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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feeding Your Pets, Part Deux

Carol, of Pet E-cards commented on my previous post about pet diets, which reminded me of a few other things. First, raw meat or commercial pet foods aren't the only options for feeding your animals. If one is afraid of the risk of bacteria in raw meat, one can cook the meat before feeding it to their pet. With raw food, the risk of pathogens is minimal; the short length of the dog and cat digestive tracts makes it difficult for bacteria to flourish before being passed out the other end, but nevertheless, for those worried about contamination, you can simply cook the meat first. Some also worry about feeding their dogs bones and for them, bone dust will still allow your dog to get some calcium, albeit without the benefits of chewing the bones. Dogs that chew bones strengthen their jaws, clean their teeth (which helps to control "doggy breath"), and get their calcium from the bones. One caveat: never, ever feed cooked bones! They can splinter and tear your dog's digestive tract. Raw bones however do not pose such a risk.

Unfortunately, if your pet has been on a standard commercial feed, you will probably need to slowly convert them to a raw diet. My dog was only 4 months old when we got her, so I spent about a week ramping her up to real food and then fully converted her when the kibble ran out. Older dogs are probably going to need some probiotics to replace the beneficial intestinal flora that the grains and preservatives in their feed have killed off. I didn't have to use probiotics, but I would imagine you can simply add a pill to one of your pet's daily meals and begin adding a bit of raw food to their kibble, slowly increasing the proportion of raw food to kibble until s/he is on a fully raw diet. You can experiment with other foods as treats too. Layla loves sweet potatoes and this weekend I tossed her a tennis ball-sized apple which she gnawed on for hours. She'll play around with carrots and celery, but mostly just shreds them on the carpet. And for a chew bone, beef legs work well. They are far too big for the dog to swallow and serve as a way to occupy them for hours.

You'll have to forgive me. I'm not 100% up on proper feeding of cats as I don't own one, nor am I in the market. However, there is a great deal of research out there that can steer you to the proper course. Jane Anderson has a great resource website for those interested in learning the myths, rumors, pros, and cons of feeding raw.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Feeding Your Pets

Jimmy Moore had a post on his blog a few days back about low-carbing for pets. I feed my dog Layla a raw meat and veggies diet, what is affectionately termed BARF (Bones And Raw Food). That is the last time I will use that term because it doesn't really strike my fancy. Anywho, when we first got her a few weeks back, she was on standard kibble as I hadn't gone to the butcher to get real food for her. She would sometimes eat it all and usually not. I'd let her eat what she wanted, then mix in some applesauce to get her to finish it. Now, she's only 5 months old, so she was obviously still quite active on that diet, but I tried out adding in some other stuff to see how she reacted. Raw buffalo roast scraps, raw beef liver, sardines, tuna, a lamb bone - she made short work of all of them. Well, not the lamb bone, but she gnawed on it for hours getting every scrap of meat off. Maybe 2 weeks ago, I switched her to a diet of raw chicken necks and "veggie slop". As of now, she's eating 4 chicken necks at each of 2 meals per day (sometimes I feed her three meals on the weekends cause she's quite the eater) and 3-4 spoonfuls of veggie mix. The mix this week was made with a stalk of celery, garlic, 4 or 5 carrots, some spinach, a pound of raw liver, 3 eggs (including the shell for calcium), broccoli, 2 apples, coconut oil, and fish oil. The veggie mix is intended to mimic the remnants of food that a dog would encounter when digging into a kill's digestive tract. She eats it up and continues licking the bowl like she's trying to take the shine off. Once she gets a touch bigger, I'm going to move her to chicken backs.

So what's my point, right? The point is that you take care of your own health and eat a natural, whole foods-based diet that is in line with your evolutionary heritage as a meat-eating omnivore. Why do you not give your pet the same pleasure? With the amount of money many people spend on pampering their little darlings, it amazes me that they settle for standard mass-produced dog or cat food. The big problem with nearly every commercial pet food is that they contain grains. Dogs and cats are not, and have never been, grain eaters. Dogs are omnivorous, much like humans, but with an even greater shift towards the carnivore end of the scale. Cats on the other hand, are pretty much obligatory carnivores. Cats eat meat, meat, meat. Dogs eat meat and a little bit of other stuff. Now the dog food commercials say such asinine things as "plenty of carbs to give him energy" in reference to your dog. It's marketing! Dog's don't need carbohydrates. Cats especially don't need carbohydrates. I have my doubts about the types of protein and fat used in those feeds as well. Some people's dogs thrive on some of the higher end brands, but the low-end stuff is probably not going to be very good for your dog/cat.

