Archive for the “News and Reviews” Category

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these posts, so here some letters from viewers.  Actually these are follow-up letters from people who’ve written to me before.  Their letters are most of the post, so I’m not going to use quotes.  The letters appear in regular text.  My comments are in italics.

Down 40 pounds in mere months

Hello, Tom —

I wanted to follow up with you. I originally emailed in February, then again in April. June is here and I am now down 40 pounds! I started out at 245 lbs and I’m at 205. I feel great. My wife has lost about 20 lbs. Again for her to have lost this much weight is truly amazing — she’s never been able to lose it and keep it off because of PCOS and other factors. She’s seeing consistent loss, but in her case the measurements are really amazing. She’s lost 4 inches from her waist and several inches in other areas!

We don’t really count carbs, but generally get anywhere from 25-100 carbs a day. The carbs come from homemade sourdough bread (using natural yeast rather than quick rise stuff — no more than 1 slice a day), berries, and some veggies (above ground varieties). Once a month we might go each a small pizza or something not strict low carb, but for the most part we are avoiding a lot of the processed stuff we used to survive on.

Our typical breakfast is eggs with either bacon, sausage or made into an omelet with veggies. I add 2-3 tablespoons of cream to the eggs and whisk them up in a bowl. I also add 1-2 tablespoons of butter to the pan to help the eggs fry. Lunch is usually a big salad (homemade ranch dressing using ranch dressing mix, full fat greek yogurt and heavy cream) and some type of fatty meat – burger patties, 1/2 of a rib eye, or leftover beef stew (with real bone broth).

Dinner is usually veggies with cheese and/or butter on them and a meat – rib eye, ground beef, bone in skin on fried chicken, etc. For dessert we’ve stuck with berries and cream (thank you for introducing me to that!) and we have 1 piece of dark chocolate with each meal (>75% dark, each piece has 1g sugar). Let me tell ya, starting the day off with a piece of dark chocolate and having no guilt over doing it- – totally awesome.

Doing everything the modern American medical system tells me should make me fat, yet I’ve lost 40 lbs in 6 months and 0 exercise. My wife and I do go on maybe 1-2 walks a week and we’re active around the house, but I dont count that stuff as exercise. I do understand the importance of exercise, especially being behind a computer all day, but not solely for weight loss!

It is amazing to go through this journey. Friends and co-workers have noticed the weight loss and I have shared your movie, facebook groups and website with them, since it all started with Fat Head. Some friends of ours switched to a lower carb lifestyle a few days ago and have already seen results.

A good friend of mine and I were having a discussion and he asked me what I was doing. This guy is a skinny guy who runs 6 miles 2 or 3 times a week and has competed in Tough Mudder several times. He’s recently put on some weight and wanted to know what I was doing. I shared my story and what I’d learned about cholesterol. His cholesterol is at 250 and his doctor wants to put him on statins. I told him to never go to that doctor again and sent him several links, including some videos on YouTube from Fat Head the Movie. I couldn’t believe a doctor actually wanted to put this guy on statins!

Look forward to your book — thanks for everything you do.

Matt

Thank you, Matt.  I’m looking forward to seeing the book too.  Chareva is still drawing some of the characters, and I’m lovin’ what she’s doing with them.

Folks, notice Matt and his wife have kept losing weight, but haven’t been at 20 carbs for months on end.  Some days it’s 25, other days they go up to 100.  Exactly the point I was making in my previous couple of posts. It’s not necessary to aim for never-ending ketosis to lose weight and become healthy.

A five-year follow up on the whole family

Hi Tom,

My name is Lorraine and I wrote to you once in September 2011. It has been almost 5 years and I feel obligated to thank you again for the changes you have instilled in my life and also the people I love.

A few months after writing you, I did achieve my goal weight.  I have been able to maintain my weight (between 125-130 pounds) effortlessly.  Re-reading that post has reminded me of how dire my life was at 25.  I was so very depressed and unhealthy, and I’ve nearly forgotten that dark time.  I am now 30 years old and things have changed.

After my depression, I started to enjoy all the old things I used to love, like reading, video games, and social events.  I also found new hobbies including biking, sprinting, weight training, and hiking. I started living again.  I have completed graduate school.  I am a physician assistant practicing for almost two years in an emergency department in a busy city hospital.  I am also engaged to be married this coming fall.  However, this e-mail isn’t really about me.  It is more about those around me you have changed after I wrote that e-mail.

My father at the time was over 50 pounds overweight.  He was pre-diabetic and had an awful lipid profile.  Deep down, I knew he was teetering on the edge of full-blown heart disease.  The odds were against him.  After my success, he wanted to know what he was doing wrong.  He was constantly dieting and failing.  I had him watch your documentary.  He found you amusing, but he was very doubtful.

He felt hopeless so he gave it a shot.  In his 50s, he lost all the weight in only a few months.  He began weight training, and as a 59-year-old man continues to weight train 3-4 times a week.  He is no longer pre-diabetic and his lipid profile is as his doctor described “that of a 20 year old.”  He too has been able to maintain his weight with ease.  Because of your documentary, he was able to see the birth of his granddaughter (my niece) and he will be able to see my upcoming wedding.  I honestly can say that I don’t know if that would have been possible at the rate he was going.

