31 August 2009

A corny story, Pt. I

Biology instructors regularly teach and discuss the theory of carrying capacity. This is a term used for exactly how many individuals in a population of a species that the environment around them can feed and support. Here is a grossly simplified example:

If there's 1,000 acres of grass, this land can support 100 rabbits. If there's only 100 rabbits, there will only be 10 foxes. The foxes eat the rabbits and if they don't eat, they die. The fox population remains steady as long as the rabbit population remains steady and the food available to the rabbits remains steady. Each is dependent on another. Populations ebb and flow with the environment and resources. Right?

All animals seem to follow this pattern, but most biologists will argue that humans have yet to reach their carrying capacity. On one hand, they appear to be right. Our population has been ever increasing exponentially each year, which is illustrated by this graph.

How does all this have anything to do with what you eat?

I'd argue all day long that our world's carrying capacity of humans was met long ago around the turn of the 20th century. That's when we started playing with nature. Just like we've manipulated corn into high fructose corn syrup, we've manipulated the food supply and therefore the population. There's simply too many people in the world to support and feed in a healthful manner (using the current system).

Let's go back to the turn of the century when the face of farming began to change. At one point, pastures were filled with horses and cattle and fields filled of a large variety of vegetables and this helped to ensure that if the demand for a particular crop declined or there were poor yields of another, there would still be food on the table (for the farmer and us). Through a series of unfortunate events, the government and corporations in the farming industry began to encourage monocultures. Instead of a large variety of crops and livestock, farmers began focusing on just one of two things: corn and soybeans. They'd pack their fields full of genetically modified seeds that could produce more calories per acre than we had ever thought possible before. Farms became less of a farm and more of a factory. More corn equals less demand for corn and less demand for corns equals a lower price. Farmers were hardly making enough to break even anymore. It started to cost more to grow than it's actually worth at market.

So how did we fix this? We now had an industry dependent on the success of corn, so the government told them to grow more corn and then paid them for it. All this corn had to go somewhere so we taught our cows and chickens how to eat it. We constructed chemical ingedients out of it. We pump it into our cars.

So why corn? What's it's deal?

More to come...

28 August 2009


Spoon your way to health! ...Yeah, right.

Vitamin supplements are a fantastic (albeit expensive) tool commonly used today to improve the amount of nutrients available to our body. Supplements are extremely beneficial to your health.


If Americans would eat a proper diet of foods with a high nutrient to calorie ratio and had these foods readily available to them in the first place, we would have no need for expensive supplements! Whole foods have been proven time and time again to be better sources of vitamins and minerals. Some recent studies have even shown negative effects associated with megadosing on certain vitamins.

So do I take vitamins? Certainly, but only a select few.

1. Fish oil - I've discussed very briefly in a previous article the necessary balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3's are an amazing tool at lowering inflation in the body, but it it darn near impossible to maintain an ideal ratio unless you catch your own fatty cold water fish, raise chickens in your backyard, and eat 100% grass fed beef 100% of the time. A fish oil supplement provides a few extra grams of omega-3's that keep your body running efficiently.

I take two to three daily, but skip out on them on the days I eat salmon or tuna (which I try to do at least twice a week). Check out this video from Dr. Barry Sears (author of The Zone diet book) on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid.

2. Multi-Mineral - I've also discussed briefly the fact that large amounts of vitamin D and calcium aren't necessary when eating real whole food and restricting grain and legume products, but multi-mineral supplements do ensure that you are getting just enough. They also include things like manganese, iron, and copper. You are likely getting enough of these from your protein sources, but if your protein requirements are a little lower (older adult males and all females), the extra little bit certainly won't hurt. I take two each day.

In short, forget acai extract and goji extract and green tea extract and fiber this and fiber that and reservatrol and ultra super mega man sport pills. Eat real, whole, natural food to limit your need for vitamin supplements. The real thing is always better than the $50 pills at GNC.

26 August 2009

Why vegetarianism isn't the answer

PETA recently began a new ad campaign and put up a billboard in Jacksonville, FL suggesting that overweight Americans should turn to a vegetarian way of eating to "lose the blubber." See the story here.