People talk about the dangers of a raw food diet and, no doubt, there are some. But dogs can and do choke to death on kibble as well. The risk-reward tradeoff to have a dog that doesn't spend its last few years with arthritis and overweight is well worth it. Once your dog learns to chew properly and is acclimated to a diet of raw meat, which may require some work to get him/her back to a natural gut environment, the risk is minimal. My dog's coat is shiny and soft and she loves feeding time now. She's still playful as can be and loves to go out for a run. Here is a link to Dr. Billinghurst's website: He has written a couple books about this type of diet. Check it out...your dog or cat will appreciate getting back in tune with his or her wild side.

Book Review: Starting Strength

I finished Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore last night. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you are a trainer, an aspiring trainer, an athlete, an aspiring athlete, or anyone with legs and arms that works out, this book is a must-read. Rippetoe and Kilgore describe in excellent detail nearly every nuance of the 5 big lifts: squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and power clean. They discuss proper form, proper ramp-up, how to fix the common errors that you will encounter with your trainees and how to put together a novice program. Whether you need to become a better athlete or a stronger housewife or a healthier grandfather, Rippetoe and Kilgore will show you how to use a barbell to do so. Read this book!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Some Interesting Reads

Here are a few good posts/articles that I've come across recently that you may enjoy.
Dr. Michael Eades on MSG vs Jimmy Moore on MSG
I avoid MSG, not because I experience any physical effects, but simply because I don't think ingestion of possible neurotoxins is a healthful endeavor. I do indulge in cheap Chinese food 2-3 times a year when I inevitably take in some MSG, but as a rule, I avoid it. Avoiding processed, packaged foods is a very easy way to avoid MSG and other possibly unseemly ingredients. Additives like this are further justification for a whole foods-based diet.

Kate Welch had a great post at her blog The Steaks Are High that touched on a study about vegetarian athletes and the need for meat. Looking at the issue logically, there is certainly a need for animal protein in the human diet given that certain essential vitamins and minerals are only contained in meat. There are great athletes that are vegetarian. There are many more that aren't.

Ross Enamait brought us another excellent post on sledgehammer training. I love his training philosophy: high intensity and cheap implements. Even if you're not a boxer, Ross' stuff is top-notch.

I just found Regina Wilshire's blog from Kate's post above and found this piece about enriching grain products with folic acid to stave off birth defects quite interesting. I was going to make a post on an article I found a month ago regarding low folic acid levels, but I lost the link so the post was never created. Enjoy Regina's take on it.

Art Devany posted an entertaining article about Way Too Much Food titled The Age of Miracles and Wonders and Bunless Whoppers. Unfortunately Devany has moved away from posting about health and fitness and has started posting warming.

One of the most important aspects of living a healthy life is controlling stress. Alwyn Cosgrove had a nice post on Stress and Stressors. I don't like the word "overtraining". I think the word "under-recovery" is more applicable to the topic. Good stuff here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Calorie Equation

I had a discussion recently with a guy regarding the ever-prevalent dietary advice about calories. According to most dieticians, losing weight is as simple as eating fewer calories than you burn off. And while it is that simple, it's not that easy. The source of the calories makes a huge difference in how they affect the body. This is a part of my article "The Myths of Healthy Eating Part II" from awhile back.

We have all heard the news that we should reduce calories in order to improve bodyweight. Unfortunately, this is an overly simplistic way of looking at the body. The low-fat diet is based largely on the fact that a gram of carbohydrate contains fewer calories than a gram of fat: four vs. nine. The signs in the grocery store bread aisle read "Gram for gram, carbohydrates contain fewer calories than fat." While true, this statement is terribly misleading. "A calorie is a calorie" thinking assumes that the human body is a perfect thermodynamic engine; that is, it assumes that all calories are burned the same within the body regardless of their source. It also negates the fact that the hormonal pathways of processing the three macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein, and fat – are different.

