Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Exactly is this "Paleo Diet"?

To those of you who know me, you've probably noticed I am rather particular in my eating habits, and my food choices tend to deviate from what conventional wisdom tells us is "healthy" or "correct". For the most part I follow a "paleo diet", and I truly believe (and to an extent, know) that this is the optimal diet for the human organism. The paleo diet replicates the metabolic environment that our bodies evolved under and are genetically adapted to- it works in sync with our bodies and removes the bases for many of society's modern afflictions. In this post I will attempt to explain the paleo diet in scientific and evolutionary context.

The Paleo Diet is predicated on the fact that humans evolved for millions of years consuming only that which be could hunted, foraged and gathered; a diverse and seasonally-changing diet of wild game, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms.  Only in the last 10,000 years or so, with the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry did we begin making grains, dairy (sort of a gray-area; a bane for some, a boon for others), legumes and other crops, and more recently, refined vegetable oils staples of our diets. These "neolithic foods" are truly incompatible with our biochemistry and may even pose a significant hindrance to our health and wellbeing, especially considering the extent to which we have refined and processed and allowed them to pervade almost every corner of our food supply. More specifically however, even in their whole forms, the gluten, lectins and anti-nutrients in these foods work antagonistically to our bodies, and can disrupt otherwise healthy function (even whole, unrefined grains may not be as healthy as you think...).
We've spent much of our time on Earth like this.

Wheat and grain products also impose other, less cryptic banes upon society. Over-consumption of wheat and starchy grain products- large quantities of refined carbohydrate (pasta, bread, etc)- combined with our sedentary lifestyles is likely the main cause of metabolic derangement, obesity and diabetes. The dramatic increase in refined sugar consumption has contributed greatly to this as well.  These are habits that would otherwise be impossible before the advent of industrial processing!  (Humans have always been able to grab a spear and kill a fatty, protein-rich animal!!) Finally, the amounts and types of fats we eat have changed dramatically as well, having wide-ranging implications on health and disease.  We are vehemently told to favor unsaturated vegetables oils over animal and other saturated fats, and we have complied.  But these oils are extremely high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, and combined with a diet lacking in omega-3's, may actually be the main culprit in heart disease.

I highly encourage you to watch this video (Thank you Pay Now, Live Later):

When viewed in this light, it becomes intuitively clear that this is the way humans are intended to live and eat. We live in an artificial food-abundant environment that allows us to instantly satisfy the slightest urges; we can eat things and eat in ways that humans have never been able to do in the entire history of our species' evolution. As you start analyzing all the discordances between modern society and humans' "natural habitat" you can see how deep this concept goes. (I mean really down to the nitty gritty).

Paleo Diet: the Basics

In short, paleo eating is:

  • Complete elimination of all processed, packaged foods, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc
  • Elimination of all refined sugar and flour
  • Minimization with aim of elimination of grains (gluten-grains especially)
  • General reduced carbohydrate consumption; carb sources in order of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, roots/tubers; sweet potatoes, yams, squash (Paleo does not have to be extreme low-carb necessarily)
  • Ample protein from high-quality animal sources
  • Increased healthy fats; fats should make up majority of calories: mostly mono-unsaturated from olive oil, avocados, animal fats and saturated fats from organic butter, milk/cream (if deciding to include dairy) coconut oil + milk. Increased consumption of saturated animal fats (Yes, that's what I said)
  • Minimizing if not eliminating vegetable oils (Soy, corn, canola, etc)
  • Getting ton's of Omega 3's, through supplementation if necessary (I eat a can of sardines almost every day)
  • Lot's of different colors of vegetables, fruits; focus on nutrient density.

For me, I get the bulk of my food volume from vegetables; salads & cooked veggies, fruits, the occasional sweet potato or squash, and the bulk of my calories from healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocados, nuts, olive oil, ghee, and grass-fed tallow. I also include ample amounts of high quality protein from grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, wild salmon, sardines & other seafood, free range chicken, organic eggs etc.

