Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't Let the Average Influence You

Average is not always normal and is rarely optimal.  Never be afraid of being an outlier.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Total Cholesterol of 220 the Sweetspot?

I stumbled upon this VERY eye opening graph at Skyler Tanner's blog.  What it plots is average total cholesterol vs. mortality rates in 164 countries.  The bold blue line shows age adjusted, all cause mortality rates per 100,000 citizens in those countries.  As you follow that bold blue line you see that mortality rates dip to their lowest point at approximately 220 (mg/dl) total cholesterol.  Ain't that a kick in the nuts for the cholesterol lowering business and advocates.  It appears that to focus on lowering cholesterol below 200 for "heart health" seems to increase your chances of dying of something else.

click to enlarge

The red dotted line shows mortality from cardiovascular disease.  The optimal cholesterol level in regard to this parameter appears to be 210.  In fact, cardiovascular health seems to hover between 180 and 230 total cholesterol.  Is your doctor telling you this?

Hmmmm, makes you rethink things a bit doesn't it?  In my case, I stopped buying into that low cholesterol crap years ago.  Seeing information like this just makes me want to rent a billboard and post it along highways.  I can't afford that.  For now, I will just post it on my virtual billboard for people read on the information superhighway.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Don't Throw That Red Meat Away!

If he would just cut out the red meat...
 I am sure you heard by now about the recent study released eluding to the idea that red meat consumption may shorten one's life.  The media took this one and ran with it.  I saw it on the news this morning and tonight.  Here are just a few of the headlines at the top of a Google search: "More support for passing on the red meat" "Eating All Red Meat Increases Death and More Reasons to Never Eat Meat" "Study: Red meat linked to risk of premature death" "Red Meat Shortens Life? What to Do".  It seemed pretty damning toward red meat.  I had to do some digging to see if I was killing myself and my family.

It wasn't hard to find some intelligent analysis of the study.  The study results were based on food questionnaires filled out by subjects every four years.  What the numbers actually show is there was less than ONE more death out of 100 people in the group that ate the most red meat compared to the group who ate the least over the 28 year study.  Hmmm, not such a big risk in my opinion but still a difference.  There were some interesting statistics not reported by most media outlets.  Here is what I have not read and probably will not see on the news regarding the group who ate the most red meat:
  1. They also had the most smokers
  2. They were the least physically active
  3. They ate the most calories 
  4. They had the highest rate of diabetes
  5. They drank the most alcohol
  6. They had the highest body mass index
In all those categories, the differences between the group who ate the most red meat vs. the least was actually pretty significant.  Is it possible there was a slightly lower death rate in the lowest red meat consumption group because they were more health conscious and just took much better care of themselves than the highest red meat consumption group?  Sure seems like a possibility.  Was the lower red meat consumption the reason for the lower risk of death?  I don't know, maybe we should look to India who has a large vegetarian population yet heart disease and diabetes are on the rise.  Huh, maybe red meat isn't the problem.

I have to wonder, is it safer to be a vegetarian and a smoker?  Or how about a vegetarian and a couch potato?  Better to be a vegetarian and a diabetic?  Or does nothing else matter except to just not eat red meat???  Well, when the news only talks about the red meat and leaves out all the other risk factors it sure seems that is what they want us to think.

Again, these attention grabbing headlines have failed to change my opinion regarding what I feel is the healthiest way to feed myself and my family.  My ship keeps on sailing.....stay the course.

For more detailed reading on this study go here, here, and here.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Will a Gluten Free Diet Be Banned as a Performance Enhancer?

Will gluten antibodies be tested for in athletes.  Will the subjects without them be penalized for an unfair advantage?  Pro women's golfer, Michelle Wie, has decided to adopt a gluten free diet.  Here is what she had to say:
“I am allergic to everything in this world, I don’t really digest food very well,” the 22-year-old Hawaiian of Korean descent said. “So I just thought maybe if I cut out gluten, I can feel better because I heard that it causes inflammation, everything ... but it’s been week three and I feel a big difference.”
Here is a picture of her before the change:

And here she is after the change:

WOW!  What a difference.  Of course I kid but it is funny isn't it?  It is interesting how people whose potential earnings are tied to their health and performance are willing to make greater diet sacrifices.  I guess health and physical performance just aint that important for the rest of the world.