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Can I Eat That? (Should I Eat That?)

Changing Our Internal Narrative To Make Better Choices (Without Feeling Deprived)

I was recently listening to Dr. Paul Saladino, aka “The Carnivore MD” discuss the “carnivore diet” on the Joe Rogan podcast and it got me thinking.

If you’re not familiar with the term “carnivore diet”, it’s exactly what it sounds like: eating nothing but animal products.

Dr. Saladino makes a compelling case summarized by the following two points:

  • only a small percentage of plants are actually edible by humans; conversely, nearly all animals are edible by humans
  • every essential nutrient required by humans is available in animal products, but the same is not true in reverse

While both of these statements are true, I’m not 100% sold on the argument that a carnivore approach is for everyone.

The more compromised your gut health is, the more likely it is you should probably adopt a more carnivore approach at least in the short term, as meat tends to be very easy to digest and is completely absorbed very high in the small intestine, which can allow the lower gut to rest and heal.

I’m sure you’ve heard the arguments to the contrary, that “meat rots in your colon”, etc. but that’s simply not true.

If you want proof, simply ask anyone who’s ever had a complete colectomy and needed to use a colostomy bag what ends up coming out the other end; it ain’t animal products.

Or simply ask yourself this: when’s the last time I saw steak floating in the toilet? The answer is likely “never”, but the same cannot be said for corn…

funny corn in the toilet meme

As I said, before I sound too much like an advocate for a carnivore approach, much like veganism, I’m not sold it’s for eveyone.

Although animal products became an increasingly important part of the human diet sometime around 2.5 million years ago, it’s also very clear that human beings are omnivorous, able to eat both plants and animals, which brings me full circle, back to the real point of this article.

When it comes to our nutrition, it’s probably wise to let the question “should I” rather than “can I” guide our thinking.

It’s much like the ol’ “don’t think about pink elephants”. As soon as I tell you not to, the only thing you can think about is pink elephants. Likewise, when we start restricting our diets to foods we “can” and “can’t” have tends to pave the way towards a pattern of “restrict and binge”.

Can I live on a diet of just meat? Sure, but should I?

Can I eat that box of donuts? Should I eat that box of donuts?

When we make decisions based on “should I”, rather than “can I”, we’re much more likely to own our choices and to be at peace with them, which makes them much more sustainable over the long haul.

Tired of going it alone and not seeing the results you really want? Are you ready to get lean, strong and healthy for life? If you’d like to find out more about how we can work together, no matter where you are in the world, drop us a message below and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

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    PFAS In Carbonated Water; Should You Be Worried?

    A new research study by Consumer Reports has revealed that almost all carbonated waters sold in the US are contaminated with PFAS, or so-called “forever chemicals”.

    PFAS, short for per- and ployfluoroalkyl substances are mad made chemicals used on a variety of packaging.  These chemicals are known carcinogens and are also a cause of low birth weight in newborns and well as altered immune function.  They are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are stored in the body’s fatty tissue and are not excreted in the sweat or urine (although I’m curious about the breath).

    Carbonated water is popular among dieters and the health conscious as a substitute for soda, juice, etc.

    Is PFAS in our bottled water really something we should be worried about?

    Obviously, the ideal amount of these chemicals in our water would be 0, but we don’t live in that world anymore, and the amount detected in the research was in the parts per TRILLION.  

    You’ll find the same, or similar levels of heavy metals and PFAS in pretty much most drinking water, and even spring water these days, and the effects of uncontrolled blood sugar from drinking regular soft drinks or juices will kill you a lot faster. In my book that effectively makes the results of this new study TBU:  true, but useless.

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    Three Reasons To Eat More Blueberries

    blueberries improve insulin levels, blood sugar and cognition

    You know I hate the term “superfood”; but occasionally, some foods come close to living up to the hype and blueberries have to top the list.

    Multiple studies have shown that making blueberries a regular part of your diet reduces your risk of 

    • cardiovascular disease
    • various cancers
    • type two diabetes

    New Study On The Benefits of Blueberries

    recent study lends even more strength to the case that we should all be eating more of them.

    This study is especially compelling because it’s a randomized, controlled crossover study. Randomized control trials are always the gold standard in evidence, and a cross over design even more so because we see the effect repeated in both groups at different times.

    Both groups were essentially fed a standard IHOP style breakfast that included a drink with the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries, or a placebo that tasted similar and had similar calories. the researchers then tested postprandial insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as asking participants to complete a cognitive task.

    Both groups showed better insulin and glucose response after the real blueberry drink as well as performing better on the cognitive task.

    Some Caveats About This Study

    Despite the overall strength of this study, I think there are a few caveats worth considering;  mainly the shitty breakfast. Would the study participants have seen as much benefit from the blueberry drink if they hadn’t eaten a meal so high in processed carbs to begin with? It might be tempting to assume that they would have seen even better results, but other research seems to indicate that while some of these so-called “superfoods” can help do damage control, the benefits are much less pronounced when the overall diet quality is already high.

