Friday, July 18, 2014

The Sugar-Addiction Taboo - Robert H. Lustig - The Atlantic

"No one argues that food isn't pleasurable, or even that food doesn't activate the "reward center" of the brain. But can food truly be addictive? In the same way that alcohol, tobacco, and street drugs are?"

In the article linked here,
Robert Lustig makes the case that sugar addiction is just as real as any other.  I agree.  There's a simple model I wrote about some time back (this is it), and while it's neither proved or under research, the concepts he relates in this article point to similar pathways for sugar addiction.

The BLUF - without sugar, food does not pervert our basic drive to consume the nutrition we need.  With sugar, we behave like addicts.  My two favorite paragraphs follow:

"Which brings us to sugar. Another fun substance, full of energy, made up of two molecules linked together: glucose (kind of sweet, and not that much fun), and fructose (very sweet, and a whole lot of fun). Glucose is a nutrient, although not essential—it's so important, that if you don't eat it, your liver will make it. But what about fructose? Is fructose a nutrient? As it turns out, there's no biochemical reaction that requires dietary fructose. A rare genetic disease called Hereditary Fructose Intolerance afflicts 1 in 100,000 babies, who drop their blood sugar to almost zero and have a seizure upon their first exposure to juice from a bottle at age six months. Doctors perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. From that moment on, they're fructose-free for the rest of their lives. And they're among the healthiest people on the planet. Alcohol and fructose both supply energy. They're fun—but they are not nutrients."

"But oh, do we want it. As an example, rats are not big fans of lard. But if you lace the lard with some sugar (called "cookie dough"), that's another story — indeed, in a controversial abstract at this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting, rats were found to prefer Oreos to cocaine. And we humans are not far behind. A recent study by Dr. Eric Stice of Oregon Health Sciences University looked at our obsession, by parsing out the fat from the sugar. Subjects laying in an MRI scanner consumed milkshakes where the fat and the sugar concentrations were dialed up or down.  Bottom line, fat stimulated the somatosensory cortex (in other words, "mouthfeel"), but only sugar stimulated the reward center. And adding fat to the sugar didn't increase the reward any further. This study shows we want sugar way more than we want fat."

Lustig's hot for government action, but of course, government action has been the sugar industry's best friend for a long time.  I'd prefer the government just stayed out of our food, so that government cannot be highjacked but the highest bidders.

But for you and for me the message is simple.  Alcohol, sugar, driving, shooting guns, swimming pools, motorcycles - high risk, handle with care.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Double Under Tutorial

I like this way of teaching the double under.  The start - understand what a double under is.  Next, refine your single under technique.  Third, practice the high slow jump.  Fourth, add double under rope speed to the high slow jump.  Practice a lot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Personal Paleo Code - Eat Real Food

You might be thinking a multivitamin can prevent nutrient deficiency, but supplemental nutrients do not have the same effect on the body as nutrients gotten form food.  Humans have evolved to get their nutrients from whole foods - not supplements.  Most nutrients require specific enzymes and other substances to be properly absorbed.  While these are naturally present in foods, they are often not included in synthetic vitamins and isolated nutrients.  This may explain why several trials have shown that adding antioxidant supplements to a typical American diet not only doesn't prevent people from getting heart disease and cancer but may actually increase their risk.  While supplements can (and should) be used for therapeutic effect in specific health conditions or to replace certain nutrients that are difficult to obtain from food, they should never be used to replace nutrients that can be found in a  nutrient-dense diet.
Chris Kresser, Your Personal Paleo Code

This is as good as it gets for learning how to eat for health, including how to address your specific issues of health and wellness.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Research Confirms Good Reporting on Obesity Research Almost Impossible

Another reporter that should be arrested for the murder of science reporting.

The head line is in - it is not possible to lose weight and keep it off.  What do you think of that?  Are you relieved because you have tried and failed so many times?  Are you in denial - "I am not willing to believe that, I'm going to be one of their 5%."  Or, like me, are you just plain flabbergasted at the poor quality of the dialogue? 

