Archive for March, 2019

I’d like to rewrite some headlines

You may have heard me say “why wasn’t THAT news on the front page of the paper?” (Or the TV news or your phone news feed or whatever.) I think that all the time! It seems that what makes health news is mainly what supports a big money interest or best protects the establishment. There is very little fresh thinking, investigative reporting, consideration of alternate views or any rightfully skeptical challenge to whatever drivel is spewed out from press releases and medical journals.

Medical journals used to be trustworthy. Now, many studies and whistle blowers confirm that they have been corrupted by pharmaceutical money. We must use common sense and keep a historical perspective because, as it turns out, there are many ways even well-intentioned studies can miss the mark. Dr. Ronald Hoffman wrote an excellent piece, “13 reasons why most health studies are wrong.” (In more recent work he has increased that number to 15.)

Here are some recent headlines and indented, my alternate version:

“350 Die – Congress holds hearings on the Boeing 737 Max”  Two recent crashes of that type plane caused tragic fatalities. For sure, the feds better button up the holes in the safety approval process. But, just for comparison with my point below, on a yearly basis, those deaths average fewer than 1 per day.

“Well over 1,000 die per day from pharmaceutical side effects and medical errors.” The numbers are staggering when we add up documented deaths from the side effects of drugs given in the hospital, side effects of meds taken at home, medical errors, hospital-acquired infections, and so on. And then there is the growing problem of errors in pharmacies because of under-staffing. How about you look into that, Congress? And review the actual literature on natural remedies instead of just taking the AMA’s word for it that there is no proof of effectiveness. Time for a lot more investment in prevention which is the only real solution to the disease care crisis.

“Cancer patient awarded millions” It is good news that the courts are compensating select victims and punishing Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) for the cancer-causing effects of their weed killer, Roundup. We can hope the patient lives to see the money after the inevitable delays and appeal of the verdict.

All citizens being poisoned with Roundup The smart (but, In my opinion, movie-plot-worthy evil) chemical giant, Monsanto has made their weed killer and the associated GMO crops so ubiquitous, that traces of Roundup are found all over the grocery store now. Eat organic as much as you can and avoid GMO crops.

 “FDA approves drug for treatment of postpartum depression”  This medicine costs $34,000, for treatment, requires hospitalization and has potentially deadly side effects.

Nutrients and natural therapies for postpartum depression  A study showed that the mineral magnesium was superior to medication for depression. And it has hundreds of fringe benefits. There are many natural remedies for depression after childbirth. And the report on the new drug said it acts like something from progesterone…so why not use natural progesterone cream ($25)?

 “Subscription creep” This was about how folks gradually accumulate more streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime and how those prices keep going up. (People only have so much disposable income and I hope that doesn’t cut into their nutrition budgets.)

Prescription creep I’d love to see more attention in the media to the fact that especially seniors are being prescribed an unreasonable number of drugs which ALL have side effects and have not been studied together. Too often drugs are from specialists who do not compare notes with the patient’s other doctors and do not give the person a clue when to stop the med. Read this story if you think the government can’t get pretty pushy about giving medications whether you want them or not. (Armed Arizona police busted into a home to grab an un-vaccinated child that they thought should have gone to the emergency room for treatment. Oops, the child’s fever had broken after the visit to the doctor and there was no need.)

Clues to Cravings

Does a food or beverage seem to control you?

This list may provide clues to the cause and remedy. Which describe you?

You stay hungry even between meals and especially crave starchy or sugary foods.

Possible causes: Eating too many carbs and not enough fats can throw leptin (an appetite and metabolism regulating hormone) out of whack. When we eat fat, that sends a signal to the brain that we are satisfied. When we eat refined carbohydrates, that spikes our blood sugar and sends a primal survival message that we are trying to store fat…so we crave more food. Being thirsty can be confused with being hungry.

What to do: Cut way back on refined carbohydrates as well as starchy and sweet foods. Read my blogs on the topic, Part 1 and Part 2. Drink a sufficient amount of clean water every day.

You crave starchy or sugary foods even when not necessarily hungry.

Possible cause: Candida yeast overgrowth. You might have an imbalance of friendly vs unfriendly critters in the intestinal track.  Yeasts may have gotten out of hand and may be ordering their “lunch” by sending out chemical messengers to make you crave their favorite food.

What to do: Take this Yeast Questionnaire. If you get a worrisome score, Read this article.

You eat frequently, need an afternoon nap or crave a soda at 4 pm just to keep up your energy and alertness.

