Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Weekend Failure

Ha!  Why did I decide to begin a new eating style on a holiday weekend?  It’s probably always best to start something like this on a Monday, as it’s easier to plan and execute a specific way of eating during the week.  Anyway, I failed to eat strict "Paleo" this weekend.  I ate cheese (way more than I care to admit), some of my son’s rice cereal, and some sourdough bread (I’m really going to have to rethink buying this bread for my husband – it’s way healthier for him than grocery store breat, but very, very tempting for me – I’m not sure I have the willpower to have it in the house).

Anyway, I’m putting a hold on going Paleo for a while.  My first n=1 revealed the following results:  I don’t respond well to certain eating limitations.  Deciding to cut out dairy caused me the crave it, and given that I was at home with easy access to cheese, I gave into these cravings.

I think my goal at this point is going to be to cut back on the small amount of dairy and grains I do eat.  When I went “low-carb,” this is how I did it.  I slowly reduced the amount of carbohydrates I ate, until I was eating less than 50 grams per day.

We’ll see how this new plan goes.  I’ll continue to post my food diaries from time to time, as well.   For now, we can call this experimental a “Paleo 2.0” or “Primal” eating plan.

Friday, May 27, 2011

N=1 – The Importance of Self-Experimentation

N=1 – The Importance of Self-Experimentation

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I was having trouble logging into Blogger.  It’s nice to be back.

What’s all this about Optimality?

So, lately there’s been some buzz on the blogs I read regarding the concept of optimal nutrition.  What is optimal?   Many diet gurus present ideas for the optimal diet.  Some people will tell you low carb is optimal.  Others will tell you a raw vegan diet is optimal.  Yet others will stress low fat diets as the best.

The following links are to blog posts discussing the concepts of optimality and n=1/self-experimentation:




As I stressed in a previous post, the path to an optimal diet is grounded in real food.  The reason we want to eat real food and avoid industrial processed food is because the latter usually contains food toxins (mainly, industrial seed oils, excessive fructose, chemical additives, most grains, and genetically modified crops).  By eating toxins, we jeopardize our health.  Obviously, an optimal diet would be non-toxic, so therefore real-foods based (and ideally including organic produce and grass-fed/pastured animals, if one eats animals).

Every Body Is Different

Aside from real food, there’s little that can be definitive regarding the perfect diet for everyone.  Every body is different.  We all have different genetic and epi-genetic make-ups.   We all have had different personal histories regarding our health and wellness that impact how our bodies react to different foods and exercises.


Because everyone is different, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all dietary or exercise approach.  Different things are going to work for different people.  What we need to do is try different dietary and exercise approaches to find what works for us.  For me, thus far, eating a low-carb, real food diet has led to tremendous health gains (40 lbs. of fat loss, improvements in blood pressure and blood-lipid profile, reduction in allergy symptoms, and more energy/vitality, etc.).  For others, however, a low-fat, vegetarian diet might lead to similar health improvements.

Taking Adventures

Self-experimentation is critical to finding optimality in your life.  We all most consistently seek out approaches that work for us.  Clearly, it’s important to carefully make choices that will affect our health.  The most prudent action is to combine anthropological data (i.e. the evolutionary approach), anecdotal data from people like you, scientific data (always discerning the validity of the results) and personal experimentation to develop a dietary approach that is optimal for you.  This approach can probably be applied to all areas of health.

So, with this in mind, I’m feeling a little adventurous.  If this blog is called Adventures in Wellness, than I best get on with taking some actual adventures.  The idea is that these adventures will be n=1/self-experimentation.  I will used the knowledge I’ve gained over the past year to inform my choices regarding the experiments, or adventures, I choose to take. 

My First Adventure – Going Paleo

I’m finally going to take the plunge.  I’ve had tons of excuses to not try going full-Paleo, but I’m going to give it a go for 30 days.  I’ve read Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution, and I know I can do this.  So, for the next 30 days (I actually started this on Wednesday), I will be living my life without eating grains, legumes and dairy.

Prior to this adventure, I’ve basically given up grains (except for white rice and organic corn) and legumes (which I don’t really care for anyway).  So, my biggest challenge in the coming weeks will be to give up dairy.  I still plan on eating butter, though.  I’ll be giving updates, included a recount of what I’ve been eating.