I've said before that if you maintain a vegetarian lifestyle due to moral/ethical reasons, then more power to you, but it is very far from the ideal human diet for optimum health and weight loss. In my opinion, humans require protein (and more explicitly animal protein) to function at their best.

It is very difficult to obtain all the necessary amino acids (proteins), vitamins, and minerals living a vegetarian lifestyle without supplements (which are not nearly as effective as obtaining them from whole foods). Plant protein sources are "incomplete proteins" because each only contain select amino acids. Animal meats contain all essential amino acids and therefore are "complete protein sources." Sure, you can get all the essential amino acids from plant sources by eating a large variety of plants, but most vegetarians tend to turn to soy based proteins (tofu, edamame, soy milk, etc.) and beans. Soy has long been marketed as a health food (just like wheat breads and corn cereals), but you have to remember that this is one of the top crops grown in the U.S. (like wheat and corn) and subsidized by the government (like wheat and corn). Soy has been linked to many issues including thyroid problems, immune system malfunction, breast cancer, and increased estrogen. Vegetarians also eat beans for protein, but your body has trouble digesting beans efficiently and effectively. Everyone knows beans cause gas right? That's your body telling you it didn't really like those beans you fed it last night at Casa Ranchero or whatever.

In addition, if you are not eating 400 to 800 calories a day from protein, your body will find another way to get those calories that it needs to function. I promise that more often than not a vegetarian will choose to get those calories from carbohydrates. Most vegetarians easily consume over 3oog of carbohydrates each day in pasta, bread, cereal, crackers, energy bars, milk products, soy products, and everything else (which the government loves), but these carbs are spiking insulin levels leading to insulin resistance and the storage of fat. I feel like a broken record sometimes, but it's the truth and you need to know it.

24 August 2009

The real deal on fake sugar

Fake sugars are yet another unnecessary, unnatural chemical too often added to food products. Ever heard of aspartame or sucralose? Even if you haven't, I bet you've consumed something today that contains one or the other.

Their effects on your health have long been debated. One day they are safe a the very next some new study has come out linking them to cancer, heart problems, etc. Who knows what the truth is anymore. I'm no scientist (yet), and can't claim whether or not they are actually "safe" to use or not (though aspartame accounts for 75% of all reported complaints to the FDA...). What I can tell you is they are in fact chemicals created in a lab and they can contribute to weight gain and insulin issues.

Let's see how they work...

Remember the other day we talked about how our brain is wired to crave carbohydrates? When you eat something sweet (or carbohydrates at all for that matter), your tongue sends signals to the brain. These signals tell the brain that energy is coming in and to get the liver started up and ready to work producing insulin to maintain normal blood sugar. This is called the cephalic phase response. Unfortunately, when you consume a chemical sweetener, it's a false alarm. No calories (or carbohydrates) are coming in to burn and the liver begins to get a bit confused. The liver sends signals back to the brain asking where the heck the food is. The insulin the liver has produced has already begun to lower your blood sugar slightly. The liver gets a little upset at this point because it was content and busy burning the fuel from your fat cells.

This low blood sugar situation causes us to crave carbohydrates in an attempt to regain a more normal blood sugar. Too bad the majority of carbohydrates chosen by most of America after a diet soda are the high glycemic ones (the ones that raise blood sugar way too high).

22 August 2009

Exercise won't help? Seriously?

Yesterday I added a new article from Time to the recommended reading links list. It's by John Cloud and called "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin." One of my readers sent it to me and asked for my response to it and what seems to be a rather ridiculous idea. If you haven't already read the article, check it out here. It is a bit long (and I encourage you to read it all), but you can probably get the idea from just the first page. Below is the response I gave.

"I agree with the author on nearly 100% of that article. Exercise does lead to increased energy expenditure, increased hunger, and often increased weight. When you burn calories through exercise that were once available to your stomach (to digest food) or your brain (to think) or your legs (to walk), your brain recognizes a lack of available energy and causes you to consume more food whether you do it knowingly or not.

