Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Whoa! I can't believe I haven't posted in two months!

The reason(s) I haven't posted, is/are because there are so many excellent health/nutrition/paleo/low-carb blogs out there that it's really hard to come up with something new and useful without sounding like I'm just parroting someone else's work.  I suppose I could resort to the "linkfest" approach, but that would be a cop-out.


Something interesting happened over at Jimmy Moore's blog recently.  Jimmy, ever the perspicacious one, picked up on something that I had noticed and had even wondered about occasionally; can one who believes in the God of the Bible also buy into the "paleo" lifestyle. But beyond just posing the question or posting about it, he asked for input from several well-known bloggers with varying viewpoints.

Here's the conundrum, as "Easy Al" Greenspan might say if he were a reader of health blogs: If the Bible mentions eating bread (wheat, barley), lentils (legumes, called "pulses" in archaic English), and dairy, how can they be "bad" for you? Further, and infinitely tougher for the "saints" (don't get mad at me, that's what the apostle Paul calls ordinary believers), is the question of the special creation of a modern homo sapiens (HS) named Adam as opposed to thousands of millenia of evolutionary adaptation from early homonids to HS. Since the thousands of millenia of adaptation to diet (among other factors, e.g. physical activity) preceded the relatively near term adoption of agriculture about 10 to 15 thousand years ago, an optimally healthy way of eating would preclude or severely limit these "neolithic" foods in favor of older "paleolithic" foods, resulting in improved physical health.

And behold: it works, as evolutionary biology would lead one to expect.

This is a problem if one believes in a Young Earth Creation, in which the entire creation is calculated to be around six thousand years old, based on a literal accounting of various chronologies and date-certain events in the Bible, starting from now and working back. So Jimmy asked these paleo-blogger types to comment, no doubt hoping that by stimulating discussion, light would dispel the darkness.

Uh-uh. Lots of discussion has and is, being stimulated, but not much light has resulted.

Chris Masterjohn, who has more education and insight into our innards in his little finger than I'll ever have in my tiny brain has weighed in on the topic, from the point of view of one who identifies with perhaps the oldest "organized" approach to Christian faith.

Richard Nikoley, whose widely read blog is among the pioneers among paleo bloggers, frequently excoriates anyone who has the temerity to express even a hint of <shudder> faith, and has participated in the discussion on Chris's blog, as well as posting about it on his own.

I think these two pretty well characterize the two opposing camps that responded to Jimmy's request for opinion. This post has gone on long enough, but in case anyone reads this, I'll be back soon to provide some commentary about each of the typical viewpoints above.

As my manager back in the software days used to say, "There might be room for another view".

Hey, he must be right; he was a Mensa dude. Carried the card in his billfold at all times.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We're not mice, but we are mammals

Interesting new research article over at Cell Metabolism on the subject:

Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation Promotes Survival and Supports Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Middle-Aged Mice

 From the summary, edited for reader-friendliness,
Here, we show that a BCAA-enriched mixture (BCAAem) increased the average life span of mice. BCAAem supplementation increased mitochondrial biogenesis [growing new mitochondria] and *sirtuin 1 expression in primary cardiac and skeletal myocytes [cells] and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, but not in adipose tissue [fat cells] and liver of middle-aged mice, and this was accompanied by enhanced physical endurance. Moreover, the reactive oxygen species (ROS) [free radicals] defense system genes were upregulated, and ROS production was reduced by BCAAem supplementation.  These data reveal an important antiaging role of BCAAs mediated by mitochondrial biogenesis in mammals.
I guess that means BCAAs are "heart healthy" -yikes-!!!  Don't tell the USDA about this, it'll cause too much cognitive dissonance.

The BCAAs are  leucine, isoleucine and valine.  They are three of the eight essential amino acids that we must get from diet as our body cannot form them from other components. Dairy and red meat are good sources of BCAA's, as well as whey protein and eggs. Unlike grains and legumes, dairy, red meat, and eggs do not contain compounds designed to discourage their consumption. Like lectins, gluten, etc., but that's a topic for another post.