Paleo Food Diary – Days 1 - 3

Day 1


Eggs and Sausage

Supplement – Cod liver/Butter Oil; Selenium; L-Glutamine


Salad – with bacon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Chicken broth

Chicken in reduction sauce


Sausage with sauce

Buttered, steamed asparagus

Day 2


Eggs and Bacon

Supplement – Probiotic


Salad – with bacon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Chicken broth

Leftover sausage in sauce


Meatballs with sauce

Salad – with bacon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Desert – almond macaroons (I slipped and binged a little on this tastey treat.  Normally, I would just would have a few squares of dark chocolate)

Day 3 (this is today, so this is my plan as of now)


Nothing – fasting


Salad – with bacon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Chicken broth

2 Hard-boiled eggs

Coconut milk smoothie (if necessary – not sure I’ll be hungry enough to have it)


2 Hamburgers

Fermented Pickle or Sauerkraut
Salad – with bacon, olive oil and apple cider vinegar 

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Husband Was Right!

Okay, okay, okay.  My husband is making me write this.  Back when I was a lipophobe (i.e. scared of saturated fat), I made some mistakes that he’d like to highlight.  I was wrong and he was right.

The Red Lobster Story
As my husband tells it …  we were having a nice dinner at Red Lobster with some friends.  You know those kinds of dinners … no kids, great conversations, a little wine and beer, and pure gluttony.  I’m sure I was having the salmon, which is all I’ll pretty much eat at most restaurants (now I know to be sure it’s wild caught, though). My husband was enjoying some form of surf and turf, with crab legs I think.  He had finished his crab legs, but still had all of the delicious, melted butter left, so he decided to make a very logical choice.  He dipped the remaining French fries he had in the butter.  When I caught him doing this out of the corner of my eye, my lipophobia got the better of me and I chastised him, apparently loud enough for people at neighboring tables to turn and look.  Though remaining totally cool at the table (thanks, beer!), my husband was mortified.  He brings up the anecdote quite often, now that I’ve changed my tune on fat.  I would not applaud such a decision (though I would prefer he eat French fries made at home fried in lard or beef tallow).

Sneaking Soy
Ah, it shames me to admit this, but I used to think soy was healthy.  Not only that, but I sought ways to sneak soy into our diets.  Oh, woe is me for ever doing such a silly thing.  I now know about the anti-nutrients, the phytic acid and the psuedo-estrogens.  I used to drink the silk directly from the bottle, and I would add it to sauces I was making and even would add it to my dear husband’s coffee (in addition to his usual milk-based creamer).  I probably made him sick on more than one occasion by feeding him this stuff.  I’m sorry, babes!  I know better now.

Honey, you were right!  I’m glad we are (mostly) on the same page now regarding food.  We can both enjoy butter, full-fat dairy (including delicious local, raw cheese), bacon, ground beef, buttered vegetables, etc.

For those more interested in the benefits of butter and the disadvantages of soy, check out these links:



Friday, May 20, 2011

Podcast Round-up 5/20/11

Each week, I plan to share with you the alternative health and nutrition podcasts that I found the most interesting and helpful.  Here’s this week’s list:

NOTE:  You do not need an ipod to enjoy these podcasts.  The links below, send you to websites where you can listen right online.  Most of these shows are also available, through iTunes, though, for those of you with an ipod or iphone who want to listen on the go.

This week’s Dr. Lo Radio Show featured a natural dermatologist, Daniel Lapp.  He discussed natural and nutritional remedies for many skin problems, like acne and eczema.  He also discussed useful information on sun protection.  Check it out at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drloradio/2011/05/19/skin-health-and-natural-medicine-with-dr-daniel-delapp.

Latest in Paleo had a very moving podcast this week.  Angelo Coppola, who runs the podcast, shared the story of his daughter’s recent, premature birth.  It was a powerful story, which highlighted the importance of having a plan for the possibility of premature births and of using donor breastmilk with preemies.  Find the podcast here:  http://5by5.tv/paleo/16.

This week’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb shows included discussions with two doctors (Dr. Daniel Jones and Dr. David Stewart) who have embraced the whole food, low-carb approach to health and wellness.  Each conversation provided great insight from each doctor’s unique point of view.  The low-carb movement seems to be growing not only among lay peole, like myself, but also within the medical community, which is awesome. Podcasts can be downloaded in iTunes or on the LLVLC show website here: http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/.

I had to add one more.  One of my newly found favorite podcasts comes all the way across the Atlantic from England's super-cool Dr. Briffa.  This week he discusses, " 
Vitamin D boosts wellbeing in the elderly, the nonsense of ‘normal’ ranges, and why the ‘broadening of disease’ can be good business for drug companies but leave ordinary people worse off."  His podcast can be found here: http://www.drbriffa.com/2011/05/20/podcast-20th-may-2011/

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being Healthy is Not a Joke, Neither is Being Sick

A family member, who I love very much, is not healthy.  He is overweight and has had many health problems over the years as a result.  His weight has been up and down and up and down, along with his health.  When he is eating “healthy,” it’s the misguided conventional wisdom version of healthy eating (i.e. low-fat, calorie restriction), which might lead to some initial weight loss, but not actual health.  It’s also not sustainable for this person, as he seems to always gain back the weight he loses.

