Sunday, March 30, 2014

Paleo Progeny Reprisal

I'm amazed at the continuing popularity of my Paleo Baby post. I guess I shouldn't be though, since it is linked over at Mark's Daily Apple, and people go through his extensive archives all the time. If anything, I certainly understand the intense interest and fascination one experiences when they discover a new paradigm that fosters a host of positive and dramatic changes in health and well being.

I also think there are a lot of folks who upon finding out they are going to have children, suddenly take the idea of eating a careful diet seriously, and start to look for answers on teh Interwebz...and find linkage to my post.

I eventually posted a follow up post, Paleo Toddler, because I kept getting requests from people to keep writing on the topic. But it was seeing repeated hits coming from this old Paleo Hacks forum post about Ketosis During Pregnancy that finally prodded me to do another "Paleo Kid" post here.

I've been paleo for about four months and have seen great success in weight loss, energy levels, lipid profiles, skin, I could go on and on. I have been in ketosis more often than not in the last two months or so.

Today I found out I am pregnant. It's very early in the pregnancy but I am already mindful of the affects that my previous non-paleo had on my body (namely much of the weight I just lost). I do not want to go backward in my progress. As a matter of fact, if I can safely continue to lose weight while maintaing a healthy pregnancy that would be my goal.

So, to my question...does anyone know of any research that indicates the safety of being in ketosis during pregnancy? If I have to up my carbs I will but in my experience thus far when I am not in ketosis, even if I keep my carb intake at less than 100 grams per day, my weight loss stalls out.

In the replies to this initial post, somebody links to my Paleo Baby post. And it's been regularly sending traffic here for the past three years now. So for those of you still coming to this blog via Paleo Hacks, I'd like to address a few points with regards to this topic.

First things first: My wife was never in ketosis throughout her entire pregnancy.  As I initially wrote back then:

I made sure to feed my pregnant wife ample supplies of proteins and fats, while eliminating all sugars, processed snack foods, and Omega-6-rich vegetable oils. I highly restricted all grains, bread, pasta and other such high-carb fare...

While I had by that point in time gotten off the "low-carb forever" bandwagon, my thinking was still biased towards the simplified "low-carb > high-carb" paradigm of that time. My thinking on that has changed a lot, based on personal experience. My primary concern now is not concerned with quantity (low carb vs. high carb), but rather quality.

The reason why "low-carb" and ketogenic diet protocols have been embraced in the early days of Paleo diet popularity, are because people who go low-carb or ketogenic, by default, end up cutting out all of the inflammatory, omega fatty acid-imbalanced oils ubiquitous in processed carbohydrate foods - chips, cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, buns, tortillas, etc. They also cut out a lot of other bad things found in grain-based processed foods that contribute to cellular inflammation - arguably one of the primary underlying conditions for being overweight or obese.

But taken to the extreme, I've seen people write about avoiding even miniscule amounts of fruit and vegetables because of the carb content. I view this as problematic and bordering on obsessive. 

I view ketosis and ketogenic diets to be a short-term, therapeutic protocol to address specific health issues - aka an Extreme Dietary Intervention, not a proscription for a diet to be followed for the rest of your life.

If you are overweight, borderline or full blown diabetic, or have some other serious health issues regarding your blood sugar regulation or overall metabolism and energy levels, a Very Low Carb or Ketogenic diet may be exactly what you need to fix your issues.

But I just don't believe it's a good idea for most people to adhere to a purely carnivorous diet. The best argument I can put forth for that is the simple statement of biological fact: in comparison to all other mammalian species on the planet, it's plainly obvious that the human body is an Omnivorous species.

While I myself was on a low-carb diet for several years (no grains or starchy plant foods like potatoes, corn, etc.), by the time my wife and I conceived "Paleo Baby," I had begun regularly eating "bad" carbs like rice, potatoes and other starchy tubers back into my diet. I had come to the conclusion that carbs are not the devil.

But enough about me, all apologies if I digress in excess, this is supposed to be a "Paleo Baby" reprisal...

But before I proceed any further, I'd like to once again restate the following:

I'm no expert. I only pretend to be one as an anonymous blogger on teh interwebz!

