Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: 3 Things You Can Do to Be Successful

So I've been thinking a lot lately about New Year's Resolutions, and why they so often fail.  I see it every year in the gym... As soon as January 2nd hits, that place turns into a mad house, a clusterfuck if you will.  A clusterfuck full of everyday, hardworking people who have been neglecting their health all year long, especially over the recent holiday season, and are now determined to get in shape and lose weight.  But this clusterfuck never lasts.  It slowly ebbs away as the winter months go on, finally reaching a low in the Spring and Summer when the weather is nice and people return to their normal lives.  Hey, at least it gives people something to focus on other than the harshness of post-holiday Winter.

Of course not everyone fails in their New Year's Resolutions; about 12% of us succeed, according to a 2007 study (1).  That's right... just 12% succeed...  88% fail.  This year, 9 out of 10 of us will fail with our resolutions.  And what do we want?  No surprise, weight loss tops the list (2).

Why the horrible success rate?  Why do we fail at our goals to begin with?  And how can we be successful?  After some serious reading and thinking, I've come up with the following:  three things you can do to succeed in your New Year's resolution this year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Christmas Cookies and Heroin Have in Common

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone!  And if you don't celebrate Christmas, then you know what I mean... don't be all hypersensitive and get offended.  The way I see it, if someone said "Happy Hanukkah" to me, I wouldn't take offense, and I'd wish them a Happy Hanukkah back.  When someone wishes you a happy-anything, why would you inject negativity into the situation?  Besides, Christmas has become more than a Christian holiday; I don't really consider myself a Christian to be honest (at least not in the traditional sense), it's just a cultural thing to me, and it's a tradition in my family.  So that's my take.  Of course, this has nothing to do with today's post, but screw it, I needed to get that out there.  Stop being so sensitive.  I'm only disrespecting you if you take it that way. 

So today, I just want to briefly talk about something I read about on Whole Health Source about food and opioid receptors.  The opioid receptors, just like they sound, are the receptors in the brain that are hijacked when you take drugs like heroin.  They're responsible for the addictive nature of drugs.  This "reward" system is what calls at you to have a cigarette, snort some coke, or inject some heroin.  And the more you do it the more you want it.

But this wiring in your brain has a practical purpose; it's not there solely to make sure you end up living in a cardboard box with nothing but your dog and your needles.  Although it's pretty good at that too.  But it's there to encourage behaviors that promote your survival, so that you'll continue to do them.  Like eating food for example.  Obviously, eating is important for survival, so this reward system encourages us to eat foods high in calories and important nutrients.  Eating grass wouldn't get us anywhere; there's no calories for us in grass, and that's why you don't crave it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Fix Cavities Naturally

If I polled 100 random people out on the street… if I asked them “Is it possible to reverse cavities?  No dentist, no fillings, do you think you can heal cavities with food and supplements?”  I’d be willing to bet 99 of out of 100 would say no.  Maybe more.  Maybe 99.5 if there was a little person around.  In fact they’d probably think I was out of my mind for asking.  Many of us haven’t even thought about the prospect of healing cavities; why would we?  It’s been jammed into our heads from birth that when you have a cavity, you get a filling.  And that’s all there is to it.  I had several cavities as a kid.  Actually, “several” may be an understatement.  It was too many to count, but I do remember one specific visit to the dentist that revealed seven cavities.  SEVEN!  And now I’ve got a mouth full of fillings made of mercury and heavy metals... definitely not something I'd prefer to have permanently situated in my mouth.  But as anyone who’s ever had a cavity knows, there’s not typically any pain associated with them.  Sure they can develop into something worse, like an infection, but there’s no pressing reason to get a filling.  I would have appreciated it if someone suggested to me that I could try a more natural approach.

