw food: The vegetarian group was made up of raw-foodists.
- Different body-mass index: The vegetarians and runners were underweight while the control group was overweight.

So which variable caused the decrease in cancer risk? Could it be the extra vitamins and minerals the vegetarians took in from their higher fruit and vegetable intake? Could it be that the "Western style diet" (i.e., standard American crap) was higher in sugar from junk food? What types of animal products did they eat? Was the meat grain-fed and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones or natural, grass-fed meat? Do they count foods like salami, cured bacon, and other meats loaded with nitrates and nitrites, both known cancer-causers, as "animal products"? Was the "Western diet" higher in refined carbohydrates? What about fat? What was the comparison of the level of trans fat intake between the two groups? What about vegetable oil intake? Did the Westerners use vegetable oils in all of their polyunsaturated goodness with their known immunosuppressive properties instead of those "dangerous" saturated fats?

See, if you want to do a study, you need to set it up to look at ONLY THE VARIABLE YOU WANT TO EVALUATE! It is irresponsible science to have a study with 10+ variables and come to a conclusion for only one. It reeks of "this is what we wanted to find and lo, we found it." How come we never see a comparison of vegetarian diets to truly healthy carnivorous diets? When will we see a study comparing a group of vegetarians to a group of people eating a Hunter-Gatherer style diet with lots of fresh unprocessed meats, vegetables, fruits, fats from nuts and oils (olive, coconut, palm), and little in the way of grains or dairy? We probably won't; those pushing the vegetarian agenda don't want to compare their diet to a truly healthy way to live, only to the lowest common denominator. Yes, a vegetarian diet is likely healthier than a standard American diet. But the standard American diet is so woefully inadequate as to make this comparison laughable. Anyone still want to presume that it was really the protein intake?

Just How Tiny Are We?

Visual of the Size of the Earth in Comparison to Other Celestial Bodies

This is a cool set of pictures showing the size of the Earth in relation to that of our neighboring planets. It really makes it obvious just how small and inconsequential we are.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Top 10 Broken Arms/Legs in Sports

The videos on this page may be a bit graphic. But they do illustrate both the fragility and the resilience of the human body. I say resilience because of the number of incredible hits that there are in sports that don't result in injury. Fragility is self-explanatory.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New York City Bans Trans Fats

New York City Bans Trans Fats

Here's a follow-up to my last entry. New York City has banned trans fats in restaurants. There are some limitations to the law, such as food served directly from a manufacturer's package, but all in all, this will cause some sweeping changes in the restaurant industry. Will it improve health? That's debatable. Eating food fried in polyunsaturated soy or corn oil is only marginally healthier than eating food fried in trans fatty oils. Eating sugar is as bad or worse than eating trans fats. Both sugar and trans fats do serious damage to the arteries causing cholesterol to come to the rescue to try to repair the damage (for which cholesterol gets blamed no less). Both of these items should be minimized in, or better yet eliminated from, a healthy diet.

I'm still not sure that I'm for this given that once the government decides to regulate, they rarely decide to unregulate. What will they decide is bad for us next? Steak? Eggs? Beer?

Here's another link I stole from Dr. Michael Eades' blog: 10 Worst Trans Fat Offending Foods. The first picture is poutine, a Canadian specialty of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It's hard to imagine that the "average" person only eats 5.8g of trans per day given the amount in those items. Now you know what to avoid. If you need something to replace margarine, try butter (yes, the real stuff isn't bad for you), coconut oil, palm oil, or olive oil.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Louisville, KY Trans Fat Ban

I'm a few days late on this one: Louisville Discusses Trans Fat Ban. And Restaurants Oppose Trans Fat Ban.

My home city of Louisville, KY has proposed a trans fat ban in restaurants in the interest of public safety. I'm a bit torn on this one. I hate government regulation. Little good comes when the government regulates. And I am all for personal responsibility. There is already too little of it in our litigious world. On the other hand, trans fats are the absolute worst thing you can eat short of arsenic. They are a man-made fat which serves only to clog your arteries, damage your fatty acid profile, and destroy the fluidity of your cell walls.

Of course with government regulation, people may actually begin thinking that fast food isn't so bad for them. One guy in the second article said 'he'd favor a ban. "If they can put out a product that's healthier for me, then why shouldn't they?"' It will only be healthier in the same sense that smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day is healthier than smoking 2 packs. Not eating fast food on a regular basis is the only healthy option. And keep in mind that there is no way that the restaurants will return to frying in healthy saturated fats like coconut and palm oils; they're saturated and we all "know" that saturated fat is bad for us. There's an area that the government has already screwed up - should we let them continue regulating what we eat?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Crack-Donald's Is At It Again

It's been awhile since I posted...I've been getting things taken care of to start my new job (started today). Here's a gem that my wife forwarded to me today: McDonald's adds gyms to restaurants

Well, McDonald's is at it again, trying to spit-shine that public image. Now they've opened seven test locations with "high-tech mini-gyms" for kids. Basically kids can play video games or watch TV so long as they are exercising at the same time. For instance a bike lets them play a game as long as they are pedaling. McDonald's claims it to be an effort to fight obesity or something. In reality, it is an attempt to bring in more business and increase profits. Fast food companies are not in the charity business; that is, they exist to make money. Any action they take is an attempt to make more money. If it is not, they are doing their shareholders a disservice. And considering that health (and body composition) is 75% diet and 25% exercise, it's not difficult to see that a steady diet of McDonald's is going to win out over any level of exercise anyway.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving and Obesity in America

That's two seperate thoughts there. Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a good day for "cheating" on your nutrition plan. And enjoy the company of your family and friends while you're at it.

Thought #2: I've seen this before and just came across it again today. It's a rather interesting and disturbing look at the rise of obesity in America. It's mind blowing to watch the year-by-year changes in obesity throughout the nation. I have only glanced over the rest of the article and wouldn't really trust my nutrition advice to come from MSN, but maybe you'll find a nugget of wisdom buried in their articles following the map.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Book Review - Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival

I finished reading Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival for the second time recently. If you care about health and nutrition, this book is a must-read. It is one of my favorite nutrition books, right up there with Protein Power Lifeplan and The Paleo Diet. The basic premise of the book is that our use of artificial lights has disrupted our connection with the seasonal and circadian light cycles of the earth. Until humans discovered methods of controlling fire, we were reliant on the sun for light, just as all wild animals are. However, the real kick in the pants for us came in the 20th century when artificial light became cheap and widespread. We are now in control of "the sun".

So why does this matter? The human body, just like the body of all animals, is finely tuned to the amount of sunlight that hits the earth during the day. The basic formula is this:
- Long days = summertime
- Summertime = winter is coming
- Winter = famine
- Famine coming = feast now to store bodyfat
There are alot of hormonal workings going on that drive those things, from insulin to melatonin to seratonin and dopamine, but that's the gist of it.

