Why Flax Oil Doesn’t Cut It As A Supplier Of Omega-3

by drpaul

For many legitimate reasons, some people don’t want to or cannot take fish oil and have been lead to believe that flax oil is a viable alternative to achieve healthy levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Flax oil contains the essential fatty acied alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which through metabolic processes the body can convert to the omega-3 essential fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are found in fish oil.

However, the conversion rate for this physiologic process is very limited – it is very low. So, flax oil is not an adequate substitute for fish oil.

Recently, algae-based omega-3 supplements have been developed that solve the problem for people seeking to supplement their diet with a plant-based omega-3 product. 

 

REFERENCES:

Barceló-Coblijn G, Murphy EJ, Othman R, Moghadasian MH, Kashour T, Friel JK. Flaxseed oil and fish-oil capsule consumption alters human red blood cell n-3 fatty acid composition: a multiple-dosing trial comparing 2 sources of n-3 fatty acid. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):801-9.

Burdge, G.C., and Calder, P.C. Conversion of a-linolenic acid to longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults. Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 45: 581-597, 2005.

Burdge, G.C., and Wootton , S.A. Conversion of a-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Brit. J. Nutr. 88: 411-420, 2002.

Burdge, G.C., et al. Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids are the principle products of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism inyoung men. Brit. J. Nutr. 88: 355-363, 2002.

Chan. J.K., et al. Effects of dietary alpha-linolenic acid and its ratio to linoleic acid on platelet and plasma fatty acids and thrombogenesis. Lipids. 28: 811-817, 1993.

Emken, E.A., et al . Dietary linolenic acid influences desaturation and acylation of deuterium-labeled linoleic and linolenic acids in young adult males. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1213: 277-288, 1994.

Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). A report of the Panel on Macronutrients, Subcommittess on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. National Academy Press, Washington , DC , 2002.

Francois, C.A., et al . Supplementing lactating women with flaxseed oil does not increase docosahexaenoic acid in their milk. AJCN. 77: 226-233, 2003.

Gerster, H. Can adults adequately convert a-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Int. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 68: 159-173, 1998.

Hussein, N., et al. Long-chain conversion of [13C]linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid in response to marked changes in their dietary intake in men. J. Lipid. Res. 46: 269-280, 2005.

Lamptey, M.S., and Walker, B. L. A possible essential role for dietary linolenic acid in the development of the young rat. J. Nutr. 106(1): 86-93, 1976.

Lane K, Derbyshire E, Li W, Brennan C. Bioavailability and potential uses of vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids: a review of the literature. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5): 572-9.

Pawlosky, R. J., et al . Physiological compartmental analysis of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism in adult humans. J. Lipid Res. 42(8):1257-1265, 2001.

SIZE DOES MATTER

by drpaul

THE BRAIN – PART I

The Shrinking Brain: Avoiding Alzheimer’s

As the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic continues to expand – some describe it as a ‘health meteor’ that’s going to strike the elderly populations from modern countries around 2025, great information is surfacing about how to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.

THE TAKE AWAYS: 

  • Small Brain Syndrome: People who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have ‘shrunken’ brains – i.e. smaller brain volumes; meaning their brains atrophy (and for you physiology nerds, their ventricles enlarge).[1]
  • Large Brain People: There are people, despite having the characteristic pathologic brain lesions commonly associated with AD, show no cognitive decline. Why? (i.e. what’s their secret?), what’s theneuroprotective mechanism in those people who don’t suffer even though they have the plaques? Larger brain volume.[2]
  • Fish Oil and Larger Brains: Blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids (that’s fish oil) lead to larger brain volumes (i.e. decreased brain atrophy).[3]
  • Exercise Helps Your Brain (… duh): What fires, wires. Regular exercise helps brain neurons to continually develop and stay healthy and is associated with preventing brain tissue loss and decreased incidence of Alzheimer’s.[4]

References
[1] Apostolova, Liana G, et al. Hippocampal Atrophy and Ventricular Enlargement in Normal Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer Disease Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders: Jan–Mar 2012; 26(1):17–27.
[1] Silbert, LC, et al Changes in premorbid brain volume predict Alzheimer’s disease pathology Neurology Aug 26, 2003 61(4): 487-492.
[2] Erten-Lyons, Deniz, et al. Factors associated with resistance to dementia despite high Alzheimer disease pathology Neurology January 27, 2009 vol. 72(4) 354-360.
[3] Pottala, James V. PhD Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes Neurology (2014) First published online before print January 22, 2014 doi: 10.1212.
[3] Tan, ZS, et al. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology Feb 28, 2012 vol. 78(9):658-664
[4] Erickson, Kirk I, et al. Beyond vascularization: aerobic fitness is associated with N-acetylaspartate and working memory Brain and Behavior 2012 January; 2(1): 32–41.
[4]Larson, Eric B, et al. Exercise Is Associated with Reduced Risk for Incident Dementia among Persons 65 Years of Age and Older. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(2):73-81.

