Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FDA Statin Warning

100 Diet Myths, Part 2

Continued from yesterday:
Whenever you see a quote that says “studies show” remember that the studies do not matter; what matters is your own study of what works for you.  If you have found that, then you don’t need my advice or anyone else’s.

Even when right, they get it wrong:
Research shows that getting plenty of protein can boost your metabolism, causing you to burn an extra 150 to 200 calories a day, says Jeff Hampl, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. “Protein is made up mainly of amino acids, which are harder for your body to break down [than fat and carbs], so you burn more calories getting rid of them,” he explains.
Proteins are the easiest of all foods to fully digest; it is fat and fiber that is difficult to break down fully.  If you doubt this, test by eating and measuring your stool volume; yes, there are some potential confounders like your current adaptation to (or lack thereof) eating proteins, and the possibility that your gut bacteria is not optimized for food (but can handle bird food like whole grains) – but my bet is your stool volume will approach zero on a lean protein diet, because the body takes a huge percent into itself, whilst leaving many parts of high fiber foods undigested.  That said, they are right.  Because protein is used for many purposes in the body other than fuel (like building muscle and other tissues), you can eat more of it while losing fat mass.

Again, right but wrong:
“Aim to have a serving of protein, such as nuts, a small can of tuna, or a piece of low-fat string cheese, at every meal and snack,” says Hampl. 
Nuts are to protein intake what O’Reilly is to economic literacy – only the starving could think it’s a good thing.  As for low fat string cheese, if you like it, go for it.  If you like real cheese, eat it, your taste buds and your body, which thrives on the fat and protein, will thank you.

The advice that follows is like Sasquatch, often cited but never seen or proven (I’ve never actually met someone that succeeded by doing this):
Nibble all day.  It sounds counter intuitive; why would you eat continually if you wanted to lose weight?  But eating five to six mini meals rather than three larger meals every day keeps your metabolism humming 24/7 .
Better yet, get fat adapted and eat two really healthy meals a day, with snacking as needed on good high fat, high protein snacks.  With fat adaptation and low carb intake, your body burns mostly fat and builds the exact amount of glucose you need, no more and no less.

The following, however is true for those who are not fat adapted, because if those unfortunates miss a meal and their glucose drops, they will in fact get hungry and initiate a “see food” diet.
"It will also prevent you from going without food so long that you become so hungry you overeat," says Peeke. Try not to let more than four hours elapse between meals and make sure each meal includes protein, for an extra metabolic boost.
Better yet, get off the crack (sugar and high carb foods) and get the metabolism you were born to run on – a body fat fueled, food independent hybrid motor driven, lean mean fighting machine.  How's this for a blinding flash of the obvious - you store fat because you are supposed to be able to use it when food isn't always at hand.  I wonder why the article didn't mention that bit of practical wisdom.

At least they recommend a nice supper, which actually has something akin to nutrition in it:
…a light dinner (think four to six ounces of turkey, salmon, or another lean source of protein with steamed veggies).
But you could improve that by mixing in fatty meats when ever you like them.

Hey, if you lose weight, feel great and control your appetite eating like the linked article describes, rock on!!  Most of us need something different, and unfortunately most of us try a diet like one cited and become sick, old, fat, tired, and frustrated after we try extra hard to eat like the experts and the government recommends.  I’m glad that so many folks are now finding a rational, workable alternative: eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Monday, February 27, 2012

100 Diet Myths In One Easy Article

A friend sent this article to me, probably to see how high my BP would go.  It worked, thanks Cru.  This article, in the vernacular of the trade, "is rich in easily digestible" bovine excrement.  But, for that reason, it makes an easy jumping off point for diatribes on how to read popular writing which is over-laden with bad advice and poor science.

“Believe it or not, it may be the most important meal of the day as far as metabolism (and weight loss) is concerned. Breakfast eaters lose more weight than breakfast skippers do, according to studies.”
**This would be the point to ask “what kind of studies?”  Because there are many confounders of any number of kinds, and my first question would be whether they looked at folks that are fat adapted, and adapted to intermittent fasting?  Because if not, all that “the studies” showed is that people who are metabolically impaired (dependent on glucose intake in order to sustain adequate levels of blood glucose), their metabolism works poorly.  “Thanks for the news flash genius.”  My study said I lost ten pounds in six months when I stopped eating breakfast. 

That said, folks that are not fat adapted, and folks that don’t respond well to fasting, should certainly eat a good high protein, high fat breakfast, devoid of anything that was ever in the same room as anything like whole grain.

More from this journalistic gem:
 “Your metabolism slows while you sleep, and it doesn’t rev back up until you eat again,” explains Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Penn State University and an author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan. So if you bypass breakfast, your body won’t burn as many calories until lunchtime as it could. That’s why it’s smart to start the day with a solid 300- to 400-calorie meal; it jump-starts your metabolism.
**A bit of math follows:  the BMR of Joe or Jane Average is something like 1400kcal/day.  IOW, your body requires something like 50-70kcal/hour just to keep you above ground, even if you just like in bed watching sports all day (no cheering).  So these folks are suggesting that the deficit of going without food for something like four hours will depress your BMR such that the 400kcal breakfast is essentially a wash.  “Really?”  Never mind the fact that the whole “eat to rev up your metabolism” concept is anything but proven, I don’t think even the folks that believe in it would suggest that the variation in BMR would be that extreme.  It’s a nice idea.  It’s not reality.

