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Get out the Gout!

November 17, 2010 1 comment
Spiked rods of uric acid crystals photographed...

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So this post was brought on by a question from a friend who has the pleasure of being afflicted with Gout.  Must be terrible, thank my lifestyle choices for not exposing me to that sort of pain.  In case you know someone with this problem as well (and you very well might as Gout cases are increasing every year), we’re going to discuss why gout occurs and what you can do about it.

So first things first, What is Gout?  Gout is hyperuricemia.  Which means your body has too much uric acid in it.  How does this happen?  Well you’re either making/consuming too much uric acid (via the liver and from your diet) or you aren’t excreting enough (through the kidneys).  This can lead to uric acid exceeding its solubility in the body and materializing in places it shouldn’t be, most commonly in the joint where the big toe meets the foot.  Unfortunately it doesn’t materialize into nice spongy soft happiness, it materializes into sharp, crystal-needle shaped, pain-inducing sadness.  But why is this happening?

I’m going to let my chiropractic/logical side shine through here and ask you a question.  Do you think your body was designed to get gout, and that after X amount of time you were meant to get it ?  Or do you think that what you eat and how you live might matter?  Ok then.  Coming from the stance that we aren’t meant to get gout, and that we’re meant to experience radiant health, what are we doing wrong that is causing this problem then?

Without knowing what the patients current diet is like, I’m led to assume that the typical gout patient has heard, “don’t eat protein, because it has high levels of purines and therefore will lead to high levels of uric acid.” from the people currently managing their health.  It’s logical thinking, but ultimately it doesn’t work (otherwise you’d hear about people resolving their gout with this approach, right?).

The problem with not eating any meat out of fear of the purines, is that eating dense protein sources stimulates your kidneys to reduce the concentration of uric acid in your body.  The other problem with eliminating meats/dense sources of protein is that you’re then left with fat and carbs as your two sources of calories.  The gout guidelines of what is safe to eat also think that eating sweets, and other great sources of sugar is a good idea and “OK” for gout.  It isn’t.  Gout is often seen as an additional player in Metabolic Syndrome (AKA Syndrome X).  This comes to fruition by following the “Fat is the devil, eat more ‘complex carbs’ mentality”.  This is unfortunately one of the main reasons why there are more obese, overweight people and a greater incidence of autoimmune disorders in the world than ever before.  But that’s for another day.

Insulin resistance is a huge player as insulin is a potent inhibitor of uric acid excretion by the kidneys.  Most important in this resistance (especially in the case of fructose) is our ridiculous consumption of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Despite the commercials by the corn growers saying “it’s just as healthy as sugar!” (anyone else find that sounds odd?) HFCS is not healthy.  Full stop.  Fructose stimulates purine synthesis by lowering the inorganic phosphate levels which normally regulate uric acid production in the liver, which leads to higher uric acid synthesis.  And since fructose is selectively metabolized by the liver, eating a diet high in fructose sets the liver up for insulin resistance.  This resistance leads to more free-flowing insulin, and now we have fructose causing an increase in uric acid production, as well as a decrease in uric acid excretion.  Fructose’s metabolism in the liver also leads to lactic acid production, which eventually reaches the kidneys and competitively inhibits the excretion of uric acid.  Yay!  Fructose is quite the effective multitasker!

Finally the part that really might make you dislike having gout, is that alcohol is also implicated in inhibiting uric acid excretion via the production of  lactic acid.  Alcohol is also great at using up those inorganic phosphates in the liver that like to regulate the production of uric acid.  So alcohol isn’t quite the Deion Sanders of gout that Fructose is, but it hits you with a double whammy.

So, now what?

Well, now you eat the diet that you are meant to eat.  Being humans we seem to be the only species that eats what we shouldn’t be eating, without noticing the health effects.  So, if you want to be healthy, you’d eat what a healthy person eats right?  If you found a platypus in your backyard and needed to take care of it, you’d look up what healthy, wild platypus’ eat and feed it that, right?  Well, you’re my found platypus and I’m telling you to eat what the other, healthy platypus’ are eating.  Keep in mind if you have certain things that light you up and make you feel awful, well, avoid those things!  While we are all extremely similar genotypically, there is still some play phenotypically (which makes life fun!) that leads us to need to tinker and play with what we’re eating until we find what works for us.