I met my fiance, a nurse, a little over 2 years ago.  He is a type 1 diabetic.  He had a hard time controlling his blood sugars so his A1C was never ideal.  On his own accord, he started following a low-carb lifestyle.  Moving downstate to be closer to me, he found a new endocrinologist.  When he told his endocrinologist what he had changed, she gleamed.  She and her husband (another doctor) follow a paleo lifestyle.  A huge proponent of low-carb lifestyles, she recommends it to everyone, including all her diabetic patients.  His A1C is now in an ideal range and his sugars remain controlled throughout the day.  He no longer has bad highs, or even worse, bad lows.  Also, the amount of insulin he administers daily has dramatically decreased by nearly 25-50%.

My sister was a few pounds overweight when she became pregnant.  She was terrified of possibly gaining too much weight during pregnancy as many of her friends have done.  She was fearful of conditions like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.  She decided to start following a low-carb lifestyle as well.  I gave her recipes, meal plans, and healthy snacking ideas.  She was able to maintain a healthy weight throughout her pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy, 7-pound baby girl.

There are others you also helped including my mother, my mother-in-law, many coworkers, many friends, and even my future family.  Proponents of the low-carb lifestyle, like you, are a catalyst to creating future healthier generations.  Keep up the amazing work.

A million thanks,

Lorraine

A million thanks you to, Lorraine, for letting me know how much you and your loved ones have improved your health.  I wish you and your fiance a lovely wedding and a wonderful life together.

Share

Comments 24 Comments »

Two items to get out of the way before moving on to the cruise report:

First, a big thanks to The Older Brother for taking over the Fat Head chair while I was gone. Today happens to be his 59th birthday, so wish him a good one and 50 more.

I recall a conversation we had a few years ago as our dad was fading from Alzheimer’s. The Older Brother pointed out that our great-grandfather (who lived to be 101) was sharp until around age 98. Our grandmother began fading mentally in her 80s, and in retrospect it was clear Dad began fading in his 60s. Noting the pattern, The Older Brother said (to paraphrase in polite terms), “We’re screwed.”

I disagreed and pointed out that researchers were beginning to describe Alzheimer’s as type III diabetes. The reason each succeeding generation in our family succumbed at an earlier age was that each generation began eating a crap diet at an earlier age — thanks to arterycloggingsaturatedfat! hysteria and hearthealthywholegrains! nonsense. This isn’t some biological destiny we can’t escape, I said. We just have to ditch the processed carbs and industrial oils and get back to eating real food. Then we’ll be the next generation to be full of lucid and smart-ass comments well into our 90s.

The Older Brother is now a year away from age 60 and isn’t showing any signs of losing his memory. (When he does, I’ll tell him he owes me money.) I like to think our conversation about Alzheimer’s is part of what turned him into the dedicated real-foodie he is now. After all, I owe him for turning me into a libertarian by shredding me in an impromptu economics debate back when I was a wishy-washy “moderate” about such things.

Second, I apologize for the delay in crawling back into the Fat Head chair myself. I came home from the cruise happy but exhausted. As usual, I stayed up waaaay too late the last couple of nights, getting in those last conversations with cruise buddies I won’t see again for a year.

To add insult to injury, whenever I have to catch a flight or leave a cruise ship early in the morning, my brain likes to pop awake at a ridiculously early hour.  So I flew home on Sunday after sleeping maybe two hours. Perhaps because of the exhaustion, I came down with some kind of head cold/ear infection annoyance a couple of days later. When Thursday rolled around, I was running a fever and didn’t much feel like writing a post.

Here’s the difference a good diet makes: ear infections used to knock me flat for a week.  Thursday I felt lousy and had a high fever.  By Sunday I felt well enough to spend four hours pushing the mower up and down the big hill in our back pasture … then go play 18 holes of disc golf.

Anyway, on to the cruise report …

I’ll start with the most surprising news of the week: Jimmy Moore and I won the cruise-ship karaoke contest with our rendition of “Elvira.” We didn’t set out to enter the competition, but when we wandered into the karaoke club on Wednesday night, we learned it was the first of two qualifying competitions. Well, what the heck, since we wanted to sing anyway, we signed up. Applause from the crowd was the major factor in the qualifying rounds, which gave us an advantage … although some of our fellow low-carb cruisers were ticked off by the loud cheers that greeted two Brazilian girls in tight dresses.

I can’t believe you two are going to get beat out of the finals by a couple of dresses!

Uh, look, I replied, you’re taking this way more seriously than I am. It’s just for fun. The winners don’t move on to American Idol or anything.

But the low-carb crowd managed to out-whoop and out-clap the fans of tight Brazilian dresses, so Jimmy and I made it into the Saturday night finals. The emcee announced that applause would only count as 20% of the score for the finals. I have my doubts. Truth is, everyone in the finals could sing. An objective listener could have voted for any of us. So I think applause figured for more than 20%.

Two of the singers (Brazilians, but not in tight dresses) had large groups of partisans in attendance, but I’d say at least of the third of the crowd consisted of low-carb cruisers. When it was time for vote-by-applause and the emcee held his hand over Jimmy and me, the noise was deafening. I told Jimmy I felt like we’d just won an election in Chicago, complete with ballot-box stuffing. But of course, I happily wore the shiny first-place medallion afterwards. It was a great way to end a great week.

