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Showing posts from 2013

Want Pretty Shoes with Less Pain? Try a High Fat Diet

I've never been a shoe horse. Being wide, my feet don't fit into most shoes of the right length. I went barefoot whenever I could as a kid and even now I prefer tennis shoes and flat sandals to ballet flats and stilettos. But tall boots are handy this time of year. I have a pair of Italian leather boots that are a little too long for me and rubbed my heels--until recently. Now, they're as comfortable as socks. Since I hardly ever wore them, it's hard to say when the change happened. But I've also noticed that I can brush hot grease off my skin and forget about it where it would have left a burn before. Several years ago, a grease splatter from a pan of Moroccan chicken left a trail of blisters up my left arm. I don't have unassailable evidence that a low carb, high fat diet made my skin more resilient, but people on such a diet often find the same thing. Maybe it's better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A and D and higher intake of zinc that make a d

Pale? Tired? Craving Chocolate? Maybe You're Iron Deficient

Here's a tale of two holidays. Thanksgiving day, I could barely get out of my chair. Answering three phone calls was a major annoyance and baking a crustless pumpkin pie was a slog. But over Christmas week, I've put plastic weatherstripping over windows at my parents' house, gone to a movie, done a lot of shopping (after watching a lot of What Not to Wear ), learned to use my new Mac, recycled my old computer and printer, and taken two trunk loads of stuff to Goodwill after cleaning out my basement. I haven't cleaned out my basement in almost 18 years. I'm working out twice a week again. And my pants are falling off me. What made the difference? Before Thanksgiving, I'd gotten out of the habit of taking an iron supplement. I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia a few years ago when I went to see a doctor for an unrelated problem. (He noticed I was pale and ordered a test.) Even with good diet habits since then (no medications, no grain, no dairy except b

Regretting Holiday Hedonism? Various Guides to Low Carb

Hope you're having a Merry Christmas! It's the fourth anniversary of this blog and it's been almost that long since I started a low-carb diet and never looked back. That's not to say I never have a moment of weakness. Too much chocolate last week brought back the GI problems that I set out to solve four years ago. I can't eat chocolate bars in moderation, so I don't keep them around anymore. For others, it's Christmas cookies, stuffing, bread, pie, and other carbs that make this the most fattening time of the year. How to get back on track--or start a LC diet? Someone asked me this just yesterday. Since different approaches work for different people, here are a few sources for various types of people. Just tell me what to eat. Here's a quick guide to low-carb from Dr. Andreas Eenfeld t. I want to know how this actually works. Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, who have treated thousands of patients with low-carb diets, explain diet, hormones and

Cereal Killers: The Movie. Watch it Here!

Yekra Player Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films. Cereal Killers * * * * * The film follows Donal – a lean, fit, seemingly healthy 41 year old man – on a quest to hack his genes and drop dead healthy by avoiding the heart disease and diabetes that has afflicted his family. Donal’s father Kevin, an Irish gaelic football star from the 1960s, won the first of 2 All Ireland Championships with the Down Senior Football Team in 1960 before the biggest crowd (94,000) ever seen at an Irish sporting event. When Kevin suffered a heart attack later in life, family and friends were shocked. How does a lean, fit and seemingly healthy man – who has sailed through cardiac stress tests – suddenly fall victim to heart disease? Can a controversial diet consisting of 70% fat provide the answers? Losing weight, improving lipids and eliminating inflammation on a high-fat, low-carb diet? Yes--even if you have the genes for inflammation and heart dise

Low-Fat: the Microsoft of Diets

You know the feeling: there's a system out there that's wildly popular, almost everybody uses it (except for some maverick non-fiction-loving nerds), and its proponents are at the top of the heap in their field. And yet the system isn't working for you. There's bloating. The help from on high isn't helpful. It takes so long to accomplish anything. It isn't you, it's the operating system. Low-fat diets are like Microsoft products: they're everywhere, and they work well enough for some people, but for others, they're an epic fail. Over the past few days, to work around an issue that Microsoft has known about for years and years, I've had to manually resize dozens of images every time I opened a document. And I've spent the entire evening tonight figuring out why my computer was at a standstill. (It turned out the automatic updates feature in good ol' Microsoft has been running up my CPU usage to 100%, bloating it like five servings o

HOW Many Teaspoons of Sugar in a Can of Coke?

