Weekend Bonus: Sugar Is Poison

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I saw this video mentioned on Mike Eades’ blog and gave it a look.  It’s a 90-minute lecture that’s heavy on biochemistry in some parts, but worth the effort.  In a nutshell, the doctor making the presentation explains how consuming fructose — which makes up about half of both sugar and HFCS — produces most of the same biochemical effects as drinking alcohol, minus the buzz.  The takeaway:  if you wouldn’t serve your kid a beer, don’t serve him a soda either.

 

He also gives a nice wrap-up of what’s wrong with the Lipid Hypothesis and the current advice to eat high-carb and low-fat.  Enjoy.

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High-Fat Diets Are Bad For You? I Smell A Rat

Tonight I served my five-year-old a big bowl of rat chow for dinner, then asked her to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which she (supposedly) learned in school yesterday.  She couldn’t do it.  This was annoying, because she recited the whole thing last night.

So I fed her some fish food.  That didn’t work either.  I tried dried cat food.  No better.  Rabbit chow.  Nada.

I was experimenting because I’d seen several articles on … what’s that called? … the spider web … no… the tennis net … volleyball net … ah, the internet!  There were all these articles about how a high-fat diet can adversely affect your mammary.  No wait, that’s not it … your mummery.  Hang on, it’ll come to me … nope, I’ll have to look it up again.

Got it.  There were these articles about how a high-fat can adversely affect your memory.  I found this disturbing because as a performer, I have to memorize a lot of material.  When I act in plays, I memorize every line in my scenes – mine and everyone else’s.  That way I know if another actor forgot a line and I can cover. 

(Once, in a bad production of “A Shot in the Dark,” I spent more time covering than I did saying actual lines from the script.  Strange, because the actor who forgot half his dialog was a vegetarian.)

When I perform on cruise ships, I do two different half-hour standup shows … alone, with no teleprompter and no one to cover for me.  So I take memory seriously.  I also eat a lot of fat, and my memory is just fine.  I still remember the phone number my parents had when I was a kid in Iowa.  My dad used to call me “Total Recall.”  So when I saw the headlines, I smelled a rat.

Yup, it was a rat, all right.  For this study, researchers fed some rats a low-fat diet (7.5%) then tested their physical endurance and memory by having them run on a treadmill and find their way through a maze.  Later, they fed the rats a high-fat diet (55%) and repeated the tests.  Wouldn’t you know it, the rats didn’t do so well on a high-fat diet.

Let’s set aside the possibility that after eating all that fat, the rats became much more intelligent and thought to themselves, “Running a maze is stupid.  I’m going to just sit here until that dumb @#$%ing researcher gets tired of writing on his pad and gets me out of here.  I haven’t finished reading the sports section on that newspaper lining the bottom of my cage.”

The point is, a high-fat diet isn’t natural for rats.  I looked it up, and rats are listed as omnivores who will eat pretty much whatever is available, but prefer cereal grains.  (They probably like looking at that American Heart Association seal of approval on the box.)  When you feed an animal – or a human – an unnatural diet, you’re going to get negative results.

The Lipid Hypothesis became accepted partly because when researchers fed rabbits lard and cholesterol, the rabbits rapidly developed heart disease.  Well, go figure … rabbits rarely attack pigs and eat them.  When other researchers tried the same experiment on dogs, they couldn’t induce heart disease, no matter how much lard they fed them.  So they concluded that dogs don’t get heart disease.  But they do – if you feed them grains.

If rats eat a lot of fat and then become lethargic and stupid, that says nothing about how a high-fat diet affects humans.  We’ve been eating fatty diets for hundreds of thousands of years.  We didn’t become fat until we started eating grains.  (And we didn’t become stupid until we started feeding fat to rats and thinking the results mean anything.)

