Hi, Fatheads!

Anyone else notice there’s been an uptick in mainstream media reporting related to the gut microbiome?

It’s even crept into my local paper, which picked up an AP article relating how artificial sweeteners could possibly tie to diabetes via its effect on said gut:

A preliminary study done mostly in mice suggests that artificial sweeteners may set the stage for diabetes in some people.

The study authors said they can’t make dietary recommendations but that their results should inspire more research into the topic.

Basically, the study suggests that artificial sweeteners alter the makeup of normal, beneficial bacteria in the gut. That appears to hamper how the body handles sugar in the diet, a situation that can lead to developing diabetes.

The results, from researchers in Israel, were released Wednesday by the journal Nature.

How about that. Not that this is new — the whole Resistant Starch thing triggered a lot of interest around here in the gut — the “second brain,” as one researcher called it — awhile ago.

It had been on the radar for quite awhile. I remember seeing a year or two ago research talking about how there where over 150 distinct species of this microbiome community that lives on and inside us, but aren’t related to us — i.e., don’t have any of our DNA.  They have 100 times the number of genes we have, and weigh at least a couple of pounds. They drive all kinds of chemical and physiological processes in us, but have been largely unstudied.

Like I said, not new. What is new is that it’s news.

I didn’t think the general media would be reporting on this stuff for years. I mean, you’re just starting to see LCHF get regular respectable mentions, and now even saturated fat is getting better press, but that’s been a decades-long haul.

Within days of seeing the artificial sweetener/diabetes story,  I also saw a couple of other “gut” articles in Yahoo’s new links. One was from Forbes on the same idea, but this time specifically targeting diet sodas as culprits through the same mechanism of altering the gut balance. Then, another linking through to the Huffington Post(!) regarding food allergies:

Mice that were raised in a sterile environment or given antibiotics early in life lacked a common gut bacteria that appears to prevent food allergies, US researchers said Monday.

The bacterium, called Clostridia, appears to minimize the likelihood that rodents will become allergic to peanuts, and researchers would like to find out if it does the same in people.

In the meantime, they found that supplementing rodents with probiotics containing Clostridia later in life could reverse the allergy, according to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

The precise cause of food allergies is unknown, but some studies suggest that changes in diet, hygiene and use of antimicrobial soap and disinfecting products may lead to changes in the bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract that leave people more susceptible.

I’m not sure what I found more amazing; that the HuffPo would cover something accurately, or that I would read something they printed.

To be clear, many of these studies were looking at mice, and we know that is far from a “gold standard.” I didn’t perform Tom’s normal exercise of pulling up and dissecting the source articles.

First of all, that’s not in my wheelhouse. But mainly, I’m not interested specifically in the research, per se — it’s the fact that it’s seeped into the regular press, and is providing answers to some questions many people seem to be seeking better answers to. Like, “how come all of these kids seem to be allergic to everything these days?”

I also find it interesting in that these are reporting findings that aren’t in line with the current medical establishment zeitgeist. The reports indicate the answer may be in less medicine, less sterile environments, less industrial foodstuffs.

I really didn’t expect to see anything about the gut microbiome until Merk or Monsanto or someone figured out a way to patent a couple of them, then that’s all we’d hear about.

I think it’s possible that the things Tom talked about in his Vox Populi speech — why people just don’t believe the “experts” in medicine, nutrition, etc. and are looking to the “wisdom of crowds” — are starting to guide the questions that get asked, and the stories that get covered.  A couple of years ago, the only answer to food allergies was testing, avoiding, and a prescription. All of your reported options resided in the medical establishment, because those were the only people who got asked.

Now, it’s looking more like the press and regular folks are starting to clue in that there’s other options. Like, keep little Johnny away from the Pink Stuff unless it’s major, and let him go outside and eat some dirt.

Just your grandma told you. See, it was science after all.

….

Well, Tom should be wrapping up the big parts of the book by now so Chareva can start doing her part.  Sorry you got stuck with me for an extra week, but it should pay off in the end. The Wife and I are going down to their farm next week, so maybe I’ll get a sneak preview. At least I’ll get to try this “disc golf” thing.

Thanks for putting up with me. See you in the comments.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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Hi again, Fatheads.

This wasn’t on the agenda, but I just had to see if anyone else caught it.  If you’re a veteran Fathead, you’ll remember Tom’s “Science for Smart People” presentation he gave on the Low Carb Cruise a couple of years ago.  By veteran, I mean a ways back since this was was from over three years ago.

