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Seduced by Food: Obesity and the Human Brain


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Excellent article well worth your time if you are interested in nutrition:

http://boingboing.net/2012/03/09/seduce ... and-t.html

 

Snippet:

 

"Diet trials have shown that a ‘simple’ diet, low in palatability and reward value, reduces hunger and causes fat loss in obese humans and animals, apparently by lowering the ‘defended’ level of fat mass (30, 31, 32, 33). This may be a reason why virtually any diet in which food choices are restricted (e.g., Paleo, vegan, fruitarian), including diametrically opposed approaches like low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets, can reduce food intake and body fatness in clinical trials. As stated by Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The common denominator of such diets is that neither allows consumption of the very caloric and seductive foods that combine high fat with high carbohydrates” (34). Hyper-rewarding/palatable foods—candy, chocolate, ice cream, chips, cookies, cakes, fast food, sweetened beverages and pizza—are uniquely fattening and should be the first foods to go in any fat loss attempt. Some people will benefit from further simplifying the diet.

 

Dietary changes over the last several decades have contributed to the obesity epidemic. The solution to this problem is at once simple and challenging. Returning to a diet of simple home-cooked food, made from minimally refined ingredients, would probably stop the obesity epidemic in its tracks, although it would not be enough to return all currently obese people to a lean state. The challenge is finding the time and discipline to do this while commercial junk foods and sweetened beverages are tasty, cheap and constantly under our noses."

 

And a related article from today's WSJ:

 

"Several cancers linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle rose every year from 1999 through 2008, even as improved screening and a sharp decline in the number of smokers have helped push down the rate of new cancer diagnoses overall across the U.S., according to a report released Wednesday.

 

...

 

The data add to a growing body of evidence that obesity raises the risk of these and some other cancers. As many as one-third of common cancers in industrialized nations are linked to excess weight and lack of physical activity, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Obesity rates leveled off in the U.S. a decade ago, but an estimated 68.8% of adults remain overweight or obese, according to the CDC, and cancers can take years to develop.

 

Obesity-related cancers include common ones, such as breast and colorectal cancer, as well as less common ones, such as pancreatic cancer. Excess weight can also decrease the chance of survival once a patient is diagnosed. The burden "is pretty substantial," said Marcus Plescia, director of the division of cancer prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an author of the study.

 

The report, published online Wednesday in the journal Cancer, is by researchers from the CDC, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.

 

The evidence of a causal link with cancer, while not yet definitive, is far clearer with excess weight and lack of physical activity than with specific foods or nutrients."

 

 

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304177104577309921472809552.html

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High fat foods causing brain damage to hypothalamus in rodents:

 

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/06/study-high-fat-foods-cause-brain-scarring/

 

 

Schwartz and his team found evidence of inflammation, or neuron injury, in rats and mice only three days after the rodents consumed foods high in fat.  Although the effect subsided temporarily, a long-term diet of unhealthy fare left permanent damage. Schwartz believes the brain's attempt to heal the injured neurons results in gliosis, a process that leads to scarring in the central nervous system.

 

The researchers also found a 25% reduction in the number of POMC cells in the rodents on a high-fat diet. POMC cells play a critical role in the body's fat control system, helping regulate appetite and prevent excess weight gain.

 

Schwartz’s team analyzed human MRIs during their study, discovering higher levels of gliosis in obese patients. The findings suggest the structural damage occurring in the rodents' brains may be duplicated in humans.

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High fat foods causing brain damage to hypothalamus in rodents:

 

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/06/study-high-fat-foods-cause-brain-scarring/

 

 

Schwartz and his team found evidence of inflammation, or neuron injury, in rats and mice only three days after the rodents consumed foods high in fat.  Although the effect subsided temporarily, a long-term diet of unhealthy fare left permanent damage. Schwartz believes the brain's attempt to heal the injured neurons results in gliosis, a process that leads to scarring in the central nervous system.

 

The researchers also found a 25% reduction in the number of POMC cells in the rodents on a high-fat diet. POMC cells play a critical role in the body's fat control system, helping regulate appetite and prevent excess weight gain.

 

Schwartz’s team analyzed human MRIs during their study, discovering higher levels of gliosis in obese patients. The findings suggest the structural damage occurring in the rodents' brains may be duplicated in humans.

 

The problem with a lot of the high fat studies is that they often don't talk about the kind of fat.  Was it transfat?  omega 3? 6?  Medium chain triglycerides?  Saturated LCT?  Oxidized?  lard?  It's sort of like saying "minerals cause x problem"  What kind of minerals?  There was a long thread on high fat diets and that book good cals bad cals a while back..  There's so much we don't know.  There was a recent study that apparently showed an increase in the rate of prostate cancer from higher omega 3 consumption!  Yes, the good fat..

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The problem with a lot of the high fat studies is that they often don't talk about the kind of fat.  Was it transfat?  omega 3? 6?  Medium chain triglycerides?  Saturated LCT?  Oxidized?  lard?  It's sort of like saying "minerals cause x problem"  What kind of minerals?  There was a long thread on high fat diets and that book good cals bad cals a while back..  There's so much we don't know.  There was a recent study that apparently showed an increase in the rate of prostate cancer from higher omega 3 consumption!  Yes, the good fat..

