Olive Oil or Meat?

You might have seen this headline touting the efficacy of the Mediterranean Diet over the low-fat diet. Not really a surprise to those of us eating an all-meat diet but you may wonder why it is that we don’t give up these delicious steaks and ribs and just opt for some olive oil on salad. Well, they didn’t compare the Mediterranean diet against zero-carb….

Researchers led by Dr. Ramón Estruch, from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, put the Mediterranean diet to the test against a low-fat diet. They followed participants for five years to track rates of heart attack, stroke and heart-disease-related death. After nearly five years, the results were so striking for one group that the study was stopped early, according to research published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Those who ate diets high in extra virgin olive oil and nuts had a 3 in 10 (30%) lower risk of death by heart disease.

We learned in Good Calories, Bad Calories, that the Mediterranean diet has always suffered from the fact that no one really understood why or how it worked. The consensus was that it was “heart healthy” because of the effect of monounsaturated fats. However, there were two very expensive clinical trials in the 1990′s, the Lydon Diet Heart Trial and the GSSI-Prevenzion Trial. The trials showed that the olive oil was effective but not because of any effect on the lipid profile. The other problem was that all of the Mediterranean does not benefit from this diet despite their high consumption of olive oil. It only works in Crete and Corfu, but not Rome and Barcelona. In Crete and Corfu, they happen to eat the most animal products along with their olive oil.

You, dear reader, should understand that the principle fat in animal products, is not unsaturated fat. It’s actually monounsaturated fat, — the very fat that is found in olive oil. Yes, it’s true. A porterhouse steak, lard or bacon would provide the same health benefit as long as one does not consume bread and potatoes along with it. Fifty-one percent of the fat in a steak is monounsaturated, with 90 percent of that being oleic acid. Look it up and see for yourself.

Don’t get lost in “risk” and do not let your attention waiver from carbohydrates. If you restrict carbohydrates and eat foods high in fat, you will lower heart disease risk. It’s really that simple.

Posted on March 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm by Charles · Permalink · One Comment
In: Diet, Heart Disease

Fast Food and Metabolic Syndrome

There is yet another group of researchers trying their best to demonstrate how bad fast food is. If you’re tempted to roll your eyes at this point, I could hardly blame you. This is something that most of us “know” even though we really don’t have a whole lot of proof in the form of studies and tests because they are often contradictory or do not go far enough. If you’ve been reading here for the past five years you already understand why this connection is so difficult to make. It’s like the contradictory cover on the book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” It has a piece of toast with butter. Prior to reading the book, you might conclude that the butter is the bad calories and the bread is the good but you would be mistaken.

On the informative site, Medpagetoday, I saw an article that concluded that burgers, fries, and diet soda increased a person’s risk for metabolic syndrome by twenty-five percent. Of course, all that really says is that if four people consume burgers, fries and diet soda, one of them will be at risk for metabolic syndrome.

Basically, the researchers looked at 3,782 of the participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. They reported that the participants had three or more of the risk factors that are used to define metabolic syndrome after eating the typical Western diet. Dr. Lyn Steffen and her colleagues reported online in Circulation, a Journal of the American Heart Association. These participants self-reported that they consumed burgers, fries, and diet soda.

An unexpected finding was that consuming a prudent diet (i.e. one that had a high concentration of fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and low-fat dairy products did not reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. “We had expected to see a benefit because we have seen a beneficial relationship in other studies,” Dr. Steffens said.

It appears that one is no better off eating the “prudent diet” then they would be eating burgers, fries and diet soda.

However, I recall that there was a doctor who used fast food to cure diabetes. This was one of the early stories I read that changed my life. Dr. Mary Vernon has operated a clinic in Lawrence, Kansas where she tells her patients that fast food is okay. However, there is one caveat: At the McDonald’s at 6th and Wakarusa in Lawrence, Kansas, the employees have to fill some unusual orders, like when her patients stride in and ask for a double cheeseburger — hold the bun. Dr. Vernon saw unprecedented success helping diabetics reverse their Type 2 diabetes by identifying and avoiding carbohydrates. Most think it’s impossible to remove carbohydrates but it actually works. (Read there for why.)

Unfortunately, Dr. Vernon has gotten herself in a bit of trouble recently but hopefully this will not detract from the great work that she was doing helping her patients reverse diabetes.

The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with burgers as long as you hold the bun. Avoid the french fries and the diet soda and drink water. If you can do that, you can enjoy burgers for the rest of your life.

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 10:22 am by Charles · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Diabetes, Diet, Insulin, Obesity

Train the Way you Race!

Last weekend, I participated in the Rock-n-Roll New Orleans half marathon. I completed the race in a time of one hour and thirty-nine minutes. It was far from my best race, but a good start to the season after a few weeks of base mileage. Prior to the race, runners attend a Health and Fitness Expo where vendors sell running-related materials such as food, clothing, fitness gear, shoes, etc. One of the publications was put out by the Competitor Group, who is the owner of the Rock-n-Roll Marathon Series.

