Cholesterol meds are for dummies

Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol is the mother of all hormones. It is produced and regulated by your body, and is responsible for a host of bodily functions. It is a necessary component of every day life.

Cholesterol is a critical component of cell membranes, the precursor to all steroid hormones, a precursor to vitamin D, and the limiting factor that brain cells need to make connections with one another called synapses, making it essential to learning and memory.

Here’s a few examples.

Brain function

[1] In the late 1990s and early 2000s, research was pointing to an unknown compound made by glial cells that was responsible for the ability of neurons to form synapses, or connections between each other.

Thoughts, memories, learning, and all mental function is dependent on the formation of synapses, so the ability to form them will directly impact mental functioning and health.

In the absence of this– as yet unknown– “glial factor,” neurons formed few synapses, and the synapses they formed were inefficient and poorly functioning. In the presence of glial cells, which secrete the unknown factor, neurons formed many, highly efficient synapses.

So what is this “glial factor”?

Research in 2001, by Mauch, et al., published in volume 294 of Science magazine, determined that the unknown glial factor is cholesterol, which is released by the glial cells in a carrier called “apolipoprotein E.”5

Steroid Hormones

Cholesterol is the precursor to all steroid hormones, including:

  • Glucocorticoids (blood sugar regulation)
  • Mineralcorticoids (mineral balance and blood pressure regulation)
  • Sex Hormones (many functions)

Cholesterol is the precursor to a hormone called pregnenolone, which has important functions itself, but is also the precursor to all other steroid hormones.

Pregnenolone is converted to progesterone, a sex hormone, which in turn is converted into cortisol, which regulates inflammation and blood sugar, aldosterone, which regulates mineral balance and blood pressure, or testosterone, a type of sex hormone referred to as an androgen, which regulates libido, muscle mass, and plays other roles.

In females, and to a lesser degree in males, testosterone is further modified, undergoing conversion to estradiol, a different type of sex hormone called an estrogen.

Harvey et al., Biochemistry: 3rd Edition, Baltimore: Lippincott, 2005, pp. 235-238.

Vitamin D

Since cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol will also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D. Since sunlight is required to turn cholesterol into vitamin D, avoiding the sun will likewise undermine our ability to synthesize vitamin D. And since vitamin D-rich foods are also rich in cholesterol, low-cholesterol diets are inherently deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is best known for its role in calcium metabolism and bone health, but new roles are continually being discovered for it, including roles in mental health, blood sugar regulation, the immune system, and cancer prevention. Yet standard modern advice — take cholesterol-lowering drugs, avoid the sun, eat a low-cholesterol diet — combined with a recommended daily intake of vitamin D that is only a tenth of what many researchers believe to be sufficient all seems to pave the way for widespread vitamin D deficiency.

Perhaps that’s why, according to Dr. John Cannel, President of the Vitamin D Council,most whites and nearly all blacks in modern society are deficient in vitamin D.

 

Cellular Helth

[2] Surrounding each of our cells is a membrane called the plasma membrane. The plasma membrane is a continuous double-layer of phospholipids, interweaved with cholesterol and proteins. Phospholipids are composed of two fatty acids attached to a phosphate compound as a head.

The phosphate head is water-soluble, also called “hydrophilic” (water-loving), and the fatty-acids are water-insoluble, or “hydrophobic” (water-fearing). Since outside the cell is a water-containing, or aqueous, environment, and inside the cell is also aqueous, the phosphate heads of the phospholipids face both the cell’s inside and the environment outside the cell, while the fatty acids face the inside of the membrane.

Without cholesterol, cell membranes would be too fluid, not firm enough, and too permeable to some molecules. In other words, it keeps the membrane from turning to mush.

 

Cholesterol does not play a role in Heart attack, stroke, or atherosclorotic plaque formation

Read the clear and detailed explanation [here] Near the bottom of that page. It outlines exactly how plaques form. I’ll give you a hint…it’s not related to cholesterol at all.

Side Effects of Cholesterol Lowering Drugs

The list of statin side effects is a long one. Known side-effects of statins include muscle weakness and/or pain (myopathy), liver damage , kidney failure and cataracts. It gets worse. Statins inhibit CoQ10 synthesis. Statins also cause memory loss, transient global amnesia, and lowered sex drive. Low cholesterol has even been strongly linked with diabetes and cancer

And it’s not surprising, given that cholesteol is responsible for so many critical bodily functions (see above). And side effects are likely much more common than is actually reported, yet cholesterol itself appears to play no functional role in heart disease.The FDA also issued a new warning against statins because of the occurrence of side effects.

But What About the Studies?

Most of the studies are produced and funded by the same corporations that make statins, and it’s a multi billion dollar industry. They are rife with conflicts of interest. They are heavily biased towards “positive results”. They even continue to lower the “standard for healthy cholesterol levels” so they can justify prescrbing it to children. What an industry!

Many of the studies done only look at the fact that the drugs were able to lower cholesterol. But a closer look at any of them will show you that heath either declined or did not improve. Now we can see this deception, because we understand that cholesterol has noting to do with it!

The studies that attempt to link high cholesterol with heart disease are only epidemiological, which means they are nothing more than surveys that attempt to make correlations between two variables. And as any good scientist will tell you, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION!!! Not to mention, the correlations are often weak with little supporting evidence.