I saw him over this past weekend.  He made several jokes regarding his weight.  I just didn’t find the jokes funny AT ALL.  I am too concerned about his health.  He has beautiful children that need and deserve to have their father around for the long haul.  He’s a funny, smart, and caring person, and has the right to a healthy life like everyone else.

It’s also sad because he was a great athlete when he as younger, and was in great shape.  Though it’s all too common these days, it’s just not normal for people to lose their health and vitality as they age.  He should be running around, playing sports and enjoying life, without worrying about what health problems might be just around the corner.

As I was visiting with my family, I inquired publicly as to whether or not the tomatoes on the counter were organic (they looked delicious and I wanted one, but I really try to avoid conventional produce with pesticides for many reason, one being that I am still nursing my 17 month old son and don’t want to deliberately ingest toxins that might make their way into my milk).  I also asked this question to get the rest of my family thinking about the importance of organic foods, without actually lecturing them on the topic.  This family member sort of laughed at my question and then made fun of my remark for the rest of the visit. 

I just don’t find this humor funny, and not because I was the butt of the joke.  When he makes fun of his own weight, it makes me sad, because I feel like he’s not taking his health seriously.  I feel like this is true of the public at large.  When we laugh at obese people who make fun of themselves, we are almost condoning the behavior that caused their obesity.  I’m not saying that it’s their fault, at all.  The problem is primarily with a society that pushes unhealthy, processed foods on people, and actually convinces people that these foods are healthy. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jimmy Moore is AWESOME!!!

Okay, in my last post, I mentioned that if you don’t know who Weston A. Price is, you need to know.  Well, the same holds true for Jimmy Moore.  He’s just plain awesome.

I have to thank Jimmy, because if I hadn’t found his podcast, Livin’ La Vida Low Carb Show (found here: http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/), I never would have started my wellness adventure.  I found his podcast close to a year ago, and it was my introduction into Low Carb and alternative health.  He’s interviewed tons of experts in health and nutrition (his last podcast was numbered 471).  That’s right, he’s done 471 podcast interviews.  471!  That’s nuts!!!  I’ve spent countless hours enjoying his podcasts and have learned a great deal from them.  Now, that’s edutainment.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, he has another podcast, Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends (found here: http://www.lowcarbconversations.com/), and two blogs: The Livin’ La Vida Low Carb Blog (found here: http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/) and Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb Menus (found here: http://lowcarbmenu.blogspot.com/).  I really enjoy reading both blogs.  The first not only highlights the interviews he does on the podcast, but also discusses a myriad of alternative health and nutrition news and views.  His menus blog lists what he’s eating and how he’s exercising, along with a peak into other aspects of his life, including some of his religious practices and his volunteer work within his community).

Jimmy is not just the most prolific blogger and podcaster in the health and nutrition community, he is also a great inspiration to those who struggle or have struggled with obesity and the ill-health effects of a Standard American Diet (SAD) and lifestyle).  From his homepage (found here: http://www.livinlavidalowcarb.com/): “In January 2004, Jimmy Moore made a decision to get rid of the weight that was literally killing him. At 32 years of age and 410 pounds, the time had come for a radical change of lifestyle. A year later, he had shed 180 pounds, shrunk his waist by 20 inches, and dropped his shirt size from 5XL to XL. After his dramatic weight loss, Jimmy was inundated with requests from friends, neighbors and complete strangers seeking information and help. Jimmy is dedicated to helping as many people as possible find the information they need to make the kind of lifestyle change he has made…”

I feel like I know the guy, from listening to him a few times a week, and reading his blogs regularly.  And, he seems like a great guy to know.  He’s an inspiration to all of us who have chosen to make our health a priority, and to look a little deeper at the facts and the research, instead of just believing the government and the media.

As if blogging and podcasting wasn’t enough, he’s also written a couple of books: 21 Life Lessons From Livin' La Vida Low-Carb: How The Healthy Low-Carb Lifestyle Changed Everything I Thought I Knew and Livin' La Vida Low-Carb: My Journey From Flabby Fat To Sensationally Skinny In One Year.  They are on my reading list and I will review them on the blog when I read them.

Yesterday, he was also kind enough to take a look at my humble blog and make the first comment.  It’s really special to me to have him as my first commenter.  Thanks, Jimmy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recommended Supplements for Bone Health

Recently, my husband, son and I visited my mother-in-law, Maggie, in Washington, DC.  We had a wonderful time.  During our conversations, I mentioned I was writing a blog about alternative health and nutrition.  At that point, Maggie asked me what I thought about her Calcium/Vitamin D supplement.  I’ve read a bit recently about Calcium supplementation being correlated with calcification of the arteries and heart disease.  I have also heard that Vitamin K2 is useful for bone re-mineralization and the avoidance of bone fractures in the elderly.
So, I wanted to look a little deeper into the subject to figure out what would be the best course of action for Maggie in regards to supplementing to avoid bone fractures and osteoporosis.

