Monday, January 31, 2011

Certified or Certifiable?

This is exciting news for folks like me, who are certified CrossFit Level I instructors!  I am also certifiably crazy about what CrossFit training has done for me and for my family.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems, is pleased to announce that CrossFit has been accredited under the Institute’s Certificate Accreditation Program (ANSI-CAP). The ANSI accreditation has been awarded to CrossFit’s Level 1 Trainer Certificate Course. CrossFit is the first in the fitness industry to distinguish its certificate training program from others in the field.

“We're proud to be accredited by ANSI. We consider this a hallmark achievement for our organization, recognizing a level of quality and credibility for our community and the trainers that make a livelihood in the fitness profession. This certificate is just one step in our ongoing commitment to ensuring CrossFit brings a reliable and recognized program to anyone interested in improving their health and fitness,” commented Nicole Carroll, CrossFit’s certification director.

Fructose - Causes?

As dietary exposure to fructose has increased over the past 40 years, there is growing concern that high fructose consumption in humans may be in part responsible for the rising incidence of obesity worldwide. Obesity is associated with a host of metabolic challenges, collectively termed the metabolic syndrome. Fructose is a highly lipogenic sugar that has profound metabolic effects in the liver and has been associated with many of the components of the metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, elevated waist circumference, dyslipidemia, and hypertension). Recent evidence has also uncovered effects of fructose in other tissues, including adipose tissue, the brain, and the gastrointestinal system, that may provide new insight into the metabolic consequences of high-fructose diets. Fructose feeding has now been shown to alter gene expression patterns (such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α/β in the liver), alter satiety factors in the brain, increase inflammation, reactive oxygen species, and portal endotoxin concentrations via Toll-like receptors, and induce leptin resistance. This review highlights recent findings in fructose feeding studies in both human and animal models with a focus on the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that underlie the development of insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis, and the metabolic syndrome.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jack LaLanne by Jack LaLanne

Excellent tribute to a remarkable man.
Negativity is what kills you... It's tough to do, but you've got to work at living, you know? Most people work at dying, but anybody can die; the easiest thing on this earth is to die. But to live takes guts; it takes energy, vitality, it takes thought. . . . We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. . . . You've got to be strong to overcome these adversities . . . that's why I never stop.

Read them all:

Fat Head On Statins

I’ve lost count of the people I know who don’t have atherosclerosis, but were prescribed statins simply because their cholesterol was above the supposedly magic number of 200. Their doctors weren’t treating heart disease; they were treating a cholesterol score.

A new meta-analysis of the effectiveness of statins (and lack thereof) was just released by the Cochrane Collaboration, and it’s bad news for the statin-makers — partly because the analysis itself isn’t flattering, and partly because the Cochrane Collaboration is a highly-respected organization whose work is considered both thorough and unbiased.

Pfizer claims Lipitor reduces the rate of heart attacks by 36%. As I’ve explained in previous posts, that figure may sound impressive, but basically it means that during the clinical trials, three out of every 100 men who took a placebo had a heart attack, while slightly less than two out of every 100 men who took Lipitor had a heart attack. So for every 100 men treated for ten years, we’re preventing (in theory) one heart attack.  Even those unimpressive results were found only among with men with existing heart disease or multiple risk factors for heart disease — not among women, and not among otherwise healthy people who happen to have high cholesterol.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturated Fat and Serum Cholesterol - WHS Looks at Evidence
This is a nice review of the evidence, well written by Stephan G at Whole Health Source.

I like the very first graph - look at the blue line, all cause mortality.  Look how high cholesterol has to go to get this line to rise - and this is just correlation, after all, not even a proof of cause.

Bottom line - eat your sat fat, drink and be merry.
(minor edit 29 Jan, 2011, 9.01)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Heartscan On Wheat Reintroduction

Here's yet another odd wheat phenomenon: About 30% of people who eliminate wheat from their lives experience an acute food poisoning-like effect on re-exposure. You've been wheat-free for, say, 6 months. You've lost 25 lbs from your wheat belly, you've regained energy, joints feel better. You go to an office party where they're serving some really yummy looking bruschetta. Surely a couple won't hurt! Within a hour, you're getting that awful rumbling and unease that precede the explosion.

The majority of people who experience a wheat re-exposure syndrome will have diarrhea and cramps that can last from hours to days, similar to food poisoning. (Why? Why would a common food trigger a food poisoning-like effect? It happens too fast to attribute to inflammation.) Others experience asthma attacks, joint pains that last 48 hours to a week, mental fogginess, emotional distress, even rage (in males).
Read on dear readers for more of the story, or, just don't reintroduce wheat!

You Need Whole Grain Like You Need Holes In Your Intestines

General Mills is pushing the whole grains like you read about.  This one makes me sad; there are apparently still boatloads of folks who buy this stuff.  But, if you happen to think holes in your intestines is a good idea, you can take advantage of the increasing availability of whole grains!

The following links would serve to highlight some of the reasons why giving your money to General Mills in exchange for their whole grain products might not be a great plan.

What Wheat Is Good For
Wolf Eats Grains
Unhealthy Grain, Whole or Otherwise
Mercola Grain Truth
Hyperlipid Zeroes In On Wheat
"Wheat Hell"

The following is excerpted from Tim Ferriss' blog:

1. Lectins are not broken down in the normal digestive process. This leaves large, intact proteins in the gut. If you recall, most proteins are broken down in the digestive process, but the structure of some grain proteins makes them very difficult to digest (for the geeks: these proteins are high in the amino acid proline). Grains also contain protease inhibitors (dairy and some other foods also contain these), which further block the digestion of dangerous lectins. This lack of adequate protein digestion leads to serious problems, as you will see.
2. The lectins attach to receptors in the intestinal lumen and are transported intactthrough the intestinal lining. Remember how amino acids and sugars are transported out of the intestines during digestion? Certain lectins “fool” transport molecules in an effort to gain entry into our bodies intact.
3. These large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It’s perhaps unpleasant to think about, but the intestines are not the nicest place to hang out. This area is a major source of infection by bacteria and viruses, and the immune system lies primed, waiting to pounce on any invading pathogen. Not only does WGA enter the system intact, it damages the intestinal lining, allowing other proteins to enter the system. Why is this a problem? Our immune system mounts an attack on these foreign proteins and makes antibodies against them. These antibodies are very specific to the shapes of these foreign proteins. Unfortunately, these proteins also tend to look like proteins in our body.
Still, if feces in your blood sounds good to you, have at it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bass On Sugar

Dr. Shechter says to stick to foods like oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, which do not cause spikes in blood sugar. He also recommends regular exercise.