Epidemiological studies are incapable of drawing conclusions and proving causation. You can not discover a factual mechanism of action by utilizing an epidemiological survey. All these people are doing is linking ice cream sales with murders. Ice cream sales correlate very strongly with murders, but this does not mean that we should ban ice cream, it means that more murders happen in the summer time. A very simple but effective example of the drawbacks of “survey studies”.

Stop Popping Pills!

New studies continue to punch holes in the cholesterol/heeart health hypothesis. It’s becoming abundantly clear that we are going about it the wrong way. But the system (health insurance, doctor salaries, pharmaceutical industry) has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. It’s true that it’s difficult to get a man to see the truth when his salary depends on ignoring it.

Taking statins may reduce your cholesterol, but the effects on health are negative. You will be weak, fat, and stupid, if the low cholesterol levels don’t kill you first. (Or if you don’t kill yourself first because your dick doesn’t work anymore…)

Dublin S, et al. Statin use and risk of community acquired pneumonia in older people: population based case-control study. BMJ 2009;338:b2137

Benati D, et al. Opposite effects of simvastatin on the bactericidal and inflammatory response of macrophages to opsonized S. aureus. J Leukoc Biol. 2010;87(3):433-42

Hippisley-Cox J, et al. Unintended effects of statins in men and women in England and Wales: population based cohort study using the QResearch database BMJ 2010;340:c2197

What it takes: Survival of the fittest.

Written by Paleo blogger, Jamie Scott. Here is an excerpt.

From the Christshurch experience (and seen similarly in subsequent events such as the Japanese tsunami and UK riots,) many  people required the stamina to walk 3–4 hours, often over hills and dodging rock falls, to get home. If they were required to run, they were required to run fast, as was seen in 9/11 as people ran from the World Trade Centre. If you need to get out of a building under threat of collapse or need to escape an angry mob, you are not going to jog your way out of the situation. You require strength that is functional – not the ability to simply lift a nicely balanced bar that is set at just the right height – but often awkward objects with little grip.

You might require the ability to pull yourself up over a high fence and scale the side of a building to escape an impending wall of water, as was witnessed by a film crew escaping the Japanese tsunami. You may be required to belay large people down the side of a building as was seen in Christchurch. You might need to push a car, barge a door in or drag a body. You will require enough hip mobility to get into a low squat position, to move in that position, to crawl through small and narrow spaces that have been formed, either for you to get into or out of a building.

You may also require the ability to exert yourself for many hours without the opportunity to stop and refuel. My following of a high-fat, hunter-gatherer-type diet has given me that capacity. My energy levels do not rise and fall with a wildly fluctuating blood sugar level, nor do I have to stuff my pockets with energy bars to get me through. During the Christchurch earthquake, whilst everyone was stocking up on bread, cereal, and milk, my survival kit contained eggs, bananas, coconut cream, and dark chocolate. how long one might have to

With no idea how long one might have to stand in the face of disaster, you may also require a degree of mental stamina – a mentality that allows you to manage your thoughts, and asserts that you can rather than you can’t. Knowing you have the skills and capacity in your body allows you to have a similar capacity in your mind. At the point at which I decided to dig through large amounts of silt with a plank of wood to rescue my car and get out before the road collapsed, there was no requirement for me to question whether my body could dig for three hours. I didn’t need to convince my mind. I knew I had the physical capacity and the mind followed.

As you prepare for disaster, you wouldn’t prepare an emergency kit with supplies that were old, broken and not up to the task that you would expect them to be able to perform. So why would one expect a slow, tired and weak body to get them through when put to the test? Strength and conditioning will take you so far, but without skills you really only have capacity and health without useful ability.

In Interesting Times, the most important thing in your emergency response kit is you – your physical capacity and your ability to turn that capacity to the useful skills those times will inevitably require.

Read the whole article by downloading the magazine [here] Article is on pages 44 – 47

Guest post: The importance of stress management for perfect health

In my 9 Steps to Perfect Health series, I argued that stress management may be the most important of all of the steps.

Why? Because no matter what diet you follow, how much you exercise and what supplements you take, if you’re not managing your stress you will still be at risk for modern degenerative conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmunity.

Read the rest [here]

Reblog: The difference between eating paleo and being paleo

geicocavemen
 

by Russ Crandall

As the Paleo FX Ancestral Momentum – Theory to Practice Symposium (so glad they didn’t go with the long version of the event’s name) wound down last week, it felt like the Paleo blogging world and its faithful audience (hereafter “Paleosphere”) had worked itself up into a frenzy. Over what, I’m not quite sure. It may have just been the gathering of like-minded individuals with strong online presences. What left a lasting impression was the tone of the Paleosphere during the event, and it just so happened that the timely coalescence of Paleo personalities and its ensuing social media onslaught brought everything to a head for me.

You see, I’ve been following a Paleo way of eating for about 18 months now, and it’s had a profound impact on the way I view the world, how I feel, and (obviously) how I eat. I replaced most grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars, and seed-derived oils with whole foods and many of my autoimmune symptoms went into remission. I can honestly say with conviction that I “eat Paleo”. However, I do not identify myself as “being Paleo”. I think there’s a distinction that needs to be made before we move on.

