Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Cavemen In Sports?

Because of my life long involvement in sports, I always get excited when I see athletes go paleo.  Athletes need to eat optimally to maximize performance.  The status quo for fueling an athlete was always loading them up with "complex carbohydrates".  The tide is turning.  A friend emailed me this article on Grant Hill and Steve Nash, two of the best but oldest players on the NBA's Pheonix Suns.  
Grant Hill and Steve Nash
"You see a guy like Grant (Hill) come here and it seems like he's drinking from the fountain of youth,"
We're not sure what Hill's been drinking during this healthy run in Phoenix, but we know that he - like Nash - follows a consistent, comprehensive training regimen. This includes a diet that, according to witnesses, is about as a strict as what you see on those reality TV survival programs.
OK, they're probably not wolfing down handfuls of pre-game crickets, but chicken, fish, dried fruit, vegetables and raw nuts are in, while pasta, rice, breads and other processed foods routinely are out.
Sounds like paleo to me.  Nutrition really is the fountain of youth. Exercise without the proper food will do nothing but wear you down and make you hungry.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Are We Made Of?

Just thought you should see this chart.  Two major organs of human body are mostly water (as I am sure the rest are too).  The second most common component of the brain is fat (lipids).  The second most common component of muscle is protein.  

Composition of Brain and Muscle
Skeletal Muscle (%)Whole Brain (%)
Water7577 to 78
Lipids510 to 12
Protein18 to 208
Soluble organic substances3 to 52
Inorganic salts11
(Reference: McIlwain, H. and Bachelard, H.S., Biochemistry and the Central Nervous System, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1985)

Carbohydrates can be naturally produced by the body to cover the 1% composition of the muscles and brain.  Although, I am not advocating zero carb, the body runs very well on low carb.  Yet "experts" recommend time and time again we eat more "healthy carbs" and less "deadly fats".  "Experts" will usually say moderate amounts of protein should be consumed.  The problem is that complete sources of protein are usually bound to fat in the form of animal products.  A catch 22 if you want to eat unprocessed, real foods.

Based on the composition of our bodies and the composition of the Standard American Diet, it is no wonder that people are increasingly getting weaker and having psychological issues.  As for the preponderance of carbohydrates in the SAD diet, the brain and muscles don't want more than 1% of carbs so the body stores it in the adipose tissue cells.  


Monday, March 28, 2011

Gas Prices Hitting Your Pocket Book?

Gas prices are crazy and they are going to get worse.  Here's an idea to help you save some money elsewhere.  Drink water.  It's nearly free at home or about 1 cent per cup if you choose to filter it.  Clean sources of water are usually available at the work place and are almost always free.  Yup, it is that simple to save.  Soda, soft drinks, or pop as it's called around these parts costs over $10 per gallon.  It certainly isn't as good for you as plain, old water.  Water is the only liquid anyone ever needs to put in their mouth.  After a period of removing soft drinks from your diet, you will find water very quenching.  I can guzzle a glass of cold water in a matter of seconds and absolutely love it.

Let me be clear though, water is not the only liquid I drink but it probably consists of 75% of what ends up in my belly.  I do get crazy on occasion and treat myself.  The other 25% is homemade smoothies, tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages.  Coffee and tea are also inexpensive but I don't drink a lot of either because of the way they can make me feel.  Wired and sometimes nauseous.  Anyways, that is what I drink but if you are not convinced to stop drinking soft drinks for financial reasons, how about for health reasons?

Here are some key stats from a study regarding regular and diet soft-drink drinkers.

For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
  • 26% for up to 1/2 can each day
  • 30.4% for 1/2 to one can each day
  • 32.8% for 1 to 2 cans each day
  • 47.2% for more than 2 cans each day.
For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:
  • 36.5% for up to 1/2 can each day
  • 37.5% for 1/2 to one can each day
  • 54.5% for 1 to 2 cans each day
  • 57.1% for more than 2 cans each day.
The study referenced is here.  Easy to read article is here.  Too bad they also didn't compare non soft-drink drinkers.