Additional high brow analysis from the author:
When researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia compared the effects of high-fat and high-fiber-carbohydrate breakfasts, they discovered that people who ate the fatty meal got hungry sooner afterward. "High-fiber carbohydrates take longer for your body to digest and absorb than fats; thus they don't cause rapid changes in your blood sugar, so your hunger is kept at bay longer," says study coauthor Susanna Holt, Ph.D. Some good choices: a bran-rich breakfast cereal with low-fat milk; whole-grain toast topped with low-fat ricotta and sliced banana or berries; an egg-white veggie omelette with whole-grain toast.
First off, if you can lose or maintain a weight loss on a diet like this, you are my hero and I highly recommend that you stay with it.  For those who like me are way to human to be healthy on a plate full of crap like that listed above, read on. 

If you test a bunch of metabolically broken people who are dependent on ingestion of glucose to sustain their glucose levels, and feed them fat, hell yes they’ll be hungry.  The point is that they keep eating low carb anyway so as to become fat adapated.  So the study cited above is only useful to know if you intend to remain an “orally ingested glucose addict” for the remainder of your life.  Good luck with that plan, you’ll need it.  If instead you would like a healthy metabolism, suffer through a few weeks of hunger and force your body to adapt to fat burning.  While you are at it, I suggest you avoid bran rich anything, low fat milk, whole grain toast or whole grain laced with rat poison, or low fat ricotta, as if it were an leprosy infested armadillo.  But that’s totally your call, perhaps you are a big fan of leprosy infested armadillos.  As for the conjecture that high fiber foods take longer to digest, they do; that’s why they make you gassy (that’s an appeal, by the way, that escapes me).  But they dump their sugar content quite rapidly, as a review of any glycemic index or glycemic load table will reveal.  Even more convincing in this regard is the one hour blood glucose check.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Calorie Gang Proves A Calorie Is Not A Calorie

Even taking the conclusions at face value, the authors found, as other diet comparison studies have, that weight loss or, in this over-feeding study, weight gain, was not dependent on calories alone: “a calorie is a calorie” not.  It is likely that this was what the study was originally trying to disprove and the results must have been a disappointment.  The way out was that, in this particular case, the differential weight loss showed up in difference in lean mass, rather than in fat mass as has been found in other studies showing variable efficiency.  Since 5 % is very low protein it is probably not surprising that the diet could not provide enough protein for an increase in lean mass this group.
In other words, as previously reported, the same caloric intake with a variation in macronutrient composition did in fact produce a different outcome in total mass, with the high protein group, predictably, having the relative benefit of greater lean body mass after the over-feeding experiment.

The author continues:
The reduction in weight found in studies comparing low-carbohydrate diets and low-fat diets not only shows a difference favoring carbohydrate restriction but the improved weight loss is preferentially fat over lean mass. For example, Volek, et al. compared a low fat with a VLCK and the results are as shown below.  In their study, subjects were randomized to one of two hypocaloric diets, a very low-carbohydrate ketogenic (VLCK) diet (carbohydrate <10% of energy) or a low fat (LF) diet and after 8 weeks switched to the other diet. Reported energy was slightly higher during the VLCK but the VLCK group lost more weight and as shown below predominantly in fat, total fat loss, and trunk fat loss for men (despite significantly greater energy intake). The majority of women also responded more favorably to the VLCK diet, especially in terms of trunk fat loss the ratio of trunk fat/total fat was also significantly reduced during the VLCK diet in men and women.  These studies depend on diet recall so are less accurate than the JAMA study but because of the better experimental design, the changes are bigger and with appropriate correction make a less ambiguous case than the JAMA study. The more accurate measurements in the metabolic chamber suggest that individual variation is real and not just due to random error.

In short, the concept that burning a macronutrient in a sealed chamber to determine that macronutrient's absolute caloric potential is of course not the last word in what the impact will be when a human ingests the macronutrient.  Once one thinks this through, the "a calorie is a calorie" idea seems absurd.

But as the author points out at the end of the article, careers and reputations have been built on the "calorie is a calorie" mantra, unproved as it remains, and that will drive research which tries to confirm the strongly held beliefs the "calorie experts" have been preaching lo these many years.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


If I had to pick one running workout to do exclusive of all others, it would be this simple:

Run 200m, easy pace, walk back.  As soon as the 200m walk is complete,
Run 200m, faster.  Walk back.  As soon as the 200m walk is complete,
Run 200m, best speed.
Repeat 3 to 10 times, based on your fitness, how good you feel, how much you like/don't like the runs.
Doing this is fun for me because it is relatively fast, and if I had to prioritize my relative deficiencies, speed is at the top.  Two, this is a muscle building, power building workout.  Three, this workout will tax the metabolism as much as I'm am willing to let it - the fitter and faster one gets, the deeper into the pain cave one gets running 200s.  Last, it's a lot of goodness for a relatively short time - five minute warmup, five runs including the two warmups, and after 20 minutes the cool down begins and a significant work capacity was cultivated - the ability to generate near maximal output for 30-60s (on that note, if you can't finish a 200m in 60s, just run 60s, and measure how far you go.  Celebrate the increases in distance over time).

Want to make this little tool in a took kit?  There are an infinite number of WODs you build off of this:
1.  3 to 5 RFT (rounds for time), run 200m, 10 pushups, 15 sit-ups
2.  Run 200m, 10 burpees, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats, 200m, 9 of each, 200m 8 of each, etc.
3.  Run 200m, 30-50 squats, 4-6 rounds
4.  Run 200m, 30 pushups, 200m, 20 pushups, 200m, 10 pushups
5.  Run 200m, 15 pull-ups, 200m, 25 pushups, 200m, 35 situps, 200m, 45 squats
If you have never done these kinds of workouts, or have not been doing high intensity, anaerobic workouts, do a half or a quarter of one, and work your way up from there.

If you add the option of sled pushes/pulls, sand bag lifts, wall ball shots, pull-ups, power cleans, dumb bell snatches, rope jumps/double unders, ring play, med ball cleans, or water bucket/bottle carries ... not much could stand between a person and fitness.  The cost could be as low or high as desired, but it need not be an obstacle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not the Cholesterol?!?

