Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Olive Oil For Oxidative Stress

(NaturalNews) One of hottest areas of current scientific research involves one of the tastiest ingredients of Mediterranean-style dishes -- olive oil. Evidence has been steadily mounting that olive oil protects and builds health in a variety of ways. Not only does it help prevent depression and fight inflammation (  but phytonutrients in olive oil have been found to be effective against breast cancer cells, too 

Could the news about  olive oil get any better? It just did. Now scientists have discovered extra virgin olive oil can protect the liver from oxidative stress -- the physiological stress on the body caused by free radical damage. Oxidative stress is linked to a host of health  problems as well as aging.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Lights Out...

Your circadian rhythms are basically just secretions of various chemicals and enzymes that take place during the 24-hour cycle that are set like a clock. For example, during the evening it is natural for humans, a diurnal creature, to see a drop in cortisol and a rise in serotonin. This kills your appetite and makes you calm, sleepy, and ready to hit the hay after the sun goes down.
  In the morning you see cortisol peaking in a normal, healthy human with ideal circadian rhythms. This helps to promote hunger, whereas having low cortisol levels throughout the night lends itself to a lack of hunger, helping you sleep soundly without needing to go on a midnight cupboard rampage. 

I first came across the importance of circadian rhythmicity when reading T.S. Wiley’s Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival (2001) many years ago. In the book, Wiley makes a strong argument for the importance of sleep in avoiding metabolic syndrome due to the sleep cycles impact on circadian rhythms – cortisol in particular. And yes, it’s true, humans are sleeping increasingly less as the decades pass. Shawn Talbott, in the Cortisol Connection, mentions how the average night’s sleep has decreased from nearly nine hours of ZZZ’s to a measly seven over the past century. More and more studies seem to be emerging lately showing that lack of sleep is synonymous with metabolic syndrome.

During that same time, you see people drifting away from eating traditional breakfast classics like steak and eggs and moving to smoothies, Nutri-Grain bars, bagels, pastries, and Special K - the choice of a new, and pretty pathetic, generation. Being in New York City this morning, the white flour capitol of the world, and passing 2,784 bakeries and smoothie shops trying to find a place that serves something besides coffee, bagels, pastries, and smoothies was a great reminder of just how pervasive this poor excuse of a breakfast has become.
People with various signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome seem to almost always have circadian rhythms that are totally out of whack.

To describe what I mean, I’ll explain what I believe to be a day in the life of someone with proper circadian rhythms…

1) Wake up in the morning spontaneously without an alarm clock at dawn no matter what time you fell asleep, full of energy and in a good mood with a strong appetite – like the family dog when he was in his prime

2) Eat a large and substantial breakfast

3) Desire to exercise early in the day, or at least get some kind of physical activity. Jittery and hyper if exercise is not possible

4) Have energy throughout the day without fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, feelings of depression or elation, mental fog, etc.

5) Good strong appetite at lunch but no panicked need to eat. Could skip lunch if he/she had to

6) Decreasing hunger levels throughout the day

7) Eat a normal-sized early dinner with no cravings or hunger afterward

8) Become sleepy early in the evening but not exhausted

9) Have no trouble falling asleep or nighttime hunger or cravings

10) Sleep soundly without hunger, without waking in the middle of the night, no need to urinate during the night

This is generally what a day in the life of a person with ideal circadian rhythmicity is like.

A short summary would be to simply say that most of the hunger and energy levels occur early in the day, while hunger and energy levels both decrease later, which results in no nighttime cravings for sugar or alcohol, no restless tossing and turning with your mind churning a million miles an hour or restless legs when you’re trying to fall asleep, and a solid night of deep sleep that you pop right out of early in the morning with no grog, fog, or zombie foot shuffling across the floor to get to the coffee maker. The day starts with bright-eyed energy, enthusiasm, and optimism with sort of a clean slate feeling.

Your typical obese person, or someone with the classic metabolic syndrome profile, often describes himself or herself as “not a breakfast eater” and “a late-night snacker.” Every morning is like having a hangover with no desire to eat and an unshakable feeling of drowsiness, fog, irritability, and fatigue. Hence the need for coffee at the very least, and something sugary and “light” if anything is eaten at all before noon.

At night things are equally screwed up, and even more annoying. Instead of winding down for a good night’s sleep, your typical metabolic syndromer starts winding up, and would love to go to sleep but hunger, cravings, and a feeling of restlessness seep in and get in the way – not to mention the normal chemicals that are supposed to be secreted in the evening that reduce the need to urinate aren’t secreted. What otherwise could have been complete sleep cycles is interrupted by a mega urge to whizzle if nagging hunger and cravings doesn’t get ‘em first.
In an evening of nonstop chatter and good times here in New York with Chek-certified trainer and health specialist/author Antonio Valladares, I mentioned that Circadian rhythms were something I was hoping to address in the near future. Valladares, who has spent years testing hundreds of clients with saliva tests taken at 4 times throughout the day to get a sense of such rhythms, responded to this by saying that “just knowing about Circadian rhythms puts you ahead of 99.9% of health and nutrition authorities out there.” I also asked him just how prevalent abnormal adrenal tests are, to which he said – “dude, it’s EVERYBODY.” And keep in mind this is just the saliva test, which says exactly NOTHING about the activity of the 11-HSD-1 enzyme that regulates corticosteroid activity in fat cells which I believe to be far more significant than levels detected in blood and saliva of adrenal hormones such as cortisol.

Coming up later we’ll definitely be focusing on some tricks to reset the biological clock. But in my experiences with resetting my clock and becoming more or less a new man years ago when I started really geeking out hardcore on all this health stuff, the most prominent keys to resetting the circadian rhythms go something like this…

1) Establish a regular bedtime. It’s better to go to sleep as close to sunset as possible, going to bed early. However, more important than the actual time you go to sleep is the regularity and consistency. Going to bed at almost the exact same time daily is a huge tool if you are seeking to better regulate your circadian rhythms.