The assumption that "a calorie is a calorie" means that a person following a 2,000 calorie per day diet could eat 2,000 calories of Twinkies or 2,000 calories of lettuce or 2,000 calories of chicken all with the same effects. I'm willing to bet that the person eating only Twinkies would not fare as well as the person eating lettuce or chicken.

We need to consider the "Thermic Effect of Food." The Thermic Effect of Food is the way in which a gram of protein, carbohydrate, or fat changes the metabolic rate. Basically, it takes the body twice the energy to break down a gram of protein as to break down a gram of carbohydrate or fat. This means that the gram of protein may report to the stomach with four calories, but following digestion and, taking into account the energy used to break it down, only about 70% of those calories are available. Fat has a thermic effect of about 3%, meaning a net gain of 97% of the calories in the fat you eat, while carbohydrates have a thermic effect of 5-10%.37 As you can see, different macronutrients affect the metabolic rate in different ways.

So based on the Thermic Effect of Food, it appears that restricting fat is a good idea since protein and carbohydrates cause a greater increase in the basal metabolic rate. However, this ignores the very real, very important hormonal effects of food. There is a simple reason that low carbohydrate diets work and work well: restricting carbohydrates decreases circulating glucose, which decreases insulin, which allows the body to access stored fat. When people think about energy, they think about that which they eat. However, most of us have a huge amount of energy stored around our waists (some more than others) in the form of fat.

But how does food affect hormones? In order for nutrients to be shuttled into the muscles, liver, and fat storage of the body, they need help. This help comes in the form of insulin. Insulin is secreted in response to carbohydrates and protein; carbohydrates cause a significant insulin dump, while protein has only a small effect on insulin. A large fat meal can cause an insulin response, but fat is effectively hormonally neutral. The rub here is that when insulin is circulating, the body will not release stored fat. You can see that the carbohydrate-heavy, low-protein, low-fat diet that is commonly touted keeps glucose and insulin levels elevated, which makes losing weight hard without following the starvation diet. So hormonally, a calorie is not a calorie – some calories (those from carbohydrates) tend to put the body into fat storage mode.

A calorie cannot be a calorie. If all calories were equal, then the macronutrient composition of the diet would have no effect on bodyweight. Studies, however, show this to be absolutely untrue. One study showed that a diet "high in protein and/or low in carbohydrate produced an ~2.5-kg [ 5.5 lbs] greater weight loss after 12 wk of treatment."38 Another study points out that "The ideal weight loss diet, if it even exists, remains to be determined, but a high-carbohydrate/low-protein diet may be unsatisfactory for many obese individuals" and that there are metabolic advantages to a low-carb diet.39 Finally, a study from 1957 by Kekwick and Pawan showed that even on a 1000 calorie diet (hypocaloric by any measure), patients on a 90% fat diet (with 10g of carbohydrate) and 90% protein diet (5g of carbohydrate) lost weight, while those on a 90% carbohydrate diet (225g of carbohydrate) lost little or none. Those on the fat diet lost the most, while some of those on the carbohydrate diet actually gained weight that they had lost on the fat or protein diets.40

"A calorie is a calorie" is dying a slow, painful death. Many in the nutrition field refuse to let go of this trite and worn out way of thinking despite mounting evidence that it just isn't true. In fact, just altering the level of omega-3 fats in the diet changes body composition. 41 To steal a phrase from John Berardi, "A fat isn't even a fat, let alone a calorie a calorie!" This isn't free license to eat all the protein and fat you want, ala Atkins, but it does illustrate that simply replacing "high-calorie" fat with "low-calorie" carbohydrates or protein doesn't work by the simple mechanism hoped for.