Thanks to Credible Evidence for the bird dog to this post From Heart Scan Blog

Cholesterol doesn’t harm, maim, or kill. It is simply used as a crude–very crude–marker. It is, in reality, a component of the body, of the cell wall, of lipoproteins (lipid-carrying proteins) in the bloodstream. It is used a an indirect gauge, a “dipstick,” for lipoproteins in the blood to those who don’t understand how to identify, characterize, and quantify actual lipoproteins in the blood.
Cholesterol itself never killed anybody, any more than a bad paint job on your car could cause a fatal car accident.
OK, then why has there been so much focus on it for the last 40+ years?!?!

Here's the short version - cholesterol is under the light post; as in, you must surely have heard about the folks who find a drunk on his hands and knees looking for his car key.  When asked, he replies that his car is a couple hundred yards away, but it's too dark there to find a key.  With cholesterol, there's a correlation with higher levels and mortality, AND the atherosclerotic plaques associated with heard disease and stroke - cardiovascular disease - are composed of a large amount of cholesterol.  So it would have been crazy not to suspect that high cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease (CVD).  So the government ran a bunch of tests trying to prove the conjecture that either high cholesterol intake (which has a minor impact on blood cholesterol levels) or high cholesterol in the blood CAUSES CVD.  But it has never been proved, and with so many dollars expended trying to prove the causative relationship, and none being found, I think you'd have be pretty faithful in the conjecture not to believe it has been disproved.

If that story seems crazy, and you'd like to read more, there's a powerful version of it here:
The Soft Science of Dietary Fat

Why do you care?  Mainly so you can make informed choices about your relationship with your doctor.  If you read the Taubes article, you will know more about cholesterol than most doctors seem to, and you can therefore make a decision about your potential treatment options that is not dependent on the degree to which your doctor has kept up with emerging knowledge.  I still find myself stunned when I meet a doc who thinks cholesterol will kill someone.

Eat eggs, eat steak, eat bacon if you like those foods, or don't, but hopefully whatever you choose won't be the result of a never proved conjecture about diet, cholesterol and CVD.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coconut Oil For Alzheimer's

This is a nice video -

BLUF:  Ketones generated from coconut oil consumption seem to help folks who are losing their minds.

I hope this is right, and if it is, then intermittent fasting (which mainly means not eating between dinner and lunch), in combination with coconut oil, should do even better, since that fasting period enables/demands significant ketone production (IOW, you don't have to be on a full, stage 1 Atkins level of carb restriction to be in ketogenic metabolism by the time you get up in the AM, and you can extend that phase through IF).

So how would it feel to be losing weight, to be full of energy (and not hungry) even though you rarely eat anything before 10:00AM, to not have to bother with making a meal every morning, and to possibly be disease proofing yourself at the same time?  You'd be setting yourself up for optimal blood sugar control, by running primarily on fat all day long.  How much impact would that make in your life?  For me, it has been most excellent and I highly recommend you experiment with IF after you achieve glycemic control through a 30 day run of eating meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eat Red Meat and Cholesterol For Health

This study can be accessed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19452526

This study examined the relationship between pancreatic cancer risk and intake of fresh meat, eggs, total fat, and different types of fat. The diets of 120,852 men and women were analyzed over a 13.3 year period.

The study found:
  • Those that consumed the most meat had a 24% decreased rate of pancreatic cancer compared to those that consumed the least meat.
  • Those that consumed the most red meat had a 46% decreased rate of pancreatic cancer compared to those that consumed the least red meat.

HT:  http://healthydietsandscience.blogspot.com/2012/02/red-meat-and-dietary-cholesterol-offer.html

There's much more, I highly recommend you check out the link of the article and the summary from the link above.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/no wheat.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Variation Is Evidence Of Weak Science

When I eliminated all my grains and starchy vegetables, I actually experienced some negative effects. My energy levels declined considerably, and my cholesterol, which is normally about 150, rose to over 200. 
*Fascinating!  Dr. Mercola thinks a cholesterol of 150 is good, and a cholesterol of 200 is bad, as expressed above - but what is that information based on?  He never clarifies, but he should.  One could just as easily say a 150 is worse than a 200 based on the correlations with mortality - but neither number is significant in my view.  They are but correlates.

It appears I was suffering a glucose deficiency and this can trigger lipoprotein abnormalities. It also seemed to worsen my kidney function. So, while carbohydrate restriction is a miracle move for most people, like most good things in life, you can overdo it.
*The questions is - how long did he try the low carb?  Some people of course take a longer time than others to adapt to running on low carb.  On the other hand, he was never obese, so it may have been the case that he simply doesn't need to go very low in carb intake.
This information really underscores how important glucose is as a nutrient, and some people can't manufacture glucose from protein as well as others, so they need SOME starches in their diet or else they will suffer from metabolic stress.
*There has to be some truth in this - ectomorphs, those who tend towards length and leanness, are clearly not "fat loving" in physiology.  It would be easy to believe that the "skinny" like Dr. M just don't run as well on fat as those of other somatotypes.
About half of your proteins have glucose attached to them, and if they don't have glucose, they simply don't work well, if at all. Your body needs glucose both as a substrate and as a fuel in order for these proteins to work well. If you drop below 200 calories of glucose per day, you might notice some negative consequences in the way you feel and even in some of your blood work, as I did.
*200kcal/day obviously is about 50g/day.  I would count that as very low carb.  50-100g/day works well for me.
My experience now shows me that I need to have some source of non-vegetable carbs. I still seek to avoid nearly all grains, except for rice and potatoes. I typically limit my total carbohydrate calories to about 25 percent of total daily intake, and my protein to about 15 percent, with the additional 60 percent coming from healthful fats like butter, egg yolks, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and animal fat.
*Impressive!  Most people will do well on this type of diet.  But you have to try it and see how you look feel and perform - after allowing time for fat adaptation - to see what level of carb consumption allows you to maintain glycemic control (as evidenced by body composition, especially abdominal circumference, and how you feel).