[4]Tian, Q, et al. Physical Activity Predicts Microstructural Integrity in Memory-Related Networks in Very Old Adults J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci (2014) First published online: January 28, 2014 doi: 10.1093.
[4]Colcombe, SJ, et al. Aerobic fitness reduces brain tissue loss in aging humans. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2003 Feb; 58(2):176-80.

The Holiday Red Zone – Watch Out for Fumbles

by drpaul

In football jargon, the area within twenty yards of the goal line is called the Red Zone. There is nothing more disheartening to a football fan (and team) than when their team makes it inside the 20 yard line but fumbles the ball away to the other side. Both fans and coaches will go ballistic if their team loses possession from a fumble or an interception inside the 20 – turnovers are never good in football, but when they occur inside the Red Zone, at best it’s a momentum shift; at worst, it can be a game changer.

For our health, the ‘Red Zone’ is the holiday season – the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. As it is, the seasonal change from Fall to Winter is hard on our immune system, and it’s the beginning of cold and flu season. Without a doubt, this time of year is made worse by the abundance of unhealthy food choices that overwhelm us during the holidays. From people bringing baked goods and candies into offices to the numerous parties and family celebrations that seem to be anchored around Christmas cookies, pies, and cakes, temptations are all around.

The double … no, triple … no, quadruple whammy This is not an idle threat – not only is sugar bad for our health, but pies, cakes, cookies, and crackers are made with refined flour, which acts just like sugar when digested, and flour comes with inflammation-promoting gluten. So pies and other holiday “treats” create a triple whammy of sugar and refined flour, both of which cause rapid increases in blood glucose levels, resulting in decreased immune function, and finally, some disease-promoting inflammation. And finally, as a quadruple whammy, eating nutrient-poor sweets causes us to not eat (or displaces) the nutrient-dense foods we should be eating for our health in general and the immune system in particular.

Sugar Decreases Immune Function It’s long been known that sugar intake causes decreased immune system function. Studies have shown that the immune system is weakened substantially within minutes of eating refined sugar; the more you eat, the more your body’s insulin response system is compromised. The body’s cell-mediated immunity uses specialized white blood cells called neutrophils to attack tumors, viruses, and bacteria,  and is decreased when there is elevated blood glucose, which is caused by eating refined carbohydrate foods such as sugar and white flour. [Sanchez A, et al. Roles of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Amer J Clin Nutr 1973; 26:1180-1184. (view article)].  What’s more, not only are we more susceptible to getting colds and flu, even our body’s ability to fight cancer is compromised when we eat sugar. [Ely JTA, Krone CA Controlling Hyperglycemia as an Adjunct to Cancer Therapy. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2005; 4(1): 25-31. (view article)]

Don’t Fumble – Hold Onto the Ball So, how does one avoid the temptation of all those seemingly “yummy” foods that we’ve grown up with? First, we must own up to the fact that “a little won’t hurt” is a lie – sugary foods will hurt your body, and the more you indulge, the more it hurts your body – yes, it’s cumulative (in case you were wondering, that’s how people end up overweight, with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer). Second, if the temptation is at the office where holiday cookies, cakes, candy canes, etc. are everywhere, pack nutritious snacks and lunches to take to work – if you have strong fall back foods, you’ll be less likely to indulge. Third, if you’re headed to an office Christmas party or some other holiday celebration where you know there are going to be ample opportunities to indulge in an array of ‘disease foods,’ here are some good strategies: (a) eat healthy foods before you leave for the party; (b) bring some healthy munchies yourself – look at it as an opportunity to share how great a Paleo diet style can be; (c) when eating at a party, focus on eating the veggies and other healthy, nutrient-dense foods first; that way, your appetite will be satiated before hitting the desserts or other non-food health ‘derailleurs’.

