Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Causation or Correlation?

Women who gave birth to two or more children had a 50% associated increase in aggressive ER-/PR- cancer, but the association was not found when the women had breastfed. Other studies have also found an association between breastfeeding and decreased cancer risk.
The results were “strikingly different” when researchers compared the number of births and breastfeeding among women with hormone receptor positive cancers. Women who had two or more children had lower associations of ER+/PR+ cancers, and breastfeeding didn’t change that association.

It's tempting to believe that this is true, and it would comport with the paleolithic model, but there are so many confounding factors that I doubt the researchers have identified them all - which is why these types of studies cannot be used to prove causation.  Intervention studies on these populations are problematic for several reasons. 

Best anyone can say from this is if you can breast feed a baby, there are many reasons why you should.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And As Long As We're Talking About ...

... something as horrifying as cancer, here's another:
So it's disappointing news indeed that the Food and Drug Administration has deemed that tomatoes, so rich in antioxidants and other good things such as beta carotene, may not protect against many types of cancer after all, as some earlier studies had found.
The agency responded Tuesday to applications from two tomato-product groups, including H.J. Heinz Co., which planned to tout the anticancer benefits of tomatoes on their product labels. After a review of dozens of studies, however, the FDA found that there was "very limited evidence" to support any association between tomato consumption and reduced risks of prostate, gastric and pancreatic cancers. As for the believed cancer-fighting effects of lycopene, the key anti-cancer fighting ingredient in tomatoes, the FDA was even more discouraging, saying there was "no credible evidence" to suggest that the chemical could reduce the risk of such cancers of the prostate, lung, colon, breast, ovaries or pancreas.

I'm all for ditching the FDA, which mainly serves to re-enforce the bond between government and the government crony capitalists we all depend upon to supply our food and medicine.  But if they are going to reel in this kind of "inconclusive science", I sure wish they would do that with all the other inconclusive science.  There's no conclusive science on the benefit of a low fat fad diet, for example, but the FDA does not typically trumpet that when they are trying to get you to eat less meat and more grain and 300 servings of fruits and vegetables every five minutes.  But hey, what could go wrong with a diet that requires mankind to destroy the ecosystem through plowing, poisoning and dumping oil (ammonium nitrate) all over creation in order to provide mankind with an amount of vegetables and grain, and their industrial by products ("vegetable oils" and soy products and grain products, processed to kingdom come) that are completely novel to the genome?  Why would anyone need research to know THAT'S A GREAT PLAN!  OF COURSE IT IS A GREAT PLAN!

(Please forgive that temporary digression, we'll now return to our regularly scheduled blog post)

As to the tomato theory of cancer prevention, when I read about some magic ingredient that's going to save us all from everything, it always makes me step back and ask: "Why did cancer prevalence follow the advent of agriculture around the world?  Could this ingredient be connected to the paleolithic model?" 

If an ingredient no kidding prevents illness, I don't care what its place in any model is.  But in general, most of the claims of magic dietary bullets are proved false - no proof that anti-oxidant intake benefits real humans and/or "protects" from cancer; no proof high fiber intake benefits humans and/or "protects" from cancer; no proof that high fruit/vegetable intake benefits humans and/or "protects" from cancer.  In fact, some studies show the opposite is as likely - deliberate feeding to get more nutrients quite likely feeds cancers.  The only strategy that works across all species, humans too, for extending life, which by default means reducing the incidence of cancers, is under feeding.  In theory that indicates that any diet which reduces intake without resulting in chronic nutrient deficiency is the diet most likely not to interfere with the healthy expression of the human genotype, in which people live well, and live into their 80s with normal function.

Sometimes, the magic ingredient is just the ingredient that we've processed out of our diets, or eliminated through modernity - like vitamin K (grass fed beef or wild caught fish liver, anyone?), or vitamin D (yes, complete elimination of "cancer causing sunlight" does cause cancer), all the other vitamins (present in adequate amount in paleolithic foods, and not subject the "anti-nutrient" qualities of neolithic foods), or magnesium (used to get all we could stand in the water, now we get none).  Most of the time, the magic ingredient does no good at all upon further review - exempli gratis:  fiber, additive anti-oxidants, and lycopene.  And this makes perfect sense.  The genome is not likely to be adapted to and/or manipulable by some strange, exotic ingredient. 

So here's the question for those who have actually read this far, which I'm sure most of you are on to in any event - what's the most nutrient dense diet, which does the best job of managing appetite, and therefore allows you to most easily eat the least amount of food while getting the minimum required amounts of essential nutrients? 

I know there's not much drama here because you read this so often:
Meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar/wheat.

What Is CrossFit?

"I think CrossFit can be for everyone," says Val Voboril (who is pictured in the handstand, 9 months pregnant, below). "It made my pregnancy easier," she contends, as the "strength, conditioning, and endurance," helped her deal with the added weight of carrying another human being.
At CrossFit, however, men aren't always the alpha dogs, such as 106-pound Ting Wang, who deadlifts nearly 3x her body weight in the video below (I still can't deadlift double my own weight).

Great write up, and several great videos!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A High Fat Anti Cancer Approach

This is an approach with an obvious theoretical back ground:
The theory is simple: If most aggressive cancers rely on the fermentation of sugar for growing and dividing, then take away the sugar and they should stop spreading. Meanwhile, normal body and brain cells should be able to handle the sugar starvation; they can switch to generating energy from fatty molecules called ketone bodies — the body's main source of energy on a fat-rich diet — an ability that some or most fast-growing and invasive cancers seem to lack.

But there's a huge problem - it is extremely hard to test the efficacy of this diet with any scientific rigor.
...most people in the study are faring very badly to begin with. All have exhausted traditional treatments, such as surgery, radiation and chemo, and even some alternative ones like hyperthermia and autohemotherapy. Patients in the study have pancreatic tumors and aggressive brain tumors called glioblastomas, among other cancers; participants are recruited primarily because their tumors show high glucose metabolism in PET scans.

But even though the current study is only being tested on folks in the final stages of their disease:
...five patients who were able to endure three months of carb-free eating, the results were positive: the patients stayed alive, their physical condition stabilized or improved and their tumors slowed or stopped growing, or shrunk. These early findings have elicited "very positive reactions and an increased interest from colleagues," Kämmerer says, while cautioning that the results are preliminary and that the study was not designed to test efficacy, but to identify side effects and determine the safety of the diet-based approach. So far, it's impossible to predict whether it will really work. It is already evident that it doesn't always: two patients recently left the study because their tumors kept growing, even though they stuck to the diet.

