Saturday, June 29, 2013

physiological/dietary hint

"If a woman is fat, fair and forty, and has borne some children, she is the type most likely to be full of gallstones," reminisced Dr. Donaldson of "Strong Medicine" after a long and successful career.  I believe this fact contains hints about perennial truths of modern life as well as compelling dietary advice.

If you want to keep your figure, having children is one of the worst things you can do to your body.  Between Nature (flooding you with hormones and robbing your body of nutrients) and Conventional Wisdom ("chow down! you're eating for two!"), it's a rare individual who comes out the other side without laying down body fat which is progressively more difficult to get rid of after each pregnancy.

Middle age, through the niggardliness of enzyme secretion and even MORE bad hormonal signals, piles on the pounds all by itself.  Women who had remained effortlessly normal-weight up to perimenopause finally get an idea of what some of us have dealt with all our lives, when with no change of diet or habit their body composition goes straight to hell.

As for those of us who were willing and able to fight fat-growth, well, we have tended to spend decades in calorie-counting and non-fat consumption, losing some pounds and gaining some back, over and over till our metabolisms are thoroughly confused about whether it can afford to let us burn body-fat or not.  And we know what causes gallstones -- yes, all those low-fat-eating years when bile sat in storage in underused gallbladders.

This brings us to the "fair" portion of the introductory sentence -- women whose forebears have spent thousands of years in northern climes, where their ancestrally-dark skin, hair and eyes have been bleached by countless generations of seeking to absorb optimal quantities of sunlight.  Women who are, genetically, separated by millennia from large amounts of plant foods in the diet, until agriculture finally reached the "frozen north" (which was significantly later than in places like the "Fertile Crescent").  Women who have no business eating a year-round load of concentrated carbohydrates of ANY kind, let alone the garbage that passes for food these days.

RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES we have seen what happens to this kind of people when "novel modern foodstuffs" are introduced to a gene-stock not accustomed to a high-carb diet -- Cleave wrote about it, Stefansson wrote about it, countless missionaries wrote about it....  People in North America and Pacific islands and other places that were not invaded till comparatively recently, who took to the addictive and easy-to-prepare carbs of "civilization" and twenty years later WHAM -- unprecedented diseases completely destroy their well-being!

"Fair" women should not eat industrial and agricultural foods on a regular basis.  To put that in LESS archaic and exclusionary terms, women, even more than men, should eschew the neolithic agents of disease, ESPECIALLY women whose ancestors have most recently adopted an agricultural lifestyle.  We have fewer hormonal buffers to protect our bodies from the damage that these things wreak.  Our bodies have built-in protections for survival of ourselves and our children, but they are no match for the sheer destructiveness of modern life.

If we could find an objective and unbiased jury before whom we could present our evidence, i believe they'd come to the same conclusion i have:  products of agriculture as well as the kind of society that agriculture (including pastoralism) has empowered, are SINGULARLY bad for the health and welfare of women.  We've been encouraged to breed excessively while undermining our ability to do so in a healthy fashion.  We've lost our individual dignity, autonomy and sense of sorority because of the "need" to compete for high-quality mates (i.e., capability of passing the best genes to the next generation).  We've been indoctrinated to believe that the very things which are "killing" us are in fact good -- like paternalistic religion, libertarianism, nationalism ... and wholesomewholegrains, antioxidantfruitsandvegetables, hearthealthyvegetableoils and the low-fat diets which undeniably give us gallstones.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

accidental loss of connectivity

J and i took a two-day road trip down into southern Missouri and back, using a lot of state and county roads instead of US-highways and interstates -- such drives are a lot more interesting and scenic!  We visited the farm home of one of my favorite authors from childhood, we stayed overnight in a cabin at a state park which is famous for its trout-fishing, we looked around another two state parks, and we were not only internet-bereft for most of that time, but the cellphone read "no service" a shocking amount of time.

Oh, how the internet has spoiled me!  The ability to look up information about the next segment of one's trip is a luxury we didn't have until comparatively recently.  To pull the car over into a roadside stop area, turn on the portable modem and connect the ipad up to see if there's anywhere decent to eat in the upcoming town is a marvelous ability.  IF IT WORKS.

My longer trips, which utilize the interstate highway system more, have revealed comparatively few "dead" zones for my Verizon service, mostly in northeastern Texas (even in desert areas in west Texas and New Mexico, where my daughter's T-mobile was useless, my smartphone was working though sometimes VERY slow).  In tight little valleys (like Montauk Park) and canyons, "no service" is expected.  But 100 miles out from St. Louis, in farming country, i have NO ability to call AAA if my car decides to throw a tantrum?  Amazing -- in a bad way.