When you look outside your window in November, you see darkness, usually by the time you arrive home from work. Fifty-thousand years ago, we would've gone to bed soon after the sun went down, even though we had fire to light the darkness. Keeping a fire going would've been costly in terms of energy expenditure to find the materials to burn. Now we stay up four, six, even eight hours after the sun has set. While we should be laying down, creating melatonin which cascades into prolactin production, we are wide-awake, staring at the TV or computer screen, keeping ourselves up with bright lights. It all boils down to light toxicity which brings on metabolic disorders, including depression (from improper seratonin/dopamine production), heart disease, cancer, dysbiosis of the gut, and any number of other maladies. And because our bodies judge the "days to be long" (it's "constant summertime" in the modern world!) from all the light hitting the skin, we crave carbohydrates, which causes insulin resistance so that the incoming calories can be stored as bodyfat. It is a survival mechanism that is no longer needed.

Read this book! Yearly! And go to bed earlier. The authors of the book recommend 9.5 hours per night in a completely dark room. Completely dark means completely dark, not mostly dark. That means cover your windows with blinds, shades, curtains...whatever it takes to keep the outside light outside. And cover up your alarm clocks and blinking LEDs. You may miss your favorite TV show, but you'll feel better, look better, and have a much easier time eating better.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Men's Health and Type II Diabetes

Men's Health on The Cure for Diabetes

This article was posted on The Performance Menu Forum run by Robb Wolf and Greg Everett. Even Men's Health is starting to get it, or maybe they're just publishing what sells. Regardless, this five-page article has some very excellent information regarding why a low-carb diet is healthier than a low-fat diet.

A few excerpts that stood out when I read it:

Even with all the accumulating evidence, there's no doubt that the high fat content of low-carbohydrate diets is worrisome for many people. And this may be why more physicians don't advocate the approach, even though many follow it themselves: A University of Pennsylvania study reports that doctors prescribe a low-fat diet to their patients 67 percent of the time, yet when it comes to their own diet, they more often go low-carbohydrate.

When it comes down to it, doctors are following a much healthier diet than what they are prescribing to their patients. One reason is that people are so indoctrinated with thinking that fat is bad for them that it can be futile to push a low-carb diet. And even when people believe that low-carb is healthier, getting them to give up their beloved pasta, bread, and chocolate can be impossible. Giving up unhealthy foods is far more uncomfortable than being overweight and unhealthy.

"We're not saying it's okay for people with diabetes to eat lots of sweets," says Franz. "But they deserve the right to eat all types of carbohydrates, just like any other person."

"The right"? People have the right to put whatever they want in their bodies. People have the right to drink antifreeze if they want to. It doesn't mean they should exercise that right very often. The Diabetic Food Pyramid is a carb-heavy, starchy and sugary mess. It proposes a diet that is at odds with the biochemical workings of the body, especially that of a diabetic.

Wrong, says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition researcher at the University of Connecticut. "Our research indicates that replacing carbohydrates with saturated fat has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health," he explains. "A low-carbohydrate diet decreases the body's production of saturated fat and increases its ability to burn the incoming dietary fat." In fact, says Volek, more than a dozen peer-reviewed studies published since 2003 show that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is more effective at reducing overall heart-disease risk than a high-carb, low-fat regimen. And, just like the diet that Dr. Vernon prescribes, each of these meal plans ranged from 50 percent to 70 percent of total calories from fat.

WHAT?! They're even talking good about saturated fat? Hell hath frozen over. Saturated fats from grassfed animals and coconut and palm oils are every bit as good for you as olive oil, all of which are many times better for you than polyunsaturated fats with their immunosuppressing characteristics. But it's rare to see a mainstream publication take that side. Next thing you know they'll be talking about how cholesterol isn't the killer it's made out to be.

The tide is turning. One day people will look back and see humor that fat in general and saturated fat in particular were considered health demons while bread and pasta were looked upon as a health panacea. The work of Drs. Atkins, Eades (Michael and Mary), and Sears, along with many, many others will one day be appreciated for setting human nutrition back onto the pathway that our genes have determined for us.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Staley-DeVany Conversation

On Art DeVany's blog, he recently posted a link to a long conversation that he had with Charles Staley. It was an interesting interview regarding Art's work on his Evolutionary Fitness model.
Link to Art DeVany's Blog
Link to mp3 on Charles Staley's site

A few of the more interesting tidbits of the discussion:
- DeVany broke down genotype vs. phenotype. Basically, the genotype is the specific genetic makeup of an organism, while phenotype is based on the genotype, but is also influenced by gene expression (genotype + environment + random-variation → phenotype). Gene expression is the result of genetic "switches" being flipped on or off based on how one lives their life, environmental stressors, etc. Basically, Art seems to be saying "Stop blaming your genes and examine your lifestyle!" I say the same thing.

- Staley brought up the concept of "compressed morbidity." This concept basically explains the deaths of wild animals and healthy humans; that is, death in most animals is a rather abrupt experience rather than the long, drawn-out period of increasing disability experienced by most humans. The average person doesn't want to get old because they see those around them breaking down, requiring help with everyday tasks, and experiencing prolonged disease. However, by living properly, eating a hunter-gatherer style of diet, and getting brief, intense exercise, one can decrease the length of death. As Dr. Garrett Smith has said, healthy people tend to either get well or die after a major trauma whereas unhealthy people tend to either die, spend a long time recovering, or begin a slow slide into decreased function.

- Finally, DeVany discussed post-workout (PWO) nutrition. The general consensus is that you must take a protein and carbohydrate drink following exercise to replenish the muscles. However, DeVany's take (and my take) is that PWO nutrition is not only unnecessary, but is harmful for the average Joe. A PWO shake is usually formulated so as to bring about an insulin spike. Unfortunately insulin is antagonistic to growth hormone, so as the insulin goes up, the growth hormone stimulation of the workout is shut down. Also, proper gene expression works best in a glycogen-depleted environment, such as that following a workout, so refilling the glycogen stores quickly eliminates this environment. As a final slap in the face, insulin spikes are highly damaging to arteries and insulin receptors. Insulin spikes bring about atherosclerosis (you know...what cholesterol is blamed for) and Type II diabetes from insulin receptor burnout. If you're not an elite athlete struggling to get in high-quality calories to maintain a high activity level, you would probably benefit more from a 60- to 90-minute window between your workout and first meal (of real food, not liquid!).

Those are just a few of the highlights that I found most relevant to my interests. There was a lot of other good stuff in the interview.

Monday, November 13, 2006

High Blood Sugar and Heart/Stroke Death

High blood sugar levels add to heart, stroke deaths

Scientists in the United States and New Zealand have calculated that in addition to the 960,000 diabetes deaths worldwide each year, raised blood sugar levels are linked to 1.5 million deaths from heart disease and 700,000 from strokes.