Similar research is coming, finally:
... study similar to the trial in Würzburg is now under way in Amsterdam, and another, slated to begin in mid-October, is currently awaiting final approval by the ethics committee at the University Hospital in Tübingen, Germany. There, in the renowned old research institution in the German southwest, neuro-oncologist Dr. Johannes Rieger wants to enroll patients with glioblastoma and astrocytoma, aggressive brain cancers for which there are hardly any sustainable therapies

On Jimmy Moore's Living La Vida Low Carb Show, an interesting "prophylactic effect" was proposed - a "seven day therapeutic fast" to "really" deprive possibly budding cancers of their sugar, thus killing them before they reach a true growth stage.  This comports with the model of cancer as follows:  cancers are primarily cells with mutate in ways that, one, allows them not to self terminate when damaged as normal cells do (apoptosis), and two, gain a growth advantage over competing cells (for example, the ability to fuel rapid growth via higher insulin and/or IGF1 sensitivity (more receptor sites), along with a unique capacity to utilize glucose (fermentation).  Thus, even in a culture that is literally soaking itself in sugar day and night, this would make surviving cancer cells a rare event, and one which might be interrupted by a fast.  In keeping with the paleolithic model, too, we know that fasting was neither uncommon or particularly bad for paleolithic peoples, who had great bones, great teeth, and long lives in spite of - or because of? - unpredictable fasts.

@dreades tweeted the link above as a response to what was presumably some indication that Steve Jobs is suffering from cancer.  I don't know if it would help, but it seems like an altogether harmless suggestion for anyone in a cancer battle, especially if you follow the Perfect Health Diet's approach of a "high carb" (relatively) approach for ketogenic metabolism.     

"Believe Half Of What You Read, and Nothing ...

... that you hear."  My football coach used to tell me that.  I didn't like it much, as I was and am an information junkie.  It seemed like he was telling me to stop doing what I liked.  Turns out he was right.  Here's a prime example.

First off, all rate cancer studies are a challenge because rats don't live to 85, ever.  There tumors are different and obviously, their metabolism, while similar, is also different in key ways from a human's.  However, rat and mouse studies of cancer are possible, and most with humans are not.  So instead of hanging up their cleats and going home, scientists do rat/mouse cancer studies.  Having done them, they want to publish them.  Once published, their speculative musings become fodder for reporters - reporters who are as fallibly human as I am, but perhaps have a different agenda - like making money by attracting the attention of editors/publishers. 

It is very hard to get published as either a scientist or a reporter by saying "another nearly meaningless rat/mouse study was conducted today, and the results are very difficult to interpret and apply to humans." 

So that's not what you see and hear.  So, as Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple and Primal Blueprint fame points out, the animals on the "low fat" diet were fed a diet that was startlingly similar to rodent food -

"Ground corn, Dehulled soybean meal, Wheat middlings, Fish meal, Ground wheat, Wheat germ, Brewers dried yeast, Ground oats, Dehydrated alfalfa meal, Porcine animal fat, Ground soybean hulls, Soybean oil, Dried beet pulp, and a bunch of added vitamins and minerals."

What were the cancerous, "high fat and cholesterol" rodents fed? 
"Sucrose (31%), Milk fat (21%), Casein (19 %), Maltodextrin (10%), Powdered Cellulose (5%), Dextrin (5%), and the typical vitamin and mineral array."

So I ask you, do you think the rodents had cancer trouble from the fat, the casein (already well known to be associated with cancer in rats, thanks to T. Colin Cambell), the 31% of food as sucrose, the milk fat (not a rodent staple as I understand it), or the maltodextrin?  Heck, I doubt rodents can even spell "maltodextrin."  What you notice of course is there's really nothing in this list that equals "rodent food." 

"What you see depends upon where you stand."  From where I stand, what the study shows that is applicable to humankind is that you should not eat a bunch of processed crap that you were never made to eat (thank you modern science for that blinding flash of the obvious).  For a human, the top of that list is:
**wheat and corn (the highly modified varieties of which are available today were likely never consumed by a human before about 100 years ago)
**industrial agricultural products of corn and seeds (canola oil, "corn oil", cottonseed oil, peanut oil, etc)
**massive daily quantities of sugars
**animals that are fed these products to make them sick so they will bring in more money (because an animal fattened on feed corn isn't fat from over-consuming a healthy diet, it is fat as a result of eating a food that makes it sick and fat)

But I am not one to stand in the way of freedom, so if you would rather eat low fat and boatloads of "heart healthy whole grains", be my guest.  Your choices will help to keep the prices down for my friends who join me in grassfed beef and dairy, other meats, vegetables, some nuts and seeds, little fruit and starch, and no sugar/wheat.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

FM - Uglier Than It Sounds

Fructose malabsorption (FM) is a digestive disorder characterized by impaired transport of fructose across the small intestine. This results in increased levels of undigested fructose in the gut, which in turn causes overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Undigested fructose also reduces the absorption of water into the intestine.
The clinical effects of FM include: intestinal dysbiosis, changes in motility, promotion of mucosal biofilm, and decreased levels of tryptophan, folates and zinc in the blood. Symptoms produced include bloating, gas, pain, constipation or diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue (to name a few). Recent research has also tied fructose malabsorption to depression.
Lest you think this isn’t a common problem, studies have shown that up to 40% of people in Western countries suffer from fructose malabsorption.
Even in healthy people without fructose malabsorption, however, only about 20-25g of fructose can be properly absorbed at one sitting. Glucose assists in transport of fructose across the intestine, so in general foods with equal amounts of glucose and fructose will be better absorbed than foods with excess amounts of fructose (in relation to glucose).
While fructose malabsorption can cause symptoms in anyone, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are particularly affected. While the prevalence of FM is the same in healthy populations and those with IBS & IBD, the experience of FM appears to be more intense in the latter group. This is probably due to the increased visceral sensitivity common in IBS and IBD patients.
In fact, one of the most promising clinical approaches to treating IBS & IBD right now is something called the FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These include:
  • fructose (fruits, honey, HFCS)
  • fructans (wheat, onions)
  • lactose (milk sugar)
  • polyols (sugar alcohols like sorbitol, xylitol & mannitol, along with fruits like apples, pears and plums)
  • galactooligosaccharides (legumes & beans, brussel sprouts, onions)
  • other sweeteners like polydextrose and isomalt
Studies have found that restricting FODMAPs can significantly improve the symptoms associated with IBS, IBD and fructose malabsorption.
What does this have to do with coconut milk, you ask? According to Drs. Gibson & Barrett, experts in fructose malabsorption, coconut milk is is a FODMAP and should be avoided by people with digestive conditions like IBS & IBD.