39 http://www.sportsnutritionsociety.o...-2-21-26-05.pdf
40 Kekwick, A, Pawan, GLS (1957) Metabolic study in human obesity with isocaloric diets high in fat,
protein or carbohydrate Metabolism 6,447-460

My big beef with "calorie is a calorie" thinking is food quality. Telling someone to eat more or less calories (depending on whether the goal is adding or reducing mass) doesn't tell them what foods they should be eating. People that focus on calories don't generally change what they eat so much as they change the package that it comes in. Instead of potato chips, they eat Baked Lay's. Instead of regular snack foods, it's fat-free this and low-fat that. That doesn't solve the underlying problem of inadequate vitamin and mineral intake and improper macronutrient portioning.

It also doesn't address differences between different types of the same macronutrient. For instance, is 50g of carbs from grapes identical to 50g of carbs from a Hershey's bar? The smart money is on "No!" It all breaks down to glucose, but along with those 200 calories (50g * 4 cal/g) from the grapes comes fiber, vitamins, and minerals. But if you only think calorically, the source is irrelevant. Are monounsaturated fats no different than trans fats? Both contain 9 calories per gram. But it doesn't take a genius to know that these two fats affect the body in drastically different ways.

There is a very simple solution that is also easier to implement. Eat like a Modern Forager: meat, vegetables, nuts, oils (olive, coconut, and palm), fruits, tubers, and squashes. Along with the reasons detailed in the article such as biochemical responses to food in the body and the thermic effect of eating, protein and fat stimulate the release of the appetite-suppressing hormones: peptide YY, cholecystokinin, and leptin. This effect of these two macronutrients will help you control your caloric intake. On the other hand, eating a standard low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is very difficult because the overabundance of carbs plays with your blood sugar causing you to have constant insulin spikes and hunger.

Stop thinking about calories and start thinking about food.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Erectile Dysfunction and Health

ED Tied to Poor Health

In this study, over 50 percent of subjects with diabetes and 44 percent of those with high blood pressure had trouble achieving an erection either "sometimes" or "always." Ditto for 22 percent of obese men and 26 percent of subjects who reported such sedentary behavior as watching three or more hours of television per day. It didn't matter if they were ogling The Golden Girls or Desperate Housewives. Conversely, only 10 percent of physically active men ages 20 and up reported sexual problems.

It's simple: quality erections require blood flow. Exercise enhances blood flow throughout the body. Therefore, exercise enhances erection quality. Other studies have shown that men with ED were more likely to develop heart problems and other chronic health issues. Again, little surprise that ED is simply a manifestation of a deeper problem. We chalk it up to "aging," that old scapegoat, but it's really an issue of lifestyle. There are plenty of old men that can still do their thing, so why hasn't "aging" affected them? Have they somehow found the magic formula? Are they genetically gifted? I would surmise that it's because they haven't treated their bodies like the other 90% of the population has and therefore are not experiencing age-related decline at the same rate as their peers.

To be healthy, eat a diet based on meat, vegetables, nuts, healthy oils (olive, coconut, and palm), fruits, tubers, and squashes. And get off the couch - do a CrossFit workout, take a martial art, walk the dog, run around the block, go dancing, take yoga...just do something! If you live an active life while consuming a healthful Modern Forager-style diet, you're very likely to keep the bedroom a'rockin'.

For the Last Time, Eat Your Darn Veggies!

Enlarged prostates appear to be less common among men who eat lots of vegetables, a new study shows

The men who consumed the most vegetables were 11% less likely to have BPH surgery or moderate to high BPH symptoms by 2000, the study shows. In addition, certain antioxidants – beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C -- were associated with reduced risk of BPH. But those antioxidants had to come from fruits and vegetables, not supplements, according to the study.

There should be little surprise that a diet high in vegetables (and fruits) aids in reducing an enlarged prostate. I can't recall seeing any reports of a disease that was worsened by a diet higher in vegetables. It makes plenty of sense considering the plethora of vitamins and minerals available in these plant foods. A diet focused mainly on meat and vegetables will help you lose fat, gain lean mass, boost your immune system, and avoid many of the so-called "ills of old age". I have to wonder how much of what we attribute to aging is really just a lifetime of inadequate micronutrient intake rearing its ugly head. And you can't just take a supplement to get your vitamins and minerals. First of all, supplements only encompass the micronutrients that science has discovered. Second, the interplay between the nutrients within food is vastly different from those same supplements in isolation or in a multi-vitamin. An apple is better for you nutrient-wise than taking the exact same vitamins and minerals in pill form. I don't know why it works that way, all I know is that it does.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Heart Healthy Lunchroom

An email came out recently at work that mentioned our new "Heart Healthy Lunchroom". I found myself sitting mouth-agape reading what they find to be "Heart Healthy". Here is the bulleted list of options available in the cafe.

