Thursday, March 29, 2007

Environmental ACTION

In my post on the problems with the world, one of the things that I mentioned was the people didn't do what they said. This lack of integrity is causing all sorts of problems. In a recent study 55% of those surveyed said they wished they walked more (I can't believe that this number is that low). When asked about a long-term solution for the traffic problem, 31% of people said we should develop communities, 35% of people said we should improve public transportation, and 25% of people said that we should build more roads. If people really want to walk more, develop communities or improve public transportation it is going to take a lot more than just saying that they want to. It may be a stretch to call this a lack of integrity, but if you want something you have to SHOW that you want it. If you wish you walked more, get out and walk. If you think we should develop community (frankly I don't know what that means, but in the study it was clumped with those who did NOT think that more roads was the solution to traffic problems), then you should take action on that. If you think that we need to improve public transportation, maybe you should start using it as often as possible so that the interest is known and you are financially supporting public transportation.

People don't do what they say. Here are a couple of examples...
Al Gore won some big award for his movie on improving the environment. He testified before congress about global warming and the need for immediate action. Al Gore's house is 10,000 square feet (is that really enough for him and his wife?). His electric bill and gas bill are both independently more than I make each month. But, he says, he lives a carbon neutral life because he gives someone a bunch of money to offset his carbon emissions. Bologna. If we want to make a difference in global warming or anything else, at least those who want to make a difference will have to make some sacrifices in order to see a difference.

On the other hand, George Bush has been one of the worst presidents for the environment. His contributions as president include starting a war centered around oil. Yet, George Bush's house in Texas is only (only?) 4,000 square feet and uses some of the greenest forms of energy production. He has a heating system that uses deep holes in the earth (where the earth is a constant temperature in the upper 60s) to keep his home warm without electricity. He uses solar power for much of his energy needs and he has a gray water reclamation system to conserve water in addition to a system that collects water running off from the roof of his house. I have not agreed with many of Bush's policies, but his home is actually a model to be followed. Does he know something that we don't?

If you think the world is headed drastically in the wrong direction, it is going to take drastic changes to correct the course. If your health is in really bad shape, it is going to take really big changes to correct it. Moderation is nice and all and it makes people feel good because they can continue doing what they have always done and expect everything to change, but the world won't change until you do and the world will only change to the extent that you change.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Since Sans is super busy, TV Free is substituting today and making an unauthorized post of pictures. We had a great weekend and got lots of work done.

Well, some of us got lots of work done. Others of us sat and watched Sans and TV Free work while eating popsicles.

Sixpence decided that the whole work thing was too much for him and he was going to move to Miami. The only reason we convinced him to stay was to promise him that he can have noodles every day. He hasn't tried to run away since, and he's had noodles for lunch the last 3 days, so it must have worked.

Mugwump enjoys all kinds of creative things, including building forts and tents. Today he's into fire trucks and horses, so this may be a barn for the horse. As long as Sixpence doesn't turn out to be a horse thief, I think it'll work out OK for all of us!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Family and truthfulness

The end of the semester is in sight so if I don't post it's because my teachers think that I rather write 5 page papers that only one person will ever read. I missed my Sunday family post again, so I'll do it now instead.

I want to start with a little story of Dad (me) watching the boys while Mom was out doing something. My task seemed simple, give the kids a bath, put them to bed and then clean up after dinner. I'm a doctoral student, this should be a piece of cake.

The bath went well. I got both of the boys nice and clean and they enjoyed playing in the bath. When bath time was over I took the younger one (Six-pence) out of the bath, wrapped him in his towel and took him to put his pajamas on. I left a towel on the toilet so the Mugwump could dry himself off and join us when I was ready. Really it was a fool-proof plan.

I finished getting Six-pence in his pajamas and I called for the Mugwump to come join us. He didn't. No big deal, I could go dry him myself and Six-pence would just wait for us. When I went into the bathroom I found that the Mugwump was trying to dry himself off, but was unwilling to get out of the bath first. That made for a soaked towel that I needed to deal with and I needed to find a dry one so I could dry the kid. I was able to accomplish all of those tasks without any difficulty.

I got the Mugwump dried off and was taking him out to get his pajamas on when I saw Six-pence in the kitchen. When did he learn to climb? So Six-pence was standing on a chair, digging the serving spoon into the rice from dinner and flinging it around the kitchen. I sent the Mugwump into the living room and grabbed Six-pence and took him into the living room as well. The two boys were laughing hysterically, I think they had planned it. I had no more incidents that evening (because the "incidents" were asleep), but had the opportunity to spend some quality time cleaning the kitchen before my wife got home.

Over the weekend we finished rototilling the front yard. We've got strawberries and onions planted in a little corner of the yard, but we're waiting to plant most of the garden until the next freeze (which will hopefully be the last for the year). While we were out working in the yard we had a neighbor stop by and loan us a movie ("Summer of the Monkeys") and talk about gardening. He told me that I would have to really stay on top of spraying my fruit trees and that I would need to use "the good stuff". He also asked when I was going to rototil the garden plot.