So that’s why I’m writing this article, and that’s why this information is so important.  It IS possible to heal your teeth naturally.  And not only is it possible, it’s surprisingly easy.  I’m not sure exactly why this information has disappeared over time; I assume it has something to do with the fact that it would ruin the dental industry.  But this is something you need to know.  This is something everyone needs to know.  You have options.  You CAN re-mineralize your teeth, and here are the people that proved it...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Why It's So Important to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

It's that time again, folks.  The best time of the year.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years... the holiday season.  There's just nothing like it... turkey dinners, Christmas trees, the snow, the gift of giving, the time spent with family.  I look forward to it every year.  But step inside the psyche of any health-conscious person this time of year, and you may find a war zone:

"I love apple pie, but I don't want any.  I don't want it.  It goes right to my butt.  God, look at it... it's gawking at me.  Ahhh okay I'll have a slice.  ONE slice.  Just one slice and I'll stop.  This is the year I keep my weight under control during the holidays.  Oh god that was good.  Shit girl, give me another.  This is better than sex, oh my god.  The apple pie god.  I love him, he who created apple pie.  Screw butt fat, whatever.  Men like big butts anyway... they cannot lie."

Right?  We all know the holiday season presents a problem.  Excessively yummy food + great people + alcohol = weight gain.  It happens every year... and come the New Year?  Resolutions abound.  Gyms explode with new members, we eat less, and we try to right the wrongs of the past few months.  But, as anyone who has done this probably knows, that weight doesn't come off with the same ease at which it was put on, and rarely does it stay off.

And that's the point of this post.  I want to explain to you why that weight won't stay off, and why, consequently, it's so important to prevent the weight gain to begin with.  Saddle up partner...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Are Food Allergies on the Rise? Part 2: Modern Wheat

In this second installment of my food allergy series, I want to focus on wheat specifically.  As you may know, celiac disease is a destructive disease caused by an immune reaction to gluten, a protein in wheat.  In recent years, the prevalence of celiac has been rising; today it is about four times more common than it had been in the 1950s.  According to recent estimates, about 1% of the population suffers from this disease, many of which are still undiagnosed (1, 2).  But still more people suffer from something called gluten sensitivity.  While not a true allergy, gluten sensitivity can manifest in a variety of ways... chronic migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia... you know, all those pesky, seemingly random conditions that you're told you have when your symptoms don't fit neatly into a real disease.  According to the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, gluten sensitivity affects 7% of Americans (3).  But some estimates have been as high as 15-20%.  Researchers and practitioners agree that gluten sensitivity is far more common today than ever before. 

Very likely about 1 in 10 Americans have some adverse, acute reaction to eating wheat.  So what gives?  Why the sudden problem?

The story of modern wheat is a fascinating one.  It's something I've never seen discussed in any mainstream media outlet, but the reasons for that will become clear later.  Quite frankly, I didn't believe it when I first read about it in "Wheat Belly", mostly because it's a horribly biased book based on scientific fairy tales.  I dislike it so much I won't even link to it.  Don't bother.  But a recent Mark's Daily Apple article has convinced me that it's true... The wheat and flour products we eat today are distinctly different than what we've eaten in the past.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Without Drugs

I want to tell you about a patient I had in my clinical rotation at UConn Health Center.  She was in her 60's, and she was hospitalized following a surgical procedure to fix a pericardial effusion (fluid buildup around the heart).  Other than this acute issue, she had very few health problems, and nothing heart-related.  What she did suffer from, however, was rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a nasty autoimmune, inflammatory disease in which the body attacks its own cells in joints, often in the hands or feet.  Over time, this can lead to deformities in the structure of the hands and feet, like here:

And this is what her hands looked like.  I asked her if her RA bothered her in everyday life, and she said only rarely.  But I saw her hands.  Maybe she could perform easy tasks without any trouble, but she's not opening a jar of tomato sauce any time soon.  Of course, this patient was being treated the same way most RA patients are treated:  with glucocorticoids like Prednisone.  But drugs like Prednisone come along with approximately 4,732 serious side effects, such as increased blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings, osteoporosis, increased risk of infection, and diabetes.  Not exactly "safe" over the long-term.

I am fully aware that a paleo-type diet would help her control her RA; I thought long and hard about whether or not to bring it up with her.  But in the end I didn't, because I'm a student, and paleo isn't exactly protocol at UConn Health Center.  Besides, she eats a super-low-fat, cholesterol-is-deadly, 80s-style diet, full of egg beaters and vegan sausage.  (Her total cholesterol was an extremely low 87 mg/dl by the way, something none of the doctors seemed to be even remotely worried about *palmtoforehead*).  I wasn't about to broach that subject with a 10-foot-pole.  She wouldn't have believed me, and my preceptor never would have signed off on it anyway.