You can do it!

Yours in health, Dr. Paul

Paleo Almond Buck Eyes

by drpaul

Dr. Paul’s Paleo Almond Buck Eyes

This incredible recipe was first created by and served to me on Thanksgiving by the lovely Kristen Wilson of Santa Barbara. I’ve changed the recipe (from butter to coconut oil, added shredded coconut and the cacao nibs). I love treats as much as the next person, but I’ve now disciplined myself to eating only healthy treats. This is my new favorite – satisfying, rich, and high in protein, fat and calories. It’s worth the effort to make them, for sure.    -  Dr. Paul

1 jar raw almond butter (available at Trader Joe’s)
1-1/4 cups almond flour (approx. 1/2 bag of TJ’s almond meal)
1 cup organic shredded coconut
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
1 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted
1/8 cup pure maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Quality dark chocolate [I use three packages of Lindt 85% available at WalMart, Walgreens, etc.]

    • Melt coconut oil; then add maple syrup or honey, and vanilla
    • In large mixing ball, combine raw almond butter, almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut and liquid coconut oil with sweetener and vanilla (all ingredients except chocolate)
    • After mixing, pour into silicone ice cube trays (meaning they’re flexible to ‘pop’ out pieces once frozen. Or, place bowl in freezer or refrigerator for 1+ hours to allow mixture to harden.
    • Pop out dome-shaped stage-1 buck eyes (if using the ice cube tray method); or, using a spoon or melon baller and hand ‘shaping’, scoop to make small (1″) balls and place on wax paper on a cookie sheet
    • Place cookie sheet with balls back into freezer (can be made ahead and stored)
    • Melt chocolate over double boiler (keep flame on low – be careful to not let the water boil)
    • Using tongs, dip each almond ball into melted chocolate and put back on waxed cookie sheet
    • When finished, put cookie sheet with balls back into fridge/freezer to harden.
    • Transfer to plastic ware and keep refrigerated (they go great with fresh berries)

Eating good fat makes you healthy (in case you forgot)

by drpaul

Fat is one of the healthiest things you can eat.

Period.

Although the concept that eating healthy fats, including saturated animal fat and butter (from organic sources), is now known by well-informed doctors, health educators, researchers, and scientists to be an essential part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, it still has a very negative stigma within our culture.

The belief that fat is bad for our health is FALSE.

Don’t believe everything you read or hear about fat … or cholesterol. Without good fat, you’ll end up sick, fat and … very unhealthy. In recent years fat in general, and saturated animal fat in particular has gotten an undeserved association with causing health problems.

To whet your appetite on this subject, how about this …

BUTTER IS GOOD FOR YOU This definitely flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but the truth is that butter is a great fat and a great food BUT, it must be ‘good butter’ – from pastured cows, NOT from feedlot, hormone / antibiotic dosed, grain-fed cows. Here are two articles that explain why butter is good for you:
10 Healthy Reasons To Enjoy Real Butter
Why Butter Is Better

For more info, please read FAT IS GOOD  More

It’s that time of year again …

by drpaul

FLU SHOT SEASON – HERE WE GO AGAIN. I can’t believe the … mistruths that crop up every year at this time. You hear it on the radio, and everywhere you drive you see the signs at the ubiquitous drug stores: FLU SHOT – NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY … it makes me want to scream.

KNOW THIS:

1)  Flu shots don’t work.1

2)  You’re more likely to get the flu this winter from GETTING a flu shot than if you choose not to get one.2

3)  You can more easily and more effectively avoid the flu with health-promoting lifestyle choices.