2) Eat almost all of your calories within the first 8 hours of waking up. Eating an early breakfast that is pretty high in meat (and monstrous) is a great tool. If you are not a morning person and would like to become one, eating a big slab of something good in the morning is a powerful tool. An ideal day for me consists of about 80% of my calories being consumed during a very early breakfast and a midday lunch (interestingly, THIS STUDY that Riles passed along shows big differences in intermittent fasting when it comes to giving the food during daylight hours vs. giving the food at night. Our official 180 IF guinea pig, Collden, has also noticed much better circadian rhythms when eating food earlier in the day).

3) Stagger exercise towards the morning hours vs. the evening hours. This is still the hardest for me, but people that wake up to yoga, or a good workout, or a morning walk almost always notice a re-calibration of circadian rhythms (they shift to have more energy in the morning and be spontaneous “morning persons”).

4) Don’t watch too much late night tv, drink too much alcohol in the evening, or stuff yourself with a dessert after a full meal in the evening.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Energy Drink Use Can Lead to Alcohol Dependence

Many adolescents and college students drink energy drinks to stay awake. But new research shows that energy drink over-use is strongly linked with heavy drinking.
A new study shows that individuals who have a high frequency of energy drink consumption (52 or more times a year) were at a higher risk for alcohol dependence.  The study looked data from more than 1,000 students enrolled at a public university, and found that individuals who consumed energy drinks at a high frequency were also more likely to get drunk at an earlier age and drink more per drinking session.
Science Daily reports:
“The results of this study confirm and extend earlier research about the risks of energy drink consumption. A major concern is that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to ‘wide-awake drunkenness,’ where caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness”.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Odering out

Have you ever actually found a fly in your soup? I haven't. I've seen it in cartoons, but in real life? No, never.
Unless you're eating at an outdoor café in Calcutta, you're probably safe from rabid winged pests.
But apparently food service workers are a bigger threat to your dinner than Musca domestica Linnaeus; a new study says many food restaurant employees go to work sick, and don't get sick days.
The survey, conducted by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization representing restaurant workers, found two-thirds of restaurant workers go to work when they're sick. Oh fantastic!
It gets worse. Nearly 90% of these brave souls serving our food do not get paid sick days and 60% do not receive any health insurance.

In the report, a lady working in the food service for 30 years talks about being really sick one day. She had a bad cold with all the trimmings: runny nose, sneezing, cough, and a fever. But she couldn't call out, she needed the money.
However, later on she asked her manager if she could leave. She was too sick to carry on and was coughing up a storm and didn't want to make the customers sick. So her compassionate manager said, "Try not to cough, then."
Now that's classy! Listen, that can't happen. People who handle your food or who take care of sick people need special allowances, for the sake of public health. And if it requires a doctor's note, fine, so be it.
If I go out to eat and someone on death's door serves me my food, I'm going to be ticked off, so any self-respecting restaurant owner should be on high-alert for that sort of thing...same goes for doctors and nurses too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

. . . Not-so-fun facts on vaccines

. . . not-so-fun facts on vaccines

Those who get a flu vaccine 5 years in a row are ten times more likely to get Alzheimer's disease (Neurology, 2004). 

Vaccines contain at least 4 neurotoxins: mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde and MSG.

A 1994 study in Lancet found that the incidence of asthma is five times more common in vaccinated children.

There is no scientific evidence that vaccinations are effective in preventing disease.

Scientists in the field of human genetics are now saying that vaccines are changing our genetic code and are an outright assault on the future of the human race.

From Begin to Dig

We are told that getting a flu vaccine - or buying one for someone we love - is one of the best things we can do for health in the flu season. Indeed, in one province in Canada, this is the conclusion of a research study as a best way to promote vacine uptake in younger adults.

I have a couple issues with this message. 1 - a vaccine gives the impression that it's a shield against all flu ills. 2 - having said shield tends to afford a license to get sloppy with other more time intensive approaches to our care of self and those around us. Neither is a Good Thing.

This post offers a quick overview about flu vaccine  - and a quick reminder of other approaches that seem to be even more effective in reducing flu catching likelihood. Indeed the post ends with two challenges: frequent soap and water hand washing, and even harder perhaps: developing a strategy to ensure we stick with the practice.

Quite a years ago, moving to a new job/city, i got the flu three times in one year. I swore never again, and became an ardent fan of the flu vaccine. In canada, these are free. In the UK, once the prime population has 'em, GP's can also dispense the left overs freely. Great. Flu be gone! I put my success down to the vaccine. A couple years ago, on getting more into the research on the vaccine, i stopped getting it, and adjusted some health habits. Still haven't had the flu since. Some mighty colds (that hasn't changed though the frequency and intensity has gone down), but no flu. Maybe i'm a statistical anomoly. Maybe not.  So here's a bit of what seems to be known about the vaccine.

Flu Vaccine:
Drug Companies. Let's state the obvious: drug companies make their living on product sales. When the H1N1 virus broke out, sales of the rapidly developed and not so rapidly tested vacine sold an awful lot. The drug was rushed into production. Sales to governments like those in the UK were huge. Someone's problem is always someone else's silver lining.

Governments. Govn'ts also seem to like quick fixes and a fast way to show that they're Doing Something for the population. Buying in Lots of Drugs for the People does seem to look like the govn't is Being Responsible. Acting Fast. Grr. Way to Go, Government. This of course is the same motivation that has an ex-government homeland security head now lobbyist getting lots of back scatter, full body x-ray machines into airports. The Quick Fix Solution thanks to Technology. But i digress.

The Science. Last year, Canadian scientists found that folks who had had seasonal flu shots in the past, and then had the H1N1 shot were more likely to get H1N1. Apparently the reports of this study had a hard time making it into the US media where the vaccine was being promoted on a grand scale. Now that's a drug interaction effect. And indeed, a very recent report out of UofToronto suggests that in ontario, the mass shoot up of flu vaccine in Ontario was good value for money. That seems so odd: scientists saying it could make things worse; statisticians saying good value?

