Wednesday, November 20, 2013

6 Signs That You're Taking Your Diet Too Seriously

No matter how much time you spend online arguing with people about diet/nutrition, it's too much time. Rarely do these interactions have any worth. Take, for example, the vegan guy who trolled my YouTube channel this week (read the comments). He left several ridiculous comments, like "Oh Eggs, Yummy! One of the cheapest ways to insure you get cancer and/or heart disease!" and "Well there is actually nothing out there that beats the scientific research that was done on the China Study (a popular vegan book)." He really has no idea how much of a jerk he was being. He takes his diet ideology, veganism, far too seriously and personally.

Unfortunately, this kind of thing has become very common... diets are becoming religions... I don't care if it's vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw vegan, low-carb, low-fat, or anything else, what you eat should not take over your life and turn you into an ignorant zealot. Sometimes we need to check ourselves. Here are 6 signs that you're taking your diet too seriously.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why You Should Eat More Potatoes

<3 Potatoes
In recent years, the white potato has gotten a bad rap. There are plenty of reasons why, some more valid than others... they've got the high glycemic index, the white color that people tend to associate with "bad" foods, the fact that people are generally down on carbs these days. But I've gotta tell ya... it just doesn't deserve the bad press, the potato is an incredibly healthy food! And here's why.

The glycemic index of potatoes is misleading.The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate food is digested and how much it subsequently raises your blood sugar. According to the theory, high glycemic foods increase blood sugar more than other foods, hence increasing insulin and leading to a blood sugar crash soon after. But there are a few problems in there.

First, the "glycemic score" is based on a 50 gram carbohydrate serving. But what it neglects, however, is how likely we are to actually consume a given food at that level. To get 50 gram of carbohydrate from potatoes, you'd need 253 grams of the stuff, or for the Americans, more than 1/2 pound. That's a hefty potato... probably bigger than you're willing to eat (unless of course you add bacon and cheese, but that's another story entirely). For another high glycemic carb, like white bread, you only need 100 grams of the stuff to get 50 carbs. And to go even further, you'd only need a 16 fl oz serving of soda for that many carbs, or a 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream, or less than 2 ounces of cotton candy. What I'm getting at, is that the amount of carbohydrates matters too. And the fact is, we're not going to eat nearly the quantity in potatoes that we would of another high glycemic food.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Get Up and Move: The Perils of Sitting

When I first heard that sitting too much was associated with chronic disease, I was extremely skeptical. Of course it is, I thought... people who sit more exercise less, they lose cardiovascular fitness, and they burn fewer calories throughout the day, setting themselves up to gain weight. It's not that sitting too much directly promotes disease, I thought; it must be all that goes along with it. It's the lack of exercise and the weight gain that's the real problem.

Welp, I was wrong (1). Turns out, we now know of specific molecular processes that take place when we sit, and they're distinct from intentional exercise. In fact, even if you get the "recommended" amount exercise, 30 minutes a day, you can completely undo those metabolic benefits by spending the rest of your day sedentary in a chair. Sitting continuously sets off a series of unwanted cellular mechanisms that immediately reduce your HDL and increase your triglycerides, two common risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Over the long term, we put ourselves at high risk for chronic disease, and that includes heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Elliott Hulse: The Meaning of Strength

If you've never heard of Elliott Hulse, it's time to listen up. It was about four years ago when I first found Elliott Hulse's YouTube channel, strengthcamp. Like most of his fans, I started watching for the exercise/nutrition/supplementation info. He had some cool stuff going on, and that's exactly what I was really into at the time. That's what drew me in. But what really hooked me was something much deeper. It was his life philosophy, which was much the same as mine, although I'd never heard it put so succinctly: Become the strongest version of yourself. It became clear very early on that Elliott was far more than just your average strength and conditioning coach... he's a philosopher, a truth-seeker, a father and husband, and a master in conveying his ideas through words.

Elliott's videos have had a profound impact on my thoughts and my experiences. I'd like to just talk about a few of my favorites and why they've meant so much to me. Hopefully, through sharing how they've affected me, I can pass this information on to others and broaden their horizons as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Harvest Your Health Bundle: 71 eBooks (over $1000 value) for $37!!

It's that time again folks! Another amazing bundle of eBooks for an unreal price tag. You may remember last winter's sale of 37 books for $37??? Something like that. Well, this one blows that out of the water. For the next 7 days, you'll be able to get 71 eBooks!!!!!??!!!?! for just $37. This is legitimately the best deal I've ever been a part of, and I hope you take full advantage of it.

Here's what you get!!:
71 eBooks of various health-related topics...

  • Cooking and preparing healthy and/or paleo food
  • Natural fertility and motherhood
  • Natural solutions to hygiene and home care
  • Fitness
  • And most importantly to me... life improvement books!! Get that mindset right guys!
3 subscriptions to paleo magazines...
  • Admittedly not my cup of tea, and probably contains biased, cherry-picked, pseudoscience that needn't be followed by most of us. But hey, it's thrown into the bundle. Just be skeptical.
18 discounts to health/nutrition-related websites...
  • Awesome. Worth the price of the bundle ALONE.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cooking With Gram: Post-Workout Superfood Smoothie

Check out our new Cooking With Gram video, the Post-Workout Superfood Smoothie! It's a great way to kick start your recovery after a tough workout!

Subscribe on YouTube, don't miss a video!

1 cup chopped kale
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 banana
1/2 avocado
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 scoops Standard Process Whey Pro (15 g protein)
Dash of salt

Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 418
Fat: 11 g
Carbs: 63 g
Fiber: 14 g
Sodium: 204 mg
Protein: 20 g

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stay Humble: We Don't Know What We Don't Know

I've used this pic before. I don't care.
I'd like to share a story with you. The other day in one of my classes, we were discussing the history of vitamin D. My professor told us a fascinating story about the early research on vitamin D and rickets, the bone disease children get as a result of a deficiency. This particular researcher, Leonard Findlay, had performed experiments with dogs, and he was convinced that rickets could be cured simply by exercising. In 1908, he published a paper detailing his experiments: "The Etiology of Rickets: A Clinical and Experimental Study".

What Findlay did, essentially, was induce rickets in dogs by keeping them sedentary. He would keep them locked up indoors in cages, providing them food of course, until they would develop symptoms of rickets. Then, as an experimental treatment, he would take some of the dogs outside and let them run around. Allowing the dogs to run around outside cured their rickets, and so Findlay assumed that exercise was the reason why.

