"The researches of so many eminent scientific men have thrown so much darkness upon the subject that if they continue their researches we shall soon know nothing."

- Artemus Ward

“If you aren’t confused about health and nutrition, then you haven’t studied it long enough or deeply enough.”

- Matt Stone

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Jersey Shore Birthday

It was a wild, windy and blowy day today, a perfect day to go to the Jersey Shore! It was my sister's birthday, so I drove to the shore with her and my niece to celebrate. This is just the way we like the shore - off-season, wild, windy, few people around. Even though it was raining I did run up to look at the jetty at Manasquan Inlet. Wow, the waves sure were crashing over the top of the jetty. I got pretty wet too. :-)
I even got my sister and niece to come up to look at the jetty with me, though they decided they would rather go further down the boardwalk where they could get a cup of coffee, and we all went into the Arcade and played Skee Ball , a traditional favorite.
After that it was lunchtime, and we went to our favorite restaurant and got a great corner table overlooking the Manasquan River. We all had seafood and it was delicious. I did succumb to a couple hush puppies, alas. But my scallops were wonderful.
Then we drove home along the shore, and my sister and niece indulged me in allowing me to drive around several ponds and inlets to look for water birds. And there were plenty, including Canada geese, brants, mute swans, mallards, muscovy ducks, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, red-breasted mergansers, ruddy ducks, northern shovelers, black ducks, canvasbacks, scaups, American widgeons, American coots...plus plenty of gulls, mostly ring-billed, but a few herring gulls, and quite a few great black-backed gulls also. Not to mention pigeons, mourning doves, starlings, robins, house sparrows, cardinals. All in all, quite a "birdy" day.

Then time to go have dinner at my sister's, and we finally got to cut the cake I made yesterday. I really enjoyed it, and love the peanutty hint of flavor that the peanut flour gives it.

The only problem was that the cake really was awfully flat and dense. It *tasted* good. But the first time I made this cake recipe the cake came out really light and fluffy, just like a standard wheat cake. The only difference between the two times was that I never use almond milk, so I used coconut milk in the recipe, but this time I went out and bought the almond milk the recipe called for. But I can't see why that would make the cake flat. It tasted good anyway, or at least it did to me. My sister's family mostly wanted the cake they bought at the bakery. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Patty

Tomorrow is my sister Patty's birthday. The weather forecast calls for rain, but assuming it's not too bad we want to go to Patty's favorite restaurant for lunch the Lobster Shanty/Wharfside in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. It's one of my favorite places too. Great seafood, and a lovely water view along the Manasquan River. I do look forward to it myself.

But Patty also wants a cake, and I offered to make one for her. She dithered so about what she wanted. Finally decided that she wanted one that was wheat-free, sugar-free. Then she wanted something fudgy, then she wanted German Chocolate Cake, then she saw that had coconut-pecan frosting and wasn't sure she wanted it as she wanted fudgy frosting, then she couldn't decide what she wanted after all.

So in the end I just had to make a choice, so I want to thank Maria of http://mariahealth.blogspot.com, in particular for these recipes:
Extreme chocolate cake and German chocolate cake. I ended up making the Extreme chocolate cake cake recipe but made *both* frostings, and used the coconut pecan one for a filling, and the chocolate one for the frosting. Tomorrow we can try it out. I'll have to take a photo once I cut into the cake.

The only problem I had was that the cake didn't really rise at all. The layers came out flat as pancakes. The recipe says: "Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally" but there is no way on earth I could have split those skinny layers, so I ended up making another half of the recipe so I could make a 3-layer cake. Otherwise the cake would have been barely 1 1/2 inches high, if that.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Alternate Day Calorie Restriction

Here is a beautiful mature red-tailed hawk I saw yesterday on a birdwalk up at Garrett Mountain. It's still cold and snow-covered here, but when the sun comes out it definitely has much more of a "feel" of a spring sun, not a cold and bleak winter sun. The birds are definitely twittering more in the mornings. Soon we see mating and nests and baby birds. And this red-tail will likely have a mate and nest somewhere in the park also. It made me think of the fact that wild-animals certainly don't have their three square meals a day. They look for food when they are hungry, and they go hungry if they don't find any. This red-tail seemed to be on the lookout, but there was nothing in sight right there.

So sometimes I feel this might be a better method for humans as well. I'm tired of my weight stall. I've lost a lot of weight, but have also been stalled for *16 months* now with still a lot of weight to lose, and I've decided I'm going to try the method that is sort of a form of intermittent fasting - one that is described here or here: (this are the abstracts from these two):

Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults.

Varady KA, Bhutani S, Church EC, Klempel MC.

Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. varady@uic.edu


BACKGROUND: The ability of modified alternate-day fasting (ADF; ie, consuming 25% of energy needs on the fast day and ad libitum food intake on the following day) to facilitate weight loss and lower vascular disease risk in obese individuals remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the effects of ADF that is administered under controlled compared with self-implemented conditions on body weight and coronary artery disease (CAD) risk indicators in obese adults.

DESIGN: Sixteen obese subjects (12 women, 4 men) completed a 10-wk trial, which consisted of 3 phases: 1) a 2-wk control phase, 2) a 4-wk weight loss/ADF controlled food intake phase, and 3) a 4-wk weight loss/ADF self-selected food intake phase.

RESULTS: Dietary adherence remained high throughout the controlled food intake phase (days adherent: 86%) and the self-selected food intake phase (days adherent: 89%). The rate of weight loss remained constant during controlled food intake (0.67 +/- 0.1 kg/wk) and self-selected food intake phases (0.68 +/- 0.1 kg/wk). Body weight decreased (P <>

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that ADF is a viable diet option to help obese individuals lose weight and decrease CAD risk. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as UIC-004-2009.

