Monday, February 27, 2012

What's your opinion??

How do you feel about this commercial?  Is this a 'fast food' restaurant that's doing it right?

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table

Tracie McMillan spent 3yrs working undercover in the food industry.  She learned a lot about the industrial food system off which we subsist.  Her pursuits' results are in her new book: "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table"
Her nine debunked perceptions are summarized here:
Tracie McMillan spent 3yrs working undercover in the food industry.  She learned a lot about the industrial food system off which we subsist.  Her pursuits' results are in her new book: "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table"
1. Everybody Wants Good Food (85% of 1,500 low-income families surveyed said eating healthy food was a priority.)

2. Poor people spend more on food than the rich. (households earning $5k-35k year, spent 16-35% of their income on food. households earning $70,000 a year or more--spent 8 percent)

3. You can't eat a balanced diet from food grown here (42% of the nation's $18 billion in farm subsidies is spent on commodity crops, most of which are the grains that get turned into sweeteners, animal feed, and, grain--and just 5 percent on fruits and vegetables.)

4. Higher wages don't mean unaffordable food (Farm workers get about 2% of  the cost of food, if we gave them a 40% raise it'd cost us $16 more/year on our grocery bills)

5. Hamburger Helper is expensive (the same ingredients made from scratch is 69% cheaper)

6. The biggest predictor of how much time a woman spends in the kitchen is whether or not she's married (Women who go to work full-time spend 36 to 48 percent less time in the kitchen)

7. Walmart isn't always cheaper (produce can be cheaper than you'd expect at a smaller store.)

8. Supermarkets were designed to sell us junk (Supermarkets create a 'natural oligopoly,'and are explicitly designed to sell industrial food)

9. Eating like the French requires changing more than our meals (The French see food as a much highre priority- result is they spend 6% more than avg US household.  --note, their min wage is 66% higher.)

For more detail, read her entire article here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Time to Stop Talking About Low-Fat

News at HSPH

Time to Stop Talking About Low-Fat, Say HSPH Nutrition Experts

It is time to end the low-fat myth, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) nutrition experts told food industry leaders at the seventh annual World of Healthy Flavors Conference held in Napa, CA, from January 19 to 21, 2011. The conference, co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of America and HSPH, brings together nutrition researchers with representatives from schools, supermarkets, and food industry goliaths such as Burger King, The Olive Garden, and Panera Bread to share strategies for offering Americans healthier menu options.
HSPH nutrition department chair Walter Willett and associate professor of epidemiology Dariush Mozaffarian, along with Ron Krauss of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, presented on the “Focus on Fat” panel. They encouraged audience members to avoid “low-fat” terminology and thinking, since diets low in fat are often high in sodium and carbohydrates from sources such as white flour and rice, refined snacks, and sugary drinks. Instead, the panelists said, chefs should focus on cutting trans fats from their menus and educating consumers about seeking out healthy fats.
Willett chairs the World of Healthy Flavors Scientific Advisory Committee, which also includes HSPH colleagues Frank HuFrank Sacks, and Eric Rimm. Hu, Rimm, David Ludwig and Nutrition Source editorial director Lilian Cheung also presented at the 2011 conference.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gluten Free Processed Foods

Celiac's, and 100s of other issues in digestive tract were 100% cured by dietary changes (this includes treatments for autism, infertility, psychoses, depression, etc etc...). I said 'were'. Until JUST recently the 'fix' was to avoid certain foods, the wheat, flour, basically junk food. But that's all changed. 

Oh yeah, now you can still eat horrible foods while avoiding some bad ingredients. Gluten-free used to be based on avoidance, now it's based on substitution (I believe it was Bedknobs and Broomsticks that had substitutiary locomotion... need to check that).  

Example: Can't have gluten used to mean avoid pizza, now it means eat pizza with rice starch instead of wheat flour. Gluten has 10 things wrong with it, rice starch has 5 things wrong with it. I have now subb'ed the worst with the bad - aren't I clever?? Refined flours, regardless of wheat are just a way of putting your body through nutritional deficiencies. Eat what's essential and no more. Today's Diane Rehm show is a great series of interviews explaining differences of gluten intolerance, sensitivity and Celiac's disease. Just assume you have it whether you have symptoms or not. Link here: Diane Rehm Show

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dietary Fiber in the News...

