What Religion Can Learn from ZC

There were several interesting topics that I could have written about today. I enjoyed the little video on CNN where Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews a study author who shows the effects of high sugar consumption even in healthy subjects. Most of the time, people study sick people and they argue that sugar made them that way. In this case, they looked at healthy people and in two weeks’s time, they increased their risk factors for chronic disease at an alarming rate. That’s interesting because many people think metabolic disease is only something sick folks should worry about. This adds fuel to my fire that ZC is for everyone, not just those of us whom it “works” for.

But as my title suggests, I’ve found something more interesting. Alain de Botton wrote a piece entitled, “What atheists can learn from religion.” There, he argues that it must be possible to remain a committed atheist and nevertheless to find religions sporadically useful, interesting and consoling — and be curious as to the possibilities of importing certain of their ideas and practices into the secular realm. For example, he wrote, “One can be left cold by the doctrines of the Christian Trinity and the Buddhist Fivefold Path and yet at the same time be interested in the ways in which religions deliver sermons, promote morality, engender a spirit of community, make use of art and architecture, inspire travels, train minds and encourage gratitude at the beauty of spring. In a world beset by fundamentalists of believing and secular varieties, it must be possible to balance a rejection of religious faith with a selective reverence for religious rituals and concepts.”

As I accompanied my significant other to church yesterday, I thought on many of these very issues. The speaker gave a very engaging message delivered in the style that I grew up with. However, I couldn’t help but wonder who was really listening to this message and what effect beyond emotion it would have. By listening, I mean “objectively listening.” Religion is a faith-based exercise. By definition, it’s a subjective message and experience. Objectivists need not apply because no one is interested in the history or science surrounding religious claims.

For example, yesterday was Palm Sunday. This supposedly marks the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem riding on a donkey and being assailed by palm branches. To mark the occasion, they even brought out “palms” which I had only seen among the 4 species of the Jewish lulav. The problem with all of this is that the only reason Jewish people at the time of Jesus would have been holding palms would be during the biblical Feast of Tabernacles, which most Christians probably have no concept of despite the fact that the festival is described in the Christian bible. That festival happens in the fall. Jesus supposedly experienced his “passion” during the events leading up to Passover, depending on which one of the “synoptic” gospels you fancy. Passover is definitely in the spring. Neither Passover or Tabernacles are about forgiveness of sin even though the concept is loosely incorporated. They both commemorate the exodus from Egypt in terms of the structures they lived in and the sparing of the Jewish firstborn. Now, you might argue that this is all sympbolic in Christianity but it makes very little sense if it supposedly completes or “fulfills” the Jewish version. I would expect a Jewish person to find this whole episode highly offensive. I don’t buy Judaism either, but I can certainly understand their position.

However, religion has a unique ability to serve “two central needs which continue to this day and which secular society has not been able to solve with any particular skill: firstly, the need to live together in communities in harmony, despite our deeply rooted selfish and violent impulses. And secondly, the need to cope with terrifying degrees of pain which arise from our vulnerability to professional failure, to troubled relationships, to the death of loved ones and to our decay and demise.”

Religion’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness in my opinion. Religion can teach the ability to cope with these “terrifying degrees of pain” but it does so at a great cost. It encourages people to abandon their greatest tool, the logical mind. The mind is the very thing that separates us from the animal. Religion teaches us to deal with the symbolic rather than the actual. It’s much easier to live a life of symbolism and to comparmentalize stressors in such a way that the harsh reality is stripped down to something we can more easily deal with. However, when most of life becomes sympbolic then everything becomes gray and subject to interpretation. Religion encourages us to accept ourselves as “flawed” or born in sin. Therefore, we don’t have to expect too much of ourselves since we were born defective to begin with. Religion takes advantage of the fact that we were born ignorant and that we don’t live so long. It teaches man to doubt himself and it erodes his self-esteem, one of his most important virtues. This causes even simple words to lose their meaning and the lessons of history become nothing more than fairy tales. Reality must remain reality. The letter “A must always equal A,” as Ayn Rand so artfully put it. For all the good that religions have contributed, we can never forget the atrocities performed in its name: the Crusades, the Holocaust, the forced conversions, the middle or “dark” ages, Marx, Socialism, and 9/11 to name a few.