The crazy thing is people who drink "diet" soft-drinks are doing it to lose weight yet they are the ones who are more likely to become overweight.  I am not going to speculate on the cause of this phenomena.  I am not sure whether diet beverages are actually causing people to become overweight.  It could be likely that overweight people happen to drink diet soda more often.  In the end, it's crap and it's not helping anyone lose weight.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Just Say No!

Thank you to Bonnie's Blog for pointing me to this video.  As a follow up to my post yesterday, here is  a talk from a former pharmaceutical drug rep.  I can tell you from my professional experience and from the work experiences of very close friends, this women speaks the truth.  Funny thing is she references a video I posted here.  She really hits on psychiatric drugs.  Maybe one should look further into the gut-brain relationship before relying on medication.

Are you fixing your health problem(s) or becoming a drug addict?

I don't know your personal situation or why you may be on a "maintenance drug".  Don't use this excuse because a myriad of ailments can be CURED or drastically reduced by eating the right foods and not eating the wrong ones.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Paleo...Now Also Hurting Dermatologist's Business

We have learned how many have shunned clinical advice and have chosen to solve many different problems via a diet change.  People are choosing to avoid the USDA food pyramid and swarm toward nourishing foods that have little to no ill effects.  Let's review the success stories that have been referenced on this site:

Now we can add acne to the list.  Before my diet change, I personally didn't have much more than occasional acne flare up.  I sometimes would get it on my back.  That is virtually gone.  I have been hearing for a while that eating paleo could really help acne but hadn't seen any pictures till I stumbled on the above picture here.  Pretty impressive results after 27 days and she did it medication free.  The diet is so effective for acne that there is a book dedicated to the subject.  So many doctors will be suffering financially if too many people discover this diet secret.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chorus of Crapitude

Let me be crystal clear.  This video is not is incredible!  It gives me goose bumps every time and I have shared it with many people.  Hopefully you enjoy it too.  I posted it to entertain and to help prove a point.

As I was at a choir program for my 5 year old daughter I realized I really could not hear her voice (no, she didn't get to do a solo).  There were other children I knew there too and I couldn't distinguish their voices either.  One single voice in a choir is typically drowned out by the harmony of the group.  There are probably kids with high voices and low voices but you cannot pick them out when they are all singing at the same time.

After the program, I found myself thinking about how a diet could create a harmony of crap.  I eat what I feel is a pretty clean diet.  For the most part, I have eliminated the dietary toxins that cause general feelings of crapitude.  I have consistently high energy levels and my digestion is uneventful.   When I do feel the crapitude coming on, I look back at what I ate to consider if anything was out of the ordinary.  I am now way more in touch with my body and how food effects it.

If your diet is riddled with foods that are known to be problems for just about everyone, you will not be able to pick out the possible cause for your discomfort.  Your diet may be more to blame for feelings of crapitude than a germ or a virus.  But it will be hard to pinpoint any one food if you eat a lot of sugar, gluten, phytates, lectins, and Omega 6's.  By the way, the typical American diet has a ton of these food toxins that cause health issues.  It is estimated that naturally occuring food toxins outweigh man made toxins (pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, etc.) by a ratio of 5 to 1 up to 10 to 1.  Yet organic food is constantly propped up as a way to great health.

Sure eating organic probably has some health benefits.  But eliminating the naturally occuring food toxins gives you the most bang for the buck. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Real Life Super Hero

So this guy may look a little weird.  At first glance, he looked like a super hero to me.  In the eyes of the medical community, he is a super hero.  He defied conventional wisdom and cured himself of Type 1 diabetes.  The pancreas is the organ most effected by diabetes.  He lost half of his in an emergency surgery.  After subjecting himself to a myriad of medications while eating a low fat diet he made a drastic change.  He adopted Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint.  He read the book, which I highly recommend, and transformed his life.  

