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Showing posts from 2015

GI Distress and Moderation

It started with a round of healthy exercise back in 2012. I was riding my bike one minute and face-down on the sidewalk the next. My dentist predicted the two teeth that were knocked out of place would need a root canal someday, and early this year, one of them did. It took three rounds of antibiotics to clear the infection. The antibiotics left my already-touchy stomach railing against anything fatty--in other words, my normal diet. A few months later, the stress from a cross-country move where a lot was up in the air for months (my job, the purchase of one house while selling another, getting ready to sell the house, researching where to move), plus taking and then giving up my mother's dog, made 2015 the most stressful year I've ever been through. My nearly hour-long commute and going at ramming speed at work added to the stress. Then I stepped on a nail the night before I was going to pack up my stuff and leave--and I'm bad at packing. I pack up what I think is ever

What Difference Does it Make Why it Works?

This is the question someone asked me the other day in regards to the good results I've had on low-carb. Beyond just satisfying your curiosity, having a lattice work of mental models, as Charlie Munger puts it, can save you a lot of trouble. Without mental models of (in this case) human digestion, evolution, nutrition research, journalism, medical education, and even politics, all I'd have is just something that works for acid reflux. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Something that works might only work in certain situations, could be unpredictable, could have unintended consequences, or could just be a placebo effect. Knowing how something works reduces the danger.  As Munger's partner Warren Buffett put it, "Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing." Yet how often are people overconfident when they only know a thing or two? The web is full of bros who cut down on the beer and pizza, got some exercise and lost 40 pounds--and you can, too!

If you can sell potato chips...

If you can sell a bag of potato chips, why can't you sell 1000mg potassium pills? I've finally found an answer to my cravings and heart palpitations, and unfortunately, it's potato chips. It's not that I've jumped on the safe starch bandwagon, it's just that it suits my current needs: I tend to get low on salt and potassium. The chips have a lot of both, making my heart and energy level feel normal. I'm too wound up about moving to be very hungry. Therefore, I can eat half a bag at a time because I'm not eating much else. I've turned into one of those people who's lost weight eating potatoes. My stomach hasn't been normal since those three courses of antibiotics from my root canal. The chips feel good on my stomach if I don't eat too many. Downsides: Acne, gas, a bit of reflux, and probably a lack of certain nutrients.  Potassium isn't one of those nutrients, though. An eight-ounce bag of potato chips has 3727 mg o

Paleo Diet: Eating Differently from Everyone Else is Fine!

I've been seeing more and more articles by women (it's always women) whose heads have exploded trying to figure out life without yogurt and cupcakes. Oh, the shenanigans they get up to: bathroom problems from stuffing themselves with vegetables, paleo baked goods that don't taste the same as ones from the bakery, and especially the irresistible urge to eat "normally." The technical problems aren't hard to sort out: substitutes like baked goods will taste different because they are different, but an adjustment period of a few months will make those foods taste normal. And whatever you eat, don't stuff yourself. First, though, read a book by Loren Cordain or Mark Sisson to learn about the paleo diet before diving in. The articles I keep reading, though, have more to do with attitude: the urge to be exactly like everybody else or the urge to be helpless. If you're in the second category, I can't, by definition, help you. If you'd rather be Lu

A Good Scare: Missing Paleo Lifestyle Factor

"Life's no fun without a good scare." The Nightmare Before Christmas Hunter-gatherer life probably consisted of a lot of walking and standing, fairly infrequent eating, and the occasional short-lived scare. This sounds a lot like a trip to an amusement park. I just came back from Elitch's, where I did a lot of walking and standing in line and a little eating and riding the rides, where I felt like I was going to die. It left me wondering what effect it has on people when they never feel like they're in danger. It seems like it's common to feel an adrenaline rush, and then joy, when you escape a danger, real or perceived. At the 1989 World Series, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Candlestick Park and shook the stands for what seemed like minutes, as one reporter described it . The crowd let out a cheer when it was over. People pay to go to amusement parks to have a similar experience: fear, focus, relief, joy, and maybe gratitude that it's over and they

New Bedtime; New Dentist

The new method of getting to bed earlier is working. Last week I had the idea to see going to bed on time as punctuality. (Punctuality is a virtue to me because I so dislike covering for an employee who often shows up very late or waiting on people who are late just because they're diddling around.) I've generally been getting to bed between 10:45 and 11:00. I had a lapse last night because I lost track of time taking pictures to enter a contest for a kitchen makeover. But I haven't been staying up until midnight. I've not only been less tired, but less hungry. I even got up early one morning and worked out. It's been wonderful not to drag bleary-eyed through the day. ***** I had to find an new dentist since the last one quit taking my insurance. After searching reviews on the internet, and trying to decide which ones could be trusted, I settled on a dentist off East Colfax. In Denver, the character of a neighborhood can vary from block to block. There are pla