Many of my favorite, trusted bloggers have written about the subject, so this post is going to more or less review their posts and string together their thoughts and research in a way that is hopefully meaningful and leads to a recommended supplemental regimen for Maggie.  Disclaimer: I am FAR from a professional or expert in this area, and these are just my humble recommendations, based on the information I have found online from what I believe are trusted sources.  Okay, here we go:

Key Point:  I was listening to Dr. John Neustadt, an expert on bone health, on the Underground Wellness podcast.  He makes a great point that whatever treatment you use, you should be looking for a treatment (or supplement routine) that reduces bone fractures.  Bone Density is only 44% effective and predicting bone fractures.  So, we should look at the research through the lense of bone fracture risk reduction instead of merely building bone density.

Calcium Supplementation –Is it prudent? Is it safe? 
Here’s an interesting quote from the Americam Journal of Clinical Nutrition (found here: http://www.ajcn.org/content/77/2/504.long): “Calcium has been the focus of nutritional research for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis as many clinical trials of calcium supplementation have found that it can indeed reduce bone loss and lower the risk of bone fractures.  However, the trials often include a simultaneous treatment with vitamin D, which makes it difficult to attribute the benefits to calcium alone. Also, the bone density increase found during the first year or two of calcium supplementation may not substantially increase in the long term. In contrast to most clinical data, most observational studies did not find a significant association between calcium intake and fracture risk or bone loss.”  So, it seems there’s not a whole lot of evidence showing that calcium alone prevents fractures or bone loss.

Additionally, there have been several recent studies linking calcium supplementation to heart disease.  One recent study, published in The British Medical Journal, was titled Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women’s Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis  (found here:  http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2040.full).  In this study, researchers reanalyzed the data from the Women’s Health Initiative study, a 7-year trial in which 36,282 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to calcium and vitamin D or placebo.  They found Women taking calcium supplements with or without vitamin D demonstrated a modest increase in the risk of cardiovascular events including myocardial infarction, stroke, and death from coronary heart disease.

Unfortunately, there really hasn’t been a clinical study to date that has looked at calcium’s affect on heart health.  The studies that have been done have been primarily observational, which means the results can’t be completely trusted.  After all, correlation does not prove causation.  It does send up a red flag, though.

My recommendation:  As long as you are not deficient in calcium (if you don’t know, get your levels tested), it would be best practice to get your calcium from food. Green, leafy vegetables are a great source.  Have a salad every day.  Grass-fed, raw dairy is also a good source.  My suggestion would be to eat lots of cultured, raw dairy, like raw cheese and yogurt.  These aren’t available at conventional grocery stores.  You can get them over the internet, at farmer’s markets or at health food stores, like Whole Foods. 

Now, if you were deficient in calcium, I would look for a calcium supplement that is derived from whole foods.  It looks like most of the whole foods calcium supplements (like those from Garden of Life and New Chapter) also include other nutrients (such as Vitamin D and Magnesium). So, if you need to supplement calcium, you will need to limit your other supplements, so that you are not getting too much of any one nutrient).

Another source of raw calcium is Coral Legend (found here: http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/product/CORAL-LEGEND-MINERAL-POWDER/salts-minerals), which contains a highly absorbable form of calcium with magnesium.  If you decide to take calcium and are planning to use other supplements (as per my recommendation) for Vitamins D and K, this is a good way to make sure you aren’t getting too much of the other nutrients.

Vitamin D – It’s probably a good idea to supplement with Vitamin D3, but again you should get your levels tested.   Here’s some information from one of the blogs I read regularly, The Healthy Skeptic (found here: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-4-supplement-wisely):

“Much has been written about the need for and benefits of vitamin D supplementation over the past several years and with good reason. Its absolutely critical for health, and up to 50% of Americans are deficient.

We can get vitamin D from two sources: food, and sunshine. Seafood is the only significant source of vitamin D, but youd still have to eat a lot of it to get enough. 8-9 ounces of herring provides about 2,000 IU of vitamin D, which is a minimum daily requirement for most people to maintain adequate blood levels.

Sunlight converts a precursor called 7-dehydro-cholesterol in our skin to vitamin D3. This D3, along with the D3 we get from food, gets converted by the liver into 25-hyrdroxy-vitamin D (25D), which is what typically gets measured when you have a vitamin D test. The optimal 25D level is somewhere between 35 and 50 ng/mL.