"The issue (in my opinion anyway) is our diet. We consume too many carbohydrates and too many chemicals and too much processed food that our bodies have no idea what to do with. Extra carbs are stored as fat and cholesterol whereas dietary fat is stored as fat, but in a form the liver can more easily utilize. If someone's goal is to lose fat around the ab area, sit-ups are only going to make it BIGGER if he/she don't change his/her diet. It will build muscle under the fat that is already there (which needs to be burned). Fat loss is 95% in the diet. You have to train your body to switch back to the way it was originally intended to work and that's done by controlling insulin levels through the foods you choose.

"I'm sure you've heard this before about the Atkins diet: 'It works, but when you come off the diet, you gain all the weight right back.' Of course you do. When you begin to consume recommended amounts of carbohydrates again, then there's absolutely no doubt in my mind you'll gain weight and continue fostering insulin related issues. There needs to be a fundamental change in the way we think about our diet and the subsidies offered to the farmers who are growing soybeans and corn.

"I exercise probably around 5 days a week now (down from very often 10 or 12 days straight). Climbing, hiking, sprinting, olympic weight lifting (deadlifts, snatches, presses, squats, jerks), gymnastic bodyweight work (pull-ups, dips, push-ups), etc. I do only very mild cardiovascular work in my weight training, and hardly ever run more than a 5k. Just as we aren't designed to eat wheat and grains, we aren't designed to run long distances. If you have no idea where to begin, walking for 30 to 45 minutes 5 to 6 days a week is a fantastic form of exercise and give you the benefits of exercise (and free!).

"I don't do weight machines and neither should anyone else unless he/she is interested in wasting his/her time. Machines work only very concentrated groups of muscles whereas olympic lifts and gymnastics are considered 'compound movements' requiring work from many different muscle groups throughout the body.

"Olympic lifting will not make women 'hulk out' either. Look at Jessica Biel. She's pretty hot, right? Well, she lifts and sprints.

"Exercise is a fantastic thing you can do for your body. It'll improve your heart function, ability to deal with stress, make you look and feel better, improve cholesterol and insulin sensitivity, etc. However...

"The author of the article has it exactly right by saying that exercise is nearly useless for weight loss."

20 August 2009

Why is it so hard?

Why is it so hard giving up the breads, pasta, rice, sugar, and all those other carbs you've learned to base your diet around? I have two theories for this.

1. Evolution Nature simply doesn't provide sources of the dense carbohydrates we are used to eating today, so why do we crave them so much? In caveman times, we ate meat, leaves, nuts, and fruit (only when it was in season and only when we could find it). Not a lot of carbs there except for the tiny bit of fruit, right? Well, our bodies recognized the sugars in the fruit as a source of quick fuel for our body and brain and encouraged us to eat as much as we could find. In direct response to this, the sweetest fruit begun to be selected for. Sweet fruit tastes better so we are more likely to eat it so the fruit gets its seeds spread by you (whether you discard them or eat and pass them). It's a perfect mutualistic relationship with our food. It provides us energy and we help it reproduce.

Honey is one natural source of extremely dense carbohydrates (one I actually think is okay in small amounts) and we certainly crave it for the same reason we do sugar, but can you imagine the work a caveman had to go through to get a taste?

Long story short: your body craves sugar. It recognizes a quick energy fix when it sees one, however our bodies were not designed to handle 100g of processed carbs in one sitting like so many of us are eating. Eat vegetables and fruit to satisfy this need.

2. Culture Ah, good old American culture. We love our meat, potatoes, and bread. You've been brought up around a dinner table filled with casseroles, dinner rolls, and desserts. You've been brought up on a lunch box packed with sandwiches, chips, and soda. You've been brought up to eat breakfast on the go or sometimes not even at all (which is potentially worse). These things are as normal to you today as something like television. When these things that we've become accustomed to over many years begin to become the bad guy, we get a little upset, right?

Long story short: eating real, natural, whole food has somehow become a job and a nuisance and difficult. This is something that needs to be changed on a societal level and it can start with you.

Eating right is hard and is a commitment that is completely your decision to make. It begins with education, then action, then educating others so that they may also feel the benefits of eating "the way you were designed to eat." As I've said before, once you feel and see the benefits of eating this way, you won't want to go back.

I once read somewhere that if people aren't looking at you funny, you aren't doing it right. This is good advice if your goal is to change culture.

