Thursday, January 30, 2014

We Need To Take Meditation More Seriously As Medicine |

To be fair, I’m not sure how I would have responded had my surgeon suggested I meditate before or after surgery to ease my anxiety or post-operative pain. My guess is, like many women, I would have been skeptical: what exactly did sitting in half-lotus pose or breathing deeply have to do with the tumor in my right breast?  And why was a doctor— whose job and training and every measure of success is rooted in science and clinical outcomes— prescribing a spiritual or religious method of therapy?
But a new review study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, suggests that the ancient Eastern practice of mindful meditation can offer real help for patients with depression, anxiety, and pain. And researchers are increasingly demonstrating the measurable influence of meditation on the brain, proving that mindfulness programs can make us feel happier, have greater emotional resilience and take fewer sick days.

We attended Chris Kresser's presentation in support of his new book, Beyond Paleo, and he made reference to a study in which:
-The participants were in the highest risk group of mortality from heart disease (black men)
-The test was - one group doing meditation, one group on statins, one group not treated by either

Guess who "won"?  Indeed, the meditation group fared better than the statin group. Side effects of statins?  It's a long undesirable list.  Side effects of meditation?  It's a long, desirable list, not to mention, it doesn't have to cost $3/day.

So, all you meditation rock stars, you have a leg up on the rest of us, please accept my salute.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pure White and Deadly, Revisited

John Yudkin published this book ( in the 1970s, and was ridiculed by his learned peers.  It's taken the science from then to now to catch up.  But as these studies are demonstrating, he was right. The toxicity level of sugar is very, very low and the health impact is catastrophic.


Refined sugars (e.g., sucrose, fructose) were absent in the diet of most people until very recently in human history. Today overconsumption of diets rich in sugars contributes together with other factors to drive the current obesity epidemic. Overconsumption of sugar-dense foods or beverages is initially motivated by the pleasure of sweet taste and is often compared to drug addiction. Though there are many biological commonalities between sweetened diets and drugs of abuse, the addictive potential of the former relative to the latter is currently unknown.

Methodology/Principal findings

Here we report that when rats were allowed to choose mutually-exclusively between water sweetened with saccharin–an intense calorie-free sweetener–and intravenous cocaine–a highly addictive and harmful substance–the large majority of animals (94%) preferred the sweet taste of saccharin. The preference for saccharin was not attributable to its unnatural ability to induce sweetness without calories because the same preference was also observed with sucrose, a natural sugar. Finally, the preference for saccharin was not surmountable by increasing doses of cocaine and was observed despite either cocaine intoxication, sensitization or intake escalation–the latter being a hallmark of drug addiction.


Our findings clearly demonstrate that intense sweetness can surpass cocaine reward, even in drug-sensitized and -addicted individuals. We speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from an inborn hypersensitivity to sweet tastants. In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

While experimental and observational studies suggest that sugar intake is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, independent of its role in obesity, it is unclear whether alterations in sugar intake can account for differences in diabetes prevalence among overall populations. Using econometric models of repeated cross-sectional data on diabetes and nutritional components of food from 175 countries, we found that every 150 kcal/person/day increase in sugar availability (about one can of soda/day) was associated with increased diabetes prevalence by 1.1% (p <0 .001="" a="" activity="" after="" aging="" alcohol="" and="" are="" as="" associations="" at="" availability="" behavior="" biases="" but="" by="" calories="" cereals="" changes.="" confounded="" confounders.="" controlling="" correlated="" declines="" degree="" diabetes="" dietary="" differences="" dose-dependent="" duration="" effect="" explain="" explained="" exposure="" fibers="" food="" for="" fruits="" impact="" in="" including="" income.="" independent="" independently="" individual="" level="" manner="" meats="" modified="" no="" not="" obesity.="" obesity="" of="" oils="" on="" or="" other="" overweight.="" overweight="" period-effects="" physical="" population="" potential="" prevalence="" rates="" sedentary="" selection="" several="" significant="" significantly="" socioeconomic="" span="" statistically="" subsequent="" such="" sugar="" testing="" that="" the="" total="" types="" urbanization="" use="" variables="" variations="" was="" while="" with="" yielded="">

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Things About Cholesterol That Make You Go "Hmmm?"

