“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.“ - Hippocrates
In my wayward vegetarian days, before finding Weston A. Price and eventually Paleo, I ate my fair share of faux food: soy ground beef crumbles, egg substitutes made from tofu, heart-healthy margarine, and my favorite, seitan (pure wheat gluten). For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, check out this 30 second “public service announcement” from Ron Swanson of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Continue reading
photo credit: realhealthdebate.com
Last week Harley Johnson (a.k.a. Durianrider) champion of the “low fat, raw, vegan” experiment attempted to debate Richard Nikoley (blogger at Free the Animal). With facts and reasoning on his side, Richard clearly articulated the benefits of eating a Paleo diet based on nutrient dense animal products.
At one point in the debate, Richard challenged the listeners to compare the nutritional value of a small four ounce serving of beef liver to a “healthy” vegan alternative. One listener (via 30 Bananas a Day) suggested that his meal of 5 pounds of fruit (mangos and strawberries) was nutritionally equivalent to the liver. Five pounds of fruit (at one meal) – You must be joking (211 grams of sugary carbohydrates)!
Note: Not everyone loves to eat liver; however almost any cut of pasture-raised meat will show a vastly superior nutritional profile to the vegan alternative.
My worldview is strongly shaped by a belief that humans are a product of millions of years of evolution and adaptation. While our large brains have enabled us to achieve great things (from a human point of view), we too often think that evolutionary rules do not apply to us, that we are special and different from the other creatures on the planet.
A case in point is the belief that humans are best suited to a vegan diet, one devoid of ANY animal products. This belief is based on a moral argument that says keeping and/or killing animals for human needs and nutrition is wrong and unnecessary. While I can appreciate the sentiment, it totally ignores how our species has eaten (AND ADAPTED) for thousands of generations.
Let me be clear – I think that vegetarians, partaking of nutrient dense animal products such as eggs, milk, and cheese, can live in a healthy fashion. Vegans on the other hand are choosing to ignore evolution and experiment with an unproven diet. I do not think their experiment will end well.
Here are a few quick comments and several links to things that I have been reading (or watching) recently:
- Yesterday we harvested our first asparagus spear of the season. Yum!
- CrossFit - It was pretty tough to get up and down the stairs yesterday (after two workouts). Clearly I have not been doing proper squats (need to go much deeper). This morning I can actually walk without pain which is encouraging.
- This is probably the most awe-inspiring track performance I have EVER seen.
(hat tip to CrossFit Local )
- Speaking of running – After reading Born to Run, I was hungry for more information about human evolutionary adaptations specific to running. This paper, Endurance running and the evolution of Homo, provides a lot of compelling evidence on the topic.
- Lastly check out Chris Masterjohn’s new article on “Fatty Liver Disease.” Eating high fructose corn syrup (drinking sodas) combined with not getting enough choline (eggs and liver) can produce a condition that damages your liver in a way similar to consuming too much alcohol.
I want to take the opportunity to say thanks to all of the readers of Soil to Sustenance who have visited during its first three months. Your comments, encouragement, and suggestions have been fantastic.
Also I want to say a special welcome to first-time readers who found the site via Real Food Wednesday. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking on the RSS feed button or email button in the upper right hand corner and if you read a post you particularly like, please take advantage of the “Share” button.
Generally, I write about experiences here on the farm, as well as my ideas about food and nutrition. Below are a few highlights since the blog began in December.
1) My So Called Healthy Diet – Part One, Part Two, and Part Three provide an overview of my journey to improve diet and health.
2) A couple of widely-read farm posts are Keeping a Family Cow and Fashioning a Farm.
3) Experiments in Blood Glucose Control – Part One and Part Two explain how I was able to improve my blood glucose levels through diet and exercise.
4) Finally, Do You Have a Healthy Heart is an introduction to heart rate variability and how it can be used as a predictor of disease and stress.
Even if you don’t have a specific comment, feel free to say hello and introduce yourself.
Cognitive Dissonance: “an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.”