Anyway, towards the beginning, when he’s talking about how Pattern Recognition is pretty much hard-wired into us, he uses the kids in horror flicks as an counter point.  I’ve think I’ve got the relevant section queued up here (if not, drag it to around the 5:45 mark) — it runs for about a minute:

Okay, that always stuck in my mind. Then, a couple of nights ago, I saw this commercial:

Didn’t know if any of you also found it hilarious, albeit vaguely familiar!

BTW, if you’ve never watched “Science for Smart People,” you owe it to yourself to check it out, or maybe watch it again. You might also share it with your or your kid’s Science teacher.

Cheers,

The Older Brother

 

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Hi Fatheads.

One of the comments on my last post (from Pamela) had a YouTube link of a young student demonstrating the difference when trying to sprout sweet potatoes (the “regular” ones wouldn’t sprout, the store bought “Organic” ones generated some weak growth, while the locally sourced tubers did quite well), along with the note that “Of course, growing your own is best, but some of us don’t have that luxury.”

I pretty much agree with both parts of her statement. I give pretty wide interpretation to the “don’t have that luxury” part. I think there’s a tendency to think of that meaning not having a large enough plot or enough time to tend to a full garden. But I think not having the luxury can also mean that if you want a tomato or strawberries in November, you’re not going to find that in your garden or the local Farmers’ Market. I assume if you’re here, we tend to agree that eating seasonally is best, but sometimes you just want those strawberries.

I also think that having access to a decent Farmers’ Market is the same as having that luxury. If a local producer is raising the food without chemicals, GMO seed, or other weirdness, there’s no magic missing compared to a strawberry grown in my own back yard. Odds are, it’s going to be better and more diverse, because they’re doing it as a vocation.

Without going into a full out rant, I’m also not enamored of the “Organic” label. It encompasses a lot of bureaucracy, paperwork, and expense that don’t have any positive relationship to the quality of the certified products. I know there are a lot of wonderful people who’ve jumped through those hoops, but there are also a lot who produce great food who can’t or won’t. There’s a grassroots alternative called “Certified Naturally Grown” that’s independent of the sundry government agencies that tend to help Big Food take over these certifications. Enough about that.

Okay, back to that first proposition — growing your own. I’ve kept a few “Square Foot Garden” style beds in the back yard the last couple of years. In the Midwest this year, between the cool temperatures and plenty of rain, if you couldn’t grow a garden, it’s just not in the cards for you!

I thought I’d share a couple of pictures. I’ve never grown potatoes before, because you normally “hill” them. Some people grow them in containers, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. However, out at Linda’s, where we build the compost pile with thrown-out produce, we had a number of light wooden crates that had been filled with green beans. I snatched a few of those, put about a dozen seed potato pieces in the bottom of each one, then covered them with some of that compost. As the plants took off, I kept adding compost until the boxes were full. This is what they looked like after the plants died back…

 

Harvesting was simply a matter of dragging the box over to a spot in the yard I wanted to dump some compost, then turning the box over and “rooting” out the potatoes.

 

Those are from one of the boxes. Not a huge haul, but I was pretty encouraged since it was my first try.  Then they go in the basement to cure for a couple of weeks. The dirt stays on until they’re ready to cook. So, I assume do all of the probiotics!

I also had a great turnout with some Brussels Sprouts.

If you don’t think you like Brussels Sprouts, you’ve probably never had them roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Once some of the leaves start to turn a little black, that means the sugars are caramelizing.

My spaghetti squash turned out really good, too.  Yeah, that’s old nylons they’re hanging in.  No, not mine. Growing them vertically gives you a bigger harvest than letting them sprawl across the ground, and helps reduce access for the bugs. There’s still some peppers hiding out behind the squash.

Like I said, it was easy to grow veggies this year — even if you didn’t mean to. These cherry tomatoes “volunteered” and are growing right up in the middle of where my strawberries were earlier in the season.

 

It feels nice to see real food you’ve grown as Fall starts to ramp up. Having some success this year will inspire me this winter while I’m buying too many different kinds of veggies from the Seed Savers catalog.  That’s okay, we’ve got a really good Farmers’ Market, so people that know what they’re doing  can always bail me out, while I can still enjoy occasionally eating straight out of the garden.

Cheers,

The Older Brother

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Isn’t evolution great?

I don’t mean the monkey-to-mankind stuff.  I got tired of that debate years ago.  I’m talking about the kind of evolution you can observe.  Specifically, how folks in the low-carb,  paleo, LCHF, etc., etc. camps have evolved back to potatoes!

