October 2011Monthly Archives

Trying a ketogenic day

I’m looking forward to taking a low-carb high-fat break today. I think it’s going to be good for my mental health, literally. Here’s some background on what I mean by that. I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Treatment is working well, so my mood has been even. Bipolar disorder, including my case, is often treated with medications originally developed to treat epileptics. Epileptics are often treated with a ketogenic diet. A ketogenic diet is a low-carb high-fat diet. The ketogenic diet used to treat epileptics resembles the induction phase of the Atkins diet in that it is recommended that patients consume 20g or less of carbohydrates. The resulting diet can get as much as 90% of its calories from fat. There is some conjecture in scientific circles that since a ketogenic diet works for epileptics, it just might work for those with bipolar disorder, too, since the medication is often the same. Tests in rats have shown promise, but the theory has not yet been formally tested in humans. I have tried a ketogenic diet before and felt quite good on it. Since a ketogenic diet works well for weight loss, too, this should not hinder me that way.

El-Mallakh RS, Paskitti ME. The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties. Med Hypotheses. 2001 Dec;57(6):724-6.
Murphy P, Likhodii S, Nylen K, Burnham WM. The Antidepressant Properties of the Ketogenic Diet. Biol Psychiatry. 2004 Dec 15;56(12):981-3.

Why we must be carnivores

I’m reading the chapter in my book, Trick And Treat – how ‘healthy eating’ is making us ill by Barry Groves about why we must be carnivores.  Basically, we have small digestive systems and large brains.  We are designed for an energy dense diet such as is found in fatty meats.  Fossil evidence indicates that our prehistoric ancestors ate very little if any vegetable matter.  They analyzed fossil poop to determine that.  Vegetarians like to compare us to other primates, but our digestive systems are very different from theirs.  Our digestive systems are more like those of carnivorous species.

Soy and hormones

If you suspect that you may have hypothyroidism, consider eliminating soy.  Soy is a potent goitrogen.  You can find out more about goitrogens here.  Apparently, several fruits and vegetables are also goitrogens when eaten raw.  There’s a list of them on the link.

I’ve had problems of a different sort before with soy.  In one of my big weight loss efforts, I was on the Medifast diet.  Virtually all of the program foods on Medifast are soy.  Time of month became much heavier, and I was more irregular.  Soy is known to affect hormones.  For one, it has phytoestrogens that mimic the estrogens in the body.  Feeding a baby soy formula is like giving it five birth control pills a day.  To make matters worse, most of the soy in the United States is genetically modified, including the soy used by Medifast.  I thought about doing that diet again this time, but I decided that I did not want to expose myself to that much soy.  There’s some in the NutriSystem foods, but it doesn’t comprise nearly as much of the diet.

Do we really need five a day?

I’m currently reading Trick And Treat – how ‘healthy eating’ is making us ill by Barry Groves.  Barry Groves has taken a close look at many studies.  Often, the abstracts on the medical journal articles do not agree with what the data presented in the article would indicate.  Also, some recommendations have no basis in research.  One of those recommendations is the Five a Day advice for fruits and vegetables.  Studies have shown that two a week is sufficient to get maximum benefit.  I like vegetables enough that I’ll keep eating them anyway.  As for fruits, they contain fructose, the most harmful of sugars.  Their value is questionable when the nutrition they contain can just as easily be gotten from vegetables.  Fructose is the sugar that causes belly fat.  Fructose is also the sugar most detrimental to the immune system, though the other simple sugars aren’t far behind.  Another source I’ve seen said that fructose is metabolized in the liver the same way that alcohol is, and we know what alcohol can do to the liver.  Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are about half fructose, which makes them dangerous, too.  Barry Groves’ site: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk

Critique of studies on which our “healthy diet” advice is based

I just read Dr. Mercola’s critique of the principal studies on which our “healthy diet” advice is based, The Cholesterol Myths that May be Harming Your Health.  It would seem that there’s a lot of misleading information being promulgated.

To start with, Dr. Ancel Keys cherry-picked his cases for the Seven Countries Study back in 1953 when he told us that higher fat intake correlated to higher rates of coronary heart disease.  Had he used data from all 22 countries that had data available, no correlation between dietary fats and coronary heart disease would have been found.

Analysis of the Framingham Study showed that lower blood cholesterol levels were associated with a lower cardiac risk.  What they did not tell us was that the same study determined that the more cholesterol and saturated fat people ate, the lower their blood cholesterol levels.  And yet we were told to lower our cholesterol and saturated fat intakes.