This is a mis-mash article which covers an array of myths, all "science based."  The line above takes the cake, though, for confident, erroneous speculation.  

To wit, when folks actually measure their reaction to oatmeal, it often does spike blood glucose!  How it got another reputation is hard to guess.  

Here's the good news, you can get a blood glucose meter for less than $100 (including a bunch of the test strips, which are really where they hit your pocket book), and find out for yourself what foods spike your blood sugar.  Then you don't have to bet your life on well intentioned writers like myself or Mr. Bass telling you what we think we heard someone else tell us they whole heartedly believe, because after all everyone else believes it too.

You could also test the oatmeal hypothesis by avoiding all carbs in the morning, and making breakfast of eggs and sausage with water to wash it down.  Keep carbs under 100g through day, avoiding all 'white carbs.'  At the end of the 30 days, you'll feel good, your lipids will have improved, and your appetite will be much better controlled.  You'll wonder why anyone ever thought breakfast oatmeal was a good idea.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wheat or Heroin? (Or Neither)
Beyond removing an exceptionally digestible carbohydrate that yields blood sugar rises higher than nearly any other known food (due to the unique amylopectin structure of wheat-derived carbohydrate), wheat withdrawal is a form of opiate withdrawal, somewhat like stopping heroin, Oxycontin, and other opiates. Stop eating whole wheat toast for breakfast, whole grain sandwiches for lunch, or whole grain pasta for dinner, and the flow of exorphins, i.e., exogenous morphine-like compounds, stops. You experience dysphoria (sadness, unhappiness), mental "fog," inability to concentrate, fatigue, and decreased capacity to exercise. 
Just one of many reasons to skip the wheat.

Bass Courage
First off, to be clear, I have a lot of respect for Clarence Bass.  You can't help but notice his intellect, passion and drive if you read any of his work from  I don't consider what follows to be a criticism of him, rather, I consider it a compliment to his integrity and character to note his disclosure and the questions it raises about his published work and beliefs.  There's no certainty as regards diet, science and health, we're all betting our lives on our best efforts to understand an incomplete and confusing world of partial science and colossal political and food industry agendas.  One would think that if a lesson could be learned from Mr. Bass' experience, he'd like that to happen.

BLUF of the article linked above:  Clarence Bass, legendary for his physique as a 70 year old, and a long, successful career in the fitness business, discovers he's suffering from calcification in his arteries.  He's been given a number of "all systems go" check ups over the years, and is struck with cognitive dissonance:  "I did everything right and I'm sick."  How could this be?  Excerpts from his tale of the events:
Dr. Arnie Jensen wrote in my report: “I wish we knew why some people develop calcification in the arteries in spite of a wonderful lifestyle like you have, or why some people can completely ignore lifestyle and have a zero calcium score."
That’s when Dr. McFarlin suggested that I add Zetia, to insure that we finally have the process under control.  I’ve never let up on my diet and exercise program. If anything, finding the calcified plaque in my coronary arteries strengthen my resolve. It took a combination of lifestyle and drugs to (hopefully) get my situation under control. Arnie Jensen says we can do more for ourselves than any doctor can do for us. I believe that and I’m doing all I can to help myself. Still, sometimes it takes you and the doctor working together to get the job done.

Data points of one are meaningless, but I can't help but think of Jimmy Moore's example.  Jimmy was a 400+ pounder, he was so sick he was on statins in his thirties, and apparently on the track to follow his brother who died in his forties from heart disease.  Jimmy started losing weight via low carb, lost over a 140 pounds (, and reports his heart scan shows zero calcium.

What was Bass' concept of "doing all I can to help myself"?
Essentially, following the conventional wisdom (really, the fad diet of the last 30-40 years) of eating a low fat, very low saturated fat, low cholesterol diet based around consumption of fruits, vegetables and all those servings of whole grains the USDA is telling us we need ( ).

For more than 20 years I've eaten a low fat, medium protein, high complex-carbohydrate diet. I've also exercised regularly, both weight training and aerobics.

Interestingly, he describes the results of his fasting lipid profile, and they are in line with what one would expect from someone who's eating too much carbohydrate:
In the first visit, in 1988, my cholesterol was normal at 216 and my total cholesterol/HDL risk ratio was 3.7 (normal is 5.0 and below 4.0 is considered very good). My triglycerides, however, have always been slightly elevated. In 1988, they were 153, slightly above the normal range of 40-150. The pattern was the same in subsequent visits: my cholesterol ranged up to 228 (1992) and my triglycerides were 157 and 155 in 1989 and 1992, respectively.

He also describes how he thinks he fixed his high triglyceride problem: research suggests that the addition of only a little over one tablespoon of oil (total) caused the small, but significant improvement in my cholesterol - and the profound reduction in my blood triglycerides. (he reports a reduction to 72)
This is, as he points out in the link above, a very significant reduction - 150s to 70s!  However, many of us who use carb restriction get our triglycerides in the 70s with ease, while maintaining the high HDL that makes for a good ratio of either total cholesterol to HDL, or triglycerides to HDL (both are far better indicators of health than is measuring simple LDL numbers).  All those years of running with a high fat level in the blood may have taken their toll - or perhaps the genetic cards were just stacked against Mr. Bass, there's no way to know.

