Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paleo Portions

In my last post, I shared some nutritional guidance from my preferred Paleo Pyramid and other Paleo followers—a general summary, if you will, of what Paleo nutrition should look like. In reading that post, you may have noticed that none of the Paleo Pyramids I shared provided daily portions. There is a reason for that. As I pointed out, there are variations to the Paleo diet, and each person can choose what to incorporate. There are many ways to be Paleo.

Just take, for example, our ancestors' nutrition, which varied based on their location on the planet. Even Dr. Wahls noted in her TEDx presentation that our ancestors' hunter-gatherer diets varied based on where they lived. We don't know exactly what they ate 2.5 million years ago, but fortunately, some evidence of their diets has survived today in the form of our modern hunter-gatherers. In the 1800s, the diets of several modern hunter-gatherers was observed, studied, and recorded. There was no structured breakdown of protein, fat, and carbs every day, and they certainly didn't calorie count. They ate to survive in their various climates and ecosystems.

So, what was the common denominator that allowed each group not only to survive, but to thrive, especially if their diets often varied from each other? The common denominator was a focus on consuming fat and protein. Those with access to vegetables ate them, and thereby obtained their essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Those with little access or no access to vegetables obtained their essential nutrients from organ meats. It should go without saying that their food wasn't processed or refined and they did not have a carb-rich diet as the Western society does today.

To illustrate, take the Inuit people, who in the early 1800s, were studied. They lived in very cold Arctic areas and ate diets consisting of the fattest animals they could find: caribou, whale, and seals to name a few. They focused on eating the fattest parts of the animal and the organ meat instead of the lean muscle our society prefers today. In terms of calories, their intake of fat was usually more than that of their intake of protein. They were carnivores, eating copious amounts of fatty meat, yet there was little if any chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, heart disease), let alone obesity, present in their populations in the early 1800s.

In the 1850s, another group of hunter-gatherers was observed living off wild game they hunted, cattle and chickens they raised, fish they caught, and the vegetables they grew. They were a Native American tribe called the Pima. They too were in optimal health at this time. Unfortunately, newcomers arrived not long after, exploiting their land, and hunting local game practically to extinction, and by the 1870s they were living through a great famine. As a result, they began relying on government rations of white flour and sugar. Not long after, their community saw an explosion of obesity and diabetes.

As you can see, here are two different "hunter-gatherer" diets, yet the two groups who ate these diets thrived in optimal health while eating this way. In fact, when both these and other similar hunter-gatherers were observed and studied, researchers found that as they incorporated "Western" foods (white flour and sugar) in their diets or as they moved into the cities from the rural areas, the "diseases of civilization" would shortly follow. Amongst the Inuit people, for example, a disease like cancer that they'd never seen began to manifest itself in their population in the 1960s.

Fuel sources


To understand how our ancestors survived on different Paleo diet variations and yet thrived in optimal health, we must understand what our body uses for fuel/energy. The body can fuel itself by three energy sources. The one you probably know by heart is the carbohydrate. The other two energy sources are fat and protein.

Now, having just seen an example of a carnivorous society (the Inuit) that rarely if ever ate carbs, we can see that it is, in fact, possible to not only survive, but to thrive only on meat (which contains protein and fat); yes, no carbs. In fact, the Inuit ate large amounts of fat; sometimes as much as 80% of their caloric intake was fat. I will explain more in a future post, but for the time being, from the information we've just seen, we can assume the body's primary desired fuel source is fat, not carbs (contrary to popular belief).

So we know that the body can use fat and carbs as a fuel, but how about protein? In a previous post, I touched on this. Our body is also known to dip into the muscles for protein when it thinks it is being starved of the other two fuels. Taking protein from the muscle causes the muscles to atrophy and the body to become weaker. In cases like these, people may think they've lost "fat" weight when in fact, they've lost muscle, which is undesirable. We need our muscle. You might not understand why the body does this, but I will cover it in a future post.

So back to the desired fuel source, the Inuit's reason for eating lots of fat was to burn it for fuel. They needed all the energy they could get. This makes sense if you compare it to the animal kingdom. Take, for example, a killer whale or a polar bear that has to eat meat to survive; you will find that these animals prefer eating fatty animals. Killer whales will prey on blubbery grey whales for example, while polar bears prey on fatty walruses. Why do they do this?

Let's look at the caloric value of eating fat vs. protein vs. carbs. See below how the caloric value of fat is more dense than that of both protein and carbs. Fat contains more than twice the energy per gram than protein or carbs. (Keep in mind that 1 gram of protein is not 1 gram of "meat." It's the amount of protein found in a certain amount of meat.)

Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories

So, it follows that the fattier the food they ate, the more energy they would have, and isn't that what we all want? Energy; energy to get off the couch to exercise and energy to do other activities, especially so you don't have to say "I'm so tired" all the time.

Breakdown or Portions


With all that said, you might still wonder if there is a "preferred breakdown" when consuming these three fuels. To reiterate, there isn't only one way, as the various groups of hunter-gatherers have shown us. Nevertheless, it's a good question because there are some guidelines to follow. A healthy balance of fuel sources must exist to keep things working properly in our bodies, and there are varied approaches to manage these three fuel sources.

One approach keeps the three fuel sources balanced by adopting the "all things in moderation" method. In this approach, approximate your daily food portions by dividing your caloric intake by three. (If you don't know what your daily caloric intake should be, you can calculate it here). So this breakdown brings us to 1/3 of each fuel source per day, so roughly 33% of your caloric intake of each: fat, protein, and carbs (avoiding refined or starchy). Keep in mind that these calculations are merely for estimating purposes. You're not meant to eat exactly 33% of your calories from each fuel source. Our ancestors didn't calorie count, and we don't have to either. We are calculating this number to arrive at an approximate target.

So let's take for example an intake of 1800 calories per day. Divided by 3, that brings us to 600 calories for each fuel source. Now let's use the information above to calculate the number of grams per fuel source. For fat, 9 calories is 1 gram. If we have 600 calories and we divide by 9, we get approximately 67 grams of fat. For protein and carbs, 600 divided by 4 is 150 grams. We can then estimate that we can keep things well balanced if we eat approximately 67 grams of fat, 150 grams of protein, and 150 grams of non-starchy carbs per day.

Now, having just said all that, some of you might be skeptical and point out that a high-protein diet can cause liver problems, and it can, but by maintaining a healthy balance of the three fuels, you avoid such problems. To ensure this, while you're on a high-protein diet, make sure you eat enough fat; the general guideline is to eat at least 30% of your daily caloric intake as fat. When you include enough fat (and, if you want, good carbs), you ensure your body is receiving the fuel it needs to process all that protein. Balancing your protein with fat (and good carbs) keeps you from starving your body of fuel and of developing something called "rabbit starvation syndrome," which can lead to death.

Another approach, which I'm sure was the "Paleo" approach (since they didn't sit around calculating their calories and grams), is the "eat till you're satisfied" method, and then eat only when you're hungry. In this approach you eat meat, fat and non-starchy vegetables until you feel full, and believe me, you will know when you're full. The reason you can do this is that your body feels satisfied sooner than if you eat copious amounts of empty carbohydrates. Remember the "you can't have just one" chip commercials? Think about it, you can probably eat larger portions of rice or bread than you can, say meat or cheese. Why? When you eat protein and fat (in that cheese for example), your body more quickly triggers you to be satiated (full) and you know when to stop eating. On the other hand, quick and easy carbohydrates cause your brain to trigger a response to crave more carbohydrates. That's why "once you pop, you can't stop"—chips, cookies, soda, you name it. After you've eaten a carb-rich meal, you will feel hungry a couple of hours later, whereas if you eat a fat/protein-rich meal, you may not get hungry till four or more hours later. Fat and meat trigger satiety and you stay full longer, and all of this happens for a reason.

Recent research has shown that grazing all day long makes us fat (I'll explain more in a future post). Sadly, over the years doctors and nutritionists have been telling us to snack all day long, eating small meals. Our Western diet, full of empty carbs, was making us hungry every couple of hours, and that somehow made it ok to snack all day long. Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach. The best approach is to eat only when you're hungry so that you give yourself those breaks in between meals. It's in those breaks that your body is actually burning fat stored in your fat cells. That is why it is also important to get a good night's sleep too because while you're "hibernating" at night, your body is literally burning the midnight oil. It burns the fat stored in your fat cells and keeps you alive during those hours when you're not eating. If you did not give yourself any breaks, and you ate all day and all night long, you wouldn't dip into your fat stores. However, I am beginning to digress. There's plenty more to say, but I will have to explain in future posts.