The more I learn about cholesterol, the more convinced I am that it is the proverbial key under the lightpost - folks are looking at it because it can be seen, but there's not much reason to think it matters.  It is at best a correlate with heart disease and stroke (aka vascular disease), but not a cause.

But, you might say, if high cholesterol is a correlate of vascular disease, and cholesterol makes up a significant component of atherosclerotic plaques, isn't is rational to think there's a causal relationship?  Yes, it is a rational thing to think, but after years and years of trying, no one has yet proved the causal relationship.  I was a low brow solution to think that cholesterol, like grease, was killing folks by sticking to arteries like grease in a pipe.  "Really?"  Yes, they really wanted to think of human arteries as if they were static like a grease filled pipe.   "Pull the other one."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Muscle Mass Is Cancer Prevention

Very interesting study, skip to conclusions below if you don't like (as I don't) reading geek-speak in studies.
BACKGROUND: Several hypotheses proposed to explain the worse prognosis for older melanoma patients include different tumor biology and diminished host response. If the latter were true, then biologic frailty, and not age, should be an independent prognostic factor in melanoma.
METHODS: Our prospective institutional review board (IRB)-approved database was queried for stage III patients with computed tomography (CT) scans at time of lymph node dissection (LND). Psoas area (PA) and density (PD) were determined in semi-automated fashion. Kaplan-Meier (K-M) survival estimates and Cox proportional-hazard models were used to determine PA and PD impact on survival and surgical complications.
RESULTS: Among 101 stage III patients, PD was significantly associated with both disease-free survival (DFS) (P = 0.04) and distant disease-free survival (DDFS) (P = 0.0002). Cox multivariate modeling incorporating thickness, age, ulceration, and N stage showed highly significant association with PD and both DFS and DDFS. DDFS was significantly associated with Breslow thickness (P = 0.04), number of positive nodes (P = 0.001), ulceration (P = 0.04), and decreasing muscle density (P = 0.01), with hazard ratio of 0.55 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35-0.87]. PD also correlated with surgical complications, with odds ratio (OR) of 1.081 [95% CI 1.016-1.150, P = 0.01]. CONCLUSIONS: Decreased psoas muscle density on CT, an objective measure of frailty, was as important a predictor of outcome as tumor factors in a cohort of stage III melanoma patients. On multivariate analysis, frailty, not age, was associated with decreased disease-free survival and distant disease-free survival, and higher rate of surgical complications.

Read more here:
HT:  http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/muscle-and-cancer-it-is-not-getting-old.html

It's difficult to know without reading the whole study how they separated causality - IOW, were the folks that were more frail more frail because their cancer was detected later?  They had already had more treatment?  These obviously would confound the result, it would be nice to think they were ahead of those issues.

The BL:  the more I learn about it, the less significance cardiorespiratory endurance seems to have to health.  Strength is a much more relevant measure of health (or muscle mass, a correlate of strength).  In some ways this seems like a blinding flash of the obvious - if you have the strength to get up and down from the floor, up and down stairs and hills, can push a lawn mower, and so forth - you'll be able to be independent, mobile and active.  The fewer the restraints on your activity, the more alive you are almost by definition.  Running, or jogging, is great, but leaves a lot on the table in terms of health.  By adding squats, pushups, pullups, or any degree of strength training, you can significantly improve you chances of aging well - and apparently, of surviving illness, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cancer Sugar, Again

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.
“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”
Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do.
If the conclusion intrigues you, read all of Gary's article.  It seems pretty obvious that we were not made to eat 150 pounds+ per year of sugar, and that something like 20 pounds per year, or 25g/day, might be a prudent dose.  There are a few things that we've changed as drastically as our sugar intake over the years: industrial seed oils, grain/bean agriculture, much less sleep of much lower quality, fat soluble vitamin intake, sun exposure, and a drastic reduction in physicality.  But you can see in the paleolithic cultures that went neolithic, with Westerners around to observe them, that they got the diseases we have now with just the addition of wheat and sugar to their traditional diets.  
The good news?  When you de-sugar your palate, regular food tastes much, much better, never mind the abundant benefits in how you look feel and perform.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fructose: A Sucker Punch To Your Liver

The review of three papers that follows is taken from Gary Taubes' blog.  The papers are fascinating. 

The BLUF:  high intake of fructose or mixed fructose/glucose (table sugar or HFCS) makes you sick way out of proportion to the amount consumed.  The caveat to that is that these animals were drinking 25% of their daily intake a fructose or the mixed sugars - that's equivalent over 100g/day for most of us.  That's quite a lot (but the US Govt says that much is OK) and there's no way to know where the safe/unsafe level of consumption of these food products is for each of us, because we're all in different stages of metabolic health/illness. 

This site has some interesting comparisons on sugar content:  http://www.hookedonjuice.com/, the big takeaway being that the idea that juices are heathy is questionable at best.  This site, http://www.livestrong.com/article/399684-the-sugar-content-of-coke/, shows a similar number.  Of the ~3.4g of sugar per ounce, this soft drink will have a roughly 50/50 mix of glucose and fructose.  In short, the test subjects were eating something like 40 ounces (~500 kcal of sugar) of sugary drinks/day, of varying amounts of fructose and glucose.  As you'll read, the more fructose they consumed the worse off they became, even with control of caloric intake.  Interestingly, there was also an observation that as they substituted fructose for non-sugar calories, their energy expenditure decreased.

