Saturday, December 27, 2014


With my first cup of coffee of the morning, i'm drinking to the memory of Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide and Dirk Gently series of books.  Though sciency-fictional, he presents an awful lot of practical truths for real life.  My favorite is probably the concept of the SEP Field -- Somebody Else's Problem makes it easy for other people to ignore something that's really glaring....

Forty-Two, on the other hand, is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.  (The problem here is, the question ITSELF was never adequately defined.)  Lots of ingenious questions whose answers equal 42 have been proposed.  I just thought of a new one, while reading overnight tweets with my coffee.

FORTY-TWO is the minimum number of crucial lifestyle choices, leading to great health and tremendous fitness.

It's not gut-bugs, it's not early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise, it's not always burning fat for fuel, it's not always avoiding "high-reward" food.  It's all those things ... plus a lot more.

We realize now that Ancel Keys was a self-important asshole with esteem issues, but all those people out there who are currently trying to carve a career by choosing ONE central concept as their signature FIX are treading dangerously near to his path.  Becoming well-known on poorly-executed science will set you up for all kinds of reputation-wrecking down the road -- just look at Colin Campbell.  ;-)  Think how embarrassed some famous folks must be, when they have to back down from a pet cause because they found out too late that it was just plain WRONG.

We human beings like simple answers.  We like short and snappy expressions of complex concepts, probably because having a firm understanding of ALL the laws of physics is much harder than parroting "conservation of energy/matter! SQWAAAAAK!"

But life is far from simple, and biology and biochemistry are far more detailed than we even know at this point.  When I think of all the studies that haven't been done yet....  When we acknowledge that, though we put a man on the moon 45 years ago, we only are BEGINNING to understand the intricacies of leptin and glucagon, we have to admit that innerspace still holds an awful lot of mysteries.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

7-keto, the holiday supplement

Last year, we spent the yuletide holidays with our kids in the Houston area.  We went out a lot, sampled the holiday food gifts that my daughter and her husband brought home, had a few treat foods that we only allow ourselves at this time of year, and were -- admittedly! -- self-indulgent with good food.  I got home to find i hadn't messed with my scale weight at all.

It got me more interested in a supplement that i had bought some time before and hadn't really been impressed with, but figured i'd use up during that trip anyway.  My lack of "negative progress" inspired me to buy more of it ... and again i wasn't impressed, so i put the SECOND bottle aside till now.

It's distinctly possible that in spring and summer, regular seasonal hormone responses are such that the boost that comes with 7-keto are easily overlooked, and it requires short days without much sun to really be noticeable.  The recent plethora of information about circadian influence on hormones might just shine a light on the phenomena i observed last year.

7-keto is shorthand for 3-acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone, a metabolite of DHEA.  The amount our bodies produce follows the curve of a lot of other hormones -- rising through our teens, plateauing out in our twenties, and steadily dropping thereafter.  According to the Livestrong site, by the time we're fifty we've probably dropped to half of what we had in our physical prime.

Looking it up on WebMD and Dr. Weil, they're predictably less enthusiastic about it than other sites.  They insist there's "no" evidence that supplementing 7-keto will do any good -- after all the best trial available for it included only 30 overweight adults and only lasted eight weeks although it was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  They totally brush off the 3-times-better results of the 7-keto users....

On the other hand there are NO cautions given for ANYONE except "pregnant or nursing," the usual CYA response.  There are no listed interactions, either.  Conventional "health" advice can't say anything against it, and of course they WOULD if there were anything deleterious about it -- so they just fall back on "insufficient evidence."

Alternative sites list its benefits as improving fat loss, gaining lean tissue, immune health, memory support, and anti-aging properties.  My experience jibes with these claims.  Starting today, i'm going to repeat last year's practice of taking a 100-mg capsule twice per day, and see how it goes!  :-D

I'm also still taking a tablespoon of gelatin in my first cup of coffee every morning.  It really does seem to have an impact on my appetite generally, and on my desire for meat specifically!  More often i find myself leaving food behind on my restaurant plates, and being satisfied with smaller servings at home.

For anyone with a runaway appetite, i'd be inclined to recommend this practise!  I soften a tablespoon of a good quality gelatin in about a quarter of a cup of filtered cold water in a large coffee cup, and then just top with coffee (or tea) and stir it in.  Drink it while it's hot!  :-)  Let it cool too long and it will start thickening up on you.

To all my dear friends and readers -- a very happy holiday season!  It's well into Christmas Eve in Britain and Europe, the packages are probably already unwrapped in Australia and New Zealand ... and tonight marks the END of Chanukkah (i love light festivals).  But the lengthening daylight is something to celebrate for everyone in the northern hemisphere -- the sun ISN'T dwindling away to nothing, after all!  ;-)  Down south, enjoy your beaches and barbecues!  "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

eventually, there's a LAST frontier

I've been reading yet another article bitching about how Paleo has gone to the dogs, and why That Guy is bailing.  Of course, I couldn't finish it -- it was full of smug self-righteousness and bullshit ... all perfectly true from his point of view but far from universal.  He couldn't have composed a better example of what I wrote about the other day.

All his actions do is muddy the nutritional waters.  He was one who had the influence necessary to help straighten out Paleo when it first started wobbling, but his own self-promotion was all that was really important after all....