"The way the body transports fats and cholesterol into the body is really interesting because it doesn't go directly into the blood stream from the gut.  Instead, it gets shipped through the lymph nodes and it arrives right at the big vein that goes into the heart  ... the body has to make sure the heart gets plenty of this first because it knows the heart needs fat and cholesterol."  Stephanie Seneff in "Cholesterol Clarity" by Jimmy Moore

The case against the lipid hypothesis is:
1.  There never was a case FOR the lipid hypothesis
2.  Most of the cholesterol you eat doesn't get to your blood, so eating a low cholesterol diet is pointless and takes away some of the most nutritious foods
3.  Dietary restriction of saturated fat has a very small effect on blood cholesterol; if consumption of saturated fat kills us by raising cholesterol, the effect would have to be manifested by blood cholesterol increases of a very small amount
4.  Restricting saturated fat or any fat has never been proved by intervention study to reduce mortality.  Epidemiological studies, as they tend to be, show "everything" with regards to high/low cholesterol, and high/low fat intake.
5.  The government spent over a billion dollars on studies designed to confirm the lipid hypothesis, and these efforts have spanned the better part of forty years.  They have still not confirmed the lipid hypothesis (which should be termed the lipid conjecture)
6.  Statins reduce mortality in a small group of very sick people (young but with existing heart disease).  They do not reduce mortality in those who have "high" cholesterol but are otherwise healthy.  Statins were the best evidence that lowering cholesterol reduces the incidence of CVD, but they are still not proof that lowering cholesterol is a treatment for CVD.  While statins do in fact reduce blood levels of cholesterol, you have to treat 100 folks for five years to be able to save one from death.  A baby aspirin, on the other hand, will save that same person if you treat 40 people for five years.  The cost difference for these two is exponential, as are the risks (for baby aspirin, there are almost none).  In other words, statins appear to be a high cost, high risk, low effect alternative for baby aspirin.
7.  A powerful LDL cholesterol reducing statin, combined with an agent that decreased absorption of cholesterol and thus reduced LDL over and above statin treatment, was found to give increased mortality compared to the control group, and the test was stopped early (vytorin)
8.  A recent study found that of those admitted to the hospital for acute heart disease, as many had high cholesterol as had low cholesterol, which is congruent with the fact that those who die of CVD have high and low cholesterol, relatively speaking.  In other words, "high cholesterol" is a weak correlate with cardiovascular disease, and is at most only one cause of CVD, and a small one.

The story of how the whole world became flummoxed by the bad science of fat and cholesterol one is a sordid tale of woe and indicts centralized control of drugs, medicine, science and the USDA to boot (every wonder what in the frock the USDA is doing messing about dietary recommendations?).

"We have this issue of cholesterol being the number-one cause of heart disease in the eyes of most of my cardiologist colleagues.  That would have some merit if it as 1963."  Dr. William Davis, from "Cholesterol Clarity" by Jimmy Moore

I've just started digesting Jimmy's book, but hope to learn more.
(Minor edits January 26, 2014)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Harder the Second Time Around?

We all get older every day.  Sadly, with aging, all systems deteriorate.  Some slower, some faster, but all get a little older and a little less functional every day.  If you achieve success on a low-carb diet and find yourself 70 pounds lighter, you’ll also find your self five or six months older.  If you regain that lost weight, then decide to start another low-carb diet to re-lose it, you will probably be a couple of years older than you were when you tried your first low-carb diet.  Just as it’s a little more difficult to pick up tennis at age 46 than it is at age 44, it’s a little more difficult to get everything moving with a low-carb diet when you’re a couple of years older.
Built-in survival mechanisms
Although most dietary recommendations are fairly simplistic, our bodies are unimaginably complex.  Not only do we have a complicated metabolism centered around and directed by the liver, we have multiple neurological and endocrinological feedback pathways between the liver-directed metabolic system and the central nervous system.  And we have gut hormones that get into the act sending signals of fullness or lack thereof.  It is an intricate system designed to allow us to survive on all kinds of food and to keep us alive as long as possible in the face of famine.  I like to think of this entire interconnected system as having its own memory.  It will allow you to fool it once or maybe twice, but then it gets wise.
I feel lucky when I read this.  It took me from 1996 until 2007 or so to figure this game out in a way that satisfied me.  In all that time, I must have nuked my body with huge sugar bombs at LEAST weekly, probably much more often than that. But right now, I can more or less effortlessly keep my body fat in the healthy range by eating the foods I like, and the foods I used to think I couldn't live without, I just don't like them as much.  
The takeaway?  There's probably a limit.  There's no bad time to stop nuking yourself with carbs, but there may be a limit for being able to regenerate and be as lean and well as you could have been had you stopped poisoning yourself with sugar ten years ago.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Hey, Who's In Charge Here?"

