Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Low fat propaganda

I've been a student member of the American Dietetic Association for three years (last year I was still a student when the new membership was due, even though I became an RD a month later!) This year, I will not be renewing my membership, largely because of things like this:

I get fun little bits of dietetic propaganda or advertising (as the ADA shamelessly shares my contact information with all kinds of food producers) in the mail at least once a week. My favorite one was a couple months ago promoting eating eggs-- little did they know I have an egg factory in my backyard so I get them for free:) Today's fun little number was made available by the sub-group I belong to called SCAN, which stands for Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, which I thought would be a group to discuss sports nutrition, but doesn't seem to do much at all (as opposed to the Dietitians in Functional Medicine group I belong to which is actually useful-- I will be sorry to see that one go).

First of all, this helpful "resource" was sponsored by Promise/Country Crock/I can't believe it's not butter-- i.e. makers of scary non-food butter substitutes made of refined vegetable oil and tree fiber. Lovely. "Keep the taste, lose the saturated fat! Swap butter for a delicious soft spread!" it claims. 1. Margarine tastes nothing like butter 2. Butter is REAL FOOD your body can recognize as opposed to the scary crap in the margarine and 3. Believing saturated fat causes heart disease is so 1994! Even the ADA national conference made mention that saturated fat isn't as bad as they once thought-- why do they continue to spout this nonsense? Oh right, because they are sponsored by makers of margarine (other sponsors include Diet Coke and Hersheys-- wonderful).

The pamphlet lists 10 simple steps to make the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines work for you and your family:

1. Size your servings right:
While I agree generally that people tend to eat too much, I think the issue has more to do with poor food choices-- are you really going to overeat salmon, salad and fruit? Probably not.

2. Switch out the saturated fat
Come on people! So many other bloggers have covered this well, Gary Taubes has written a two books on the topic-- saturated fat does not cause heart disease. It just doesn't.

3. Make good habits more delicious at home: simple recipes for a healthier lifestyle
This section features a bunch of protein/veggie recipes that would probably be pretty good if you used a good fat instead of scary Country Crock.

4. Fit fruits and vegetables into your diet
No complaints here in general, though the specific recommendations, like to add fruit to pizza was ludicrous. (I'm healthy because my pizza has pineapple on it! Please).

5. Eat less salt
I have mixed feelings on this one. I don't think we need to be getting salt from processed foods-- if you cut out processed crap you will automatically eat less salt. But only a small portion of the population has salt-sensitive high blood pressure. Most people do fine with some sea salt in cooking-- salt brings flavors together in cooking and makes things taste better.

6. Watch out for solid fats (isn't this the same as #2?) and added sugar
First of all, margarine is a solid fat, so there goes that reasoning! But naturally occurring solid fats are very heat stable so they are your friends for cooking! Nasty vegetable oils tend to go rancid and turn to trans fat pretty quickly. I concur on the added sugar though-- keep that to a minimum.

7. Enjoy more seafood and choose a variety of protein foods
The title is fine-- I like fish a lot, and I agree with a variety of protein foods, however on the detail page they go on and on about low-fat, drain off all fat, fat phobia that is ridiculous. They also don't mention that while fish is awesome, you also have to limit consumption due to mercury toxicity.

8. Make half your grains whole
This is just stupid. Let's ignore the fact that many people don't do well with grains at all. If you believe that whole grains are superior as the ADA does, given their lack of processing and fiber content, why would you only push for people to make HALF of them whole grains? Given that the food pyramid wants you eating 6-11 servings of grain a day, that means you could be eating 4-5 servings of white bread a day and be totally within their recommendations. Oh, and you could put margarine on it! SO STUPID.

9. Keep your food safe
Tips on food safety-- no complaints here, lots of people have sinks full of salmonella. I probably do too.

10. Move More!
I think we are all in agreement that more moving, less sitting is good.

Between the inappropriate corporate sponsorships, the endless propaganda like this I get in the mail, and the useless "research" they publish in their journal, I don't seem much point in spending $200 a year for a membership, though I still have to do "approved" continuing education courses. I'm trying to figure out a way to get credit for the Robb Wolf Seminar I'm going to in July!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How does your garden grow?

After a month of saying every weekend that we really need to get our garden planted, we finally did it today. In the past I've started some or all of my vegetables from seed but this year we just bought starts. We aren't very good gardeners, mainly because after we first get it planted we tend not to be super consistent with maintenance, thus the purchase of starts because it doesn't involve thinning out the plants. (Last year I never got around to thinning out the lettuce and it was a huge mess).

