Archive for June, 2011

Liberating developments and forward motion

Again, another whole week since I’ve posted!   My post frequency is tapering out to an asymptote.   This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that I may, in fact, be winding down on my obsession with paleo nutrition.  I’m not quite sure if this trend will continue, but I have fair evidence to believe it will.  Some truly revolutionary changes have taken place for me.  I think they’re sticking.

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These few developments have been absolutely wonderful, for a variety of reasons. First: I have a grand, if somewhat embarrassing, announcement to make.  I have figured out the source of my acne!  This is grand because it means my life is about 100 x better than it was before, but it’s embarrassing because the answer is a giant smack on the forehead.  Here’s why:  Even though my doctor and my dermatologist both insisted that my acne was due to my PCOS, I didn’t develop severe acne until about six months into my PCOS-induced amenorrhea.   What did change in my life at the exact time the acne started showing up was that I added significant amounts of dairy to my diet.  I suspected dairy, and I “went off” it for days or even weeks at a time, but my efforts were half-assed.  Because I didn’t see immediate results eliminating the dairy, I often went back on it or just indulged from time to time and assumed all was fine.    Plus, when I eliminated the dairy, I only ever cut lactose, and never even considered cutting casein (in butter).

Because of the PCOS and my body’s inability to produce estrogen, my doctor told me that putting on weight would cure my acne, and that losing weight would exacerbate it.  While I did see some improvement with the acne while on a weight-inducing (twelve pounds in three weeks!) estrogen pill, I still saw one cyst come up while on the pill that was so large and painful I still have a 5 mm diameter scar on my face.  That was five months ago.   Something that I ate right before it popped up was a slice of kraft cheese on my mid-flight meal with Asiana airlines.  Hm. I also noticed that my skin conditioned worsened while I was losing weight.  I initially thought this was because I was lowering my BMI–and therefore my estrogen-producing fat cells–and I despaired at the injustice of having to choose between being fat and having acne.  However, I was eating incredibly “cleanly”  in these time periods.  I intended to lose weight efficiently and to manage my acne.  The method?  Eating mostly vegetables cooked in butter!  Butter!

More evidence for my butter intolerance showed up when I arrived in Taiwan.  The Taiwanese don’t cook with butter, and I don’t imagine they ever will.   My skin began clearing immediately.  I also began eating high quantities of omega 3 fats and seaweed, which I thought was helping.  I still do think it helped.   Anyway, about half way through my time in Taiwan, I got violently ill.  Afterwards my stomach lining was ulcerated, and I needed to eat “cleanly” again.  Unfortunately, after I started doing this, my face didn’t necessarily get too much worse, but it did stop getting better.   Old scars looked angrier and new cysts, if small, came up every couple of days.  I was not a happy camper.  More than a year of dealing with this shit and I still didn’t have it figured out?  Jesus hates me, and I’ve always known it.

Then it hits me.  Every time I’ve eaten “clean” my skin has gotten worse.  What gives?  I decide to try giving up butter.  And in days, for real, days, the angry red inflammation in my face disappears, and I don’t see new cysts.  Or, many.  You’ll recall that I claimed clear skin on this blog about a month or two ago, but that was before I began eating “clean” again and seeing the inflammation resurface.  Hopefully this time it sticks.  I’ve noticed, additionally, that scars that have lived on my shins and knees for years have begun to fade.  Years.  And my keratosis pilaris, those angry red bumps that show up on so many people’s arms, is also gone.  For the first time in my entire life.  I attribute this both to having giving up butter and also to including lots of fish in my diet, which is both high in omegas and in vitamins A and D.   My skin is prettier than it’s been in twenty years, and it’s all because of one food tolerance hiding among a vast array of variables.  What’s more, I’m also at a lower BMI than I’ve been in–I’m not sure, maybe ever–and both my acne and my PCOS symptoms (see below) have improved.  Clearly the estrogen-fat-cells-phenomenon isn’t my issue, and my doctors can happily fuck themselves.