• new, guilt-free French fries or chicken tenders, now being fried in zero-trans fat oil and zero-transfat butter
• an array of fat-free salad dressings and more fresh fruit are now available at the salad bar
• vegetables on the steam table are perfectly steamed without any butter
• 100-calorie snack packs in the vending machines
• Nestea green tea, Propel fitness water and Crystal Lite coming soon

Let's just start with the first one: "guilt-free" French fries and chicken tenders. There is (or rather should be) nothing guilt-free about French fries and breaded, deep-fried chicken. Fry it in zero-trans fat oil, fry it in water, fry it in's still a fried potato or a heavily breaded and fried piece of chicken. Regardless of what the potatoes are fried in, there will still be very high levels of cancer-causing acrylamide. Second, the oil is no doubt a polyunsaturated blend because we wouldn't want to fry in saturated fats. We all know that they are deadly. But as long as the fries are trans fat free and low in saturated fat, they're not bad for you. Puhlease! The greater the level of unsaturation, the greater the instability of the fat. Polyunsaturated oils, being highly unsaturated, are highly unstable, which means that at the extreme temperatures required for frying, they will oxidize and turn rancid. Saturated fats would be a much better choice here. Not to mention the high sugar hit and insulin load of those potatoes. The high temperature frying probably also causes some denaturing of the proteins in the chicken and there's the grain-based flour coating, that is also starchy and probably also contributes some of that delicious acrylamide. Still guilt-free?

The second and third options aren't so bad. More fresh fruit is good. We could do without the fat-free dressings though. But again, we all know that fat is bad for your heart. Ugh! And it's good to know that the vegetables have not a single touch of butter. We wouldn't want to have any fat at all in our diets. Nevermind that fat is absolutely necessary for proper vitamin absorption and that people eating fat-free dressing absorb far less of these essential vitamins than those eating normal dressings.

One-hundred calorie snack packs as heart healthy? Let's check Nabisco World and see just what offerings we have for a 100-calorie snack. First up, I see Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies. Cookies! Always a solid nutritional choice. Then there are the Teddy Grahams. How could something that cute be bad for you? Ritz Snack Mix, Wheat Thins, Peanut Butter Cookie Crisps - I know that my diet is deficient in those essential food groups. We continue with Ritz Chips and Cheese Nips and finish off our journey with...yes folks, those are Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies that you see! And let's not forget the granola bars and pudding. But worry not my Heart Healthy Friends, they are all low in fat. And there's probably only 18-20 grams of carbohydrate, most of it sugar. It's ok though...they're low fat and we all know that sugar isn't bad for you. Now let's consider some other 100-calorie "snack packs". You can have a medium apple at about 75 calories. 30 grapes or 15 raw almonds or 10 oil-roasted almonds - all about 100 calories. Three cups of raw broccoli or 20 large baby carrots or...have I made my point? There are so many healthful 100-calorie options that will actually fill you up and provide some vitamins and minerals as to make the 100-calorie Snack Packs a joke. Of course, focusing on calories is a misguided effort anyway, one that has gotten us into our current obesity situation, but that's a topic for another post. Seriously, eat some beef jerky (preferably without MSG and nitrates) and some nuts for your snack. Or have a piece of fruit. Remember: There is no such thing as junk food. There is junk and there is food. Cookies, chips, etc all qualify as J-U-N-K.