 

From all the research I've done, I don't necessary think of omega 3 as "good" and omega 6 as bad.  Both are essential nutrients.  The problem comes from the fact that hunter-gatherers consume them in a 1/1 or at most 2/1 (omega 6/omega 3) ratio.  Where the average westernized human consumes them in a ratio ranging from 15/1 to 25/1.  The reason we need omega 3 supplements is because by subsidizing corn/soy/etc we have been removing omega 3's from our food supply.

 

How do these subsidies remove omega 3's from our food?  In a number of ways.  One is because with corn selling below cost makes it almost impossible to compete if you are feeding your livestock grass/hay rather than corn feed.  Feeding grazing animals corn rather than grasses reduces the omega 3's in their meat tremendously.

Another way we are removing it from our diets is by replacing animal fats with "heart healthy" vegetable and seed oils.  These oils are very high in omega 6 fats, so they are anything but heart healthy in the context of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  I try to get my Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio closer to our evolutionary norm of 1/1 to 2/1, by 1) home cooking all of my food.  2) not using vegetable and seed oils.  (with the exception of olive oil which is mostly Omega 9).  3) Eating Omega 3 eggs (they feed the chickens a feed containing flax seeds. The chickens will convert the ALA in flax seed to DHA and deposit in the egg. Our bodies can't do this conversion very well, so we get little benefit from eating flax seed directly)  4) not over doing it with nuts or seeds and not eating them every day. 5) eating grass fed beef rather than grain fed.  5) eat fatty fish as much as possible. and finally 6) take a fish oil supplement on days that I do not eat fish.

 

Speaking of fats, I also supplement with medium chain triglycerides in the form of coconut oil on a daily basis.  Not only is that my go-to oil for cooking, but once per day I make my self a cup of oolong tea and add a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil to it.  It actually tastes better than it sounds.

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Yeah, sorry I should have been more specific about the ratio of Omega 3 vs 6 being the real problem.  The thing is that given that we're in the US it's such an obvious issue, like you said (15-25 to 1 ratio), that saying omega 6's are bad for you was easier and more self evident in the US.

 

Wow, someone else who puts coconut oil in their tea!  Amazing :)  I actually take it with green tea, although sometimes I'll just take some off the spoon before mixing it in.  I've tried some pharmaceutical grade MCT as well but I didn't notice it as much as the Coconut oil.  Maybe the taste of the real coconut oil has a psychological effect or something? 

 

I would be careful with omega 3 eggs.  What I've heard is rather mixed.  One source claims that the chickens are fed flax seed and maybe flax seed oil, which is *not* suitable for human consumption (ie the crappy stuff that won't make it onto store shelves), something that is not part of their natural diet.  Apparently Flaxseed oils tend to get rancid fairly quickly, meaning that the stuff that ends up in the omega 3 eggs isn't necessarily high quality, and in fact is less DHA than is implied:

 

http://www.cspinet.org/new/200706211.html

 

With regards to nuts apparently one big issue I've learned is that they are a stomping ground for mycotoxins, which are produced by mold.  Rather, mold can grow on them, which can produce mycotoxins which are very dangerous poisons.  I get my nuts and put them in the refrigerator right away.  Wrt ALA though, I've read some interesting research specific to walnuts, which are high in ALA.  As you said ALA is very difficult for our bodies to convert to DHA/EPA.. however somehow Walnuts have been shown to increase cognition:

http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=news_110507b

 

With regards to fish, only get wild caught fatty fish since farmed fish can have the same crappy omega ratios as grain fed animals.

And you're totally right about grass fed vs grain fed from what I've read...  I know of some people who eat grass fed butter by the tablespoonful!  Oh, and to make things more confusing, grass fed butter is high in a transfat.. but a *good* one!  Yes folks, apparently there is a good transfat. It's called CLA, and has been shown to reduce stomach fat in humans, and have anti-cancer properties!

 

Food is soooo complicated :-)

 

 

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Yeah, sorry I should have been more specific about the ratio of Omega 3 vs 6 being the real problem.  The thing is that given that we're in the US it's such an obvious issue, like you said (15-25 to 1 ratio), that saying omega 6's are bad for you was easier and more self evident in the US.

 

Wow, someone else who puts coconut oil in their tea!  Amazing :)  I actually take it with green tea, although sometimes I'll just take some off the spoon before mixing it in.  I've tried some pharmaceutical grade MCT as well but I didn't notice it as much as the Coconut oil.  Maybe the taste of the real coconut oil has a psychological effect or something? 