The whole garden-- the stuff on the ground is hay, to try and combat the weed problems we had last year-- it rained all summer and we had out of control weeds!

We started out the day at the best nursery ever: Flowerworld. If you live in the Seattle area I highly recommend Flowerworld, even if you aren't gardening. The store area alone is 3 acres, and they also have chickens, peacocks, geese, swans, goats and sheep you can visit, along with nearly every kind of Northwest growing plant you can think of. It's one of our favorite places.

We just recently put up some heavy duty net fencing to keep the chickens out of the garden-- they dig everything up and love rainbow chard in particular so much that there's never any left for me! They were very frustrated watching M dig in the garden and not able to get in to "help."

We planted a few sweet peas, and corn (though in 4 years we have never had a successful corn harvest-- the squirrels tend to get it all), rainbow chard, several kinds of lettuce, bell peppers, tomatoes, and collard greens. They did not have the kind of kale I like at Flowerworld, probably because it's more of a cool weather crop, so we skipped that. When it gets warmer I want to plant some basil in a pot by the back door-- last year we had a cold summer and all the basil died-- the deck gets warmer so perhaps we'll be more successful with a pot.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A few random updates

Ack! It's been 10 days since I updated my blog! Terrible. Work has been really busy lately and I'm going through a weird phase of not being able to sleep in when I have time so I've been tired. I wake up at 6am whether I am going to work or not. Maybe because it's getting lighter outside-- I need to look into blackout curtains.

I am still eating the autoimmune protocol for the most part-- I'm definitely avoiding eggs and nightshades-- I admit nuts may have slipped in a couple times.

I'm kind of in a food rut this week-- I've been eating tons of ground beef and canned fish. Today I'm making pulled pork so maybe that will shake things up a little.

Things I'm working on:

I've been slowly making my way through Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes for the past few weeks-- I will attempt to do a full review when I finish. It's an amazing piece of work-- over 400 pages of extremely detailed analysis of how we came to believe some of the things we do as a country about health (fat is bad, high cholesterol = heart disease) and whether those ideas actually have scientific evidence (hint, they don't). It's so dense I can only read a little at a time in order to process the information and I already feel like I need to read it again, and I'm not even finished!

I just listened to this podcast over at the Healthy Skeptic about the intimate neural connections between the brain and the gut and loved it-- I need to contemplate this and listen to it again when I'm not driving in pouring rain to get all the nuances of what Chris is saying but it's so fascinating!

My friend Stevie is helping me out with a webpage for private nutrition practice, but I'm stumped on what to call it. Any ideas? I was considering Paleo RD, but I kind of want something more generic so as not to put off people with predisposed negative ideas about paleo.

My husband has gone off the deep end this week eating almost exclusively gluten and dairy (sandwiches, cake and pizza) and I've been too tired and busy to fix it. Ack! Last night I did get him to eat eggs and yams for dinner at least.

I'm officially now obsessed with this stuff: Kevita is cultured coconut water. I used to be into Kombucha, but ever since they reformulated it after the recall it hasn't been the same. This stuff tastes better to me-- it comes in several flavors but all except original have sugar in them and taste too sweet to me. We did a tasting with some of my nutritionist friends a couple weeks ago and they all preferred the lemon ginger to the original. M thinks they all taste disgusting as he hates anything fermented. They are expensive though, just like kombucha-- over $3 a bottle! I'm going to try and make my own-- I had success in the past with kefir grains in coconut water-- I'm going to give that a try again.

Finally I have a recurring issue with my IT band. In case you didn't take anatomy or it's been awhile, "The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia that extends along the lateral thigh from the iliac crest to the knee" in otherwords, in runs from the hip to the knee down the outside of your leg in that indent between your quad and your hamstring if you are fortunate enough to have that kind of muscle definition:

My right hip is really tight, or maybe even one leg is longer causing my right hip to get bunched up. At any rate, it's actually very noticable and has been that way for awhile--whenever I get a pair of pants hemmed the tailor comments on it because they are not the same length and when Jesse (awesome trainer at Lynnwood Crossfit) was teaching me to deadlift it was so obvious my right hip was higher he told me not to max deadlift until I get it sorted out and then called another trainer over to look at how messed up I am. Anyway, that wouldn't be a big deal, except that when your hip is tight, it pulls on that fun IT band we just talked about, which pulls the knee out of alignment which hurts. When I hurt my knee a couple weeks ago doing medicine ball squat cleans I thought it was just because I had been sloppy in my form, or that it was combined with running (which often makes my knee hurt). But then on Monday we did a workout with those squats again and I was very cautious, had Jesse show me again how to do it properly and STILL my knee hurt so much the next day I couldn't hardly walk up the stairs in my house and my right hip felt tight while sitting. Using a foam roller along that side helps some, but it's getting really annoying having to miss crossfit for several days after every workout because I keep hurting my knee. So for now, I'm foam rolling the heck out of it, avoiding those specific squat cleans and avoiding running in hopes to sort this out, but I kind of think I might have a structural issue since I remember as far back as 6th grade when they test you for scoliosis being told one hip was higher, which makes me think it's more complicated than a slight muscle imbalance. Of note, however: M. pointed out that I pretty much always sleep on that side, which might be contributing, so I'm trying to sleep on the left to see if that helps.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Paleo for Autoimmune Disorders

General Paleo is awesome for the majority of people and is a good starting point for getting healthy. For people with autoimmune disorders like Celiac Disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and others, a slightly more restricted version may be necessary.

First, a little background on autoimmune disease: autoimmune diseases, in a nutshell, are where the body's immune system attacks its own cells, mistaking them for foreign invaders. Which type of disease you get is dependent on which cells get attacked. A number of autoimmune conditions have been linked to gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance and or leaky gut (Rhumatoid arthritis, Celiac and Type I Diabetes have all been linked to one or more of those intolerances). I just read this paper over the weekend which made it pretty clear rheumatoid arthritis and leaky gut caused by lectins have a significant correlation and the paper lays down a number of suggested mechanisms for why this occurs.

A few quotes:

"Approximately 20% of all patients with inflammatory bowel diseases are complicated by joint inflammation" (suggests a link between gut inflammation and joint pain)
"legume and cereal lectins alter the microflora of the gut causing both inflammation and increased intestinal permeability..."
"wheat containing diets can increase intestinal permeability and thereby allow the gut-derived antigens to access to the periphery"

The main point of the article was that in people who are genetically susceptible, these foods pass through the intestine in bigger pieces than they are supposed to, and then some kind of viral or bacterial infection (even the flu) can be the trigger for this chain of events, causing the immune system to overreact and start attacking "self" because the particles bind to proteins that are similar in structure to parts of "self" so the immune system gets confused. (It is even more complicated than this so if you are a biochemist and I am not explaining this well, please correct me-- trying to keep it simple!) So it explains why some people can go their whole lives eating grains and legumes and never have problems, but some are prone to this "leaky gut" and it causes different types of autoimmune diseases depending on which cells are mimicked.

The only way for the gut to fully heal is to remove the offending foods. What I am not clear on, is whether or not you have to remove these foods for life, or only until the gut heals. Matt LaLonde, biochemist extraordinaire, was on Robb Wolf's podcast recently and he said eggs, grains, alcohol, nightshades, nuts and seeds, and NSAIDS (like Advil, which are murder on your gut lining) to be eliminated FOR LIFE. (In a subsequent podcast over at the Healthy Skeptic he went even further saying that basically just grass fed meats and vegetables were all that were appropriate for people with severe autoimmune disorders!) Robb Wolf does not seem to take it so far. He has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune condition, and I know he has said he eats eggs and occasionally gluten free grains. I sent him a question for the podcast to clarify his position on this, but he gets so many questions we may or may not ever get a response. (Incidentally the Mat LaLonde podcast was my favorite ever and I've already listened to it at least twice! Definitely check it out).

As far as I know I don't have an autoimmune disease (I have blood work pending on the state of my thyroid) but I am definitely at genetic risk: my mom and both my grandmothers have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and my dad has late onset type one diabetes, also an autoimmune condition. I also believe that as a nutritionist, I should never recommend something to a client without trying to myself so for the month of May, I'm doing the autoimmune protocol. This means in addition to my paleo diet, no eggs, no nightshades (tomatoes are the only ones I've been eating), no nuts (been eating a few too many of these since we came back from Hawaii with bags of macadamias!). I'm also going to cut WAY back on chocolate and fructose for a month, which is not necessarily part of the autoimmune protocol, I just have been overdoing it on those.

In the mean time I did something bad to my right knee last Thursday at Crossfit so I'm going to have to miss a few days, which doesn't make me very happy! But if I'm having trouble going up and down the stairs in my house, I'm probably not ready for the WOD.