Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dan Lieberman vs. Steve Robbins

This is unfortunate.  But, as Jason notes, scientists are human too.

Linoleic Acid and Depression

Dr. Deans is really on a roll!

"So, back to the 'vegetable oil' theory: a relative imbalance between the consumption of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) and inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids (vegetable oil, such as corn oil) predisposes us to inflammation. The omega 6 fatty acids are the precursors for many of the nasty, depressing cytokines mentioned above (such as IL-6).

Well, an absolute flurry of research has been done in this area in the last decade or so, because omega 3 fish oils would be a nifty, natural, presumably no or low side effect, and inexpensive treatment for depression, if it worked. Some studies have been disappointing (3)(4). However, the largest study yet does show benefit (equal to a prescription antidepressant) for those who have depression, but not concurrent anxiety, at a daily dose of 150mg DHA and about 1000mg EPA. (DHA and EPA are fish oil omega 3 fatty acids).

2011 NYC Barefoot Run

Announced.  I'll be there.  2010 was a blast.

John Durant, the back of Barefoot Ted's head, and Prof. Lieberman

Amazon Launches Cloud Player

Cool. Store your music on the 'net, play anywhere.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Wheat Brain"

Dr. Davis:

"Eat more 'healthy whole grains'? Modern dwarf Triticum aestivum, perverted even further by agricultural geneticists and modern agribusiness, subsidized by the U.S. government to permit $5 pizza, is better than any terrorist plot to discombobulate the health and performance of the American people."


Getting Faster Overnight: Vibram FiveFingers

Not too surprising:

"But all this really didn’t hit me until half way through our short 40-minute trail run—my heart rate was about 10 beats lower than usual. This was evident because I felt myself going faster—much faster.

"I thought Phil [Maffetone] was behind me all that time to analyze my gait, but now it was evident that, not only did I make up the difference of 10 beats between Phil’s heart rate and mine, it was lower by a couple more beats. I need to get him a pair of these (well, even if it made him run faster).

"All these new albeit relatively minimal but noticeable changes in my gait translated to almost a minute a mile faster at the same heart rate! We also run by time, not sure of the exact distance, and don’t have mile splits so this was not a scientific study.

"But today we ran again—same course, same time of day, same result. I love running fast! The human body never ceases to amaze me."

My friend David called me shortly after getting his first Vibrams and running in them on a treadmill. He wanted to know if it was normal that his heart rate should be 10 points lower than it usually is. I told him that it was.

P.S. A paper was just released confirming this effect.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Vegan Baby Dies Because Mother's Milk was Vitamin Deficient"

Very sad.

Essentially the mother was so vitamin deficient that she couldn't produce milk that would sustain her child.

Here's another account:

"...He said they also have a 13-year-old daughter who has never suffered any serious health problems.

"Mr Daquo said both Mr and Mrs Le Moaligou were also opposed to traditional medicines, and used alternative therapies instead.

"Mr Daquo said: ‘The couple did not follow doctor’s advice to take their baby to hospital when she was suffering from bronchitis and was losing weight when they went for the nine-month check-up.

"‘They preferred applying clay or cabbage poultices whose recipes they found in their books. These are people who read the wrong thing at the wrong time.’

"Mr Le Moaligou’s lawyer, Patrick Quenel, said the couple remained committed vegans and were ‘wholly aware of the mistake they made’, but pleaded not guilty.

"The Le Moaligous were formally charged with ‘neglect and food deprivation followed by death’ which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

"The Le Moaligou case is believed to be the first time that a couple have faced a prison sentence for a crime directly linked to a vegan lifestyle.

"It will rekindle the fierce debate about the health benefits of veganism – a term first coined by Englishman Donald Watson, who founded the Vegan Society in 1944..."

Well it should.  I will note however that vitamin B12 deficiency is a well-known shortcoming of a vegan diet.  These two were grossly negligent to not supplement B12, in my opinion.

See here for Chris Masterjohn's excellent article on the nutrional deficits of a vegetarian/vegan diet.

Or see here for Richard Nikoley's take, titled, appropriately: "Stop the Madness: Vegans Keep Killing Their Kids."

P.S.  I'm not a fan of a vegan diet, I don't think it's optimally healthy in the long-term, but this is not the expected outcome for a kid on that diet.. There were some other vegans who killed their kid by only feeding it apple juice. Feeding *anyone* only apple juice is going to kill them.

This is a from a similar case from Arizona, where luckily the kids survived:

"'Vegan children who are fed properly grow,' said Deputy County Attorney Frankie Grimsman.

"And in fact, when the children were placed in foster homes, they immediately began to gain weight - while still maintaining vegan diets."

Vegans have pretty typical patterns of malnutrition, but you can survive on this diet.