That Guy complains that less-toxic forms of foodstuffs which the 20th-centurions have come to rely on are widely available now!  He seems to be of the opinion that ease of access spoils his Real Food Ancestral Lifestyle paradigm -- if you ain't spendin' hours in the kitchen you're doing what a friend of mine once called "Flintstones Reenacting*".  He bemoans the fact that SOME PEOPLE really need to limit carbs -- i'm sure he thinks there's no problem with ALL of us going out for a ten-mile run to burn off the sugar in the carrots THAT I SHOULD BE EATING EVEN THOUGH I DON'T REALLY LIKE THEM ... because they're Paleo-approved by some yoyo whose approach is not really Paleo.  [head.bang.desk]  He proclaims that since Chris Kresser says legumes are all right, well, by god they ARE, and EVERYBODY should be eating them because prebiotics! 

If we ain't doin' it his way, we ain't doin' it RITE, and by cracky, if we won't stop calling ourselves "also Paleo" he's gonna take his ball and bat (cricket, not baseball) and go out and start another exclusive club.

In other words, someone who's been profiting off the Paleo label for years now has no interest in FIXING what's wrong with it.  No, he's going to CONTRIBUTE to its corruption instead.  He's going to bad-mouth a template that the potential of doing a lot of good for a lot of people, just because he's tired of the drama. 

He's going to move into his new frontier and put a new name onto the "TPG version of Paleo," all the while making it actually useful to a smaller percentage of the modern-health-troubled population.  He's contributing to the littered landscape of "failed" dietary templates, all because too many people try to define "Paleo" too narrowly, and take it beyond what he thinks it should be.  Well, I hate to tell you, laddie, but if your style of "ancestral health" takes off, the same damned thing is going to happen to it.

Your disciples WILL bend your new template to suit their convenience!  You can be a purist yourself, and you can define your "movement" as broadly or as narrowly as you like, but what is perfect for you won't be perfect for ANYBODY else.  Not one.  Lifestyles and tastes, genetics and gender-differences are way too various to make ANY plan "one size fits all."  And in 20 years, your current "perfect" won't be perfect for you anymore either.

People give lip-service to the need for individualization (it's a libertarian thing), but to a great many of them it's a very uneasy dispensation.  Maybe younger high-carb paleoids are uncomfortable with the older low-carb types because they're seeing US as THEIR future?  Perhaps it's fear that causes them to push us away so strenuously?  If they can keep us out of sight and out of mind, they can hide the realization that if they live long enough they'll experience a gradual decline too?  After all, at thirty most of US were lean, active, and health-conscious as well....

Time will come when THEY can't do the amount of exercise they can now.  Eventually their hormone production will taper off, and they'll find that the "right" gut-bugs won't cure the accumulated damage.  Some day they'll find themselves on the extreme edge of the world with no new wilderness to retreat into.  They'll be scanning for a new frontier as they step into ever-deepening water.
*  my old friend Julie was inspired by the sight of a really crummy "reenactor" wrapping a piece of burlap around a soda can -- I thought her analogy was brilliant.  :-)

Monday, December 22, 2014

passive-aggressive behavior in our "friends"

It's a very hostile gesture -- giving people things you KNOW they don't want ... and I think it's an even more aggressive one to give people food they should not eat for the sake of their health.  The treats brought in to Lauren's office recently are a prime example, though it could be that the donors don't know she's celiac;  too bad that the staff who did eat them couldn't enjoy them thoroughly either, through the guilt that was prompted by their own knowledge.

I know quite a bit about this phenomenon:  we just got a gift box full of wheat and sugar, from people who know we try to avoid those things.  They've done this sort of thing before, too.

What motivates people to put others in an uncomfortable position?  Why do some seem to delight in making others feel bad?  In many cases, I don't think the reason is PERSONAL, but some kind of a game they're playing in their own heads.  It's minimally damaging in the tiny way it usually plays out in people's lives, but it's indicative of a BIG issue....

Sociopathic selfishness is the biggest problem in America today.  It's behind all the ultra-rich who have more than they could ever spend (let alone NEED), but who exert their economic and political power to take absolute necessities away from people who are working hard for the pittance they earn.  It's behind all the hate/scorn and prejudice exhibited by the powerful against the powerless. 

"What's wrong" is pretty easy to define, but damned hard to correct.  The socially-deficient don't even KNOW they have a problem, in many cases.  They think they're very clever, and deserve to lord it over the "stupid" and "lazy."  They don't have any idea what destructive animals they are -- hell, most of them consider themselves stellar examples of Homo Sapiens, and probably exemplary Christians, to boot.  THIS is why I really need to believe in karma....

What can EACH of us do?  If we can find a way to shame and laugh at them, that might be the best medicine.  I won't do anything emotionally retaliatory about that boxful of pastries sitting in my kitchen right now -- anonymously outing them here is enough, expressing my disdain and acknowledging that i'm not fooled by a theoretically generous gesture.  But I think that the next time somebody WHO KNOWS BETTER serves me a pasta dinner and giggles, "oops, I forgot!" i'll just smile sweetly, get up from the table and drive away to where I can get a proper meal.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

pick yourself up, dust yourself off ...

Despite the excellent example of strength shown us by Karen and Gwen (etc) i'm sure a lot of people get sloppy about dietary compliance this time of year.  I know I have!  But if we each know our limitations it doesn't have to be catastrophic failure time.