Bedtime as a Virtue

The habit of getting to bed on time, at 10:30, has eluded me. I know it's important to get enough sleep, but I'm never tired at 10 PM. I've been inspired to look at this a different way, though: I've begun to see going to bed on time as punctuality. Having waited for hours--no exaggeration--on Thanksgiving dinners at relatives' houses, having waited on my ex-jerk to show up to pretty much anything, having carried a coworker who'd often get to work 20 minutes late and then spend ten minutes making her breakfast, I've had enough. I admit that I often run a few minutes late. (I'm usually on time for work, but I do take PTO or a short lunch if I'm more than a few minutes late.) But now I'm inspired to change. The Art of Manliness site ran an article a few years ago called The Importance of Punctuality . Being on time, it says, shows integrity, dependability, builds self-confidence, and assures you're at your best.  George Washington was a s

Clueless Meddlers Part 2

Last time, I discussed clueless meddlers who misread, misunderstand and give useless advice on an individual level. This time, I'm looking at a few clueless meddlers who do it on a scale to attract media attention. Remember The Guy from CSPI, the vegan group that got saturated fats at restaurants replaced with trans fats? Food companies may now be replacing trans fats with something worse, another lab creation , according to Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. Here's The Guy from CSPI in action in a video from Fathead by Tom Naughton: Another crusader against fast food, Kia Robertson, put her nine-year-old daughter up to scolding a McDonald's CEO at a shareholder meeting . It wasn't fair that big companies tricked kids into eating food that isn't good for them, said daughter Hannah, who of course wasn't being manipulated in any way and apparently felt herself smarter than the other kids. At this writing, McDonald's is still selling Happy Meals, a

Clueless Meddlers

Has anyone run into this? A caring but clueless meddler sees someone with problems vaguely like their own and starts giving advice, which you know is off the mark. They're not the type of person who mentions once or twice how something worked for them, but persists even when their errors are pointed out to them. I don't see this often with diet-related stuff, since my mother and I both do low-carb, my meetup group drinks coffee and I avoid health subjects unless others bring them up, and my coworkers are mostly CPAs familiar with HIPAA and have work of their own to worry about. I think the last part is key: work of their own to worry about. Everybody has something they need to be doing--and ought to be doing it instead of creating problems from thin air so they can save the day. Robert over at Living Stingy wrote about the urge to save the day a while back. I might have quoted it before, but it's worth repeating. Before you decide to become an "activist&quo

Health Reporters Easily Punked by Chocolate Study

Did you read about the new study showing chocolate helps you lose weight? I'm sure regular readers here weren't taken in, but you might want to show something to your friends who keep up with health "news." The authors of that study just revealed that it was a hoax to shine a light on the sloppiness of the health media. The study was real and the authors didn't lie about anything but their credentials, they just did a poor experiment, sent out press releases and paid the impressive-sounding journal The International Archives of Medicine 600 euros to publish it. The study really did show greater weight loss in the chocolate group than the non-chocolate group and the control group, but... Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result. Our study included 18 different measurements—weight, cholesterol, sodium, blood protein levels

Apple Cider Vinegar FAIL: FODMAPs & Reflux

On the hypothesis that my mineral deficiencies are caused by low stomach acid, today I tried supplementing with vinegar. This morning, I took a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with some water at breakfast (a Quest bar and coffee) and at lunch sprinkled some red wine vinegar on my salad. The good: I didn't get hungry between meals--that's unusual for me, especially on such a light breakfast. The bad: I got acid reflux and a lot of burping, which is also unusual for me. Sinus congestion, too. Given my very low-carb breakfast, the only reason I could think of for the reflux was FODMAPs. (Quest bars have prebiotic fiber that gives some people FODMAPs problems, but not me.) Apples are one of the worst things for giving me acid reflux, and apple cider vinegar is apparently high in FODMAPs--fermentable carbohydrates that some people don't digest well. When you don't digest a carbohydrate well, it ferments in your intestines. Fermentation requires bacteria. But I haven'

Mineral Deficiencies and Soda Cravings

As readers may know, I have to take mineral supplements. I also crave coffee and soda, which are both acid. Hmmm. Iron is better absorbed with vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid). Calcium is better absorbed with vinegar (acid). Lemon juice (acidic) breaks down meat (which contains minerals). It does it so well you can chemically cook fish in lemon juice to make ceviche. I put vinegar in the dishwasher to dissolve mineral deposits.  Cola is acid (the pH is around 3-4). Maybe my problem is due to low stomach acid. Years ago, I tried vinegar for GERD without success. Maybe it's time to try it for digestion. Why didn't I think of this before?

