Archive for the “News and Reviews” Category

I was recently a guest on the Cellular Healing TV Podcast with Dr. Daniel Pompa. We talked about the Fat Head Kids book, of course. You can watch below or visit Dr. Pompa’s site — which I suggest you do, because there are many excellent interviews to watch.

I enjoyed this interview very much. Dr. Pompa and producer Meredith Dykstra had obviously read the book and thought quite a bit about it before having me on. Their questions were great.

Sorry about the looking-down angle. I thought it was an audio podcast until right before we started.  The camera on my Mac refused to cooperate, so I had to step over to my Surface Pro pad, which was sitting on another desk.

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Well, this is embarrassing.  I was a guest on the 2 Keto Dudes podcast back in May and completely forgot to post about it.  We talked about a few subjects, but mostly about the Fat Head Kids book.

It’s doubly embarrassing I forgot about the podcast, because hosts Carl Franklin and Richard Morris are two of my favorite interviewers.  They’re smart, they’re funny, they do their research before tackling a topic, and they ask great questions.  Sorry, gentlemen.  I can only plead distraction, since I was going a little nutty at the time trying to finish a version of the Fat Head Kids film.

In case you don’t already know, the 2 Keto Dudes are putting on the first annual Keto Fest in New London, Connecticut, starting July 14.  I’d like to be there in person, but I used up most of my vacation days for the low-carb cruise.  However, I’ll be there in spirit.  They’re showing Fat Head in a theater during the festival.

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First, a big thanks to The Older Brother for putting up three thought-provoking posts that generated a lot of good discussion.  Those three posts match my output for … what, maybe the last two months?  I was, of course, going a little nutty trying to finish the film version of Fat Head Kids in time to premiere it on the cruise.

I didn’t quite finish, so premiere became preview.  We’re still working on some of the animations, and I want to add a lot more sound effects and some original music.  I had to settle for a quick-and-dirty sound mix, with the careful mix to come later.  But it was certainly close enough to final for a good preview.  I’ll put up some clips from the film on YouTube in the upcoming weeks.  I’ll also return to regular posting now that I’m not facing a hard deadline.

Anyway, on to the cruise report …

Wow, what a cruise.  After nine years of Caribbean cruises, the Low Carb Cruise committee decided to mix it up for the 10th anniversary and head to Alaska.  I was delighted.  Even before I started giving presentations for the low-carb cruises, I’d been on several Caribbean cruises during my standup days.  I’m kind of over the Caribbean.  I don’t even bother going ashore on port days.  Rather than see Cozumel or whatever for the sixth time, I stay on the ship and sleep late, catch up on my reading, etc.

Alaska is another story.  Sure, I did two Alaskan cruises during my standup days (and it was great to have the cruise line paying me instead of the other way around) but I could visit Alaska a dozen times and still not take all the excursions that strike my fancy.

So while I was still aboard last year’s cruise in the Caribbean, I signed the four of us up for Alaska to take advantage of the on-ship discount.  Then I called home from the airport to see if the Chareva and the girls actually wanted to go.  I was a bit surprised when Sara said she wasn’t sure.  Going on the Alaska cruise would mean missing the last few days of school, and thus missing her eight-grade graduation.

It’s not a good idea to try to push Sara into a making a decision she doesn’t want to make, so I offered a fatherly observation instead: I don’t even remember my eighth-grade graduation.  It’s really not a thing.  In fact, most adults I know can’t remember their eighth-grade graduation.  But I’ll remember Alaska forever.  The scenery is stunning, and pictures just can’t capture it.

She mulled it over and said, “You’re right, Dad.  I should go to Alaska.”  Now that she’s been there, she has no doubt she made the right decision.

We flew from Nashville to Seattle on Thursday.  Even though my work was more or less done – meaning I had a copy of the film on my laptop, another on a thumb drive, and a third burned as a blu-ray disc – I was still in go-go-go mode during the flight.  I’d had that internal engine cranking for 18 hours or so per day for so long, it didn’t want to shut off.  Plus I’d been up late the night before rendering the film, and up early to burn the disc, then back up all 300 gigs of data to a drive we could leave with Chareva’s parents in case the house decided to burn down.  We dropped it off at their house on our way to the airport.

Go-go-go mode continued when we landed in Seattle, because the pre-cruise dinner was scheduled to begin 30 minutes later.  We caught a shuttle to the hotel, checked in, dumped our bags in the room, and went downstairs just in time to join the line at the buffet.