With the backyard project being so expensive, J and I have been gift-giving in a retro kind of way this year.  I have some KILLER seasonal treat recipes that family and friends love, and as most of them are NOT low-carbers I have been baking, confecting, and mailing my little heart out this year.  J learned how to use my 20-year-old electric cookie-press very well, and it's not the easiest trick to make them come out right.  :-)  I still have more toffee, cookies and other favorites to make for local consumption, but the out-of-towners are accounted for....

OF COURSE we had to taste each item -- quality control, you know!  And though i'm not prone to triggering very badly, I know that the more carbs I eat the more I want.  To quote Barney Fife, "you have to nip it in the bud!"  ;-)  I knew I dared tasting, but I also know the temptation pattern, and I was ready for it.  What could have been a slippery slope isn't going to be allowed to progress that way.

 We each have to know our own psychology as well as physiology.  People who are prone to feeling left out or deprived, when they forgo the pleasures of the people around them, HAVE to know the best path to take so as not to hate themselves later.  The world hates on overweight middle-aged people enough, without us doing the job for them!  Some of us just need legal treats, and others do best remaining adamant against any disruption of a diet they KNOW suits them well.

Whichever you are, good luck and enjoy!  But if you slip ANYWAY (or if you "sin" with your eyes open as I did at the "Holiday on the Hill" last week) it's not the end of the world.  I've even found that ONE small cheat can shake up my system in a good way -- it seems to make my body "have to think instead of running on autopilot."  Bodies love homeostasis, and when I surprise mine with a radically different input, it seems to scramble to adapt.  I've even tricked it into breaking a weight-loss plateau this way.

Where some dieters make their mistake, though, is in shrugging and saying to themselves, "well, I blew it!  I might as well keep indulging till New Year's" ... or worse still "hey, I ate THAT and didn't have any bad effect -- I might as well do it all the time!" 

Big, BIG mistake.

Stop and remember how fabulous you felt when you were on a ketotic roll!  Stop and experience in memory how horrible it was when you were eating the SAD -- the dragginess, the body-aches, the bloat and inflammation, the stuffy sinuses....  YES, those all come (for me) from eating excess carbohydrates -- even the "paleo-approved" kind!

Today is a cleansing day for me -- and I don't mean some stupid new-age protocol featuring juices, herbs or antioxidants!  Our bodies are designed to cleanse themselves, through autophagy and the types of food that make our livers happy -- high-nutrient, low-fructose, low-alcohol, low-polyunsaturate. 

If you fall off a horse, the best thing is to get up and climb back on.  Same thing applies when it comes to falling off wagons.

Friday, December 19, 2014

why i'm not deserting the paleo ship

Changes, changes!  Lots of people seem to be rethinking their philosophies, on account of how the original notion of ancestral nutrition and health has been hijacked by people trying to make a buck off of "the paleo movement*."  Some of the highest-quality bloggers in the 'sphere are bailing out like rats.  I'm sticking.

"Paleo" HAS had its personality altered by people wanting to make THEIR version THE version.  If you're not an athlete spending hours working out and needing extra carb-fuel, you aren't allowed to consider yourself a REAL paleoid, some think -- certainly not those middle-aged, red-faced fat low-carbers.  Others who have healed their original SAD-damage have moved on to readopting foods they no longer think are so deleterious.  Still more just seem kinda bored with it, and ready to try something more exciting ... because it's easier to adhere to a "restrictive" lifestyle if you ARE excited about it.

The deserters remind me of all those discontented folks in the suburbs who move to small towns, then insist on having the amenities that they left behind ... and thus manage to drag all their baggage to where it never was before and screw things up for everybody.

There's no argument here that at NO TIME has paleo ever been a reliving of the free, clean, egalitarian lifestyle some of our ancestors might have enjoyed tens of thousands of years ago.  But ya know what -- i don't care.  It's NEVER been about reenacting the past:  it's about limiting the damage that's so rife in the present, and attempting to escape more damage in the future.

When the nest has become fouled it doesn't make a damned lick of sense to jump over to the next nest and do the same thing over again.  I know a lot of people do literally that, but all they manage is to leave a trail of garbage and irate landlords behind them -- it's stupid and expensive and wasteful, but they don't care.  Cleaning up after themselves and changing their ways would mean acting like an ADULT, and the Peter Pan types would rather squander their energy on gym visits and late-night web-surfing than do anything actually constructive.  Ergo they can't FIX paleo, all they can do is move on to the next shiny object du jour.

I don't have anything to sell, nor does novelty attract me.  The only reason I got into paleo in the first place is because the template WORKS.  I've tried so many means of keeping my weight under control through the decades with greater and lesser success, and until i tried deleting the "neolithic agents of disease," i was trapped in accelerating malaise and frustration.  Conventional weight-loss advice is marginally effective when one has young and resilient hormonal responses, but craps out completely in middle age, or if one has a "flipped epigenetic switch" for dysregulated hormones or neurotransmitters.  The low-carb end of the paleo spectrum succeeds where Atkins-style low-carbing and high-carb paleo fall short for me, and where CW fails completely.