To me, “being Paleo” means that you are self-identifying with a group. It’s like calling yourself a musician or a video gamer (as opposed to simply writing music or playing video games). The problem with identification is that disidentification – the mentality of “us vs. them”, and a focus on what you are NOT – often emerges. Consider the in-group-out-group bias. This phenomenon can lead to aggression and prejudice, and some suggest that it leads to a lack of productivity, as identifiers take action while disidentifiers tend to just make a lot of talk. (And who is the “them” in this case? Just about everyone else – those pesky grain-eaters that make up the rest of the population, and those cursed Vegans that try and muck everything up!).

While the Paleosphere (thankfully) doesn’t focus too much on the “them” aspect of the diet, there’s definitely an overbearing “us” momentum that isn’t entirely healthy, either. I often see the Paleosphere as being on this slippery slope towards extremism.

As an ever-increasingly-large group of people that eat a similar diet and in many cases hold similar values, I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that extremists and ideologists often alienate themselves from the rest of society. How are we supposed to make an impact on the nutrition world if we work the Paleosphere up into a frenzied cult status? John George and Laird Wilcox, scholars of fringe movements, have identified the following characteristics of political extremists and ideological contrarians:

1. Absolute certainty they have the truth.

2. [The belief that] America is controlled to a greater or lesser extent by a conspiratorial group. In fact, they believe this evil group is very powerful and controls most nations.

3. Open hatred of opponents. Because these opponents (actually “enemies” in the extremists’ eyes) are seen as a part of or sympathizers with “The Conspiracy,” they deserve hatred and contempt.

4. Little faith in the democratic process. Mainly because most believe “The Conspiracy” has great influence in the U.S. government, and therefore extremists usually spurn compromise.

5. Willingness to deny basic civil liberties to certain fellow citizens, because enemies deserve no liberties.

6. Consistent indulgence in irresponsible accusations and character assassination.

Does that sound alarmingly familiar to you? Admittedly, the above characteristics have a major political slant, and the fact that big corporations have major influence on what ends up on our dinner plates may not lead to some of those characteristics (like the willingness to deny basic civil liberties part).

I can’t deny that a relatively extreme diet (side note: it’s sad that the Paleo diet is considered “extreme” in this age of processed/fast foods) will attract people that gravitate towards fringe thinking – as sociologist Daniel Bell put it, for those on the fringe, “the way you hold beliefs is more important than what you hold. If somebody’s been a rigid Communist, he becomes a rigid anti-Communist – the rigidity being constant.” How many ex-Vegans are in the Paleosphere? Lots. (As some would argue: not enough.) An extreme lifestyle will attract extremists, which simply isn’t preventable. My point is this: just because there are crazies in the Paleosphere, we don’t have to listen to them, and we need to keep ourselves in check to make sure we don’t become them. An easy way to prevent this is to continually challenge ourselves to question our dietary standards, and to avoid dogmatism.

So where do we start? How can we make sure that we promote this diet in the most open, pragmatic, unobtrusive, and inclusive way? Here are some quick suggestions:

1. Don’t tell people that you “are Paleo”. Hell, don’t even tell them that you eat “Paleo”, because the use of labels is in itself exclusionary. Just tell them what you eat, and maybe what you don’t eat. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. Look at the Weston A. Price dietary guidelines. It’s very similar to the modern interpretation of the Paleo diet, and they don’t tell you what to avoid, even once. Focus on the whole foods, not on yet-to-be-completely-proven-as-evil grains, legumes, etc.

2. Don’t use flawed ideas or gray areas to promote the diet, because it calls the Paleosphere’s credibility into question. Don’t worship bacon, which is likely not good for you, even if it is (was) somewhat fashionable to “baconize” stuff. It’s a useful ingredient in cooking, but it’s not our flagship food. Don’t celebrate “Paleo versions” of sweets like Paleo brownies because that’s not helping people overcome their underlying food issues and if anything it’s guiding them towards failure. The last thing we should do is to set people on shaky foundations. Personally, I’m all about Dr. Kurt Harris‘ incremental process, because it encourages folks to improve their health even when they’re not ready to dive into a full-blown Paleo eating orgy.

3. Avoid dogmatic thinking. Are potatoes evil? What about white rice? What about dairy? Aren’t we supposed to be eating low carb? Remember that human variance, health history, and gut flora are major factors in food tolerance, and macronutrient ratios are highly individualized. This diet is ever-changing (and it should be as scientific study helps enlighten our views on nutrition every day); be open to suggestion.

4. Try not to alienate others by flaunting an overbearing self-identification of “being Paleo.” You’re not a caveman, and you’re certainly not living like one, so why label yourself as one? If anything, I suggest embracing what we do have in common with our ancestors – the fact that we’re all on this planet. Go take a walk/hike. Watch a sunset. Spend a few days camping. That’s certainly closer to being a caveman than eating a pound of lean red meat straight out of a slow cooker after a hard day at the office and then blogging about it.

5. Bear in mind that everyone has their own burden. I’m pretty sure that most people simply cannot afford to eat fresh organic vegetables and grass-fed meats all the time. My family can’t afford it, despite the fact that a huge chunk of our income goes towards our groceries – nearly twice as much as before we switched our diet. Additionally, many people don’t have the resources to find out whether or not they have access to affordable grass-fed meats anyway – online resources are often outdated, and I’ll wager that many excellent farmers are out working and not updating their farm’s webpage and social networking fan pages. Many don’t have access to local, affordable health food markets. This is no reason to make people feel bad for having to make sacrifices to make ends meat meet; instead celebrate the steps that people are willing to take for their health that are within their means.