    One cup of fresh blueberries is about 18g of effective carbohydrates, so if you’re on a very low carbohydrate diet, you may have to avoid them.

    The evidence is already becoming well established that cognition (and conversely cognitive decline) is intimately intertwined with metabolic health.  Many researchers and neurologists like Dr. David Perlmutter already refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “type three diabetes” or “diabetes of the brain”.

    With this in mind, I’d love to see this study repeated with a meal that kept postprandial blood glucose levels in a more ideal range to begin with so we could see if the boost in cognitive performance was really a boost at all, or if the IHOP style breakfast caused more of a decline due to an excessive blood sugar, and insulin spike which the blueberry drink helped to balance out.

    Metabolic Health Matters

    In the “Age of Krona” metabolic health is more important than ever. High fasting blood sugar is one of the strongest predictors of negative outcomes at the time of admission, and likely plays a key role (along with blood pressure, blood lipids, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium status) in whether we even become symptomatic to begin with.

    Considering all the benefits they have to offer: potent antioxidant activity that protects against both cancer and cardiovascular disease, improved blood sugar and insulin levels, swapping out your usual carbohydrate for a stiff serving of blueberries seems like a smart investment.

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    What To Do About Coronavirus? (Part One)

    Potential Diet & Lifestyle Factors To Consider

    You can’t log in to social media or watch the news these days without hearing about the coronavirus outbreak. Pretty much everybody everywhere is worried and wondering what they can do to protect themselves against infection.

    The recent coronavirus outbreak also referred to as COVID-19, is a respiratory infection that appears to have been previously observed in bats and has recently made the jump to humans as detailed in this report released by the WHO and posted to Reddit.

    The fatality rate for those infected appears to be about 2% overall; slightly higher for men than women and highest in those with pre-existing medical conditions (which is normal for any infectious disease).  Although 2% in absolute terms is a pretty low number, it’s still about 20 times as lethal as the common flu.

    The CDC estimates that 34, 200 people died in the US during the November 2018 to February 2019 “flu season”. Extrapolating from that number could mean that we see more than 200,000 – 500,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 in the next year, which works out to as much as 1.6% of the entire population. As it currently stands, pretty much everybody will know somebody who dies from the coronavirus this year.

    In theory, I should already be in the lowest risk group, as is everyone in my household, but I’m still thinking about what I can do to minimize my chance for infection or the severity of the symptoms in the event I am infected. This article from The Atlantic places the chance of infection as high as 70% and points out that a vaccine is most likely years away.

    That means, at least for this year, we’re on our own.

    Disclaimer

    In this post, I want to lay out a few thoughts I have on things I think everybody can do to possibly help protect themselves from coronavirus.

    Before we go any further, I want to point out the blatantly obvious: this post does not constitute personal medical advice, and you should always consult with your physician before pursuing any diet or exercise program.

    Best Practices

    The absolute best things everyone can do to help stop the spread of any infectious disease are to

    • Thoroughly and frequently wash your dang hands!
    • Stop touching your face in public, especially your nose

    Full stop.

    Since, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, hand washing has been all the rage on social media lately, most likely you’re already aware of the above, so what else can we do?

    The following are things I already do on a regular basis and are things I think may help me see the best possible outcomes when it comes to coronavirus.  I feel that the evidence is fairly solid in each case, but could be deemed to be anywhere from “educated guesses” to “wildly speculative”. I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.

    What Else Can We Do?

    Getting enough natural light in our eyes each day helps to synchronize our circadian biology as well; that has a massive impact on our mood, sleep, hormones and brain chemicals, all of which have downstream effects on our overall immune function.

    Get Outdoors More Often

    Get as much natural light as possible.  This might be more of a challenge than you realize, or at least might be a significant change to your current lifestyle, but spending as much time outside as possible and getting your body in sync with the natural cycle of light and dark is a cornerstone of the Lean, Strong & Healthy approach for a reason.

    The CDC estimates that the average person spends 90% of their time indoors and out of the sun, yet it’s well established in the scientific literature that exposure to sunlight has many benefits to our health.

    Take a look at this graph on the right that shows deaths from all causes peaks during winter months when exposure to natural light is lowest (note how the curve is essentially flat in equatorial regions where sunlight is relatively constant all year long).

    Or take a look at this graph below that compares the rate of death from all causes in study participants over 15 years with their levels of time spent outdoors in the sun.

    Source: http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/38/2/1173/F1.large.jpg

    In both graphs, we see a clear relationship with the amount of time spent outside in the sun and lifespan.  The more time you spend outside in the sun, the better protected you are from disease and the longer you tend to live.

    As often as possible I take my coffee outside and get 10-15 minutes of full sun before I do anything else for the day.

