Friday, April 22, 2011

You Shouldn't Worry About Falling.....

....It's what you do after the fall that really matters.

Don't worry if you've fallen while making a diet change.  Or you've fallen somewhere on the road of life. Just get up and get after it harder than before.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Anti Gluten Media in the Mainstream

I have to thank one of my scouts, Leroy, for finding this article.  There is a lot of interesting stuff out there so I appreciate when friends pass stuff on to me.  A gluten free diet is accelerating as an accepted way to improve one's health.  The knowledge of this is becoming more mainstream every week it seems.  I am going to note some powerful quotes from a recent article.
Sarah Cooper was a new mom in her mid-20s, busily juggling her family and a career as an electrical engineer, when everything came to a halt.  She lost all her energy. She developed acne. And she began experiencing gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation. Her doctors, thinking something must be missing from her diet, put her on various vitamins, none of which helped.
"It was all I could do to go to work," she says.
After years of failed treatments, Cooper's luck changed. She saw a doctor who suspected she might have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can appear at any age and is caused by an intolerance to gluten.
 Cooper tested negative for celiac disease, but the doctor advised her to try a gluten-free diet anyway.
"Within a week of eliminating [gluten], I started to feel markedly better," says Cooper, now 36, from Melbourne, Australia. "It wasn't a gradual feeling better; it was almost a crossing-the-street kind of thing.
That is a moving story.  Celiac is not the be all, end all when it comes to gluten.  But wait, there is more from this article.
"This is something that we're just beginning to get our heads around," says Daniel Leffler, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. "There is a tight definition of celiac disease, but gluten intolerance has been a moving target."
"Gluten is fairly indigestable in all people," Leffler says. "There's probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us."
That has been said here ad nauseam.  There are so many other food options that nourish much more than gluten containing crap.  Whole wheat or not, it really doesn't do us much good to eat it.
Gluten intolerance "starts in the intestines as a process, but doesn't necessarily stay in the intestines. It may affect other organs," says Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, in Baltimore.
Ok, if I comment on that I will just be a broken record.  The quote speaks for itself.  
Experts like Marlisa Brown, a registered dietitian in private practice in Long Island, N.Y., and the author of "Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free," worry that gluten could have long-term negative consequences that just haven't been identified yet.  
Even if you feel better, "definitely don't try to add it back in," she urges. Brown counts herself among the gluten sensitive.  After enduring sinus infections, hair loss, sensitive skin, and fatigue since she was a little girl, and despite a negative celiac-disease test in her 20s (which she thinks may not have been thorough enough), Brown finally cut out gluten in her late 40s.  "I felt better in a week," she says.
Is it possible whole wheat is as bad for us as cigarettes?  I don't know but the more I read, the more I wonder.  This may seem like a radical view but gluten is being found to be related to a myriad of health problems.  These health problems can be debilitating to people and a great burden on our country to pay for the treatment needed.  It's about time our government stopped subsidizing this crap.  They (we the taxpayers) pay for it twice.  First to the farmers and second to the healthcare providers.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Flatulence and Body Fat

I recently speculated with another blogger that our diet change had reset our metabolism back to what it was in our teenage years.  We can eat a lot of the right kind of foods and not have problems of packing on fat.  Michael at Critical MAS says one of the downsides of this way of eating is a shrinking waistline creating a need for new pants.  There could be worse problems to have I guess.  Soon after that blog post, I heard a podcast while on my work commute where Chris Kresser talked about how gut flora could also effect body fat levels.  

This intrigued me so I did some Googling and found some interesting info.  I found many articles and studies discussing the microbiome.  This is the collective population of the bacteria that call the human body home.  It is estimated there are trillions of little bacteria that live off us, many of which are necassary for our survival.  I also found a mouse study where certain gut bacteria led to an increase in body fat.

Ok, maybe gut flora can contribute to an increase in body fat but how would diet change effect gut flora.  I am speculating but I feel if we decreased our consumption of certain foods, the bacteria in our gut that thrived off those foods would eventually decrease.  Here is an extremely informative blog post regarding the science behind flatulence.  So grains, beans, and carb dense veggies are consumed by bacteria in our gut and the by product is methane gas.  Those foods are either eliminated or greatly reduced in the paleo diet.  I'll say, my body produces much less methane since I've made my diet change and others have had the same experience.  Read this quote from Leroy on our blog a while back:
"....BIG thanks to Chuck for bringing up the whole flatulence thing last week.  He speaks the truth…it has drastically decreased."
Could it be one of the keys to losing body fat is to eliminate foods that make you fart?  Pardon my rudeness but I couldn't hold that word in any longer (pun intended).  Many who have made the paleo conversion have noticed that they pass gas way less and seem to be able to eat a lot of the right food without the problem of adding on body fat.  Adding in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and saurkraut may also help to get the gut bacteria environment back to something that is more optimal.