What to Avoid


So I've mentioned before some of the things that we should avoid in our diets, but I don't know that I've been clear. I promise to spell it out clearly very soon, but I will hint by saying that we have a great enemy in this world, and it's super imperative that people become aware of it. Research has proven that this enemy is what causes heart disease and a myriad of other maladies, and contrary to popular belief, the enemy is not meat and fat.

So what is this enemy? I guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paleo Pyramid Guide

In one of my previous posts, I summarized Dr. Wahls's research about required nutrients for your body and the foods that provide these nutrients. While I value her guidance, I would also like to share other Paleo-like perspectives to provide a balanced set of recommendations. With that said, I do not promote one diet variation over another, as each person has personal preferences, different requirements, body types, and goals. You can always search online for other suggested Paleo guidelines. One Paleo follower whose blog posts I have found useful, is Mark Sisson. You can always search his blog, marksdailyapple, for anything Paleo related. You can also continue to reference Gary Taubes's blog, Dr. Terry Wahls blog, and Tom Naughton's blog, as they are also very Paleo-oriented in their dietary approach.

As I've researched the Paleo style of eating, I've found that proponents of this lifestyle vary in their suggested nutrition guidelines, which is expected. Nevertheless, they share some of the same opinions. For example, they all agree that we should eat significantly more natural foods than we eat today and significantly reduce the processed foods common today—including all the empty calories found in things like bread, rice, pasta, sweets, and soda—if not eliminate them completely. I will explain more why in a future post. They also promote eating more protein (meat) and fat (e.g., animal fat) than our society eats today, and more than the USDA Food Pyramid promotes.

In my search for Paleo pyramids out there, I found quite a few, which you can view here, but the Paleo Pyramid I preferred was the one by Mark Sisson (below). No pyramid will be perfect because, again, each person has different requirements and goals, but I do like how this one provides a little more detail than the other pyramids I found. His suggestions are merely a guide. We can adjust details to our particular needs and goals and incorporate other Paleo-like ideas.

Using the pyramid below, I'll start by outlining what the pyramid promotes, but I will also provide more detail and other suggestions. As you can see from the pyramid below, our diets should be founded in the following things (in order of importance):
  • Protein with Saturated Fats: We need protein and saturated fat to build muscle, for energy, satiety (feeling satisfied), and cell and hormone function. Eating our protein with fat is important because that is how our bodies trigger us to be satisfied (to stop eating). Let's also not forget to include organ meats (also known as offal or sweetbreads), because they contain essential nutrients our bodies require. They include liver, intestines, heart, among other things. In one of the other pyramids, bone broths was listed in the meat section, as well. This is a good "organ" to include, (though it's not really an organ per se), as bone marrow is an excellent source of protein and fat. Again, fat is very important because our body uses it for fuel/energy. Our ancestors thrived on the fattest animals they could find, and they left nothing to waste.

  • Vegetables: They provide nutrition and antioxidants, but remember that some vegetables can be very starchy, and limiting these types of vegetables is suggested. Vegetables high in nutrition include things like leafy greens: kale, collard greens, chard, and cabbage, among others. Starchy "vegetables" include things like potatoes, corn, and legumes (beans). The bullets below include more detail on seaweed and legumes.

    • Seaweed: Seaweed contains iodine, something our bodies require. Dr. Wahls recommended eating seaweed because many Americans are grossly deficient in their iodine. In my post about her testimony, I noted that she recommended to eat it once a week. She did so because you do not require large quantities of iodine. Her summary did not include the appropriate amount to eat, but on her blog/forum, she says to buy dulse flakes (coarse, edible, red seaweed) and to sprinkle it on food as a spice, but no more than 1/4 teaspoon, per person, per day.

    • Legumes: These are essentially beans, and although they do contain protein, the amount they contain is low as compared to the high amounts of carbohydrates; beans are quite starchy. One of the better beans is the lentil, since it has a higher protein content, but even still, there are other reasons to minimize your intake of legumes. Although legumes contain minerals, they are particularly difficult to digest and are rendered useless if the body cannot digest them. For the nutrients to be useful, the beans need to be soaked properly or they cause flatulence (which goes to show you how difficult they were to digest). Peanuts are another example of a legume (not a nut). Most Paleo followers do not include them in their diets because they're still legumes, but there are people who believe in the benefits of eating peanuts, and include it in their diets on occasion.

  • Other Fats/Oils: These include animal fats, butter, and coconut oil for cooking purposes and things like avocados, macadamia nuts, olives, and olive oil for eating. This does not include highly processed vegetable oils found in supermarkets like canola, sunflower, safflower, or good old "vegetable" oil. Our ancestors surely did not squeeze oil from corn, and if they could have, they could never eat it in the quantities we eat it today. It's unnatural and not recommended.

I'd like to note that proponents of Paleo-like lifestyles highly recommend eating meat as organic, pasture-raised, free-range, hormone-free, wild-caught, and local as possible, and your vegetables, fruit, and berries, as organic and pesticide-free as you can. I suggest that if you cannot do this, at least get your groceries as fresh as you can get them. You're doing well just by replacing empty carbs in your diet with more meat and fat. Also be aware that there is a list called the Dirty Dozen that shows you the produce that is most and least contaminated with pesticides to help you choose which foods to buy organic.

That was the bottom half of the pyramid. Now for the top half, which includes "Moderation Foods" and miscellaneous items such as spices, supplements, and indulgences:

  • Moderation Foods: This list includes fruit, high-fat dairy, and other nuts/seeds and nut butters. It also includes starchy tubers (like potatoes), quinoa, wild rice, etc., but it is listed as the carb option for athletes. If you're not an endurance athlete (like a marathon runner), you don't need to eat these. I will explain more in a future post.

    • Fruit should be eaten moderately because it too contains sugar: fructose. Our ancestors almost assuredly ate fruit (in combination with nuts) seasonally (likely in the summer to the fall) to store fat for the long winter months. Today we eat them in much larger quantities than they did and all year long, not just seasonally. In addition, the fruit of today has been bred to be sweeter than it was for our ancestors. Nevertheless, when you do have fruit, focus on high-antioxidant fruits and berries, as they will have the most benefit. In addition, if you eat fruit, get plenty of sunlight (Vitamin D) so your body is not tricked into thinking you need to store fat for the imminent hibernation.

    • Dairy is one of the foods that Paleo followers tend to disagree on; some exclude it, some include it moderately, and some prefer goat/sheep milk to cow milk. Dairy appeared around the same time as agriculture did, when our ancestors domesticated animals. Some dairy (like milk) contains its own sugar (lactose) to which some are allergic. Cheese, yogurt, and kefir do not have lactose, but some may be allergic to the casein protein in cheese. Nevertheless, dairy still has some benefits, as it contains protein and fat. However, this may be outweighed by the fact that dairy stimulates insulin secretion, which we generally want to avoid. The Paleo recommendation is to eat it raw, full fat, fermented, unpasteurized and/or organic, non-homogenized. Farmers markets are always good places to look. If you will buy it in a grocery store, always opt for the "regular" (full fat) instead of the "light" and "non-fat" options. The process for removing fat in a product always includes adding carbs into the product. Again, fat is our body's energy source, so we should not be eating low-fat anything.

    • Nuts/Seeds/Nut Butters: Nuts can be a nice snack (no more than a handful per day), but eaten copiously is not good for you. They contain phytic acid, which in excess, can strip your body of minerals it needs. In small/moderate amounts, phytic acid actually has benefits.

  • Herbs, Spices, Extracts: These are not necessarily bad things—like pepper, cinnamon, cloves, dill, parsley to name a few. They're just never used in such high quantities, so that's why they are at the top of the pyramid. You'll probably never eat large doses of spices in one sitting, anyway.

  • Supplements: These are probably listed here for those who like to make sure they are getting enough of certain vitamins/minerals, etc. However, if you eat from nature, your vegetables and organ meats provide these nutrients, probably with the exception of vitamin D, which is more easily obtained by exposure to the sun. As far as protein supplements go, some athletes may choose to supplement their protein intake with a protein powder, but these powders should not be the main source of protein. If you are not an athlete, you probably don't need the protein supplement. Too much protein in the diet without adequate fat (or carbs for those who aren't Paleo yet) is not good. However, if you plan to buy protein powder, make sure you examine the nutrition/ingredients label carefully, ensuring the carb to protein ratio is low. I like Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 (4.5g of carbs and 20g of protein per serving) and Garden of Life Raw Protein Original (3g of carbs and 18g of protein per serving). They are both non-dairy proteins, but I like them because they don't have any "weird" ingredients and they have great carb to protein ratios.

