Saturday, November 29, 2014

sad reflections

Dr. Perlmutter's latest blog post discusses a study in the journal Neurology, in which MRIs showing deleterious brain changes are analyzed in relation to "various markers of blood fats and risk."  The verdict:  lower LDL is not a good thing.  If you haven't read it already, I encourage you to.

I have the perfect anecdote about why this is news we should have had a long time ago -- before low-fat dietary advice fucked up the health of America (and probably a lot of the rest of the world).  It's a comparatively recent tragedy involving my mother's dearest friend.

Mother was the executive-secretary for the head of the pharmacology department of KUMC for decades.  She particularly got along with a most remarkable doctor there, Stata Norton, and after they had both retired, they continued and deepened their friendship.  I knew, liked, and had an immense amount of respect for Stata! 

If there's a fault to be found in the thinking of extremely brilliant professionals, it's probably that they believe their peers are as brilliant -- and honest -- as they are.  Somewhere along the line, Dr. Norton heard and gave credence to the bullshit about low-fat and low-sodium and health -- she put herself and her chubby husband (Dr. David Ringle, from the pathology department of the same institution) on low-fat diets.  I mean LOWWWWW fat.  Mother used to say that Stata had been a good cook, and looked forward to her Christmas cake, until she ruined it by removing the butter.

Dr. Ringle (I never knew him as well as I did Stata, so never felt comfortable about referring to him as Dave) started losing his wits.  At first, Mother used to attribute it to the geek factor (not that she used that term) -- not having first-rate conversational skills, but a decidedly odd sense of humor.  But then he started forgetting things more and more; it was obviously dementia.  I believe he had a stroke at some point too, but my memory is less clear on that score.  At last, it looked like his mind was totally gone, and he was going to have to go into an institution.

He was in the hospital, and the dog-sitter arrived one morning to find Stata dead on the sofa from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind these two able and respected scientists met premature ends because of the FALLACIOUS INFORMATION from ego- and profit-motivated sources.  When I rage against those FUCKING LIARS, there's definitely a personal aspect to my fury.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

celebrate like a human

On this side of the pond and in a portion of North America* a large number of people are dedicating a long weekend to gluttony, sloth, rampant consumerism, and the voyeuristic.  Yep, it's Thanksgiving time again!

The roots of this holiday are in the harvest festivals of the Old World as well as certain events over here that have been iconified with time and propagandization.  It's no wonder that certain Native American groups are just nauseated by the First Thanksgiving Reenactment concept, given the kind of treatment they got afterward, during and even before this period, but we'll put "rank ingratitude and abuse" on the back burner for now....

Its very name, implying our innate desire to thank "God" for aiding us in our mischief, is a little archaic as well as being as ridiculous as many of the weekend activities.  How much deity-thanking is going to go on over the next four days, do you think?  I imagine the vast majority is going to be in the vein of "THANK GOD, they're finally leaving!" or "THANK GOD, WE're finally leaving!" or "THANK GOD, Uncle Joe didn't drink as much this year...."  Oh, sure, religiously-heterogeneous families will bow their heads and formally thank JESUS for the food -- I never quite understood the reason for that permutation -- but even if the prayer lasts a couple of minutes, it's unlikely that the thought and attitude will linger after the turkey begins to be passed.

An appalling amount of the religious fervor in the USA is of the sentimental and window-dressing sort.  Oh, yes, I know a lot of good, kind people who are heart-felt Christians, but they'd be just as good and kind if they were Muslims or Buddhists or atheists, as far as that's concerned.  It's just EASY to be a Christian here, no matter what the Dumfuckistani say.  Nevertheless, people who haven't been in a church in years will bow their heads to thank a deity they really don't believe in, because they're guilted into it by their mothers, or their small children, or their own consciences.

This is usually the point at which we need to exert ourselves to celebrate like an actual Human Being, as opposed to being an Ass or a Swine or a Bull or ... you get the idea.

Some people seem to LIVE to be unpleasant and confrontational.  The sympathetic might say that they're just so unhappy, they have to rain on everyone-else's parade, and we should pity them;  there's a certain amount of truth in that, but it's a damned bad excuse.  There are other possible explanations, too, an esoteric one being that they are psychically fed by the emotion they stir up -- i'm inclined to believe this.  They are SUCH jerks that their own nuclear families dislike them, and they don't receive the subtle vibes (usually described exoterically as "love" or "support") that we all thrive on.  That's why they stir up NEGATIVE energy -- it's better than the NONE they're accustomed to receiving from their "loved ones" as well as society in general.

If you have someone of this type to deal with, for the sake of the rest of the family (especially "Mom" or "Grandma," for whom this truly is a special day, and who has busted her butt in the kitchen for the last few days preparing for it) -- I suggest you google things like "how to make an asshole shut up" and get yourself a stable of replies to their provocative BS.  Being provocative in reply doesn't work -- and distresses your hostess!  (I'm putting things in feminine terms only because a lot of "moms" are the ones who have worked hard to make the event possible, though there are many men who fulfill the role in other families....)

