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Showing posts from July, 2013

Injury-Inspired Makeup Colors

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A recent injury left my toe pink and black. I called the color palette "Step into Danger," but Too Faced calls it "Romantic Eye." In fairness, my toe is much brighter.

Sometimes a mishap shakes us out of a routine and inspires something new. Viva antifragility!

Diabetic Protein Shakes? Rat Chow is Better

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Rat chow: that's what Ensure and Enterex Diabetic drinks remind me of. I'm not into protein drinks anymore--haven't been in years--but my parents are elderly and it's hard for them to cook. They're also diabetic, and yet my father's doctor recommended two Ensure drinks per day. That's 80 grams, or 18 teaspoons, of liquid sugar. The main ingredients in Ensure:

Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, Soy Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Pea Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil. 
Seriously--the second ingredient is sugar. (Corn maltodextrin in a starchy food additive.) Isn't that a big ol' clue that this isn't suitable for diabetics?

A pharmacist recommended Enterex Diabetic. It has fewer carbs, but 24 grams of liquid carbohydrate is too much at one sitting for many diabetics. The ingredients:

Water, Maltodextrin, Sodium Caseinate, High-Oleic Safflower Oil, Calcium Caseinate, Fiber (Soy Fiber, Gum Ar…

Music Reward

I feel like I've awakened from a dream. The past few days have been spent crowding out pain signals with music, like sending an avalanche down a mountain gulley. I wondered if some people could manage pain with a Wii or a karaoke machine even better than with music alone. But the music came to be a distraction about the time my foot stopped hurting today. I promised some coworkers more work than I could deliver, which I never do, so I'll be back at work tomorrow.

Some studies say that music that you love can make your brain release dopamine. I did feel like something was different, and that I was myself again once I was able to work in silence. Dopamine is a reward neurotransmitter, but I'd had enough music, even though it was rewarding.

My foot, whose problems started this, is doing better, so much so that I was able to run for the bus tonight after a former coworker saw me at the bus stop and we started chatting while my bus drove by. I didn't just trot, I ran. My…

Anxious? In Pain? Try Music

It's been almost a year since my bike wreck. I'm happy to say that there are no lingering effects from my fractured arm or dental injuries, and in another five months, I'll have replenished my emergency funds.

I'm not quite as pleased to say I'm observing the near-anniversary with a badly stubbed toe. A day and a half ago, I was watering the pots when I tripped over the old, rotted steps I disconnected from the house and stubbed my toe on the brand new steps I built. It still hurts. It hurts more than the fractured arm did. It's almost as bad as turf toe.

It really hurts when I stand. It hurts a lot less when I elevate my foot and rub the bottom of it or elevate it and listen to music. I was at work and in too much pain to go down and get coffee when I put on Alice Cooper and suddenly--no pain. It's just one more reason to love Alice Cooper.

I noticed the same thing back in 2007 when I was infected, recovering from a car wreck and had GI problems. Some rese…

What to Eat: Going by the Textbook Part II

My last post discussed the book It Starts with Food and the principles it's based on. Going over the post, I realized that the part about hormones raised some questions. How do cells become insulin resistant? How can too much insulin lead to weight gain? Does too much carbohydrate cause leptin resistance?

I'm looking again at the book Endocrinology: Basic and Clinical Principles by Shlomo Melmed and P. Michael Conn from 2005. The book says it isn't clear how insulin resistance develops, but says that it is a "key feature of the prediabetic 'metabolic syndrome' (central obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia)" (page 318). It doesn't say how to reverse it.

The book does say that insulin promotes fat formation and inhibits fat burning:

Insulin promotes lipid synthesis and inhibits lipid degradation. Before insulin became available for treatment of type 1 diabetes, patients with this disease were invariably thin, reflecting the impo…

What to Eat? Going by the Textbook

"Out with the old spiritual mumbo jumbo, the superstitions, and the backward ways. We're gonna see a brave new world where they run everybody a wire and hook us all up to a grid. Yes, sir, a veritable age of reason." -Ulysses McGill, O Brother, Where Art Thou?

If only. Eighty years after the Tennessee Valley was put on the grid, health gurus recommend mumbo-jumbo like two-thirds of a cup of sugar a day for diabetics,* inflammatory foods like wheat for the inflamed, and a low-fat, high-fiber, grain-based diet that fattens up livestock (in weeks!)** but is supposed to make humans slim and trim. The crazies are running the asylum. Are there any reasonable people in the mainstream?

I recently sent a friend of mine the book It Starts with Food. It discusses the major hormones involved in fat storage, fat burning and inflammation, along with the authors' dietary recommendations based mostly on our paleolithic ancestors' diets and their clinical experience. All thei…

Diabetes Management: Why DIY?

Answer: because probably, nobody else will.