In another rat study that hit the news this week, researchers suggested that high-fat, high-protein diet leads to insulin resistance.  Once again, we’re looking at animals that aren’t eating anything close to their natural diet.  If a high-fat, high-protein diet had the same effect on humans, the Inuits and the buffalo-hunting tribes should’ve been plagued by diabetes.  They weren’t.  But after Native Americans were herded onto reservations and forced to live on flour and sugar, they became one of the most diabetic populations on the planet – more than 50% in some tribes.

Studies on actual humans don’t show these results.  In fact, they show exactly the opposite.  In one recent study, Alzheimer’s patients showed improvements in memory when they were given ketones.  The natural way to produce ketones, of course, is to eat a high-fat diet and skip the carbs.

In another recent study, subjects who ate a Paleolithic diet – which means low-carb, consisting mostly of meats, nuts, vegetables and some fruits – showed a significant drop in insulin levels.  That hardly sounds like the path to insulin resistance.  Other studies have also shown dramatic improvements in diabetes symptoms when subjects went on a low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet.

If you’ve seen these headlines, please, don’t worry.  You’re not a rat.  You won’t develop diabetes and forget where you parked your car unless you eat rat chow.

By the way, my daughter loves eggs, cream, meat, nuts, butter and cheese.  When we had lamb steaks last night, she begged – as usual – for some extra fat from my steak.  (She got it.)  Since she would just now be in kindergarten if she’d started school in Tennessee, her first-grade teacher had her come in for a reading test before the semester began.  Afterwards, the teacher told my wife, “Your daughter blew me away.  I can’t believe how many words she recognizes already.”

I’d say her memory is just fine, too.  And she actually knows the Pledge of Allegiance word-for-word.

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Mini-post: Interview on Examiner.com

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Cameron English interviewed me recently for his blog, the Eldorado County Conservative Examiner.

You can read part one here.  Part two will appear later.

Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that we’ve been enjoying grass-fed meats from a local farm here in Tennessee.  (The stuff tastes exactly like meat.)  Tonight’s dinner was lamb steaks. Earlier in the week, I covered a burger with some melted raw-milk cheese I bought at the local farmers market.  More on that later.

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Vitamin D Is DINOMIT Against Cancer

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I’m still busy unpacking boxes and making arrangements with banks, insurance companies, etc., so this will be a short post … but I hope you all watch this video and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.

Tom Monahan, the composer for Fat Head, sent me the YouTube link. I found it fascinating simply for the science, but also because my dad has had two surgeries for colon cancer, followed in each case by a round of chemotherapy. Afterwards, he was so weakened, he couldn’t get out of bed without help. I certainly don’t want to follow in his footsteps 25 years from now. I already take vitamin D for other reasons, but this video reminded me to be diligent about it.

If the DINOMIT theory is correct – and I have no reason to doubt that it is – it’s interesting for a couple of reasons. For one, we’ve all been told to avoid the sun to prevent skin cancer. It’s looking more and more like that wasn’t such a good idea (which would put that advice in the same category as avoiding fat in the diet). Human beings have been living and working and playing in the sun forever, but skin cancer only became a national concern in the past several decades.

Hmmm … I wonder if anyone’s ever tracked skin cancer rates against the introduction and ever-increasing consumption of Frankenstein fats, such as corn and soybean oil? As Sally Fallon explained in our interview, when researchers inject carcinogens into rats that have been fed corn oil, the rats develop cancer. But if the rats have been fed tallow or lard, they don’t develop cancer. Maybe the sun wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t oiled up inside with unnatural fats.

The theory also underscores (for me, at least) just how little scientists really know about disease. I’ve been hearing about cancer for as long as I can remember, yet this theory is just now being introduced. Keep that in mind when some doctor tries to tell you that “everyone knows” saturated fat causes heart disease. The “everyone” folks don’t know nearly as much as most people believe.

While vitamin D may indeed be crucial for preventing cells from becoming renegade cancer cells, I believe it’s also important to avoid providing fuel for any cells that do become cancerous. That means keeping your blood glucose levels under control. Cancer cells need glucose to flourish and multiply.  They can’t live on fats or ketones – just one more reason to get most of your energy from fat instead of carbohydrates that are metabolized into glucose.