"This rogue elephant scenario is what Dr. Haidt thinks happens to us from time to time.  Our rider (the conscious part of us) wants us to do something, but the elephant part of us doesn’t want to, and so the rider just hangs on for the ride while the elephant goes wherever it wants to go.  We can put this in dieting terms.  Our rider decides that the elephant needs to go on a diet.  As long as the elephant is up for it, the diet hums along.  But if the elephant has other ideas, the rider becomes an ornament.  If things are going well, the rider has the appearance of control; if things aren’t going well, i.e., we had to put Mom in the hospital, then the elephant takes over.  And the rider accepts it.  He says, hey, I couldn’t control this beast because we had to put Mom in the hospital, and you know how he gets when we have to put Mom in the hospital.  He wants to eat, and I, the rider, have to go along with him.
"Yale psychologist Paul Bloom presents another way of looking at this situation in an enlightening article in the November 2008 issue of The Atlantic.  He puts forward the idea that we all have multiple selves that we’re constantly dealing with, arguing with and trying to fool.
"Let’s say that we’ve dined large late at night and are headed for bed.  As we crawl into the sack with belly distended from a carb overindulgence and lie flat, we start getting the ol’ acid reflux feeling.  We sit up, burp, drink some water, rub our chest and grab for the Tums.  The self that is suffering says, ‘That’s it, I’m dieting tomorrow.  I can’t stand feeling like this, not for one more night.’  The next morning the self that wakes up is a different person who isn’t experiencing reflux, doesn’t have a distended belly and is hungry.  And, by God, hungry for some waffles, at that.  The feel-good morning self may not abide by the rules laid down by the refluxing self the night before."
This model of human behavior fits my experience of human behavior very closely.  The human animal is subject to much more unconscious control that we'd like to admit - why we don't like to admit that, I don't know.  Mike Eades does a nice job of delving into the topic and how it relates to changing one's eating patterns.  
As I have seen these patterns play out in more and more folks, I have been surprised to find that I keep seeing a few basic models from my college psychology courses:
1.  Approach avoidance conflict - you see something you want, you move towards it, as you get closer, some element of the encounter become fear producing (think of a squirrel taking a peanut from you hand).  You and/or the squirrel cycle back and forth through the zone between fear/attraction.  You want the cookie (beer, chips, whatever the high reward food is for you), you fear the obesity/sickness/death that you also associate to eating that food.  It may be at a party or the office, you resist mightily but have to keep struggling to stay away from the food, and it's tiring.  Eventually, approach wins out over avoidance, you eat the thing.  It doesn't even taste that good - you wonder why you put yourself through this stupid shit over a worthless piece of crap like a cookie/chip/beer - but over a lifetime, you've rewarded yourself with this food so many times, and the UCM's association to pleasure and that food is so strong, that it doesn't matter.  Like the folks pulling the arms of slot machines (no pleasure there, why do they keep doing it?), the pleasure experience of having won previously is great enough that you'll pull the damned arm 100 times with no reward, all the while driven by your unconscious mind's focus on getting the next dose of pleasure.  
2.  Learned helplessness - at some point, you have tried so many times to change that you think you cannot change; so why fight it?  
3.  The gambler's reward percentage - in this battle of your will (the rider) against the unconscious mind's associations (the elephant), there's a combination of rewards and pain.  IOW - the UCM's attraction to something, once it is strong, it isn't erased by one or even by ten negative experiences.  The gambling houses had it figured out long before the psychologists did.  There're a certain number of painful transactions you will go through (feeding quarters into a machine and pulling the arm only to not get anything), if the original pleasure reward was strong enough.  From memory, it seems like the ratio was around 40% of the time, if you get a reward, you'll keep pulling the slot machine arm.
In other words, the basic mechanism of the unconscious mind is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  Anyone who's had to do serious battle with their unconscious mind knows the difficulty of head to head battles; you can win, but only when it's the foremost thing in your mind.  Eventually, not eating the crappy food isn't that, and you revert to the old crap eating self.

