Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Really Sticky Smoking Gun

Well, here's something interesting!  A game-changer, perhaps?  Researchers have known for quite awhile awhile that total cholesterol doesn't really mean much as far as heart disease is concerned.  Then they fingered LDL.  But, it turned out that LDL isn't all bad either.  There are different kinds of LDL, and some are good.
In this study, researchers "discovered" a really bad kind of LDL.  It is a super-sticky kind implicated in heart disease.  So, you are probably wondering, what is this "ultra-bad" LDL?  It is an LDL with a sugar attached to it.  Now if you are already a diabetic, your doctor has probably already been measuring something called HbA1c, which is a fancy name for a blood molecule with a sugar attached to it.  Sugar attaches to all sorts of things in our bodies.  It's really bad stuff!  That's why our bodies have been designed to remove excess sugar and provide gate-keepers to keep excess amounts out of our cells.
Try this at home with your cat.  Get a bunch of packing peanuts, rub them, and then call your cat over.  He'll walk by, the peanuts will attach themselves, and then your cat will start to walk and act funny.  Same with LDL apparently.  When the glucose attaches to the LDL, the LDL changes shape and starts to act funny.  Eventually, if enough of these "ultra-bad" LDL's are made, it can lead to heart disease.
The researchers are probably positively giddy that they now might have a new use for a drug called metformin.  It is currently used for diabetics and people with PCOS.  It reduces blood sugar.  Although, people who are regular readers of this here blog probably already know that unless your metabolism is really messed up, you can just reduce your amount of blood sugar by just reducing the amount of sugar and carbs you eat.
Here's an article written for the populace:
Here's the original preliminary abstract:  Even reading the abstract is a slog, so again, here are the notes:
1.  We got a bunch of human LDL
2.  We modified it in a test tube just like what happens in your body
3.  Basically, we attached a sugar to an LDL
4.  Not good!  The LDL particle was smaller, stuck to stuff and to itself more
5.  We think we have discovered why diabetics have a higher risk of heart disease and also why metformin reduces heart disease risk.
Now, if you are a real glutton for punishment, you might want to visit this blog by Petro Dobromylskyj:  If and when you can get through this blog post, scroll down to the blog list on the right for similar posts.  This will give you more information than you will want to know about LDL.  Here's another especially interesting post on modification of LDL.  Notice the date this was posted.  Researchers have known about this for a long time, but the media and the dietitians haven't kept up.  Petro Dobromylskyj follows a low carb, lower-protein and high fat diet (and he also has a most adorable kitty!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Trolls, Sat-fatties, and other Birds of a Feather

Well, you say it is happening elsewhere?  
When I was a kid, we took the extra ARTERYCLOGGINGSATURATED bacon fat out to the bird feeder in the winter, to make sure the birds didn't die of starvation.
Those crazy birdies, with all their chirping about saturated fat.  Seems like Dr. Jay, along with some other birdies, has been having a bit of trouble at a dieting website.  Moderators run amok?  You decide.  (Oh, while you are there, why don't you stop and read what else the good Dr. Wortman says about diabetes and diet?)
You will also find him here and there as:  "Canuck1950"  He also made a movie "My Big Fat Diet" and you can watch the trailer on Youtube and then tell all your diabetic friends about it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

De-constructing the Important Paper

OK, here's what was REALLY said. Hard to believe, huh? By the way, I am adding a postscript for two reasons. First, to let people in on what is really being said about diabetes and diets, (seems to be the theme this week) and second because I am not allowed to post any of this information on a message board at that diet and weight loss website. Too dangerous.  Faced with that smack-down, I admit I just can't resist.

It is my hope that people with diabetes or tending towards it will keep reading, and to decide for themselves what is truly dangerous and what is not.

First, here's a link to a copy of the original April 1 paper with graphics.  Note especially the pyramid on the right with insulin flowing all over the top of the pyramid.

"Covered With Insulin"

Here's an article explaining the reasoning of the American Diabetes Association and how they came up with their position that it's OK to eat a bunch of sugar if you "cover" it with insulin.

Here's the clif notes.

1.  We're the leading diabetes organization.

2.  After years and years of careful analysis of peer-reviewed gold-standard studies from august researchers from places like Harvard, we have determined that you can't resist carbs.

