Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More on Protein Powders!

This week, I'll continue with my protein powder dissection.  As I've iterated over and over, I do not condone protein powders as mainstays in people's diets - it hurts my soul to think of you guys subsisting on weird, flavored powders.  Real, whole, nutrient dense food is the way to go.  Instead of protein powders, eat this. 

http://www.whatwereeating.com/recipes/thyme-for-some-salmon/
A friend wrote me an email regarding my last post on soy protein powder, and I'll share it with you verbatim here:

Wow that's cool neely, I've never liked soy because I never felt it was food and certainly was worried about growing titties from it. I guess consuming soy may counteract my ongoing testosterone therapy (laugh track hhhaaaaa)

Do take a look at this one:
I feel that I'm somewhat eating food when I use it.
Give us the lowdown on this type of protein.

PS: i dont feel that whey is food either, except if I have it once in a blue moon. Egg protein i suspect is better but its so expensive...

I looked at the protein powder he linked me to, which is a rice protein/pea protein mix.  It's a mix because rice and pea are both low in certain amino acids (the building blocks of protein), but when put together they sort of complete each other.  Here's my response to his email:

About your question.  I have a question for you in return.  Why do you use protein powder?

About your pea/rice protein powder:

1.  It's not organic, so there's a good chance you're getting GMO's and pesticides, among other things.  Not good.

2. Rice and peas both contain lectins and phytates - anti-nutrients - so they're not the easiest things in the world to digest, even after they've been ├╝ber-processed to make the powder.   

3. It says they're "hypo-allergenic", unlike whey, soy and egg.  Bullshit.  The term "hypo-allergenic" is misleading and arbitrary.  We all are sensitive to different foods.  You might be sensitive to rice, and I might be sensitive to soy.  Turns out that A LOT of people are sensitive to rice. 

4. You said you thought egg protein is probably better for you.  No, egg protein isn't necessarily better for you.  Why not just eat eggs????  I just called 3 distributors of egg white protein powders, only one of whom could even vaguely describe how the protein powder was made.  [What I gathered is that] it's basically separated from the yolk, pasteurized for a few minutes in 134 degree heat and then spray dried, which is drying it with more heat to make a powder.  I'm not saying that cooking eggs isn't a good idea, but who knows how high the heat is, for how long they heat it, and where the eggs come from in the first place.  One of the 2 big egg white protein powder manufacturers is in China, although I had to find that out for myself since the guy at Jay Robb's refused to give me their manufacturer's name...  In my opinion, it's these kinds of overly processed foods that make us have sensitivities.  I've had more people come in lately who were like, "I didn't used to be sensitive to eggs (or soy), but then I started eating an egg (or soy) protein powder every day for a couple of years and now I can't touch the stuff without getting (enter symptom here)."  



You may have gathered from this exchange that 1) my friends are perverted  2) I am not a huge fan of my friend's protein powder and 3) I like to call food peddlers and antagonize them.  The guy at Jay Robb's hung up on me because I was asking questions he didn't want to answer (and that's definitely not the first time that's happened to me).  The truth was that he was upset because he didn't know the answers because he had not done proper research on his manufacturer.  Doesn't that scare you?  In an ideal world, you would be told up front where your food came from and how it was made.  But in this world, there's no good reason to trust people who are selling food to you.  It's their job to persuade you to buy the food they distribute, so why would they disclose anything bad about it?  They're no different than used car salespeople (no offense to any used car salespeople out there).

Back to egg white protein powder.  Unless it states that you're eating lightly heated eggs from pasture raised chickens, you're most likely getting eggs that were factory farmed, born from mangy, abused chickens with their beaks cut off who were fed their own manure and a constant stream of antibiotics.  That was not a hyperbolic sentence.  It's gross how conventional eggs are produced.  Here's a video.

                                                 
By the way, this does NOT mean you should stop eating eggs.  I get my eggs from a local family farm for $3.50 per dozen.  The chickens run around all day on the land eating bugs, grass and grains.  Plenty of the eggs at health food stores come from humanely raised chickens, too.  You just have to do your research.

So if you're going to use egg white protein powder, do it knowing where those eggs came from and how they were processed, but good luck with that.  Eggs are probably the cheapest form of animal protein we can buy, though, so why not just eat them instead? 

Whey Protein Powder
Here is my top issue with whey.  Unless it's organic, the milk they use to obtain the whey comes from factory farmed animals, which means it's devoid of many nutrients and chock full of antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and pus.  Yes, pus.  The cows are almost always mistreated, as well.  The poor ladies in the video below are who you get your non-organic dairy products from.  This means your milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and any products you buy that contain cheese, butter or milk.  Pizza, cookies, most dressings, sauces, marinaras, lattes, soups, you name it...



Don't go turning vegan on me now, though.  You generally won't see abuse and neglect like that on small, family farms or organic farms.  Again, you have to do your research.  Despite the fact that you can buy organic whey protein powder, there are still plenty of problems with organic dairy products.  Namely pasteurization and homogenization.  

Pasteurization
Isn't pasteurization what keeps the nasty bacteria out of your milk?  Well, yes, but without factory farms and with proper treatment of dairy cattle, you wouldn't need that.  When cattle aren't packed into small places covered in their own shit all the time, plagued by open sores and infections in their udders, they produce some pretty clean milk.  When milk is pasteurized, it's heated in order to kill bacteria.  In the process of heating it, they not only kill bad and good bacteria, but they rid the milk of all kinds of beneficial enzymes, which not only help you to digest the milk itself but also give you access to its beneficial minerals and other nutrients.  You're left with dead milk, which doesn't do anybody much good.  Pasteurized milk is linked with chronic ear infections, eczema, acne, digestive problems, increased allergies and more.  Look into finding a source of raw (unpasteurized) milk and read this website about it.  When they started feeding dairy cows sludge instead of grass, the cows began producing awful milk, devoid of nutrients and full of killer bacteria.  People became afraid of raw milk after that, and we still are afraid of it.  Give it a chance and read all about it.  It might just turn your life around.

Homogenization
We do this to milk so that it won't separate.  It's just another chance for heat to touch the fragile milk.  It also renders more nutrients unavailable to us from the milk.  And all because we don't like the cream on the top because God forbid we eat cream - it's so FATTY!  Ewwwww!  (That was a joke, by the way.)

As far as your whey protein powder goes, I say drink raw milk and eat raw cheese instead.  They're pretty good sources of protein, too.

In summation, don't eat soy protein powder.  Don't eat egg white protein powder, pea, rice, or whey protein powder.  That is, if you can avoid it, and I think you can.    

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Soy Protein?

Would you eat this TV?
Happy Holidays!  Before the official post begins, I want to make a shameless plug for the latest addition to the blog - my new store!  Please keep my nutrition therapy services and food sensitivity testing in mind when you're buying your loved ones gifts for the holidays.  Either purchase gift certificates here or email me at neelyquinn@gmail.com for more information.  On with the post... 