  • Indulgences: As part of a Paleo-like plan, sensible indulgences (things you can treat yourself to) include red wine and dark chocolate. White wine is not recommended because it usually contains more carbs than red wine, and it has significantly fewer antioxidants than red wine does. It's not entirely bad, just not as good as red wine. Dark chocolate is also good for you because of its fat profile and high antioxidant makeup. Just make sure the dark chocolate has a high cacao/cocoa content (I recommend 70% or higher).

    • Honey: It's not on Mark's pyramid, but he and other Paleo followers consider honey to be one of those sensible indulgences. For one, it's makeup is not entirely just glucose and fructose. It contains over 100 different compounds, along with minerals, amino acids, and vitamins. Also, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants and bioactive compounds to help your immune system fight off illness. In addition, researchers have found that it can reduce allergy symptoms. Again, for the best benefits, obtain it local, raw, and unfiltered.

Additional Recommendations


  • Drinks: This is a food pyramid, so there's nothing about drinks, but I think they're important to include. For hydration, you have a few options listed below. You should avoid juice, soda, and anything sweetened with any type of sugar be it sugar cane, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar to name a few. Remember that fruit juice is essentially a high concentration of fructose, which is extra sugar that your body does not need.

    • Water: Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to drink copious amounts of water all day long, especially not the 8 glasses x 8 oz per day. Your natural thirst is your trigger (and contrary to popular belief, being thirsty doesn't mean you're already dehydrated). Drinking water when you're thirsty will suffice. Our Paleo ancestors did not always have water readily available. They obtained most of their water intake from the food they ate. Your body doesn't require as much as you might think, and it's dependent upon your age, your activity level, the climate/altitude in which you live, whether you are pregnant/nursing, etc. In addition, when you start following a Paleo-like lifestyle, you will notice that you are less thirsty. The key thing to remember is just to listen to your body. Our thirst trigger got us through the stone ages. There's no reason why it would fail us now.

    • Unsweetened Tea/Coffee: Contrary to popular belief (again), caffeine does not dehydrate you at all. Studies have proven this is so. Since they don't dehydrate you, and they contain water, they are acceptable sources of your daily water intake. Remember not to overindulge, though. I've seen recommendations of no more than 3 cups per day.

    • Coconut water: Since you don't require large amounts of water, you probably don't require large amounts of coconut water. However, coconut water has its benefits, as it contains five essential electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphate, and calcium). It's good hydration for athletes after exercise. If you plan on drinking it, make sure you buy a brand that does not contain other additives besides the coconut water. Remember, it's naturally sweetened, so be careful not to overindulge.

Recipes?


There are numerous Paleo/Primal websites that provide delicious recipes. You can always search for others, but I like nomnompaleo.com, livingpaleo.com and fastpaleo.com.

There is certainly more to say, but I will bring this to a close for now. I'll talk more about this soon. Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bermuda Triangle of Nutrition

In the video where Dr. Terry Wahls gave her testimony, she also pointed out how our society eats today, and it was very obvious that our diets today are very different than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Now that we have a bit of an understanding of what Paleo is, I want to examine what our dietary lifestyle is today and what it is based on. Before we get into it though, I want to apologize for taking so long to post. This post has been particularly difficult for me because I have so much to say, and I don't know where to start. It's taken me some time to get there, but I hope this post finally covers the topic that I feel is the next appropriate topic to discuss. Having said that, I want to apologize if the post is not as carefully written as any previous posts. I wanted to finally get something out there so we can move onto more topics. So let's get started.

As I've mentioned before, so-called researchers within the last century have taken a hypothesis—that eating animal protein and fat, among other things, is harmful and unhealthy—and despite their best biased efforts, they have failed to prove it to be true. (To find the actual studies, reference the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes—a science writer who actually took the initiative to find all these studies and put them together in this book, along with some very important questions and topics that we must begin to address as a society). Unfortunately, because the so-called researchers reported only data that was in line with their hypothesis, the media, government, and even the medical world believed it, and today, going against these so-called truths is considered 'quackery'. Now, because of the lies that were propagated, the government felt it was their obligation to tell us what to eat, especially when it came to animal fat and protein, so the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) released—among other nutritional guidance publications—a "Food Guide Pyramid" in 1992 (below).

USDA Food Guide Pyramid (1992)


Let's look at the pyramid above and see what it was based on. Simply put, the basis is carbohydrates; this includes bread, grains/cereals, rice, and pasta at a whopping 6 to 11 servings. Vegetables come next at 3-5 servings, followed by fruit at 2-4 servings, then dairy and meat come in at 2-3 servings. Strangely enough, they bundle nuts and beans with meat, although nuts are more like fats and oils, and beans are more like grains (because they're usually starchy). Anyway, last but not least we have a category of fats, oils and sweets, which we are suggested to eat sparingly. Why oils and sweets were categorized together is beyond me, but I'll explain more later. In addition, this picture is so vague, it doesn't even tell me what a 'serving' is.

Is it obvious why the USDA food triangle greatly promotes grains and cereals? Notice the word 'agriculture' in their name. It's certainly not called the "US Department of Nutrition." What does the world agriculture have to do with this, you might ask. Well, as I've mentioned before, 2.5 million years ago, our ancestors hunted and gathered their food. We did this up until ~10,000 years ago when we changed. What did we do? We became more of an agricultural society. Ding ding ding! We began to settle down and grow our own crops including cereals/grains and also raise domesticated animals instead of having to always hunt wild animals. As our populations grew on the planet, we continued this new agricultural lifestyle. This change to our diets may seem mild, but it was actually pretty radical. We started eating something that we had never really eaten before: bread (grains/cereals), rice, and other carbohydrate-rich foods.

Now, we weren't so much in trouble then as we are now. Today, the USA is the "bread basket" of the world. The US wants to promote eating more of the products we produce. Meat is more expensive and there is not enough for the entire world to eat it copiously. We have to share the limited amount of meat available with the whole world. To grow grains/cereals, on the other hand, is cheaper than to raise animals for meat, so it seems like a simple solution to just eat more grains and cereals which are more readily available, and they are produced mainly in our backyard. As you can see, these reasons and more may have contributed to the creation of the USDA Food Pyramid.

Interestingly enough, they didn't get the 1992 pyramid quite right (go figure), so in 2005, the USDA revised their pyramid (below), but not by very much. They added exercise, and they now seem to promote more dairy. Hmmm, isn't dairy agriculture too? Look for the yellow strip, which represents fats and oils; it isn't even labeled and it is very small. Notice how sweets isn't bundled with it anymore; that's curious... Sweets isn't in the pyramid at all from what I can tell. Also, look at the purple strip which represents meat and protein. Did you notice it is the next thinnest strip after the yellow one (oils/fats)? Both meats and fats are the most deemphasized food groups, and it is probably because the government continues to promote the idea that they are detrimental to our health. What do you still see as highly emphasized, though? You got it: Grains and cereals, etc. Good old carbohydrates...

USDA Food Guide Pyramid (Revised 2005)
So for years now, we've been told to eat large portions of grains and cereals, but we're sicker than ever. I believe this guidance has been one of the main reasons for the "obesity" problem and the myriad of diseases plaguing our daily lives. I digress by making the following observation, but I think it needs to be said. I remember a time when knowing someone with cancer was rare! As time goes on, not only does everyone know at least one person who has had or has cancer, but they know more than one person, and sadly, sometimes it's because they've been diagnosed themselves. It's not even just cancer anymore, but Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Diabetes, Heart Disease, you name it. These have actually been called diseases of civilization, and it's no wonder because they are so much more common now than they were a hundred or more years ago.