Either way, Mr. Bass' results are a predictable outcome of the carbohydrate hypothesis - which is that excess carbohydrate consumption drives the majority if not all of the diseases of civilization, including coronary artery disease.  Each of those doses of high carb, low fat meals likely spiked his blood sugar, resulting in the inflammation cascade which many think is causal for atherosclerotic disease.

Later in the article, Bass describes a study by Christopher D. Gardner, which shows that not all low fat diets are equal in their impact on blood lipids.  It's clear he's wrestling with the cognitive disconnect, sorting out why he could be sick when he's followed the dietary 'wisdom' so carefully.  Even more interesting though, is a more recent study by a Chris Gardner (don't know if it's the same one) which showed that a low carb diet improved fasting lipids even more than a competing low fat diet.
A Vegetarian Examines Evidence For/Against High Carb/Low Carb

Bass' article closes with a discussion of the facts of cholesterol lowering via low fat diets, including the fact that they don't really do the job well (not to mention they are hard to stay on), and thus many doctors will advise statins to "get the cholesterol under control."  In other words, he describes a crazy train of low fat insanity going strait into prescription medication hell.

You start with one unproven conjecture - high fat, high cholesterol diets cause a problematic increase in cholesterol - and follow with another - high cholesterol causes atherosclerotic damage.  Proposed solution: eat more carbs, less fat, and less meat.  When that doesn't work, partly because so few patients can or will comply with such a diet, and the disease process accelerates.  Even those who do comply often find their disease process is worsening (as Mr. Bass did).  Thus, the 'medical establishment' emerged with a drug, statins, to treat a problem it invented and exacerbated.  This starts the final steep descent into the inferno, because the medical field is so desperate to find a cure for rampant heart disease, they fall for a drug that's not been proven to benefit anyone but a small group, males under age 65 who have already had heart disease (, and start dealing statins to what can seem like anyone over 40 with less than perfect cholesterol profiles.

So what I suggest is that before you let them take on you on the low-fat-to-statin hell ride, get your carbohydrate intake under control and most likely, your doc will never have to have the statin discussion with you (and you'll know what to say anyway).

And you won't have to be as strikingly lean, muscular, and fit as Mr. Bass has been all these years to wind up healthier than he is.  That said, there's no reason why you couldn't follow his example with regard to disciplined training and careful, thoughtful eating, but modified by what you can learn from the Paleolithic model.  Walking in Mr. Bass' lean, fit, well aged footsteps would be like a dream for most of us. 

Lastly, I wish Mr. Bass well in his battle with atherosclerosis and look forward to benefitting from the many positive examples he sets for all of us who aspire to aging gracefully, with an active enjoyable life.

(minor edits for content and grammar, 8.31 AM, January 26, 2011)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fairwinds and Following Seas On Your Journey, Jack!

Billy Graham is for the hereafter, I’m for the here and now!  
Jack LaLanne


Breakfast: I found the morning meals (at the lodging facility) less than optimal (i.e sausage and biscuit). Should replace with granola and fruit or cereal.

This was a comment left regarding the meal quality for a conference-like function at my organization.  I was and am stunned.  This person is one of a group of very well educated, very highly driven leaders, and is clearly committed to choosing food to avoid disease, and yet, they could not have a worse concept of what it means to eat 'healthy.'  This is the tragedy of USDA involvement in dietary recommendations from the government.

It should be a crime for the government to make dietary recommendations which cannot be backed by long term intevention studies. 

Biblical Wisdom on Grains

Remember the Bible's perspective on grains:

In all versions, Cain is a crop farmer and his younger brother Abel is a shepherd.[7] Cain is portrayed as sinful, committing the first murder by killing his brother,[8] after God[9] has rejected his offerings of produce but accepted the animal sacrifices brought by Abel.[10]

HT to Crusader

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Let Them Have Your Gall Bladder!

While this digestive disaster is taking place, there are several other problems brewing. As you recall, the function of the gall bladder is to release bile salts into a meal as it is emptied into the duodenum from the stomach. When the intestinal wall is damaged, the chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK), is not released. CCK usually sends the “on” switch to the gall bladder and the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. When this signal is blocked, we do not properly digest our foods, particularly fat and protein. The lack of bile release allows cholesterol crystals to form in the gall bladder, which leads to gall stones. The standard medical practice of removing the gall bladder is effectively killing the “canary in the coal mine.” Gall stones are a symptom of a problem, an alarm. Instead of treating the cause (remove grains) we cut out the gall bladder. People who have had gall bladder removal are almost certainly undiagnosed celiacs and likely have a number of other progressive diseases. In my experience, these individuals are plagued with digestive problems, culminating in dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Intensity Trumps Duration

Researchers in the area of muscle biology and aging have been finding growing evidence that prolonged aerobics training increase the risk of oxidative damage in the muscle. This type of training causes overwhelming accumulation of free radicals in your muscle, which eventually increase the risk of oxidative damage in your tissues (myofibrils and mitochondria). And this risk of oxidative damage becomes increasingly higher as you get older.
On the other hand, intense exercise protocols which are inherently short, have shown to lower this risk. The short intense exercise protocol gives the muscle the time it needs to recuperate and counteract oxidative stress without depleting its antioxidant pool. And again, short intense exercise yield the right impact needed to trigger your mTOR and increase muscle mass.
But there is more to it.
The mechano-overload impact of intense exercise works directly on your fast muscle fibers, the type IIB and the type IIA. It's the fast muscle fibers that enable you to be strong and fast, and they have the largest capacity to generate force and gain size.
You need them when you climb stairs, carry heavy grocery bags, chop wood or move furniture. And if you lose that physical capacity, you lose your ability to live independently.
In other words, as my friend Crusader tried to tell me in college, jogging isn't good for you.  Sprints are good for you, lifting heavy weights (relatively heavy, and a little bit more each week) is good for you, and high intensity mixed modal intervals (CrossFit) is good for you.  Intensity trumps duration!
There's a lot more in this piece, and I urge you to ignore most of it, particularly the math drill on leucine quantity - you can reach your goals without performing unnatural acts with whey protein, leucine loading, and other massive doses of obscure supplements.  Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar/wheat, supplement vitamin D to make up for our lost capacity to make it for ourselves through sun exposure, and take enough fish oil to make up for the extra omega 6 fatty acids our industrial food chain gives us. That's the critical 80% you need to be well, feel good, and perform at a high level.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bigger Bicepts, Bigger Bean

