May 22, 2015

Food for Thought Friday: Sandwiches are Stupid

It’s true. They are.

But let’s not even address this from the perspective of low carb eating. Grain flour that’s been baked into some sort of spongy, edible “thing” is a completely unnecessary element in the human diet. Bread, rolls, buns, pita, naan, bagels, panini – carbohydrate, insulin, blah, blah, blah. Old news. It’s Friday, and since I like to have a little more fun with these posts than I tend to let slip in things like the cancer series or the fuel partitioning series, let’s look at the ridiculousness of sandwiches from a perspective that has nothing to do with aspects of carbohydrate that we’ve all heard about a million times over.

How about we tackle the sandwich from a functional and socio-cultural perspective?  

May 14, 2015

Metabolic Theory of Cancer: Speculation on the Causes of Cancer -- and How to Mitigate Them (Pt.3)

Graphic modified from Seyfried, et al. 
Carcinogenesis. 2014 Mar; 35(3): 515–527.

The potential cancer cause we’ll look at today is viruses. Some cancers are known to be viral in origin, and this makes total sense. Viruses hijack a cell’s replication machinery, right? They hijack the replication mechanisms such that the virus’ own DNA or RNA gets copied like crazy, so we’re left with lots of cells that contain tons of viral DNA/RNA. I am not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV. But I have to assume that having lots of viral DNA or RNA floating around in a cell probably isn’t good for mitochondria. Either way, if certain viruses do cause cancer, my guess would be that they do so by affecting mitochondrial function.

As a potential cause of cancer, viruses can strike people of any age. I suspect viruses are one of the primary drivers of cancer in children. I can’t imagine much else causing it. Like I said, older people have had many more years to abuse their mitochondria via diet, lifestyle, and unknown environmental exposures. But little kids? Not so much. Something else has got to be driving cancer in younger people. (And like I've said before, it’s entirely possible there’s a role for maternal & paternal health/diet at the time of conception and during gestation, as well as environmental exposures in utero, but, like the authors of the paper I mentioned in an earlier post said, if you think I’m about to blame the parents of a child with cancer for causing that child’s cancer, you are crazier than a vegan at a Brazilian churrascaria.)

In terms of prevention,  We can’t do much about this except to make sure our immune systems are up to snuff. I have said before that most of us probably “get cancer” all the time. We have cells behaving badly and doing wacky things left and right, but our immune systems go to work and kick those misbehaving cells to the curb. (Or the cells engage in apoptosis, commit suicide, and save our immune systems the trouble.) So how might we try to ensure our immune systems are up to the task? I was originally going have a separate post (or two or three!) about cancer prevention, but it seems more logical to address potential prevention/mitigation strategies in the same post as I write about putative causes. (I would be embarrassed to admit how much time Ive spent going back and forth over this issue, about which most of you probably dont care one way or the other.)

May 11, 2015

Label Madness Monday: Et tu, BBQ? (Or: How to Eat at a BBQ Joint Without Wrecking Yourself)

I love me some good BBQ!

Set before me some nice sliced brisket or a pile of pulled pork and I’m in hog heaven. (Pun intended.) However, depending on what you order, barbecue joints can be a low-carb/Paleo paradise, or they can be a total blood sugar nightmare.

If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake, you already know to steer clear of the cornbread, baked beans, mac & cheese, and the cheap-o bread they usually stick under whatever meat you order in order to sop up the juices. (Confession: Sometimes I eat this bread, ‘cuz, really, what a waste of yummy meat drippings! I also eat the cornbread sometimes, ‘cuz…well, it’s a bit of a weakness.)

That’s the obvious stuff, though. What about things that are harder to avoid at a BBQ place, like the delicious sauces they use to marinate, baste, and slather your food with before serving it to you? BBQ sauce is a sneaky source of large amounts of sugar. (And by “sugar,” I mean cane sugar, molasses, honey, corn syrup, corn starch, and more.) Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from a popular restaurant chain, Famous Dave’s®. (I am a big fan of this place, and am absolutely not writing this to bash it. I only want to point out the ingredients in the sauces and help us make informed choices, wherever we eat.)

May 6, 2015

Metabolic Theory of Cancer: Speculation on the Causes of Cancer -- and How to Mitigate Risk (Pt.2)

If the previous post in this series on cancer (before the video) was unsettling, good! It was supposed to be. It was meant to remind us that cancer is a vile beast, and that it can spring up seemingly from out of nowhere. It strikes people who are total health trainwrecks, and people who, by all accounts, are healthy. (That is, except for the cancer...) It strikes old people, young people, fat people, thin people, rich people, poor people, PhDs, high school dropouts, men, women, and everybody somewhere in between.

We are working under the theory that cancer is a metabolic disease. Something damages mitochondrial function to the point that cellular metabolism is derailed, and all the nefarious things cancer cells do can be understood as logical sequelae of broken mitochondria and cells that are fighting to keep themselves alive. (Anyone else hearing “Eye of the Tiger” playing in their head right now? Hehheh. [BTW…to anyone out there in the Philadelphia area, I did the Broad Street Run several years ago and someone on the sidelines about a mile from the finish line had a boom box and they were playing that song, and it was awesome. Especially because the original Rocky is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I digress. Adrian!!])

I left off last time saying that, according to the metabolic theory of cancer, anything that contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction can be considered a potential cause of cancer. I think the reason older folks tend to have higher rates of cancer is simply that their bodies have been exposed to potential cancer-causing dietary, lifestyle, environmental, and unknown factors for longer than younger people’s bodies have been. That stuff’s gotta add up over time, no? Frankly, in this day and age, I think if you make it to 85 without getting cancer, you’re kind of a living miracle.

But recall that I made a point to emphasize that babies and toddlers get cancer, too, so it’s not only a matter of physiological insults building up over time. And it’s not just eating too much vegetable oil, or slurping down too much sugar, or being sedentary, or smoking, or being exposed to too much radiation, or whatever else we might speculate could cause cancer. There are other factors at work here.

May 1, 2015

Food for Thought Friday: Low-Carb Logical Fallacies

Time for another round of things that make us go hmmm.

Last time in Food for Thought Friday, I addressed the issue of ketosis, carbs, and alcohol. I’m pleasantly surprised at the number of page hits it’s gotten. Here, I thought it was kind of a throwaway post, a quick one-off just to get something up on the blog before people forget I exist. But it seems the topic struck a chord, or maybe people just like reading about ketosis & alcohol. (And who can blame them? Either together or separately, they’re great topics!)

Since I pointed out the problems with the keto-haters suggesting ketones are “dangerous” or “unnatural” because the body stops producing elevated levels of them as soon as it has any appreciable amount of glucose in the bloodstream, today I thought I’d point out a logical fallacy that low-carbers are prone to using—myself included. It goes a little something like this:

April 28, 2015

Statins: Sugar-Coating the Truth

A priest, a rabbi, and a cardiologist walk into a bar.

No, that’s not it…

Why did the cholesterol cross the road?

Nope, that’s not it either…

Did you hear the one about statins and increased risk for type 2 diabetes?

YES! That’s the one I meant. Only, this isn’t a joke.

Statin drug use is now associated with an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Is this just fearmongering headlines, or is there really something to it?