So let the flighty young people move on to the next bright promise, and the older ones who have based their careers on "helping" the seekers after health and fitness rephrase their mission-statement -- i wouldn't be too surprised to find them dragging back in a few decades when their resilience has left them.  ...That is, if they still have enough functioning brain-cells to remember how well it worked before they messed it up.

The core values, for me, remain the same:  juggling toxic substances in my life, so i don't have to give up ALL my favorite indulgences;  making sure i get enough restful sleep through manipulating quantity and quality of LIGHT around me;  supplementing the nutrients that i can't absorb well, whether it be through my body's shortcomings or that of my food;  getting good MOVEMENT into my day, without hurting myself or raising stress-hormones more than need be ... and so on.

We each DO have to tailor our lifestyles to what is appropriate for our own physiology.  The recent argument about Inuit genetics and nutrition highlights this -- our ancestors' contributions to what we are TODAY must be taken into account!  It doesn't matter what other people thrive on -- our personal needs and tolerances are what's important.  Until we realize exactly what they are, we must do a good deal of experimenting, but when the puzzle is solved we're idiots if we don't adhere to it.
*  JEEEEZ, how I hate that expression. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

new recipe for a low-carb holiday

I'm kinda proud of this one....  :-D

I had the idea while driving home from Texas last month:  combine the recipe for Wooo's flax-bread with my old favorite gingerbread loaf.  Yesterday I tried it out, and i'm pleased with the result.  It's modestly sweet and spicy, such as should please the palate of those who have cut their ties with sugar (I don't know about you, but conventional recipes are WAY too sweet for me, these days).


2 c. flaxseed meal
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
5 eggwhites (I use 1 c. from the eggwhite carton)
2 whole eggs
1/2 c. water
5 T. melted butter or coconut oil
2/3 c. "sucralose for baking" -- comes in the big bag, not little packets
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. allspice
1 T. molasses, optional (adds minimal sugar, but some depth to the flavor)

Combine the dry ingredients in your food processor, then add the wet ones and beat well.  Pour into a greased loaf-pan, and bake one hour at 350 degrees F.

The molasses idea comes from Dana Carpender's cookbooks;  her tweak to replicate brown-sugar flavor in traditional dishes is particularly apropos in this recipe -- the original was sweetened heavily with molasses AND brown sugar.  If you want your bread to be sweeter than I made this, adding some English-toffee flavored liquid stevia (another DC trick) would accentuate the "brown" taste even more.

I could see using this as the base for a bread pudding or French toast, with a cream-cheese spread for tea, as breakfast with my coffee....  As a matter of fact, I anticipate using this recipe a LOT.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

epazote for symptoms indicative of h. pylori overgrowth

A week ago I told you about my "discovery" (centuries after it was FIRST discovered...) of the latin-American herb called epazote.  After using it some more, i'm absolutely SOLD.  :-D

Half an hour ago, I took the third dose of the "booster" round of this anti-parasitic.  True, it tastes less than savory -- if you want a good-tasting stomach-support you're better off sticking with licorice, peppermint or ginger -- but it did what the three more pleasant herbs could not:  it took away the low-grade nausea, inflammation (with the associated ache) and gas which had been increasing with me.  That it smells like "skunk sweat" I believe to be something of a hyperbole ... but then I've never smelled skunk sweat....

Something over half of people in this country are supposed to carry this heliobacter around with them, and in most it's asymptomatic.  There are confounders, though, which can encourage its proliferation and it can get out of control ... and one of these conditions is STRESS.

With this construction project of ours dragging out (and my husband stressing about details of it) MY stress has been over the top!  I self-medicate with intensive reading which takes me out of the mental atmosphere, and I've run off to Texas a couple of times, as well.  ;-)  I keep myself from using alcohol for the same purpose most of the time -- not a healthy way to "escape" -- but when a glass of wine makes you feel better there's a big temptation to see what a bottle might do!  A cup of tea is a significantly better choice, but tea does cry out for a biscuit as company!  I've exerted myself to resist THAT, too.

Epazote to the rescue!  The unpleasant, empty-stomach belching which had become VERY common with me stopped with the very first dose.  At the end of the first three days, I felt normal except for the residual inflammation which took another couple of days to be soothed away.  Heeding the traditional-use-protocol, after those first three days I took extra magnesium, because it seems that the herb CAN stop one up a bit.

A week after that first dose, I began feeling a little gassy again (though the loose bowels didn't return) -- sure enough, the first dose of the second course made it go away.  It will be interesting to observe if it comes back NEXT week....

Googling doesn't provide much evidence that epazote is documentably effective against h. pylori, just that somebody heard somebody else say it worked....  One search-result pulled up a study which was done (abstract only), saying that epazote's reputation didn't pan out in the lab -- where have we heard that before?  OH -- when conventional-medicine wants to "prove" that their pharmaceuticals are effective where herbs are not!  Since I couldn't see the study, I couldn't determine how they reached their conclusion, so i'll relegate their opinion to the midden-heap where I store my hearthealthywholegrains.  ;-)

The proof of the pudding will reveal itself in time -- meanwhile i'm happy to be your guinea-pig, and give you any updates if and when they seem significant.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'round and 'round and 'round we go

I thought we'd gotten past all the hype about fiber being so very very good for us....