Why Grain-Based Diet Recommendations are Finished

Is that a pork chop? This looks a lot like a low-carb diet. Bye-bye, Ancel Keys. You were on the cover of Time once, sternly warning readers about cholesterol. Now the agencies you once guided are about to throw you under the bus for three reasons: Well-done intervention studies have shown the superiority of low-carb diets v. high-carb diets in terms of weight loss and lipids. This is the reason that sounds good. The rest of the story is that the the effects of insulin and carbohydrates on hunger and weight gain have been well-known for a long time--so long that they're described in endocrinology textbooks. Before that, weight gain from starchy diet was described in literature from the nineteenth century. The well-done intervention studies and the Internet have made it impossible for health "charities" to continue advising high-carb diets for diabetes and weight gain without fear of lawsuits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics did enough applauding of the

Palpitations Gone with Iron

Thanks to my internet friend Larcana, who alerted me to the connection between iron deficiency and palpitations, I doubled down on my iron supplements and, for good measure, washed them down with Emergen-C. It's a cold medicine with a mega-dose of vitamin C, plus B vitamins and minerals. I don't think vitamin C does anything for a cold (a friend bought the stuff and left it at my house the last time she visited), but vitamin C does help iron absorption. After doubling up on iron in the last three days, I feel back to normal. (I'd already been taking quite a bit of magnesium and potassium, so I probably had sufficient levels of those.) How did I get so low on iron? Maybe it was too many Quest bars instead of red meat when I had odd cravings during my dental infection recently. Maybe because it's too hard to find liver at the grocery store and I haven't eaten much of it lately. Maybe the antibiotics damaged my intestines . And apparently, I'm a heavy bleeder .

Dietitians' Recommendations: Progress, but Cognitive Dissonance

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has officially acknowledged well-founded scientific findings(1).  Specifically, Saturated fat is fine. Cholesterol is fine. Red meat has important nutrients, such as protein and iron. They call red meat an "important source of shortfall nutrients, such as iron." They add, "The Academy did not interpret that recommendation as impugning the healthfulness of red meat or its place in recommended meal patterns as a protein..." Hooray! The fifty pounds of angus beef in my freezer has their blessing! They even called it healthful! But wait--don't eat too much of it: " meat consumption [at an average of 20 ounces per week] exceeds [our] recommendations for most subgroups and...a greater share of recommended protein consumption should be met by seafood, legumes and nuts." Let's break this down: red meat is entirely, or almost entirely, fat and protein. If protein is good, and saturated and monounsa

Still Getting Palpitations a Month On

My apparent reaction to epinephrine from a root canal continues. I know the epinephrine is long out of my system, but I'm still having to pop magnesium and potassium pills several times a day. People who dismiss palpitations as a reaction to a very low-carb diet probably haven't been through it. Peter at Hyperlipid called palpitations from ketogenic diets "interesting." Here's something I think is interesting: the change in my complexion. A few days ago I saw I looked like I was wearing orange makeup, which had matched my skin before. A cosmetologist selected a new shade for me. L to R: the new foundation and the old. I haven't been this pale since the early 2000s. I've been taking my iron pills every night (my complexion darkened when I started taking them some years ago). Maybe I'm not absorbing minerals well... But I'm happy to say my energy levels have been stabilizing--I'm even tired at 10PM, something brand new for me--and I

I'm Low Carb but Can't Fast; Need Supplements

Here are two annoying myths about low-carb diets: everybody on a LC diet can fast, and nobody will need supplements. I've been low-carb for over five years, and fairly strict: slip-ups give me acid reflux within a few days. But I can't fast and I still need supplements. I don't mind needing three real meals a day plus snacks or taking vitamins. What's annoying is people not believing me when I say I need to do this. "But, are you sure?" they ask. "Are you really low-carb? Did you just start? Is it just cravings? Have you stopped eating grains?" I'm sure I'm hypoglycemic: I had most of the symptoms most of my life and the blood glucose meter confirmed my falling blood sugar when I tried to fast. I quit eating wheat five years ago. I know cravings from hunger and don't have a history of binge eating. A medical test confirmed that I had iron deficiency anemia; if I don't take iron pills, I get so weak I can barely prise myself out o