6. Avoid the fringe, and consider the power of prudence. What is the point of wearing t-shirts that say “Meat is awesome” or “Vegans suck”? Before shouting from the rooftops about how stuff like cold thermogenesis and eating butter straight out of the container is awesome, take a step back and think about how crazy that sounds to the average person. I’m not saying that any of those extreme elements are bad, but they might not be helping the Paleo movement along when that’s the stuff we get identified with. When it comes down to it, who better to police the Paleosphere than ourselves?

Lastly, please don’t take this as an insult to anyone that’s exhibited these behaviors. Dramatically improving your health through simple changes in diet is awesome, and exciting. I don’t fault you for telling people that “you’re Paleo”. My only purpose in writing this article is to help consider the fact that we need to do what we can to impact those that aren’t lucky enough to know much about sensible eating yet. As much as it may be fun to be part of a cool, elite club of Paleo dieters that share cool pictures and sayings amongst themselves, isn’t our energy better spent on refining the diet itself through scientific study and attracting people that haven’t been exposed to the diet yet?

This article was recently featured on the Highbrow Paleo blog. Russ Crandall also blogs at The Domestic Man where he posts many wonderful recipes with lots of high quality photos. Read about his amazing story here.

How to maintain vibrant health and good looks as you age

Aging comes with a lot of stigma these days. The slogan “I’m getting too old for this” is uttered by everyone at some point. We think that getting tired, sick, weak and slow are all part of the process. We are programmed to think that getting old inevitably includes bags, sags, and wrinkles, joint pain, cancer, heart attack, and lots of naps. Adding extra weight around our mid-sections is another accepted part of the “normal” aging process. Don’t believe any of this for one more second!

Aging does not have to come with any of that baggage.

In fact, most of these things are completely in your control. All it takes is living an active life and keeping your body in shape, while following an ancestral type diet that includes healthy animal meats and organs, vegetables and fruit, and eliminates all processed food, grains, and sugar. By doing so you will eliminate systemic inflammation, which is the cause of most modern ills and diseases. You will also find that your skin and complextion are healthier too. Lean muscle mass will provide you with the proper organ reserve to maintin strength and health through old age, and also prevents injury.

Take a look at this succss story from a 71 year old man (who looks more like 50) who has followed this type of lifestyle. Here are a couple of people (Mark Sisson, and his wife) over 50 who also have found success in an ancestral lifestyle. Here’s a few more! Gerry age 64, Paula 51, Dave 54, 65 year old mother, Norman 53, George 54.

Here is an informative list of 10 rules for aging well.

The role of lean muscle mass and organ reserve in aging

How to control your gene expression. Don’t be a victim of your own genes!

How to get that natural glow and maintain healthy skin

Is it really that easy? Yes it is! Try it for 2 weeks and tell me you don’t see immediate changes in your health and energy levels!

Like this post? Want to find out more about how to get in shape fast? Check out these articles about getting in shape, feeling great, and controlling your genes!

Lower bodyfat setpoint.

Lose stubborn body fat. (Intermittent fasting)

Control your gene expression.

Heavy strength training is a required aspect of long term health. For everybody.

How to train your body to burn fat all day long. High intensity interval training (HIIT).

Why you should avoid too many polyunsaturated fats.

What is chronic inflammation. What to eat to avoid it.

The final word on grains and legumes: AVOID them.

The final word on Saturated fat and Cholesterol: EAT them

Smoking does make you fat and insulin resistant. Pesticides in America.

[Reblog from Animal Pharm]

Modern Big Tobacco-Agra/Monsatan Crops

Crops are generally coated with pesticides for the last 30-50 years. Are they toxic? Pesticides are upregulated into the food chain via consumption (corn, soy) by feedlot livestock and poultry. Let’s not forget tobacco (cigarettes, snuff, cigars, etc). ‘Tobacco is a pesticide-intensive crop. With nearly 27 million pounds of pesticides (including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and suckercides) applied to the U.S.-grown crop from 1994 to 1998, it ranks SIXTH in terms of the amount of pesticides applied per acre. The tobacco industry regards pesticides as essential to tobacco production, stating that “the crop could not be produced economically without them”.’

Additionally pesticides are employed in municipalities (public schools, parks, government land) and personal home use (termites, ant control, weeds control, lawns, etc). Although pesticides do not taste, smell or look toxic, they are not benign and without metabolic dysregulation consequences.

New studies in PubMed are cropping (pun intended) up in number pointing directly to insulin resistance, obesogenic, neurologic and inflammatory damage secondary to this broad group of pervasive chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They are difficult to avoid as once in the soil, air or bodies of water, fish, birds and animals, they typically fail to degrade and significantly impact the environment.

The researcher Alavanja states ‘Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in the United State (US) each year and approximately 5.6 billion pounds are used worldwide (1). In many developing countries programs to control exposures are limited or non-existent. As a consequence; it has been estimated that as many as 25 million agricultural workers worldwide experience unintentional pesticide poisonings each year (4). In a large prospective study of pesticide users in the United States, the Agricultural Health Study, it was estimated that 16% of the cohort had at least one pesticide poisoning or an unusually high pesticide exposure episode in their lifetime (5).