This is an anonymous blog and I am not trying to sell you or anyone else a damn thing.

I write on this topic, because I'm passionate about diet and nutrition. I was not a healthy baby. I have lifelong health problems for which I now believe are attributed to my poor nutrition as an infant... revisiting many of the points from my original post, let's just say most of those points have not changed much in the past year. To avoid overusing the term "Paleo Baby" or "Paleo Toddler" and turning this into a caricature of gimmickry, I'm going to refer to the kid from here on out as "Keiki," which is Hawaiian for child.  

Keiki is almost four years old now. At this point in time, I do believe my application of nutritional principles have paid dividends with regards to my progeny's health and overall development.

Many of the observations from two years ago, still hold true.

Keiki has never had an ear infection, a chest cold, or a fever...other than the mild, low grade fever that typically accompanies teething. Keiki has had a runny nose a couple of times, but that usually cleared up within a day or two.

This is still largely true.

Keiki recently experienced the first "major" illness. A bad chest cold/cough that lasted close to two weeks. I attribute it to Keiki visiting indulgent relatives without me on the mainland for a week and feasting on a cornucopia of all the things I don't allow in my household. Breakfast cereal with commercially processed, homogenized and pasteurized milk; chips, crackers, ice cream etc. After a week of eating such feed, keiki's immune system was undoubtedly compromised, and an extended ride in the re-circulated air of the jet when returning back to Hawaii exposed the child to a host of germs. Keiki came down with a runny nose, fever and cough within 48 hours of returning.

Other than that, colds, runny noses, upset stomachs, diarrhea, and other common ailments (the things for which I notice are common occurrences for all the kids of my social and familial circle) have basically been something other kids get to regularly experience, not mine. I'm still regularly told how lucky I am by friends and family.

I still believe luck has got nothing to do with it. The recent sickness following a week of free-for-all junk food indulgences while visiting relatives is confirmation enough for me. The more I observe and practice mindful, deliberate and careful eating, and applying the same deliberate care in feeding keiki, the more I am convinced of the connection between gut health and the immune system.

That being said, other than the few deviations due to circumstances, our diet and lifestyle largely remains unchanged in the past two years.

In summary, the guiding principles I try to follow with raising a "Paleo Toddler" are this: Focus on real food, eaten until satiated. Get adequate, regular, mid-day sun exposure to ensure optimal vitamin D levels. Avoid consuming modern day, mass produced, industrialized toxins like vegetable and grain oils, high fructose corn syrup, cereal grains and flour, MSG, and other mass produced, processed food garbage.

These are the basic principles I try to follow in feeding my child. Nothings changed on that front since I  wrote that.

The real struggle though, is keeping with these principles while living a life interacting with family, friends and acquaintences.

The only way anyone can achieve dietary purity is to avoid social eating situations and watch every single moment of my child's actions when visiting other people's homes.

Life's too short to take it to that level.

There's careful, mindful eating of nutrient dense and nourishing foods while abstaining from the worst poisons our Brave New World Order's Feedlot system has to offer....and then there's obsessive-compulsive, diet-Nazi pathological behavior that alienates people.

That's not me. As I like to say, if you're at your sister's wedding, eat a fucking piece of the wedding cake.

I can't keep keiki from ever eating junk food without becoming a micro-managing tyrant, aka the "helicopter parent." There are times where keiki is given something I would normally object to. I don't lose sleep over it. If I take the kid to a playmates birthday party, I don't sweat keiki having a piece of birthday cake and ice cream with all the other kids...but I do try to make it less likely, by filling keiki up with a belly full of real food before the junk food is doled out. At that point, only a few bites and the overly full feeling from all the real food is enough to make keiki only eat a few bites of the dessert before running off to play instead of gorging on the junk.

The tactic is not just a short term plan to deal with specific occasions either. My overarching goal is to regularly feed the kid with so much good food, that the junk food will never gain a strong place in the child's mind when the hunger pangs start to kick in.