The question for an adult who wants to take charge of their behavior then is - how do I train the "elephant"?  To have success you have to treat your unconscious mind like a dog or child and provide it with pleasure when you do the things you want to do more often, and no reward or pain as close in time as possible to the behaviors you don't want.  The former is much easier to do than the later.   
Everything you do or want or feel is a result of this internal pas de deux between your conscious and unconscious mind.  Getting your kids to do what you think is best for them is a "simple" matter of getting them to associate more pain to not doing it, and more pleasure to doing it - which is why we say "good job" when they pick up their clothes.  It's also why we interrupt them when they are doing something fun, and make them pick up their clothes, so they think "crap, wish I'd have just put this junk in the hamper in the first place."  Likewise, if you say "good dog" every time your dog sits and holds the posture with food in their face, the dog will associate the pleasure of "I'm about to eat!" with the sound "good dog".  Then, you can use "good dog" as a reward for anything the dog does that you like. 
If you can learn to train yourself in this way, you can get yourself to do anything, probably right up to the point of drowning yourself by sticking your head into a bucket and holding it there (not that I'm an advocate for that).  I'm not saying that learning how to train your elephant is easy or particularly fun, but like many things in life, it is a necessary pursuit, for which the rewards are high.  
I hope you have associated some pleasure to this idea.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Overweight? 68? Recovering from Heart Attack? WTF?!

That's what happened to Harvey.  Have a look at what he did to TRANSFORM his situation!

The Liver - The Metabolic Heavy Lifter

Another reason people have difficulty losing as they get older is that their livers don’t function as well.  As we get older we tend to have more aches and pains, and we take more Tylenol and Advil and similar OTC medications for them.  These drugs are metabolized in the liver, and, consequently, they consume some of the liver’s capacity.  Same goes for coffee.  No one likes coffee more than I.  But when I want to pick up my weight loss after I’ve gone off the wagon for a while, I cut back on my coffee.  Why?  Because caffeine is metabolized in the liver just like the above drugs.  It also consumes some of the liver’s capacity.  I switch to decaf for a few days whenever I’m getting back on the straight and narrow.  If you can’t stomach the thought of decaf coffee (and I don’t like it, myself) drink decaf Cafe Americano.  (Here is a YouTube on how to make an Americano starring yours truly.)  There is not as much difference (at least to my palate) between decaf and regular espresso than there is between decaf and regular coffee.  Finally, as we age, we tend to drink more.  Most people drink like fish during college, then slack off.  They start to pick it back up (never to college levels, though, thank God) as they drift into middle age.  Alcohol is detoxified in the liver just like caffeine and OTC pain relievers.  All these things add up to put quite a load on the liver.  And if you’ve regainded weight, you’ve probably got some fatty accumulation in your liver and it’s not working at peak levels anyway.  All these added substances that compromise the liver even more don’t help.

We think of the heart and brain as the biggest and most essential internal organs, but of course, it's just a matter of perspective.  The skin is the heaviest "organ" by weight, and the gut is clearly just as essential.  But the more I learn about all the functions the liver performs, the more clear it is - if you want health and you want to feel good, you better take it easy on your liver.