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?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Diet Myths: If a Little is Good, a Lot is Better

In the modern diet world, there are so many different theories and ideas on nutrition that it can sometimes be overwhelming. We have diets that don't allow carbs, diets that restrict fat, diets in which you eat exclusively fruit, diets in which you can't eat animal products, diets based on "superfoods"... whatever that means. Whichever food or food group is targeted, most of these diets fall victim to the same fallacy: if a little is good, more is better. Or, in many cases, if too much is bad, then none at all must be best.

Allow me to elaborate. Eating too many carbs can be detrimental, so restrict them all... too much dietary fat can be bad, so get it as low as possible... eating fruit is healthy, so let's eat nothing but fruit. You see the pattern? I don't think I need to go on. None of these diets get at the foundation of a healthy eating plan, and none come close to establishing a healthy relationship with food. What they lack is a sense of balance. Along with a misunderstanding of how biology works.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flaxseed and Omega 3's: Why You're Being Misled

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably realize that misleading marketing claims really steam my clams. I just wish we could go to the grocery store, look at a food item, and see the real truth right there on the package, without any of the confusing health claims and advertising. You'd have to have a degree in nutrition just to understand them ha! Which is why I'm writing this article.

There seems to be some confusion about flaxseeds. It's become sort of "cool" to put flaxseeds in everything lately, from cookies, to breads, to granola, to cereal, to whatever. And it seems that taking flaxseed oil as a supplement is in style too. Why? Well, they're a great source of omega 3 fatty acids!!

Okay, technically true. But this doesn't tell the whole story.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Grains ARE Important For Most People

It's been a while since I've talked about grains. Like over a year. Too long. I've written Why You Don't Need Grains, about why you don't need grains. Duh. And Whole Grain Destruction, providing some hard science on the pitfalls of whole grains. Oh, and then there was Modern Wheat, explaining the difference between the wheat of the past and the wheat we eat today. Despite the nutritional shortcomings discussed in these articles though, most nutritionists still recommend a grain-based diet like the one depicted in this here food pyramid. Yes, it's outdated, we've moved on to the Plate now. The philosophy is still the same.

As a nutrition professional, I think it's important to talk to other nutrition professionals and understand their views on things, as they often differ from mine. Sometimes you learn something new from considering someone else's perspective.

I can remember one situation when I was doing my counseling internship at Student Health Services at UConn. I was shadowing a dietitian there, and a client that day mentioned that she didn't eat bread; she had heard we didn't need it in our diets to be healthy. Being the intern, I kept my mouth shut and let the counselor handle it. Of course, her advice was that we DO need bread, as it provides important vitamins and minerals. She may have had a point; refined flour products like white bread are enriched and fortified with B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), folic acid, and sometimes iron. For people who haven't eaten vegetables or red meat in six months, maybe refined grain products actually serve a purpose.

So I started thinking... I wonder what it takes to get enough of these nutrients without grains?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Brendan Coburn, RD! And What's Next.

Yoooo what's up y'all!?!? It's been a while since I've written anything here, but it wasn't without good reason. For the past month or so, I've been deep in study mode, getting ready to take the Registered Dietitian exam. And on August 7th, I passed! I'm officially an RD! It's been a long road with countless hours (okay, countable... 1200 in fact) of supervised practice, too many classes, papers, and exams, and overall one big ball of stress, but it's finally over! Now, time for the next step.

So what is the next step, you ask?
  1. Most importantly, graduate school at UConn. Yup, stepping right back into the school world. Only this time I'll be a Teaching Assistant, complete with free tuition and a paycheck every two weeks. For real! 
  2. I'll be getting back to blogging. Maybe not weekly posts like I had been doing, but I'll be posting as often as I can. Or as often as I have something meaningful to write about!
  3. Leaving my job as a cook at Whole Foods. Sorry to my beloved coworkers, but it's time I move on... that job just doesn't serve me anymore at this point in my life. I plan on flexing my RD credential and getting some sort of nutrition-related job on the side!
  4. Huh, well I guess that's all I've got for ya. There are some other big things brewing in my head involving some future projects, but nothing's set in stone yet, so I'll refrain from talking about it. Suffice it to say, the future is looking bright!
So that's it for today, back to the blog writing in the near future. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me, thank you for reading my blog and for the kind comments, keep being awesome, keep it real, peace I'm out!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Are We Living Too Long?

Let's talk about death today! Sorry, just trying to make it seem exciting. If you know me well, you may know that I live with my grandparents, who are 90+ years old. If you know me really well, you may also know that my grandfather is losing his mind... some sort of dementia, maybe Alzheimer's, who knows. Regardless, much of the time he doesn't know who I am, nor where he is, and from time to time, he still thinks it's the 1940s. He also has a hard time taking care of himself. He seems to forget how to perform even the most basic tasks, like brushing his teeth or shaving. Every day is a struggle for him and for those around him.

Essentially, his quality of life has diminished to the point where I question why he wants to keep fighting. Lately I've been thinking hard about some of this stuff... yes, we're living longer lives, but are we really living?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Choose the Best Junk Food: 5 Easy Fixes

Nobody's perfect. In a food world like ours, it's near impossible to stick to a healthy, real-food diet 100% of the time. Eating healthy tends to put you in a bubble... a bubble full of kale, grass-fed beef, home-made sauerkraut, and herbal teas. And while I love that bubble, and you may love that bubble, society does not. Nope, our society doesn't value health and food quality like you and I do, and sometimes it's tempting to give in. So there are bound to be times when you feel like you want to indulge in some junk food, whether it's at a party, at a summer picnic, or maybe you just want to celebrate the new Backstreet Boys album! (Only part joking.)

But whenever it happens, whenever that craving comes upon you, I think it's important that you know how to eat junk food properly. You don't have to completely fall of the wagon and binge on a family size Doritos... there are compromises that can be made here. Rest assured, it IS possible to make choices that will satisfy your craving for junk food AND STILL allow you to fit in with your peers.

Recently, I took a trip to Stop & Shop, my local conventional grocery store, to awkwardly remove items from their places just to take pictures of the ingredients. So here you go... 5 junk foods, along with their healthy counterparts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Earthing: Why Reconnecting With Nature May Be All You Need

Today I want to talk about something a little different. At first glance, it may seem incredibly hokey. Okay, it WILL seem incredibly hokey. But just stick with me here for a moment... I think there's really something to it.