Consequently, I didn’t start to feel truly relaxed until we were boarding the ship the next day.  In the photo below, I’m the one with the shiny head.

In the ginormous dining room later, we met our dinner companions for the week.  If you’ve never been on a cruise, let me describe the food options at dinner:  Name it.  With all the appetizer, soup, salad and main course options, you can easily eat low-carb, vegetarian, gluten-free, whatever.  The waiters quickly learn your preferences.  Our waiter, in fact, brought me an extra lobster on lobster-dinner night, even though I’d already eaten a lobster and a small steak.

On cruises, there are port days and at-sea days.  The at-sea days are when we all pile into a conference room for the presentations.  I won’t try to describe all the lectures – that would require a book.  If you want to see the list of presenters and the topics, Jimmy has them listed on this page.  He’ll also post the lectures online at some point.

I will, however, briefly mention three that stuck with me.  Dr. Lucia Aronica of Stanford works with Dr. Chris Gardner, the lead investigator on the now-famous A-Z study.  That’s the one that compared people on four diets and found that people on the Atkins diet lost the most weight and showed the greatest overall improvement in health markers.  (The low-fat Ornish diet didn’t fare so well, by the way.)  But those results were the average.  What fascinated Gardner was the variability among subjects.  Some people seemed to do better by cutting fat, while others did much better by cutting carbs.  So Gardner’s team, including Dr. Aronica, has been looking into the reasons some people do so much better on one diet vs. another.

One of the factors, as it turns out, is genetics.  Actually, as we learned during her lecture, it’s a combination of genetics and epigenetics.  In other words, different diets turn different genes on and off in different people.  She mentioned a specific gene (sorry, I don’t remember what it’s called) that affects how much or how little insulin is required to slam the door shut on fat cells, which of course makes it difficult to burn away body fat.  People who do particularly well on low-carb diets are those whose fat cells are locked up by small concentrations of insulin.

Another lecture I enjoyed was delivered by Erynn Kay, a physician’s assistant who works with Dr. Jeffrey Gerber.  She spoke about the importance of feeding our good gut bacteria – a topic I don’t believe gets enough attention in low-carb circles.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors weren’t gathering bacon, after all.  They were gathering plants with fibers that feed the gut microbiome.

I also enjoyed Dr. Adam Nally’s lecture on diet and testosterone … partly because the information was interesting, and partly because Dr. Nally is a gifted speaker who fairly crackles with energy and works a lot of humor into his speeches.

Chareva and I sat in the back of the room at a table, where we sold and autographed copies of the book.

Dr. Eric Westman, gracious man that he is, brought his copy by our dinner table later in the week and asked the girls to autograph it as well.

Speaking of the girls, they didn’t attend most of the lectures, but managed to keep themselves occupied during at-sea days.  The pool was heated, in case you’re wondering.

Saturday was the first formal night.  In the picture below, I’m the one with the shiny head.

We also previewed the film that night after dinner.  I gave a brief talk beforehand to explain that it’s not done, but close.  Chareva and I both answered questions at a Q & A afterwards.

Given that I was working feverishly on each section for several weeks, it was actually the first time Chareva and I saw the thing beginning to end.  I was already trimming little bits here and there in my mind while watching.  Chareva was already re-drawing a few sections in her mind.  We don’t need to return to pedal-to-the-metal mode, but we’ve definitely got some work to do before calling it done.

Our first port day was in Juneau. For our excursion, we visited a salmon hatchery and then the Mendenhall Glacier.  One photo of that excursion is at the top of the post.  Here’s another:

I saw this sign at the visitor center:

Yup, the glacier has been receding for more than 200 years … that is, since the end of the Little Ice Age.  So clearly, it’s all caused by humans driving cars and using light bulbs.

One of the biggest pleasures of the low-carb cruises for me is meeting people I only know from emails, comments and podcasts.  The guy with me in the picture below is Brian Williamson.  I was a guest on his podcast show last November and again in April.  I’m pretty sure I spent more time hanging out with him on this cruise than anyone else, largely because he has a wicked sense of humor that caused me to label him a “bad, bad man.”

Two of the women who work with Brian have lost an astounding amount of weight: 109 pounds for one, 199 for another.  This was after years of failed diets.   (So according to the internet cowboys, what happened was that by pure coincidence, they finally accepted the physics of calories-in vs. calories-out around the same time they switched to ketogenic diets and stopped eating too much.  Or something like that.  I’m pretty sure Dr. Aronica would disagree.)

