Monday, April 27, 2015

it's hard to reason with specialists

I started to read the Intensive Dietary Management site, because I was impressed by a few of Dr Jason Fung's posts.  He's a bit myopic, though, when it comes to the very edges of what he chooses to view -- he doesn't perceive well what's in the corner of his eye, metaphically-speaking.

Though restricting "bad" carbohydrates has got to be the number-one strategy when you're treating diabetics, he has some funny ideas about the low-carb world.  And like some other individuals who are "interested" in nutrition, he points out that although the "Atkins diet" is very effective at first, it eventually fails;  what he does NOT point out is that it does work as long as you actually follow it.  At the end of that year-or-five, if an "Atkins dieter" is no longer adhering to Atkins principles AS ACTUALLY DESCRIBED BY ATKINS, they're no longer ... "Atkins dieters." 

There are a lot of people out there on a roll-your-own kind of low-carb regimen who may THINK or SAY they're on Atkins, but are not even close.  I might even propose that what was written in "A New Atkins For a New You" isn't really ATKINS, although he may have evolved that way in time....

Fung even thinks that Atkins Nutritionals failed because people were leaving the program:  I can only speak for myself here but NO -- I stopped buying their damned soy-laden, gluten-loading, industrial-seed-oil-filled junk frankenfoods because they're filled with ... soy, gluten, bad fats and fake nutrients.  I doubt if i'm the only one.


There's also an awful lot of hand-wringing over the insulinotropic nature of [gasp] ANIMAL PROTEIN!  It doesn't raise blood glucose, but that isn't important to him -- only hyperinsulinemia is important, and meat and dairy RAISE INSULIN!  ...Of course he only waves LEAN meat in front of us, and seems to be puzzled that high-fat dairy isn't a problem....

Forest.  Trees.  Low-carb doesn't necessarily = high-protein.  Percent of diet means NOTHING without total-gram context.  There are other important hormones besides insulin.  Need I, a mere amateur, go on?

What would happen if dietary protein did NOT provoke insulin secretion?  Yeah -- amino acids ain't gettin' into cells for all their important chores, like repair and maintenance of tissues.  Forget THAT little fact, Jase?

He pointed out the particular talent that whey has, for provoking insulin.  He should probably be reading Calories Proper, and learn that morning insulin-sensitivity in MUSCLES can cause very good things to happen in building lean mass, if people consume a low-carb whey-based shake for breakfast.

Doubtless, his work with severely insulin-resistant, hyperinsulinemic people has caused him to regard this crucial hormone as something rather sinister.  It's definitely something to keep an eye on, but most of us can afford to be a little more charitable.  To me, insulin is a little like a police force:  a real nuisance if you're doing something you shouldn't, but potentially life-saving

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April might well be the cruelest month

...But it has nothing to do with lilacs.  It's the reversion of the promise of springtime to the reality of late-winter weather.  It's 70F one day to 40F the next.  It's the oak pollen (in my case) or whatever YOUR "favorite" allergy is -- intrinsically debilitating, and necessitating sedating antihistamines when trying to counteract it.  It's the chilly humidity that gets in your bones and also breeds molds and fungi ... including systemic candida.

Springtime makes you turn off the furnace and open the windows, then gets cold again.  Then it's "should I restart the heater, or hang in there?" ... cuz you KNOW that if you re-light the furnace, the weather will get warm again, and if you don't you'll just want to huddle inside a blanket on the sofa as the cold wave lingers on....

Spring rains raise your emotional stress -- work/school commuting is harder -- and also your physical stress as mentioned above.  Knowing how to dress when you leave the house in the morning can be tricky.  Sunny warm spring days bring people out en masse, whose noise and boisterousness tend to take the pleasure out of a stroll at the MoBot, Shaw Nature Reserve, or  Forest Park.  Why is it acceptable to let your children SCREAM in public for no reason?  My kids AND grandkids learned the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf before this ever became a habit with them.

When the vernal equinox rolls around, an awful lot of us in the temperate zone are ready for more light, more warmth, and the pleasures of fresh air and brightly-hued Nature.  Unfortunately, there can be quite a wait before she's ready to reward us with her gifts.

I'll just sit here in the cold, damp gloom and be glad that May is almost upon us.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

to breakfast or not to breakfast....

There has been an active twitterfest of civil disagreement about the virtues of breakfasting EARLY.  Bill Lagakos has been adamant that the old chestnut "breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a peasant" is the way to go.  Wooo (among many others) holds the opinion that eating when you're not hungry is not only a bad habit, but it is probably biologically-strategic for some reason we don't know yet to not want to eat soon after arising.

Driving our individual opinions is most likely our individual EXPERIENCES.  If we LIKE to eat an early breakfast we'll probably side with Bill, and if we don't we'll probably find his arguments weak or inapplicable.