I'm talking about earthing... the process of grounding your body to the earth. Direct contact, no socks or shoes. Skin on earth. (Or with the assistance of a grounding system, as you'll see later.) Believe it or not, there's good science to back it up... and not just through subjective measurements either... there are real, objective, measurable changes that take place in the human body when we connect with our earth. Reconnecting with nature in this way has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone), improve blood flow, and regulate our sleep cycles, among other things. Allow me to explain a little more...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Silly Adults... Even Kids Know it's Wrong to Eat Animals! (VIDEO)

As I was browsing Facebook the other night, just about to go to bed, I came across an interesting link that fired me up and kept my up far past my bedtime... an article called "Vegetarianism Demystified by a Toddler". It links to a YouTube video, which I'll just embed here for your convenience... voila!

The video has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from YouTube users. Nearly every comment praises this child for being an irresistible, sweet little boy with a big heart...  See?? He's only 3, even a TODDLER knows it's wrong to eat animals!! What an inspiration!!!

Okay. Fine. That's your opinion. I, on the other hand, saw it differently. Here is how I interpreted his message...

Little Luiz Antonio is just sitting down to eat his octopus gnocchi, when he begins to question the ethics of eating an animal. After a little back and forth with his mother, Luiz decides we shouldn't be eating animals because they're cute, and because every living thing deserves to be a winner in life... all of them all at the same time. If there's one thing Luiz is sure of, this is it. It would just be so great if we could all live forever and ever, and we could all live with the animals and pet each other and cuddle. Everyone could be friends. Everyone in the entire world. We'll be pen pals and Skype friends and tweet each other and eat grass and we'll never have any reason to fight. For ever and ever.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Put the Phone Away and Live Your Life

Living in the moment is something most of us struggle with, and it's only becoming more difficult with modern technology. No matter where we are physically, it's becoming increasingly easy to be elsewhere mentally. Step into any crowded public place... there are people talking on the phone, listening to music, playing games on their iPads, updating their Facebook statuses. Our bodies may be present, but our minds certainly are not.

I'm just as guilty as anyone else. Any time I find myself with nothing to immediately occupy my mind, my first instinct is to take out my phone... check Facebook, check email, check Instagram, play Candy Crush. At times, I'll even do this when I'm with people. Not proud of it. If I have a long walk ahead of me and no one to talk to, I'll call a family member... god forbid I have nothing to do for 15 minutes. Thankfully, my affliction hasn't yet advanced to the point of walking around in public with headphones on. If I ever get to that point, please punch me in the genitals. I'll thank you later.

But I can't help but wonder... what are we missing out on? We all walk by hundreds, if not thousands of people each day. We sit next to them on the subway. We see them in the grocery store. Yet we don't say hello. Our minds are off in another world. Our own little world is comfortable that's for sure... we stick to the people we like, the things we know... it's easy and comforting. We're smitten by that. But, as I'm understanding more and more, closing ourselves off like this misses the bigger picture. Every time we choose to be absent, we pass up a chance to enhance our personal relationships, or to meet someone special who could have an impact on our lives. How do we know what we don't know if we don't even know what we're missing? (What???.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Snarky Rant on Sodium and Blood Pressure

Quick rant today, related to my recent obsession with all things blood pressure (see here and here).  I just found this quote on the CDC website that really steamed my clams...

"Sodium intake from processed and restaurant foods contributes to increased rates of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Decreasing sodium intake to within recommended limits could prevent thousands of deaths annually, because nearly 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to high blood pressure." (1)

To me this is short-sighted, oversimplified, and quite frankly ignorant. Sodium reduction can be a good thing because it often occurs simultaneously with elimination of processed junk, like said "processed and restaurant food". But being all narrow-minded and reducing sodium intake to the level they recommend can be dangerous (23).

Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Prevent High Blood Pressure

Welp, I am officially done with my food service rotation... only one 2-week rotation left, with Miss Ana Zeller of Practical Nutrition, and I have a feeling this one will be the best of them all! Then, I'll be able to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam! That's right, Burn's gonna have credentials. Can't wait!

Okay, less about me, more about hypertension, aka high blood pressure (BP). As much as I have no interest in school food service, I have to admit my food service rotation gave me an immense amount of time each day to read research articles and learn shit. Over this past week, I've been absolved in hypertension... time to share.

First, some background info about hypertension... it's a pretty serious problem. Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease (forget cholesterol), affecting approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. More than 72 million Americans, or nearly 1 in 3 adults, are estimated to have hypertension but only 34% are able to return to a healthy blood pressure, via either drugs or lifestyle change. In 2008, 54,707 Americans died from hypertension, and another 300,000 died from related conditions. According to projections, over 90% of adults in the United States will develop hypertension by age 65. That is absurdly high. Right now, hypertension remains the most common reason for patients to visit the physician’s office (1).

I think it's safe to say that if you want to live a long, healthy life, this is something you need to avoid, no? Just say no to hypertension. Here's how.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can Grass-Fed Beef Save the World?

This post is long overdue, since Allan Savory's TED video came out in March and I just now realized I'd like to share it. It's a really eye-opening presentation about the desertification (turning to deserts, not desserts, fatty) of our soil, and how we can reverse the problem using grazing cattle... the very same animals that we previously thought caused desertification in the first place. This desertification has been going on for thousands of years around the world, perhaps the most glaring example being the Middle East. The land that fostered the earliest civilizations 6000 years ago is, today, largely infertile.

So back to the man, Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist who is best known for developing the holistic management system for grazing animals. In a nutshell, holistic management aims to replicate the natural prey/predator relationship... in nature, as a defense against predators, cattle would group together in large herds, and they would keep moving, never staying in the same place for too long... it was under these conditions in which the land was kept arable, and the constant movement prevented overgrazing of any one area. Holistic management is based on replicating this natural system by rotating cattle. Joel Salatin for example, who you may know from the documentary Food Inc., uses this method to produce grass-fed beef.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Problem With Salt Restriction

Every once in a while, you read something that just restores your faith in humanity. For me, a recent article in the New York Times did just that. Entitled "No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet", the article makes the case that the latest sodium recommendations are too low, and that reducing sodium intake to such low levels could be dangerous.

Amen. It's about damn time. The newest sodium guidelines are ridiculously, stupidly, just absurdly low. How absurdly low you ask? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines set the upper limit at 2300 mg per day for healthy individuals, about one teaspoon of salt, and 1500 mg for those with hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Even more extreme, the American Heart Association feels that EVERYONE should shoot for 1500 mg. 

