Thursday, May 19, 2011

Concerned About Food Safety?

Everyone should be concerned with the quality of their food and whether it is safe to consume.  Growing your own food is the best way to control food quality but that is unrealistic for many foods and many people.  A while ago I created a Hierarchy of Food post which will help point you in the right direction.  I also did a post on acquiring quality food on a budget.  As you read through those you'll notice I don't draw a line in the sand when it comes to organic food.  The bottom line is organic costs more and is not realistic for many when making a change from cheap processed crap to real, whole foods.  You will enjoy great health improvements by eating the right foods, organic or not.  

I wish I could afford 100% organic 100% of the time but I can't.  I do have several small gardens in my yard that provide a lot of naturally raised veggies when they are in season.  The fact that I can't afford organic all the time doesn't make me any less concerned about food quality.  Here is a list from the Environmental Working Group talking about the foods you should buy organic and the ones you shouldn't be quite as concerned about.

The good news is more consumers are demanding higher quality food.  There are more grocery stores that specialize in organic.  Conventional grocery stores are carrying more organic.  Farmers markets are becoming bigger and more popular.  All this is good for us the consumers.  It means better selection and better prices.  


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are You Chicken Shit?

Have you been scared away from buying 100% grass fed beef because of the perceived high cost of it?  I would encourage you to look at buying bulk amounts direct from a good farmer.  The cost ends up being very affordable considering the prime cuts you end up getting for less than $5/pound.  Here is a great blog post talking about why one should buy grass fed verse conventionally fed beef cattle.   There are many health reasons to go this route.  

Still not convinced?  Maybe this will put you over the edge.
"Increasingly, American cattle farmers feed their herds chicken manure, which health officials warn could contain dangerous bacteria that ends up in ground meat eaten by humans....
The waste that is mixed with livestock feed is a less expensive alternative to using grains and hay.

The U.S. News article cites as an example Dardanelle, Arkansas, farmer Lamar Carter, who recently bought 745 tons of manure from local chicken houses to feed his 800 head of cattle.
My cows are as fat as butterballs, Carter said. If I didn't have chicken litter, I'd have to sell half my herd. Other feeds too expensive."
The article cited is 14 years old.  This practice surely has been outlawed by now right?  Wrong, it is still perfectly legal.  I have no idea what the stuff in the grocery store beef section is fed.  Do the employees at the grocery store know if their beef was fed chicken shit?  I have no idea.  My beef farmer will allow me to tour his farm to show me what the cattle eat and why he may cost a bit more.  As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Top Athlete Cleaning Up Their Diet

Djokovic ditches pizza to push for top spot 

World No.2 Novak Djokovic claims giving up “pizza, pasta and bread” has made him a better player.

Now back home in Belgrade for the Serbia Open, the 23-year-old has spoken of the major changes he has made to his diet over the past eight months to improve his fitness levels.
Djokovic – who won his inaugural home event in 2009 – believes the advice given to him by nutritionist Igor Cetojevic has been a major factor in his recent run of successes.
He said that Cetojevic has “done a great job” by “changing” his diet following test results that showed Djokovic is “allergic to some food ingredients” such as gluten”.
Having ditched “pizza, pasta and bread”, Djokovic feels “great physically”, has “lost some weight” and made his “movement” far “sharper”.
Yet another top athlete dispelling the myth that to excel at sports you need to load up on the "healthy" grains.  This story was found by DietDoctor.coman interesting blog with a low carb perspective from Sweden.
As you can see here, a conventional nutritionist is inspecting this athletic phenom (please sense my sarcasm).  Obviously something must be very wrong with him or maybe his head is misshapen as a result of eliminating wheat.  Or possibly he is a tennis robot from outer space?  He cannot be normal.  He defies all nutritional laws of conventional wisdom.

EDIT: Now the Wall Street Journal  has picked up on this story.  


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kids, Gluten, and Growth (or lack there of)

It is sad really.  A supposed "health food" could be stunting the growth of our children.  Wheat, especially whole wheat, has been espoused as a necessary and nourishing part of any diet.  It supposedly is a good source of fiber, minerals, and carbohydrates.  The problem with it is that it also has anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of many critical nutrients consumed in conjunction with the wheat.  One widely studied anti-nutrient is gluten.

Just recently I have heard 3 cases of young children who have been told they are not growing at a normal rate.  There could be a myriad of factors causing this but one that is often overlooked by healthcare professionals is gluten intolerance.  Gluten intolerance is way more common than many would even dream of.  Personally I feel gluten causes too many problems for it to be considered more than a rare part of anyone's diet.

