Sceptically Fit

26/11/2011

Months of thinking – lots of links

Due to a multitude of life stress going on I’ve really feel behind on this site. So in an attempt to catch up I’m going to just link to all the stories that have caught my eye over the last few months.

Vitamin C supplementation may aid recovery from intense exercise in the cold. Is honey even honey any more? Why do we keep messing with our food.   Are our agricultural staples trying to kill us? A look at which nutrients are essential for healthy mitochondria. Can you eat too much liquorice? Yoghurt doesn’t work the way we thought. A look at the effect of a paleo diet on testosterone. The evolution of lactose tolerance and how to use it if you have it. An interview with Dr Loren CordainWholegrain pasta offers no benefit over refined pasta. A look at preparing traditional grains. Are eggs the answer to weightloss? Here’s seven more reasons to eat them.

Meat doesn’t rot in your colon – grains do. Another study shows that grass-fed red meat is healthier. A diet high in fat is not fattening. A ted talk on using diet to stop angiogenesis. And a diet high in carbohydrates is linked to cancer. So while low carb seems better for reducing cancer and heart disease, its best to keep it high in vegetables.

However, is it just a matter of  eating whole foods that’s more important than individual nutrients. The Perfect Health Diet offers a food apple guide, and lifehacker suggests how to begin eating ancestrally

Are you always aware of what you eat – a look at how your subconscious mind affects your diet. The link between  omega3  imbalances and depression and how increasing your omega3 levels can reduce inflammation and anxiety. How to balance your omega 6 vs omega 3 ratios. A guide to cravings and what your body might actually be needing.

Mark Sisson talks about the idea of gateway foods and helpfully provides a delicious sounding recipe for pumpkin pie. How about paleo egg-cupcakes? On the low-carb front – if you’re missing burgers how about a recipe for an oopsie bun. When the winter colds hit – here’s some suggestions for healthy comfort food. And now you’re inspired – here’s a big recipe roundup.

Letting children’s playground be fun results in less accidents then those awful safety playgrounds. A look at the differences of American-European values. Interesting how a respect for individual rights plays out when the people are women. Alas offers a simple primer to evaluate the anti-women’s health arguments. Another reason to damn the development of agriculture. Sam Harris looks at how to be safe in a world with a propensity for violence.

Weightlifting for women is starting to hit the mainstream. A guide to dynamic stretching. Does muscle really burn more calories? Its important to pay attention to muscle imbalances.  Is chocolate milk the best post-exercise drink? Exercising on an empty stomach may not be a good idea. Why cardio is not the best way to lose fat. How exercise can you become more sensitive to feeling full when eating. What ever you do – just stop sitting  down!

Cycling can be dangerous – the Florida Dept of Transport says riding 4-5 ft from curb, not wearing spandex, being a woman all cause cars to move further over in the lane when passing you. And its shown to be cheaper to build cycling infrastructure than not.

Seven ideas to improve your running, and how to improve your mileage.

22/10/2011

The Five Flavours of Paleo

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 10:11

Dan’s Plan summarises the five major Paleo diet theories: Loren Cordain – The Paleo Diet; Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution; Art De Vany – The New Evolution Diet; Mark Sisson – the Primal Blueprint; and Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet – Perfect Health Diet.

So, at the end of the day what are we left with? Well, it seems like there is a clear consensus that non-starchy vegetables are a critical part of a good diet and should be consumed freely and regularly. Meat and fish are also unanimously recommended, although there is some difference of opinion with regard to which particular meats and fish to approach or avoid. Bear in mind that when thinking about meat and fish, we can think about: 1) how much fat and protein they contain; 2) saturated vs. poly- vs. mono-unsaturated fats; and 3) ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. We feel that there is sound science to support the decision to seek out sources of meat and fish that are high in omega-3 fats (salmon) and low in omega-6 fats (grass-fed beef and lamb). Among the paleo advocates listed here (perhaps not surprisingly), there is also consensus regarding most of the foods that one should avoid. A paleo diet clearly excludes grains, legumes, processed foods, and sugars.