It behooves us to show consideration to those who truly DO provide the dinner, in a physical sense.  Whether or not you believe in a Supreme Being, your host/hostess didn't just wave a magic wand to make things happen -- they invested time, money, and energy to bring about a social gathering which SHOULD be as rewarding to them as it is to your stomach and taste-buds!  If google-sourced attempts to make Aunt GINny behave aren't sufficiently effective, you might want to take her aside and tell her that behaving like to bitch to the Founder of the Feast is going to result in her roasting in hell for all eternity. :-D  Cuz, you know, "faith without works is dead."

My husband and I will be spending a quiet holiday together, roasting a duck and enjoying low-carb versions of classic dishes.  From us to all of you -- a happy Harvest Home, Thanksgiving, Turkey-Day ... however you want to term a celebration of good food and good company!
* It never ceases to amaze me how so many residents of the USA conveniently forget that North America isn't all about us.  :-)  I could go on and on, but....

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

it doesn't take much to ruin credibility!

It wasn't just a ludicrous paragraph in a paper which has been touted recently as "proof" that "Victorians ate a paleo diet" -- i was reading along in another paper someone linked on twitter when i came across a phrase talking about the alkaline balance of a certain diet....

There's nothing more credibility-destroying than slamming up against ARRANT BULLSHIT in what should be a seriously scientific treatise. 

...Then there was another journal-published, peer-reviewed paper which read like somebody's high-school science report.  Some of the stuff that gets printed is jaw-droppingly bad!  If i were affiliated with some of these publications, i'd be nothing short of embarrassed.  All such papers provide excellent support for the concept of Grain Brain if not CARB Syndrome.  There are a lot of neurons that aren't firing correctly in the academic world ... and yet these are supposed to be our best and brightest!

I've never been a study-quoter -- I've been an adherent of some people who read studies ALL THE WAY THROUGH, and take a close look at the methods section, and even contact the authors for details that didn't make it into print (Petro, of course, is #1).  ...Because it is blatant that conclusions are reached by authors which are far from supported by the actual data.  Because underpowered studies, whether by design or by negligence, are rife in the system.  Because some people are just avid to publish ANYTHING, so long as they publish. 

But if i WERE a study-quoter, i'd change my style at this point.  Just because "a study was performed" and "an outcome was reported" doesn't mean that a competent person approached a question in a logical fashion and reached a reasonable conclusion.  It has been said that the devil can quote scripture to his own benefit, and i believe it -- one can quote published, peer-reviewed studies to "prove" any point you want to -- a lot of it is STILL nonsense.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

VERY poor grasp of history...

I've heard it on a couple of different occasions -- that Victorian-age people by-and-large ate basically a paleo diet....  ALERT!  ALERT!  There are pod-people among us!  ;-)  Anybody who truly thinks this is obviously from a parallel universe ... or is profoundly ignorant of history!

The "Victorian Era" was defined by the rule of Queen Victoria of England (etc) -- from 1837 to 1901 -- during the course of a century when HUGE changes were taking place in the "developed" world.  For a little perspective, steam-engine trains were in their earliest years when she ascended the throne, and automobiles were in a comparable condition when she was lowered into the tomb.  When this long period started, Mexico owned a gigantic portion of what is now the USA, and by the end of that time, we had wrested (i was tempted to say "stolen") it from them.

What was eaten during that period of time was broadly different, depending upon where you were and how much money you had.  What i can state with confidence and conviction is, the poorer you were, the more HORRIBLY neolithic your food was.  And in our age of plenteous variety, most people would be appalled to observe how repetitious was the diet of ordinary people of that era.

In our day of cheap chicken, i'm sure it will surprise a lot of people that poultry was considered a "special" luxury meal -- that's why in the US, turkey is the traditional main-dish of Thanksgiving and Christmas -- one certainly couldn't afford it more regularly.  150 years ago, it was far more economical for a city-dweller to acquire beef ... and to my surprise, colonial-era Americans ate more veal than mature beef as well.  Of course -- the cows were valuable for their dairy products and you don't want too many bulls around, because they're dangerous.  A superfluous number of male calves become veal, not steers.

Once while visiting Britain, i acquired a wonderful little cookbook, written by one of V's chefs, entitled "A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes" (1861)   (As a reenactor portraying an Irish immigrant at the time of the Civil War, these recipes are PERFECT for describing to our audiences the "affordable" diet of the times.)  I wish it were arranged as most cookbooks are, by type of dish, but no -- Oatmeal Porridge is printed just before Ox-Cheek Soup.  :-P  Mr Francatelli most specifically urges Victoria's subjects to learn to bake their own bread, in order to save money and have a much more wholesome product than their local baker supplies.

If you lived in the American southwest during the period in question, and you weren't a well-to-do rancher, you didn't dream of eating outside the Neolithic template --  you probably ate very little besides beans and corn, as did your ancestors for thousands of years, too.  There just isn't very much GAME out there!  Why do you think they started herding so early -- without sheep/goats and artificially-irrigated fields of the "holy trinity" of corn, beans and squash, the great pueblo civilizations could never have begun.  Prehistoric populations were all hunter-gatherers?  HA!