Awhile back, my mother's new primary care doctor saw her for a checkup. According to Mom, the doctor took her blood sugar and wrote "diabetes out of control" on her chart and prescribed Metformin and Lantus (insulin). The doctor didn't look at the blood sugar records Mom brought.

Maybe it's the new medication, maybe because an infection cleared up, or maybe Mom has gotten more insulin sensitive, but she's been getting hypos in the morning. It's dangerous to have blood sugar get too low during the night. The doctor is hard to reach, and who knows how good she is at dosing insulin.

Mom had been fiddling around with her evening insulin dose, but without checking her blood sugar first. So today, after she got her blood sugar up from this morning's level of 55 (70-100 is normal), I suggested she check her blood sugar before taking her evening insulin. When she checked it tonight, it was 70. After doing some re…

How Long does it Take to Heal?

It takes anywhere from seconds to years. It depends on the issue, the person, their diet, and their lifestyle. Lierre Kieth, for instance, felt better the instant she started eating meat again--the tuna was like prana in a can. (Sadly, her back pain from the damage caused by long-term B-12 deficiency will never go away.)

There have been a lot of 30-day challenges out there: 30-day paleo, 30-day Whole 9, even 30-day gluten-free from Dr. Guyanet. (He actually had a terrific blog before he started going on about food reward.) I think these challenges last long enough to get allergens out of your system and let you see if re-exposure bothers you, yet they're short enough to seem manageable. Thirty days is more than long enough to begin clearing up GI problems caused by food. My GERD disappeared within a few days of starting a low-carb diet, and two days on a fat fast cleared up my gastritis.

Some issues can take much longer. Almost a year ago, two of my teeth were knocked out of plac…

Corporate Productivity Suggestion: Ditch the Snacks

I'm old enough to remember when the only refreshment at the office was coffee. If you wanted a snack, you had to bring your own or find a vending machine. Yet our brains worked just fine without the constant grazing: we all did our work and only new employees needed frequent reminders of standard operating procedures. Anyone too spacy to remember how to do their job was thought to be a stoner.

Now, cake for every birthday is standard. Some offices have free pop and snacks (read: junk food).

Soda, chips, crackers, and instant oatmeal make for unstable blood sugar in people susceptible to blood sugar swings, and roller coaster blood sugar levels affect mood, thinking and energy for the worse. How often do you see coworkers getting drowsy a few hours after lunch? How often do you hear, "My brain isn't working today"? Snicker-snacking all day long can make for high blood sugar and lethargy in some people--when it's really bad, it's called "carb coma."…

Shedding some Headwinds

Have you seen the list of drugs whose patents are going to expire in 2013 to 2016? It reads like a shopping list of drugs you'll need on a poor diet. Out of the 27 listed, at least 13 are unnecessary (statins), unneeded on a well-planned low-carb diet (acid blockers), treat conditions that might be improved by such a diet (medications for blood pressure, anti-depressants, bipolar disorder, diabetic nerve pain, for instance), or might be improved by removing wheat and other grains (medications for schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and osteoporosis).


On the one hand, doctors will feel less encouragement from drug salesmen, seminars and advertisements to prescribe these drugs. Without those headwinds, doctors might be more inclined to suggest diet changes. After all, avoiding grains and eating healthy fats is becoming more mainstream: the book Grain Brain (due out in September) is against wheat, sugar and carbs (presumably too much carb) and is endorsed by several mainst…

Need a Radiator, or a Distributor Cap, or...Lunch?

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Is this a marketing strategy for that underserved low self-esteem market?

At least they're honest.

The Fat Fast Is Over

The rioting proteins have been scavenged, the damage feels like it is being repaired, my belly has shrunk back to its normal size, my face is clearing up, and I was down another pound this morning. The ketostick was purple today, showing a "large" amount of ketones.

I am worn out. I feel like I've spent a day or two putting down a riot. I've been staying around 1000 calories per day, but only 80% fat; maybe I'd feel better on 90%, but the situation was urgent and I didn't have time to prepare.

I'm declaring victory and celebrating with a lamb chop, buttered vegetables and lemon ice cream.

Gastritis: The Fat Fast is Helping

I've finally found a name for what I have: gastritis. From Wikipedia:

Gastritis is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach, and has many possible causes.[1] The main acute causes are excessive alcohol consumption or prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Sometimes gastritis develops after major surgery, traumatic injury,burns, or severe infections. Gastritis may also occur in those who have had weight loss surgery resulting in the banding or reconstruction of the digestive tract. Chronic causes are infection with bacteria, primarily Helicobacter pylori, chronic bile reflux, and stress; certain autoimmune disorders can cause gastritis as well. The most common symptom is abdominal upset or pain. Other symptoms are indigestion,abdominal bloating,nausea, and vomiting and pernicious anemia. Some may have a feeling of fullness or burning in the upper abdomen.[2][3] A gastroscopy, blood test, complete blood cou…

Fat Fast is Calming my Stomach

I don't know much about inflammation. What I do know is that immune cells can run amok, mistaking your own tissue for invaders, damaging it and inflaming it. It's also called autoimmune reaction and it can be systemic, throughout your body. And it's miserable.