I get this question a LOT.  "What protein powder is best?"  It's like asking me which black and white TV is best - the 12" or the 15"?  Neither - they're black and white TVs.  And they're small.  What we all want is a Samsung 65" 1080p / 240Hz / 3D LED-LCD HDTV, right?  That's what I want, anyway, and if anyone has $6,000 to spare you can get me that for Christmas.  To be perfectly clear, in this analogy the Samsung is real, unadulterated, unprocessed, high quality food.  The black and white TVs, in all their splendid sizes, are protein powders.

Excuse my idealism, but I believe there is enough real food in America that you should be able to find a way to put some veggies, fruit, eggs, nuts, seeds or meat in your mouth, instead of a completely wrecked, processed, food-like powder.  I do realize that there are situations when a protein powder is much easier, more affordable and faster than making or buying an entire meal, but in my opinion the better choice is always real, whole food.  Whole foods like raw or lightly cooked veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and meats have nutrients in them that work synergistically with each other to nourish you in many different ways.  When you process soy, whey, rice, etc. to make protein powders out of them, a lot of their nutrients are stripped away with heat, chemicals and dangerous heavy metals.  Today we're going to talk about soy protein's misgivings and merits.  Next week I'll go over whey protein. 


http://myrevolutionblog.wordpress.com/category/nutrition/
Soy protein comes in several different forms - soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, and sometimes just soy flour.  They are all soy beans, or edamame, processed in some way - some more than others.  No matter what type of soy protein it is, it's all soy.  You'll find these products not only in tubs of soy protein powder, but in everything from Odwalla drinks to Clif bars, cookies, soups, cereals, bread - you name it.  Because it's so ubiquitous, I thought it deserved a post of its own. 

There is an UNBELIEVABLE amount of research and contention surrounding soy.  I considered trying to lay it all out there for you, but quite honestly the thought of that made me nauseous and grumpy.  I'm just going to make myself useful by pointing you in the direction of some good sources of info on the topic. 


The Bad


Dr. Mercola, alternative medicine's monger of fear and anxiety, had this to say about soy.  A lot of his information was taken from the Weston A. Price Foundation, which has Sally Fallon at its helm.  Sally Fallon, in a word, hates soy and will tell you all about it here and here. 

Here are some highlights: 

1. Soy is very hard on your digestive system.
 
2. The phytates in soy inhibit your body's absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.  

3. Soy contains isoflavones that are phytoestrogens (literally "plant estrogens"), which act like estrogen in your body.  One researcher "estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day." (1)  This, they argue, can cause anything from smaller testicles in males to earlier puberty in females.  

4. "Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer.  In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease."(2)

If that's not enough to make you think twice about consuming soy regularly, think about this:  Soy is the second most common food allergen in this country.  I do a lot of food sensitivity blood testing using the LEAP test by Signet Diagnostic Corporation, and almost all of my LEAP clients are sensitive to it.  Not to mention that most of the soy out there is genetically modified.  Here's a rap song about GMO's.  Soy also has one of the highest pesticide contamination levels of any crop.   


The Good

To be fair, I'll give you some links to articles on the benefits of soy.  These days, though, there always seems to be at least one caveat, like "Soy is good, soy is great, but it MIGHT cause thyroid cancer..." or "You should stop eating meat because soy is better for you, but it MIGHT give your baby C cup breasts by the age of 3..."  

Here's one link at Livestrong.  Here's another one brought to you by the United Soybean Board itself.  I find it interesting that they don't cite any research for their lofty claims...  Here's one more with a list of references.  The pro soy camp claims that soy has a positive effect on high blood pressure, some cancers and weight loss, among other things.  

For every study out there saying good things, there is another study debunking it and vice versa.  There are so many variables with academic research, which is why I always ask myself, 'What would our ancestors do?'  Even without the internet, our predecessors somehow magically knew what to do with food.  When soy was first introduced as a food in China about 5,000 years ago, they would have fermented it (miso, tempeh, soy sauce) to make it easier to digest and to lower the phytoestrogen content before they even thought about putting it in their mouths.   It's also known in Asian countries that if you want your husband's libido to decrease, you feed him a lot of tofu.   By the way, soy wasn't even considered a food in the U.S. until the 1920's, before which time it was used here for things like painting Fords.  

So, if you want a protein powder, please think twice about the Odwalla Super Protein drink or GNC's super discounted soy protein "Get Ripped" formula.  Try eating whole foods instead.  Meat has lots of protein in it.  We'll talk about another option, whey protein, next week.  


Until then.




 

 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Losing the Thanksgiving Weight You Just Gained (Part 2)

 
In the last post I told you how NOT to gain the holiday weight in the first place.  This time, we'll talk about how to lose it, since we all know you're going to gain it, no matter whose blog you're reading.

Here are 5 rules to obey, starting December 26th.  January 2nd?  Okay... how about some time in January.


 1.  Take out the fluffy stuff from your diet, or at least decrease your intake of it.  Extra refined carbs (grains, added sugars, bread, cereal, pasta, hamburger buns, sugary drinks, etc.) are not doing you any good here.  Vegetables and fruit are also carbohydrates, but they're complex carbs, and I've never seen anyone gain weight because they were eating too many vegetables.  I'm just talking about the refined carbs.  If it's not a vegetable or a fruit or it doesn't say "whole grain _____ flour" on the packaging, it's most likely refined. 

2.  Eat at regular intervals.  Try to go no longer than 4 hours at a time (except when you're asleep) without eating.  That looks like this:

8am - Breakfast
12pm - Lunch
3-4pm - Snack
6-8pm - Dinner

(Notice there's no dessert here.  Go ahead and have it once in a while, but take note of how you feel afterward, how you sleep, and your mood when you wake up.) 

The reason for the frequent eating is that it regulates your blood sugar, which has most likely been damaged throughout your life if you are a normal American.  When your blood sugar crashes and you bonk, your body starts storing fat.  When your blood sugar spikes from binging on sugar, your body starts storing fat.  See the trend?  Don't bonk, don't binge - eat regularly.

3.  Eat protein, fat, and complex carbs every single time you eat a meal or snack.  It heals your bonking blood sugar and gives you sustainable energy.  It lets your body know you're not starving so that it doesn't hold onto every pound of fat you begrudgingly own.

Protein is meat, fish, beans, raw cheese (if you insist on having cheese), seeds and nuts.
Good fats are coconut oil, unheated olive oil, nuts, seeds, most meat, avocados and whole, raw milk (again, if you insist on having milk).
Complex carbs are veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes (not that I'm a huge fan of the two latter...)

Yes, some foods belong in more than one category.  If you pick one or two things from every category and put them in your mouth in combination every time you eat, you will achieve rule number 3.  And by the way, I'm always, always a fan of organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised foods whenever possible.