Maybe you don't know how low that is; if you've never tracked your sodium intake or read a food label then maybe you can't quite grasp it. So let me put it to you this way... the guidelines are so low, one study reports that only 0.12% of the population is eating a diet that meets the standards (1). That's 1 in every 833 of us! The average American eats about 3700 mg of sodium per day and has for the past 50 years (2). And our salt intake may have been even higher than that in the past (3). Hmm I wonder how we've all survived this long as a species when we're so blatantly overconsuming salt!?

Nope, these new recommendations just never made sense to me. But regardless of whether the guidelines are attainable, this New York Times article makes the case that a sodium intake that low can be downright dangerous. Interesting eh?? I thought so. So interesting that I spent the majority of my day at my food service rotation looking into it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Your Growing Child Needs to Eat More Fat

The low-fat craze of the 90's just won't die.  I thought we were past low-fat at this point, yet every time I go to the grocery store I'm still bombarded with the fat-free message.  It's worse at Whole Foods, my place of employment. We even have a whole line of "healthy" fat-free salad dressings at our salad bar. And in my current school lunch rotation (part of the joyful road to becoming an RD), fat is being pulled from the menu like never before in favor of whole grains, vegetables, and skim milk.  New York City schools have gone as far to ban butter (!?!?). For the average consumer, the message is loud and clear: fat is bad, mmmkay? We've gotta eat more vegetables! Eat your broccoli, eat your salad! Throw out the butter and oil! Fat's killing the kids!

But there's a problem with that. A big one. Of course vegetables are full of nutrients, but eating them without fat renders their fat-soluble vitamins (mainly vitamin A) useless. And you do NOT want that, especially if you're a little cherub in the 1st grade. Read on now, ya hear?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Women, Cholesterol, and Heart Disease: Three of My Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite thinnnngs.  Sorry, nostalgia.

Women are not men. That should be obvious to everyone. Women have a different balance of sex hormones than men do, they have a higher body fat requirement, they can grow a baby in their bellies for 9 months, and they really like romantic comedies. Despite their inexplicable love for Matthew McConaughey movies, however, the scientific research world likes to pretend these differences don't exist. Over my years of studying cholesterol and cardiovascular disease research, I've noticed a bias here. But it's time to wise up... the research on cholesterol and heart disease shows a stark difference between the sexes. If you're a woman, and there's a 50% chance that you are, then you've been fed a load of shit. Here's why.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is Subclinical B12 Deficiency Aging Us Prematurely?

I did a little research the other day on vitamin B12 for my Advanced Nutrition class at UConn, and I wrote this little blurb for our online discussion.  I thought it was incredibly interesting and something everyone should hear, so I cleaned it up a little and put it on the blog. Because everyone reads my blog.  Everyone.  You ain't cool.  

And yes, that means I have a higher standard for my blog posts than I do for my school assignments.  I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.  But it's definitely a thing.

A little background on B12.  It's the one essential vitamin that's only present in animal foods, meaning vegans are shit out of luck (except for maybe supplementing with algae... maybe).  It's present in just about every animal food out there, and especially high in organ meats like liver.  The problem with B12, especially as we age, is that there are a lot of things that have to go right for B12 to be absorbed correctly.  We need enough stomach acid, adequate pancreatic function, proper digestion and absorption in the small intestine... overall there's a lot of room for error, especially in older adults.  Even if we're eating enough B12, that doesn't necessarily mean we're absorbing it. 

Okay enough of that, here it is...

Monday, April 29, 2013

How Pandora and Spotify are Ruining Music

Today's topic has nothing to do with health, nor cows. Rather, it's concerning one of my other passions... music. I've always felt a special connection to music. It's not something that I can quite put into words, but the right music just has a way of speaking to my soul. It's been the one constant in my life that never fails to make me feel alive. To quote Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, "the four right chords can make me cry."

But despite my love for music, I've been unsure how I feel about the direction music is heading... with Pandora and Spotify leading the way, the modern internet culture is taking over the music industry. All of a sudden, for the first time ever, we have instant access to every song ever made. We have the ability to make a playlist based on our personal preferences, without even so much as a thought. These all seem like great things on the surface, but they just don't appeal to me.  Am I old fashioned?  Just resistant to change and new technology?  Maybe.  But there's something else going on here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why We're Obese: An Intro to Food Reward

Obesity is complex. I think we all know that at this point. There is no one reason why any of us become obese; it's a combination of several factors including genetics, physical activity, hormones, calories, fat, carbs, junk food, and much, much more. We can of course say that we get fat from eating more calories than we expend, that's a fact... but that doesn't tell us anything about why we're consuming more food than we need. Likewise, we don't truly know the best way to lose excess weight. We need to eat fewer calories than we expend, duh. But we have to worry about complicated things like hunger, willpower, and cravings... and why it feels like your body just wants to hold onto that extra fat.

Enter: Food RewardI've touched on this in the past but I haven't given it a proper explanation.  I first heard of the concept via Stephen Guyenet a couple years ago, as most people in the ancestral health community did.  It's taken me a while to fully warm up to it and truly understand it, but I'm now convinced that this is a major reason, perhaps the major reason, for the obesity epidemic.  Allow me to explain.

The Reward System
Our brains contain a "reward" system that is critical to our survival.  Actions that promote our survival are reinforced by the brain by making us feel good... this makes us want to do them again.  For example, running around in the sun playing frisbee makes us feel good; the sun is good for our health (in moderation), physical activity promotes fitness and survival in the most primal sense, and it gives us a sense of community and kinship with our friends.  Our brains tell us that playing frisbee in the sun is a good thing, and we're likely to do it again in the future.  But the reward system also works the other way, discouraging actions that harm us.  If we pick up a baking dish out of the oven with our bare hands, we'll burn our skin, and so our brains send a very strong signal for us to STOP (pain).  Addictive drugs essentially hijack this reward system.  Heroin, for example, will bypass the environmental sensory aspect of the reward system and latch on to the receptors in the brain.  Drugs like these provide a super strong stimulus, hence they are reinforced by happy feelings, and you'll want to do it again and again until you become addicted.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Real-Life Farmville 2013

It's that time again, folks... Spring time is here!  Warming weather, flowers blooming, happy people everywhere... But one of my favorite parts about the Spring is starting my vegetable garden.  This will be my fourth year having a garden.  I've learned a lot from my mistakes over the past three years, and I'm ready for this year to be the best yet!  Anything worth doing is worth doing badly, that's what I always say.  No one is good in the beginning, just do it.  Just do something.