A recommendation to consider would be to remove sugars (you can't eat sugar without getting fructose unless you go to superhuman lengths) until you have achieved glycemic control, the majority of the fat loss you want, and can see the improvements in your blood lipids (especially triglycerides).  At that point, you could safely reintroduce some amount of sugar without fear of injury.  If you are trying to regain glycemic control and stuffing a bunch of fruit and sugars down the hatch, the results are likely to be mixed at best.  If you are wedded to the idea of "fruit" as necessary for health, try substituting frozen organic (COSTCO baby!) or fresh berries instead.

Lastly, the measurement of the effects of these drinks on metabolic outcomes was very rapid - just as it is for non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder, which when treated with low carb/no fructose shows a measurable (via electronic imaging) reduction in less than one week.

Paper number one describes an experiment in which rhesus monkeys were fed their usual monkey chow diet supplemented by a daily 300-calorie ration of fructose-sweetened water. After a year, every last one of the 29 monkeys had developed “insulin resistance and many features of metabolic syndrome, including central obesity, dyslipidemia and inflammation.” Four of the monkeys progressed to type 2 diabetes.
Worth noting is that the monkeys apparently drank all the fructose-sweetened drinks they were given, but they adjusted for the 300 additional calories by cutting back significantly on the chow. All in all, they averaged only 26 calories per day more with the fructose than they did without it. This suggests that the negative sequelae observed over the course of the year were indeed caused by the fructose itself and not an increased intake of total calories (unless we’re willing to accept that increasing calories by just a couple a dozen a day is sufficient to do some very bad things to monkeys and do them relatively quickly.)
The second and third papers, both published in October, were randomized controlled trials in humans — rather than primates or rodents — which is  always a nice attraction in nutrition research since there’s no guarantee any animal model really reflects the physiological situation in, well, us.
The second paper reported that overweight and obese older adults (40 to 72 years-old) getting a quarter of their calories from fructose-sweetened beverages used less fat for fuel and actually expended less energy than did the same subjects when they were getting the equivalent calories from glucose drinks. So the calories were the same; the metabolic effects were different. For the fructose, the effects were what we’d expect (okay, what I’d expect) if the fructose beverages were causing or exacerbating insulin resistance, an observation that Havel et al had published earlier. The more insulin resistant these people became, the less fat they used for fuel—hence, we can assume, the more fat they stored—and the lower their basal metabolic rate. (The rhesus monkeys, too, had decreased their energy expenditure in response to drinking fructose.)
The third study was a trial in younger subjects (18 to 40-year-olds), some lean, some not. These subjects were given three beverages to drink every day, constituting again about a quarter of their day’s ration of calories. The beverages were sweetened either with fructose, glucose or high fructose corn syrup. For the HFCS group, this 25 percent of calories was compatible with what the U.S. Dietary Guidelines considers a safe upper limit for sugar consumption. Still, after only 12 days—less than two weeks—subjects in both the HFCS and fructose groups, but not the glucose group, saw a significant increase in heart disease risk. Triglycerides went up; LDL cholesterol went up, and ApoB concentrations, a measure of the number of LDL particles, increased.

Fasting Weakens Cancer in Mice

Even fasting on its own effectively treated a majority of cancers tested in animals, including cancers from human cells.
The study in Science Translational Medicine, part of the Science family of journals, found that five out of eight cancer types in mice responded to fasting alone: Just as with chemotherapy, fasting slowed the growth and spread of tumors.
And without exception, “the combination of fasting cycles plus chemotherapy was either more or much more effective than chemo alone,” said senior author Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California.


You can see why the scientists might be confused; first they do studies that show fat or meat or industrially processed milk proteins makes mice have cancer, then they do a study that shows fasting helps mice survive cancer.  But considering the model of cancer described in yesterday's post, in the context of the paleolithic model of nutrition, and as applied to humans and the ways that mice and humans are similar, there is a coherent picture.

What I like about this model and its apparent validity is that it implies that your most powerful cancer avoidance strategy is to eat the food your body was built for - meat and vegetables.  You don't have to sweat all the weird chemicals in the neolithic world, you don't have to be anxious about eating an occasional hotdog or piece of salami, you don't have to get freaked about eating a good piece of steak.  Instead, you eat to feel good, look good, and maintain the glycemic control that you must maintain to be healthy anyway.  In short, you do what you would do to avoid getting fat, having freaky blood sugar crashes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

This is a strategy which consists of eating good food that you like to eat anyway.  This is a strategy in which - if perchance you end up being wrong or getting one of the non-sugar fueled cancers - you wouldn't look back and think you wasted your energy or your time.  This is a strategy that - once you get off the sugar addiction - you end up eating the foods you like most anyway.  It's a win-win.

Another interesting cut from the linked article:

While normal cells deprived of nutrients enter a dormant state similar to hibernation, the researchers saw that the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing.
The result, Longo said, was a “cascade of events” that led to the creation of damaging free radical molecules, which broke down the cancer cells’ own DNA and caused their destruction.
“The cell is, in fact, committing cellular suicide. What we’re seeing is that the cancer cell tries to compensate for the lack of all these things missing in the blood after fasting. It may be trying to replace them, but it can’t,” Longo said.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cancer Sugar Again

The study found:
(a) Women who ate the most carbohydrate had a 22% increased rate of breast cancer compared to the women who ate the least carbohydrate.
(b) Women who ate the most fibre had a 9% increased rate  of breast cancer compared to the women who ate the least fibre.

That summary from this excellent blog:

The original study here:

It's just an epidemiological study, and it's not any information that is not already well known for those in the low carb world.  Still, it's nice that the epidemiologists can get funding to study this, instead of punching out another study about fat.  Why does this make sense?  Because cancers are often very sugar and insulin sensitive and derive their fuel by fermenting sugars.  If a cancer comes along (think of cancer as a cell which becomes damaged but does not go through apoptosis (automated self destruction), but cannot gain a competitive advantage against neighboring cells, then eventually it dies or just languishes.  If that same cancer is getting boatloads of sugar by which it can fuel itself, it might become the thing you die from (not with).