Ironically, later on that week, I listened to a Chris Kresser podcast in which he discussed how he treats RA using diet and supplements.  No Prednisone.  No side effects.  This is the information my patient really needed, along with everyone else who suffers from this debilitating disease.  This is how you get to the root cause of RA and fix it, not simply cover it up with corticosteroids. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Prop 37, Labeling GMO Foods, and the Evilness of Monsanto

Okay that's it.  I've had it up to HERE with Monsanto and their shenanigans.  Who is Monsanto, you may ask?  The giant biotech company producing most of the genetically modified foods here in this country (and probably the world).  Yes, genetically modified foods, or GM foods, or GMOs.  Any of those.  Those franken-foods created in a lab and fed to the United States citizens without their knowledge.  If you're slightly confused and need a basic education on GMOs, look through my previous blog post here.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the state of California had the opportunity this past week to vote to have genetically modified foods labeled.  Seems like common sense, don't the people have a right to know what they're eating?  Shouldn't you and I have the right to know if what we're eating came from nature, or if that tomato was created from DNA found in a maggot eating the feces of a retarded sloth?  I'd like to know.  But they voted NO!  They voted to allow Monsanto, Dow, and the big food producers to feed YOU genetically modified foods, and NOT tell you about it.  This makes me very angry.  Which makes my writing significantly more interesting to read.  So read on.

Why on earth, you may ask, would anyone be opposed to labeling GM foods?  It seems like an obvious right-to-know case.  And quite frankly, it is.  Unless... somebody has a shit ton of money lying around to change that.  Somebody who would lose a great deal of that money if Californians happened to vote yes on that ballot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Are Food Allergies on the Rise? Part 1: GMOs

If you've worked with kids lately, or if you're a new parent yourself, then I'm sure you know all about this epidemic of food allergies.  According to a 2011 study, 8% of American children under 18 have at least one food allergy, and that is up from 4% in 2009 (1).  Peanut allergies in particular have been on the rise.  In one Midwestern county, the prevalence of peanut allergies in children tripled between 1999 and 2007 (2).  But you don't need numbers to realize it's a problem.  Just spend a day in a school cafeteria.  Or a summer camp.  Just enter an elementary school classroom at all and you'll hear about it; the concern is clearly growing.  Dairy may be the most common allergy, and it seems kids can have a reaction just looking at a peanut, but there are others to worry about as well, including wheat, eggs, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

But it wasn't always this way.  When I was a youngster, I don't recall ever hearing about another kid having a food allergy.  Maybe the most I ever heard was that a classmate was lactose intolerant.  But there was no mention of peanuts.  Nobody had a wheat allergy.  Nobody went into anaphylactic shock at the mercy of a pistachio.  So what gives?? Why are food allergies exploding?

Well, sadly I don't think we know the answer to that question.  Much has changed in the food and health world over the past few decades, so we have many likely culprits.  Over these next few posts, I'll be exploring the options, in a sort of thinking-out-loud fashion.  Excuse me if what follows turns into an incoherent mess.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Coca-Cola Polar Bears

Welp, looks like all those years of drinking Coke has finally caught up to the polar bears.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegetarians Live Longer than Meat-Eaters

You may be shocked by the title of this post.  Have I changed my tune?  Am I finally giving up meat and going vegan??  Fear not, my friends, it's simply a catchy title I used to draw you in. But it is the topic of an article I read today entitled "Vegetarians have longer life expectancy than meat eaters, study finds".  The study they're referring to is one that followed 96,000 Canadian citizens, thousands of which were Seventh-day Adventists, who are vegetarians (supposedly).  The study isn't yet complete, but the preliminary results were reported at last weekend's Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE) in Philadelphia.  Although I was in attendance at the conference, I did not see the presentation on this Seventh-day Adventist study.  I would have loved to be there, but instead I chose to see a lecture on food blogging, which, incidentally, I am doing right now.  Unfortunately I couldn't be everywhere at once... and I'm fresh out of time travel crystals.