So Real-Life Farmville 2013 is underway, and I'd like to share with you what I've got going.  I've been buying my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange every year.  They've got tons of unique, heirloom varieties of vegetables, and they'll send you an amazing catalog showing you everything they offer... highly recommended.  I like trying different stuff since my uncle, who shares the garden with me, always grows the common veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and summer squash.  I'm a little more adventurous.

First up is the herbs... this is a new addition this year.

Herbs: Parsley, Cilantro, Dill

Got this little guy as an Easter gift in one of those easy-grow pots.  It came with blocks of dry soil, all I had to do was add water and plant the seeds and watch it grow.  Can't wait to use this stuff in my kitchen!

For the rest, I got 4 soil-filled flats from my family farm, Botticello Farms.  I've been putting them outside every day and taking them in every night to avoid the cold weather, and they've been doing very well on that regimen.  It's only been a week and a half and they're looking good already!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why There's So Much Conflicting Info in Nutrition, A Snarky Rant on Conventional RDs

I really wanted to title this post "Moving Beyond Black and White: Real Life is Gray", or something to that effect.  I liked that title.  But in the interest of attracting more readers, I chose this one.  Yup I'm a sell out.

After a conversation with my friend Amanda the other day (Inspired.), I had a bit of a revelation... not everyone thinks the way I do.  It should be obvious, of course, but sometimes you just need a little kick in the pants.  We were talking about conventional registered dietitians and the trends we see as we work our way into the profession.  Unfortunately, we've noticed that many RDs are closed-minded and resistant to hearing anything that challenges their beliefs... the precious "facts" they learned in school, the gospel that comes out of the USDA dietary guidelines... when in fact they haven't put any real thought into it themselves.

I guess I just tend to have faith in people.  I assume that someone who went through the 4-5 years of school and 1200 hours of supervised practice to become a nutrition professional would have learned, somewhere along the way, to think for themselves, instead of taking every word of what someone else says to be the absolute truth.  Isn't that what we go to school for??  To learn how to think for our fucking selves?  To become adults with conviction who actually stand for something, instead of being sheep and following the pack???  Is that not what education is all about?

It just absolutely kills me when I meet someone who is a grown adult and still thinks in such a naive manner.  If you disagree with something I say that's fine.  There's room for disagreement in nutrition.  Just don't be a fucking moron about it and come back with "that's not what we learned in school".  Nutrition isn't as clear as black and white, it's mostly gray... everything exists on a spectrum. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Poor Man Diet: 10 Complementary Foods

Back to the Poor Man Diet.  If you missed last week's post, you should probably read that first.  Otherwise none of this will make any frickin' sense.  In the last post, I talked about 5 of the best choices you can make if you're compromising cost and health.  They're not the healthiest 5 foods in the world, and they're not the cheapest 5 foods in the world... but they're just about the most nutritious foods you can find for the least amount of money.  It's all about compromise.

Today, though, I'm giving you 10 complementary foods.  I've given you a solid base, but it's the complementary foods that can make or break your diet.  If you're eating pop-tarts and ho-ho's on the side, you could be in trouble.  These aren't foods you need to eat every day, and because of that I'm being a little more forgiving on the cost end of things and leaning more towards nutrient-density.  Still, you won't find lobster tail here, or raw oysters, or white truffles... okay nevermind I'll stop blabbering and get on with it... here you are, 10 nutritious complementary foods for your Poor Man Diet.

1. Chicken Thighs
$1.29/lb (bone-in), $1.99/lb (boneless)
You're in luck.  Since everyone has gone chicken boob crazy, that's left chicken butt on the sidelines.  Little does everyone know, chicken thighs are much juicier and more flavorful than breasts... and there's nothing wrong with a little more fat in your life, especially if you're looking to get the most food for your dollar.  In terms of nutrition, they're a great source of protein, B vitamins, and zinc.  Probably your most cost-effective source of meat!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Poor Man Diet: 5 Healthy Foods That Won't Break the Bank

If you've ever tried to eat healthy, and if you're reading this you probably have, then you've noticed the gaping hole in your wallet.  Real food can be expensive; naturally raised meat, fresh organic produce, extra virgin olive oil, nuts... healthy food ain't cheap.  The cost has been one of the main obstacles for me in eating a real food, paleo-style diet.  Even though I make food a high priority in my life, I'm still a poor college student.  I can't always afford top-quality food.

But luckily, there are healthy, dirt-cheap foods out there that even I can afford.  Sure, you've gotta make some compromises; you just can't eat optimally on a budget.  But you can make a damn good stab at it. Not poor you say?  Just looking to save some money on food to keep fueling your hookers and cocaine habit?  No problem.  I'm here to help.  Here are 5 healthy, inexpensive foods that you can base your diet around.

1. Kale
Kale is everyone's darling health food.  Some say it's even the most nutrient-dense food on the planet.  I wouldn't go that far, but it's a great food nonetheless.  Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium... Kale covers all of your vegetable needs in one little package, and at a great price.  It's versatile too.  You can steam it and eat it on its own, put it in your eggs, add it to a smoothie, or use it in a stir fry.  It works in everything.  You can even eat it raw in a salad if you're up to it, although I personally don't like the taste unless it's cooked.  But maybe that's just me.  Give it a try!  (If you really hate kale, substitute it with another green like swiss chard or collard greens, the difference is negligible.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Voting With Your Food Dollar: A Story of Three Foods

Just a quick rant today. I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of "voting with your food dollar". Voting with your food dollar is just what it sounds like... when you buy a particular food, you're essentially "voting" for it. You're telling producers that you like it and you want more of it. But beyond that, you're supporting the entire process that made that food available to you at your local grocery store. This is obviously true of anything you buy in a free market system. You have the opportunity to vote every time you buy anything. Anything at all. Whether it's fitness equipment, a new leather purse, or the new Justin Timberlake album, your dollar essentially votes for what you buy. Just think of the consequences if nobody bought JT's new album (which I know isn't true since I already bought it)... Justin would end up a complete failure. He'd likely enter a downward spiral involving drugs, Taylor Swift, and his first emo album, until he's finally relegated to neighborhood bar gigs opening for Good Charlotte.  But worst of all, nobody would adopt his new hairstyle.

