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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.