If you have IBS/IBD symptoms, this is worth a try.  I chalk it up as just another reason to take care about how much fructose you eat, and to avoid it in HFCS based drinks.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fallon via Kresser: Cod Liver Oil

This conclusion is essentially the same as the conclusion reached by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the research of Chris Masterjohn; we have continually pointed out that vitamins A and D work together and that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. We do not recommend Nordic Naturals regular cod liver oil or any brand of cod liver oil that is low in vitamin D. But it is completely inappropriate to conclude from this 2004 study that cod liver oil is toxic because of its vitamin A content. Similar reviews could be put together showing the benefits of vitamin A and cod liver oil in numerous studies, including the studies from the 1930s. Obviously the solution is to use the type of cod liver oil that people took in the 1930s, which did not have most of the vitamin D removed by modern processing techniques.
It's not that we recently discovered that humans eating a western diet need both fish oil and liver product supplementation - we rediscovered it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

AHS Roundup

Many links to good posts summarizing the Ancetral Health Symposium.  Thanks Richard!

Big Fat Wolf Post

Interesting guest post at Robb's site.

Here's the BLUF:
-Saturated fat has never been proved to make you sick.  However, in combination with a high carb, high inflammation diet, it may exacerbate a bad thing.  The key - with the atherogenic profile (high triglycerides, high LDL, low HDL) you are likely suffering from excessive systemic inflammation and too much of what are called "small dense" LDL.  These LDL particles are easily oxidized, and are a likely element of lethal atherosclerosis.
-The ratio of omega 3 fats to omega 6 fats is significant, and while supplementation of long, branched chain omega 3s is important (fish oil is best) for those who consume too much omega 6 and too little grass fed animals/dairy, but eating better quality food is the best option.
-MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are good!  Read the post for their relatively short description of why.
(Edited 8 Sep 11)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Man's Best Friend. Really.

I just hope this goes where it seems like it going - quickly!  Dogs are cheaper, cuter and much more fun that current cancer detecting technology.  Too bad they have such a high carbon footprint ....

Tips and Tricks from Protein Power

This is an outstanding summary of Dr. Eades tips and tricks for starting low carb, it's a must read!!  I've linked to it before, and finally had a chance to summarize his wisdom.

I highly recommend you read the whole post to realize what a gift it is to those of us starting, or helping others start, a low carb diet.

Also in his post - a recipe for bone broth and another for Tinto de Verano, his interesting formula for hydration on vacation!

Tips and tricks for starting low carb:
**Crank up the fat intake!
**If you don’t like fatty cuts of meat, you can add a little medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) to your diet.
**MCT and/or coconut oil are absorbed more like carbohydrates and are used quickly by the body, are almost never incorporated into the fat cells, burn quickly, and easily convert to ketones

**The most common symptoms associated w low-carb diets are: fatigue, headaches, light-headedness or dizziness, and cramping
**Following a low-carb diet results in a rapid lowering of insulin levels, which – though a good thing – can create electrolyte imbalance
**Low carb helps to lower insulin levels, and increase insulin sensitivity, which signals the kidneys, and all cells, to stop retaining water
**It is great to get rid of the excess fluid but it comes at a cost, which is lost sodium; when sodium levels fall below a critical threshold you may suffer fatigue, headache, cramps and postural hypotension.
**Take more sodium and drink more water.  Salt your food more.  Do not fail to get enough sodium!
**An easy way to get extra sodium along with magnesium and potassium (a couple of other electrolytes we’ll discuss in a bit) is by consuming bone broth. 
**Short of making your own bone broth, you can use commercially available bouillon, which contains plenty of sodium and makes a nice hot drink. 
**Get some Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt or one of the other grayish, pinkish kind of grungy looking salts and replace your normal salt with these.  And don’t use them sparingly.  These salts have been harvested either from ancient sea beds or obtained by evaporation of sea water with high mineral content and contain about 70 percent of the sodium of regular salt (which has been refined, bleached and processed until it is pretty much pure sodium chloride, often with anti-caking agents added).  The other 30 percent of the volume is other minerals and micronutrients (including iodine) found in mineral-rich seas.  Consuming these salts is not just following a Paleolithic diet using modern food, but, depending upon the origin of the salt, it is consuming the same food your Paleolithic ancestors ate. 
**Most people are deficient in magnesium.  Good magnesium levels help regulate potassium as well, so keeping your magnesium adequate helps with your potassium as well.  Nature has designed us so that approximately 300 plus of our enzymes require magnesium as a co-factor to make them work properly.  I would bet most of it came from the water. 
**One of the most common signs of magnesium deficiency is an increase in cravings.  Often simply replenishing magnesium gets rid of many of the food cravings people have. 
**Get a good chelated magnesium supplement and take 300-400 mg per day, take them in the evening
**If you get the "Milk of Magnesia" effect, simply reduce your dosage until your stools normalize
**Get a supplement of magnesium that ends in "ate" - aspartate or magnesium citrate or magnesium citrimate. 
**About the only way you can really tell how much actual magnesium your getting is to look on the label on the back and see how much of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) the dose is.  The RDI for magnesium is 400 mg per day so if you find the dose of the supplement you are considering contains 50 percent of the RDI, then you know each dose contains 200 mg of magnesium irrespective of what the dosage is on the front of the bottle.  As I say, I recommend 300 to 400 mg of magnesium per day.  Magnesium is natures relaxant.  It makes many people sleepy, so we always recommend taking it at bedtime.
**If you lose a lot of sodium through the diuretic effect of the low-carb diet, you’ll ultimately lose a lot of potassium as well.  Keeping your sodium intake up as mentioned above will help preserve your potassium as well.  And keeping your potassium levels up helps to ensure that you don’t lose a lot of lean muscle mass during your weight loss.  Plus, just as with sodium, adequate potassium prevents cramping and fatigue.
**Take four to five of the over-the-counter 99 mg potassium supplements you can purchase at any health food or natural grocery store
**Don't get dehydrated, and it's easier than you think! You can lose a couple of pounds during sleep simply by breathing water vapor away.  I now drink anywhere from 16 to 32 ounces of remineralized water first thing in the morning.  Then I head to the espresso maker and start my daily Americano regimen.  But I consume at least 8 ounces of sparkling water after each cup of coffee.  And I drink water after each shot of Jameson and/or glass of wine (or any other alcoholic libation)*
**Water has a lipolytic effect (fat burning)
**Those starting a low-carb diet are prone to dehydration because excess ketones are gotten rid of via the kidneys along with a lot of fluid
**Always remineralize my water by adding a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt or one of the other such salts to each bottle.  I add enough so that the water just barely hints of a salty taste.
**We gave lipoic acid, CoQ10, Vitamin E, magnesium, a good multi-vitamin and a prescription for potassium, and now recommend vitamin D3. I see a good multi-vitamin (no iron) as the same thing – cheap insurance against any kind of deficiency
**ALA is, 300 mg per day, is a favorite supplement.  It acts as both a fat-soluble and water-soluble anti-oxidant so it can pretty much weasel its way in anywhere in the body and stamp out inflammation.  It protects fatty membranes and even acts as a cellular nutrient.  It also helps the body deal with blood sugar, which helps the whole low-carb adaptation process along
**I recommend the more potent r-alpha lipoic acid, 100 mg a day
**COQ10 is a superstar supplement. If you’ve been taking a statin, I would take 300 mg per day of CoQ10.  If you haven’t, 100 mg per day should do.
**Vitamin D3: 1000 IU per day of this nutrient
**People who tend to have carb cravings late in the day do well with 50-100 mg of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). It also helps with sleep.  Best time to take it seems to be about 4 or 5 PM for those who go to bed at the standard 10-12 PM.
**It’s important to defat your liver to help you lose weight more quickly because the liver breaks down insulin.  Avoid – or at least limit – coffee, tea, alcohol and OTC meds as able. 