And finally, the last option. I can't really find anything negative to say about this one. I was quite intrigued by the heading of the email and was quickly disappointed at the offerings. Instead of pushing meat, vegetables, nuts, and fruit, they are providing access to the same stuff only in a "more healthful" package. But to not be a complete nay-sayer, at least there is an attempt to provide more healthful options. They may have missed the mark by a bit, but the groundwork is laid. And 1.5 out of 5 isn't bad, is it? Batting .300 is pretty decent if you're playing baseball.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Saturated Fat Nonsense

An article that looked so promising, yet still throws in politically correct tripe: Nutrition Researchers Provide The Skinny On Trans Fats. This article is a brief rundown of what a trans fat is, why it's bad, and the alternatives. Unfortunately, in the section about alternatives, they state the following:

To replace trans fats, many food producers are reaching for saturated fats, such as palm oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. Unfortunately, saturated fats don't offer much of a health benefit over trans fats, if any. The USDA lumps trans fats and saturated fats together; both types raise LDL and are considered unhealthful.
More promising alternatives to trans fats are at various stages of development.[emphasis added]

So saturated fats are as bad as trans fats, according to the USDA. Note that this is the same USDA that has given us a Food Pyramid based on processed grains rather than on natural foods such as fruits and vegetables. But instead of an ad hominem on the USDA, I am going to throw out some logic. The premise that saturated fats are nearly as bad as trans fats is based on the bunk cholesterol hypothesis. If that theory is bunk, as the preponderance of evidence - along with logical analysis - shows it to be, then it follows that any argument based on that theory must also be bunk. The pharmaceutical companies won't give you the full story. They also aren't giving doctors the full story, so you have to look to your own research. Read Anthony Colpo's The Great Cholesterol Con and you will be amazed at the truth.

Anyway, moving along, the very saturated fats that the USDA claims are so bad, namely palm and coconut oils, are the very fats that tropical hunter-gatherer tribes consume with abandon. In fact, if you remove the US from the equation (where soybean oil is the main oil), palm oil is THE #1 most widely consumed oil in the world. And somehow people living a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle aren't dropping dead from heart disease. Butter, lard, full-fat meat from grass-fed animals, coconut oil, and palm oil have all been consumed for generations upon generations, yet only in the past half-century has the incidence of heart disease shot through the roof. Perhaps it's the high intake of polyunsaturated oils which are highly prone to rancidity (and also powerfully immunosuppressive). There is evidence that a high carb consumption is the cause of high cholesterol. Whatever it is, it isn't the saturated fats.

Notice that I highlighted the word "development" in the quote above. Those saturated fats that I listed aren't "developed". They aren't synthesized, hydrogenated, or mixed. They are pure and natural fats, put here by Mother Nature (or your deity of choice), to be consumed by the animals of the planet. Food scientists have been trying for ages to top Mother Nature and have yet to succeed. Here is a short list of questionable developments: Olestra, aspartame, MSG, saccharin, hydrogenated vegetable oils. I'm sure there are more that haven't popped into my head at this moment. The point is that natural foods that require no processing are healthful additions to your nutrition plan. Foods that require processing are not and that includes any unnatural, man-made fats. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils require processing to be shelf-stable; saturated oils do not, having all of their stability naturally built-in. Mother Nature didn't provide mass sources of polyunsaturated oils. It takes loads of corn to make a single bottle of corn oil. Give the saturates a try and see if you don't have more energy. My intake of coconut and palm oils has improved my previously dry skin and even improved my ability to tolerate the sun without burning. As a red-headed German-Irish boy, that's never a bad thing.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Diet vs. Drugs - The Great American Showdown

Pills or papayas? Survey finds Americans want healthful foods, not more medicines

If you thought Americans would rather pop a pill to treat illness than make major diet changes, think again. A new survey shows the vast majority would rather change their diets—including trying a vegetarian diet—than use medicines. According to a nationally representative survey of 1,022 adults conducted in mid-January by Opinion Research Corporation, 69 percent of Americans would prefer to try a dietary approach. Just 21 percent preferred treating diabetes with medicines.

It's a miracle! I would have never suspected the numbers to be so high. Of course, there is still that scary 21% of folks that aren't interested in a dietary intervention, opting instead for yet another pill. I'm not a big fan of vegetarian diets as they tend to include a boatload of grains and soy and to be quite low-protein and low-fat. But a vegetarian or vegan diet is superior to what most people are eating on the Standard American Diet, so any change from that is admirable.