There was a bill on congress's table about 10years ago saying "we need to tell people what they're eating so they can avoid unhealthful foods.  That bill got watered down and the end result was "it's ok to list what's good about a food on its labels."  Now we have breakfast cereals made of ~60% sugar by volume with a label that reads 'good source of fiber'.  So we're doing ourselves a favor?

They could read "good source of synthetic fiber that will give you gas and cut up your digestive tract" - but honesty and benefits are sadly NOT the concern.  

3g of fiber is the amount added if you want to put "good source of fiber" on a grocery store item.  note, an apple has 5grams of natural fiber.  counting fiber is like counting O2 molecule in the air around you.  If you just breathe you'll be 'ok' - likewise if you eat whole foods as we're intended you'll get plenty of fiber.  In case you need more, you can always tear off pieces of notebook paper and have a snack.  

Link to the NPR story: worth a listen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Of My Fave Podcasts...

Oxford Style debating in the US.  Episode here

There is seldom a topic that pertains to this blog.  But this month's episode is "Is Obesity the Government's Business".  Like any debate they take the audience's opinion before and after and the debate winner is who swayed the audience the most.  

The arguments immediately talk about the limiting of calories, the Eat Less Move More (ELMM), the whole grains...  They are PROVING the fact that they don't KNOW what causes obesity.  
Obesity is NOT sloth(laziness) and gluttony(too many calories).  Eating less and moving more are TWO recipes of making you more hungry and more often.  This is a horrendous misconception.  Obesity is caused by hormone imbalances plain and simple.  Same diet between two people can have different effects.  Same diet and same activity level can have different effects in different people.  There are genetics, and MORE importantly epigenetics at play.  It's sad no one seems to know this.  
The question should not be 'should the gov't intervene in our diets' - it should be the 'should a gov't that actually understands why we get fat intervene in our diets'.  

What do you think?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are we supposed to eat meat?

"Are we supposed to eat meat?" I got that question last night at the gym (the 'box' for you crossfitters).  Actually I got two questions, "Should we eat meat? and "Why do we gain fat in different places differently?"  Interestingly these questions are very related.  

Humans are designed to eat meat.  We know this through comparisons to other mammals:

Intestine and stomach(s):
Some mammals eat only meat or only plants, or both.  Even though we get food from different sources, we're all mammals and need to obtain a similar set of nutrients. By calories, mammalian diets are typically composed of a majority, (typically 50-75%) of saturated and monounsaturated fats (including the short-chain fatty acids produced by fermentation of fiber); a mix of carbohydrates and protein (usually totaling around 25-40%) and a modest amount of polyunsaturated fat, typically less than 10%.  These mixtures of macronutrients can be extracted from many mixtures of foods -- if you CAN extract them properly.

You can simply look at an animal's digestive tract to determine what types of material can be broken down in there.  Animals have evolved variations in organs and fluids to break down foods to supply us with energy and energy-storage.  Animals have evolved digestive tracts and livers to transform diverse food inputs into the uniform set of nutrients that all they need.  Digestive tract length is a good indicator of what types of food an animal can process:

  •  A cow wouldn't know what to do with meat in its gut, they have a 30 meter digestive tract.  Herbivores have foregut organs such as rumens or hindgut chambers for fermenting carbohydrates, turning them into fats and volatile acids that can be used to manufacture fats.  

  • A lion wouldn't know what to do with grass in his gut, they have a seven meter digestive tract.  Carnivores have livers capable of turning protein into glucose and fat. Meat digests more easily and the micronutrients are more easily extracted and a shorter gut length is fine.    