And finally, while the “MrFit” Study did show a marginal decrease in coronary heart disease for those who ate a low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet, there was an increased all-cause mortality rate for those who followed such a diet with an increase in deaths from cancer, brain hemorrhage, suicide, and violent death.

The HCG Diet

There’s a page that lists the articles and research on the HCG Diet published in medical journals.  It’s here.  The FDA does not endorse the diet.  HCG is not approved for weight loss; however, doctors are permitted to use drugs approved for other purposes as they choose.  The HCG Diet is very strict and unforgiving of cheats.  It takes tremendous dedication to follow this diet.  Supposedly, the reward is, if followed through the stabilization phase, that one’s metabolism is reestablished so that one does not gain the weight back.

Stretching and resistance band videos

I have been using a couple of videos lately.  Perfect in Ten: Stretch – 10-minute workouts has five ten-minute stretching routines.  I’m doing the leg stretch routines in an effort to avoid Achilles pain.  I’ve been troubled by that in the past when I’ve walked for fitness.  The other video is a resistance band routine on SparkPeople.  This one is online.

Benefits of weighing every day

I’ve been weighing every day since October 10, 2006.  I’ve learned quite a lot about how my body handles different types of food that way.  For instance, I’ve learned that salt is no big deal for me.  Carbohydrates will jack up my weight by as much as two pounds the next day.  My weight goes up a little around that time of month, but it didn’t do that when I was on the Medifast diet.  Antibiotics can also cause weight gain. The process of weighing every day has been very educational. Had I not done it, I would not have known my body so well, and I would not have known what my problem foods are.

Everyone is different, and you may have different results.  If you decide to weigh every day, be objective about it and treat it like a science experiment.  Be sure your charting also includes ways to check your week to week weight. Weight may fluctuate day to day, but if you’re on plan, you should see consistency in weight week to week, whether maintaining or losing. Tracking your food is also an important part of the process. Track your food well so that when the scale goes up, you can look at your intake to see what changed—not just the calories, but also the macronutrient mix and specific foods, since any of these can make a big difference. Then you’ll know, “If I do this, then that will happen.” This will help you to make conscious decisions about your eating as well. You can say to yourself, “I know that this will happen if I eat that food, so I think I’ll avoid it.” or “I’m willing to take the hit.” Soon, you won’t be surprised, either, and you’ll also know what to do to correct problems. Using the objective scientific mind helps minimize the emotional reactions.  Even so, if you find yourself getting overly emotional about daily fluctuations, this process may not be for you.

Why meat must be part of our diet

Prehistoric Hunters
Prehistoric Hunters in a Cave Painting

Vegetarians and vegans like to tell us that we should eat a largely carbohydrate diet. I disagree. They like to say that our diet should resemble that of gorillas and chimpanzees since they are supposedly our nearest evolutionary relatives. But our digestive systems are very different from theirs. Barry Groves explores those differences at length in an article on his site. Our digestive system resembles that of carnivores more than it does that of herbivores.

Dense carbohydrates are a very recent addition to the human diet. Agriculture did not occur until about 10,000 years ago; and in some areas such as northernEurope, agriculture did not arrive until about 5,000 years ago. Prior to that, humans were hunter/gatherers. Modern day hunter/gatherer diets tend to be largely meat-based with a preference for the fattiest portions. It is clear from the bone piles found at sites where prehistoric human remains have been found that the prehistoric diet included a lot of meat as well. Their cave paintings depict hunting, not agriculture. And the bones of those prehistoric humans showed that they were much healthier than us. They were taller, and they did not suffer from degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Those in the northern climates particularly would have been eating a meat diet because the ice age would not have allowed much vegetation to grow.

On the other hand, arthritis, obesity, and heart disease are apparent in Egyptian mummies, a society where grains predominated.

Barry Groves. Should all animals eat a high-fat, low-carb diet? (This article compares our digestive system with herbivores and carnivores.)

High-fat diet best for weight loss

There was a study done in 1956 comparing weight loss on diets of differing macronutrient content. The diets were all 1,000 calories. One was 90% carbohydrate, another was 90% protein, another was 90% fat, with the last being a mixed diet. Those on the 90% fat diet lost the most weight, with those on the 90% protein diet coming in as a close second. Those on the 90% carbohydrate diet lost the least, and some of those even gained weight.

A. Kekwick M.A., M.B. Camb., F.R.C.P. , G.L.S. Pawan B.Sc. Lond. Calorie intake in relation to body-weight changes in the obese. The Lancet, Volume 268, Issue 6935, Pages 155 – 161, 28 July 1956.