"... most of the science to date about activity and brain health has focused on the role of endurance exercise in improving our brain functioning. Aerobic exercise causes a steep spike in blood movement to the brain, an action that some researchers have speculated might be necessary for the creation of new brain cells, or neurogenesis. Running and other forms of aerobic exercise have been shown, in mice and men, to lead to neurogenesis in those portions of the brain associated with memory and thinking, providing another compelling reason to get out at lunchtime and run."

"In somewhat similar fashion, researchers from Japan recently found that loading the running wheels of animals improved their brain functioning. A loaded running wheel is not strictly analogous to weight lifting; it’s more similar in human terms to a stationary bicycle with the resistance dialed high — in this case, quite high, as the resistance equaled 30 percent of the rats’ body weights in the last week of the monthlong study. By then, the rats on the loaded wheels could run barely half as far as a separate group of rats on unloaded wheels, but the mice on the loaded wheels had packed on muscle mass, unlike the other rats. The animals that were assigned to the loaded wheels showed significantly increased levels of gene activity and B.D.N.F. levels within their brains. The higher the workload the animals managed to complete, the greater the genetic activity within their brains."

"Imagine what someone like Einstein might have accomplished if he had occasionally gone to the gym."

There you have it, proof positive that weightlifting is good for your brain.  Ok, not really, but here's where science has failed us in some respects.  Researchers have studied endurance athletes quite a bit more than other kinds, so extrapolation is required to estimate results for other types of exercise.  In my view, it would just be gravy if the high intensity, heavy weight training proves to be beneficial to the brain, because we know it's needed to age optimally.  Being more cognitively capable is grand, but so is a body that will do what the brains directs it to do.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ferriss BFO

My basic approach: take before-and-after blood tests (30 days and 60 days later) and see what actually happens. The research papers hold up surprisingly infrequently on a person-by-person basis.  Test smart and track yourself and you’ll be just fine.  Tim Ferriss
I think this blinding flash of the obvious (BFO) that will change the entire diet discussion within a year or two.  Instead of relying on obscure statistics inappropriately applied to large populations, we can perform experiments with a population of ONE, the only ONE that matters to us, since we are responsible for and benefit from our own health.
Ten years ago, I don't think anyone could get reasonably priced blood work monthly, but one practitioner I've met has a deal for his clients which allows a full set of blood tests for under $40.  
There's also this approach from heartscan blog:  Measurement  BLUF: you can measure a half dozen key variables in your own home.
Compare that to having to go through an MD filter to get the blood work or the interpretation - these changes will make it possible for us all to raise the BS flag when we're given some limp wristed advice from some well meaning but under-informed scientist/writer/advocate.

Considering CLA

A quick survey of the interesting looking links from a google search on CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) revealed the following.  The BLUF:   CLA is another ingredient we used to get naturally as hunter gatherers, which seems to be deficient in the SAD.  Eat grassfed animals, eat pastured butter, and rest easy knowing you probably got the CLA you needed and are not deficient.
Pretty typical summary from Mercola, in which he touts the possible advantages of CLA consumption from grass fed beef, and skewers the industrial food chain and all of its adherants, sycophants and government enablers.  Takaway: CLA seems to be good but evidence is minimal.
Takeaway: CLA as a supplement is as questionable as 98% of supplements, but the natural form is available in grass fed cattle and is another factor in a growing list of the differences in grass fed vice feedlot cattle products:
Where do you get CLA? Many people take a synthetic version that is widely promoted as a diet aid and muscle builder. New research shows that the type of CLA in the pills may have some potentially serious side effects, including promoting insulin resistance, raising glucose levels, and reducing HDL (good) cholesterol. (3)
Few people realize that CLA is also found in nature, and this natural form does not have any known negative side effects. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grassfed animals. Research conducted since 1999 shows that grazing animals have from 3-5 times more CLA than animals fattened on grain in a feedlot. Simply switching from grainfed to grassfed products can greatly increase your intake of CLA. (4)
A sad article, well written but from my perspective, terminally mis-informed. Nice discussion of CLA's possible benefits, but since the author's so poorly informed about saturated fats, it's hard to take anything in this article seriously.
The author reviews two studies, one on rats and one on mice, which had mixed results from CLA supplementation.  Takeaway:  Don't supplement CLA if you are a rat or a mouse.