Although attempts to reduce pesticide use through organic agricultural practices and the use of other technologies to control pests continue, exposure to pesticides occupationally, through home and garden use, through termite control or indirectly through spray drifts and through residues in household dust, and in food and water are common (6). The US Department of Agriculture has estimated that 50 million people in the United States obtain their drinking water from groundwater that is potentially contaminated by pesticides and other agricultural chemicals (7, 8). Children from 3-6 years old received most of their dermal and non-dietary oral doses from playing with toys and while playing on carpets which contributed the largest portion of their exposure (9-12).’

U.S.A. Obesity Trends With Pesticide Use

Guess what?

Pesticide use on crops grown in the South (tobacco) and Mid-West (corn, wheat, soy) trends well with U.S.A. obesity patterns [hat tip: LePine MD]. Above is the trend of obesity that starts mid-1980s then grows exponentially each few years. Maps are from Lim et al and BFRSS data.

Smart people in Korea (Lim et al) report that ‘There is an apparent overlap between areas in the USA where the herbicide, atrazine (ATZ), is heavily used and obesity-prevalence maps of people with a BMI over 30. Given that herbicides act on photosystem II of the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts, which have a functional structure similar to mitochondria, we investigated whether chronic exposure to low concentrations of ATZ might cause obesity or insulin resistance by damaging mitochondrial function.’

Pesticides Kill Pests, Including Our Bug-like Mitochondria

It’s therefore not surprising to read about the toxic effects of pesticides on pests whose networked pathways overlap almost precisely with our own cells. Atrazine is a mitochondrial toxin, and our mitochondria are the sole energy generators and powerhouses whether the substrate is glycogen, glucose or fatty acids.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Causes Fatness and Insulin Resistance (IR)

‘A close association between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance is well established [1]–[3]. In in vitro studies, we found that artificial induction of mitochondrial dysfunction induced insulin resistance [4], [5].’ This is discussed by Lim et al. He and his colleagues performed an experiment on rodents. They fed low levels of atrazine to rats then examined lab parameters for insulin resistance (IR). What happened? The higher the dose of atrazine, the higher the obesity and insulin resistance. Atrazine was associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, higher visceral (organ) fat deposition, higher blood glucoses and decreased energy metabolism.

Another group of researchers, Ruzzin et al, tested a similar hypothesis. They fed crude Atlantic salmon oil to rodents and examined IR parameters. They state ‘POPs accumulate in the lipid fraction of fish, and fish consumption represents a source of POP exposure to humans (Dougherty et al. 2000; Hites et al. 2004; Schafer and Kegley 2002). Therefore, certain European countries have dietary recommendations to limit the consumption of fatty fish per week (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition 2004).’ They discovered similar insulin resistant results when they exposed fat cells in vitro to a POP mixture that mimicked the relative abundance of contaminants found in crude salmon oil. Insulin signalling was broken and impaired.

References

BRFSS, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System www.cdc.gov/brfss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCNW-NgYZ2s [Obesity trend map and cdc slides]

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/obesity_trends_2006.pdf [BRFSS raw data by state and year]

Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide. Michael C.R. AlavanjaRev Environ Health. 2009 Oct–Dec; 24(4): 303–309.

The Tobacco Industry and Pesticide Regulations: Case Studies from Tobacco Industry Archives. Patricia A. McDaniel, Gina Solomon, Ruth E. Malone. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 December; 113(12): 1659–1665.

Chronic Exposure to the Herbicide, Atrazine, Causes Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Insulin Resistance. Soo Lim, Sun Young Ahn, In Chan Song, Myung Hee Chung, Hak Chul Jang, Kyong Soo Park, Ki-Up Lee, Youngmi Kim Pak, Hong Kyu LeePLoS ONE. 2009; 4(4): e5186.

Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome. Jérôme Ruzzin, Rasmus Petersen, Emmanuelle Meugnier, Lise Madsen, Erik-Jan Lock, Haldis Lillefosse, Tao Ma, Sandra Pesenti, Si Brask Sonne, Troels Torben Marstrand, Marian Kjellevold Malde, Zhen-Yu Du, Carine Chavey, Lluis Fajas, Anne-Katrine Lundebye, Christian Lehn Brand, Hubert Vidal, Karsten Kristiansen, Livar FrøylandEnviron Health Perspect. 2010 April; 118(4): 465–471.

Effect of Endocrine Disruptor Pesticides: A ReviewWissem Mnif, Aziza Ibn Hadj Hassine, Aicha Bouaziz, Aghleb Bartegi, Olivier Thomas, Benoit RoigInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 June; 8(6): 2265–2303.

What the heck is inflammation, and how does it affect me?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and systemic/chronic. Acute inflammation has it’s place and is a natural reaction by our bodies to stress or injury, but when that acute inflammation becomes systemic, we can have major problems with our health.

Acute inflammation is the initial response to a pathogen or an injury. It is usually brief and only lasts a few days. Acute inflammation is usually caused by trauma, infection, burn, chemical irritation, frostbite, cuts, and allergic reactions.

Heat, redness, swelling and pain usually result, but are absolutely critical forms of acute inflammation to get the healing process started:

  • Increased blood flow heats up the injury and turns it red. The blood carries leukocytes that clean up pathogens and start healing.
  • swollen parts like a swollen ankle is full of plasma and leukocytes that start the healing process.
  • Pain is just your body’s way of saying you f**ked up! Don’t do that again!
  • Loss of function prevents you from using a broken part, so it can heal.