For a much more comprehensive list of how to eat and live according to the Paleo Diet/lifestyle, peruse this page by Diana Hsieh of Modern Paleo. I agree 100% with everything she outlines on that page, and I think it is the ultimate resource for both newcomers and anyone trying to deepen their knowledge of health and nutrition.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grains Are... Not So Great

Evidence increasingly suggests that the consumption of gluten and gluten-like substances as well as the lectins and anti-nutrients found largely in grains and legumes (and subsequently the animals we feed them to) are behind most if not all inflammatory and auto-immune conditions. So no, you can't eat bread, pasta, or bean burritos, or eat a hamburger or glass of milk from a cow stuffed with soy and corn (yes, corn is a grain). Well, you can, just don't complain if you develop arthritisasthmaintestinal disorders, or lupus. And these are the foods we rely upon- they form the base of our food pyramid!

Further reading:

  • Damn Dirty Grains by Robb Wolf
    • A former research biochemist and expert in paleolithic nutrition. Also a former California State Powerlifting Champion, and current co-owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, one of the Men’s Health “top 30 gyms in America. Likewise, his emphasis is on improving athletic performance and tackling general health problems through paleo nutrition coaching. Article Highlight: "Most of the problems related to grain consumption can be lumped into one of two categories: those related to hyperinsulinemia and those related to irritant/toxicant properties inherent to grains."
  • Against the Grain: 10 Reasons to Give Up Grains by Jenny of Nourished Kitchen
    • Co-founder of large Colorado Farmers' Market, advocate of high-quality, local foods; Nourished Kitchen’s goal is to promote sustainable agriculture and nutrient-dense, whole foods in everyday kitchens. Article Highlight: "Grains aren't good for your gut...or for your joints, teeth or skin... they cause inflammation..."
  • The Awful Truth About Eating Grains by Joseph Mercola 
    • Controversial but extremely informative and impassioned... love him or hate him. Advocate of health and nutrition strategies contrary to established doctrine, heavily trafficked website is an excellent resource. Article Highlight: "If you have digestive problems or suffer some of the classic autoimmune reactions (e.g. allergies) consider the possibilities that grains may be problematical."
  • Should More of us Steer Clear of Wheat? by Jerome Burne
    •  "...the immune reaction to gluten that damages the gut in [celiac's disease] can also cause problems almost anywhere else in the body...while the gluten antibodies can damage the bowels, they can also cause problems elsewhere."
  • Why Grains Are Unhealthy by Mark Sisson
    • Founder of Mark's Daily Apple and author of The Primal Blueprint, Mark has garnered a huge following, improving the lives of thousands through his "primal lifestyle" - a version of the paleo diet combined with smart exercise and lifestyle habits. Article Highlight: "the fundamental problem with grains is that they are a distinctly Neolithic food that the human animal has yet to adapt to consuming... a diet very low or entirely without grains (low-carb) has been shown to decrease risk for problems associated with diabetes, to lower blood pressure, alleviate heartburn symptoms, and shed abdominal fat."

  • Going Against the Grain: How Reducing and Avoiding Grains Can Revitalize Your Health (Book) by Melissa Smith
    • [from]: "Diets high in grains can lead to a host of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, and more...'Smith has courageously and accurately tackled what has emerged as America's primary food-related health problem: disease and obesity attributable to the regular consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-poor, immune-disruptive grains.' -Kenneth D. Fine, M.D., gluten sensitivity researcher and director of The Intestinal Health Institute, Dallas"
  • Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health (Book) by James Braly, M.D. and Ron Hoggan, M.A.
    • [from]: "The authors, leading experts in the field of food allergies, and celiac disease, present compelling evidence that our grain-centered diet is to blame for a host of chronic illnesses..."
    • "Contains more than a dozen case histories of people who have recovered from a wide variety of chronic conditions - back pain, chronic fatigue, the auto-immune disorder lupus - simply by following a gluten-free diet."