ALL of the studies claiming fiber is good for one are uncontrolled observations -- they look at the population level, which implies that they're merely being compared to junk-, or poverty-foods.  In studies which look closely at individuals, a high-fiber diet is more likely to spur colon cancer than it is to promote health and leanness.*

The experiences of countless people like me show that if WE eat the foods these people promote, we experience nothing good -- we get weight-gain, ruined blood-sugar control, allergy symptoms, indigestion, inflammation, fatigue, malaise ... more miseries than I can enumerate just from my n=1 and those of my blog-buddies.  THIS is why I become infuriated by dumb-ass statements like "EVERYBODY [there's that word, again] needs 40g of fiber every day."

But some people can't resist the temptation to pick their scabs.  Here's a subject they can write a book about, and maybe make enough money to pay for their gym memberships!  Perhaps they can get enough enthusiasm going to ... oh, allow them to write another superfluous book!

The only thing they're managing to do is to muddy the waters -- waters which are polluted enough already by interested parties promoting toxic foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.  Their arguments just don't stand up to the light of reason, even though they spiel off countless pubmed references.  Individuals as well as clinicians have tried it all before, and not gotten the results promised by starch/fiber-lovers.  We must have been doing it wrong! 

[smirk]  EXACTLY.  When we do a thing which doesn't work FOR US, we're doing the wrong thing.  Doing it harder and longer is just ... wronger.  ;-)

As I've said before, if they want to eat their versions of starchy pleasure-foods, I don't give a damn.  But talk about it on your own lightly-visited bro-blog-site, and stop spewing all over the comment-sections of the GOOD ones!
* Peter has discussed this at length.  Monastyrsky adds confirming details.  As far as i'm concerned, the case is closed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

just another food-fad, based on immature science

I have an anecdote, and again it has nothing to do with diet.

One of my dearest, first friends in reenacting -- gone from us now -- was a history TEACHER as so many are, before he changed his job to an even more hard-core history career.  He became one of the main organizers of the reformulated museum, when the Oklahoma Historical Society got its big new building.  Like many reenactors, he spent his work-days immersed in history, his hobby was history, his vacations became busman-holidays through visiting sites of historical interest, he read himself to sleep at night with books on the subject, and for all I know he dreamed history every night.

The only difference of opinion I ever remember having with Murphy involved the etymology of an important historic WORD, and I was right -- I can document it with an indisputable LINGUISTIC source.  His reason for believing his version was a volunteer at some historic venue who told him a bogus story.  Surely they had their facts straight!  ...?   Hmph.

In language, this happens ALL THE TIME -- people use their imaginations to try to figure out where a word or expression came from, and the more clever and creative it seems to the modern ear, the more likely it is to be flat wrong.  The Oxford English Dictionary was written by folks who had a passion for language, profound knowledge, and a lot of resources to hand, and if they can show when a word first showed up and how it traveled through time, they ARE to be trusted.

Now i'll seem to change the subject, but i'll refer back later.  ;-)  I loved that show, Connections, back in the '70s....

When the foolishness of my RWNJ contacts on facebook get me down, I scoot on over to twitter, where those people are not on my contact list.  There, I read the output of people like Eades, Johnson, Kindke and Lagakos* ... and they never post Grumpycat memes!  ;-)  One link I followed and enjoyed featured three different researchers talking about how the microbiome "news" has been dealt with by the media and their scientific sources.

All three agreed that it's way too early to intelligently apply what has been learned thus far -- it's TOO COMPLICATED to really know HOW to best use this knowledge.  Certainly, the advertisers of the information have spread it around in too simplified a form.

Compare this point of view to the wild-eyed promoters of prebiotic starch and fiber!  We MUST feed our pet (thanks to Galina for this analogy) gut-bugs, o' they gonna DIE! 

Nope.  They survived through famines of the past, and they'll survive now.  What is MOST damaging to their populations is what most of US avoid unless absolutely necessary:  clean-sweep antibiotics.  WE don't need to eat so as to specifically feed these pets ... unless we WANT to.  Some people really seem to want to have a good excuse to eat potatoes and other "carriers" of bacteria-food.

That's fine.  If they want to, let 'em.  But this is like Sisson saying YES you MUST eat vegetables -- the science doesn't support it.  Some, maybe most, people LIKE this advice, but the beneficence is NOT universal.  Don't tell EVERYBODY that they MUST eat _____  ... <-- insert YOUR favorite carbohydrate here.  I don't even tell people they must eat liver any more.  ;-)

This is just like Murphy's stubbornness in insisting that some piece of sophistry he heard from a self-enlightened "expert" was true, despite it being demonstrably NOT so.  Because you LIKE a hypothesis is not evidence in its defense.  It may be far more intricate than your understanding of it may imply.  Getting an authority to agree with you in generalities doesn't make it true as you understand it.

It also comes back to DETAILS in the studies they cite so supernumerously.  ;-)  Extrapolating uncritically from mouse studies to human application is bad enough, but consider how even human-study subjects are not often clean-eating, toxin-avoiding, or nutrient-replete individuals.  Who cares if some college boy subsisting on beer and pizza doesn't have the same gut-bugs as Hadza HGs -- shit, I don't have the same ones he does.  MY gut-bugs are adequate to handle my preferred diet, which is not:  1) beer and pizza, OR 2) high-fiber African tubers ... AND I haven't had a course of antibiotics in decades.