For those who are looking to build muscle through resistance exercise, Martin Berkhan over at LeanGains has posted about the positive effects of BCAA intake pre-workout in an otherwise fasted state. Just do a search for BCAA to find his post.

*Sirtuin 1 is downregulated in cells that have high insulin resistance and inducing its expression increases insulin sensitivity, suggesting the molecule is associated with improving insulin sensitivity.[4]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Could a Molecular Biologist and an Astrophysicist Possibly Tell Us About Nutrition and Health?


Great cooga-mooga, what an impressively well-researched and -written website and blog this husband and wife team of scientists has put together.

Having "successfully healed our own “middle-age” and chronic health problems through diet, and have learned much that we would like to share", this excerpt from their "About us" page serves as a good introduction:

"We believe that:
  • Disease, premature aging, and impaired health have 3 primary causes: food toxicity, malnutrition, and chronic infections by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.
  • These 3 causes go together.  People who eat toxic, nutrient-poor diets are more likely to contract chronic infections and do not easily recover from them.
  • Yet the body has amazing powers of recovery.  On a healthy diet, the immune system can tackle and defeat most infections, especially with the aid of antimicrobial drugs.
  • A diet like the Perfect Health Diet should be the first treatment option in most diseases and an adjunct to therapy in all."

I'm avidly reading, of course, to catch up on all that has already been posted in various categories, and I've found several very interesting passages of information that I either did not know, had not thought about, or had not looked at perceptively enough.

A great post at which to begin exploring is "The Philosophy of this Blog, With a Parable". It is definitely an eye-opener on several levels in terms of illustrating what is fundamentally wrong with black box medicine and what to do differently for treatment of health issues.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from it as much as I am.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're Gonna Love This Book

One of the sources that has made a big difference in my life over the past year or so has been Robb Wolf's blog, and the audios he posts on it. I've been following the progress of Robb's labors in bringing his new book to publication for a few months now.  Each Tuesday, Robb and his buddy Andy Deas post an audio on the website in which Robb answers questions about how living in congruence with our pre-agriculture ancestors can... well, the caption at the top of the cover says it best, doesn't it. Andy's apparently self-appointed mission has been to good naturedly prod, push, cajole, and otherwise encourage Robb to get the book done before he begins reading the questions. They make a great audio team.

I had been listening to Robb's audios for many weeks before it occurred to me that he had ever been anything but fit and healthy. In fact, at first he sounded to me kind of like a surfer dude who knew a lot about how stuff works at the cellular level. I had to listen to a few weekly episodes before I caught on that he had been a research biochemist. I hesitate to think what he would think about me, with my Southern accent, but he's probably not as critical as I seem to be.

On another broadcast it was mentioned in passing that his health had at one time been a wreck as a result of eating what most of us have been erroneously led view as a "healthy" vegetarian diet. This week I heard him say that he had even developed ulcerative colitis, and had begun to grapple with the idea that he probably wasn't going to live to a ripe old age. I thought I could hear in his voice how genuinely appreciative he is that  what he has learned, and details in the book, has saved his life. Literally.

I haven't read the book yet, since it was just released this week, but Jimmy Moore has done his usual thorough job of reviewing it, so be sure to check that out.

What, you may ask, is Robb's motivation? He states in the book, that "“I’m trying to save your life.”

And, after listening to him for months now, I believe him. I can't wait to get that book.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grain Fed

Haven't posted lately because of busy-ness, and distraction in the form of a couple of books by a writer who was new to me, namely Don Winslow. I'm not sure how to categorize his writing, but The Power of the Dog is excellent. Highly recommended.

I continue to run across studies and analysis that reinforce why it is important to eliminate or drastically reduce the intake of gluten grains, particularly wheat.  Now I've seen one that, even if gluten grains were innocuous, makes one wonder what the nutritional point of eating grains is anyway.

In "Evidence of decreasing mineral density in wheat grain over the last 160 years", Fan et al examined whether lower dietary micro nutrient density was the result of soils becoming poorer. I've heard as much many times, and it does seem kind of intuitive that extracting the same minerals from soil by continually farming it with the same kinds of crops would result in less of those minerals in the foods that result. To find out the answer, the researchers analyzed soil and wheat samples that had been archived since 1845. Their findings are quite surprising, at least to me.