What do we know? That's a toughie. Let's take it by population.

For Elders. The flu shot is often prioritised for "people over 50." This past year, however, researchers lead by Thomas Jefferson in Rome, showed that the research doesn't support current vacines to be as beneficial as claims that have been made for them:
Overall, the authors write, "Our findings show that according to reliable evidence, the effectiveness of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines in elderly individuals is modest, irrespective of setting, outcome, population, and study design. Our estimates are consistently below those usually quoted for economic modeling or decision making."
Does this mean don't get the shot?  In certain conditions, it's still viewed to be better than a kick in the head.
"We do need better studies to determine the effectiveness of influenza vaccine in the elderly, and CDC is working on such studies," Skinner commented. "However, it's a fact that influenza causes a heavy burden of illness and death among people 65 and older. This burden, combined with limited data from randomized trials as well as studies in nursing homes and other settings, support the current vaccination recommendations of the United States and many other countries."
In an interview with Jefferson in Der Spiegel, Jefferson was more critical:
Jefferson...In the best of cases, the few decent studies that exist show that the vaccine mainly works with healthy young adults. With children and the elderly, it only helps a little, if at all.
SPIEGEL: But aren't those the exact groups that influenza immunization is recommended for?
Jefferson: Indeed. That's one of the contradictions between scientific findings and practice, between evidence and policy.
For the General Population. One of the most compelling statements from the Jefferson interview is with regard to the well hyped drug Tamiflu. Jefferson states:
If taken at the right time, on average, Tamiflu reduces the duration of a real influenza by one day. One study found it reduced the risk of pneumonia [maybe this one? - mc].
The entire interview is well worth reading. Jefferson, whose group the Cochrane Collaboration whose mission is to review the scientific literature around disease,  points out that deaths attributed to flu are based on some pretty weird estimates (not facts) that may not be influenza virus based at all. Likewise that the huge focus on influenza as opposed to other viruses "is not only misguided, but dangerous." And what's the thing that's mis-guiding? What, good b2d readers, do you think? Even science is not immune.

Needless to say, Jefferson took a lot of heat for saying the Emperor may have some thin clothes. There's a nice discussion of the critique of the critique's critics over at the Atlatntic.

So what's a gal or guy to do? Wash Up
Turns out that the recommendations posted last year on b2d for fighting a wretched cold are pretty good when it comes to any respiratory illness: wash your hands.

At the risk of being single source repetetive, Jefferson suggests that airports get fitted with 100's of wash basins, and that folks who do not wash after exiting a plane be held by security.
Whoever gets off a plane and doesn't wash their hands should be stopped by the border police. You could tell for example by putting an invisible, neutral dye in the water. And wearing masks can be sensible, as well.
Soap and Water. And note: what is being promoted is hand washing rather than alcohol gels, but if there's no soap and water? Gels are better than nothing - a duct tape fix - but washing's best.
Some Back Ups: Vitamin D as a help?
I'm almost hesitant to suggest vitamin d as a flu busting helper because it seems so quick fix-y. But where we KNOW that hand washing helps reduce the opportunities for a respiratory virus to spread, there seems some evidence that vitamin d seems to help reduce incidence of these viruses taking hold - some.

The idea seems to be not so much that super dosing with vit D is the big antibiotic win; rather, most of us who are not exposed sufficiently to the sun to get it through our skin, are simply too deficient in this steroidal hormone vitamin to have enough of it in our systems to do what we evolved out in the desert to do. Have a lot more vit D in our systems. Get that up to "normal" levels (what those are is still under debate, but 4000IU's a day seems to be in the zone. That's ten times the current RDA) and it seems we're in for better disease prevention all 'round. There's a nice discussion of these points by J. J. Cannell here.  Cannell seems to be one of the biggest proponents of vitamin D as a break on the flu, though there are some growing results to suggest he's not alone (some papers listed below).

Now, i've been taking 4000IU's a day for over a year. I'm about to have blood work done to see if the vit D i'm taking is actually being absorbed or if i'm deficient. I'm curious. If we're not testing, we're guessing, right? I'll report back. 

Ok what about the Vaccine?
Readers, like last year, i'm not getting one this year. That's my choice and it's not a recommendation. I haven't experienced any harm from taking a vaccine; i haven't expereinced any harm of late from not taking it.

So why not get one? We know that by the time a vaccine is ready for one virus, that virus may have already mutated and the vacine be pretty worthless. It also seems that wholesale vacination can assist mutation and helps, some contend, to weaken the immune system. Again, i am not making a recommendation.

So if not about the Vacine, What? Better Broader Habits - including soap and water.
THis post really isn't at bottom to get folks either to take or not take the flu vaccine; it's to encourage us to practice safer, broader health habits. And these habits are simple: wash hands frequently. Find an excuse to get to sink and get into the technique of soap and water use.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Newest Wonder Drug

From Mark's Daily Apple
Overburdened doctors sure do love tangible targets, like lipid numbers. They’re easy to hit with drugs. There’s no guesswork – statins and the like actually do lower cholesterol (whether that’s helpful or harmful is the question) – and that makes a physician’s life simpler. Oh, sure, lifestyle changes work, but most patients won’t bother trying them (especially when the changes you prescribe are founded in faulty science and no fun following). Doctors can usually get patients to take a pill.
There’s yet another cholesterol-busting wonder drug on the coming horizon called anacetrapib. A recent eighteen-month trial found that it boosted HDL (from 40 to 101) 138% greater than placebo and slashed LDL (from 81 to 45) 40% better than placebo in patients already taking statins by hampering the effects of the CETP enzyme. Another potent CETP-inhibitor – torcetrapib – made similar headlines in 2006 when it boosted HDL and reduced LDL like nothing else before it, but those headlines were overshadowed when 60% excess mortality occurred in people taking the drug versus those on placebo. So far, anacetrapib seems safe enough, but I’m not holding my breath. I tend to get a little uneasy when we change a single variable and mess with enzymatic pathways in a very complex closed system, with a single goal (raise that HDL, drop that LDL!) in mind. Focusing on numbers that are largely an indication of your lifestyle without doing anything about the lifestyle itself is like pissing into the wind: quite often, it’ll splash all over you, and you’re lucky if it’s just the shoes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One more coconut oil miracle cure!