Don't assume that the non-desert people of the West were all living on game, either.  Comanches and their competitors may be poster-children for "all-meat" diets, but they weren't 100% typical, by any means.  And if your imagination shows you visions of westward-expansionists shooting a deer for dinner every day from the seat of his covered wagon, i've got more bad news -- the great western trails were often great swaths of trampled, hard, grassless earth a mile wide!  People had to go huge distances out of their way to get water and grass for their animals in some places -- can you imagine antelope grazing within the range of a rifle?  No, not even rabbits.

Another valuable reprinted book in my collection is "The Prairie Traveler" (1859), written by an expert on the subject of westward trails (not the quality of the moron who led the Donner Party on an experimental route).  What he tells emigrants to bring are flour (by which he means wheat OR corn), bacon, beef on the hoof, coffee, sugar, leavening, salt, and pepper.  He lists also what a certain "North American Arctic exploration party" carried with them (successfully, i gather) -- pemmican, hard biscuit, preserved potatoes, flour, tea, sugar, and "grease or alcohol for cooking."  He also recommends antiscorbutics, and praises desiccated vegetables.  ...Civil War soldiers preferred to pronounce that word, "desecrated."  ;-)

So when people claim that "Victorians" were eating a paleo diet, exactly WHICH Victorians are we talking about?  Some African tribe that missionaries were pestering?  Uncontacted South Sea islanders?  Cuz it sure wasn't Victoria's OWN SUBJECTS, nor those in most of her empire, nor the North American descendants of previous British monarchs.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

we don't ALL have to love cooking

You hear it left, right, and center these days -- the problem with modern people is that they don't COOK anymore!  Well, anyone who says this is obviously just hanging around with a pack of non-cookers, because LOTS of people cook.  Some people I know have exalted notions of their talents in that direction, too, because they and their families like their products ... but that's another story!  ;-)

Maybe "the problem with modern people" is that they like to cook (and eat) things that really aren't that good for them.  Just look at what people post on FB and Pinterest -- cakes and cookies and gooey carby casseroles.  I don't deny that they look tasty, but if you're using your cooking-energy making those, you're not making the things that will help you get (or stay) lean.

A person doesn't HAVE to do a lot of cooking to eat low-carb-healthy.  A person can do a lot of cooking and set themselves up for health catastrophes, too.  Choose your path!

One can eat low-carb at restaurants -- it's not that hard (it's much harder to eat LC-paleo).  You can carry-out LC from grocery stores.  You can spend a half-hour in the kitchen and have a LC feast.  NOT COOKING is not the problem!

If you have a copy of the "Fat Fast Cookbook" by Dana Carpender & friends, you have basically all you need -- add extra protein to her recipes and they'll feed you 365 days a year!  :-)  I consider Dana the greatest living cookbook-writer....

The problem is what we choose to eat, not whether we cook it ourselves or otherwise. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


What a wonderful place a blog is to vent....  I've been driving for the last nine hours (dinner break included), and recently sat down en deshabille with my feet up, and here i can't help jumping right in to grinch about something i read on twitter.  :-D  Yes, i AM incorrigible.

"The Health Potential of Fruits and Vegetables Phytochemicals: Notable Examples"  HOLY MOTHER OF THE DREAD CTHULHU -- somebody thought this was a worthwhile study???  It's in PubMed, but it sounds like a junior high school science assignment.

OVER AND OVER people claim that there are health benefits of eating plant life, because epidemiological studies show superior health in those who eat them (ignoring countless confounders).  Plant products theoretically have important nutrients (assuming one's body can actually use them).  But over and over AND OVER, when proper studies try to pin down this claim, it evaporates like steamed-up glass in the car, when you open the windows and let in some fresh air.

Academia, PROVE that those things actually do what you claim -- i dare you.  ...And STFU until you do!

keeping your head I MEAN HEALTH when all about you are losing theirs

Even before i became interested in "diet and wellness" i was involved in ... diet and wellness -- duh.  :-)  Of course, during the last two decades of the twentieth century i had the stick by the wrong end, but i still paid attention to how i felt when eating or drinking, especially in conjunction with seasonal illnesses.  I observed that there were two kinds of "colds" -- the kind you catch from your kids, and the kind that just HAPPENS when you're run down.

I've also been a great consumer of historic information, be it in literature or the 20th-century version, MOVIES.  Watch some of those charming old romantic comedies of the '30s -- somebody gets sick, they are given a stout toddy (not a toddy OF stout...) and put to bed with a hot-water bottle.  OF COURSE i tried it!

In this case, "traditional medicine" let me down.  I found that a toddy actually made me feel worse most of the time.

But the hot-liquids-and-bed part was excellent.  Even the crummiest canned or dehydrated chicken soup has the power to loosen congestion and soothe passages.  The most valuable part of the equation, though, was SLEEP.  I discovered that if i sent myself to bed -- just dropped everything, surrendered sovereignty of my environment (i.e., made my husband feed the kids and tuck them in) and CRASHED, it was possible to sleep away the beginnings of a cold.

OUR BODIES ARE DESIGNED TO HEAL THEMSELVES.  What they need are the tools to do the job, and lack of negative influences that hold them back.

If you get run down, winter or summer, just STOP.  Don't tell yourself that the office can't possibly get along without you (or fear that they find out they CAN).  Don't let yourself stay up to watch that final episode of reality/unreality TV -- that's why the gods created DVR!  Delay the very least you possibly can, and go the hell to bed.