You see, I rototilled the lawn because it was mostly weeds. I felt that I needed to destroy the weeds in order for the grass seed to have a fighting chance at surviving, so I rototilled it. The garden, on the other hand, I rototilled last fall and then covered with compost, cardboard and another layer of compost. The neighbors seem to think that I need to rototil the garden again, but I think it's ready to go. I have never seen a rototilled forest, yet those are the most fertile grounds around. I think it's fertile because of the layer of leaves that allow composting. I'm following mother nature rather than tradition, but I feel like I may be flogged by the neighbors for not conforming to traditional gardening strategies.

Social pressures are a weird thing. I have a lot of respect for my neighbors and recognize that they have a lot more gardening experience than I do. They have given me a lot of advice on gardening (because I spend a lot of time in the yard preparing a garden). I generally just smile and nod as I have floods of thoughts going through my mind of how differently I'm going to do things. I like to avoid confrontation and I know that the advice is a nice thought, but that is NOT how I want to do things. Should I have said something? Would that have been the truthful thing to do?

The man who lent us the movie goes to church with us. When we showed up at church he asked the Mugwump what he thought if it (it had scared him, he's a pretty sensitive 3 year old). The Mugwump told him, "I didn't like it, it scared me". That was not the socially acceptable way of demonstrating gratitude, but I liked it. He just said it how it was. As a parent I thought about discouraging that kind of comment, but then I thought about it and really I'm proud that he spoke his mind (our neighbor didn't hear him, so it was sort of a non-issue). I often times find myself more interested in the "socially acceptable" than speaking my mind. I'm trying to get over that because if you don't value me for what I really believe, then you really don't value me. That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything, but don't expect me to conform just to make you happy. And if I don't conform to your thoughts it's not because I don't like you it's because living with integrity is more important to me that pleasing everyone with whom I cross paths.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The problem with the world (second try)

A few weeks ago I did a post about the problem with the world and I got one of my best comments ever. It was from Norm and he said that my post lacked substance. He was right. I had some ideas, I threw them together and I posted a sub-par rant that never successfully made a point. Thank you Norm for holding me to a higher standard than that. I'm taking a break from nutrition. I may return at some point.

As I look around me I see a lot of things wrong with the world as a result of the people who live in it. I also see a lot that is right in the world around me, but I chose not to write about that today, I'm in one of those moods. I think that the big point that I'm trying to make today is that many of the world's ills come from one or a small handful of human characteristics that are becoming more predominate. If I could put a word to that characteristic, this blog would be short, but I can't so I'm going to write a little about it. First I liked this comic that is sort of on topic. If you haven't yet, check out the website.

In my previous attempt at this post I wrote about people who will participate in research studies, say they will do something and then not follow through with their commitment. Yes, this is a huge inconvenience for me as a researcher, but I think it extends well beyond that. One of the major problems the world faces is the lack of integrity that is developing. If you give someone your word, it should mean something, in fact, it should mean a lot. I recognize that stuff arises and you have to alter previously made plans and that's fine, but 99.9% of the time if you make a commitment to do something you either need to do it, or not agree to do it in the first place. There's a word that we can put to this problem, lack of integrity.

It goes well beyond that though. Previously, I posted about social capital and how people tend to be isolating themselves. Dr. Putnam wrote a book entitled "Bowling Alone" (I hope to read it someday), that talks about the movement from bowling leagues to a culture where we are bowling alone. There seems to be a movement away from groups and toward individual interest. Of course bowling leagues are only one example. As I walk around campus I see this everywhere. When I attended this University as an undergraduate I could leave a class, find myself walking next to a stranger and start a conversation. I could gain some social capital and meet a new person. Today on my walk to stats class I could probably count one hand the number of people who weren't talking on a cell phone, listening to an i-pod or talking with friends they already had. Cell phones, i-pods and friends aren't bad things, but they prevent me from talking with new people because people tend to stick with the familiar or isolate themselves. OK, I'll stick another word onto what I think is contributing to the ills of the world...isolation.

One of the huge ills of the world is the Jones family. Everyone is trying to keep up with them and we have to have more. The country seems to be moving toward recycling, which is a good thing... sort of. I think the recycling program had three parts (you know the symbol with the three arrows going in a triangle): reduce, reuse recycle. Recycling is good, but reducing (not buying the junk in the first place) and reusing (opposed to replacing) are far better. Wal-mart is trying hard to make a "green" impression (and I am impressed with some of their efforts), but they really wouldn't like it if people really started following the other two parts of the recycling program. Our country is driven by consumption and I think it's leading us in the wrong way. Consumerism, that's another word that explains the ills of the country.

I have a lot more ideas, but I'm afraid that only two people are still reading at this point, so I'm going to conclude. I think the common denominator of all those things is selfishness to some degree. I don't keep my word because I can do better things with my time. I don't talk with new people because I like my friends. I don't share rides or tools because I need my own for my convenience. I don't think that we should go back to the dark ages, but maybe we should take a step back to pre-school when we learned to share.

Thank you Norm for having the nerve to not put up with mediocre writing. I hope this better explains the ills of the world. I realize that it differs greatly from the last time I attempted to write on this topic. That is because it wasn't thought through enough. This is what I really meant. Most of the ills of the world are centered around selfishness in some way or another.

Monday, March 19, 2007


It's been awhile since I did a family post. Last week Grammie and Gramps came to visit. that was great and the boys are still talking about it. That was the main thing that prevented me from posting last week.

Really there's nothing new around here. The weather is finally getting nice, so we are doing a lot of work in the yard. I tore up the front yard and were working on getting roots out so we can plant grass and hopefully we will have a lawn rather than a weed garden.