18 August 2009

Sin Tax

Lawmakers are currently considering a "sin tax" be placed on soft drinks and other sugary drinks (including energy drinks, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, etc.) to help pay for their health care reform bills that are in the forefront of the headlines. While I certainly am not a supporter of government run health care (Canada anyone?), you can only imagine my elation at this tax.

Soft drink sales and consumption have rapidly increased over the last 20 years. Since 1990, sales have gone up an average of 3% annually. A small drop occurred in 2006 (coinciding with the beginning of our economic troubles), but have still remained strong. And that's just soda. I can only imagine the explosion in energy drink consumption the last few years. This is a huge problem that has largely contributed to our nation's waistline and medical bills. It goes back to costs. Soda is an extremely cheap way to consume enough calories in a day for the poor and struggling in America, but unfortunately offers absolutely no nutritional benefit (just a rather large insulin spike).

The poor are also the least likely to have health insurance and therefore pay their medical bills which increases your health care costs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Our health care troubles are caused by the poor diet you are encouraged to eat by a government using flawed science.

In addition to an unnatural insulin response leading to insulin resistance leading to diabetes, studies have shown sugary drinks can lead to kidney disease, gout, cavities, so on, and so forth.

The proposal is tax soda $0.01 per ounce. This could increase the cost of a 12-pack of Coke by $1.44 which has been said will decrease sales by as much as 10%. Just as we have done to cigarette smokers, we will do to chronic Coke drinker.

...I am still a bit confused though. Now we are planning to tax something (soda) that contains a product (HFCS) that we (the government) subsidizes (corn) because it contains that product (HFCS). Why don't we support farmers who grow organic lettuce and raise grass-finished beef instead of corn, soybeans, and wheat?

16 August 2009

Intro to Coconut Flour

Like almond flour, coconut flour is another perfectly healthy alternative to insulin spiking wheat flours and made in a similar manner. The oil is drained from the coconut meat and the result is processed into a fine white powder. It is an extremely dry and fiber rich flour, so a little goes a long way. It is great for more dense texture.

Coconut is a food with a very high saturated fat content, but don't let this worry you. It is a very natural fat that has many benefits.

Unfortunately, coconut flour is not a direct substitute for wheat flour either. Like I said, it is very dry and requires a lot of liquid to maintain a batter consistency when baking.

So let's try it out.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

1/2 C coconut flour
6 large eggs
1/4 C honey
1/3 C applesauce (unsweetened, no preservatives)
2 tblsp. poppy seeds
zest of 1 whole lemon & juice from a 1/2
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Whisk eggs, applesauce, lemon zest, juice, baking powder, and honey. Add coconut flour and continue to mix. Fold in poppy seeds. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil and pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. You should get 6 large muffins with this recipe.

While you're here, I'd like to let you know that I've recently opened up to comment section to anyone (not just Blogger members) so feel free to leave comments, feedback, requests, etc.

14 August 2009

Regarding Food Inc.

There's been a lot of buzz on the documentary and independent movie scene about a film that is taking on our food industry. It's called Food Inc. and I had the pleasure of being able to see it a few days ago. If you haven't heard of it, check out the trailer here. (Does that first line sound familiar?)

The first thing that struck me about the film regards an issue I discuss pretty regularly which is the corn phenomenon. Americans eat literally tons and tons of corn each year without even realizing it. It is used to make high fructose corn syrup, pectin, maltodextrin, and a host of other harmful and unnatural ingredients created in a science lab. The same can be said about soybeans. It is found in all sorts of technological products such as soybean oil, lecithin, and many others. You still think fat is making you fat? Our processed foods contain incredibly unhealthy amounts of these chemicals and products that you are consuming. Add to that, the majority of these food products contain wheat flours and sugar and you begin to see just why we are an obese nation.

The upsetting part to me is that this is what you are being told to eat. The USDA's food pyramid is a prime example of the propaganda put out by the corn and soybean industry. Another way you are being told (that you may not realize) is by the prices in the supermarket. Processed food products that contain these government subsidized ingredients (wheat, corn, soy, etc.) cost much less than a healthy cut of beef or a bell pepper. Not to mention, the density of calories per gram in this cheaper unhealthy food is much greater making it a clear choice in the eyes of someone who only has a few bills to keep their stomach full this week. The poor in this nation are struggling over whether to spend money on healthy food or medicine to continue to live (that they might not have needed in the first place had healthy food been available to them). The 99 cent double cheeseburger at McDonald's or the $1.50 organic apple at the farmer's market?