Yes, the lowly tuber is back in the rotation, and I’m happy about it.  Honestly, I was okay with not eating them, and still like the recipes with cauliflower, but The Wife had really missed them, and as we all know, “when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

After getting clued in to Richard Nikoley’s (of the Free the Animal blog) new thinking on resistant starch, I had two thoughts:

1) That’s really interesting, and seems to fit with the paleo/evolutionary model; and

2) How am I going to tell The Wife?

I’m kidding. Some. She really had been a good sport, and went above and beyond the call of duty experimenting with cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas et. al.  But she missed them more than I did.   I wasn’t sure how she was going to take it when I told her the whole “no potatoes” thing for the last couple of years had all been a big misunderstanding.

I just knew I didn’t want to be in the room alone with her at the time. Fortunately, The Oldest Son happened by and asked how she’d taken the news that potatoes were actually okay. Right in front of her, before I’d said anything.  She took it really well.

So they’re back, and we’ve been enjoying them in moderation.  Like this:

Those are Wasabi/Horseradish mashed potatoes under that grilled, sesame-seed crusted tuna, with the bacon-wrapped asparagus as a sidekick.

Tuesday was one of our pastured chickens that The Oldest Son & I had processed, with sides of peas and “Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage.” The sides looked like so:

[Foodie alert: Not a very good picture -- the sweet potatoes had a much better presentation besides being delicious. Have to say, we didn't get much out of the sage. That's the second recipe we've tried with fried sage. From now on, we're putting it in raw or just skipping it.]

Forgot to take a pic while they were plated with the chicken, which was used in the “Chicken with 80 Cloves of Garlic” recipe from the Eades’ book, “The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle” …

That was one tasty bird, and the new thinking on tubers (I know sweet potatoes were already kind of tolerated) really added something. We’ve also taken, as Tom has also mentioned, to baking some potatoes and just keeping them in the fridge.

All of the potatoes recipes are made ahead of time, then refrigerated. We’re interested in the resistant starch process, but the fact is that they taste just as good — and I think maybe better — when reheated, and there’s a real convenience factor being able to prepare some courses ahead of time, so you’re not juggling them at the same time as a rocket-hot charcoal chimney…

… that tuna only goes 30 seconds a side, so it’s nice to be able to focus on the main dish.

Okay, back to the evolution thing. My real point is — how long did it take, given a heretical “new” idea introduced to the sundry LCHF, paleo, etc. communities, for what was really something of a paradigm shift to occur. I know, not everyone is necessarily on board with the tuber stuff yet, and “your mileage may vary” depending on whose N=1 experiment we’re talking about. But seriously, there’s been a pretty abrupt shift in the general model of nutrition and how these venerable starches fit in.

The inconvenient facts Richard raised were, albeit with some perseverance required, gradually looked at and evaluated. When it became reasonably apparent that the current thinking couldn’t account for these facts, the model adjusted. It wasn’t declared a “Tuber Paradox.” Most people didn’t double down and commence name-calling. The model changed.

It evolved. It’s robust. It adapts. It bends. It improves.

Contrast that with the official government line on, well, just about anything. Saturated fat. Statins. Cholesterol. Hearthealthywholegrains. The gut biome (official government line on the gut biome: “the what?”). Farm programs. Subsidies. War. Energy. Bailouts. Raw milk.

Nothing changes. Once a “model” is adopted by a bureaucracy, all of the money and power coalesces around the model, not the pursuit of the knowledge the model was trying to conceptualize.

Government models don’t adapt. They implode. They collapse.

This is the difference between the market, the “wisdom of crowds,” on one side, and on the other various systems of force, which are genetically infected with what F.A. Hayek termed “the fatal conceit.” Eventually, the options are — evolution, or extinction?

I’m going with the fries.

See, I did have something on my mind other than teasing you all with some food pics. If that’s all I wanted to do, I would’ve put in a picture of Sunday’s desert.

Oops.

Ok, the honey-lavender ice cream wasn’t low-carb or paleo, but it was all real — honey, cream, egg yolks, lavender. Yeah, the praline basket was a total cheat.

Cheers,

The Older Brother

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Hiya, Fatheads!

Bad news.

Tom is hard at work on that book/DVD project he’s been teasing us with for the last year or so, which is good. But it’s taking a bit more time and effort for this phase than he’d planned, so you all are stuck with me for another week or so. It should be worth it in the end, so let’s all, as Lone Watie said in the classic “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (played by Chief Dan George) –

“endeavor to persevere.”