So what does all of this have to do with ZC? Eating ZC is all about reality. The reality is that our bodies were not designed to process carbohydrates. When you splurge on that desert or that sugary drink, you must do it with the full knowledge of what it entails. We adapted to handle a very small amount of sugar (less than 70 pounds per year) but it is very small indeed. No amount of prayer or faith is going to allow you to safely exceed that threshold without damaging yourself in a very real way even if you can’t see it without tests.

By the same token, no amount of prayer or faith is going to reverse chronic disease. However, you have the power to reverse it or at least lessen its impact if you know what to do. As the little video link above shows you, there are simple tests that you can perform which will demonstrate clearly what happens when you enjoy sugary drinks and overload your body with sugar, even though the fattening process hasn’t set in. That knowledge should affect your behavior. If you’re overweight, you’ve been given a heavenly sign in your body that you need to make a lifestyle change. No amount of prayer or faith is going to make that go away. You can consider yourself fortunate that you only got fat and that you did not immediately manifest cancer, diabetes or heart disease. All are merely symptoms of metabolic disease which gave rise to the factors that led to what symptom you developed. You must change your eating and lifestyle habits to make that go away. It’s not with Jillian Michaels; it’s with meat and water plus your own mind. If you need community and support, join our Forum. But you’ll have to be honest with yourself. You can tell me anything but to your own self, you must be true. When your body reacts positively to this way of eating you must follow its lead and regain your health. If you choose not to, despite your body reaction, then you must do so fully aware of what you’re doing to yourself. You cannot blame dumb luck or the devil.

ZC like life, requires a person to stay within the confines of reality. I admit freely that there is much about the world that I don’t understand but I’m okay with that. I would much rather trust my own experiences and the limitations of my own mind and body over the unknown whims of the unseen phantoms (or their adherants) of some other world I have no knowledge of.

In the words of that great fictitious character, John Galt, “I am therefore I think!”

So that begs the question, why did I go to church? Because I like the way they deliver a sermon and it’s important to someone else in my life who happens to be important to me. I also enjoy the music. Because others believe a thing to be true, that doesn’t affect my own perception. For all I know they could be right but because I don’t know, I would rather trust my own judgment of the facts. Is it because I’m smarter? Absolutely not because I’ve already professed ignorance on the topic. It’s precisely because I am less enlightened that I choose to ignore their claims and rather rely on my own limited education and experience to guide my choices. When I die, I will do so knowing that I did all I could to make the best choices possible in this life for myself and I will be content.

I enjoy the good feeling that religion engenders and it has a way of making people behave for a few hours. The same can be said for good food, wine and a great desert. But even so, the letter A must remain A and until that changes, I will have to restrict my consumption of religion and carbohydrates.

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 9:35 am by Charles · Permalink · One Comment
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Remembering my Dad

I write quite a bit in this space about the diseases of civilization. I refer to them all as symptoms of the metabolic disorder called Syndrome X or metabolic syndrome. As you know, this is the collection of diseases that share a common cause and treatment. They continually baffle the medical profession mostly due to specialization. If medical professionals agree that these diseases are all related, they have a hard time showing it except for the similar preventive measures they prescribe, which do little good. Despite our best prevention efforts, it almost seems like bad luck to get one of these “symptoms.”

Unfortunately, I lost my father to esophageal cancer. Yes, he was a smoker for much of his life but how many people do you know who smoked their entire lives yet never succumbed to esophageal cancer? Furthermore, how many people do you know who never smoked yet contacted lung cancer from second-hand smoke? If you know any, then you also know that you and many others have been around second-hand smoke yet you will not get lung cancer or possibly any other. So it’s clear that we need to understand the disease a little better and I’m hopeful that those working on the solution will be successful. There is obviously another factor that determines whether one gets cancer or not.