Not only do flu shots NOT provide increased immune function/protection (“…inactivated influenza virus vaccines have not been correlated with protection from influenza virus infection.” 1), but flu shots have been shown to INCREASE YOUR CHANCES of getting the flu.2   I know, those statements seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom (similar to the uncommon but true concept that eating fat is healthy and cholesterol is good for you), but the truth is that our bodies are genetically programmed to resist ‘bugs’ such as cold and flu viruses and as history continues to demonstrate and the scientific research supports, when man tries to manipulate the body’s sophisticated, intelligent, refined-over-eons-of-time, immune response through chemical drug intervention, it rarely produces a successful outcome.  And flu shots have been consistently shown to not work as they’re advertised3 – and boy are they advertised. The latest and greatest flu shot is the Fluzone High-Dose Vaccine. It’s now in your medical doctor’s office and on the shelves of your local pharmacy.  This “new and improved” toxic injection is being marketed to adults 65 and older (toxic meaning, like all vaccines, the flu shot is formulated with toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and octylphenol ethoxylate, which should never enter the human body, along with adjuvant ingredients such as gelatin and egg protein which, when introduced directly into the bloodstream versus the normal pathway of digestion, pose a serious risk of allergic to anaphylactic reactions4).  By the way, neither regular Fluzone or Fluzone High-Dose have NOT been evaluated for their ability to cause cancer.5 This new pharmaceutical creation has four times the concentration of a “regular” flu shot (hence the High-Dose name).  So that’s four times the potential for depressed total immune function. However, there’s “… no data demonstrating clinically relevant prevention … using a higher dose”.6

DO THIS: Here’s the best way to avoid getting the flu. The following strategies will bolster your body’s immune system and realistically decrease your chances of getting the flu (or a cold for that manner):

  • Take 3,000 – 5,000 units of Vitamin D every day. Vitamin D deficiency, common in our modern culture, especially in winter and more so in northern climes, is one of the most agreed upon “weak links” we can reconcile with supplementation (the others being omega-3 and probiotics).7-9
  • Exercise five to six days every week. Exercise simply makes you healthier, which includes your immune system and improving your body’s ability to fight off everything from colds, flu viruses, even cancer.10, 11
  • Eat five servings of vegetables every day (broccoli, purple cabbage, carrots, red leaf lettuce, spinach, celery, squash … you get the idea).  From cancer to colds, veggies are THE KEY – the phytonutrients and antioxidants contained in vegetables are the building blocks for a healthy immune system.12
  • Avoid Eating Sugar – when we eat sugar, the body’s immune function drops 50% almost instantly (and eating sugar will undermine your health like very few other foods).
  • Reduce your stress - studies show that stress plays a major role in decreased immune function AND get at least seven hours of sleep every night (more if you’re feeling run down or if you feel like you’re ‘coming down’ with something).13-15

UPDATE: Pharma company Roche comes under fire for biased data regarding the efficacy and safety of Tamiflu, its blockbuster flu treatment drug. In an open letter from Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the prestigious British Medical Journal, Roche gets called on the carpet because “…eight of the 10 randomised controlled trials on which effectiveness claims were based were never published and because the only two that had been published were funded by Roche and authored by Roche employees and external experts paid by Roche, the evidence could not be relied on”.16 Then, to emphasize the deep concern over this break in integrity, the BMJ announced that  “…as part of its ongoing open data campaign, has launched a dedicated website aimed at persuading Roche to give doctors and patients access to the full data on oseltamivir (Tamiflu).” (Did you catch that, “a dedicated website”)

“The new site, www.bmj.com/tamiflu, displays emails and letters dating back to September 2009, when researcher Tom Jefferson first asked the company for the unpublished dataset used in a Roche supported analysis, published in 2003.17

Remember, if you happen to get the flu, it’s not the end of the world; yes, it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient, but contrary to medical propaganda, it’s extraordinarily rare for a person to suffer serious consequences from having the flu. Getting colds and the flu are part of life. Yes, we should fight like hell to strengthen our immune system and certainly not resign ourselves to ‘getting the flu’, but flu shots come with enormous risk and absolutely no benefit to you (only to the drug companies who manufacture them and the drug stores who promote them). Don’ succumb to the propaganda – your life hangs in the balance!