Okay a little off topic there.  Where was I?  Oh yes, when you buy a food at the store, you support everything that went into putting that food on your grocery store shelf.  In addition to supporting the food itself, you support the production methods, the processing, and the transportation costs.  I'd like to take this opportunity to go through a few different food options and talk about what it means when you choose to buy them.

1) Doritos
One of my favorite childhood foods.  I could eat an entire bag of this stuff as a teen.  Of course they're yummy, but let's talk about where Doritos come from.  Here's an ingredients list...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Coconut Oil: Healthy or Harmful?

Coconut oil is hot right now.  Everyone's talking about it... the Paleo community recommends it, there are books touting it as a miracle food, and even Dr. Oz is now on board.  It seems as though the alternative medicine world is firmly in the pro-coconut-oil camp, and their message is spreading. The mainstream nutrition world however, including dietitians, medical doctors, and educators, believe otherwise.  According to them, coconut oil is high in saturated fat, particularly lauric and myristic acids... two of the most dangerous saturated fatty acids around.  Coconut oil will raise your cholesterol more than any other food, they say. Those who eat it must have a death wish.

How can both sides of this argument be so far apart?  The pro-coconut-oil group says it's a miracle health food... but the anti-coconut-oil camp says it'll kill you.  Welp, someone's wrong.  Let's get to the bottom of it...

The Saturated Fat Thing
As mentioned above, coconut oil is high in lauric acid and myristic acid, which are considered to be two of the most heart-stopping fatty acids in existence.  This evidence is largely based on short term studies using isolated fatty acids, showing that their consumption increases cholesterol levels (1, 2). As I explained in my last post on nutritionism, this is interesting and good to know, but it doesn't necessarily mean eating foods high in these fats, like coconut oil, will have the same effect.  Food is more complex than we know.  This is a piece to the puzzle, but not the only piece to the puzzle. What about studies involving real coconut oil?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nutritionism: Food is More Than the Sum of its Nutrients

In a nutshell, "nutritionism" is the idea that the healthfulness of a food is based on the sum of the nutrients it contains.  I learned about this concept from Michael Pollan, who you may have heard of... he wrote "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", both phenomenal books that I highly recommend.  Pollan makes the argument that this is a reductionist philosophy that assumes we know more about the composition of foods and the inner workings of the human body than we really do.  I couldn't agree more.

Take the carrot, for example... we all know carrots are good for us.  You've probably heard that they're high in beta carotene.  Well, when researchers have taken beta carotene out of the carrot and given it to people in pill form, it turns out it doesn't do jack shit.  Is beta carotene useless?  Or is it just useless outside the context of the food it comes from? Context matters.  We're not as smart as we think we are, and we don't have it all figured out.  Studying individual nutrients outside the context of a real food tells us very little about what we should eat, and sometimes it just makes things more confusing.  We don't eat nutrients, we eat food.

If we want to learn how eating a carrot affects our health, then we need to study carrots.  Yet, as obvious as that may sound, we don't often study nutrition in this way.  We study the nutrients on their own, and then decide whether a food is good or bad based on which nutrients it contains.  There are plenty of examples where this paradigm has led us astray... here are just a few.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Prevent Osteoporosis and Fractures

Osteoporosis.  You might be thinking, "I'm not an old lady, this doesn't concern me, I'm going to go back to watching Honey Boo Boo and snacking on mayonnaise."  Wrong.  Whether you're a man or a woman, young or old, you need to know about osteoporosis.  It may be more common in post-menopausal women, but it happens in men too, and how you live in your 20s could have a HUGE impact on whether you fall and break a hip in your 70s.  So listen up.  There's a lot of misinformation around this topic, and I don't want you popping calcium, vitamin D, and Boniva pills and thinking everything will be okay.  Ready?  Let's go.

First, some basics.

Osteoporosis:  A disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist.

In other words, having osteoporosis means you have weak bones that'll break on you a whole lot easier than they should.  Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures each year.  That's a lot.  What's more, up to 1/3 of hip fracture patients die within one year of their fracture, and up to 75% never walk independently again (1).  Obviously, the vast majority happen to older adults.  But it may be your bone health in your 20s that best predicts your bone health in your 70s.  Why?  Peak bone mass.

Top line = men, bottom line = women

Peak bone mass is just what it sounds like:  the point in life at which you have the thickest, densest, healthiest bones.  And that point is in your late 20s.  After that, it's very difficult/impossible to build more bone mass, and so it slowly declines into old age.  Key point... the more bone mass you can develop in your 20s, the more you'll have to work with when you're older.  It's never too early to start.  How do you do that?  You ask and I answer... 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Causes of Obesity: Food Variety

So I had this new idea today while sitting in class.  We were talking about food palatability and how modern food is "hyperpalatable"... this just means that it is extra salty, extra fatty, extra sweet, and overall just more pleasing to eat than food of the past.  (I've talked about this before 1, 2, 3, 4).  And I started thinking... there are like a million different reasons why Americans are so obese.  Why don't I start exploring each one individually on my blog??  So that is what I will be doing.  Starting now.  Maybe ironically NOT starting with hyperpalatability of food... although it's a related topic.  Today our cause of obesity is unconventional, one you probably haven't thought of.  And you all know how much I like bringing you a fresh perspective and new way to think about something.  So without further ado...

Cause of Obesity #33162:  Food Variety

Why do we eat?  Is it because we're hungry?  Partly.  But there are other reasons too.  Don't even act like you don't know... boredom, convenience, stress, depression, happiness, celebration, social pressures, societal expectations, just because it's meal-time...  the list really does go on and on.  Because of this, researchers have divided eating into two categories:  homeostatic and non-homeostatic eating (1).

Homeostatic eating:  eating is driven by a true need for energy
Non-homeostatic eating:  eating is driven by factors other than a need for energy

Pretty simple really. 

So how does variety fit into this?  Easy.  You can only eat so much of one food.  In fact, variety in food is one of the major factors driving how much you eat, whether you notice it or not.  There are even diets designed for weight gain based around this principle... take the cafeteria diet for example.  Allow humans (or rats) easy access to a high variety of food and they'll gain weight.  In contrast, give someone a restrictive diet that lacks variety and they inevitably eat less and lose weight.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Study: Replacing Animal Fat with Vegetable Oil = Death

Ahhh it was a good day today when I read this article... "Study raises questions about dietary fats and heart disease guidance".  Here's the scoop... researchers from the United States and Australia have recovered missing data from an old study from the 1970s.  The study, known as the Sydney Diet Heart Study, was a randomized controlled trial in which the participants were told to replace the saturated fats in their diets with polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oil.  The 458 subjects were all men between ages 30-59 who had recently had a coronary event, defined as either a heart attack or angina (1). 