Other findings are that women are more likely than men to take the diet option (73% to 65%...I guess we really are hardheaded) and middle-aged folks were much more likely to take the diet option (76%) than senior citizens (59%) or 18-24 year olds (63%). I can understand senior citizens being averse to the dietary option. They've been doing the same thing for 60+ years and it is ingrained. I would expect such a finding. Amongst 18-24 year olds, 30% (!!!!) would take the drugs option. This is likely some combination of the indoctrination of our youth by Big Pharma to see drugs as a panacea and the invincibility of youth. Other findings that are unsurprising are that the Western states and more highly educated are more likely to opt for diet over drugs. In the Western states, you find more healthy folks than in the Midwest and South and it is widely known that education correlates well with health.

But this was a simple survey. It's very easy for people to say "Yeah, I'd try diet." I wonder how many would change their tune once they realized what a dietary intervention would entail. But I do feel hopeful from this news.

Name Change

Well, Jimmy Moore at Livin' La Vida Low Carb called me out about the corny title. So I've changed it. I hadn't given much thought to the title other than to think "people won't understand what I mean by Modern Forager"....well, now I've thought about it and it's time to educate them about what I mean. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors foraged for their food. They hunted and gathered (duh!). We have the pleasure of not needing to go to such ends to meet our energy needs. The good news here is that few people starve to death. The bad news is that we live in extreme caloric abundance...that's easy to see from a quick glance around you. When I say "Modern Forager," I mean a person that "hunts" at the butcher and "gathers" from the produce aisle. A "Modern Forager" respects their evolutionary past and eats food that is inline with their genetic heritage. That means that pretty much anything adorned with a cartoon character or pushed by a celebrity is off-limits. If you can kill it with a stick, it's fair game. When you find a species of tree dropping Froot Loops or Ho-Hos let me know and I'll revise my definition.

Don't feel bad about calling me out Jimmy. It was a needed change! And now, enjoy the same ol' me with a new name. Also added a picture to my profile so feel free to laugh.

I've Been Mentioned by Jimmy Moore!

Jimmy Moore's latest "Five Hot Low Carb Blogs" features this one!! Jimmy is one of the premier low-carb bloggers out there and to have him giving me recognition is awesome. Even if he did make fun of my title "Health News for Health Nuts". If you aren't a regular at Jimmy's Livin' La Vida Low Carb blog, you should become one. He puts up some great interviews with prominent folks in the pro- and anti-low-carb fields and will keep you up to date with the latest low-carb news.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FDA Approves OTC Weight Loss Drug

I returned from a weekend ski trip in West Virginia to find this story spread across the web: FDA Approves GlaxoSmithKline's Alli. Fellow bloggers Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power, Ross Boxing's Ross Enamait, and Livin' La Vida Low-carb's Jimmy Moore all have their takes on it and pretty much match mine exactly.

Basically, this drug keeps the body from absorbing the fat in a meal because as we all know "fat causes you to get fat." One unfortunate side-effect is a decreased absorption of the all-important fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. And a socially unacceptable side-effect is the possibility of messing your drawers the first time you fart; the fat has to go somewhere so it goes to your colon to be passed out. Except that the colon isn't equipped to handle that much fat and tends to pass it out in oily spurts that ruin clothes and furniture. This is not a healthful undertaking, nor one that will cure obesity for a lifetime.

Big Pharma will not rest until every American is taking at least one pill to treat a symptom. To be sure, this pill does not treat a disease any more than prescriptions for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or depression treat a disease. They are all treatment of symptoms. But why would the pharmaceutical giants want to treat symptoms? Because diseases go away when treated...symptoms don't. So they can treat you for a month for your disease or treat you for life for your symptoms. Which sounds better from a business standpoint to you?

But obesity is a disease, right? Nope, obesity is the symptom of a life lived in lethargy and caloric abundance. To successfully treat obesity, a person must move more and eat less. In fact, there has always been an over-the-counter weight loss drug: proper nutrition. Since the dawn of grocery stores, you've been able to pick up your "pills" in the produce aisle and at the butcher. It's very simple to lose weight (although that doesn't mean it's easy); eat meat, vegetables, nuts, oils (olive, coconut, and palm), fruit, tubers, and squashes. Avoid foods in brightly colored packages and anything laden with sugar or trans fats. If the bulk of your diet is full-fat meat and vegetables, you will lose weight. It will be nearly impossible not to. The powerful satiating effects of protein and fat and the fibrous bulk of vegetables will make it very difficult to overeat.

