Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I Ditched Paleo

It was a little over three years ago when I first heard of the concept of the Paleo Diet. I was introduced to it through a podcast on Underground Wellness interviewing Mark Sisson, the author of the Primal Blueprint. I had never thought about diet in the way that Mark did, and I was immediately fascinated by his approach. You mean we were healthier before we adopted agriculture? And we didn't eat grains, legumes, and dairy?? Interesting. I had just finished reading Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories", so the low-carb approach was firmly in my radar. Things seemed like they were beginning to come together.

In the next few months, I would dive head first into this Paleo/Primal diet concept... I found Robb Wolf's podcast, I read Dr. Cordain's original Paleo Diet book, I discovered several paleo-related blogs... I began to immerse myself in the paleo world. I even wrote a research paper for a class I was taking in Italy in my study abroad experience, called "The Health Benefits of Eating a Paleolithic Diet". No question, I became a paleo machine. I even started this here blog soon after; it all began as a place where I could express my contrarian opinions thoughtfully and back it up with scientific research. I felt like I needed to prove I was right, because everyone in my world thought I was wrong. (I never took on the "paleo" name though... it's as if I knew my position might change some day)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New YouTube Channel: Cooking With Gram

Hi guys, just wanted to notify everyone of my new YouTube channel that I started today. It's called Cooking With Gram; the idea is that I'll be making recipes and showing some cooking tips with my adorable grandma. Eventually, I'll be doing other videos too, maybe some nutrition education videos, some practical healthy eating tips, etc. Anyway, check it out, like it on YouTube, and subscribe!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sodium Content of Food: You're Being Deceived. Again.

<3 Salt
It has come to my attention, based on talking to people about their nutrition concerns, that many of us are completely clueless to how much sodium is in food. It's not your fault. There are many reasons why your perception of the sodium content of a food might be skewed. For one, just because something tastes salty doesn't necessarily mean it's high in sodium. Yes, really. Another thing: A product that says "lower in sodium" or "less sodium" does not necessarily have a low sodium content. It may just have less sodium than another similar product but still contain a lot of it. And also, many foods that don't have a salty taste at all might contain more sodium than you think!

Now, there's a caveat with this... because I don't think sodium intake is something you should be overly concerned with. I've written on this extensively in the past (see The Problem With Salt Restriction, How to Prevent High Blood Pressure, and A Snarky Rant on Sodium and Blood Pressure). It's not as important for keeping a healthy blood pressure as you think it is.

Regardless, there are many people out there who will completely ignore this advice because their doctor and the media say otherwise. Fine. If you're going to worry about sodium intake, I can at least provide you with some useful tips.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

Stressed? This may be the root cause of your heart disease.
And now for the important part: how to prevent heart disease. In my last post, I made the point that most heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels. In the study I cited, which analyzed 65,396 patients hospitalized for heart disease, the average cholesterol level was a "healthy" 170 mg/dl. Not exactly what you'd expect to see based on our cholesterol-phobic society. Obviously, there's something else going on in the development of heart disease other than just your cholesterol level. 

Some of these factors are uncontrollable. For instance, just being a man increases my statistical risk for heart disease. So does my family history. There's nothing I can do to change that, unless I decided to become a woman. Something tells me that still wouldn't change my risk, but that's besides the point. Here are the things you CAN control, and some quick tips on just how to take care of it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Most Heart Attack Victims Have Normal Cholesterol Levels

It's been too long since I've spoken about cholesterol, too long I tell you. For those of you who don't know, I would sum up my view on cholesterol like this: it's the most overhyped risk factor for heart disease there is. All you hear in the media is "Watch your cholesterol!" or "Cheerios lower cholesterol!" or "This food is cholesterol-free, so it's good for you!". Bollocks. Bollocks I say.

First of all, the cholesterol in the food you eat barely has any effect on the cholesterol in your blood, if it has any effect at all. And second, let's set the record straight on "high cholesterol"... please for the love of God, quit worrying about it. Your total cholesterol is just about meaningless unless it's taken in context with your triglycerides, HDL, and LDL... even better, your LDL particle number. Despite having no real, accurate clinical implications though, "high cholesterol" has taken on this sort-of boogey man role, scaring every health-conscious person into Lipitor land.

Anyway, I came across something today that was just too good not to write about; this stuff needs to be shared. This study was designed to analyze lipid-lowering therapy, but that's not the part I want to talk about here; it's the cholesterol levels of the patients that piqued my interest. The researchers examined 65,396 patients hospitalized for heart disease (heart attack or angina) across the United States. Below you'll find a screenshot of the baseline blood lipid data, taken within the first 24 hours of admission. You would expect, based on what you think you know, that heart disease patients must have had high cholesterol, right?