I guess public telephone booths and highway call boxes are NOT obsolete yet....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"authoritative" writers owe their readers good reasons for their recommendations

This was a note i made to myself on the Low-Carb Cruise, and i meant to write on the subject when i became inspired.  The inspiration came yesterday, from the person who originally prompted the note.  She did it again!

This was the woman whose talk actually "put off" my husband during the seminars.  Her husband, a physician, came across very well both on the stage and off -- he gave me a piece of advice which impressed me with his insight and experience.  Apparently, before the two of them married she was in publicity ... and it shows.  She's probably been an asset to their professional success, but as the front-woman for nutritional educators, she leaves a good deal to be desired.

I read an article which she wrote -- one of those "x# foods you should never eat" kind of things.  I confess, that kind of article tends to annoy me in the first place because the style is so "cheap media hook-ish."  But when she was discussing the objectionable ingredient in the product being targeted, she threw in the logic-dismissing comment that this ingredient was also used in an industrial application -- after all, if they use THAT  to do this icky thing, you certainly won't want to EAT it!

Sorry, chickie, you just lost all the engineers in the audience, and probably a good chunk of the chemists, biologists, lab-techs, mathematicians, and other technical folks too.  You may win over the kind of people who think liver is "gross" with your kind of logic, but they're about all.

Anyone who makes recommendations to their fellow creatures from a position of "authority" SHOULD feel a responsibility to provide a sound and cogent reason for their point of view.  "Because they use ingredient X to do nasty-job Y" is not a sound and cogent reason.  Should i never cook with baking soda because it can also be used to clean toilets?  Should vinegar be off the menu because it will kill weeds in the cracks of my garden path?

Granted that a wax made from petroleum is probably not as good a choice for food use as one made by bees, that does not mean paraffin in certain applications is unwholesome.  There are an awful lot of neutral substances in this world, which are perfectly safe and reasonable to use in food applications.  The nutritional -- and chemical -- realms are NOT properly illustrated in black-and-white....

The same emotional illogic is used in the condemnation of sucralose and a lot of other products, the utilization of which may not be IDEAL, but is minimally problematic for most people.  This kind of thinking is behind why i had to buy my mother a special little soft brush for cleaning mushrooms -- "they're grown on COW MANURE!"  Uh -- no.  They're grown on COMPOSTED cow manure which is an entirely different substance.  Uncomposted manure has too high a nitrogen content to grow ANYTHING.

I hope this lady will learn that dropping buzzwords (natural! organic!) and scare/gross-out tactics (bugs! petroleum!) is not doing their nutrition-and-supplement business any good amongst thinking people.  At the end of her talk, as we were trotting off to the Red Frog Pub to get a drink during the break, J snorted, "we shouldn't eat THAT because it's used to de-ice airplane wings?  They spray beet-juice on roads to help de-ice them -- does that mean we can never eat beets again?"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

giving "medicine" to my husband

I can't get J to read any of the literature on dietary philosophy, but he declares himself willing to just eat whatever i tell him to;  okay, you asked for it, buddy!  ;-)  I'm putting him on the Strong Medicine protocol.

This is THE most effective dietary regimen i've ever experienced.  Historically, i've resisted the temptation to limit other people this way, though i widely recommend that people read the book.  J has always been able to lose fat much more easily than i, so i haven't advocated it to him before.  However, he's been expressing disappointment in his rate of loss this time (i'd be thrilled with it, but that just shows ya...), so i'm bringing out the big guns.

We'll see how it goes!  Frankly, I LOVE the ability to forget about food.  On this plan, you don't need to be creative or spend significant time in the kitchen.  Just keep plenty of the right meat on hand, and forget about wondering what to have on tomorrow's menu!  After forty years of marriage, i occasionally find meal-planning unbearably tedious.  But with Strong Medicine, you eat fatty meat and coffee for three meals a day, and the pounds melt off.  The first time i did it, i worked the bugs out -- i HAVE to add salt, and three 6-oz meals work better for me than 3 8-oz (though 2 8-oz seems to be okay).  When i'm by myself, forgoing alcohol on this plan is easier than when i'm around other people -- but my husband is on the wagon for weight-loss purposes already!  So....

Gonna go ZC for awhile!  YES!!!!!  :-)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

it's always something, second edition

Yesterday, J decided to have a coffee-fast day.  I did a simple high-fat day which, when i entered it into FitDay last night, turned out to be very low in protein -- less than 40 grams -- though the energy consumed (1700 kcal) was within what i consider a reasonable range.