Are the bacteria in the mouse study and the bacteria that ferment the food in our colon related?  I don't have that answer.  What I can tell you is the more I read the more it becomes obvious that the human body is a complicated machine with thousands, if not millions of interconnected systems.  What has happened in recent history is nutritional science (or lack there of) has ignored what evolutionary science knows about how the human diet developed over hundreds of thousands of years.  I hope science keeps striving to understand the intricacies of how the multiple systems work together and how food may effect that.  Until they figure it out, let's just stick the fuel that allowed the human machine to thrive without chronic illness and chronic obesity for hundreds of thousands of years.  Your waistline and friends will certainly appreciate it. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wood Fire Cooking

Have you ever heard a song and it instantly takes you back to a moment in time?  Or how about the same experience with a certain smell?  This kind of sensory recall happens to me quite often.  I also believe there are sensory responses ingrained into us as a human.  For instance, why do fingernails scratching on a chalkboard have a universal negative response for people?  There is no life experience or memory tied to it.  Some theorize that this resembles a screeching distress call of ancestors millions of years back.  

I recently read a book that explores ingrained sensory responses in regard to cooking.  The book is called Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham.  He builds a very strong case for cooking being the factor that most effected human evolution.  Heating plants and meats make them more easily digestible and allow our body to extract more from the food we ingest.  If you can eat 30-40% less food and extract the same amount of energy you can spend less time gathering and eating.  Also, the gut doesn't have to be as big to contain all that raw, slowly digested food.  Smaller gut and more food absorbed equals more nutrients for other parts of the body such as the brain. 

Here is a quote from the book that I find especially interesting "Tens of thousands of generations of eating cooked food have strengthened our love for it."  Humans have an innate sense to prefer cooked food.  Now remember that even our very recent ancestors didn't cook with gas, electric, or microwaves.  They cooked with wood.  So did humans nearly a million years ago.  They spent their leisure time around fires cooking, socializing, and eating.  For months at a time in some climates fire was their only source of warmth.  Campfires were central to life in their village.

Some beef cooking over hot wood coals
I live in suburbia.  In between city life and and rural country.  I am lucky enough to have a fire pit on wheels and a driveway big enough for friends and family to gather round our campfire.  There is something relaxing about nestling near a fire on a cool night while staring at the flickering light of the flames.  And the smell of burning wood is so much more pleasant than anything else when it burns.  People who have grown up without ever being by a campfire will always enjoy plopping down next to one and sharing some good conversation.  Every sense stimulated around a campfire is something that is ingrained through evolution into our DNA.  

For years now, I have grilled meat over campfires.  I have built wood fires in the dead of winter to break cabin fever and to also do some real cooking.  Nothing compares to the flavor of food cooked over a hardwood fire.  If you don't believe me, ask the BBQ pit masters who cook with wood when competing for money in rib cook offs.  Or just try it yourself.  Get 3 steaks, grill one over propane, grill one over wood, and throw one in the microwave and cook them properly to the same doneness.  The wood grilled steak will win 100 times out of 100.  The preference for the flavor of food cooked by a wood fire is something I believe that is ingrained in our DNA over hundreds of thousands of years.  It just tastes better to us because it is who we are.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Behind Enemy Lines

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn
I had an interesting lunch last Thursday.  Half my plate was a green bean/pea shoot salad and the other half was a fruit salad with a touch of basil.  It actually wasn't too bad although it left me pretty hungry.  I think I ate 2 pounds of salmon/bacon cakes when I got home from work.  You see I went to a free luncheon program where the topic was a strict vegetarian diet.  The title of the "FREE Interactive Colloquium" was Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease presented by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D.

This presentation was done at Cleveland State University just a few blocks west of The Cleveland Clinic.  For those not familiar, The Cleveland Clinic is renowned as the top heart hospital in the world.  Anyways, I got there kinda late due to work responsibilities and had to resort to a spot in the back if I wanted to view his slide presentation.  You see, I was actually interested in the presentation details.  The crowd of a couple hundred, I would guess, seemed to be mostly university faculty and students there by obligation or for the free food.  That may be condescending, they may have also been interested in the science.  I will say in general, there was a smaller population of overweight people in the audience than you would find in a population matched group of 200 people off the street.