"He said" we're more insulin-sensitive in the AM so that's when we should eat more, or eat any carbs we intend to take in.  That people who eat earlier are leaner, cuz circadian science.  That people who aren't hungry early can increase their appetites by under-eating the night before.

"She said" the studies he cites involve people eating crap at midnight, not real-foodists getting nutrition at a reasonable dinner-hour.  That Nature dictates behavior for a reason, even if we don't know what it is.  That the sedating nature of carbohydrate foods implies that eating them when you want to get sleepy makes more sense.  That "breakfast" has been studied and hyped-up for the purpose of promoting "breakfast foods."

Needless to say, I adhere to the late-breakfast hypothesis.  Since childhood, I've been disinterested in taking in food for hours after waking.  There are only a few situations where this is not the case:  when for some reason I have been fasting (illness, usually) and am in significant need of nutrition, or when i've slipped into a glucose-burning pattern.  I have to conclude that it's either under-nutrition, or excess-carb-eating which drives early-breakfasting behavior ... at least in me.

The two sides of this discussion differ on how long (and effective) the fasting period will be.  I believe it will be clear how effective the fast has been and how long it needs to continue, by observing the waking state of blood-glucose and/or ketosis.  And THAT will be a function of how well your liver handles gluconeogenesis, and how well FFA/keto-adapted your brain is.

People who are dining or snacking at midnight are seriously shorting themselves on sleep, if they're holding down a 9-5 job.  WE ALREADY KNOW that sleep-deprived people not only eat more, they've got messed-up hormonal responses to "normal" intake.  Should we be focusing on "do eat breakfast" or more to the point IMHO, "do NOT eat at midnight"?

In the Atkins message "don't go hungry -- eat something approved," I fear we have diluted the more important point, "DO NOT SNACK."  Snacking is an artificial relic of advertising as well as the "need" to eat often because one is not eating nutritiously.  The CICO-based religion of controlling one's meal-size is functionally faulty -- we need to eat hearty-enough MEALS so that we have no desire to snack ... particularly between supper and when our bodies tell us to break our fasts ... at least 12 hours later!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

thought for the day

If gut microbes are so damned important, why are germ-free mice thin and healthy while potato-starch users are bloated and fat?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

n=1 trumps RCTs

Although everyone's default mental image of the bird called a swan is white, there are black ones out there.  In the world of medical research, the typical test subject is a Taleb-ian white swan -- a young healthy male human, ... or maybe a mouse or rat.

In the real world, most people who NEED the information theoretically provided by research are black swans -- "damaged" children and young women, and older people of both sexes with innate or acquired health issues.

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for us to dissolve our reliance on Official Medical Dicta ... i mean, uh, we get totally fed-up with Conventional Wisdom and say "screw what doesn't work -- i need something that DOES" it's rare that RCTs give us the answers we need.  We spend long hours searching the 'net till we find a cluster of people who share our problems and have found some degree of relief.  VOILA:  it's anecdotal evidence which actually helps.  Black swans to the rescue.

Because official research is often designed to confirm what is already believed, as opposed to GOOD SCIENCE which should be designed to try to find cracks in one's hypothesis.  Even if the typical study shows something different from what is expected, the authors rarely reveal their surprise -- they double-talk, torture data, and sometimes even unashamedly lie about what they found.  Is it any wonder that with the billions spent on research, so little of it has improved human well-being?  Sold a lot of drugs, definitely, but IMPROVED WELL-BEING...?

When i determined that those white-coat people were doing little but running me around in circles, and i decided that i couldn't do MUCH worse for my health than they were doing, i started looking things up for myself.  All THEY wanted to do was boss me around, make money off me, and shoo me out of the office;  all I wanted was improved quality of life.  My goals were much more logical, and my approach more to the point.  Instead of dozens of blood tests which would tell me nothing new, i spent my money on supplements which others (some of THEM in the medical industry) had found to actually make people function better.  My early success emboldened me.

I read more and more, trying new foods and supplements one at a time to see what impact they actually made.  I stopped taking some for awhile then restarted, in order to confirm my original impressions.  I used the observations of others to help determine which forms and brands were better or worse.  I closely observed how i felt, eating and drinking and supplementing, as well as how sleep and light and weather influenced my sense of wellbeing.

...And ya know what -- my approach works for me.  Over and over again, i've confirmed that conventional wisdom is completely wrong for this body.  Every time i eat "what everybody knows is healthy" i feel worse:  vegetables make me feel worse; exercise makes me feel worse; low fat intake makes me feel worse; dairy makes me feel worse; healthywholegrains (especially wheat) make me feel worse.  What works for the white swans doesn't do me a damned bit of good.