I will close this topic, but I will return with more. I'm sure you're dying to know what makes carbohydrates so bad and also what a Paleo Pyramid would look like, so we'll be talking about those topics soon.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dr Wahls Healing Nutrition

For those of you who have not watched Dr. Terry Wahls testimony on how she was cured of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) by nutrition, please take 18 minutes of your busy day and watch this life-changing video. I know you might be tempted to watch only the first 5 minutes, but I urge you, please just hang on till the end. I could tell you all day long what she said, but I think hearing it from "the horse's mouth" gives the testimony the credibility it needs; you might not believe me otherwise. I want you to watch this in particular because, of the other two sources that I've referred to in the past (Tom Naughton and Gary Taubes), neither has been a medical professional, and I know that for most people, a story carries more weight when the source is considered credible, in other words, the source is an expert in the particular line of work of the topic at hand. Not to say that Tom and Gary are not credible, just that Dr. Terry Wahls' profession as a medical doctor gives us her expertise, and her perspective from the medical side. She actually confirms what Tom and Gary have also discovered on their own.

Now, whether you watched it or not, I'd like to give a textual summary of her video in this post, as I think it is very useful to see "on paper" what she says. I do warn you, however, that I will go into more detail than she did, but it's for your benefit. So, don't get too caught up in the technical, scientific terminology; just understand the concepts of what's happening in the body. Visualize the various activities your body performs and the reactions your body produces when it has the right nutrients. It will help you understand why the body cannot do its job when it doesn't have the nutrients it needs. In fact, Dr. Wahls points out that if the reactions your body requires don't happen properly, you set the stage for chronic disease.

So, let's get started...

Testimony Spelled Out


Dr. Terry Wahls battled MS (Multiple Sclerosis) for about 7 years before she realized that her fellow doctors and their latest chemotherapies and drugs were doing nothing for her. That's when she took things into her own hands. She realized her brain was deteriorating, and she needed to do something if she was ever going to help herself get better. She was the guinea pig, but she had no choice, and she had nothing to lose if her hypotheses and experiments failed. This disease was considered incurable to modern medicine anyway. If there was any way that she could improve her quality of life, that would be an accomplishment for her.

So after researching the crucial elements, vitamins, and minerals her body required, she began to take vitamins and supplements in pill form, but she quickly realized that nutrition was the better way to take in the vitamins and minerals her body was lacking. As she began to change her diet, she found that her body began to heal itself. From a tilt-reclined, zero-gravity wheelchair in 2007 and with a frail body barely able to walk (with two canes), she went down to one cane after 3 months of her new lifestyle. At month 4 she no longer needed a cane. At month 5, she took her bike for a spin around the block after not riding in 10 years. At 9 months, she took an 18-mile bike ride. One year after her lifestyle change, she did a trail ride in the Canadian Rockies. In November of 2011, when she gave the talk at TEDx, you could see that her health was restored. Today, she seeks to help others who are battling such diseases, and she seeks to raise awareness for prevention of such diseases. She teaches the public about the healing power of food and she conducts clinical trials using the nutrition guidelines that saved her life.

How did she do this? Before going into detail about the nutrition, I will cover her explanation about how our bodies work, as I think it's vital for you to understand. As I've said before, knowing is half the battle. Not only that, knowledge is power, and being aware of how your body works will help you realize why the foods she recommends are essential to your well being.

Our Brain and our Body's Cells


Myelin


Let's start with the brain, one of the main components of the central nervous system. Did you know that our brains contain 1 billion cells and 10 trillion connections? This network of connections consists of special cells called neurons that transmit the signals between different parts of the body via their axons, or the connective wiring. These signals take place just fine when the connective wiring is surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, but when this wiring (the axon) is not insulated by myelin, these signals cannot take place. In other words, myelin is absolutely essential for the central nervous system to work properly. So if our bodies need it, how do we obtain it? It's actually simple. Our bodies can make myelin! However, our body requires the following elements before it can produce healthy, robust myelin.

A neuron with its axon insulated by myelin
  • Vitamin B1 (Thyamin)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate)
  • Vitaimin B12 (Cobalamin)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Iodine


Neurotransmitter


Next, we'll look at neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that transmits signals from the neuron to the receptors of a target cell. The synapse is the space where this signal transmission takes place. As we saw above, these signals are vital to the functioning of our bodies, and the signal is not valid if the neurotransmitters are not there to take the message across. Thus, we require these neurotransmitters, so they can relay messages throughout our bodies. Just as our bodies can make myelin, they can also make neurotransmitters provided we have the following things in our nutrition:

  • Sulfur
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

A neuron transmitting signals via electrical impulses to a target cell. In the synapse, the
neurotransmitters send messages via the receptors of the target cell.

Cells and Mitochondria


A typical animal cell. (9) shows the mitochondria
As you may already know, our bodies are made of countless cells. What you may not know are the subcellular components of a cell (right). These tiny structures are to the cell what organs are to the body, and so they're called "organelles" (tiny organs). For the moment, ignore all the numbers except for (9) which shows the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are critically important to our health. They are often called "cellular power plants" because they generate most of the cell's supply of chemical energy, but that's not all they do. They are also responsible for processes such as cell communication, differentiation of cells, cell death, and controlling cell cycle and growth. It is no wonder that when mitochondria cannot perform their jobs properly, neurological diseases occur (like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) and also diseases like cancer, where programmed cell death never occurs and cell-division continues.

A mitochondrion (singular for mitochondria)
So, what nutrients should we consume for the countless reactions of the mitochondria to happen properly?
  • B Vitamins
  • Sulfur
  • Antioxidants


Nutrition


Dr. Wahls noted that as societies become more affluent, they tend to eat more processed foods, which in turn, causes a decline in their health. As they eat more foods rich in starch and simple carbs (sugars), their children are born with smaller brains and smaller jaws (leading to crooked teeth), their blood vessels stiffen earlier in life, they and/or their children potentially become obese and/or develop diabetes, their children are diagnosed with learning disorders and severe behavioral problems, and a myriad of other negative effects that emerge over time.

The solution she proposed was to go back to the lifestyle of our Paleo ancestors, who for nearly 2.5 million years foraged (hunted and gathered) for their food. Dr. Wahls points out they knew more about eating for optimal health than modern physicians and scientists. From her experiments on her own body, she developed a method for eating for the benefit of the brain and the mitochondria (the power generators of your body).

Dr. Wahls' nutrition guidelines stem from the healing effects they generated in her own body. She believes wholeheartedly in the Paleo method of nutrition, which I described in my last post. Now keep in mind that eating a Paleo diet is viewed by followers of this lifestlye in a few different ways. For example some people include fats like nuts or even dairy in moderation in the Paleo lifestyle, but the main point to understand is the return to eating food in its most natural state, so there is definitely a complete emphasis on eliminating processed foods as much as possible. Dr. Wahls points out that this lifestyle is more nutritious than the diets of the AHA (American Heart Association), ADA (American Diabetes Association), and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), as it has the following effects:

  • Dramatically increases vitamin and mineral content of your diet
  • Dramatically lowers risk of food allergies and sensitivities (more common than we realize and difficult to diagnose)
    • Gluten Sensitivity (the protein in wheat, rye, and barley)
    • Dairy Sensitivity (the casein protein)
    • Both of the above are associated with a wide variety of health problems including:
      • Eczema, Asthma, Allergies, Infertility, Irritable bowel, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, Arthritis, Chronic headache, Neurological problems, Behavior problems

What to Eat


So now that we know what our bodies require to function properly, what are the foods that contain these elements? Dr. Wahls' proposed the following guidelines in order to receive the nutrients the body needs for all the functionality mentioned above. On a daily basis, one should eat the following:

  • 3 Cups of Green Leaves
    • Dramatically lowers risks of cataracts and macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness in the US)
    • Rich in:
      • Vitamins A & C - support immune cells
      • Vitamin B - protects brain cells and mitochondria
      • Vitamin K - keeps blood vessels and bones healthy
      • Minerals - cofactors (essential to the function of an enzyme) for hundreds of different enzymes in the body
    • Kale has the most nutrition per calorie of any plant
    • Parsley also has countless benefits

  • 3 Cups of Sulfur-Rich Vegetables
    • Sulfur supports:
      • Brain
      • Mitochondria
      • Liver & Kidneys (for toxin removal from bloodstream)
    • Cabbage family (including but not limited to)
      • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Turnips, Rutabaga, Radishes, Collards, Kale
    • Onion family (including but not limited to)
      • Garlic, Leeks, Chives, Shallots
    • Mushrooms
    • Asparagus

  • 3 Cups of Bright Color
    • Colors contain flavonoids and polyphenols (potent antioxidants) that support:
      • Retinas
      • Mitochondria
      • Brain cells
      • Toxin removal
    • Vegetables (including but not limited to)
      • Beets, Carrots, Peppers, Red Cabbage
    • Fruits (brightly colored) and Berries (including but not limited to)
      • Peaches, Oranges, Blackberries, Blueberries,
        Raspberries, Strawberries