I woke up this morning cold and hungry.  We know what that means!  SOMEthing about yesterday's menu was severely inhibitive of thyroid function ... and my body wasn't properly satiated (though my stomach was) with what it received.  I think the lack of protein nourishment answers both questions.

Although i BELIEVE i took in enough energy to keep my body from slipping into conservation-mode, i may be mistaken.  During my periods of being able to follow the Strong Medicine protocol last year, i wasn't consuming a VERY different amount of energy.  It seemed that i was losing WELL on about 1 g. protein per pound of LEAN tissue (which is not the same as 1g/lb. WEIGHT), and a not-extremely-different proportion of protein to fat (23:77% by kcal).

So today, i'm increasing my protein intake and trying to keep my fat intake high, as well.  (Time to try out another dessert or beverage recipe from FFcookbook!)  ...It sure would be easier to tweak diet for well-being and fat-loss if all these systems weren't so entangled!  ;-)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

more fat/calories in the diet IS working better!

After the decades of low-cal dieting that i did, it's psychologically VERY hard to increase the amount i eat.  When i'm eating a ketogenic diet, making progress, and experiencing the lack of hunger i do, it's VERY tempting to take the energy intake lower.  This, however, is a big mistake.

Whether it's because i have a "weak" thyroid to begin with or merely normal response to under-feeding, going too low in energy-intake quickly puts me in "conservation mode."  Lowering intake further -- no matter what the CICO-promoters think -- also lowers fat-burning by the body.  (This SHOULD be good news for some of the obese bloggers we know, but they're so invested in their paradigm they're not even willing to trade their egos for improved health.)

My husband derived determination and inspiration from the LC cruise seminars, and when we got home last month we started applying some new techniques to our diet-and-lifestyle practices.  We procured a blood-ketone meter and found that our ordinary LC diets didn't get us to the range recommended by Phinney and Volek.  Using recipes from the "Fat Fast Cookbook" (adding to our regular regimen, not doing A fat-fast), we managed to raise our fat intake from sixty-something to eighty-something percent of energy, and this has done the trick.  We're BOTH losing.

Additionally, i find that by eating to appetite, i'm not taking in enough food to convince my body it can afford to "waste" fat to fuel me adequately.  Upon the 1200-1400 kcal/day intake, WHICH SATISFIES MY APPETITE AMPLY, my body prefers to being in starvation mode.  When i ADD TO my desired intake by drinking bulletproof-recipe coffee in the morning and consuming a very high-fat dessert, i DO lose.  At a moderate-protein, VLC, VHF level of eating, the body is willing to burn body-fat generously at 2000 kcal -- for me, this is astonishing.

Not only am i writing this as a progress report for a pair of overweight middle-agers, but as a refutation of the confusing information provided to mature women by young male paleos on sites like facebook.  The LAST thing new female low-carbers need is input from half-informed individuals about how little an obesity-resistant representative of an entirely different demographic has to do to achieve success!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

omega-6 fats are responsible for "thyroid resistance"

When i first heard of "thyroid resistance" (as compared with that of insulin or leptin, for instance), i thought it might be a made-up malady, just like "restless leg syndrome."  It subsequently occurred to me that it might simply be the perceived lack of function which comes with excessive O6 intake ... because the latter DOES interfere with thyroid receptors.

Googling "linoleic acid interferes with thyroid receptors" will produce a plethora of hits, ranging in credibility from PubMed to jock-blogs.  The concept is neither new nor terribly controversial (though there's always reason to question in-vitro rat studies).  So why do we hear so little about it?  Until i found the concept (buried in an old book review by Chris Masterjohn), the closest i'd come to learning this was reading "saturated fat in the diet is good for thyroid function."  ...I love how so many sites state absolutes like this without any kind of reasoning or discussion....

Considering this, it's no wonder some people feel crappy on a low-carb diet -- they're doing it wrong (and god rest Dr. Atkins, but he told them to).  Yes, i DID just say THEY'RE DOING IT WRONG, and i meant it.  Much as i dislike the blame-the-victim mentality implied by those words, it IS possible that a lot of failure in the LC world has to do with mistakes that can be pure innocence or outrageous stupidity (like getting one's few allowed carbs from CANDY, like one outspoken "anti" did).

We NEED our saturated fats, BECAUSE those seem to be the best choice for thyroid-challenged people in maximizing function.  Monounsaturates are better than polys, but still inhibitive.  And we need fats, in general, because it BOOSTS CALORIE INTAKE, which is GOOD for our thyroid function*!  Learning this, i'm beginning to rethink my strategy in making mayo and other salad dressings.  I love a good olive oil, and ditto for avocado, but hey -- certain things (like well-being) are more important than others.