Go to the site and read the whole story.  Then buy the book and read it.  Or if you live near me, I will loan you mine.  It is a short, easy read.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Interesting Reviews of the "Paleolithic Diet"

This article, GOOD Asks the Experts: Is The "Paleolithic Diet" Really Better?gives us opinions from unbiased, evolutionary scientists.  It is quite interesting.  

Common themes from the experts are: we are definitely meat eaters but how much meat is optimal and how much our ancestors ate is up for debate, avoiding processed food is a good idea, and calling it the "Paleo Diet" or "Paleolithic Diet" is too vague.

Dr. Eades' Nutritional Formulator
Many in the paleo nutrition world also feel the term "paleo diet" is distracting to the underlying science behind avoiding foods we just don't tolerate in great quantities.  I would stear you to Dr. Michael Eades M.D. and his formula for how he determines the best nutrition is for himself and his patients.  Here is a graphical representation of what he practices.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time For Doctors to Reconsider Gluten

This article from the Wall Street Journal Online brings some interesting info to light that many in the paleo world had already suspected.

"For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease," says lead author Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research.

The news will be welcome to people who have suspected a broad range of ailments may be linked to their gluten intake, but have failed to find doctors who agree.

"Patients have been told if it wasn't celiac disease, it wasn't anything. It was all in their heads," says Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.
That is significant.  The mainstream medical community is going to have to wake up and start recognizing gluten as a potential cause for their patients' problems.  There are now more accurate tests that more completely assess gluten sensitivity.  Doctors need to be made aware of this too. 

Below is a few more interesting lines from the WSJ story that hit on something I wrote about  a while ago.

Those with gluten sensitivity didn't have the flattened villi, or the "leaky" intestinal walls seen in the subjects with celiac disease.  Their immune reactions were different, too. In the gluten-sensitive group, the response came from innate immunity, a primitive system with which the body sets up barriers to repel invaders. 
People can eliminate gluten on their own and see how they react.  You don't need a doctor to do this.  You know your body best.  If your health improves, then stay away from gluten. Here is a synopsis from a survey of people who voluntarily chose to not consume gluten in January of this year.
 I find these results striking. Participants overwhelmingly improved in every health category we measured. Although the data may have been somewhat biased due to the 53% response rate, it's indisputable that a large number of participants, probably the majority, benefited from avoiding gluten for a month.
I know plenty of people whose health would benefit by eliminating gluten from their diet.  I am going to pass this on to them.  I would strongly encourage you to also consider whether you should experiment with eliminating gluten.  If you do it and don't see any health changes, oh well.  At least you don't have to worry about gluten being a cause of your ailments.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Food and Health Disconnect

So it's common knowledge that foods can cause heart disease and obesity.  These are diet ideas Americans have clung to for the last 30 to 40 years.  Although the wrong foods are blamed, people still suspect that avoiding certain foods can help them reduce their risk of getting heart disease or getting fat.

Why is it that foods aren't widely implicated with other common health issues in our country?  It is estimated 1 in 2 Americans will end up with cancer.  Diabetes is estimated to affect 1 in 3 Americans by 2050.  Common autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Hashimoto's (thyroid disease) affect millions in our country.  Yet these health issues are not seen as nutritional problems by the mainstream.  Genetics and environmental toxins are often blamed but not food.  This is a cop out in my opinion.  A way for people to point the finger elsewhere rather themselves.

When was the last time you heard someone who was perfectly healthy but conscious of their diet say, "I can't eat that because it may raise my blood glucose too much"  Or "I can't eat that because it will cause a leaky gut"  Or "I can't eat that because it will bind to many important nutrients making them undigestible".  I did hear twice today people say they couldn't eat something because it had too much fat and cholesterol.