BTW, if you’re too young to get that reference, you need to watch that movie. If you don’t have that kind of patience, or if Josey has ended up on the non-PC list, or if you’d just like a reminder of one of the great scenes in movies:

Okay, enough about the first Americans put on a government-run welfare program.

Back here in the present day, I’ve pointed out before the adage that “grandchildren are your reward for not strangling your children when they’re teenagers.” The Wife and I got an invitation to go to breakfast with The Oldest Reward (1st grader) yesterday at her school’s Grandparents Day. It was fun, and well attended.

Of course, you knew this had to be there:

You want to indoctrinate kids when they’re young. Otherwise, they may start thinking for themselves and we all know how messy that can get. Here’s something I never saw posted on the wall in the school cafeteria when I was a kid:

I never saw it, because hypoglycemia is associated with diabetes. Type I (juvenile) diabetes is rare and kids with it don’t need a poster to be aware of it. The other is Type II diabetes, but when we were kids, that didn’t exist. The condition did, of course, but it hadn’t been renamed to Type II diabetes. It was called “Adult Onset diabetes,” because almost no one got it until they were well past school age, usually mid-life and later.

It’s no puzzle to any Fatheads on how you create an unprecedented epidemic of insulin resistance in children. It’s simple. You just feed them breakfasts like this:

Didn’t manage to capture the other offerings in the picture, but you could balance your plate out with oatmeal and/or a plastic wrapped muffin, also. Not a drop of the fat kids need for their brains in sight, and the only protein available was a few grams in the milk. Fat Free!, of course. Ugh. The menu was missing one of last year’s offerings:

Thanks a lot, Michelle Obama.

Leah picked out what she thought looked good, and ate about half of it.

The Wife and I passed on the meal and just enjoyed being with her and her multitude of buddies. I was still fuming over the whole raw milk thing (or as the grandkids call it — “creamy milk!”) and took a look at the label on the fat-free chocolate milk:

Interesting that the FDA, USDA, CDC, and the Illinois State Medical Society are conducting a jihad against raw milk, but don’t seem to have anything but praise for the folks who bring our kids milk concocted with alkali, cornstarch, salt, artificial flavors, and carrageennan. Note also that the label does warn the consumer that this product “CONTAINS: MILK.” You know, just in case anyone was worried about there being milk in their milk.

It was fun being with the Oldest Grandkid, and we got to meet her teacher and see some of the school before she blasted off to the playground to squeeze in some playtime with her buddies before the bell started the school day. But the wife and I were a bit hungry so we stopped on the way to work and picked up a much higher quality breakfast to start our own workdays:

(Heh, heh. Just making sure Tom keeps getting those royalty checks from Ronald McDonald!)

Have a great weekend. Like it or not, I’ll have a few more things to say next week.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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Here’s another callback for you longtime Fatheads. It’s from the end of a two-parter I wrote on the State of Illinois’ attempt last year to regulate raw milk producers out of business, “The Older Brother’s notes from the sausage factory floor…” At the end, 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.”

… Well. Sorry to be right again, but really, it was an easy call.

Apparently, in the last week or so, the FDA-funded lickspittles at the Illinois Department of Public Health went ahead and promulgated new rules concerning raw milk because… well, because there were no rules and how can you just let people mind their own business without someone writing rules to give them permission to do their own business and regulations detailing how that business is to be minded.

This go-round, they’ve posted for comment regulations that will require anyone selling raw milk to gather the name, address, and phone number of anyone they sell raw milk to and turn it over to the state on request. They will also be prohibited from milking a cow with any dirt on its udder or belly, and be required to only milk cows in a building with floors and walls that can be cleaned. In other words, you can’t milk a cow outdoors, and you’ll have to build a building for several tens of thousands of dollars to do it in.

These are, of course, only a start. Once they get some regulations on the books, they can keep expanding them and “re-interpreting” them until they’ve driven all raw milk producers out of the market.  Mission accomplished!

I wouldn’t have known about this as my local paper — the one in the state capital and the middle of ag country — didn’t actually mention any of this. It did, however, helpfully print a letter to the editor from one of the FDA’s useful idiots – the (prepare to be impressed) president of The Illinois State Medical Society. Here’s a few of what the medical establishment’s public mouthpiece seems to think are compelling arguments on why educated, intelligent, health-conscious people shouldn’t be allowed to choose to consume milk in the way it’s been consumed for the last 7,500 years or so…

 

As the Illinois Department of Public Health advances rules governing the sale of raw milk, the Illinois State Medical Society remains opposed to the sale and distribution of “raw” or unpasteurized milk in any form. Federal law prohibits dairies from distributing raw milk across state lines in final package form and about half of U.S. states prohibit the sale of raw milk completely.