EVERYTHING tends to be more complicated than people are inclined to think ... including all of us armchair-scientists.  The devil is in the details.  And the details are exactly what get skimmed past when reading journalists' articles and study abstracts.

The word Murphy and I disagreed on was GOSSIP.  Some dumb-ass tour-guide announced that it derived from the words "go sip" which was what you did in the tavern, which was where everyone used to go to pick up the latest juicy news.  No.  It goes back through Middle English gossib, to godsib, to the OLD English godsibb, which meant basically a sibling in God.  Your gossip (noun) was your good buddy with whom you gossiped (verb) -- thus making the shared news "gossip" (back to noun).

See?  ;-)  More complicated than you expected.
*  it was with grief that I removed Bill from my blog list -- it seems that something about his site was causing MINE to be objectionable to virus-detectors.  :-(

Monday, December 8, 2014

so how DO we heal our guts?

Something Jan said made me want to talk about this, today.  After we've dropped grains and their fibers and damaging proteins from our diets, if we're not completely "all better" what do we do?

There are all kinds of things KNOWN to irritate our digestive systems, and there are a few which are REPUTED to help them heal.  What can we count on to be helpful?

Perhaps the first thing to consider is that things we LIKE can possibly be doing harm.  Even though you're lactose-tolerant, there may be some aspects of (or ingredients in) your dairy products which bother you, like pasteurization-damaged proteins.  Some people find cross-sensitivity with coffee if they have problems with gluten or such things.  Maybe you have a subtle problem with nightshades (like me!), or maybe it's FODMAPs or ....

Dr. Atkins said that some of the things we like best are things we're actually sensitive to -- and which we'd be best writing off.  If it's fresh crusty Italian bread, I think all of US agree and have already abandoned it, but what if it's ... oh, strawberries, or citrus, or shrimp?  What if it's cruciferous vegetables?  Both "paleo philosophy" and conventional wisdom tend to canonize these healthyfruitsandvegetables and protein sources.  I mean if we can't eat even some of THOSE, after all the other things we've given up, what are we supposed to do?

I suppose, we make some tough decisions.  It's trade-off time!

HOW bad do we feel?  HOW endangered do we suppose we are?  If we suspect we need to go the extra mile, it's time to do yet ANOTHER elimination and see how awful it IS when we re-introduce that salsa to our chicken.... 

As we get older our tolerance to a lot of things goes down.  Our appetite does, too.  Chances are, if we can only eat a small amount at some point, the things we DO eat had better be VERY good for us.

Where HEALING is concerned ...?  Removing the irritants is the FIRST thing we need to do.  Next, we make sure we're very well-nourished.  Next, ... it's said that bone-broth is healing to the gut, especially the connective-tissue fraction.  Earlier this fall, I bought "Nourishing Broth," Sally Fallon's latest (I think...), and i'm in the middle of an experiment with gelatin as a result of reading it.  Problem is, one can't really expect to see results for like three or four MONTHS.

MONTHS.  This is one of the shortcomings of natural means of healing -- it doesn't happen very quickly most of the time.  Glutathione -- I saw the improvement within HOURS.  A lot of herbs work their magic within days or weeks:  epazote was unique in being fast-acting!  Other things can take 4-6 weeks to be perceptible.  Gelatin and collagen can take a SEASON or two.

Gelatin DOES have other benefits -- it can reputedly improve your protein usage (absorption?), and I agree.  I seem to need smaller servings of animal protein foods since I started taking a tablespoon in my coffee every morning.  I strongly suspect that our "protein requirements" are dependent upon exactly WHICH amino-acids we're getting, not some nebulous "X grams of 'complete' protein per day."  Just as zeroing-in on omega-3 seems to be beneficial as compared to generic "polyunsaturated fats," getting specific about how much of which amino-acid we eat may be instructive.

So I wasn't totally ready to talk about gelatin/collagen yet, but decided to jump the gun a little.  My three-month point will end with the year, and I might need another month's grace before I can really, confidently recommend the stuff.  At this point, all I can say with assurance is, "it feels good," and gelatin feels better than the collagen hydrolysate.  Certainly, if one is poor and trying to make one's grocery dollar go as far as possible, nutrition-wise, i'd definitely advise using gelatin (and bone broth) as an excellent way to stretch the protein budget.

Friday, December 5, 2014

adventures with gastritis

My history with gastritis has been long but exceedingly sporadic -- i don't believe i've mentioned it here before.  The first bad bout was when i was in either jr-hi or high-school, i don't clearly remember which.  What i DO remember is that in junior-high, not once but twice did i have to run out of biology class to barf.  I have no idea what might have been in the cages, beakers or petri-dishes that set me off, but they sure did.  The two episodes happened close to each other, then didn't happen again -- hmmm, whatever the trigger was seems to have been cleared away.

The first "attack" was forgotten by me, until i had an exact recurrence here in StL several years ago.  We had just had breakfast at our favorite diner and the pain immediately reminded me!  I went home, "lightened the load" and used enzymes, and it faded away within the hour, but left me exhausted for a couple of days.  This episode, i hypothesize, was where i picked up the bug that has been plaguing me since.

I had another episode, even worse, last year.  Again, i had just eaten out, but not at the same place.  The inflammation in my stomach lost me my appetite for days, and was more tender to the touch than the previous event, but soon subsided -- i was normal again within the week.

