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Showing posts from June, 2012

What Cattle Know about Salt

My Uncle Gene on salt in response to his dietician: Now wait just a minute. I'm a cattle man. I buy undernourished calves at the stock yard and put a big block of salt out for them. For three days, they stand and lick the salt. Cattle know what they need. If the calves need it, so do people. I don't agree that calves and people need the same nutrients, but he's absolutely right that people need salt, too. If you're starting a low-carb diet, you especially need salt--your body dumps a lot of fluids at the beginning--along with salt and potassium. Nowadays, we "know" too much salt is bad for us. But time was, Humans did not need to know chemistry to understand the value of salt. Salt deprivation leads to lightheadedness, fatigue, headache, and malaise....Inland hunters followed their prey to salt licks and salt springs. These waters were prized for cooking, and some cultures learned to dry these waters to make dry salt.(1) For further reading: http:

Results of my Carrageenan-Free Diet

Certain things should be left in the aquarium. Readers may recall my ordeal last Saturday with a migraine headache and a trip by ambulance back to my parents' house. Thanks to one of the paramedics jogging my memory, I researched the almond milk I'd started drinking around the time I quit dairy. One of the ingredients was carrageenan, a substance used to induce inflammation, sensitivity to pain and other problems in laboratory animals. Supposedly, the "undegraded" form is safe for human consumption, but undegraded carrageenan has been found to be contaminated with degraded carrageenan, and there are ways that the digestive system could degrade carrageenan itself. For the past few months, I've felt a little bloated, and was starting to have some mild pain in my lower stomach. I thought it might have been the effects of the antibiotics, oral steroids or decongestant (which gave me an allergic reaction) from back in February. I didn't connect it to the sev

Man Against the Statin Machine

A proposed movie plot: a patient with a serious but treatable medical condition goes to a rehab center, where his condition isn't treated, he's given drugs that make him worse, and so he has to stay and pay for his board. Problem: something similar has already been done, both in the movies and real life . This was the danger my father was in. Almost a month ago, he had a stroke and went to a rehab center, where he made some progress but stalled. Under Medicare rules, he had to leave or pay full freight for continuing to stay there. The discharge coordinator offered no help to our family. What's worse, the pain in his side was never diagnosed, just treated with a pain patch, and he was given a statin drug without his consent. Statin drugs can cause muscle weakness, fatigue and foggy thinking--some of the reasons my father couldn't go home right away. And according to what I've read, there's no evidence they do any good for people over age 65. Dad is 82. He tr

Sausage-Induced Headaches: Another Clue Points to Carrageenan

A few years ago when I started a low carb diet and started eating sausage again, I found some sausages gave me a headache, but others didn't. At first, eating them was a crap shoot, but I soon found some I couldn't eat (Applegate Farms Organic & Natural Meats) and some I could (McDonald's Restaurants and Ranch Foods Direct, a local pastured meat company). Some of Applegate Farms' products contain carrageenan (a highly processed, seaweed-based food additive used to induce pain and inflammation in research animals). McDonald's and Ranch Foods Direct sausage doesn't contain it. Why put carrageenan in sausage? According to Applegate Farms' website , Carrageenan, which is derived from red seaweed (Chondrus Crispus), activates extracted protein in the meat to help it bind together when formed. As the meat cooks, the heat forms a gel network, increasing moisture retention and improving the sliceability of the product. Without the addition of carrageenan

Carrageenan: A Sickening Thickener. Is it a Migraine Menace?

Let me tell you about my ride in an ambulance last night. I woke up at six o'clock from a nap with a mild headache. I ate dinner and took my vitamins, along with a couple of extra magnesium pills. Since magnesium helps my TMJ flare-ups, I thought it might help my headache. Then I went to see my mother. A few hours later, I had a severe headache, sinus pain and nausea. During a brief respite from the pain, I left for home, but less than a mile later, I got out of my car and threw up. A cop, Officer Fisher, pulled up behind me and asked if I was okay. He believed me when he said I hadn't been drinking, but he said I seemed lethargic and he wanted the paramedics to see me. (Later he mentioned that a man he'd recently stopped was having a stroke.) Thinking I had a migraine headache, the paramedics wanted to take me to the hospital. But since I knew that doctors don't know what causes migraine headaches, and I didn't know what effect their medicine would have on m