 

I would be careful with omega 3 eggs.  What I've heard is rather mixed.  One source claims that the chickens are fed flax seed and maybe flax seed oil, which is *not* suitable for human consumption (ie the crappy stuff that won't make it onto store shelves), something that is not part of their natural diet.  Apparently Flaxseed oils tend to get rancid fairly quickly, meaning that the stuff that ends up in the omega 3 eggs isn't necessarily high quality, and in fact is less DHA than is implied:

 

http://www.cspinet.org/new/200706211.html

 

With regards to nuts apparently one big issue I've learned is that they are a stomping ground for mycotoxins, which are produced by mold.  Rather, mold can grow on them, which can produce mycotoxins which are very dangerous poisons.  I get my nuts and put them in the refrigerator right away.  Wrt ALA though, I've read some interesting research specific to walnuts, which are high in ALA.  As you said ALA is very difficult for our bodies to convert to DHA/EPA.. however somehow Walnuts have been shown to increase cognition:

http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=news_110507b

 

With regards to fish, only get wild caught fatty fish since farmed fish can have the same crappy omega ratios as grain fed animals.

And you're totally right about grass fed vs grain fed from what I've read...  I know of some people who eat grass fed butter by the tablespoonful!  Oh, and to make things more confusing, grass fed butter is high in a transfat.. but a *good* one!  Yes folks, apparently there is a good transfat. It's called CLA, and has been shown to reduce stomach fat in humans, and have anti-cancer properties!

 

Food is soooo complicated :-)

 

 

No kidding!  I too thought I was the only one adding coconut oil to tea.  I try to drink a cup of green tea per day as well, but I don't like the taste of the coconut oil in it as much as in oolong.  My daily routine is a cup of oolong with coconut oil with breakfast, a cup of coffee when I get to work and a cup of green tea in the afternoon.  The only change on the weekends is that I make my own pot of coffee, so I tend to drink more than a cup.

 

As far as grass fed butter goes. Get some Kerry Gold Irish butter (UNSALTED!!) and add 2 tablespoons of it to a 16oz cup of good black coffee.  Mix it around well and prepare for a treat.  I don't do that everyday, but it sure is good.

 

I've heard the same thing about the n-3 eggs, which is why we just aquired 14 chicks about 6 weeks ago.  I should have my own free-range eggs before long. :)

 

Good advice on the wild vs. farmed fish, I always buy wild caught.  My favorite is wild caught salmon.

 

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I drink too much beer to consider myself a health nut. I do cook with virgin cold pressed olive oil and organic coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is an antiviral/antibacterial and the short/medium chain saturated fats in the oil are easy for the body to break down. Olive oil is full of mono-unsaturated fats which are also easy for the body to break down. Make sure you buy cold pressed virgin olive oil. Cheap olive oil (virgin and extra virgin too!) is made by gathering olives that have fallen off the trees. These olives have started to rot and must be processed with high heat to remove all the impurities. Olive flavor extract or good olive oil is then blended with this purified olive oil to restore some of the flavor. Good olive oil is hand picked, cold pressed and thus pretty expensive.

 

I am also a fan of supplements. I take vitamin B12 and D3 everyday. B12 and D3 are two of the most common deficiencies in the U.S today. Most milk in the supermarkets is fortified with cheaper D2 which is stored in your bones and makes them more brittle. As a value investor I research everything to death and have found Source Naturals Life Force to be a relatively cheap for a high quality multi vitamin. I also take turmeric every day (in addition to cooking lots of Indian food!) which has all sorts of health benefits worth checking out.

 

Maintaining an active life style, and getting exercise is probably the most important aspect to health. It's easier to eat well when you're active because your body craves healthy fuel. I hate the gym, and running with no purpose bores me to death. I started rock climbing several years ago and have gone to the climbing gym 3 times a week and outdoors a couple times a month ever since. I never feel like I'm going to work out; I'm going to have fun and the workout is a fringe benefit.

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That's awesome Ross.  I am convinced that the obesity epidemic is multi-faceted in nature.  A moderately balanced diet with some junk mixed in isn't going to hurt anyone who gets a reasonable amount of exercise every day or so.  The body is good at self regulating to a point.  Bill Bryson made a point in his book "A walk in the Woods" 1996, that it was getting difficult to walk anywhere in American cities.  When I was in New York and Boston, both good walking cities, I noticed far fewer obese folk than in Atlanta, or Florida, for example. 

 

I have been jogging indoor and out for a year and this keeps my weight down and allows my food intake to be mostly what I want.  I mix it up with xc skiing, and other seasonal activities.  My job is not active but it is not office work either.  I am out and about mostly.

 

My real love is backpacking: cdn rockies in 2010, three smaller local trips last year, and a big trip coming up in AZ in a couple of weeks.  It is not possible to not lose weight backpacking.  Appalachian Trail thru hikers have the opposite problem.  They cant force down enough food to keep their weight up.  So, one cannot dismiss the basic calories in calories out equation so easily, regardless of what Gary Taubes claims. 

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I do cook with virgin cold pressed olive oil and organic coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is an antiviral/antibacterial and the short/medium chain saturated fats in the oil are easy for the body to break down. Olive oil is full of mono-unsaturated fats which are also easy for the body to break down. Make sure you buy cold pressed virgin olive oil. Cheap olive oil (virgin and extra virgin too!) is made by gathering olives that have fallen off the trees. These olives have started to rot and must be processed with high heat to remove all the impurities. Olive flavor extract or good olive oil is then blended with this purified olive oil to restore some of the flavor. Good olive oil is hand picked, cold pressed and thus pretty expensive.