This week the Mugwump spent some time learning about dinosaurs. He already knew quite a bit, but my wife took the boys to a rock show and they had fossils there and the mugwump was in heaven. He says that he wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up.

Six-pence has learned the flop. I really don't know how else to put it, but he seems to be playing with you or trying to get your attention and the next thing you know he is flopping in your lap and laughing hysterically, but you can't get him up or to move. It's really inconvenient, but funny at the same time.

I thought it was funny after I rototilled the front yard, the Mugwump came out and asked what I was doing. I told him that I was rototilling and he asked if I was making the front yard so he could play in it. Evidently he isn't a huge fan of grass, he far prefers the dirt.

Sorry, there aren't any pictures, we're in the midst of a computer transfer and so things are a little unorganized this week.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

more responses

Taylor-- It may have been a rhetorical question, but I'm going to answer anyway. You asked why people are critical of different ways of eating. I think you're on to something when you say that they may be a little guilty about their own diet. Beyond that I think there is something to be said about our loved ones who didn't eat right. A couple of generations ago there were far more farmers than there are today. They lived on a farm, they ate meat at every meal and had whole, unpasteurized milk. That was the way of life, and life "on the farm" has become a symbol of the manly man that is indestructible. A plant based diet is confronting these established norms.

Additionally, many people's grandfathers were farmers. Manly men that ate lots of beef and worked hard. When you eat a plant based diet to improve your health are you saying that "my" grandfather could have lived longer if he had eaten a better diet? Are you saying if I could have influenced "my" grandfather's diet he wouldn't have died of a heart attack at age 57? Are you blaming me for my grandfather's death? That's a difficult conversation to have, and if it was your grandfather, it is difficult to admit that this man could still be with you if he hadn't been such a "manly man" in the way he ate. Who's ever heard of a vegetarian farmer?

There's a lot of social and personal issues that come with drastic changes in diet. Some people even take it personally. I have talked to my grandparents about the amount of meat that they eat and health. They aren't going to change and we sort of avoid the conversation now, but I care so much about them that I would like nothing more for them to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and decrease meat consumption so they can be here for as long as possible. It's worked for them for over 80 years, why change now? Well it could increase energy levels and improve some health issues and improve so many things that they don't even know are wrong, but habits are hard to change and I would rather not argue with them.

Laurel-Anne-- To start I will give the correct answer... I don't know and I don't think that there is anyone in the world who knows. There has been no research (that I know of) that has been done on that and the theories out there are rather speculative. But, this is MY blog so I'm going to give an answer based on the research I have done. You're right, heat denatures proteins, so the pasteurization process should denature some proteins, but not all. There are also some proteins that will "spontaneously renature", especially short simply proteins like insulin. I do not see how denaturing the proteins would increase the insulin response. If intact (not denatured) proteins get into the system and influence our bodies that could have some serious effects on insulin response, but if anything pasteurization would decrease the likelihood of that happening. I can't see how raw milk could improve the insulin response in milk, but that doesn't mean that I'm right. I've also seen some other reported benefits of raw milk besides the insulin response, but that's not an area where I'm very well read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I've still got a few outstanding questions that I should answer.

Kate, generally fat is stored as fat so it comes into the body in its storage form. it is taken to the liver and then around the body to be deposited, I would say that it is done within minutes, certainly not more than a couple of hours. If you were to eat a fat free diet (which is nearly impossible) you can convert carbohydrates and protein to fat through a process called de novo lipogenisis. I don't know how long this would take, but it isn't very efficient and although it is physiologically possible, your body will normally just burn the carbohydrates and store more fat since we always tend to have a little of that in the diet. I also think that it's important to point out that a fat free diet isn't necessarily a good diet and if you are eating a healthy diet that doesn't contain more calories than you will be expending, you will not store a significant amount of fat.

Veronica asked about weight gain and aging. As people age their basal metabolic rate decreases so you burn fewer calories to maintain life. To avoid weight gain you have to either eat less or exercise more (actually both is the best option). Exercise is important to maintain muscle mass (which decreases with age) and thereby minimize the decreases in metabolic rate. Eat right and you'll be able to maintain a healthy body weight. I should point out that this is easier said than done. We develop eating habits that are hard to change, yet our bodies change requiring that we make some changes.

Vertigo asked about recent milk studies that related milk consumption with weight loss. I've seen them, they do exist. First off, all of the studies included a calorically deficient diet that included milk. With or without milk, if there is a caloric deficiency you will lose weight. I know, they showed that those drinking milk lost more than those who didn't. It's also important to recognize that drinking milk is generally recognized as a healthy behavior because it is associated with drinking less soda. People who follow "healthy" diets also consume more fruits and vegetables and fewer meats and sweets. There's more to this than just milk. It is also important to point out that every study I've seen has been funded by the milk industry in some way which leaves them suspect. I'm not convinced, but I could be wrong. Here's another cartoon from that great site
Taylor and Emily have adopted the diet... Good work. It's hard when your spouse isn't completely on board. The vast majority of Americans could see huge health benefits from changing their diets. They are unwilling for whatever reason. Instead people take all sorts of pills to make them feel better and have more energy, etc. A good diet and regular activity will do that for you at far less cost and it works even better than drugs.
If I missed any questions, let me know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I found this website with great political cartoons. This is one of my favorites. I'll post a few more soon since my writing time is currently limited

Monday, March 12, 2007


Emily, this is in response to your question. If you want to make a big difference in the world (or in yourself), you have to make big changes. I've seen insanity defined as doing the same thing but expecting different results.