3.  So, we say, eat carbs, cause you can always fix it by injecting insulin.

4.  If you don't like all those injections 'n' stuff, you can also just use a glucose-lowering medication.

The Pyramid

Here's some information on the American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association's Diabetes Food Pyramid: This food pyramid is no longer recommended by ADA.  Meanwhile, the USDA has revised the food pyramid that we all recognize with some sort really really high striped beach cabana that seems to fade away at the top altitude. (And we all remember this website, source of all the wonky vegetable classifications.  Where oh where are the green eggs and ham??)

Of course, the reference to the truncated icosahedron is a nod to the idea that the recommended diet surely is a political football, and may not have much to do with nutrition, at least for diabetics.

The Very Important Statement

You'll find it here: If you read through this article, you'll notice that the ADA also confuses a "risk factor" with a cause, although this common error wasn't lampooned in the original article. It also contains other interesting phrases like, "This statement updates previous position statements,..." It is also interesting to note that this statement (or this thing that updates them???) refers to the Look AHEAD study, and in that study, conducted by the American Diabetes Association, the study authors mentioned the difficulty of achieving treatment success using current strategies, and gives 3 references. The fact that I said the same thing on the weight loss website (OK, without the references), and was told I couldn't post such "dangerous" statements, led to the full implementation of this here blog.

If you read this position statement carefully, you will recognize that it was written by committee, and they surely don't all agree.  They recommend the USDA guidelines AND say it's ok to follow a low-carb weight loss diet?  Hmmm, wonder who got that slipped in.

Dr. Anthony Rosenzweig's paper.

I'm not going to link that here, only the clif notes of the study.

1. We got a bunch of mice that were genetically engineered to get atherosclerosis

2. We fed them a low carb diet

3. They got atherosclerosis.

4. We're blaming the diet.

Women's health initiative

It didn't work out as the researchers had expected.


Other researchers are mentioned, most of them known not only for their anti-low-carb stance, but also their steadfast refusal to take a look at or publish any data on the success of the low-carb diet.  April Fools, indeed!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Introducing Dr. Briffa

And now, something from across the pond.  I have visited Dr. Briffa's meaty and well-written blog a couple of times, and I really need to visit more often.  He reports on studies that get little or no attention here in the States.
Here's a great blog post examining some of the difficulties encountered when the typical carb-y diet is recommended for diabetics.
One look at his website will show that this famous low-carb diet doctor is trying to "scam a buck" from you by offering a free e-book.  While you are there, take a look at the posts touting his "disastrous, dangerous and above all-boring!" low carb diet and the scandalously long list of blog topics and posts, also for free.  It can be really handy for people who really want to understand carbohydrates but have chosen not to visit a registered dietitian in their area.
It looks like the American Diabetes Association is changin'.  While low-carb is not the official policy, their classes say go lower carb.  Kudo's to them for looking at the data and turning the ship around.
Dr. Briffa's May 13 podcast discusses a Paleo diet for diabetics.  He discusses the sad progression of the disease for people who follow the standard higher-carb diet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So This is What Happened to Me

I get most traffic to this blog from a certain weight loss website, where I posted my first anniversary update.  In this here post, I am going to cover some material that is both personal and controversial, that I felt is so controversial that it would have been removed from that website, since it counters so much of what the "experts" over there have to say.

Its been quite a year, this year!  The short story is that after a lifetime of struggle, I lost a bunch of weight, and I have spent the rest of the year trying to learn why.  I felt that I finally hit the information motherlode when I heard Jimmy Moore's podcast with Dr. Robert Lustig, of the famous viral sugar youtube vid.
Here's the link to the podcast:

In the interview, Dr. Lustig said that he had proof that reducing insulin causes a reduction in carb-eating and an increase in exercise.  Most of us have been trained by experts who really don't understand the difference between correlation and causation, that eating fewer carbs and exercising more will lead to a reduction in insulin.  Lustig says it is the other way around and he has proof.

They gave really sick kids a drug to knock down their insulin levels.  What happened?  They quit sitting around the TV snacking on junk food.  Without anyone telling them to do it, they changed their diet preferences and wanted to go out to play.  The researchers repeated the study using better statistical methods and the same thing happens.

Hey, this is what happened to me.  Like many others, I was thin and followed a healthy diet plan for much of my life.  I was a vegetarian for over 25 years, part of the time vegan.  When I hit my 40's, I found it more difficult to keep my weight down and even more difficult to follow a vegetarian plan without feeling suboptimal.  When I turned 50, I started to try losing much of the weight.  It was becoming more and more difficult.