So far high blood sugar has been linked to cognitive impairment, increased risk of blood clots, diabetes, and numerous other disorders. There's a reason for that: the human body is not designed to run on glucose 100% of the time! High blood sugar means high insulin, both of which damage arteries. Damaged arteries cause cholesterol to be called to the scene to repair the damage. Yet cholesterol gets blamed for arterial damage, which makes as much sense as blaming the ambulance that shows up at the scene of an accident. You simply cannot be healthy eating large amounts of processed grains and sugar. Those foods are alien to your body, distorting the fatty acid profile of your cells and disrupting cellular function.

Step away from the candy bar and put down the low-fat blueberry muffin.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Study Shows Low Carb Not Unhealthy

Low-carb Diet Doesn't Raise the Risk of Heart Disease
Nurses Health Study Abstract

All of those low-carbers can now rest easy, science having proven what some have known for years. The Harvard Nurses' Health Study, a huge ongoing study of over 80,000 women, showed that the risk of heart disease between the groups consuming the lowest quantity of carbs and those consuming the highest quantity of carbs (and therefore, the highest and lowest amounts of fat, respectively) differed none. Why is this not surprising? Because humans have been eating a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet for millions of years. From 2.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, humans subsisted off of that which they could hunt and gather. As vegetables and fruits are relatively nutrient-sparse, most of their calories came from animals, but for some "strange" reason, they weren't keeling over from heart attacks or coming down with cancer. Only with the rise of agriculture and the grain-based diet did those diseases begin occuring.

One of the more interesting points of the study is that the "low carb" group was still consuming 117g of carbohydrates daily, far from low carb. However, low carb diets have never been proven to be dangerous; people with a preconceived hypothesis have simply used that hypothesis to "prove" it wrong. The study authors did still throw in the old party line about eating less animal protein and fat and more vegetable protein and fat. So throw out your beef and chicken and use soy and corn oil. That's sarcasm, by the way. Soy is a dangerous substance, full of antinutrients that disturb your body's hormonal environment and polyunsaturated vegetables oils are strong immunosuppressors and are highly prone to rancidity. It's as simple as "meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar."

Maybe nutritionists will stop prescribing high-carb, low-fat diets for people needing to lose weight. Maybe I shouldn't be so hopeful that those invested in the high-carb fallacy for so long will suddenly see the light.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Another Plus for Exercise

Exercise For Your Eyes

This Forbes article discusses a finding that exercise can reduce age-related macular degeneration by 70%. While they point out that this is merely correlation (which does not equal causation), it is a salient finding. Exercise improves your skin and muscularity, lowers your blood pressure, regulates your bodyweight, and releases endorphins that make you feel good. Exercise also reduces your risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes, and depression. It's good for so many things, why not your eyes too. A sedentary lifestyle is at odds with our genetic heritage - only in the late 20th century did humans become largely sedentary and we are paying the price with our life.

You don't have to go out and run marathons or deadlift small automobiles. Even walking, while it's not going to get you into great shape, is better than nothing. Throw in some resistance training and you can build some muscle at the same time. CrossFit is an excellent exercise program that is scalable for all ages. There are people as old as 70 and as young as 12 on CrossFit. Whatever you do, do something.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The PC Machine Strikes Again

Police Chief fired for telling his officers to shape up

Winter Haven, FL police chief Paul Goward was fired for an email that he sent out to his department telling them that they need to lose weight. Unfortunately, his choice of wording in the subject line included the words "Jelly Belly", which hurt some of his officers little feelings. Now, he didn't actually single anyone out and only used an "offensive" name in the subject, but apparently the words struck awfully close to home for a few officers. It seems the department was looking to get rid of him anyway and this was a pathetic excuse for "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Part of the memo:

"Take a good look at yourself. If you are unfit, do yourself and everyone else a favor. See a professional about a proper diet and a fitness training program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake and start thinking self-pride, confidence and respectability. And stop making excuses for delaying what you know you should have been doing years ago. We didn't hire you unfit and we don't want you working unfit. Don't mean to offend, this is just straight talk. I owe it to you."

I'm sure you don't have to think very hard to come up with a list of several overweight police officers that you know. It's also not too hard to imagine everyday situations that require an officer to be in good physical condition - they can't just shoot everyone with a taser. There is no question that a fit police force is a more effective police force. And if these poor fellows can't handle "jelly belly", what will they do when a criminal is calling them so many other names? Maybe they'll just cry.

I find the results of the poll telling however. 72% of respondents don't think the memo was inappropriate and 97% think he should not have been fired for such an offense. Obviously an Internet poll is not a representative sample (self-selection and all that jazz), but it does show that alot of people are not down with all the political correctness flying around these days. Maybe people realize that coddling the obese is not going to do anything to help them. We shouldn't make fun of them, but calling someone obese is not an insult, it's the truth. And doctors, police chiefs, and others should be able to inform people of the danger to their health and their community (especially in the case of police officers and firefighters).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cod Liver Oil Protects Against Type 1 Diabetes

Cod Liver Oil Protects Against Type I Diabetes

Ok, so the article is a week old, but I've been busy. Anywho, it seems that the more we learn about the vaunted omega-3 fatty acid, the more we realize what an amazing and cheap medicine it is. This study shows that consumption of cod liver oil during the first year of a child's life reduces the chances that s/he will develop Type I diabetes, the insulin-dependant type (as opposed to the type you get from eating too much sugar). Cod liver oil and fish oil are both rich in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA with cod liver oil also being a great source of natural vitamins A and D, two fat soluble vitamins that are difficult to come by in the food supply. In fact, cod liver oil and fish oil are the most important supplements you can take. Our food supply is rife with omega-6 fatty acids, but relatively devoid of the omega-3 variety. Unless you consume a ton of fish and grassfed meats, you are not getting enough omega-3 and this omega-6/omega-3 imbalance influences internal inflammation and general disease.

Cod liver oil has also been shown to fight cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and numerous other health issues. The omega-3's also help pregnant women avoid birth complications, low birth weight, and premature birth. Five to ten grams of omega-3 per day will help anyone and you can get it from oil or capsules. Carlson's and Kirkland's both make excellent brands at a good price.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bread Consumption Linked to Kidney Cancer

Another article that I read yesterday: Bread Consumption Linked to Cancer.

The crux is:

Comparing the highest with the lowest intakes, consumption of bread increased the risk of RCC by 94 percent, pasta and rice by 29 percent, and milk and yogurt by 27 percent.

Conversely, high intake of poultry, processed meat, and vegetables appeared to reduce the risk by 26 percent, 36 percent, and 35 percent, respectively.

Note that processed meats lowered kidney cancer risk by 36%. One has to wonder what plain ol' unprocessed meat would do. Another thing that stands out to me is that grain and dairy products increase the risk of kidney cancer, while meat and vegetables don't. If you've read much of my stuff before, you know that grains and dairy are new products to the human animal from an evolutionary standpoint. The human lineage is 2.5+ million years old, yet grain and dairy consumption is <10,000 years old. Our genetic makeup has not yet had time to adapt to these products. To add injury to that insult, today's grain and dairy products are highly processed. Grains do not undergo the fermentation and/or soaking that primitive peoples give them to neutralize their antinutrient content. Dairy is pasteurized and homogenized which effectively destroys its food value.