What about systemic or chronic inflammation? Why is it linked to obesity, heart disease, and depression?

Inflammation becomes chronic once it ceases to be an acute response, and it becomes a constant feature of your physiology that’s always engaged, always fighting what your body sees as a low level, constant threat.

This is how things really get screwed up, because inflammation is supposed to be an acute, short-and-sweet response to injury, and because a big part of inflammation is tissue break-down, targeting pathogens and damaged tissue, a chronic inflammatory response has the potential to really f**k up your body! You can see how things have the ability to get way out of hand.

Now here’s some things that cause chronic inflammation. These are things we see in most developed countries such as ours, and they all lead to a systemic breakdown of the finely tuned and tightly managed inflammatory system. The first two are the most important!

Toxic diets: High-sugar, high-processed carb, high-industrial fat, high-grain, high-CAFO meat.

Leads to: leptin resistance, insulin resistance, obesity, abdominal fat accumulation, diabetes, poor recovery, weak immune system, chronic heartburn, the list goes on and on and on….

Excessive PUFA intake: Polyunsaturated fats form the precursors for inflammatory eicosanoids, which are an integral part of the inflammatory response. High omega-6 status (High PUFA status in general) means excessive production of inflammatory eicosanoids and an exaggerated inflammatory response to normal stimuli.

Leads to: heart disease, atherosclerosis, obesity.

Lack of sleep: Poor sleep is linked to elevated inflammatory markers. Poor sleep is a chronic problem in developed nations. Either we go to bed too late, wake up too early, or we use too many electronics late at night and disrupt the quality of what little sleep we get. Or all three at once. Try a harder mattress, or no mattress. It’s natural!

Lack of movement: People lead sedentary lives, by and large, and a lack of activity is strongly linked to systemic, low-grade inflammation.

Poor recovery: Other people move too much, with too little rest and recovery. Overtraining is a form of chronic inflammation.

Lack of down time: When you’re always on the computer, always checking your email/Facebook/smartphone, you are always “on.” You may think you’re relaxing because your body is stationary, but you’re not relaxing. That’s why I’m going to Cancun in a couple weeks!

Lack of nature time: We spend too much time stuck in cubicles, cars, trains, and cities, away from the forest and soft earth. We evolved from hunter-gatherers, so the wilderness is natually home for us. Plus getting enough sun gives us much needed vitamin D! Going camping certainly has its measured benefits!

Poor gut health: The gut houses the bulk of the human immune system. When it’s unhealthy, so is your inflammatory regulation.

Leads to: depression, illness, weak immune system, poor recovery, and acne.

All that stuff really adds up and sets us up for a lifetime of woe and misery. MAJOR SUCK!! But you don’t have to fit in with the crowd and say “we all get fat and sick with age”. Hell No! Just do your body right and stick to the Paleo way of life, which will keep inflammation in check. ALL RIGHT!

Next up: Controlling our genes with positive hormone expression

Heavy strength training IS a required aspect of long term health. For EVERYBODY.

Lifting heavy things every once in a while IS absolutely necessary to longevity, health, and “taking care of your body”. No matter your age or your gender.

Only lifting heavy things creates structural adaptations in muscle and bones to keep us strong and resistant to injury for our entire lives. You may not be thinking the same thing when I say “intense strength training”, but my routine is far from intense. I spend between 30-45 minutes, M-F lifting weights. I see progression each week. Consistently. But the only intense part is that it’s hard work, and I train to failure. There are many ways to train, but you need to realize that taking care of your body the right way is not ever going to be easy. If you want to be lazy and not work hard, your goals will be severely hampered.

If you’re a woman, and you are concerned about “getting bulky” or looking “too intense”, take a gander at these videos of natural women lifters. It’s their livelyhood to lift weights, yet in the absence of steroids, they just look like they are in great shape. You wouldn’t even look twice if you saw them on the street ( I would, but for reasons I won’t say 😉 ).

2007 American Open.

108 lb woman clean-and-jerks twice her bodyweight

Woman Lifter

Notice how all these lifts are functional, meaning that they assist your every day life and ability.

For comparison, here’s a couple videos of “jacked up” women bodybuilders. The movements they are doing are not as functional, and are focused on “getting big”.

Lisa Moordigian

Brenda Smith

Notice how there is no agile athleticism involved in these movements. These two are focusing on individual muscles for size, and not utilizing skill techniques that would actually be useful in real life.

Now why is lean muscle mass so important?

Our ultimate goal in eating a functional Paleo diet and moving around a lot is to achieve positive gene expression, functional strength, optimal health, and extended life expectancy.

Lean body mass is healthier than adipose tissue. Generally, the more lean mass a person has, the longer and better they live. But to simply increase lean mass to get “bulky” at the expense of agility and function is counterproductive. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We are talking about functional, sexy, lean mass.

Have you ever heard the phrase “died of old age” or “died of natural causes”? Basically that means the person died as a result of the end of the logical aging process, the diminishment of organ reserve and muscle mass that once supported their functional life.

Muscle provides a metabolic reserve!