So I was happy to come across this article today and find out what I missed.  Here's the lowdown... Seventh-day Adventist men lived on average 9.5 years longer than other men, and women lived on average 6.1 years longer than other women.  That's a pretty significant chunk of extra life.  But is it the vegetarian diet?  Or is is something else that keeps them truckin'?  Maybe we should learn a little more about these Adventists...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Everything You Need to Know About Cholesterol, LDL, and Heart Disease

Ah, back to cholesterol.  I know I've written about cholesterol a lot in the past, but this one is a game changer.  This information blows the doors off the current thinking in the cholesterol-heart-disease world, and it'll change the way you think about cholesterol.  (Credit goes to Dr. Peter Attia, whose presentation at AHS 2012 just blew my mind.  His 10-part series The Straight Dope on Cholesterol is here, and the shortened version on Mark's Daily Apple is here and here.)  What if I told you that the standard cholesterol test your doctor orders for you is useless? And what if I said it's not cholesterol that's important for heart disease risk, it's the LDL particle itself?

Okay, now you're probably thinking Hey Burn!  LDL is cholesterol, it's the bad cholesterol!  Ugh.  Before I go any further, we need to go over some basics.  Cholesterol is cholesterol.  There is no "good" and "bad".  Cholesterol is only one thing, and it's vitally important to every cell in your body.  LDL and HDL are something different.  They're not cholesterol at all, rather they are the molecules that carry cholesterol (and other fats) throughout the body to places where it is needed.  Cholesterol can't just float around the blood by itself; it needs a carrier.  Just imagine LDL as the "boat", and think of cholesterol as the "cargo".  Here's a nice little diagram of an LDL particle.  This little guy will be the subject of today's post.

The LDL particle, chock full of cholesterol.

You can see here that the LDL particle is full of cholesterol.  LDL particles can vary in how much cholesterol they hold, and their size is proportional in this way.  Small ones hold smaller amounts of cholesterol, while larger ones hold more cholesterol.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meatloaf Enhancer and the Tragedy of Nursing Home Food

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of doing some internship hours at a local nursing home.  Or "long-term care facility"; it seems like the term nursing home is frowned upon and/or avoided.  Not sure when that changed.  But anyway, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of nursing home food service.  As you know, elderly adults living in these long-term care facilities get nearly all of their food from the kitchen there.  And now that I've spent a few weeks in the dietary department, I can safely say that I'd rather be dead than subsisting on this non-food garbage for my last remaining years.

Exaggeration?  Absolutely not.  This shit isn't even food.  Example #1...  My first day in the nursing home.  I'm watching the cook prepare some meatloaf for that night's dinner.  He opens a 10 pound package of ground beef and dumps it into the big mixer.  Next, I'm expecting to see some chopped onions, garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, carrots, butter, etc.  You know, the stuff you put in meatloaf.  But NO.  Nothing could have prepared me for the abomination that came next.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Meatloaf Enhancer...

26 oz. of powder, ready to enhance meatloaf on your command.  Just add one packet to 10 pounds of ground beef, put it in the oven, and you're done!  Why use fresh vegetables and real food ingredients when you can get everything you need in a convenient shelf-stable pouch?  Oh god where do I even fucking begin... 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

AHS 2012 Part 3: Nutritionism, Denise Minger on Organ Meats, and Terry Wahls' MS

And we're back for part 3 of the AHS talk.  Again, that's the Ancestral Health Symposium, not the American Hemerocallis Society, the American Helicopter Society, nor the American Headache Society, all of which come up ahead of Ancestral Health Symposium in a Google search.  That needs to change.  On to the discussion...