Personally, I believe that diet plays the biggest part, obviously, and whether or not one overeats on carbohydrates makes a person more susceptible to the diseases of civilization than another. It’s clear that people in remote populations that do not eat our Western diet have no incidence of cancer. Cancer doesn’t just affect the old but it also affects young people each and every day.

Yesterday, I ran in a 10k race where the proceeds benefited colon cancer. I have also signed up for the 2012 Philadelphia Broad Street 10-Mile Run where I will run to benefit the American Cancer Society. I’m running this entire year in honor of my father who died late last year. I will wear a blue singlet in all my races to remember him. I have an American Cancer Society-supplied one that I will wear on May 6th at the Broad Street run, but the other races will feature the plain blue one.

I’m asking for your help to support my fundraising efforts. I’m hoping that with eating properly and some good research, that one day some scientists will join the medical community and figure this thing out once and for all. As with most things, it takes money. So please, if you can spare a couple of bucks, I would be very appreciative, along with cancer victims and surivors all over.

Posted on March 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm by Charles · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Red Meat Shortens Life Span

The same group that basically handicapped obesity research in the United States after World War II is at it again. Fred Stare and his band of brothers and sisters at Harvard have been the spokespersons for anything related to obesity. They wanted to make a name for themselves and simply discarded all of the work regarding the alternative hypothesis to obesity that was going on in Europe during the 1940s and 50s. Gary Taubes, in Good Calories, Bad Calories reported how these individuals had the work of Hugo Rony and others who effectively singled out carbohydrates as the cause of chronic disease. All they had to do was translate these works into English and then shout them from the rooftops. Instead, they came up with the “eat less, move more” nonsense that continues to plague us to this very day.

Every time there has been an interview or a big report written about obesity, you will find one of Fred Stare’s cronies. Obesity research was reinvented in the United States after World War II in the 1950s and early 1960s. The National Institutes of Health began to initially provide money for research during this time. These men all came out of the Northeastern academic corridor, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Rockefeller, the University of Pennsylvania, and they all knew each other. If you weren’t in the club, you had little influence. These individuals became the obesity field’s “leading authorities,” according to the newspapers. They hosted the conferences, edited the textbooks, chaired the committees, and determined research priorities.

By the end of the 1970s, they determined what clinicians and researchers in the field would come to believe, at least in the United States. When McGovern’s committee held its post-facto hearings in February 1977 to address Dietary Goals for Americans, only members of this club testified on obesity, and they all embraced the committee’s recommendation of a national diet richer in carbohydrates and poorer in fat. Van Itallie testified that he was unaware of any research to support their opinions: “Thus, what I am saying is an assumption rather than a statement of established fact.”

They are at it again. Harvard researchers used data from two long-running studies of health professionals. The researchers tracked the diets of more than 121,000 middle-aged men and women for up to 28 years. Roughly 20% of the participants died during that period.

On average, each additional serving of red meat the participants ate per day was associated with a 13% higher risk of dying during the study. Processed red meat products — such as hot dogs, bacon, and salami — appeared to be even more dangerous: Each additional daily serving was associated with a 20% higher risk of dying.

Based on these findings, the researchers estimate that substituting one daily serving of red meat with fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, whole grains, or low-fat dairy products would reduce the risk of dying in this stage of life by 7% to 19%. If everyone in the study had slashed their average red-meat intake to less than half a serving per day, the researchers say, 9% of deaths among men and 8% of deaths among women could have been prevented.

It takes big numbers to make claims in a way that could be considered meaningful by the unsuspecting public. If you just read the above without giving it much thought, it would be easy to conclude that red meat must be the problem. Consider that we were dealing with 120,000 people to begin with. Let’s simplify a little bit and bring that down to say, 120 people. We were told that 20% of those people died during the study. We’re not told what those people died of, just that they died. If they were to tell us how they died, then we could really understand why red meat wasn’t the culprit, but for now, let’s suppose that they died in the way we were led to believe. That would be 24 out of 120 people. We’re talking about risk here and not actual death. So out of the 24 people, if 10% of these people ate less red meat, then perhaps they could have lived longer. So we’re talking about 2 people out of 120, or roughly 200 people out of 120,000.