I've introduced my keiki to a wide and varied diet of good, nutrient-dense foods. I've instilled the taste for many foods that most other keiki don't eat. Bone broth soups and stews, spicy chilis, fermented vegetables like kim chee, poi, sauerkraut and pickles, sour yogurt, artisanal cheeses, a wide array of vegetables and fruits, eggs from my chickens, raw fish, wild boar, an assortment of seafood, and all sorts of meats. This is 95% of what my kid eats on a daily basis. 
In contrast, I see most parents handing their kids the latest snack crackers or bowls of cereal when they get hungry and start whining.

"Your so lucky your child likes and eats all those fruits and vegetables! I can't get mine to eat any at all!"

That's the common refrain I hear. I silently note that said parents usually always have bags and plastic containers of grain-based snack foods on hand in case their child "gets hungry." In my observation, when kids are full of crackers, chips and cookies; vegetables and fruits have zero appeal to them.

I also believe the saturated fat-phobia and the fear of salt promoted by the conventional wisdom of our corporate-produced and mass-media marketed industrial feed system plays right into most children's aversion to vegetables.

In my opinion, if you start your kids out on buttered and salted vegetables, they'll eventually take to eating them raw and unprepared once they have a strong association formed with vegetables and food already made in their mind.

I once attended house party in which everyone was eating. My kid walked across the room and approached the food table, bypassed all the breads, rolls, pastries, cakes, and other dishes, and grabbed a fistful of raw broccoli and proceeded to eat it with gusto. Everyone in attendance was amazed, myself included. I always gave keiki broccoli steamed or sauteed and liberally buttered and salted. Several parents asked me how I got my kid to eat veggies like that.

When I said "lots of butter and lots of salt." I don't think they believed me.

Most people don't believe me, when they express incredulity when I tell them "no thanks" when they offer keiki some snacks, soda or candy. It seems like everywhere one goes in society, people want to offer cute kids sugary candies and desserts and grain-based snacks like chips and crackers.

They mean well, but then so do I.

I've gotten so tired of politely refusing such offers, I simply tell people keiki's allergic to wheat, soy and corn. That usually covers all the bases for processed junk feed. and most people don't question the existence of food's a lot easier than trying to explain why whole wheat crackers or "multi-grain chips" are still junk food.

Other than social events and well meaning generosity from strangers and acquaintances, it is really not that hard keeping the kid away from most junk food.

My primary tactic is to just make sure the belly is already full of real, nourishing and nutrient dense food before leaving the house. Taking snacks or candy from a hungry kid is much more of a challenge then it is to watch in amused satisfaction as your kid declines the junk food by his or her own volition, because they're just not hungry from already having recently eaten a full meal of real food.

Kids who are nutritionally loaded up with real food all the time from regular meals, seem to me to be much more concerned with playtime rather than snack time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Healthy Respect

My favorite long-time, regular reader and commenter of this blog, Anonymous, asked me in the comments of my last post: "Have you thought about doing any posts on microwave cooking?"

Not really, but you just gave me an idea.

Instead of taking my typical approach to blogging - doing research, finding linkages to bolster my contentions, and carefully crafting an argument, I'm approaching this one from a completely different angle for once.

Yeah, a number of years ago, I did some research on how the microwave oven is bad for human health. It's been a long time, but let me see if I can recall the things I've read about microwave oven cooking, and why I decided to stop using it for anything other than heating water for non-consumptive purposes - I don't even use it for defrosting frozen foods.

Microwaves destroy nutrients and minerals in food and water, they can also emit potentially toxic radiation while cooking, they alter protein molecules and destroy any natural pro-biotic bacteria present in your food. Regularly eating microwaved food is also linked to heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhea and other digestive issues. Also, if you microwave anything with plastic wrap or Styrofoam containers, toxic compounds like bisphenol-A and other substances in the containers can leach into the food.

Here was one of the more memorable experiments I came across on teh Interwebz, from a high school kids science fair project:

Update: This pic has purportedly been debunked - I still 'aint cooking with a microwave.

If the microwave devitalizes and denatures water, imagine what it's doing to your food...but I digress. Anyone can google all this stuff for yourself and find hours of reading on the topic.

On the other hand, I have a much more compelling reason to eschew this nutrient destroying tool of convenience: texture and taste.

Here's the one mention I previously made here about microwaving food:

In all this time, I've come to realize something else when it concerns eating food. It's not just the ingredients that I'm vigilant about.