. . .
A medical doctor in Florida has made news by reversing Alzheimer's disease in her husband with coconut oil. Although this has to be considered an "anecdotal report" at this stage, there is credible science to back her results.

Mary Newport, M.D., had been searching the literature for help in treating her husband's advancing Alzheimer's. She found a drug trial using medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) derived from coconut oil or palm kernel oil, but wasn't able to get him in it.  So she decided to give him the equivalent of what was being used (a little over 2 tablespoons of coconut oil) with his morning oatmeal.   They now apparently consume 3-4 tablespoons a day.
For more information on this amazing story, see Dr. Newport's website.

Alzheimer's disease is often called "diabetes of the brain," because brain cells become less able to use glucose for energy.  MCTs supply an alternative source of energy that can have a significant effect on brain function in about 3 hours after ingestion.  It also seems that coconut oil promotes the growth of new neurons.

Imagine what could happen if someone combined this new coconut oil therapy with a full Beyond Health program, including our Brain Support Kit and detoxification from heavy metals like aluminum.  The possibilities are truly inspiring. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Milk for Workout Recovery??

by Nell Stephenson

No, no, no!
Milk isn't part of the #PaleoDiet, and it DOESN'T do a body good!
This statement from an excerpt in an article ACSM's (the organization through which I'm certified through; one of the few valid certifying bodies!) e-newsletter:
The introduction to the piece mentions that the PhD who wrote the article 'has received funding for her research from various commodity groups, including the National Diary Council'.
The piece concluded with the statement, "For the calories, as well as the investment, chocolate milk is an exceptional package of essential nutrients that has great return for active individuals".
What about the acidic nature about ingesting dairy products?  What about their propensity to exacerbate auto immune conditions?  How about their negative contribution toward osteopenia and then osteoporosis?  Their contribution to Crohn's Disease, and Acne?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Understanding Cholesterol

“Cholesterol is a waxy material that is produced naturally by the liver. It protects the nerves, produces hormones and makes cell tissues, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. However, it’s also possible to consume it through animal products, and too much of it can be a bad thing – which is why it’s important to manage it and keep it at reasonable levels.”
The part that is problematic is “it’s possible to consume it through animal products and too much of it can be a bad thing.” The assumption that dietary cholesterol is in any way related to the cholesterol buildup in the body is completely inaccurate. The same is true for dietary fat. The amount you eat and the amount that sits on your thighs and midsection is not the same. The two things are unrelated. But most people believe they are related despite any evidence. If you eat carbohydrates, it does not matter how many eggs or how much red meat you do or do not eat. You are likely to have a distorted lipid profile that would make it appear that you ate too much cholesterol-containing food, when in reality, you most likely did not.
 The real issue lies within this paragraph: “There are two kinds of cholesterol – HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein). HDL is the good cholesterol that keeps LDL, the bad cholesterol, down, according to the American Heart Association. Too much LDL cholesterol can cause deposits to build up in the blood vessels, known as plaque, which decreases the amount of blood and oxygen going to the heart. This in turn can lead to heart disease and heart attack.”
This is complete and utter ignorance at the most basic level. This is the oversimplification that has spread like a cancer on most of Western civilization. Referring to LDL cholesterol as “bad cholesterol” is problematic. There is a difference between LDL and LDL cholesterol and scientists have known this for about 70 years. The term LDL refers to the lipoprotein itself whereas the term LDL cholesterol refers to the compiled number of a lipid profile, or “total cholesterol.” This number can be horribly misleading. A low number is not necessarily a good thing.
The LDL actually carries fat and cholesterol particles on it. The composition and appearance of those particles provides the evidence as to whether that particular LDL would be atherosclerotic or not. Two people may have the same LDL number yet one of them will be healthy and the other will be risk for a heart attack. The only way to know is to have either a VAP or an NMR test which would show the particle size and provide evidence as to what the particles actually look like.
Other than that, it’s almost a guess, except the other numbers in the lipid profile provide a clue. If HDL is higher than 40 and the triglycerides are less than 150, the particles on the LDL are likely the large and fluffy variety so even if the number is high, the person is healthy. If the particles are small and dense, and the VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) number is high, that is a problem even though the LDL count may be low.
The fact is that people with low cholesterol have more heart attacks than people with high cholesterol. That’s simply a fact, folks. Deal with it.
The experts continue, “A diet rich in saturated fat, being overweight and not having much, or any, physical activity are all things that exacerbate bad cholesterol levels that narrow and harden the arteries. It’s also caused, in part, by genetics (family history), as well as age and gender – women generally have lower LDL levels than men before menopause, but then those levels rise afterward, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.”
This is all hogwash as well. A diet rich in saturated fat will raise HDL which is a good thing. It also raises LDL which people erroneously report as bad, simply because the LDL number rises. However, an inspection of the particles would reveal that the LDL is fine even though it’s higher. Saturated fat causes the particles to be larger and fluffier which inflates the number. Eating fruits and vegetables lowers HDL and lowers LDL. This is not a good thing because it does so at the expense of the particles on the LDL. It makes them small and dense. This happens with so-called healthy fruits and vegetables. Can you imagine the effect with more refined and easily digestible carbohydrates? This would raise your triglycerides, lower your HDL and lower your cholesterol.
Eating a diet consisting of meat such as mine would raise HDL, raise LDL (in a good way because the particles will be large and fluffy) and lower triglycerides.
The take-home message for you today should be that if you get your cholesterol checked, ask the doctor to go one step further and order the NMR or VAP test so you can get a look at your particles. This is the only way to know whether your LDL number is truly bad or good. Don’t just start taking statins based solely on your LDL number. That is irresponsible and ignorant.
Cholesterol is not our enemy. Do not take cholesterol inhibitors and things of this nature. If you want to improve your cholesterol, stop eating carbohydrates. If you want to improve your life, stop eating carbohydrates. Then, you can eat all the eggs (including the egg yolks) and red meat you like!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Secrets the Restaurant Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

  Outback Steakhouse doesn't want you to know:
That the only nutritional information it provides is for its Tangy Tomato Dressing. When we contacted the company, a spokesperson claimed, "Ninety percent of our meals are prepared by hand...Any analysis would be difficult to measure consistently." Yet no fewer than 45 national chain restaurants do just that. (Hey, in case you were wondering, an order of Outback's Aussie Cheese Fries has 2,900 calories, and its Ayers Rock Strip has 60 grams of fat.)