The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life.

Johnson JB, Laub DR, John S.

Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Medical Center, 2547A Lyon Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. jim@jbjmd.com


Restricting caloric intake to 60-70% of normal adult weight maintenance requirement prolongs lifespan 30-50% and confers near perfect health across a broad range of species. Every other day feeding produces similar effects in rodents, and profound beneficial physiologic changes have been demonstrated in the absence of weight loss in ob/ob mice. Since May 2003 we have experimented with alternate day calorie restriction, one day consuming 20-50% of estimated daily caloric requirement and the next day ad lib eating, and have observed health benefits starting in as little as two weeks, in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette's, Meniere's) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes. We hypothesize that other many conditions would be delayed, prevented or improved, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, brain injury due to thrombotic stroke atherosclerosis, NIDDM, congestive heart failure. Our hypothesis is supported by an article from 1957 in the Spanish medical literature which due to a translation error has been construed by several authors to be the only existing example of calorie restriction with good nutrition. We contend for reasons cited that there was no reduction in calories overall, but that the subjects were eating, on alternate days, either 900 calories or 2300 calories, averaging 1600, and that body weight was maintained. Thus they consumed either 56% or 144% of daily caloric requirement. The subjects were in a residence for old people, and all were in perfect health and over 65. Over three years, there were 6 deaths among 60 study subjects and 13 deaths among 60 ad lib-fed controls, non-significant difference. Study subjects were in hospital 123 days, controls 219, highly significant difference. We believe widespread use of this pattern of eating could impact influenza epidemics and other communicable diseases by improving resistance to infection. In addition to the health effects, this pattern of eating has proven to be a good method of weight control, and we are continuing to study the process in conjunction with the NIH.

I had read about this approach elsewhere and, funnily enough, decided to try out this approach before someone pointed out these studies to me. I totally *cannot* live on a calorie-restricted diet day after day. I don't feel it's healthy for one thing, and it leads to unbearable cravings. But one day of very-low-calorie eating followed by a day of ad libitum eating is totally doable and really just another form of IFing. Since I had a big eating weekend between my winter choir party on Saturday night, and the annual Super Bowl Party I attend on the Sunday night, I decided to start yesterday with the VLC day. I had nothing but a cup of coffee with a little cream until 5 PM, so started with an actual 20-hour fast. Then ate at 5 PM and 8 PM for a total intake of 764 calories.

Today is my ad lib day. I had a great breakfast of bacon and a cheese and avocado omelet, and lunch was some really great-tasting chili made with grass-fed beef from Whole Foods. Not sure what dinner will be yet, though I do have more chili I need to eat up. :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New USDA dietary guidelines

Everyone is buzzing about the new USDA dietary guidelines. Thank goodness they are just guidelines, and not mandates. :-) Some of what they have to say is not bad, but I can't really agree with a lot of it. Some of the suggestions I support:

• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers. (I add: best yes, avoid commercial soup, bread and frozen meals altogether. It's not the sodium I worry about, it's all the other garbage that goes into prepared foods).
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
• Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats. (I add: Grrr about that last few words, however).

But there is still a lot of the same-old, same-old which I don't support at all:

• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids
• Use oils to replace solid fats where possible (Grrr again! You mean those high Omega-6 oils? No way)

The entire document can be found here. One of the surprising recommendations to me was this one, which I totally concur with:
• Monitor intake of 100% fruit juice for children and adolescents, especially those who are overweight or obese: For most children and adolescents, intake of 100% fruit juice is not associated with body weight. However, limited evidence suggests that increased intake of 100% juice has been associated with higher body weight in children and adolescents who are overweight or obese.

Yeah, I believe it. Great to see it documented here. When my son was young the "authorities" were pushing fruit juice like mad. You were made to feel like a good mother if you gave your kids fruit juice, which I now feel is little better than Coke. It's great to see the monitoring of fruit juice referenced in this document.

But they still keeping lumping saturated fats (good) with trans-fats (bad):
As noted previously, fats contain a mixture of different fatty acids, and much research has been conducted on the association between the intake of saturated and trans fatty acids and the risk of chronic disease, especially cardiovascular disease.
Even though there is a lot of current evidence that saturated fat intake has absolutely *no* correlation with cardiovascular disease. And yet they recommend:

s. For example, when preparing foods at home, solid fats (e.g., butter and lard) (e.g. good fats) can be replaced with vegetable oils (eeek! High PUFA bad fats!)

There is an entire section titled: "calories from solid fats and added sugars".

What an odd grouping that is. Of course a lot of foods commonly eaten in the US diet do contain large amounts of both fats and sugars. Think doughnuts, for example.

Solid fats and added sugars are consumed in excessive amounts, and their intake should be limited. Together, they contribute a substantial portion of the calories consumed by Americans—35 percent on average, or nearly 800 calories per day—without contributing importantly to overall nutrient adequacy of the diet.

And later on they stress one should limit the intake of SoFAS, which they define as: "*SoFAS = solid fats and added sugars"

Just such an odd combining. I agree that sugar is an empty calorie, and probably even far worse than an empty calorie as it's actively disease-promoting. But good fats help promote the body's health. So why lump them in a single category?

There are some good recommendations, like focusing on nutrient-dense food. I just have some differences of opinion over what constitutes "nutrient-dense". LOL. They also still stress that everyone should be drinking fluoridated water to prevent cavities! But if you truly eat properly, avoid sugars, avoid processed foods, eat real whole foods, you are unlikely to get cavities anyway, without exposing your body to the effects of all that fluoride.

I guess in the end I feel it has some good advice but plenty of bad as well, and I'm happy I am not required to follow the guidelines! For far more incredible detail please see the fantastic Denise Minger's blog.