Yours in health, Dr. Paul

REFERENCES:
1Fluzone Vaccine literature, page 16 [FDA documentation];
2Association between the 2008–09 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and Pandemic H1N1 Illness during Spring–Summer 2009: Four Observational Studies from Canada – Read “What Do These Findings Mean” in the Editor’s Summary [PLoS Medicine journal article]
3Effectiveness of 2008–09 Trivalent Influenza Vaccine Against 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) — United States, May–June 2009 [CDC analysis]
4Fluzone Vaccine literature, pages 7-12
5Fluzone Vaccine literature, page 17
6Fluzone Vaccine literature, page 2
7Epidemic influenza and vitamin D [Epidemiology and Infection journal article];
8On the epidemiology of influenza [Virology Journal article]
9Triple that vitamin D intake, panel prescribes [Wall Street Journal article] 10Moderate exercise protects mice from death due to influenza virus. [Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal article];
11Exercise increases inflammatory macrophage antitumor cytotoxicity [Journal of Applied Physiology article]
12Suppression of microtubule dynamic instability and turnover in MCF7 breast cancer cells by sulforaphane. [Carcinogenesis journal article]
13Sleeping to fuel the immune system: mammalian sleep and resistance to parasites. [BMC Evolutionary Biology journal article]
14Brain-immune interactions in sleep [International Review of Neurobiology journal article]
15How (and why) the immune system makes us sleep. [Nature Reviews. Neuroscience]
16Open Letter to Roche about osetamivir trial data. [British Medical Journal 2012;345:e7305]
17Tamiflu: the battle for secret drug data. [British Medical Journal2012;345:e7303]

The Dietary Trifecta – Sugar, Salt & Fat: How To Eat Them Responsibly

by drpaul

Sugar is good. Sugar is bad.

Salt is good. Salt is bad.

Fat is good. Fat is bad.

All true statements, in a way.

Our bodies need all three, but probably not as much as you might be eating … or in the form you’re eating … OR more importantly, the source they’re coming from, etc.

Boy, are we confused in today’s culture. Studies now show that people are so confused about what’s good to eat and what’s bad to eat, they’re simply giving up. This isn’t a case of a little is good and too much is bad. The truth is that sugar, salt and fat are all good under certain conditions or when they meet certain criteria; and not simply because a little sugar (or salt or fat) is good and a lot is bad. It turns out the quality and type of sugar, salt and fat are the critical issues.

Good Sugar
There are sugars found naturally in foods such as bananas, dates, and honey. They are part of the natural food supply within our environment and can be considered good or healthy sugars. Because these “natural” sugars, when found within whole foods, are bound to fiber and combined with enzymes, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, co-factors and other natural nutrients that allow or cause the body to digest and metabolize them through healthy pathways and timelines, they are considered healthy sugars.

However, what’s not natural or healthy is an unlimited supply or overindulgence, even of natural or “healthy” sugars. Over the past five hundred generations as human biological requirements were being formed, abundance wasn’t a concern; famine was. Therefore, our bodies are designed to withstand famine but not indulgence or overconsumption of any foods, including healthy sugars found in natural foods. Early man did not have an unlimited supply of bananas, honey or strawberries (nor did those fruits resemble some of the hybrid fruits grown today to accentuate their sweetness). It should also be mentioned that because fruit juice comes from a natural source does not mean that it qualifies as a good or healthy sugar – it’s no longer bound to the fiber and other nutrients that are the hallmarks of a healthy food – it has become a refined sugar product with the same negative health effects as refined sugars.

Bad Sugar
A general statement can be made that any sweetener added to food is almost always going to be a refined, processed concentrated sugar of some sort; the exceptions being raw honey, dates (not date sugar) molasses, xylitol, and Stevia. It’s been only recently (in the last 3-4 generations), that man has devised ways to create highly concentrated “unnatural” sugars such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose and the myriad of sugar derivatives. Similar to the risk of overabundance, during the eons of time when the current human genetic code was stamped into its present form, humans never experienced these unnatural, man-made, concentrated sugars. They are very toxic and deleterious to our health. These manufactured, super-sweet sugars cause the body to react in unhealthy ways resulting in damaged organs, tissues and cells in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.

Good Sugars:

  • Whole fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Whole dates
  • Blackstrap molasses

**Even natural good sugars should be consumed in moderation, even fresh fruit.

Bad Sugars:

  • Sucrose – table sugar (including dextrose, fructose)
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Extracted, filtered, pasteurized fruit juices
  • Fruit juice concentrates

When we eat any foods that cause an abnormal spike in our glucose levels, which in turn causes abnormally high insulin levels, we put our bodies on a path to destruction. The foods that cause these abnormal conditions to occur are unnatural, concentrated sweeteners, such as those listed directly above. Eating unnatural concentrated sugars causes:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High insulin levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Hypertension
  • Weight gain

NOTE: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) or sucralose (Splenda) are an entirely different topic with their own story to tell, none of it good.

NOTE 2: Grains act like sugar when we eat them – meaning they too cause high insulin levels.