What about sunlight? Well, in summer mid-day sun with pale skin, 30 minutes of direct sunlight will produce 10-20,000 IU of vitamin D. But this is a best-case scenario. With darker skin, or different times of year, or buildings that block the sunlight, or increased time spent indoors, we wont be producing that much. Its also true that aging, overweight and inflammation reduce our conversion of sunlight to vitamin D. This is why sunlight alone isnt normally a sufficient source of vitamin D.

With this in mind, most people should supplement with D. The amount needed to maintain blood levels of 35-50 ng/mL varies depending on some of the factors Ive listed above, but in my clinical experience its usually somewhere between 2,000 5,000 IU. With vitamin D, its important to test your levels, begin supplementation, and then re-test a few months later to determine the correct maintenance dose.”

My recommendation:  Supplement with cod liver oil (CLO) to get enough Vitamin D.  It’s a whole food supplement, and also provides Omega-3 fatty acids, which as we know promote cardiovascular health and are anti-inflammatory.  CLO also provides Vitamin A.  I was listening to a recent podcast with Primal Body Primal Mind podcast (found here: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/primal-body-primal-mind-radio/id385416862) about the importance of Vitamin A to avoid Vitamin D toxicity.  She mentioned that for every receptor for Vitamin D, there is a receptor for Vitamin A.  The two work together.  The nice thing about CLO is that it provides both nutrients.  The best version of CLO, from what I can gather online, is Green Pastures (found here: http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Products/ButterCodLiverBlend/index.cfm).  Note: this is actually the CLO combo with High Vitamin Butter Oil (more on that in the following section’s recommendations).

Vitamin K2 (MK-4)
Theres a lot of great information on the blogs I read regarding Vitamin K2.  Heres what the Healthy Skeptic says (found here http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-4-supplement-wisely):  Vitamin K2 may be the most important vitamin most people have never heard of. Its needed to activate proteins and it also regulates calcium metabolism (keeping it in the bones and teeth where it belongs, and out of the soft tissue where it doesnt belong). Elevated blood calcium significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which explains why vitamin K2 has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and heart attacks (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18722618). It also strengthens bones (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16801507)
Unfortunately, many (if not most) of Americans are deficient in vitamin K2. Its important to point out that vitamin K2 is not the same as vitamin K1, which is found in green, leafy vegetables like kale and collards. Some K1 is converted into K2 in our bodies, but that conversion is inefficient in humans. It is efficient, however, in ruminant animals which is why grass-fed dairy is the most convenient source of vitamin K2 in the diet. This is only true in animals raised on pasture, because it is eating the K1-rich grass that allows them to convert it into K2.
Most people should aim for at least 100 mcg/d from a combination of food and supplements. If you eat a large amount of cheese from grass-fed cows and pastured egg yolks, you may be able to get this amount from food alone. 100 g of hard cheese contains 67 mcg, and 6 pastured egg yolks contain about 32 mcg. Otherwise, supplementation is probably beneficial. I recommend a dosage of 1 mg/d in the MK-4 form, which is the form of vitamin K2 found in pastured dairy and the one shown to have the most benefit in clinical studies.
The Whole Health Source blog had a very interesting post that reviewed an animal study (found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17138823) that showed Vitamin K2 MK-4 reversed arterial calcification in rats.  His post can be found here: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/11/can-vitamin-k2-reverse-arterial.html).  The Whole Health Source did another blog post of this nutrient found here:  http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/vitamin-k2-menatetrenone-mk-4.html. 