China's Economy (comic)

Friday, March 9, 2007

The problem with the world

I don't feel like writing about nutrition today. I may return to the subject, but today I'm going to tackle all of the world's problems.

Vertigo had a good post on fitness centres and it got me thinking. Of course he is right, gyms are silly and unnecessary. We can get all of the exercise we need in everyday activity. In my opinion, most of the hype about weight training is a marketing to make people think that they need to spend money to get a workout (buy weights, membership, etc.). If people knew that all they really needed was walking, running or cycling along with a little heavy lifting around the house, an entire industry would fade into oblivion.

The problem is that people don't do it. As a researcher, I frequently ask people to do things, make dietary changes, exercise, whatever. People are recruited to do these things and they say that they're interested and that they'll do it. Then they don't. Many people aren't good to their words. Not only is it annoying as a researcher, but it says bad things about the integrity of our society when lots of people aren't honest.

We watched a video in one of my classes the other day about poverty and giving loans to people who have no credit and no way of establishing credit (Think third world countries). For years banks have refused to loan to these people because they didn't have anything to put as collateral. If the people didn't pay back the borrowed money, the bank just lost the money. There was no repossessing of a car or house or shoes, these people were too poor to have these luxuries. Finally someone loaned the extremely poor some money and come to find out their payback rate is over 95% (that's better than most banks get). So people with absolutely nothing are better at keeping their word than volunteers in the most affluent nation in the world. I think the US is backwards and would benefit greatly from third world countries. Honesty and integrity is of far greater value than any amount of wealth a person can attain.

In high school I read a book by Joseph Conrad called "The Heart of Darkness". It was about early European "exploration" in Africa. The Europeans went up a really big river (sorry, high school was over 10 years ago, some of the details have faded) until they ran across the "savages". These tribes of savages lived off the land and battled with other tribes in the area. They would often place heads of their opponents on stakes to demonstrate their power. The Europeans traveled up this river and just had to defend themselves from these savages (who had really been doing alright without the help of European explorers). So the Europeans slaughtered some of them in order to (pre-emptively) protect their lives. Boy, those Africans were sure savages...

I think as members of industrialized nations we are just as savage as those Europeans as we support (by buying) the exploitation of developing nations. It's unfortunate that industrialized nations blind the consumer to what we are supporting. We just go in and give someone money for something, the cheaper the better, right? In order to demonstrate integrity and honesty, lets not take advantage of those in other countries who are battling poverty. If you believe, take a stand.

My thoughts may have drifted during that post. I have a couple more nutrition posts on the way, and a couple of other topics I've been thinking of.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


First I will finish up with milk and answer a couple of questions. Then I will tackle Baking Soda as a performance enhancing drug.

I had a couple questions about cheese and yogurt. No, they do NOT elicit the same insulin response as milk. Ice cream has a substantial insulin response, but it is what you would expect from the amount of sugar available in ice cream. This is another reason that I don't drink milk.

I talked last time about how it wasn't the fat in milk that caused the insulin spike, and it wasn't the carbohydrates either. That leaves the protein as the culprit. Yogurt and cheese have the exact same protein composition as milk, but they don't produce an insulin spike. That's odd. If you ask a nutrition professor about the insulin spike in milk they will tell you that certain amino acids are able to cause an increase in insulin (that's true). Then why does milk increase insulin levels, but not cheese and yogurt? Nobody knows.

It could very well be that it is a combination of fats and protein that some how change things. That is a reasonable explanation. Another explanation (which goes against a lot of "established" science) is that the intact proteins are entering our bodies and having a hormonal influence on our organs.

Most people have heard that mothers should breast feed their babies because it boosts their immune system. That is because breast milk has protease inhibitors (proteins that prevent the baby's gut from breaking down molecules that help the baby) so the baby can absorb mom's healthy stuff into their own system.

Mother cows also produce protease inhibitors that inhibit breakdown of molecules when you drink it. Does that mean that when the farmer shoots up the cow with all sorts of hormones and drugs, they get into our bodies? Scary huh. Frankly, it's a long shot. The adult gut should break down all of the proteins before absorption and any scientist will tell you that is what happens. I agree with them that milk probably is broken down before absorption, but really there isn't any specific data on the subject. (To be fair, there is a lot of data to show that proteins are broken down in the gut before absorption in adults, it just didn't happen to use milk proteins).

OK, bicarbonate. Baking soda (bicarbonate) is a viable performance enhancing drug. Your body uses bicarbonate to buffer lactic acid, so the idea is that if you supplement with baking soda your body will have an increased ability to buffer lactic acid. It works for long sprint events. So if you run the 400 or 800 in track or ride the flying kilo on the velodrome, baking soda could improve your performance. It is not effective for longer distances.