The magazine included several fitness tips and one of them retold a story of a person attempting to run a half marathon. The person had recently began the Atkins diet. She lost five pounds within two weeks of the race. The well-meaning observer advised the athlete to eat some carbohydrate for energy even though the woman was doing well on her diet. The woman did not want to mess with her dieting success and ignored the advice. She had a bad race due to low energy. The advice, therefore, was to make sure that you train the way you race. In other words, if you were eating carbohydrates during your training, you should continue to eat them through your race. The writer did not make the same advice regarding the low-carb diet, he just left the issue out there. The article was designed to warn others against a low-carb diet period; not just before a race. Instead, they encourage runners to “carb load.” However, they do recognize that there are real benefits to a low carb diet but they don’t think those benefits are consistent with running.

My advice might have been similar. When undertaking carb restriction, one must take into account the time for ketoadaptation. That is, the period where the body adjusts to using ketones as opposed to constant disposing of triglyceride which happens to those who eat the Standard American Diet. This adaptation period can last anywhere from two weeks to two omnths. It truly varies. I would not schedule a race for a couple of months. There are many studies out there on endurance cyclists and runners where they showed that after this period, the athlete can reproduce the same performances (or exceed them). For more on this, and the correct nutrition for athletes, read this piece by Dr. Barry Groves.

Personally, I do not eat prior to a race nor do I drink during the race. I run through all of the water stops. I do drink a bottle or two afterwards but that’s it. I typically eat the night before and stop drinking once I go to bed and I don’t have another drink until after the race. The beauty of this is that I never need to stand in line for porta-potties nor do I have to stop during races. The key is that I train in this manner. Therefore, I see no need to change anything on race day.

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm by Charles · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Diet, Exercise, Running

Save our Troops!

The article has been available since August of 2012 but I missed it for some reason. The men and women of arguably the greatest fighting force on earth are killing themselves in unprecedented numbers, at least according to the statistics kept.

“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army. And it’s an enemy that’s killing not just Soldiers, but tens of thousands of Americans every year. That said, I do believe suicide is preventable. To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills.”

- Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, in a written statement.

Does this really require a “sophisticated solution”? With all due respect to General Austin, I think there is a much simpler solution to this issue. The sad part is that something similar to my approach was tried before but for a different reason. If we go back to the fur trade and the beginnings of life in North America, we find that fat was revered among the native Americans and used in pemmican as an emergency ration. A common observation was that both natives and traders could travel long distances with just pemmican for food. It kept them in top form and they were able to perform amazing feats of endurance fueled by this remarkable food ration. The US Army wanted to use it for its forward-deployed troops in combat situations because it was lightweight and very nutritious. However, as sugar consumption increased, the love of fats decreased. A Quartermaster General report, published in 1931 states that,

“Sugar, once a luxury in the army, now occupies a most important place among the components of the ration. In the Revolutionary War, before its value as an article of food was recognized, and when it was considered a luxury by both soldier and civilian alike, sugar formed no part of the ration of the Continental soldier. In fact, it was not until 1838 that sugar made its first appearance on the authorized rations of the soldiers, and we find in tables issued at that time a daily allowance of 1.62 ounces of sugar per man. This allowance was maintained without change until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1860, at which time it was increased to 2.4 ounces per day. The next increase came with the Spanish-American war in 1898, at which time the daily allowance for a soldier was increased to 3.2 ounces. This allowance was maintained at practically the same level until the outbreak of the World War in 1917, when it was increased, for troops serving in the war zone, to 4 ounces a day per man, and in addition each soldier was allowed one-half pound of candy every ten days. Troops at home during this period, however, were allowed no increase in sugar, but received the 3.2 ounces per day authorized in 1898, and no allowance of candy. Shortly after the World War the sugar ration was increased for all troops, regardless of the place they were serving, to four ounces a day, at the level where it now stands. In addition, many other components containing sugar have been added to the ration. The sugar ration of World War II remained as in World War I.”The Fat of the Land: Not By Bread Alone, Stefansson at 135.