 

I've read some mixed things on cooking olive oil.  I think because it's mono unsaturated that the fat itself is relatively stable at higher heats (it has a highish smoke point since it only has one oxidation point "mono").  But I believe the other compounds in olive oil, the phenols in particular are damaged at pretty low temperatures.  So you may want to reconsider cooking that olive oil since the phenols are apparently responsible for a lot of olive oils healthy qualities.  On the other hand I've read articles saying that it has a low smoke point like this:

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=261

 

But then wikipedia puts olive oil's smoke point around coconut oil's, which doesn't make sense since everyone says coconut oil is good for high heat!:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

 

Then again there seems to be a difference between the virgin and refined coconut oils!  More confusion!

 

Another thing I read about coconut oil is that it too can grow mold and hence mycotoxins.  I put mine in the fridge as soon as I open it.  it's a pain because it solidifies, but I just scrape some off with a knife when I need it.  Looks like grass fed Ghee has a really high smoke point as well which might make it good for cooking.

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Where do you buy wild caught fish? Wholefoods? Local shop?

 

Just curious because I haven't seen in most chain grocery stores (although maybe I'm not looking close enough).

 

Maybe it's a regional thing too.

 

I'm lucky to live in New England I guess.  There is always a fish market nearby wherever you live around here.  When I lived in MA I used to drive into New Bedford and get the fish right off the boat.  This was the place (OceanFleet Fisheries Fisherman's Market) it was incredible.  One of the few things I miss about living in MA.  But even in NH I can get fresh wild caught fish easy enough, but I pay more now than going to the New Bedford fish market.

 

Although, I have found wild caught Alaskan salmon in the frozen food section at my local supermarket too and I'm not near Alaska, so I'd assume that is available just about anywhere.  And if you can find fresh Tuna steaks that will be wild caught, because you can't farm tuna.

 

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That's awesome Ross.  I am convinced that the obesity epidemic is multi-faceted in nature.  A moderately balanced diet with some junk mixed in isn't going to hurt anyone who gets a reasonable amount of exercise every day or so.  The body is good at self regulating to a point.  Bill Bryson made a point in his book "A walk in the Woods" 1996, that it was getting difficult to walk anywhere in American cities.  When I was in New York and Boston, both good walking cities, I noticed far fewer obese folk than in Atlanta, or Florida, for example. 

 

I have been jogging indoor and out for a year and this keeps my weight down and allows my food intake to be mostly what I want.  I mix it up with xc skiing, and other seasonal activities.  My job is not active but it is not office work either.  I am out and about mostly.

 

My real love is backpacking: cdn rockies in 2010, three smaller local trips last year, and a big trip coming up in AZ in a couple of weeks.  It is not possible to not lose weight backpacking.  Appalachian Trail thru hikers have the opposite problem.  They cant force down enough food to keep their weight up.  So, one cannot dismiss the basic calories in calories out equation so easily, regardless of what Gary Taubes claims. 

 

I agree staying active is important, its something I have a hard time with.  I sit at a desk all day.  I do what I can, but I never feel that it is enough. 

 

As far as Calories are concerned. Calories do count to a point, but it is far more complicated than calories in = calories out.  When your body is running the way it should its response to excess calories in will be to speed up your metabolism (which will make you energetic and want to move), increase your body temperature, or make you sweat to try to burn off excess calories. Therefore you will need to overdo it by a mile for it to matter.  When you are a sugar burner with metabolic syndrome (most Americans I think) you have the opposite problem.  Your body wants to store any excess energy as fat and protect its fat stores at all costs.  So when you consume fewer calories your metabolism slows down, you get cold, you get tired, you will get tremendously hungry (so much it can hurt you can have tremors) and if all else fails your body will burn muscle as fuel instead of dipping into its fat stores (and remember your heart is a muscle).  This is why high-carb starvation diets don't work and also why someone who's metabolism is in bad shape will not see any advantage to exercise and can actually weaken their heart.  You need to get your diet fixed first, then start to exercise.  Yes calories matter, but calories consumed is just one tiny variable in a large complex multivariate process containing many interdependent internal control systems.  And it isn't even one of the more important variables.  Gary Tuabes is simplifying things a little bit when he says calories don't matter at all, but he is correct when he says that what you eat is vastly more important than how much you eat.  Maybe if you are in great shape already and want to optimize further, or you are competitive athlete and you want to fine tune every variable to the max, calories can be important to get every last bit of optimization in your body composition or performance.  But for the average person, especially the average American, calories are the last thing they should worry about.

 

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Guest Hester

I agree staying active is important, its something I have a hard time with.  I sit at a desk all day.  I do what I can, but I never feel that it is enough. 