Link for this quote follows.  Takaway:  don't read The Health Ranger unless you like this sort of speculation.
I've often said that raw broccoli is such a powerful anti-cancer food that if it could be patented and sold in capsules, pharmaceutical companies would charge patients $100 a plate for the same chemical compounds that you can get in broccoli florets. So if you're looking for a supplement that can help stop breast cancer, CLA is marginally effective, but it is way down on the list -- near the bottom of the list as far as I'm concerned -- of things that are effective at preventing and reversing breast cancer. Heck, even natural sunlight has a far more powerful preventive effect than CLA, and breast cancer is precisely one of the main diseases that appears in people who lack frequent exposure to natural sunlight (they have a sunlight deficiency).
Cancer is also addressed by consuming various sea vegetables. In fact, taking daily supplements of seaweed, kelp, and fucoidan extracts is well known to both prevent and even reverse breast cancer. Dulse is another outstanding sea vegetable, and of course, spirulina is harvested from the oceans as well and contains a powerful anti-cancer pigment chemical that both gives spirulina its cyan color and demonstrates powerful anti-tumor effects in clinical studies performed in Japan.
Learn more:
The Health Ranger is one smart, passionate guy, and I think his advocacy is admirable; where we part is his advocacy of 'superfoods.'  I don't see a lot of evidence that we're going to thrive by hunting down a bunch of so called superfoods, rather, the way to thrive is to avoid eating foods that damage us by intelligently applying the paleolithic model of nutrition.  When I see anyone advocating a 'superfood' that comes in a quart container that's loaded with sugars, I can't take that advice or advisor seriously.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Butter? Yes!

Nice write up by Whole9; my comments at the end.
[We can’t justify butter] consumption without making some significant efforts to improve the quality of the butter and remove the milk solids.
  • Grass-fed or “pastured”. The cows must be grass-fed, or “pastured”, indicating that they are not raised primarily on unnatural diets.  This is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the overall health of the cow, and the milk it produces.  These cows live outside, are free to roam, and are treated humanely, unlike their factory “farmed” counterparts.  Healthy, happy cows living in their natural environment produce healthier butter.
  • Organic. The cows must not be given hormones or antibiotics, or be exposed to synthetic pesticides and other banned substances. While the “organic” label is sometimes manipulated to increase profits, in this instance, it actually means something with respect to the cow’s health and treatment.  None of that junk in the cow’s environment means none can make their way into your butter.
  • Clarified. You then must remove the dairy proteins by clarifying the organic, pastured butter at home.  (Instructions for clarifying your own butter are easy to find on the web.)   The clarification process removes the milk proteins, leaving behind pure, golden butterfat. (Just so you know, ghee and clarified butter are similar but not identical; ghee is heated longer, until the milk solids brown.  That imparts a richer, smokier flavor into the butterfat.)
In summary, the only way we can recommend eating butter is if it comes from a humanely raised, grass-fed, organic source, and you take the time to clarify it.  There are no major down sides to butter produced in such a manner, and we can happily recommend you use your clarified butter or ghee as one of your (varied) added fat sources.
Whole9's recommendations are on the conservative side for me.  I've read Dr. Cordain's concerns about dairy, and while there's obviously some risk, the big risk is in overconsuming carbohydrate.  In my view, that's 80% of the problem, and you needn't worry about the other 20% until you nail the first 80% and get your carbohydrate consumption within a safe range, for a long enough period of time that you allow your metabolic systems to heal.  That said, if you follow the above process you get an even better fuel source than can be had by just choosing pastured dairy.

A slice of pastured dairy butter is now like a dessert for me.  It sure adds a lot of flavor and pleasure to eating deli meat!  My kids like it too, even just plain.  Whether or not it has the CLA (conjugated linoleic acid; google it) it is supposed to have, or not, it is at worst a very fine fuel for the well tuned human engines.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heartscan Testimonial
Great story from a guy who went from hopeless to healing - reminsicent of Shi No Ubi!

Welcome New Kindle Readers

I've been excited to see that more Kindle readers are subscribing, and I want to welcome and thank you for joining CFFOTG.  Feel free to send questions, feedback, or requests for specific topics via pe19797 @ gmail. 

More Help From Heartscan

Alert: this post is soaked in sarcasm.

Heartscan offers several helpful products, such as books, at home testing products, and the free blog.

Now, as a bonus, they offer a free guide on how to become a diabetic.
1) Cut your fat and eat healthy, whole grains--
2) Consume one or more servings of juice or soda per day--
3) Follow the Institute of Medicine's advice on vitamin D--
4) Have a bowl of oatmeal or oat cereal every morning--
5) Take a diuretic (like hydrochlorothiazide, or HCTZ) or beta blocker (like metoprolol or atenolol) for blood pressure

I suspect they'll have a do it yourself home kit available soon.  However, that would be a real conflict of interest since Dr. Davis is a cardiologist.  Selling a kit like this would possibly be perceived as deliberately boosting his patientload, as diabetes is well known as a precursor and most likely the largest cause of heart disease.  This would be nearly as questionable as the USDA recommending their dietary guidelines while the FDA approves statins for all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Follow Up On HFCS and Doughnuts

Had a follow up question yesterday that prompted the following.

As you recall, the topic was fructose and the different way it is suspected of creating injury when overconsumed - primarily, by taxing the liver in a way that accelerates metabolic syndrome, and by providing what might be a unique fuel for cancer cells (many of which are fueled by fermentation). 

I finished with a tongue in cheek comment about skipping the HFCS laden 'recovery' drinks for kids, and just giving your kids a doughnut, since the metabolic injury would be the same, but the kids would like the doughnuts more.  This point bears a tiny bit of elaboration.

HFCS is not significantly different than regular table sugar.  It has slightly more fructose content.  The reason HFCS is being 'targeted' for bad press has to do with how much of it we Americans consume.  HFCS is in many, many processed foods, and in gatorade types of drinks, as well as sugared sodas like Coke and Pepsi.  I recall one estimate that we've increased fructose consumption from less than 5% of total caloric intake to over 30%.  It's not important to me what the actual numbers are, but the point is that as HFCS refining has reduced the cost of bring processed products to market, and in conjunction with the impact of people's misguided search for low fat products, we're eating more fructose (and sugar) than ever.  Taubes quotes a stat from Good Calories Bad Calories that we're eating on average 150 pounds per year of sugar, compared to less than 20 pounds per year a hundred years ago - and I suspect those folks they were probably eating more sugar than the generations before them. 