Thanksgiving day last week, something set me off again, though nothing on the menu came from a commercial source ... and it was not acute but what looked like the beginning of a chronic turn to the situation.  I FELT stomach irritation on Friday (not the pain, just a hint of the inflammation), and it also seemed to manifest in LACK OF STOMACH ACID, a situation which has so abated with me that i don't have betaine-HCl on hand anymore!  That's obviously a mistake.

But the acid situation on top of the gastritis spelled H.-P-Y-L-O-R-I to me!  I started googling....

I used up what was left of my licorice tincture, broke out the peppermint, and put a serious dent in my ginger-teabags (all of which helped but didn't conquer) before i came across a mention of EPAZOTE.  This is a culinary herb in Mexican food, as well as a medicinal with antibacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-GAS properties.  ... And coincidentally, i had some in my kitchen already!

With the first shot of the tea, my stomach felt better!  It was like taking a modern instant-action drug as compared to the usual wait-for-it herbal remedy.  No wonder that the traditional treatment time is three to four days, with a follow-up two weeks down the line to deal with any worm-eggs that might hatch after the original dosing.  It's THAT powerful.

Immediately, the constant belching subsided.  I no longer had the constant low-grade nausea.  My digestion felt a lot closer to normal, but i'm still eating rather lightly and prompting enzymes and acid with the aid of bitters.  I feel MUCH better than i did on Wednesday.

The fact that in semi-tropical America, this herb is a casual item in cooking is significant to me -- tropical locations offer generous opportunities for parasite infection!  Using epazote in your soups and casseroles should give you ongoing protection.  I didn't find it strongly flavored, so it can't be much of a contribution to the taste of dishes ... but there it is, in the recipe of a tamale-like chicken dish, from a mainstream purveyor of traditional Mexican ingredients.

The packet of epazote i had was only a half-ounce, so i used it all in making the 3/4 cup of tea for my first three doses.  Our outstanding international grocery-stores in StL will make finding another couple of packages easy, though, and i WILL keep this valuable herb on hand from here out!  I'll repeat my Thu-Fri-Sat dose next week, too, and i'll try to remember to include some of it in soups and stews from now on!

Herbs are a poor replacement for drugs?  HA.  Treating H. pylori with antibiotics takes a cocktail of different pharmaceuticals, not just one, and the dosage is continued for WEEKS ... and still doesn't have a 100%-effective record.  In a modern world of filthy food-production methods where we get a constant trickle of antibiotics and pathogens in our diets, the value of traditional methods of health-protection must not be under-estimated.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

don't read the comments, continued


Here's the thing -- if i WANTED to read certain people's incessant stream-of-consciousness garbage, i'd go to THEIR blogs.  I don't.  I think their points of view are wishful thinking and self-delusive.

Used to be, i'd get angry that they were leading the ignorant astray, but there comes a point when you have to intellectually cast aside people who won't even TRY to educate themselves ... let alone those who gorge on the cherries they've selectively picked for themselves.  ;-)  Hacking your own health is tricky enough, without taking upon oneself the vagaries of other people's personal biology.  So, i'm not going to rage against the deceivers -- i'll just sit here and despise them.

Ironically, the blog-post-comment-sections at Hyperlipid which were so disastrously hijacked (and which spoiled the conversation for those like me who deplore verbal flatulence) i find to be Peter's responsibility -- he runs the place, and could have controlled it if he chose to.  Perhaps he likes the lively "debate" -- but again, it's his "property" and if he doesn't want to rein in the noise, he doesn't have to.  Unlike a physical neighbor, nobody has to get close enough to hear it if they don't choose to.

But it is still thoroughly disgusting.  That anyone would go on and on for hundreds if not thousands of words on SOMEBODY ELSE'S TURF is repulsively self-important and disrespectful.  If you want to spew, spew in your own space.

Pity.  To catch the voices of wit, intelligence, reason and charm, like Melchior's, becomes difficult and tedious.  We have to wade through the smug, the egomaniacal, and the truly insane to find the hidden gleam of the little pearls, amongst all that swine-defecation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

and they never LEARN?

It's after brunch in our house -- I just sat down with a short cup of chocolate and the laptop, so my mind and stomach could both digest something tasty....

I had to go to the C-list to find something both unread and potentially interesting, and ended up on Sharma's website.  The article discussed a study in which mice seem to have liver involvement in appetite control.  The title WAS interesting, but it went downhill from there.

THREE different points irked me, and I didn't finish reading it -- THREE!  Mouse studies (just one rung-of-the-ladder better than the in-vitro kind) just plain SUCK when it comes to hacking HUMAN problems.  Mice are not small humans.  Not even close.

Then, the mice they were using were the knockout kind.  Now, if one is trying to identify what a transmitter/hormone does, or what a receptor is for, KO animals help you figure that out, but by NO stretch of the imagination can one extrapolate from their experience to ours.  One must conduct ANOTHER study to see if normal specimens of the same species respond as predicted, based on the KO behavior ... then work into other species.  From-KO-mouse-to-human is either idiocy or lunacy -- i'd have to mull over which is more likely....

One also doesn't report this kind of "discovery" to the GENERAL PUBLIC with fanfare.  As yet, it doesn't MEAN anything to medical PRACTICE (or the amateur biohacker) -- it's way too early for that.  It may be exceedingly important and exciting to other mouse-experimenters but ... is Sharma just having a hard time finding something to write about today?

