“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.“- Hippocrates
In my wayward vegetarian days, before finding Weston A. Price and eventually Paleo, I ate my fair share of faux food: soy ground beef crumbles, egg substitutes made from tofu, heart-healthy margarine, and my favorite, seitan (pure wheat gluten). For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, check out this 30 second “public service announcement” from Ron Swanson of NBC’s Parks and Recreation.
Most of us recognize the foods listed above as imitations, but what about locally purchased vegetables, eggs, and grass-fed meats? Clearly these whole foods are leaps and bounds ahead of the imposters, but do they contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals as nature intended? The answer, to a great extent, depends on the care and stewardship of the soil in which they were grown.
By LEIGH ZALESKI
Daily Record/Sunday News
York, PA – Seth Duncan didn’t like the way he felt when he ate grains.
He felt sluggish and always had cravings, even after eating a full meal. He was vegan for about two years, and although he ate enough protein, he said he wasn’t getting enough nutrients.
At 5-feet-6-inches tall, Duncan weighed about 128 pounds, but said he had a higher body-fat percentage, about 15 percent.
In January, he abandoned his vegan diet and did a complete 180. Now, he follows the paleo diet, a regimen that’s high in fat, animal protein and nutrient-dense vegetables. It includes some fruits and nuts, but no grains.
Supporters of the diet say it’s designed after the way our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic period, from about 2 million years ago to 10,000 B.C. They argue that, at that time, humans hunted, gathered and didn’t eat grains, and that we haven’t yet evolved to do so.
For the last 3-1/2 years, broadcast journalist CJ Hunt and his team have gone “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet TM.” An unprecedented global exploration to find a solution to the #1 killer in America – our growing epidemic of obesity and related chronic diseases – such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Blogging is the lifeblood of the growing Primal/paleo movement, as you know, and new veins, arteries, and capillaries are popping up every day. I’m calling this the underrated blog post, but really, given the steadily increasing span of the community, even the most underrated blogger has a fair amount of readership. In fact, as I review my list of “underrated blogs,” they all get a significant amount of readers and comments. Oh well, they’re still worth listing. I suppose you could say we’re all underrated in the grand scheme of things.
I did a similar thing a year ago, and it’s time to do it again. The blogs I listed in 2010 remain essential, but these all deserve consideration to be included in your blog rotation. They’re not all Primal, or even strictly paleo, and some of them rarely ever mention exercise and nutrition, but they will enrich your lives and broaden your knowledge base.
On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology.
Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.
The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”
It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.
The number of viewers Lustig has attracted suggests that people are paying attention to his argument. When I set out to interview public health authorities and researchers for this article, they would often initiate the interview with some variation of the comment “surely you’ve spoken to Robert Lustig,” not because Lustig has done any of the key research on sugar himself, which he hasn’t, but because he’s willing to insist publicly and unambiguously, when most researchers are not, that sugar is a toxic substance that people abuse. In Lustig’s view, sugar should be thought of, like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that’s killing us.
This brings us to the salient question: Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?
Olive oil’s reputation has been besmirched. It isn’t the magic life elixir fueling the teeming hordes of Mediterranean-dieting, crusty bread-eating, moderate wine-drinking centenarians, but it doesn’t deserve to be tossed in the trash heap with soybean, grapeseed, corn, and canola oils. I sense that it’s fast becoming a “fallen fat” among our crowd and I think it’s a darn shame. Are a few extra grams of linoleic acid, one or two unfortunate incidents of adulterated oil, and gushing praise from vegans, vegetarians, and the American Heart Association alike enough to turn us against a staple, phenolic-rich food sporting several thousand years of storied history?
Allow me to explain myself. Early this week, I got an email from a reader: “I often roast my veggies with EVOO. Would butter be a better alternative, or are the fats in EVOO just as well?” This is an extremely common, totally innocent question. I get similar questions a few times each week. Moreover, I’ve noticed a general undercurrent across the paleosphere of folks avoiding olive oil altogether, either because it isn’t necessary for health, has too much linoleic acid, or it’s too prone to oxidative damage when exposed to the elements (heat, oxygen, light). I’d like to address each of these, particularly the oxidative stability. And I’ll answer whether I think we can cook with it or not.
By David Katz, M.D.- Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center
The USDA announced today that eggs are significantly lower in cholesterol than previously thought. And, by the way, they are also quite a bit higher in vitamin D.
All by itself, this is potentially important news, with wide implications for the American diet. The newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for instance, recommend a limit of 300mg of cholesterol per day for healthy adults, and 200mg per day for adults with, or at high risk for heart disease. The new, lower cholesterol content of eggs means that these guidelines could be met if healthy adults average between one and two eggs per day, while even adults with heart disease can come in under the guideline consuming an egg daily. (By the way, the reason eggs are now lower in cholesterol is not entirely clear, but likely relates to changes in the diets of hens. We are what we eat, and so are chickens … and their eggs.)
But I consider news about less cholesterol to be just one entry among several that collectively go a long way toward full … eggsoneration.
First, we were probably wrong about the harms of dietary cholesterol in the first place.