What you should eat:

  • Meat.  Wild game, poultry, red meats, something that used to live a great life.  Preferably wild caught, organic, free range, etc.  Take it easy at first and work into it.  Don’t try the 72oz. steak challenge, our diet still provides 1/3 of our bodies uric acid, but we need the dense protein to stimulate the kidneys to excrete more uric acid.
  • Vegetables.  Eat them.  If you think “dang, I’m eating a LOT of veggies here”, you probably still aren’t eating enough.  Find which ones you like, try new ones.  Avoid corn and peas, as they aren’t veggies, they’re a grain and legume, respectively.  Don’t go TOO nuts with potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash, they’re just a little higher in starch, and we’re trying to create some insulin sensitivity.
  • Fruit.  Don’t go overboard,  fruits main sugar is fructose.   But fruit are great for satisfying a sweet tooth, and avoiding crushing a Coke, or other crappy food that is super high in HFCS or sucrose.  Try to incorporate more avocado and coconut products in your diet.  They’re high in healthy fats and they’re delicious and filling.
  • Nuts & Seeds.  They’ve got lots of fat in them so can be a little calorie heavy as people can generally put away a lot of nuts and seeds.  They also tend to skew the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in an unfavourable direction.  But as a garnish, the fats are satisfying and they taste pretty good.

Drink:

  • Water.  Tea.  That’s about it.

DO NOT CONSUME:

  • CRAP – i.e. candy, soda/pop, fruit juices, straight sugar
  • Alcohol – Just stay away from it for a while.  Try to eliminate it for 30 days at least, and then go light (if you must).  Avoid beer and drink something clear (tequila, vodka, rum).
  • Grains – they’re poison (lectins, phytates) tainted, nutrient-sparse and carb HEAVY.  They’re like fructose in that they’re great at multitasking; they destroy your digestive system while robbing you of minerals AND they spike your insulin.  The only things the grains are better than is the stuff in the “crap” category.
  • Legumes – they’re full of phytic acid and they’re a crappy source of incomplete protein.  If you absolutely MUST eat them, soak them overnight and then slow cook them.
  • Rice & Pasta – they’re also nutrient poor and carbohydrate dense.  Pasta and rice have their own lectins, and will wreak havoc on your digestive system.

In addition to the dietary recommendations, get some regular activity (walks, light hike, whatever you like to do that involves moving) and workout intensely once or twice a week.  Try to stay warm (to avoid uric acid crystal formation), and get some good sleep (8-9 hours in a BLACKED OUT room).  And I want to mention one last time, ease into this, find what works for you and what doesn’t (within the allowed parameters) and give it some time.  Like anything in life worth having, this will take time and effort.

All the best,

Dr. Ball

p.s. I have to give credit to Dr. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, Tim Ferris and Gary Taubes for providing a lot of this information through blog posts, podcasts, newsletters and books!  All four of them have great books and I highly recommend them for everyone!

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How Do YOU Stimulate Yourself?

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment
DNA, RNA, transcription, translation,

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks,

In a previous post I mentioned how animals in captivity have shortened lifespans and a whole slew of other problems.  Today we’re going to delve into the guiding principles of health, and why the oneswe’re currently using don’t work.

The human body is designed to respond and adapt to the stimuli with which you provide it.  That stimulus can be either genetically congruent, or it can be genetically incongruent.  Whether you believe in evolution, creation or any mix of the two, this guiding principle applies to you.

So what type of stimuli am I speaking of, that are causing you to adapt?  The stimuli I’m speaking of includes everything from where you are, to what you do and think.  To avoid chaos and bad science we need a guiding principle, to direct the stimuli you experience and to help us make intelligent choices with regard to those experiences.  How about evolution for a guiding principle?  If we use consider the things we do in life, are they consistent with the actions we have evolved to go?  Genetics appears to be the new culprit for poor health, but do you think that over the millions of years of our evolution that poor genes that made us sick were more successful at being passed onto the next generation than healthy genes?  Would it make any sense that your body was directed through tens of thousands of generations to sabotage you when you least expect it?  This is what we’re being taught and exposed to all day everyday.  Many drug companies claim that they are only indicated when other forms of treatment have not worked.  Lately it appears that step has been skipped over, and we’ve all assumed it won’t work.  Adusting your lifestyle is the ONLY thing that will make you healthier.  Taking medications will change your symptoms or lab values and you and your MD can celebrate those values, but you aren’t any healthier, that’s for certain. 