There were three seminar days for our group, with so many good presentations, I won’t bother trying to describe them all. That would require a book-length post. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt posted the seminar schedule on his blog awhile back, so I’ll just link to it rather than type the lineup again.

On last year’s cruise, Dr. Eric Westman announced that he would soon be opening his first HEAL Clinic – a center dedicated to treating diabetics with diet instead of drugs as much as possible.  (Imagine that.)  This year he was able to announce that the center is up and running.  His long-term goal is to open them all over the country.

Low-carb author Dana Carpender wrote the official cookbook for the HEAL Clinic diet. After all, once people leave the clinic, they have to put what they’ve learned into practice in their own kitchens. The recipes – hundreds of them – are mostly of the quick-and-easy variety. If you like low-carb cookbooks, this is another good one to have.  If you’re not on a ketogenic or VLC diet, do what I do: cook up one the recipes and add a potato as a side dish.

In Dr. Ted Naiman’s presentation about hyperinsulinemia, we learned why Dr. Westman’s approach is so necessary. Going through a series of studies at breakneck speed (the guy is a fast talker), Dr. Naiman made the case that high doses of insulin are as damaging as high blood sugar. If you’re a type I diabetic and need to squirt a normal dose of insulin into your bloodstream to absorb nutrients, fine. You have no choice. But doctors are treating type II diabetics with ever-higher doses of insulin – several times the dose produced by a person with a healthy metabolism.

The sky-high load of insulin thickens arteries, encourages the growth of tumors, triggers weight gain, and pretty much makes a mess of the whole body. So when I hear diabetes (ahem) “experts” insisting that type II diabetics should eat their carbs and then “cover” with insulin, I want to scream. Or punch somebody really, really hard.

One of the memorable presentations came from one of our own – Ailsa Marshall, a member of the team that organizes the cruise every year. She apologized a couple of times for not being a professional speaker (after, say, pushing the wrong button on the PowerPoint remote), but not being a professional was part of her charm. She was up there as just another person battling both diabetes and the effects of bad medical advice.

As she explained, she had tried following her own doctor’s advice, but her blood sugar kept spinning out of control, despite the insulin and other drugs. It was on last year’s cruise, in fact, that she finally asked Dr. Westman if he could help. (A bit tricky logistically, since Ailsa lives in the U.K. and Westman is at Duke in North Carolina.) Dr. Westman said he could indeed help, but under one condition: she had to be 100% on board. No half-measures, no cheating. She agreed.

A year later, she’s off the insulin and her blood sugar is finally under control. Oh, and she’s also lost 40 pounds. I almost didn’t recognize her at the pre-cruise dinner, even though I’ve known her for a few years now.

As I put it in the title of a long-ago post, This Is Why We Do What We Do. Ailsa’s story needs to become the common story for type II diabetics, not the story of one woman lucky enough to be treated by Dr. Westman instead of some drug-pushing doctor.

As if anyone needed more convincing, Jackie Eberstein (the long-time nurse for Dr. Atkins) gave an interesting/frightening presentation on the side effects of the most commonly prescribed drugs. Nearly all of them create vitamin or mineral deficiencies, yet  few doctors know enough to tell patients which supplements to take. Then, of course, the drugs prescribed by different specialists treating the same patient start producing negative interactions. Then another doctor may prescribe more drugs to treat the problems caused by the drug interactions.

Geez, it’s enough to make you want to stay healthy by eating real food.

Real food was, in fact, one of the most common themes throughout the presentations. In his amusing talk about what low-carbers and paleo types think of each other, Jimmy Moore said many paleo adherents see low-carbers as a bunch of fat people swilling Diet Cokes and other treats full of artificial sweeteners. (Low-carbers, meanwhile, see paleo types as born jocks who gobble down treats made with honey and maple syrup and get away with it because they’re born jocks.)

Some years ago, that stereotype of low-carbers may have been true. It certainly isn’t now, at least not from what I’ve seen. Thanks largely to the paleo movement (which Jimmy acknowledged), the low-carb movement has become a real-food movement. Every doctor and researcher who gave a presentation on the advantages of a low-carb diet emphasized that the diet has to be based on real foods.

In a speech about the supposed dangers of ketogenic diets, Dr. Adam Nally pointed out that when people wave around studies of, say, kids who experienced health problems after going on a ketogenic diet to treat epilepsy, they don’t mention that the kids were largely living on ketogenic shakes, not real food. The health problems were caused by nutrient deficiencies nearly everyone who tries living on meal-replacement shakes will experience.

Anyone who thinks a low-carb diet is all about bacon and cheeseburgers without buns should join us for our leisurely cruise dinners. Yes, we ate steaks and lobsters and racks of lamb. We also ate a ton of vegetables. The waiters for our area (who were excellent) figured out our habits right away and took it upon themselves to bring huge serving trays of extra steamed vegetables to the tables – with butter, of course.

I took a camera on board, but as often happens when I’m not with Chareva and the girls, I forgot to use it much. But here are some of my dinner companions for the week.  (There were more people at our table, but not when I was snapping pictures.)

Steve and Mariane Cunningham from Alberta.