4. Stop drinking sugar.  Stop. Drinking. Sugar.  Drink water instead.  Do I actually need to say why?  Even if you think you're doing yourself a favor by drinking diet drinks, artificial sweeteners are linked with obesity, cravings, oh, and MS and other atrocities

Also, alcohol acts much like sugar in your body, and one 5 oz glass of red wine contains about 130 calories.  You'd have to walk for 35 minutes to burn just that off.  Ha! I think that means you'd have to walk for about 6 days to burn off the entire turkey dinner.

Speaking of which...

5.  Move your body.  I refuse to say anything along the lines of, "... must do cardio for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week..." or "...should lift heavy things for one hour at least 5 times per week..."  because it's ridiculous.  Most people will not stick with a gym membership unless they actually enjoy doing reps on a pull-down machine OR unless they are masochistic.  So I'm not going to tell someone to go do something that I know won't last.  But you have to do SOMETHING.  Move your body because it feels good to go outside and take a walk in the fresh air.  Give yourself a break from your life to play a game of indoor soccer every week.  Go see Sam Iannetta at Functional Fitness because you want a highly entertaining genius to be your personal trainer.  Find a hobby that you like that just so happens to involve moving your body.  Yes, that might mean looking like a total gumby in the racquetball court your first few times, but who cares?  I sucked at rock climbing for the first 10 years that I did it, but I kept going because it felt good and it made me strong.   Just DO something regularly and you'll be better off than if you didn't.  

I didn't say anything about calories here because that can get confusing.  If you want to know how much you should be eating, there are a ton of free online calorie counters/weight loss tools with apps for your iPhone.  Or you can hire a friendly nutrition professional to help you with that task.  Although I don't agree with everything these websites advocate, the ones I like the most are:

www.myfitnesspal.com
www.nutritiondata.com
www.livestrong.com

Good luck on your battle with the bulge.  I wish you clarity of mind, self restraint and a significant other with a key to your refrigerator door.

Until next time...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Losing the Thanksgiving Weight You Just Gained


Well, Thanksgiving is over and what some of you are left with are 7 pounds of turkey, 1 sliver of pumpkin pie, a whole lot of corn casserole, and 5 new pounds of fat on your belly and butt.  But you can't be surprised, right?  It happens every year - it's what we do at Thanksgiving.  We overeat.

And then there are the leftovers.  The calorie rich, overly sweetened leftovers that the suckers who host Thanksgiving are faced with every time they open the refrigerator for the next week.  With November and December come the obliteration of self control and self respect in America, when everyone gives in to their sweet tooth and eats what they want.  The inner child prevails, and that outer adult gets fat.  And how could it be any different in the midst of Thanksgiving gatherings, office Christmas parties, Christmas cookie parties, leftover cookies from the cookie party at the office, Christmas and then New Years?  It's not your fault!  Who could resist the temptations?!  Right.    

Don't get me wrong.  I'm no stranger to this phenomenon.  I have a batch of Thanksgiving cookies in my freezer right now that my boyfriend nearly had to cattle-prod me away from last night.

Boyfriend:  Neely, if you eat cookies now, you won't be able to sleep later.  
Me: (Eyes bulging, spittle flying) But I WANT to eat them now.  Get OUT OF MY WAY, guard!!!
Boyfriend: (Blocking the fridge with his body, hands up in anticipation of my thrashing teeth and nails) Step away from the freezer, Neely.

Despite having cleaned up my diet, I still sometimes have altercations with sugar cravings.  Luckily, the boyfriend won.  I'll get him next time, though... 

Back to you.  You've gained weight and the party's just begun, so what do you do about it?

Tip 1
Here's my opening tip.  Try not gaining the weight in the first place.  Easier said than done, I know.  It takes practice to accomplish this colossal task during the dreaded holiday season.  The main reasons people gain weight through the holidays are:

1) We repeatedly feed ourselves as if we were Michael Phelps and
2) We eat too much sugar.

So practice self restraint - we'll call it self respect - through the year and you may just find the strength to say, "No, thank you," to a third helping of banana cream pie at Christmas dinner.  (By the way, I'm in no way disregarding the gluttony that may take place at non-Christmas celebrations.  I'm not religiously biased in my harsh criticisms of Americans' eating habits.)

Karamu, the Kwanzaa feast!
A lot of us lack the self control to stop eating when we're full.  In ways, we're actually hardwired to gorge ourselves when we can, in case we don't find enough to eat later.  Most people have access to refrigerators, grocery stores and restaurants at all times, so there's no reason to think that we need to stuff ourselves now for fear that we will starve later if we don't.  I used to struggle with overeating at almost every meal.  I'd eat my food and then eat my friends' leftovers and still want more, even though I was stuffed to the point of being dizzy.  I'd eat an entire Chipotle burrito and want another one.  Winning the battle against your evolutionary mind takes practice and rational thought, and with some time and conscious effort, I brought my evolutionary brain up to speed.  So throughout the year, every day, remind yourself that you don't need to feel overwhelmingly full at every single meal.  You're going to eat again.  

Tip 2
Here's my second tip for losing the holiday paunch.  Get very clear about your motivations for losing weight.  I had a client come in the other day who told me he wanted to lose weight because he wanted to look good.  FINALLY, someone just comes out and says it!  I don't care what your reasons are.  Whatever will motivate you the most to start treating yourself better, use it.  If you don't have that goal in mind, there will be nothing to pull you away from that leftover pumpkin pie.  Losing weight, for those of you who actually need to lose it, is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself if you do it right.  

Ok, get to the point.  How do you lose the weight?

You lose the holiday chub by eating right and exercising.  But what is "right"?  And how much exercise?  Those are the questions.  I'll tell you the answers next week.

Until then...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Closing Thoughts (for now) on the Paleo Diet


Throughout my ongoing research on hunter-gatherer/Paleolithic eating, I've had a tortuous train of thoughts.  Actually, let's be honest - it's been pretty bipolar up in here.  Here's a cognitive rundown, in order.

1. Grains and legumes are ridiculous sources of "food" - why would we ever have chosen such difficult things to digest to be the bulk of our diet?  Why were our ancestors so STUPID?


2. I'm going to go live with a modern day hunter-gatherer tribe on an island somewhere so I can have a clean diet, be one with the divine earth and feel virtuously healthy!  Will they kill me if I try to become one of them? (Begins googling tribes (in tropical climates) with a known history of tolerating opinionated white women.)


3. Wait, if I go live with a modern day hunter-gatherer tribe, I won't be able to climb at Rifle and the Boulder Rock Club...  And some of those tribes drink seal blood and that's freaking disgusting.  Maybe I'll just study anthropology a lot instead. (Googles books on nutritional anthropology)...


4. Ohhh, modern man started farming grains because there was a giant drought and there was nothing to hunt or gather, and they needed something to eat.  They chose grains and legumes because they have some protein in them.  Geniuses. (Asks the Google how much protein wheat contains per cooked cup)... 