In short, we're eating a toxic dose of sugars in all forms, and the irony of it is we may be choosing more sugar while trying to 'eat healthy.'  Nutragrain and other types of low fat food bars, low fat products with bread, rice etc (which have the same metabolic impact as sugars), large servings of juice, pasta, breakfast cereals, etc; I meet people daily who say "I eat a very healthy diet", but what they mean is "I think pounding down 200-400g/day of carbohydrate based processed foods, without much fat, is healthy." 

There are only a few people who can function well on that much sugar/carbohydrate, and most of them are in college!

"What to do?"
If you are trying to get healthy, trying to get on top of your metabolic injury, trying to establish a new pattern of eating that is sustainable for the rest of your life, be very particular about sugar and carbohydrate consumption in the early going - the less, the better.  If you hold sugar consumption to 25g/day, you will be at about 20 pounds per year, and there's some reason to believe that is a safe, sustainable dose.  There are those who have sustained enough metabolic injury, through a lifetime of "POWER CARB CONSUMPTION," that they many not be able to eat 25g/day of sugar and 'heal.'  These folks may have to restrict sugar to a lower level, and total carbs to a lower level, to get their metabolism to run like it was designed to.

Don't want to do the math as regards your diet, and counting grams of carbs and sugar?  Then try this approach by William Davis (  Measure your blood glucose when you eat, and one hour later, and see just which meals result in toxic glucose levels (<100 = good, <85 = very good, 70 = paleo model awesome).  I love this method if for no other reason than it gives the lie to the old 'simple carbs' v. 'complex carbs' nonsense! 

And this brings us full circle - a big slug of gatorade or Dr. Pepper may not kick the glucose as high, as fast, as a subway sandwich's bread but the fructose is still working your liver over when "over consumed."

In closing, I have to give Gatorade some credit - they have a new, smaller size product with "only" 7g of sugar - thankfully, other parents have started bringing these to soccer and flagball games for the post-game snack.  Propel is also relatively low in sugar, so at least there are a couple of options that may survivable.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fructose Kerfuffle: Aragon, Lustig, and Two Cents

"I have a great deal of respect for Lustig’s professional accomplishments, and I share his concern for the nation’s penchant for sitting around and overconsuming food and beverages of all sorts. However, I disagree (as does the bulk of the research) with his myopic, militant focus on fructose avoidance. He’s missing the forest while barking up a single tree."

At the time this was posted about a year ago, it generated a lot of traffic and even a response from Robert Lustig.  When I listened to Lustig's radio interview with Jimmy Moore, it appeared he had amended his delivery by estimating fructose's toxicity threshold at 50g/day.  That was apparently in response to criticism from Aragon.  Other than that, the debate was a ton of energy expended over a very small difference in opinion.

Bottom line - no one thinks consuming a ton of fructose is a great idea.  The thing that's interesting is the relatively new idea that fructose is damaging for a different reason than other sugars are, that being that it is metabolized much like alcohol, therefore loading up the liver, and having what seem like accelerating effects on fat gain and metabolic injury.  

If there's a question to be debated, it is only over how much is too much.  In a sense, nothing is toxic at a low enough level.  By the same token, anything can be toxic if consumed in too great a quantity - 3 gallons of water consumed to quickly will kill you.

LeanGains joined the fray to make the point that Lustig's demonization of fructose joins with the chorus of those who like to claim "It's not my fault, I live in a toxic food environment, I can't get well/thin!"  "Newsflash", if you abdicate responsibility, you won't solve any problems.  Nothing new there.  And in that sense, I disagree with Lustig's general attitude that we're all helpless victims of giant food company marketing.  Rather, we all have suffered from the non-sense, non-science, USDA dietary guidelines, but any one who relied on the USDA for long for health advice has no one but themselves to blame.

My advice to those who are you struggling to lose weight, maintain weight loss, or recover from metabolic syndrome/diabetes:  Stay the heck away from fructose!  More specifically, if you want a piece of fruit every day, no problem, but gatorade, sugared soda, and the other commercial sources of sucrose and HFCS sweetened processed foods are not helping your headache.

There's also some evidence that fructose is prime fuel for cancer cells. 

I had a young man working for me who would follow up our morning workouts by guzzling a quart of Gatorade and digging in to a box of granola bars.  We counted up one day and he was eating over 200g of carbohydrate by 9 AM - most every day.  He was an amazing athlete, but 45 pounds overweight, and had no real desire to learn more or change.  He had a lesion on his skin examined, at my urging, and it was found to be skin cancer - which of course is probably a coincidence but an excellent example of the odds, nonetheless.

Lastly, don't kid yourself that your kids need a gatorade like recovery drink, ever; just give them a doughnut, which has the same metabolic sucker punch, but they'll enjoy the doughnut more.  

So as Dirty Harry used to say, "you have to ask yourself"- "How much do I really want that dose of fructose?"  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's a Good Scientist and Why Should One Be "Good"?
Jamie Hale, posting on Alan Aragon's blog, wrote the following:

What is a Real Scientist?
Although a person with a science degree might claim to be a scientist, the true test of the scientist is how one thinks. A good scientist:
· Accepts nothing in science absolutely.
· Is willing to change his opinions based on new data.
· Does not rely on Authority.
· Thinks critically.
· Knows that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
· Has an open mind.
· Relies on logic and reason.
· Knows how to form hypotheses and test them.
· Respects the scientific method.
· Examines all the data, not just the data that support his or her view.
· Builds on the work of others, giving them appropriate credit.
· Documents his or her experiments so they can be duplicated by others.
· Knows that if a claim is made, the claimant must provide the proof. (It is not up to others to disprove it.)
· Is intellectually honest
. And drops the ego and admits when their belief system has been refuted by scientific data. It’s not enough to consider the weight of data, but the quality and strength must also be considered.

I like this quite a lot, and will enjoy chewing on it.