 

As far as Calories are concerned. Calories do count to a point, but it is far more complicated than calories in = calories out.  When your body is running the way it should its response to excess calories in will be to speed up your metabolism (which will make you energetic and want to move), increase your body temperature, or make you sweat to try to burn off excess calories. Therefore you will need to overdo it by a mile for it to matter.  When you are a sugar burner with metabolic syndrome (most Americans I think) you have the opposite problem.  Your body wants to store any excess energy as fat and protect its fat stores at all costs.  So when you consume fewer calories your metabolism slows down, you get cold, you get tired, you will get tremendously hungry (so much it can hurt you can have tremors) and if all else fails your body will burn muscle as fuel instead of dipping into its fat stores (and remember your heart is a muscle).  This is why high-carb starvation diets don't work and also why someone who's metabolism is in bad shape will not see any advantage to exercise and can actually weaken their heart.  You need to get your diet fixed first, then start to exercise.  Yes calories matter, but calories consumed is just one tiny variable in a large complex multivariate process containing many interdependent internal control systems.  And it isn't even one of the more important variables.  Gary Tuabes is simplifying things a little bit when he says calories don't matter at all, but he is correct when he says that what you eat is vastly more important than how much you eat.  Maybe if you are in great shape already and want to optimize further, or you are competitive athlete and you want to fine tune every variable to the max, calories can be important to get every last bit of optimization in your body composition or performance.  But for the average person, especially the average American, calories are the last thing they should worry about.

 

Great post.

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That's awesome Ross.  I am convinced that the obesity epidemic is multi-faceted in nature.  A moderately balanced diet with some junk mixed in isn't going to hurt anyone who gets a reasonable amount of exercise every day or so.  The body is good at self regulating to a point.  Bill Bryson made a point in his book "A walk in the Woods" 1996, that it was getting difficult to walk anywhere in American cities.  When I was in New York and Boston, both good walking cities, I noticed far fewer obese folk than in Atlanta, or Florida, for example. 

 

I have been jogging indoor and out for a year and this keeps my weight down and allows my food intake to be mostly what I want.  I mix it up with xc skiing, and other seasonal activities.  My job is not active but it is not office work either.  I am out and about mostly.

 

My real love is backpacking: cdn rockies in 2010, three smaller local trips last year, and a big trip coming up in AZ in a couple of weeks.  It is not possible to not lose weight backpacking.  Appalachian Trail thru hikers have the opposite problem.  They cant force down enough food to keep their weight up.  So, one cannot dismiss the basic calories in calories out equation so easily, regardless of what Gary Taubes claims.

 

Sounds like we have similar interests, I love backpacking and I agree it's hard to eat enough while hiking.  I've done Wyoming and then a TON of stuff in PA and WV.  It's a lot easier to get away local with a family.

 

I'm up in the air on weight loss, I lost a bunch of weight last year by doing the two classic things, exercise more, and eat less.  I didn't watch what I ate I just ate less.  I will say I have a good starting point, my wife cooks everything from scratch, and she makes healthy meals.  That said even a lot of healthy food and sitting all day can add up to weight gain.  It didn't happen fast but over probably 7 or 8 years I added a lot more weight than I wanted.

 

I ran in high school and biked on and off out of college.  I started to run again and increased both the frequency and intensity.  I started biking a lot more as well.  The exercise plus less calories consumed and the weight melted away, literally. 

 

There's a lot of science on this thread, but I think the basic facts can't be denied, if you consume less than you burn you will lose weight.  Exercise helps in burning more calories by building up muscle.

 

I realize there are all sorts of crazy things you can do to fine tune your diet, coconut oil in tea, certain types of cooking oil etc.  I'm sure at some point that makes a difference but for the vast majority of Americans they just need to eat less, and a lot less and get out and walk some.

 

One thing I always keep in mind as well, for all the fine tuning health stuff sometimes it doesn't matter.  A friend's dad just died, he was in his late 50s, just collapsed while running.  He was the epitome of healthy, fit, worked out, no known health issues etc.  At some point the body is just going to give out, and all the eating right in the world or exercise can't prevent it.  I try to be healthy, but I also want to enjoy life.  I'll have an ice cream cone or a beer and I don't feel guilty about it.

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I do cook with virgin cold pressed olive oil and organic coconut oil. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is an antiviral/antibacterial and the short/medium chain saturated fats in the oil are easy for the body to break down. Olive oil is full of mono-unsaturated fats which are also easy for the body to break down. Make sure you buy cold pressed virgin olive oil. Cheap olive oil (virgin and extra virgin too!) is made by gathering olives that have fallen off the trees. These olives have started to rot and must be processed with high heat to remove all the impurities. Olive flavor extract or good olive oil is then blended with this purified olive oil to restore some of the flavor. Good olive oil is hand picked, cold pressed and thus pretty expensive.

 

I've read some mixed things on cooking olive oil.  I think because it's mono unsaturated that the fat itself is relatively stable at higher heats (it has a highish smoke point since it only has one oxidation point "mono").  But I believe the other compounds in olive oil, the phenols in particular are damaged at pretty low temperatures.  So you may want to reconsider cooking that olive oil since the phenols are apparently responsible for a lot of olive oils healthy qualities.  On the other hand I've read articles saying that it has a low smoke point like this:

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=261

 

But then wikipedia puts olive oil's smoke point around coconut oil's, which doesn't make sense since everyone says coconut oil is good for high heat!:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_point

 

Then again there seems to be a difference between the virgin and refined coconut oils!  More confusion!