  • High Quality Protein Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • To produce myelin
    • Critical to jaw development
      • For straight teeth
      • Larger brain
    • Wild Fish (including but not limited to)
      • Salmon, Herring
    • Grass-Fed Meat (including but not limited to)
      • Lamb, Beef

Also, once a week, one should eat:

  • Organ meat
    • Concentrated sources of:
      • Vitamins
      • Minerals
      • Coenzyme Q
    • Particularly potent for supporting mitochondria
    • Examples:
      • Liver, Heart, Tongue, Gizzards, and other Sweetbreads - culinary name for animal glands

  • Seaweed
    • Rich source of selenium
    • Rich source of iodine
      • Brain needs it to make myelin
      • Body needs it to remove toxins
        • Mercury
        • Lead
        • Heavy Metals
      • Adequate iodine lowers risk of breast and prostate cancer
      • 80% of Americans have low iodine

That about sums up what her testimony was about. I want to point out once more that Dr. Wahls brought her body back to a healthy state in less than a year after being sick for 7 years. So keep in mind that the body is resilient. You might feel like healing is impossible, but getting back to a healthy state is possible. You can bounce back.

If you're still discouraged, try to keep in mind what she said about paying now or later. Yes, eating this way may prove to be more expensive than eating all the processed, quick and easy-to-obtain foods you are accustomed to consuming, but you will either pay now, or you will pay later with medical bills, doctor visits, prescriptions, surgeries, missing work, forced early retirement, and nursing-home care. As healthcare costs continue to rise exponentially, it seems imperative to be healthy now, if only to avoid all the extra costs that come with being unhealthy.

One more thing before I close this post. This may be a drastic change for many of you and it is definitely overwhelming, but again, don't let it stress you out. Do the best you can, and take things a step at a time. It's what I do, and it's all we can be expected to do. You have to cut yourself some slack here and there, but as long as you achieve the healthy state you want for yourself, that is what is important.

Good luck! I look forward to posting more...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Back to Natural

After watching the documentary "Fat Head" back in November, I began to follow the lifestyle immediately, and I began to tell others about it just as quickly. I told my family, my friends; I even told people I didn't even know. Some accepted it immediately, just like I did. Others were hesitant, and some were skeptical and downright defiant, but honestly, I can understand why. No one wants to believe that the government, doctors, and other "authorities" have been lying to us (knowingly or unknowingly) all these years. I personally felt betrayed after having watched the movie; it was disenchanting. And I knew just how difficult it was to believe this "revolutionary" concept I had found, a concept you will soon see was actually not revolutionary at all.

My zeal for this new concept was evident throughout my daily discussions with people. It's funny because it's all I really wanted to talk about, and I began to feel like a preacher! (Can I get a witness?) One day, it dawned on me that I should start a new blog, one where I shared my newfound passion: the good news about nutrition. At the same time I realized that I wanted to incorporate not only nutrition, but also natural remedies. With that said, I knew I should choose my blog name carefully. I wanted to convey a sense of going back to nature, while at the same time connoting a religious fervor I had for evangelizing the message I believe—that nature holds the healing to not just some of our ailments, but all of them.

The Revolutionary Concept


Speaking of 'nature' let's explore that first half of my blogname—since the last half is self explanatory. What kinds of things does the word 'natural' conjure up in your mind? Let's take a trip to the past and go tens of thousands or even millions of years back and take a peek at our ancestors. How did they nourish their bodies? How did they self sustain? It so happens that during these prehistoric times, humans actually had to hunt and gather their food. These people fed off wild and local animals, fish, vegetables, roots, fruit, and nuts. That may sound simple and perhaps boring, but surprisingly enough, their fossils indicate that they rarely if ever encountered the modern diseases we have all come to know so well: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even gum disease, to name a few. In other words, we can assume they were quite healthy. Looking at the list below, can you see why eating this way this is not such a revolutionary concept after all?

  • Wild/Local animals
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Roots
  • Fruit
  • Nuts

Now, you may have actually heard about this type of diet. Today, there are many variations of it. Some call it "Paleo," "Primal," or even "Caveman" because our ancestors during the Paleolithic Era ate this way. Others may not necessarily give it a name, but they use some of the similar concepts like eating greater amounts of protein and animal fat and drastically limiting their carb/sugar intake. In addition, diets like "Atkins" and "South Beach" are a bit similar, although they tend to be short-lived and they vary in several ways from a traditional "Paleo" diet. Personally, I think the "Paleo" lifestyle comes the closest to the ideal. Now, you might wonder if this is what "Fat Head" was all about. To answer that question, yes, it was, although the word "Paleo" was never mentioned (that I know of). With that said, I want to reiterate that Tom Naughton of "Fat Head" and Gary Taubes of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" are not the only advocates for such lifestyles. There are countless proponents out there. If you suspect this "diet" is a craze and a passing fad, I assure you that for some people it will be, but for people whose lives have been changed, whose diseases have been healed, whose bodies have been restored, this is and will always be a lifestyle.

One such person of noteworthy mention is Medical Doctor Terry Wahls, and in the following inspiring, 18-minute video, she presents the power of nutrition, and how it restored her body. She has been healed of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) that ravaged her body for 7 years. Healed? you ask. Yes! It seems unbelievable, doesn't it? I truthfully had always wanted to believe that the healing of every ailment was found in nature, but it wasn't until I saw Dr. Wahls' testimony that I fully realized it was true. I wasn't so much a "doubting Thomas" as I was afraid that over time we'd lost the answers to the cures—whether no one remembered them anymore, or they were being kept secret from the public, or perhaps because the particular herbs had become extinct over time. Whatever the case was, I was hesitant to believe that the "cure" was so readily available to whomever was willing to seek and find. Now I am certain the "cure" does, in fact, exist, and it is readily available, so I'll leave you with this amazing testimony, hoping that it inspires you as much as it has inspired me. If any youtube video in this world should go viral, it's this one, so I urge you to please share it, spread the word, the gospel, if you will. Everybody ought to know...

And don't worry, I'm not done talking about this, and I'm not done answering some of the questions I've posed in my previous posts. So, keep your eyes peeled for another post coming soon!




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weight-Loss Journey

Muscle vs. Fat


5 lbs Fat (top) vs. 5 lbs Muscle (bottom)
You've probably heard people say "muscle weighs more than fat" and it probably reminds you of the joke you heard as a kid, "What's heavier? A ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?" Neither right? A ton of each weighs the same: one ton. What people really mean is that by volume, muscle weighs more than fat. If you put 5 pounds of muscle next to 5 pounds of fat, you'll see that the muscle is more densely packed and is smaller by volume than the fat, which takes up more space.

Recently, people have asked me if I've lost a ton of weight, and the truth is, I really haven't lost as much as people might think. I guess the concept of looking slimmer always makes people think of drastic amounts of weight. But being that you now understand that fat is lumpier and bulkier than muscle, you can see why a person who has slimmed down may appear to have lost a lot of weight. Actually, it really all depends on the amount of fat and/or muscle lost. If someone loses a lot of muscle and not a lot of fat, they may not appear much slimmer, but the scale has made them think they "lost a lot of weight" and this may, in turn, make them think they're doing a great job of trimming down, which is not true. Losing muscle is the last thing you want to do. The best scenario is when you lose fat and gain/maintain muscle. If this is the case, you will not seem to lose much weight on the scale, but you will definitely appear more trim. How do I know? I know because that's exactly what happened to me.

My Journey


Over the last several years my weight crept up till I was the heaviest I'd ever been in my life. Mind you, I wasn't morbidly obese, probably only 20-30 lbs above my normal average, but I was disappointed with myself. It was 2007, and I had just gotten married to the love of my life. Whether it was the neglect of my health during this time or perhaps my intense happiness for finding my soulmate, I gained excess weight. (Sometimes I blame "the pill" because so many other women do, and it's probably not far from the truth. It's completely unnatural, and I will never, ever take it again.)

