Showing posts with label perfect health diet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label perfect health diet. Show all posts

May 4, 2013

5 Great Reasons To Try Intermittent Fasting

I often find myself having conversations about diet and nutrition with others on a semi-regular basis. Eventually, the conversation turns to questions about my own dietary habits and the inevitable question, "Well...what do you eat for breakfast?"

Mar 1, 2013

A rant about Gorillas, a Chick Flick, and Diet.

Last weekend my girlfriend brought me to the latest chick flick that was written by the same guy that brought us The Notebook. The movie was titled Safe Haven and it's safe to say that it won't ever rival The Notebook in popularity.  However, that won't stop lonely ladies from renting it after purchasing a bottle of wine and a pint of Ben and Jerry's or using it as a way to punish their boyfriends(jk sweetie).

Your skin smells like skin.
Now it is time to get down to my actual rant. During the movie, the main character starts reading The China Study after finding it in a tourist shop's lost and found book pile.  The China Study is book written by T. Collin Campbell about a study done with T. Collin Campbell as one of its investigators. This seems like a unrelated plot point, because it is but it also becomes the basis for me to start ranting to myself and my girlfriend during the film.
The bible of vegans and vegetarians.

The China Study itself is actually a very interesting study and is probably one of the largest studies on human diet and health ever performed to date. However, there are some problems associated with this book/study. My first problem is the poor data analysis and statistics that was done for this study.  T. Colin Campbell did great things by helping conduct this study but there are flaws with his data and the implications that he has derived from it.  Denise Minger of became one of the first big viral critics of The China Study and a lot of her information/critiques about the China Study can be found here. Stan the Heretic, a physicist with interests in nutritional biochemistry also expands upon these analyses.

So you think you've got guts? Check out the comparison.
Continuing on, later in the film the main character is conversing with the co-star about The China Study and they go on a tangent about the health and musculature of gorillas as a result of their diet versus the common diet of us humans. The conversation between the two implicates that we should eat just like gorillas (vegetarian raw food diet). This might seem like a good inference for some people seeing that we are both primates, mammals, and that we humans struggle with diet and health.

There is a problem with this line of thinking...we are NOT gorillas. We are humans. Different anatomy and physiology people. I'm not trying to make the case that we shouldn't eat fruits and vegetables but I am trying to highlight the idiocy in thinking that we should copy another creature's diet. I am also not trying to claim that we have substantially different nutrient requirements compared to gorillas but we do have much different food requirements as a result of our biological differences. You might ask what science do I substantiate this with?

If you look at the above picture you will notice a big difference in the midsection of gorillas vs humans. The guts of a gorilla account for 2.9% of its body weight versus 1.7% of body weight for humans. This means that a humans gut is 40% smaller than that of a gorilla. What does this mean? Well the average western lowland gorilla obtains 57.4% of its energy from dietary fiber. All of this fiber is not directly digested by the gorilla but rather by its gut bacteria via fermentation which is then delivered to the gorilla in the form of short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids can then be turned into saturated and monounsaturated fats by the gorilla's body. Humans on the other hand can only obtain about 7% of energy from fiber due to our decreased length of large intestines which is the sight of fiber digestion in primates like gorillas and humans. The large intestines make up 60% of the gorillas gut where it only comprises 17% of the human gut. This is obviously a problem if you want to start eating like a gorilla and has profound implications on how foods are digested and converted to different nutrients in the body. Lets compare at the macro-nutrient composition as % of total energy of the gorillas diet before and after digestion.

Before Digestion                                   After Digestion
Fat:2.3%                                                 Polyunsaturated Fats:<2%
                                                              Monounsatured/Saturated Fats:58%
Protein: 24.4%                                         Protein: 24.4%
Carbohydrate(ex fiber): 15.9%                   Carbohydrate: 15.9%
Fiber: 57.4%                                            Fiber: Converted

Source: Jaminet, Paul; Jaminet, Shou-Ching (2012-12-11). Perfect Health Diet (Kindle Locations 812-831). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

By looking at the before and after picture here we are able to see how a gorilla eats a low fat, high fiber, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet by look at just food sources. When we look at the biological picture we see that the gorillas body is actually producing a high fat, low carbohydrate, moderate protein diet that is similar to the macro-nutrient ratios found in sources like mammalian breast milk and the proportions touted by paleolithic inspired diet advocates.

In conclusion, I don't think it is wise to try to eat what other mammals eat. I do however think that eating the nutrient composition of other mammals may be a wise model considering that we share similar cellular structures and cellular demands. I do not understand why this aside was thrown into the movie...I do not know if the writer is secretly trying to promote The China Study, or if they are trying to appeal to the vegan and vegetarian crowds? Maybe it was just a silly fact that they threw into the movie to act as a conversation piece or for levity but all I know is that it made me want to rant. So I did.

Feb 25, 2013

Do you ever get the "runs" from running?

I don't know why I would chose this topic as my first real post. It is a bit private, gross and uncomfortable for most people to discuss. Like most of my ideas, this topic just came to mind the other day while randomly sipping on some coffee.

Gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances or more specifically "Runner's Trots" is an often ignored episode associated with running unlike shin splints, foot and knee pain, or a poor pace. Not many like to discuss it because of the sensitivity but unfortunately many experience it during or after a run.

According to Schommer et al, 20%-50% of distance runner's suffer from an experience like this during or after a run. Besides just diarrhea the Schommer et al report that these disturbances can also include, "...vomiting, nausea, bloating, heartburn and flatulence as well as watery and bloody diarrhea and anal incontinence."

Don't be this guy.

If a quarter to half of all distance runners encounter issues like this then I would consider it a significant problem. The high prevelance rate and wide ranging symptoms of gastrointestinal disturbances associated with running could be due to the fact it is related to a variety of causes.

Some of the mechanisms suspected to be related to these GI disturbances and my thoughts related to them:
  • Visceral Ischemia related to the sympathetic nervous system's response to the need for increased cardiac output .
    • This is a physiological response to any type of exercise that all of us must face. If most athletes undergo this physiological response but the GI disturbances related to running are not the same for all then I have a hard time believing this is the reason. Another reason to ignore this issue is that it is a natural response that none of us can change other than increasing physical conditioning and therefore decreasing cardiac output demands at "x" pace.

  • Changes in motility or bowel movement by mechanical factors. (Think of the potential jostling and vibration of the organs) This mechanism is also related to Gastroesophageal reflux disorder(GERD) episodes experienced by 60% of athletes.
    • This is another unavoidable factor experienced by all runners. This factor could potentially be changed by the individual amount of vertical vs. horizontal movement as well as joint stiffness changes related with surface, motor control/program(ex. running form) and footwear choices. It would seem logical that a change in these factors could influence the mechanical forces experienced by the visceral organs let alone the neuromusculoskeletal system. (Think over-striding weekend marathoner vs. an efficient Kenyan runner)

  • High Dietary Fiber Intake
    • The previous point (#2) mentioned GERD. If we look at some of literature related to GERD we can see there is a relationship with GERD and grains. Tuck, the author of the blog Yelling Stop, does a great job of discussing this here.
    • The Standard American Diet or SAD is often rich in high fiber foods. Fiber is highly touted by most modern dietitians and doctors, especially from sources such as whole grains and legumes. The problem with this is that these foods are often high in natural food toxins that influence the gut's health. Paul Jaminet, co-author of the book and blog The Perfect Health Diet, is a great source on diet and its relation to the function of the gut and health of the gut biota. His post here goes into more detail about these toxins and their negative effects on the gut.

  • Spicy Foods
    • If you find yourself preparing for a long run or a marathon and you eat spicy foods to fuel your system before your run you should probably expect to have a related GI disturbance. I shouldn't have to explain how to fix this issue.
    • This isn't meant to mean that you shouldn't eat and enjoy spicy foods but you should probably time the consumption of them appropriately. You might want to consider avoiding consuming certain spicy foods if they have extreme effects on your system. You will know best on how you will react to foods by trial and error. Just don't experiment before races or long runs.

  • Caffeine
    • Its known that stimulants such as caffeine increase peristalsis or the speed in which your GI tract works. If you want to use caffeine as an ergogenic aid for performance and are sensitive to its effects on your GI then this might not be the aid for you. However, it may not be an issue for yourself. Caffeine intake with a pre-race meal or during an event with food may assist in sensitivity to caffeine as well.

  • Sugar Alcohols
    • High doses of sugar replacements or sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, etc can cause GI issues in large doses, if you have pre-existing gut issues or if you are unaccustomed to ingesting them. Experimentation is key here, and possible avoidance may be desirable.

  • Unaccustomed food intake.
    • I always recommend to my patients/athletes that they never experiment with new foods the day before or the day of competition or events. This is not the time to try a new recipe, ingredient or foreign food.
    • Experimentation is better left for practices or training runs/events. This way when the big day rolls around you will know what powers your mind and body the best without unwanted side effects.
  • Novice Runners
    • This category seems to be a combination of multiple above categories. Poor conditioning, inadequate breathing strategies while running, inefficient running form and a lack of previous experience related to experimenting with diet and its effects on running.
    • Not all new runners experience GI disturbance and veteran runners suffer from GI disturbances as well so I don't believe being just a novice runner is the true factor but more of a combination of the above.
Now that I have finished introducing some of the factors related to GI distress in runners I want to refocus back on factor #3...High Fiber intake. More specifically cereal grains and legumes and how they have impacted my own personal GI during running. I used to suffer a lot of GI distress while running, however, just recently it dawned on me that I haven't suffered any of these issues in about a year. Around a year ago is when I started to really investigate and learn about ancestral health/paleo diet style eating. I then started to eliminate processed foods, refined sugars, and cereal grains.

In conclusion, I believe this might be the biggest factor that has eliminated this problem from my running. I am curious if others have found similar experiences or differences than that of mine. My girlfriend has changed her diet along with me and she also admits to have experienced a severe decrease in GI distress related to running as well. What has your experience been?


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