Supplementing the right vitamins/minerals makes me feel better, despite the disparagement of those who claim they only make for expensive urine.  Anecdotal evidence [gasp] of long-dead clinicians provides the clues to how the right super-foods improve health, and the n=1 reports of individuals reveal the wonders of what happens when B12 is supplied to the deficient, or preformed vitamin A to a poor converter of beta-carotene.  Supplementing vitamins to white swans (who aren't deficiient at baseline) doesn't result in improvements in health, therefore "vitamins don't work" is the default medical opinion.  But ONLY eating whole foods isn't enough for a black swan like me, because i neither absorb nor convert like a white swan.

SO MUCH can be done to improve health and resistance to disease, through diet and supplementation!  For several years I've been so immersed in the writings of a coterie of brilliant minds in the nutrition world, i often get a shock when i'm reminded of what most people believe to be a healthful lifestyle.  I see how their illnesses and chronic conditions are obviously related to their diets and activities, and i'm astonished that they don't observe it in themselves, and resolve to discontinue what so patently DOES NOT WORK.

But they listen to advertising shills, and make the mistake of believing what they're told by people who merely want to sell something.  They believe that MDs and RDs know enough to give them good advice, and don't seem to realize that these people, TOO, have been sold a bill of goods by Big Pharma as well as Big Ag/Food.  They believe that the USDA and FDA are there merely to protect them from the unhygeinic, quacks, and snake-oil salesmen.

Alas, some people are probably not wise to take their health into their own hands.  They NEED reliable medical advice ... but where are they going to get it?  Perhaps in the next generation of clinicians who are being trained by the likes of Dr. Feinman?  Call ME over-optimistic for thinking this might be possible....

Friday, April 17, 2015

busy AND allergy week

And i thought things were busy, this time LAST week!  :-)

But i'll start arsy-versy -- this has been a bad spring for allergies, here.  It began last month when i was in Texas:  well, that's no surprise;  it was when we lived in Texas back in the late '80s through mid '90s that i became aware that i had allergy PROBLEMS; before that i only had (tiny) allergy problems.  As i drove home i started noticing all the lovely Bradford pear trees in bloom, and knew that my misery was only beginning.  I've had a daily headache ever since, more of a nuisance than a PAIN, but it takes away some of the joy of spring.

Benedryl is a must-use, and when symptoms are particularly bad i double-down on antihistamine with Histame and/or nicotine.  Now, it's hinted in many sources that benedryl MAY influence weight-loss, but i can't seem to find any solid evidence, and i even asked Dr. Westman on last year's LC cruise if he saw that as a problem and he said no.  So...?  I dunno.  What i AM sure of is that allergy-season increases stress and poor sleep, and that ain't good for nobody.  ;-)  While eating cleanly i tend to see inflammation fade away, but this month hasn't been perfect in that regard!  My rings have not been as loose as i'm accustomed to.

The busy-ness has added to my stress too, alas.  I like to wake up in the morning and let my brain equilibrate while drinking a couple of cups of coffee and reading my usual round of mail, blogs and social media.  EVERY DAY for over a week i've been rousted out early, and that [ahem] just doesn't bring out the best in me.  Yesterday, i totally caved in and had a whiskey-and-soda with my lamburger at the Scottish Arms, and two glasses of wine with my steak at supper!  It was in fact a good low-carb day, but since i had been trying to follow my Strong Medicine regimen i tended to feel like a cheater. Well, it WAS a perfect maintenance day but not good for LOSING.  At least i haven't gained!

We've gotten a lot of ground covered though, when it comes to our construction project.  We actually saw some of the trees that are going into the back yard, and the garage doors are ordered.  The chosen stone for the fireplace that is no longer available has been replaced and sent-off-for.  To my extreme relief, the beautiful floor tile i chose a year ago IS still available, and will shortly be on its way to us.  The purveyor of our fireplace impressed us enough to be a contender for the mantlepiece too.  We've talked with more crafts-people than i can easily enumerate.  ...One more week and some real progress will be visible.

Once all the materials are here, i have a lot of faith that everything will fit together beautifully -- we have a true artist as our carpenter/project-manager.  But what they say about "decision fatigue" is TRUE;  all of this stuff has been exhausting.  I still have small things like hardware to choose, but the biggest things are out of the way.

Tomorrow morning i plan to sleep late ... but if it's beautiful outside (as i expect) can i remain inside en deshabille?  ;-)  Sunday they say it's going to rain -- i can loaf around then!  But ... that would be a perfect time to put together the loom we drove to Kansas City for, last weekend!  I'd say "so little time, so much to do" if it weren't for the fact we're retired.  If WE don't have time, who does?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

trust me

Horfilmania posted an epitaph for a relative she just lost.  I was struck by two different feelings.

Overriding, of course, was my reaction to the quote printed concerning her health problems:  "We take pills for that."  It saddened me immensely.