Anyway, in 2008, I'd had enough. Desperate about my weight, I wanted any help whatsoever, and I was a bit vulnerable and probably depressed. I had been slim my whole life, and being heavy was something I had never experienced. I developed a deeper compassion than I already had for people who tried to lose weight and could not. (I know now why they could not, but more on that later.) One day, I was talking to one of my girlfriends, and she told me about Nutrisystem. She had lost 20 lbs in about 3 months, and she was super happy. This was too tempting to pass up at that time, and I signed up for 4 months. I will never use it again, mind you, and I wouldn't recommend it now that I have learned more about nutrition, but I did manage to drop about 12 lbs in about 3 months (if it was 12 good pounds or 12 bad pounds, I don't know). If you're wondering what happened to month 4, you may have guessed right. I could not finish it. As you may have guessed (perhaps from your personal experience) I got depressed. I felt restricted. I ate the same stuff all the time, while Wesley ate whatever he wanted. Plus, I never ate out, so I felt like a hermit. At least I had Wesley to keep me company, though.

For about a year and a half to two years, I didn't do much else. I was focusing on Wesley at the time, who was going through chemotherapy treatments and drug trials. When he passed away Independence Day 2010, my need for distraction was great—probably the denial/ignore stage—and tackling the weight loss seemed like a good idea. Soon after, I met a chiropractor who specialized in weight loss in a more natural way, by cleansing/detoxifying the body. I decided it sounded better than anything I'd done before, so I planned to do a 5-week cleanse, and I blogged about it to keep myself motivated. The detox diet consisted of fresh foods including vegetables, fruits, meats, and oils like nuts, avocados, olive oil, but it restricted dairy products, plus any high-carbohydrate foods like bread, rice, pasta, starchy vegetables, and anything processed. Yes anything processed. Sometimes a bit of rice or lentils was allowed but very little, and I had to calorie-count everything. Needless to say, it was very difficult. So much so that I couldn't complete my 5th week. I did lose some weight, maybe 10 lbs, and I was happy about this, but I was also depressed because, once again, I felt restricted. I could eat almost nothing that I liked or wanted, and my social life felt nonexistent. I ate every meal at home... and alone.

Now, I may be digressing, but I'd like to say something in regards to dieting and depression because I think it is important to mention. No matter how good or healthy your diet is, if you are unhappy or depressed about it, you will be less likely to continue with it. You may go as far as never doing it again. Yes, it sounds obvious, but the point I want to make is that if you want your diet to become your lifestyle, it should not be extreme for you. It should be something that you can do for the rest of your life, and no one forces you to do it, you want to do it. And because it's not extreme, you cut yourself a little bit of slack every once in a while.

For me, the "detox" diet got a little bit closer to what I was searching for in a lifestyle change, but it wasn't quite perfect yet. It was too restrictive for me at the time. More importantly, I honestly didn't understand the reasons for cutting out so much. I'm a dairy lover, and not being able to add cheese to anything was nearly unbearable. I was a bread lover too, so I had a hard time with that, too. And then there was the calorie counting. I can spreadsheet anything, but calorie counting every single ounce I ate?... Really?? That was just a bit too much for me. The most positive thing I did notice from the "detox" diet was that, as I lost "weight," it wasn't so much the weight I was losing, as I was losing "inches" around my midsection. Most interesting was the drastic reduction in, get this... cellulite! Yes cellulite!! Something I eliminated from my diet had stopped the production of that bulky, lumpy, dimply substance that is known as fat. My body was now using the fat instead of storing more on top what I already had. The less fat I had, the fewer dimples of cellulite I had. I know it sounds gross, but it's true. The problem was that I didn't know what had caused this positive reaction (the loss of cellulite) because I had cut out too much at once. Today I can tell you what it is (and it's probably not what you're thinking), but I will save it for a future blog post, I promise. (Hint, if you watched "Fat Head,"mentioned on my previous post, you might already know.)

Since that "detox" diet, though, I was determined to lose the rest of the weight, but dieting was just not working for me. For one, "dieting" is so short lived. I knew I would revert to my old habits, and that was the problem. I longed to find the most natural way to be healthy, and I wanted the plan to be doable, but no diet was convincing. There were so many diets out there, and none of them made any logical sense to me. I didn't really know nutrition. I didn't understand how food was broken down once it entered my body. No one had taught me, and I didn't know who to ask. My doctors had never taught me, and plus, I had lost a lot of faith in them. I knew they did their best, and they don't usually have ill intentions, but since doctors learn everything through Medical School, very few, if any, question what they learn because they assume the "medical" system has already "proven" it to be true. Those who do question it—whose research results go against the medical textbooks—get banned from their universities for publishing information that goes against what the "medical system" has supposedly proven. Having said that, my little inquisitive mind didn't even know where to start asking or who to trust. The only thing I thought I could do was pray, and ask God to please help me find the most natural way to lose the excess weight.

In late November of 2011 (as I explained in my first post), my prayers were answered. I heard about the documentary "Fat Head" and as I watched it, I knew it was life-changing. This movie confirmed everything I ever wondered about nutrition. Nothing has ever explained to me in the most basic way how our bodies are affected by the things we eat like this movie. It laid the groundwork for the research I began to do regarding nutrition, and it led me down the path to seek natural remedies for my ailments and to blog about it. My life has never been the same since, and I'll never go back to the way I used to eat before. I highly recommend watching this movie, and again, watch it with an open mind. Many people I've told to watch the movie never get past the first half. If you suspect this might happen to you, start halfway. You can always go back and watch the beginning. The meat of the movie (no pun intended) is the last half, so please watch that, at the very least.

Since I found this new lifestyle, I drastically changed my diet immediately, but I did so because I wanted to; I knew it was imperative for my health. Mind you, I have been eating this way for over 4 months now. Yes, I get tempted to eat what I used to eat, and sometimes I allow myself a little bit, just so I don't feel deprived, but then I go on with my lifestyle happily. I have lost about 8 pounds in these 4 months, but what's more obvious is the fact that I have slimmed down, and it's drastic enough that people notice it, and they ask me about it. Strangely enough, a couple of close friends have pointed out that I used to appear "puffy" or swollen. Again, that makes me think of bulky fat. Nevertheless, what's more important is that after eating this way for almost 2 months, I had my blood work checked during my annual physical, and my triglycerides went down significantly from the year before (from 77 to 43, where <150 is considered good). If you didn't know, triglycerides are basically fatty deposits in the body, so it's no wonder to me that these went down, as the fat on my body started to "melt" away. As far as other numbers go, my cholesterol, which had always been within the normal range, did not change much (137), and the rest of my blood work was normal, as well. Having said that, I know my new lifestyle is not affecting my health negatively, and seeing how I've lost more "inches" around my midsection, I can suspect that I'm doing something right...

Are you ready for more naturEvangelism?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting Religious

In my first post, I mentioned that I hadn't stopped talking about this topic since I'd heard about it and that I felt like an evangelist because of it. But another reason I used the word 'evangelist' to describe myself was that the topic I will be discussing is very "religious" in nature, and when I bring it up, I find that many people are skeptical. I am not offended in the least bit, as I too was "once blind, but now I see!" I have found the "gospel" of food. We can return to where we were; we can get back what was taken from us. There is a "straight and narrow way" off the beaten path, there is healing for our disease-ridden bodies, there is a way of escape, there is restoration, and there is salvation! (Sounds like evangelism at it's best, doesn't it?)

The reason people are skeptical to believe the gospel I preach is that they have always believed and trusted in the medical system and their doctors. Unfortunately, these very people are the ones lying to us every day  (doctors, researchers, science, the government, etc.). In many cases it's not intentional, but the lie has been propagated so much until it has become an undeniable truth in society that no one questions it, not even most doctors. Sadly, it reminds me of the fiction novel 1984 by George Orwell. In this book, the entity of "Big Brother" (i.e., the government) continuously rewrites history to conform to the current ideology, and does away with the true historical records so as to brainwash people so they forget their real memories of what truly happened.

What some researchers on this topic have done within the last 100 or so years is this very thing. They have tried to prove an untruth, and the only way they have "proved" it is by omitting data that contradicted their hypothesis simply because the data didn't "fit" their model. This goes against the very scientific method they are supposedly using. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a particular circumstance. It is not true until it is proven. In fact, when using the scientific method, you specifically look to disprove your hypothesis. If you cannot disprove it by any way, then you know it is true. Let's go through an example. There's a lot that goes into research, but for the sake of saving time, we'll make it simple. So let's say there was a hypothesis that stated "goats always get rashes when they eat poison ivy." You, as a researcher, would then take goats and feed them poison ivy (of course, in accordance with the scientific method). Let's then say that, of the goats that ate poison ivy, half of them got rashes, but the other half did not get rashes. According to the scientific method, you have disproved the hypothesis because your study did not show that all the goats got rashes. In fact, half of them did not get rashes. You would have to then formulate a new hypothesis about what was going on with goats and poison ivy, if there was such a hypothesis to make (because perhaps there was another factor you were not seeing that was causing the goats to get rashes, not necessarily the poison ivy itself). Again, with your new hypothesis in hand, you would try to disprove it and continue the scientific method until you found a hypothesis that you could not disprove.