I keep my mind open about nutrition and will change my ways if the science proves I should.  I went to this event to see the other side of the coin.  What I found out was this doctor had many of the same views as experts in the paleo nutrition world.  He shuns all seed oils although not for the exact reasons the paleo diet avoids them.  He recommends a diverse diet of vegetables which many in the paleo world also recommend.  His last view is where I give the doctor the most credit.  He feels most of the world's health problems can be greatly mitigated through nutrition.  This conviction is tough to stand by while practicing medicine at the world's most cutting edge cardiac treatment facility.  Food is not cutting edge.  He discussed the struggles he has in getting funding for his research.  Fact of the matter is medical device companies and pharmaceutical companies fund almost all of the health related research in this country.  This is why doctors and med students don't learn much about nutrition.  There just isn't nearly as much research for them to read about treatments or prevention that are nutrition based.

Those few points  are where I stopped agreeing with the doctor.  He recommends zero fat.  His patients cannot even eat avocados or nuts.  Can't eat "anything with a mother or face" or anything that came from something with a face like dairy or eggs.  He does recommend a lot of legumes and whole grains.

His presentation started by discussing how the Standard American Diet causes our cells to become "sticky".  I immediately recognized this as glycation which is caused by a high carbohydrate diet.  He failed to mention that detail.  Then he talked about how this stickiness causes LDL particles to adhere to our artery walls in the form of plaque.  He failed to mention that only the small LDL particles (which are also caused by a high carb diet) can get caught in the artery walls and accumulate there.  His presentation moved on from there to case studies where there appeared to be successful reductions in clogged arteries using his diet.

He did not present much on the overall health of his patients.  He is a heart doctor and he seemed laser focused on treating the artery walls.  He kinda touched on some other positive health outcomes but they were not well supported examples.  I wonder about autoimmune diseases, neurological issues, and cancers while on a diet full of so many carbohydrates, plant toxins, and void of fat and cholesterol our body needs for vitamin D syntheses and fat soluble vitamin absorption to name a few examples.

After the presentation was done, they opened up to the audience for what turned out to be 4 measly questions.   Although my arm was up and I was jumping, I didn't get to ask my many questions.  So much for "interactive".  One question asked was regarding whether skim milk was OK.  The doctor referenced the debunked China Study by his friend T. Colin Campbell.  He noted that a protein in milk called casein increased the risk of cancer but failed to mention another protein in milk called whey, reduced the risk of cancer.  Milk without either protein is no longer milk so he really didn't answer the question.

Since his talk last week, there has been an interesting report released.  I wonder if Dr. Esselstyn read this article from NPR regarding studies of ancient Egyptian mummies and their clogged arteries:
"Our hypothesis was that they wouldn't have [heart disease], because they were active, their diet was much different, they didn't have tobacco," he says.
But they were wrong.
One of the mummies the team scanned was a princess in her 40s, who presumably ate fresh food and wasn't sedentary. "That she would have atherosclerosis," Thomas says, "I think we're missing a risk factor. Right now we know that high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, inactivity and other things cause athersosclerosis, but I think that we're less complete than we think."
Ancient Egyptians did have access to meat, though Thomas says their diet consisted mostly of grains, fruits and vegetables.

Hmmmmm, a diet consisting of mostly grains, fruits and veggies.  You noticed the scientist says "we're missing a risk factor".  What do American and ancient mummy diets have in common?  Fruits and veggies?  C'mon, have you seen what the average American eats?  The most common factor is grains.  I am sure the ancient Egyptians ate "healthy" whole grains not the highly processed white stuff that is common today.  Grains none the less.  

Is it possible Dr. Esselstyn's diet reduces artery clogging while eating grains but NOT eating seed oils?  Possible but I cannot be sure based on his presentation. Here is what I can be sure of, saturated fat or fat from avocado will definitely stay in my diet until there is science to convince me otherwise.  Sorry Dr. Esselstyn, I am not convinced.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Deja Vu

I recently read a quote from Stephen at Whole Health Source.  He discussed an NPR piece about a doctor with experience treating people in non-industrialized communities.  The doctor saw very little signs of non-infectious, chronic disease in those populations.  Here is Stephen's quote regarding diet, lifestyle, and submitting to outside pressures:   
"But it requires discipline, because going with the flow means becoming unhealthy."
It reminded me of this video I posted a while back.

No matter how weird or different you may feel, it sometimes is a very good idea to go against the flow.