If red meat is so awful, why only 200 people out of this whole group? Surely it should have been more. After all, we’re undergoing an obesity epidemic which means that 1 out of every 5 people is overweight and unhealthy. That correlates very nicely with the 20 percent supposedly found in this study, which is why it merits recognition on CNN. But are we to believe that this is all these folks ate? At best, this study would show that some combination of red meat and everything else these folks ate in life could be responsible for their untimely demise. They don’t claim that red meat was the cause, but they claim that their findings suggest the notion.

They claim that they don’t want everyone to be vegetarians but they don’t discount the idea either. They always leave the impression that vegetarianism must be the healthier way to eat despite any real evidence to support the impression. They further claim that eating meat raises cholesterol (which it does but not necessarily in an unhealthy way) and the preparation of meat causes carcinogens, which also hasn’t been proved to cause cancer. And they use one of my personal favorites, the idea that these meats contain additives which they believe to be harmful. Whenever a scientist starts getting into what they believe, it’s time to run for cover.

Fortunately, there is someone from Sweden trying to provide the voice of reason, although his comments are inserted at the end of the article. He brings up our heavy reliance on sugar and grain and that this is more likely to be the source of our troubles and not so much red meat. Indeed, we offset the balance of Omega 3 and 6 by eating baked goods that raise your Omega 6. In fact, most people don’t eat a lot of meat. If they do, they always eat meat with carbohydrates. Rarely do we discover a person who eats a diet of only red meat. That would be considered unhealthy. Not because it’s based on evidence, but because it’s based on belief by the holy community of Harvard Public Health.

When your belief system has been invoked, it becomes difficult to pay attention to evidence such as the fact that the dead also happened to be heavier, less physically active, and more likely to smoke and drink alcohol than their peers. The researchers claim that they accounted for these factors but let’s think about this for a moment: Do you really believe that someone sitting around on the couch smoking and drinking would be as healthy as active non-smokers simply because they chose not to eat red meat? The researchers argue that 2 people in 120 could have possibly pulled that off. Is that significant enough to indict red meat for an entire population? It must have been a slow day at the CNN newsroom.

And that brings us back to the point I made earlier. The study does not account for why these people died. It only mentions 200 people who died of various causes who also happened to eat more red meat than the other people. All that shows is perhaps the additional red meat combined with everything else they ate meant that they were more likely to die but not necessarily because of red meat. This is nothing more than a scare tactic by the same people who have used these tactics for the past 60 years.

Vegetarians who eat sweets are just as likely, if not more so, to get heart disease and all the other diseases of civilization. The latest statistics suggest that 1 in 3 die of cancer and it’s the biggest killer followed closely by heart disease. I’ve presented studies on this website that suggest that carbohydrates are responsible for both. Yet, this little study is supposed to change your mind and it will if you choose not to think about it. The risk is the same for anyone who consumes more than 70 pounds of sugar per year.

I’ll end this piece with a quote from Taubes from the epilogue of his book:

This is an example of how science works. Scientists identify outstanding questions or they propose hypotheses and then conduct experiments to answer the questions or refute them regardless of how obviously true they might be. If people make assertions without the empirical evidence to defend them, they are vigorously rebuked. In science, progress is made only by first establishing whether one’s predecessors “have erred or have stopped before tracking down the implications of their results or have passed over their work leaving what is there to be seen by the fresh eye of another.” This teaches that each new claim to knowledge has to be picked apart and appraised. The shortcomings have to be established unequivocally before what we know is really so and what we don’t. “This unending exchange of critical judgment, of praise and punishment, is developed in science to a degree that makes the monitoring of children’s behavior by their parents seem little more than child’s play.”