Though my interests lie mainly in what you eat, there is something to be said for where it comes from as well. The movie goes on to show how a corn and soybean based diet is making our cattle and livestock just as sick as we are and the pathetic conditions they are raised in.

Food Inc. is a disturbing look at the food industry and how it is controlled by a handful of large corporations that you must see. If you haven't yet, please look for it in a theater close to home.

12 August 2009

Intro to Almond Flour (w/ Blueberry Muffin Recipe)

I hope this post finds you all well and I trust you've tried a recipe or two.

Let's talk for a little bit about almond flour.

You might be thinking I've got to give up muffins, cakes, ice cream, cookies, and all that other stuff that makes life so wonderful if I want to be healthy. It's just not worth it.

And you would be exactly right. I'm not telling you to give these pleasures of life up, but I am asking you to consider making them in a little bit different way than you may be used to up to this point. We know that the wheat flour in most of these items is bad for us because it is all carbohydrate, turns almost instantly to sugar, spikes our insulin, and causes all those dreaded "diseases of civilization." Right?

Enter almond flour. It's made from nothing but ground blanched almonds making it a completely natural alternative to processed wheat flour. It also has a few carbohydrates, but plenty of healthy fat to help tame insulin's response. Unfortunately, almond flour can't simply be substituted for wheat flour in each and every instance, but with a little experimenting and research, you can make just about anything. It is becoming more and more widely available and has been a staple in French baking for years. If you're local chain doesn't have it, try a health food store or online.

Here's something to start you off with (in addition to the awesome pancakes). This is a blueberry muffin recipe I took and made my own using a little guidance from elanaspantry.com.

Blueberry Muffins

2 C almond flour
3 large eggs
1/3 C applesauce (unsweetened, no preservatives, etc.)
1/2 C agave (or honey)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 vanilla bean
1 C blueberries (frozen, unsweetened)

Whisk eggs, applesauce, salt, baking powder, and agave until uniform in consistency. Slowly add almond flour and continue to whisk. Slice vanilla bean, scrape out out the pod, and whisk that into the mixture as well. After a batter has formed, fold in blueberries with a spatula. Pour the batter into a muffin tin greased thoroughly with coconut oil. You should get 6 to 8 muffins. Place in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

10 August 2009

Curry Chicken Salad & Cobb Salad

So now you've got some ideas for breakfast. Here's some things to try for lunch. Keep in mind that both of these options are easy to pack and take with you to work or school. Remember to click the headings for photographs of the finished product!

Curry Chicken Salad

4-6oz. chicken breast, cooked
1 tblsp. mayonnaise
1 tblsp. brown mustard
1/4 C grapes, chopped
1/2 oz. walnuts, chopped
1/4 tblsp. parsley
1 tblsp. curry powder

Chop chicken breast and mix in mustard, mayo, parsley, and curry powder. Then gently mix in grapes and walnuts. Serve on half a bell pepper. Also try it as a sandwich with this fantastic bread recipe from elanaspantry.com. Pay careful attention to the products I have linked to. The mayonnaise has been selected because it is free of harmful soybean oil and the mustard contains only a few natural ingredients.

Bacon & Avocado Salad

4-6 oz. chicken breast, cooked
3 oz. mixed salad greens
1/2 oz. walnuts, chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
1 oz. pineapple, chopped
1 tblsp. red onion, chopped
1/4 C grapes, chopped
2 slices of bacon, cooked

Chop chicken breast and bacon. In a large bowl, place salad greens and top with the remaining ingredients.

Try this great homemade salad dressing (free of nasty soy oils and corn syrups) on your Bacon & Avocado salad.

Balsamic Dressing

1 C virgin olive oil
1/2 C balsamic vinegar
2 tblsp. agave nectar or honey
1 tblsp. parsley
1 tblsp. basil
2 tblsp. oregano
1 tblsp. brown mustard
pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mason jar and shake well.