Monday, February 13, 2012

To Burn Fat - GET COLD

No need to work out, just take a cold shower twice a day.  According to Tim Ferriss, author of the 4 Hour Body, you can boost your T (for men) and activate brown fat by exposing yourself to cold.  Brown fat is a heat generation engine. 

I doubt this should be considered a significant long term strategy, but it's interesting all the same.

While I did no serious experimentation with this idea, I found that cold showers were a significant anti-inflammatory when I was feeling beat up after a few days of intense work outs.  Too bad I hate cold showers as much as I do!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time to Stop Talking About Low-Fat, Say HSPH Nutrition Experts - HSPH In the Media - News at HSPH - Harvard School of Public Health

It is time to end the low-fat myth, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) nutrition experts told food industry leaders at the seventh annual World of Healthy Flavors Conference held in Napa, CA, from January 19 to 21, 2011. The conference, co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of America and HSPH, brings together nutrition researchers with representatives from schools, supermarkets, and food industry goliaths such as Burger King, The Olive Garden, and Panera Bread to share strategies for offering Americans healthier menu options.
HSPH nutrition department chair Walter Willett and associate professor of epidemiology Dariush Mozaffarian, along with Ron Krauss of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, presented on the “Focus on Fat” panel. They encouraged audience members to avoid “low-fat” terminology and thinking, since diets low in fat are often high in sodium and carbohydrates from sources such as white flour and rice, refined snacks, and sugary drinks. Instead, the panelists said, chefs should focus on cutting trans fats from their menus and educating consumers about seeking out healthy fats.

Article Here

"Healthy fats" will be interesting to watch - are they still going to keep pimping "vegetable oils" (aka, chemically derived poly unsaturated fats, PUFAs, which are easily oxidized and STILL never proven beneficial)?  Or will they finally say it - "there's no reason to fear real saturated fat."

What's the next big "oops" going to be - when the Harvard folks also admit there's no issue with sodium consumption, there never has been, and they likely killed a bunch of folks sweating that bit of bad science also?

I'm glad that an organization with the influence that Harvard has continues to publicly push back against the low fat fad diets, but I wish they would be as disciplined about the other myths of the last 30 years. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Energy Systems

Most likely right now, you are doing aerobics.  That is to say, your body is fueling itself via oxygen powered energy production, hopefully, oxidation of fat.  Fat is the optimal fuel for your body.  It can power you, in theory, if trained for it, for a long, long walk or run.  You can run a long ways on fat because anyone running a long way should be doing - aerobics.

That everyone thinks of high carb drinks and pills for endurance running is a funny thing to consider.  Technically, you don't need carb replenishment to power endurance running, unless you are running in the anaerobic threshold, and thus burning sugar via glycolysis.  However, I think many runners eat so many carbs they lose their capacity for fat oxidation and are stuck in sugar town while they try to run their way to fitness and health.  In particular, if you exercise with the goal of better health, or better glycemic control, the last thing you want to do is burn up 250 kcal or so on a 20 minute run, and then knock back 250g of carbs in a "replenishment" or "recovery" drink.  Just skip both the run and the drink, you'll be better off walking.

For the record, you likely have something like 250g of glycogen stored in muscles, and another 70g stored in your liver.  Add that to the 5g of glucose dissolved in your blood, and the grand total is about 325g or so of sugar available to burn, which is about 1300kcal, which is about a third of the caloric energy available in a pound of fat.  So be you a 130 pound lady at 20% body fat, or a 175 pound man at 10% body fat, you have 6 to 10 times more kcal available as fat as you would have as sugar.

It hardly matters, as anyone who wants to could have figured out by now that spending hours a week doing high intensity aerobics is not the e-ticket to either fitness or health.  But - a few short runs a week sure beats watching TV, and running has the benefit of being cheap and accessible to almost anyone.  Thus, the point is, if you want those run sessions to translate into better health, knock if off with the goofy recovery drinks and love yourself some water, with potassium or salt as needed, like this:  Now Foods Potassium Gluconate Pure Powder, and maybe add a little of this for good measure:  NOW Foods ZMA.  Nope, they are not paleolithic, but since we're not eating whole animals any longer, compromise is pragmatic.

Fat is the body's preferred fuel for most functions, as evidenced by the fact that it is the fuel we are built to store.  One of the biggest benefits of the paleo prescription is that it restricts carbohydrate intake enough to require that the body regain the capacity for fat oxidation on a large scale.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Top Six Anti-Inflammatory Foods | Mark's Daily Apple


Mark lists his favorites, which are:  wild fish fat, pastured animal fat, red palm oil, cruciferous vegetables, berries, turmeric.

The article also presents a useful context for how to think of inflammation, when it is good and when it is not.

Read on:  Any discussion of a concept as nebulous, multifaceted, and confusing as inflammation must integrate the question of context. Inflammation itself is highly contextual – as I’ve discussed in previous installments, there are times when inflammation is a good thing and times when inflammation is a negative thing. There are also times when anti-inflammatory actions, drugs, or foods are negatives, even though “anti-inflammatory” has a positive connotation. If you blunt the post-exercise inflammatory response with an anti-inflammatory drug, for example, you also run the risk of blunting the positive effects of that workout.

We must also pay attention to acute and systemic inflammation when discussing the desirability of an “anti-inflammatory” food. Eating a big meal tends to raise inflammatory markers in the short term. If you’re overeating every single meal, this is problematic; the acute will become the norm – the chronic. If you’re eating big after a massive workout session, or because you’re celebrating at an amazing restaurant with your dearest friends, or because you’re coming off a twenty-four hour IF, it’s fine. Context.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"But, Don't the Easterners Eat Tons of Rice?"