 

Another thing I read about coconut oil is that it too can grow mold and hence mycotoxins.  I put mine in the fridge as soon as I open it.  it's a pain because it solidifies, but I just scrape some off with a knife when I need it.  Looks like grass fed Ghee has a really high smoke point as well which might make it good for cooking.

 

 

bargainman,

 

It makes a lot of sense that cooking (high temperatures) would have ill effects on olive oil. I guess you are kind of throwing out the benefits of buying cold pressed oil if you heat it. I use it often sauté vegetables for  Italian food so I should probably restrict the olive oil to a sauce ingredient, dipping bread, or my favorite quick meal- spaghetti tossed with spinach, pepper, Parmesan, and olive oil.   

 

Most of the time I cook with coconut oil. The virgin coconut oil adds an almost sweet coconut flavor to whatever you are cooking and has a savory component like butter. I don't know if there are any ill affects from heating coconut oil, or if the ill affects actually make the oil "bad" for your body (ie. heating honey actually makes the honey toxic). Fish cooked with a couple of  table spoons of coconut oil to grease the pan is delicious!

 

I don't refrigerate my coconut oil and have never considered the oil can grow mold. I know they have used coconut oil in the tropics for centuries and I'm sure they are not refrigerating it, but It can't hurt to be careful. My oil is usually a solid anyway when I take it out of the cabinet.

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I would recommend to anyone interested in proper nutrition - Read: "Wheat Belly" - by Dr. William Davis.

 

My wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. This is basically a gluten allergy.  We were forced to learn  about food and through our learning we have come to understand how much gluten has changed through the process of hybridization.

 

A high insulin environment is ideal for creating fat. Any diabetic will tell you how hard it is to lose weight. Many diabetic actually have fat build up at the site where they regularly inject their insulin. Needless to say, one wants to monitor the food we eat to ensure that we are not creating insulin spikes. Most would know that drinking a Coke would spike one's insulin level. But did you know that whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar, or sucrose (glycemic index 59).

 

The FDA food pyramid is a joke. It classifies things like rice, pasta and bread as grains leading people to believe they are healthy. However,  once in your body these high glycemic foods convert to glucose and spike your insulin level. Just watch what happens to your blood sugar when you eat a bowl of pasta.

 

Read a few labels tonight and you'll discover that gluten is in everything!  Soy sauce, Westchester Sauce ...

 

Since making changes in our diets we've gone from being active but overweight ... to competing in this years Tough Mudder.

 

;D

 

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Sounds like we have similar interests, I love backpacking and I agree it's hard to eat enough while hiking.  I've done Wyoming and then a TON of stuff in PA and WV.  It's a lot easier to get away local with a family.

 

I'm up in the air on weight loss, I lost a bunch of weight last year by doing the two classic things, exercise more, and eat less.  I didn't watch what I ate I just ate less.  I will say I have a good starting point, my wife cooks everything from scratch, and she makes healthy meals.  That said even a lot of healthy food and sitting all day can add up to weight gain.  It didn't happen fast but over probably 7 or 8 years I added a lot more weight than I wanted.

 

I ran in high school and biked on and off out of college.  I started to run again and increased both the frequency and intensity.  I started biking a lot more as well.  The exercise plus less calories consumed and the weight melted away, literally. 

 

There's a lot of science on this thread, but I think the basic facts can't be denied, if you consume less than you burn you will lose weight.  Exercise helps in burning more calories by building up muscle.

 

I realize there are all sorts of crazy things you can do to fine tune your diet, coconut oil in tea, certain types of cooking oil etc.  I'm sure at some point that makes a difference but for the vast majority of Americans they just need to eat less, and a lot less and get out and walk some.

 

One thing I always keep in mind as well, for all the fine tuning health stuff sometimes it doesn't matter.  A friend's dad just died, he was in his late 50s, just collapsed while running.  He was the epitome of healthy, fit, worked out, no known health issues etc.  At some point the body is just going to give out, and all the eating right in the world or exercise can't prevent it.  I try to be healthy, but I also want to enjoy life.  I'll have an ice cream cone or a beer and I don't feel guilty about it.

 

oddballstocks,

 

It is easy to get way too involved with the science behind weight loss and ignore what really works: eat less, exercise more. Lifestyle changes are the only real way to stay healthy though. I know Buffett is going to hate me for saying this, but there is really no reason to drink a soft drink. I guarantee you the majority of Americans would lose weight by if they drank only water during the day. The average American drinks 20 onces of soda per day, males 12-29 drink 60 onces per day!

 

Another easy one is cutting out fast food, or start small and start with cutting out French fries. By making one lifestyle change at a time, over a few years you are going to be impressed by how much better you feel. I agree that discussing the nuances between cooking oils is probably not the most productive way to get in shape, but it is one more 'easy' lifestyle change, that when added to everything else, has a very real effect on your health. 