Sadly, I'm sure we'll see some parents putting their overweight kids on this drug in an attempt to stave off weight loss surgery. I'm sure this won't be the last time I say this: Avoid the diet pills and miracle cures. Get yourself on a proper nutrition plan, one that mimics our evolutionary past, and get off the couch. Your underpants will thank you for not taking Alli.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Low GI improves performance

Maximising energy for sporting performance

They found that the participant who followed a Low Glycemic Index (LGI) diet showed significant improvements in running performance as opposed to those who followed a High Glycemic Index (HGI) diet, which the researchers attributed to increases in blood glucose during the trial time.

This is just more evidence in favor of using low glycemic carbs rather than high glycemic, insulin-spiking carbs. Athletes are taught to use insulin spikes post-workout for recovery, but this study shows otherwise. Of course, the best carbs come from vegetables and fruits. Sugar has no place in a healthful diet.

New Paleo Diet Newsletter

High Protein Diets

Dr. Cordain's newest Paleo Diet newsletter came out today. It's all about high protein diets. Enjoy!

Children and Sleep

We have a triple-whammy on articles regarding kids and sleep. The first is
"Children who sleep less more likely to be overweight".

The researchers used time diaries, in which the parents or caregivers of young children or children old enough to keep diaries themselves recorded all activities -- including bedtime, time asleep and wake time -- over the course of a weekday and weekend day. In analyzing the diaries, they found troubling age-related trends in sleep behavior.

By age 7, children were sleeping on average less than 10 hours on weekdays. By age 14, weekday sleep time fell to 8.5 hours. A full 16 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 18 were found to sleep fewer than seven hours on weekday nights. The National Sleep Foundation recommends children aged 5 to 12 years get 10 to 11 hours of sleep and adolescents get eight to nine hours.

Basically, lack of sleep causes hormonal imbalances that lead to overconsumption of sugary processed carbohydrates, which leads to obesity. If you've read my previous posts on the book Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, you know that 9+ hours per night is important for adults. It is even more important for kids and their growing bodies. Turn off the TV and put the kids to bed.

The next article is "Children's sleep problems can lead to school problems". No surprise here; it is difficult to concentrate when tired. Put the kids to bed and help them learn better in school to increase their chances of a productive career.

So putting your kid to bed at a reasonable time reduces their chances of obesity and increases their learning abilities. It may help keep them from needing weight loss surgery.

Unfortunately, a great majority of parents are blind to their child's weight.

The study of more than 1100 families found that 89 per cent of parents of overweight 5—6 year-olds and 63 per cent of parents of overweight 10—12 year-olds were unaware their child was overweight. It also revealed that 71 per cent of parents of overweight 5—6 year-olds and 43 per cent of parents with overweight 10—12 year-olds did not think their child's weight was a problem.

Perhaps the problem is our perception of normalcy. "Normal" is now overweight rather than truly healthy. I think a big part of the problem is that parents don't want to admit that their child is overweight, so they choose to ignore the issue. The major issue there is that ignoring it won't make it go away.

Kids and Weight Loss Surgery

Ross Enamait on Kids and Weight Loss Surgery

Ross Enamait made an excellent post today about kids undergoing surgery for their obesity. Kids!! It is incredulous that a parent would put a kid under the knife for a lifestyle disorder. These are the same parents that couldn't turn Junior away from the Ho-Hos but probably think they're doing him a favor. Be a parent and do what's best for your kids. That doesn't always mean being their friend. They may curse you for not giving them a Twinkie today, but they will thank you tomorrow. Feed your kids the same things that you eat, which is hopefully a diet of meat and seafood, vegetables, nuts, oils (olive, coconut, and palm), fruits, tubers, and squashes. Grains and dairy have little place in a healthful diet. And maybe turning off the TV and PS3 once in awhile and having them go out and ride a bike or play some basketball would be a good thing too.