This year-long experiment of mine, I think, points to an important set of lessons.  First: self-experimentation works, but, god damn, it can really take a long time.   There is a reason something is going wrong in our bodies, and it takes all kinds of information and tests and experiments to figure it out.  We shouldn’t ever give up on them.  Why settle for poor health when an answer is lying right inside of us?  We have to be patient.  We have to give ourselves time to find the answers.  And we have to be prepared to deal with the medical establishment and to turn to them for help, in addition to accepting the fact that some of our prognoses might not be the happiest endings.  But nothing happens without cause (ignoring Hume), and we really can work out the answers in good time.

Another important take-away is this: our bodies require time. After going paleo, and after graduating from university, it took about six months for my hair to stop falling out.  After losing thirty pounds about a year and a half ago, it has taken me about a year and a half to figure out the best (or a decent) way to eat to be both satisfied and healthy.  After losing a lot of muscle mass in that time period, it took me about six months to achieve simultaneous leanness and muscularity.   After removing all dairy save butter from my diet, it took three months for me to see a difference, and after removing butter and including a lot of good vitamins, I imagine it’ll be another six months before my scar tissue fades and my skin normalizes.

And finally:  I stopped menstruating about eighteen months ago.  I haven’t had a period since.  I am sure that this happened to me because I lost about thirty pounds, but I am not at an unhealthy weight and I refuse to become chubby again for the sake of reproduction (something I do not want in my life regardless.)    I have been told by scores of people since that I should put on weight, but I’m not sure this would solve the underlying problem.  Certainly, the estrogen my fat cells produce would help my lazy ovaries, but the fact is that I have lazy ovaries, and this is almost certainly due to underlying hormonal imbalance and adrenal stress (re: Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives, by Wenda Levathan).  I have noticed, particularly since I started intermittent fasting a couple months ago, interestingly, that my sex drive has begun inching back, that my vagina is, as I so happily stated before, no longer as dry as Oscar Wilde, and I have hope that my periods will return.  I think that my body is both adjusting to it’s new body fat percentage–hovering around 20–and also healthfully finding some hormonal balance.  I am less stressed in general, no longer over-training, sleeping better than I ever have, and, I think, increasing my insulin sensitivity and righting my androgen production with IF.  It’s taking time.  It’s taking a hell of a long time.  But I can wait, and what has happened up to this points leads me to believe that everything will normalize in due time. A lot of people hang out on paleo hacks and forums and wonder why nothing is working for them.  The answer, I think, is a combination of my above two experiences.  Sometimes there are mysterious things going on in our bodies that we don’t yet understand, and we need to troubleshoot them.  We also need to give ourselves time to heal.    It may take a while, but so it goes.

Today I am acne-free (ish), happy with my body and it’s performance, feeling healthy, and, moreover, eating in a satisfying manner.   I have learned, through years of trial and error, and bingeing and self-loathing and forgiveness and love and hate and so many other emotions, a pattern of eating that works for my body and that works for me.  I have a lot to say about disordered eating, if you haven’t already been able to tell, but I have recently let it fade from my mind.  There is a feedback loop at play here, and honestly I don’t know which way it runs.  I think (and blog!) about food less, and I obsess about food less, and I eat food less.   Along with my physical problems, the mental ones are fading, as well.

 

I had originally thought that, in place of my old obsessions, I would continue to fabricate and obsess over “new” problems.  But that’s actually not happening.  In the place of my obsessions is descending a blank, peaceful space in my mind.  It is as though I am, every day, walking into a large room with vaulted ceilings and high, arching windows, and it is quiet.  What do I think about?  What do I do?  Why is it bright and breezy in here, instead of dank and dreadful?  Why do I feel at peace, and why are there no demons sitting on my shoulders? This is a very new feeling for me.  I have talked about mental freedom before on this blog, and certainly I discovered more mental freedom once I went paleo, but this is something new entirely. I don’t have anything pulling at me.  I don’t hate myself in any way.  Before, I loved myself in all ways but one.  Now I love myself (not unconditionally) in all the ways that matter.  I don’t have anything to dwell on.  No foods, no men, no women, no social pains, no future worries… well, I worry about my stocks… but the point is: with little pressure in my life, both external and internal, I can breathe more deeply than I have in many years.

The final component to all of this is another puzzle of causation.  While it has been absolutely crucial that I solve all of my physical conundrums, another important event has happened to me.  I have come home to America, and I have final begun actually walking down what I feel is my right “path.”   What I mean by “path” here is almost exactly that.  I have a dream.  I have something about which I have been passionate my entire life.   And I am, miraculously, beautifully, intrepidly, inching towards it.