Two Ways of Looking at a Food: Nutritionism vs. A Whole Foods Perspective
This wasn't a topic that was covered specifically at the symposium, but some of the presentations touched on it, and that made it a frequent topic of discussion with my friends and I (Amanda at Inspired. and Matthew at  First there was Mat Lalonde's talk about his new system for measuring nutrient density, in which he made bacon look pretty darn nutritious.  Cool with me.  I liked it far more than the ANDI score system used at Whole Foods, or the NuVal system used at conventional grocery stores, but it was very apparent by the end of his talk that there is no perfect system to quantify the nutrient density of food.  Then there was Peter Ballerstedt's talk about grass-fed meat, his main point being that the nutritional differences between grass-fed and grain-fed meat are negligible.

So these two talks generated some discussion about this reductionist perspective of nutrition.  Or "nutritionism", if you will.  You can measure the nutrients in a food and try to rank its healthiness, but what ultimately matters is the effect this food has on your body as a whole.

A couple of examples... Firstly, I appreciated Dr. Ballerstedt's point, that the nutritional difference between grass-fed and grain-fed meat is insignificant.  He mainly focused on the difference in omega-3 fatty acids.  And he may be right, there isn't that much more omega-3 in grass-fed meat.  But does it matter?  A 2011 study, for example, found that eating grass-fed beef significantly increases the composition of omega-3 fatty acids in plasma and platelet, while eating grain-fed beef actually reduced their omega-3 content (1).

Then there's the whole grain thing, which I blogged about recently.  Despite being high in antioxidant nutrients (vitamin B6, folate, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and cysteine), whole grains have zero effect on your body's total antioxidant capacity (2). 

So, you can talk all day about a food being more nutritious or less nutritious than another, but at the end of the day you're guessing.  Okay, that's not quite fair.  It's an educated guess.  But nutrient composition isn't everything.  We don't really know how food acts in our bodies until we study it.  Nutrient density can be a great guide, but it's not the end-all-be-all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

AHS 2012 Part 2: Mark and Robb, Gut Health and Obesity, and Lustig Talks Sugar. Again.

And I'm back for part 2 of my AHS 2012 review.  Read part 1 if you missed it.  And no, this blog is not about AHS, the leader among home warranty providers.  It's the Ancestral Health Symposium.  Only the biggest event in the paleo nutrition world, everyone knows that.  Now read......

Can you believe Mark Sisson is 60?  I guess this paleo thing works.
Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf Q&A
This was another highlight of the weekend, in which Mark and Robb took questions from the audience.  It was only a 40 minute session, but I could have listened to this for hours.  I honestly don't remember what any of the questions were, so I guess I don't have much to talk about here, but they were very engaging and hilarious.  Great stuff.  I would love to spend a night socializing with these guys over NorCal margaritas.

Gut Health and Obesity
Stephan Guyenet's talk on gut health and obesity was just fascinating.  He's been one of my favorite people in the paleo community for a while now, I've learned so much valuable information from his blog.  The gist of his talk, from what I can remember, was on how your intestinal health affects your propensity to gain weight.  And he made a major distinction between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat (visceral being the fat gained within the abdominal cavity, and subcutaneous fat being fat located under the skin).  There's a big difference.  A person with more visceral fat will be at much higher risk for metabolic abnormalities and chronic disease, while someone with mostly subcutaneous fat is likely to be metabolically healthy, regardless of the fact that they're obese.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

AHS 2012 Part 1: Safe Starches and LDL-C vs. LDL-P

So this past weekend, I was able to attend AHS 2012 in Cambridge, MA.  For those of you who don't know, the Ancestral Health Symposium is an annual event that began last year, and it brings together all of the most well-known people in the paleo community for a weekend full of lectures, debates, paleo food, and apparently, large amounts of free chocolate and coffee.  Or maybe it was only me who spent half the conference eating free dark chocolate samples and drinking americanos.  Oh well, coffee is life.

Caveman chocolate.

It was a great weekend, and I got to meet some great people who I've learned so much from over the past couple of years.  Stephan Guyenet, Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, just to name a few.  Also got to meet Laura from Ancestralize Me, which was great because she's also on the RD track and I love bitching about My Plate.  I did NOT get to meet Robb Wolf, which I was really disappointed in since he's sort of the ring leader of this whole paleo movement.  Maybe next time.  I was so pleasantly surprised to learn how down to earth and approachable these people were.  Despite their status in the community, they were willing to socialize with everyone and blend in.  I really appreciated their everydayness.