Of course, I also spent time in the karaoke bar with Jimmy, who generated his own karaoke fan club during the course of the week.  I also did some duets with Dr. Westman, who enjoys singing almost as much as Jimmy.

The second port day was in Skagway.  It was the big excursion for us.  We started by watching a presentation on the sled dogs who compete in the Iditarod.  The presenter has taken teams of dogs along the 1,000-mile race six times.  He was great, very informative and quite funny.

The dogs were amazing.  When the presenter brought out a sled for a quick demo run around a training area, the dogs went nuts, jumping up and down in their cages and howling, as if to say “Pick me!  Pick me!”  When six of the dogs were hooked to the sled, they could barely contain themselves.  One kept attempting to leap forward and get things moving before the driver was ready.  At that point, the presenter told us that people from PETA somehow manage to show up at points along the race and hold up signs protesting the “torture” of the dogs.

“Now, I’m asking you,” he said, gesturing toward the dogs, “does it look like these dogs want to run or not?”  Uh, yeah, they want to run.  They’re athletes and don’t like sitting on the bench.

After the sled-dog demonstration, it was time to pan for gold.  I believe the girls scored nearly $11 worth of gold between them, so I can probably cancel that college-savings program.

The last part of the excursion was a train ride 24 miles into the wilderness.  I’ve said many times that pictures can’t capture the scenery in Alaska.  That’s true, but here are some pictures anyway:

Chareva did a bit of shopping afterwards.  Remember what I said about our bag being confiscated because someone thought it contained scissors?  So scissors aren’t allowed.  But Chareva was allowed to bring this souvenir onto the ship:

Now, I’m asking you:  if you wanted to cause serious damage to a guest, would you rather have a pair of scissors, or a big, sharp, curved blade with a handle?  Go figure.

For the second formal night, some formal-looking Vikings showed up.  That’s Debbie Hubbs, one the Low-Carb Cruise organizers, with her husband Don.

I slept in the next day, but the ship made a morning stop near another glacier.  No problem.  I saw it twice during my standup days.

Same goes for Victoria in British Columbia.  It’s a beautiful city, but I’ve been there twice, so I elected to stay on board and just chill.  Chareva and the girls walked around to see the sights.

If you haven’t been on a low-carb cruise yet, I’d encourage you to join us one of these years.  It’s a great group of people (more than 300 this year), the lectures are excellent, and there’s always a lot of after-dinner fun on the ship.

And if you’re not into after-dinner fun, you can just enjoy some quiet reading time in your room.

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Hi Fatheads,

I told Tom I thought I felt another blog coming on, and he was happy to have the chance to spend the rest of the week putting the finishing touches on the final version of the Fat Head Kids DVD. So I get to stay in The Big Chair this week, too!

Think of it like this — your loss is his gain!

Feel better?

As always, I appreciated the comments people took time to write on my last couple of posts. Also, as always, I especially tend to appreciate the ones from people who don’t necessarily share my perspective. Everyone seems thoughtful and articulate. The international group we get showing up here still amazes me – this time while in The Big Chair, I got comments from Germany, Singapore, and New Zealand! The comment from our Kiwi friend, “S,” accidentally hit one of my triggers (hey, I’m a sensitive guy, ok?):

“…I’m not saying I support Obamacare… But perhaps the US should start thinking about *evidence based* health-care policies. There’s plenty of evidence out there if one is willing to look…”

Arrrrgh.

Yeah, Obamacare doesn’t rattle me much, but I tend to have a visceral reaction whenever I hear the phrase “evidence-based.”

First of all, it gets some contempt just because it’s soooo overused. It’s one of those phrases that everyone seems to feel sounded cool when they first heard it, then started sneaking in anywhere they can.

Like right after Newt Gingrich lead the Republicans to take control of the House. You couldn’t have a conversation with a lobbyist without them saying “I would submit that….(blah, blah, blah).”

Another was as IT was sweeping the economy in the late 90’s as everyone decided they needed to computerize and network all of their systems at once, and the Project Management field got flooded with sharp, young, eager, confident consultants who probably still had to have their parents drop them off at work. If you were in a meeting and asked a question the consultant deemed not relevant to the whole group (meaning they had no idea what the answer was), they’d say “let’s take that off-line.” I heard a corporate type use it three times in a one hour presentation. To cob one of Tom’s lines — Head. Bang. On. Desk.