I have never shared the true “purpose” of my life with you, for the obvious reason that it really has nothing to do with this blog whatsoever, but it really is the driving force behind my life.   A complex set of steps both on and finding this path defined my experience at Dartmouth, defined the choices I made working and living abroad since then, and has lead me through Harvard and Leiden and Oxford and Venice and Copenhagen and Taiwan to where I am today: sitting cross-legged in front of a bay window in suburban Detroit, with dozens of philosophy texts towering over me.

I have dreamed of being a philosopher, as the result of an existential crisis, since I was five years old.   I became a iconoclast instead, and therefore attempted to find purpose in the pursuit of science.  While at university, I managed to show that bacteria can survive at higher temperatures and pressures than previously hypothesized.  This was cool, and it had interesting implications for the origin of life.  But I felt empty.  I wasn’t engaging the crux of my five-year-old’s issue.  I wasn’t in profound or metaphysical enough a field.  And I loathed working in my laboratory.   As such: in September of this year I am starting my graduate work at Boston University, with some of the world’s most badass scholars in the field of Religion and Science.  I specialize in critical analysis of the contemporary scientific paradigm, and hopefully, some day, I will find something meaningful to say about our metaphysical existence.

I threw that paragraph in here because I would, a) like to share some of my true self with you, and b) show you the depth of passion and love that drives me in my work every day.  I am, in fact, so fiercely committed to my path that I effortlessly think about food less often, naturally have great focus, and completely ignore the paleo blogosphere without caring in the slightest.   The reason this activity has increased as of late is because I have renewed access to materials, having finally returned to this country.   Of course, as I stated before, it has been necessary for me to exorcise my demons, first.  But now– I have this big, lofty room in my brain.  I have serenity.  And I am filling it with peaceful, mind-expanding, existential thoughts.  I couldn’t be happier.  I am liberated from the thorns in my body, and I am liberated from obsessions in my brain, so I am re-oriented towards my future and my soul, and I am free.  Free, free, free!

This means I write less.  I will probably continue writing and stay in touch, but for the time being I am in absentia. And from this whole experience I have learned that actively solving my physical problems, giving my body the time and forgiveness required to heal, and having new, exciting, and time consuming projects is great for my health. I remain here for you, as always.  Please write me if you have need or desire, especially if you’re an old/friend client, and you want to re-connect.

Excitedly, freely, and warmly yours,

Stefani Elizabeth

 

 

These guys popped up when I googled “existential crisis.”

30

06 2011

Absence and apologies

Hi all!

It’s been a while.  I’ve been very busy.  Unfortunately, I had to keep this fact a secret from you.   I was secretly packing up and moving home from Taiwan and surprising my mother, and if I mentioned it on my blog, well, she’s approximately 50 percent of my readership, so that would be unwise.

Then I travelled home for 53 hours (!), and rested, and now I’m back.

Still, unfortunately, again, I’m thinking about my blog and my commitment to my work and my priorities, and I’ll get back to you soon when I decide what I am going to do.  I’ve been offered a really cool opportunity to work on a paleo-type community project, and I may decide to devote more energy to that.  I have a job and a lot of things to do this summer, so I will probably devote significant time to that.  I am also starting a rigorous philosophy program this fall (wahoo!), and I will definitely be devoting a lot of energy to that.

Regardless, the site will stay open, and my devotion to healthy eating habits and diets will never fade.  I will always be open for consultation, and I will continue to do my best to help everyone involved.

In any case, I’ll get back in a few days, and let you know about my upcoming projects.

Huzzah!

20

06 2011

What is conditioning, and how does it affect our lives?

It has been far, far too long since I’ve written a post on the likes of Ron Weasley.  Where is the fire and brimstone?  Where are the charging hordes?  Where are the Kirbys, the Spocks, and the Sonic and Tales?  We all need a little bit of Patton in our lives, and I’ve been remiss in going astray.  So I want to talk first about a very important psychological phenomenon, and second about it’s implications for contemporary lives.

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Everyone and their grandma has heard of Ivan Pavlov.  But he was such an important man, and his ideas so profoundly impacted psychology, that he merits a recap.