 

I agree that all the nutrition tweaking is not going to guarantee a long healthy life. A friend of mine who grows their own food, works out religiously, and was on the national training team for bike racing died two weeks after finding out they had a brain tumor. I work out and eat as healthy as I can, but I love a good IPA, bourbon, and am a sucker for hand dipped ice cream! In the end I think you should do what makes you happy, and treats or even a bad habit is alright as long as you keep your diet in check. Three ice cream cones and a healthy diet isn't too bad. Most Americans have three ice cream cones, three or four fast food meals, ten soft drinks, a frozen pizza, and a couple starbucks frappuccinos; that's when you have a big problem! 

 

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I would recommend to anyone interested in proper nutrition - Read: "Wheat Belly" - by Dr. William Davis.

 

My wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. This is basically a gluten allergy.  We were forced to learn  about food and through our learning we have come to understand how much gluten has changed through the process of hybridization.

 

A high insulin environment is ideal for creating fat. Any diabetic will tell you how hard it is to lose weight. Many diabetic actually have fat build up at the site where they regularly inject their insulin. Needless to say, one wants to monitor the food we eat to ensure that we are not creating insulin spikes. Most would know that drinking a Coke would spike one's insulin level. But did you know that whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar, or sucrose (glycemic index 59).

 

The FDA food pyramid is a joke. It classifies things like rice, pasta and bread as grains leading people to believe they are healthy. However,  once in your body these high glycemic foods convert to glucose and spike your insulin level. Just watch what happens to your blood sugar when you eat a bowl of pasta.

 

Read a few labels tonight and you'll discover that gluten is in everything!  Soy sauce, Westchester Sauce ...

 

Since making changes in our diets we've gone from being active but overweight ... to competing in this years Tough Mudder.

 

;D

 

 

That's been on my "to read list" since it came out.  I've been doing a low-carb paleo type diet for about 16 months now which is already a grain-free diet so I don't envision that reading it will change my mind on anything or change the way I am eating.

 

There are definitely foods which are worse for you than others, contain more/worse anti-nutrients than others even within the category of grains.  In my opinion wheat is probably the worst of the lot.  Gluten is a poison for anyone, not just people who's doctor has told them that they are "gluten sensitive".  Anyone and everyone who eats wheat would benefit to one extent or another from going wheat free, even if they made no other change to their eating.  You basically have to stop eating processed foods to do this, because as you said there is gluten in all kinds of things.  A close #2 on my list of foods to cut would be soy.  This is another food that is in almost everything packaged or processed in anyway.  Even "low-carb" processed junk like Atkins brand products contain soy.

 

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I would recommend to anyone interested in proper nutrition - Read: "Wheat Belly" - by Dr. William Davis.

 

My wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. This is basically a gluten allergy.  We were forced to learn  about food and through our learning we have come to understand how much gluten has changed through the process of hybridization.

 

A high insulin environment is ideal for creating fat. Any diabetic will tell you how hard it is to lose weight. Many diabetic actually have fat build up at the site where they regularly inject their insulin. Needless to say, one wants to monitor the food we eat to ensure that we are not creating insulin spikes. Most would know that drinking a Coke would spike one's insulin level. But did you know that whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar, or sucrose (glycemic index 59).

 

The FDA food pyramid is a joke. It classifies things like rice, pasta and bread as grains leading people to believe they are healthy. However,  once in your body these high glycemic foods convert to glucose and spike your insulin level. Just watch what happens to your blood sugar when you eat a bowl of pasta.

 

Read a few labels tonight and you'll discover that gluten is in everything!  Soy sauce, Westchester Sauce ...

 

Since making changes in our diets we've gone from being active but overweight ... to competing in this years Tough Mudder.

 

;D

 

 

That's been on my "to read list" since it came out.  I've been doing a low-carb paleo type diet for about 16 months now which is already a grain-free diet so I don't envision that reading it will change my mind on anything or change the way I am eating.

 

There are definitely foods which are worse for you than others, contain more/worse anti-nutrients than others even within the category of grains.  In my opinion wheat is probably the worst of the lot.  Gluten is a poison for anyone, not just people who's doctor has told them that they are "gluten sensitive".  Anyone and everyone who eats wheat would benefit to one extent or another from going wheat free, even if they made no other change to their eating.  You basically have to stop eating processed foods to do this, because as you said there is gluten in all kinds of things.  A close #2 on my list of foods to cut would be soy.  This is another food that is in almost everything packaged or processed in anyway.  Even "low-carb" processed junk like Atkins brand products contain soy.

 

Yes, and what is comical (or rather sad) is the food industries answer to gluten-free products - Rice. For example, take pasta. Rice pasta is even worse on the glycemic index than regular pasta.

 

So you are getting your gluten-free fix of pasta through a greater sacrifice of your overall health.

 

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I think whenever we consume something, on a daily basis, that our evolutionary ancestors never consumed, we have to take a serious look at the health effects.  Given that we spent 98-99% of our species history, basically on an African savanna, without ever encountering a slice of bread or teaspoon of processed sugar, we need to be very skeptical of these types of foods. Americans aren't. I know plenty of people that consider a slice of wheat bread the healthiest part of their day.