It becomes important for hypothyroids, even if they're not low-carbers, to avoid omega-6 fats to the best of their ability -- because they're ubiquitous.  EVERY time you dine out, you ARE getting linoleic acid, no matter what you eat.  It's in your meat, your eggs, your cheese, your fish, your coffee-creamer, your vegetables, your ice-cream and ronaldmcdonald only knows what else!  In our beloved grass-fed beef and lamb, it still comprises a significant amount of the fat involved, though in better proportion than in CAFO meat ... and there's also a goodly amount of thyroid-inhibiting monounsaturates in there.  Among our best friends, ironically, are the fruit-based oils such as coconut and red palm, and palm-kernel (SEED!), and their artificially-isolated cousin, MCT.

Eating a low-carb diet is soothing to a hypothyroid, because the less dietary glucose we have to dispose of, the farther our limited supply of hormone will go.  People who claim that it's "stressful" to us aren't looking at the big picture.  However, we absolutely positively MUST do it correctly, by minimizing disruptive poly- and monounsaturated fats, and maximizing all those heart-healthy SATURATED fats we've come to love!

(And by getting our allowed carbohydrate intake from a garnish of low-starch, low-fructose, low-toxin vegetables instead of from a chocolate box.)

*  nothing seems to inhibit even normal thyroid function like calorie-restriction!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

television series remind me of processed foods

I do my best thinking in the bathtub, or during long-distance drives by myself.  Today i had just put down my book in preparation for soaping up, when i started to notice the music coming from my husband's office television, where he was obviously watching another episode of "Band of Brothers."  I got to mulling over series we've watched in the past couple of years....

When you first start watching a program that's reasonably well-crafted, you get interested in the novelty and roped in by the human desire to get to know the "people" (characters) involved.  Behind the scenes are all the emotionally-manipulating techniques the industry uses to hook you into becoming a regular viewer.  Depending on certain things you start NOTICING the manipulation, and if i becomes significantly annoying you cease to patronize the product.

So it is, i feel, with processed foods.  I may be attracted by the novelty, if convinced that it's not an intrinsically bad product (like lowest-common-denominator TV shows), and give it a sporting chance of winning me over.  Certain reduced-carb (or intrinsically-low-carb) foods come to mind.  But if i'm feeling particularly analytical (or sensitive) the manipulative aspects of the product begin to irritate or cloy or ... just rub me the wrong way!

The fact that novelty is attractive is the basis for changing clothing fashions as well as other aspects of daily life.  People who want to sell you something find a shortcut to your affections through novelty -- whether it be a distinctive flavor combination or a less-trodden literary path or (in my theme today) an opportunity to eat something we usually prefer to deny ourselves.  The attempt to manipulate you is usually perceptible if you eat/watch/listen mindfully.  If you KNOW the tricks being played, it's less easy to lead you down the garden path.

...Like with LC, gluten-free, acceptible-ingredient-filled processed stuff.  As an occasional treat, there's nothing wrong (for ME*) with enjoying a little "charming garbage."  OCCASIONALLY.  The mistake is in doing it "just this once" every single day, or using it instead of actual FOOD, or being unaware of just what is going on.

*  i don't have a chronic problem with trigger-foods, but realize it can be a BIG issue in some; they have my sincere sympathy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

according to THIS body, the best fat is ... [drumroll...]


Don't get me wrong, i love ALL the "good fats" -- they have personalities of their own and have particular applications which no other can usurp (in my kitchen, anyway).  Hell, i even like some bad fats!  Just compare the FLAVOR of corn versus soybean oil....

The much-vaunted coconut oil, which has the virtue of being tolerable by the bile-challenged among us, has been a wonderful addition to my culinary repertoire, though i never felt the energetic boost from it which other people report.  Virgin red palm oil is the fat i like to marinate my tenderloin steaks in, and it's even pretty.  Olive oil -- that goddess of the vegetable oil world -- is almost a sine qua non!  Avocado, sesame, goose/duck schmaltz = LOVE.

Naturally-occurring animal fat is a treat that most people in this country have forgotten.  Ya wanna know why?  I think it's because the universal 20th-century grain-fattening of meat animals made their fat NASTY.  It sits in the stomach like a rock and has an unpleasant mouth-feel.  One ends up feeling queasy instead of well-fed.