Don't think you have to make supper from scratch for your poor little paleo kiddos -- they need a well parent more than they need the perfect meal this one night.  Abdicate "responsibilities" that you've optionally taken on.  You probably need a hot epsom bath more than they need their hair washed and blown-dry, anyway.  Just this once, let it slide.

Sleep the clock around!  Don't force yourself to get up at the regular time -- if your body has regained its momentum, you'll wake on time, anyway.  If you feel lousy, STAY HOME.  It always pissed me off to the point of mania that some people WHO WERE NOT ESSENTIAL would come in to work and spread their illness around, just to show how dedicated they were!  Dedicated, my ass.  They did infinitely more harm than good.

Naturally, this goes for the kinds of jobs i worked through the decades -- not everyone has as much flexibility ... BUT the point is, a lot of people COULD be rational but DON'T.

Sleep is healing.  Good nutrition is healing.  Use 'em.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

don't panic, everybody!

This is a head-bang-desker....

The facebook entity known as I Fucking Love Science is long on book-smarts but often shows a shortage of knowledge of the world, AKA "common sense."  She posted "Should you be worried about bird flu?" with a link to "Bird Flu is Back, But Should We Be Worried?"  My short answer is NO.

No, we shouldn't be constantly worried about an isolated case of X somewhere.  If it comes closer, it might be something to read-up on.  Read up on who catches these things.  Who gets badly sick of them.  Read up on how they're transmitted.  We should ALREADY have read up on how to make ourselves more resistant to various viral and bacterial threats to health.

Constantly stressing ourselves about something that probably has no impact on our lives is a waste of good stress-hormones.  Worrying about having that carby treat "just this once" EVERY DAMNED DAY is far more likely to be relevant to your well-being.

Really....  The news is designed to hook us in to reading more from the same source, not to actually inform us about anything.  Since television began broadcasting 24/7, and the creation of all-news channels, i've seen a HUGE difference in the style of journalism they deliver.  Like the Weather Channel which overdramatizes minor storms to get people to stay watching longer, the corporate-employed "newscaster" is more dedicated to getting his/her name in front of the viewer than actually inclined to tell you what OF IMPORTANCE is actually happening in the world.

So PLEASE DON'T PANIC!!!!  STAY CALM!  (i gag on those faux WWII "stay calm" derivatives...)  If you limit your sugar (which damages immunity) and make sure you're nutrient-replete, and above all DON'T FRENCH-KISS AN EBOLA VICTIM, you stand a reasonable chance of living through the (northern-hemisphere) winter....

never say never

Just last month I was bad-mouthing Primal Docs:  well, to teach me a lesson, one of their members hit one out of the park today!  :-)

She writes of some paleo/primal foods which are problematic with either shingles or herpes, and her discussion is very lucid and convincing.  I copied the URL and trotted right over to facebook, where one of my Utah friends had been experiencing some pre-rash shingles pain -- I hope she has a look at the article!  Some people resist treating their physical ills with diet and lifestyle ... as we well know!  But if it's bad enough...?

In any case, this is the article I linked for her:  (and thank the gods I don't have those issues!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

bad girl! ;-)

I was really "bad" over the weekend, but i'm neither going to beat myself up over it, nor wail and mourn.  No, i'll "pick myself up, dust myself off, start all over again."  :-)  (i do enjoy those Rogers/Astaire movies...)

It was COLD for Texas!  It dipped down into the thirties at night;  the challenge is not having a warm bedroom when we hit the hay, but the fact that the wood-stove or kerosene-heater has cooled off by morning -- you wake up all warm in the woolen blankets, but your clothes are OVER THERE and are darned chilly against your skin....  I rarely plan ahead well enough to put my stockings, petticoat, and a shawl under the covers to pre-warm them, and it really isn't feasible to do with a dress because it wrinkles too much.

When it's cold you DO burn more fat keeping warm, and we do a lot of walking and physical work at "Cowboy Town" too -- I don't regret the rice i ate, but the hidden wheat and vegetable oils i "accidentally" ingested have me pretty bloated and inflamed.  No, i indulged in restaurant foods with my eyes open, and have no one to blame but myself ... but i was HUNGRY!  :-)

The most annoying and telltale symptom?  Carpel tunnel!  It completely went away when i went low-carb, and only reappears when i've committed sins against my villii.  My hands and feet are uncomfortably puffy, and the discomfort in my gut has nothing to do with the corset i wore all weekend.  My throat feels a little irritated, but that is likely just the result of breathing wood-smoke.

My daughter's first visit there went very well -- i think i can tempt her to go back for another visit!  And after a couple of days of eating the way i really PREFER, i'll feel great again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

guest post

Today, while i'm in Texas finishing up preparations for my daughter's first weekend at the "Cowboy Town" I'm delighted to present Galina's debut blog-post here!  Please tell her how much you enjoy her work (as I do!), and maybe she'll treat us again!  THANK YOU, Galina:

The benefits of following diet rules, having a restrictive mentality toward food and in the support of wild claims
Tess invited me to write more on the subject I left the comment about.