Heart disease is the most feared health affliction in America.  The problem is, there are plenty of other diseases killing Americans that nobody adjusts their diet to avoid.  Avoiding fat and cholesterol is kinda like jumping into oncoming traffic to avoid a suspicious looking character on the sidewalk.  You irrationally run from one perceived danger into possibly a more dangerous situation.  By the way, as the American diet adjusted to avoid heart disease, more Americans are getting heart disease and obese than ever before.  And yes, they are also getting the other diseases I mentioned at a rapidly growing rate.  Maybe the best thing would be to just avoid the typical prescription for avoiding heart disease and obesity and focus on eating to avoid diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.  The last 30 to 40 years haven't worked out so well, let's change things up and see what happens.  Let's just eat what has allowed humans to thrive for thousands of years without these diseases.


Monday, March 7, 2011

What Doesn't Kill Me.....

....Will Only Make Me Stronger.

I played football in college where I was very often one of the smallest players on the field.  The macho phrase "what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger" was repeated many times in my head over those years.  Between the pain of the game and the pain of the preparation, I needed something to get me through it.  I am not saying anyone should decide to hurt themselves physically in pursuit of health or well being but what I hope to illustrate is that a little bit of stress exposure will better prepare you to withstand greater stressors later in life.

Within the last year or so, I have learned of the word Hormesis.  Stephen Guyenet defines the word like this:
Hormesis is the process by which a mild or acute stressor increases resistance to other, more intense or chronic stressors.
This is the most succinct and accurate definition I have found.  Common forms of hormesis are vaccination and exercise.  Although all exercises and vaccinations aren't terribly effective, most people have subjected themselves to these forms of stressors with the hope of making themselves stronger.

Cold exposure is one form of stress that has been reported to have many health benefits.  I had read about it here, here, and here.  Some of the reported benefits are increased calorie burning, strengthened immune system, improved mood, improved circulation, and increased testosterone.  For the last year or so, I have been taking cold showers where essentially my warm shower is ended with a few minutes of the coldest water I can get to flow.  The two benefits I can speak of are I feel great after I get out of the shower and my tolerance for cold has gone way up.  The cold winters in Northeast Ohio are no big deal to me anymore.

So based on my reading and my new found enjoyment of cold I decided to take it a step further. I searched for a polar plunge to participate in.  This is where a group of people gather in the winter at a body of water and go in that cold water for the fun of it.  I can assure you that most people who participate are not doing it for hormesis.  Well, I found one of these events and I committed to doing it. 

Honestly, I really wasn't doing it for the health benefits, it just seemed like a fun thing to do.  Plus, I wanted to see how I would tolerate being submerged in such cold water.  I did this on February 26th and I can say it was an incredible experience.  There were about 2,000 people there with about 400 crazy enough to jump into the 37 degree F water.  It was the 8th year they did this event and they raised $36,000 for a local food bank.  I personally raised $240 and I have to thank those who donated and came to watch.

As you can see in this photo, even when jumping off the platform, I had second thoughts.  I attempted to jump over the water but as you can tell from this video, I didn't make it.  By the way, I am not the one in the speedo.

The weirdest thing was that after I got out of the water into the 35 degree air, I did not feel an urge to bundle up.  I attribute this to norepinephrine, a fight or flight hormone that made me feel warm and elated.  This experience was a lot easier than a 5k which seems to be more widely accepted as normal and fun.  Sure those 5ks can be fun for many but they are certainly much harder than this was.  I highly encourage you to find an event like this in your area.  I know there are similar fund raisers around the country this time of year.  Find one and take the plunge.  It won't kill you but you are sure to have a blast.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Monday! Monday! Monday!

Set your DVR folks, the diet expert death match is here.  If you are interested in health, diet, low carb, low fat, or paleo then you should definitely watch Dr. Oz Monday, March 7th.  Check out what the title of the show is:  The Dr. Oz Show : The Man Who Thinks Everything Dr. Oz Says Is Wrong

Pretty intriguing show title huh?  I am guessing that was the point. 
Just a little background.  The guest on the show will be author and scientist Gary Taubes.  He is a low carb advocate who released a book in 2007 called Good Calories, Bad Calories which really opened my eyes after I read it a few years ago.  The book pretty much rocked the nutrition world.  He released another book in 2010 called Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.  As I understand, this book is the crib notes version of his 2007 book.