When faced with facts that are hard to explain or inconvenient, many of our leading health experts take an approach of willfully sticking their fingers into their ears or repeating their pet theory over-and-over, as if that will make it true. Unfortunately this approach doesn’t advance our knowledge and understanding and limits our ability to deal with many modern day health problems.
Below are a few examples where conventional wisdom doesn’t seem to match all of the facts. Continue reading
Here are a few items that caught my eye during the past week:
For a bit of inspiration, take a look at Dave Parsons’ story
at Mark’s Daily Apple. Below are his before and after photos (16 months apart).
Unbelievable! What a waste of an opportunity to eat something nutritious.
- The USDA has updated its dietary guidelines again (amazing what a room full of bureaucrats can dream up).
- For a thorough but simple overview of the changes, check out this post by Stephan Guyenet.
- For the geeked-out, uber-detailed, smack down version, check out Denise Minger’s post.
- Finally, if you would like to make progress like Dave Parsons, don’t emulate these folks who ran in the annual Krispy Kreme Challenge (over 5000 people entered).
In preparing posts for my blog, I spend a good amount of time reading and researching around the internet. Rather than write about everything I read, I plan to occasionally provide links to posts that catch my eye. Below are a few from the past week that you may find interesting:
- I highly recommend Dr. Kurt Harris’s blog covering all aspects of paleo nutrition. Here is an overview post for Getting Started.
- Dan Matesz at Primal Wisdom has a great post about Primal Diet on a Shoestring: a Nutritionally Complete, Inexpensive, Low Carbohydrate Meal Plan.
- Mark Sisson, author of The Primal BluePrint, has a post about how more-and-more people are using mail-order blood tests. Take a look at Doctors as Middlemen?
- For those of you that want to get a better understanding of the science of obesity, check out How Does a Cell Avoid Obesity? at Perfect Health Diet.
- Finally, I found Ned Kock’s post on Compensatory Adaptationto be very enlightening.
Details of Modifications
In my previous post, Experiments with Blood Glucose Control – Part One, I provided an overview of my plans to modify my diet and add some strength training. Here are the specifics of those changes and the resulting improvements I noticed during the months of November and December 2010.
Recall from these previous posts, My So Called Healthy Diet – Part One, Part Two, and Part Three, I do not eat a lot of processed or fast foods; however, I was eating pasta regularly, bread frequently, and adding a “heaping tablespoon” of honey every morning to my oatmeal.
I have continued to eat oatmeal, but completely eliminated the honey. And instead of eating oatmeal every morning, I am now eating it only 2 or 3 times per week. On other days, I eat several scrambled eggs and about 6 pieces of bacon (or a few pieces of sausage). I also initially eliminated coffee as it can raise blood glucose (but it tended to not have much impact on me). Continue reading
Imagine walking up a single flight of stairs, each step harder than the last, perspiration dripping down your face, not being able to catch your breath. In that situation, it would be hard to ignore the fact that something was wrong with your health. Similarly, what if every time you ate a meal, your blood sugar surged and stayed elevated for hours? Would you be equally concerned?
The answer is that you most definitely should be concerned!
Blood Glucose Overview
When you eat, your digestive system converts most of the carbohydrates (sugars, breads, pastas, cereals, fruits, etc.) into glucose, a fuel that can easily be used to power your daily energy needs. Your body attempts to maintain two or three days of energy reserves in the form of modified glucose or glycogen in the muscles and liver. Think of the muscles and liver storing glycogen as your primary fuel tank, albeit a small tank. If your primary tank is full (two or three days worth of glycogen), the excess glucose gets converted into fat and stored in your body tissues (a secondary fuel tank). Continue reading
For the past two months I have avoided eating simple, processed carbohydrates (crackers, breads pastas, etc). My intention was to try to improve my blood glucose levels by avoiding foods that caused short-term spikes. The good news is without these simple carbohydrates, my blood sugar levels have been in a very narrow range, and I have felt great. Continue reading