I assume he would agree that the point of being a good scientist is to learn what is true, and these techniques are proven, if not the only, approaches to accomplish that end.

Aragon comments in his blog that 99% of the science done on human health and weight loss is useless.  A few moments reflection on how hard it is to do good human science would confirm that assertion.

One has to get to work on themselves, or on helping others, knowing that there's a mountain of uncertainty, most of the science is not conclusive, and that something's eventually going to emerge that will render your best understanding obsolete.  In the mean time, you and I can do the science on ourselves, testing options and measuring results, to see what works for with the only test population for which we're responsible.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Go To The Gym For Brain Food
"Older women who did an hour or two of strength training exercises each week had improved cognitive function a year later, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks, a new study has found.

"Researchers in British Columbia randomly assigned 155 women ages 65 to 75 either to strength training with dumbbells and weight machines once or twice a week, or to a comparison group doing balance and toning exercises.
"A year later, the women who did strength training had improved their performance on tests of so-called executive function by 10.9 percent to 12.6 percent, while those assigned to balance and toning exercises experienced a slight deterioration — 0.5 percent."

Summary:  If you don't work very hard, you don't get a significant positive result, you've just wasted your time.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dr. Davis on Fat, and a Plan Summary

Fat is not the demon

"I rejected the 10% fat diet long ago after I became a type II diabetic, gained 30 lbs, and suffered miserable deterioration of my cholesterol values on this diet. I also witnessed similar results in many hundreds of people, all following a strict low-fat diet. In fact, elimination of wheat--whole, white, or otherwise--along with limitation or elimination of all other grains has been among the most powerful health strategies I have ever witnessed.
"The majority of people, in my experience, after an initial positive response to an Ornish-like low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet will either plateau (stay overweight, have low HDL, high triglycerides, plenty of small LDL, and high blood sugars) or deteriorate, much as I did.
"By the way, regardless of which diet you follow, it is, in my view, absurd to believe that diet alone will do it. What about vitamin D normalization, thyroid normalization (thyroid disease is incredibly common), omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, identification of hidden sources of risk (something that is unlikely in Ornish, since small LDL particles skyrocket on a low-fat diet), postprandial glucoses, etc., all the pieces we focus on to gain control over coronary plaque? Eating green peppers and barley soup alone is not going to do it."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sun Equals D and Better Cancer Odds

This analysis is becoming more common now - sun is good for you.

Paltrow admits she took Dr. Lipman's advice and has now reversed her Vitamin D diagnosis, and she has called on the expert to offer readers tips on how to enjoy the summer sun's rays "sensibly."
He writes: "Numerous studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is through safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun."

Read more:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Primal On Strength and Flexibility

"Primal" blogs about the connection between strength and flexibility - nice study review, but this is obvious, nearly all the really flexible people in the world are also very strong.  Gymnasts, martial artists, olympic weightlifters, dancers, yogis - all are very, very strong.  There's a reason why this connection exists, of course, which is that the body has unconscious mechanisms which limit movements which are perceived as unsafe.  One of the feedback mechanisms senses the degree to which a position is unfamiliar, another perceives a sort of "strength excess"; IOW, it takes no strength to speak of to maintain structural integrity when standing still, but quite a bit to sustain the structure when a limb is bending to the limit of its movement range.  In short, if you squat like your kids can, and do, your body perceives it as a natural position, and maintains a natural level of strength in a full, butt to the ground squat.  But if you do what most of us do, you rapidly lose the ability to squat well, or at all, as you lose strength in that range of motion, and the nervous system then works against even letting you into a full squat position by contracting muscles unconsciously to limit full range of motion.
Watching a normal adult try to get into a squat is painful.  It's painful to consider how much of our natural movement capacity we just give away due to ignorance.  It's correspondingly pleasant to watch an adult re-learn how to squat, and the resulting health that squatting well gives to the knees, back, and hips of the neo-squatter.
The takeaway from my perspective is that strength training - doing something to maintain muscular contractile force through a long, full, natural range of motion - is essential to a full, long, productive, healthy life.  Walking, running, cycling, swimming, hiking, etc, are all great things to do, and far, far better than doing nothing.  But for those that are committed to sustaining a useful body, those modalities are little more than a good start, and leave many fitness and health bases uncovered.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Garlic Cures Athlete's Foot

Tinea pedis seems to be just as vulnerable. In 2000, one team of researchers published a study in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologythat compared a week of twice-daily applications of mild garlic solutions with topical applications of the popular drug Lamisil in about 50 people with diagnoses of athlete’s foot. Two months later, the scientists found that a garlic solution that contained about 1 percent ajoene had a 100 percent cure rate, compared with a 94 percent cure rate for 1 percent Lamisil. Other studies have found similar results.
Ajoene creams and solutions are not available commercially. But some experts recommend simply adding a few finely crushed cloves of garlic to a foot bath and soaking the affected foot for 30 minutes, or mincing a few garlic cloves, mixing the minced garlic with olive oil, and then using a cotton ball to rub some of the solution on the affected area.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Small Dense LDL, You Don't Want It

"Krauss discovered that LDL actually comes in distinct subspecies, all characterized by still finer gradations in density and size. “It was blazingly obvious. Unignorable,” says Krauss.*49   Eventually, Krauss identified seven discrete subclasses of LDL. He also noted that the smallest and densest of the low-density lipoproteins had two significant properties: it had a strong negative correlation with HDL, and it was the subspecies that was elevated in patients with heart disease."

"What would now become apparent was that LDL cholesterol is little more than an arbitrary concept that oversimplifies its own complex diversity. The fact that LDL and LDL cholesterol are not synonymous complicates the science."