This institutionalized vigilance is nowhere to be found in the study of nutrition, chronic disease and obesity. It has not been there for decades. It is difficult to use the term “scientist” to describe those individuals who work in these disciplines and indeed, Gary Taubes actively avoided doing so in his book. It’s simply debatable whether what these individuals have practiced for fifty years and whether the culture they have created can reasonably be described as science as most working philosophers of science would characterize it. Individuals in these disciplines think of themselves as scientists and they use the terminology of science and they certainly borrow the authority of science to communicate their beliefs to the general public but “the results of their enterprise do not add up to science as we know it.”

Posted on March 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm by Charles · Permalink · One Comment
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When a Heart Surgeon Speaks…

You, Dear Reader, should listen. This may very well be the piece of reading that saves your life.

I’ve written in this space many times about the dangers of carbohydrates and their ability to kill the body. I told you about insulin and the inflammation it causes. It’s not red meat that clogs your arteries. It’s carbohydrates. We don’t get fat due to excessive calories. We get fat because of inflammation. What causes inflammation? Insulin and its effects on the body. The problem is too much insulin, not too many calories. Don’t even think about exercise. Exercise might buy you some time but if you’re eating carbohydrates, it’s only a matter of time. Exercise cannot and will not reverse the effects of insulin. It will merely prolong them.

Do yourself a favor and click the link above. Read what Dr. Dwight Lundell, M.D. has to say about arteries and inflammation. He has looked into thousands of arteries and knows precisely the mechanism for heart disease. After you read it, I encourage you to get a copy to anyone you care about.

Have a great weekend!

Posted on March 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm by Charles · Permalink · 2 Comments
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The Vegan Prodigal

Every now and then I read an article that just makes me smile. This one did the trick. Here is the story of John Nicholson, who returned from his vegan ways to embrace the wisdom of his grandmother. The new diet is not ZC however the same principles are involved. He significantly cut his carbohydrate intake and ate animal products. He particularly removed breads and starches from his diet although his rationale concerning sedentariness (as the reason to avoid carbohydrates) is flawed. Nevertheless, Mr. Nicholson lost a good deal of weight, reversed several troubling health issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even regained some libido. Hard to argue with that!

He also makes a point similar to those I have been making in this space for the past few years. There is no connection between the cholesterol in our blood and the cholesterol that we eat. I argue the same is true regarding dietary fat. The fat we eat has nothing to do with the fat in our bloodstream and in fat tissue. In fact, if you switch to a high-fat diet and avoid carbohyrdrates, there will no longer be a connection between food intake and fattening. You can eat all the meat you want and you will have great difficulty increasing your weight, although it is possible but only so much.

Several things stood out to me like the fact that after only 24 hours, this man began to feel relief. This quite particularly resonated with me because it describes my experience:

Twenty-four hours after eating meat again, all my IBS symptoms had gone. As the weeks and months passed, every aspect of my health improved dramatically. I became leaner, shedding body fat and becoming stronger and fitter. My headaches went away, never to return. Even my libido increased.
It felt like being young again, like coming back to life. But though I felt energised, I was also furious.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2105132/Damn-low-fat-diet-How-reformed-vegan-John-Nicholson-gorges-foods-granny-enjoyed–felt-better.html#ixzz1nDlGULnH

I remember as a child growing up, I ate meat and vegetables plus the occasional bread. Some in my family liked to have bread with every meal but not me. We didn’t have sweets very often although my grandmother made up for the lack of sweets when I visited her on
Sundays. When I got married, my new wife made dinners with pasta, breads, cheeses, etc., which were rare in my diet. I enjoyed these foods immensely but they did not like me. I gained some 46 pounds over the course of 18 years until I learned about carbohydrate restriction. That was a life-changing discovery.

He makes many other points which I encourage you to read and to consider for your own lives. Regardless of whether you eat like me or this gentleman, understanding the principles that lead to good health is most important. I argue that if most people ate like John Nicholson, we would reverse the chronic disease epidemic that grips all civilized countries.

Posted on February 23, 2012 at 11:08 am by Charles · Permalink · Leave a comment
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