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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Food Timeline

Here is an interesting Food Timeline. It shows approximately when certain foods were introduced into the human diet. It is necessarily imprecise, but gives some context to the foods we eat. For those wondering, Oreos were introduced in 1912.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Iron Deficiency? Have a Coke (?)

City scientists test pizza and Coke diet to determine if "the fizzy drink can help prevent young women from becoming anaemic."

And of course this research is sponsored by Coca-Cola, which has high hopes for the outcome.

The Coca-Cola Co is hoping the study will show that Coke could be a cheap, efficient way to tackle iron deficiency problems, especially in young women.

That would be a huge boost for the company, with its public image tarnished by claims its sugary fizzy drinks cause dental problems and contribute to obesity.

Let's get real...even if Coke does increase iron absorption, it is still a contributor to dental problems and obesity. The last thing we need to do to help people overcome health issues is to promote other problems. There are many food sources of iron that aren't quite as detrimental to health as is Coke, such as meat, liver, spinach, and watermelon.

I can see the headline now: "Coke - It'll destroy your metabolism, but at least you'll absorb some iron."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Six Reasons We're Not Eating Healthier

Here is WebMD's 6 Reasons Americans Aren't Eating Healthier:

1. Calories
2. Diet and Exercise
3. Breakfast
4. Fats
5. Carbohydrates
6. "Functional" Foods

I'd like to offer my own 6 reasons why we're not healthier, basing them on those from WebMD.
1. We focus on calories, instead of food: 1000 calories from Twinkies is not the same as 1000 calories from lettuce, which isn't the same as 1000 calories from chicken. If you think it is, I suggest some reading on the role of insulin in fat storage.
2. We consider walking to be exercise: One day, less than a century ago, walking was transportation. Now it's exercise. People walk around the block and call it being "physically active". Walking is a great start for those that are inactive, but lets stop acting like walking is going to keep people healthy. Your heart rate should go up to where there is some difficulty talking.
3. We are convinced that breakfast is different from the other meals: Post and General Mills have convinced us that breakfast needs to be sweet. We feed our kids enriched Sugar Bombs and Pop Tarts before stopping off at Starbucks for a Sugar-ccino and sugarberry muffin. Eat a real breakfast of eggs and bacon. Or eat last night's leftovers. Breakfast doesn't have to be a grainy, sugary mess that sends your blood sugar skyrocketing so that you're starving again 2 hours before lunchtime.
4. We are convinced that some types of fat are bad for us: Especially that dastardly saturated fat. Get your fat from nuts and olive, coconut, and palm oils. And if you eat grassfed meats, dig into the fat in them too. Saturated fat isn't a killer. The polyunsaturated fats that we're told to eat just may be though (three cheers for immunosuppression!). I really love when some well-meaning, but misguided nutritionist lumps trans fats in with saturated fats, or worse says that trans fats are the same as saturated fats. But that is the nonsense that the American Heart Association continues to push, regardless of all evidence to the contrary.
5. Somehow, we listen to people that tell us to eat more grains than produce: Our government bases its Pyramid on grains. Dieticians are constantly touting the benefits of whole grains. Get your carbohydrates from unprocessed produce, like fruits, vegetables, tubers, and squashes. Grains are an alien food to the human body, having been consumed in quantity for about 10,000 years. There is absolutely nothing in a grain that isn't found in a fruit or vegetable without all of the nastiness that comes with grains like lectins and phytates.
6. We expect food manufacturers to give us healthful foods: This whole "functional" foods craze drives me nuts. Real food is already functional. Meat, eggs, seafood, produce, and nuts are about as functional as it gets. And they don't need a colorful package with Spongebob Squarepants on them and bright red banners telling us how good they are for us. Food manufacturers will add whatever they can to a product to make it a) cheaper and b) more attractive to your health-consciousness. Profit, profit, profit is the motivation of these companies.
7. We listen to the media rather than listening to our bodies: This one is a bonus. The media cares about stories, not truth. One day it's "Low Fat Diet Cures Cancer" and the next we hear "Low Carb Diet Knows the Last Digit of Pi". Stop changing your diet everytime Regis Philbin, Oprah, Kiran Chetry, or some other "news" host unveils the next big diet breakthrough. There is nothing new in the world of eating! People have been eating the right way for hundreds of thousands of years. If you eat real food, your body will tell you what, and how much, to eat. Cut the processed junk. Stick to food without nutrition labels.