But here's one that blows my mind:
Their findings confirm that "moderate cereal and high vegetables consumption may have a favorable effect on this (cancer)."

How can moderate cereal (grain) consumption have a favorable affect when you just stated that bread, pasta, and rice increased risk by 94%, 29%, and 29% respectively? It sounds like another politically correct, but untrue conclusion from a study that shows something completely different.

Energy Drinks

Someone pointed me to this article yesterday: Caffeine-stoked energy drinks worry Docs. My first thought was "Ya think?!?" Our society's caffiene addiction is extending to the younger generation, much as our obesity is spreading to the younger generation. An energy drink now and again isn't going to harm anyone anymore than a few beers here and there will. But a day-in, day-out habit of drinking this sugary, caffiene-laced garbage certainly will.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Politics as Usual

This isn't a political blog, but with the impending election, I thought I'd say my piece. I read this article yesterday and something in it incensed me. I'll go ahead and quote the line to make your search easier:

And I believe if they continue to emphasize the big issues - keeping taxes low and protecting the American people - we'll win,

The part of it that infuriates me is "we'll win." As much as I hate President Bush, this isn't directed solely at him (although he may be the epitome); it's directed at the entire political establishment, which is summed up in those two little words right there: "we'll win."

The reason that phrase boils my blood is because of the "us" vs. "them" mentality of it all. Politicians view "the other party" as an opponent, the enemy, not as a diverse collective of peers with different ideas. "I could never get anything good from a Democrat/Republican!" If business ran that way, Finance would never involve Information Technology which would never talk to Operations. Meetings would consist of 10 Finance people sitting around, all throwing out pretty much the same ideas and congratulating themselves on being so clever. There is synergy in healthy opposition and summation of ideas. And single-party control of the government is just a bad idea all around. There's too much "Oh, you're a Dem/Rep and so am I...go ahead." As long as you don't get caught being sexually explicit with a 16-year old page and don't get caught with your hand in the till, you'll have support from your partymates. As soon as you get caught, they'll deny your very existence.

To top it off, "We the People" buy into this "left" vs. "right" crap. We all know people that vote party-line regardless of the candidates. I know people from school that would stick to their Republican or Democrat voting even if their party ran Charles Manson or Satan. I know two guys that are hardline Republicans that register Democrat so they can vote for the weakest Democrat in the primaries. That's what I call a perversion of our system; there is no interest in putting the best candidates in office, only an interest in making sure their party wins.

While I'm at it, I'm going to touch on the topic of "Candidate Quality." Plain and simple, it sucks. It reminds me of the South Park Election episode (which unfortunately I can't find a video for...if you find one, please post in comments). Every election, we are faced with the choice of rich politician A or richer politician B. Do we want the one tainted by oil money or the one tainted by pharmaceutical money? Do we want the "tax and spend" politician or the "don't tax, but keep on spending" politician? As an aside, there's only so far this country can continue to go into debt without facing some real issues.

I have to wonder how many voters find the effort so futile that they refuse to waste their time voting. I also wonder how many people that would make good leaders refuse to run because they don't want the fact that they smoked a joint at age 14 or drove drunk once 35 years ago or any number of other irrelevant facts brought to the light of day. The shame is that while there are decent (or at least better) candidates from some of the third-parties (Libertarian, Green, etc), the Democrats and Republicans do everything in their power to keep this a two-party system. If you aren't endorsed by one of the two Parties, you have no chance. I feel like a whore, a sellout, voting for either a Democrat or a Republican because I feel that they embody everything that is wrong with our government. Unfortunately, voting for a third-party seems like a waste of my vote. Bob Hill (of the Louisville Courier-Journal) had an awesome column this past Saturday. Why do we continue to vote for people that act in ways that would get our children's mouths washed out with soap before sending them to their rooms?

Maybe I'm being idealogical, but I like to think that there was a day when politicians represented "us", a day when there weren't career politicians. Politicians weren't always super-rich elites governing "the commoners." Some rich oil baron or real estate tycoon couldn't possibly understand the plight of the poor, unless s/he worked his/her way out of poverty. Today, we have political families: The Bushes, The Clintons, and many others. From what I understand, at one time, Congressmen (and women) held real jobs, which they worked 9 months of the year (I think) and they went to work in Congress for the other 3 months of the year. We don't even have term limits on our Congress-folk! No one can be around the corruption and money of Washington for long without being corrupted themselves. For this reason, along with getting some fresh ideas into Congress, we should have term limits on EVERY political office.

Make sure to get out and exercise your RIGHT to vote.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vegetables Help Brain Function

As if you really needed more health reasons, here is more good news about eating your vegetables.

The low-down is this:

On measures of mental sharpness, older people who ate more than two servings of vegetables daily appeared about five years younger at the end of the six-year study than those who ate few or no vegetables.

Those eating more than two servings per day saw a 40% lower decline in mental function.

The best news is that their definition of a "serving" is quite small: only 1 cup for leafy greens - such as lettuce, spinach, and kale - and 1/2 cup of other chopped vegetables. It should be relatively easy for anyone to eat 1 cup of vegetables per day.

I love this news considering that the salad I make at home is typically about four to five cups of lettuce/spinach and one-and-a-half to two cups of other vegetables, like carrots, radishes, cucumber, celery, and broccoli. Along with that, I typically eat at least two cups of vegetables with each meal. It's really not all that hard to increase your vegetable intake; just cut out some of the rice, pasta, and bread that you eat and add some steamed vegetables. Your local grocer likely sells some nice frozen blends that'll keep things interesting. If you really can't stand vegetables, toss a bit of tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), soy sauce, or hot sauce on them. Add a bit of olive oil to get some fat which will help your body absorb the nutrients in the vegetables. And potatoes do not count as vegetables. Nor do French Fries or ketchup, if I really need to tell you that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NEJM Gives in to Pharma Conflicts of Interest

This article details how the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals has decided to allow authors of review articles with financial ties to pharmaceutical companies. Not only that, the authors can be tied to the pharmaceutical companies of the very drugs they are reviewing! This goes along with yesterday's article where I talked about the medical journals with the fraud and ghost-writing that takes place in them.

Our medical journals have been corrupted. The doctors that read them get most of their information from the pharmaceutical companies. These same doctors accept many thousands of dollars in speaking fees and trips from the pharmaceutical companies. It is unfortunate that those that so many Americans look to for health information have been corrupted by the pill-pushing pharmaceutical companies. They won't rest until we are all on some form of a drug for life.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Crap from the FDA

Y'know, sometimes these entries write themselves. The former head of the FDA pleaded guilty to conflict of interest for owning stock in companies regulated by the FDA. As if the screw-ups with drugs such as Vioxx aren't enough, the head of the organization charged with protecting our food and drug supply is putting himself in a position that necessarily compromises his judgment. Soon enough people will figure out that the FDA isn't here to protect us, the consumer, it's here for them, the corporation (sounds like most of our government).