Why was this data missing?  Who knows.  I can't find a good answer.  But had these results been available in the mid 1970s as they should have been, it may have changed the course of the dietary guidelines on fat intake.

Okay so we had two groups, both groups are coming off of either a heart attack or angina.  Let me break it down right quick...

Group 1:  Control group
  • Given no dietary advice at all
Group 2:  Intervention group, given the following instructions...
  • Reduce dietary saturated fat (animal fats) to under 10% of calories
  • Reduce dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg/day
  • Increase polyunsaturated fats (from safflower oil) to 15% of calories

Monday, February 11, 2013

Recipe: Lazy Man's Beef Stew

You'll learn as I roll out my recipes... I take shortcuts in my cooking.  Sure I love good food, but I also love quick food.  Getting the most deliciousness for my time is my goal.  When making a stew, there are a few things you can do to ensure a good, quality stew.  You should season the meat and brown it in a skillet.  You should peel the carrots before chopping them.  You should peel the potatoes too for a cleaner product.  You should use celery.  You should use beef broth for a richer flavor.  I didn't do any of these things.  I was lazy.  This is the Lazy Man's Beef Stew.  Prep time minimal.  Just throw a bunch of things into a pot and let it simmer.

Prep time:  10-15 minutes
Cook time:  2-3 hours (or more)

You can throw just about any vegetable into a stew.  Use anything you've got on hand.  Most of these are pretty standard for a stew, but I had some extra salsa lying around so I threw that in just for shits and giggles. 

  • Stew beef (I used 2 pounds)
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic (5 cloves, chopped)
  • Mushrooms
  • Carrots
  • Mild Salsa
  • Butter (~2 tbsp)
  • Parsley
  • Salt (1 1/2 tsp)
  • Pepper
  • Water

Monday, February 4, 2013

The 80/20 Rule: The Essence of Holistic Health

A few years ago, I was first introduced to the Paleo diet concept through Mark Sisson's book The Primal Blueprint.  It's a great introductory book for anyone interested in learning about the basics of an ancestral diet.  One of Mark's key concepts in that book was called "the 80/20 rule".  The idea is that if you eat healthy and stick to the diet 80% of the time, you can have some flexibility for the other 20%.  As Mark says in a 2009 blog post on the topic, "If you align your life with the PB principles 80% of the time, consider yourself on course."  In other words, 80% adherence to the diet is good enough to get results.  I guess I sort of glossed over it at the time; my mentality back then was to go all out on this Paleo thing.  Why would I hinder my results by cheating 20% of the time?

But today, being three years older and just a little bit more mature, I understand the value of this 80/20 rule.  Perhaps I misunderstood the intent, but Mark makes it very clear in the article referenced above... "Even though 100% compliance isn’t the exact everyday expectation, 100% commitment is the intention."  Commitment is key.  If you're committed at the core to living a healthy lifestyle, if that is who you are and who you want to be, then eating like junk once in a while is perfectly okay.  The next day you'll hop right back on the wagon and keep on being you.

But beyond just the 80/20 rule being "good enough", I would argue that in many cases, the 80/20 rule is BETTER than adhering 100% to a diet.  Why??  Holistic health.

You've probably heard the term before.  "Holistic".  When we talk about holistic health, we're normally talking about using food as medicine... allowing the body to heal itself by giving it the proper raw materials... eating an ancestral diet fits right into this paradigm.  But I think we tend to forget what holistic health really means.  According to Merriam-Webster...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Upcoming Video Presentation and Q&A

What's up y'all??  Just a quick announcement for my 3 readers (Mom, Mom, and Mom)... I've been busy the past few weeks preparing a video presentation entitled "How the Government's Nutrition Advice is Making Us Fat and Sick", which will be presented in Bellingham, Washington on Wednesday, January 30th for the Western Libertarians club at Western Washington University.  That's a lot of proper nouns.  Be sure to read that sentence again to make sure you got it all.  Anyway, my video will be presented at the club meeting on the 30th and there will be a live Q & A session with me via Skype.  The meeting starts at 4:00 pm pacific time, so 7:00 pm eastern time.  So if anyone out there lives in the Bellingham area, I encourage you to go and check it out.  You'll learn all about the Paleo diet, the history of food and nutrition, and how we got to where we are today... and of course, what's wrong with this...

...and what you should be eating instead!

Here's a link to the Facebook event if anybody needs any more details! 

And I hope to see you there!  I mean not literally there, because I won't physically be there, but I hope to see you through my computer screen from 3000 miles away.  Be there!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Carbs Cause Cancer, Not Fat

If you're a human being, and you are, more than likely you've been affected by cancer in some way.  Whether it's a close relative, or a friend, or someone more distant, we've all dealt with it.  I've been one of the lucky ones, though.  I only had my first encounter with the deadly disease a few months ago, when my good friend Shawn's mother passed away after a battle with breast cancer.  She was a wonderful woman, and it certainly was, and continues to be, a difficult time for all involved.

Unfortunately, nobody truly understands what causes cancer to develop.  Sure there are some things we know can cause cancer, like excessive sun exposure.  But the truth is there are more unknowns that knowns.  Take diet for example.  It seems intuitive that cancer would be linked to what we eat, and no doubt it is.  But what foods actually cause cancer?  Which foods protect against it?  And how would you even go about studying something like this scientifically, when the disease takes a lifetime to develop?

Well there seems to be have been a breakthrough, according to this recent video presentation by Craig Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  And I quote...

"If you overfeed somebody with fat, you don't increase their cancer risk at all.  You overfeed somebody with carbohydrates, and you dramatically increase their cancer rate.  And protein is halfway in between."

Do a double take if you need it.  Queue up the video at about 27:10 for the real meat and potatoes.  And I repeat...  Overeating fat does not increase your risk for cancer, but overeating on carbohydrates DRAMATICALLY increases your risk for cancer.  And I'd like to reiterate, this is not some bozo on the internet saying this... this is the president and CEO of the #2 ranked cancer hospital in the country.  This is mainstream news.  This is real.