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist in the late 1800s.  He was a medical researcher, and he made important strides both in organ physiology and in the functioning of the nervous system.  He was particularly interested in the idea of “reflexes,” which is what brought him to his most famous works.

Pavlov was investigating the salivary response to foods when he happened upon a phenomenon now known as classical conditioning. What he found was that dogs salivated not just at the sight of food, but also at the occurrence of “food is coming” signals.  First, the dogs responded only to the food itself.  Then, after having food delivered with the sound of a bell for a certain period of time, the dogs began salivating at the sound of the bell.  Even without food present, the dogs salivated.  They had been conditioned to salivate, and no amount of mental “no no no” would stop the saliva from coming.

What does this mean for human beings?

This means that we can condition responses to just about anything.  Repeat a certain event with a stimuli for a certain amount of time– say, dinner (the event) at six o’clock (the stimuli) or food (again, the event) when I see a Starbucks (again, the stimuli)– we come to expect these things.   Naps in the afternoon, workouts in the morning, the same drinks every time we hang out with the same friends…

Moreover, it is not just a psychological expectation, but a physiological expectation.  I had a professor in college prove this to us.   For two months he would ring a bell then submerge his arm under hot water.  His arm would turn red.   At the end of two months, he rang the bell, without submerging his arm, and his blood vessels opened up, and his arm turned red.  Make no mistakes about it.  Classical conditioning is a very, very real thing.

We also have things called “habits” which are very similar to conditioned responses, only less specific and less strong.   Both are inherent parts of our every day lives.  Both are powerful, and both are hard things to break.

A lot of what we do in life is ruled by habit.  Habit makes things easier.  I always sit in the same seat in class, I eat a lot of the same foods, and I often eat at the same times.  Cool.  These are all helpful things.  But I also have some nasty habits.  I eat every time I come home.  Sometimes this act is so ingrained and subconscious that I have consumed an entire chicken leg before I even know I have food in my mouth.  Yikes.   Some other bad habits I have had in my life are eating while I talk to my mom, walking down the “bad” aisles of grocery stores, and pulling over every time I see a sweet potato cart.  These were subconscious, powerful, and–don’t forget–physiological compulsions.  They ruled my behavior.

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It’s not all BAD NEWS BEARS for team humanity, however.  And why not?

Because as easily as we are conditioned to bad habits, we are broken of them. Without the hot water my professor’s arm still turned red, but each day afterwards, when the stimuli of the bell was rung, but the result of the hot water was absent, his arm got a little bit less red.  Within two weeks it didn’t happen at all, and he felt no difference.   He was, by then, conditioned to the new order of things, which was: ring bell, have nothing happen.  Cool!   We can be programmed to respond, but we can also be re-programmed, or de-programmed, to have different responses.

So if I forcibly stop myself from walking to the refrigerator the next time I go home, I will be de-facto starting the de-conditioning process.  Each time I do that it takes me further down that road.  This process is difficult as hell, especially at first, but each time gets easier and easier.  I can build up momentum in this way.  The more and more time we spend actively denying a bad habit, the easier and easier it becomes to let go.

How does this relate to Mr. Weasley?

Well.   It’s about being the hero of your own life. It’s about recognizing your bad habits, and about owning up to them, and facing them dead on.  It’s about being honest with yourself, and determined, and about taking action.  In a lot of ways, it boils down to bravery.  Here, we have the science to back us up.  We know what the road is going to be like.  We know it’s tough, but we also know that it gets easier over time.  We know that we have conditioned ourselves to act a certain way, but we also know that we can de-condition that behavior.   The first time you get yourself past the McDonald’s without pulling over, it’s an enormous struggle, but it’s also a momentous victory.  Huzzah!  And the second time, it’s still a struggle, but it’s yet another victory.  Bad habits suck.  Let’s be real.  But letting them rule your life and perpetuate disordered eating is even more horrific.  Be a Ron Weasley.  Be an Odysseus.  Be Mufasa.  Whatever.  Whoever.  Use every tool you have at your disposal to improve your life, then commit, and do it, god damnit.

Easy Peasy.  Pavlov says so, and he was the man.

09

06 2011

Pepper’s advanced paleo archives: >200 kick ass posts for growing your perspective

Click here for the Introductory Archives.