On the website for Osteo-K (a Vitamin K2 MK-4 supplement), the following studies were listed, showing links between MK-4 supplementation and reduction in fractures:
  1. Booth SL, Tucker KL, Chen H, et al. Dietary vitamin K intakes are associated with hip fracture but not with bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(5):1201-1208.
  2. Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. Vitamin K and the Prevention of Fractures: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(12):1256-1261.
  3. Kaneki M, Hosoi T, Ouchi Y, Orimo H. Pleiotropic actions of vitamin K: protector of bone health and beyond? Nutrition. 2006;22(7-8):845-852.
  4. Sato Y, Kanoko T, Satoh K, Iwamoto J. Menatetrenone and vitamin D2 with calcium supplements prevent nonvertebral fracture in elderly women with Alzheimer's disease. Bone. 2005;36(1):61-68.
  5. Shiraki M, Shiraki Y, Aoki C, Miura M. Vitamin K2 (Menatetrenone) Effectively Prevents Fractures and Sustains Lumbar Bone Mineral Density in Osteoporosis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2000;15(3):515-522.
Richard Nikoley, at Free the Animal, also explains the benefits of MK-4 through a historical lens, by looking at the work of Weston A. Price.  If you dont know who Weston A. Price is, google him!  It will be work the effort.  In short, he was a dentist who traveled the world studying traditional populations to discover the common threads in their diets that kept them healthy and free of tooth decay.  He found several commonalities amongst these different populations, one of which he called Activator X. 
Heres Richards quote:  “Weston Price was primary interested in Activator X because of its ability to control dental caries. By studying the remains of human skeletons from past eras, he estimated that there had been more dental caries in the preceding hundred years than there had been in any previous thousand-year period and suggested that Activator X was a key substance that people of the past obtained but that modern nutrition did not adequately provide. Price used the combination of high-vitamin cod liver oil and high-Activator X butter oil as the cornerstone of his protocol for reversing dental caries. This protocol not only stopped the progression of tooth decay, but completely reversed it without the need for oral surgery by causing the dentin to grow and re-mineralize, sealing what were once active caries with a glassy finish. One 14-year-old girl completely healed 42 open cavities in 24 teeth by taking capsules of the high-vitamin cod liver oil and Activator X concentrate three times a day for seven months.” (found here: http://freetheanimal.com/2008/11/vitamin-k2-menatetrenone-mk-4.html).
My recommendation:  Supplement with Vitamin K2 (MK-4).  I do this and feel it is even more beneficial for those who are fighting osteoporosis or are in danger or bone fractures.  There seems to be more than ample evidence that this nutrient is essential to bone health.  My supplement recommendation is to supplement with the combined CLO with high vitamin butter oil (Weston A. Price’s Activator X).  Again, this is a whole foods supplement that will be superior to taking an isolated, synthetic supplement.  Green Pastures makes this supplement and it can be found here: http://www.greenpasture.org/public/Products/ButterCodLiverBlend/index.cfm). 
There are other supplements, such as Magnesium and Boron that are likely also useful for bone health.  I take a daily Magnesium supplement called Natural Calm, myself.  I didn’t really have time to look into these benefits/risk to these supplements, so I really don’t have an opinion.

So, Maggie, my recommendation would be to supplement with the Cod Liver Oil/High Vitamin Butter Oil combo.  It comes in pill form for about $25 for month’s supply (for the recommended dosage).  It’s more expensive than synthetic vitamins, and it is more difficult to procure (most likely, it will have to be ordered online, which I can do for you), but it will be more bioavailable (i.e. better absorbed by your body), and doesn’t separate nutrients, which is key since the (1) work synergistically and (2) prevent toxicity, which can occur by taking too much of one supplement and not enough of another.  This single supplement will supply you with Vitamin D, Vitamin K2 (MK-4), Vitamin A (not necessary for bone health, but has other benefits), Omega-3 fats, among other nutrients.  I would also recommend getting daily sunshine when possible, and getting both your Vitamin D and Calcium levels tested. 

If you find you are deficient in calcium, I would consider supplementing with Coral Legend (found here: http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/product/CORAL-LEGEND-MINERAL-POWDER/salts-minerals), or with raw calcium.

Sorry for such a long post.  I hope it was thorough and made sense.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Podcast Round Up - 5/14/11

Podcast Round-up for 5/14/11 (sorry, I meant to post this on Saturday, but I’m just getting to it now).

Okay, many bloggers online like to do a post on weekends that highlight other blogs/websites/articles that they found interesting.  I would like to do something similar, but with podcasts.  I listen to many great podcasts on a weekly basis, and will share with you each week the ones that I found the most helpful or interesting.

Here’s my Podcast Round-up for this week:

Sean Croxton (Underground Wellness) had a very interesting interview with Dr. John Neustat on bone health.  This was timely as I’m currently working on a blog post on this topic.  Vitamin K2 (MK-4) seems to be the best nutrient for avoiding bone fractures.

The always-entertaining T.S. Wiley was featured on the Dr. Lo Radio Show to discuss her book, Lights Out.  The book is about the importance of sleep for health, from a scientific and evolutionary perspective.  T.S. is a somewhat controversial figure in the blogosphere, but definitely has some insight on this topic.  I plan on reading Lights Out soon.  I’ll be sure to review it in a blog post when I do.

Latest in Paleo, as usual, had an amazing show, covering cellulose, a wood-based filler being used more and more in processed foods (cheap fiber = eating wood chips), a thoughtful take on the color of food and food dyes, and a short clip from James, an overweight man who recently went Paleo and is seeing great success in his weight loss, health and mental outlook, which is very inspiring.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What? You skipped breakfast? You’re body is going into starvation mode!!!