I've also become really conscious of the habitual behaviors and social rituals around food.

Where I once considered cooking a laborious and time consuming chore (hence the rationalization for eating fast food 5 or more times a week), I now take great pride in procuring fresh, pure and natural ingredients, and taking great care to cook meals with said ingredients.

I despise the culture of the microwave. 

Wrapped in plastic and nuked, destroying the texture and full flavors of the ingredients.

I loathe the mentality behind driving and eating.

Or doing anything else BUT savoring well made food at a sit down meal.

I hate eating off of paper plates, paper napkins, Styrofoam cups and bowls, and with plastic utensils. I strive to make every meal I eat, a REAL MEAL, made with real food, eaten at table with real silverware and porcelain and glass flatware, with good company to commiserate and savor the meal with. It is one of the finest pleasures in this life.

All my friends and family are aware of my aversion to the microwave. When people offer me leftovers, I tell them I'd prefer to eat it cold from the fridge than having it zapped. I used to be the sort of person that couldn't bare to eat cold left overs. I always nuked my leftovers to get the food hot. Once I quit using the microwave, I figured out that most foods actually don't taste bad at all eaten cold....but I still prefer cooked foods, served hot. Nowadays, I usually take the extra step of reheating food the old fashioned way.

And in doing so, I also discovered something else, dishes like stews, chili's and soups that have all the fat congeal at the top of the dish in the refrigerator? They typically taste better on the re-heat than when they were freshly cooked and still piping hot! Something about refrigeration and reheating makes the flavors blend better.

Of course, a lot of folks will skim all that hardened fat out and dump it before reheating their food. Ugh. That's where all the flavor and nutrition is! Why would you take the best part of the food out and throw it away?

I've hosted dinner parties in which I've cooked a big pot of beef stew two days prior, chilled it for 24 hours, than reheated it just prior to guests arriving to eat. No one ever suspected they were getting "reheated leftovers" at my dinner table, but the compliments are always forthcoming, and I'm often asked what my "secret" is.

People seem to have bought into this notion that the microwave really saves them a lot of time and effort. But if you really do a comparison, you are literally sacrificing the taste, texture and nutritional value of your food to save perhaps 5 or 10 minutes of your time, at best. 

About the best argument you could make is that you're using less dishes to reheat your food. 

Whoop-de-doo. So instead of having to wash one microwavable Tupperware dish and a fork, I end up having to wash one Tupperware dish that I had refrigerated my food in, a plate, a fork and a pot or pan.So there's perhaps an extra 5 minutes on the clean up.

The way I spend time and money on procuring ingredients and cooking the food I and my family eat, I say it's worth the extra time spent to reheat a meal and have a little bit more clean up detail.

Healthy food deserves a healthy respect. I just don't find the taste and texture that gets altered by nuking your food in the microwave a worthy trade off to save the 10 or 15 minutes longer it takes to reheat and clean-up.

Leftover dinner food that takes 3 minutes to reheat, takes about 6-8 minutes on a stove top in a cast iron skillet, and the taste and texture is retained, if not improved from conventional reheating.

A bag of microwave popcorn takes 4-5 minutes. Issues of microwaveable popcorn ingredients aside, using a covered pot and some butter and macadamia nut oil, I can pop a full bowl of popcorn in about the same 5 minutes, and season it with real salt and spices, and it tastes and smells far better, too. 

The only thing is you have to actually stand over the pot and continuously shake it to keep the popped corn from burning.

But I guess the 5 minutes you would spend over the stove is not as valuable as 5 minutes watching the tell-a-vision or updating your facebook page from your smartphone, while the microwave is nuking your teflon-lined, paper bag full of kernels, partially-hydrogenated oils and artificial butter flavors.

In the past 5 years of exploring the topic of food and nutrition on teh Interwebz, I've developed a much better relationship and respect to my food that I put into my body.

Why would I purposely go through the care and effort of raising my own chickens and feeding them custom mixed feed to have a regular supply of nutrient-dense, free-range/pastured eggs...only to zap it and destroy all those nutrients I otherwise spent all that time and effort cultivating?