This is what comes of treating our medical industry personnel like gods.  They know best, they are authorities, they have our best interests at heart, we mustn't question!  I don't know if I should be madder at them or at us.  ...Or maybe at all the television dramas in which doctors are the heroes, which help to brainwash the credulous....

In our highly-specialized society, it's tempting to leave personally-unknown details to people who set themselves up as knowledgeable professionals.  Hell, that's the way my marriage works -- some things J is better at, and he plays leader there, and some things i'm best at and he'd BETTER defer to my judgment.  ;-)  We can't each know everything, and the better part of wisdom is knowing where somebody else's expertise is needed.

But even from the earliest days of physicians, there have been areas where they THOUGHT they knew what was best but were seriously deluded.  And the guild not only managed to kill an awful lot of patients, but they battled for their supremacy with "alternative practitioners" in ways that haven't changed much through the centuries -- I wonder how many witchcraft accusations were brought by them, simply to remove the competition from business?

The AMA claims to harass midwives, recommenders of supplements, and even members of their own club who use a different approach from the ingenuous "standard of care" ONLY to protect us from shoddy medicine, but there is a smokescreen situation here.  If a treatment is shown to WORK, who are they to forbid its use simply because there is no RCT report printed up in a journal?  They never worry about obviously deleterious treatments -- like statins for women -- when it comes to something the club sanctions.  We're talking hypocrites, not Hypocrates.

Individual doctors often have the best interests of the patient as an ideal, but the association only cares about perpetuating itself, like so many other organizations (AHA, ACS, ADA ad nauseum).  Too many, though, don't really care.  Herd 'em in, sit in a room with them while looking at a computer-screen, write a scrip, herd 'em out....  The ones who work with patients to improve health from the ground up just make the "herders" look bad -- can't have that.  :-P

"We take pills for that."

People get into all kinds of trouble through poor lifestyle choices;  if we used the "pills" philosophy for crummy jobs, bad relationships, and crime, how far are we going to get?  If some guy comes down with a disease because he lives like an unhygienic animal, do we tell him to just take a pill, or do we tell him to take a bath and clean his house, ferkrisesake?  If a smoker goes to the doctor with lung disease is s/he not told to QUIT SMOKING?

When the public IS told that lifestyle changes are necessary to improve health, it is unfortunate that the changes they're told to make are so unpleasant.  Western-world puritanism is held up as the path to immortality -- and I use the term intentionally, because it's all about that "being pure will get you into heaven" mentality.  We are asked to give up red meat and ice cream and everything that provides pleasure, and instead to eat dry crusts and bitter herbs, and toil on a treadmill.  No wonder doctors can't get their patients to make "lifestyle changes" -- no wonder they give up and pull out the prescription pad.

If that's what it took, I wouldn't do it either.  Fortunately, it's not.

We desperately need to move away from "pill mentality" but of course the pharmaceutical industry will fight that tooth-and-nail.  Letting them advertise on television made the problem worse ... but it just goes to show how strong their lobby is. 

Presenting PLEASANT lifestyle changes as beneficial is our best hope for improvement.  Change the message from "get at least five hours of exercise every week" to "do something outdoors for a half-hour every day" and see if people get a little more enthusiastic.  Stop lying to them about animal protein ruining their kidneys -- if they can't tolerate a gram per pound of their ideal weight, their kidneys are ALREADY trashed.  Most of all, stop telling them that they NEED those healthywholegrains, that starch is the best thing they could possibly eat.


...and the other thing that leapt to mind when I read that blog-post?  That only in the 21st century could we consider a 70-year-old to be dying "young."  As Henry II put it in "The Lion in Winter,"  "I'm 50 now.  Good God, boy, I'm the oldest man I know!  I've got a decade on the Pope!"

H's cousin -- rest in peace!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

protein quality and quantity

Some sectors of the keto-blogosphere restrict protein to maintain a ketogenic state for weight-loss or brain health.  I suspect that their biggest problem is not generically PROTEIN as it is the SOURCE.

While on this Strong Medicine regimen of mine (which got sidetracked over the weekend because of a theatre evening and two days out-of-town, alas), my intake is approximately 120 g. of animal protein per day, at least half of which is beef or lamb.  I allow myself fresh pork, fatty poultry or fish as the rest of the ration, but usually avoid eggs because they don't seem to satisfy me as well.  My ketone readings get up into the moderate range.

And i'm highly-talented at gluconeogenesis.  On a ZC or ULC diet, my morning glucose can read in the low-to-mid nineties.  If anyone were to be able to screw up ketogenesis, it would be me.

Do people who complain of too much protein converting to glucose eat MORE than i do?  120 grams are almost TWO grams per ideal-weight-in-POUNDS for me -- that's a shitload of protein!  Is their idea of restriction 80 or 90 grams?  Or is it around the one-gram-per-kilo-ideal?