5. Hold on - the only reason people can afford to not hunt and gather food all day is that we started farming enough food (grains and legumes) for everyone in a community to survive on.  That way, people were all fed, whether they were farmers or not, and they could start doing other things like making metals and art and languages and homes, and doing academic RESEARCH.  So the reason I am able to do this fascinating research about how much healthier people were before they started eating grains is that we decided to grow grains in the first place.  What?!

6.  I would have been so bored if I had lived during the time before grains and legumes.  Thank you, grains and legumes.

You can see I've been in a moral fix.  I've been deifying hunter-gatherer tribes and their uncomplicated ways, lamenting having been born in the age of high fructose corn syrup, treadmills, and the internet, when the truth is really that I would not be able to live without the Google.  Or Whole Foods.  What was I thinking?  All of these modern privileges were born of grains and legumes (and domesticated animals) - the reasons we have the energy and surplus to do amazing things.  Without them, we would be running around in loin cloths, chucking rocks at birds to get our next meal, and only killing them if we were lucky or skilled.  What if we weren't lucky or skilled??  

Yes, grains and legumes are hard on our bodies, but they've served a profound purpose.  They've allowed us to evolve into a highly diversified, academic, and productive species.  The bad news is that they've also had a large part in creating a gluttonous, eco-destructive and overwhelmingly sick species.  The good news is that we can have the best of both worlds now.  We can Google Paleolithic-style Thanksgiving recipes and make an entire spread of delicious, Paleo foods and only have to hunt and gather the ingredients from our local supermarket. 

Don't be surprised if this blog comes to an abrupt halt one day, though, when I've finally made up my mind to strap on my loin cloth and get on a plane to Papua New Guinea.  Maybe not in that order...

             

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paleolithic Postulations Part 2

A modern-day hunter gatherer.  Looks pretty healthy to me...
So as not to bog (blog) you down with too many words at one time, I've broken up my segment on Paleo eating into at least 2 posts.  Here's part 2.

To start things off, here's a little Paleolithic timeline simile for you.  We started eating the Paleo way about 2.5 million years ago and we drastically changed our diets about 10,000 years ago when we began cultivating grains and legumes.  For a 40 year-old man, that's equivalent to a little under 2 months of his life, or .4% of his life - not very much.


So, what do you eat on this diet?  Here's a sample day:

Breakfast
-Eggs, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and kale
-Sauteed and scrambled in coconut oil
-Avocado

Lunch
-Tossed green salad with tons of veggies (spinach, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.)
-Grilled chicken marinated in wine, olive oil and spices
-Olive oil and lemon juice dressing
-Cantaloupe, blackberries and pecans
 
Snack
Leftover baked salmon, almond butter and banana

Dinner
-Venison steak
-Steamed summer squash with lemon juice and sunflower seeds
-Sauteed asparagus
-2 or 3 dates

See, that's not so bad is it?  There are tons and tons of nutrients in there and no fillers.  It does take some getting used to - more for some than others.  Most people go through a "transition" period, we'll call it, where your body is learning how to efficiently use fats instead of carbohydrates as energy.  Most people's diets are made up of a lot more carbohydrates than necessary (breads, pastries, sweetened drinks, pasta, cereal), so your body gets used to using that as energy - or storing it as fat, as the case may be...

It took me almost 3 weeks to not feel like I was walking through oatmeal all the time when I first started eating like this, and I'm not even strict Paleo.  And then one day, I just felt better.  I felt great, actually.  Some people's transition period lasts only a few days.  It depends on how much your body dislikes grains, legumes, refined sugars and dairy - the more it dislikes those things, the harder you detoxify and the worse you feel.  Once you're done detoxing, though, most people end up with fewer cravings, more energy, leaner bodies and clearer heads.

Here's the approved foods list, according to Loren Cordain, one of the most influential and well-respected Paleo researchers:

Eat as much of these as you want:
Lean meats
Organ meat
Vegetables except most tubers (ie potatoes)
Fruits
Nuts (peanuts are not nuts)
Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)

In moderation:
Eggs 
Oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, canola, coconut) 
Coffee
Tea
Wine
Beer
Spirits
Dried fruits
Sweet potatoes
Honey

As a recap, if you were to follow the Paleolithic diet, you would eat the foods above and remove grains, legumes, dairy, and refined sugar from your diet.  I know in my last post I said that Paleolithic people didn't eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, but actually some of them did eat some tubers.  So sweet potatoes are fine sometimes, especially if you're very active.  Potatoes contain a high amount of lectins, though, so they're not quite as acceptable.  More on that below.  

If you're interested in taking this way of eating on, I strongly suggest you buy Cordain's book.  Two things I disagree with in Professor Cordain's book are 1) he does not approve of coconut oil and 2) he condones the consumption of aspartame and other fake sugars.  He has since changed his stance a bit on coconut oil here, and he may have amended his views on fake sugars, but I can't find evidence of it. 

Here are 3 reasons you might want to think about going Paleo:

1. Lectins

Lectins are found in large amounts in grains, legumes (especially soy), and nightshades (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, tobacco, eggplant).  One theory is that lectins are a natural defense mechanism for plants, in that they make plants very difficult for animals like us to digest.  They are sticky, so when they enter your digestive tract, they glom on to your intestinal walls and wreak havoc there.  They can contribute greatly to leaky gut syndrome, which is when you essentially develop holes in your gut that allow food particles to get into your blood stream.  Basically, it's when your poop get into places in your body that it's not supposed to go.  Your immune system attacks it and any kind of inflammation (food sensitivities) can happen from there, including autoimmune diseases like celiac, rheumatoid arthritis.  Leaky gut has much to do with your basic gastrointestinal complaints like gas, bloating, and indigestion, which often lead to fatigue, headaches, etc.  

The sad part is that we could be disarming some of the lectins by soaking, sprouting or fermenting our foods, but that's old fashioned and only old hippies in Boulder do that anymore.  So we choose to make up the bulk of our diets with plants that evolved to thwart us - and then we wonder why we feel like crap.

2. Phytates

Along with lectins, phytates are considered anti-nutrients by the Paleo camp.  Phytates are not digestible by non-ruminants (read: non-cud-chewers) because we lack the enzyme phytase.  Phytates are found in (guess what) grains, legumes, corn and some nuts.  Phytates actually bind to the magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron and take them OUT of our bodies.  We do not want that to happen.  Cordain and others believe that this alone is greatly contributing to the worldwide epidemic of iron-deficiency anemia.  Many people are deficient in magnesium as well, which can contribute to everything from muscle cramping to PMS.  And zinc?  Well, it's just SUPER important to our immune systems and for our reproductive abilities.  No biggie.

And calcium - let's go there, shall we?  Americans are scared to death of not getting enough calcium and I think it's a scam.  I believe it's another ploy by Dairy Management Inc to get us to buy America's surplus of factory farmed cheese.  People, bones are not just made up of calcium.  I repeat, your bones are not just sticks of calcium.  You need a lot of minerals to build them, plus protein and a bunch of other things.  Here's the funny part - cheese is HIGHLY acid forming in your body, and when you have a net acid diet (lots of dairy, meat, and grains and few fruits and veggies), calcium gets leached from your bones to try to neutralize the acid.  Yes, dairy can contribute to osteoporosis.  Here's some research on that one.