Another important part of the scientific method is to remove one's personal emotions and partiality from the hypothesis and to look at both sides without becoming biased toward one side or the other. Unfortunately, researchers of the topic in question have also been so smug to believe their hypothesis is correct, so much that they look for ways to prove it. If they find data in their studies that doesn't match, they think it must be some rare anomaly, and they throw it out. (That's like saying "all goats absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, get rashes from poison ivy, and the ones that don't are some rare anomaly). The sad part is that all their data seemed to have these "rare anomalies" they had to throw out. To this day, they have never been able to prove their hypothesis. Why did it reach the stature of "truth" you ask? The reason that it was propagated as a truth was that the media got wind of the hypothesis and they disseminated false information without further research and proof. This misinformation spread like wildfire until even the whole world today believes this way. We used to be able to rely on the generation that still knew the truth, but as the older generation has passed away, they've taken with them the memories of what truly happened, and society has forgotten some basic principles we always knew to be true. 

The Truth is Out There


In this blog, I do not intend to argue to prove my point. The point has already been proven by many others. My intention is, and has always been, to give the good news and to tell others about how it's helped me. If you want to know what I'll be discussing in my blog, I urge you to start by watching the documentary by Tom Naughton, "Fat Head" (free on Hulu, also on Netflix Instant Play). It's an eye opener, and it is the very movie that turned my life around. Once you've seen the movie, the first book I recommend reading is "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. In this book Gary starts by providing countless reports of studies that "researchers" threw out, but he goes on to explain many important aspects of nutrition including topics about cholesterol, fat, triglycerides, carbohydrates, sugar, insulin, and topics about such things as aging, dementia, and cancer and how nutrition affects these things. It's a big book, but don't be intimidated. If all you get from reading this book is understanding how your body works with regards to nutrition, it was worth it.

For more suggested reading material, visit the "Fat Head" blog. The reason I suggest material by Tom and Gary is that, first of all, their material is what led me to truth, second of all, the material is in a format that is relatively simple to understand. These men are not doctors nor are they medical professionals, but they are humble seekers of truth, and their research has led them to unashamedly expose what has happened. I say they are humble because they have not kept this information to themselves, but they have shared it with the world, understanding they too would be shunned and made a laughingstock. Nevertheless, in order to understand their own questions about nutrition, they consulted and interviewed doctors and other medical professionals. In some cases, these medical professionals had published material related to the topic in question and were shunned from the medical/pharmaceutical community.  Unfortunately, there is no room to mention all of these medical professionals in this small blog post of mine, but if you too are a seeker of truth, you will find it. I personally don't claim to know it all; I am, however, willing to learn.

I have also learned that you can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. One must be mentally ready to do anything. I am a case in point. I have always eaten whatever, whenever, and it wasn't until I gained weight and didn't know how to lose it, that I began to search for answers. I knew all those crash diets and diet pills weren't doing anything for people, and in some cases, exercise was overrated, too. The truth was out there... I just had to find it.

Update: 3 July 2012

Gary Taubes has written a condensed version of the 600-page book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (GCBC) called "Why We Get Fat" (WWGF), and I highly recommend this book as an alternative to GCBC as it relays the same important message that GCBC does in a more reader-friendly way, whereas GCBC is more geared to the medical professional, researcher, or the seeker of "evidence" to prove the point in question.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Root-Cause Solutions

I know your interest is piqued and the suspense is killing you, but there are just a few more things I must say before I get into more detail on 'the Gospel of Food' and everything else :)

As I was growing up, I was a very curious child. I asked question after question, tangent after tangent. If my brother was fixing his bike or the plumber was fixing a sink, I stood by to watch, and I asked questions about any and every detail I could think of, nonstop: why, how, when, what, who... but mostly, how and why. I wasn't trying to be annoying. I wanted to know how things worked. I loved knowing! I wonder now if it was because I wanted to know, in case a problem arose later. Perhaps it was the young engineer in me, but I know now that I am a fan of finding root-cause solutions. To this day, I continue to ask questions, and I think I wouldn't be where I am if I didn't ask them.

My Journey Through the Medical Labyrinth


I grew up as any American kid going to the doctor, getting my vaccinations, taking medication if necessary. Our society was taught to believe that doctors knew better than we did, they were smarter, wealthier, more powerful, but most of all, they were inherently good. They had our best interests in mind, so why not believe them and do as they said? Thank God I was a healthy kid, so there were no major doctor visits for me, and I thank God this was before the times doctors began handing out Ritalin like it's candy.

As I got older, namely, when I began to attend the university, my medical records and appointments became mine, not my parents' problem. I got the vaccinations on my own, went to doctor appointments on my own, filled my own prescriptions, etc. It was a learning experience. I actually had doctors give me really bad medical advice. One attempted to remove a scar (actually a keloid) by "freezing" it off. Apparently, he didn't know it was a keloid (and neither did I), and that trying to "freeze" it off was absolutely the worst thing to do because it would only make it worse. I trusted him; he was the "derm" expert, but he made the scar larger, more irritated, and more prominent. Really people?!?! I know, disappointing. I began to learn that I could trust very few doctors to give me good advice.

It was also around this time that the "adult-onset acne" started becoming a problem. I had been perfectly fine growing up. I didn't even have acne in high school. Why all of a sudden did I have it, and why didn't it go away with any treatment the doctors prescribed? No doctor could tell me what the root cause was. To this day, no doctor knows, at least none that I've seen. Do they care to know? Honestly, I don't believe they do! I've asked many a dermatologist "What is the root cause? What am I doing to cause this?" A couple of them have looked at me like I'm crazy for asking the question. (I don't doubt you have all encountered similar problems, so you can probably relate.)

The answer is that they don't know the root cause. Why? Because they treat the symptom. Medical school doesn't teach them to fix the root cause, so unfortunately, we become guinea pigs. They throw whatever "medicine" they can our way to "see if it works." That's why they call it "Medical Practice." How sad. Then they use the excuse that "everyone is different, so some drugs may not work for some, while they work for others," and in my humble opinion, that is a load of crap. We're human, yes we're different, but we're not THAT different. I was treated with antibiotics and other ridiculous drugs with high dosages of vitamin-A (e.g., Retin-A), and even worse, Accutane, which is highly toxic, and guess what... it has the same results on everybody! It's so bad, you can't be pregnant while you're on it because your baby will be born deformed. Each and every pill had to be removed from the packaging separately. On the backing for each pill was the silhouette of a pregnant woman with a big "NO symbol" over it. In addition, every time I refilled the script, they also made me verify that I was on, not one, but two forms of contraceptives.

The Way Out


Obviously, I continue to doubt the medical system, especially with pharmaceutical companies and their agendas. That's why I seek to find natural approaches to remedy ailments. I've seen a few chiropractors on and off for at least 10 years now. Within the last several months, I began to see an acupuncturist and herbalist who studied Chinese/Eastern medicine. I must say this more natural approach is a very peaceful way to be treated, and "look ma, no horrible side effects!" What a concept!

What really boggles my mind is that we have known about ancient methods of healing (that have been around for thousands of years) and yet, as a society, we think we're so much more intelligent than these ancient people, all because we have modern technology. That kind of thinking never brings about progress because it is self-righteous, high-minded, and very condescending. I, too, as a child, thought my mom was retelling "old wives tales" when she'd tell me "don't go out with your hair wet, and don't walk barefoot on the cold ground or you'll 'catch a cold'," but these things aren't really that far-fetched after all. I believe our ancestors knew what they were talking about.

The high-brow, important, wealthy "medical/pharmaceutical" industry, on the other hand, creates "temporary fixes" to merely treat the symptom. The root problem never gets fixed, and over time, the use of those drugs harms our bodies and they eventually cause us to develop those ailments that have become today's mysterious diseases--ones that doctors/pharmaceutical companies say have no "cure." You know which one's I'm talking about: Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Cancer, and a myriad of other maladies.