Possible cause: Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar). Suspect this issue if before meals, you start to feel tired, blue, headachy, nervous or lightheaded and find that a soft drink, sugar or alcohol lifts you back to “normal”. This is a survival mechanism at work. The brain can’t function without a steady supply of blood sugar.

What to do: Eat more protein and fat, less starch and sugar. (See the two items just above.) A supplement like Now Glucose Metabolic Support may help you better handle the blood sugar and break bad habits. 

You need to chew ice or crave salty foods, chalk or clay.

Possible cause: The body is trying to balance electrolytes or needs minerals. Chewing ice, chalk or clay is called “Pica” and is common during pregnancy when the fetus is consuming mom’s minerals.

What to do: Avoid refined and processed foods. Eat mineral-rich whole foods, particularly vegetables. Take an excellent multivitamin such as Molecular Multi with a substantial amount of well absorbed zinc. Add a magnesium supplement because no multi has enough of this bulky mineral. Persons younger than middle age might think about calcium too. Unless you have high blood pressure that goes down when you limit salt, make sure you are getting enough sodium. The body need it and uses the chloride part of sodium chloride to make stomach acid that is needed for digestion and protection from pathogens.

You feel you must eat peanuts or some other special food every day.

Possible cause: You are having an allergic/addictive reaction. You need a “fix” of something the body reacts badly to and yet now depends upon.

What to do: Avoiding the item for 10 days often clears the system. If the craving persists, have your allergies checked out by a doctor of environmental medicine.

You crave “comfort foods” when under stress.

Possible cause: If it is just sweet and starchy foods, see the first 3 items above. If it is more like pot roast, that may remind you of pleasant Sundays when you were a kid and felt safe.

What to do: Try to find a healthful version of the food you crave. Work on the stress with exercise, meditation, magnesium, lavender oil, etc. 

You “deserve” a sweet treat when you’ve done something good or are celebrating.

Possible cause: Maybe you were rewarded with sweets when you were little, setting up an unhealthy association.

What to do: Make a list of non-food rewards and build new associations. 

You always have popcorn (or some such) on Friday nights or cereal, a bagel, donuts or pancakes for breakfast.

Possible cause: Habit.

What to do: If the food is good for you, no biggie.  Otherwise, find a healthier substitute and build a new habit. Breakfast doesn’t have to be something on the IHOP menu. Other cultures have quite a different idea about what breakfast can be.  Why not a hard-boiled egg or leftovers from dinner last night?

You drink more alcohol than you think you should.

Possible cause: Sometimes it is habits and the people you hang out with. But, if it isn’t that, consider that the root cause might be one of the nutritional issues above. (Alcohol depletes vitamin B1 and Magnesium, so especially replace those.) Spiritual emptiness and emotional hurt can also facilitate alcohol dependence.

What to do: Read this article. Consider church support, counseling, and/or joining a 12 step program. If you don’t know where to start, go to www.CVOA.org or  Google Alcholics Anonymous

 

 

Leapin’ Leptin – Part 2

I’m happy that I wrote about leptins for last week’s blog because it helped me figure out why I was craving carbs and gaining weight. I reversed both of those trends in one day and I’ll explain how.

To review, leptin is a “boss” hormone / messenger produced by our fat cells. One function is to tell us to stop eating when have put on enough body fat to survive through lean times. It also cranks up our metabolism to burn more energy from that stored fat. Conversely, when we lose a significant amount of body fat, there are fewer fat cells to make leptin and so the appetite comes back and our metabolism slows. Extended fasting, calorie-restrictive diets and meal-skipping can also turn off the fat-burning machinery.

Eating fat also sends the brain a signal that we are satisfied and tells the metabolism that we are not in lean times and therefore don’t need to pack on calories. However, when we eat refined carbohydrates (the kind that spike our blood sugar), our brain gets a primal message that we better store fat and go get more food.

Timing may also make a difference. According to the late Byron J. Richards in his book The Leptin Diet: How Fit Is Your Fat?, “A healthy person who has not eaten for four to five hours prior to bed will burn sixty percent fatty acids [fat] and forty percent sugar the last three to four hours of sleep…If a person eats before bed, it shuts off this prime fat-burning time during sleep.” (I knew him from my clinical nutrition seminars)

Back to my personal ahah! moment. I’m embarrassed to say I realized I was eating too many carbohydrates. I do know better, but it snuck up on me gradually… a couple of gluten free crackers here, ½ a sweet potato there, ancient grains cereal, samples of chips at the market, granola, popcorn, tiny desserts each night, monthly ice cream cone, raisins or dried cranberries in dishes, cashews, balsamic vinegar, rice, organic food bar, a little barbecue sauce, gluten free toast, bean soup, larger portion of banana in my otherwise low carb protein drink, apple more frequently (I only eat ¼ but some of those suckers weigh over a pound), pasta as a Saturday night treat, gluten free pizza, a few corn chips at the Mexican restaurant, and so on.