 I am absolutely not qualified to speak about medical science and to give a health advice, but I think I can voice  my point of view derived from personal observations.  I developed my opinions by observing others and dealing with my own health issues  and helping my family members, so my experience is very limited and my opinion is nothing more than thoughts of a  private person. The main idea of my today post is the describing positive aspects of following diet rules most of the time, a  behavior  which could be called  practicing a restrictive food attitude. There were some harsh words said about it, and I guess, I may in turn to argue in the defense of such practice because it is useful for many. Few things are totally wrong or right, after all, and there are benefits in following strict diet rules as well. The question is - if something in your regiment is unnecessary or if you are crossing your t-s twice, does it mean you are an idiot? Is it so important to eat the same food as everybody else? If you are not starving yourself or lacking vital nutrients, could you totally skip on  bread, grains, sugar, even fruits without being harmed in some ways? Since hardly anyone finds "golden middle" in anything, which extreme is better - being too relaxed around food choices, or being too restrictive? Of course, there are always people who may choose diet rules which are not adequate to their situation, my post is about the people who found what works for them. When people are in the search of the most suitable regiment for their particular case, rules obedience is not a good idea, there is only one thing to do - to try how diet recommendations work in your case without being emotionally attached to ideas of any diet camp. Every diet recommendation could be supported by scientifically sounding explanations and referrals to several authorities, but only self-experimentation should be trusted.

 As a newcomer to US, I find Americans way more rules obedient than people from my native country, unless it is about not eating something, it is opposite for Russians who are very bad in following directions and behaving safely and good in rules bending, but  follow doctor's orders about a diet more readily. People in US put protective helmets on while riding bicycles around absolutely safe routes and use inflated jackets kayaking in shallow streams without  second thoughts about doing overkill, or a possibility of not enjoying life and activity 100% while wearing a protective devise in a perfectly safe situation, but just don't try to pry some foods from people's cold  dead hands! They practice moderation, and everything in moderation is good for you! They may cite  researchers who discovered that serotonin is naturally produced only after consumption of carbohydrates in the form of sweets and starches. They even may develop  an anxiety from the idea that food and health are connected. Dr. Dean mentioned her colleague who felt sorry and guilty afterwards for telling his patient about the diet beneficial for asthmatics. The patient developed an anxiety after learning that certain foods could provoke asthma attacks instead of being glad that a valuable tool was added to her asthma fighting options. 

 I also follow some advice without thinking, for example l do what my dermatologist told me to do - to put a sunscreen on my face regardless of the weather because I have a Rosacea (it turned out to be a super good practice when I went to Colorado for skiing in April, we forgot about the power of a sun at a high altitude, and my husband had really extensive sunburn, much worse than the one which could be achieved  in Florida). We all mindlessly brush teeth twice a day while there is a data one time a day is good enough. Some people even take medications with known side-effects as a prevention against a possibility of a cardiovascular disease in a future. It looks like that our beliefs influence which side we trust - many people who are very opposed to food restrictions are totally satisfied with the practice to take more medication to treat symptoms and even use statins despite imperfect data which supports their use. 

When you start analyzing rules, it is almost always easy to find something to laugh about - rules are rigid constructions by nature, and it is usually easy to imagine the situation when following some particular rule is ridiculous.  All famous (mostly named after a doctor who actually treated his patients with a particular diet, not a blogger with a mania grandiose) LC diets have differences when it comes to details. Is it the evidence that there was something wrong with each diet? I don't think so. It is the nature of rules not to be reasonable 100% of the time, but generally working for the intended purpose. Does it mean every set of rules was unnecessary strict at least in something? Yes. Does it mean rules could be too generous? Absolutely. Dr. Alfred Pennington  advised to fat DuPont executives to consume  at each meal 2-3 oz of fat, 6-9 oz of meat, 80 calories of carbohydrates  (in few cases that small amount of carbs prevented weight loss). It looks like following diet rules is a starting point/a ready-to-use template for the people who want to follow a diet. Many may develop  own set of rules later which would save them from hesitations in a day-to-day life, others, who are less prepared for self-experimentation, could be using what is already put together and see how it works.
But why to live the unnatural life of a dieter? We are all adults, we know more or less how to navigate life safely when we drive, work, exercise, do house repairs. Why we just can't rely on a general mindfulness while eating? Probably, what I am about to say will not sound optimistic, but I do believe it is better to remember that in our quest to loose weight and, what is way more difficult, to keep it off, odds are against us, despite what numerous people claim in individual anecdotal n=1s. There are many examples of successful weight-losers on the National weight Registry and on Internet, but the chances it would be your case are statistically small. My doctor keeps telling me that watching almost the same number on a scale during my check-ups keeps him surprised because it is against his experience and the medical literature he reads.   What we want to achieve is unnatural and often, but not always, not realistic. Getting an unnatural result may require an unnatural behavior. A general normal mindfulness is often the gateway to the yo-yo dieting because it leads to the sequence of less mindful eating/resulted weight gain during times of holidays or stress and almost starving/weight loss later in order to correct the weight gain ("the snap back in a shape!" as a commercial would say). Finding the working diet regiment is not enough, we also have to change subconscious behavior toward food and eating and to get maximum help from all directions. We have to train our inner voice to support us with what we do, not sabotaging us. People who want to lose weight while  living in a sabotaging environment at least part of every day have to be spared from most of possible hesitations. It is hard to exercise mindfulness toward  food all the time, so making choices without thinking works better on a long run. Everybody knows that there are foods around which are better to avoid entirely, and we don't need our inner voice to sing "one doughnut will not kill you, because everything is fine in moderation" or "today is a special occasion, we live only once, that cake, stuffing, mashed potato are worth to die for " it is what everybody is saying around us already. Some people even adapt "ridiculous" from other people's perspective motivating rituals like joining others who claim all grains are poisonous, embracing wild claims, watching videos about dangers of gluten like, reading "success stories" which usually tell nothing new, but for them finding a new information may be not the point because the people who try to motivate themselves often don't seek any additional reasoning. Motivational behavior could be even more important when they achieve their goal. Finding working set of rules for your case is important, but figuring how to stick to it is a separate ongoing problem, especially when somebody doesn't get an immediate feed-back from eating not-optimal food like the person with GI troubles or mental problems would. We are social creatures who could be influenced one way or another. Keeping mind open and experimenting farther when a diet is working already resulted for many in gained pounds and inches. There are social retards who feel comfortable doing things differently that others around, it seems to me many of frequenters of Wooo's blog belong to the such category. However, not everybody is blessed (or cursed) with a social retardation, and it is especially true for young people.