 Fuddruckers doesn't want you to know:
The fat content of its 1-pound burgers. We contacted our local Fuddruckers restaurant and were told that the nutritional information was available on the chain's Web site (it's not). The corporate office later responded that providing such information would be "very extensive [sic] and timely."

IHOP doesn't want you to know:
That its Omelette Feast has 1,335 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat. (By the time you finish eating this behemoth breakfast, you'll have consumed 150 percent of your daily fat requirement and 300 percent of your suggested cholesterol intake.) Said IHOP's director of communications, "We do not maintain nutritional data on our menu items, so I am unable to assist you.

 . Dunkin' Donuts doesn't want you to know:
That each of its medium-size fruit-and-yogurt smoothies packs at least 60 grams of sugar—more than four times the sugar in a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut. The fruit purees used in the smoothies are mixed with liberal doses of sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup.

  Burger King doesn't want you to know:
That its French toast sticks (which deliver more than 4 grams of fat per stick) share a deep fryer with the pork sausage, pork fritters, Chicken Tenders, chicken fries, Big Fish patties, hash browns, onion rings, and Cheesy Tots—and that all of those items contain harmful trans fats. But there is hope: After the company was sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for moving too slowly to remove trans fats from its menu, Burger King promised to phase them out by the end of 2008.

 . Panera Bread doesn't want you to know:
That the synthetic food colorings in its pastries have been linked to irritability, restlessness, and sleep disturbance in children. And British researchers found that artificial food colorings and preservatives in the diets of 3-year-olds caused an increase in hyperactive behavior. (The same ingredients appear in fast-food items such as mayonnaise, M&M Blizzards, and McDonald's shakes.) To its credit, Chipotle uses no artificial colorings or flavorings.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chocolate as a Prebiotic

This is good news for all you chocolate lovers out there.  A new study shows that flavanol rich chocolate acts as a prebiotic in the gut.  The study compared high-flavanol versus low-flavanol chocolate.  The high-flavanol chocolate altered gut bacteria in a positive way and lowered inflammation.
Dark chocolate contains the most flavonoids and also avoids the dairy proteins from milk chocolate.  My favorite brand is the Endangered Species Extreme Dark chocolate that is 88% cocoa.
by Matt Metzger

Friday, November 12, 2010

Red meat: Not so bad after all?

by Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N
A lot of people I know have cut back on meat--specifically red meat--in an effort to make their diets healthier. I think there are lots of good reasons to eat less meat. (See also: Meatless Monday gets a boost from European study) But regular readers of this blog will know that I've long been suspicious of this idea that "red" meat is any worse for you than "white" meat.

This idea that red meat is unhealthy is self-reinforcing. Because we've all convinced ourselves that this is true, studies which find a link between red meat and some sort of disease are much more likely to be published and get a lot more press than studies which find no such link. Never mind that what we categorize as "red" and "white" makes absolutely no sense, either nutritionally or zoologically.

So I consider it my duty to point out that a recent meta-analysis published in the Nutrition Journal found no association between eating red meat and risk of prostate cancer. And while I'm at it, I'll remind you that authors of a widely-cited study linking red meat and cancer risk later admitted that their study "contained errors and omissions" and overstated the risks. Of course, the retraction got way less press than the error.

A more rational approach

If you want to make your diet healthier, I suggest a color-blind approach to meat. Don't worry about whether it came from a cow or a chicken. Instead:

* choose meat that is raised on healthy feed and without hormones or antibiotics
* right-size portions: a 3 ounce serving is the size of a deck of cards
* avoid fried or charred meats (See also: Tips and recipes for healthier cookouts)
* avoid processed meats with added salt and/or nitrates
* add lots of vegetables

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Sugar may be a rich source of empty calories

By Emily Sohn


* Sugar damages our health in ways that have nothing to do with extra calories.
* Sugar's power over us began during a time of starvation, when the ability to get fat off of sugar was a survival tool for our ancestors.
* Sugar may be just as bad as alcoholism when it comes to liver health.

More than half of the American population is overdosing on sugar.
Sugar is the enemy, according to a growing body of research, and not just because it rots our teeth and adds padding to our thighs.

The real danger is fructose -- a main ingredient in table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit -- that actually gets into our cells and alters metabolism.

The findings may help to explain how our nation's excessive consumption of sweetened foods is contributing to growing rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and more -- in a way that has nothing to do with sugar's rich source of empty calories.

What's more, there may be deep evolutionary roots that explain sugar's power over our bodies. Many millions of years ago, according to new research, our ape ancestors developed mutations that made it easy for them to get fat from eating fructose.

At the time, the mutation was a good thing. It allowed our ancestors to survive seasonal periods of famine when the fruit trees went bare.

Today, the mutation makes a year-round, fructose-filled diet dangerous to our health, said Richard Johnson, chief of the division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension at the University of Colorado, Denver, and author of "The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That Is Making You Fat and Sick."

Both sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are equally bad, he said, because both contain about the same amount of fructose.

"This mutation that occurred 15 million years ago could explain why we're fat today," Johnson said. "It doesn't mean we all become obese. It doesn't mean everyone is going to get diabetes. It does mean that all of us are more susceptible to being fat than most other mammals."

