Friday, January 25, 2013

Food for Thought while I'm "absent"

"There is enough in the world for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed." 

Mahatma Gandhi

ps... I should have added that I awakened this morning to a winter storm of sleet and freezing rain even though the weather folks forecasted it would be mostly snow.  

After the several days without power last week, I would have thought there were few trees left to fall on power lines, but my county and the surrounding counties are 90-95% forested, and electric power is intermittent again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Power Outage, and Apologies

I've been without electric power (and therefore no internet connection) thanks to a foot of wet heavy snow several days ago. Even now the power is still intermittent and while I'm much better prepared for emergencies than most people, having no internet connection is a PITA.

I know there are several Comments pending my attention (mostly about the recent post on Omega-3 and Omega-6 "Fats") that require a response, but I need to research some of the questions about grapeseed oils, and even though I think I know the answer, I want to be sure about what I post.

However, with the power going off and on, it may be another day or two before I can reliably get to them. Please be patient.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

One Food Plan Doesn't Fit Everyone, Part 3, Fats


Did you know that our brains are about 60 percent fat? The fats we eat strongly influence our level of brain function. Some nutritional anthropologists believe the human brain would not have developed as it did without access to high levels of DHA (a type of fat) found in fish and wild game. 

Just two generations of eating high omega-6 fats and low omega-3 fats can lead to profound and detrimental changes in brain size and function.

Saturated fats: Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. They are also found in some tropical plants and vegetable oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel.

Saturated fats are not as dangerous as you think. In fact, coconut oil is quite healthy and is the best oil to use for cooking since it is far less likely to be damaged through heating.

A misguided fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks. This is simply another myth that has been harming our health for the last 30 or 40 years. The truth is, healthy saturated fats from high quality minimally processed animal and some vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances.

When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

It's important though to understand that not all saturated fats are the same. There are subtle differences that have profound health implications, and if you avoid eating all saturated fats, your health will likely suffer as a result. There are in fact more than a dozen different types of saturated fats, but you predominantly consume only three: stearic acid, palmitic acid and lauric acid.

It's well established that stearic acid (found in cocoa and animal fat) has no adverse effects on our cholesterol levels, and actually gets converted in our liver into the monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. The other two, palmitic and lauric acid, do raise total cholesterol. However, since they raise "good" cholesterol as much or more than "bad" cholesterol, you're still actually lowering your risk of heart disease.

Omega-3 fats improve our cell's response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They also help the repair process when our cells are damaged. On the other hand, omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering our moods, and impairing learning and cell repair. To avoid high levels of omega-6, it is important to avoid all vegetable seed oils. (That does not include olive oils, or palm and coconut oils, none of which are from seeds.)

Omega 3’s in beef that feed on grass is seven percent of their total fat content, compared to just one percent in grain-only fed beef. Grass-fed beef also has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (a minimum of 3:1 although 1:1 is much better).

Please understand that it's not only necessary to consciously consume omega-3 fats, but it is just as important to lower our omega-6 fat intake. If we don't lower our omega-6 fats to acceptable levels, our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio will not be low enough, and we will not receive many of the wonderful benefits of omega-3 fats such as reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, arthritis and many other degenerative illnesses.

Our intake of omega-6, a fat found in corn, soy, sunflower and other vegetable oils, is far too high. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be 1:1, but the typical American's ratio ranges anywhere from 15:1 to 50:1

If you only can afford to buy one organic food it should be butter. It is not uncommon for non-organic butter to have up to 20 times the level of pesticides of non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Partial source:

I have more comments about the Omega-3 in eggs from pastured free-range hens... but that's for another post.

Friday, January 11, 2013

One Food Plan Doesn't Fit Everyone, Part 2

Continued from here.

Just a brief bit here on the Proteins / Amino-acids we all need. (Some in-depth info on Fats coming soon...)

Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of our body tissues such as our skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of our immune system and hormones.

Proteins are made up of substances called amino acids, 22 of which are considered vital for our health. Our body can make 14 of these amino acids, but the other eight (or nine, some controversy there), known as essential amino acids, must be obtained from what we eat. Proteins are found in all types of food, but only meat, eggs, cheese and other foods from animal sources contain complete proteins, meaning they provide the eight/nine essential amino acids.

Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.

When proteins are digested or broken down, amino acids are left. The human body needs a number of amino acids to:
  • Break down food
  • Grow
  • Repair body tissue
  • Perform many other body functions
Amino acids are classified into three groups:
  • Essential amino acids
  • Nonessential amino acids
  • Conditional amino acids
Essential amino acids
  • Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. As a result, they must come from food.
  • The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptohan, and valine.
Nonessential amino acids
  • "Nonessential" means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we don't get it from the food we eat.
  • They include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
Conditional amino acids
  • Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress.
  • They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
You do not need to eat essential and nonessential amino acids at every meal, but getting a balance of them over the whole day is very important.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention here that grocery-store eggs that say "high in Omega-3" should be avoided... not because Omega-3 isn't good for us (It really is good great for us!). Typically those chickens are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Not good for the chicks, and certainly not good for us.