To go along with that, the medical journals that our doctors read are rife with fraudulent research and articles ghost-written by the pharmaceutical companies. The drug companies basically run the medical journals. The drug companies are pretty much the sole source of information for our doctors too. Is there any question as to why America is becoming a nation of pill-popping zombies? Obesity, fatigue, ingrown toenail? Don't worry, we have a drug for you; no need to change your life.

Seriously folks, just give a cursory thought to the claims being made and who they benefit when you see an advertisement. If a company presents an issue and then just happens to have the solution, or if it's a disease you've never heard of before (Restless Legs Syndrome anyone?), or if it's a result of lifestyle choices, someone is being taken to the cleaners. I'd bet 95% of all health issues could be solved by eating a clean diet (meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some starch and fruit, no sugar), undertaking an exercise program (nearly any exercise program, but I'm biased towards CrossFit)), and reducing stress.

TV Is Not The Truth

This excerpt from the movie Network (1976) rings truer today than ever before. TV (and by extension, the internet) isn't the truth. Turn off your TVs, read a book, get out and experience the world.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Myths of Healthy Eating Part 2

I just posted a new article on my website: The Myths of Healthy Eating Part II. Here is part I if you missed it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Experts Debate Labeling Kids Obese

I was directed to this article yesterday. Basically, doctors and parents are debating whether or not to call obese kids obese. Current guidelines are that overweight kids are called "at risk of overweight" and obese kids are called "overweight". An "obesity task force" is now proposing calling the first category "overweight" and the second category "obese".

My opinion on this matter is to call a spade a spade. We can sugarcoat the truth all day long, but it isn't going to help anyone. The choice boils down to:
a) protect Little Johnny's self-esteem and make him think he is only "at risk of overweight" (when in reality he is between the 85th and 95th percentile for his age group), but set him up for huge health problems later in life, or
b) hurt Little Johnny's feelings, show him that he is overweight and that, if he continues on this course, he will become obese, with all of it's attendant health problems.

The only thing that is going to make a kid change his/her habits and hopefully improve his/her life is to give it to them straight. Kids aren't as stupid as we would like to believe they are. Kids know if they are fat because their peers make sure to let them know. It isn't hard for Janey to look around in gym and see that she's carrying an extra 50% of girth compared to most classmates.

Frankly, all of this ridiculous political correctness infuriates me. As Dr. Reginald Washington says in the article, if it were cancer, anemia, or an ear infection, this topic wouldn't even be up for debate. Is someone with a mild ear infection told they are "at risk for ear infection"? Is full-blown cancer labeled as "a small tumor"? Until we face the truth that our nation is fat and getting fatter and that this problem is starting in adolescence and before, we will not find a way to address it. The PC-mongers are going to drive us to a happy state where everyone is free to blame their genes for every problem that affects them.

People that I know that have changed their lives and lost significant amounts of weight have mentioned that the thing that got them on their horse was someone telling them "you're fat!" A parent, sibling, or other relative at one point in time told these people what they needed to hear. We need to wake up and realize that we aren't going to run an end-around on obesity. This problem requires a focused, direct effort to ensure today's youth aren't the first generation that has a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It Ain't the Spinach, Stupid!

Dr. Michael Eades, coauthor of Protein Power and Protein Power Lifeplan (excellent books, by the way), has written two excellent articles on his blog regarding the recent E.coli outbreak. The first one is Corn-eating-cow crap chuckin' up your insides blues and the second is More on E. coli O157:H7.

Dr. Eades makes several very important points:
- E.coli is present in the digestive tracts of mammals throughout the animal kingdom, including humans.
- E.coli is typically wiped out by stomach acid, but the 0157:H7 strain is particularly acid-resistant.
- This virulent strain of E.coli comes from the stomachs of cows fed grains, particularly corn, rather than a natural diet of grass and silage. To drive this point home, Dr. Eades quotes the Journal of Dairy Science: "When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold."

Basically, our own desire for cheap meat has led to the current problems of E.coli contamination. To get cheap meat, cows must be fattened quickly. Unfortunately, to bring a cow to market weight on grass takes several years as opposed to just a little over one year for a cow fed grains. Thus, the feedlots have taken over where cows are fed corn, other grains, soy, industrial sludge, the remains of other cows, growth stimulants, and who knows what else in an effort to fatten them quickly. That this diet in no way resembles the natural diet of a cow is irrelevant. To keep the cows from getting sick, they are pumped full of antibiotics, which only helps to produce antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So these grain-fed cows defecate their E.coli 0157:H7 laden manure all over the place, which makes its way into groundwater, contaminating it.

How did the spinach come to be tainted with E.coli? It certainly isn't from the digestive tract of the spinach. E.coli is not a normal part of the plant kingdom. It had to be introduced from outside the farm, perhaps from tainted irrigation water which flowed from a feedlot farm where improperly raised cows did their 0157:H7-tainted business. The focus on the spinach growers is all wrong. There is nothing about spinach that will produce this type of problem.

As consumers, the only thing we can do, beyond avoiding spinach, is to demand grass-fed meat. Besides being better for the cows and the environment, it is much healthier, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. There is also no chance of getting grass-fed meat tainted with Mad Cow Disease. Or we could keep cheap meat and greatly reduce (nearly eliminate) the possibility of an E.coli outbreak by simply feeding cattle on grass and hay for the last week of their lives. It won't be as healthy as grass-fed meat, but it will at least reduce the problems faced by produce growers. Granted, the produce growers should probably have better safety measures in place anyway, but if cattle were being raised properly, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place.

Extra, extra, read all about it: FBI executes search warrants on California spinach companies. The FBI is searching the spinach growers for evidence of a crime. I've got a feeling that instead of a refocus onto the people raising cows in unnatural ways that are indirectly responsible for this outbreak, we are going to see government intervention in our vegetable supply. Perhaps everything will be irradiated, a subpar solution, which depletes nutrients and introduces chemicals known as radiolytic products. Don't believe that irradiation is safe; the FDA's own Irradiated Food Committee has warned the FDA that the tests which it bases it's recommendations on are "grossly flawed and inadequate." But when the finger points back at one's self, one isn't too keen on searching for the underlying cause; a proximate one will do. According to Dr. Eades: "You could take the whole thing a step further and ask who provides the information to those feeding cattle on corn. It's none other than the good folks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you don't believe it, look in their manuals for cattle feeding."

Basically, it ain't the spinach stupid!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Epitome of America's Obesity

Make Way for the Sidewalk SUV

I discovered the reason for America's burgeoning waistline yesterday. This quote right here sums up this article: "Now waiting on line at the buffet is no problem," she says. "You just sit there."

On the one hand, I am amazed and appalled by people's lack of desire to do something as simple as walking around a store. On the other hand, the laziness of my fellow Americans rarely surprises me anymore and is generally apparent when I go anywhere. Considering that 2/3 of our population is overweight, it's not a stretch to assume that most of our population avoids physical activity. But this one takes the cake! People that are perfectly able to walk are willing to give up that trait to sit in a motorized scooter, while there are people confined to motorized scooters that would love to be able to get up and walk. Upright walking, one of the traits that seperates humans from the "lower" primates, isn't really all that difficult or exhausting.