Why would I go out of my way on a weekly basis to travel to the Farmer's Market in my part of the island to procure freshly harvested organic produce so that I can saute them in high quality, grass fed butter and expensive macadamia nut oils...only to destroy all the vitamins and minerals in a radio active box for the sake of saving 5 minutes of time and effort?

Or the fresh fish or grass fed beef or the bone broth stocks and soups I usually make overnight in the crockpot?

Real food, takes real time to make and real time to enjoy. It is a labor of love. To cherish these principles, I don't find it difficult at all to eschew the so called time-saving convenience the microwave provides. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat, and I don't eat or drink anything that is nuked or zapped.

I respect my body, by respecting my food.

Post Script -After seeing some comments both here and over at RedPillWomen on this post (thanks for the linkage, Stingray), I realized this post was not as clear in my "anti-microwave your food" sentiment as I thought. My bad.

Zap your food for all I care. Anonymous just asked me to do a post on microwaves, so I put my thoughts down in a stream-of-conscious style blog post (which is not how I normally write when I put together a post here.)

To clarify - I did a lot of research on the topic 5+ years ago. Based on so much conflicting reports, I cannot say for certain that microwave ovens are truly bad for human health. But I can say it is certainly bad in affecting the texture and taste of the food you cook with it, and for me, that is enough of a reason for me to not use the damn contraption.

As I said before, I've developed a passion for cooking and eating quality, wholesome and nourishing foods in the past few years, and I see the microwave as an affront to those things.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cold Turkey Lung Cancer

This is why THEY oppose smoking by we the sheeple.

TL;DR Synopsis: If you are a long time cigarette smoker of 20 or more years or you know someone who is, and you or the person you know is contemplating quitting, DO NOT QUIT COLD TURKEY. You are far more likely to experience sudden onset of fatal lung tumors, than if you taper off slowly! If you are already in your 70's and have been smoking your whole life, you probably shouldn't even try to quit at all.

Mandatory Disclaimer: The author of this site is not engaged in rendering professional advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures, and suggestions contained within this work are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your health require medical supervision. I shall not be liable or responsible for any loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestions within this blog. You, as a reader of this website, are totally and completely responsible for your own health and healthcare.

I used to work for a man who smoked from the age of 13 until he died from lung cancer at 73. Probably most folks are related to or know of someone that had a similar story regarding smoking and lung cancer.

Everyone knows cigarettes cause lung cancer, right?

I am now of the opinion that this is only partially true.

See, the man I used to work for had gone to the Doctors after his 73rd birthday for a full body physical. As a life long, retired US Navy man, he had the full coverage and access to the entire medical services and health care provided by the Government. He had blood work, urinalysis, prostate exam, etc.

The Doctor was astounded that he was in such good health for a man his age. Paraphrasing what the Doctor told him after all the testing results were in: "You are in such great health, if you would only quit smoking, you might very well live to be 100!"

For the last 10 years or so, this man had switched to buying bulk organic, roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco, and smoked about 8-10 a day. He did have a smokers cough, but nothing too bad. He told me that once he had switched to the organic RYO, he no longer woke up every morning hacking and wheezing for 10 minutes or so just to clear out all the darkened mucus that accumulated in his respiratory system while he slept, like when he used to experience when he was a pack a day chain smoker of a popular Big Tobacco brand cigarette.

But inspired by the great health report from his Doctor, he finally decided it was time. He quit cold turkey.

One week later he went to the hospital with pneumonia. Chest X-rays were negative, he just had fluid in his lungs.

One week later, the hospital sent him home to recuperate after a round of antibiotics appeared to treat it and his lungs somewhat cleared up.

One week later he was back in the hospital with a "pneumonia relapse." This time, chest X-rays showed massive tumors in both lungs.

One week later, he was dead.

I did not understand how a man given a total clean bill of health just a month or two prior, could suddenly develop lung cancer so fast.

So I do like I always do when I encounter an enigma that bothers me during sleepless bouts of insomnia, staring at my ceiling and contemplating such thoughts...I started googling.