Wheat and Schizophrenia

In a comment to "Dr. Davis versus The New York Times" I quoted this study:

"A drastic reduction, if not full remission, of schizophrenic symptoms after initiation of gluten withdrawal has been noted in a variety of studies. However, this occurs only in a subset of schizophrenic patients."

I was hoping to expand this comment into a post at some point, but now I don't need to.  Today in Psychology Today, Emily Deans, a psychiatrist, writes about the topic: "Wheat and Schizophrenia".

Obviously you should read the whole thing, but just to give you a flavor:

"Anyway, there's a funny thing about schizophrenia, turns out that quite a few of the adult schizophrenics on an inpatient psychiatric unit in 1967 happened to have a major history of celiac disease (gluten/wheat intolerance) as children. As in 50-100 times the amount of celiac disease that one would expect by chance. Celiac doctors also noticed their patients were schizophrenic about 10X as often as the general population. That's a lot! In addition, epidemiological studies of Pacific Islanders and other populations showed a strong, dose-dependent relationship between grain intake and schizophrenia. The gluten-free populations had extremely rare occurrence of schizophrenia - just 2 in 65,000 versus about 1 in 100 as we have in the grain-eating West. When populations Westernized their diets (flour, sugar, and beer), schizophrenia became common. In some clinical trials, gluten made new-onset acutely ill schizophrenics much worse, but only occasional long-term patients responded to gluten restriction. The long-term sufferer has already had a lot of damage - if wheat somehow toxic to the brain, then it would be vital to stop the insult early on in the course of the disease to see improvement."

Want a bagel?

Via Jimmy Moore on Facebook.

P.S.  So I was driving home last night and listening to Robb Wolf's podcast, where he discussed Fasano's recent paper on wheat poisoning.  (Yes, I have no life.)  Robb said that a woman came up to him after one of his talks, and said she worked for some government health agency, and that her agency was of the opinion, although they could not yet prove it, that wheat is the cause of schizophrenia.  I doubt that's true, but there's clearly a pretty strong link.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Barefoot Podiatrist

What a great story:

"...Mr Bloor's view of the human foot has now become much more optimistic about the state of people's feet in general.

"'I previously believed that 80 per cent of people were born with problems with their feet and needed orthotics to optimise their feet and leg function. Never once did we consider that the human foot could cope on its own.'

"The epiphany came when he read about the Tarahumara Indians, Ethiopian and Kenyan runners who ran without shoes or with minimal footwear.

"'I now believe very strongly that most feet, given a chance, can support themselves and that feet function best without the hindrance of shoes,' he said.

"The podiatrist certainly practices what he preaches. He has gone barefoot in everyday life since July last year – only donning shoes when essential for protection or when going to church so as not to offend the minister.

"As he puts it: 'I believe footwear should play an important but infrequent role in our lives for protection just like we use gloves for our hands.

"'And just like gloves we should remove the footwear as soon as the purpose for them has been achieved.'

"The switch from our normal shoe-wearing lives should not be rushed as a new way of moving uses different muscles which need to be gently introduced to new levels of exertion.

"'I warn patients to be cautious about getting carried away with enthusiasm and advise a slow, careful transition into barefoot activities by going for short walks at first and gradually increasing the time spent barefoot walking,' said Mr Bloor.

"...Mr Bloor prescribes barefoot beach walking and running to strengthen weak foot and leg muscles and to mobilise stiff joints – for the more adventurous, coastal paths provide ideal routes for people wanting to go barefoot trekking or hiking."

Via Dan Howell's Facebook page.

Feet and Vascularity

After I started wearing minimalist shoes, I started reading everything I could find about barefooting.  One of the more interesting accounts came from Samuel B. Shulman (yes, he would be known today as a podiatrist):

"...All of them, however, gave a history of much pain and swelling of the foot and ankle during the first few days of work as a rickshaw puller. But after either a rest of two days or a week's more work on their feet, the pain and swelling passed away and never returned again."
After I climbed The Owl and then Mt. Katahdin, I sat in my family room and my wife said, "Oh my goodness, look at your feet!"  Actually, it was mostly my ankles.  They'd swollen up to quite a bit larger than their normal size.  Her next question: "Don't they hurt?"  Well, actually, no, they didn't hurt.  Although they were alarmingly large.  Having already read Dr. Shulman's account above, I was fairly blase about the swelling, especially since there was no pain at all.  I wouldn't even have noticed, if my wife hadn't pointed it out to me.  And yes, it never occurred again.

Some time after, she noticed that my feet had gotten much more vascular.  This makes sense.  The swelling was likely the result of lymph filling the tissues in my feet, and my body responded by growing new blood vessels, and enlarging existing vessels, in my feet.