I've paid attention to Wooo's twitter-observations about how she feels after eating different meat-meals.  After chicken she's far more likely to report brain-noise and malaise than after eating ribeye.  She's inclined to think it might be factory-farm-polluted animals, but I think it's more likely to be:  1) seasonings on commercially-cooked birds;  2) preservatives in the brining solutions of conventional poultry;  3) an intrinsic inferiority of the chicken proteins themselves.

We know that different amino-acids have different physiological effects.  I think a problem with poultry (especially chicken- and turkey-breast) might just be the quantities and proportions of various aminos. 

...Just like I think that one of the problems with even heritage wheat is its overabundance of glutamic acid....

Think about it, and observe it in yourself:  exactly what kinds of meat do you feel best eating?  What kinds have less-than-ideal after-effects -- do you FEEL different after eating beef as compared to chicken?  The habit of keeping a food-journal that includes state-of-wellbeing can be a very helpful practice, in teaching you DETAILS of how different foods make you feel.

We've been brainwashed to believe that variety in our diets is important -- well, it especially is, if we're eating things that aren't intrinsically nourishing to begin with!  It's enlightening how little variety you need from a nutritional point of view, if your main foodstuffs are organ meats, pastured eggs, wild-caught fish, and fresh fatty meats.  Theoretically we don't NEED red meat AND white meat -- our tendency toward mixing-it-up has more to do with the entertainment aspect of our food rather than essential nourishment in it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

changing attitudes about dietary fat

Perhaps the biggest historic attitude-change when it comes to "ideal diet" is not an accent on carbohydrate intake, but the ebb-and-flow opinion about dietary fat.

As i pointed out yesterday, with voices from the past as corroboration, a moderate-to-high-carbohydrate diet has been the norm for a very long time, and the farther into the neolithic past and the further down the socioeconomic ladder you go, the larger the ratio of coarse carb to first-class protein you observe to be eaten.

Fats have always been treasured, though.  A source of light as well as of fuel for the body, common people hoarded as much as they could of it.  If you weren't rich or holy you couldn't acquire wax candles -- you used a "tallow dip" or put any kind of rough-and-nasty grease in your "betty lamp" or rushlight that you preferred not to eat.  Whale-oil wasn't even widely available till comparatively recently, and kerosene (coal oil) is much newer.  Interestingly, in the new American colonies, bayberry bushes were protected by law, they were so valuable a source of lighting material.

Even soap-making, as a craft requiring fat, is a newish thing.  For centuries, washing clothes (if done at all) was done with a weak lye bath or a mechanical water-only process -- the linens that people often wore for an entire week before laundering contained a significant amount of body-oils already!  Certain plants provided an alternative to the lye-and-grease-containing true soaps, and were valued because they spared fats for dietary and lighting purposes.  In America, only when animal fats became more abundant with the spread of farming, ranching and buffalo-hunting did people make or buy a goodly amount of soap.

Before the protestant movements in Europe, the church dictated a lot of what kinds of foods people were allowed to eat, and when.  Sumptuary laws went further.  These often restricted animal foods ... which includes their fats.  Ya wanna talk about short and brutish lives?  The middle ages beat hell out of the paleolithic.

Of course, "vegetable oils" were in scant supply until very recently.  Well, very few plants actually ARE oily, so are only expressible with modern technology.  Olive oil was not something that northern Europe or early America saw a lot of, nor coconut or palm oils.  Carcass and dairy fats were pretty much IT.

And people knew it was valuable!  Tubers and grains may fill the belly, but they don't stick to the ribs very efficiently.  Fat fixes that.  Native peoples in the New World prized fatty parts of their prey animals for themselves, and threw the lean stuff to the dogs.

It was only when nutritionism invented calorie-counting that fat started to get a bad name amongst people interested in curing obesity.  William Banting's version of low-carb doesn't restrict it, but by the 1920s the view seems to be "why consume something you're trying to remove from your body" (paraphrased from Lindlahr's "Eat and Reduce").  Besides, every gram of fat contains NINE calories, as opposed to only four in carbohydrates and proteins....  :-P  Decades ago when i started to gain weight a bit, i tried the Lindlahr version of low-carb, but being fat-poor it was very unsatisfying.

Well, with technology and some decent RCTs, we now know an awful lot more about what dietary fat actually does in the body.  Banting and Stefansson KNEW it was good stuff, but they didn't know precisely WHY.  We do.

Twentieth-century nutritionism was an ignorant, deluded, arrogant asshole, especially as personified by Keys, McGovern, and a few more jerks i could list.  They thought their version of science was more enlightened than millennia of observation, trial and error.  Boy were they wrong.

Fat is more than just fuel, and especially more than just the sum of its calories.  Telling people that eliminating most of it from their diets, and making sure most of what remained was PUFA, was the beginning of catastrophe for public health, in my humble opinion.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

no sense of history

"I have no sense of history?  HE wears a BROWN TIE!"