When I finished with menopause around this time last year, my weight just shot up.  Almost 15 pounds in one month!  I did the math on that trend, and decided I had to do something.  A relative told me about a weight-loss website so I joined and starting following their weight-loss and exercise plan.

The result?  I lost about 14 pounds quickly and then gained half of it back, and then sat on a plateau for several months.  It wasn't just any plateau.  In addition to losing no weight, I was miserable, hungry, depressed, cranky, sleepless and anxious.  At that time, I was still convinced that if I could just have better will-power, somehow the extra exercise would kick in and I would start to feel better and start to lose weight.  Then, once I felt better, I could go back to a "healthy" vegetarian diet again, full of satiating healthywholegrains.

After a few months, I went to my doctor for another matter.  We started talking about my weight and my lack of sleep.  I am now thinking that what I had was similar to this:

I believe, at least for me, that the diet CAUSED the nighttime eating syndrome.  Menopause certainly had something to do with it, too.  If I had never started the diet, I still would have been fat and happy, but now I was a skinny bitch, and not even skinny.  I was just a fat bitch stuck on a plateau.  When I was eating at night and gaining weight, I slept well.  When I started dieting, I could no longer sleep, and I became miserable and even more fat.

My doctor told me that insomnia was not good at all.  He prescribed a common sleep medication.  When I started taking it, the results were dramatic.  While good sleep didn't return immediately, the weight poured off.  I lost 17 pounds in a month!  Exercise became easy.  I got up every morning, rarin' to go, and out the door for a walk before dawn.  Even before the weight went down, my blood pressure went down, GERD went away, aches and pains went away, cravings went away.  I had to force myself to eat, especially all the carbs that were recommended by the weight loss site.  They told us that it would be unhealthy if we didn't get the minimum amount of carbs and gosh, who wants to be unhealthy?

I found myself dreading lunch.  I used to have a huge bowl of bean soup for lunch, and the thought of eating bean soup just made me sick.  At first, I thought I didn't want any food, but I soon realized that it wasn't just any food.  I was still eating and craving the fattiest foods, things like meat and cheese and peanut butter.  It was the carbs that I didn't want.  I forced myself to use the food tracker, knowing that if I didn't track, I would forget to eat.

After losing 20 pounds in 8 weeks, I decided I would try to find out what was happening to me.  My doctor had no clues, so I went searching on the 'net and found the writings of Dr. Calvin Ezrin.  I felt he provided some of the answers, especially about the connection between serotonin, weight gain and sleep.  Over the next several months, I read most of the low-carb diet doctors and researched many aspects of the low carb diet.  I read the Drs. Eades, Dr. Schwarzbein, Dr. Rosedale, Dr. Mercola, Dr. Harris, Gary Taubes, and followed many Paleo blogs and Jimmy Moore's low carb blog.  I plowed through many clinical studies.

A recent study has shed some light on what probably happened to me.  Here's the link to a press release version:
I believe that the weight loss and exercise method I chose was very wrong for me.  It caused physical exhaustion, unbearable cravings and insomnia, which might have caused insulin resistance, which made the chosen diet work even less well for me.  I DID NOT just wake up one day and say, "Hey, I think I'll follow a low carb diet!"  I went into it pretty much kicking and screaming.  Until I read Dr. Ezrin, I was still convinced that low carb was bad for people and that a vegan diet was the most healthy.  I started eating a low carb diet because the sleep drug changed my hormone levels.

Let's do that again.  I didn't get my weight under control by deciding to do low carb.  I gravitated to lower carb, higher exercise, better insulin, better blood pressure and lower weight when my doctor fixed my sleep.   Eventually, researchers will figure out all the links between weight, carb cravings, adrenal issues, menopause, sleep, exercise, dopamine, insulin resistance, serotonin, cortisol, etc.  One thing I do know, and it is that the nutritional fascists have it all wrong.  Not only do they have cause and effect all wrong, they foist it on people, call them weak-willed liars when it fails, disparage the reputation of researchers and others (those who try to "scam a buck" on the latest diet fad) who attempt to promote a point of view different from theirs, and block voices that challenge them.

The more I started reading, the more mad about it I got.  I became more vocal, and started blogging about what I had discovered.  Then I created this blog so that my writings could escape being removed.  I can't even tell you about this on the weight loss website.  They would take it down.  I can't have a different opinion, or it is seen as a threat, and that threat will have to be removed.  Either my posts or my presence on the site.