  • Humans are lucky bastards we can handle either we're omnivores - but which do we 'need' to consume. For example we NEED sugars for muscle and brain fuel, so we have to eat sugar?  Consuming carbohydrates and sugars is redundant, like lions humans have livers which make our own sugars from the proteins and fats in our system.   In fact, consuming any outside sources carbohydrates is 'nonessential' but the vitamin density of leafy greens and root/tubor have micronutrients which are essential.   Note, there is a variation across humans as well.  Humans with longer colons allow more fermentation of plant fiber, but the the presence of a longer colon doesn’t dramatically change required macronutrient ratios of the diet. Across human populations, the optimal human diet probably doesn’t vary in any macronutrient by more than 5% of energy or so.  
A good rule of thumb for our diets is that humans have always made good fasters- we can go for weeks without eating, think about eating a diet that is similar in macronutrients to what we are made of. 

I've heard the argument that 'look, we have canine teeth therefore we're carnivores'.  This isn't a good argument, compare ours to a gorillas, their canine teeth are so long they're behind their eyeballs.  Sorry, teeth don't tell a story about human food because we've been cutting our food up with tools long enough that we haven't needed to bite through a rhinoceros's hide for quite a while (pre homo sapien, in fact.).  The introduction of tools is what allowed our canine teeth and the supporting muscles to atrophy over millennia.  Shrinking teeth meant shrinking jaw muscles.  Those muscles were binding our skulls into a shape that ceased brain development. The order may seem counterintuitive: Tools -- shrinking teeth -- smaller jaw muscles -- bigger brains.  All of this was set 77,000 generations ago. 

I'll hit up the summary of why some people collect fat in different locations in a following post.  Spolier alert, it has to do with the same reasons we grow hair in more places than others.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Massage Heals Sore Muscles

How Massage Heals Sore Muscles

Researchers are learning how massage soothes aching muscles.Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York TimesResearchers are learning how massage soothes aching muscles.
A massage after vigorous exercise unquestionably feels good, and it seems to reduce pain and help muscles recover. Many people — both athletes and health professionals – have long contended it eases inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces muscle tightness. But until now no one has understood why massage has this apparently beneficial effect.
Now researchers have found what happens to muscles when a masseur goes to work on them.
Their experiment required having people exercise to exhaustion and undergo five incisions in their legs in order to obtain muscle tissue for analysis. Despite the hurdles, the scientists still managed to find 11 brave young male volunteers. The study was published in the Feb. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
On a first visit, they biopsied one leg of each subject at rest. At a second session, they had them vigorously exercise on a stationary bicycle for more than an hour until they could go no further. Then they massaged one thigh of each subject for 10 minutes, leaving the other to recover on its own. Immediately after the massage, they biopsied the thigh muscle in each leg again. After allowing another two-and-a-half hours of rest, they did a third biopsy to track the process of muscle injury and repair.
Vigorous exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers, leading to an immune reaction — inflammation — as the body gets to work repairing the injured cells. So the researchers screened the tissue from the massaged and unmassaged legs to compare their repair processes, and find out what difference massage would make.
They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.
Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from Nsaids and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. Many people, for instance, pop an aspirin or Aleve at the first sign of muscle soreness. “There’s some theoretical concern that there is a maladaptive response in the long run if you’re constantly suppressing inflammation with drugs,” he said. “With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.”
“This is important research, because it is the first to show that massage can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines which may be involved in pain,” said Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School. She was not involved in the study. “We have known from many studies that pain can be reduced by massage based on self-report, but this is the first demonstration that the pain-related pro-inflammatory cytokines can be reduced.” she said.
Getting a massage from a professional masseur is obviously more expensive than taking an aspirin. But, as Dr. Field points out, massage techniques can be taught. “People within families can learn to massage each other,” she said. “If you can teach parents to massage kids, couples to massage each other. This can be cost effective.”
Dr. Tarnopolsky suggests that, in the long run, a professional massage may even be a better bargain than a pill. “If someone says “This is free and it might make you feel better, but it may slow down your recovery, do you still want it?” he asked. “Or would you rather spend the 50 bucks for a post-exercise massage that also might enhance your recovery?”