Today, I pulled my ski boots off after a day of hard skiing, and saw this:

As you can see, my feet are very vascular.  I didn't capture it in this picture, but my lower legs were also similarly vascular.

I'll do a post at some point about my experimenting with barefoot-style skiing, but it's been largely successful, and I've found some boots that allow my feet to function pretty well.  A side effect of this is that I no longer have cold feet while skiing, regardless of the temperature.

Now, if you have a condition like diabetes that adversely impacts the circulation in your feet, a program like Dr. Bernstein's and some minimalist shoes could allow you to radically improve the circulation in your feet.

Plus, you'll never have cold feet again.  After getting back from skiing, I went out to dinner, in sub-freezing temps, in my flip-flops.  As did my daughter.  We both had toasty feet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Barefoot Sisters Podcast Interview and Mt. Katahdin

So back when I started going minimalist full-time, some friends invited me to go climb Mt. Katahdin in Maine with them.  I'd done this before, so I acted as the guide (LOL).  We hiked a mountain called The Owl, on the first day, which was about 6 miles round-trip, and then Katahdin the next day.  I wore my Vibram FiveFinger Sprints, which worked far better than I expected them to. 

I carried a pair of Montrail Mountain Masochists as a fall-back shoe, but didn't need them on the first day, and only needed them on the second day after we'd already finished the mountain, but still had 2.5 miles to go to the parking lot.  I sat down and noticed that my feet were literally quivering from the effort.  I put the sneakers on and started running.  Sneakers really do immobilize the muscles in your feet. 

The video of that experience is below, thanks to Mike, who did the narrating.  Henry arranged the hike, and I'm the blonde one picking my way along.  As you'll see if you watch the video, the terrain was unbelievably brutal.  Both Mike and Henry now wear Vibrams, in fact we all ran a 10k in Brooklyn wearing them shortly after.  So as a sales pitch, my fifth and sixth hikes in Vibrams were a success.  Being able to do 10 miles as your sixth hike in Vibrams is really a testament to how fast your body can adapt.

After I got back, feeling pretty full of myself, I googled "Katahdin FiveFingers" and "Katahdin Barefoot", to see if I was the first.  (Lots and lots of people had asked about my shoes.  At that point, just a couple of months after Born to Run was published, no one had any idea what they were.)

It turns out that a couple of sisters who became known as the Barefoot Sisters had not only hiked Katahdin barefoot, but had hiked almost the entire Appalachian Trail, from north to south, and then back.  That's around 4,200 miles, in their bare feet, carrying back packs. (They only wore boots for ice, not snow.)  I've not read their books yet, but I did find a podcast interview with them.

Unfortunately the podcast no longer seems to be available on-line.  Luckily I saved my copy.  I've posted it to Google Docs, and hopefully the player and the link below will allow you to listen to it.  Let me know if you have any problems. 

(And Red Cake, if you object to me hosting this, please let me know and I'll take it down immediately.  It's a great interview, and I'm sure people would like to be able to listen to it.)

Direct link

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obligatory Ding-bat Podiatrist Quote

Over at Barefoot Ted's Minimalist Runner's Group, it's long been noted that any story that's positive about running has to feature the obligatory podiatrist quote.  This is usually (but not always) the obligatory dingbat podiatrist quote because the podiatrist's opinion usually defies science, logic, and common sense.

Here's the lastest, in the article "Barefoot runner Caity McCardell ready to put her soles on the line":

"But Dr. John Pagliano, a Long Beach-based podiatrist who specializes in sports injuries, is not a fan of running shoeless.

"'If you're 150 pounds, whether you come down on your heels or your forefoot, it's still 150 pounds,' he said. 'I think you really need the shock absorbers from the shoe and control of shoes while running.'"

Thanks to the author of the story, who quoted this fellow after Prof. Lieberman explained why it's not true.
Here's the rest of the "series".

Monday, March 21, 2011

Barefoot Junior Woman's World Champion

Barefoot Ken Bob notes (on his incomprehensible web site) Faith Kipyegon Chepngetich, the new woman's junior cross-country world champion, who did the impossible and won barefoot:

"Chepngetich was one of the few athletes who ran bare foot. Brilliance Jepkorir and her school mate Naomi Chepngeno also had the trust of their bare foot to guide them through the 6 kilometre race.

"'I have always run without shoes. I got my first pair of running shoes last year. But they did not fit me and would slow me down because they were big. I tried to train in them but there was no difference,' she said.

"This year, she decided to run yet again without shoes. 'I run freely and fast without shoes. The spikes underneath make me uncomfortable and I lose balance,' she added.

"While training, Chepngetich would usually wear the jogging shoes. But her selection of running kit was crucial today, because when she was called to sprint, the ground and grass gave her the required grip and friction to win.