A few other quotes that really stand out in the article:
- Some entrepreneurs are starting to push the vehicles as bicycles without the pedaling. (We wouldn't want anyone to actually have to expend energy to get around)
- In the last year, Pride has super-sized models like the Maxima and introduced the Celebrity-X, to keep up with the increase in obesity. (The irony is thick here)
- Ms. Starr and some other advocates for the disabled say able-bodied riders can rile pedestrians, creating a negative image of scooter use that could hurt those who really need assistance. (That would require someone too lazy to walk to actually think of others)

If you can't walk, use a scooter. If you have other disabilities, use a scooter. If you're just lazy...well, I can't print the thoughts I have for you here (I aim for a family-friendly atmosphere). It's a positive feedback get tired when walking because you are out-of-shape or overweight. So you stop walking which only makes you more out-of-shape and overweight. If your only disability is being out-of-shape/overweight, that should be incentive NOT to use a scooter. You certainly aren't going to improve your quality of life that way. What happened to people actually using their bodies for what they were made for? If your disability is just being lazy, you should be ashamed of yourself. There are people that would do anything to be able to just walk again, and all you want to do is sit.

Frankly, it matters little to me how you live your life. You are the one that pays the price in terms of health and quality of life. I could care less if you use a scooter at the store so that your only energy expenditure is reaching out for a box of Ring Dings and then head home to sit on the couch eating said Ring Dings. But let's not pretend that we can't figure out why America keeps getting fatter. And if you're not in a scooter for health reasons, keep it out of my way.

Disclaimer: This is in no way directed at those who need a scooter for daily living. It is directed at those that would use a scooter to appease their laziness, possibly using a scooter that our grandparents have a justifiable need for.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Veganism Cures Diabetes?

Originally posted 8-26-2006

A study came out recently touting the benefits of a low-fat vegan diet over the diet promoted by the American Diabetes Association. I love the headline: “Vegan diet best for diabetes” [emphasis added], as if it has been compared to every diet out there. This vegan diet was a plant-based diet, void of animal products, and low in fat and sugar. The ADA diet is a grain-based diet, which allows some animal products (4-6oz per day), some fat (~30% of calories), and some sugar. Food choices on the ADA diet are relatively unrestricted other than sticking to the pyramid. A few other headlines reporting this same study are:
- Vegan diet offers diabetics a carb bonanza (talk about hyperbole)
- Vegan diet reverses diabetes symptoms, study finds
- Vegan diet found to markedly improve health of diabetes patients

The vegan diet study is being promoted by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, which some say is a front for PETA. Regardless of whether PCRM is PETA or just has a lot of ties to PETA, if a group with any ties to the beef or pork industry put out a study showing a diet high in beef or pork to be better than any other diet, it would be attacked and scrutinized. However, since it is politically correct to talk about vegetarians and vegans as being the healthiest humans on earth and showing us gluttonous meat-eaters to be on the fast-track to a heart attack, this study raises no eyebrows. Pointing out the ties between PCRM and PETA probably amounts to an ad hominem logical fallacy, but oh well. The point remains that ties to a group with a certain agenda automatically weakens your stance.

So where should we begin? First, the ADA diet is identical to the old Food Guide Pyramid with a focus on carbohydrates, especially processed carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and other grains. Since diabetes is a disease where the body doesn’t properly process carbohydrates, it seems rather odd to prescribe a diet that is based on carbohydrates, especially one based on high glycemic load carbohydrates such as breads, pastas, and starchy vegetables. The point is that one diet (the vegan diet) is based on low glycemic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and provides a great load of vitamins and minerals, while the other is based on processed grains, with a small amount of fruits, vegetables, meat, and other vitamin-containing foods.

Participants also said that the vegan diet was easier to follow, which means that compliance was quite likely higher. Considering that the vegan dieters were less likely to eat high-sugar, trans fatty junk foods, it should come as little surprise that these diabetics exhibited better glucose control. However, let’s take a quick look at a result that was glossed over: “43 percent of those on the vegan diet and 26 percent of those on the standard diet were either able to stop taking some of their drugs such as insulin or glucose-control medications, or were able to control their condition with lower doses.” So apparently to be considered a good diet, it doesn’t even need to improve the condition of half of the test population. Let’s consider that again; the vegan diet that is being touted as “best for diabetes” doesn’t even allow 50% of the people following it to lower their medication dosage.

There is no denying that a vegan diet is better than the diet of a great majority of America, in terms of nutrient content and quality of foods consumed. Anytime you eliminate the bulk of processed foods that most people call dinner, you will see a prodigious improvement in health. However, it appears that the study authors and the media are setting up a false dichotomy whereby the two choices are “vegan” or “not vegan” and choosing a poor candidate for “not vegan”. To truly test the effectiveness of the vegan diet, we need to see studies pitting it against a well-designed omnivorous diet based on grass-fed meats, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and no sugar. My car is fast if I compare it to a Yugo or even a Honda Civic, but the real test of whether my car is fast is to compare it to a Corvette or some other truly fast car.

Regina Wilshire points out that other markers of glucose control fall short of the National Institutes of Health standards, such as fasting glucose and HbA1c. Both groups had fasting glucose above the diabetic threshold. HbA1c, a marker of glucose control over time that is considered the critical marker of diabetes control, and both groups came in above the 7% standard, denoting “poor glucose control.” Basically, to paraphrase Ms. Wilshire, one diet that produced substandard results is being touted over another diet that produced substandard results. My car sure is fast when compared to a Yugo.

One has to wonder why there was no media blitz when a study of equal length (22 months) showed even greater improvements from a low-carbohydrate diet. Subjects following a 20% carbohydrate diet had HbA1c of 6.6%, 7.0%, and 6.9% at 6, 12, and 22 months, respectively. All three readings are within the standard of glucose control, yet we heard nothing of this study. Even more interesting, seven of the subjects in the low-fat group saw the results that the low-carb group was achieving and switched to the low-carb diet! The ADA says that they won’t promote the low-carb diet because “patients find it restrictive,” yet they readily acknowledge that the diet helps patients control their blood glucose. So the ADA is making decisions that should best be left to the patient, that of what lifestyle one finds most beneficial. While some would certainly prefer to take drugs over changing their lifestyle, there are surely some diabetics motivated enough be the promise of health to follow a low-carb diet, were it offered as an option by their doctors.