Re-Inforcing Loop

One of the sites driving traffic to this site is:

It is a great reference if you want a daily dose of fitness, Paleo and Tough Mudder info.  Go check them out, and enjoy their humorous wheat, corn and USDA food plate posters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deans: It's Not Just Your Physical Health At Stake

..there is compelling evidence that many mental health disorders (including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, ADHD, etc.)  are, in fact, diseases of civilization.  There are many, many lines of evidence showing plausible physiologic mechanisms for how the differences between our diet and lifestyles of today compared to the diet and lifestyle for which we are evolved could result in mental illness.

Dr. Deans is one of a growing number of MDs that are using the Paleolithic Model to frame their understanding of human disease.  Her blog is a gold mine, as are her podcasts with Jimmy Moore at the Livin' La Vida Low Carb Show.  Her blog is now being published by Psychology Today, bringing the idea of the Paleolithic Model to a new audience.

Maggie Has No Chance

I like what Mike Eades said about this article - more or less, it would be hard to put more mis-information into an article this size if you were trying to do so.

The toxic food environment believers - who think that there's just too much good food out there, we eat too much of it, and we don't exercise our kids enough - just throw up their hands and say you cannot intervene, you'll make Maggie anorexic, therefore we should just teach Maggie to love being fat and pre-diabetic.  Or, we should teach Maggie to eat less.  Or, we should teach Maggie to eat only lean meats, fruits and veggies, and whole grains (if that works for you, bless you, thank the heavens).  In short, they have no real template for why Maggie is fat, and without any framework for analysis, they will accept the flimsiest of ideas; such as the one that says the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us all we need to know about complex human behaviors like eating and moving.

I know this - parenting a child, and helping a child learn to deal with food is going to be hard, no two ways about it.  The food environment is indeed toxic, and there's questionable virtue in teaching your kids that "bad" foods are always to be avoided.  Nontheless, there are few things you can do as a parent that are more likely to impact the quality of your child's life than to give them useful knowledge about food.

I still have some hope that there will be a longer term impact of the emergence of the Paleolithic Model of Nutrition - if the concept reaches critical mass, kids won't have to sled up hill to practice eating in a Paleolithic style.  Your kids won't have to turn down the sugar laced food bars and gatorade style drinks after they chased a soccer ball for an hour - because more parents will realize how counterproductive that is.  Your kids won't be hit by the chance to eat cookies and cake as often.  Every kid they know won't have sugary, carb laced meals, "heart healthy low fat snacks", and desserts every single day. 

Eating is influenced by individual genetics and experience, but it is also a cultural human phenomenon, which has more impact on kids than adults.  It's tough enough for adults to find their way into an unusal but effective approach to eating, but it's triply tough for kids, and they are paying for it with their health.  The near epidemic of childhood metabolic syndrome and obesity is a predictable and tragic outcome of the mis-application of government and pseudo-science - the one should never presume to act on the later.  If you pray, pray that a better way can be found to help these vulnerable little folks with so much at stake.  I'm going to pray for the grace to forgive those that let food become a political fight with so many caught in collateral damage.

Masterjohn At AHS: #3

This is a fantastic post from Chris Masterjohn, go read it!

One of the most interesting presentations I saw was by Dr. Craig Stanford, who talked about gorilla and chimpanzee diets.  Gorillas don't eat just leaves, I learned, but eat fruit whenever it's available.  They never hunt, and wouldn't even kill an animal if you half-killed it first and put it right in front of them.  They have very little tolerance for animal foods and zoos have been killing them slowly by feeding them these foods.  Chimpanzees differ from gorillas both in their hunting and fruit-eating behavior.  When fruit goes out of season, chimpanzees migrate until they find more fruit.  As a result they eat it year-round.  Most of them also do enough hunting for each chimp to be eating some 50-100 grams of meat per day. 
Speaking of frugivores, I was quite interested to see a comparison between humans and various apes that Melissa showed in her talk.  Leaf-eating apes had very large guts, but fruit-eating apes had smaller ones, much closer to those of humans.  In showing this, she made the point that humans are adapted to foods with higher caloric density than leaves, such as cooked food, starch, and fat.  It is interesting to also note the association between smaller guts and fruit-eating in other apes, and to note that one way humans have increased the caloric density of their diet is to select fruits rich in sugar and low in toxins and aversive tastes.  This increase in caloric density is exactly what we need to fuel our large brains, and humans have been eating calorie-rich natural foods such as meat, starch, fat, and fruit for eons before the modern epidemic of obesity. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Masterjohn At AHS: More

Go read the rest of Chris' blog, and this post, it's all an incredible wealth of knowledge.
Mat LaLonde gave a talk about the importance of scientific credibility, and showed why a lot of paleo arguments don't really hold water with many scientists. He made a really important point that observations about ancestral health should be used as grounds for generating hypotheses, not confirming them. I would only add that they should also be used as a framework for informing our actions in the face of scientific uncertainty, because there is a lot more uncertainty than certainty in the field of science and we all have to make decisions on a daily basis.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Is CrossFit?

This is a well done video, featuring much that is good about CrossFit, including lots of tough, fit folks, and encapsulating the idea that CF is about being ready.  For whatever.
It is also a boatload of fun!

Masterjohn: Reflections on AHS

Melissa McEwen's talk emphasized a dynamic view of evolution, showing a great number of ways that genomic, microbiomic, cultural and technical factors have all continued to evolve over time.  Her talk brought home the point that humans are not living fossils of the primate lineage but are rather a very unique species, and that there is a great deal of variation among humans in the present, reflecting the many types of evolution that have occurred through our history and continue to occur as we enter from our present into our future.  She got a good laugh from the audience when she facetiously suggested we follow some static "Cambrian" diet of 52 million years ago, a much more ancient diet than a "Paleolithic" one.  This, of course, wasn't an attack on the paleo principle, but a tongue-in-cheek way of acknowledging that humans never stopped evolving after the Paleolithic.