OK, I am a bit embarrased by all of this.  I was a long-time vegetarian, and much of my persona is tied up in the vegetarian lifestyle.  My bookshelf is (or used to be) filled with books by Ornish, Gary Null, Pritikin, MacDougall and the macrobiotic experts.  I've been to dinner with Casey Kasem, Dr. Neal Barnard and Howard Lyman.  I read and believed the literature written by vegetarian activists.  Even though I regularly used some of the bad data from Tom Robbins' book in my classes (as an example of what not to do), it didn't occur to me to look at ALL of the studies, and to look at them at the level of critical detail that I do in my career.  Like others, I guess I always assumed that some really smart people, with better statistical fire-power than I, were reviewing the papers and that if the studies were a pile of crap, they would do something.  Well, I was really wrong about that!

I am beginning to personally understand the dirty little secrets about vegan activism.  I was a vegetarian first for non-violent reasons, but now I see the movement as creating violence all around, and they engage in deceptive practices and personal attacks and frankly, I am sick of the activists balancing the burden of their bad diet on the backs and stomachs of a bunch of fat menopausal women!  Same for the cardiologists, too!  The hearthealthy diet might save a handful of men, but it has been a disaster for fat old women like me.

Some are probably wondering by now, hey, why am I still on a weight loss website that has trolling posters and designated "experts" regularly telling me that eating 20 grams of carb is way too extreme, that low carb diet doctors are always trying to "scam a buck" from me, that I'll die if I don't eat carbs for my brain, that years and years of gold-standard clinical studies can't be wrong and I'll be kicked off the site if I tell you they are; that my success is only fleeting, and I will be a failure when I regain the weight on my unhealthy "fad" diet, and that my comments about the state of diabetes research and my diet of choice are "dangerous" and need to be deleted.  I have friends and family who want me to stay, that's the short answer.

For a time, I also stayed because I was mad.  Mad at the advice that is given to type 2 diabetics, carb cravers, PCOS ladies, and others with the signs of metabolic syndrome.  Mad that trolling vegetarian and low-fat activists are routinely trying to scare people into following their plan.  Mad that I wasn't allowed to tell my story.  I joined even more teams and made even more friends.  When they told me to shut up, I started talking about it even more, like a weed that grows stronger and higher after someone tries to pull it out.

It was Jesus who said that we should worry more about what comes out of our mouth than what goes in.  Well, I certainly have had trouble shutting my mouth over the years, in both directions.  I am still not convinced that going low carb is the answer, or even a best answer, but I will continue to try to learn more about it and speak.  I'm just not sure I'll have a second anniversary.
[Here's the original anniversary post, written along with this one.  I have moved it over to this site since almost being expelled over at [redacted]people.  Here.]

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Well Looky here!

This looks interesting. I am looking forward to reading the entire paper when the final version comes out.

Here's the cliff notes:

1. We looked at other studies comparing a HPLC diet with a conventional/recommended high-carb diet. (The HPLC diets won!)

2. We didn't like how much protein they were eating on the HPLC diet

3. So, we decided to test a more moderate-protein/lower-carb diet against the conventional diet.

4. We also didn't like the fact that people on the conventional diets were eating lots of junk.  So, to stack the deck, we made the conventional diet "more healthy" by limiting refined grains and sugar.

5. The conventional diet still flunked. Women on the zone diet lost more weight, more fat weight and had better blood pressure.

Basically, this study a comparison of a 40:30:30 Zone diet with a high-fiber 50:20:30 diet. (That's Carb:Protein:Fat) This study attempts to address the problems people found with earlier studies. In this study, the 50:20:30 diet included "healthier" high-fiber carbs and a reduction in sugar. (This higher-carb diet is similar in macronutrient composition to the diet featured on a weight loss website.)

The beginning of the provisional abstract has a few weasel words, like this:

"Studies have suggested that moderately high protein diets may be more appropriate than conventional low-fat high carbohydrate diets for individuals at risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes"

What many studies have actually shown is that low-carbohydrate diets work better than high carbohydrate diets. But these researchers (or their peer-reviewing overlords) just couldn't bring themselves to the point of actually saying that. Nor did they say that about the "winning" diet in this latest diet contest. A quick look at the composition of the two diets shows that not only was the winnning diet higher in protein, it was also lower in carbohydrate.