Individually, those foods are not awful. It was just that the total carb load was high enough that my body’s  survival mechanism must have decided I needed to put on fat. (I did not!) Those “eat-more” signals were overpowering leptin’s “don’t-eat” signals and its ability to burn fat. I was constantly craving comfort carbs…sugary foods and starchy foods that quickly turn to sugar. Those cravings are powerful and can overcome common sense. (I’m updating my chart on other reasons for cravings. I’ll announce that in the newsletter.)

I began strictly limiting carbs that weren’t vegetables. Instead of dessert, I used a couple xylitol mints as a palette cleanser. I ate more fat including avocadoes, eggs, olive oil, macadamia nuts, good cheese and butter. (In a future blog I’ll say why I’m not afraid of saturated fat.) I instantly stopped craving carbs and felt so full that I’d forget to eat lunch. I can already feel my waist shrinking because I’m eating fewer calories and burning more. I also feel better. As I now judiciously add back a few non-vegetable carbs, e.g. for fiber, I watch for any signs cravings.

It bears repeating: consumed sugar turns to fat and tells the brain to find more. However, eating fat (in the absence of sugars) tells the body you are full and can burn fat. We must shake our unreasonable fear of healthy fats. Sadly, counting calories encourages you forces you to cut fats. Instead, count added sugars and starchy carbs. If you are concerned about a recent study supposedly showing that low carb diets slightly increase atrial fibrillation (a heart issue), read this. (It was messy science and the researchers apparently don’t know what a low carb diet is.)

Leptin also helps direct our immune, nervous and digestive systems. So, when the body stops responding fully to leptin (leptin resistance), that can result in obesity, fatigue, depression, poor mental focus, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, infertility, immune problems and so on. It is similar to insulin resistance which leads to diabetes. Toxins, free radicals, poor gut health, low fiber, lack of sleep and inflammation seem to be involved in creating both conditions. Remember, the type of carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes (sugars and refined starches) and oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory. It is also theorized that persons who are obese may produce inflammation and so many leptins that they kind of wear out the receptors. Those folks should be even more cautious to avoid sugars.

If you are trying to lose weight, in addition to the exercise you know you need, get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water.

Leapin’ Leptin – Part 1

Leptin was Kat James’ topic during the first half of the program Saturday. It is an interesting subject, so I thought it might be helpful to review and expand a bit.

For most of man’s entire history, lack of food was the danger. Therefore, our brain wisely responds to many signals to find food, eat it and pack on body fat as a hedge against the next famine. Even our pleasure center rewards us when we eat.  

In those relatively rare times of plenty when humans put on fat, those fat cells made leptin which tells the brain we are satisfied—e.g. not hungry. (Leptin is a kind of a “boss” hormone/messenger that has extremely important jobs that we’ll discuss more next week.)  Fast forward to modern times when most Americans have access to too much food and are overweight. You’d think we would make a whole bunch of leptin. That should make us stop eating to provide the body “fuel” and burn our stored body fat instead. In Part 2, I’ll explain why the plan is often not working due to “leptin resistance”.

Another way to get the body to burn fat for fuel is to eat dietary fat. That tells the body we are in times of abundance and can afford to burn our fat. In contrast, when we eat carbohydrates (other than non-starchy vegetables), the message is that we better store fat. Looking at it another way, the fats we eat are temporary. However, the kind of fat that the body creates from blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates in the diet may stick around for decades. The simplistic notion that if we eat fat, it just gets stored as fat around our middles seemed logical, but was flat wrong.

In fact, the US population started becoming obese with the “food pyramid” when we were told to avoid butter, lard, other sources of saturated fat, as well as avocados, nuts, and so on. Of course, not all fats are good. The Trans fats in margarine and other partially-hydrogenated oils are terrible. (Hah! That was another classic piece of bad advice from the so-called experts. They told us to give up butter and eat margarine.)  I recommend avoiding corn oil, soy oil and the like because they are contain an excess of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Olive oil, fish oil, and nut oils (especially macadamia) are excellent. The tide of expert opinion is turning in a more positive direction on saturated fat like butter. I sang its praises in last week’s blog and next week will cover ideas on how much of the diet might be fat.

Read part 2 of this blog.


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