This is the typical response I would get on the days I skip breakfast from family, friends and co-workers on the few days per week that I skip breakfast (or lunch).  Yes, I occasionally skip meals, but NO, my body is not going into “starvation mode.”  I am practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF), and it is a powerful weight-loss and health tool, that has helped me lose 40 lbs. in the past year.  In fact, IF is helping me not just maintain my 40 pound weight loss, it’s allowing me to lose even more weight/fat as I continue.  I’m now below the weight I was before my pregnancy and see myself getting down to the weight I was in high school when I was at my most fit and trim.

IF is not for the carb-addicted Average Joe.  I think in order to do IF safely and comfortable, you need to be “fat-adapted,” meaning your body needs to be proficient at using fat (i.e. body fat in the form of ketones) as a fuel source.  If you are sucking down carbs every 2-3 hours, that’s all your body knows how to burn, basically.  You are a glucose-burning machine.  I, however, am a fat burning machine.  IF just extends the time my body uses my own body fat as a fuel source.  Many bloggers who are smarter and more eloquent than I am have written about IF.  If I’ve peeked your interested, check out their posts on the topic:

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:

How To IF:

IF Books:
Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
The New Evolution Diet by Art De Vany
The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle by Bert Herring
The Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Response to Low Carb Bashing

Okay, so a friend of mine has just started a low carb diet (the new Atkins) in the hopes of losing some weight and becoming healthier.  She has lots of food allergies, including corn and soy, which in a way is a good thing, since neither of those items is very good for your health.  These allergies were just discovered this past summer, so she’s had a long time of feeling lousy and not knowing why.  As a result of learning of her allergies, she’s started eating better, but also has a strained relationship with food, because she still will react poorly to things that she eats.  This past weekend, she shared with her family that she was now eating low carb.  Unfortunately, her father was less than supportive and downright offensive as he spouted off the misinformed, conventional wisdom/fear about Atkins.  She’s going to get heart disease, be malnourished, ruin her kidneys, etc.  He questioned if she had a brain.  You know, nice Daddy talk.

This morning, he sent her the article I have quoted below to warn her of the perils of the Atkins diet.  There was so much BS in it that I had to respond, section by section.  Take a look, my comments are italicized:

Where exactly is the medial evidence?.  If there’s one thing this article is lacking, it is EVIDENCE.  There are no links to more information or studies.  This is just Anne’s opinion.  Allow me to respond, linking to actual evidence and further, deeper discussion.


The "New" Atkins Diet:  Dangerous?

by ANNE SHOOTER, Daily Mail, May 2011

Celebrities from Jennifer Aniston to Geri Halliwell swear by it, and more than 10 million copies of the book, Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, have been sold.  But others maintain that a diet based on fat and protein is totally unbalanced and cannot be good for the body Indeed, Dr Atkins' diet totally contradicts the low-fat, high-fibre eating plans that doctors have recommended for weight loss for decades.  Yet obesity and diabetes are at an all time high!  “U.S. Obesity Trends:  Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.  During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%”. (Source -  http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html)  So, if the doctors have been recommending low fat, high fiber diets for decades, why are we getting fatter and sicker?  We have brains, right?

Many experts say that because the diet encourages eating plenty of red meat and cheese - i.e. saturated fats - without many vegetables, pulses or grains, it could lead to high cholesterol levels and heart disease.  It is undeniably a diet that works - but are you risking your health to lose weight?   Check out Mark Sisson’s blog post called “The Devinitive Guide to Saturated Fat (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/), which does a great job explaining, using research, that saturated fat is not correlated with heart disease.  Also, people on low-carb/Atkins diets actually eat MORE vegetables than others (see “Low-carb Dieters Eat More Vegetables - http://www.naturalnews.com/021141.html)

First, you need to understand how the regime (biased term, don’t you think?) works.  Dr Atkins believed that carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, fruit and starchy vegetables increase the production of the hormone insulin, which encourages fat deposits.  Insulin converts sugars in carbohydrates into fuel for the body, and converts excess sugar into fat. The theory is that avoiding carbohydrates decreases insulin production and, consequently, produces less fat.  This is true.  A great post that discusses this more eloquently by Dr. Michael Eades called “Why We Get Fat” can be found here: http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/low-carb-library/why-we-get-fat/ 

Not only that, Dr Atkins said, but if dieters cut carbohydrates almost totally and eat unlimited amounts of fat and protein instead, hunger will abate and the body will turn to its own fat stores for energy - a process called ketosis.  According to Dr Atkins, your kidneys have to work really hard to process all that protein - and this takes energy.  Without the carbohydrate to power the process, the body starts breaking down fat to digest the food. In addition, he said, the diet speeds up your metabolism.  I’ve NEVER read anything of the like.  Atkins is a high-fat, moderate protein, low carb diet.  It is not about overworking the kidneys.  Ketosis is a normal state, in which the body accesses it’s own stored fat (and consumed fat) for fuel.  In fact, many of the body’s organs prefer to burn ketone bodies over glucose.