3.  It's satisfying.

Have you ever gone on a low-fat diet?  Do you have low-fat products in your kitchen right now?  I thought so.  We're all just as afraid of eating fat as we are of not getting enough calcium.  There are groups of Eskimos who live predominantly on fatty fish, seal oil and fish eggs who have no signs of heart disease, obesity or cancer.  Fat carries flavors and it makes us feel full and satiated.  It gives us the sensation that we've eaten something hearty (because we have) so we don't need to eat again for a while.  Dense protein (meat) has a similar effect on us.  An ample amount of protein and fat together create balanced blood sugar levels so we don't crash and burn all day, all week, forever...  So when the bulk of your diet is coming from those two macronutrients instead of refined grains, you get a sense of satisfaction every time you eat.

In other words, if you started eating this way, you may not feel the need to shove something into your sugar hole every 2 hours like you do now.  Think about it. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Paleolithic Postulations


What would you say if you found out that the very foods you have been told would promote good health were actually the cause of your general malaise?  Well, it could be true.  Turns out those whole grains and legumes (beans) aren't necessarily what make a diet healthy, after all.

It's not easy for a nutrition therapist to make a vast generalization like that, since it goes against the "grain" of conventional wisdom.  According to the USDA, our pyramid of food choices should include at least 3 ounces of grains per day for every person, young and old.  The website particularly advises me (5'0", 100 lbs) to eat 6 ounces of grains per day (only 3 of which need to be whole grains), which means I should eat something like 6 slices of bread, 3 cups of oatmeal or 3 cups of rice every day, or some combination thereof.  That would be about 1/3 to 3/4 of my daily caloric intake.  By the way, their website only states how many ounces of everything you should eat.  If someone can find a conversion chart on there that describes what exactly 6 ounces of grains looks like, please let me know.  I had to go here to find out. 

A 160 lb 5'9" man would necessitate a whopping 10 slices of bread, or 5 cups of grains per day.  10 slices of bread alone would equal anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 calories and 5 cups of oatmeal is about 1535 calories.  The point here is that if the government and most dietitians had their way, we would all be pigging out on grains every day.  And sadly, most of us are.

So, why would the government tell you something that isn't true?  Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the research they have seen assures them that grains are good for us.  Or let's consider that there is a lot of pull from the food industry that prohibits our government from ever admitting that grains and legumes are two of our civilization's greatest afflictions.  After all, these are the same people and agencies who have outlawed marijuana but not cigarettes, and who condone aspartame as an acceptable toxin to consume liberally.   


Anyway, back to why you should stop eating your most cherished foods.  The theory about grains and legumes is that we didn't start eating them in any substantial amounts until about 10,000 years ago when we started cultivating crops.  The Paleolithic era began about 2.5 millions years ago when we first started using simple tools and ended when agriculture began.  The 10,000 years we've had to adapt to grains and legumes is almost inconsequential when compared with the 2.5 million years we spent not eating those foods.  Those foods are still really difficult for us to digest because of the phytates, lectins and/or gluten they contain, and poor digestion causes everything from fatigue to zits.

Don't believe me?  Try the Paleolithic Diet for yourself.  Just do it for three weeks - don't eat any grains or legumes and see how you feel.  That means no rice, corn, wheat, millet, buckwheat, kamut, spelt, amaranth, teff, oats, barley, rye, beans (black, garbanzo, etc.), soy, or peanuts.  Our ancestors didn't eat many potatoes, sweet potatoes or other tubers, either.  They definitely did NOT eat any refined sugar, which means that table sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup and any other sweeteners except occasionally honey are out (they only risked being stung by a horde of bees every so often...).  I don't think I need to even touch on fake foods like aspartame, food colorings or hydrogenated fats, but I will.  They didn't eat them.

In general, Paleo people didn't have nuts or seeds in such abundance that they could harvest them, crush them and make oil out of them like we do with sunflower, safflower and sesame seeds.  It would have cost them more calories to do something like that than it was worth, so the only oils or fats they ate were from fruits similar to avocados and olives, nuts and seeds, and animal products.  That means coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and some nut oils are in.  Eggs were not abundant, but they did find some here and there.  Here's the kicker for me - salt's out.  And dairy's out.  I really doubt that Paleolithic people were dumb enough to sneak up on some unassuming, lactating female mastodon to try and milk her...


If you removed grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, fake foods, most oils and tubers from your diet and added in a bunch of organic (there were no pesticides until 4,500 years ago) vegetables and fruit, and only ate the leanest, wildest animals you could get your hands on, organs and all, you would be on the Paleolithic Diet

A lot of people wonder why we would want to live like Paleo people since they only lived to be like 35, right?  Well, those age estimates could be way off.  And there is overwhelming evidence that modern hunter-gatherer tribes who maintain the diet and lifestyle of ancient Paleolithic people enjoy undeniably long and healthy lives, not to mention well muscled bodies.  They don't suffer from cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes or obesity like we do in "developed" societies.

Next week I'll go more into the benefits and difficulties of eating Paleo.  I'll tell you about why we are not built to eat the very things our diets are mostly made up of.  But for now, if you're interested, peruse these websites and the books sold on them:

The Paleo Diet
Mark's Daily Apple
The Paleo Solution

Until next time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Goodbye, cashews. I will love you always...


Those of you who have spent any time around me during meal times know that I am a very, very finicky eater.  "What do you mean you can't eat olive oil, Neely?  That's ridiculous!"  I know it's ridiculous.  Olive oil is delicious.  It brings out the Italian in any meal and what's ridiculous is that it makes me itch immediately upon ingestion.  "What do you mean you can't eat rice, Neely?  I've never heard of such a thing!"  You wouldn't eat rice either if it made you feel wasted drunk, hot and itchy. 

Over the last 5 years, I've weeded out the foods that cause me symptoms.  Most people know that certain foods give them headaches, heartburn, or bad gas, but they just choose to deal with it and eat the food anyway.  I, however, am a taurus.  And we do not like to be uncomfortable.  Whether I'm wearing 3 coats to insulate from a frosty 70 degree day or avoiding a climbing area because of a 15 minute hike, I like to be comfortable.  This tauracity, as I will call it, extends to food as well.  I will avoid any discomfort-causing culprit until the day that I die so as to maintain my bubble of relative ease. 

My body is a real joker, though.  See, I think that my life's greatest challenges are 1) becoming less identified with my ego, and 2) not binging on sugar.  The way that I know this is that whenever I let one of those things get out of hand, my body smacks me down with some heinous symptom.  Here are some examples by category:

1.  Ego

I started rock climbing well and started thinking too much about how awesome I was and how not awesome the frat boy next to me at the gym was and immediately got a finger injury that rendered me less awesome at climbing than the frat boy.  