But those kinds of affectations are just irritating. Then there are the kind of things you hear all the time that are designed to mislead, usually repeated incessantly by people who have no idea what they’re saying.

One example Fat Head types have probably heard often (usually by some 10% body fat “expert” in Spandex) is “you need carbs because they’re your body’s main source of fuel!”

I always considered this a trifecta — it’s a misstatement of an intentionally misleading fact that’s also false. Tom and others have covered this one over the years, but it still comes up. The misstatement is that the correct term is “primary,” which denotes order (primary, secondary, tertiary, etc) – not “main,” as in quality. The correct statement is designed to mislead the uninformed to interpret it as the misstated version. And it’s false – your body will burn alcohol preferentially over carbs, because too much blood alcohol will kill you faster than too much blood sugar.

“Evidence-based” is all the way in this category, and then some.

It sounds appealing. It sounds like science, only with maybe a bit more rigor built in, doesn’t it? Like hey, this isn’t just theory – we’ve also got evidence! It also is cursed with an origin in good intentions. “Evidence-based medicine” is the root, which proposed that physicians incorporate clinical results in their decisions instead of just going by their particular beliefs and experience.

We all know how the “clinical studies” thing worked out, now that Big Pharma owns the medical schools, clinical study industry, and most of the professional journals, right? “Hey, statins reduce heart attacks by a third! Don’t take our word for it – here’s a clinical study — it’s ‘evidence-based!’ 

That kind of success was duly noted by the rest of the groups that regularly line up at the trough. You can’t read a letter to the editor these days without whoever is begging for more of other people’s money citing “evidence-based” research. There’s evidence-based school funding, evidence-based juvenile justice reform, evidence-based climate science, evidence-based management, etc., etc.

Makes one wonder, for example, what they’ve been going by in Illinois for the last decade or so, where we keep pouring $35-40 billion dollars a year into the public schools. “Spitballing it-based” funding, perhaps?

There’s more, of course. I kind of think the icing on the cake is — wait for it…

“Evidence-Based Dietetics Practice” (!)

…brought to you by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yeah, the same turds who’ve been pushing the Soda-, Grain-, Candy-, and Pharma-sponsored “arterycloggingsaturatedfat, hearthealthywholegrains, calories-in/calories-out” program for decades. That’s “evidence-based” now, too.

What all these advocates seem to have in common is that people are catching on to them. As I replied when another commenter (Brandon), while finding the plethora of “evidence-based education” initiatives laughable, thought perhaps it was a hopeful improvement:

“Evidence-based” is strictly a rhetorical (or perhaps more accurately — “marketing”) device. It’s used by people who’ve already been wrong so many times that even they realize people are onto them. It’s a term invented to give the impression there is something like science involved … when it’s the exact opposite of science. 

Collecting evidence (even done objectively, with no intention of isolating results that support a preferred outcome) and then developing recommendations based on interpretations of that data is not science. Its old (discredited) name was Observational Study.

Science is when you take that collected data, form a question, design a disprovable hypothesis, test the bejeesus out of it, then if you can’t disprove it, send it out to see if other people can replicate the results. No one using the term “evidence-based” has any interest in that kind of activity, although they desperately want whoever they’re lobbying to think of it as scientific.

Teachers’ unions use “evidence-based.”  Bureaucrats use “evidence-based.” Lobbyists use “evidence-based.”  Politicians use “evidence-based.”

Galileo didn’t use “evidence-based.” Newton didn’t use “evidence-based.” Einstein didn’t use “evidence-based.” They used “science.”

My suggestion is to adopt a mental habit of whenever you hear or see the phrase “evidence-based,” you automatically substitute “circumstantial evidence-based,” “cherry-picked evidence-based,” or “evidence- instead of science-based” before processing the rest of whatever statement a person has issued.

I believe you’ll find that the reconfigured statement will be much more understandable, both in integrity and intent.

Tell all your friends.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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Hey Fat Heads! Long time.

Tom’s still off on the Low Carb Cruise, so I get to staff the Big Chair for a bit. Folks on the cruise are going to get to see the almost final cut of the Fat Head Kids DVD. Tom, being Tom, in order to avoid disaster (long time Fat Heads may recall there was an audio issue on one of the first cruises), took a copy on his laptop, a DVD, a backup drive, an extra laptop, and an extra projector. Just in case. He’s also left copies at home, and at the in-laws, just in case the ship sinks and his house burns down at the same time. I asked him if the odds weren’t pretty astronomical on that kind of coincidence, and all he said was

“Three words: President. Donald. Trump.”