If you want to get fat, feel like crap, and get chronic disease sooner rather than later, try this:
- Consume alcohol daily, the more the better.  This puts the liver to work disposing of the toxin that is alcohol, which is a higher priority than the normal stuff your liver needs to do to keep you grooving along
- Take acetaminophen or NSAIDs daily, to dampen back the pains you'll get from the non-functioning liver.  These will help to make sure your liver doesn't recover from all the work it was doing to get rid of the booze
- Drink and eat as much sugar as possible.  The fructose half of sugar (whether it's the traditional white death, table sugar, or the cheaper and more easily produced high fructose corn syrup) requires the liver to transform it into fat (that's right, fructose has to be converted to fat for use by your body, although apparently cancer can use it as fructose as fructose is a potent agent for fermentation, which is how many cancers feed themselves).
- Beer apparently has many of the same issues as HFCS, so if you want to help speed along your liver disfunction, include beer often.  This will help also get high blood pressure and gout going.
- Don't sleep much or well.  This will help your body make more stress hormones, which will make you feel more hungry for carbage (the nasty carbs that will kill you).
- Eat carbs all day, every day, especially the carbs with sugar/HFCS.  This will surely bring on insulin resistance, if you have not accomplished that already.  That is both a result of a cause of liver disfunction.  Bottom line - you can't get blood sugar levels under control unless your liver is working well, and as you pile on the insults to the liver, it becomes less and less able to do what it has to do to make fat out of sugar and protect you from excess blood sugar.
- Never take walks or work out.  Exercise can help you consume the excess sugar that is produced by the carbage you just ate, and it makes you feel better too.  When you feel better, you are less vulnerable to eating carbage.

So, if you drink and you really want to gum up the works and make an environment that is trip wired for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, CVD and cancer, I prescribe:
- high quantities of beer or booze mixed with sugary drinks
- pain killers
- lots and lots of sugary foods
- crappy sleep
- no exercise
You could call this the High Speed Rail to Chronic Disease and a life of decrepitude.  All aboard?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

CrossFit Is Portable

And don’t think that just because you’re on the road travelling you can’t fit in your WOD (that’s the workout-of-the-day for all of you yet-to-be-CrossFitters).
“There’s a sense of being a member of ‘the box,’ which is what we call CrossFit gyms,” Pete says. “And probably every major city now has a CrossFit gym. Often when I’m in other cities I’ll only get charged a nominal drop-in fee—or no fee at all.”
Or just pack a skipping rope for the trip, then do handstand push-ups and single leg squats in your hotel room, and run around town jumping on ledges and taking advantage of the natural opportunities in the environment you’re in. “Take the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, for example,” Pete says. “That’s a workout that hits all energy systems. CrossFit is a workout based in everyday life movements, so you should always be able to find those around you.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

You Suck. You Have To Suck. If You Are Not Willing To Suck, You Fail

In October of 2006, Greg Glassman gave me the most important lesson of my life.  It has nothing to do with barbells or pull-ups, sweat or pain.  In fact, it has very little to do with exercise at all.
His words, paraphrased and non-profound: The pursuit of excellence is rewarded.

Simple and axiomatic, it would be easy to dismiss this lesson as self-help drivel.  Yet put into action, it is the most powerful thing on the planet.  It’s taken me two years to appreciate its potency, and ten short months to see its effects.

I’ve pared it down for my own use, coining a three-word phrase that reminds me that today is not just another day:  Better than yesterday.

From my friend and Again Faster owner Jon Gilson.  There may be a better approach for competitive athletes, I've never been one or coached one so I'm not the one to say.  But for a senior athlete, who trains to live vice living to train, there is no better mental alignment than "better today".

What you used to be able to do is just a fun memory.  The secret to being where you want to be is by focusing on daily effort.  The way to run faster is - run today.  The way to be fitter and feel better is - train today.

What if you suck? What if you are fat and out of shape?  What if you fear your own feelings about lack of performance?  No body cares about that.  Those habits of thought are the obstacles that are stopping you from being your better self tomorrow.  In fact, you have to suck.

You have to suck.  You have to suck, and tolerate sucking, in order to be better tomorrow.

There is no better tomorrow if you don't have the gumption to tolerate sucking wind today.

Do you have the guts to suck?  I'm going to suck today and relish it, it's the red badge of courage in life.  Face the demon, get to work, make an achievable goal and chase it.  Celebrate every win - even if it's just scratching your ass better than you used to - like you just won olympic gold.  Become addicted to making goals and accomplishing them. Your life, and your ability to influence other lives, is the stakes.