The following article is a fair representation of the types of articles I found on the first few pages of results - Spontaneous Smoking Cessation Before Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Introduction: We have observed that many patients with lung cancer stop smoking before diagnosis, usually before clinical symptoms, and often without difficulty. This led us to speculate that spontaneous smoking cessation may be a presenting symptom of lung cancer.

This is the general approach I found in numerous articles. Many lung cancer patients quit smoking cold turkey, without much problem (so much for tobacco being as addictive as heroin or crack cocaine...), and with no symptoms of lung cancer whatsoever before they decided to quit.

Conclusions: These results challenge the notion that patients with lung cancer usually quit smoking because of disease symptoms. The hypothesis that spontaneous smoking cessation may be a presenting symptom of lung cancer warrants further investigation.

In other words, it appears to be the consensus view of the Big Healthcare and Big Science researchers that the decision to quit smoking cold turkey is a symptom of the onset of lung cancer... that they seemed to "sense" they were about to develop cancer, so they intuitively quit cold turkey.

As always when it comes to discerning modern science reporting and peer reviewed publishing, the very first thing you must always look for is correlation versus causation. All these reports I read seemed to focus on abrupt smoking cessation as a correlated symptom.

After all, it's already accepted as scientific fact that long term smokers get lung cancer, right?

But then I found this article on the back pages of my google search that appeared to make the case that abrupt cessation may in fact be the causation of lung cancer!

The clinically high correlation between smoking and carcinoma of the lungs has been the focal
point in societal campaigns against the habit and the tobacco lobby. In an overview of per-
sonal history in a number of lung cancer patients locally, we are struck by the more than
casual relationship between the appearance of lung cancer and an abrupt and recent cessation
of the smoking habit in many, if not most cases.

The association is more than just casual-development of cancer within a few months of eschewing cigarette smoking. Over a period of 4 years, a total of 312 cases were treated for carcinoma of pulmonary origin: of this number, 182 patients had quit smoking within 5-15 months prior to their being diagnosed with lung cancer. Of the 182 patients 142 were male and 40 were females, with ages ranged between 47 and 74. Each one of had been addicted to the habit for no less than 25 years, smoking in excess of 20 sticks a day. The striking direct statistical correlation between cessation of smoking to the development of lung malignancies, more than 60% plus, is too glaring to be dismissed as coincidental.

It is our premise that a surge and spurt in re-activation of bodily healing and repair mechanisms of chronic smoke-damaged respiratory epithelia is induced and spurred by an abrupt discontinuation of habit, goes awry, triggering uncontrolled cell division and tumor genesis. In normal tissue healing, anabolic and catabolic processes achieve equilibrium approximately 6-8 weeks after the original insult. When an imbalance occurs between these phases occur in the healing process, disruptions in repair limitations occur leading to tumor genesis this sequence is best exemplified in the formation of keloids from scars.

Nicotine stimulates corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) besides increasing the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), both of which interfere with immune systems. Abrupt withdrawal of the addictive drug could trigger derangement of the ‘smoking-steroid’ conferred immunity, priming the healing lung epithelia to dangerous levels uncontrolled cell division.

I'm wondering if this man I used to work for had never listened to his Doctor and never quit smoking....or if he had simply weaned himself off slowly, would he still be alive today?

Perhaps. There are no guarantees in this life, other than the fact that we are all going to die someday.

Needless to say, I know what I think about this topic. If you've been smoking for a long time, and you decide to quit, there are a few things you should probably consider before you do so. Quitting smoking after habituating your body to regular dosing of it for a long period of time, is no doubt a major stress for even an otherwise healthy body to handle. Abrupt cessation after decades of usage is undoubtedly a shock to the body, and one who decides they need to quit, should make sure they are in otherwise good health, not trying to recover or repair from some other major health event or condition, and to slowly taper down over a long period of time.

But if you're like Beatrice Langely, the lady pictured at the top of this post who started smoking at 8 years of age, and you're still puffing away on your 100 birthday, at this point it would be pointless and needlessly stressful to try and quit. If it 'aint broke, don't fix it. If you're one of those who is living a paradoxical life of longevity as a smoker, you may as well stick with your "habit" until the very end.

What do you want to bet Beatrice Langley has outlived a Doctor or two that got after her to quit smoking over the past 90+ years?