    Beyond Vitamin D

    The benefits of time outside and in the sun very likely have nothing to do with vitamin D (which I want to deal with separately in part two).

    Why do I say that?  For one, there are studies like this one that show that when it comes to vitamin D, people respond differently to their time in the sun and many don’t produce enough vitamin D despite “adequate” sun exposure. Darker-skinned people produce less vitamin D for the same amount of time spent in the sun for example, and there may be other genetic causes as well.

    For another, producing vitamin D is not the only thing that happens in your skin when exposed to sunlight.  Nitric Oxide is also produced, which acts as a potent vasodilator, relaxing your blood vessels and lowering blood pressure, which means all of your organs and tissues get better blood supply.

    Getting enough natural light in our eyes each day helps to synchronize our circadian biology as well; that has a massive impact on our mood, sleep, hormones and brain chemicals, all of which have downstream effects on our overall immune function.

    How Much Is Enough?

    • To synchronize our circadian clocks, 2-10 minutes as soon after waking as possible should be enough
    • Another 2-10 minutes in the evening as the sun is setting also seems to help signal our brains to start winding down for the day
    • Most people will need at least 10-30 minutes to max out vitamin D production, more if you’re darker skinned or if you live further north or if it’s winter
    • Other research shows that we need at least 120 minutes a week outside/in nature to see a positive effect on our health

    All in all, getting around 30 minutes of full sun on most days; making sure you get some light in your eyes (i.e. no sunglasses, never look directly at the sun!) first thing in the morning and again in the evening is a reasonable place to start. Everyone’s tolerance is likely to vary and some medications can make your skin more vulnerable to UV radiation, so check with your doctor if you’re on any prescription medications.

    I would also speculate that there are many other things happening that haven’t even been discovered yet, either because we haven’t thought to look for them, or because we lack the technology to measure them.

    Wild Speculation?

    Will spending more time in the sun protect us from coronavirus? It will likely be years, or decades before we have enough data to know whether or not getting plenty of sunlight would reduce rates of infection the way it looks to with other infectious diseases like the flu.

    In the face of what looks to be the biggest infectious disease outbreak since the flu of 1918 and considering the data we have on the negative impacts of avoiding the sun, making every effort to make sure we get at least a minimum effective dose seems like a safe bet; especially considering there’s currently no vaccine on the horizon. Optimizing our own individual health is currently our best, and only bet.

    Either way, in my mind, the benefits to our health from spending enough time in the sun are cut and dried.  Getting lots of sun as a protective measure against disease, in general, is a no brainer in my book.

    Tired of going it alone and not seeing the results you really want? Are you ready to get lean, strong and healthy for life? If you’d like to find out more about how we can work together, no matter where you are in the world, drop us a message below and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

    Together We Can Do More

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    The Secret to Losing Weight Without Counting Calories

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Your purchase helps support this blog.

    Whole Foods vs Processed Foods

    A new study published in the journal Cell lands a knockout punch in favor of whole foods.

    In the study, 20 volunteers were locked in a “metabolic ward” for a month. In other words, they were stuck in a lab for 28 days while researchers tracked every mouthful of food and all activity.

    They divided the volunteers into two groups; for the first two weeks, each group was provided with access to different types of food and allowed to eat at will. One group had access to only whole foods, and the other group had access to only highly processed foods. Many of the foods provided were widely considered “healthy” like yogurt and granola bars.

    After two weeks, the groups swapped diets. This is known as a crossover study and crossover studies are important to help establish causality and not just the random chance you got a bunch of folks with big appetites in one group or the other.

    As a result, when folks had access to highly processed foods, they ate more of it. 500 calories more of it! That’s an extra meal a day.

    “If you’ve been struggling with your health, or your weight, the very best place to start is by removing as much processed food from your diet as possible.”

    Change Your Diet

    The entire premise of Robb Wolf’s book Wired To Eat is based on the “hyper-palatability” of ultra-processed foods. They taste really good, which naturally makes us want to eat more. Food chemists for “big food” have put a lot of research into making them that way. (The amount of energy it takes to digest these foods is also much lower, which leaves more left for us to absorb, so it’s kind of a one-two punch really). If you’ve been struggling with your health, or your weight, the very best place to start is by removing as much processed food from your diet as possible. Eating a whole food diet will naturally help you eat fewer calories without having to actually count calories, plus they much more nutritious. That’s a win/win.

    If you’re not sure what makes something highly processed or not, a good rule of thumb is to stick to the produce and meat department and buy very little, or no food items off the shelves. If it doesn’t spoil without refrigeration, or if it comes in a bag, box, wrapper or plastic container it’s highly processed.

    Wondering which which diet is the best for losing weight & feeling great? Read my article all about it here!

    Together We Can Do More

    Tired of going it alone and not seeing the results you really want? Are you ready to get lean, strong and healthy for life? If you’d like to find out more about how we can work together, no matter where you are in the world, drop us a message below and we’ll get back to you ASAP!