[evil grin]  I do love me my movie quotes -- it gives me the flexibility of expressing things that don't come naturally to me, like the non-sequitur above.

But i was more thinking about the poor sense of history i quote here:
Sixty years ago it was quite easy to default into the correct way of eating because we were mostly surrounded by foods that supported such eating.  But, our food environment has changed dramatically and today’s default eating (e.g., high amounts of sugar, grains, highly refined carbohydrates) puts most of us – about 60 or 70% of us – at serious risk of metabolic disease.*
The gentleman is wrong.  For a lot more than 60 years have people eaten high-carbohydrate diets -- white flour and sugar as large proportions of their intake.  Now, his aim was to make the usual tired "it's the concentrated refined carbs that are the villain!" point, but again ... this is ANOTHER oversimplification of a very complex issue.

When sugar became more common, true, so did obesity.  People like William Banting, who are easy to fatten, managed to become morbidly obese on mid-nineteenth-century carbohydrates, but he would also have been one of the fat Egyptians or Aztecs we've heard of, on the most primitive of diets.  It's not JUST the refined carbs.

And those Egyptians and Aztecs weren't likely office workers either.  They walked wherever they needed to go -- no elevators or cars helped them out, even though the very richest of them probably had access to their version of the sedan-chair.  No, modern food and antibiotics in the food supply, too much electric light, televisions and smart-phone use at night didn't contribute to their problems -- in their cases, it HAD to be carb-intolerance or that dangerous mixture of high-carb-AND-high-fat diet.


When people claim that the huge recent increase in overweight in the "first world" is because before 1970 it was easier to pick up a healthy moderate-carb meal, I have to conclude that they don't know shit about history.  They have some rosy image in their minds, of June Cleaver serving up a pot roast with lots of green vegetables ... and forget about all the bread and potatoes and margarine, and the layer cake she served up for dessert.

...Because in post-WWII America, there was a lot of "bad" eating going on.  Coca Cola (sugared) was around every corner, though the serving-size was much smaller than it is today.  White bread was the rule rather than the exception.  Crisco -- AKA transfat -- was in every baked product, and brother did those families enjoy their baked goods, from breakfast biscuits through supper's fresh-fruit cobbler.  Babies got off to a bottle-fed start REGULARLY.  "Everybody" smoked.  It wasn't the wholesome, whole-food paradise that a lot of people envision.  Every meal had its starchy base, and its fatty auxilliary, and its sugary finale.

Yet somehow ... SOMEHOW ... Americans as a whole managed to NOT become obese and diabetic.  The finger-pointers need to find a different explanation than that "...years ago it was quite easy to default into the correct way of eating because we were mostly surrounded by foods that supported such eating."  NONSENSE.

No, what changed were things like this:
  • people weren't told they needed to eat every couple of hours to "keep their metabolisms revved up";
  • people weren't told that fat made them fat -- they "knew" that starches and sugar did;
  • PUFAs and MUFAs weren't idealized nor SFAs considered the devil;
  • neither whole grains nor cardio were yet canonized;
  • wheat wasn't in EVERYTHING on the grocery shelves, nor was soy;
  • the novel proteins now in both those crops weren't a part of the average diet.
There's plenty of change between then and now, including fluoridated water, modern pesticides and antibiotics in the food supply, xenoestrogens everywhere, and superfluous fructose in most people's diets.  It's more likely that modern obesity is a perfect-storm situation rather than a "simple" carbohydrate-is-everywhere problem.  Carbohydrate has been everywhere for a long time.

Stop learning the lessons of history from the entertainment business.  They have a lousy record for mirroring real life.
*  i don't have to name names, do i?  ;-)  of course i can if [DR ATTIA! DR ATTIA! PAGING DR ATTIA!] ....

Friday, April 10, 2015

the TRUTH!!!


Right, left, and center, everyone is trying to tell us what THE TRUTH is....

There's one big problem with that, as Obi-Wan Kenobi pointed out -- a lot depends on your point of vantage.  THE TRUTH about fats, carbs, supplements, hormones, et al ad nauseum is a highly individual thing in its specifics.  All these "authorities" (and I use the term with smirking intention) are very fond of announcing THE truth but in pinning them down there are a lot of caveats;  once all of the exceptions are conceded "the code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules" ... if you'll forgive me referencing two different movies in one paragraph.  ;-)

The "truth" about the benefits/shortcomings of what I eat and supplement with isn't going to be true for anyone else.  My genetic strengths and weaknesses, coupled with my infection/damage history are absolutely unique.

One of the pejorative comments these generalizers always toss out is that some of us just think we're "unique snowflakes."  Actually, that status is absolutely factual, and not to be unaccounted-for.  We may have a large amount in common, but genetic/epigenetic details -- which ARE unique -- are where the rubber hits the road when it comes to determining optimal diet, sleep, exercise, supplementation, lifestyle, and so on.