Well, now I am going to get off my soapbox and present some articles and studies for consideration in regard to gluten and stunted growth in children.
"One surefire symptom of celiac disease in children is stunted growth. This is caused by the malfunction of the absorption process of nutrients in the small intestines.  This symptom manifests in the slow weight gain of the affected child as well as the slow growth, either horizontally or vertically of the child." Article Link
"In conclusion, the GFD (gluten free diet) leads to a normalisation of body mass (evaluated as weight-for-height) and a substantial improvement in height-for-age" Study Link
 "We conclude that the prevalence of celiac disease is high in patients with ISS (unexplained shortness) and it is important to test all children with ISS for celiac disease by measuring serologic markers and performing an intestinal biopsy." Study Link
 "A gluten-free diet (GFD) generally leads to a rapid catch-up in growth and to normalization of the pituitary function." Study Link
"One of the most common extra-intestinal manifestations of CD (celiac disease) is short stature, and in some patients, short stature may be the presenting and only symptom of the disease, making the diagnosis of CD challenging. Impaired growth in children with CD results mainly from nutritional deficits, and withdrawal of gluten from the diet is frequently associated with a marked improvement of linear growth." Study Link
"In conclusion it can be said that is very important to diagnose celiac disease as soon as possible because the introduction of gluten-free diet prevents the pathological conditions mucosal lesion of small intestine and the physical retardation of children." Study Link 
"Growth and laboratory abnormalities usually improve after introduction of a GFD (gluten free diet)." Study Link
"Gluten-free diet led to rapid increase in weight and height score in patients <or=5 years old at the time of diagnosis (Group 1). Increment in height SD score was the highest in patients 5-10 years old (Group 2) at the end of 4 years. Early diagnosis and good adhesion to a gluten-free diet are essential for long-term growth in CD. Celiac societies and the mass media must expand an effort to educate the community regarding the symptoms of the disease." Study Link
As you can see there is a ton of evidence that gluten can cause stunted growth in children.  It's obviously not the only cause but it should definitely be ruled out.  Parents of children who aren't growing at a normal rate should take it upon themselves to have their child tested for gluten sensitivity.  It may just help them avoid drugs that are costly and very likely have side effects.  The most accurate diagnostic available today is the Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity & Autoimmunity blood test from Cyrex Labs.  Doctors are doing their best with the info they have but unfortunately most of that info is coming from drug companies who want to treat the symptoms rather than fix the cause of the problem.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Want To Become Weak and Emaciated?

Of course, don't lift anything heavy.  Don't eat that artery clogging, protein rich meat.  And of course, take take those magic cholesterol lowering statins.  

How common are these recommendations?  It is no wonder that as American's age, they become so weak they cannot do even the most basic tasks.  Strength and vitality shouldn't just be traits of the youth.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Would You Eat in the Name of "Health"?

Top Food Industry Taste Tester
A while ago I heard an interview of a registered dietician who also happens to be a low carb advocate.  She said she ran the numbers and it is IMPOSSIBLE to eat a whole, unproccessed food diet that meets today's standard nutritional recommendations because it would exceed the daily fat limit.  Real food contains fat.  It takes manufacturers to make these foods "healthy" enough for us to eat.  You see, eating freshly butchered meats and freshly picked plants is what is killing America.  We all have to eat more stuff from boxes and bags with ingredients we can't pronounce and shouldn't care about.

One such way of making our food healthy is by taking fat out and adding wood in.  YES, WOOD!  I heard about this on the Latest in Paleo podcast and decided to dig a bit deeper.  I found this article from the Wall Street Journal with some gem quotes.  Here they are:
What is often in shredded cheese besides cheese?  Powdered cellulose: minuscule pieces of wood pulp or other plant fibers that coat the cheese and keep it from clumping by blocking out moisture.
Demand for cellulose is also rising because of the growing popularity of processed food products in China, India and other countries, and because consumers are demanding low-fat or nonfat foods that still have a creamy texture.  
Although the notion of eating fine grains of wood pulp might make some consumers blanch, nutritionists say cellulose—which gives plants their structure—is a harmless fiber that can often cut calories in food. Insoluble dietary fibers like cellulose aren't digestible by humans so add bulk to food without making it more fattening.
So we can't eat fat but we do need more fiber.  Just add wood?  Really???  This crap get's crazier every day and no one is becoming healthier because of it.

This post was entered in Real Food Wednesday


Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Abnormal and Loving It!

I do a lot more observing of people now than I ever had earlier in my life.  Some may call it judging but I feel I am just observing.  Oh well, that's not an argument I will win or even care to have.  Anyways, I have been outside the proverbial box for a while now.  To use a better metaphor, I have been standing outside the forest for the last four years.  My vision is no longer obstructed because I am not amongst the trees.  I see things that others don't because these things are so common and "normal" they go unnoticed by the forest dwellers.

Here is the definition of the word "normal":
conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal
OK, so being common or usual is "normal".  Let's look at some the common traits of health and diet in America. 

  1. About two thirds of Americans are overweight.
  2. Most people believe weight control is as simple as calories in, calories out.
  3. The most common cause of death is heart disease.
  4. The second most common cause of death is cancer.
  5. The major source of calories in the Standard American Diet come from processed, grain based foods.
  6. Carbohydrates are considered to be a healthy foundation of anyone's diet.
  7. Americans try to avoid fat except for supposedly healthy vegetables oils.
  8. Animal fats are widely accepted as unhealthy.
  9. The average American consumes 142 pounds of sugar per year.
  10. About half of Americans take at least 1 prescription drug per day.
That is a brief list of what it is to be "normal" in America.  I often observe what people eat, what they buy at grocery stores, how they look, and their health status.  All the above traits are usually confirmed.  Please observe for yourself.  You will see being unhealthy and supposedly eating healthy is the norm not the exception.

So as the definition of "normal" reads, I am striving to be abnormal in many ways.  I am happy to say I have been successful thus far.  Unfortunately it is going to take big changes by millions of people for healthy to again become "normal".  I write about this stuff because I want everyone to be healthy.  It's not up to me though.  It's up to each individual to decide they no longer want to be "normal".  They must embrace abnormal.