Dr. Briffa recently blogged that Coca-Cola misrepresented how many teaspoons of sugar are in a can of Coke. A Coca-Cola executive said there were six; Dr. Briffa calculates that there are 8.66 teaspoons: 35 grams of sugar divided by 4.5 grams per teaspoon equals 8.66 teaspoons. But by my calculations, 35/4.5 = 7.78. I posted a comment to Dr. Briffa's blog, but it wasn't published and is no longer awaiting moderation. All of us can't be right. ETA: Dr. Briffa published my comment.

Weakness, Diabetes, Dementia: A Common Link?

My father will be coming home from the hospital any day. He went last week because he was so weak that he could barely move after he fell. He's doing better, but he'll need round-the-clock supervision. Dad has the impression that he's stronger than he is. I was with him during a visit with a psychiatrist, who saw him because he said he was going to call a taxi and leave. Dad said he thought he was at a bank. He drew a good clock, but put the wrong time on it. He did well on other questions, such as the date, the president, and his personal history, but last night, he kept saying that my mother was at the hospital. She wasn't, and has no way of getting there on her own. When Dad comes home, he'll find some new furniture, some technology to help him, and someone besides Mom to make sure he doesn't hurt himself. What he won't find is a bunch of junk food. I took home four trash bags full of chips, crackers, cookies, pretzels, potato mix, gravy mix, cake mix,

The Low-Carb Fraud: A Review

T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, has written a new book (more of a report at 57 pages) called The Low-Carb Fraud. Let's start with what Dr. Campbell gets right: There are different kinds of carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the intestine. Refined carbohydrates are bad.  Low carb diets are fun! (I swear I'm not making this up) Calories don't matter unless you're going to extremes. People lose weight on low carbohydrate diets. People lower their insulin levels on low carbohydrate diets. That's about it. Mostly, he slanders low-carb proponents and he lies, lies again, and lies some more. He lies when he doesn't need to lie. To wit:  " Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution ...had not been especially successful in the marketplace." According to Dr. Atkins' obituary in The New York Times, " its various editions sold more than 15 million copies, making it one of the best selling books ever.&qu

No Cavities, but if that's not Working for you...

"You might want to read The China Study ." Good lord, there's someone still recommending that book after it was debunked by an English major and picked apart by Michael Eades and Chris Masterjohn ? Recommended by someone who works in a dentist's office, no less--where they're supposed to tell you to avoid carbage? Yet the dental hygienist did today. Maybe she was worried about business slowing down. Maybe she hadn't heard that at least two of its main critics got a mouthful of cavities on vegan or vegetarian diets. I didn't have any cavities, sensitive gums or other issues that a little more flossing wouldn't fix, and told her that I quit getting cavities after I started a low-carb diet. I added that since I'm from a family full of diabetes, that's another reason to be on a low-carb diet. "Well, if your diet isn't working for you, read The China Study. " I wasn't about to argue with a vegan holding a pick in my mouth.

The Woman Cave

Need a dining room set? I'm selling mine since all it does is collect dust and papers. Not having many of those health-giving, life-lengthening, cortisol-dampening relationships, I haven't had company in two years. I replaced the old furniture with a papasan chair, which I've enjoyed more than I the casual acquaintances I went to some trouble to acquire, who came and sat at the table once or twice. Of course, I've read about studies showing close relationships making us happier and live longer, and studies showing that introverts are happier when they act extroverted. But what about real life? Most relationships are friendships of convenience. Acquaintances who aren't classmates, coworkers or neighbors take time and effort to meet, and I've come by very few who were worth the effort. As for playing a gadfly, what would a study find if it had people calling in sick and getting drunk instead of going to work--that they were happier? Probably, but like someone w