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Diet Advice For Diabetics Falling On Deaf Ears

In Burbank, I lived in a two-story townhouse and shared walls with neighbors on either side, so I was always self-conscious about making noise.  Not anymore.  I’m in a stand-alone house now, with plenty of yard space separating me from my neighbors.

So after getting my Mac set up in my new home office earlier this week, I waited until my wife and kids were gone, then fired up iTunes and cranked the Kplisch speakers all the way to seven.  Man, I was rockin’ out.

Strange thing, though … after an hour or so, I couldn’t hear the music quite as well.  So I cranked the speakers to eight.  That helped – for awhile.  Then, once again, the sound mysteriously began to fade.  So I cranked the speakers to nine.  Two hours later, the sound faded yet again. 

Dangit!  I’ve never had problems with my Mac before, but something was obviously wrong.  I could still feel the bass from the woofer thumping in my chest – my glass of fizzy water was also rattling across my desk – but the volume just wasn’t there.

So I cranked the system to all the way to ten.  That helped, but only for awhile.  Frustrated, I called the local Mac repair guy.  However, something was also clearly screwed up with my new Comcast phone system, because I could barely hear anything on the other end.  I ended up shouting into the phone, “IF YOU CAN HEAR ME ON YOUR END, I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU MY ADDRESS!  CAN YOU PLEASE GET OVER HERE NOW?!”

Well, apparently the phone could at least transmit sound, because the repair guy showed up an hour later, by which time I was really having trouble getting full volume from my Mac.  I told the guy what was wrong:

“I’M HAVING A HARD TIME HEARING MY MUSIC!”

“Geez, Pal, stop yelling at me!”

“WHAT?!”

“STOP YELLING AT ME!!”

“OH, OKAY!  I mean … oh, okay.”

Turns out the guy is what Seinfeld would call a low-talker.  His lips moved, but hardly any sound came out.  (I’m pretty sure I didn’t agree to wear a puffy shirt during my next standup show.)  I managed to explain that my sound was fading and I wanted it nice and loud again.  He listened to the system and mumbled something.

“WHAT?!”

“Your sound system is fine.”

“WHAT?!!”

“I SAID YOUR SOUND SYSTEM IS  FINE!  I THINK MAYBE YOU’RE GOING DEAF!”

“HOLY CRAP!  WHAT THE HECK COULD CAUSE THAT?!”

“MAYBE YOUR MUSIC WAS TOO LOUD!”

“WELL, IT DOESN’T SOUND VERY LOUD TO ME!  CAN YOU FIX THE SYSTEM SO IT WILL GO TO ELEVEN?!  NO, WAIT … I WANT IT TO GO ALL THE WAY TO FIFTEEN!”

“IF I DO THAT, YOU’LL BE CALLING ME NEXT WEEK TO MAKE IT GO TO TWENTY!”

“OH, I SEE … WELL, HOW MUCH DOES THAT COST?!”

“STOP YELLING AT ME!”

Okay, none of that actually happened.  I am a tad hard of hearing thanks to some nasty childhood earaches that caused my eardrums to tear, but the Kplisch system can still knock me across the room if I turn it up to five.  But I thought about the ever-increasing volume scenario when I saw an ad online for Januvia, a Merck medication designed to control blood sugar for Type II diabetics.

Most of you probably know this already, but diabetes comes in two forms.  Type I diabetes produce little or no insulin, often from an early age.  They usually need insulin injections to keep their blood sugar normal, and to keep from wasting away – without insulin, they can’t store fat.

Type II diabetes do produce insulin.  In fact, they tend to produce lots of insulin – but it’s not enough to keep their blood sugar under control.  Why not?  Simple:  they’ve become resistant to the stuff.  When the body’s insulin receptors are constantly flooded with insulin, they become damaged and stop working … just like the cilia in your ears can become damaged by too much noise.  Worse, the beta cells in the pancreas can become overworked from constantly cranking out the insulin and burn out.

