Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meal Planning Spreadsheet

To make it easy to stay on track with Molly's diet, I've created a meal planning spreadsheet. I've listed the foods and amounts she commonly eats along with calories, carbs, fat, and protein. I just enter how many servings of various foods I'm thinking about feeding her on a given day, and the total nutrients show up.

You can download the spreadsheet here:

Of course, you can insert rows for other foods if you want to do a little bit of research on nutrient content (like, Nutritiondata.com or copying data from a food package), copy and paste the formulas from the orange (or gray) part of the spreadsheet, and re-do the Total row if needed. Needless to say, you can use this for your own diet if you wish.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weight Gain/Loss on the Cavity Healing Diet

It just goes to show that we all react differently to the same diet.

My dog, Molly, and I eat pretty much the same thing: a lacto-paleo, nutrient rich diet that I hope will heal our minor cavities. I've lost one to two pounds, but Molly has gained weight: she's 73 pounds and I had to loosen her collar. Of course, it may be that her owner is simply feeding her too much; even on a low-carb diet, some people and dogs gain weight with too much food. It could also be a thyroid problem, which the vet is checking.

Looking around the web, it seems a 60-pound dog (which I'd like Molly to be) should eat around 1100 to 1200 calories per day. Molly may be eating a little more than that, but she probably needs fewer calories on the diet we follow. Another site recommended about 1.25 pounds of meat per day for a 60-pound dog. (The vet recommended diet dog food to get the calories just right. I didn't ask him if he weighed out his own food and counted calories to avoid going over.) In any event, I will give Molly somewhat less food than I have been and not assume she wants a snack if she bugs me. But if she really does seem to be hungry, I'll give her a small snack. And if she doesn't lose weight, I won't put her on a starvation diet.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Potassium Power and the Dry Skin Epidemic

Just over a month ago, I (along with my dog) set out on a cavity healing diet: low in carb, grain-free, high in vitamins A and D, and high in calcium and phosphorus. I've made some changes along the way and listed what Molly and I are now eating at the end of this post.

Potassium Power

The potassium pills seem to have put the pep back in my step. This weekend, I worked both days helping the tax secretary, whipped my house back into shape, and I'm ready to go out and tear up the dance floor tonight.

The Dry Skin Epidemic

Since starting this diet, after I stopped eating raw eggs (since I seemed to be allergic to them), my skin has looked better than it ever has. My skin improved last year after I started a low-carb, high-fat diet (more resilient, less callousing, and lot less dry), but now I'm cautiously optimistic that my niggling adult acne is completely gone. A diet's effect on skin was brought home to me while I read an article in People magazine (no jokes, please) that featured several celebrities talking about their skin. Nearly all the women complained of dry skin. One woman, age 37, said she used a bottle of moisturizer every night. I never went to that length, but before I went low carb, those skin care products were my crack cocaine. Ulta has aisles of skin care products, and the past ten years or so have seen entire chains like Bath & Body Works and Aveda mushroom. Now, at age 42 and living in a semi-arid climate, I use a little moisturizer now and then--that's all I need. The women didn't say what they ate, but I blame the dry skin epidemic on our national fear of dietary fat.

What Molly and I are Eating Now on the Cavity Healing Diet

1/2 lb calf liver/week for each of us
18 eggs/week (between the two of us)
2 cans sardines/week for each of us
red meat (mostly pork) as desired
1 can salmon/week for each of us
butter, cream, and cheese as condiments
salad for me; carrots or cabbage for Molly
bone marrow from a few bones every week
I also have a few chocolate candies a day, some low-carb ice cream, tea, and usually two cups of coffee a day. Molly eats a few egg shells now and then.
I'm now taking 2 GNC hair, skin and nails vitamins, 750 mg magnesium oxide/gluconate, 100 mg zinc gluconate, 18 mg iron, 3,000 IU of D3, and ~200-300 mg potassium gluconate every day.
Molly takes 250 mg of magnesium and 99 mg of potassium per day.

Your needs, especially with regard to supplements, may vary. Some of these doses could be toxic to some people; medical tests can help you figure out the supplements you need.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TMJ and Palpitations

A couple of unexpected consequences have occurred with my new, (mostly) lacto-paleo, high-nutrient diet.

My TMJ has almost disappeared. Let me tell you how my case of TMJ came about.

It was a Sunday night in November 2006. I was on my way to a dance when an SUV came flying out of the Walgreens parking lot and broadsided my car on the driver's side. Once I stopped my car (which was totaled), the teeth on the right side of my mouth felt like they'd shifted from being clenched so hard. A few months later, the pain in my jaw was so bad that it kept me up nights. I couldn't fall asleep on my right side. Splint therapy helped, but as recently as last October after a dance workshop weekend, my jaw was painful for weeks afterward.

So, why didn't I just stop clenching my jaw? When I realized I was doing it, I did, as far as I was able. But it's kind of like telling someone to stop having a tension headache. Things like relaxation, pain relievers, massage and acupressure help, but they don't address the cause.