 

As far as calories in calories out for weight loss, as RKbabang said, it matters but not as much as people think. If it were important in levels of obesity, then classes or societies that do more manual labor (or some other consistent measure of higher physical activity) should be consistently thinner, when they aren't. US obesity rates should have declined by now since the explosion of the fitness industry in the US.

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I would recommend to anyone interested in proper nutrition - Read: "Wheat Belly" - by Dr. William Davis.

 

My wife was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. This is basically a gluten allergy.  We were forced to learn  about food and through our learning we have come to understand how much gluten has changed through the process of hybridization.

 

A high insulin environment is ideal for creating fat. Any diabetic will tell you how hard it is to lose weight. Many diabetic actually have fat build up at the site where they regularly inject their insulin. Needless to say, one wants to monitor the food we eat to ensure that we are not creating insulin spikes. Most would know that drinking a Coke would spike one's insulin level. But did you know that whole wheat bread (glycemic index 72) increases blood sugar as much as or more than table sugar, or sucrose (glycemic index 59).

 

The FDA food pyramid is a joke. It classifies things like rice, pasta and bread as grains leading people to believe they are healthy. However,  once in your body these high glycemic foods convert to glucose and spike your insulin level. Just watch what happens to your blood sugar when you eat a bowl of pasta.

 

Read a few labels tonight and you'll discover that gluten is in everything!  Soy sauce, Westchester Sauce ...

 

Since making changes in our diets we've gone from being active but overweight ... to competing in this years Tough Mudder.

 

;D

 

 

That's been on my "to read list" since it came out.  I've been doing a low-carb paleo type diet for about 16 months now which is already a grain-free diet so I don't envision that reading it will change my mind on anything or change the way I am eating.

 

There are definitely foods which are worse for you than others, contain more/worse anti-nutrients than others even within the category of grains.  In my opinion wheat is probably the worst of the lot.  Gluten is a poison for anyone, not just people who's doctor has told them that they are "gluten sensitive".  Anyone and everyone who eats wheat would benefit to one extent or another from going wheat free, even if they made no other change to their eating.  You basically have to stop eating processed foods to do this, because as you said there is gluten in all kinds of things.  A close #2 on my list of foods to cut would be soy.  This is another food that is in almost everything packaged or processed in anyway.  Even "low-carb" processed junk like Atkins brand products contain soy.

 

Yes, and what is comical (or rather sad) is the food industries answer to gluten-free products - Rice. For example, take pasta. Rice pasta is even worse on the glycemic index than regular pasta.

 

So you are getting your gluten-free fix of pasta through a greater sacrifice of your overall health.

 

 

I agree.  Most of the stuff in the "gluten-free" isle at the store is not good for you.  But again, food is complicated. White rice is basically a pure starch devoid of all of the harmful anti-nutrients which are found in the bran.  So someone who is in perfect shape, works out constantly and has 10% body fat and was never overweight can probably consume white rice without any problems.  Where someone like me who is a former obese type-2 diabetic should probably stay away from anything high on the glycemic index which may spike my insulin.  Although I'm at the point now after 16 months on paleo that my blood sugar remains normal even after a meal containing a little sweet potato.    Even 6 months ago this wasn't the case.  Insulin resistance takes a long time to reverse and in some people it will never fully reverse.  The best thing to do is test, test, test.  When you try a new food, test at 1/2 hour, again at an hour, and again at 2 hours.  When I ate something starchy 16 months ago my blood sugar would be over 250 on my meter at half an hour.  Now at a half hour after sweet potatoes I'm still under 100.  I haven't tried eating rice yet, I think it is a good idea for me to stay away from anything like that for now (maybe forever).  Even sweet potatoes I will not have often and in small amounts when I do. 

 

BTW.  I highly recommend Loren Cordain's new book "The Paleo Answer" it goes over the issue of anti-nutrients in food extensively and why you should stay away from all grains (especially whole grains containing the bran), stay away from white potatoes (not only because it is high on the glycemic index but also because of the Alkaloids), stay away from dairy (with the exception of grass fed butter/heavy cream because they are all fat and contain much less of the anti-nutrients), as well as AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products) and a lot of other stuff as well.  There is a lot of info packed into a short, well footnoted, book.

 

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The dangers of sugar seem obvious to me;  but I'm a bit confused about bread and whole grain foods.  My sister, who is a gastroenterologist, advises just to "avoid the whites" (white bread, rice, etc).  Are the no-grain arguments backed by hard science?  And if one drops the grains entirely, what are good substitutes? 

 

Some of the cardiologist vs diabetes arguments seem to me contradictory, ie reduce fat vs reduce sugar.  That Cleveland Clinic cardiologist recommended the vegan diet, no milk, cheese or oils, but ok to eat starch.  Oregon Health Science University recommends the "Meditteranean diet" to its staff.

 

ps.  I dropped 40 lbs, from 190 to 150 since cutting out "the whites" and sugar, my mother says I look emaciated!  (the face gets gaunt). 

 

 

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