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.  ;-)