What the term "Paleo" means is always "under review", assuming we are not just talking about the paleolithic period of history.  As the author points out, there is a broader understanding of the concepts that is welcomed under the tent of the Ancestral Health Symposium.  Chris does a find job of pointing out how these various factions in/around the paleo movement are finding common ground, lines of demarcation, and new avenues to which the paleolithic model of human behavior may be applied. 

This would have been a fantastic event to attend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hero WOD: Gator

FRIDAY 110812


Eight rounds for time of:
185 pound Front squat, 5 reps
26 Ring push-ups

U.S. Army Specialist Christopher "Gator" Gathercole, 21, of Santa Rosa, California, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based in Fort Lewis, Washington, was killed by enemy fire on May 26, 2008, in Ghazni, Afghanistan. He is survived by his brother Edward, sisters Jennifer Daly and Sarah 
Ferrell, father Edward Gathercole, and mother Catherine Haines.

Reproductive Function Indicates Health

While many of the specifics in this article are throwaways, the concept is a BFO - when you find that a function as significant to life as reproduction has been damaged, you know that is a systemic issue.  It unlikely on its face that a man that cannot engage in reproductive functions is NOT healthy. 

Of the behaviors that correlate with ED, number one on the list is smoking.  I always found it ironic that image makers in the media found a way to associate to the masses the idea that smoking was "sexy." 

Of course, just as diabetes - uncontrolled blood sugars - is the gateway to every other disease of civilization, it is also thus for ED. 

Here's a model for you, proposed by CrossFit's founder, Greg Glassman (kindly forgive the male only perspective):  Suppose you are 80 years old, you have hyper tension, "high cholesterol", eat nothing but processed red meat, and in the past week have:
-impregnated your wife
-beaten up a mugger
-dragged a harvested deer 400 meters to your truck
-written a paper on advanced mathematics

Are you healthy?  Are you fit? 

What if you have "good" cholesterol numbers from a statin, good blood pressure numbers from a medication, and your gout is "well controlled" by the latest gout medication, but you don't feel like doing much, never lift anything heavy "to protect your back", and cannot successfully engage the ladies without the blue pill ... is that person "healthy"? 

The point?  Just as "stupid is as stupid does", healthy is as healthy does.  We look to numbers like cholesterol and blood pressure to evaluate health, but the real evaluation is in the living, the doing, the good experiences, and the actualization of what our bodies were built for.  Manipulating correlates of health does not make one "healthy."  What allows the health, that was built into your genetics via millions of years of ruthless "life in the paleolithic fast lane", to be expressed is fueling yourself with those things which do not compromise normal function, and demanding enough from your body through physical activity that the body retains the capacity to act when needed, and how needed. 

I'm all for having access to medications for those who won't take care of themselves, or for those who need them short term to facilitate "recovery".  I think it is foolish and short sighted, however, to say "health care" is the process of extending life via continuous, chronic medication without exploring simple dietary strategies that eliminate the needs for the medications.  And yet - governments the world over are bankrupting themselves doing just that. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Classic Quote, Borden

"If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything."
- Win Borden


Aragon on Fish Oil

Remember the fat free 80s?  Aragon does:
"No worries, though, these (muffins, cookies, candies, weight gain products) were virtually fat-free! What we were led to believe was that fat-free products equated to fat-free physiques. Unfortunately, that was far from the truth."

Then the fat shoe fell:
During the 1980’s national obesity rates started to drastically climb. Large behavioral trend studies such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES II & III), the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and the Calorie Control Council Report (CCCR) collectively showed a 31% increase in overweight prevalence from 1976-1991. What is the punch line? This increase in weight was accompanied by an 11% decrease in percentage of calories from fat (from 41.0% to 36.6%). The most recent report by the BRFSS shows a further decrease in fat intake to 33%, accompanied by an increase in obesity from 11.6% to 22.1%. This is a 90.5% increase in US obesity from 1990-2002[1]. It’s obvious that dietary fat is not the evil culprit in the expansion of the population’s waistline.

Good fats bad fats:
Stearic acid, an SFA abundant in meat & milk fat, has been consistently observed to actually reduce blood platelet aggregation [2]. This is a good thing. In contrast, trans fats (found in high concentrations in commercially baked goods as well as processed & fried foods) have been observed to negatively impact blood lipids by not only lowering HDL, but increasing LDL as well [3]. 
Ironically, experimental research exists on healthy humans showing the least fat was oxidized on the MUFA fat dietary treatment, and the most fat oxidized on a trans fat diet [4]. This result echoes what has been seen in rats as well. It appears that the tighter the control of the study, the less “superior” unsaturated fats turn out to be for any presumed effect on body composition compared to SFA. Throw in the fact that a reducing SFA intake and increasing the degree of unsaturation of fatty acids in the diet reduces testosterone levels [5], and then you have yet another wrinkle in the mix.

Omega 3s are not all the same:
Consumption of EPA and DHA has an appreciable number of positive health effects, including decreases in blood platelet aggregation, lowered blood pressure, enhancement of smooth muscle function, decreased inflammation, alleviation of dyslipidema, and treatment of mood disorders [6-9]. There is also emerging evidence pointing to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on bone health [10].

What's Normal?  Why don't we get a "normal" amount of omega 3/6?
Archaeological research postulates that humans were biologically designed to thrive on a diet whose ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was approximately 1:1, and unlikely greater than 4:1. Today, consumption of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids is estimated at roughly 25:1 [11]. This is due in part to a predominance of omega-6 oils available commercially in our food supply (corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, refined packaged grain products & pastries) and a relative minority of omega-3 sources (fatty marine fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and flaxseed oil, walnuts, & small amounts in canola oil).

Industrial production of omega-6-rich animal feeds has also resulted in animal tissues (livestock, eggs, and cultured fish) rich in omega-6 and poor in omega-3 fatty acids. This disproportionately high intake of omega 6’s biases our physiology towards thrombosis, hyperlipidemia, and vasoconstriction. The reverse of those effects occurs simply by increasing the proportion of omega-3 fats.

Is there a dark side to omega 3s?
EPA and DHA have a well-documented ability to suppress the body’s immune response. Although not as consistent as the immune effects, data also exist on the ability of EPA and DHA to increase bleeding time and oxidation.

Quick hits:
Fish oil is one of the few supplements that actually have a substantial body of scientific evidence backing it up.
It’s common and perfectly acceptable for products to contain slightly more EPA than DHA.
I would also error on the side of safety and keep [fish oil pills] refrigerated.

There’s a widespread belief that ALA from flaxseed is worthless for increasing EPA/DHA since the conversion is inefficient. However, Harper’s team recently observed 3g ALA/day (from 5.2g flaxseed oil) raise plasma EPA levels by 60% at the end of a 12-week trial [22].