What follows is a natural extension of the work I’ve done on the last two archives.  My primary aim in starting those archives was to provide to my readers with an overview of the vast wealth of research and work out there showing why an evolutionary perspective is important.  If that list of blog posts doesn’t convince you to give paleo eating a shot, I don’t know what will.

But I also struggled, when compiling that list, with thoughts like: “yes, but…”  For example: I wanted to present a clear picture of weight loss.  But there isn’t a clear picture of weight loss!   Even more controversial is CarbsGood versus CarbsBad, or InsulinOkay versus InsulinBad.  There exist, also, different opinions on ketosis, dairy, macronutrients, hormone regulation, how bad wheat is for non-celiacs, whether or not it’s good to eat fruit, hell, even the metabolic advantage… The point is:  there exists one consensus:  Paying attention to evolution is a good idea.  But what are the particulars?   What are the nuances?  Where is today’s cutting edge and insight? I’m really interested in these dialogues, and I know thousands of you are, too.

Here, I have compiled different positions on ‘controversial’ topics.  Instead of trying to convince you to go paleo, here, I am hoping to open your mind and show you the vast intellectual debate, exploration, and integrity going on out there.  It’s pretty amazing, and it is ridiculously difficult to keep up with, but I do my best.  The advanced archive is, thus, as follows:

Table of Contents:

Evolutionary History

Contemporary Non-SAD

Supplementation

Weight management and body composition: calories in v calories out?

Metabolic Regulation

Ketosis

Raw v cooked

Infectious diseases

Hormesis

Gluten and grains toxicity

Starch

Fructose toxicity

Dairy

Cholesterol

Macronutrients

———————————————————————————————————————-

Evolutionary history

The case of the missing extinctions

The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization

The health of hunter-gatherers versus agriculturalists

The worst mistake the history of the human race by Jared Diamond

Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet

Early man in UK 780 000 years ago

The evolution of costly traits

Things that get on my nerves: the thrifty gene hypothesis

Ethnobiological commentary: Professor “gumby”

What can the diet of gorillas tell us about humans?

No baked potatoes for ancient Europeans

The new genetics: introduction and Part IV: Who’s in the driver’s seat?

How long does it take for a food related trait to evolve?

Contemporary non-SAD

Nutrition and physical degeneration

The Mbuti of Eastern Zaire

Okinawa: the island of pork

Masai and atherosclerosis

Exercise and body fat and hunter-gatherer activity

The Tokelau Island migrant study

The Tokelau Island migrant study: the final word

SAD versus traditional Japanese diets

Loren Cordain Plant-Animal Subsistence Ratios and Macronutrient Energy Estimations in Worldwide Hunter-Gatherer diets

The Inuit: Lessons from the Arctic

Mortality and lifespan of the Inuit

Cancer among the Inuit

Interview with a Kitavan

Kitava: wrapping it up

Cardiovascular risk factors in Kitava: Part IV

Kitavans: Wisdom from the Pacific Islands

Kitava and Uric acid

Living on Kitava

Leptin and lectins: Kuna

Say hello to the Kuna

Genetics and disease: the Pima

More Masai

Contradicting conventional wisdom: Bantu and Masai

Glucose tolerance in non-industrial cultures

Potato eating cultures

In search of traditional Asian diets

I’m so bored of the Kitavans

The Mediterranean diet: Pasta or pastrami?

Weston A Price and Sub Saharan tribes

The good Scots diet

Thailand: land of the coconut

Merrie Olde England

Koreans and beef

Surprising facts about Japanese foodways

Eating by the seasons in Russia

Australian Aborigines: Living off the fat of the land

Supplementation

9 Steps to perfect health number four: supplement wisely

Multi-vitamins boost breast cancer risk

Any point in antioxidant supplements?

Antioxidants do more harm than good?

Is red wine good for you?

Folic acid

Vitamin D supplementation bad?

The vitamin primer

From seafood to sunshine: a new understanding of vitamin D

Vitamin A on trial: does vitamin A cause osteoporosis?

Copper-zinc imbalance: more problems with plant based diets

The great iodine debate

Vitamin B12: Vital for good health

Vitamin B6: the underappreciated vitamin

Magnificent magnesium

Mineral primer

Are protein supplements as good as advertised?

