March 2012Monthly Archives

Kale chips

I finally got around to making kale chips.  Wow!  I should have done it sooner!  Even hubby liked them, and he’s not big on eating veggies at all.  I couldn’t remember how much time to cook them, so I looked up a recipe online.  I found a recipe for Crispy Kale “Chips” on the Food Network page.  It even has a video.  Be careful with the time.  Some of my chips were a bit overdone.  I wanted to spray on the oil, but I didn’t want to use Pam because I didn’t want any chemicals in the oil.  I wanted just plain extra virgin olive oil.  So I bought an RSVP Endurance Oil Mister.  Very nice!  You pump air into it, and then it works just like an aerosol can.

Ingredients

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

Eat fat, lose fat

I’m currently reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. Mary Enig was a key scientist in the fight to get trans fats listed on our nutrition labels. She was actively opposed by the Institute for Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO). This is an organization that pulls political clout to prevent the funding and publication of research intended to study the harm of vegetable oils and shortening. This organization was incensed about the fact that Mary Enig’s initial paper on the subject had gotten published at all. They have industry watchdogs to prevent such an occurrence, but somehow the paper managed to slip through their scrutiny. Doctors and scientists had been questioning the use of vegetable oils and trans fats since the 1920s when they were beginning to come into popular use. Myocardial infarctions (what we know of as heart attacks) were unheard of prior to the advent of the use of these fats. But their concerns got drowned out by the proponents of the cholesterol theory of heart disease, which would include organizations such at the ISEO and the pharmaceutical industry since they stand to gain from it.

According to Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, lack of healthy fats contributes to several diseases including chronic fatigue, low energy, anxiety, depression and mood swings, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, food cravings, gallbladder ailments, bacterial infections, fungal issues, viral infections, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, gas and bloating, eczema and dry skin, sagging and wrinkled skin, dandruff, and cellulite. They propose a diet that has coconut oil and cod liver oil to correct these issues that they believe to be the result of lack of healthy fats. They also say that dietary cholesterol is important for maintaining the health of the intestinal wall and preventing leaky gut. Their list of sources for healthy fats: coconut oil, butter, cream, nuts, meats, and eggs as well as cod liver oil.

Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky gut could be a cause for the multiple allergies and sensitivities that could in turn result in an autoimmune disease. So what is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a condition in which the intestine is allowing passage into the bloodstream of incompletely digested food. The immune system then reacts to those food particles, resulting in a cascade of allergies and sensitivities. These multiple allergies and sensitivities are the hallmark of a leaky gut. If you have multiple food allergies and sensitivities, it’s a good bet that your gut is leaky. Way back in the 80s, I did an IgE test for food allergies, and the only thing that came back negative was walnuts. In other words, the only item in the test that I wasn’t allergic to was walnuts.  The doctor said that I probably had not been eating them. Can you imagine the elimination diet required to treat that? Trust me, you don’t want to. The doctor put me on some obscure formula that was something like hot wheat cereal (but of course it wasn’t wheat), and that was all I could eat while I healed. Yes, been there, done that.

There are two causes of leaky gut that I know of. The first and the easiest to correct is a gluten problem. I’ve seen varying descriptions of the mechanism for how it works, but the upshot is the same. To correct the problem, you must eliminate all sources of gluten from the diet. This is principally wheat, rye, and barley, but your practitioner may suggest elimination of all grains.

The other cause is overgrowth of harmful microbes in the gut that can cause damage to the intestine. Antibiotic use or poor diet can set this in motion. To rebalance your intestinal flora, you need to starve the bad little critters. This requires elimination of all sugar, fruit, grains, and other starches. Since those buggers can also thrive on artificial sweeteners, that means completely forgoing sweets. The resulting diet is composed mainly of meat and non-starchy vegetables. Along with that, you need to encourage the increase of beneficial gut microbes. This can be done by consuming probiotic supplements, yogurt, and fermented vegetable products such as kimchee and fermented sauerkraut. The fermenting process should eliminate the goitrogens, so one need not be so concerned about consuming the cabbage products.

Serious solutions for serious problems. This is an issue best solved with the help of your health practitioner.

References:
Andrew Weil, M.D. What is Leaky Gut?
PubMed

Testing for food sensitivities

In many cases, a malfunctioning thyroid is the result of an autoimmune reaction. In other words, your immune system could be attacking your thyroid. Such a situation could have been set in motion by a leaky gut and the cascade of food allergies and sensitivities that follows. Allergists will check for food allergies by checking IgE reactions. This won’t find sensitivities, though, since they are reactions of IgA, IgG, or IgM. It used to be that the only way to test for these was through elimination diets. They would begin with an extremely limited diet of least likely suspects and gradually add back in new foods to see what caused a reaction. In the last year or two, Cyrex Laboratories came out with blood tests that will check for sensitivity reactions. You can pass that on to your doctor, and he can order the tests for you. If you are allergic and/or sensitive to any foods and they are eliminated, in time you may heal from thyroid issues or any of a number of other autoimmune disorders.

What are the healthy fats, really?

According to Catherine Shanahan MD in Deep Nutrition, eating damaged fats such as trans-fats and mega-trans-fats from damaged polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) encourages the storing of fat in the abdomen (omental fat) and under the chin. So if you’ve got fat there, it’s a sign that you need to change the type of fat you’re eating.

Avoid: hydrogenated fats (Crisco and margarine), vegetable oils, commercial salad dressings and mayonnaise, and anything fried in a restaurant since they likely use the wrong type of fat. NEVER cook with vegetable oil. This damages the PUFA in the oil, which in turn encourages oxidative damage of the cells.