 I don't belong to a Paleo crowd and I annoyed with some of their claims, but  I want to give a huge credit to the Paleo movement for making junk food avoidance being cool. It is normal for youngsters to do reckless things to celebrate their temporary invincibility and youth, and if they pretend being cave people by not eating most of junk because it is a modern food, such reasoning is ok with me, If they go too far by putting in one category all grains together with a white flour, I have no problem with it too, even though I am a big fan of a buckwheat for the people who don't need to restrict carbohydrates. Others feel defensive toward beans, rice, quinoa and what not. Sour rye bread is almost a sacred food for many Eastern and North Europeans, rice eaters bring thinner Asians as the proof that rice is a healthy food. Most probably somebody who has been eating a rice all his/her life while being thin and healthy could continue safely, but a fat or a weight-reduced person may be not so lucky.

 Many not so young people joyfully joined the paleo make-believe movement. They kill two birds with one stone - better diet + feeling younger while being the part of a younger crowd (some youngsters and not exactly youngsters were naughty enough to object). We should not dismiss the stimulating effect of the right state of one's spirit. Our inner dialogs are important. Paleo people follow easy to criticize rules imagining themselves being food rebels, and revolutions are exciting.  When rules are followed, overkill is unavoidable, like in the case with wearing a helmet, but the underlying message of Paleos is spot-on - the human body has not evolved to consume modern diet. Would it be beneficial to convince Paleos to stop playing their cave-man games while living a modern life style? I doubt it. However, the way how they motivate themselves to avoid most of junk makes them the dream target for the people who find entertainment in making fun of others who follow diet rules instead of counting calories and believing no food should be completely off-limits. Well, it is not against human nature to seek all sorts of joy and entertainment in life, making fun of others is a natural source of a humor, so Paleos shouldn't object. but I doubt it would be beneficial for most of them to take to their heart the critic of their hobby.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

association and causation -- a rant

Oh, the hypocrisy!  [sigh]

I had never heard the expression "association does not prove causation" till I started reading nutrition-centered websites, but it made perfect sense to me.  Since that time, I probably see people pointing it out several times per week.  I respect the concept ... and use it often myself, especially when refuting claims of silly people on Facebook.  ;-)

But when I read someone stating it, and then the very next day they reel off all sorts of epidemiological observations as support for their pet notions, it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  They bloody well know better -- there's no excuse for it.

Sometimes observational studies are the best we can hope for -- an RCT is completely impractical for some hypotheses, and totally impossible for others.  We HAVE to depend on animal studies for some things, and it's a real pity to "do that" to them as well, but how else can we learn certain things?  I understand that it's easier on the consciences of experimenters to torture mice than dogs, but mice make piss-poor surrogates for human subjects....

In the absence of proper human experimentation, we need to use open-minded INTELLIGENCE in choosing supportable hypotheses about what we should do concerning this-or-that problem.  Do we see a pattern in rat studies which doesn't pan out in clinical experience?  Then it's GARBAGE -- chuck it out and move on to a different approach.  Are there clear relationships in a study among healthy young athletes which aren't seen in the aging population?  Then it's not universal, and it shouldn't be promoted as such. 

It would make things SO much easier if bad science were spelled out clearly in titles and headlines:  "Test-tube Science Proves Spontaneous Generation" or "According to Questionnaire Recalling Food Intake of Eight Years Ago, Pineapples Cause Acne"....  But no, a lot of "science" exists nowadays with the mere goal of courting future grants, not increasing the sum of human knowledge.  :-(  Journalists want readership, not wisdom.  Brainless, money-wasting studies have to have catchy titles and positively-phrased abstracts, or their authors will have to find jobs in the real world -- trash-collecting would probably be appropriate.