How is a high-nutrient diet addressing the cause of my TMJ? Maybe something in there is remineralizing. Maybe it has to do with dietary fat or fat soluble vitamins. Maybe it's that I feel more relaxed. All I know is that I've had nothing more than a little twingey pain since starting the diet, and even being out in the cold doesn't bother it much. It's been a stressful few weeks at work between helping the tax secretary, meeting audit deadlines and getting out valuation reports, and it hasn't made my jaw hurt. I'm cautiously optimistic.

My heart has felt a little fluttery. No, I don't have a crush on anyone. I started taking potassium tablets, and they've helped. Doing a little more research, I came across this interesting post at the Heart Scan Blog:

Short of performing a biopsy to measure tissue magnesium levels, several signs provide a tip-off that magnesium may be low:

• Heart arrhythmias—Having any sort of heart rhythm disorder should cause you to question whether magnesium levels in your body are adequate, since low magnesium levels trigger abnormal heart rhythms. In fact, in the hospital we give intravenous magnesium to quiet down abnormal rhythms.
• Low potassium— Low magnesium commonly accompanies low potassium. Potassium is another electrolyte depleted by diuretic use and is commonly deficient in many conditions (e.g., excessive alcohol use, hypertension, loss from malabsorption or diarrhea). Like magnesium, potassium may not be fully replenished by modern diets.

Dr. Davis also lists migraine headaches, muscle cramps, and metabolic syndrome. Haven't had any of those lately. And I've been taking 750 mg of magnesium per day. He also mentions in another post that he has his patients take two 99mg potassium tablets two times a day. That's very close to what I've been taking: every time I feel fluttery, I take what I've come to think of as a chill pill.

However, a very interesting comment on the first post came from Jenny Ruhl of the Diabetes Update blog:

Most of the symptoms you describe will start to occur in people who did not have them before, if they embark on rigid low carb diets--20 grams a day or less.

It's possible that I'm eating that little carb; I hadn't counted. It sounds like it's time to try some homemade sweet potato fries with salsa.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Vitamin D Dose and Japanese Inspired Soup

Readers know I'm on a mission to heal my cavities without the help of a drill. As part of that goal, I took a vitamin D test. The results are in:

Vitamin D3 is within the range which many experts consider normal (>32 ng/ml), but not optimal for health (50-80 ng/ml). Vitamin D deficiency has been closely associated with a wide range of conditions and diseases, which include cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple schlerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes (types 1 and 2) (for review see: Holick MF, NEJM 357: 266-281, 2007).

Research by Weston A. Price and the Drs. Mellanby showed that a diet high in vitamin D (among other nutrients) and low in cereals healed cavities in children and dogs. The next step: determine a dose. The official recommended daily intake is 400 IU, but Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist, has often pointed out the folly of recommending one dose for everyone.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has been struggling with this question, also. They have an impossible job: Draft broad pronouncements on requirements for various nutrients by recommending Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for all Americans. The Food and Nutrition Board has tried to factor in individual variation by breaking vitamin D requirements down by age and sex, but what amounts to a one-size-fits-nearly-all approach.

Much of the uncertainty over dosing stems from the fact that vitamin D should not be called a “vitamin.” Vitamins are nutrients obtained from foods. But, outside of oily fish, you'll find very little naturally-occurring vitamin D in food. (Even in fish, there is generally no more than 400 units per 4 oz. serving.) Sure, there’s 20 units in an egg yolk and you can activate the vitamin D in a shiitake mushroom by exposing it to ultraviolet radiation. Dairy products like milk (usually) contain vitamin D because the USDA mandates it. But food sources hardly help at all unless you’re an infant or small child.

It all makes sense when vitamin D is viewed as a hormone, a steroid hormone, not a vitamin. Vitamin─no, steroid hormone─D exerts potent effects in tiny quantities with hormone-like action in cells, including activation of nuclear receptors.

It is the only hormone that is meant to be activated by sun exposure of the skin, not obtained through diet. But the ability to activate D is lost by the majority of us by age 40 and even a dark tan is no assurance that sufficient skin prohormone D activation has taken place.

As with any other hormone, such as thyroid, parathyroid, or growth hormones, dose needs to be individualized.

Imagine you developed a severely low thyroid condition that resulted in 30 lbs of weight gain, lose your hair, legs swell, and heart disease explodes. Would you accept that you should take the same dose of thyroid hormone as every other man or woman your age, regardless of your body size, proportion of body fat, metabolism, genetics, race, dietary habits, and other factors that influence thyroid hormone levels? Of course you wouldn’t.


Vitamin D dose needs to be individualized. Factors that influence vitamin D need include body size and percent body fat (both of which increase need substantially); sex (males require, on average, 1000 units per day more than females); age (older need more); skin color (darker-skinned races require more, fairer-skinned races less); and other factors that remain ill-defined.

But these are “rules” often broken. My office experience with vitamin D now numbers nearly 1000 patients. The average female dose is 4000-5000 units per day, average male dose 6000 units per day to achieve a blood level of 60-70 ng/ml, though there are frequent exceptions. I’ve had 98 lb women who require 12,000 units, 300 lb men who require 1000 units, 21-year olds who require 10,000 units. (Of course, this is a Wisconsin experience. However, regional differences in dosing needs diminish as we age, since less and less vitamin D activation occurs.)