Anyway, over the next few days I'll be discussing my thoughts on some of the main topics from AHS this year, and also talk about the event as a whole and what it means for the future of the paleo community. So without further ado...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whole Grain Destruction

Bread... destroyed
Aaand back to the sciencey posts.  I do like the more philosophical rant posts, but truthfully, I get my jollies off in two ways... reading about scientific research and drinking endless coffee (take note ladies).  Consider both covered.  Big nerd?  Probably.  Bored because the weather is shitty and everyone I know is at work?  Absolutely.

Today’s topic is grains.  More specifically, whole grains.  Many of you may know my stance on grains; I think they’re nutritionally useless, potentially harmful, and they often displace the more nutritious foods we could be eating (ie. fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood).   But today, I offer more convincing evidence against grains in the form of randomized, controlled scientific research.  Yup, the gold standard.

Let’s go over the levels of scientific evidence, just briefly so no one's confused.  For my purposes today, I’ll be talking about two types of study designs: epidemiological research and randomized, controlled trials.  The weaker of the two is epidemiological research.  In this type of study, participants are recruited, asked about their dietary patterns, and followed for a period of time to see who lives and who gets sick and/or dies.  It's observational in nature, and you can't infer cause and effect.  Blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc... the best you can do is to find a connection between two variables.  For instance, you might see that people who eat more whole grains tend to have less incidence of cardiovascular disease (1,2).  That doesn’t mean eating whole grains caused a reduction in heart disease; it just means the two happened at the same time.  It could be, instead, that people who consume more whole grains are typically more health conscious.  So in addition to eating whole grains, they exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables, and choose not to smoke.  Maybe the grains were just along for the ride, while the other variables were what really mattered.  There's no way to know for sure.  

What you can do, though, is use this information to set up a randomized, controlled trial. In this type of study, you can isolate one variable that you think is important, like whole grains, so that you can determine cause and effect.  You need a control group, which would eat refined grains (or no grains), and an experimental group, which would eat whole grains.  Then, you can measure the difference in health outcomes; maybe vitamin/mineral status, blood sugar control, or risk of heart disease.  The key, in this case, is that you have a much clearer idea of causality. 

The point is, randomized, controlled trials trump epidemiological research.  Which is why I'm so glad I found this article by Anthony Colpo, in which he discusses all of this randomized, controlled research on grains.  There's a reason why the only research you hear to support whole grains is observational... because the controlled trials destroy them.  In fact, whole grains may be even worse than the refined variety.  Feast your eyes on this here research...

Friday, July 20, 2012

When Eating Junk is Good For You, or, Keeping Health in Perspective

Junk food is good?  Well sort of.  This is something that's been on my mind for a while now, and it's time I put it to paper.  I wouldn't call it a rant.  It can't be, because I had to write it and rewrite it 3 times before it came out the way you see it now. I suppose you could call it a life lesson.  From a wise old man.  I did recently turn 27 after all.  You see I've done a lot of experimenting with my diet.  I've done low-carb diets, low-fat diets, paleo diets, strict autoimmune protocol paleo diets, plant-based diets... all of which had major restrictions on the food I could eat.  It takes a lot of willpower to stay on a strict diet, and society doesn't help either, always pushing junk food on us.  But the hardest part of staying on a diet?  For me, it was the social consequences.  Being on a strict diet has a tendency to make you a weirdo.  And I hate being the weirdo.

But I'll get back to that weirdo thing.  Let me first say this:  if you're trying to optimize your nutrition, there are some foods that you should never eat.  I truly believe that everyone would benefit from eliminating grains, refined sugars, factory-farmed animal products, refined vegetable oils, and processed foods.  But there's a problem.  These foods are everywhere.  In fact, these are the five foods that our American diet is based on.  You don't even have to take my word for it... here's a list from the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines of the top 25 sources of calories in the United States.  Give it a looksie, it's a pretty sad list.  In fact, all 25 items in the list are based on one of those five foods mentioned above.  ALL of them.