Aragon's summary:  Looking at the body of evidence as a whole, fish oil (or increased fish consumption) has great potential for improving cardiovascular health. But for reducing body fat, the effects are minor to nonexistent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hero WOD: Bradley

10 rounds for time of:
Sprint 100 meters
10 Pull-ups
Sprint 100 meters
10 Burpees
Rest 30 seconds

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bradley R. Smith, 24, of Troy, Illinois, assigned to the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, based in Fort Riley, Kansas, was killed on January 3, 2010, by an improvised explosive device in Zhari district, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife Tiffany, daughter Chloe, parents Gary and Paula, and brother Ryan.

Wise To Remove Wisdom Teeth?

Because of the clear harm done by unnecessary wisdom tooth extraction, the British National Health Service has adopted the following policy, “The practice of prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted third molars should be discontinued. There is no reliable evidence to support a health benefit to patients from the prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted teeth.”

Another fascinating post by Cure Tooth Decay.  Makes you wonder about that whole "First do no harm" thing our medical professions are founded on. 

How come cavemen had better teeth than many of us do - and yes, that's a rhetorical question.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food, "Clean and Dirty"

I like this one from A Aragon.  The phenomenon of imprecise terminology bugs those of us most constrained by logic.  In that vein, eating "clean" vice "dirty" has always left me wondering "WTF does that mean?"

Seemingly, anything the speaker wants it to.  Too often, it doesn't mean anything.

Next up is a recent study by Madero and colleagues, comparing the 6-week effects of a low-fructose diet (less than 20 g/day) or a moderate-fructose diet (50-70 g/day) mostly from whole fruit [16]. The moderate-fructose group lost significantly more weight than the low-fructose group (4.19 kg versus 2.83 kg, respectively). Notably, the moderate-fructose group lost slightly more fat, but not to a statistically significant degree. Unfortunately, body composition was measured with bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) instead of something more reliable like DXA. Nevertheless, bodybuilders afraid of fruit would have to admit that the dirtier diet prevailed in this case.
Trans fatty acids (TFA) have earned a lot of bad press for their adverse effects on biomarkers of cardiovascular health [17,18]. However, some research indicates that not all TFA are harmful. A distinction should be made between industrially produced TFA via hydrogenation of vegetable oils, and naturally occurring TFA in dairy and meat [19]. Vaccenic acid, the main form of TFA in ruminant fats, might actually lower the risk for coronary heart disease [20]. Currently, there’s no controlled human research specifically comparing the effects of TFA with other types of fats on body composition. In any case, the fitness-conscious population has nothing to worry about unless they start indiscriminately gorging on fast food, cooking with vegetable shortening, and pounding loads of processed/packaged pastries and desserts.

Butter and Coconut Oil for Inflammation Control?

BLUF from @Dr Eades:  "Direct evidence showing anti-inflammatory effects of short chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil." 

Here's the abstract:
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are fermentation products of anaerobic bacteria. More than just being an important energy source for intestinal epithelial cells, these compounds are modulators of leukocyte function and potential targets for the development of new drugs. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of SCFAs (acetate, propionate and butyrate) on production of nitric oxide (NO) and proinflammatory cytokines [tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant-2 (CINC-2αβ)] by rat neutrophils. The involvement of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) and histone deacetylase (HDAC) was examined. The effect of butyrate was also investigated in vivo after oral administration of tributyrin (a pro-drug of butyrate). Propionate and butyrate diminished TNF-α, CINC-2αβ and NO production by LPS-stimulated neutrophils. We also observed that these fatty acids inhibit HDAC activity and NF-κB activation, which might be involved in the attenuation of the LPS response. Products of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase are not involved in the effects of SCFAs as indicated by the results obtained with the inhibitors of these enzymes. The recruitment of neutrophils to the peritonium after intraperitoneal administration of a glycogen solution (1%) and the ex vivo production of cytokines and NO by neutrophils were attenuated in rats that previously received tributyrin. These results argue that this triglyceride may be effective in the treatment of inflammatory conditions.

Would be interesting to know the Dr.'s opinion on the therapeutic impact of these compounds on those with gut permeability and/or inflammatory conditions, but it sounds as if this is the scientists discovering what folks like Sally Fallon have been advocating with regard to the benefits of grass fed butter cows, and coconut ingestion.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guyanet At AHS

Mr. G, commenting upon the folks in attendance at the Ancestral Health Symposium (I should say, short of the CrossFit Games, or getting my kids to a Crimson Tide game, there's no other event I would rather have seen this year):
I was very impressed by the appearance of the attendees.  Young men and women were fit with glowing skin, and older attendees were energetic and aging gracefully.  It would be hard to come up with a better advertisement for ancestrally-oriented diets and lifestyles.  I saw a lot of people taking the stairs rather than the elevator.  I like to say I'll take the elevator/escalator when I'm dead.  I think integrating exercise into everyday life is healthy and efficient.

Stephan Guyanet is a noteworthy researcher and blogger, who is getting attention for presenting a critical examination of Gary Taubes' work.  I appreciate Stephan's determination to present his perspective with courtesy and with a focus on the scientific method.  It is important for folks like Stephan to poke holes at Taubes' work for the sake of, eventually, getting good science on the subject of human health and fitness.  Stephan starts his Taubes critique by pointing out the obvious:
I'd like to begin by emphasizing that carbohydrate restriction has helped many people lose body fat and improve their metabolic health.  Although it doesn't work for everyone, there is no doubt that carbohydrate restriction causes fat loss in many, perhaps even most obese people.  For a subset of people, the results can be very impressive.  I consider that to be a fact at this point, but that's not what I'll be discussing here. 
"Low carbers are dumb" bone gnawer, A. Colpo, is already crowing about the supposed Taubes beat down on his blog (   I admire Colpo in many ways, but part on this point, which is his assessment of why people get fat, I think he's arrogant and short sighted: 
These people are in such poor condition because they eat too much and move too little. They need to rid themselves of their low-carb brainwashing, and start abiding by scientific reality: namely, they need to get off their mushy rumps and institute a calorie deficit, either by eating less, exercising more, or both.
In short, "fat people are bad." 

As I work through Guyanet's criticism of Taubes' work, I find I have as hard a time being unemotional about it as he did.  At detailed and disciplined as his review is, he still can't avoid "appeals to authority", which I think detracts from his authenticity, as do a couple of snide comments here and there.  I also find those interesting because he is usually a model of impartiality in his writing, which is much appreciated.