But Samuel Klein, a researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, suggests another possible answer.
'A calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from protein, fat or carbohydrates,' he says.  So what does research say?  A detailed reading of the research reveals that claims as to the effectiveness of the diet may have been premature.

             Nearly half of those taken on for the studies dropped out. That's because the Atkins Diet is monotonous, making it hard to stick to. It also makes lots of people feel sick: nausea is a side effect of ketosis.  Where’s the evidence of this?  She doesn’t link to or list any actual studies here.  Many low-carbers do experience a “carb flu” when they convert, as their bodies adjust to the transition from a primarily glucose-burning metabolism to a fat-burning metabolism, but this is temporary.  Furthermore, the diet is only monotonous for those without imagination.  Check out this for ways to make eating this way extremely varied: This is called the Food Matrix, which comes up with 81,000 DIFFERENT meals just by mixing your meat/protein, fat, vegetables and herbs spices (http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/thePaleoSolution_FoodMatrix.pdf) Also, a simple Google search will bring up hundreds of low carb recipe blogs.

Brigid McKevith, of the British Nutrition Foundation, warns: 'We should remember that cholesterol isn't the only marker of heart disease, and there are other things to look at before we make judgments.' (what?) There are other worries.  Professor David Barker, a specialist in fetal health at Southampton University, says mothers-to-be who follow regimes like the Atkins Diet are putting their baby's health at risk.  The diet would deprive a child of essential nutrients while in the womb, his studies have found, and raise the risk of them suffering heart disease, diabetes and strokes in adulthood.  This is just fear mongering without evidence.  What nutrients?  Vegetables, animal fat and meat are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.  What do you think we were eating for the millions of years we evolved prior to the Agricultural Revolution?  We weren’t evolving eating high-fiber whole grains.  We left that crap to the birds and killed a mammoth for our dinner!

Other doctors have found that a high-protein diet such as Atkins' regime could damage your kidneys and liver. (Atkins is NOT a high-protein diet; it’s a high fat diet).  Apparently, up to a third of us may have a mild and undetected kidney problem, which is aggravated by following a diet rich in protein.  One of the biggest problems is that many of those trying to lose weight are obese people, who are susceptible to diabetes. Diabetes slowly but steadily damages the kidneys - and the extra burden of a high-protein diet can be enough to speed up that damage.  Excess carbohydrate is what caused the diabetes in the first place, by the way!  But, just to discuss the kidney argument, I found this from Paleo Plan blog (source - http://www.paleoplan.com/2011/04-22/meat-is-not-the-devil-high-protein/):
“Your Kidneys Can Handle It:  The studies that have been done on the kidneys to scare you away from eating “too much” protein have been done on people who already have kidney disease.  Look it up.  Go to www.pubmed.com and try to find a study that provides evidence that eating a high protein diet will adversely affect a person with normally functioning kidneys.  What they’re finding (and admitting now) is that people with normal kidney function do just fine on a high protein diet (5,6).

As the National Kidney Foundation states themselves, (not a high protein diet, but) “diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.” Let’s just let that sink in for a second. Once again, we’re seeing the irony in my cookie and cracker-fiending, Big Gulp-slurping friends’ questions about my meat. As it turns out, they should be WAY more worried about their own diet harming their kidneys, since we all know that diabetes is caused by a high-glycemic, sugar-filled diet.
5. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/03.13/09-kidney.html
6. http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/3/657.full”

 Also, there have been suggestions that the diet can affect bone density, predisposing long-term dieters to osteoporosis. (No evidence, again)   Then there are the problems that go with cutting fibre out of your diet.  (Last time I checked, vegetables contain ample fiber) Most people don't eat enough fibre anyway - just 12g compared with the recommended 18g a day - so cutting down further is not a good idea.  We all know that the nutrients in fruit and vegetables help protect against a wealth of diseases, from heart disease to cancer - hence the government advice to eat five portions a day.  Again, low carb dieters eat more veggies than the average eater.

Instead, the Atkins Diet advises taking supplements. In fact, Dr. Atkins made the majority of his multi-million pound fortune not from the sales of his books, but from the sales of the nutritional supplements he manufactured to take with the eating programme.  Not sure where this is coming from, have no clue if it’s true (and likely neither does the author) and don’t find it relevant.  As previously stated, meat, fat and veggies are more nutrient dense than vegetable oils and grains.
I then added, If you would like to read the real science behind all of these issues, read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, a science journalist.  In fact, here a link to his NY Times article that preceded the book:

And the first paragraph as a teaser:  “If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ''Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution'' and ''Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it's this: they find that their very own dietary recommendations -- eat less fat and more carbohydrates -- are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: they find out both of the above are true.”