Muscle produces proteins and metabolites in response to physical trauma. This response is essential to the body’s efforts to achieve recovery and resume homeostasis. With the loss of muscle mass, we lose this metabolic reservoir. Lifting heavy things also causes a poitive adaptation in bone tissue. Heavy loading causes your body to react, depositing more calcium where you need it most. If you want to prevent osteoperosis and bone fractures, especially if you are a woman, heavy lifting early in life will help you reach that goal of stronger bones and a life resistant to injury.

Organ reseve refers to the functional capacity of our organs to support life. Interestingly, lean muscle mass and organ reserve have a correlation: skeletal muscle mass and organ reserve tend to correspond throughout life.

The diminishment of organ reserve and lean muscle mass is somewhat genetically influenced, but the expression of your genes depends on the interaction between your genetic blueprint and your personal environment and lifestyle. This means that our efforts throughout life to build and maintain muscle mass tend to improve or retain not just muscle mass but the function of other tissue as well, including the function of vital organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. And vice-versa. It’s a widely accepted assertion that 75 percent of our health and life expectancy after age 40 is determined by environmental factors, including the impact of our daily lifestyle choices. Now there’s a reason to get off the couch.

 

What are the best ways to maintain lean body mass throughout life?

Men and women should work out the same way,

as long as you have the same goals: functional strength, promoting lean body mass over fat mass, and improving overall health. Hormonal differences between men and women, as well as diet, will change how your body reacts to heavy lifting, but the end result is the same: increased strength to body weight ratio that is crucial to long term health and fitness, muscle that makes sense, fat burning muscle that fits you. Muscle that will preserve your good looks and shape for your entire life!

Check out these older-age CrossFitters. They are all over 50! And they will continue to feel and look great for a long time following Paleo diet and lifting heavy things!

Carrie Gym

You can also check out these really amazing success stories at Marks Daily Apple. There are a ton of men and women of all ages (many over 50) who have made drastic changes in health and body composition. I can tell you one thing…they look a lot better than those “Weight Watchers success stories”.

They do basic strength exercises that focus on function and aesthetics. Those women do not look “bulky”. And those guys look like they are in pretty damn good shape. I think they are setting themselves up for long term health and resistance to injury, don’t you?

Got more questions? Something I missed? Let me know below!

Muscle mass and strength decline as a function of aging. NOT!

Muscle aging does not ocurr simply as a function of age, but as a function of chronic disuse. Considering that total lean mass has major health implications through our entire life, it seems prudent for all of us to lift heavy shit every once in a while, even into old age.

Hard Time Falling Asleep? Try The Floor!

Sleeping on the floor might improve your sleep, health, and bring you back to your ancestral roots.

Check out The Ergonomics of Sleep, which I’ve quoted below. The author spent 30 years discovering that the best mattress, is NO mattress. Sleeping on a hard natural surface promotes proper posture and sleep patterns.

I discovered that the mattress is creating and/or masking the body’s current structural imbalances, impeding circulation and hampering the body from realigning itself during sleep. Sleeping on a hard surface can reshape the back and realign the body. A firm sleep surface helps the body’s relationship with gravity, with the earth. This is a therapeutic practice available to all of us, which works while we sleep.

Most ‘authorities’ seem confused and baffled. For instance the Mayo Clinic says: “If you have chronic low back pain, you may benefit from sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. Consider trying out a medium-firm mattress before you buy. However, you may find your back pain is reduced with a softer mattress.” (1)

I find these type of vague, unscientific explanations are common among the conventional health community. It really bothers me that something as vital as sleep has been so overlooked, and we are suffering as a result of bad science and soft beds. The same goes for our work lives. We submit to the “slow sit of death”, sitting in chairs, not moving for most of our lives. We should be standing and moving, yet the conventional wisdom tells you to buy an expensive posture-correcting chair so you can SIT and be DORMANT.

I slept on the floor last night, and it was FANTASTIC. I came home from the gym fairly worn out, and decided it was time to give this a try. I put a blanket on the floor, had another for a cover, and I passed right out!

I layed on my back. I found my posture was aligned and there were no specific uncomfortable pressure points. The “soft spots” on my body provided the base: my upper back/shoulders, my butt, calves, heels. The spots with the most muscle or cushioning tissue. My back and neck were allowed to comfortably and naturally arch. My spine was aligned. Eveything felt perfect.

I ususally have a difficult time falling asleep. It can often take me an hour. Not this time! I even forgot to turn off the music and I left the lights on. I was out in minutes, and dreaming. When I woke up from my nap, I was rested and felt great.

Now if you are out of shape or have no muscles to support your body properly, this may be problematic. A natural amount of back and shoulder muscle acts as a great buffer between your bones and the floor, and holds your back and body in alignment. If you have to struggle to keep your spine aligned properly, or it sags to the floor, you might want to think about lifting some heavy things every once in a while. Do some friggin deadlifts man!

Even if you don’t want to try this for a whole night, I suggest giving it a try for your next nap. Pillow not required. This helped my back a little too, since I tweaked it doing deadlifts a few weeks ago, it’s still been a little naggy sometimes. It felt great when I woke up!

I suggest trying this first, before spending a thousand dollars on some fancy sleep number bed that might make it worse.

Eat Animals For Optimal Health. Not Monkey Biscuits!