Worth Your Salt?
In ancient Rome, soldiers were paid part of their wages in salt (the modern word salary is derived from the Latin word “salarium” – salt money); that’s where the term, “He’s not worth his salt” came from.

Salt is an essential substance used by nearly all living creatures, including humans, and is vital for survival. Salt, in solution with water, provides many regulatory metabolic functions within our bodies. Proper health is in part determined by the delicate balance of mineral salts and water that exist inside and outside our cells.

Salt as a food additive or seasoning has been around for nearly 6,000 years and has always been valued as a spice or condiment.  In its natural form (i.e. unrefined sea salt), it provides necessary minerals and trace elements and can therefore be considered healthy – but with major qualifiers: (a) unprocessed; and (b) not over consumed.  Unfortunately, table salt used commonly today is not natural and does not contain the valuable nutrients common to natural unprocessed sea salts.

Salt Found in Foods Naturally – GOOD
Salt, also known as soduim, does contain natural minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, silicon, potassium, bromide, borate, and strontium and trace elements. What most people don’t realize it that all of the salt that you need is already found in many natural foods like fruits and vegetables. There is no need to add additional salt to foods.  In fact, too much salt can be deadly. You can easily get enough salt through eating a whole foods based diet.

Processed Table Salt – BAD
Most American’s grow up with Morton’s Iodized Salt – salt that typically contains 98% sodium chloride and 2% chemical additives and has been processed using high heat (1200°F), chemicals, and finally iodine added to it. This industrial processing changes the chemical structure and strips away valuable nutrients that are naturally occurring and health promoting. The end product is simply sodium chloride with added fillers (sugar and aluminum silicate , anti-caking agents) to stabilize the added iodine and to make the salt flow better.

The USDA says that people 19 and over should have no more than 2400mg of salt per day.  Based on what we know about the USDA, use this number as and extreme upper limit for salt intake. The problem is that most Americans are eating many times this amount per day, mostly from processed foods. Up to 75% of the extra salt that Americans are eating is from processed foods, with 20% coming from table salt. Only 5% of salt is coming from natural, healthy sources.  For instance, one McDonald’s Angus Bacon and Cheeseburger contains 2070mg of salt.  That is 85% of the absolute maxium amount of salt you can consume each day. The lesson here is to stick to fruits, veggies and healthy meats.  And kick the Morton’s to the curb.  For the foodies out there, if the thought of tossing your table salt makes your culinary ego cringe, do not fear.  Much like salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon can bring out the natural flavors in food, not to mention, the vitamin C will help you kick your squelch your salt cravings.

The Skinny on Fat
If there’s one thing health science has learned over the past 25 years, it’s that sufficient intake of quality fats is essential for health; this even includes saturated animal fat, long considered a taboo amongst so-called health experts. But don’t let the simplicity of that statement mislead you – it’s not an endorsement to eat any animal fat, deep fried foods, milk shakes, chips made with oils and the like; far from it – the quality AND source of fat is critically important.

First, the concept that eating fat will make a person become overweight is not an accurate statement. In fact, the current obesity epidemic began when Americans adopted the low-fat, non-fat, dietary regimen in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that still persists today. Unfortunately, this “myth” of ‘avoiding fat because it will make you fat’ extends to the present, and as a culture, we’re paying dearly for it. What’s at the center of the obesity epidemic is not the need to avoid fat, it’s the consumption of grains, sugars, and processed vegetable oils which elevate insulin, the “fat storage hormone” that’s making our culture obese (in combination with sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress, which also cause abnormal insulin and fat metabolism).

As it turns out, our bodies utilize fat for nearly every metabolic process including brain function, immune system, and hormone production and regulation, to name just a few. These important bodily systems require a consistent supply of good fuel throughout each day in the form of fat (along with quality protein, and abundant complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables). There are a special group of fats called essential fatty acids (EFA) which like the name states, are essential – our bodies can’t manufacture them, they must be consumed. The most important fat our bodies need in good supply (and are almost always lacking) is omega-3 essential fatty acids, commonly found in wild (not farmed) fish, grass- or pasture-fed animals, walnuts, avocados, and other raw nuts and seeds. The other principle essential fat is omega-6 fats which are found primarily in processed vegetable oils and grains, which unfortunately predominates the Standard American diet. Here’s the rub: for optimal health, we should eat a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 EFA; however, today, scientists have calculated that most people are eating a diet giving them a ratio of 1:20 or even 1:50 in favor of omega-6 because the average American eats a diet dominated by grains (breads, pasta), cereals, chips, fried foods, baked goods, etc. that contain or are made with omega-6 vegetable oils and worse – hydrogenated vegetable oils which are very harmful to the body, causing heart disease and cancer.

