Tuesday, May 7, 2019

For Safety's Sake, Use Lard

Or butter, ghee, bacon grease or coconut oil--not something out of a spray can. Eight people have allegedly been injured by exploding cans of cooking spray (like Pam) when putting the cans near a stove. When's the last time you heard of shrapnel from exploding lard?

Besides, humans have been eating animal fats for millions of years, and butter and coconuts for several thousand, suggesting we're well-adapted to those foods. Industrially made oils used in Pam, not so much. If your lard comes from a pastured piggy (not a blue box on the grocery store shelf), it'll have lots of vitamin D and no hydrogenated oil.

Find a farmer near you that sells lard.

Sources I've purchased from and recommend here in central Indiana:
Fischer Farms (bulk orders of their meat, eggs, lard, etc. only)
Smoking Goose

Source: "8 People Allegedly Disfigured by Exploding Cans of Cooking Spray Sue Conagra" by Zlati Meyer. USA Today, May  7, 2019.

Monday, April 1, 2019

23andMe: Conflict of Interest and Crappy Advice

23andMe, the genetic testing company, sent me a new report saying I have a 64% chance of developing diabetes based on my genetics. Having at least three diabetic grandparents and hypoglycemia from the time I was a kid, I already figured I was a case of diabetes waiting to happen if I didn't take precautions.

If I followed 23andMe's crappy advice, I'd probably become one of those cases. GlaxoSmithKline, maker of the diabetes drug Avandia, owns a $300 million share of 23andMe. Some of 23andMe's advice for avoiding diabetes is good--avoid added sugars, refined flour and potatoes. Thanks to the work of journalists, bloggers, podcasters, and a few renegade doctors and researchers who attacked the low-fat orthodoxy, they have to throw that in now to avoid losing all credibility. But their advice on what to eat instead isn't very helpful for filling you up and keeping you from snacking on foods with flour and sugar:

Fruit can be very high in sugar; beans are mostly starch (like the potatoes they don't recommend); whole wheat bread has a glycemic index of 74, almost as high as boiled potatoes (78). That's higher than table sugar (sucrose), which is 65. Unless you're going to guzzle olive oil or knock back the nuts like a squirrel, there's not enough fat on the list to get you through the day. You'll have to get your energy from starchy beans and grains while your pants get tighter, your farts rattle the drapes, and your blood sugar goes full diabetic.

Their advice to not smoke, exercise and be at a healthy weight is fine--but everybody over five already knows that. Their advice doesn't mention how to get an inexpensive blood glucose testing kit and monitor your blood sugar. If people started doing that en masse, a lot of drug company employees would be out of a job.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Scared Straight

Over the past few months, my stomach is feeling a lot better and I think it's thanks to low-carb lattes I've been having for breakfast. Plus a lot of Pepto-Bismol. Doing a little research, it turns out that all the ingredients in the latte (coconut milk, cocoa powder, peppermint extract, and even coffee) are antibacterial. So is Pepto-Bismol. I've also been avoiding high-FODMAPS foods that cause bloating. So I think my problem was SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) after taking too many probiotics...and maybe some carb creep.

Something felt off. I was tired, I'd gained a few pounds, and felt puffy. I got a new blood glucose meter and tested my fasting and post breakfast levels (breakfast being bacon, eggs, two lattes and some dried seasoned tomatoes). That was about 18 grams of carbohydrate. My blood sugar went from 91 to 146. Not good! After two hours, it went to 109 and stayed around there for the next four and a half hours, when I stopped taking readings.

Officially, 146 is a normal, non-diabetic reading. But Dr. Richard Bernstein's Diabetes Solution says,

No nondiabetic will have blood sugar levels as high as 140 mg/dl except after consuming a lot of carbohydrate. "Normal" in this case has more to do with what is considered "cost effective" for the average physician to treat....an individual frequently displaying a blood sugar of 140 mg/dl is a good candidate for full-blown type 2 diabetes. I have seen "non-diabetics" with sustained blood sugars averaging 120 mg/dl develop diabetic complications.

It looks like I'll have to whack back the carbs again. Fortunately, I just got an order of fatty pork from a (somewhat) local farm and just ordered 500 Ketogenic Recipes by Dana Carpender. I followed her recipe for braised hog jowl on Google Books--wonderful! I had some with cole slaw for a snack tonight.