That pretty much took care of that argument.

I meant to post last week, but, in addition to a flooded basement (again) and a mouse-infested camper to deal with, I also officially passed into old age last Tuesday. The Big Six-Oh. Doesn’t actually feel any worse than the day before, to tell you the truth. Tom called to rub it in a bit under pretense of “Happy Birthday” wishes, and we agreed that hitting a calendar date really never had much psychological impact.

Over the years, I’ve only had a couple of those “OMG, I’m getting OLD” moments. The first was a couple of months past forty — which I’d pretty much shrugged off – when the friend who’d been cutting my hair for the previous ten years or so was finishing up and nonchalantly went for my face with the scissors, explaining “I’m just going to trim those eyebrows up.” I was thunderstruck – “holy crap, my eyebrows have forgotten which direction to grow!”

The next time was a few years later. The same friend had just finished my hair (okay, and eyebrows) and then — just as casual as can be — shifted to my side and said “let’s get those ear hairs taken care of.” Fortunately for my self esteem, she retired shortly thereafter, and I was able to find a new barber with bad eyesight.

Anyway, on account of the milestone, I thought I’d give myself a present and commandeer the Big Chair and talk a little about health care and piss everyone off.

You were warned.

The source of my most current irritation wasn’t at the health care system, per se, but at some really good news. The good news being the amazing story of Jimmy Kimmel’s son. The boy was born late last month (April), and Kimmel did an emotional monologue on returning to his show on how the baby was rushed into surgery immediately after birth with the deadliest version of a rare heart condition. During the monologue, as he described the procedure he said the surgeon “did some kind of magic I can’t even begin to explain…”

And then kind of turned the whole experience into a morality tale on why we need to keep Obamacare, only bigger.

I don’t have a problem with Kimmel projecting his personal experience onto a larger issue that I’m sure he’s not particularly well-informed on. I do have a problem with how the media instantly elevated Jimmy to the status of Economic Savant, and I find it sadly not surprising that politicians on both (wrong) sides of the issue felt compelled to rush for a camera and pontificate as if this was some new large issue that hadn’t been debated.

As it turns out, I’m actually familiar with the condition and can also explain the “magic” to Mr. Kimmel.  The condition is called a Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, where there’s a blocked valve with a hole in the baby’s heart. It requires immediate surgery, with a couple of more “upgrade” heart surgeries as the child grows, because the replacement valves don’t grow along with the child.

See, the Oldest Grandson — the one we lucked into when the Middle Son got married last year – was born with the exact same thing. He’s nine now, so it turns out that treatment was available before Obamacare. Within a couple of hours of being born, he was whisked via helicopter from Springfield — where we have pretty damned good neonatal hospital departments – to Saint Louis, MO, ninety miles away where they had specialized facilities and pediatric cardiologists.

The actual Magic — the reason Jimmy Kimmel’s son and my grandson are alive – is called “the Market.” You see, if Jimmy and his wife, despite the blessings of wealth his talent and hard work have brought him, had been in Canada (the current darling of the “free” health care advocates) I suspect it would’ve been a much darker monologue.

Not necessarily, of course. They might’ve been lucky enough to have their baby in a city with one of the seven pediatric cardiology units within Canada’s 3.8 million square miles of land mass. There are 122 in the continental U.S., despite having 20% less area (3.1M). Caring, forward-thinking Canada has 81 Pediatric Cardiologists. Here in health care’s evil empire, we’ve got 2087 on tap.

And I do mean in a city. Ninety miles away doesn’t get it in Canada, like it works here. If you don’t believe me, ask Liam Neeson. In case you don’t recall, his wife died because it took over three hours to transport her 77 miles by ambulance as helicopters weren’t available where she was injured. But hey, what are the odds of needing an airlift for emergency medical care at a ski resort, right?

[Another helicopter story – several years ago, my brother-in-law’s niece was critically injured in an early morning slippery roads/tree vs. car accident on her way to school. This was in very rural North Carolina. They got a helicopter shortly after the accident was discovered. She flat-lined three times in the air, but she pulled through.]