Reasons why [ahem] certain blogs are not on my list --> include some writers' support for NOTIONS THEY WANT TO BELIEVE IN using "evidence" as nebulous as the claims they decry in their competitors.  If X isn't allowed to use mouse studies as support, than Z isn't, either.  If questionnaires aren't adequate to support hypothesis-F, then they're not allowed as proof of hypothesis-G.  What's sauce for the goose is ... oh, you know.

You can't have it both ways, doc -- and you only damage your own credibility by CLAIMING to be more discriminating.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

a sedentary day

I've been doing a lot of sewing recently -- my daughter is going with me to the living-history village next weekend, and though she can wear most of my 19th-century-appropriate wardrobe there ARE some things she'll want to have of her own ... like underclothes.  The first thing I made for her was a pair of drawers, and the second was a chemise.  She'll wear my spare corset this time, but if she continues in "the hobby" i'll make her one of her own.  Ditto, on a petticoat.

Those two items made, I cut out and almost finished putting together a "top," and will also have a skirt ready for her.  Yesterday was a little less busy than some of the days' work I've been putting in -- I only went down to the basement once, I didn't have to iron any yardage, and I didn't make a lot of trips downstairs from the third-floor sewing room:  a light day, compared to some.

What made it unique is that it occurred to me to put on a pedometer.  Working just from 9 to 3, I ended up walking about 1.25 miles ... within my own house.  And that didn't include the WHOLE day, as I took the pedometer off before our evening activities -- dinner out and an operatic performance.  We walked at least another half-mile, possibly closer to a full one, because parking wasn't all that close to either destination.

People who love to WORK OUT seem to think that if you're not doing something in a gym or pounding pavement, you're not getting any exercise at all.  I call BS.

People who shop and cook and sweep and take out the garbage probably get a lot more exercise than they think. Maybe the constant whine of "modern people are too SEDENTARY (read, 'lazy')" is just first-class nonsense too, if they participate in any home-maintanence.  Maybe, if people ARE "moving less" it's because they're living in a small one-story house in the suburbs.  ;-)  There's noplace to walk TO, and that's a real pity -- neighborhood shops and restaurants are wonderful things, but they only work in a place with dense population.  You can walk AROUND, but ...why?  Frankly, i find that even in a fascinating neighborhood, just WALKING gets really old after the first couple of years, especially when i have more interesting and inspiring things to do at home.

My next challenge will be to wear the pedometer while vacuuming.  ;-)  And doing "fur patrol" on the stairs.  And dusting.  I should have put it on J while mowing, before we tore out three-quarters of the yard....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

what about fat?

Empirica had a new blog post out yesterday -- i'm glad Amber is writing more these days!  She proposes that ketosis is the "default human diet" from the energetic point of view, which was very logical ... except for one thing.

As she described things, you either run on glucose or on ketones.  In my opinion, she left out an important alternative.  She didn't broach running on FFAs.

A properly-functioning "young" body on a mixed diet (we'll leave alcohol out for now) gets a reasonable glucose peak after a meal, and burns the sugar off preferentially until the increase in insulin stores the excess and both glucose AND insulin drop.  Then it burns fats.  That's what the human body is designed to do.

Everyone observes that it takes a couple of days for ketones to start churning out in bulk, when starting a LC diet.  What are you running on before this happens?  First you burn through your stored glycogen, and the body has to perceive a glucose shortage ... then you get the magic -- physiological insulin-resistance and gluconeogenesis for those tissues which insist on using glucose.  Hell, even THE BRAIN is now known not really to run exclusively on sugar -- the sugars seem to be converted to lactate.  And the real magic:  the brain is now recognized to turn FFAs to ketones, IN SITU.  Essentially, part of the brain DOES run on fat, just not in the same way muscle cells do.

I believe that Amber is missing part of the equation.  I believe the traditional fuel use went something like this in a healthy person:

  • meal eaten of some mixture of protein, fat and carb;
  • glucose preferentially burnt for a couple of hours;
  • excess energy stored;
  • until next meal (hours after -- no snacking for most of history), body seamlessly goes into lipolysis upon diminution of postprandial insulin;
  • ONLY extended undernutrition leads to heavy ketone-body production.  Otherwise, rinse-repeat.
It's only in the "damaged" body that you find difficulty in switching between fuels -- that's why restablishing metabolic flexibility is crucial in a person who has been overweight and is rectifying their dependence on glucose as the primary fuel.  

That's also why fat-fasting is a tool for forcing a recalcitrant body into burning fat for fuel, and shouldn't be a lifestyle in and of itself -- it's too low in protein.  That's why chasing high ketone-body concentrations is an academic sport and shouldn't be our GOAL for weight-loss or -maintenance. Ketone bodies in your blood imply undernutrition, which we consider "good" for weight-loss -- 

UNLESS you're "cheating" by taking ketone-salts or MCTs!  Then it means "nothing."  You can produce ketones on a very-high-carbohydrate (percent) diet, if you get the calories low enough.  Weight-loss requires burning the fat off your butt for fuel -- not creating lots of ketones from your dietary fat.