Even two identical TWINS have epigenetic differences, ferkrisesake.  One was dominant in the uterus, one was born first, and each has its own individual post-birth experiences.  Did just one turn up with a tick-bite at Scout camp?  Was one playing with a healthy child at daycare, while the other played with a child carrying a virus?  Did one ingest a food containing a pathogen while the other did not?

So yes, we are unique snowflakes.  Yes, some humans are broken.  Yes, there is no one truth.

Anyone who says different and claims to be an expert has, ipso facto, demonstrated that he/she is not one.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

time to revisit another old idea

The idea i'm referring to is the "cravings = deficiency" one, specifically as it refers to stress triggering starch/sugar/alcohol cravings, and how they can all be treated with extra B vitamins.

Anecdotally, i've found this to be true.  Years ago, before i discovered "paleo," i had heard that popping a "stress vitamin" when i was wound tight could be effective, and sure enough it panned out. Yesterday I got an after-meal urge for something sweet, and gave myself a half-teaspoon of inositol for it;  that worked too.

Inositol is a curious substance;  it so resembles powdered sugar that you want to make sure you order it from a reputable supplier or ... who knows.  As i wrote before, it was originally identified as vitamin B8, but was downgraded to non-vite status when it was discovered that the human body can manufacture it from phytate or glucose.

I tried to discover more about it after i tried it and decided it was worth continuing.  Unlike vitamin A, there doesn't seem to be a lot of research about who can effectively convert it and who can't.  I'd be willing to bet, though, that such research would be really valuable for helping people with persistent sweet-cravings.  As we get older, we get less able to absorb and convert things -- it's reasonable to assume that inositol could be one of them.

One thing i DID find in my search was a hypothyroid blogger who considered inositol to be a must-continue supplement.  I will be continuing it, too, whenever convenient (at home and during car-travel) because i seem to feel a boost, and see no significant down-side.

If, despite kicking your sugar-habit, you find that you get the occasional urge for something sweet (especially when stressed), perhaps you should pick up a B-complex vitamin that contains inositol, or a package of the straight B8.  If you think its powdered-sugar resemblance might behave like a trigger, a capsule would probably be safer than the bulk style.  Wooo makes inositol-containing fat-bombs, and one of these days i need to experiment with doing that myself.  I suspect that coconut-butter/inositol bombs MIGHT be habit-forming, though!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

the heat is on

No, i didn't have to start the furnace -- it's the protein-inspired thermogenesis i'm talking about.

Last night a few hours after dinner, while I was reading myself to sleep in my blue-blockers, I started to feel warm.  Oh, that old annoying overheating problem!  :-P  I'd better get used to it, because to reach my weight goal, i'm going to have to be hitting the protein pretty hard for four weeks. 

In the winter, this is easy -- I just lower the thermostat.  We're between seasons now, when indoor comfort is adjusted with opening and closing windows, and running fans.  I guess i'd better refine my technique!

According to Donaldson's Strong Medicine regimen, one shouldn't drink anything after dinner, but I don't feel particularly guilty about breaking this rule.  Last night I broke out yet another bottle of sparkling mineral water, and soon I was comfortable again ... and my scale-experience this morning revealed a better result than I expected.  I weigh approximately what I did last fall before all the winter laziness, stress, and holiday eating.  I'm relieved:  I would have expected a larger number because I FEEL fat.  :-(  At least, that feeling will spur my determination to eat "perfectly."

And that overheated feeling that comes after meals ... at least i'm confident that it's a sign my metabolism is gearing up in response to intake -- what's SUPPOSED to happen!  Discomfort is easier to bear if we know there's a good reason for it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

spring cleaning -- body version

A boost in energy and ambition might be universal, in springtime.  Culturally, this used to be the time of year to do a thorough house-cleaning.  Well, until our construction project is finished, i don't think i'm going to put an unusual amount of effort into THAT, but i'm definitely in the mood to tidy up my body.

I decided to get tough, and go back on the Strong Medicine regimen -- you know, the mid-twentieth-century version of ZC as described by Dr. Blake Donaldson in his 1960s book, which i used with such good results when my husband was working out-of-town.  Since he's been back, i've tried to get him to do it, with poor results;  a couple of days into it, he said he felt bad, and stopped.  As he's expert at derailing me when i'm trying to do it solo, i've never been able to continue more than a day or two ... but this time i'm going to get tough.

There are two important tweaks i have to make so that eating this way is a winning situation:  i have to salt my meat generously, and i have to supplement betaine-HCl from time to time.

I suspect that not performing these tweaks is why a lot of people don't feel comfortable on ZC!  It's all about digestion!