So what do drugs like Januvia do?  Here’s a quote from official website:

JANUVIA works differently from other medicines to lower blood sugar in 2 ways. It’s a once-daily prescription pill that, as part of your type 2 diabetes treatment plan, helps your body

  • Increase the insulin made in your pancreas
  • Decrease the sugar made in your liver

Okay, let’s see … you’ve become insulin-resistant from eating too many high-carb foods that jacked up your insulin.  So what’s the obvious solution?  Well, you must need a drug that horsewhips your body into producing even more insulin.  You need to crank those speakers up to eleven.  Then twelve.  Then fifteen.  Then of course you’ll suffer all the effects of elevated insulin, such as a higher cancer risk, thickening arteries, high blood pressure, excess damage to billions of cells in your body, etc. – but at least your blood sugar will be under control.

I’m not blaming Merck.  They’re a drug manufacturer, so they produced a drug.  It apparently does what it was designed to do.  But if the high priests of The Holy Church of Accepted Advice For Living A Long and Healthy Life hadn’t scared people into cutting back on fat and eating more carbohydrates, a drug like Januvia wouldn’t be necessary. 

Dr. Mike Eades once described to me how people end up on these toxic drugs:

1. Patient goes to Well-Meaning Doctor with a variety of health problems:  elevated triglycerides, weight gain, insulin resistance, etc.
2. Well-Meaning Doctor puts Patient on a lowfat diet, as he was trained to do in medical school.  This of course means the patient will be eating more carbohydrates to satisfy his appetite.
3. Patient returns for a follow-up.  The symptoms haven’t improved or have gotten even worse.
4. Well-Meaning Doctor scratches his head and says, “Well, the diet doesn’t seem to be working.  We’ll have to put you on (insert wonder drug here).” 

The Well-Meaning Doctor probably learned about the wonders of the drug at a seminar sponsored by the manufacturer, by the way.

I referred to these drugs as toxic with good reason.  Here are the possible side-effects of Januvia, once again from their own web site:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue and throat
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

Awesome!  Scratch your rash, wipe your runny nose, wheeze to your wife that you’d like another serving of mashed potatoes, spoon them over your swollen lips, and enjoy the flavor on your swollen tongue.  Swallow carefully, though, because that sore throat is getting serious.  Maybe the aspirin you take for the headache will help your throat, too.

Here’s another possible side-effect not listed on the site:  in rat studies, sitagliptin (Januvia’s chemical name) led to an increase in pancreatic cancer.  Gee, you’d almost think a body doesn’t like having a drug do a beat-down on its pancreas. 

There is, of course, a natural alternative:  stop forcing your body to smack down your blood sugar several times per day.  Then you won’t need so much insulin.  Many Type II diabetics have been able to stop taking insulin and any other blood-sugar medications simply by eliminating sugar and starch.  That’s how it worked for Dr. Jay Wortman, the medical expert behind the wonderful documentary My Big Fat Diet.

And here is the list of unpleasant side-effects from giving up sugar and starch:

  • You won’t be able to eat sugar or starch.

That sure sounds like the better treatment to me.

A note about my hearing, by the way:  Sometimes people speak to me and I don’t respond because (duh) I don’t know they’re speaking to me.  This generally leads to one of two reactions:  1) They try again, with extra volume, or 2) they decide I’m aloof and give up. 

I’m not aloof.  I like pretty much everyone I meet unless they give me a reason to change my opinion.  If you happen to see me onboard Jimmy Moore’s low-carb cruise and I don’t respond if you talk to me, try again.  But don’t crank it up to eleven … I’m a little hard of hearing, not deaf.

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Southern Style

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Downtown Franklin

Downtown Franklin

We’re finally settled into our new home in Franklin, Tennessee.  My office is now on the ground floor of the house, in what was designed as a bedroom.  Franklin is a charming town, and we already love it here.  I plan to write more about that topic on my other blog later this week.

During the move, I made some mental notes on diet, exercise and obesity based on observations and two articles I read online – both of which were brought to my attention by readers.  So, in no particular order:

Exercising doesn’t make you thinner.