If only we could look to the natural to find the cure. The cure is somewhere in the natural world, and in my humble opinion, from what I've read and seen, nutrition is where salvation begins. The food of today is poison to our bodies and it slowly kills us (not to mention any "pharmaceutical" drugs we may be taking). The 'medical/pharmaceutical' approach is a vicious cycle that is "raising money to cure _fill in the blank_," and that money goes right back to the pharmaceutical companies who use it to develop even more poisonous and toxic "medications" to kill us slowly. Our insurance plans become more expensive and who makes all the money? Insurance companies and Pharmaceutical companies. I'm tired of it, and I want to do something about it, even if only for me and the people around me whom I can reach through this blog. I want to be healthy, and I want the same for my friends and loved ones. I wouldn't even mind if I never had to see a medical doctor again.

My Goals


The purpose of this blog is to open your eyes to the natural approach for any and every ailment. Yes, every single one, no matter what it is. I am by no means an expert, but I am a seeker of truth, and I want to share with you what I have learned and what I will learn as I embark on this journey myself. I plan to start with nutrition because I think nutrition is the foundation for everything else. Eventually, I want to discuss natural ways to treat ailments and chronic problems. I will be doing my research, looking into various natural methods and approaches, especially those that have been practiced for thousands of years. I have many things to share, but all in its time, and one step at a time.

Having said that, all things in moderation. I am not perfect, and I don't expect myself to be. I am human. I know that we can only do so much with the resources we have. My blog is by no means an effort to catapult you into the stone ages to do everything you possibly can the natural way, so much that you drive yourself insane. No, I understand the difficulties of living in this world. My approach is to do my best with the knowledge, resources, and time I have.

The key point is becoming aware of the things that harm us. That's the first step, and how does that saying go, "knowing is half the battle?" If you are ignorant that Hot Cheetos are bad for you because they contain MSG (which not only makes them highly addictive, but also raises the insulin in your body), there is no battle; you will be tempted, and you will eat. But when you know why Hot Cheetos are so bad for you, you'll avoid them because you are now aware of what you are putting into your body, and you will probably refuse to eat them again. You'll be tempted, but you will likely say no.

So don't knock yourself if you begin to feel you're not doing enough. Knowledge is power. Just let it settle, and you will begin to make better choices. I know I did. Plus, our bodies are so resilient, it doesn't take long to bring your body back to a healthy state. Your blood levels change relatively quickly when you start feeding your body correctly. And don't worry about weight right now. When you start eating the right things, the weight normalizes itself, but the most important part is that your body is healthy, and you will know when you're healthy because you will feel healthy.

You getting ready?

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Gospel of Food

It all began one late November morning last year. To be exact, it was Saturday, November 26th, 2011, and I will never forget it, for this is the day that catapulted me into a new lifestyle, dare I say 'diet'—one that will last a lifetime. This experience was life changing, revolutionary, a change for the better, and I will tell you all about it, but first... a little background.

You might be thinking "Ok, it's another foodie blogging about cooking (and why on earth is she saying evangelizing?)" but, in reality, that is not the case, that is, I'm not a foodie. "That's strange," you might say, and indeed, it is strange, as I grew up never having much of an interest in food. I ate to live, and it didn't matter what it was—hamburgers, pizza, tacos, you name it—I ignored any negative claims about its nutritious content or lack thereof. First of all, I was rarely tempted to over-eat and I believed in the saying "all things in moderation." Second of all, I grew up Christian and we prayed for our food. I trusted God was keeping me safe from all harm, and yes, He did, but at the same time, I wasn't being a good steward of the resources and knowledge to which I had access. I kept my ears closed on purpose because I didn't want to know the harm that could potentially come to my body.

"We're all going to die someday" I said. I figured we'd never know what killed us in the end anyway, so why care about it now? But most importantly (and I want to draw attention to this) I didn't know who to trust to give me the correct answer. I knew the world was inherently bad and there were too many lying greedy people in the world, so much that I preferred to be apathetic if I didn't know which side was right. (You better believe that if I ever found out the truth about something, though, I'd become evangelical. I'll go to the grave fighting for truth.) But when you grow up hearing "this new study says coffee is harmful to your body" and then later you hear "this new study confirms coffee is actually very healthy for you," how do you know what to believe? I just thought, "I'd rather not hear any of that so that I don't have to know," and that was my opinion for a very long time. It also didn't help that I was slim with a high metabolism, and since being slim connoted "healthy" to society and doctors, I never had reason to believe I needed a solution since I didn't have a problem.

One thing I was, though, was picky, and I still am. I think I will always hate gristle in my meat, and you will find me still eating when everyone is done because it takes me most of the meal just to cut away the gristle or take out the onions (because I dislike them as well). Being that I was so picky, and eating was such an effort growing up, I became very bored with eating quite quickly. The full plate my mom would serve me would go back to her nearly full, and then she'd yell at me for eating like a bird. People thought it was strange when I'd say "I get bored with my food." As I grew older and I moved out of the house, I rarely cooked for myself. I wasn't, first of all, fond of food, and second of all, I hated all the effort of making the food, eating it, getting bored with it, then cleaning up the kitchen afterward. Sadly, I was lazy, and I found the easy way out. I ate out, and like many others, I was blissfully unaware of all the atrocious things in our food because, again, I didn't want to know. Isn't ignorance bliss?

My younger sister, April, on the other hand, has been a foodie since birth. She has always appreciated food, and because of that, she enjoys cooking, watching the food channel, and inventing her own recipes. (I've actually learned to appreciate good food because of her and other foodies around me.) April has even blogged about cooking! Several years ago, in an effort to be more healthy, fit, and trim, she hired a personal trainer and started paying more attention to what she ate. Long story short, she has changed her lifestyle (yes, diet) for the better, and this is kind of where the story begins.

It was a beautiful November morning, and I was having breakfast at the home of my sister April, and her husband, Raf. Eggs, bacon, and sausage, mmm... but it wasn't long before April and Raf were up to their usual discussion—one where his engineering mind seeks to scientifically understand the conclusion that April's engineering mind has already decided is valid. It's cute, really, and kind of funny. Nevertheless, it is the topic they were discussing that I'd like to draw attention to, for it is this very topic that began my journey to enlightenment.

The topic of discussion was in regards to a "food" documentary that April had just watched. She had mentioned it a couple of times that morning, but I dismissed it as unimportant because, again, my "blissfully unaware" mind tends to prefer ignorance. That's why, at first, I listened to their discussion merely for the entertainment factor—as I find it amusing listening to April logically prove her point while Raf attempts to exercise the scientific method on her "hypothesis." But as she got more frustrated with his pointed questions, she found she could not explain them as well as the documentary, so even though I insisted she forget it, she grabbed her laptop and brought it to the kitchen island to show us the clip in the movie that explained her point.

As I watched the clip, I was astounded. I could not believe my ears. After seeing that, I could never be on the fence about food anymore; I had heard the other side! I could no longer be blissfully unaware. That day, I went straight home and I watched the entire documentary. Immediately, I drafted an email with some notes I jotted down, and I sent it to all my siblings telling them the importance of watching this documentary. The ensuing events are things I will never forget, and I promise, you will soon hear of them.

I am no longer that little blissfully unaware lass. I'm still picky, but I'm older and hopefully wiser. I have learned to keep my mind open, and most importantly, the importance of "the other side of the story." I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I'd ever blog, let alone about food, but here it is. I am not ashamed to say I've become an evangelist about the "Gospel of Food and Other Natural Remedies," and this is precisely what this blog will be about. I hope to enlighten others as I was enlightened. Yes I will be opinionated, and I apologize if you don't agree.

Now, you might be tempted to think that my main topic will center around avoiding processed foods, but that's not entirely the topic (although it is an important one). The topics I will discuss begin with a revolutionary concept that only a few months ago came to my knowledge. The topic in itself is not in reality revolutionary at all because it was something that was common knowledge only a century ago. Unfortunately, today it is very controversial, and I warn you that you too will be tempted to doubt it, but that is precisely why I have chosen to write about it.  Rarely anyone talks about it, very few people know about it, and I haven't stopped talking about it since I heard of it. That is why I have chosen to call myself the "NaturEvangelist"—the one who brings the good news about food and natural remedies for curing ailments.

Stay tuned...

Update: 25 August 2012
I want to point out that I use the word "diet" throughout this blog, but for the most part, I do not use it in the context of something short-lived. For me, the definition of diet is an organism's regular dietary nutrition. For example, the diet of a great white shark is fresh meat.

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