Jeane Kelly (left) from New Jersey and Lisa Colclasure from Colorado.

Yours truly and Gerd Birgit Hay from Norway.

I sure hope I said something funny just before the picture was snapped.  If not, Gerd may have been laughing at me for undisclosed reasons.

The seminars took place on sea-travel days. On port days, most people leave the ship for excursions. I chose not to go on any excursions. Back in my standup days, I was on Caribbean cruises more times than I care to remember. Beaches, beach bars, and souvenir shops have kind of lost their appeal. So I did some reading, watched tutorials on software I want to learn, and walked around the ship while sipping coffee. Here’s what the fifth-deck promenade looks like:

The eighth deck is called Central Park. There are shops, restaurants and an outdoor tavern along the walking paths. I thought for the sake of realism, the crew should stage an occasional mugging late at night, but no, it’s safe even at 1:00 AM.  Nobody tried to steal my wallet as I sat there one night drinking red wine and staring at the stars.

I also took some time to re-work the blog a bit, in case you hadn’t noticed. I removed dead links, reduced the blogroll to people who are still blogging, dumped the No-Bologna Facts and Meet The Experts pages, and added a page for articles and studies. I plan to keep updating that one.

This year’s cruise took place during finals week for the girls, which is why they and Chareva stayed home. I missed them. It’s not the same being on a cruise without them. I borrowed Jimmy’s iPhone a couple of times so I could talk to them via Facetime and see their faces.  (And when I got home, I finally caved and bought an iPhone.)

But next year … ohhhh, yeah! In case you didn’t already know:

I booked the four of us for next year before leaving the ship. No way I’m letting my wife and girls miss a week in Alaska. I did two weeks in Alaska during my standup days. In fact, I wrote the script for Fat Head during that cruise. (My standup workweek consisted of two shows, so I had plenty of downtime.)

For my presentation this year, I read portions of the book for kids, with Chareva’s cartoons on the screens.  I already told Jimmy I’m going to have the film version ready to show in Alaska, no matter what it takes. Perhaps it will be the premiere.

Meanwhile, I saw in the cruise Facebook group that more than 150 people have already signed up. So if you’re planning to join the group in Alaska, best get on it sooner rather than later.

Hope to meet many of you there — or see you again, as the case may be.

Thanks for putting together another terrific cruise and seminar lineup, Big Guy … and for singing “Elvira” with me, of course.

Share

Comments 65 Comments »

Greetings Fatheads,

Well, it’s sure been an eventful year in Illinois politics, what with the veto-proof Democratic legislature and the Republican governor putting together a surprise last-minute deal for an honest-to-goodness balanced budget that will get the 100+ billion pension debt paid down over the next ten years, AND address the unfunded state retiree health benefit obligations ($56 B), while knocking down the $5+ billion backlog of bills to vendors dating back over a year now, and simultaneously restoring state services to the indigent, and even finally opening our state museum and public parks again.

PSYCH!

HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Man, if you could see the look on your face! Sometimes, I just crack myself up.

Actually the unfunded pension liability rose over $6 billion last year to over $111 billion (in a record up market), retiree health beneficiaries are one year closer to insolvency, and state vendors (including social service NFP’s) are still registering red on the “How Screwed Are We?” meter, but at least according to the budget — …

Oh wait, there is no budget.

I don’t mean a budget for this year. I mean the fiscal year 2015 budget, that started July 1, 2015 and is ending in less than two months. They haven’t finished passing a budget for that. It’s not looking so good for 2016 either.

Not to worry — welfare checks and state worker checks (including the legislators who haven’t passed a law to pay anything) are still going out. Just not the ones for if you, say, sold the state some office supplies; or rent a building to them; or provide care to the mentally disabled. Little stuff like that.

You would be forgiven for thinking that our elected officials, who are demonstrably incapable of discharging even their most basic, simple tasks, are just absolutely useless. You couldn’t be more wrong — they’re much worse than useless.

They may not be able to do things like pass a budget and allocate funds for things like taking care of poor people, funding schools, building roads, and sundry other basics that even libertarians like me understand people now want government to do (not agree, of course, but understand); but that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy.

Sorry. I know I didn’t give you a “Politics!” trigger warning, but that’s not the real point of this post. Here’s the point:

As I confidently predicted here and reiterated here, the bureaucrats have completed their inevitable march to addressing one of the most dangerous health scourges facing our nation…

… yes, after three years, the $100,000 a year, state-employed lick-spittle turds who are being funded by the USDA to get raw milk out of the market apparently wore down the mom-and-pop operators who had to take time off (lose income) every time they (re-)proposed new regulations.

Remember kids — regulators never get you with brains, competence, or results. They always win by exhaustion.

As elaborated in my prior posts, they can’t just make raw milk illegal. When they want to take away something the Bigs (Ag, Pharma, Banking, or in this case Milk) don’t want to have to compete with, they just regulate you to death.

[Here’s the short version if you didn’t read those previous posts:

“after over a hundred people showed up to politely but loudly protest the state’s heavy-handed actions, I noted:

‘I’ve heard from a couple of folks who think the regulators got an education on raw milk… Maybe the bureaucrats would change things up substantially.  Maybe even remove impediments to raw milk while setting a few common-sense protocols, as it fits in with the buy local/real foods programs the state and others talk up.’

