September 10, 2014

To Carb or Not to Carb: That is NOT the Question

The question is: Why are we still even having this debate? (Or is it a discussion?) Is it really that difficult for folks to accept and/or agree that some people thrive on lower amounts of carbohydrate, while others feel their best with more? I’m not sure why the controversy continues. It is well established that there is no absolute human need for dietary carbohydrate. Let me say that again: there is no human dietary need for carbohydrate. Just so we’re clear, this doesn’t mean glucose isn’t needed for plenty of biochemical pathways and physiological mechanisms in our bodies. It means only that our bodies can get the glucose they need by means other than us ingesting it.

That being said, very few people are saying that because there is no human dietary requirement for carbohydrate, we should all be on a ketogenic diet from birth until death, every single one of us, no exceptions. (Not even Jimmy Moore, the keto man, himself, is saying this. [See point #3 in this post.]) If anything, it seems to me that the main messages being put out make it clear that people need to find what works best for them, and that even if/when they do find it, it might change over time. (See: Kelsey Marksteiner's 3 step process to determining your ideal carbohydrate intake; and Chris Kresser's 7 things everyone should know about low carb diets.)

See also Robb Wolf's Thoughts on Carbs & Paleo: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. (And maybe even this one, written by yours truly.)

The macronutrient (and micronutrient!!) numbers that work best for your wife/brother/boss/next-door neighbor/favorite internet health guru might not be best for YOU. As Robb Wolf might say, “Shocker!”

I guess it all started with Laura Schoenfeld's post, Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health? Like I explained here, I really have no problem with the article itself. It's only the title I didn't like so much.

Warning: This is a rant. It is not an especially politically correct one. I am telling it like it is, or, at least, like I think it is. You have been warned.

Second warning: Most (but not all) of what appears below is speculation and informed reasoning on my part. There is some science, but I'm not using a ton of PubMed links because, well, frankly, peer-reviewed scientific literature leaves a lot to be desired these days. I know; I do freelance writing for a supplement company some of you might be familiar with, and in the course of my work, I do a lot of digging on good ol' PubMed. It ain't the gold mine it's cracked up to be. More on that some other time. Bottom line: if you think this post is useless because of its lack of copious citations, you know how to delete the email or close the window. 

To the rest of you, happy reading.

August 29, 2014

This Blog Post Will KILL YOU (!!)

Bright lights! Pretty colors! 
Look here, LOOK HERE!

Or save your life! Or help you drop 14 pounds in two weeks!

Here is a sampling of recent blog post and article titles from around the Paleo/low-carb/ancestral health world:

Is this what I’m doing wrong? Is this why my blog has just a teeny tiny (yet growing, thank you and welcome, newcomers) readership?

Is it the lack of inflammatory and attention-grabbing titles?

August 21, 2014

Awesome Cuts of Meat You're (Probably) Not Eating: Beef Heart!

Hey kids! It’s time for another installment in my ongoing adventures in culinary curiosity. Today’s unconventional cut of meat: beef heart! Eek! Yes, the heart! Is there anything—anything—more primal, more animalistic, than eating an animal’s heart? (Maybe killing the animal myself and tearing its still-warm heart right out of its chest, but cut me some slack. I live in suburbia and I’m pretty sure the neighbors would call the cops if they caught me slaughtering a cow in the backyard. Not to mention the cleanup job required afterward…)

So yeah, I did it. I bought two beef hearts when they were on sale at this farm in Northern Virginia. (Two dollars a pound! Insanity!) They’ve been in the freezer for a while, because I didn’t know what to do with ‘em. Occasionally I would remember they were in there and I’d do a little searching online for recipes. Most of them involved a grill, which, believe it or not, I do not currently own. So they stayed on ice until I found something else to do with them. I stumbled across a recipe that was for a slow cooker, and since slow cookers are pretty much the easiest way to cook just about anything, I figured I would start there. (And yes, grilling a beef heart would be more primal than putting it in a slow cooker. One step at a time.)

Warning: this post contains close-up images of a beef heart. If you think that will disturb you or make you queasy, feel free to skip this post. (On the other hand, if you’re a masochist, read on!)  

August 11, 2014

Alzheimer's Disease: Type 3 Diabetes

Hey Everyone,  

I know I sometimes joke around in my blog posts, making light of serious issues and poking fun at things in general (such as my ongoing food label series, and the sarcastic comment I made about Mikey and his gluten-free cupcake in the book review of Health Food Junkies.) But today I am bringing you something serious. Very serious. If you know anyone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, or someone who’s a caregiver to a loved one with this devastating condition, please keep reading.

Also keep reading if you are interested in learning about a growing view of Alzheimer's as another of the diseases of civilization, and largely the result of our modern diet, high in refined carbohydrates and vegetable/seed oils, and lower in cholesterol and healthful saturated fats.

August 6, 2014

Book Review: Health Food Junkies

Note: I do not plan to have this blog become nothing but recipes, book reviews, and food label takedowns. I am still (slowly but surely) working on the project I've been mentioning for a while, and I'm also still figuring out where to go next in my "real" posts -- the ones that dive deeper into physiology and biochemistry. I don't want to parrot what a hundred other people out there are already covering, so what's a gal to do? Man, this niche-finding is harder than it sounds! Anyway, I will be getting back to more educational posts soon, but in the meantime, rather than have total blog silence, I hope nobody minds that I keep posting things like this. So here goes...

I expected to not like this book. I expected to be angry and disappointed throughout. I mean, come on, the book’s subtitle is Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating. So before I even started, I wondered how the author, Steven Bratman, MD, would define “obsession” and “healthful eating.” Would he call me “obsessed with healthful eating” if he went out to breakfast with me and I ordered a western omelet (hold the toast), instead of a stack of pancakes dripping with syrup, washed down with a 20oz orange juice? Would he call me “obsessed” if I were at a restaurant and instead of taking a piece of bread from the complimentary basket, I helped myself to a pat of butter? Is that being “obsessed,” or is it simply me recognizing that my body doesn’t do so well on lots of sugar and starch? 

I expected this book to be a diatribe against anyone who asks questions of restaurant wait staff, or who asks for substitutions of double green vegetables in lieu of potatoes or pasta. Was I going to sit through 200+ pages of this doctor railing against people who eat Paleo, Primal, gluten-free, low-carb, or who are simply concerned with the sources of their food? If so, it was gonna be a bumpy ride.

July 30, 2014

Slow-Cooked Collard Greens; a.k.a. Awesome Cuts of Meat You're (Probably) Not Eating: Ham Hocks!

For a white Jewish girl born and raised in New York City, I am absurdly fond of southern, African-American inspired soul food. Ribs, cornbread, fried chicken, sweet potatoes laced with brown sugar…pass me a plate. Better yet, pass me two plates, and also a wet-nap, if you have one handy. But just because my individual metabolism can’t quite handle the dose of carbohydrate that comes with those sweet potatoes, cornbread, mac n’ cheese, and the molasses, ketchup, sugar, and brown sugar lurking in the BBQ sauce on the ribs, doesn’t mean I can’t get a fix of some good, down home food that’s good for the body and the soul. And just because I am a white Jewish girl from New York City doesn’t mean I can’t cook some of it, myself. Exhibit A: slow-cooked collard greens, complete with ham hock! (Yes, that’s right, a ham hock. I said I was Jewish; I didn’t say I keep kosher. And thank goodness, because there are way too many delicious things to do with pork. A life without bacon is no life at all. <--- That would make a great bumper sticker.)