Good Fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oi
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Wild caught fish
  • Pasture-fed, grass-fed meats
  • Fish oil supplements

Bad Fats:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Processed vegetable oils (found in nearly all packaged foods such as chips, snack foods, breads)
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Grain-fed meats
  • Cured meats (deli or “lunch meats”)
  • Processed dairy (pasteurized, homogenized milk, ice cream, cheese)

Mastering these three critical food groups is similar to learning how to successfully merge onto an interstate highway – if done correctly, your journey to health will be smooth and uneventful; done poorly, it can be fatal.

Related Resources:

New England Journal of Medicine Study on the Effects of Salt Intake on Cardiovascular Disease

MSNBC: American’s Consume Too Much Salt

How To Manage A Salt Addiction

Why Salt Addiction is Hard to Kick

25 Suprisingly Salty Processed Foods

CDC: Few Americans Meet Salt Guidelines

Hormone Balance and Food Combining: How Proteins, Carbs and Fats Affect the Body’s Behavior

by drpaul

Balance your hormones by balancing the things you put in your mouth.  I don’t mean weighing your food or putting them on the scales of justice (although you should justify what you do eat based on how you will feel, both physically and mentally, POST consumption, NOT pre-consumption).  This is more about balancing the types of foods you eat.  That’s right:  the foods that you do or don’t eat and the combinations of them play a major role in the types of hormones that are released in your body.

The western (modern) diet basically tells our bodies one thing hormonally…GROW.  Yep, if you eat like the average American, you are eating a diet that gives you no chance at being healthy or having a “magazine-like” body.  And we’re not talking Cosmo, People or Muscle Media, we’re talking Shape or Women’s/Men’s Health, or any other magazine that depicts people who at least appear healthful.  You see, the average American eats roughly 50% of their calories from carbohydrates, and most of them come in the form of processed grains, sugar and corn syrup.

If you compare this to our ancestors’ diets, you will see a large difference in both the amount and the type.  About 25-40% of our ancestors’ diet was comprised of carbs, and those were pretty much exclusively vegetables with some fruit (not a lot).  This plays a huge role in our hormones and in our size.  Now, it is safe to say that nobody wants to be fat, but from a physiological perspective on the way that we eat in this country, it sure seems like that is the goal.  Not only are we eating tons of these processed carbs, but it is also the way that we eat them.  You see, different hormones are released, based on the food combinations that we choose.

Food Choices and Hormonal Response
What is a typical breakfast in the States (if it is even eaten)?  Cereal comes to mind, along with pastries, pop tarts, packaged waffles, bagels or toast right?  We’re not sure how mainstream media switched the good ol’ fashion steak and eggs to a sugar slap first thing in the morning, but it has happened.  Eating like this is just like a slap or a punch to the pancreas, telling insulin to be released and telling the body to grow, grow, grow.  We would have never eaten that high a sugar content or anything remotely like these foods in our hunter-gather days.  And remember, we are the same – our genes haven’t changed much, if at all, in the last 40,000 years.

You may be wondering what you should eat for breakfast; we have some ideas.

Carbs are going to spike our insulin, no matter what; however, we can curb that spike to some degree if we eat some protein and fat along with the carbs.  We are in no way recommending a high carb, high processed food diet.  It’s important to take it one step further when eating fruits and veggies.  It is best when we eat a balanced diet by consuming protein, fat and healthful carbs together at every meal.  This is the basis for The Zone Diet prescribed by Dr. Barry Sears.  Where we at Bonfire Health differs from Dr. Sears is when it comes to quality of food.  He goes into this somewhat, but we want you to focus on eating natural foods (from the earth, not processed), as well as balancing the macronutrient content (protein, carbs and fats).

By eating healthful carbohydrates (fruits and veggies), you will dramatically decrease the insulin released, which will decrease your body’s message to grow and store fat.  By going a step further, eating a small portion of lean protein (grass-fed beef, turkey, chicken, etc.) and fats (avocados, nuts, seeds) along with those carbs, you will in fact be balancing your hormones, which will keep you healthy or move you toward health!