I should also start exercising again. Being more fit should improve my insulin response.

UPDATE: I woke up ill this morning, so I hope oncoming illness was partly to blame for my high blood sugar yesterday.

Source: Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution by Richard K. Bernstein, MD. 2011, Little, Brown & Co., p. 46.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Healthy Japanese: Starchy Diet or Annual Physicals?

Some people are still trotting out the old "Japanese are healthy because of their starchy diet" chestnut.  There are a lot of differences between Japanese and American diets and cultures. One I hadn't heard of until recently was annual physicals for Japanese citizens and ex-pats 30 and over living in Japan. The checkups are free--employers are required to provide them. Those without a regular employer can go through their city office.

The results of these physicals are shared with your employer, who can tell you to shape up or ship out (or pass you over for promotions). With this in mind, many Japanese go on an annual "cleanse" to prepare for their physical. "They do things such as eliminating fried foods and alcohol, and pay close attention to getting more sleep, usually for a month or so beforehand," says ex-pat Jessica Korteman.

A lot of Americans likewise make New Year's resolutions to diet and exercise--but we have a lot less skin in the game. Our health information is legally very private (see HIPAA), and if you're overweight and unhealthy, you're not really going to stand out here. Diet and exercise resolutions break like potato chips.

Annual physicals in Japan include a blood pressure check, urine test and several blood tests; surely these include a blood glucose test--i.e., a check for diabetes. It's reasonable to conclude that diabetes and other health problems in the Japanese gets caught and treated far earlier--remember, the annual physicals start at age 30--than it does in Americans.

I'm not arguing for a Japanese-style health system where we're required to get a physical and share the results with anyone. But there's far more to the health differences in our two countries besides eating rice.


Friday, February 22, 2019

What Happened to the ADA Guidelines to Eat Lots of Carbs?

Awhile back, I was looking at the ADA website (American Diabetes Association) to see their carb recommendations. Oddly, I couldn't find any. No, I didn't imagine having seen dietary recommendations designed to keep diabetics sick and the organization's medication and sugar sponsors in the clover--they changed their page in August 2017. Here's the old page via the Wayback Machine from June 2017, recommending 45-60 grams of carbohydrate or even more per meal:

Look at the list of junk food on their site from 2017:

So how much carbohydrate do they say diabetics should eat? Figure it out yourself!

The ADA is a bunch of narcissistic assholes for ever recommending that diabetics--people with a disease of carbohydrate intolerance--eat a baked potato, or a cup of pasta or cake or ice cream at every meal. Don't expect them to ever admit they were wrong. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Three LC Movies You Should Watch

Fat Head Kids: Stuff About Diet and Health I Wish I Knew when I was Your Age by Tom Naughton.

Written for older kids, but has information that will probably be new to a lot of adults. It uses a spaceship as a metaphor for the human body and programming as a metaphor for personal metabolism. Drs. William Davis, Richard Feinman, Ann Childers, John Briffa, Michael Eades, Andreas Eenfeldt, Michael Fox, Dwight Lundell, Robert Lustig and Eric Westman provide interviews through the movie.

Love Paleo. This movie was released in 2015, but I hadn't heard about it until recently. Several people--including Dr. John Briffa, discuss the major health improvements they've seen on a paleo diet and why it works. 

What's with Wheat? Regular readers already know that wheat in its current form is genetically very different from what it was a few decades ago. What they might not know is that monocrop agriculture  isn't good for the environment, that wheat has glyphosate (Roundup, an herbicide) in it (I checked and it's true), that celiac disease can affect the brain, and wheat can, in some people, lead to autoimmune disease. Interviews with Dr. David Perlmutter, Natasha Campbell-McBride, Joel Salatin, Terry Wahls (of reversing MS fame) and Sally Fallon Morell of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Be a Vegan and Save the World?

The Lancet has come out with a new report saying "Repent! The End is Near!" These days, that means someone wants you to live on grains, beans, nuts and vegetation to save your health and civilization itself; coming to Jesus for salvation would be absurd to them.