All the while this was happening within the Army, we have evidence of Stefansson who lived among the Inuit of Coronation Gulf. The Inuit were considered by observers to be the “happiest people on earth” despite living in what appeared to be deplorable conditions. This prompted one person to opine that perhaps they were so happy because they were unaware of how dreadful their lot really was. The Inuit (at least this particular group) ate no carbohydrates and did not regard them as food. Instead they subsisted on a mostly fatty meat diet. There was no depression or mental illness to speak of and no cancer, diabetes or heart disease either.
Similar results were seen among the native Americans of the Plains and many other cultures around the world. Despite the experience gained through Antarctic expeditions by US Navy Admiral Peary, Sir Ernest Shackleton, the native American of the Plains, the Inuit of the Arctic, and the inhabitants of the ultra-hot and muggy Central America, there was a controversy within the Army in 1943 as to whether pemmican (a high-fat food) should be used as a military ration, or as an element in one. The chief argument against its use, except for the allegation that soldiers would not like it, was that, because of a high fat content, it was not an all-climate ration but one useful only in cold weather, thus good only half the year in the temperate zone and no good at all in the tropics. As you can imagine, this was based mostly on idle speculation similar to what our so-called experts use today.

Instead, the Army banked on the low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate diet suggested by Ancel Keys and the experts of his day. This, despite the evidence of the Russell Sage All-Meat trial held in the 1920′s in Bellevue where two men were super-healthy living on an all-meat diet for a year and examined by doctors and scientists.

Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power fame wrote a wonderful article about Ancel Keys’s starvation experiments on conscientious objectors while trying to develop suitable military rations. These ultimately produced the “K-Rations” that were used until recently by the US Army. Once the calories were lowered and the diet essentially changed to one of 70 percent carbohydrates, the mental condition of the inmates changed such that some men were cutting off body parts related to the severe depression that they underwent. The reader should be aware that this same diet is recommended today although they added some 300-400 calories in an attempt to escape the mental instability experienced by the study subjects. You can be the judge as to whether or not that approach was successful. In the same article, Dr. Eades showed what happened to a group of people (under John Yudkin) who ate the same amount of calories, yet the carbohydrates were restricted and the fat and protein intake was reversed. This group were optimistic and voluntarily lowered their calories when asked and sufferred no ill effects.

This is significant when you look at what Dr. Barry Groves found when he reviewed the studies dealing with low-cholesterol diets. “A large study at the Cholesterol Center, Jewish Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio aimed to assess the relation between cholesterol levels and affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia disorder. Cholesterol concentrations below 4.16 mmol/L (160 mg/dL) were much more common in patients with affective disorders. When paired with healthy people of a similar sex and age, patients with affective disorders had much lower total cholesterol, LDL and HDL. Cholesterol levels in patients hospitalized with affective disorders was also markedly lower. Dr M Law added confirmation two years later. He writes: ‘treating depression has been shown to increase serum cholesterol concentration. . . . Low seratonin concentrations (which accompany and may cause depression) are, not surprisingly, also associated with low cholesterol, people who attempt suicide have low serum cholesterol concentrations, . . . men with declining serum cholesterol concentrations are particularly likely to commit suicide.”

Dr. Groves writes that “Depression is the main psychiatric illness leading to suicide and there is an observed increase in suicides among those undertaking cholesterol-lowering dietary regimes. In 1992, Dr H Engleberg proposed a hypothesis to explain this. He suggested that decreases in blood cholesterol affected the balance of the metabolism of fats within the brain and that this could have profound effects on brain function. He showed that low blood cholesterol was found in aggressive people and those with antisocial personality. These averaged typically 5.04 mmol/L (194 mg/dL). Mental patients with high blood cholesterol (7.55mmol/L) were less regressed and withdrawn than those with lower (4.80mmol/L). And a French study concluded: ‘Both low serum cholesterol concentration and declining cholesterol concentration were associated with increased risk of death from suicide in men.”

There are many other such studies.

“There is also a large number of clinical studies showing that total cholesterol levels below 4.7 mmol/L (180 mg/dL) are associated with depression, accidents, suicide, homicide, antisocial personality disorder in criminals and Army veterans, cocaine and heroin addicts. It is also associated with high relapse rates after detoxification and rehabilitation.”

I do indeed agree with General Austin when he says that suicides are preventable. I believe it starts with a proper diet. As long as our experts continue to persist without evidence, that we need to lower our cholesterol and abstain from fats and meats which the body needs for its well-being, physical and mental health, I’m afraid the trend may continue. It takes a lot more than counseling. The Army and the nation should use its considerable influence to learn about and then educate others on what is a healthy diet. It begins and ends with carbohydrate restriction.

Posted on February 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm by Charles · Permalink · One Comment
In: Cholesterol, Depression, Pemmican, Populations, Stroke

Coca Cola and Lance Armstrong

I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but notice the irony of these two entities deciding to “come out” as it were. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for one second believe that Coca-Cola lies as much as Lance Armstrong but there are still some interesting similarities although I don’t blame Coke exclusively for their issues. Both operated in an environment where “everyone was doing it.” Indeed, Lance’s competitors were doping as well, although apparently not as effectively. Coca-Cola isn’t the only one making sugary drinks. And not only that, when you factor in the “experts” that continue to preach the religion of moderation/energy balance, etc; Coca-Cola continues to have an excuse.