Feeling I had a better understanding of bureaucratic sausage-making than those good, honest people, I ended with…

‘I’m guessing they’ll lay low for a few months or more, and then pass pretty much all of those rules as is, maybe without the 100 gallon limit.  Or maybe they’ll bump the limit to 500 gallons.  But they didn’t learn anything, and they’re there to pass those rules.’

It’s what they do.]

The first posts were after a 2013 hearing. The followup was from 2014. Our betters had to lay in the weeds for over another year, but then they did exactly what I said they’d do. It’s like Gravity.

Right again. Dammit.

So starting in July, when I go to Linda’s farm — where I can always walk around and see the cows my milk comes from, and see the operation, and walk through the barn she milks in, there will be a few other things in place.

For my protection, of course.

Like, she’ll have to get a permit from the insolvent Illinois government. But first,she’ll have to complete an inspection by the incompetent Illinois government. She’ll have to take samples and pay for a lab to test the milk for a few weeks to get the permit, then do regular ongoing tests. Any day anyone buys milk, she’ll have to store a sample of the milk for two weeks. If the department doesn’t like the way her barn looks, they can shut her down until she makes it look nice to them and they re-inspect her. Getting an inspection rescheduled could be difficult as the state doesn’t have a budget, so they can’t hire more inspectors, and even if it did they don’t have any money to pay for more inspectors.

[They can also shut her down if one of her free-ranging egg chickens walks through the milk barn. Hey, it sounds harsh, but you have to be cautious about  the whole “avian flu” thing that used to wipe out whole geographic areas of birds and spread disease until we started safely housing hundreds of thousands of chickens in legal, government approved and inspected warehouses; cutting their beaks off; and force feeding them antibiotics. Hmmm, I may have that backwards.]

Every time I buy a gallon of her delicious “creamy milk” (as The Grandkids call it), she’ll have to write my name, address, and phone number in a log that she has to keep for six months and make available to the egregiously misnamed Department of Public Health. She’ll have to have a placard up (in letters at least 2 inches high) that states:

“”Warning: Milk that is not pasteurized is sold or distributed here. This dairy farm is not inspected routinely by the Illinois Department of Public Health”

Wooooooo. Scary. It’s supposed to be, anyway.

Also, she’ll have to provide me with “Department-approved consumer awareness information.” It will say things like:

“”WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain pathogens that cause serious illness, especially in children, the elderly, women who are pregnant and persons with weakened immune systems.”

Plus, it’s now illegal for any raw milk producer to sell yogurt or cheese made with their raw milk, even if they pasteurize it as part of the process. Wouldn’t want any of these folks being able to earn a value-added premium for their products.

One of the last items in the new reg states that the Department can suspend or revoke the dairy farm permit whenever:

“the Department has reason to believe that a public hazard exists”

So since “the Department” is being funded by the USDA, and the USDA’s position is that there is absolutely no such thing as a safe glass of raw milk, somewhere down the line, you can bet “the Department” will determine that they have reason to believe that anyone producing and selling raw milk constitutes a public hazard.

I’ll say it again,

“It’s what they do.”

I feel so much safer.

Tom should be back next week, hopefully with highlights of the Low Carb Cruise. Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

Share

Comments 26 Comments »

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m supposed to be on vacation.  But this article in the Amarillo Globe-News came to my attention when I checked emails and such after landing in Fort Lauderdale:

Chris Hayes and his wife Michelle watched a documentary online nearly two years ago called “Fathead.” And while hard to describe, they said something just clicked after watching the 104-minute film.

“People call it different things, but you wake up and have one of those ‘eureka moments,’” Chris Hayes said. “You see something you identify with, and something just made us want to do this.”

“Fathead” was a rebuttal to the highly popular “Super Size Me,” in which a man ate at McDonald’s three times a day for 30 days, gained 24 pounds and looked horrible.

In “Fathead,” Tom Naughton went on an all-fast-food diet for a month, but kept it at 100 grams of carbohydrates a day. The result? A loss of 12 pounds and lower cholesterol.

Let me tell you, that ain’t nothing.

Approaching the two-year anniversary of their low-carb diets, Chris Hayes, the IT director at the Amarillo Globe-News, and his wife have combined to lose the equivalent of an NFL linebacker.

They have lost 232 pounds — 137 pounds for Chris and 95 for Michelle.

Nice plug, eh?  You can read the rest of the article online.

We now return to our regularly scheduled vacation …

Share

Comments 17 Comments »

Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

PETA wants our kids to get cancer!

Okay, just kidding with that headline. Now and then it’s fun to act like a True Believer vegan and accuse those who don’t agree with me of being horrible, horrible people – you know, the weenie mentality I described in the previous two posts.

Anyway, check out this article from the U.K. Telegraph:

Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found.

No, no, no! Vegetarians don’t die of heart disease or cancer! Just ask them. (Or don’t … there’s a good chance they’ll tell you anyway.)

Populations who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be far more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation.

Scientists in the US believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. But it has the knock-on effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is known to increase inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils – such as sunflower oil – the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.

So PETA wants you to follow a diet that will give your kids and grandkids cancer. Or something like that.

The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk.