It’s not like we don’t have major issues with the health care system in the good old U.S. of A. But the issues are with the availability of dollars, not doctors, and Obamacare makes both worse, not better. And Jimmy Kimmel is a terrific entertainer and wonderful human being and I am truly overjoyed at his good fortune, but he’s not a very good economist. Better than Paul Krugman. But not very good.

I’m going to address those dollars next, and my thoughts on that happen to dovetail nicely with Dr. William Davis’ book that Tom just reviewed. If you haven’t got your own copy yet, you’re missing a really good read that can do more to improve your health than any elected official can possibly do for you.

Cheers,

The Older Brother

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Here’s the short review:

Undoctored, the terrific new book by Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis, covers pretty much everything I’ve been saying on this blog about how the Wisdom of Crowds is crowding out conventional (but lousy) health advice, then adds a heckuva lot of good step-by-step advice on how to monitor and improve your own health — partly by leveraging the Wisdom of Crowds.

Now for the longer review:

A couple of years ago, when I was kicking around the idea for the Fat Head Kids book and film, I drove to Wisconsin to interview Dr. Davis on camera.  We ended up conducting the interview in a downstairs reading room because the desk in his upstairs office was piled high with stacks of research.

Over dinner later, he told me the research was for a new book.  But before he described the contents of the book, he told me why he felt compelled to write it:

Dr. Davis grew up as a dirt-poor kid in New Jersey.  After rising from such humble beginnings, working his way through medical school and becoming a cardiologist with a busy practice, he felt a sense of pride in what he’d accomplished.  For most of his adult life, he enjoyed his status as doctor.

But that was then.  Nowadays, Dr. Davis views the health-care system as little more than an industry designed to shuttle people through a series of expensive drugs and procedures.  Actual health isn’t the priority.  The movers and shakers have no interest in, say, preventing or treating type II diabetes with diet, because they view diabetes as the gift that keeps on giving.  Diabetics are paying customers for life.

As a result, he explained, he hesitates to tell people who don’t already know him that he’s a doctor.  He doesn’t like being associated with the modern medical industry.

So the new book (which was untitled at the time) would include two major sections:  The first section would explain to readers why the “health-care” system is more interested in their dollars than their health.  The second section would arm readers with the knowledge and tools to monitor and improve their own health, and thus avoid ending up in the belly of the health-care beast.  With all the bad advice coming from the medical establishment, people need to do their own research and direct their own health instead of relying on doctors to do it for them.

That, of course, led to a long discussion about the Wisdom of Crowds effect.

You can gauge a doctor’s opinion of the general public by his or her attitude towards the explosion of health information available online.  In a post last December, I pointed out that Dr. David Katz – a big-time promoter of arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria whose idiotic NuVal system ranks sugar-laden soy milk as far healthier option than a turkey breast – sees social media as a danger.  An essay Katz wrote for the Huffington Post basically boils down to this:  Dangit!  All those bloggers and podcasters and health discussion groups online are causing the stupid, gullible public to question true experts like me!  This is very, very bad!

Let’s just say Dr. Katz doesn’t believe in the Wisdom of Crowds effect.  He believes we should all bow before the superior expertise of The Anointed – himself included, of course.

Compare his attitude to the attitude expressed by Dr. Davis in the introduction of Undoctored:

I propose that people can manage their own health safely and responsibly and attain results superior to those achieved through conventional healthcare – not less than, not on a par with, but superior.

And later:

Self-directed health is a phenomenon that will stretch far and wide into human health.  It will encompass preventive practices, diagnostic testing, smartphone apps, and therapeutic strategies.  It puts the astounding and unexpected wisdom of crowds to work, providing you with a depth and breadth of collective information and experience that far exceeds that of any one person, no matter how much of an expert.

Just a wee bit different, eh?  Dr. Davis thinks it’s perfectly okay for you to do research online and question your doctor.  In fact, he WANTS you to do research online and question your doctor.  He says so over and over in the book.  That’s because unlike Katz, Dr. Davis believes people have brains and are capable of using them to find the advice that works and ditch the advice that doesn’t.

Undoctored offers plenty of specific advice on how to gather information about your own health and leverage the wisdom of crowds:  sites for exchanging ideas and data with other people, places you can go to order your own lab tests, sites that help you interpret the lab tests, and so on.

But that’s a bit later.  First, Dr. Davis gives the modern medical industry the blistering it deserves.  Here are some choice quotes:

There’s no ham in hamburger, Grape-Nuts don’t have grapes or nuts, and health does not come from healthcare.