A Map through the Medicare Maze

Recently, my father had a stroke. From the hospital, he went to a rehab center and, having made no further progress for some time, has to leave or pay full freight for his continued stay there. He can't go home: he can't take care of himself and my mother can't take care of him (she's in a wheelchair), and they can't afford round-the-clock care. The nursing home staff didn't have any helpful hints. However, Deb Flentje, whom I buy pasture-raised meat and eggs from, was kind enough to take the time and effort to write out a map through the Medicare maze. Deb used to work in the nursing home field, in a management capacity, as I recall. Here's her description of how Medicare works, and how to choose a nursing home for a loved one.  *****  Medicare and What it Covers First ask for a meeting with the social worker in the hospital. Ask for that person to explain what Part A Medicare and Part B Medicare covers in the nursing facility and assisted living

Fibromyalgia Relief Diet: How to DIY

Readers interested in the raw paleo+supplement diet that I've proposed for fibromyalgia might be wondering how to put this into practice. There's a lot to read--you can skip parts if you want to--but the better you understand how this works, and the more lousy conventional wisdom you dispense with, the more likely you are to stick with it and fine-tune it to your needs. The basic ideas: Fix any leaks in the gut. A strict paleo diet eliminates foods like grains, potatoes and legumes that can cause this problem, allowing the gut to heal. (UPDATE 6/27/2012: Avoid an additive called carrageenan . It's a neolithic food and an inflammatory.) This may also help with autoimmune diseases. Stop ingesting antinutrients that interfere with magnesium absorption. Grains and legumes have antinutrients (search for "phytate" at Google Scholar if you're interested). Antacids keep you from absorbing magnesium (and calcium, zinc and iron) and interfere with protein digest

Developing Resistance to Junk Food

The past few days at the office have seen boxes of pizza, pastries, cupcakes, Chinese food, and wraps for meetings. Temptation? No--except for the wraps made of turkey and spinach, which I ate without the wrapper, of course. This wasn't any great feat of willpower: after over two years of eating little or no wheat, pizza or Chinese, these didn't even look like food to me. The Chinese food was overcooked (broccoli is supposed to be bright green, not dull chartreuse) and the pizza smelled like a wet dog. I think I understand why the French avoid junk food much more than Americans: they just don't like the stuff because they eat real food. Here's the problem with a frequent cheat day: it keeps your taste for junk food alive. If a friend were trying to quit smoking, would you recommend a weekly smoking day?

Fibromyalgia: A Proposed Diet for Relief

This post is for a friend of mine who is suffering so badly from fibromyalgia that she's unable to work. Comments, suggestions and corrections are welcome. I care more about helping her than being right. What is fibromyalgia (FM)? Literally, the word means fiber (fibro) and muscle (my) pain (algia). The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association lists symptoms that include pain, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, sleep disorders, exercise difficulties, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic headaches and jaw pain. Sufferers have tender points on the neck, back, hips, shoulders, arms and legs . Thyroid disorders are common, but they're not necessarily a cause or effect. Stress and accidents or injuries can set off painful episodes. The vast majority of sufferers are women. Nobody is sure what causes it, but different people suspect nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disorders or infection. Since it's a syndrome, different things might cause be the cause in differen

Unlimited Nuts => Weight Gain for Me

Regular readers may know that I have dessert for breakfast (and sometimes dip for dinner). But the past few weeks saw me working long hours at ramming speed. Something had to give: it was my almond meal chocolate cookies and Dr. William Davis's low-carb brownies, both made with nut flour. This had a happy result (besides the good paychecks): the five pounds I put on a few months ago when I discovered these is leaving my midriff. It isn't the lack of sweetness at breakfast, since I've been having low carb, dairy-free chocolate custard for breakfast instead--two big pieces of it, along with coffee with coconut oil. I haven't completely given up nuts, I just don't have them every day, and when I do, I eat a handful of pistachios. With all due respect to Dr. Davis, I can't eat unlimited nuts and keep a flat belly. Dr. Richard Bernstein is on to nuts raising blood sugar,(1) and therefore, for some of us, causing weight gain: Nuts Although all nuts contain c

Fibromyalgia Help: Quick & Dirty Version

I've been researching fibromyalgia for the past few weeks and have come to a couple of conclusions. I'll give my reasoning and cite clinical research in a future post. Step 1. Go on a strict paleo diet (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no soy, no artificial sweeteners, no seed oils, period). Eat plenty of non-starchy veg, as long as it doesn't interfere with any thyroid or digestive problems. What is a paleo diet? See this . What's left to eat? See this . Step 2. Avoid large doses of calcium supplements--they interfere with magnesium absorption. Step 3 . If you're on acid blockers, get off of them. They interfere with magnesium absorption, they can lead to other health problems, and they were never meant to be taken indefinitely . See this post to learn how I cured my GERD. Basically, I went on a low carb diet and it cleared up within a few days. Step 4. Take magnesium supplements. A supplement ending in -ate will be better absorbed than Mg oxide. How much