I occasionally read through veterinary catalogs for horse supplements. These animals, worth up to millions of dollars get the best of care and often state of the art medicine before it percolates down to humans. Many herbal and nutritional supplements are described for effectiveness in terms that the FDA would prohibit for people -which tends to prevent good information from getting to us about how to use nutritional supplements.
As I was reading through the catalog it struck me that the weight-gain supplements contain some of the very same ingredients that are touted for weight loss in articles and ads all over the web. What gives? Continue reading Digestion and Weight Gain→
Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease has four components: What to Eat, What Not to Eat, Useful supplements and How to Eat, given symptoms of the disease. This will be a four piece series. Some of it is basic: the foods and superfoods that enrich the diet. Some is specific to the typical complaints from either the disease, the medications and the often restrictive lifestyles that PD patients often adopt. And the how-to acknowledges that the disease creates some physical problems that adaptive devices might help.
Yom Kippur is coming and people will be fasting. I was asked to put together some information on what will allow people to have a good fast that will allow them to focus on the meaning of the holiday without keeling over from blood sugar fluctuations. Here are a few tips to keep the fast from debilitating you and to keep hunger pains from being a major distraction. (You will still know you are fasting.):
In the weeks preceding Yom Kippur consider shrinking your stomach by reducing portion size. You can get used to less food intake which will lessen the shock.
From the first of Elul, reduce carbohydrates like bread and sugar. This allows your body to get used to not depending on regular sugar rushes. (Starches become sugar within minutes.)
Keep those honey cakes and sugary treats for a sweet new year to the first part of the 10 days before Yom Kippur and only take a little starch the day before. You don’t want to have huge fluctuations in blood sugar.
The day before eat proteins and fats that will not cause your blood sugar to rise and crash. You can prepare with either a meat or dairy meal. Eggs, beans, fish, cheese, chicken, quality meat if you can get it, nuts, butter, and avocado will help maintain your blood sugar. Continue reading Foods and Herbs to Prepare for a Fast→
This is the season of holiday meals and parties, when indigestion raises its ugly head. There are a variety of causes and patterns, so not everyone will fit the same remedies. If you tend to feel excessive heat in your stomach and upward rising energy, go with cooling herbs like peppermint, gentian and artichoke leaf. If your stomach feels cold, unable to mount the fire to digest, Continue reading Natural Remedies for Indigestion→
It looks like last year’s rather mild flu may turn more virulent this season. It already is killing large numbers of people in unusual ways, especially those of Asian or Native American descent. The most vulnerable seem to be not the aged or the young, but healthy young adults. And it has killed people during the summer, a time when influenza deaths are all but unheard of. The 1918 flu pandemic which killed millions worldwide started out mild too.
If the flu acts like the 1918 pandemic, it will cause a cytokine storm, where your immune system can overreact, rapidly killing you. In cases like this you do not want to use immune system stimulants like echinacea. You are better off with Vitamin D and immune modulators which will not hype up your system if you don’t need it. Continue reading Don’t Use Echinacea for This Season’s Flu→
As those of you who read my blog are aware, I am not a big fan of statins. The first reason is that cholesterol is not really the problem. The second is that statins depress the body’s own anti-inflammatory compound CoQ10. But recent research shows that, against our logical assumptions, Vitamin D levels may rise when statins are taken. Continue reading Vitamin D, Statins and Red Yeast Rice→
Richard Wrangham a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard and the author of “Catching
Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” was interviewed on NPR. He worked with Jane Goodall, and is director of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in Uganda. According to Wrangham, great apes prefer cooked food to raw food or they have no preference. They prefer cooked meat to the raw meat that they occasionally form hunting parties to obtain, but are hampered by not controlling fire. Great apes, when given a choice, never prefer raw food to cooked food. Chimps will go into areas of wildfires and eat foods that they would never eat raw. Meat (at least wild meat) is tough when raw, but is much more easily assimilated when cooked.
Cooked food increases the proportion of nutrients that you actually digest. This was not widely appreciated for many years because scientists sampled the food going into the mouth then compared it to fecal output. But fecal digestibility does not really look at assimilation. We can only assimilate proteins in the small intestine, not the large intestine.