It boils down to listening to your body. Ditch the food products. Eat real food, that which is grown, not manufactured. Stop dieting and just change your lifestyle. Eat the original low-carb diet, based on fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of meat, eggs, and seafood. Ditch the grains and replace them with produce. Your body will thank you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Shoulder Surgery and Sleep article

I underwent arthroscopic surgery this morning on my left shoulder to (hopefully) keep it from dislocating again...I refuse to give up sports at the ripe age of 27. The nerve block hasn't completely worn off yet, so my hand and arm are still asleep and I have no pain yet. It's starting to wear off though so within a few hours I think I'll be hurtin' for certain. Anyway typing with one hand is annoying, so I'll not be posting much.

In the meantime though, enjoy this article about extra sleep and athletic performance.

Significant improvements in athletic performance were observed, including faster sprint time and increased free-throws. Athletes also reported increased energy and improved mood during practices and games, as well as a decreased level of fatigue.

A few other posts I've had regarding sleep: Sleep articles - Forgive my laziness in not posting them separately.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What the World Eats

Time Magazine has a series of 15 pictures showing the weekly food intake of some families around the world. Obviously this is not a representative sample of much since there are only 14 families shown and there are some 6 billion people in the world. A few observations:

* Some people spend A TON of money on food each week - Of the 14 families, only 5 spend under $100/week. The range of expenditures is $1.23 in Chad to $500.07 in Germany. Obviously it's not a straight comparison because some of these countries have a lower per capita income. In Chad, $1.23 might by 50% or 75% of their weekly income, while the German family spending $500/week might be spending only 25% of their income.

* Look at all the junk and convenience food - Even the foreign families have picked up the American trend of indulging in prepackaged, manufactured food. Read the lists of favorite foods: pizza, potato chips, chocolate fudge cake with cream, ice cream, hot dogs, frozen fish sticks. Also note the weekly expenditures of the families selecting such foods.

* Some families manage to eat very well on little money (relative to US standards) - The families that spend the least tend to have what looks to be the most nutritious food selections, even considering the difference in cost-of-living. Check out the Ahmeds of Cairo (Slide 9, $68.53 for 12 people), the Aymes of Ecuador (Slide 10, $31.55 for 9 people), the Batsuuris of Mongolia (Slide 12, $40.02 for 4 people) and the Namgays of Bhutan (Slide 14, $5.03 for 12 people). While it doesn't seem that the Namgays have much food for 12 people, they certainly have a nice selection of produce. Look at all of the produce that the Aymes and Ahmeds have for their families.

* A few families manage to eat very poorly on lots of money - I'm going to pick on the Revises of North Carolina (Slide 5) as they are close enough to my home state of Kentucky to be comparable in terms of cost-of-living. For a family of 4, they spend $341.98 per week. The food consumption for the week chosen includes two pizzas, multiple bags of chips (four?), plenty of fast food in the front right corner, and lots of sugary "juice" in the back right by the chips. If you look closely, you'll spot a few tomatoes and what appear to be grapes hidden amongst the junk.

The dollar amounts make me wonder if they are showing us monthly expenditures. I am rather frivolous with spending on food (and frugal in other areas to allow that) as I like fresh produce and meat and I eat like a horse. My wife and I still spend less than $80/week for organic produce (where available), chicken, eggs, grassfed meat, plenty of olive oil, and a couple of lunches out each week (mostly by her as I'm too particular about what I eat to not make my own food). In fact, if not for the lunches away from home, we'd probably come in at less than $60/week (I smell another post brewing). We don't eat out very often, nor do we eat chips, frozen foods (other than occasional frozen vegetables), or other convenience foods, keys to keeping expenditures low.

How about your weekly expenditures? Where does your food money go?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Observations from the Work Gym

I have a pretty nice gym setup at work that I use most days. They have a C2 rower and a squat cage with 600lbs of weight, more than enough for me. They also have alot of the standard cardio equipment - ellipticals, treadmills, recumbent bikes, etc. Anyway, the humor actually arises outside of the gym. Several times per week, I'm walking out of the gym at the same time as someone else. Ninety-percent of the time, these someone elses walk out of the gym and straight to the elevator. I would guess that all of them are perfectly able-bodied considering that they have just come from using cardio equipment and lifting weights. And it's not that they all go directly to the elevator. They actually walk past a set of stairs to get to it! It makes me think of this picture. I wonder how many of these people also think that a workout has to be done in a gym. I always try to remember that it is the little things that get the job done. Whether you're starting a business, nurturing a relationship, or trying to stay in shape, every little thing you do (or don't do) helps. For those of us with desk jobs, taking the three flights of steps to our floor is an opportunity to get a bit of extra exercise, as is parking a bit farther away from Wal-Mart's door. It's not going to burn off a donut, but I bet that most of the people you see taking the steps also engage in many other healthful habits.