I see. So eating meat raises your risk of colorectal cancer, but vegetarian populations are nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer. So that means … uh … uh … something.

Researchers from Cornell University in the US compared hundreds of genomes from a primarily vegetarian population in Pune, India to traditional meat-eating people in Kansas and found there was a significant genetic difference.

“Those whose ancestry derives from vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolise plant fatty acids,” said Tom Brenna, Professor of Human Nutrition at Cornell.

“In such individuals, vegetable oils will be converted to the more pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, increasing the risk for chronic inflammation that is implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer.

Okay, now I’ve got it: if you’re a vegetarian living in India and come from a long line of vegetarians, you need to move to Kansas. I knew there had to be a logical conclusion in there somewhere.

You can read more of the article, but I’d put this one in the “so what?” category … even though it would be fun to wave it in the face of the next vegan zealot who shows up here predicting my demise from colon cancer.

Sunbathing will extend your life and perhaps also kill you

More fun with observational studies … take a look at this article from Shape Magazine: (If you’re in the sun, you may want to put on your sunglasses first.)

You’ve made it a point to regularly choose the shade over the sun (right?!). Well, new research from the Journal of Internal Medicine challenges the whole “avoid the sun like the plague” thing.

According to the study, women who regularly sunbathed had lower mortality rates than those who tried to stay out of the sun. They also had a lower risk of developing heart disease and dying of non-cancer and non-cardiovascular-related causes than the shade seekers.

They were also linked to more boyfriends because of their nice tans.

The researchers, who followed nearly 30,000 Swedish women for 20 years, determined the sun avoiders reduced their lifespan by .6 to 2.1 years.

I wonder if those 30,000 Swedish women got tired of researchers following them around for 20 years. I’m thinking by around year 18, some of them were yelling, “Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to get a tan here!” (I’ll ask Dr. Eenfeldt to translate that into Swedish when I see him on the cruise.)

Researchers even went so far as to conclude that avoiding the sun is just as bad as smoking since nonsmokers who stayed in the shade had a lifespan similar to smokers in the sun-loving group. Cue confusion.

“Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to enjoy a smoke and get a tan! Go follow that pale-skinned lady around for a change!”

Not everyone’s on board with the study’s findings. “They could have dangerous repercussions,” says Stuart Spitalnic, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Brown University School of Medicine. The results may be skewed since women who sunbathe likely come from the upper class, which is a group that tends to be healthier to begin with, he says. “You could then make a case that sunbathing perhaps shortens the life of sunbathers compared to similar people who avoid the sun.”

Yes, of course. You can speculate every which way, because it’s an observational study. We don’t know why the Sunbathing Swedish Stewardess—er, Swedish women had longer lifespans. (Sorry, I had a brief flashback to drive-in movies from my high-school days.) Could be they got more vitamin D. Could be that women who are lean and fit are more likely to go sunbathing because they look good in a swimsuit – and also live longer because they’re lean and fit.  Could be the upper-class connection the good doctor mentioned. There’s no way of determining cause and effect.

But I wish doctors and researchers would be consistent in their opinion of observational studies. Because I have a feeling if the sunbathing women died younger, we’d be hearing all about how getting a tan will kill you – an idea the doctor floated even though the sunbathers had longer lifespans.

Finally, a health magazine I like

While sitting in my chiropractor’s waiting room some weeks ago, I thumbed through his magazine collection. Usually the magazines in medical offices just annoy the bejezus out of me. Article after article (placed strategically opposite the ads for Weight Watchers meals and various drugs) proclaiming the wonders of whole grains and low-fat diets, stuff like that.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading articles in a magazine called Experience L!fe. The focus was all on real foods, good sleep, quality exercise, meditation, etc. I wasn’t in the waiting room long enough to read the whole thing, so I asked the receptionist if I could pull out the subscription card and take it with me. Sure, she said.

Here are some article titles from the issue sitting on my desk:

The Cortisol Curve
Rebuild Your Back
How to Measure Your Resting Heart Rate
Resistant Starch for a Healthy Gut

Here’s a bit of advice from the article on cortisol:

A low-carb diet can support weight loss, but it’s not idea for those with disrupted cortisol. In a 2014 clinical trial, subjects with cortisol issues were able to reset their curves by eating low-carb breakfasts, moderate amounts of health carbs in the afternoon, and higher amounts of healthy carbs (think sweet potatoes, not bread of pasta) in the evening.

Endocrinologist Alan Christianson, NMD, author of The Adrenal Reset Diet, directed the trial. He now prescribes carb cycling to his patients who are dealing with any type of cortisol disruption.

Lots of good stuff in the issue – and not one ad for Weight Watchers or Healthy Whole Grains!

Just thought I’d mention it in case any of you still enjoy the feel of an actual magazine in your hands, as I do.  Seems well worth $21 per year.

Serve the food we tell you to serve – or else!

Recommending good magazines, books, blogs and other educational material is one way to change people’s eating habits. Now here’s the government method:

The federal government is taking steps to fine schools that do not comply with first lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service issued a proposed rule Monday to codify parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama.

The regulation would punish schools and state departments with fines for “egregious or persistent disregard” for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains.

We are The Anointed. We know what’s best for you. Bow before us and obey.