But there are flies in the ointment that only a bunch of academics could fail to observe:

  • After being goaded for decades to move towards such a diet, people in developed countries are fatter and more diabetic than ever. 
  • Growing these crops destroys natural habitats, uses fertilizer that depends on fossil fuels, and requires pesticides (even if organically grown). 
  • Much of the land on earth is unsuitable for growing anything but livestock. 
  • Such a diet is nutrient-poor and completely unsuitable for many people.
  • The poorest countries tend to have frequent fighting and ((#%(@!#y governments, not citizens who are oddly unable to figure out what to eat. 
  • Bison, deer, elk, antelope and other game used to roam North America before humans came along in great numbers. So how is growing corn and soybeans here better than raising cattle, pigs and other livestock on grassy pastures? Diet Doctor has a three-part series on climate and meat (part 1, part 2, part 3).

What to do? First, ignore the recommendations. Second, if you want to eat meat, eggs, and dairy of pasture-raised animals, you can seek a local source on eatwild.com. (I found my source, Fischer Farms here in Indiana, through a co-op that sold their meat.) Finally, if you want to help the very poor eat better, make a donation to Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock, training and other goods and services to the underprivileged. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

23andMe Signs Agreement with Big Pharma, Offers Health App

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's largest drug makers, recently bought a $300 million stake in 23 and Me, a genetic testing company. The two also signed an agreement giving GlaxoSmithKline exclusive rights to customer data. The data is de-identified, aggregate customer information.

23andMe recently rolled out Lark, an health app specially geared to your genetics. I was curious what kind of diet advice Lark gave, since 23andMe advised me a year or so ago to limit saturated fat. Here's a screen grab from their video suggesting the new app is programmed with diet advice from the 90s:

"Lark Chat: Personal Weight Loss Coach & 24-Hour Nutritionist" by ourLark on Youtube.  Uploaded April 27, 2015.
Think about it, though--why SHOULD a company with a relationship to big pharma tell you to put down the bread when doing so may reduce your need for beta blockers (which lower blood pressure), nasal steroids and bronchial drugs, all of which GlaxoSmithKline makes?

* * * * *

I wrote a few days ago that I felt better than I have in a long time. When I moved to Indianapolis a few years ago, I had a hard time shoveling the sidewalk--I live on a corner lot, so there was a lot more to shovel than there was at my old place that was on lot thirty-eight feet wide. Today, though, I shoveled a path through seven inches of snow not only along both sidewalks, but the path to the sidewalk, the path to the garage, the whole driveway, the south perimeter of the house, and the back porch. It felt great! My improved fitness isn't from exercise--I rarely do anything physical this time of year except go for a walk at lunch. Before I shoveled the snow this morning, I drank a glass of water with electrolyte powder; maybe that helped. In any case, it's good to feel 45 again.

Biggs, newly arrived about a year ago.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back on Track!

Finally, after several attempts, I'm back on track with low-carb, real food. I don't know what made the difference, but I'm eating high-fat, low-carb food without (many) palpitations, stomach upset, weird cravings or aversions to foods like oily fish. My diet hasn't been awful for the past three years(!), certainly better than the standard American diet, but I had problems with lower back pain, lack of energy, acne, bloating, and some dental problems. Whatever it was that affected me around the time I moved in 2015 seems to have resolved itself.

Maybe it was a combination of stress and the lack of "guts" (think antibiotics due to root canal, due to my bike wreck) to deal with it. In the course of four years, my father died, I was accused of crimes I didn't commit, had to give up dancing because it hurt my knee, I moved across the country, worked at five different places, my dog Molly died, and my mother died.

I should have sought help for my digestive problems, especially since money wasn't one of my problems. Not from a traditional gastroenterologist--I've been to them and they were useless--but a doctor hip to low-carb. Maybe I could have gotten well years ago.

In any case, I started doing better around Thanksgiving and by December, I didn't even have a dessert with Christmas dinner (we went out to eat). This month I added a few blogs to my list and discovered some terrific recipes on The Low Carb Diabetic that have gotten me through a lot of breakfasts. Thanks, Jan! I love the raspberry cream cheese mug cupcake, the peppermint low-carb mocha latte, and the pork casserole with sunshine peppers.

I've also taken my own advice about nuts and stopped snacking on them; they're condiments now.

My dog Biggs, who's been with me over a year now, eats low carb, real food. His dandruff quickly went away after he came to live with me. He doesn't run on the treadmill like Molly did, but he loves to play ball.

Friday, January 4, 2019