The experts put the blame squarely on you. The reason you are fat and sick is because you fail to consume products like Coca-Cola in moderation. You are gluttonous and slothful. They said, and I quote:

“beating obesity will take action by all of us, based on one simple, common-sense fact: All calories count, no matter where they come from. … And if you eat and drink more calories than you burn off, you’ll gain weight.”

You should be insulted. But you’re not because you actually believe this. You believe that you’re a glutton and a sloth. Perhaps you earn too much money in this blessed America and this is a sign of your excess. But you’re still struggling with the uncomfortable truth that you can’t explain why obesity is found predominantly among the poor. Surely, they don’t make as much money as you do, yet they tend to be fatter than you. Oh, so you say it’s about the fact that poor neighborhoods lack access to vegetables? They only have convenience stores full of sugary drinks. But you have access to better foods yet you’re just as fat and sick. Doesn’t quite add up, now does it? Is a calorie really just a calorie? Does your body react the same way by eating a diet of meat exclusively as it does by eating a diet of sweets exclusively? Try that out. Eat meat and drink water for five days and then eat bread and sweets for five days. Let’s talk afterwards.

Despite the inconsistencies, you and everyone around you continued to get fat for years and the food and beverage industries continued to blame you. At some point, they had an attack of conscience and all of a sudden they want to do their part to help fight obesity that they directly contributed to. How? By making smaller bottles of sugary drinks that cost nearly as much as the full-sized versions. Now, their arrogance knows no bounds. You are no longer smart enough to make these decisions. You need them to provide the correct portion size. If you follow their well-meaning recommendations, you will fix your problem and theirs as well. McDonald’s had this issue too and they solved it by discontinuing super-sized meals. The soft drink manufacturers didn’t care as long as they sold you that reduced-size meal with one of their soft drinks. I wonder how much McDonald’s would have impacted your health without the sugary drinks? The burger pretty much stayed the same as it was when I was a kid. But the size of the fries and drinks went up. They certainly weren’t urging you to skip the sugary drink and have a glass of water instead. Does anyone really believe that eating a diet of reduced junk food will result in good health? It may be slightly better but all you’ll do is increase your anger because your cravings will drive you crazy. How about less junk food and more gym work? We already see the effects of that every January. Millions armed with their New Year’s resolutions join gyms only to abandon those plans within a month or two.

How about Armstrong? Do you think that he didn’t feel the weight of his lies coming down upon his head? Why did he decide to talk now? He gambled and figured that since the public helped create the problem, they wouldn’t mind him coming forward to help the public solve it. And because he’s done so much for the public, he figured you would give him a pass. Indeed, many of you have. The soft drink companies also contribute large sums of money to charity and obesity prevention yet they continue to sell the drug. After years of denial of having any part in obesity, now they want to admit just a passive role in it. I suppose if organized crime builds parks and schools, we should turn a blind eye to it as well.

Kind of sounds like Lance, doesn’t it? Oprah told us that “he was less than candid” and perhaps he didn’t admit to everything. He raised large sums of money and therefore we shouldn’t care if he doped in a few races. Coca-Cola has not admittted everything either and they raise large sums of money for good causes. How much is your health and integrity worth? As Dr. Lustig wrote, “Scientific evidence now supports the concept that our glut of sugar — in particular, the molecule fructose, which is what makes sugar sweet — can trigger processes that lead to the metabolic syndrome.

These include:

– Hypertension — fructose increases uric acid, which raises blood pressure.

– High triglycerides and insulin resistance through synthesis of fat in the liver.

– Diabetes via increased liver glucose production combined with insulin resistance.

– The aging process, due to damage to lipids, proteins and DNA through binding of fructose to these molecules.

It can be argued that fructose exerts toxic effects on the liver similar to those of alcohol. Furthermore, sugar, like alcohol, has a clear potential for abuse.

Sugar acts on the brain to encourage subsequent intake by dampening the suppression of the hunger hormone ghrelin. It also interferes with the hormone leptin, which helps produce a feeling of satiety and reduces dopamine signaling in the brain’s reward center, thereby reducing the pleasure derived from food.

The majority of foods are laced with added sugar, thus effectively co-opting your choice. Where there’s no choice, how can there be personal responsibility?”

Reducing sugar consumption will undoubtedly help but it has to be reduced to a level low enough achieve any benefit. For many people, that threshold will be extremely low and that’s why we’re here. I’m not urging the government to step in and block your ability to enjoy Coca-Cola or to wear LiveStrong bracelets. I’m appealing to you to make those choices for your health and your integrity. Restrict your consumption of sugar and support other cancer agencies that don’t cheat in order to make a profit. That sends the clearest message.

Posted on January 15, 2013 at 9:46 am by Charles · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Diet, Disease, Hypertension, Hypoglycemia, Insulin, Sugar

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