My Competition
2. Binging on Sugar 

After a 6 month surge of diligent, conscious eating on my part, during which I enjoyed being the strongest and healthiest I've maybe ever been, I started binging on dates and cashews.  I don't know if you've ever delighted in putting two cashews and one bite of date in your mouth at the same time, but you should try it.  It tastes like crack.  Day after day the amounts I consumed of each increased.  I started to gain weight.  Then came the skin problems.  And finally I started to have (dun dun dunnnn) joint problems, which once again rendered me way less awesome at climbing than the aforementioned frat boy.  Some days it was my right elbow, some days it was the other elbow, then my fingers started to hurt - every one of them.  I went to sleep with pain.  I woke up with pain.  I wondered if I'd somehow broken all of my fingers in my sleep.  I certainly couldn't climb, so I got lazy, out of shape and slightly depressed (although it turns out that watching too much TV on the weekends instead of frantically driving and climbing is really enjoyable). 

Finally, two weeks ago I pulled the plug and did what I knew I needed to do.  I was not going to let my fingers and elbows get in the way of a climbing vacation across the country in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, so I stopped eating my beloved cashews.  I actually cried over this loss.  Why take out the cashews and not the dates?  I needed to take one out at a time so I could figure out if it was one or both or neither that was the cause.  And I needed something to binge on.  Don't judge me.

It took a few days, but knock on wood, the pain abated and I'm slowly gaining on the frat boy.  I will leave it at that because I think if I say too much about how well I'm doing, I'll jinx it.

The moral of the story is this:  When you have discomfort, you may want to think twice about taking something for it or slathering some weird cream on it to make it go away.  If your body doesn't like a certain constituent in a certain food, it will do whatever it takes to get your attention - hives, tingling lips, stomach pains, gas, acne, eczema, headaches, dizziness and fatigue, joint pain, or whatever.  You name it.  Your immune system can conjure awful things to do to you, so listen to your body when it talks to you.

I've talked about food sensitivities before, but I'll say this again.  There are ways of testing for immune responses to foods.  You can blood test, fecal test and do it the old fashioned way with trial and error.  Let me know if you want help.  Unfortunately, I'm an expert.

Until next time.

              

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eating Well on the Road

What I'll be seeing in a day and a half...
I talk with people all the time about how much they want to change their diet to make it healthier.  "I'm so ready," they say.  "I really want to feel better and lose this weight - I feel awful!  Oh, wait.  I'm going on vacation, so I need to put this off until I get back.".... 

At that point I either deduce from their obvious lack of commitment that they are not really up to the task of eating better OR that like most Americans, they don't know that there's an alternative to gaining 10 pounds and feeling like crap on every trip they take.

I don't know when or why as an entire culture we just accepted the idea that where there is travel, gluttony and guilt must follow.  Just because you're not at home doesn't mean you just throw all self control and reason aside - we are better than that.  It takes some preparation and know-how, but it is possible to eat healthily on the road.  In fact, I'm preparing for a 10 day rock climbing trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky right now, which is why this is on my mind.  I don't eat factory farmed meat or non-organic produce, so basically all of the food that we will find on our drive through Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky is off-limits.  I don't eat grains, dairy, refined sugar, or potatoes, among other things, so you would imagine that eating anywhere besides in my home, which is carefully situated 2 blocks from Whole Foods, would be next to impossible.  And yet I eat well while I travel.  The moral of the story is that if I can do it with such a limited diet, you can do it, too.  Here's how.

1.  Prepare.  

Part of the reason people overeat or eat things they know they "shouldn't" while they're on a trip is because you're sight-seeing, going to the airport, driving, gambling, whatever - and you forget to eat.  So you get to the point when you're STARVING, and forget all of your reservations about McDonald's and just go for it.  Or you happen to walk by an ice cream shop and make a triple scoop hot fudge sundae your dinner.  Well, your first dinner.  Instead of this, you could have just brought some snacks with you and stored them in a small backpack or your girlfriend's purse.  Bring Lara or Odwalla bars, fruit, nuts, snack sized almond butter packets, beef jerky or hard boiled eggs on the days when you know you'll be busy all day with friends or family.  You don't ever want to let your blood sugar get so low that you're willing to eat anything - it causes everything from migraines to family fights.

2. Prepare more.

We leave on our road trip tonight.  We're going to drive for 19 hours total, making a stop in Salina, KS to camp for the night.  Last night we baked 2 pounds of chicken breasts and some sweet potatoes, cooked up some tapioca crepes, chopped up some salad greens and put them in a bag, bought a bunch of easy to eat fruit and avocados, hard boiled a dozen eggs, made some cauliflower mashers (like mashed potatoes, but with cauliflower instead), put some coconut milk in a jar for easy access (to pour over some fruit or sweet potato for a snack), and made some delicious honey-glazed cashews.  We are now set for the drive - we won't stop once for food, which means we will not eat anything that compromises our health goals or ethics.  This might look different for someone who eats differently than we do, but it's the same concept.  You get a cooler and a container for bulk/canned/boxed foods, fill them with easy-to-access, glass containers or bags filled with prepared foods or easy to assemble ingredients, and you have yourself a portable kitchen.  Don't forget the silverware and a couple of bowls.  We also have a refillable jug of water in the car.  Depending on the size of your cooler and food bin, you could prepare enough food for a week, as long as you have a reliable source of ice.

If you're flying, it changes the situation.  I always bring my own meal for the plane - you are allowed to bring food on the plane, as long as it's not liquid.  Bring some leftovers in a Pyrex container, a homemade sandwich, some hearty pasta, a burger with salad, etc.  And don't forget a snack or two - we're always in airports and planes for longer than we ever think we will be.  In your checked luggage you can bring whatever you want.  What I always end up bringing is stuff like coconut oil, almond butter, organic fruit, gluten free bread (when I ate grains), dates, and other things that my host or host's grocery store might not have.  I have gone so far as to bring nitrate free sandwich meat in my luggage.  It's cold in the luggage compartment of the plane!  

3. Ask for what you need.           

So, you're at your destination and you've been properly chastised by your family or friends for bringing the contents of your refrigerator and pantry with you across the country.  It's OK - at least you will be well fed.  Now you're all going to a restaurant not of your choice and you know that most of what you will be eating at said restaurant will be of the factory farmed, non-organic, high trans-fat, high calorie, high sugar, low nutrient persuasion.  You have 2 options.  Well, I guess 3 if you count the first one.

The first option is to go to the restaurant and have a feeding frenzy - throw hazard to the wind (is that how the saying goes?).  You order too much food, then order some more and then feel like crap - usually this involves constipation/diarrhea, headache, lethargy, the feeling that you actually need a drink, etc.     