Adiponectin supplementation: body fat loss

The mechanism of green tea

Vitamin K2: a summary

Magnesium

Fish oil or not?

Mark sisson on multivitamins

Throwing the gauntlet: omega 3 supplementation recommendations

Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic

Weight management and body fat storage: calories in v calories out?

The China Study: Carbohydrates, fat, calories, insulin, and obesity

Clarifications about insulin, leptin, and reward

Carbsane: Why I eat low carb

Calories, fat, or carbohydrates: why diets work (when they do)

The twinkie diet for fat loss

Non-exercise activities like fidgeting may account for 1000 percent difference in body fat gain

How to lose weight

Spontaneous calorie reduction on low carb diet

3500 calories =? 1 pound?

A calorie is a calorie!

Exercise versus diet for weight loss

Leptin, Insulin, adipose tissue, and regulatory hormone

Is insulin resistance really making us fat?

The body fat setpoint: how to change it

Why we get fat

Carbsane Vs Taubes on Why we get fat

Do other theories dispel the calorie hypothesis?  Carbsane response to Guyenet

Views on insulin and obesity

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Low carb, central adiposity, estrogen, and insulin resistance

Regulation of circulating adiponectin

Atrial Natriuretic Peptide: Another fat mobilization hormone?

The myth of starving cells

Microflora and energy balance

Low carb and leptin

Where does insulin resistance start?  The adipose cells

Growth hormone, insulin, body fat accumulation

Growth hormone secretion decreases with age, but not how you’d expect

Butyric acid: an ancient regulator of metabolism, inflammation and stress response

Insulin, leptin, aging, and health

Leptin resistance and sugar

Leptins and lectin

Physiological insulin resistance

Our body’s priority is preventing hypoglycemia, not hyperglycemia

Intermittent fasting, engineered foods, leptin, and ghrelin

Growth hormone: the fountain of youth

Insulin is a door-man at the fat cell night club, not a lock on the door

Insulinogenic is not hyperglycemic

Insulin and glucagon

Insulin resistance and P1K3

Type I diabetes, adiponectin, and leptin

Fat: the endocrine organ

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Fasting insulin and weight loss on a water fast

Growth hormone, insulin resistance, and body fat accumulation

Stephan Guyenet’s recent thoughts on carbohydrate and reward

Thoughts on obesity inspired by Stephan Guyenet

Ketosis

Short term effects of adding carbohydrate to a very low carbohydrate diet

Dangers of zero carb diets, part IV

A brief discussion of ketosis

The effects of consuming a high carbohydrate diet after 8 weeks in ketosis

Ketones and ketosis: physiological versus pathological forms

Ketosis, methylglyoxal and accelerated aging: probably more fiction than fact

Thoughts on Ketosis I and II

Autism and ketogenic diets

Why a ketogenic diet reverses kidney damage in type I and type II diabetics

Ketogenic diet

Ketosis in a low carb diet

Raw vs cooked:

The China Study: Are raw plant foods giving people cancer?

Raw paleo and food re-enactment

Raw paleo and zero carb: right for the wrong reasons

Raw journey Part I

More raw truth about raw vegan diets

Infectious diseases

Nutrition and infectious diseases

Fats and absorbing endotoxins

Short term effects of adding carbohydrates to VLC diets: endotoxins

Does celiac require an infection?

Heliobacter and glucose

Hormesis

Hormesis

Polyphenols, hormesis, and disease, part II

Polyphenol hormesis follow-up

Mother Earth and polyphenols

Gluten and grains toxicity

Quinoa, millet, emmer and einkorn wheat

Reactions to bread: gluten or fructans?

Eating gluten causes symptoms in some people who don’t have celiac disease

The China Study: Wheat might not be so bad for you if you eat 221 g of animal products daily

Traditional preparation methods increase nutritional value of grains

Wheat: in search of scientific objectivity

Minerals, milling, grains, and tubers

The argument against cereal grains

Avoid poison or neutralize it?

Where are all the healthy whole grains?

Wheat and lactose: no one is tolerant of WGA

Gluten sensitivity: promises and problems

Starch

Potato diet interpretation

Potatoes and human health, part III

Weight loss on potatoes

Interview with a Kitavan

Kitava: wrapping it up

Potato eating cultures

Taters, eh?  Saponins in potatoes are possibly important

What’s the trouble with sweet potatoes?