How the Primal community loves the concept of a dietary paradox. How we eagerly point to its various manifestations as supportive evidence for our way of eating, living, and moving. You know the French Paradox and how it confounds the experts. To mention all those smug surrender monkeys with their brie and their butter and their duck confit and their Gauloises and their seeming imperviousness to heart attacks is to make Dean Ornish binge on bran and pull out tuft after tuft of frizzy hair. And then there’s the lesser-known Israeli Paradox, which attempts to answer why Israelis have skyrocketing rates of heart disease despite a skyrocketing intake of “healthy” omega-6 fatty acids. In its wake, Walter Willet might be found weeping into a mug of safflower oil. There’s even an American Paradox – those who ate the most saturated fat had the least coronary heart disease – that had the minds of researchers thoroughly boggled.
All those paradoxes work out in “our favor.” Saturated fat gets off pretty much scot-free and omega-6 vegetable oils get raked over the coals (and, presumably, oxidized). And if people were honest about things, they would see these paradoxes not as paradoxes, but as reasons to reevaluate previously-held beliefs about health and diet.
But what about the Asian Paradox? How can Asian countries consume so much white rice and so many noodles and remain so thin?
Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-asian-paradox-how-can-asians-eat-so-much-rice-and-not-gain-weight/#ixzz1llD8EWsX

Mark does a nice job of chasing this one down.

I think it makes sense to assume that populations have different levels of carbohydrate tolerance just as individuals do.  I you grew up in the Swiss mountain villages inspected by Weston Price, and you couldn't live on a diet of rye bread, butter, milk, and weekly servings of meat - you couldn't live at all.  Your genetics would vanish.  Those who did survive would, in general, leave a population of folks with reasonable tolerance for both grain and carbs.  It's not impossible for a population to adapt/evolve - but it's not pretty.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Elevated Glucose Associated with Undetected Heart Damage

 A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) injures the heart, even in patients without a history of heart disease or diabetes. Researchers found that elevated levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a marker for chronic hyperglycemia and diabetes, were associated with minute levels of the protein troponin T (cTnT), a blood marker for heart damage. The high-sensitivity test they used detected levels of cTnT tenfold lower than those found in patients diagnosed with a heart attack. 
I wouldn't say this proves anything, but it correlates well with the carbohydrate hypothesis of obesity.  Every disease of civilization is correlated with high blood sugar/metabolic syndrome.  High blood sugar is the natural, predictable consequence of excess carbohydrate consumption.  Glycemic control is the rational goal of any nutrition intervention, for either weight loss or health benefit.

Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, no sugar/wheat.

Sisson: Advice For Beginners

Read on folks and find out how Mark Sisson summarizes what can be a very complex topic, and includes free resources for further information. 

My advice:  do something, anything you will do.  Try and add a little - a little - every year to make your program more complete. 

You need variation - don't do the same thing every day; variety prevents a plateau.  You need intensity - shorter and harder works faster than comfortable but long - at least a couple days a week.  If you can't wreck yourself in five minutes doing body weight work, you are not trying.  And that five minutes of intensity is all you need that day.  You need to play with stuff that's heavy - heavier today than yesterday, a little heavier tomorrow than today.  You don't need to do curls, abs, calf raises, wrist work and hamstring curls - that stuff's low bang for the buck.  If it's what you like, by all means do it.  But the high leverage stuff is multi joint, real movement like your ancestors did in order to remain a "going concern." 

Run, jump, climb, lift, and throw, and do hard fast and often.

Find new movements, find different ways to put movements in sequence, or search out a skill that appeals to you, such as kipping pullups or the snatch, and make learning those part of your warmup.  There are many, many cheap ways to give yourself an adaptive stimulus - kettlebells can be had at wallmart, as can dumb bells and door jamb pullup bars.  You can get rings online for under $40, and hang them off of a tree limb.  You can make a sand filled medicine ball from a basketball.  You can fill a duffel bag from a thrift store with sand for under $25 - better yet, use pea gravel and make small bags to fill the larger duffel for a variable weight.  I made a pushing sled from treated 2x4s and half-inch ply for $30.  You can get a 12" electrical junction box for box jumps from a Big Box Store for under $20.  Etc.  Have a big rock in your yard?  A five gallon water jug?  "It's all good."

Fitness gear can be simple but very effective. 

Without further ado, here's Mark:

Assuming you’ve never done much, if any, strength training before, you’ll want to start with Primal Blueprint Fitness, my basic (free) fitness e-book.
Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-mysterious-omegas-and-a-beginners-exercise-routine/#ixzz1kywPTeGA

Two or three days each week of lifting heavy things. To begin with, these “heavy things” will be the 195 pounds comprising your frame. That’s right – bodyweight exercises to start. Eventually, once you’ve hammered out the form for each movement, put on some strength, and strengthened that connective tissue, you can move on to lifting heavy things that are not your own bodyweight. Maybe you’ll join a gym and start moving barbells or machines. Maybe you’ll get into gymnastics and start using leverage to increase resistance. Maybe you’ll lift sandbags and swing kettlebells. The point is this: the early bodyweight days will get you strong enough to handle yourself and your own body so that you can then progress to whatever level you prefer. Putting on lean mass is precisely what you require. Jogging won’t do it – it hasn’t done it, in your case – and the longer you wait, the harder it will be to accumulate lean mass.
One day a week of sprinting. Now, that’s not an entire day of sprinting, which would be ridiculous and frankly impossible. You’ll be sprinting between five and ten times with plenty of rest in between. As an example, my sprint workouts last about 20 minutes total these days. If you’re not comfortable sprinting on a track or flat surface, you can sprint uphill (less impact on joints), in a pool, on a bike, on a rowing machine, etc.. The key is expending maximum effort during these sprint sessions, whichever method of transportation you’ve chosen. You go all out for ten or twelve seconds (or more, if you are fit and can handle it – maybe even up to 40 seconds on a bike) and then rest for a minute or two until the next one. Sound easy? It’s not. It’s simple and brief, but it isn’t easy.
Finally, at least 5 hours of slow moving per week. Walking, hiking, very slow jogging (as long as you can do so comfortably) – it’s all fair game. You don’t want to push yourself here. You’re not running a marathon or racing. You’re not even tracking calories. You’re just getting around. You’re moving your limbs and enjoying a conversation and oxidizing fat the entire time. Slow moving is the foundation of the Primal Blueprint Fitness program.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inflammation: What Is That?