In my opinion, we would all do better on a diet made up of fruits, vegetables, pastured animal products, wild fish, coconut, tubers, and potatoes.  You can call it real food, paleo, primal, ancestral... whatever floats your boat.  But no matter how you slice it, these foods aren't readily available in today's world.  You can't go to 7-11 and get a grass-fed rib eye, complete with a side salad made of organic veggies and an extra-virgin olive oil dressing.  Chances are you can't go anywhere within a reasonable distance and get that.  In addition, most of your friends don't eat this way, so it might be difficult to eat healthy in social situations.  It takes planning and effort if you're going to eat well.  It's the unfortunate truth... our food culture is set up for ease and convenience, not health.

But these societal norms do exist.  They're real, and they matter.  And it's because of these realities, that I make this statement... sometimes you're better off eating junk.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Have High Cholesterol and I Don't Care

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may know that I love to talk about cholesterol.  You know about my many blog posts on the falsity of the lipid hypothesis, the idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease.  It's been by far the most covered topic on my blog (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).  It's always been a major topic of interest to me, because I feel so strongly that people are being misled when it comes to cholesterol.  It's my view that high cholesterol (recognized by most doctors as higher than 200 mg/dl) is completely overrated as a risk factor for heart disease, and that cholesterol-lowering drugs are unnecessary/useless/potentially harmful for 95% of the population.  Everyone is always so damn worried about their cholesterol, and they don't need to be.  So I'm "that guy".  I'm the guy who scoffs at doctors when they prescribe statin drugs for women with cholesterol levels of 210.  I'm the guy who shakes his head when an otherwise healthy person returns from the doctor's office upset about having high cholesterol.  And I'm DEFINITELY the guy who laughs when you start eating egg white omelets every morning to fix it.  That's just hilarious in so many ways.

What in holy hell...

Now it's one thing to challenge the mainstream ideas on blood lipids; anybody can read books and come up with a take on it.  But it's a totally different animal when you find out that YOU have high cholesterol... very high.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crossfit, Bodybuilding, and Getting Girls to Sleep With You

As many of you know, I've been crossfitting for a good while now, and I love it.  It's given me a completely new outlook on fitness; I have a much more performance-based mentality than I used to.  Whereas I used to care mostly about having nice pecs and biceps (curls for the girls), I now concern myself with more worthwhile goals, like lifting heavy shit over my head, doing lots of pullups, and training my body to move the way it's designed to move.  Sure, looking good naked is a nice side effect, but that's not why I do it.  For simplicity, here's a short summary of the differences between crossfit and what everyone else is doing...

Crossfit approach:  Performance oriented.  Get faster and stronger.  Do fundamental exercises like squats, deadlifts, and presses, which will produce strength that translates into real life activities.  Do more work in less time, use proper form, and train your body to be an athletic machine.  Build strength, power, endurance, and athleticism. 

Bodybuilding/general gym approach:  Work out to look good.  Do silly things like bicep curls and leg extensions.  Use the elliptical machine for cardio.  Work your muscles groups individually, in isolation from the body as a whole.  Whack off to yourself in the mirror.  

And now that I have this new crossfit mentality, I have to admit... I'm a little embarrassed.  I'm embarrassed because for so long, my only motive for working out was to look good; I can't believe I was ever so vain.  And this is, in my now older and wiser mind, not the way to look at fitness.  It gives me and everyone else in the performance realm a bad name... including crossfitters, power lifters, track athletes, endurance athletes, and anyone else who has real, substantial goals that aren't rooted in narcissism.  Unfortunately, most avid gym-goers are still stuck in this bodybuilding mentality, only working out for aesthetic purposes, to look good for others.  In other words, they're not doing it for themselves... they're doing it for other people.  And here's what's wrong with it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bacon Ice Cream, Counting Fat, and Shut the F Up

A couple of things have been irritating me on this Thursday morning.  First, the clouds.  Today was supposed to be sunny, at least according to my iPhone.  I was planning on spending the morning outside and soaking up some vitamin D.  Thank you iPhone for lying to me, and thank you clouds for being sons of bitches.  Secondly though, is Burger King's new Bacon Ice Cream Thingy.  Who in holy hell came up with this thing?  Bacon on ice cream?  That's retarded.  But do you want to know what's even more retarded?  The author of that article's concern about the fat content of the Bacon Ice Cream Thingy.  Oh my god, 510 calories and 18 grams of fat!  That's even more than a bacon cheeseburger! (Her claim, not mine, that's a little hard to believe honestly.)  Sure, she mentions the 61 grams of sugar, but she stressed the fat.  They always stress over the fat.  And I'm sick and tired of it.  There's no reason for it.  Just shut the F up. 