A West Virginia preschool teacher was threatened with fines for violating the rules by rewarding her students with candy for good behavior in June 2015. The teacher ultimately did not have to pay, but the school had to develop a “corrective action plan” with training on the policies.

I don’t like seeing teachers reward kids with candy. But the proper response is to explain to her why it’s a bad idea … or just explain to your kids why they shouldn’t eat the candy. Or just let your kids eat the candy on rare occasions and serve them real food at home.

The government now seeks to make fines enforceable by regulation. Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs.

The fines would be the latest consequence of the healthy eating law that Mrs. Obama lobbied for in 2010. More than 1.4 million students have left the lunch line since the rules went into effect, as students have complained of small portions and unappetizing fare. The standards have been blamed for cafeteria workers losing their jobs, and some kids have even resorted to creating black markets for salt to add flavor.

We The Anointed commanded you to serve kids tasteless, low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie foods. Millions of your rebellious offspring responded by refusing to buy school lunches .. so YOU, YOU WORTHLESS PEONS, responded by trying to break our commandments. We The Anointed do not tolerate peons making their own decisions. You will submit. You will obey. We know what’s best for your children.

The Food and Nutrition Service is targeting schools that refuse to comply with Mrs. Obama’s lunch rules and said monetary penalties are a “useful tool” to get noncompliant cafeterias in line.

I’m afraid the federal officials have confused useful tool with useful idiot.

So let’s see … there’s no good scientific evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease or obesity, yet the USDA is mandating low-fat meals in schools.  There’s no good scientific evidence that salt causes health problems — in fact, a study commissioned by the CDC concluded that low-salt diets may be dangerous — but the USDA is mandating low-salt lunches.  Studies show that kids who drink skim milk are no leaner or healthier than kids who drink whole milk, yet the USDA mandates skim milk … but allows sugar in the skim milk, in spite of all the scientific evidence that sugar is bad for kids, from their teeth on down.  And now schools that refuse to comply with USDA commandments will be fined.

Well, at least the people imposing and enforcing all this unscientific nonsense don’t belong to what one reader insists is the “anti-science” party.

But I’ll stop now before I commit a microaggression.

Share

Comments 46 Comments »

Items from my inbox and elsewhere …

It’s @#$%ing Daylight Saving Time Already?!!

I was re-watching an episode of Breaking Bad at what I thought was almost 2:00 AM on Sunday when the cable box suddenly displayed 3:00 AM.

What the … ??

@#$%!!  It’s not even halfway through March, but we’re already switching to the godawful “summer” time known as Daylight Saving Time. Just what a natural night-person like me needs: to be forced to get up and hour earlier because some lamebrains believe setting the clock forward somehow creates more daylight.

Here’s my reply to everyone who wants that “extra” hour of sunshine: go ahead and wake up an hour earlier.  We won’t stop you. Just leave the rest of us out of it.  I don’t want to attend a 9:00 meeting at the office when my body knows good and well it’s actually 8:00.  At the very least, save the saving of daylight for summer.

I was pretty sure we didn’t do this “saving” nonsense for a majority of the year when I was a kid. So out of curiosity, I looked it up. Turns out DST was imposed during both world wars on the theory that it would save energy. (Economists who have studied the matter say it does no such thing.) Some states continued their own version of DST, but the national DST was abandoned after both wars. Then it was raised from the dead in the 1960s at the behest of the transportation industry, which wanted standardized time zones and times to ease scheduling issues.

But even in the 1960s, we were only on DST from May through October. DST was expanded by a month in the 1980s and by another month in 2007. So now we’re on that wunnerful, wunnerful “summer” schedule for eight months of the year.

Well, I’m using this as further motivation to sell a million copies of the book. When I’m not working in an office for a living, I’ll just pretend DST doesn’t exist. I’ll sleep until I wake up, then show up for appointments an hour late and say, “Oh, sorry, I refuse to pretend that 10:00 AM is actually 11:00 AM for eight months of the year.”

In the meantime, this clip from Last Week Tonight sums up DST quite nicely:

The Fat Head classroom

As you may or may not know, free versions of Fat Head disappeared last year from various online vendors as the contracts expired. A teacher who had been showing the film in health class wrote to ask where the film was available now. So I donated a copy to her school. I received this in an email later:

I’m not sure how teachers get away with showing a film that says the USDA’s dietary recommendations are wrong, but I’m glad they do.

A paleo fix for diabetes

Remember that recent mouse study that (ahem-ahem) demonstrated how awful the paleo diet is? You know, the study led by the president of the Australian Diabetes Society, which receives shootloads of money from Big Food? This case study suggests an opposite conclusion:

A Hungarian study reports that a nine-year-old boy who was newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes achieved normal blood sugar levels, and came off insulin by following the Paleolithic ketogenic diet.

The child had been on insulin therapy for six weeks, alongside a high-carbohydrate diet. His blood glucose levels had fluctuated to a large degree, according to researchers at the University of Pécs.

The researchers put the child on a modified version of the ketogenic diet known as the Paleolithic ketogenic diet. This consisted only of animal meat, fat, offals and eggs with a fat:protein ratio of roughly 2:1.

The child had three meals a day and ketosis was regularly monitored using ketone strips. The researchers observed sustained ketosis – which is when the body has a high fat-burning rate – but the child had normal blood sugar levels before and after meals. His insulin therapy was discontinued.