Let me reiterate: Steroid hormone-vitamin D dose needs to be individualized.

There’s only one way to individualize your need for vitamin D and thereby determine your dose: Measure a blood level.

The factors I've put in bold, along with the facts that I'm only mildly deficient and live in sunny Colorado, should put me at the low end of the requirement. I'll take 3,000 IU per day of Vitamin D3 and take another test in August.

Meantime, I'm continuing my high-nutrient diet. Tonight's soup was a winner. I started with the recipe for fish stew in The Primal Blueprint Cookbook and started improvising. I've kept reading lately that the Japanese diet is not as high in carbohydrate as most of us seem to think--that they actually eat a lot of pork, fish and seaweed. (A dance partner whose parents are Japanese confirmed that they eat fish and seaweed at almost every meal.) In that spirit, I threw the following in a pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

2 quarts beef stock
4 marrow bones
15 oz canned salmon (skin, bones and juice included)
3 stalks celery, chopped
juice of one lemon
5.5 oz (small can) coconut milk
6 leaves of kelp (kombu)

For my dog, I substituted some arame seaweed since I didn't think she could chew the big kelp leaves. And I put one of the bones in her dish. For my bowl, I added a pat of butter and a spoonful of spicy kimchi. We both loved it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fiber FAIL: Why you Don't Feel Full on Salad

I keep hearing that fiber is filling. I can just picture it: my father (in his younger days) coming in from a day of baling hay or elk hunting or welding and saying, "Betty, can you fix me some broccoli?" I don't exert myself nearly that much (I work in an office) and I could eat salad all day without getting full. Why? Because fiber is more or less indigestible. That's why low-carb plans like Protein Power allow you to subtract fiber from total carbs, resulting in net carbs, which is the thing you're supposed to limit on a low-carb diet.

Probably, people who say that fiber is filling are speaking in relative terms. Sugar and starch--which are very digestible--can cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop one to three hours later, making you hungry. (Starch is the old fashioned name for those wonderful complex carbohydrates we're constantly told are good for us. It's the same thing that in bygone days, people avoided, along with sugar, to lose weight.) Nevertheless, I don't see how something that's indigestible fills you up in the first place.

What is filling? Fat and protein. Fat also makes vitamins D, E and K and beta carotene (the last two of which are found in foods like broccoli and salad) absorbable by your body. Go ahead and have the broccoli with some butter or cheese sauce and put the full-fat dressing on the salad. And have something with protein while you're at it. You'll be less likely to visit a vending machine later.

Another thing I'm finding filling is nutrients. Since I started my cavity-healing diet where I substituted more nutritious foods like sardines, liver, marrow and cream for some less nutritious (but low carb) foods, I find I'm less hungry than before. These stepchildren of the food world are packed with a lot more nutrients than anything you'll find in the produce section, and some of the nutrients are better absorbed. I've been making a lot fewer Kind Bar and diet soda runs at work since I started eating more of these foods. Yes, some of these are an acquired taste. But since changing my diet and learning different ways of preparing these foods, I find I like them well enough to keep eating them. The sardines in particular are satsifying. I'll be halfway through eating a can of them when I suddenly feel wonderful. Maybe it's the high Omega-3 content.

My father wasn't opposed to broccoli, but here's something he really would say after a day spent working construction: "Betty, let's have liver for dinner."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Meetup Group in Denver

Tired of being looked at like you have two heads when you tell people you limit your carbs? Hate going to a restaurant and seeing little or nothing on the menu you can eat? So am I! I've started a low carb meetup group here in the Denver area to get together with other low carbers. I'm thinking we can get together at a low-carb friendly restaurant or have a picnic.

Here's the website for Denver Low Carb Enthusiasts:

UPDATE: It's been less than a week since the meetup group started and there are already 13 members. This is encouraging. Our first meetup is scheduled for Sunday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dying to Eat Junk Food

This just in from Fox 31 News of mysouthwestga.com:

ALBANY, GA -- Parents are growing more concerned with foods that contain artificial food coloring--and their affect [sic] on children.

Parents believe dyes like red dye #5 or blue dye #3 could make their kids more hyperactive.

Most foods we eat every day--including cereal and granola bars--contain food dyes.

Yes--foods like cereal (which is basically cake without the eggs), granola bars (read: candy bars with oatmeal), and if the photo in the article is accurate, Pop Tarts (cake without the eggs or the taste), licorice, and other foods I can't identify. And it couldn't be the sugar that's making the kids hyperactive, could it?

These foods are sugary, grainy, manufactured, low-nutrient junk--and parents (and the CSPI) are worried about the dye? What next--parents insisting their kids' pot be organic?

Granted, some people are allergic to dyes. My uncle Loren was allergic to a yellow dye and had to get his insurance company to cover a more expensive brand of a medicine he needed, since the generic version had the dye. Where was the CSPI during that crisis?

A suggestion if you don't want to consume dyes: eat real food. Shop the meat, dairy and produce sections (carefully) and leave the manufactured food alone.