For just a moment, let’s pretend that you are the proud owner of the perfect genes.  If you were consuming a diet high in processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and grain fed meats.  You didn’t have any physical activity for the day, and you sleep poorly.  Do you think that your perfect genetics are making a mistake when they decide to upregulate the genes that lead to increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and a down regulation of the proteins responsible for producing the insulin receptors on cells?  Or is your DNA just responding to the stimulus that you’re providing it?

If you believe it isn’t a mistake, and that it happened for a reason – would it make any sense to you to take a drug that prevents your body from being able to react to the stimuli you provide it?

I’m willing to bet you said “no” to that question.  But that’s what we’re doing with our current health and wellness model.  High cholesterol?  Who cares WHY it’s happening, continue to eat crap and take statins.  Little to no midline stability?  Forget correcting posture and how you move, do crunches until your face goes numb.  Depressed? Don’t worry about changing your lifestyle, it has nothing to do with you, it’s serotonins fault!

We are stuck in the one cure for one ill model, and we’re slowly being convinced that any inadequacies in our lives have nothing to do with us!  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t as unique as you think you are.  As homo sapiens we have the same genes as our ancestors from 40,000 year ago.  They’re all in there.  What we do with our lives is what affects how they’re expressed.  The diversity of people on the planet is a good example of the many different ways our genes can be expressed.  Can you think of anyone that exercise is BAD for?  That eating high quality, organic, free range food would be bad for some people and good for others?  That getting adequate sleep would be bad for some people?  That smiling and laughing is bad?

How can there be things that are good for EVERYONE?  Because we’re all designed to be healthy, happy, successful humans.  Full stop.  Your body can’t help but express crap if you feed it with crap.  It also can’t help but express excellence if you provide it with excellence.  Too much sitting is just as toxic as too much gluten.  Proper diet is just as important as getting exercise and sleeping well.  We need to give up the “I have this problem that requires that solution”, and embrace the, “am I living in a way that will best allow my DNA to express health?”.

What are you providing your body?  Are you feeding in crap and expecting excellence?   Take stock in what you’re doing well for yourself and celebrate it.  Acknowledge what you aren’t and plan a way to address it.  There is always a better you out there, waiting to be experienced.  Don’t get lost among the shiny promises of the one problem-one solution people!

You’re an Animal

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Jones runs and plays like a free dog would.

Not in the wild, beast-like manner that you may be thinking, but you are most definitely an animal.  And you are meant to live like a human being.

Ok. So now you may be thinking, “Adam is being weird, why do I even read this blog”.   But my point is, we aren’t really free.  If you take into consideration how we live, it’s very similar to animals in captivity.  We spend most of our lives inside a box, whether it be a house, a cubicle, or even a car. This is not a good set up.

Let’s consider any animal in captivity. They get frustrated, they act out of the ordinary for their species, they don’t even want to mate with each other. When they do it actually makes headlines, “_________ animal has cute baby!”. Kind of ridiculous, however, does it remind you of anyone you know?

“I can’t seem to get to sleep at night anymore!

“My libido isn’t what it used to be”

“We’ve been trying to have children for a year now”

“I keep gaining weight despite eating ‘well'”

I could continue forever. These complaints are usually accompanied with stuff like

“I’ve been working hard, putting in a lot of hours at the office”

“Man, I’m so stressed out about _______”

“Did you see the late, late show last night???”

These people aren’t being the human they were designed to be.  Think about those animals again.  When they are taken out of captivity and allowed to go back to their native environment, (excluding those who have been raised by captive animals with copious human intervention), they thrive!  While my first sentence in this paragraph sounds almost philosophical, it is meant to be read more seriously.  We need to move, eat, and think like we are designed to.  We’re captive.  No wonder we suffer from these common problems (infertility, obesity, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression).  Your genetics are responsible for your problems just as much as they are for your successes.  Live in a way that your genetics are designed to react optimally to.