Be better than yesterday!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Magnesium: The Missing Link to Better Health

  • An estimated 80 percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium. The health consequences of deficiency can be quite significant, and can be aggravated by many, if not most, drug treatments
  • Magnesium performs a wide array of biological functions, including activating muscles and nerves and creating energy in your body by attaching adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • Magnesium is very important for heart health. Excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death
  • An ideal ratio between calcium and magnesium is thought to be 1:1. The recommended daily dose is around 700 milligrams of each
  • Anytime you're taking any of the following: magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3, or vitamin K2, you need to take all the others into consideration as well, as these nutrients work synergistically with one another

"While not addressed specifically in the featured video, I want to remind you that calcium and magnesium also needs to be balanced with vitamin D and K2. Many of Dr. Dean’s blogs address this issue and her concern that high dose vitamin D can overwork magnesium and lead to magnesium deficiency. 

These four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. Lack of balance between these nutrients is why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity.
Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you're K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places.

Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2 and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 and magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include inappropriate calcification.
Magnesium and vitamin K2 complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease. So, all in all, anytime you're taking any of the following: magnesium, calcium, vitamin D3, or vitamin K2, you need to take all the others into consideration as well, since these all work synergistically with one another."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

CrossFit Legend Dave Werner

CrossFit legend Dave Werner remembers that first grueling workout well.
It was early 2003, and the former SEAL had made a pilgrimage to Santa Cruz, Calif., where a former gymnast-turned-fitness guru named Greg Glassman was running a new gym called CrossFit.
“At the time, it was just this little local gym with a local guy who put his ideas up on the Web,” Werner says. “The first morning we were there, Greg grabbed his early-morning workout crew and took us all out to the local high school track.”
Glassman told everyone to do a 400-meter sprint, then 21 kettlebell swings, then 12 pullups. As fast as they could. And then do it all two more times.
“It kicked all of our butts,” Werner says. The first person finished in 11 minutes. Werner, still recovering from a back injury that ended his military career, was the slowest at just over 19 minutes.
“We all said, ‘Wow, that was a good one. We’ve got to remember that one.’” A few weeks later, Glassman christened the workout Helen.
This is a great read!  What "the girls" are what they are, and other awesome takeaways from one of CrossFit's oldest and best practitioners.

Friday, January 10, 2014

More Exercise, Less Mortality. "?"

""Exercise may be as good as drugs for heart disease, diabetesDec. 14, 2013 at 2:01 AM
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A meta-analysis found exercise may be as effective as drugs in helping patients with strokes, diabetes and heart disease, British and U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston and Stanford University School of Medicine in California conducted a meta-analysis of 305 research projects involving 340,000 patients diagnosed with one of four diseases: heart disease, chronic heart failure, stroke or pre-diabetes.
The researchers compared the mortality rates of those prescribed medication for common serious health conditions, with 57 studies involving 15,000 volunteers enrolled in exercise programs.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, found medication worked best for those with heart failure, but physical activity was at least as effective as the drugs which were normally prescribed for borderline diabetes, heart disease and might be better for stroke.
Although exercise seemed to be more effective than drug interventions in stroke rehabilitation, and diuretics seemed to be more effective than exercise interventions in heart failure treatment, these findings should be interpreted with caution given the scarceness of data and the different settings involved, the researchers wrote in the study.
Despite research suggesting regular physical activity could be "quite potent" in improving survival odds, but until more studies are done, patients should not stop taking their medications without taking medical advice, the researchers warned.""

These study results are very interesting.  The confounders:  What type of exercise?  How did they control for factors such as: those who eat the worst, highest carb diets, will feel the worst and will have the greatest inflammation, and so will likely exercise least.  IOW - the study would not detest that perhaps those who work out more often are the ones who already eat better than those who do not work out.  

In my experience, exercise if of minimal benefit if one's interest is simply fat loss.  To get the fat off your belly, you have to change how you eat.  But exercise is GREAT if you want to feel better, live better, and absolutely essential if you want to have a chance to end this ride on your own terms.