Food for $29 a Week? Yes, if you're Doing Low-Carb and Shopping the Sales

With some help from my frugal Internet friend Galina, I've figured out how to live within a $29-per-week grocery budget, which is what some people get as part of SNAP:   calories price $/100 calories 12 eggs            852   $     3.00   $              0.35 2 chickens, whole         4,280   $     8.40   $              0.20 head romaine lettuce            106   $     0.99   $              0.93 pound butter         3,240   $     5.00   $              0.15 head cabbage            218   $     1.62   $              0.74 avocado            227   $     0.88   $              0.39 can salmon            536   $     2.48   $              0.46 3 pounds pork         4,272   $     4.50   $              0.11 salad dressing          2,176   $     1.49   $              0.07         15,907

Nutritious Food on $29 a Week? Probably not Possible

Here's what $33.58 will buy--that's pretty close to the $29 a week challenge some people have taken lately in sympathy with people on the SNAP program. (The maximum amount you can get on SNAP is $194 per month according to the USDA, which comes out to $44.77 per week.) The grass-fed angus was inexpensive ($3.90 per pound) because I buy it in bulk--and it's an odd cut (cheek meat). There are a lot more calories here than in the rice, beans, tortillas and vegetation others have bought on the challenge. Nevertheless, what you see here amounts to only 5,397 calories, or 771 calories a day. calories price $/100 calorie 12 eggs 852 $3.00 $0.35 4.75# beef 3,629 $18.53 $0.51 2 cans sardines 400 $6.98 $1.75 head cabbage 218 $1.62 $0.74 avocado 227 $0.88 $0.39 red bell pepper 37 $0.88 $2.38 English cucumber 34 $1.69 $4.97 Total 5,397 $33.58 $0.62 To eat such a diet for a week on 1,500 calories per day would cost $65. You might get more calories for less mone

This Just In: Yogurt Doesn't Improve Health

A recent study from Spain finds "In comparison with people that did not eat yogurt, those who ate this dairy product regularly did not display any significant improvement in their score on the physical component of quality of life, and although there was a slight improvement mentally, this was not statistically significant," states López-García. Most yogurt is pretty much pudding with a little bacteria . Pudding is a sugar bomb. Hard to believe the stuff doesn't improve health outcomes, isn't it? But as usual, researchers are calling for...more research. "For future research more specific instruments must be used which may increase the probability of finding a potential benefit of this food."

Adventures in Adrenaline

Jim said he didn't want no more damned adventures. - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Getting a shot of epinephrine once again made me feel tired and gave me palpitations. At least this time I knew to pop magnesium pills (good ones ending in -ate) like candy. I now carry three magnesium pills with me in case of emergency--they don't have any at hospitals. The second part of my root canal was Wednesday. Thursday was a major deadline at work, and when a code enforcement officer called me about some overgrown weeds in my front yard, I was all out of nice. Between the mostly cold weather, a dental infection and shots of the dreaded epinephrine, I hadn't felt up to anything but going to work and being bothered by a bureaucrat over some weeds was too much. But by Saturday, I felt well enough to weed the front yard, prune the tree there and clean the house. Today (Sunday), I found I felt better if I moved around--I spaded up part of the back yard to plant mo

Fibromyalgia Sufferers: Dr. Seignalet's Book is Now in English

Some years ago, I wrote a blog post on fibromyalgia relief. I don't suffer from it myself, but hoped a friend could benefit from it. The post referenced a book by Dr. Jean Seignalet, who recommended a mostly raw, mostly paleo diet. Really--don't knock s teak tartar and a salad on a hot summer day until you've tried it. Anyway, Dr. Seignalet's book has been translated into English and it's available on Kindle for only $2.99. The description says you can prevent and reverse 100 diseases "the French way." I haven't read it, but will get it to see if I can avoid ENT infections. (If anything like the Spanish flu ever made a comeback, I'm sure it would kill me. Three dollars and a few hours seems like a reasonable investment to avoid that outcome.)

Jacek's Wheat Belly Transformation: What Happened to the Comments?