For me, this article is just another piece of pathetic writing from a profession that seems to set low standards which it then fails to meet.

Here's the opening:  "There's a disturbing truth that is emerging from the science of obesity. After years of study, it's becoming apparent that it's nearly impossible to permanently lose weight."

This is good writing but poor analysis.  For one thing, it's not emerging, it's been a discussion point for many years.  "Scientists" posit that we are in a "toxic food environment" and editorialize about the necessity of further research to develop appetite suppressing drugs and gene therapies and so on, since they have concluded that long term dietary success is impossible.  One of the better summaries is here:

The author goes on to summarize the work of a few scientists and a sample of research about fat loss results.  What is revealed is that this article is not about the topic "obesity research confirms that long term weight loss is almost impossible". This article is about a survey of a small sample of researchers who have apparently discovered what you and I already know - it is very hard to lose weight long term using the fad diet of the science world - calorie restriction with a focus on fat restriction.  And the reason that sort of diet does not work is simple - it leaves most of us feeling very hungry, lethargic, irritable or all three.

Of course, fat loss is not easy.  We are built to be hunter-gatherers but we eat all manner of foods that we are not adapted to.  If you eat like a hunter-gatherer, the prospect of weight loss is much different.  My story is just one, but dropping from 225 in 2007 to my current 190 has been instructive.  

As long as science research focuses on the singular variable of caloric intake, without consideration for the many other variables such as sleep, coffee and alcohol intake, social influence, hormonal variations (of which there are MANY especially for ladies) and genetic/ethnic variations - it will deliver results that are not particularly useful.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cramps from Dehydration and Loss of Electrolytes? "Who Knows"

A fantastic review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looks at the available research evidence, and argues that dehydration and salt loss are unlikely to have anything to do with exercise-induced muscle cramps.
For example, several recent studies have examined electrolyte levels among crampers and non-crampers following endurance events. They found no differences in electrolyte concentrations between the two groups, and electrolyte levels did not change when the cramps disappeared. Similarly, cramping athletes are not any more dehydrated than their non-cramping counterparts. It’s also worth noting that “heat cramps” have been observed in cool environments, such as swimming in cold water (conversely, cooling hot a person does not make their cramps go away).  Core temperature does not seem related to cramping either.

As Dr. W Edwards Deming used to say, "We know so much that isn't so."

The article goes on to suggest that fatigue is the cause of cramping, vice heat, dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Obese But Healthy?

These articles are always interesting to read.  The BLUF on this one - they've discovered a discrete molecule that correlates with those who are obese and sick.  Blocking the production of that molecule via gene therapy shows positive results in mice.

That's all good and I hope they keep figuring out how to manipulate genes to make us less sick from eating the food we eat.  But the real secret is - don't overcarb yourself.  You can eat enough carbs and fat to make your body think that carrying a lot of fat is a good thing - raising the "set point".  However, if while at that set point, you don't overdo the carbs, fructose, alcohol, caffeine and medications - in other words, you don't sabotage liver function - you can hum along fairly well with healthy blood sugar levels and be "healthy".  In this case, healthy just means you don't have out of control blood sugar.  You may still feel like crap and have many of the other manifestations that come along with eating crappy mass produced food, but you don't share the risks for chronic and terminal illnesses that full blown diabetics have.

There are many things that raise the set point, including age, changing hormones (especially in ladies), genetics and dietary factors - even whether or not one practices fasting.  For those of us who want to have better body composition and health, and to help others with those goals, eating the best quality food, getting better sleep, and wrestling with the nasty and ever present sugar beast of the industrial food giants will gain us more than waiting for a lab guy to figure out how to shut off our genes. 

You, like me, are likely shaking off the effects of a holiday weekend - too much booze and sugar, too little sleep and not good sleep quality.  Then you can add the stress of catching up at work after the long weekend.  It's not a great formula for health and happiness.

What to do?  Eat high quality food, keep carbs to under 150g/day (much less if you know that helps you), back off on the coffee and booze, take a nap (45 minutes or less), make time for at least a walk (and better yet, a CrossFit WOD), and enjoy some time in the sunshine every day you can.