Interesting. The people on the lower-carb Zone diet lost significantly more weight and significantly more body fat than the higher-carb diet, even after they tried to make the high-carb diet more "healthy". Diastolic blood pressure is also more reduced on the lower-carb plan.  No matter how much they try to "shore up" the healthiness of the conventional diet, it still flunks.

Also interesting to note that these plans were both called relatively low fat. This fat content (kept constant at 30%) is much higher than what is currently recommended by the the so-called "experts" in the U.S. Maybe that is lower fat than the norm for New Zealand, or maybe it is a nod to the healthyheartexperts who demand that a diet be low fat before it can even be considered or published in most journals.

Gotta have those healthywholegrains!! Sure did lots of good for the people on that diet, didn't it?

Comparison of high protein and high fiber weight-loss diets in women with risk factors for the metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial

Lisa A Te MorengaMegan T LeversSheila M WilliamsRachel C Brown and Jim Mann

Monday, May 2, 2011

Eliminating entire food groups!

(Note:  I changed my original link to the original story since I no longer advocate reading that other guy.),0,7758445.story
It looks like the dietitians are all working off the same sheet of talking points.  This topic was covered on another weight loss website recently, with pretty much the same old boring arguments that the dietitians dished out for this article.

Someone also asked a question about starchy vegetables, and the usual ones were suggested:  beets, corn, potatoes.  Then this was corrected by a dietitian (so glad we have a policeman to OK everything that goes into our mouths.)  I clicked on the provided link.  Lo and behold, the USDA has been working overtime complicating our food landscape by attempting to simplify it, and again, changed the food groups.
I provide the link here:

Science can be so dumb sometimes.  I remember struggling with second semester biology, that class where you have to memorize all sorts of junk, like a shark isn't a fish.  I couldn't believe that people actually spent their days fighting with each other about classifying animals and plants, or if something was really a "planimal".  Not only did we have to memorize lots of it, but we actually had to read through the whole history why slime mold was classified one way and then another.  Why memorize something well when they are just going to change the classification in the next edition?

That's when I also learned that green algae isn't always green, and brown algae isn't always brown.  Nice to know, I guess, if you are making miso soup medley and don't want the colors to run.  But for the rest of us, who really cares?  (My biology book was basic, and so they didn't get into the REAL reason the miso ingredients are differently classified.  That might have made it more interesting to me, but really, who cares????)

So, back to the what the USDA is telling us to do.  I noticed that they have different categories.  I guess since the government tore down the hilarious terror alert system, they decided to reuse/recycle the color scheme and use it to hilariously color-code our food.

Notice that beets are not in the starchy foods category.  (Hmmm, that may be because beets have sugar instead of starch.  Not a totally bad move, but most low-carbers and dieters don't care, because they view sugar and starch as pretty much the same thing, and has the same effect on their metabolism.)  But, green peas are not green, they are starchy.  And look at all those orange vegetables!  Sweet potatoes aren't starchy anymore, they are orange.  And carrots are orange, too.  But what about the yellow carrots I grow in my garden?  Should they be in the orange category or the starchy category??  Purple carrots?  Should they be be in the orange category or the other category? It looks like the white foods are lumped into the Other category.  Where, oh where, do I put my home-grown yellow peppers?  With the green peppers in the Other category, or with yellow corn?  And what about the beet medley that graced my table this weekend.  Purple beets and orange beets and yellow beets and white beets and striped beets. Oh, my head hurts and I think I need to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian in my area.

And, I don't even want to think about my light-green mature chayote squash.  Why isn't it in the fruit group?!!!!  Why isn't it in the "large-seeded green fruit category with avocado and olive where it belongs?  The USDA, in a nod to California agriculture of course, put avocado and olive in the oil category.  That's the category that also includes corn oil, even though corn is a grain and corn is a starchy vegetable.  Oh, there I go, thinking about it again......

Notice that these groups are the groups that the dietitians want to defend.  The information contained in the USDA website is all that fine and correct and unwavering?  Oh, we can't get rid of an arbitrarily-defined food group!!  We're probably going to die (unloved and in the gutter- as one poster put it) if we give up an entire group!  But it is quite OK to say fine, go ahead and get rid of all the meat, because meat is not a group.  Protein is a group, and meat is only a part of it.  And beans and peas are a great part of that group, I guess, when they are not in the vegetable group.

The folic acid comment in the above blog post warrants an entire post by me, coming soon.
(Disclosure:  I have actually done nutrition research using multivariate analysis.  Many analyses are flawed if they do not properly take into account the water content.)