A friend responded to a blog post recently by asking "What is inflammation?"  Here's a blog all about inflammation, and I like the intro:
But was does it mean to say "inflammatory"?

First off, it's a description of the body's response to damage or invasion - damaged cells need to be killed off and cleaned out, or repaired.  Invading pathogens must be eliminated, quickly.  And the body has an exquisitely well designed system for doing just those things.  You can somewhat test it just by smacking your arm a couple of times - hard enough to sting.  See the redness?  That's the inflammatory response.  The term of course is a reference to heat, so when you are inflamed - "on fire" - your body is responding with a variety of techniques to save you from something.

Autoimmune disease is caused by the body's immune system turning on some part of the body as if that part were an invading pathogen.  Many folks attribute that process to a leaky gut, which allows particles into the blood that should remain in the gut; as the body amounts an antibody defense to some such particle, it may also begin to recognize some part of itself as that invading particle, and attack it.

Dr. Sears' books always referred to the inflammatory cascade, in which the inflammatory hormones were parented by high insulin levels and built out of omega 6 fatty acids.  So, in the model Sears described, an insulin resistant body, caused by high carb consumption over time, combined with a high omega 6 fatty acid intake, via processed vegetable oils and grains and their processed food products, would be the perfect storm for a state of chronically high systemic inflammation.  The immune system in that case would be hyperactive, and thus cause the damage and abnormal processes that result in disease.

In this model, omega 6 FA are the parents of the inflammatory super hormones (eicosanoids), whereas omega 3 FA are the parents of the "return to normal" hormones.  Just based on that idea, you could imagine the significance of having a balance between the two in your food intake (since we don't make enough of either, therefore, they are designated as "essential fatty acids").  More detail on this here.

Gary Taubes, in his incredible book "Good Calories Bad Calories" made a more clear case for the causes of chronic disease, but without reference to the inflammatory cascade per se.  Nonetheless, the cause of "the diseases of the West" was identified as excess carb intake, the resulting insulin resistance, and the variety of abnormal metabolic impacts that result.

One way to think of chronic inflammation is to think just of pain - if you find yourself reaching for ibuprofen, or one of the other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs), you are looking for a treatment for inflammation.  When I used to eat high carb, low fat, I lived on NSAIDS because my various joint injuries hurt just about all the time.  Now days, it's a rare thing when I take an NSAID, not because the damage has decreased over the years, but because the systemic inflammatory response is not hyper active and thus does not generate the sensation of pain around the injury.

A last thought about inflammation is to consider folks you know with red, irritated looking skin.  Of course, anyone with sunburn has felt the body's inflammatory response to the damage.  Folks with an inflammatory condition in their skin all the time - rosatia as an example - are suffering some similar, but hopefully less intense, response to an irritant all the time.  There are many models that might explain this, but in short, there's some element of their diet and/or environment that is driving an expression of a genetic propensity for inflamed skin.  In most cases, the inflammation is systemic and skin is just one of the warning signs.

Reducing systemic, abnormal, chronic inflammation should be a consideration for any of us.  When wading through a neolithic food world, with only our paleolithic genetics to get us by, we do ourselves great harm by over eating grains, processed vegetable oils (massive amounts of omega 6 FA without a balanced quantity of omega 3 FA), and by not sleeping enough causing overactivity in other hormones like cortisol.  Further, we don't typically have enough vitamin D because we don't get enough sunlight on enough of our skin (or eat enough vitamin D laden sea foods like the Inuit did).

Here's the rub - I don't know of a scientifically valid way to measure inflammation.  You can evaluate your levels of arachadonic acid to eicosapentanoic acid, but your guess is as good as mine as to whether that's a valid measure of health.  Thus, to know if you are doing a good job with inflammation you have to consider your general pain levels, your ability to recover from intense activity, your overall feelings of wellness, and other markers that are quite subjective - for example, decreased skin irritation, or taking less pain medication.   It's possible to have high body fat, but not be chronically inflamed, but more likely, that fat is a correlate with a high inflammation diet.  My guess is the best measure of overall health is blood glucose - if you have glycemic control, you should have good insulin sensitivity, have lower chronic insulin levels, and generally, "normal" inflammatory response.  But I find it troubling to talk about inflammation as the be all end all of health since there's no way to objectively quantify what is being described.

That said, inflammation is an important topic - folks are describing models for all the diseases from depression to heart disease and Alzheimer's/Parkinson's/ALS in terms of inflammation.  Chronic, systemic inflammation is very likely at the root human illness.  To me, it's not the death that is tragic, it's the loss of life that one must endure before the end of chronic illness that I would like to avoid.  It's harder to celebrate the goodness in life after stroke, heart attacks, dementia, or any of the various miseries we have inflicted on ourselves via agriculture.

So while you slog along with the many uncertainties of this life, hoping that you are not killing yourself with inflammation, eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch and no sugar/wheat.  This Rx provides a starting point which you can adapt as you experiment and find tweaks that make the paleolithic diet work best for you.

More learning here:  Dr. Ayers' 13 posts on inflammation