Oh, there are a couple of side effects... Well there's just one SUBSTANTIAL side effect. First off, it takes LOTS of bicarbonate to increase performance (several tablespoons at least). If you can get down several large tablespoons of baking soda, that might work for you, but most people buy empty capsules so they can swallow the baking soda and then the capsule dissolves in the stomach. Baking soda is not very well absorbed, so it takes lots. Oh, and because baking soda is not very well absorbed, it causes the diffusion of water into the colon. The major side effect of using baking soda is EXPLOSIVE diarrhea. While you will likely improve your 400 time, I don't know if it will be a lactic acid buffering thing, or a severe urge to get to the bathroom before embarrassing yourself. Try it at your own risk.

Something that really does work for similar events is hyperventilating at the starting line which will increase your ability to buffer lactic acid. The only risk there is passing out before the gun goes off.

Monday, March 5, 2007


This post sort of belong with the Paleo-diet post, but this was the subject of my master's thesis, so it needs its own page. I'm going to cover a lot here, so hang on for the ride.

Next time I will talk about baking soda as performance enhancing drug.

I will continue to take requests. If there are topics that you want covered, please let me know. Remember that when you stop giving recommendations I'll have to revert to my own ideas. I've got a great post in mind about my use of soap.

Milk... where do I start. OK, my master's thesis established that there is a dissociation between the glycemic and insulinemic indices in whole and skim milk. (Now that I've got the first sentence down, the writer's block is gone so I will revert back to English).

When you consume a food containing carbohydrates your blood sugar will increase. In order for blood glucose to get into cells it needs GLUT 4. Insulin levels in the body will increase after you consume a food in order to bring GLUT 4 molecules to the surface of the cell and allow glucose into the cell. Normally, increases in insulin are closely linked to increases in glucose (this makes sense because the insulin is needed to clear glucose from the blood).

My thesis studied whole and skim milk. When you drink a glass of milk your blood glucose levels go up a little (GI=30 which is low). Blood insulin increases three or four times what you would expect. That really doesn't make sense because you don't need that much insulin to deal with the glucose in the system. But it happens and I don't think it's good.

Previous studies established that the glycemic and insulinemic response to milk were not different when a person consumed lactose (just the sugar component of milk). I originally wanted to study whether it was the protein in milk that caused the dissociation between the glucose and insulin response. Unfortunately, I blew up a couple of pressure cookers trying to denature proteins and then the milk was chunky and I couldn't get anyone to drink it (actually it didn't taste bad, but when the milk go stuck in you teeth it caused an almost instant gag reflex). It didn't take long for me to figure out that I could buy whole fat and skim milk in the store and I was able to determine that it was not the fat component in milk that causes the dissociation.

Sorry, that was a little side-track into memory lane. So who cares if insulin and glucose are dissociated? The real question is, what does your body do when insulin is high, but there is no glucose to go into cells? Your body will protect against this because you need sugar in the blood to fuel your brain. So cells become resistant to insulin so that your brain can continue to function. Insulin resistance is a beginning step of diabetes, so this isn't looking good for milk. I should also mention that your body is quite resilient, and I certainly don't think that milk is the sole cause of diabetes. In many people it is a contributor to diabetes, but many people will drink milk their whole lives and never have an issues with diabetes. The body is resilient.

Speaking of insulin, what else does it do? First off, milk will cause an insulin spike, but so will drinking diet colas or anything with excessive sugar in it. Chronically elevated insulin levels (frequent in people who consume lots of sweets) are associated with elevated levels of growth hormone, earlier age of menarche, increased height, increased obesity, increased cancer, and numerous other health issues. Milk is known to increase insulin levels and a recent study showed that regular meat consumption also increased insulin levels. Notice how milk is associated with increased height, not because of calcium intake, but because of elevated insulin levels that increase growth hormone. People will often ask me whether I tested organic milk. No I didn't, but I don't think the results would differ because this is an insulin thing, not growth hormone or whatever they shoot into the cows. I'm sure the growth hormone doesn't help anything, but organic will not solve the problems behind milk.

Yes, I just said that milk "building strong bones" was due to insulin, not calcium, so where should I get my calcium? Orange juice or other fortified stuff. Really the issue with calcium is due to expulsion and not intake. The US has one of the highest milk consumption rates in the world, and also one of the highest osteoporosis incidence rates in the world. Other countries where well over half of the population is lactose intolerant or don't drink milk for religious reasons have far lower osteoporosis rates. Do you still believe all that garbage that the dairy council feeds you through the food guide pyramid? Most people call it marketing, but the dairy council has succeeded in embedding their marketing in the education system so now we call it education, but they were just as wrong as when they called it marketing. Sorry, I have some issues with the dairy council, their marketing money is seeing its way into far too many organizations that are trying to promote health.

Recovery drinks (sorry, no transition there, I needed to get away from the dairy council before my blog was overtaken and the entry ruined). Chocolate milk is a good one because insulin is high and sugar content is also high which allows for easy restocking of glycogen stores. It should be noted that this is a good recovery drink for an athlete after a vigorous workout or competition. This isn't needed unless you have spent hours at your activity working your tail off and you plan on doing it again the next day.

Since I finished my master's thesis, I have not purchased any milk. We did buy a soy-milk maker which works pretty well, but no more cow juice for this family.

So where do we get our calcium? (I'm ready to return to the calcium topic after counting to 10 so as not to do bad things to the dairy council). Everyone in the family takes a calcium supplement (just to be safe), but I don't know that they are really needed. There are three components to building bone (not just drinking milk like the dairy industry would have you think).