Now.  Here are my points, displayed in an organized fashion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recipe: Orange Peel Pork Roast, and How to Season a Roast

I've been really into making roasts lately, whether it's beef or pork.  They're great because it's an easy way to feed a group of people, or if it's just you then save the leftovers!  Having leftovers is always good, as it saves you a ton of time over the next few days, and you can have a healthy meal ready in just a few minutes.  I just thought of this recipe the other day after buying a bag of oranges, and I was so impressed with how it came out.  It's pure deliciousness, you absolutely must try it!  And BONUS:  You get to eat the orange while it's cooking.

So here are the ingredients, sans the pork roast, which you'll see below.  I like to avoid grocery store meat as much as possible and shop at a local farm, like JT Farms in Ellington.  But if I see a Stop & Shop roast on sale like I did today for $2.99 a pound (!?!?!?), I give in and buy it.  Hey I'm still in school after all... I'm not made of money. 

Prep time:  5-10 minutes
Cook time:  Varies depending on size and type of roast.  This was a 2.2 lb loin roast and it took about 1 hour 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  Here's a nice little chart for you :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

How to Treat Acne and Clear Up Your Skin

Ever since I was a teenager, I've always struggled with that damn acne on my face.  Sometimes it'll be really bad, other times it'll clear up and I'll finally think I'm growing out of it.  But it never fails to return.  Over the years, I've experimented with just about everything under the sun to treat it (including the sun itself actually).  Just off the top of my head, and remember that this goes all the way back to the late 90's...

Stridex pads, Oxy pads, Swiss apricot scrub, probably 5 different types of Clearasil, all varieties of that white spot-treatment cream you put on at night...

More recently I've tried the hippy route and experimented with different combinations of castor oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, the cod liver oil / butter oil blend...

I've tried washing it once a day, twice a day, after each meal, every other day, two days a week, once a week on Mondays at 8:00 am sharp... 

I've also tried for as long as I can remember to find a dietary connection to acne.  First I thought it was dairy, then gluten, then alcohol, then carbs, then vegetable oils.  There were several occasions when I would eat super healthy for weeks and struggle with acne, then go out and party one night, stay up late and drink alcohol, and wake up the next morning with a face clearer than I'd seen in weeks.  What gives??

Never mind the hair... focus on the acne.  It wasn't excessive, but it was just enough to be a problem.  I can remember this night specifically... it definitely ruined my confidence.  No one wants to deal with that.

In the end, after all those years of experimentation and wasted money, I ended up right back where I began... frustrated, confused, and clueless...

...until recently.  I've been experimenting with something for several months now, since early November, that has worked extremely well for me.  It hasn't cleared up my skin completely, but it's made a big difference.  I rarely break out anymore, but even when I do get the rare pimple here and there, it'll be gone in just a day or two.  It's pretty incredible.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Primal Wellness Bundle - $479 of eBooks for $39!!


In the past 2 months, Todd Dosenberry (also known as Primal Toad) emailed more than a few dozen well-known bloggers to see if they wanted to be part of an epic wellness sale. Thankfully, 25 unique authors (including himself) said yes to contributing their ebook(s) into what is now the Toadally Primal Wellness Bundle.
All 25 authors have taken control of their own health through an alternative lifestyle that encompasses nutrition and food in a way that goes against conventional wisdom while savoring tradition from less than 100 years ago. With the world getting more and more sick at a rapid pace, why not?
Nutrition may be the most important but it's meaningless without other lifestyle factors. These include play, sleep, skin care, fitness, socialization and in comparison to today's society, slowing down and enjoying the countless blessings that we are all surrounded with.
How will the ebooks in this bundle benefit YOU? They will help you to...
  • Heal your PCOS
  • Plan grain-free meals
  • Boost your metabolism
  • Nourish your baby well
  • Cure your skin compulsions
  • Travel and stay Paleo with ease
  • Homemake dairy-free ice cream
  • Lacto-ferment any food you want
  • Educate your kids about real food
  • Smartly indulge in treats guilt-free
  • Heal your acne without antibiotics
  • Restock your pantry with real food
  • Live a simpler, more meaningful life
  • Complete your next Whole30 with ease
  • Go on a semi-strict 21 day Paleo cleanse
  • Cook with real food via 6 unique cookbooks
  • Experience your best family camping trip ever
  • Learn what it means to be an exuberant animal
  • Give a hospital birth naturally with minimal stress
  • Blend smoothies made with real food that taste great
  • Homemake skincare products for those you love including your baby
  • Discover the relationship between music, language, evolution, and the human brain
  • Complete a 30 day introduction to Paleo while building your relationship with food
  • Sneak past the traditional Paleo way of eating and go Wild instead
  • See the other side of the Paleo story with 12 Paleo myths
  • Then discover 21 Paleo myths that then get debunked!
Buy Now

What is the Toadally Primal Wellness Bundle?

  • 33 ebooks with a total value of $479
  • On sale for 7 days - January 7 to January 14
  • Sale price of only $39 - 92% savings of the total value!
  • Includes automatic entry into the epic giveaway with a total value of $1122

Important notes

  • The sale ends on Monday, January 14 at 11:59 PM EST.
  • Click on the links to the ebooks to learn more about them.
  • Paleo Crock Pot Cookbook is linked to Caveman Feast. Please understand that the PDF you will receive includes 31 crock pot recipes.
  • The PCOS Unlocked: The Manual you will be receiving is 52 pages worth; not the entire guide. Why? It has a specifically unique value and thus $47 selling price. A significant discount code to purchase the rest of the guide is inside.
  • The giveaway ends at the exact same time of the sale. I will announce the winners on the giveaway page and email them too. Please go to to learn more about the prizes.
  • Due to the unique nature of this sale, no refunds will be offered. With the bundle containing 33 ebooks at a cost of 92% of their normal price point, everyone is bound to find immense value well worth $39.

Paleo, real food, grain free & coconut oil cookbooks

Lacto-Fermentation, pantry overhaul & freezer guide

Indulge in treats without feeling guilty

Give birth, nourish your newborn, then educate him/her on real food

Heal PCOS & boost metabolism

Simplify, live exuberantly, camp w/ your family & play music

Paleo time: travel, myths, cleanse, start anew or go wild

Take care of your skin homemade style & heal acne

Buy Now Please remember that no refunds will be offered due to the unique nature of this sale. Enjoy the bundle if you choose to invest $39 in YOUR wellness!