As rates of diabetes and obesity increased in the 1960s, Johnson said, an idea emerged that some ancient mutation might have occurred during a time of famine, increasing people's ability to become fat easily when food became plentiful again. But only recently have scientists found evidence to explain what that mutation might be and how it might work.

In a paper published in January in the journal Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association, and a more detailed paper set for publication in November, Johnson and colleagues identify just such a mutation that affects how our bodies deal with uric acid, an ordinary byproduct of metabolism.

The mutation evolved 15 million years ago, during a period of starvation. One hundred percent of us have it.

While many of the details have yet to be published, Johnson said that the mutation led to an increase in how much uric acid our bodies produce after eating fructose, while also lengthening the amount of time that uric acid sticks around after a sweet treat.

The result, he said, is inflammation and an increased ability for cells to become fat. In other words, uric acid works within cells to amplify sugar's ability to cause obesity.

Even on a calorie-restricted diet, he said, animals that eat too much sugar develop insulin resistance, an early sign of diabetes. Other trials in people have shown that lowering uric acid levels lowered their blood pressure.

"We need to start thinking about sugar in a completely different way," said Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Lustig agrees with Johnson that uric acid might drive high blood pressure, but he isn't convinced that uric acid explains all of sugar's power to induce obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Instead, he thinks the story is more complicated than that.

In several papers, including one published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Lustig and colleagues report striking similarities in the health effects of both sugar and ethanol, the active ingredient in beer, wine and liquor.

Fatty-liver disease, for example, is common in alcoholics, and it appears in more than a third of obese kids and nearly half of obese adults. In these obese patients, Lustig said, the liver looks exactly like the liver of an alcoholic with the disease, even when the patient doesn't drink.

Like alcohol, his recent study found, sugar is also habit-forming and possibly addictive.

More than half of the American population is overdosing on sugar, he added. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of six teaspoons per day of added sugars for women and nine teaspoons for men. But with so much sugar and high fructose corn syrup in processed foods, Lustig said, education alone will never succeed at getting people down to slash the sweets from their diet

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Water Cure

By Nutritionize

What if I told you that 2 Glasses of Water first thing in the morning can help keep the doctor away and shed those excess pounds you have been trying so hard to work off? Whether you buy it or not, it's simple enough to give a try. Last week I picked up a fascinating book called "Your Body's Many Cries for WATER- you're not sick, you're thirsty" by Dr. Batmanghelidj. In this book he thoroughly explains the linkages between dehydration and many of the chronic diseases we currently face. We already know that 80% of our bodies are made up of water it plays an integral role in balancing hormonal responses, maintaining chemical equilibrium and keeping things fluid. Dr. B explains that when the human body goes into dehydration it initiates a drought system that conserves water which causes certain symptoms to appear that are characterized as disease and treated with medication. The brain acts as the ruler of this whole process, it MUST stay hydrated at all times therefore, in a state of dehydration, and the body will pull water from other sources (organs, tissues, etc.) to hydrate the brain. This results in hormonal and chemical imbalances which then can trigger the body into behaving like it is in a disease state resulting in symptoms of respiratory conditions, arthritis, diabetes and more. As you can see it can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. Our bodies are extremely intelligent and well equipped to survive and even better, thrive, if they receive adequate nutrients.

Many people avoid drinking water in fear of gaining "water weight" the result is dehydration which actually leads to decreased fat metabolism and results in weight gain. Adequate hydration is a prerequisite to weight loss. The body needs to feel comfortable enough to let go of the extra calories.

Dehydration can also hinder optimal performance of the brain and body preventing you from seeing the results of your hardcore workouts and wellness activities. So next time you try to quench your thirst with a soda or coffee or are taking a pill to manage disease, think about drinking another glass or two of water.

Some signs and symptoms of dehydration: (Information below from www.watercure.com)

If you are thirsty, it means your cells are already dehydrated. A dry mouth should be regarded as the last outward sign of dehydration. That's because thirst does not develop until body fluids are depleted well below levels required for optimal functioning.

Monitor your urine to make sure you are not dehydrated:

* A hydrated body produces clear, colorless urine.
* A somewhat dehydrated body produces yellow urine.
* A severely dehydrated body produces orange or dark-colored urine.

The effects of even mild dehydration include decreased coordination, fatigue, dry skin, decreased urine output, dry mucous membranes in the mouth and nose, blood pressure changes and impairment of judgment. Stress, headache, back pain, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and many degenerative health problems are the result of UCD (Unintentional Chronic Dehydration).


To better determine how much water you need each day, divide your body weight in half. The answer is the approximate number of water ounces you should drink daily. You should drink half of your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces water (3.13 quarts, 2.98 liters or about 10-12 cups of water a day). If you weigh closer to 100 pounds you will need only about 50 ounces of water or about four 12-ounce glasses daily.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


BY Nell Stephenson
How Many Nuts Are Too Many Nuts?

First, let me start by saying that, yes, nuts ARE part of the #PaleoDiet . (Of course, NOT Peanuts- they're legumes, not nuts!)

Second, the top thee nuts, as far as their Omega 6:3 ratio are, in order: Walnuts, Macadamias, Pecans (interesting to note that almonds, which are often thought to be uber-healthy, have no detectable levels of good Omega 3's and high levels of bad Omega 6's. This is not to say one cannot eat almonds, rather, just be careful to balance out your diet with Omega 3's from other sources, like fish oil)).

Finally- the big question: how many nuts should one eat?

The answer: BALANCE it out, do the math and you'll have the recommended amount specific to you:

Keeping in mind that the suggested macro nutrient ratio of the #PaleoDiet is 19-35% PRO/28-47%FAT/22-40%CHO, and that both CHO & PRO have 4kcals/gram while FAT has 9 -12 kcals/gram, look at the contents of your meal and work backwards to get your ideal 'dose of nuts'!

Too tricky?

For many people, it's easier to be told a flat out amount- and I always also encourage people to tune in to what their body is telling them, while being common-sensical to boot.

A small handful of raw nuts atop a large bed of leafy greens with shredded, grilled salmon, blueberries and a fresh twist of lemon juice would just about make an ideal meal without getting too much into weights and measures!