We’ll dive into the “how”s and “why”s of this subject more at a later date. For now I want you to start thinking about the parallels between the problems that animals in captivity live with, and the common complaints you hear from people.  After that, consider the ways in which you are being held “captive” and what you’d do different if you were “free”.

All the best everyone!  Have a great Thanksgiving.

Organic doesn’t equal healthy

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment
Carrot cake

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks!

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Danielle, who is running the scotiabank marathon in Toronto today while I sit in a starbucks sipping a coffee with some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon.  Strong work Dee, you’re awesome.

Now onto todays topic, organic foods.  I checked out the Whole Foods in Oakville yesterday.   It’s a pretty awesome spot, but like most “health” related situations it sparked my curious side.  As an aside they’ve got some seriously awesome stuff at this place and if you’re mindful of what you buy, you can get some really quality food without breaking the bank.  The problem I have with places like Whole Foods is that I think they trick people into making the same dietary mistakes, but with organic or exotic ingredients.

Organic, gluten free carrot cake tastes amazing, but it’s STILL cake. People seem to forget that.

There is a huge benefit to buying local, buying grass-fed/pastured and buying organic.  But buying organic pasta to put organic spaghetti sauce and organic parmasan cheese on top of it is just gives you an expensive plate of sugar.  It isn’t the lack of organic ingredients that is making you fat/inflammed/in pain, it’s the types of ingredients you’re eating in the first place.

Goji berries, while having a cool name, and packing some nutrients, are no better than blueberries. And we don’t have to go to Nepal to get wild, locally grown blueberries (that seems redundant doesn’t it?). If you’re shopping at health food stores to help the environment, purchasing exotic foods from across the world is not helping.  Things like goji berries, acai berries or the like, involve someone picking them lots of miles away, and shipping them around the world so that you can feel cool eating a “superfood”.  Don’t be that guy.  Eat the berries, fruits and vegetables local to our area, that are picked fresh, and allowed to ripen properly.  Concentrate on locally grown fruits and veggies. Kohlrabi, apples, figs, plums, peaches, beets, turnips, kale, brussel sprouts, the list goes on, are all good, locally grown, nutrient dense foods. Try to lean towards veggies, but fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth.

Organic cookies are still off limits people. Whole grain is not “ok”. Anything that resembles or seems like a grain is not ok. Get off the grains. these foods are still mostly sugar with some lectins, phytates and other wonderful ingredients mixed in. If you’re buying organic foods to be more “healthy”, you’re undermining yourself by eating these foods.

If you’re shopping at a health foods store to be cool, well, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, and those of us who are doing it properly hope you enjoy your zumba/insanity/ab rocket workout and hope that it works out well.

Aside from the above recommendations, here are some more:

  • Try to find a CSA (community sustained agriculture) in your area and support it, it’s worth it.  You receive a good number of fruit and veggies.  Get ready to eat some mystery vegetables.
  • Look into contacting a farm for pastured meat.   Many times you can request your cow be grass finished (I.e. It never gets fattened up with grain).   You’ll pay more, but it’s worth it.  Also, ask for the fat rendered from the beef, most people don’t, but you’re paying for it and it’s great for cooking.  And, since you chose the grass finished beef, the fat profile is amazingly good FOR you.
  • Go to a farmers market in your area.   It’s the market of local stuff (fruit, veggies, meat, etc.).   Prices will be a bit higher than the previous two options, but you’re paying for the convenience.

That’s all for now! If you have any ideas or suggestions I missed, post ’em to comments!

Ugh… Science.

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Everyone,

So after a fair amount of time reading and a comment I made and then instantly regretted making in regards to the vegetarian/vegan diet I have something to post about.  Science.

You have to love it to be interested in health and wellness, as I am.  Unfortunately, once you actually dive deep into the science-y goodness, it turns from a fountain of knowledge, into a huge pile of bullsh*t, with the odd nugget of gold (not corn) interspersed.  Unfortunately, todays post is not about the gold.

I like to think of my time as valuable.  And in endeavoring to learn and increase my knowledge, I like to read.  For the past few years I’ve read everything from blogs to books, to magazine and journal articles.  From the poorly researched, to the overly researched to the not researched at all (sort of like this post, I suppose).  This post is about the naysayer.  The Debbie downer.  Negative Nancy.