This abstract was forwarded to me by Dr. Lowell Gerber, you can learn about his fascinating cardiology practice here:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mike Eades, On Target

When I was a kid, I loved my maternal grandfather so much it hurt. He got sick once, and I started worrying that he might die. (He was in his mid sixties at the time, but he seemed old as a rock to me.) I stressed over the loss of him mightily. And must have looked really down in the mouth. Finally he asked me what was wrong. Why was I moping around? I told him that I was worried that he might die. He said to me, ‘Mike, don’t worry about that. I’m going to live until you’re way up in college.’ (He actually made it until I was 30.) I can’t tell you how much relief flooded over my young self on hearing those words. (It never occurred to me, of course, that he really couldn’t predict such a thing, but since I trusted him implicitly, I was assured of his long survival.)
I know my grandchildren feel the same about me. So, I don’t want to live a long time just so I’ll be around to watch them grow up – I want to live a long time so I’ll be there for them.
Thinking this way helps keep things in perspective, and it makes it a whole lot easier to avoid eating what I shouldn’t eat.
Brilliant post by Dr. Eades, and thanks to him.  I recommend you read the entire post.  We are all swimming in this pool in one way or another. 
"Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today."

CrossFit: Coach thyself — 4 tips on how to build good form and improve technique | PT365

Big gyms and good coaches are nice, Werner says, but you can do a lot to learn and refine basic technique on your on own, or with buddies in your unit.
“In the military especially, you typically have groups of guys working out together. They can do a very nice job of coaching each other. You don’t have to have an expert, outside coach,” he says. “Those are handy when you can get them, but not mandatory.”
Some of Werner’s tips to help you get started.
Train each other
Film yourself
Pay attention to the details 
Listen to the warning signs

This is a great little write up, I recommend you read it all.

I've met Dave, he used CrossFit to rebuild himself.  He's a very intense, very awesome gentleman.  I was in his gym when it was just transitioning to a new location - awesome to hear he has 500 members!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Notes to a Friend

It's invaluable to have a doc you can trust and yet, doctors have been saying cholesterol and fat intake is the problem in our diet, and that is factually incorrect. The medical profession lost their authority when they abandoned science, which never confirmed that cholesterol CAUSED heart disease.  Cholesterol is a weak predictor of disease, there is almost no benefit to mortality reduction from fat restriction.  The benefits of carb restriction are no longer disputable. I don't know how to help you except to say doctors are as human as any of us, and they no longer have access to more info than you and I do. I know you want to trust your doctor. I would to.

There are two things that may affect the "want a cookie" experience.  One is falling blood sugar - that probably triggers a habitual need for something to stop that from proceeding to blood sugar crash.  That's part of the sugar addiction cycle.  The other part is just an association to pleasure.  The unconscious mind (UCM) always wants to feel pleasure, avoid pain, that is what it does for you.  If cookies distract from pain (and think of the whole cookie eating experience is loaded with guilt, pleasure, surprise, taste, disappointment if its a bad one, etc - these are all great distractions), anytime the UCM can get away from pain by having you eat a cookie.  Obviously that's a short term win, long term loss for "net pain."  

In either case, the way to attenuate the impulse is to have something you can eat that does not derail your blood sugar, but that you like.  This can take a while to find since it's so different for each person.  I use coconut/macadamia nut in a spoon, or coconut and sunflower seeds.  When I'm as lean as I am now, I use coconut on dark chocolate (70% or more).  Sometimes, an egg or avocado will do it (avocado, with salt and champagne vinegar).  Bacon is good too!  Anything that is high in fat and tastes good to you will work.  Over time, this does two things.  One, you don't pit yourself against your hunger or your UCM - that's a losing formula.  Two, you dilute the association between pleasure and cookies.  Three, by not eating cookies it gives your liver time to heal and start processing carbs like it is supposed to

Q: Why would blood sugar be an issue when I'm eating good food?
A:  Hard to know.  Possibly - body expects a sugar bomb every time you eat, prepares by pumping insulin.  That's just a body habit like pavlov's dog, it will stop after eating "right" for long enough