First, your bones need a stimulus to build. Our bodies are incredible, they rebuild themselves based on how they are being used. Bones bend (just slightly) when they impact the ground or bear more weight than usual. The bending of the bone stimulates bone growth and inhibits bone breakdown. The absence of bone bending promotes bone breakdown and inhibits bone growth. In order to grow strong bones you must participate in weight bearing exercise (running, walking squats, etc.) Notice that swimming and cycling are NOT on that list, that is because they aren't weight bearing and many swimmers and cyclists actually have relatively weak bones because they aren't stressed enough to make them bend. So if you're here from fatty's, and you ride regularly, you need to be doing something else (like running or jumping) to stress your bones.

Second, your body needs to be neutral (as in not acidic). The typical American diet is very acidic. In order for your blood to remain at a constant pH, your body uses a buffer called calcium bicarbonate. Calcium bicarbonate comes from your bone matrix, is used to buffer acidity and is then excreted in the urine. The most acidic foods are colas, processed foods and meats, especially processed meats like ham, bacon, sausage and bologna. The most basic (as in alkaline) foods are fruits and vegetables. Even citrus fruits have a net basic effect on the body (I don't understand this, but I've heard it from several different sources, so I've accepted it). Grains are acidic, but not as acidic as meats. The best thing that you can do for your bones is eat lots of fruits and vegetables (as long as you already exercise).

Third, your body needs a source of calcium. Fruits and vegetables do contain some calcium (not much and it's not easily absorbed), and this may or may not be enough to build strong bones (that is why my family supplements). There is a limit to the amount of calcium your body can absorb in a day, so mega dosing calcium will just make for calcified poop. I don't want to downplay calcium intake, you have to have it, but if you're mega dosing on calcium and eating an acidic diet, you are still flushing most of the calcium down the toilet.

I chose that order for bone health on purpose... exercise, basic diet and calcium intake. It takes all three.

I think that is all that I have to say about milk. Tomorrow I will talk about the performance enhancing effects of baking soda. It should be exciting.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Nutrition will be back tomorrow. For now, we'll catch up on what the family has been up to all week.
The Mugwump was worried that he got some paint on his elbow. Or did he just dip his fore arm in the paint on purpose? He certainly wouldn't do that.

Six-pence wasn't quite so neat about things, he put his hands in the finger paints... Except he would use the brush to eat the paint (that is not part of a nutritious diet). Notice the purple "lipstick".

Well, the Mugwump didn't want to be outdone by the lipstick thing, so he painted his nose. Does anyone remember Zinka, that stuff the lifeguards wore to keep their noses from burning? Anyway the paint officially moved away from the fingers (and the paper for that matter) and onto the faces.

Following the example of his older brother, Six-pence started using his brush as something other than a spoon. We've spent months trying to get him to hit his mouth with the spoon, just look at the concentration that it takes to get the brush to his face, and the side of his head, and his hair, and his ear.

There is no way that little brother can win the contest, so the Mugwump gave it all he had and had bright blue boogers the rest of the day.

For those who don't know, my wife was watching the boys during this event. I can't stand cleaning up. Outside in the mud where I can clean up with a hose, I can do. Cleaning up in the house from paints, no way.

Otherwise this week, the Mugwump's little friend had a birthday, and the Mugwump picked out a present, drew little pictures for it and drew on the wrapping paper (we used blank newsprint so it could be recycled). He loved it. (So did the boy who received the gift).

Yesterday my wife took the boys up to a museum where they were able to see wild animals (stuffed) and go to a reptile show. The Mugwump loved it, he was on the edge of his seat the whole time. Six-pence bore it, and didn't try to escape until the last few minutes (when they finally brought the snake out). Can a boa constrictor eat a little boy? Just curious. One of the best parts of the trip to the museum was the bus ride. Public transportation is the way to go (when it's well below freezing and you're afraid the kids will freeze in the trailer).

Saturday, March 3, 2007


I hope to answer a lot of questions on this one post. I will address questions about "wheat" products, why I'm against milk and hopefully I can convince a couple more people that I'm a raging tree hugger. I will be saving a bone health post for next week and gewilli, I'll hit on Baking Soda as an ergogenic aid later, and although it works, don't try it.

Johnny D asked about exercise and then not being hungry for lunch. Exercise is an appetite suppressant (in the short term), but will increase eating hours later.

So the principle behind the Paleo-diet is that our bodies have evolved to consume certain foods, and since the industrial revolution food choices have been changing faster than evolution can keep up with. This Western diet is therefore leading to chronic disease because we haven't had time to evolve. Our bodies are designed to eat like the cavemen, so that is how we should eat.

The paleo diet is meat, fruits and vegetables and that is it. You eat like the cavemen. No grains, dairy, or processed foods. If you look historically at people who ate this way they didn't suffer from many of the chronic diseases that we face today (they also lived an average of ~40 years before being eaten by a wildebeest).

I'm going to start with what I like about this diet. yes, there is a lot that I like about this diet. First off, the focus on fruits and vegetables. If you really understand the Paleo-diet you will recognize that the Dole 5-a-day thing won't get you anywhere. We're talking several servings of fruits and vegetables with every meal. I see no better way of getting the nutrients that you need. Most people should be eating way more fruits and vegetables than they currently consume and this diet will certainly get you there.