08 August 2009

Spicy Frittata

So you've been reading for a week or two now and are now ready to get your life on track. What can you eat? Here's a couple of recipes for breakfast. I'll be following these up with some lunch and dinner options as well. Be sure to click the headings for pictures of the finished products.

Spicy Frittata

This is what you'll need:

4 large eggs
2 slices of uncured, nitrite-free bacon
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 small avocado
1/4 C chopped white onion

First, set your oven to broil. Pan fry the bacon until almost thoroughly cooked. Remove and let cool on some paper towels. Pour out the bacon grease into a glass container to be disposed of later, but do not wipe the pan clean. We still want a little grease in our pan. Chop the red pepper, onion, and jalapenos to your liking and saute in the pan with the bacon fat. In about 5 minutes, when the vegetables begin to get a nice char, add the bacon and chopped avocado. Continue to saute for about 2 minutes. Crack and whisk eggs, then pour into the pan with the vegetables and bacon. Make sure to get the egg around and through everything. Allow the eggs to cook a bit and then transfer to the oven. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown. Top with your favorite natural, un-food-product-y salsa. (I like Jack's.) Play around with the number of eggs for your personal needs.

Primal Pancakes

This is one of my favorite breakfasts. It comes to you from Mark over at marksdailyapple.com. This is also a great introduction to almond flour (which I'll be covering more later). Now, even though these pancakes fit into the natural way of eating and are quite healthy, I'd still consider them a once a week treat rather than mixing them up every morning. Here's what you'll need:

1/2 C almond flour
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Whisk eggs in a small mixing bowl. Add almond flour and cinnamon and continue to mix. Cut the banana into manageable pieces and mash into the almond flour and egg mixture. Continue to whisk until mixture becomes a relatively uniform consistency. Grease a griddle with a bit of coconut oil and pour batter into three medium sized pancakes. When the bubbles in the middle of the pancakes begin to break, it's time to flip. Stack them up on a plate and top them with honey. You'll love them!

06 August 2009

All about fat

Polyunsaturated, transaturated, omega-3, monounsaturated, saturated... It's hard to keep up with what's what sometimes. Here's a brief overview of all the kinds of fats, what they do, and where to find them.

1. Monounsaturated: These are your plant-derived fats. I'm sure you're familiar with olive oil and its often touted heart health benefits. Well, that's because of the monounsaturated fats. All nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.), avocados (as well as its oil), and some plant oils contain high levels of this type of fat. Studies show that they help lower your bad cholesterol levels and raise the healthy ones.

2. Polyunsaturated: These fats are mainly found in fish and grains, but are also in small quantities in animal meats (largely depending on the diet of the animal you are consuming). This group can be broken down into two separate entities: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Our neanderthal brothers and sisters probably consumed these two fats in a roughly 1:1 ratio.

With a typical Western diet made up of tons of sugar and grains, this ratio can often be as high as 20:1 (omega-6:omega-3). All this omega-6 comes from the plant oils (peanut, corn, soybean, safflower, etc.) that are used in our processed food products. I'm sure you've read about the benefits of a fish oil supplement somewhere recently. These supplements attempt to return this ratio back to a more natural balance. Omega-6 fats are not unhealthy fats necessarily, but they can be quite harmful if your ratio is too far out of line. An omega-6 dominated body can lead to clogged arteries, arthritis in the joints, and cause insulin resistance. Though eating natural and whole foods will help get this ratio down quite a bit, I still continue to recommend a good fish oil supplement.

3. Saturated: I know what you are thinking. Avoid these right? Wrong. Saturated fat unfortunately has quite an unnecessary stigma attached to it. This is mostly found in animal products, but can be found in a few plant sources (chocolate and coconut immediately come to mind). Though saturated fat is known to increase LDL cholesterol slightly (the bad kind), it also increases HDL (the healthy kind). In addition, it helps support growth and healing by telling the body to increase production of testosterone. Females: Do not be afraid of this. You aren't going to look like the Hulk if you eat a little animal fat. Testosterone helps you turn fat into muscle, keeps your skin healthy and young, and prevents osteoporosis and other diseases.*

I'm still not suggesting that saturated fat is the most healthy fat of all, but 20-30g per day is a perfectly natural and healthy amount to be consuming.