Of course we know that grassfed meats have a better fatty-acid profile.  There's a lot more omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid, and it came from a less-stressed, healthier animal than CAFO meat.  Better for them, better for us....

We once did a side-by-side of grassfed and conventional (but very good quality) beef tenderloin steaks.  The latter were bland, and the texture was altogether different -- rather watery and spongey.  The GF steaks were denser but not less tender, richly-flavored, satisfying.  My husband repeated the experiment on our daughter and SIL, and the results were identical.

But it's grassfed GROUND BEEF which i like to eat on an almost-daily basis, and it's all about the fat.  The big difference between last week (original Atkins induction) and those weeks when i was sailing along on the Strong Medicine protocol, was the generous amount of beef and pork fat i was consuming (along with no lettuce) on the SMp.  My gut thanked me.

Friday, June 7, 2013

and HOW can 1972 Atkins induction fail one?

I'll tell you -- and it ain't the lack of healthywholegrainsfruitsandvegetables.  It's LETTUCE.

Vicious stuff.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed my comments about the Salad of Doom; also that Dr. Donaldson of "Strong Medicine" fame says it's one of the hardest things to digest that there are.  As a character reports in a book i love, he sometimes forgets he has asthma but asthma never forgets it has HIM -- it's the same with my digestive apparatus and that green leafy diet staple.

I wondered why i wasn't feeling a lot better and dropping pounds the way i should have.  I was doing my damnedest to get plenty of good fats and calories, an appropriate amount of protein, and even forgoing wine.  I've been sleeping well enough, not outrageously stressed, and although my allergies have been acting up a bit, it hasn't been miserable.  The inflammation hasn't GONE from my left knee, but it's getting better.  I realized early yesterday that one aspect of a healthily-running body wasn't quite what it ought to be ... and it HAS to be due to the lettuce.

That's the primary vegetable matter that Dr. Atkins originally sanctioned for the first week -- SALAD.  I could happily have forgone any vegetable matter AT ALL (save coffee), but i wanted my husband's strict week to be less onerous.  He's used to more variety in his meals than i had become accustomed to, and i wanted to indulge him as best one can, within the limits of induction rules.  I can handle a leaf here and a leaf there, but a salad or two every day is too much for me.

Well, yesterday and today i topped off my morning coffee consumption with a cuppa that included a good chunk of grassfed beef tallow -- that trick has never let me down yet.  I'm hoping that when the traffic jam disperses, the fat loss that HAS to have happened will become more apparent!

Monday, June 3, 2013

induction challenge

Since we returned from the cruise, my husband has been enthusiastic about buckling down and losing weight.  Suits me!  In solidarity, i started doing the original 1972 version of Dr. Atkins' induction with him.  Of course, we do a cleaned-up version with minimized omega-6 fats, coconut milk/cream favored over dairy cream, and other tweaks of the like nature.  We're both nixing alcohol this week.  That's the hardest part!  :-)

Although he's dropped 8 pounds since we got home on the 19th of May, he's disappointed it hasn't been going as fast as it did the first time.  Every time his ketosticks are less than dark purple he feels a bit discouraged -- telling him that mine NEVER get that dark is no consolation.

I'm pleased to find that his blood glucose is in a healthy range!  J has been so prone to growing skin-tags, and i understood that they're a sign of excessive insulin levels (but have no source for the idea)....  He's been regularly checking BG in the mornings as well as using the ketosticks; both are good.

But of all the interesting things that Jackie Eberstein (Atkins' long-time nurse-assistant) said on the Low Carb Cruise, one thing sticks in my memory -- DO NOT expect your body to perform "the way it used to."  This mind-trap may affect men in our age-bracket more than women, because women tend to see the changes very clearly, and men have fewer reminders.  Age changes a lot of things in all of us, and the way we respond to dietary and nutritional input changes over time just like our responses to exercise do.  Older people don't absorb nutrients as well, for one thing.  We have to do more and try harder all the time, as our bodies actually resist our efforts at an increasing rate.

Before you say "upper 50s isn't OLD" remember that until comparatively recently it WAS considered reasonably advanced.  Hell, 35 was "middle-aged" (half of that threescore-years-and-ten, you know).  Just because 40 is the new 20 doesn't REALLY make us "young"....

We have to be more patient with ourselves, because we can't drop fat or put on muscle as well as we used to.  We haven't escaped unscathed from the passing decades.  We have to be more careful and less indulgent if we want to enjoy our retirement the way we want.  Thank the gods for the benefits of low-carbing!

So we're chugging along with our diets as we also are with our house rehab.  It's 117 years old -- no wonder it takes so long for it to start looking better!  :-)