Institute for Justice Kicks off National Food Freedom Initiative

This just in from the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm: The Government vs. Your Food IJ Launches New National Food Freedom Initiative Arlington, Va.—A new national initiative launched today by the Institute for Justice seeks to make sure the government stays out of some of the most personal decisions people make every day:  What we eat and how we get our food.  This nationwide campaign will bring property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges to laws that dictate what Americans can grow, raise, eat or even talk about. Read an Associated Press feature on the National Food Freedom Initiative To kick off the initiative, IJ is today filing three separate lawsuits challenging Miami Shores, Florida’s ban on front-yard vegetable gardens; Minnesota’s severe restrictions on home bakers, or “cottage food” producers; and Oregon’s ban on the advertisement of raw—or unpasteurized—milk.  Each case demonstrates how real the need for food freedom is in e

How to Write a Newspaper Nutrition Article

This article from the Miami Herald, " Popular Paleo Diet Still Has its Skeptics " by Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley, is a textbook example of how to write a nutrition article. Choose a hot topic. In this case, paleo diets. Describe the topic and how it got started. This article cites popular media and books written no less than 12 years ago; one book is from 1975.  Find some examples of people who've tried the regimen. One man interviewed lost 200 pounds (yes, two hundred) and got rid of his acid reflux; a bariatric surgeon lost 40 pounds. Somewhere in the article, mention that they are not alone.  Create conflict. A couple of registered dieticians interviewed trot out the gospel of food groups, healthy whole grains, and warnings that more research is needed. Recommend people talk to their doctor. What NOT to do when writing a newspaper article on nutrition: Proofread. "Just about everybody , including daytime talk show hosts and fitness bloggers, are touting.

AHA Recommends Statins for the Poor, People Near Airports, and Everyone in the Southeastern US

Not really, but why not? The American Heart Association now recommends cholesterol-lowering drugs for people who don't necessarily have low cholesterol, just risk factors for heart disease . (1) What is a risk factor? It's something that is statistically associated with heart disease. Everyone say it with me: association is not the same as causation. Take a look at the map below: Map from the Center for Disease Control . Obviously, living in the southeastern US (or Appalachia) is a risk factor for heart disease. As my father says about most car accidents happening within a few miles of home, you'd better move away from there. But the whole population there can't move out west, and I don't want them bringing their sweet tea and hushpuppies and green and orange jello here. The obvious solution is to prescribe statins by ZIP code, right? That goes for people who live near airports , too.(2) The AHA could get together with the IRS and doctors could prescribe

Need a Prosthetic Hand? Got $10? DIY!

From the Hit and Run blog at Shirking $30,000 in medical fees for a traditional prosthetic hand, videographer Paul McCarthy built a multi-colored “Robohand” for his son using a friend’s 3-D printer. McCarthy says he spent, “Five, maybe, ten bucks.” The boy, 12-year-old Leon McCarthy, was born without fingers on his left hand. Once he turned ten, Paul started searching for an inexpensive and functional prosthetic alternative. What he found changed his son’s life. A YouTube video by Washington-based special effects artist and puppeteer, Ivan Owen, shows the results of the artist's collaborative effort to build a Robohand for a disabled boy in South Africa. DIY hand. Photo from  More homemade prosthetics are here .

My Parents' Doctor Fired Them. Hurray!

December 17, 1999 found me so happy that I was jumping up and down and laughing. I'd just been laid off from my last engineering job, a job I could have done as a high school sophomore, a job so dull I felt a piece of myself dying every day as I sat through seven light changes to get out of the office park. No more. I was free of that miserable job. This should have been the reaction (in spirit) of my mom when her doctor fired her as a patient last week. She asked her nephew, an M.D. (who also left engineering) if a doctor could do that. Certainly--if you were a doctor, would you want to be forced to treat patients you felt you couldn't help? Call it at-will treatment. My parents' now-former doctor changed my mother's diabetes medication without giving her any advice to monitor blood sugar levels carefully or adjust her insulin, and my mother ended up with blood sugar levels in the 50s some mornings. My father didn't want to take a certain medication because of