Fluids... The cavemen drank water. That is what we should drink. We should get way from fruit drinks, alcohol, coffee, milk, etc. Can you imagine a caveman trying to milk a buffalo? Our body doesn't deal well with liquid calories, so why give it to the body? Someone asked about alcohol in a recent post. First I will tell you that I'm biased, I've seen people close to me have REALLY bad experiences with alcohol, I will never touch the stuff. I know that there are studies showing benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, but I don't think it's worth it. Alcohol contains lots of calories, and alcohol calories are a poison to the body that the body burns first before any other calories in the body. This may sound good, but it leads to the body storing all the other calories... many of those calories go to the "beer belly". I don't see alcohol as part of a healthy diet, but you will find many who disagree with me.

Back to the Cavemen. Exercise. The cavemen were a transient group that got lots of exercise. Although that is not the emphasis of the caveman diet, it should be a part of it, as it should be a part of everyone's healthy lifestyles.

Meat consumption. The focus of the paleo-diet is on good meat sources. The cavemen didn't eat corn fed salmon or feedlot beef. The animal products consumed by the cavemen was wild game that is nutritionally superior to most things you will find at the local grocery store. Anyone who consumes meat should seek out the types of meat consumed by the cavemen. For a quick test, imagine what the animal that you are about to consume did before it was slaughtered. What do cows do? stand and eat. What do elk do? Run, jump and graze.

I think that it's possible to eat a pretty good diet by following the paleo-diet, but the number one thing that I don't like about it is (here comes the raging tree-hugger): It will NOT support a population! America can't continue to consume their current level of meat consumption and switch over to eating wild game, there just aren't enough elk and deer to go around. The paleo-diet recognizes that (sort of) and says that you can eat lean beef, although it's not preferred. Well, even "lean" beef has saturated fats and lacks the omega-3s that are the reason we should focus on wild game. Additionally, if everyone in America started consuming more beef, I don't think the country could face the ecological consequences (water demand, manure runoff, wheat and corn demands to feed the cows, etc.)

The paleo-diet does not allow the consumption of grains. The cavemen didn't eat grains because they didn't have a good way of breaking the kernels and cooking the grains for a sufficient times. Additionally cavemen were hunter-gatherers who didn't stick around to grow a crop so they would have had to find large fields of wild wheat. The data used by the paleo-diet to suggest that grain is bad comes mostly from after the industrial revolution when we started over-processing grains (think white flour). To the defense of the paleo-diet, they also argue that grains contain a high proportion of n-6 fats which are pro-inflammatory (that is true, but grains really don't contain very much fat). The paleo-diet also contests that grains are very acidic, contributing to an acidic diet and bone loss (we'll discuss this more next time). They're right, grains (especially highly processed grains) are acidic, but not nearly as acidic as meat, which is a primary component of the paleo-diet.

I agree with the paleo-diet that we shouldn't consume highly processed grains. In my house we bought a grain mill (its an electrical appliance about the size of a breadbox) and we grind our own wheat. Wheat will store almost indefinitely in its whole kernel form (we're currently using wheat that someone gave us that they packed in 1972). After ground the wheat will go rancid after a couple weeks if not frozen because it contains all the parts of the wheat. My family also tries to use various kinds of grains, such as rice, barley, oats, rye, quinoi, spelt, and millet. We also have been known to grind beans to be used as flour in a variety of breads. We currently use a lot of wheat (because we received it for free and we're still poor), but do get a variety of grains in our diets daily. Like the paleo-diet, I think that we should eliminate highly processed grains from the diet, but whole grains have the greatest potential of feeding a growing society without destroying the environment we live in.

If you are buying grains in the store, you need to watch out for marketers. Of course white flour is made with wheat. So you can call white bread, wheat bread (it's highly processed wheat). In order to be called "whole wheat" the product must contain a certain percent whole wheat flour (which means that most of the original wheat berry was used). So if you're buying products in the store, look for "whole wheat" products and then turn the package over and make sure that "whole wheat flour" is the first ingredient and any other types of flour are much lower on the list.

I agree with a lot in the paleo-diet, but I choose to get my protein from beans, lentils and grains rather than meat. I still get all of the amino acids that i need, I get more fiber than you would get on the paleo-diet (although with the vegetables, the paleo-diet gets plenty of fiber). A paleo-diet guru would argue that I get too many n-6 fats and not enough n-3s. That is why I eat salmon and tuna (even though it's not really environmentally friendly) and take fish oil pills. I also get some short chain n-3s from walnuts, flax seeds and other nuts and vegetable oils.

I can also argue (with a good study by McCarty in 1999 to support my claims) that the high quantities of animal protein in the paleo-diet actually contribute to chronically elevated insulin levels (which is one of the pieces of evidence that the paleo-diet uses to refute the use of grains in the diet... but it only occurs in highly processed grains). A plant based diet (that is not highly processed) has been shown to minimize insulin perturbations and thereby promote health.

I agree completely, that we need to go into the past to find a good diet. i don't think that we have to go back to the cavemen. Go back to the 1700s, what would have been on the shelf then? If it wasn't on the shelf then, you probably don't need it. I realize that meat was abundant on the shelves then, but it was all free-range, grass fed meat rather than the feed-lot stuff we have now. Abstaining from meat will not create any great deficits in the diet (vitamin B12 can be obtained from nutritional yeast or eggs). And abstaining from meat and limiting animal product consumption will maximize health.