We can also examine the drawbacks of a strict vegan diet. Because of shunning all animal products, the vegan diet is markedly void of certain vitamins and minerals only found in meat, such as vitamin B12, conjugated linoleic acid, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. B12 deficiency is linked to Alzheimer’s and nervous system disorders. The low-fat and low-protein nature of the diet means that vitamins A, D, E, and K, the fat-soluble vitamins, are poorly absorbed. Further, vitamin D intake is necessary for uptake of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Vegan literature will tell you that protein needs can be met from vegetable sources, such as soy, but those have their own issues, from poor protein quality to numerous antinutrients. Also, many people turn to flax seeds and oil to increase their omega-3 intake, but the omega-3 fatty acids in flax are short-chain acids which must be converted to long-chain acids, a process which is highly inefficient, converting generally less than 5% of the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to the long-chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Basically, yet again, the evidence doesn’t support what is commonly shown to be “the way to health.” The ADA refuses to provide its patients with the materials that they can use to decide what avenues they should pursue to regain their health. The ADA continues to promote a diet based on carbohydrates for people that cannot effectively process carbohydrates, while promoting a low fat and protein intake, the two nutrients that slow the rate of absorption of carbohydrates. And once again, we’re told how great a vegan or vegetarian diet is for us, when studies show a low-carb, meat-eating diet to produce even better results. I’m off to find a Yugo to race.

The Tropical Oils

Originally posted 8-6-2006

A week or so ago, someone noticed my jar of palm oil in the pantry and made a comment about how palm oil is supposed to be bad for you. Next to that was my jar of coconut oil, which is also supposed to be bad for you. So I thought I’d touch on the many health benefits of consuming palm and coconut oils and show why they are not detrimental to health, and are in fact, good for your health.

First, how did palm and coconut oils come to be “unhealthy”? That one is simple: they are both saturated oils. And as we all “know”, saturated fat is the unhealthy fat that will cause you to gain weight, have high cholesterol, and lead to a heart attack. That all of that is bunk is irrelevant (Lenin stated “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”…seems to hold in this case).

Ray Peat has an excellent article about the benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil is made up of mostly short- and medium-chain fatty acids. What this means is that they are immediately available to the body as energy without the use of the carnitine transport system, being absorbed directly through the stomach instead. If you consume coconut milk or oil, you can actually feel your body temperature rise, owing to coconut oil’s effects on metabolism (half a can of coconut milk has actually made me sweat). Coconut oil also supports thyroid function, another driver of metabolism. Coconut oil is rich in butyric, lauric and myristic acids, which are variously being used to treat cancer and infection.

When I talk about palm oil, I’m talking about the unmodified red palm oil like that sold by Tropical Traditions (where I buy my palm and coconut oils). Palm kernel oil and any clear palm oils are not going to have the health benefits of red palm oil due to refining, deodorization, and bleaching. Palm oil is an excellent source of numerous vitamins, including Coenzyme Q10 which supports healthy heart function. It contains all eight forms of vitamin E – 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols – along with high levels of vitamin A, mainly in the form of alpha- and beta-carotene, which provide the rich red color. Palm oil actually has fifteen times the beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A) content of a carrot and 300 times that of a tomato. Palm oil is the second most widely consumed oil in the world, behind soybean oil. However, if we remove the United States from the equation, palm oil is the number one oil. For some reason, we’d rather hydrogenate soybean oil than use natural palm oil for baking.

Polyunsaturated oils, on the other hand, are powerfully immunosuppressive. Concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids have been administered intravenously to skin graft and organ transplant patients to suppress the immune system, reducing the chances of rejection. Unfortunately, these patients also quickly developed cancer. Dr. Peat mentions that "An excess of the polyunsaturated fats (PUFA's) is central to the development of degenerative diseases: cancer, heart disease, arthritis, immunodeficiency, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, connective tissue disease, and calcification." Intake of polyunsaturated fats is also positively correlated with susceptibility to oxidative damage from ultraviolet rays, which could explain why my ability to endure time in the sun has improved with the addition of coconut and palm oils to my diet (along with the added antioxidants from my fruit and vegetable intake).

Saturated oils are nearly impervious to oxidation and degradation. Basically, there are four types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans. Trans fats are just bad news altogether, so I’m not even going to touch on them. Every fat molecule consists of a glycerol molecule joined to three fatty acids, as this image shows. The degree of saturation refers to the number of double bonds between carbon atoms on a single fatty acid. So looking at the top two fatty acids, you see that no carbons are double bonded; all are bonded to hydrogen molecules, hence this fatty acid is “saturated” with hydrogen. The bottom fatty acid has a single double bond, meaning that it is monounsaturated. A fatty acid with two or more double bonds is polyunsaturated. These double bonds are susceptible to attack from free radicals, which degrades the fats, both inside and outside of your body. Obviously more double bonds equals more bonds available for attack. Heat, light, and oxygen all cause damage to fats in proportion to their degree of unsaturation. Therefore, polyunsaturated fats are the most unstable, with monounsaturated and saturated fats falling next in line. Coconut oil is so stable that after a year on the shelf at room temperature, it has been shown to have no measurable rancidity. Polyunsaturated oils are so unstable that they must undergo a great deal of processing to be made relatively shelf stable, including deodorization and bleaching. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your polyunsaturated cooking oils are stable, merely that there are few components left in it that will have an off taste or smell to warn you of its rancidity. Polyunsaturated processing also removes pretty much any trace of vitamins, a step which is not needed with saturated oils.

The great irony was that the Center for Science in the Public Interest, many years ago sued fast food makers for frying their fries in lard and other saturated fats. The fast food companies switched to hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in trans fats, the one fat that has no natural place in your body. Now, the CSPI is suing fast food makers for using oils containing trans fats; I guess it gives them a reason to exist. As it turns out, saturated fats are the healthiest oil to deep fry in (healthiest being a relative term when discussing deep frying) due to their ability to tolerate high temperatures. Cooking, especially deep frying, in polyunsaturated oils is bad news.

Palm and coconut oils have been vilified needlessly. These are two of the healthiest oils you could be eating, but because they are saturated, the makers of our “wonderful” polyunsaturated oils will keep telling us how bad they are for us. And political correctness won’t allow anyone to state that any oil could be better for you than olive oil. Olive oil, while good for you, is not the health panacea of the Mediterranean diet that it’s made out to be. It is merely a good oil that is relatively stable and quite tasty.

Vilification of these two oils was relatively easy though. At room temperature, they are both solid, resembling the “arterial plaques” that we are constantly shown (note: arterial plaques do not resemble saturated fats). Of course, at 98.6 degrees, the internal temperature of the body, both would be liquid, but why hymn and haw over facts? And as this picture shows, very little of our cell walls are made up of polyunsaturated fats. Is that saturated fat that makes
up some 40% of human fat and cell walls? That saturated and monounsaturated fats make up our cell walls make sense; they provide stability and rigidity that polyunsaturated fats cannot.