Over at the Wheat Belly blog, Dr. Davis posted a "before and after" set of pictures of "Jacek" from Poland , who claimed to have lost 20kg (44 pounds). A few readers commented that things didn't look right: the lighting, clothing and facial expression were all very different in what looked like a photo studio setting, where these could have easily been kept about the same. And Jacek really didn't look that much lighter. I added my opinion as a former professional photographer: the camera angle, lighting and setting looked professionally done, that the lighting in the "before" photo was coming from both sides, emphasizing texture (like wrinkles), lighting both sides of the face, making it look wider. Side lighting typically isn't used in portraits for these reasons. Jacek was wearing frumpy clothes and had stubble and gray hair in the before photo, things known to make people look ten years older. In the "after" photo, he was cl

My Dog is Smarter than your Dietician

Dieticians might recommend plenty of healthy whole grains and low-fat products (maybe even "good fats" from plants if they're progressive), but my dog, Molly, knows better. Like me, she follows a low-carb diet of mostly meat, eggs and fibrous vegetables, along with vitamins. At her vet visit this weekend, she was down three pounds (though still a little chubby) and had clean, healthy teeth. The vet said she sees a lot of slimy teeth--but not on Molly. Molly's wisdom: Vegetables are fine for a snack, but meat and eggs are best for a meal. Food is supposed to be enjoyed! Brush your teeth and avoid sweet and starchy foods. I'm looking at you, paleo bro. Have a weekly treat.  Get some exercise, but don't strain yourself. Get off the treadmill when you're tired of it. Sleep when you're tired. The right vitamins will make you feel good. Ignore yappy little dogs.  Eat real food, mostly animals, but not too much.

This Root Canal: Way Better than the Last Time

Five years ago, I started this blog with the purpose of helping myself and others relieve pain. I've come to relieve my pain so well that I don't always know when I'm sick. I had an abscessed tooth then and I had another one a few days ago. I was in the worst pain of my life back then; this time, I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. (An important difference: the nerve in the tooth was dead this time. The tooth was knocked out of place in an accident a few years ago, and my dentist said it would probably need a root canal someday.) Still, all I had this time were signs here and there that something was wrong. After seeing my oral surgeon last Friday when my face was swollen (one of those odd signs), he referred me to an endodontist (a dentist specializing in root canals) and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I said no thanks to pain medicine--nothing against it if you need it, but I didn't. The antibiotics perked me up so much that I did a lot of

Defer to Experts? Experts can be Conned

"Rational ignorance," says Wikipedia , "occurs when the cost of educating oneself on an issue exceeds the potential benefit that the knowledge would provide." Rational ignorance is not letting experts do your thinking for you because they're smart and you'd rather fiddle around on Facebook than educate yourself. That's intellectual laziness. Laziness isn't always a bad thing, but let's see where it can lead. For one Ph.D. in physics at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, it lead to an embarrassing moment. He saw someone do a telekinesis trick, and, convinced it was real, called James Randi, a professional magician and skeptic. For several years, Randi has offered a $1 million reward for anyone who can perform paranormal phenomena under controlled conditions. Watch him do (and explain) the telekinesis trick that fooled a Ph.D. in physics: It's not just one physics Ph.D. who could be fooled. As a former engineer, I met colleagu

More Fallout from my Bike Wreck

There's a lot of talk now about how factors besides genes and current diet affect health and weight: the health of your mother when you were a fetus, your diet as a child, stress, and environment. Another is wear and tear. A few years ago when I fell off my bike and broke a tooth and knocked two others out of place, my dentist said that the two knocked out of place would likely need a root canal someday because of the injury. It could be two weeks, it could be two years, he said. Now, nearly three years later, the canine that was injured is abscessed.  Between being lethargic (doing nothing but watching Netflix when I got home), wearing my winter coat when everyone else was in shirtsleeves, and having an odd appetite (I've been living mostly on Quest bars this past month), I should have known I was sick. But I have a high threshold of pain. Finally, my face swelled up Friday morning and I made an appointment with my oral surgeon--the one who did my dental implant and g

I Can't Give up my Carbs!

If you're having trouble feeling well on a low-carb diet, read a book like The New Atkins for a New You or The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living to do some troubleshooting. Eat some fat and salt, avoid polyunsaturated fat, and take a magnesium pill in the meantime. If you're having trouble finding low-carb food, stock your home with it, take it with you for lunch, and don't leave the house hungry unless you know for a fact that there's low carb food where you're going. If you don't know how to prepare low-carb food, get a recipe book by Dana Carpender. But if it's just too yummy or if everybody else is eating it or you deserve a treat or it reminds you of happier times or all the experts still don't agree... You can make all the excuses you want, but you're the one who decided how to live your life. -Mugen, Samurai Champloo There's something sexy about defiant people who face reality with courage and skill instead of del