Think All Doctors are Trustworthy? Read This

Let me start by saying that I think most doctors are decent people who want to help their patients. But sometimes I struggle to fathom the way they think. Dr. Michael Eades says most doctors aren't critical thinkers , so maybe that explains it. (Eades is a former civil engineer. If you can't solve problems, you don't last long in engineering school.) First, I have to wonder about the common sense (let alone critical thinking) of physicians, who in general can't transform a six-figure income into large nest egg . Yes, physicians have expenses, but so do the rest of us. Why don't they just start an IRA with Vanguard and set up automatic payments? How does this concern you if you're not a doctor? Where there's money, there's motive. Prescribing statins, PPIs and diabetes drugs and recommending ADA and AHA diets sounds a lot easier, and more profitable, than revisiting  endocrinology textbooks, learning to interpret medical studies, and working with patie

Vitamin D May Not Help a Cold. Maybe Avoiding Sugar Does.

I just found this from the Vitamin D Council: Also, readers should be aware (if they are not already) that vitamin D does not prevent all viral respiratory infections. As we noted in correspondence to our first influenza paper, rhinoviruses, the most common cause of the common cold, are not seasonal; that is, they are just as common in the summer as in the winter, and they do not have a lipoprotein coat for antimicrobial peptides to destroy....If you are already taking 5,000 IU a day and you get a cold, chances are that more vitamin D will not help much. No one should take large doses for more than a few days and then only if the infection is severe(1) However, vitamin D levels are inversely associated with upper respiratory tract infections .(2) If you haven't been taking any vitamin D, a moderate dose might help. Nevertheless, I have (mostly) gotten over my cold faster than some acquaintances, who came down with colds before I did and are still sick. (One coworker

A Thinking Person's Halloween Movies

As much as I love movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, Moonlight, and The Dresden Files, it's refreshing to watch a suspenseful movie without ghoulies or ghosties or long-legged beasties, where the dead stay dead and the most rational person in the room stays alive. I bring this up since low-carbers tend to be thinkers and rationalists who might enjoy these movies as much as I do. A few of my favorites: Call Northside 777 . Based on a true story about a man wrongly convicted of killing a policeman. For reference, the $5,000 reward that the man's mother earned scrubbing floors is worth almost $50,000 today. Gaslight. Paula is innocent, too, but her conniving husband wants her to think she's losing her mind. If you've ever heard the term "being gaslighted," this is the movie where it comes from. Coma. Afraid of doctors or hospitals? This movie should give you a good scare. Nancy Drew. Something lighter: a smart, nerdy young heroine solves a

Fat Fast for a Cold?

Inflamed: this is how my nasal passages felt yesterday evening after a few days of sinus congestion. Even though I was well enough that day to take part in a round table discussion on where morality comes from (where I mentioned the story of 1808, a Homo erectus who was taken care of for months or weeks through an illness ), and walk to the grocery store and back, by bedtime, I felt like I was going to drown in mucus. It was 9:30 a.m. before I could rouse myself from bed to call in sick. I already have way of dealing with sinus infections: SWAMP (sinuses with a mucus problem). I take 100,000 IU of vitamin D, Mucinex, and salt as needed. But last summer, I had such good results getting rid of gastritis with the fat fast that I've decided to add that. The fat fast (book here ) involves eating 1,000 calories per day, with 90% of the calories coming from fat. (My lack of appetite is helping me stick to it.) So far, I've eaten some dark chocolate, a cup of broth with a bit of

Catalyst Program on Cholesterol and Saturated Fat: What to Believe?