You see, everyone's got this phobia of fat making them fat.  They think that if they eat the fat on that pork chop, or put butter on their potato, or drink whole milk, that they'll get fat.  That's not how it works.  Fat in the diet doesn't make you fat any more than other calories do.  In fact, natural fats are very satiating, and would probably even help you eat less and lose a couple pounds.  There are a lot of reasons someone might gain weight.  Eating fat isn't one of them.  Neither is eating carbohydrates or protein.  Eating too many total calories on the other hand... will get you nice and fat.  Focusing on one particular nutrient completely misses the bigger point.  What makes us fat is not carbs or fat per se...  but if I had to design a food to make you fat, I would design exactly this Bacon Ice Cream Thingy.  Are you confused yet?  I think I may have confused myself there.  The Bacon Ice Cream Thingy WILL make you fat.  But it's not because it has 18 grams of fat, or because it has 61 grams of sugar.  It's because it's loaded up with so much hyperpalatable goodness that you'll eat the whole frickin' thing even if you're not hungry.

Monday, June 4, 2012

5 Reasons I Don't Like Veganism

What do I want for dinner... lamb or anemia?
Let me first say this.  I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians; I respect everyone's dietary choices.  I have a lot of friends who are vegan/vegetarian, and, aside from the occasional accusation that I murder animals (kidding), we get along just fine.  They eat their veggie burgers, I eat my grass-fed beef burgers; they run their marathons, I do my Crossfit; they poke fun at Dr. Oz, and I, well, poke fun at Dr. Oz.  See... we're not so different after all.  Having said that though, based on my research I can't imagine a situation where I would recommend a vegan diet to anyone.  That's vegan, not vegetarian.  Vegetarians typically eat dairy and eggs, vegans don't eat any animal products.  It's the vegans I'm talking about here (although some of this applies to both) .  So without further ado, here are 5 reasons why I don't like veganism.

1.  Humans are not herbivores.
This myth just won't go away.  Every once in a while I get this argument from some fool trying to justify a vegan diet as the best diet on the planet.  It typically sounds like this... "You know some people think humans are carnivores, but they're not.  They're herbivores."  There's so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to begin.  Okay first of all, nobody thinks humans are carnivores.  We're clearly not.  But we're not herbivores either.  This argument completely neglects the fact there is another option:  an omnivore, which eats both plants and animal foods.  Humans are most definitely biological omnivores.  Just look at our teeth... mostly flat like herbivores (think about a cow's teeth) but with a few canines like carnivores (think of a cat).  Then there's our digestive system... it's definitely nothing like that of an herbivore.  Here's a picture of a cow's digestive tract:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Does Sugar Make You Fat?

Sugar is in the news lately.  If you haven't seen the 60 Minutes report on sugar, check it out.  It's worth a look, even if they're likely over-exaggerating a bit, as the media tends to do.  But anyway, that got my sugar appetite going.  Not for eating it.  I mean for learning more about it.  It didn't take me long to find this blog post on Whole Health Source entitled "Is Sugar Fattening?"  Very interesting article.  And a great question.  You'd probably expect that sugar is fattening, based on the conventional nutrition wisdom, but when you look deeper, you may be surprised.  Let's define "fattening".  If sugar is inherently fattening, that means that a diet high in sugar should promote fat gain even if we are still in calorie balance.  Right?  Or if that's not true, it must be true that a diet high in sugar causes overconsumption of calories, and hence fat gain.  Yes?  Either way... if sugar is fattening, then eating nearly all of your calories from sugar would surely make you fatter.  Let's take a look at some studies.