The chloride in salt is where we get the raw material for stomach-acid.  I strongly feel that the "adverse effects of dietary sodium" comes NOT from salt, but from flavor-enhancers and preservatives which are found in processed and RESTAURANT FOOD.  NaCl is an important nutrient, the best sources of which are sea-salt and land deposits like that lovely Himalayan stuff.  The "sodium" that eats your lunch is in compounds like MSG and sodium benzoate et al.

Stomach acid is I-M-P-O-R-T-A-N-T.  The reason you get reflux is not because you have too much acid, but too little.  It makes me REALLY REALLY mad when commercials claim the opposite.  It makes me even madder when dumb-asses in the medical industry do it, too -- they should know better.

Additionally, stomach-acid is the front-line destroyer of pathogens in what you eat and breathe.  A dip in the HCl-pool is what decommissions the bacteria on your steak tartare or nigiri, and the viruses that get trapped in your sinuses (which subsequently drain down your throat).

Betaine-HCl is one of the most important members of my supplement armory.  I never know when it's going to be necessary to use, so i MUST keep it on hand.  Running out last fall seemed to be the beginning of a very unpleasant pylori experience....

Acid and enzymes in the stomach are what break down the pound-or-so of meat which i take in daily on this regimen.  When i first tried the SMR i knew that forgoing salt was not a good idea, so i used it from the beginning.  His instruction to take three meals, of 8 oz. meat in each, proved to be too much for me, so i cut back to three of 6 oz. or two of a half-pound -- that turned out to be the right formula for my system.  If i'm getting enough salt, i don't generally need the betaine supplement ... but it's at-hand if i detect sluggish digestion a couple of hours after a meal.

It's important to not dilute the stomach-acid by drinking a lot just before or during meals;  Donaldson recommends no more than a 5-oz. cup of coffee (which is not a bad replacement for wine; the bitterness of a couple of sips before the meal induces acid and bile secretion).  Somewhere around 6 cups of water a day ARE recommended, but definitely separated from mealtimes.

No alcohol.

I find it a remarkably simple and effective regimen.  The old "what shall we have for breakfast/supper" question is a lot more easily answered!  As long as i followed the protocol, even my tweaked version, i DID lose the three pounds a week he "promised."

I can see how some people might have more problems with it than i did, though.  I began in a fat-adapted state, so i didn't double-down on the Atkins Flu it could entail.  The meat-centric nature of it suits my taste perfectly.  My microbiota weren't highly fiber-dependant, so didn't scream with rage when i put THEM on my diet.  ;-)

There's one thing he recommended that i didn't jump in and do regularly -- he prescribed a half-hour walk before breakfast to get the liver moving (my paraphrase).  With the improving weather, i think i'll be more inclined to do it, this round.  This is a lovely time of year to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

isn't it nice to be home again


Two longer-than-they-should-have-been days on the road and one hotel-room with horrible fluorescent lighting later, here I am.  We'll be going out for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, where I resolve to eat the guacamole with a spoon, get a glass of white wine instead of a margarita, and probably order the carne asada, though they have great carnitas, chicken and fish dishes too.  Mexican food doesn't HAVE to include a lot of carbs!  :-D

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


The carbophiles like to call the carb-intolerant "carbophobes."  Whereas FEAR is rather a poor description of our wariness, I see nothing intrinsically wrong with being fearful of something that can screw people up as badly as excess glucose, fructose and starch are able to do.

Am I also crack-phobic?  MeOH-phobic?  MRSA-phobic?  If so, is there anything actually misguided about that?

Are andropausal men estro-phobic?  Recovering-alcoholics EtOH-phobic?  Should people of color in some parts of the US be generically bullet-phobic or specifically cop's-bullet-phobic? 

It is, alas, the tendency of some young and resilient individuals to sneer at the older and more wary for their bodily faultiness ... but I find that to be a result of their own youth-driven innocence of life.  They tend to consider themselves strong and invincible because of intrinsic virtue, and that those who are not (or are no longer) are morally inferior cuz "weak."  The karma-bitch in me looks forward to their surprise in a few decades, as she does to the shock of the ultra-religious in the theoretical after-life.  ;-)  "Wow," they'll say, "this isn't quite what I expected...."  [evil grin]

I believe that avoiding danger is a sign of intelligence, not mental derangement, which is implied by the word "phobia."  Even "safe starches" and paleo-approved sugars have the power to cause me to store fat, which is something I don't need to do.  With my time-altered hormonal milieu, I don't burn glycogen and glucose as efficiently as I used to, so reducing the dietary precursors of both makes more sense than trying to force my body to compensate. 

Why oh why do carbophiles want all of us to eat like them?  I can understand why the overweight ones might -- it's a case of misery-loves-company or similar.  But why do the lean ones care?  Makes even less sense than the veg*n arguments....