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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. Continue reading »

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.

Andrew Weil, M.D. What is Leaky Gut?

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.


I thought the section in The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by Dr. Stephen Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek about “bonking” or “hitting the wall” was particularly fascinating. It happens to athletes when they engage in endurance sports. It has applicability to the NutriSystem diet as well in that it could happen to us to a lesser degree if meals are delayed or skipped. Bonking is the result of the brain running low on glucose. The first symptom is intrusive thoughts about food. Then, after a while if nothing is eaten, anxiety and the shakes can set in. If the person still fails to eat something and he reaches the end of his glucose supply, he’ll feel a profound depression. This is why you might see a marathoner in tears toward the end of a race. He’s hit the wall. This has applicability to my business as well. I doubt that hypnotic suggestions are much of a match against physiologically induced cravings caused by skipping meals. If a client chooses to do an ADA style low-fat/high-carb diet like NutriSystem, then it makes sense to give him suggestions to eat small meals at regularly scheduled frequent intervals the way NutriSystem recommends so that he won’t bonk. Those ketoadapted to a low-carb diet don’t bonk because their brains are running on ketones, not glucose. As long as they’ve got body fat, there’s a continuous supply.

Correcting fatty liver disease

Fatty liver disease has been on the increase since the government advised a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet. It’s even being found in kids now.

Fructose consumption can be a factor in the development of fatty liver disease. Did you know that fructose is metabolized in the liver the same way as alcohol? I would be wary of fruit and anything made with added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Have you heard of foie gras, the goose liver paté? It literally means “fat liver.” It is liver from a goose induced with fatty liver disease by force-feeding it grains, usually corn. So I would be wary of grains, too, if you want to reverse fatty liver disease.

I looked around online for information about fatty liver reversal. I found this blog entry by someone who reversed his fatty liver by eating a low-carb diet. And there’s this blog by someone else who also reversed his fatty liver with a low-carb diet (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the specifics of what was done). And this link quotes studies, including one showing that a low-carb diet is best for getting rid of liver fat. One commenter on the page cited vegetable oil as a potential contributor to fatty liver disease as well.

I’m sure there are more references out there.

How to choose a food

There are five questions to ask when making food choices:

  1. What is my body hungry for?
  2. Is it yummy enough for me?
  3. Will it nurture my mind and body?
  4. Will I feel good physically after eating it?
  5. When I’m done, will I be proud of my food choices?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these, you are good to go.

Determining when you’re done with weight loss

At some point in the weight loss process, you’ve got to move into maintenance mode.  Dieting would become a problem if you did not stop and became underweight.  If your significant other thinks you’re thin enough now, I would definitely take that into consideration.  After all, doesn’t what they find desirable count for something?  Also, most people tend to be most critical of themselves.  What you see in the mirror may not be what others are seeing.  This is one of the ways that anorexics go astray.  They see fat in the mirror when in truth they look skeletal.  Such perception actually has a name: body dysmorphic disorder.  If others are telling you that you’re thin enough already and you’ve got a healthy BMI, consider that maybe they’re right.  There’s an article available for calculating ideal weight, if you’d like to check it out.  It’s here.  The last method is a military method that takes into consideration one’s body measurements.

Relaxation for weight loss

I found this little tidbit:

A study released by the Georgetown University Medical Center has posited a link between stress and weight gain that is more than just psychological; it seems to be physiological, too. When certain mice were stressed out, they gained far more weight than the control group of calm mice – even when both groups were fed the same amount of calories. After a period of three months the little frazzled guys became twice as obese as their relatively serene little compatriots.

Dr. Zofia Zukowska, who headed up the study, says researchers suspect that this result is due to an enzyme which has been found in especially high amounts in abdominal fat. In other words, the weight gain caused by stress seems to go straight to the belly, the most dangerous place to store fat. So now relaxation therapy is being recommended as a good addition to any weight loss program.

Hypnotherapy is a form of relaxation therapy which can help you with weight control. Not only will it help you reduce stress, but it can also help you correct bad eating habits.

Abe K, Kuo L, Zukowska Z. Neuropeptide Y is a mediator of chronic vascular and metabolic maladaptations to stress and hypernutrition. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2010 Oct;235(10):1179-84.

Artificial sweeteners

I got an email from Dr. Al Sears about artificial sweeteners. Here’s part of it:

When your drink contains aspartame, sucralose, or any other artificial sweetener, you over-stimulate your sweetness receptors. It changes the way you think about the way things should taste.

You crave high-intensity sweetness. And naturally sweet foods like fruit don’t taste as good to you. Vegetables lose their appeal, because they’re not sweet.

Your gut has sweetness receptors, too. It’s all ready to absorb nutrients, so you get a surge in hormones, like insulin. But when the calories don’t arrive, your body tells your brain to go out and get them.

Your appetite increases, and you get cravings that cause you to overeat. What’s worse, you turn to high-carbohydrate foods and sweets to make up the calorie void.

But now, the insulin you’ve poured into your blood tells your body to turn whatever you do eat into fat.

I read one study of almost 2,600 people. Those who drank diet sodas had a 47 percent higher body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t, and their risk of obesity was doubled.

He goes on to recommend fruity solutions as well as honey and raw, whole sugar.

All of that stuff about how the sweetness affects us has me wondering if maybe stevia isn’t such a good idea, either.

Sansom, W. New analysis suggests ‘diet soda paradox’ – less sugar, more weight. Univ Tex SA Health Sci Ctr. June, 2005.