For more info on balancing hormones through foods, as well as other great nutritional info, visit:

What is The Zone Diet

Crossfit Nutrition

The Paleo Diet

Robb Wolf

Wiki on Hormones

Why Bread, Potatoes and Legumes Are ‘Bad’ For Us

by drpaul

There are many foods that have crept into the human diet in recent times (post-agriculture period) that contain what are termed ‘anti-nutrients’.

In essence, an anti-nutrient is a compound naturally found in certain plants, most often the seed portion, that enable the plant to be resistant to predators (microbes, fungi, bugs, birds, etc.). The most common anti-nutrients are gliadin and glutenin which are found in wheat, saponins which are found in potatoes (along with harmful glykoalkaloids), and lectins which are found in legumes (legumes contain saponins also). Legumes include peanuts, beans, peas, lentils, alfalfa, carob, and soybeans.

How Anti-Nutrients Harm Us
Upon entering our digestive tract, anti-nutrients irritate the intestinal tract resulting in intestinal permeability – in other words, wheat (breads, pasta, pizza, cereal) containing gliadin and glutenin, potatoes containing glycoalkaloids and saponins, and legumes containing saponins and lectins – all of those foods irritate the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, breaking down the the natural barrier of the intestinal wall. This breakdown of the intestinal wall is sometimes referred to as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Intestinal permeability is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation (resulting in diverticulitis), inappropriate immune responses (allergies), and autoimmune diseases (such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis).

For the record, sweet potatoes and yams do not contain saponins or glycoalkaloids.

Grains – The Pillar of Disease

by drpaul

 

… and give us today our daily bread. - Matt 6:13-19

Come on, if it’s in the bible, even part of the Lord’s prayer for crying out loud, how can bread be bad? (I guess that would include bagels, pizza, cereal and crackers because they’re just variations of bread; for that matter, beer too – it being ‘liquid bread’.)

Are you sitting down? Are you ready for this – there are many, many respected scientists, researchers, doctors, athletes, and everyday people who, as part of their healthy lifestyles, do not eat bread or any wheat products (this includes the founders of Bonfire Health). Not because they have celiac disease or other gluten allergy, but because they understand how eating wheat will undermine their health in many ways.  One respected health lecturer has gone so far as to create and sell WHEAT IS MURDER tee shirts [click here if you don't believe me].

Grains are hard to digest, contain anti-nutrients gliadin and glutenin which cause intestinal permeability, promote inflammation, and cause high insulin levels – that’s a recipe for disaster/disease in the form of diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disease (not to mention diverticulitis, a precursor to colon cancer).

Dr. Loren Cordain cites evidence in his book THE PALEO DIET, as well as his and other published research, that whole grain products frequently contribute to an elevated glycemic load because of the quantity of total grains the USDA recommends (8 ounces per day, equivalent to 8 slices of bread). Wheat in particular is problematic because it contains the proteins gliadin and glutenin, both of which are shown to increase intestinal permeability in celiac patients as well as in healthy persons.

Cordain notes that increased intestinal permeability promotes passage of a gut borne bacterial substance called lipopolysachharide into the bloodstream, producing a low-level chronic state of inflammation called endotoxemia (see Maelán Fontes’ article on Type 2 Diabetes and Endotoxemia). Endotoxemia likely underlies many chronic disease states, particularly cardiovascular disease and a number of autoimmune diseases, according to Cordain. [source: Dr. Loren Cordain comments on the  U.S. Federal Government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans]

I know, this is a shocker – after all, aren’t whole grains one of the pillars of health? Actually and resoundingly, NO!  It’s true – one of the quickest ways to get healthier is to stop eating grains of any sort, but especially wheat.

One problem besides the fact that people eat wheat at nearly every meal, grains in general and wheat in particular, are ‘hidden’ in many, many foods. Here’s a great article Hidden Sources of Grains.

In our house, we make cookies out of almond flour, Yambanana Bread with yams, bananas and nuts – you’d be surprised how you can still eat a healthy ancestral diet with modern recipes.

 

PS. The photo at the top, has another ‘devil in disguise’ – can you figure it out?

 

That’s right, fried food – it’s number three on the The Top 10 Disease-Producing Foods

 

PS. PS. Yes, although I don’t eat bread, I do still drink beer, which is in essence liquid bread – I love a good hand-crafted IPA.