When we use ketones for brain-health, that's a different story.  Wooo's neurological issues are ameliorated by a diet which is protein-limited and high in the right kinds of fats -- burning too much glucose/lactate gives her a "short circuit."  Galina prevents migraines with the diet she has refined.  I find that running my brain on fat/ketone makes it function much better -- i sometimes wonder if i wouldn't be an Alzheimers risk, if i had continued to be a glucose-burner.

[aside:  from a link someone put on twitter this week, I was inspired to wonder if we "20th-centurions" are predisposed to neurological sensitivity by low fetal DHA....]

Our hearts and other muscles seem to love to run on fats.  They are "cheap and easy" fuels, which put no strain on the body to release and utilize ... so long as one has the metabolic flexibility to tap into them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

YOUR health answers are not MY health answers

I was just reading Gwen's latest, about a Mark's Daily Apple post which really resonated with her.  HER part of the writing is reasonable and heart-felt, but more and more i get the feeling that what Mark writes is no longer very applicable to me.

That fact doesn't BOTHER me -- i don't expect his writings to have universal applicability -- but more and more he's writing things like (paraphrased) "EVERYONE needs to eat their veggies" and "EVERYONE needs x amount of exercise"....

NO.  No, we don't, and i don't care how many appeals to authority he throws in -- actually the more he DOES, the less i'll take him seriously.

I certainly agree that to have a good life you have to prioritize and take care of your own health, through doing and eating things that will make your body and mind perform to the best of its ability.  What i disagree with is that one is only doing so when personalizing HIS SYSTEM ... and yes, he's subtle, but that's the message that's coming across.  We have to eat what HE considers "healthy," we have to get the KINDS of exercise he describes as effective, we have to participate in physical "play," we have to have the kind of social life that his research shows to be important....

We are all more different than he's giving us credit for.  What some people consider "fun" i might consider stress.  The diet that makes me feel best is actively harmful to others.  Somebody else's cozy social life ... i frequently find disruptive to thought, and smothering.

We can't PLAN joy -- we have to recognize it when it pops out to surprise us.  And savor it when it happens.

We can't please everyone, so we gotta please ourselves ... at least part of the time.  And not feel guilty about it, or that we're doing it "wrong."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

supplements are tricky...

I can understand why a lot of people just don't want to mess with them;  it's far from straightforward, figuring out what might, can, or won't work for YOU.  And even when you think something DOES, as time passes, it may fizzle out on you.

We see this often in people telling their thyroid-supp stories -- they feel low, and their doctor consents to prescribe, and they feel better for awhile, and then they crash....  In this case, i believe we're seeing a body which is limiting its production/conversion for a reason -- the body wants the "rest" that low-thyroid states produce.  The patient, however, intends to go on with life as usual, and the supplemental hormone allows the continuation of overdoing.

Bodies don't like being forced to do something they feel is deleterious to their well-being.  So the patient's body cuts back its own production/conversion even more than before, and the supplemental hormone is pulling the whole weight of the situation.

We need to stop thinking of the body as a locomotive-engine chugging out constant ergs up and down the hills of life, and think of it more as a horse-drawn wagon -- you damn well better take those grades at different paces than the level parts, or the results might be ugly.

But i digress:  i meant to point out how the body goes about adjusting things when we try to push it in a way it doesn't want to go.  Not to mention that you can't manipulate ONE hormone or neurotransmitter, and expect everything else to remain the same.  Or, as in the theme i was actually approaching (though a little too obliquely) -- even when something seems to work, or not work, in the short term, it's what happens further down the road that's significant.

Before we start a new supplement, we should always do our research.  This often turns up few solid FACTS, but intimations as to whether it "might be right for YOU" -- gawd, how i hate that line in commercials!  :-D  But we need to do the background checks!  If you look at an herb, for instance, on webmd, and click on the "reviews" tab, you'll get a skewed-but-potentially-helpful view of WHOM it helps or harms, and how it made them feel.  You can do it on amazon too ... but you can't go by numbers of five-star vs. one-star ratings, because of the infuriating practice of soliciting PROVIDER rather than product reviews (grrrr); you have to read the actual comments.

Considering that some supplements give us almost instant results while others may take three or more MONTHS to truly show their characters, this means that we probably shouldn't introduce more than about three or four new items per year.  ...I don't know anybody who waits that long to judge whether something is worthwhile, do you?  And it's particularly off-putting to have to order a new container of some substance, when the first container-full didn't seem to have much of an impact!

So i've recently changed my starting line-up, if i may use a baseball analogy to describe my morning collection of capsules-to-swallow.  :-)  I just ran out of SAMe, and since the subsequent batches weren't as effective as i perceived the first one to be (and they should have been better, as they were in bubble-packs for freshness), ol' Sammy has been sent down to the minors.  Phosphatidylserine has been brought back from retirement, and the rest has done him good -- he's been hitting 'em out of the park since his return.

Phosphatidylserine is supposed to improve the absorption of glutathione, one of my most valued players, and it seems to be doing just that.  Since i restarted it, my energy has been better.  I take them at the same time, or the P before the G.  I seem to be needing less sleep (not that i'm trying to get away with less).

Did SAMe "stop working" for me, or did i mistake its benefits when i first started it?  Dunno!  Either is possible.  ...Supplements are tricky!