        Tuesday, September 14, 2010


        In light of the increasing bad press surrounding high fructose corn syrup- both the evidence of it's potential health detriments and decrying of it's pervasiveness in our food supply, the Corn Refiners Association has applied to the federal government to officially change the name of their product to "corn sugar". This clearly being the only reasonable course of action, as consumption of HFCS by Americans has recently reached a 20-year low.  That's right, apparently the problem is that Americans have become more judicious in their food purchasing/consumption decisions in regards to their health.

        A slight reduction in HFCS consumption- apparently an issue of brand imaging

        The Corn Refiners Association repeatedly claims that consumption of HFCS is no different healthwise than consumption of table sugar. If you browse the scientific literature, you'll find studies leaning either way on that matter (always question who was carrying out the study, who funded it etc, as well as the specific experimental design), although this recently published study out of Princeton University is particularly alarming. Researchers discovered increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels amongst male and female rats on a HFCS-laden over a sucrose-laden diet.

        Now, I am more for the reduction of ALL sugar in the American diet, rather than just singling out one palpable offender; it's more likely that refined sugar in all forms contributes to the health problems of this country collectively.  But does that justify the apparent "sweeping under the rug" by the CRA in attempts to reprogram consumer perceptions of high fructose corn syrup? Should the solution really be to re-name HFCS so as not to make it stand out from other forms of sugar, in some apparent act of "fairness"?  Whether or not HFCS is the greater of evils perhaps shouldn't be our primary focus, but rather a reduction in sugar consumption in general. What is for sure is that shrouding it under the guise of a new name only perpetuates the underlying problem- excess sugar consumption.  I for one hope that the Corn Refiner's Association is denied their request; until Americans realize that all sugar is bad news for our health, I think HFCS must continue to be the fall-guy.

        I'm sure you have all seen the commercial -

        There are a couple of others like it too; they all involve some general cliche situation and fallaciously implicate that anyone who questions the nature of high fructose corn syrup as a legitimate food source is incompetent.

        Well, I found this awesome video retort that definitely puts the Corn Refiners Association in their place:

        Air this during the 5 o'clock news!

        Monday, September 13, 2010

        The Most Important Thing You Need to Understand About the Foods We Eat

        What I am about to discuss is an extremely important concept, one that I am not quite sure most people consider when making decisions about the foods they purchase and consume. This post is largely inspired by a recurring experience I have involving different people and places, but always with the same general discourse and outcome. Here is an example of a recent instance:

        [At a friend's graduation party]
        Woman: (to me) "Would you like a piece of cake?"
        Me: (eying the clearly store-bought label/plastic packaging) "No, I am alright, but thank you."
        Woman: "Oh come on, a little fat/sugar won't kill you!"
        As if the reason I didn't want to eat the cake was because I was worried about the "fat" or "sugar".

        Let's consider for a moment the notion of cake. What things come to mind when you think of cake? Eggs? Milk? Flour? Perhaps some sugar, and some oil or butter? Here is a recipe for old-fashioned yellow cake, complements of the Old Recipe Book:

        Easy Yellow Cake

        Making a cake2 eggs beaten
        1/8 tsp salt
        1 cup sugar
        1 tsp vanilla
        1 cup flour
        1 1/2 tsp baking powder
        1/2 cup hot water
        1 Tblsp butter
        Beat eggs 5 minutes, adding salt, beat in sugar and vanilla, Sift flour and baking powder together, and add. Melt butter in hot water and add. Use an angel food cake tin. Bake at 350 till done.
        Recipe from a 1953 cookbook

        Seems somewhat harmless right?  I mean sugar and flour are not the most optimal foods, but at least they are "real", and besides, this is the way people have made cake for hundreds of years, right?  Now, I work at a large national-chain grocery store, and was able to obtain a label with an ingredient list for one of the standard cakes sold to at least dozens of people per day, "fresh" from the bakery. Brace yourself:

        Sheet Cake W/ Buttercream Frosting 

        Good Lord. Sounds less like a cake recipe than a shopping list for the local High School chemistry department! First, let me address the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are clearly a main ingredient (ingredients are always listed in descending order of quantity).  Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, AKA pure trans-fat- I mean come on, we KNOW how toxic this stuff is to the human body!  How can anyone still be ethically using it in our food supply?!  How can it even still be legal to do so?! By now that should be more than enough of a red flag screaming stay away!

        And what about all those other listed ingredients- so many things in there are less likely to be processed via digestion, but rather ushered to the liver for immediate detoxification and expulsion from the body!  Once you exit the world of real foods and enter the realm of chemical additives, preservatives, stabilizers, conditioners, and artificial this and that, you really start begging questions of the "foods" we choose to put into our bodies and their implications in health and disease.  Such substances truly rebuke the notion of "everything in moderation". These are toxic ingredients which should be absolutely avoided like the plague.

        Herein lies the point to this whole post; Cake is not always cake!! This is the case for everything in our food supply in this day and age; very little food isn't processed to some degree, and as clearly shown above, more often than not it is processed to a very large degree.  And calling a food one thing or another doesn't always mean that they will be the same thing. You must always be reading ingredient lists, and constantly questioning the sources of your food, and the quality and characteristics of the ingredients that go into them.  This is the mentality I maintain *at all times* because it applies to EVERYTHING. The oft-repeated concept of eat whole foods, and nothing but whole foods is always your safest bet.

        So next time you are at a birthday party and someone offers you a piece of cake, unless you can actually see the dirty stand-mixer or the cake pans soaking in the sink, you should seriously consider if you want to be putting all that stuff into your body.

        Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article, as I further explore this concept.

        Monday, September 6, 2010

        Investigative Health Report: Dietary Supplements

        For the most part, I am not a big fan of dietary supplements. There are a few documented cases in which they are useful if not necessary when targeted at specific deficiencies and/or conditions, but too often people use them as a fall-back when they should be honing in on their diet, and getting all their nutrient requirements from real, whole food.

        All too often, people expect miracles from many of these things, and they just don't work that way. The supplement world seems to be getting more and more complex too, all promising something or other in regards to your health. You've got vitamins & minerals, herbs, amino acids, isolated derivativeness of obscure compounds in different foods, and of course the endless world of body building and athletic performance supplements; protein, creatine, ZMA etc. It's almost to the point of absurdity if you ask me, especially to think that these things should work so efficaciously. While I am not saying there is no such thing as wise supplementation, there are a few reasons I am weary of blindly diving into the world of supplements.

        For one, it is a practically unregulated industry, and you never really know what they're putting into them. While I don't always side with the FDA, their total absence in this industry seems more worrisome to me in this case. There have been numerous studies and reports that have surfaced detailing different companies' products showing contamination with heavy metals and/or other poisons¹². And this is even aside from the additives that are often standard ingredients, like stearic acid, magnesium stearate, even GMO-soy ingredients, which are questionable at best. There of course are a few trust-able companies, and perhaps something like a good multivitamin from such a company would be an example of wise supplementation.

        ConsumerLab is an organization that is dedicated to evaluating different supplement companies and their products, testing that they both contain everything that is listed on the package, as well as making sure they don't contain anything that isn't listed- such as mercury or arsenic. You have to pay a fee to access their reports, but it's free to click around the site and see their fairly shocking claims that large percentages of supplements don't live up to their claims.

        The other reason I don't like supplements, is that I feel on a certain level it's not good for your body. It seems the best strategies for building health and preventing disease have one major thing in common. This is that we must do what is "natural" for us, which doesn't conflict with our innate healing mechanisms, biological rhythms etc. I feel that taking supplements interferes with this, and it is in no way natural to be getting large amounts of isolated (synthetic?) nutrients. This is especially the case if we are talking about supplements such as "dong quai" or whatever i.e. those obscure herbs/medicinals.