"Total cholesterol gave way to HDL and LDL cholesterol and even triglycerides. All fat gave way to animal and vegetable fat, which gave way to saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat, and then polyunsaturated fats branched into omega-three and omega-six polyunsaturated fats. By the mid-1980s, these new levels of complexity had still not deterred the AHA and NIH from promoting carbohydrates as effectively the antidote to heart disease, and either all fats or just saturated fats as the dietary cause."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible,” Albert Einstein once supposedly said, “but no simpler.” Our understanding of the nutritional causes of heart disease started with Keys’s original oversimplification that heart disease is caused by the effect of all dietary fat on total serum cholesterol."
Gary Taubes from chapter nine of "Good Calories, Bad Calories"

This book is a tough, magnificent read.  I kept reading and re-reading this section to try to nail it down.  The takeaways - LDL cholesterol is an imprecise term.  Diabetics and heart disease patients are most likely to have this profile:  high triglycerides, high levels of small dense LDL and low HDL.  The easiest way to treat this profile is through carbohydrate restriction.  Even those with the genetic predisposition to this 'atherogenic profile' can see a reduction in the severity of their profile through sensible carbohydrate intake.  

Unlike statins, carbohydrate restriction has no known adverse side effects.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What Works Best - Statins or a Porterhouse?

Worried about your health, your heart disease risk and your blood lipids?  You gotta get a steak tonight ...

"Consider a porterhouse steak with a quarter-inch layer of fat. After broiling, this steak will reduce to almost equal parts fat and protein.*48   Fifty-one percent of the fat is monounsaturated, of which 90 percent is oleic acid. Saturated fat constitutes 45 percent of the total fat, but a third of that is stearic acid, which will increase HDL cholesterol while having no effect on LDL. (Stearic acid is metabolized in the body to oleic acid, according to Grundy’s research.)  The remaining 4 percent of the fat is polyunsaturated, which lowers LDL cholesterol but has no meaningful effect on HDL.  In sum, perhaps as much as 70 percent of the fat content of a porterhouse steak will improve the relative levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol, compared with what they would be if carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, or pasta were consumed. The remaining 30 percent will raise LDL cholesterol but will also raise HDL cholesterol and will have an insignificant effect, if any, on the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL. All of this suggests that eating a porterhouse steak in lieu of bread or potatoes would actually reduce heart disease risk, although virtually no nutritional authority will say so publicly.  The same is true for lard and bacon."
Gary Taubes, "Good Calories Bad Calories"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Early to Bed, Early to Rise ... Part 1

This is a great example of how complicated it is to do good science on humans, including how assumptions can confound an otherwise interesting study.

The abstract starts off with this interesting assumption:  "A fat-rich energy-dense diet is an important cause of insulin resistance."  I don't have the subscription to the publication journal, but I would really love to see how they justify this statement.  What's their definition of "fat rich"?  What exactly are the parameters of "energy dense"?  What's interesting about these terms is the implications in a real person's diet.  For example, try to eat a fat rich, low carb diet, and you find you don't eat a great deal of total "energy".  Why?   Hunger is very well controlled on a fat rich, carb restricted (50g/day or less) diet.  If you eat a small amount of an "energy dense" food like coconut oil, that WILL NOT make you insulin resistant.  Ever eat a large quantity of butter without any sugar?  Probably not, with the possible exception of macadamia nuts!  (In fact, if you overeat fat by too large a margin, you'll have enough diarrhea to discourage this practice).  I'd venture a guess that, assuming you could eat "too much" coconut oil/butter/cheese/full fat dairy, it still would not make you insulin resistant (by the way, I'm betting my life on this answer because that's how I eat).   What makes a person insulin resistant is eating a bunch of grain products, whole or otherwise, and/or food laden in sugars (and fructose is specifically implicated in the genesis of insulin resistance - beautiful explanation of why is available at this link: Lustig on Fructose).  The fact is that we often eat a lot of fat when we're eating a lot of grains/sugars, but that's a different case entirely than when one eats low carb (50g/day or less), adequate protein (minimum 60g/day), and good fats to satiety.

Switching back to the study, I'm skeptical when anyone starts off with terms like "energy dense" or "fat laden" because this is the language of those who have led the science of diet into demonstrably poor science for the last 30+ years, the same flavor of science that has, incredibly, accepted the conjecture that high fat diets cause heart disease, and that weight gain can be simplified to a restatement of the First Law of Thermodynamics (which is not relevant for determining causality in human weight gain).  

The study took three groups, all of which were fed a "Healthy male volunteers (18-25 y) received a hyper-caloric (∼+30% kcal day(-1)) fat-rich (50% of kcal) diet for 6 weeks."  In other words, they tried to over-feed the subjects by 30%, using a diet of 50% fat (which they think is a high level of fat).

In short, one group didn't exercise and gained six pounds.  Another group exercised in a fasted state and gained almost no weight.  The third group ingested carbs prior to exercise (IOW, exercised but not in a fasted state) and wound up about in the middle of the three groups.  The three groups had similarly different outcomes in terms of other measures of health (insulin sensitivity, et al).

Interesting result - two groups had equal intake, and equal exercise but different outcomes for weight gain and health markers.  Why?  How could the "calorie is a calorie" model be true if this study proves repeatable (and therefore valid)?  

In other words, what use can we make of the implications of this study?  That's a tough question, because as is so often the case, there are many "complexifiers."  For example - what would have happened had they used only protein/fat in the pre-workout "fast break"?  What would have happened if they used 100g/day or less of carbohydrate?  What if the long endurance training sessions had been either shorter, or shorter but more intense (anaerobic), or had incorporated resistance training?  The mental experiments we could imagine would fill up a large chart with possible options to be tested.  Unless you think it's a great idea to burn up four hours a week doing pointless and possibly injurious cardiovascular training, knowing that you can "overeat" by 30% if you train in the fasted state is not a useful data point.

In part 2, I'll superimpose this study result with the Paleolithic Model, to see if the two can be reconciled.