Regular Janes and Joes who watched the TV program Catalyst: Heart of the Matter on saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease are probably confused now. What is this idea that saturated fat is good for you and that sugar and inflammation may cause heart disease? Everybody knows that saturated fat and cholesterol are bad, right? Regular Janes and Joes don't need to be doctors or scientists to consider some of the evidence for themselves. Or in this case, the lack of evidence. For forty years, and using hundreds of thousands of people, researchers have been trying to prove that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. The result, according to Dr. Robert Grenfell of the National Heart Foundation of Australia: When you ask that question of 'Do dietary fats increase heart disease?', you're sort of trying to negate all the other risk factors that, in fact, actually also cause heart disease. So, to imagine creating a study that would prove that conclusivel

Halloween without Sugar, without Weight Gain

Once again, I'm planning a Halloween without candy, temptation or weight gain. Instead of turning off the lights and ignoring the doorbell, I'll be giving the kids money. I'll put my spare change in a big bowl and throw a few coins into their bags. The kids love it and so do I. My hairstylist has her own way of avoiding eating leftover candy: she buys the same candy she puts out for her clients, and puts leftovers in the dishes in her salon. She remarked today that if you give kids fruit, they'll probably throw it away. We saw this with changes in school lunches, and even if a kid does like fruit, it can be hard to eat if they wear braces. Meantime, here are a few videos to get you in the mood for Halloween. Above: "Gus Fring, Hiding in Plain Sight." Scenes from Breaking Bad. Warning: violent scenes. Scenes from Death Note. Song: "This is Halloween" by Marilyn Manson. The Orphanage trailer. Creepiest movie I've ever seen.

How Can You Afford an Accident?

Regular readers know that I'm fully healed from an accident that happened a year ago. After a month with my arm in a sling, nine months in braces, and surgeries to remove and replace a broken tooth, I'm back to normal. And as of this month, so is my emergency fund. Readers may not know that the accident set me back $7,000. Most of my injuries involved my teeth, and American dental insurance generally doesn't cover braces for adults or dental implants for anyone. Now that the cost of health insurance has dramatically gone up for some people to the point that they can't afford it, having some savings has become even more important. Having savings gives you some security. It'll also save you money over having to get a loan or using credit cards. I thought about offering some money-saving tips, but those are easy to find, and my tips may not apply to everyone. Besides, it's not useful if you take the savings and spend it on something else. The real question is

Elderly, Disabled Parents? Just Pony Up!

That’s what a social worker and one of my parents’ neighbors say I ought to be doing. “Pony up” is the term the busybody neighbor used--the one who brings high-carb dishes to my diabetic parents. Let’s see how this might work in real life. My parents live out in the suburbs; I work downtown and live halfway in between. I have a full-time job and a 45-minute commute each way. Certain times of the year (like last week), I work long hours to meet deadlines. I have 138 hours of paid time off I need to take. There’s also my house, yard and dog to take care of. So every morning, I’ll jump in my car at 6:00, get my parents’ breakfast and make sure they’ve taken all their pills. Oh wait, they’re not up then. I’ll just water their yard. At 7:00, I’ll leave to go downtown, park, and walk to the office. At 10, I’ll call my parents and ask what pills they’ve taken. If they’re out of something, I’ll get their prescription at lunch, fix their meal, drive back downtown, pay for another parkin

Prana on a Plate!

Check out the little red symbol in the ad for ground beef. I didn't see it with any ads for hearthealthywholegrain products. Click to enlarge. Sprouts sale flyer. Not Photoshopped. Sticker shock? Ask the butcher for some grass-fed fat to add to your burger.

Carb Creep, Thanksgiving, Dogs, Chickens and Worms

Carb Control Works Again Something that just happened makes me wonder how often low carb diets "stop working" for people because they don't realize the extent of their carb creep. The scale and the clothes-o-meter told me last week that I was gaining weight. I had to face the idea that I can't eat peanut M&Ms without gaining. weight. Just by cutting out my few handfuls of M&Ms every day, I'm down four pounds. That doesn't sound like much, but on me, it makes the difference between having a flat belly and having the beginning of a pot belly. What really struck me, though, was how much better I felt. Once again, I can run on six hours' sleep. My head feels clearer and I've started on projects I meant to do months ago. A coworker happened to give up the M&Ms at the same time and noticed how much better she felt, too. As she put it, you know all that sugar has to be bad for you if you feel so much better without it. Who Says Thanksgiving