This person gets “published”, and doesn’t deserve it at all.  This person often is the author of randomized controlled trials that don’t tell you anything.  Those trials that required some SERIOUS statistical gaming to come up with significance.  This person gets published in arenas where all they’ve done is criticize someone else and offer nothing of value to the world.

I’m tired of reading this crap.  I don’t know how these people can feel fulfilled while making a living off spewing negativity and putting people down.

Ok.  Onto the guts of this post.  I commented on the Men’s Journal article about how to become a vegan.  I knew I shouldn’t have.  I knew it would attract the wrong kind of attention, but I thought my easy-going nature and polite tone would save me a lot of trouble.  It more or less did.  The jist of my post; read about the diet, and it’s positives and negatives before trying it, please.  I asked people to consider reading Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” for a great argument against the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle/diet.  I only received 2 comments, but one of them said this:

“You are wrong.”  and “Lierre Keith?  Are you kidding me?  She’s been completely debunked!”

The person then provided me with a website where the debunking occurs.  I humoured this person and read the site.  I won’t post it here because it isn’t worth wasting your time reading.  It’s complete crap.  Perfect for someone, say a vegan, who wants to feel reassured that what they’re doing is right.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t debunk anything.  All the critique does, is attack the WAY she makes her arguments.  So now the person can feel at ease, because that person who challenged their paradigm was wrong, of course.

Moving on.  I read a lot of Robb Wolf’s information and generally agree with what he has to say.  I recently heard he did an interview on T-Nation and there was a subsequent review/reply to this interview by Alan Aragon.  Alan Aragon apparently publishes a literature review each month.  I have nothing bad to say about Aragon as I haven’t read his publication.  This argument is purely with his appraisal of the Robb Wolf Interview.  I feel as though he’s jealous of Wolf’s current fame (if you’d call it that?) and has a bone to pick with anyone who says anything that isn’t backed up 100% by a randomized controlled trial.  I’m not going to post his review here as it’s a document that costs money.  He attacks Wolf in a way that makes Wolf seem unscientific and biased.  According to Aragon, the paleo approach to diet that Wolf advises is unscientific because any speculation about what paleolithic people ate is purely that, speculative.  So then I guess the existence of dinosaurs needs to be reconsidered too, since it’s also speculative?  I mean, there are no LIVE dinosaurs around now, so who’s to say the bones weren’t engineered by some evil (and extremely creative, and awesome, might I add) scientist?  Where the “concrete” evidence for that?

In his review he offers a lot of arguments against not only WHAT Robb Wolf says, but HOW he says it.  He insults Wolf for using correlative data, but then criticizes Wolf later, backing up his criticism with correlative data.  It’s ridiculous and most importantly for me… it’s exhausting!

You’re killing me people!  Asking people not to eat grains due to the phytic acid, lectins, lack of nutrients and abundance of insulin spiking carbohydrates is NOT nutritional blasphemy!  If you don’t agree with someone’s information, give a reason and an alternative.  Simply putting someone down isn’t doing anyone any good and is DEFINITELY not improving “science”.

Thanks for reading, the next post will be positive, I promise

p.s. Make sure you actually READ the journal articles you read too.  Methods and Results and that’s it.  Come to your own conclusions on what the data says.

The Paleo Diet For Athletes: thoughts

So I finished reading this book and thought I should write down a few things before they get lost in the mess of books and ideas in my brain. Firstly, Loren Cordain knows his stuff and all the info is very well researched.
Unfortunately, I find some research just isn’t reliable. I’m not talking about cherry picking studies either. What I’m saying is that a deep perusal of the methods and results of a study can really change what one would think the conclusion should be.
Anyway, the book is essentially this: when you aren’t in the peri workout window, eat a paleo diet, as outlined in Cordains original paleo diet book. When you ARE in the peri-workout window, eat a conventional, “I’m going to do a marathon or iron man and need to train for it” diet.
That’s the jist. Now, don’t think “oh this book isn’t any good then”, because it is easy to read and is full of a lot of good information. Great information if you’re in the camp of those who are crazy enough to do an event that requires mid-event meals.

Props to Cordains continuous work in the field of nutrition.