Fructose: controversy?

The China Study: Fruit consumption and mortality

The fructose index is the new glycemic index

The bitter truth about fructose alarmism

Why did we evolve a taste for sweetness?

Fructose, not HFCS: Serenity now, death earlier?

Fructose and the tropics

Paleo and fructose

Fructose in fruits may be good for you, especially if you are low in glycogen

Lipogenesis versus adipose tissue gain: Fructose?

Dairy

Devil in the milk

Dairy fat and diabetes

Pastured dairy may prevent heart attacks

Cheese’s vitamin K2 content, pasteurization, and beneficial enzymes

Cheese consumption, visceral fat, and adiponectin levels

Lactose intolerance: Often a result of ‘silent’ wheat derived bowel disease

A taste of dairy

How dairy entered the human diet

Dairy and its effects on insulin secretion

Mark Sisson’s definitive guide to dairy

Lactase persistence in Europe

Casein versus gluten

Cholesterol

How to raise HDL

HDL and immunity

Cholesterol and innate immunity

The central role of LDL receptor in heart disease

Myths and truths about cholesterol

What cause heart attacks?

The China study: Cholesterol seems to protect against cardiovascular disease

Meta-analysis finds no evidence that saturated fat promotes heart disease

Does dietary fat increase cholesterol or promote heart disease?

Statins and the cholesterol hypothesis, part I

Can a statin neutralize the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy dietary choices?

Dirty little secrets of the fat-heart hypothesis

Coronary heart disease: possible culprits part II

The Choline Smackdown (why you should save your liver and eat cholesterol containing foods)

When your brain is hungry for cholesterol

The diet-heart hypothesis, oxidized LDL, part II

Macronutrients: how many?  Is this even the right way to think about food?

9 Steps to perfect health part 2: Nourish your body, or, not all macronutrients are created equal

The myth of the high protein diet

Low carb diet trumps low fat

Positive and negative feedback on replacing protein with carbohydrates

Can you be lean on a low protein diet?

Protein, satiety, and body composition

Can protein turn into fat?

Dangers of zero carb diets: can there be a carbohydrate deficiency?

No such thing as a macronutrient: carbohydrates

No such thing as a macronutrient: fats

FODMAPs (a carbohydrate)

Carbs deserve a presumption of guilt

Carbohydrates: no dietary requirement but metabolically critical

 

07

06 2011

Eat. Real. Foods. But. Science. Wins.

The paleosphere is in a bit of an upheaval these days. Are carbs in, or are carbs out, or, fuck it, why are we thinking about food that way in the first place?  Is gluten in, or is gluten out?  What about wheat in general?  Or fructose?  There’s a lot of metabolic shit going on it, and yes, it really is very complicated.  However, the majority of the science is starting to promote, these days, a method of eating that eliminates processed goods and is as Real as possible.  That “Realness” is the subject of this post.

.I don’t eat fruit.  Fruit is a a natural food, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel.  It’s the first step for me on a long road towards addictive behavior.  Sweet things have that effect on me, and I’m not sure that’s ever going to change.  They also tend to make me fat.  I don’t know if this is because I overeat them or not.  I can’t be sure.   Science says maybe.    To be safe, I generally just stay clear.

Yet Richard just wrote a great piece highlighting results from a natural fruit vs. processed fructose study.   The lesson?  Fruit is not, in fact, the devil.  This is good science, and I’m glad to read good results, even if they go against my “feelings.”  Go read it. Richard is a great writer, and the information in that article is priceless.   No one is arguing that high amounts of fructose aren’t poisoning.  They are.  It’s called Pepsi.  But it seems as though the natural stuff (in moderation) isn’t harmful.  I am reminded, thus, of the mantra of Paul Jaminet: the poison is in the dosage.  Amen.  With some things it’s a small dose, and with others it’s a moderate size dose, and with everything it is a matter of our internal environments.   Science can tell us the level of toxicity of a given food, and then we need to integrate it into our diets as we see fit.  Have an apple if you want an apple, for god’s sake.  Don’t eat them if you don’t want to.  Eat french fries, too!  There, I said it.  And I mean it.  You are not going to die.   Jesus.