My hunch is based on Dr. Oz's recent thoughts on the Paleo diet, the show might not be as Jerry Spinger like as the title may allude to.  Taubes is civil but staunch when he presents his stance to contradicting parties.  Either way, it will be an interesting show to watch as a mainstream program and celebrity doctor give a low carb advocate a voice to be heard on such a big stage.  I have a feeling if you are not yet questioning whether low fat/high carb diets are maybe causing more problems than they're fixing, you will walk away from watching this show with some skepticism regarding the pervasive low fat prescription.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taking It Into My Own Hands

I would be lying if I said I cooked most of the meals in our home.  Fact is 90% of our meals are home cooked and my wife cooks most of those.   She does the daily ritual of creating magic out of the fridge, onto the stove, and then onto our plates.  She is a great cook and does a great job of putting together healthy meals for us and the kids.  She actually puts thought into what she is going to make for us at the end of our days and for that myself and my kids are appreciative.

When it comes to the more adventurous things, she leaves that to me.  I guess I don't mean adventurous, I mean low risk.  My definition of low risk food preparation is that if it tastes horrible we aren't left scrambling for something else to eat.  What I have done a lot lately are some low risk, experimental food preparations.  If it didn't work out, I chalk it up to experience.  There are many healthy things out there that I have wanted to make for myself rather than purchase for several reasons. 
  1. They are too expensive to buy. 
  2. The store bought options tend to have additives that I'd like to avoid.
  3. There aren't many sources to buy from.
  4. And finally the fun factor of trying something new and interesting.
I had some time off during the December holidays and that is when the real experimentation began.  Here are some of the things I've experimented with and a short synopsis of the experience.  I will include links to the recipes but I did modify them when appropriate or necessary.

Fat Before Rendering
1) Rendering Tallow - Tallow is a traditional cooking grease made from the fat of cow's or similar animals.  Due to irrational fear of animal fat, you cannot find this once popular cooking ingredient anywhere.  When I picked up our half cow from Whitefeather Meats, I bought some grass fed buffalo and beef fat.  I then got a simple recipe from here which I followed very closely.  The process took a while but I ended up with a lot after I was done.  I have mixed feelings about tallow.  I enjoyed preparing it but cleaning up was a nightmare.  The stuff is like wax when it dries.  It was very difficult to clean up.  Hopefully I will learn how to properly clean up so I can enjoy cooking with it in the future.

Rabbit/Venison Before Drying

Berries Before Drying

2) Pemmican -  This concoction is a combination of tallow and dried meat and sometimes dried fruits.  Pemmican was first made by Native American Indians because it was nutrient dense and lasted a very long time without freezing or airtight packaging.  I had read how nourishing it was and thought I'd give it a try using this recipe.  The tallow rendering was the first step.  I had some rabbit and venison in the freezer so I sliced that up and dehydrated it along with some strawberries and blueberries.  After those items were properly dried I ground them into a powder like substance in the food processor.  The tallow was heated till it liquefied but not too hot.  I folded the powdered stuff into the pot with the tallow with some seasoning for added flavor.  What resulted was somewhere between a paste and a dough in consistency.  I used plastic wrap to create individual, candy bar size pieces for me to enjoy after it cooled and hardened.  The next day I was so excited to try what I had worked days on.  To say it was unappetizing would be an understatement.  The flavor was blah and the texture wasn't much better.  In the reading I did after this debacle I learned making this stuff is an art that can take multiple tries to master.  It wasn't all for not though as my dog got many goods meals out of this failed experiment.