Consume: olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and other animal fats. These fats contain mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats that are safe to cook with and protect cells against oxidative damage.

Healthy dietary fat is not something to be afraid of. Fat is a major component of the membrane of every cell of your body. Fat is needed for the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins. Fat is needed for bone formation. Low-fat diets are associated with osteoporosis. Fat is also needed for healthy nerve function.

I can vouch for this last one since low-fat diets including NutriSystem followed as directed have led to depressive episodes that required medical intervention. These coincided with dangerously low cholesterol levels. Once I figured out that connection with the help of my psychiatrist, I understood that my weight-loss efforts could not be based on low-fat diets. That is why my modified NutriSystem plan is not low-fat.

A new reason to exercise

I’m continuing to read Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan MD. I’ve got a new reason to exercise while losing weight. Exercise is important because it generates signals to transdifferentiate your fat. This encourages fat cells to redifferentiate into other cells such as muscle cells. Recent studies suggest that the cells of our body are capable of changing purpose as needed. So if the body decides that fat cells are no longer needed but muscle cells are, for instance, it can send signals to the fat cells to relocate and convert themselves into muscle cells. Without exercise, the fat cells simply shrink and wait for the opportunity to suck up calories and grow again.

From the book:

How Fat Cells Change

Nearly every step of the fat cell self-improvement program has been replicated in the lab. Though no one knows exactly how it functions in the body, it might go something like this: First, an individual fat cell loses much, or all, of its lipid stores. Then the shriveled fat cell gets a signal to dedifferentiate into a more mobile cell type, one that is chemically indistinguishable from a stem cell. The cell exits the fat tissue by way of the bloodstream and, once in circulation, is directed to go wherever growth is occurring—a muscle, say. Upon arrival, the cell attaches to the wall of a tiny blood vessel and waits for the stimulus to migrate into the muscle tissue itself. Once it gets the right signal, it moves inside the matrix of the new tissue and redifferentiates to match the other cell types in its new location. Whatever the exact sequence of cell reassignment, the abilities of the magical morphing cell suggest that our body is composed not of cellular specialists, but of generalists, ready to be retrained and reassigned at a moment’s notice. And that’s encouraging news because it tells us that, if we know what we’re doing, our best health may still be ahead of us.

References:
Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 287). Big Box Books.
Transdifferentiation potential of human mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow. Song L. FASEB Vol 18, June 2004, 980-2.

A day on my modified NutriSystem plan

I have been telling you that I have modified my NutriSystem diet to make it lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat in order to prevent falling cholesterol levels. My modified plan would be considered a low-carb diet by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek as defined in their book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable. I thought I would share with you what a typical day on my modified NutriSystem diet looks like. It could possibly be improved a bit by adding some additional low-carb vegetables at lunch, but it is performing well as is.

Breakfast
NUTRISYSTEM Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bar 2012 (1 bar)
Egg (1 ea)
Butter (2 tsp)

Lunch
NUTRISYSTEM Wedding Soup 2012 (1 x 1 container)
FAGE Total 0% All Natural Nonfat Greek Strained Yogurt (1 x 1 container)

Afternoon Snack
Nuts, mixed nuts, without peanuts, raw (1 oz)

Dinner
NUTRISYSTEM Lasagna with Meat Sauce 2012 (1 package)
Mixed greens (2 oz)
Red bell peppers (1/2 ea)
Salad dressing, GOOD SEASONS ITALIAN, prepared (1 Tbs)

Evening Snack
NUTRISYSTEM Pretzels 2012 (1 package)

Calories 1216.24
Calories From Fat (41%) 500.71
Calories From Protein (23%) 284.35
Calories From Carbs (35%) 431.18
Total Fat 55.87g 86%
Carbohydrates 110.77g 37%
Dietary Fiber 16.55g 66%
Sugar 28.75g
Net Carbohydrates 94.22g
Protein 71.82g 144%

How atherosclerosis develops

I continue to read Deep Nutrition by Catherine Shanahan MD. According to Dr. Shanahan, the most dangerous foods are vegetable oils, sugars, and foods that convert to sugar during digestion. She gave an interesting description of how the two combine to create coronary artery disease. I’ve never seen it laid out quite the same before. It’s a very compelling description of the process if it’s true. It actually explains how the epithelial lining of the arteries becomes injured in the first place, which is something other explanations fail to do.

To sum it up, sugar in the bloodstream damages lipoproteins (HDL, LDL, VLDL). The lipoproteins, in turn, spill their loads into the bloodstream where it should not be. If that load contains mega-trans-fats from damaged vegetable oils (which happens when heat is applied, either during production or cooking), those fats cause oxidative damage to the fats in the membranes of the cells of the epithelial lining of the arteries, resulting in a literal burning of the cells. Gruesome! The body then attempts to repair that damage by sending cholesterol and white blood cells to the injured site. These repairs become the arterial plaques of atherosclerosis.

Dr. Cate Shanahan on diet and brain health

I’ve been listening to the Paleo Summit with Sean Croxton.  Today, I listened to the author of Deep Nutrition, Dr. Cate Shanahan, MD, talking about how important proper dietary fat is to the brain. Brains are primarily made of fat and cholesterol. She says that kids with ADD or ADHD are actually exhibiting signs of poor nutrition that could lead to more serious mental illnesses later such as schizophrenia if the nutrition is not corrected. The crux of Dr. Cate’s talk today was that most pharmaceutical use can be eliminated with proper diet. She recommends Paleo and traditional diets. These tend to be lower carb, higher fat diets.

References:
Shanahan MD, Catherine (2011-04-22). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (p. 287). Big Box Books.
Dr. Shanahan’s site: http://drcate.com/