4. Transaturated: Now this is the one you should be concerned with. In the 1950's, scientists learned how to to hydrogenate plant oils creating margarine as a "healthy" alternative to butter. Interestingly enough, by hydrogenating plant oils proved to be much worse than the saturated fat they were trying to replace.

Hydrogenation is a process that turns oil into a solid form at room temperature (ex. margarine). It is used in many processed foods as a way to extend shelf life and improve consistency. This man-made food product raises the bad cholesterol and lowers the good by significant amounts, clog arteries, and yet again... cause insulin resistance.


04 August 2009

More on milk

So I still haven't convinced you on the milk, eh?

Your body doesn't require milk after you've passed infancy and it surely doesn't require it from a cow. What about my vitamin D? Don't worry. The vegetables and fish you eat will are good sources vitamin D and our bodies can make it on it's own by using energy from the sun absorbed through the skin. If you are outside for around 15 or 20 minutes a day, you're getting plenty. Calcium? Green, leafy vegetables also provide enough calcium, though not quite as much as recommended by the government. Why? A high carbohydrate diet leads to an acidic pH in your body. The body saps calcium from your bones to compensate for this loss in an attempt to maintain a neutral pH. Not eating 300g of sugar a day? Great. You have no need for a whole lot of extra calcium. Worried about osteoporosis or arthritis? Don't eat 300g of sugar each day.

Now, if you insist on drinking milk, please do not drink skim milk. It is easily one of the most widely consumed food products out there. What exactly is wrong with it? Sure, it's got some protein, but I have two complaints with this worthless beverage.

1. It has no fat. That's right. And that was the whole reason that you thought it was better for you right? Well, we've already learned that sugar spikes blood glucose levels (and therefore insulin) and that fat helps to lessen the amount of insulin needed to keep blood sugar at normal levels. The lactose in milk is in fact a sugar that causes insulin to be released just the same as any other sugar. In addition, as we grow older, our bodies begin to slow production of lactase enzymes, which breakdown the lactose sugar into a usable form.

2. It's fortified. The fat is where the vitamins are. When you skim off all the fat, you skim off the vitamin D and other minerals naturally found in the milk. This process is much akin to refining wheat flour. In a similar fashion, we try to pump the vitamins we took out back in in a process commonly referred to as enriching. It's been proven time and time again that adding these vitamins back in to foods is not nearly as beneficial to the body as leaving them there in the first place (and sometimes worse!).

So basically, skim milk is a sugary, processed, skimmed, and fortified food product (a lot of things we should avoid) and if you insist on drinking milk (which is silly), then please drink whole.

02 August 2009

Think neanderthal

Many of you may still be scratching your head asking why I'm telling you to avoid bread (including whole grain) and milk which are in fact two foods we've been eating for ages and consider healthy.

Humans have been around for over 2 million years in some form or another constantly evolving and adapting to our environments and growing more and more intelligent. Since we first appeared, we ate whatever the land provided for us. We hunted our protein and fat sources and foraged for our carbohydrates.

Then about 10,000 years ago, we started to settle down. We learned to build houses for shelter and govern ourselves, but we also learned how to farm. This is what most historians refer to as the agricultural revolution. It no doubt changed our lives for the better, but this was also the time when the domestication of animals and farming of mass amounts of grain began being produced (coinciding with mass amounts consumed). This wasn't all bad, though I'm sure that many suffered some ill effects of gluten intolerance and mild hyperglycema because of a higher percentage of calories from carbs that was quite a shock to our systems.

It wasn't until around 100 years ago that we've been consuming mass amounts of refined and processed soy, corn, and wheat products. It was only around 50 years ago that we discovered how to hydrogenate oil and create transaturated fats. This was when the real issues started.

Let's do some math. If we've been around for 2 million years and farming grains for 10,000 years, we've only been eating them in mass quantities for... one half of one percent of our existence (0.5%)... or not a lot. If we've been around for 2 million years and only started eating processed food products for 100 years, that's only 0.005%... or even less.

So what am I saying? You were made to eat like this guy... not this guy.

*Please check out the new content added to my July 29th posting "What not to eat." *