Correct answer: So what?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other medical and health organizations, raw milk that is not pasteurized may contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other bacteria, that can cause serious illness and, in extreme cases, death. And studies show that children, particularly, are most susceptible to illness due to consuming unpasteurized raw milk.

You mean, there might be germs in milk? Like just about any other food out there. Only as the statistics show, not so much. The nice thing about raw milk is that, unlike pasteurized milk, it also contains all kinds of good bacteria that, in addition to controlling the baddies mentioned, also brings both documented and anecdotal benefits. Probably in about another twenty years, the adherents to the type of medicine practiced by the Illinois State Medical Society will discover the wonders of the gut biome. (Don’t tell them now – you’ll ruin the surprise!)

Pasteurization, simply put, is heating milk to a high temperature and then rapidly cooling it to eliminate harmful bacteria, yet maintaining the milk’s freshness for an extended period of time. Even the Illinois Farm Bureau advocates that individuals drink pasteurized milk.

Wow. You mean, the industry group representing the commodity dairy producers who keep their livestock in confinement pens, inject them with hormones and antibiotics, then mix milk from thousands of cows from different producers, to be shipped hundreds of miles, think people should only drink pasteurized milk? The ones who also put artificial coloring and aspartame in their products?

Now, if you’re going to drink milk from one of these producers, you damned well better want it to be pasteurized. That has nothing to do with the environment of healthy dairy cows raised on pasture with sales going to people within driving distance, who can walk around those fields if they want to see what conditions their food is being produced in.

(Don’t worry about that aspartame thing though. The FDA of which the guardian of our health at the Illinois State Medical Society speaks is engaged in an effort, at the behest of these same producers, to allow aspartame to not be listed in the ingredients of your store-bought, “healthy” milk.)

And these commodity producers, having seen milk sales drop over 20% to the lowest levels in thirty years, are more than happy to advise the FDA, the USDA, the Medical Society, and any other economic illiterates, on how to best put small farmers — who are producing a healthy, ethical, vastly superior product at premium prices — out of business.

I’d say that if the good doctor’s medical expertise is in line with his depth of understanding exhibited in the areas of epidemiology and economics, it would explain why there are over 90,000 medical malpractice-related hospital deaths a year.

That’s an interesting number, because coincidentally, according to an excellent breakdown of the real numbers done by Chris Kesser here, that’s about the odds (1 in 94,000) of a person even getting ill from raw milk (not dead – just a reportable tummy ache). The odds of being hospitalized due to raw milk are around 1 in 6 million, or about three times less than dying in an airplane crash. As for dying, well that’s hard to calculate, since the last reportable deaths associated with raw milk were in the late 1990’s, and those were from homemade “bathtub” queso cheese, which was assuredly contaminated by the maker.

Now, back in 1985, both the worst case of food poisoning deaths (52) and the worst case of salmonella poisoning deaths (possibly up to 12) since the CDC began keeping records in 1970 resulted from consuming dairy products. However, both of those cases involved pasteurized milk. You know — the safe kind.

In fact, there has never been a death reported from just drinking raw milk. That’s according to the CDC. But it took a Freedom of Information Act request to get that out of them, cause it tends to mess with their mission, which is to produce press releases that say “Majority of dairy-related disease outbreaks linked to raw milk.”

Not that food can’t kill you. Since that last death associated with raw milk products, people have died from spinach, green onions, cantaloupe, peanuts, drinking water, apple juice, various types of meats, and again, pasteurized milk products, among others.

If the sundry State Medical Societies worked on “physician, heal thyself” and “first, do no harm” instead of acting as the PR wing for the FDA, CDC, USDA and other Big Ag-owned agencies, they could save countless lives. Up to 90,000 just for starts. That’s without even touching all the havoc and suffering they create helping out their other good buddies over at the pharmaceutical companies.

NOTE: If you live in Illinois, you’ve got until October 20th to let your elected representatives know that you’re not interested in less freedom, crappier food choices, and putting small farmers out of business. Remember, nothing gets a bureaucrat’s attention like a lawmaker who’s getting an earful from irritated (but polite, please) constituents two months before an election.

Cheers,

the Older Brother

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