I left out a lot about dairy today, it deserves a post of its own. That will be coming next week. A couple of people have asked for recipes for bean dishes that we used for our month of vegan, but didn't leave an email address (which I understand). You can send me your email at sansauto at gmail and I'll get you the recipes.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

High fructose corn syrup and chocolate milk

I've received some questions and I'm going to take my time and respond to them, so be patient. Today I'm going to hit on high fructose corn syrup and chocolate milk. Although they don't sound related, they are... sort of.

Next I will present my take on the Paleo-diet, and will likely talk grains at the same time. I think it may surprise some people to hear me say this, but the Paleo diet has a lot going for it. It also has some weaknesses. I will dance a little around that topic because my mentor in my master's program was the author of "The Paleo Diet" and while I have nothing but the utmost respect for him, we may have different ideas on some things. Norm, I like that you disagree with me on some things, you should. If you take everything that you read in a blog as 100% the way it has to be, you are naive. The information I present is based on my graduate research, but for all you know I could be a 12 year old who has learned a few big words.

I'll then talk about bone health and supplementation. I think I have a different approach then most, but it's a good one.

And yes, Taylor, I will also address your comment from yesterday. Taylor called me a "raving tree-hugger". Thanks, I'll take that as a compliment (whether it was intended or not). I may address this along with the Paleo-diet, but if that post gets to long, I will address what my nutrition advice would be if I weren't a "raging tree-hugger".

I don't think introductions are supposed to be that long... sorry. Today I'll address high fructose corn syrup. If you want the abbreviated version, go read my post on food processing or carbohydrates and hunger. This post may become a little technical for some, but Chad asked for it. Let me know if you like this much technical stuff, I have a fear that it will go over many heads.

So why is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) so bad? When you eat glucose (not HFCS), it enters your blood and then is taken up by cells through a GLUT 4 transporter. On the inside of the cell the glucose is phosphorylated (a big phosphate molecules is stuck to the glucose so it can't leave the cell). Then, depending on the energy state of the cell (whether it is in usage mode, or storage mode) your body will either metabolize that glucose molecule to be used as energy or it will store the molecule as glycogen to be used later. The energy state of the cell is "measured" primarily through an enzyme called phosphofructokinase (that's the rate limiting step of glycolysis) That is how it is supposed to work.

Fructose is able to enter the cell via a different, less regulated GLUT transporter. Once the Fructose is in the cell, it is phosphorylated (so it can't leave). This is similar to glucose, but a phosphorylated fructose molecule has already passed the phosphofructokinase step in the glycolysis pathway so it WILL be used for energy. That may sound like a good thing but it's not.

First, I need to differentiate between fructose (which is the primary sugar in fruit) and HFCS which is used as an inexpensive sweetener. Fruits are relatively low calorie and although most of their sugar is from fructose, fructose is much sweeter than glucose so there is relatively little fructose in fruit. HFCS on the other hand, is used abundantly in processed foods and it is about a 50/50 fructose/glucose mixture (actually they come in different concentrations, but I think the 50/50 is the most commonly used). With HFCS you get, not only a lot more fructose, but a significant amount of glucose at the same time. This is a recipe for disaster.

This may seem completely random in the middle of a HFCS article, but I"m going to sidetrack to chocolate milk to build a basis for the rest of the HFCS thing. Chocolate milk, is a wonderful post exercise drink and here is why. My masters thesis showed that milk causes relatively extreme insulin spikes, but with very little change in blood glucose. For a sedentary individual, this is bad. Chocolate milk will provide an insulin spike that will cause the GLUT 4 molecules to assemble on cell membranes ready to pick up any possible glucose. The high sugar content of chocolate milk will provide lots of sugar for the GLUT 4 molecules to pick up. Since you are no longer exercising and insulin levels are high (which slows down phosphofructokinase and puts the body in a storage state) this will lead to the storage of glucose. After an endurance event this is essential to recovery of glycogen stores that were lost during exercise.

Back to HFCS. The glucose part of high fructose corn syrup will induce an insulin spike and let glucose into the cell to be stored. The fructose will also enter the cell, but it is not readily stored because it has already passed the phosphofructokinase step in glycolysis so it is going to produce energy. But what if you aren't doing anything and your body already has enough energy? You already have high insulin levels which is a signal the body uses to say we aren't using energy and we need to store stuff, so now the cells say, we've got enough and we aren't going to send GLUT 4 to the surface of the cell, even though insulin is present and demanding it. (We call this insulin resistance, it is a precursor to diabetes). Do you see the problem?

OK, I laid that out so simply (at least I thought so). It's not that simple. HFCS is not the sole cause of diabetes, not even close, but it is a contributor. Your body is extremely durable and able to cope with these sorts of situations. It takes years or even decades of overfeeding a body before the development of diabetes. The HFCS in ketchup (with the relatively small quantity of ketchup that is eaten in a day) is not enough to make a huge difference in your life. However, HFCS is in EVERYTHING that is processed. Over consumption of HFCS will lead to problems. On a similar note, HFCS is not found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, meats, dairy, etc. I have taught people before that a diet that eliminates HFCS and trans fats will be a good diet. (That's true, except you could ruin it with saturated fat if you really tried).

There you are, HFCS and chocolate milk mixed into one simple post.