There's a whole part of physiology that goes wrong for folks who eat carbs and especially sugar habitually.  Fat burning enzymes are a use it or lose it prospect, just like everything else in the body.  Your muscles and other tissues run well on fat except for the brain and a few other tissues.  When you don't use fat burning enzymes, the stores of these enzymes decrease.  Then, when you don't eat for a while, you can't convert to fat burning for very long.  The trick to get these stores back up to normal is to deprive your body of exogenous sugar for long enough that the body has to run on fat and rebuild the stores of enzymes in the process.  This can take 1-3 weeks.  It can also feel bad - plus, as you reduce your carb intake, your chronic insulin levels go down, and that allows your tissues to flush excess fluids.  That cycle means you can get low on electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium.  Even moderate dehydration can make a person hungry.  As you eat for health, initially, you have to deliberately drink more water with electrolytes (Smart Water is a good commercial product that does this).  

This is why the "extreme" low carb diets work especially well for reversing metabolic syndrome/diabetes - they keep blood sugar levels so low for so long that the body regains insulin sensitivity, and the liver can get rid of excess liver fat.  This allows the liver to regain insulin sensitivity too.  However, the dehydration/electrolytes issue can be very uncomfortable.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for you - your body needs the break from carbs so it can heal, but the heart rhythm issues could be worse in the short term due to electrolyte fluctuations.  You'd need to sip smart water all day long.  Once you get through the 3 week fat burning adaptation period, the appetite regulation, blood sugar regulation, better sleep, rapid weight loss (and all while eating a high fat snack anytime you feel hungry or just feel an impulse to eat) is amazing.  But it's super hard to do by yourself or if you have other demands (work, for example).  Much easier if you are doing this with others.  This is why CF can work so well for lifestyle change - community.

Part of the reason this is important to know is it explains why the idea of no bread no beans no corn tortillas seems so hard - you probably cannot burn fat so you have a true metabolic need for exogenous carbs.  That doesn't always have to be that way, getting fat adapted changes that.

Eat meat, vegetables, nuts/seeds, little fruit/starch, no sugar/wheat, and all the fat you can shove down your pie hole.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

American Council on Exercise study: CrossFit Works! | PT365

“You look at the intensity of CrossFit and it’s off the charts,” says lead researcher John P. Porcari, head of the university’s Clinical Exercise Physiology program. While workouts were completed in less than 12 minutes, subjects still burned an average of 115.8 calories while nearly maxing out VO measurements and spiking blood lactate to more than three times the average.
“The thing we’ve seen with a lot of these workouts is you go flat-out as fast as you can, but then your form falls apart. You really need to be technically correct with a lot of these exercises or else you’re going to get hurt,” Porcari says. “And it’s nice to be competitive with other CrossFitters, but at what point are you pushing yourself outside the realm of safety?”
The findings are certainly no surprise to Dave Werner.
“For those two WODs, 80 percent of VO2 Max sounds about right,” Werner says. “That means those guys are pushing nearly as a hard as they can.”

The interesting thing about the technique comment is, that while it's all true, it's not the simple thing that one would think.  Technique is never perfect, and you can get a lot of fitness from CrossFit with some fairly rotten technique.  Better technique is better, but doing it "wrong" is better than not doing it at all.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why Dirt Matters to Your Health | Soil Quality

Dr. Miller cites research in her article that all point in the same direction—healthy "living" soils make for food with better nutrient content. And by "living," I mean soils that are teeming with microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and microscopic roundworms called nematodes.
Far from being scourges to be avoided at all cost, microorganisms are an essential component of life. We now understand that it is the cooperationbetween these microorganisms, the soil's biome, and the plants' roots, called rhizosphere that is ultimately responsible for allowing the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil in which it's grown.
Insects and weeds also have their place in this circle of life. According to soil scientist Dr. Arden Andersen, insects are nature's garbage collectors. Thanks to their specialized digestive systems, which differ from ours, they remove that which is not fit for us to eat—things we cannot digest.
And weeds are nature's way of evolving the soil—it's an intermediate plant that mobilizes nutrients in order to alter the soil, making it more suitable for the next evolutionary level of plants to grow in it.
Once you understand this natural cycle, it allows you to address food quality, weeds, insects, and plant disease at its point of origination, without ever resorting to chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetic engineering.

Understanding about the bugs - in your gut and in the soil your food comes from - is going to be the next wave in understanding how to be a thriving human being.