The second option is to ask for what you need.  Suggest other restaurants in town that might fit your more refined palette.  This falls under the "prepare" category, as you'll have researched these restaurants beforehand for just this occasion.  You're looking for fresh ingredients, humanely raised animal products, and smaller portion sizes than, say, Denny's.  If you are avoiding gluten, call some restaurants and ask if they have a gluten free menu (many do now) or look at their menu online.  Go to an Asian or Latin/Mexican restaurant where you're guaranteed rice as your main starch option.  Sushi restaurants are a good bet for high quality, simple ingredients (although one of the sushi places around here sells an "Orgasm Roll," which I've heard has about 2,000 calories in it...).

The third option is to go to the restaurant your host suggests and just be prepared to order a factory farmed chicken salad with an oil and vinegar dressing, or something along those lines.  Or baked chicken, veggies and rice.  Or a baked sweet potato, salad and steak.  Most restaurants have these simple ingredients - by asking for them, you just might elicit some questioning looks and comments from the waitstaff and your friends.  It's OK.  At least you'll be well fed.

My boyfriend eating in style on the road.
Literally, he was on the road while he was eating.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thoughts on the Health Food Section


It dawned on me a while back when I was in the grocery store.  I wanted some nuts and I didn't want them covered in salt and weird flavorings and preservatives - just some plain, raw, organic nuts, please.  I asked an employee where I could find them and he directed me to the health food section.  The area that he pointed me toward was small - it was one half of an aisle among many - and it was essentially hidden in the middle of the store.  I thought to myself, 'this is the health food section and they don't even have my plain, raw, organic nuts here?'  Wait a second.  If this is the health food section....  THEN WHAT IS EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE STORE?!  

There are not only health food sections in conventional grocery stores - there are entire health food stores, whose very existence infers that the ratio of unhealthy to healthy foods in the conventional grocery stores necessitates a whole different breed of store!  What is ironic is that by adopting the term "health food section", these stores are admitting to the fact that the rest of the store is the crap food section and actually marketing that fact to you on their own property. 

There are reasons they call it the health food section: 

1. There are fewer artificial chemicals, colorings, and preservatives in that aisle.
2. There's less corn in that aisle (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, etc.).  Check out this video about the abundance of corn that is hidden in our diet.
 


3. There's probably not any toxic, hydrogenated fat in the health food aisle.
4. There are whole-grain breads and flours and sweet treats with not-so-refined sugars in them, and there are organic choices so that you're not forced to eat genetically modified (GMO) foods.
5. There's definitely not going to be fake sugar over there.

Essentially, the products in this section are not going to be primarily made up of corn, sugar, corn sugar, overly processed dairy, fake colorings, preservatives, and depleted grains like many of the products in all of the other aisles.

This post is a request from me to you to check out your local grocery store's health food section.  Or better yet, to buy your food from a health food store, instead.  It's an urgent but gentle plea to look closely at the ingredients in your food to see how many of them you recognize.  If you don't recognize them, get the book, A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, to find out what the ingredients are and what they're doing to your body.  

Until next time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gluten Free-ked Out


As a wise Ed Bauman once said, "Boulder is completely gluten free-ked out."  He's right.  Almost every restaurant has a gluten free menu in this town, and the trend is spreading through the country. 

But despite the growing acceptance of a gluten free lifestyle, almost everyone who has stopped eating gluten has been chided or interrogated for their choice to pass on the bun and just eat the burger.  Or for the burrito-less burrito they order at Chipotle - the one without the delicious tortilla.  It's embarrassing sometimes to be gluten-free because people think you're just crazy - that you're making it all up.  "Why would you suddenly not be able to tolerate something you've eaten your whole life?  It's all in your head."

This post is dedicated to all of you who've been ridiculed for your choice, which sometimes isn't really a choice, to pass on wheat, barley, rye, kamut, conventional oats and spelt.  Listen up, all you wheat eaters - this is why your brother/girlfriend/co-worker is so gluten freaked out.

http://ltnixonrants.blogspot.com/2008_09_01_archive.html

It's because this person probably was suffering from any of these symptoms before they took it out of their diet:

Fatigue
Bloating
Depression and Anxiety
Diarrhea
Migraines or other headaches
Weight Gain
Water Retention
Heartburn
Joint Pain 
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Eczema
Psoriasis
Thyroid problems
Multiple Sclerosis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn's, Ulceritive Colitis)
Cancer
Autism
Dementia
Osteoporosis
Anemia
Schizophrenia

Sound bad enough to stop eating it?  Your brother/girlfriend/co-worker thought so.

You don't need to be diagnosed with celiac disease (a severe immune response to gluten) to need to take gluten out of your diet.  The widely ranging statistics say that anywhere from 30% to 80% of the American population may have some sensitivity to gluten - in other words, any negative immune response to it.  The number of people who have full blown celiac disease has increased by a whopping 400% in the last 50 years.  Why?  Because first of all, we are not evolved enough to tolerate gluten well.  We spent over 2 million years NOT eating gluten.  We only began eating it 10,000 years ago - a drop in the bucket of human evolution.  That's part of what the Paleolithic Diet is all about, but more on that later.  Beyond that, the highly refined, nutrient-stripped, sugar fortified gluten products we're eating now are much different (and much worse for us) than the whole grain products people consumed until the last century.  The abundance of crappy food in our diet interferes with our digestive and immune systems' abilities to deal with gluten, which is difficult for even the healthiest body to digest and assimilate.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=celiac-disease-insights

Where Is Gluten Found?

I wish it were simple to identify where the protein, gluten, is found, but it's just not.  Like I said, gluten is in wheat (bulgar, graham, whole, etc.), spelt, rye, barley, kamut and oats (due to cross-contamination) - all of which are grains.  So it's found in breads, pastas (durum, semolina, whole wheat, orzo, couscous), cakes, cookies, all pastries, cereals, and pizza crust.  When it says "flour" in the ingredients and it doesn't specify what kind of flour - it's wheat.  But it doesn't stop there.

It's in soy sauce, beer, soups, sauces, some supplements, many types of alcohol, some flavorings, brewer's yeast, malt extract, icings, malt, malt vinegar, matzo, and the list goes on.  And on.  Some sensitive people can handle small amounts of gluten, but others might get hives, immediate diarrhea, or they might feel drunk.  Sometimes a child will start acting up after eating gluten - it's like a drug for sensitive people.

What Can You Do?
 
If you have any of the symptoms listed above chronically, I'd suggest taking gluten out of your diet for a few weeks to see if it's affecting you.  If you need help with that, make an appointment with me or any other nutrition professional.  You should know within a week to a month whether or not you feel different.  By the way, taking gluten out of your diet is different than just taking wheat out - some people just have problems with wheat, but they can eat other glutenous grains like spelt and rye.  You could try just taking wheat out if you want to start there.  If it doesn't help, though, take all gluten out. 

There are all kinds of gluten-free options for you in the form of recipes, blogs, bread, pizza crust, etc.  You can substitute gluten grains with rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, tapioca, potato flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and others.  You can find a ton of gluten free products in health food stores, but these things are starting to crop up in regular grocery stores now, too.  Most people find that there are plenty of options - that it's not that hard to make the switch.