So let’s run up the tally here:
Coconut oil: very stable for cooking, no need for refining, no need for hydrogenation, improves metabolism, rich in fatty acids which support the immune system
Palm oil: also very stable for cooking, no need for refining, no need for hydrogenation, rich in vitamins A and E, high in CoQ10
Polyunsaturated oils: very unstable for cooking, very short shelf life, must be highly processed to avoid tasting and smelling awful, contain no vitamins due to processing, suppress the immune system

It looks like saturated tropical oils in a landslide. I know that my consumption of palm and coconut oils has improved my skin, my energy levels, and my body composition. Given the scientific facts and my own experience, I’ll stick with cooking in palm and coconut oils and adding olive oil (monounsaturated) to my salad dressings and vegetables. And if you’re worried about cholesterol or saturated fat’s effects on cholesterol, check out my review of The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo.

Book Review: The Great Cholesterol Con

Originally posted 7-28-2006

“About almost any subject, there are the facts ‘everyone knows’ and then there are the real ones.” – Ernest G. Ross

This quote pretty much sums up everything about The Great Cholesterol Con by Anthony Colpo. After finishing this book, readers will realize that the vendetta against cholesterol and saturated fat is misguided and has diverted important resources away from finding the real causes of heart disease. Granted, I was skeptical about the cholesterol hypothesis before reading this book, but Colpo’s book could turn a believer of the “lower is better” cholesterol theory into a disbeliever, assuming that individual is capable of thinking past everything that they already “know” and examining with an open mind.

In The Great Cholesterol Con, Mr. Colpo pores through every study examining the cholesterol-heart disease links to show that very few of them have shown even a weak association. In fact, some have shown higher cholesterol levels to be beneficial when it comes to overall mortality. Naturally, our media never tells us about these studies and the pharmaceutical companies, with billions at stake on cholesterol-lowering statins, are very adept at keeping these studies from seeing the light of day. Researchers that have tried to bring forth non-cholesterol hypotheses as the causes of heart disease are ridiculed and shut down. Rest assured, the pharmaceutical companies are doing everything they can to protect their “magic bullets” (statins), which, according to Colpo, have failed to lower the incidence of coronary heart disease one iota.

So who is this Colpo guy? He’s a personal trainer that lives in Australia. WHAT?!?!!!? You mean he’s not a doctor?!? How can I believe a word he says?” Contrary to popular belief, doctors are not the most well-versed in all aspects of health. Further, doctors have an interest in staying with the status quo. To paraphrase Colpo, any doctor straying from the flock is risking his livelihood. Along with that, very few doctors are out there performing research. Most are too busy performing surgeries and routine checkups to even read all of the available research. In fact, I’d view his lack of medical schooling as a benefit rather than a hindrance. He hasn’t been indoctrinated into the “medical world” where 99% of doctors think alike and exhibit a “follow the herd” mentality. Colpo questions everything he reads and implores you to do the same (he even tells you to go to a library and read the same studies he has rather than just taking his word for it).

Colpo reads all of the available research with an incredible eye for detail (I wonder if he does anything other than read medical journals…just kidding Anthony). I’m sure you’re thinking about how boring it must be to read about cholesterol, but Colpo somehow keeps that from becoming mundane. It doesn’t read like a medical journal, a testament to his excellent, accessible writing style, with a bit of humor to boot. Once I was able to sit down and read the book, it took me about 4 days to pore through it. It is really an enjoyable read and one that doesn’t feel like a workout. Now, I haven’t read any other books about cholesterol, so I can’t compare it in terms of readability, but I do know that the average reader won’t have trouble with this book.

The Great Cholesterol Con explores the real reasons for coronary heart disease: stress, inflammation, high blood sugar (high-carb, low-fat anyone?), lack of dietary fruits and vegetables (and consequently lack of antioxidants), high polyunsaturated fat intake, and a handful of others. He even breaks down the proper nutrients needed for heart health and gives a “good-better-best” of which foods to find them in…now that’s service with a smile! Colpo analyses and critiques every study to date that has tried to link saturated fat to coronary heart disease. However, only 4 of 26 studies have shown any link, and those links are weak at best (and a few are illogical). Why haven’t we heard about the 22 studies that don’t show a link? I’m sure it’s not because they’ve been overlooked.

So is it a conspiracy? That’s hard to say. It is clear that the food and drug companies make billions of dollars selling low-fat, fat-free, and “heart-healthy” foods, along with drugs that fix the ailments high fat intake is purported to cause. It is also clear that the influence and money from these companies go all the way to the top of the National Institute of Health and the FDA. However, I am loathe to say that most of our doctors are in on it. I think most doctors truly care about our health, but unfortunately, the people passing on the information are giving them the wrong stuff (purposely or not). And doctors are only human; every person on this planet finds it hard to unlearn something and learn something new, especially something so important to one’s livelihood. Since most doctors aren’t performing the research, they are relying on the findings of those that are, who the drug and food companies make sure to pass a few (hundred thousand) bucks to.

What The Great Cholesterol Con boils down to is that the cholesterol hypothesis is too simple a solution for a very complicated disease. Every substance in the body has an optimal range; low blood sugar is harmful as is high blood sugar, too much iron is damaging as is too little iron. Cholesterol is no different, but the companies hawking statins are pushing for lower and lower recommendations for cholesterol, even when these lower levels of cholesterol are associated with higher rates of mortality. That’s right – in certain populations (such as the elderly), cholesterol seems to be protective against diseases such as cancer. Who wants to be protected from heart disease, only to die of something else? Colpo will show you how, once again, it boils down to lifestyle factors – diet, exercise, and stress – which can cause arterial inflammation and damage. He even shows you how to put together a healthy diet and exercise plan to decrease the likelihood of heart disease without resorting to statins and all of their accompanying side effects (such as joint and muscle pain, temporary memory loss, and rhabdomyolysis).

The Great Cholesterol Con contains a ton of other useful information, such as detailed discussion of why saturated fat is not only not bad for you, but actually a nutrient essential to proper health. And of course, Colpo examines the much-maligned low-carb diet to show that, even though the media won’t showcase these studies, it is continually proven to be a healthy and safe way to manage both weight and health – much healthier than a low-fat diet will ever be. There’s a reason for that; certain amino acids (protein) and fatty acids are essential. They are even called essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. There’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate (nice to have, yes; essential, no).

I hope that one day, The Great Cholesterol Con is required reading for medical school students. I hope that Anthony Colpo keeps researching and keeps writing; we need more books that explore all sides of a story rather than just the side the moneymaking stakeholders want you to get. It is going to take a long time, but hopefully with people like Anthony Colpo leading the charge (with backup from the great thinkers at The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics), we can get some attention focused on real health issues. In the meantime, Colpo is going to face the ire of the companies that stake their profits on the falsity of cholesterol and low-fat. Unfortunately, Mr. Colpo’s website, The Omnivore, has been taken down due to personal reasons. This website was one of the best free resources on the net for finding information on cholesterol, saturated fat, low carb diets, soy, and any number of other health topics. We can only hope that the articles Colpo has already written return.

So read the book. You can pick it up at Amazon or Lulu for an excellent price, especially considering the time and effort that had to go into reading all of those medical journals and putting this work together. Whether you decide to believe what Colpo has written or not is up to you, but at least you’ll have considered both sides of the story and be armed
with all of the available research.