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Showing posts from May, 2015

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