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Food Plan Doesn't Fit Everyone

Yep, true statement. Each of us has about 300 million activities taking place at the cellular level at any given moment, and it stands to reason that what is best for my body may not be the same for yours.

However, there are some fundamentals that prove to hold true across all body types, all blood types, and other idiosyncratic differences. For example: high fructose corn syrup. Studies have shown that cancer cells grow 7 times faster on a diet of HFCS over natural sugar. The implications are that cancer cells proliferate on natural sugars anyway, just slower... and they may, but I have no statistics to prove that statement.

For starters about foods in our daily diet, let's look at carbohydrates. Most of us eat too many simple carbs, and too few complex carbs. For me personally, I have to be careful to limit my complex carbs, and not include much in the way of grains and potatoes. Your body may be different.

Carbohydrates provide fuel for our bodies, in the form of glucose or sugar. There are two types of carbohydrates -- simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, such as the ones found in candy, fruits and baked goods. Complex carbohydrates are starches found in beans, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.

Two-thirds of all us Americans are overweight, if not obese. We have an epidemic on our hands! This is the result of eating far too many processed foods and believing the low-fat diet myth. (I'll cover that in another post.)

What most people don't know is that we don't actually need carbohydrates -- they are not essential for survival, and the RDA for carbs is actually zero. If we ate no carbohydrates, like many traditional Eskimos and other indigenous peoples do do, we would survive as long as we had enough high-quality protein, fat, water and minerals.

While both grains and vegetables are carbohydrates, most grains should be avoided and most vegetables are acceptable. Our bodies function better with the carbohydrates in vegetables rather than grains because it slows the conversion to simple sugars (glucose) and decreases our insulin levels Grain carbohydrates, on the other hand, will increase our insulin levels and interfere with our ability to burn fat.

Highly Recommended Vegetables:
Avocado (actually avocados are a fruit)    
Beet greens    
Bok Choy    
Brussels sprouts    
Chinese cabbage    
Collard greens    
Dandelion greens    
Green and red cabbage
Lettuce: romaine, red leaf, green leaf
Mustard greens
Peppers: red, green, yellow and hot

Use these vegetables sparingly due to their high carbohydrate levels:
Winter Squash

Avoid altogether:


Friday, January 4, 2013

Following my own advice, or Resolutions

For several years on this blog, I have advocated Real Foods... and for the most part, I have eaten that way. Several years ago I went on a grain-free and legume-free diet, and my health was the BEST ever in the many years since I started to notice aging.

But like most humans, my downfall was succumbing to the addictions of ubiquitous carbs, found in almost everything we eat, whether we realize it or not.

The carbs in question were not so much the sweet carbs like donuts or desserts, but the carbs found in grains, and primarily in wheat. Turns out it's NOT just the carb content found in wheat, but something far more problematic: the wheat grain itself. Dr. William Davis asserts that since the 1960's and later, wheat has been hybridized (but not GMO wheat) to have shorter stalks (making harvest easier) and heavier seed heads (growing more wheat per acre). However, this hybridization has also resulted in some characteristics in wheat that are NOT desirable, such as how it affects the human body, and encourages the consumption of an additional 400+ calories per day, 24/7/365. (You'd need to read the book for details.)

Dr. Davis wrote Wheat Belly on the dangers of wheat, and a just-released cookbook of wheat-free recipes. While I haven't actually read his first book, I have read numerous interviews with him online, and what I read jives with my own experience of what happens with giving up grains. I also admit to dragging my feet into accepting his theories, yet HOW can I deny my own experiences?

To that end, I'm giving up wheat again, despite how much I LOVE a fresh, warm loaf of sourdough bread straight from my oven... or pancakes, or pasta or pizza... I have found many recipes online, including some from Dr. Davis' cookbook, for decent tasting substitutions for wheat, even a pizza crust!

Several years ago, I read that grains in times past were considered only as survival/famine foods. Makes sense to me, even though the American Food Economy today is largely based on cheap wheat grain in everything, even beer.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Belgian Endive Roots are Growing!

Well, they aren't growing quite as I hoped, partly from a lack of water in the bottom of the potting soil and inattention on my part. Nor are they developing the perfect "heads" as seen in the grocery stores. ('ll have to research how to get them to grow into "heads" better.)

However, they ARE growing out in the root cellar, and I'm encouraged enough to try again next fall!

Here's the post on beginning this project.