His critique reminds me of the Taubes attack by James Krieger (, in that it does refer to real studies of humans, but then tries to apply isolated results to a systemic issue.  Their critiques are in that way like the blind men feeling different parts of the elephant, and each thinking they have found a different animal.  It is also like the drunk looking under the light post for his lost key, even though he knows the key was lost somewhere else in the dark parking lot.  In other words, it is easy to focus on a detail that is known and believe it applies systemically, even though the test of the discrete element does not imply that the same response would occur in a complex system.  In chemistry, as I recall, this concept was taught as the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle."  In short, the HUP points out that the process of observation changes the thing observed, and therefore there are limits on what measurement may "prove". 

The same concept, in a different circumstance (studying the human body), is that it is one thing to study a discrete response, for example the reaction of a human hand to a pin prick, but then assume it is also going to be the same response in all of human behavior - for example, prick my hand when I'm sitting still with nothing better to do, and I will response.  Prick my hand when I'm flying an instrument approach with gusty crosswinds, in the rain, at night, with the ceiling below 500' AGL, and I will absolutely not care about the pin prick if I even notice it.

More when I can give Stephan's critique a good effort.  In the mean time, I suggest you consider's Stephan's critique as one about the details of why carbohydrate restriction works, vice a rebuke of the concept that carbohydrate restriction works.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Classic Quote, Takano

"Physical training is all about reaching the goals that are most important to you, the individual athlete. The best results and degrees of success will always come about as a consequence of desire and decision."  Bob Takano

On adding a weightlifting focus to a CrossFit program, the author recommends (very short and sweet!):
The three weightlifting workouts should take place prior to the CrossFit workouts while the nervous system is relatively fresh. Each weightlifting workout should consist of at least one explosive movement (snatch, clean and jerk, power snatch, power clean), one squatting movement and one overhead movement. A strength-building exercise relevant to weightlifting may be added periodically.
The three weightlifting workouts would then be followed by a CrossFit WOD. Tuesdays and Thursdays would be composed solely of CrossFit training. The weightlifting workouts would be made up of 5 or 6 sets of 2-4 repetitions of an explosive movement as described previously. The intensities should be largely in the 75-85 percent range (power snatches and power cleans should be performed in the 60-70 percent range). These should be followed by back or front squats through 5-6 sets of
2-4 repetitions, again primarily in the same percentage range. The third exercise can be a pulling movement, or an overhead movement, performed for 4 sets of 3-5 repetitions in the 80-95 percent range.

What Is Your "Core"?

I was poking fun at a noted health writer the other day for saying you should strengthen your abs to protect your back, and then saying "but you should also strengthen your core."  This could just have been an oversight or an editor's blight on the lady's writing, but it was funny to me that a fitness writer might not think of the abs as part of the core.

I view most of this sort of thinking as a result of the body building world's focus on one question:  "How can I look better naked?"  That gets boiled down in many a body builder's mind to "How can I make the front of myself look better naked?"  Big "guns", big pecs, ripped abs, and huge quads - that's the name of that game.  I walked this route for many years, thinking that bigger was stronger, and stronger meant "better athletic performance."  Perhaps luckily for me, I don't have the genetics for muscles that are ready to explode with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy - that's the bulky, soft musculature that body builders cultivate.  I also noticed that even with hard training, my athletic performance did not noticeably change.  The training I was doing didn't translate into a useful body.  So I kept looking for something different and better.

It turns out that the world of human performance is very broad and deep and provides an opportunity for nearly endless learning.

One of the more fun things I have learned was a BFO - blinding flash of the obvious.  The "core", the pop word that means the musculature of the torso in combination with the spine, rib cage and pelvis, is a compromise structure.  Our "core" will allow a human to bend and flex in a remarkable variety of ways, or the core can be held rigid to allow for weight bearing and force transmission.  Compared to snakes, we might be considered inflexible.  Compared to ants, we might be considered too flexible and therefore not strong (for our size).  Looking at gymnastics, it is easy to see the extremes of both of these functions of the core, as they blend seamlessly into beautiful, powerful human movement.  There would be no jumping or tumbling without the ability to make the core perfectly rigid, nor would there be any flipping, swinging or beam work without the ability to twist and contort the core this way and that.  With a bit more effort, one finds the same extremes in fighting, dancing, baseball, football, and for that matter, all of your daily movement.

If you don't have the strength to hold your core rigid, your life is diminished.  If you don't have the strength to bend and flex, your life is diminished.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about why strength is necessary for flexibility, and why you don't need to flex your trunk (situps and crunches and such) to "strengthen your core."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

But What Do I Know ...

One of the most difficult and persistent issues that arises in the study of diet and health in humans is - how do we know what we know?  The scientific study of humans and diet is so problematic that we are not likely to get to certainty for many, many years.  That leaves us with fragments of science to work with, much like the old story about the blind men and the elephant, each touching a different piece of the beast and thus concluding that it is something different.  Without definitive intervention studies, if we want to learn truth, we have to stumble along, piece together models, and look for inconsistencies.  We have to be confident enough to act, but humble enough to learn as new information is available.  The scientific method was developed after the realization that scientists cannot be trusted, all scientists, "not even ourselves."

This TED video provides a nice context for the issue on a scale larger than diet and health.

That is the point of this blog, from my perspective, is it provides you with a chance each day to compare your model of health and diet to a slice of information.  A daily revisit of any topic is useful to provide breadth and depth to one's knowledge, so one way to use this blog is as the 'continuing education' if you have already indulged in a book like:
The Atkins Diet Revolution
The Zone
The Paleo Diet
The Paleo Solution
The New Evolution Diet
The Rosedale Diet

If I claimed to be "unbiased", hopefully you would be smart enough to think "that's ridiculous, everyone is biased."  What I am biased towards is the idea that there are neolithic agents of disease that drive the diseases of civilization.  Industrial seed oils and their completely novel amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, over consumption of carbohydrates through wheat and sugar, and intake of fructose to levels never common in before the advent of high fructose corn syrup - in combination with inadequate sun exposure, and abnormally low activity levels (and with those who are moving enough probably engaging abnormally high levels of work at the upper range of the oxidative energy pathway - IOW, too much long, slow distance) - amount to metabolic derangement, which manifests as hyper glycemia, hyper insulinemia, high blood pressure, low HDL, high triglycerides, gout, obesity, and then type 2 diabetes and finally:  stroke and heart attack, cancer, or Alzheimer's/ALS or one of the autoimmune spectrum disorders.  These diseases are not tragic just because they shorten life, they are tragic because they degrade your choices in life.  Whatever it is that you may think is virtuous in life, whether your purpose is to do great things or just have a good time, these diseases of civilization limit your chance to pursue that thing or those things.

And even with that being said, I don't view this as a tragedy for those who are informed - if you know it's dumb to put your hand in a meat grinder and do it anyway, that's not tragic, that's stupid.  The tragedy is that so many are told to eat a diet that will drastically increase their odds of finding a disease of the west.  When those people lose their lives, when the families of those people spend years caring for them instead of living life with them, that's a tragedy.