Single Kimchi Serving
3) Kimchi - After learning about the benefits of fermented foods here and many other blogs, I decided to make some myself.  Besides cultured cheeses, the most common fermented food that Americans eat is sauerkraut but I will leave that to my brother in law and his family.   They make almost a hundred pounds a year at the family cabbage farm.  I decided on kimchi because I love it and it seemed easy to make.  My recipe was from one of my favorite blogs that I had only discovered in the last year or so.  I changed up the ingredients a bit but followed the directions pretty closely.  I brined mine overnight then drained the brine.  You have to then let it sit in a closed container at room temperature for a week at least to allow the fermenation process to happen.  After that period was done, I put the kimchi in 2 empty kimchi jars I had bought at an Asian grocery store.  I did this because it was easier to store 1 jar in my main fridge and the other in my beer fridge (which doesn't have beer in it anymore)  rather than the 1 huge fermenation jar I used.  To say I was happy with the result would be an understatement.  This tasted as good or better than anything I have gotten at a restaurant or store.  This is a great little side dish for virtually any meal but is an acquired tatse for many people.

4) Bulk Venison Sausage - I went hunting last fall.  I didn't get a deer but did get a lot of meat.  There were non-prime cuts that nobody wanted that I gladly gathered up.   I took them home and put them in the freezer with the intention of making sausage.  I found this recipe and went to work.  The process started with me smoking some of the meat for added smokie flavor.  I then let it soak in a brine overnight to mild the gaminess a bit.  My brother in law had a meat grinder that he loaned to me.  That thing got tested and it passed.  I added some pork fat from Whitefeather Meats because venison is so lean that it would make for some very dry sausage.  The process took some time and work but we ended up with about 15 pounds of sausage that is not too bad.  It has a strong sage flavor.  Sage is a spice I will avoid in the future except for maybe a little in the Thanksgiving stuffing.  We have used this sausage in stews, chilis, and meatloafs.  We usually add some ground beef or pork because we need something to cut the strong sage flavor.  This is something I look forward to doing again as I can see the potential of having a lot of high quality protein to enjoy if I season it right.

5) Homemade Ice Cream - We got a small ice cream maker from my in-laws for Christmas.  I was excited because I like to treat myself to ice cream every now and then but hate all the crap that is in the store bought stuff.  My wife got involved in this one and chose this simple recipe.  We thought vanilla was the way to go because it was so versatile.  Ours was sweetened with honey instead of maple syrup.  This was a fun process that the kids also got involved in.  The end result wasn't as sweet as everyone is used to but was still very good.  We made several batches and put it in a freezer safe container.  This ended up being a nice treat with berries or nuts sprinkled on top.

6) Hot Sauce - My wife and I love spicy food.  My kids, they don't like it so much.  So we are careful about not making things too spicy for the kids to tolerate.  Hopefully their tastebuds will evolve soon so they can enjoy this added flavor with us.  Anyways, we usually just add heat by dashing on some dried peppers or hot sauce to our own plates.  I love sriracha style hot sauce but you can't find it anywhere without some of the additives we try to avoid.  So again, I decided to make some myself.  It was quite easy to find recipes but I settled on this one.  I was lucky to have some dried chilis from our summer garden that worked perfectly in this recipe.  Honey was substituted for sugar and half of the vinegar was apple cider.  This stuff turned out great.  I put it on a lot of things.  It is just the right combo of heat, tang, and sweetness.  I am afraid to do it again because I am not sure if any other batch will ever equal or exceed this one.

As you can see, my wife is not the only one who has been busy in our kitchen.  I am by no means a culinary talent but I am willing to try something new and not get too frustrated if the end result isn't perfect.  Whether you attempt cooking a new meal or just something on the side like I did, don't be afraid to get messy and don't be afraid to screw up.  In the end you will have learned something and you will certainly appreciate the food a whole lot more when it does turn out to be delicious.

By the way, did anyone notice that all these experiments end up being processed foods.  The main difference between my "processed" foods and those found in a store are that I start with and only used real food ingredients.  What I did realize after these experiences is that our ancestors probably would not have had the energy nor the tools to make most of this stuff.  This further reinforces the fact that although homemade "processed" foods are a nice luxury, whole/fresh foods is way more likely what our human genome has evolved to eat.


Paleo on ABC Nightline

Article here.