The child’s blood glucose levels were significantly lower during the Paleolithic ketogenic diet compared to his six weeks of insulin therapy. The episodes of hypoglycemia he experienced on insulin therapy were not presented while on the diet.

Good thing the kid isn’t a mouse who eats a “paleo” diet of casein, canola oil and sugar.

Mandatory salt warnings upheld

After mandatory calorie counts on menus failed to change what people order in restaurants, naturally The Anointed decided salt warnings will work. The restaurant industry tried to block the new salt-warning law but failed:

A New York judge on Wednesday shot down a challenge by a restaurant trade group and upheld a city rule requiring many chain eateries to post warnings on menu items that are high in sodium.

The rule, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, mandates restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide to post a salt shaker encased in a black triangle as a warning symbol next to menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit recommended by many nutritionists.

Let’s see, 2300 milligrams … that would be the limit a government-funded study concluded might actually be dangerously low for many people. No matter. The Anointed in New York have decided you need to be warned.

“This is really good news for the health of New Yorkers,” Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said outside the courthouse.

Well, gosh, yes. Because as The Anointed have decided, what will happen is this:

  • New Yorker sees salt warning.
  • New Yorker is appalled and orders less-salty meal.
  • New Yorker avoids a heart attack by eating less-salty meals in restaurants.

I mean, they JUST KNOW that’s how it will play out.

“Information is power,” Justice Eileen Rakower of New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan said in a ruling from the bench. Unlike the city’s unsuccessful large-soda ban, she said, the rule did not restrict the use of sodium.

New York City adopted the rule, which took effect in December, to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

So the evidence that restricting salt (assuming anyone actually consumes less salt because of a menu warning) must be really strong.  I mean, it’s not as if The Anointed ever push through a Grand Plan without carefully considering the evidence …

No scientific consensus on salt

Here’s what an article in Medical News Today says about the science of salt and health:

An analysis of scientific reports and comments on the health effects of a salty diet reveals a polarization between those supportive of the hypothesis that population-wide reduction of salt intake is associated with better health and those that were not. In all, 54 percent were supportive of the hypothesis; 33 percent, not supportive; and 13 percent inconclusive.

The new article in the International Journal of Epidemiology is co-authored by Ludovic Trinquart, Columbia University Epidemiology Merit Fellow at the Mailman School of Public Health; David Johns, a doctoral student in Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and an affiliate of the Data & Society Research Institute; and Sandro Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health and adjunct professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.

Just over half of the reports say restricting salt would be beneficial. I guess the weight of the evidence tips towards restricting salt, eh? Not so fast.

“There are two almost distinct bodies of scholarship–one supporting and one opposing the claim that salt reduction in populations will improve clinical outcomes,” says Johns. “Each is driven by a few prolific authors who tend to cite other researchers who share their point of view, with little apparent collaboration between the two ‘sides.'”

“We pay quite a bit of attention to financial bias in our work,” says Galea. “We seldom pay attention, however, to how long-held beliefs bias the questions we ask and the results we publish, even as new data become available.”

long-held beliefs bias the questions we ask and the results we publish … Yup, just like all that (ahem) evidence that saturated fat and cholesterol will clog your arteries.

Even while the scientific debate over salt continues, public health officials, from the local to the global level, have enacted policies to lower consumption. World Health Organization guidelines recommend limiting salt intake. In December 2015, New York City became the first U.S. city to require chain restaurants to label foods high in sodium.

“Decision-makers often must choose a course of action in the face of conflicting, uncertain evidence,” says Trinquart.

Uh … no. Decision-makers don’t have to choose a course of action. When the evidence is all over the place, decision-makers can simply choose to do nothing. That would be the correct course of action.

But of course, that’s not how The Anointed operate. They’re often wrong, but that never shakes their self-confidence or dissuades them from imposing the next Grand Plan.

Restaurants listening to consumer demand

Here’s the no-coercion-required way to get restaurants to change what they sell: change what you’re willing to buy. We’re already seeing that in grocery-store chains, as they respond to the consumer demand for less-processed foods. Restaurants are responding to the same trend:

The movement toward real ingredients and clean labels has reshaped the restaurant world in the last year. A growing number of consumers are demanding quality, healthfulness and transparency in food.

“It is very strong right now, and when you look at consumer insights about the younger generation, you sense that it is not going to change,” says Trip Kadey, director of culinary for The French’s Food Company.

In fact, 25 percent of consumers say they have switched to healthier meat and poultry products within the last year, according to Packaged Facts research. More than 30 percent of consumers are cautious about serving foods with preservatives, up from 24 percent ten years ago, reports The NPD Group. And when the National Restaurant Association polled chefs for its What’s Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast, natural ingredients/minimally processed foods ranked as a top five trend.

The time is now for operators to take action on these issues—it’s a golden opportunity to impress consumers who could be patrons for decades to come.

“There are 13-year-old kids who are actual food activists,” says Kadey. “They are really driving demand for clean and better-for-you food.”

See how that works? You express your preferences, vote with your dollars, and the people who produce and sell food conclude it’s in their best interest to listen. No new laws, no government coercion, and no Grand Plans required.

 

Share

Comments 81 Comments »