I assume most of you tracking this blog have made a commitment - you want to know how to be well, and you are willing to do the work to figure it out.  You have made learning about diet and health a priority.  Please accept my humble salute for making that choice, in my view, it is nothing less than accepting responsibility for your own destiny.

The prescription?  It's pretty radical.  It's a fad, no doubt (anything but the USDA diet is a fad, apparently).  You are certainly stepping out on a limb when you do this, as so many have tried and perished (OK, not that many):  eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar or wheat.  And I hope you live to tell the tale.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Would It Feel Like To ...

As of last Thursday, we, as a couple, have lost 200 pounds.

Heck of an intro - how has it changed their lives?

One of the lowest points in our lives together was a visit in 2004 to Hershey Park. Stacy and I both love roller coasters but had never gone to an amusement park together. We were excited to go until our first coaster where Stacy could not pull the shoulder harness down. The attendant gave her a dirty look as he pushed as hard as he could to get the first notch to latch. Stacy was humiliated, cried for days and swore off amusement parks forever that night.
A few weeks ago, however, as a Father’s Day gift Stacy purchased us tickets to a theme park, we got a sitter and made a triumphant return to King’s Dominion together without the kids. On our first coaster, I pulled down my harness and then listened to Stacy whisper “One, two, three, four, five…” as she clicked down her own harness. We had a blast that day and vowed to return as often as we could.  We also plan to do other activities our weight has previously inhibited: hot air balloon rides, kayaking, and whatever else comes our way!

Life has changed for us in amazing ways.  We’re not just more healthy and able, but we’ve been injected with a lust for life that’s intoxicating.  We both just want to live and be happy.  Do we get frustrated when we want to eat out at a restaurant and have to have a 10 minute debate about what might be OK on that side of town?  Sure.  But, is it worth feeling strong, healthy, happy, completely in love, intimate and the best people and parents we know how? Absolutely.

Most people as large as these two were are not heavy because they didn't work hard, didn't try to get control of their weight, or didn't care about the life they were losing.  They become sick from neolithic food, and the cure was a move away from neolithic foods towards paleolithic foods.  The discipline changes from that of trying to pretend you know how much you should eat, and restricting yourself to a perception of what is "enough" food, to restricting yourself to eating those foods which don't make you sick.  It is not easy, but it works.

When I talk to groups about dieting, I ask them to think of how frustrating it would be for people to try and navigate one city with a map from a different city.  After a while, you would give up and either start asking directions or just find a place to stop.  Dieting using the USDA guidelines, or the ADA diet, or the American Heart Association's low fat recommendations is like driving with a bad map - and most people using that map will fail and then quit trying to lose weight.  That is what is exciting to me about teaching the paleolithic model.  It's not that it makes it easy to lose weight and stay healthy, but it does make such a thing possible.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Classic Quotes, Many

From the Ancestral Health Symposium, the most retreated comment so far, per @DianaHsieh, is from Doug McGuff:  "You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet."

It's been said many times, and while not "proven", I find it is true.  Exercise is for desirable physical adaptations which are useful in life, sport, and combat.  To be healthy, we must eat the right foods.

Hsieh - What is Paleo

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.

Smart lady, great blog.  I like it when a person can reduce a thing to it's essence.

HFCS - Trust the Science

SNL HFCS Commercial

You will laugh, go see it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is That Your Abs or Your Core?

Additionally, exercise that strengthens abdominal muscles will also protect the back. Try this one: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and a small pillow under your head. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling your pelvis and ribs together (push your rib cage toward the floor and tilt your pelvis toward it) while flattening your lower back toward the floor. Hold for five seconds, relax for five seconds, and then repeat 5 to 10 times.
--For what it is worth, the idea that was once accepted without comment - strong abs protect the back - has not workout, and research points to the liklihood that too many trunk flexions is as likely to injure as to help the back.  Indeed, this makes sense, as the function of the abs in protecting the back is to stabilize the spine when under a load, which is the opposite of flexing the spine (bending so that your chest moves closer to your legs).
Also helpful is strengthening your core. The Pilates plank exercise, which looks like the “up” part of a push-up, is excellent if you can do it. Lie face down, and raise your body into a benchlike posture, supporting it with your hands and toes and keeping your back flat. Hold the position for a count of 10, or as long as you can without undue strain. Over time, build up to a one-minute plank.
--This one makes me chuckle, as it is either ignorant, or silly, or just imprecise to write as if the abs are not part of "the core." The body builder inspired bifurcation of the functions of the body into a multitude of isolated movements has resulted in a lot of confusion about how the body functions as a unit to move itself and/or move external objects.
If posture is a problem, a suggested corrective exercise involves sitting or standing as tall as you can with your chin tucked in, stomach tight and chest forward. With your arms extended in a “W” position and shoulders relaxed, bring your elbows back to pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold for a slow count of three and relax for another count of three. Repeat 10 times.
--I like this drill.  Almost everyone has a posture problem - we sit so much that almost all us stand in the same position we take when sitting and reaching for a computer keyboard, a steering wheel, or a fork - and this drill should help most anyone feel what a better posture would feel like.  Shoulders back isn't just what your DI wants ...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CFJ: How The World Sees CFers

A coffee shop near my hotel, which is currently flooded with Reebok-wearing athletes.  I order an Americano and ask for heavy cream to top it off.
The barista, a plump woman who was just as wide as she was tall, says, “OK, that’s enough. I have to ask. What is with all you fit-looking people drinking this high-fat, heavy whipping cream in your coffee? There have been so many of you here this week asking for this high-fat cream. I would think you would ask for skim milk or soy milk. How y’all remain so fit?”
I didn’t want to get into a nutrition talk with this woman. There was a lineup, I was in a rush, and I am in no way a poster girl for the 100 percent Paleo lifestyle, so I came up with a quick answer.
“Fat doesn’t make you fat. I ate bacon for breakfast this morning, too,” I said.
“So you’re telling me I should start eating bacon and I can look like you?” asked the woman, an excited sparkle in her eye, clearly visualizing the bacon she was going to fry up as soon as her shift was over.
I got the distinct feeling I may have set this woman off on the wrong track and immediately regretted my careless bacon promotion.
The Leftover Bagel Mystery
The hotel I’m staying at serves a continental breakfast in the morning. When they were told a group of athletes was coming, they upped their bagel quota.
“Usually when we know sports teams are coming, we know athletes like their bagels. We always seem to run out when the football teams stay here,” said one of the hotel employees.
Oddly enough, this weekend bagels are going stale.
“Y’all are more into the sausages,” laughed the same hotel employee, shaking her head in what looked like confused disgust. “We’ll remember that for next year— CrossFitters like sausages.”