I know, we all want to blame it on studies of bad diets-maybe it included Ornish, or Atkins, or the Standard American Diet or fads, which could muddy the data. That could be a problem with a mega analysis but this study seems well done. No one wants to believe that permanent weight loss isn’t possible (unless you didn’t have that much to lose to begin with). The researchers think that unless you are in the 1-2% who can change your life enough to keep weight off, dieting (as opposed to healthy eating) will only make your weight problem worse. And it isn’t just psychological feelings of deprivation.
Dieting Does Not Work, Researchers Report
ScienceDaily (2007-04-05) — Dieting does not work, report researchers who analyzed 31 long-term studies on dieting. “You can initially lose five to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people”
The study was perhaps the most rigorously analyzed and most comprehensive of its type
At least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher
The study underestimates how many people fail at diets since the failures are reluctant to return for follow-ups. Many studies have less than 50% followup and rely upon self-reporting of weight levels.
Several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.
One study found that both men and women who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program.
Even when you follow dieters four years after the diet, they are still gaining weight.
Exercise may be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who reported the most exercise also had the most weight loss.
None of this means that eating healthy foods in moderation and exercise are not worthwhile. You can be healthy and improve blood sugar levels or blood lipids.
An article by John Cloud, Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin on Time.com misses the point of why exercise is important. It is true that exercise only burns an infinitesimal number of calories. If you are into the calories in, calories out frame of mind, you will need to exercise for 10 hours to cover a Big Mac. 20 minutes of jogging barely covers a small chocolate chip cookie. It isn’t even a matter of converting fat to muscle: if you converted 10 pounds of fat to muscle, you would be able to burn an extra 40 calories a day, which isn’t that much. No, the reason to exercise is metabolic, and you need to match that with metabolic eating.
Say you eat an apple which is all sucrose and some fiber. Half of sucrose is glucose and 76% of that burns off at the first pass while 24 % of it goes into the liver where most of it is stored as glycogen and the rest powers mitochondria for energy. Maybe a half a calorie goes through the TCA cycle which will turn into VLDL cholesterol, used to store fat. The other half is fructose of which 72% goes into the liver. The breakdown products of this fructose in the liver is far more pernicious, including uric acid which causes gout and hypertension, but more importantly Continue reading Time Article Misses the Point of Exercise in Weight Loss→
The video by Robert Lustig of UCSF is extremely interesting, but wonky. If you work in health care or are dealing with blood sugar issues, I highly recommend listening. I do anyway. But here are the highlights for the rest of you:
We have a worldwide epidemic of obese six month olds. Yes, 6 months. So it isn’t all about more food in and less exercise out.
Americans now eat 141 pounds of sugar per year, 63 pounds of which is high fructose corn syrup and over half of which is fructose in all forms.
A calorie is not a calorie. Some calories are nutritious, some are merely empty, some are poisonous.
If we are consuming 275 extra calories a day compared to 20 years ago, it is because our regulatory hormones like leptin are not stopping us. We had as much food available 50 years ago, but less obesity. Something in us changed.
And it isn’t our fat consumption, which has dropped. Fat dropped significantly after 1992 when the food pyramid was established, suggesting we increase our carbohydrate consumption.
As someone who has dealt with obesity since kindergarten, when they pulled me indoors from climbing trees all day, I have dealt with fat, diets and fat fallout all of my life. I was on Metrecal shakes in the third grade, and at 16 my Italian doctor was shocked at the diet pills my US MD had prescribed since age 14. Every kind of diet- low fat, low carb, low calorie, Weight Watchers, fad diets, macrobiotics, non diets,- lots of exercise, hypnosis, EFT, and positive imagery was tried. I know all the supplements, the portion sizes, the caloric values, the allergens and the energetics of foods. And like most fat people I have had the will power to lose weight many times over. Continue reading Ten Things About Being Fat→
Many people think that eggs should not be eaten, based on the erroneous assumption that they might cause cholesterol. Your body makes its cholesterol- even vegans get high cholesterol- and reducing carbohydrates that stimulate insulin will actually lower cholesterol better than not eating eggs. This is why I suggest wild salmon and omega 3 eggs. Read what Susan Allport has to say about the difference in nutrition between eggs from chickens who range freely and conventional eggs:
Of Chickens, Eggs, and Omega-3s
Eggs were once a much more healthful food. And they can be again.
by Susan Allport originally published Monday, December 17, 2007
Which came first: the egg or the omega-3 enriched egg?