        In a sense, I feel that there are similar issues here as with taking "actual" drugs- addressing symptoms and problems that are extraneous to the actual root causes of ill-health. The aim should be working to build overall health, and provide the optimal environment for the body to heal itself. In more cases than not this would likely be better attained by removing things from people's diets and lifestyle habits e.g. analyzing what it is they are doing that they shouldn't be doing, rather than what supplements they aren't taking. 

        "You have horrible chronic inflammation? Here take this supplement... but it's ok to eat that sugary, glutinous piece of pie in moderation." 

        Hmmm, sounds all too much like the conventional drug-prescribing mentality...

        Lastly, the idea of taking supplements vs. whole foods is just silly. The compounds in multivitamins are just the items we have happened to identify and explain the mode of action. There are potentially thousands of other compounds, vitamins, co-factors, etc that we have yet to identify in foods that all work synergistically, contained in the natural package that is any fruit, vegetable, steak what have you. These are likely all essential and contributive to human nutrition, and to remove any one part might make the entire structure unsturdy.

        There are a few companies that offer "whole-food" vitamins and minerals, in which all of these substances supposedly stay intact in their unique combinations. Garden of Life's "Raw" line of vitamins is a good example of this.

        Here is what you really should do. Any nutritionist would have you do something along these lines. For a few days, write down EVERYTHING you eat. Then use a website such as FitDay or The Daily Plate, and enter all of those things in there. This will give you an excellent, detailed picture of what your diet is like in terms of nutrient density. You can then use something like Nutrition Data's nutrient search tool to look up foods that are higher in any of the vitamins and minerals you may be lacking. Look for the foods that are appealing to you, and start to add some of them to your diet. This is also a great opportunity to look at what you are eating in terms of macronutrient ratios; e.g. how many carbs, protein, different types of fats you are eating. I urge you to explore Nutrition Data- educate yourself on net-inflammation loads and the other various tools they provide on the site. 

        If you really want a back-up plan, go with a whole-food multivitamin from a reputable company. Fish oil is another supplement that has very substantial benefits (though once again ideally you'd just eat more fish). But don't think you can continue eating tons of ice cream, bread, pasta, donuts what have you, and a B complex vitamin is going to suddenly propel you into perfect health. Obviously.

        Saturday, September 4, 2010

        Investigative Health Report: The American Diet, Cholesterol, and Disease

        High cholesterol is indeed something to be concerned about. However, elevated cholesterol in and of itself is NOT the problem, rather, it is an indicator of another problem- likely some other diet/habit/lifestyle factor that is impeding your body's ability to effectively reach "health".  (Too low cholesterol can be just as much of an indicator of something awry as well.) To specifically target lowering cholesterol by taking drugs that drastically interfere with your body's own internal mechanisms just seems imprudent, if not downright dangerous.  It is largely analogous to the idea of "curing" acne by slathering chemicals all over your face; you aren't addressing the inherent problem, you are merely masking the symptoms.  Likewise,  feel that our dietary and pharmaceutical approaches to managing cholesterol are in serious need of re-evaluation.

        Let me first introduce you to Dr. William Davis, author of The Heart Scan Blog and founder of Track Your Plaque.  This guy knows how to reverse all coronary risk factors, atherogenesis etc, he has got cardiovascular disease DOWN.  For years he has been treating people with a regimen of wheat and fructose elimination, and fish oil and niacin supplementation.  He is giving real people real results, everyday.  In this article, Triglycerides and Small LDL: The Odd Couple, he addresses the interaction of diet and cholesterol:

        "Consume any carbohydrate-candy, cookies, whole grain bread-and it turns to sugar within minutes after swallowing. In the liver, sugars are converted to triglycerides, which are then released into the bloodstream as very low-density lipoproteins, or VLDL.
        VLDL particles are triglyceride-rich, commonly 30-60% triglycerides by weight. Because VLDL enters the bloodstream that is crowded with a number of other lipoproteins, such as LDL and HDL, VLDL particles influence the composition of these other particles. VLDL generously contributes triglycerides to LDL and HDL particles.
        Once LDL and HDL particles are enriched in triglycerides, they become the target of an abnormal metabolic pathway that converts them to small LDL particles and small HDL particles. Small LDL particles are much more likely to cause heart disease, since they are more likely to provoke inflammatory reactions and are more oxidation-prone. Small HDL particles are less effective at providing the protective functions, including antioxidant functions."
        Let's consider this, and then look at some facts. As a country, we have increased carbohydrate consumption, and reduced fat intake.  So much for the idea that "fat causes heart disease" that has been the overarching message in this country for the past few decades.  And just look at the increase in consumption of sugars and high fructose corn syrup, and it is certainly no news flash how diabetes rates have soared as well:
        Can you say, yikes?!
        It is of course important to consider the quality of carbohydrates we are consuming as well.  But even as far as the "healthy" foods we are so adamantly told to consume- the whole-wheat and whole-grain products, these can't be bad, right?  Dr. Davis continues:

        In fact, with few exceptions, whole wheat and other grain products increase blood sugar more than any other known food. Yes, the foods we are advised to eat more of, "healthy, whole grains," raise blood sugar higher than many candy bars. (The exceptions are dried powdered starches, like cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch, and tapioca starch. Incidentally, these are the foods used to make most "gluten-free" foods.) So carbohydrates, especially wheat products, also increase triglycerides and VLDL, which thereby increase production of small LDL and small HDL particles."

        Now, let's take a look at the trends in consumption of wheat products:

        You can see consumption has increased rather dramatically over the past decades. Heart disease & other diseases are at all times too. Coincidence? Correlation and not causation? Perhaps... moving along.

        One of my favorite sites is the widely read Whole Health Source run by Stephan Guyenet, PhD in neurobiology. He covers so many interesting topics from health and disease issues, to traditional foods and indigenous diets. In this article, he presents another facet to the cholesterol/diet/heart disease conversation, about oxidized LDL (oxLDL) and cardiac risk:

        "oxLDL is formed when the lipids in LDL particles react with oxygen and break down. This happens specifically to the unsaturated fats in LDL, because saturated fats, by their chemical nature, are very resistant to oxidative damage. Polyunsaturated fats are much more susceptible to oxidative damage than saturated or monounsaturated fats. Linoleic acid (the omega-6 fatty acid found abundantly in industrial seed oils) is the main polyunsaturated fatty acid in LDL.
        oxLDL has turned out to be a very sensitive marker of cardiac risk, surpassing traditional markers like LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in most studies to date. Since the discovery of sensitive assays that detect oxidized LDL drawn directly from patient blood, a number of studies have been published supporting its ability to detect atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), heart attack risk and even the metabolic syndrome. In a large prospective study by Meisinger and colleagues, participants with high oxLDL had a 4.25 higher risk of heart attack than patients with lower oxLDL. oxLDL blew away all other blood lipid markers by nearly a factor of two.
        Regular, non-oxidized LDL has few properties that would make it a suspect in atherosclerosis. It's just a little particle carrying cholesterol and fats from the liver to other organs. As soon as it oxidizes, however, it becomes pro-inflammatory, immunogenic, damaging to the vessel wall, and most importantly, capable of transforming immune cells called macrophages into foam cells, a major constituent of arterial plaque."
        So, what increases the amount of oxLDL in your body?  Well, for one:

        "Dietary linoleic acid increases LDL oxidation."
        Here is a study further illustrating this: Linoleic Acid Increases Lectin-Like Oxidized LDL Receptor-1 (LOX-1) Expression in Human Aortic Endothelial Cells. One of the major conclusions drawn from this scientific study is that:

        "Substantial amounts of data have been accumulated to show that LA is a pro-oxidative and proinflammatory molecule (10–12) that can induce endothelial cell activation and dysfunction."
        So what foods are high sources of linoleic acid (also known as Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat)? Well, first and foremost, all industrial, refined seed and grain oils are definitely at the top of the list. Vegetable oils, soybean oil (more often than not, vegetable oil means soybean oil), safflower, corn, canola, cottonseed, and sunflower oils, and subsequently margarines and commercial mayonnaises should probably be avoided. Grains and grain products are also very high in Omega 6 fats. Here's something scary: look at trends in fats/oil consumption over the past couple decades. even scarier - take a look at soy oil specifically.

        Yeah, this stuff...

        So what fats have the least amounts of linoleic acid? Lard, butter, olive oil, coconut oil- all generally regarded as heart and artery-destroying fats (except olive oil). But look, consumption of animal fats (lard, butter, tallow) has stayed pretty steady if not slightly decreased, despite the rapidly increasing rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc. And while animal fats are demonized for their highly-saturated nature, there is no denying that these are real, whole foods which have sustained cultures for millenia (and all life, ever since animals started eating one another... say a few hundred million years ago?).  They are pretty darn easy to obtain, unlike oils like corn and soy which would be virtually impossible to consume if not for industrial processing and manufacturing.

        So let's re cap. As a country, we have decreased fat consumption, increased carb consumption, increased consumption of sugars, "healthy" grains, and franken-fats. This gives us worsened cholesterol status, elevated triglycerides from sugar and grain consumption, and plenty of oxidation and inflammation from refined industrial vegetable oils. Yet we still largely blame butter and bacon for causing heart disease. So would avoiding all the aforementioned items be the be-all and end-all to beating heart disease? (And complete avoidance would certainly take a fair amount of ingredient nazi-ing and general non compliance) Well I can't be sure exactly. Although I can be sure that eliminating added/refined sugars, minimizing flour consumption, and complete avoidance of industrial refined oils certainly wouldn't be of any detriment to your health...

        Friday, September 3, 2010


        From an Uncle John's bathroom reader:

        "Bacteria are tiny little things, and they can get into places they're not supposed to be with surprising rapidity, where they are happy to procreate until they kill you. This isn't very smart on the part of the bacteria (killing one's host tends to cause the food supply to tap out), but it's not like bacteria have brains, and anyway, they live for about 20 minutes. What do they care?

        In order for bacteria to survive, they have to build a cell wall as they reproduce; antibiotics mess with the assembly process and keep the bacteria from building these walls. The bacteria die, exposed to the elements.

        Human beings, convinced as we are that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, have spent the better part of the last 60 years wantonly misusing antibiotics in lots of dumb ways. We use antibiotics for viral infections, which is pointless. We feed antibiotics to animals who aren't sick to make 'em bigger and fatter. We take antibiotics only until we feel better instead of following the directed medication course (If you feel better, you are better, right?)

        The result is that we've bred some amazingly drug-resistant strains of bacteria. We've got some TB bacteria running around these days that is, in fact, resistant to ever single antibiotic we can throw at it, even the incredibly toxic antibiotics that hurt you as much as they hurt the bug.

        And it's not just TB of course: Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Pneumococcus, heck, all of the really popular coccuses have virulently drug-resistant strains out there. Enterococcus faecalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are just waiting to poison your blood. And here's a thought for you: streptomycin-resistant e.coli has been found in the diapers of today's infants. Thing is, streptomycin hasn't been used to treat much of anything for decades.

        It's evolution, baby. Anyone who doesn't believe in the process is going to be mighty surprised when an ear infection sends them to the morgue. But what can I do about it, you ask? Well, for one, stop using that stupid antibacterial soap. You're just making things worse, you know."