A good diet can probably be boiled down to, Richard concludes, as consuming Real Foods.  This lines up with common sense, in many ways, and it’s an idea that people the world over feel comfortable with.  Billions of people might sign a petition if Richard started one.   It’s nice to know, too, that science is lining up with that intuition.  Huzzah for everybody!   Eat the fruit of the planet!  And all will be well.

Yet there exists a Megatron of a caveat, and it goes a bit like this:

Intuition is not always right. Richard would agree with me.*   While Richard does in fact conclude that Real Foods are the answer, it’s important to bear in mind that the bulk of his post is concerned with the very detailed, thorough study conducted about a specific fructose issue.  This post was based on science.

For example: a whole hell of a lot of people include “whole grains” in the Real Foods category of foods.  Smart dieters, however, question that idea, based on science. Smart dieters do not accept current ideas just because they “nice” or “the USDA said so” or — worst of all — “they feel good in my body.” Smart dieters listen to a variety of sources, including society, science, and their bodies, and they then filter that information into an appropriate diet plan.   Intuition is all well and good, but it is not the answer.

Science, flawed as it is, always wins.  Check out this recent post by Dr Eades.  The idea of “listening to your body,” above all other things, is the shittiest, most moronic, shit shit shit on the planet.  Sadly, ashamedly, I often say it to avoid awkwardness or coming across as abrasive.  “Try different diets and see how you feel!” I say.  Fuck me.    What I mean is: “experiment on yourself, and do what feels good, but make sure you’re not conflicting with sound science.”  Dr Eades makes a great analogy.  Should people who are trying to quit smoking “listen to their bodies?”   Should recovering addicts or alcoholics “listen to their bodies?”  Should people who need to lose weight but feel lethargic from being sedentary their whole lives “listen to their bodies?”  Ack!  No!  Sometimes toxic substances and bad situations put our bodies at a disadvantage, and we are no longer capable of intuiting the proper decisions.  Sometimes we are tempted with substances far beyond our natural abilities to handle.  Sometimes we have to just fucking deal with the contemporary world, and buck up and face facts.  Society is not always right.  Your feelings are not always right.  Your ideas are not always right.

So I stay on guard.  I continually revise and edit my views and practices, based on a lot of different input.  I have a lot of quotes taped to my wall, but in the center of them is one word: “listen.”  Yeah.  It’s the solution to a million problems, I think.  Listen to Real Foodists.  Really.  And Do What Feels Right. And, hell, Listen To Pepper If You Don’t Think She’s Crazy.  But make sure none of those things get in the way of optimizing your health and your life.  If I could make a pyramid of the things I listen to, it would go like this:

Evil Doers

Pundits

Advocates

Conventional wisdom

The contemporary zeitgeist

Academia

My intuition

Experts

Scientists

My body

Science (note how Science is not a Scientist)

My brain (principles, not rules: testing old ideas against new ones, reasoning)

 

I like this list, god damnit.  My brain goes at the top simply because I have no other option (sup Kant), and I’m fine with that.  I like my brain. Society and tradition and ideas of “Real Food” are pretty low on my priorities.  And note even that my body beats out scientists.  Just because someone performs experiments doesn’t mean he isn’t biased or is flawless or delivers or interprets information adequately.  He might tell me he learned some important information– for example– that the China study showed animal-based diets lead to heart disease– and I should trust him why?  Being an expert is awesome, but it isn’t the end all be all.  Psychologists have, in fact, shown that expert opinion is so divisive that crowds choose the “proper” course of actions as often as experts do.

Then comes my body, which is super important.   No one knows it better than I do, and no one has experienced how it reacts to certain foods the way I have experienced them.  Fructose isn’t all that good for me.  Neither are carbs in general.  It just doesn’t work.  I also find I am really sensitive to omega 3 and 6 imbalances.  I eat more fish than normal people do.  So shoot me.

But I do these things both because they feel good and they don’t conflict with science. I’m not saying that science is a god or a panacea, but an integration of our experiences with science is the closest damn thing we’re ever going to get.

So walk hand in hand with your feelings, and revel in the fruits of the earth, but keep your ear on the ground.  We can predict, but we never do know what a good experiment will reveal next.

 

*an egregious presumption

01

06 2011