The omega-3 enriched egg, of course, since all eggs used to be full of omega-3s when the chickens that laid them foraged for a living, scratching and pecking in backyards and farms.
Miso is one of the great non-dairy sources of probiotics. In major cities you can usually find it in the refrigerator section of a good health food store. (I do not recommend unrefrigerated miso which may be a flavored bean product without probiotic benefits.) However you can make it yourself and you can use beans other than soy if you have allergies, and you can ensure a non-gluten koji starter (rice rather than barley koji). Incidentally, soy is considerably less harmful when fermented.
I was listening to Jeffrey Yuen speak about how heat turns into fire toxins unless the body damps it down, and it suddenly hit me why people with long term heating emotions might eat the way they do.
In Chinese medicine, the seven emotions are considered causes of disease. If you are feeling chronically stressed or anxious, it can cause a condition of internal heat in the body. Heat can turn into fire, which can harass the heart, causing anger or mental illness, depending upon the situation. Fire, if unaddressed, can turn to fire toxin, a truly toxic situation that can lead to abscesses, ulcerations and even cancers.
What does the body do to prevent this? Fire can be cooled, but the human body lacks internal refrigeration. So the more likely response is to dampen the fire with fluids. Fluids in the body are generated primarily by food and drink.
And what kinds of foods do we look for when we eat emotionally? Sweets, breads, chocolate, ice cream, perhaps with a glass of milk- all the foods that tend to generate dampness when consumed. We rarely have cravings for bell peppers or mustard greens or shitake mushrooms when we are emotionally spent.
Most people with blood sugar problems have noticed that carbohydrates raise blood sugar, often followed by a crash. The various low carbohydrate diets- Atkins, South Beach, Anti-Inflammation Diet, and even the Zone- do somewhat better at weight loss compared to a low calorie diet, but really excel at keeping blood sugar levels stable, lowering triglycerides, lowering blood insulin, and even cholesterol.
Turmeric has been used as a major anti-inflammatory herb, and is considered a panacea herb in Ayurveda. Now research, both in vitro and in vivo, shows that it may have another benefit. The May, 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported the discovery of researchers at Tufts University in Boston that that mice given curcumin experienced a reduction in the formation of fat tissue and the blood vessels that feed it. Curcumin is the major polyphenol in the spice turmeric.
Fatty liver is now recognized as the most common cause of abnormal liver function tests in the western world. Around one in five persons in the USA has a fatty liver and it is poised to be as big a disease as diabetes. Fatty liver is usually associated with abdominal obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver may be associated with or may lead to inflammation of the liver. This can cause scarring and hardening of the liver. When scarring becomes extensive, it is called cirrhosis, and this is a very serious condition which can lead to liver failure. Continue reading What is Fatty Liver and How Can Chinese Medicine Help?→
Fluoridated water must be treated as a medicine, and cannot be used to prepare foods. That is the decision of the European Court of Justice, in a landmark case dealing with the classification and regulation of ‘functional drinks’ in member states of the European Community. (HLH Warenvertriebs and Orthica (Joined Cases C-211/03, C-299/03, C-316/03 and C-318/03) 9 June 2005)
What are the implications of this? Tap water cannot be used in prepared foods of any kind, foods made with tap water cannot be imported either between European states or from the US. Unless they do full medical testing on it as for any other drug or functional food.
I do note that the European countries seem to be ignoring the Court of Justice decision which was given a few years ago and only the anti-flouridation forces are making much of it.
We all need water. Water helps hydrate our tissues and flushes our kidneys. We are 85% water and we need to replace water lost through urine, stools, sweat and breathing. Water even carries qi, via hydronium ions, so you want to drink enough if you are feeling lethargic.
But there are many myths about water consumption:
There is no evidence that we need eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day. This myth started when the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended approximately “1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food,” which would amount to roughly two to two-and-a-half quarts per day (64 to 80 ounces). Although in its next sentence, the Board stated “most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods,” that last sentence is virtually never quoted. Continue reading Health Myths about Hydration→