Training Question

Guess which training I prefer??:

Endurance training effects (Hawley, 2009):
-increase in mitochondrial density
-increase in peripheral capillary density
-increase in oxidative enzyme density
-increase in stroke volume and cardiac output
-reduces peripheral resistance
-better utilization of lipid for fuel at lower intensities with the conservation of glycogen
Strength exercise effects (Hawley, 2009):
-increased in movement coordination and neuromuscular efficiency
-increased in muscle cross sectional area (hypertrophy)
-enhanced relative and absolute strength properties
Explosive strength training and plyometric traing effects:
-enhanced elastic and reactive properties
-increased rate of force development
-increased power production
-increased musculo-tendon stiffness

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Right Shoe For the Job: Part II (Workout Shoes)

The Right Shoe For the Job: Part II (Workout Shoes)
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.. 
-Baz Luhrmann
Injury = weaknesses showing its ugly head.  Injury prevention must be the opposite of weakness.... so, what gets us to injury prevention? Strength! 

We've discussed running shoes that need to allow the many muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your foot to do their job, unimpeded. Have you thought about how that might transfer to gym shoes?  Shoes that include 'support' or cushion are an attempt to replace your own support mechanisms.  The body is better than that.  When we feel the ground (proprioception) we can use this incoming information for stability, balance and posture.  Unfortunately, marketing execs have done a lot of work to brainwash you into thinking "<insert global shoe company name here> knows more about my balance than I do."

If you're working hard on strengthening your body - think about what you may be leaving out - which, in the end, could result in injury or weaknesses leading to injury.  As mentioned in Part I of this series, the body is a big chain of muscles and tendons; movement of that body or parts of that body is a series of small reactions among those body parts.  Why would you be content with a weak link in that chain?  If you're wearing well-cushioned shoes on your feet, you're providing a weak link! Instead, you should wear minimal shoes that are akin to going barefoot to let your feet feel the ground while you're exercising, which in turn will allow the support muscles in your feet to set the foundational support as they were intended. 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Photo taken from US Patent number: 6115941
Lateral Movements: This figure is from a US Patent about a shoe with a heel portion is designed to be a close fit to the wearer's heel.  The first picture is the cut-away of a typical running shoe with a large support cushion, or pedestal.  The problem with putting your foot on such a pedestal of support is that as you move laterally, you need to reach a sharp angle before the shoe follows you.  When the shoe does tilt, it does so abruptly. This is a bad way to find the next weak point in your chain - it could cause you to roll your ankle or tear a tendon!  On the flip side, a shoe that follows the shape of your foot is critical when participating in a sport where you plan to change directions abruptly.  The closer the shape of the shoe resembles the foot, without unnecessary cushioning, the better!

Weightlifting: Cushioning is a gentle way to mess you up when weightlifting! Extra padding may place cushioning under the soles of your feet, but this will only give you short term relief and long term injuries.  This is because the extra foam padding removes your feet's feedback to the nervous system (prioprioception, again).  If you begin to lose balance and there's weight on your shoulders, the last thing you need is a delay in sensory feedback, such as what cusioned shoes provie.  With all this extra cushioning, a small tilt can easily become a fall or a twisted ankle or knee.
Flexibility: Most overly supportive shoes also come 'equipped' with a generous heel raise.  Unnaturally pointing your foot to make flat contact with the ground is asking for compensation errors.  When you wear shoes with raised heels, your achilles tendon is shortened, reducing your lower leg flexibility.  This may feel comfortable in a deep squat, but it is not full range of motion, and you are losing all the power that should be generated from your heels to all that cushion in the bottom of your shoe. 

The bottom line: for workout shoes, remove the heels and cushions and you'll have more balance and improve the strength and flexibility of all the major and minor muscle groups in your body. Go minimalist!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oh 'good', the sugar assoc has ruled on sugar

From this article (click here.)
WebMD asked the Sugar Association, an industry group, to review the recommendations.
Charles Baker, PhD, the association's chief scientific officer, responded by email. "When the full body of science is evaluated during a major review, experts continue to conclude that sugar intake is not a causative factor in any disease, including obesity," he says.
They're high of COURSE sugar is bad.  Time to regulate?  There's more foods than sugar that elevate blood sugar and cause insulin insensitivity.  What about fruit, and wheat?  Education and awareness /should/ do more than regulation.  Proven causality of tobacco and disease helped curb smoking and prolong people's life.  If the info is there some people will follow it and life longer, healthier lives.  The people that laugh in the face of good information... f*ck 'em.