As icing on the cake -- and the thing which inspired me to close the window and rant -- the words "a high-fat diet" popped quickly into the conversation.  Bye-bye!

We all know that researchers feeding a "high-fat diet" are in fact poisoning their little charges with a combination of ingredients DESIGNED to sicken lab animals, usually things like soybean oil, sucrose and synthetic protein mixtures, "made healthy" by the addition of a standard vitamin-mineral supplement.  They're nearly always high SUGAR diets, misnamed.  The only thing worse is the "cafeteria diet" researchers used to use to show how we're poisoning our SCHOOL CHILDREN, most of the components of which have probably been featured in the propagandistic blog of Dr. He-who-shall-not-be-named.

These people are supposed to be intelligent and insightful -- our universities are supposed to be run and staffed by the BEST.  Here's another "not even close" moment:  they're too often interesting in nothing but finding a big-business source of grants.

WHY is most of the developed world either fat-and-sick, or rapidly going that direction?  Because research pursues this kind of BULLSHIT instead of to-the-point, practical, everyday SOLUTIONS, and touts novelty in place of developing useful, tried-and-true things that we KNOW work, but which are just simply ... unpopular ... like well-formulated low-carb diets.

Monday, December 1, 2014

know your audience

This post has absolutely NOTHING to do with health and nutrition -- fair warning!  :-)  Whether that's a good or a bad thing, i'll leave moot.

As i was stringing tinsel-garland and colored lights up the front-staircase bannister yesterday, something popped into my mind....  This is actually one of the benefits of mindless manual labor -- your hands are busy and a very minute portion of your consciousness applied, and it seems that the BBB*-like borderline to the subconscious is made more porous.  From "nowhere" come ideas and solutions to questions which are possibly years old and essentially forgotten.

The subject of this train of thought was an after-hours conversation about literature, among history-buffs....

The recent plethora of depictions of Sherlock Holmes (my first love, at the age of twelve) have taken that character in directions which would have astonished Sir Arthur.  His mildly-autistic, borderline-manic-depressive, and decidedly obsessive-compulsive ICON of a character is actually nothing like some of the smirking James-Bond-wannabees that modern audiences love.  Hell, even the early Rathbone films show him to be questionably urbane.

But what modern person would know?  To understand period fiction, you need to have a sense of what ITS ERA is all about, and as i postulated the other day, the vast majority of living people have no clue on how their great-great-grandparents lived and THOUGHT.

You see, Doyle wasn't writing for US, he was writing for his contemporaries.  When he first penned "A Study in Scarlet" he never dreamed that his serialized magazine story would be the beginning of such a popular character.  Although the demand and income were nice, he soon became tired of his creation and wanted to kill him off, but his public -- and even his family -- kicked up such a fuss he backed off.  He would never have dreamed in 1887 that 127 years later, Holmes would still be "alive."

And BECAUSE Doyle was writing to his contemporaries, the things that get modernity all excited ... just never occurred to him.  Yes, they had homosexuality in Victorian England:  but it had a code of its own (read your Oscar Wilde -- i did).  Sir Arthur's characters were almost all straight.  But that's just one example of what today's audience gets wrong.

Period fiction (or non-fiction, when it comes to that) is decypherable only in the context of the environment of its creation.  In this case, the writer was himself an enthusiast of history as well as of science -- in his Holmes canon, he writes of the exciting forensic developments of his day but he also wrote books about the medieval period ... and he gives Holmes some of his own historical interests too.

The guy SIMPLY WOULD NOT have tried to speak to a future world, but that's exactly what a lot of "interpreters" of Holmesiana are trying to make him do.

As a reenactor, i try to get inside the heads of the people i portray -- that's how one's characters/personae LIVE for the audience.  Being an ordinary modern person "dressed up funny" does not give the school-kids an idea of what the historic world was like, when we have that day before the reenactment actually begins, and they bus in the local elementary-thru-highschool students to talk to us.  It's our job to depict typical people in their many roles in society, so they can get an idea of how the world has changed and what made it happen.  TELL them this stuff, and it just goes out the other ear;  let them carry the water with the yoke and canvas buckets, let them see and smell the period-correct recipe you're cooking for the next meal, let them feel the lye soap and try out the washboard ... they'll understand everyday life of 150 years ago MUCH better.

Any good living-historian does a LOT of reading, and knows better than to read ABOUT the past -- we have to read sources that CAME FROM the past, and even before the period of our greatest interest.  The ancient past feeds into the recent past which feeds into the world of our parents, which usually influences who we are today.  Though human nature hasn't changed much, the societies which influence our points of view HAVE.  And the society in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was trying to establish himself as an author of popular fiction is very, VERY different from ours.  HE came from the world described by Charles Dickens, who came from the world described by Jane Austen, who came from the world described by Samuel Richardson ... all the way back to the bible.  The average person was also more influenced by their families, personal friends and church-teachings than anything written in the wider world.  People were very circumscribed, in the days before the train, radio, movies, television, internet....

Point of view is a strong determiner in what we find significant.  Modern points of view are IRRELEVANT when looking at the past.
*  for the friends i'll send here who aren't regulars, this is the Blood-Brain Barrier, not the Better Business Bureau.  ;-)

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.