There is a continual push to medicalize human life.  Shyness is now “social anxiety disorder” to justify “treatment” with antidepressant medication; binging in the middle of the night is now “sleep-related eating disorder” to justify treatment with seizure medication and antidepressants; obesity, declared a disease by the FDA, justifies insurance payments for gastric bypass and lap-band.   Don’t be surprised if sometime soon, bad dreams, between-meal hunger and excessive love of your cat are labeled diseases warranting treatment.

I was reminded of what Dr. Malcolm Kendrick wrote in Doctoring Data:  normal human conditions are now classified as diseases just in time to be diagnosed and treated with a new wonder drug.

Dr. Davis goes on to describe how Big Food and Big Pharma have corrupted the healthcare system from top to bottom, from the research, to the health advice, to the treatments when the advice doesn’t work.  Your doctor may mean well, but her (ahem) knowledge of what to diagnose and treat often comes from seminars sponsored by Big Pharma.  Prevention, of course, isn’t on the agenda.

Despite the book’s title, Dr. Davis isn’t suggesting people never visit a doctor again.  He lists a number of conditions that absolutely, positively require medical attention.  He wants doctors to treat what they treat well.

But he wants you to take control of your own health by leveraging the wisdom of crowds and the experiences of others.  If you do that, there’s a good chance you’ll become what Dr. Davis calls undoctored … meaning you only need to see a doctor for actual emergencies and perhaps a bit of monitoring, not for conditions you shouldn’t develop in the first place.

Reading that, I was reminded of when I went in recently for a dermatology checkup.  (I had a skin cancer removed from my back 15 years or so ago, so I get called in for occasional checkups.)  Part of the conversation with the nurse went something like this:

“Who’s your primary-care physician?”

“Uh … sorry, I don’t remember his name.”

“You don’t know your doctor’s name?”

“I’ve lived in Tennessee for seven years and I’ve seen the guy once.  That was because I decided to have a checkup when I turned 55.”

A big part of becoming undoctored is, of course, adopting a diet that enhances health instead of breaking it down.  You won’t be surprised that the Wheat Belly doctor prescribes a diet devoid of grains.  And sugar.  And industrial oils.  And almost all processed foods.  To make it easier to adopt the diet, the book lists several weeks’ worth of recipes.

But there’s more to it than diet alone.  Dr. Davis refers to the whole program as Wild, Naked and Unwashed.  No, that’s not the description of a fraternity party.  It’s a reference to the lifestyle of our paleo ancestors.  We don’t have to actually forgo bathing and run naked in the woods to be healthy, but we do need to recognize that our genes were coded for an environment very unlike the modern industrial world.

With that in mind, Dr. Davis spends the next few chapters describing the nutrients that civilized humans rarely ingest in sufficient quantities, including magnesium and vitamin D.  He also gives specific instructions on how to monitor blood levels of essential nutrients (vitamin D included) using direct-to-consumer tests.  He offers similar advice for checking thyroid health.

The book also includes an entire chapter on the importance of bowel flora (a subject he talked about at length when I interviewed him).  He explains how to obtain at-home test kits, and which specific supplements to take if necessary.  He also provides dozens of recipes for prebiotic shakes using ingredients such as green bananas, inulin and bits of raw potato.

I don’t find the “Appendix whatever” sections of most books particularly useful.  Undoctored is an exception.  In fact, I suspect these final pages will become dog-eared.

Appendix A lists several common ailments – from constipation to fatty liver – with a protocol for identifying and correcting the source of the problem.  Appendix B lists hidden sources of wheat and gluten.  Appendix C describes how to ferment your own vegetables.  Appendix D offers a list of sites where you can exchange ideas, do research, order at-home lab tests, etc.  It also lists the brands of supplements Dr. Davis considers high-quality.

Like I said, this is a terrific book.  With all the junk advice being handed down by doctors, government agencies, and organizations like The American Heart Association, it’s also a very necessary book.  Readers of this blog don’t need to be convinced that a huge chunk of what passes for health advice these days is garbage, but plenty of other people do.  And fairly or not, a lot of them will need to hear it from a doctor before they’ll believe it.

Dr. Davis took on the grain industry in Wheat Belly.  He takes on pretty much the entire medical establishment in Undoctored.  I’ve asked him to please stay out of dark alleys and to consider using a stunt double for public appearances.

Kidding, of course.  Well, half-kidding.  We need Dr. Davis to stick around for many more years and continue writing books like this.

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