Okay, as Josef Brandenburg pointed out, the right kind of exercise can certainly help by influencing your insulin levels.  But the theory that you can burn off your body fat simply by expending calories just isn’t true.  The guys on the moving crew spent eight hours carrying heavy boxes and furniture out of the house and into a moving van – 12,500 pounds, according to the truck scales.  And we were their second pickup of the trip.  In Tennessee, they did it all again in reverse, including countless trips up the stairs.  These guys were strong as gorillas and worked hard.  They do this all the time.  But a couple of them were also significantly overweight.

Keep in mind, I believe exercising is great for your health and sense of well-being.  I enjoy my long walks, even though I know they’re pretty much useless for losing weight. 

Diet (the right diet, that is) does make you thinner.

By the end of the trip, my clothes were a little looser, even though my only exercise was driving and rolling a couple of suitcases into our hotel room each night.  But I skipped the carbs almost entirely. 

Road food is 90 percent carbohydrates.

Every time we stopped at a gas station/mini-mart to fill up the tank and buy some snacks, I was appalled at the food offerings.  Nearly everything on the shelves was some kind of sugar or starch concoction, often with Frankenstein oils mixed in for good measure:  corn chips, potato chips, candies, ice cream bars, sodas, pastries and pizza by the slice.  We ended up buying a lot of nuts for the girls.

Sugar makes you cranky.

We also let the girls splurge a few times and buy ice cream or cookies.  Bad move.  They were good travelers most of the time, but when they had a meltdown, it was always after eating sugar.

Obesity is regional.

One of the articles someone sent me was a Time magazine piece, Why Are Southerners So Fat?  I definitely saw a disproportionate number of huge bodies as we made stops in the south.  If you’ve seen Fat Head, you’ll recall that in the first scene, I said it took me several hours of shooting in three different locations to find all those big bodies walking by, and that if obesity was such an epidemic, it should’ve taken me ten minutes.

In southern Arkansas, it would’ve taken me five minutes.  We took a side trip there to a state facility where you can prospect for diamonds – a fun little outing for the girls.  At the same facility, there was a water park where the girls went swimming and splashing and sliding.  Sitting near the pool, I tried to spot some adults with well-toned bodies.  (This was purely for research purposes, you understand.)  I didn’t see any – seriously, not one.  The teenage lifeguards were in good shape, and that’s it.  A depressing number of kids were already fat.

So why are southerners fat?  If you read the Time piece, you’ll notice the author chalks it up to a lack of exercise – you know, not enough walking to the bus stop, too many hot days when it’s no fun to play outside and all that.

That’s nonsense.  And if you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Time magazine – because in a different article titled Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin, they actually get it right.  The author notes that exercise makes him hungrier and even quotes Gary Taubes.

It’s about the food, period.  The earlier Time article mentioned that Tennessee has a high rate of obesity.  That may be true for the state overall, but during the week we’ve spent in Franklin, I’ve hardly seen any rotund people at all.  If not for the modern cars, you’d think you’d stepped into the 1950s.

So what’s different here?  As Gary Taubes pointed out in Good Calories, Bad Calories, obesity and poverty often go together.  Carb-heavy foods are generally the cheapest, so poorer people eat more carbs.

But this is a prosperous area.  We’ve had a few of our new neighbors stop by to offer advice on the local attractions … southern hospitality and all that.  When they got around to recommending restaurants (usually after I confirmed that I will indeed be rooting for the Titans), they all asked the same question:  “Do you like a good steak?”

Yes, I like a good steak.  I also like a good town, and I’m glad to be living in one.

I’ve still got plenty of unpacking ahead of me, but the office is pretty much set up, so I’ll be resuming the twice-weekly posts.

Franklin countryside - the picture is obviously from the autumn, but this is what it looks like when we drive about two minutes from the house.

Franklin countryside - the picture is obviously from the autumn, but this is what it looks like when we drive about two minutes from the house.

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