Then there are the gray areas in which the opinions and the science are not as clear or consistent. These areas include dairy, fruits and berries, nuts, and starchy vegetables. Let’s walk through each of these one at a time. For dairy, the primary offending components appear to be milk sugars (e.g., lactose), proteins (e.g., casein), and hormones or growth factors. This is why those who are more lenient toward dairy tend to allow cream, (clarified) butter, and fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir, some cheeses) into the diet. These products typically have little to no milk sugars left because they have been excluded from the final product (cream) or have been chewed up by bacteria (yogurt). It is also important to bear in mind that dairy products from animals raised on grass will contain more favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratios of fats than will dairy products from animals raised on grain. Fruits and berries are great for satisfying a paleo sweet tooth, but we have to careful about the types and amounts that we consume. Aim for fewer servings of fruits and berries if you are looking to lose weight and always aim for fruits and berries that have higher levels of nutrients and lower levels of fructose. Nuts are great sources of high density energy and they are portable and convenient. Like fruits and berries, people who are looking to lose weight should limit their consumption of nuts and, like meat and fish, all people should try to eat nuts that have higher levels of omega-3 fats and lower levels of omega-6 fats (e.g., macadamia nuts). Starchy vegetables are a good source of nutrients and carbohydrates for active people. Again, these foods should be consumed with some moderation and we like to scale up or down our consumption of starchy vegetables on the basis of our activity levels throughout the week – high levels of activity permit greater consumption of starchy vegetables, whereas we tend to avoid them more when activity levels are not quite so high.

18/08/2011

Starting a Primal/Paleo Diet

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 11:50

Krista gives a good quick guide to getting started on the whole Primal/Paleo lifestyle: How To Go Primal without really trying. I particularly like the idea of using a food journal. I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to try and track my foods for quite a while now. Initially while I was trying to diet and now as I’m trying to follow my food intake/learn what’s good for me. But it doesn’t really have the option to put notes in so downsides on that, and while you can adjust your diet goals, its heavily weighted on the idea that fat is bad and carbohydrates are good.

02/08/2011

But Legumes are Healthy?

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:39

The exclusion of legumes from the paleo/primal diet seems to upset people more than that of grains. Legumes are just seen as so damn healthy, what with their associations with vegetarians and hippies and more enlightened/primitive tribes. In comparison to meat, it was the poor man’s option and that seems to be part of it to – why would you eat legumes if you could afford meat unless it was for health reasons? Me personally, I like legumes. The idea of not being able to have a delicious bowl of tarka dhal for the rest of my life is awful. But I recognise that legumes are not as healthy  as thought compared to many fruits and vegetables, nor do they contain as much fibre as most people think.

Why are legumes bad? Lectins and Phytates:

Lectins are proteins found in animals (including you) and plants – they’re everywhere, especially in grains, legumes (especially soy), nuts and seeds.  They have many protective functions in the human body – everything from recognizing pathogens to controlling protein levels in the blood.  Their function in plants is thought to be protective, too, to the plant, that is.

Lectins are found in the seeds of plants and they’re thought to have something to do with the survival of the seed.  The way they’re believed to protect the seed is that they can cause considerable intestinal distress (diarrhea, nausea, bloating, vomiting, even death) to those who eat the seeds, in hopes of deterring the predator from coming back for more.

Phytates actually bind to the magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron in your intestines and take them OUT of our bodies.  We do not want that to happen.  Cordain and others believe that this alone is greatly contributing to the worldwide epidemic of iron-deficiency anemia.  It could be part of the reason many people are deficient in magnesium as well, which can contribute to everything from muscle cramping to PMS.  And zinc?  Well, it’s just SUPER important to our immune systems and for our reproductive abilities, so we wouldn’t want to lose any of that.  And the fact that phytates are chelating calcium out of our bodies means that we have less access to that bone-building and nerve-transmitting mineral we’re all so fond of.

So legumes aren’t optimal. But should we expect any one food to be? Weighing up the pros and cons of eating legumes, there are enough cons to think they shouldn’t be a daily occurrence unless one has gone the vegetarian/vegan path and has no alternative to get the protein intake up. So how to deal with the dangers:

Process your beans: soak them to reduce the lectins. Drain. Boil them to reduce the phytates, drain them. Slow cook until they are delicious.

Unfortunately for those of us who want to speed the issue up and just use tinned beans – the jury is till out on the dangers of BPA

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