Food, especially wheat and dairy, is a major cause of inflammation for some people. We focus on carbs around here, but it's funny proteins that cause problems from paranoia to arthritis: gluten, gliadin, whey and casein, for instance. The proteins can also come from your own body: serious injury can cause a release of the DNA from your mitochondria, tiny organelles in your cells, but with their own DNA separate from yours.(1) Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory protein your body makes; homocysteine (another protein) may cause inflammation when there's too much of it.

How do we get these rogue proteins under control? Tess wrote a post on systemic enzymes, calling them THE BEST anti-inflammatory supplement. (Emp…

Beyond Food and Fitness: Inflammation

It's a bummer when bad things happen to good dieters: weight gain, acne, need for naps, and indigestion in my case. You can go bananas trying to figure what you ate to make things go wrong.

I recently had all the things I just mentioned, and I know it wasn't diet. The same diet I normally feel good on hasn't changed recently (except for subtracting dairy). The only thing that has been different over the past month is that my TMJ was acting up from my taking my big, strong, sled-dog wannabe for walks every night. I think the continual muscle strain led to systemic inflammation.

Inflammation indicates a mobilization of your immune system; it's a call to arms. Whether the damaged tissue is a result of infection from bacterial invaders, overuse, or physical trauma, the purpose of the inflammation that ensues is to prevent additional damage and repair the damage already done.

But what starts out as a healthy response can have adverse effects if it persists for too long or …

Can an Injury Give You a Stomach Ache?

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We know that foods you can't tolerate can cause inflammation in parts of the body outside the GI tract. But can inflammation in other parts of the body cause inflammation in the GI tract? I'm starting to think it's possible.

This morning, I was walking my dog when the cause of my recent TMJ problems and headaches struck me: it was from walking my dog. Molly's so strong that she pulled my mother around in a wheelchair when Mom was in rehab a few years ago. I've tried to get her to walk without pulling, to no avail. When she pulls, I have to pull back and it makes me tense my neck and jaw. Molly has her own treadmill, which I bought when I had this problem before, and henceforth she'll just have to stay on it if she wants to walk.

What does this have to do with stomach aches? Lately, my stomach has hurt and nothing seems to digest well. I haven't tried any new foods lately; in fact, I got rid of instant coffee, sweet potatoes and dairy within the past few mo…

Bored with Steak and Salad?

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How about almond-crusted liver and gathered greens & veg with refreshing paleo ranch dressing.


Home-grown lettuce (along with a little from the farmer's market), nasturtium, lamb's quarters and borage flowers along with cucumber and bell peppers make for an interesting salad.

To make the liver, have a beaten egg and some almond meal ready. (I take a handful of almonds and put them in the food processor with the S blade for a few minutes.) Cut the film off the liver and cut the liver into pieces about 1.5" square. Roll the pieces in the egg, then in the almond meal and fry in lard over medium heat.

Achy? Neurotic? Etc.? When Wheat-Free Isn't Enough

Everyone loves a good mystery, but in real life, we all love a good solution even more. The book Why Isn't my Brain Working? by Datis Kharrazian is the latter. Even if your brain is working (and I think mine works pretty well), it's worth reading for the insights into the gut-brain connection, cross-reactivity of foods, and what you can do if you get glutened.

In my younger days, I read self-help books and went to counseling to be happier. It didn't help much--all they talked about was attitude. Relying on attitude to solve a biological problem is like trying to smile your way out of an infection of H. pylori. I guess I was lucky that I didn't go in for drugs and didn't think doctors could help me. Good thing. I now know my problem was largely hypoglycemia.

The management of [certain patients with poor blood sugar control] is so fundamentally basic and easy....[Yet] It is not uncommon for [them] to be put on psychotropic drugs, sleep medications, or labeled as hav…

Updates: Mom, TMJ, Anxiety and Dairy

My mom is back to normal, able to walk a little with a walker and doing a little cooking. Perhaps because her recent infection is gone and she isn't eating any more hospital food, her blood sugars have gotten low enough that she's decided to reduce her insulin dose.

My TMJ pain has been acting up. But last weekend, a friend invited me to her restorative yoga class, and the next day, for the first time in weeks, I didn't need any aspirin. I'm planning to take her class on a regular basis.

I had some anxiety that's now gone. I've always been good on the phone, and good on the Internet, but tended to get kind of freaky in person. I was the weird girl in The Breakfast Club. The anxiety defied all reason and most experience. And yet it just evaporated over the past couple weeks. Why? I quit all dairy except butter around two months ago and I'm finally finished healing from my bike wreck. Those are the only things I can think of that happened recently. There'…