Gluten free bread.  Doesn't look so bad, huh?
Get really familiar with this list of gluten-containing foods and take gluten out of your diet completely for those first 3 weeks.  Then if you're still not sure whether or not it affects you, eat some.  Preferably try a piece of whole wheat bread and watch your body for the next 3 days.  Am I feeling fatigued?  Moody?  Achy joints?  Headaches?  Make note of anything that happens in those three days - the symptoms are not always immediate and they vary widely from person to person.

If you're STILL not sure if you're sensitive to gluten, or if you're the kind of person who needs some evidence to base big life changes on, there are blood and stool tests you can take.  One that I use is EnteroLab, but if you're interested in doing it, I strongly suggest you work with me or another nutrition practitioner to get the support you need.

Good luck!

Please post comments on your experience with this - symptomatic people who are on the fence about trying a gluten-free diet need your support!

For citations to support this post and more information on gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, look at this post by Dr. Mark Hyman or go to www.celiac.com

One last thing.  My friend and a culinary instructor at Bauman College, Christine Ruch, is opening up a new, fantastic, take-out style, healthy restaurant in Boulder called Fresh Thymes Eatery.  Please help her out by taking this survey so she knows what Boulderites want in a new restaurant.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

But It's orGANic...

 
I just got around to the August 21st, 2009 podcast of NPR's "Science Friday", during which Michael Pollan and others were talking about sustainable foods.  Michael Pollan's thoughts were so compelling that at midnight after a 4-hour car ride, I found myself sitting in the car in my driveway to finish listening to him.  Here's an example of his unconventional wisdom:  "Right now we're moving toward a supermarket full of organic junk food which people buy under the mistaken impression that it's healthy."

I agree, Michael Pollan.  I hear, "But it's orGAnic," from people all the time.  It's as if because it says "organic" on it, the package could contain a deep-fried twinkie and people would still feel virtuous consuming it.  Even though an organic, packaged product might be made with some ingredients that come from a field that wasn't sprayed with toxic chemicals and a cow that wasn't fed toxic sludge, it might still have been stripped of all of its nutrients and heated in an inferno to kill off all things bad and good.
 
Let's be real here.  If you're going to spend the time and money on organic food in order to avoid the chemicals that are in conventional foods that could cause cancer, hormone imbalances and neurological disorders, don't you want to stay away from any food that might cause those awful things?  The processed, organic foods we're substituting for conventional junk foods may have too much added sugar, salt and refined (devoid of nutrients) flour.  They may contain loads of Omega 6 fatty acids from soybean or corn oil, or they might have ingredients in them that you are sensitive to.   That food in a box certainly has no fresh vegetables or fruit in it, either.  All of these things can cause cancer, hormone imbalances and neurological disorders, too...

Here's an example.

Organic Newman O's
Yesss!  Healthy Oreos!  Let's compare them to regular Oreos to make sure.   


Looking at the ingredients, there's not much difference between the two, except that Oreos contain high fructose corn syrup instead of the three sweeteners that Newman's Own uses, and nothing is organic in the Oreos.  Note that not everything is organic in the Newman O's, either...

They're really similar in terms of nutritional value, too (chart below).  Both have lots of sugar, refined flour, Omega 6 fats, little fiber and not much protein at all.  You can't exactly call it a well-rounded snack.  I can't even demonize Oreos about having trans fats in them - they don't anymore.  These two products are almost exactly the same, except that Newman O's have no pesticides or GMO's in them (not that I don't think that's important).


The point is, they'll both spike your blood sugar, create inflammation, and do little to actually satisfy hunger.  Not to mention that if you make a habit of eating foods like this all the time, you're likely to have bigger problems (see third paragraph) as you get older.

To top it all off, upon further investigation, I found out that Nabisco came out with an organic version of the original Oreo.  You know that if Nabisco can do it, it's not healthy.  I rest my case.


P.S.
Please keep the suggestions for blog topics coming - it helps to know what you're interested in hearing about.  If you like this content, please subscribe - I'll be posting on at least a weekly basis.






Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Revival of the Foodist

The title of this blog, The Revival of the Foodist, sums up what I try to do every day.  As a nutrition therapist with Food As Medicine Holistic Health Counseling, part of my job is to re-awaken people's primal fascination with food - to try to make every one of my clients and friends and family members into foodists.


It's fun and rewarding doing this every day.  I get to hear about my clients making kale salad for the first time and actually liking it.  Or about my sister's discovery of her new favorite snack food, cashews and dates, which she was sure she would hate when I first told her about it.  My friends tell me about how they've started cooking again and the satisfaction it brings them.  They're all becoming foodists.  Discerning foodists.  Nothing makes me happier, which is why I know I'm in the right profession.

Now, after that sweet little introduction, I'll warn you that my tactics to woo your love for food won't be lacking in my very own (well-researched) opinions and some biting sarcasm.  I am a passionate person, and nothing unleashes zeal in me like the topic of nutrition.  Food and nutrition are the centerpieces of a debate between a whole lot of parties who each truly believe that they are right.  And a lot of them are right.

There are vegans who swear by veganism, who are sure that nobody should be eating anything that comes from an animal.  On the other hand, there are Paleolithic eaters who are sure that everyone should eat a LOT of foods that come from animals.  Our bodies and genetic propensities are all so different from each other that there is not one particular diet that works for everyone.



http://etnies.com/blog
http://www.paleodietrecipesinfo.com


There are, however, certain parties in this great debate who we should pay a little bit more attention to than others because some are just plain crazy.  Throughout this blog, I'll tell you about the merits and shortcomings of all kinds of diets, supplements, and individual foods.  I will do my best to educate you with unbiased research to back it up.  But the main point is this: If you are a vegan and you're just eating organic fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds that are in their most unadulterated form, OR if you are a Paleolithic eater who just eats organic vegetables and fruit, grass-fed beef, free-roaming chickens, wild fish, eggs, seeds and nuts then you are BOTH probably in way better health than the person whose food mostly comes from boxes, cans and fast food restaurants.   

Being truly healthy and thriving is about eating fresh foods that have abundant nutrients,  vibrant color, and that exude vitality - not "fortified", highly processed grains that need to have synthetic vitamins put back into them.  Not lackluster fish that are injected with dyes to make it look appealing.  Not "food" that looks like, say, a chicken nugget, but is actually just an assemblage of corn products.  Not fake meats that are made up of one hundred ingredients that were so overly processed and packed together that they now look and taste (sort of) like meat. 

You get the picture.  It's simple.  In general, you will thrive if you drink pure water and eat humanely raised and properly fed meats, seafood and eggs, and organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and sea plants.  We'll talk about grains, legumes and dairy later.  For now, explore the outer perimeter of your grocery store to whet the appetite of your inner foodist.


Photo by Heisel Photo - www.heiselphoto.com