The rules of nature always hold true

How do you keep an animal healthy and happy? You feed it what it would naturally eat in the wild, and keep it’s habitat as natural as possible. This rule will always hold true. Animals thrive in their natural habitat, for the most part free of disease, obesity and age realted disorders. The few instances of cancers that do exist in the wild are only recent develpoments, and are likely related to modern factors including climate change industrialization, and re-introduction of previously captive species.

Are you eating monkey biscuits?

North American zoo gorillas were dying of heart disease, until the zoos got smart and stopped feeding them gorilla biscuits! The biscuits were formulated to be nutrient and vitamin rich, but were also starchy and full of calories. Gorillas are primarily herbivorous, eating the leaves and stems of herbs, shrubs, and vines. In some areas, they raid farms, eating and trampling crops. They also will eat rotten wood and small animals.

Captive gorillas can be compared with westernized humans; they are both displaced from their natural diet and lifestyle and are thus at risk for specific diseases.

Monkey Biscuits!!

MMMM. Tasty!

Now what about us, Homo Sapiens? We are genetically identical to our Paleolithic ancestors, who lived vastly free of obesity and modern disease for hundreds of thousands of years. Their lifespans were similar to ours. They also grew taller and stronger.

We have only been “getting by” on modern foods for a blink-of-an-eye in terms of our evolutionary timeframe.

It’s extremely difficult to identify the ideal diet for wild Human beings. One thing is for sure, it varied widely between plant based and animal based, and almost always included animal foods. It most certainly did not include mass amounts of grains and processed foods, and we thrived. That is why we are here today to write about it in blogs! Here is a number of interesting articles about diet from anthropological blogger, John Hawks.

From Humans are predators:

A predator is an animal that kills and eats other animals. Any hunter is by definition a predator.

That does not preclude other means of subsistence or other trophic relationships with different species. Humans were predators from at least 2.5 million years ago

As more information comes to light, we continue to see modern science and common sense overturning what we thought was unhealthy vs. healthy. Based on certain nutrient-needs alone, it becomes clear that eating animals and saturated fat is not unhealthy, and in fact promotes total health.

Case in point. Humans need vitamin B12, which comes almost exclusively from ANIMALS! Vegans have to supplement B12, and even then, bioavailability of supplements is incomplete. You also have to consider the risks involved with taking large amounts of man-made supplements. The only way to maximally absorb and utilize vitamin B12 is by consuming animals.

We are also far less capable of utilizing the forms of iron and zinc found in plants. Evidence shows that early Human diets may have also included plently of cholesterol.

So, here is where common sense comes in. We evolved to be a resilient, smart, big-brained, healthy species. Our nutrient needs are well defined: amino-acids, fatty-acids, vitamins, minerals (the only things that are actually required by our bodies). There are certain things that are abundant and available in animals, things that we need to survive. These are the things we would find in our natural habitat. These are the foods we evolved to eat and be healthy, and our needs have not changed.

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Why healthcare is expensive

A major contributor to cost of the healthcare industry is because it all revolves around profit. Doctors are motivated by repeat business. The supply of doctors does not meet demand, because the medical schools are run by doctors who have an incentive to keep supply low, they make it extremely difficult to get in to medical school. Increase the supply to meet demand, and price goes down. This would also increase competition in the market, so that doctors would be forced to give better treatment, or lose clients to a better doctor. Better treatment would mean actually listening to your patients, and instead of prescribing unnecessary procedures and pills, they would have more incentive to actually fix the cause of your problem, not merely treat the symptoms. Better treatment would lead to less medical costs for all, because we would all be healthier. Doctors would actually have an incentive to keep up with the latest research and natural medicine. Here’s an example: Cholesterol has long been touted as the ultimate enemy, but the science has never actually backed that conclusion. There is no actual relationship between cholesterol and health(1). But no doctor today will tell you that. They would rather stick to their “common wisdom”, and prescribe you a dangerous statin drug, lowering your cholesterol to dangerous levels.

Once medicine comes in line with treating the cause, and not the symptoms, expensive diseases like cancer will become less common, removing the need for expensive treatments. Healthier people also means lower insurance costs, because the insurance companies won’t be dishing out tons of cash.

A more immediate solution is to educate your self. Becoming a healthy Human Being removes the need for prescriptions and doctors and high insurance costs. Degenerative disease and age related problems did not exist before the Neolithic era. What changed? We stopped being hunter-gatherers and relied upon cheap “foods” like milled grass seed (grains) that were not even available as a significant food source during the Paleolithic (4). We started eating man made food-like products in a box (5). We got lazy and stopped moving and playing. We hid from the sun. We stopped sleeping enough. We got stressed (2). We blamed saturated fat (3). Once you stop listening to political dogma, it’s not that hard. Take responsibility for your own health and educate yourself; it’s not that hard. Use common sense and eat like a predator; it’s not that hard. Get off your ass; it’s not that hard. And if you are not motivated, and you would rather pop some pill, then you deserve to pay for those insurance bills.

(1) http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Does-Cholesterol-Cause-Heart-Disease-Myth.html

(2) http://chriskresser.com/perfecthealth

(3) http://www.gnolls.org/1086/the-lipid-hypothesis-has-officially-failed-part-1-of-many/

(4) http://www.gnolls.org/1086/the-lipid-hypothesis-has-officially-failed-part-1-of-many/

(5) http://www.gnolls.org/2656/why-do-we-ever-stop-eating-taste-reward-and-hyperpalatability-why-are-we-hungry-part-7/