The concentrations of iron, copper, and magnesium remained stable between 1845 and the mid 1960s. But since then those levels have declined significantly, while the soil levels have remained the same or risen. Why the drop in the wheat levels? Well gosh, that's when new high-yielding semi-dwarf varieties were introduced and becoming ubiquitous. Agra-business, don'tcha know.  So, we now get higher yields, which improves the bottom line, but at the expense of dehanced nutrition - I know, but 'dehanced' was what came to mind.

So, we're left with a bigger problem: even if our pre-agriculture ancestors had been adapted to eating gluten grains, the genetic makeup of what they would be eating was very different than what is in all those boxes and cellophane packages in the vast center of the supermarket. If grains are relatively new in terms of human adaptation, how well adapted could humans be to the stuff that is so different and really new? Like, forty or fifty years ago.

Now I'm really glad wheat's genetic code has been "cracked". Can't wait for all the enhancements that will be coming online once the folks in lab coats really get to work. We may get new, improved, "heart-healthy" stuff every few weeks. If our bodies could tell us what they think about all this new stuff, I wonder what they would say?

Oh, wait. Maybe they are telling us by way of all the DOCs that beset us. Diseases Of Civilization.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This May Not Crack You Up

Scientists: We've cracked wheat's genetic code

The human genetic code was cracked ten years ago. Corn and rice have had their codes cracked, as has soy. I wonder if wheat will now be sold in "Roundup Ready" genetically modified form, as soy does. If we eat enough of it, do we become Roundup Ready also?

People of Mesopotamian descent are perhaps somewhat more likely to be somewhat more nearly adapted to eating wheat.  The rest of us are likely to manifest some degree of gluten/gliadin intolerance.  That leads to myriad maladies, like leaky gut and autoimmune diseases. But I digress...

A sad note in the article states, "Among the potential benefits of tougher strains of wheat: Lower prices for bread and greater food security for the world's poor." Why, you may ask, is that sad? Well, consider that:
  • grain agriculture provided a reliable, storable, dense source of macronutrients
  • which made it possible for our ancestors to band together in ever-larger communities
  • which enhanced group security from attacks by animals and other human groups
  • which led to power concentration in the hands of the few, and serfdom and slavery for the many
  • which led to the need for ever more lebensraum and the wars to acquire it
  • which led to the diseases of civilization rampant in all "developed" nations
especially, but not exclusively, among the poor who depend on inexpensive, starchy industrial foods as their main energy sources.

The article concludes by saying, "But, as one British paper hailed the announcement as the most significant breakthrough in wheat farming for 10,000 years, Evans warned against putting too much faith in genetics, saying that reforming the politics and economics of food distribution was easily as important."

Ah, the politics and economics of food distribution... I wonder if the late, great Leadbelly has a musical point of view on this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Grab & GO" - an unfortunate connotation

It's positive reinforcement to have confirmation that money spent on quality food isn't wasted.

story at CNN.com tells about the recall of 380,000 pounds of deli meat sold exclusively by Wal-Mart which has been found in an isolated occurrence to be contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes.

According to the description at Wikipedia  "It is one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens with 20 to 30 percent of clinical infections resulting in death[1]. Responsible for approximately 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths in the United States (U.S.) annually, Listeriosis is the leading cause of death among foodborne bacterial pathogens with fatality rates exceeding even Salmonella and Clostridium botulinum. [2]"

So far the only confirmed cases have been related to deli meats used in ready to eat sandwiches with the brand name, Grab and Go. In my experience, anything with a name like that is best dealt with by averting one's eyes and quickening one's pace toward other areas where real food can be found.

According to the article, "The meats were produced on dates ranging from June 18 to July 2, 2010. The "Use By" dates range from August 20 to September 10, 2010".  So, at the least, the little critters have only had about seven weeks to strengthen their numbers. And how about that two month shelf "life".