Make it simple- don't eat a jar of nuts, again, have a small palm-full!

And- keep it raw, and salt-free!

Don't GO NUTS, or anything...

(Sorry, bad joke, but you get the idea!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Big Cheese

Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. Domestic sales had fallen, and a survey of big pizza chain customers left the company tied for the worst tasting pies.

Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign.

Consumers devoured the cheesier pizza, and sales soared by double digits.

But as healthy as this pizza has been for Domino’s, one slice contains as much as two-thirds of a day’s maximum recommended amount of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease and is high in calories.

And Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.

Urged on by government warnings about saturated fat, Americans have been moving toward low-fat milk for decades, leaving a surplus of whole milk and milk fat. Yet the government, through Dairy Management, is engaged in an effort to find ways to get dairy back into Americans’ diets, primarily through cheese.

Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate. Cheese has become the largest source of saturated fat; an ounce of many cheeses contains as much saturated fat as a glass of whole milk.
But in a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products.

Consider the Taco Bell steak quesadilla, with cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella and a creamy sauce. “The item used an average of eight times more cheese than other items on their menu,” the Agriculture Department said in a report, extolling Dairy Management’s work — without mentioning that the quesadilla has more than three-quarters of the daily recommended level of saturated fat and sodium.

Dairy Management, whose annual budget approaches $140 million, is largely financed by a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry. But it also receives several million dollars a year from the Agriculture Department, which appoints some of its board members, approves its marketing campaigns and major contracts and periodically reports to Congress on its work.

In one instance, Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits.

When the campaign was challenged as false, government lawyers defended it, saying the Agriculture Department “reviewed, approved and continually oversaw” the effort.

Dr. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health and a former member of the federal government’s nutrition advisory committee, said: “The U.S.D.A. should not be involved in these programs that are promoting foods that we are consuming too much of already. A small amount of good-flavored cheese can be compatible with a healthy diet, but consumption in the U.S. is enormous and way beyond what is optimally healthy.”

The Agriculture Department declined to make top officials available for interviews for this article, and Dairy Management would not comment. In answering written questions, the department said that dairy promotion was intended to bolster farmers and rural economies, and that its oversight left Dairy Management’s board with “significant independence” in deciding how best to support those interests.

The department acknowledged that cheese is high in saturated fat, but said that lower milk consumption had made cheese an important source of calcium.

“When eaten in moderation and with attention to portion size, cheese can fit into a low-fat, healthy diet,” the department said.

Friday, November 5, 2010

To Snack or Not to Snack? That is the question…

Do you eat 3 solid square meals a day? Do you perhaps only eat 2 meals a day?

Or, do you eat 5 or 6 times with smaller meals?

There typically 2 camps when it comes to healthy eating. When I was growing up, it was ALWAYS 3 meals a day. I didn’t get many snacks (well of course the occasional Ho Ho or Ding Dong!), and as hungry as I could get I was always instructed to “wait until dinner” and not to “ruin my appetite”.

When I got older, and discovered the Zone diet, I began eating fewer carbs and eating more often. This worked like a charm! Instead of eating breakfast at 7:00, and be starving by 11, I would eat at 7, 10, 1, 5, and 8! My meals became smaller. I felt better, and I was rarely as hungry as I used to be.

Part of why this was working so well is that before, I would just wait to eat and I’d be so hungry that I’d eat 3 sandwiches or something. Of course, part of the problem was that I was eating way too many carbs, and they were not keeping me full. So switching to more protein and fat was a huge improvement.

Now that I’m eating more paleo, I do notice that I do not have as much need for snacking. However, I still don’t often have time to make and eat a big enough meal to keep me satisfied for 6 hours. So, I still snack here and there.

Example #1: I’m working on an article. It’s 11:45 a.m. My stomach is starting to growl. I know I will be finished with this article by 12:30, but I just need a little energy to be able to think clearly for that 45 minutes. So, I eat a handful of almonds and finish the article at 12:30, when I have lunch.

Example #2: I eat lunch at 12:30. I have a 40-minute workout planned for 5:30. I have a good sized paleo lunch, but by 5:30 I need a little more fuel to have the energy to get through my workout, otherwise, I will crash and burn. So eat some jerky, nuts, and a few berries around 4:30, which carry me through my workout and satiated until dinner.

I have friends who can go all day without eating. Great for them! I think this just shows how we are all built a little differently. If I skip breakfast, I will not be functioning very well until I can get food in me. If I skip lunch I will have a headache until I can eat.

Bigger meals do help, but healthy snacking can be a great way to make sure you have energy all day and are not tempted to overeat at any one sitting.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sleepy Feeling Means Parts Of Brain Already Asleep

By Randall Parker

Do you feel sleepy? Then parts of your brain have already switched into a sleeping mode.

Feeling sleepy?

That’s because parts of your brain are actually asleep, according to a new theoretical paper by sleep scientists at Washington State University.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the researchers say, there’s no control center in your brain that dictates when it’s time for you to drift off to dreamland. Instead, sleep creeps up on you as independent groups of brain cells become fatigued and switch into a sleep state even while you are still (mostly) awake. Eventually, a threshold number of groups switch and you doze off.

So when you are fighting sleep you are really just keeping only part of your brain awake. Parts of your mind have already gone missing. You find yourself working more or less effectively without those parts? (maybe some hyperactive people work more effectively sleep-deprived? I'm just asking.)

This isn't a proven theory. But it makes a lot of sense.

Lead author James Krueger said the view of sleep as an “emergent property” explains familiar experiences that the top-down model doesn’t, such as sleepwalking, in which a person is able to navigate around objects while being unconscious, and sleep inertia, the sluggishness we feel upon waking up in the morning.

“If you explain it in terms of bits and pieces of the brain, instead of a top-down phenomenon, all of a sudden you can make sense of these things,” said Krueger. “The old paradigm doesn’t even address these things.”

Krueger teamed with fellow neurobiologists David Rector, Hans Van Dongen, Gregory Belenky, Jaak Panksepp and electrical engineer Sandip Roy on the work. Their paper, “Sleep as a fundamental property of neuronal assemblies,” will appear in the December issue of Nature Reviews/Neuroscience. It is available online at http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nrn2521.html.

If sleep were being directed by a control center, the whole brain would respond at the same time, said Krueger. Instead, it behaves like a self-directing orchestra in which most sections are more-or-less in sync, but a few race ahead or lag behind at any given time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Confession of a Runner

From Runners World

The Confessions of Eddy Hellebuyck
An American marathon champion, suspended six years ago from the sport for doping, finally reveals the truth behind the charges—and why he now hopes to redeem himself. By John Brant Image by Shawn Barber From the December 2010 issue of Runner's World

Eddy Hellebuyck looks at home in Tucson. He looks at home under the vaulting granite peaks of the Catalina Mountains, whose trails he runs with the same light, effortless stride that carried him to more than 100 career marathons. A veteran of scores of hot-weather races around the world, including the 1996 Olympic Marathon in Atlanta, Hellebuyck looks at home under Arizona's desert sun. He even looks at home in an Italian restaurant in the Tucson suburb of Oro Valley, scarfing Chicago-style pizza and weighing in on Tiger Woods, who on this February day held his first news conference since his sex scandal had broken the previous November.

"I find it interesting that some celebrities are big heroes because of their love life," he says, watching a TV replay of Woods apologizing. A native of Belgium who became a U.S. citizen in 1999, Hellebuyck speaks English with a charming accent and an awkward yet apposite syntax. "But other big stars," he continues in a wondering tone, "they get crucified."

Hellebuyck leans back in the booth. His blue eyes are clear, his face is handsomely seamed and tanned, and at age 49 his 5-foot-4-inch frame remains as lithe as a teenager's. No man could seem more at ease. And yet, despite all appearances, Eddy Hellebuyck is living in exile.

In 2004, when he was 43 and his 25-year running career was enjoying a sudden, blazing renaissance, Hellebuyck failed an out-of-competition drug test administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He vehemently contested the results, which showed that he had used the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO), which enhances endurance, while preparing for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Hellebuyck fought the case all the way to an arbitration court in Switzerland, but there the results were upheld. In December 2004 he was issued a two-year suspension retroactive to January 31, the date when he was given the test. To this day Eddy Hellebuyck is the only Olympic-caliber American marathoner to have been found guilty of a major doping violation.

Although he continued to claim his innocence after his suspension ended, Hellebuyck became a pariah within the international running community. In 2005, he and his wife, Shawn, and their young son, Jordan, left their longtime home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to start a new life here in Tucson. That new life has taken deep root. "There are so many good things happening for us now," Hellebuyck tells me over lunch. The cross-country and track teams he helps coach at nearby Ironwood Ridge High School both won state titles in 2009. Steve Magnuson, a senior at the school whom Hellebuyck has been mentoring for the last five years, has developed into one of the top prep runners in the nation, earning a scholarship to the University of North Carolina in the process. Hellebuyck plays golf several times a week, Shawn's insurance business is prospering, and Jordan, who is now 15, is starting a promising running career under his father's guidance.

Midway through our meal, Shawn joins us. A brisk, voluble woman of 46, she was part of her husband's management team during his competitive days and continues to advocate fiercely for his innocence. Hellebuyck explains to her that I am thinking of writing a story about him, a story about what happened to her husband after his suspension. Shawn eyes me, then says, "I'll tell you straight out that I'm against Eddy giving you an interview. Why stir up mud that's taken so long to settle?"

And then Shawn begins chanting the mantra of denial that she and Eddy have maintained for the last six years. "Everyone knows that the drug tests are inaccurate and unfair," she says. "Why would Eddy risk doping at the end of his career when he had no chance of making any big money? Do you know what kind of story I'd love to read? Not some tired old story about what happened 10 years ago, but one about an honest athlete trying to redeem himself after a false doping violation." Then Shawn changes subjects, and starts talking about Jordan. "Who knows, Jordan might be the third generation in his family to make it to the Olympics. Did you know that Eddy's father boxed in the '56 Melbourne Games for Belgium?"

After about a half-hour, Shawn stands to leave. She shoots her husband a glance, and then heads out of the restaurant and back to her insurance office. For a few minutes, Eddy and I work at our pizza. On the TV above the bar, ESPN keeps showing Tiger Woods apologizing. I'm thinking that, given Hellebuyck's continued denial, there is no real story here, and that I'll soon be driving to the airport to catch my flight home. But suddenly the conversation shifts when I finally ask Eddy if, in fact, he doped.

"Do you think I did?" he asks me.

"I don't know," I reply. "I don't know you. All I know is what I've read and heard."

Hellebuyck hesitates. He no longer looks like a man at home in the world.

"Yeah," he says, "I did it."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A different twist on whole grains

posted by Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N

"Are the benefits really the result of adding whole grains to the diet? Or are we seeing the benefits of subtracting refined grains?"

This month, I got a partial answer to my question--and a confirmation of my suspicions!

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who replaced refined grains with whole grains had less belly fat--which we all know is the most dangerous type of fat.

But get this: Those who ate more whole grains but didn't reduce the amount of refined grains got no benefit.

We keep hearing that whole grains are so good for us. But in reality it may be that they're simply less bad for us than refined grains. And that's an important distinction.

I think that a lot of people have gotten the idea that the more whole grains they eat, the healthier they'll be. But the data in this study suggest that you'll stay leaner if you limit your grains (even whole grains) to about three servings a day--quite a bit less than the 6-8 servings suggested by the USDA food pyramid.

See also: Is it time to throw out the food pyramid?

Rather than coaching people to eat more whole grains, perhaps we should focus more on the primary message: Eat fewer refined grains. You can replace refined grains with whole grains, if you like. But you could also replace some of those refined grains with vegetables, for instance, and be even farther ahead of the game.

The floor is open for discussion....