"'The pace was slower than I expected. But I held on and when it was time to sprint, I am good at it and was able to win,' she said."

See also the IAAF Race Report.

No doubt the sneaker manufacturers are already after this young lady.  Hopefully she'll take a page from this woman's playbook, and continue to run barefoot as much as her contract allows.

Merrell Barefoot "Best Thing Since Hush Puppies 50 Years Ago"

"Wolverine World Wide Inc CEO Blake Krueger calls the recently introduced Merrell Barefoot Collection the best thing to happen to the 127-year-old Rockford shoe company since it made history more than 50 years ago with the introduction of Hush Puppies, the country’s first suede casual shoe."
Glad to hear they're working out

Hush Puppies, huh?  I was never a big fan of Hush Puppies.

Here's more from the Sunday story, in the same paper:

"The shoe launched with a half-million orders from retailers, the biggest initial order in the company’s history.

"The men’s version sold out in the first two weeks of their arrival at the Gazelle Sports store in Grand Rapids, said Rob Andro, the sales floor leader at the store, 3930 28th St. SE."
Barefoot Jason gets some good press in this article.

The Trail Gloves are a good thing.  I wore mine for a good part of the weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chris McDougall's Born to Run Cabaret is Finally Online

Full video is here.  Prof. Lieberman's segment is here.  If you've never seen Lieberman speak, I highly recommend it.  He could easily quit Harvard and do stand-up comedy.

The lady doing the Hula routine is McDougall's wife.

I went to see this in person last fall, and had a great dinner with Barefoot Ted and John Durant and John's sister Maggie afterward.  It was a great evening.

(Barefoot Ted walks faster than any person I've ever met, and I thought I was the fastest walker around...)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Frontiers in Wheat Poisoning

Alesio Fasano, mentioned the other day in this post, has released the results of his newest study: Study Sheds Light On Gluten Sensitivity (WSJ, subscription required):

"For the first time, we have scientific evidence that indeed, gluten sensitivity not only exists, but is very different from celiac disease," says lead author Alessio Fasano, medical director of the University of Maryland's Center for Celiac Research.

"The news will be welcome to people who have suspected a broad range of ailments may be linked to their gluten intake, but have failed to find doctors who agree.

"'Patients have been told if it wasn't celiac disease, it wasn't anything. It was all in their heads,' says Cynthia Kupper, executive director of the nonprofit Gluten Intolerance Group of North America...."

"...Although much remains unknown, it is clear that gluten—a staple of human diets for 10,000 years—triggers an immune response like an enemy invader in some modern humans."

There we go. Eating wheat is functionally equivalent to eating poison ivy: wheat contains proteins that trigger autoimmune responses. One type of response causes celiac disease, the other causes gluten sensitivity.  I'd wager there are more to come:

"'Imagine gluten ingestion on a spectrum', says Dr. Fasano. 'At one end, you have people with celiac disease, who cannot tolerate one crumb of gluten in their diet. At the other end, you have the lucky people who can eat pizza, beer, pasta and cookies—and have no ill effects whatsoever. In the middle, there is this murky area of gluten reactions, including gluten sensitivity. This is where we are looking for answers about how to best diagnose and treat this recently identified group of gluten-sensitive individuals,' says Dr. Fasano."

Dr. Davis' hypothesis seems to be getting some currency:

"'People aren't born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment,' says Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. One possible culprit: agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein [gluten] content."

(Emphasis mine. Murray is wrong about people not being born with it. Gastroenterologists are moving up there with podiatrists in my estimation of the medical profession.)

If you're interested in hearing more, there's an interview with Fasano here, and the study is here.

One real pet peeve of mine:
"'There's a lot more that needs to be done for people with gluten sensitivity,' she says. 'But at least we now recognize that it's real and that these people aren't crazy.'"

This is what the medical profession does when people present with symptoms they don't understand: they don't investigate, they tell the people they're crazy.  If your doctor tells you this, tell him to go to hell and find a doctor who takes you seriously.  Yes, I know there are people who are crazy, and sometimes the doctor is right, but there just aren't that many crazy people running around.  Gluten-free is turning into an industry while the medical profession has got its head in the sand.

P.S. A gluten-free diet is a pain in the butt.  No one would do it just because it's "a trend".  It's worth it, certainly in my case, but it's a pain in the butt. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dr. Kurt Harris on Running and Heart Disease

He's now posting for Psychology Today, in addition to his own blog, PāNu:

"So in the Breuckmann study, they recruited 102 active marathon runners. To be a marathon runner (and perhaps to maximize their power to show how healthy "cardio" is) required at least 5 marathons in the past 3 years. Many had run dozens or more in their lifetime. Anyone with a known history of heart disease or diabetes was excluded. The average age was 57 with age 50-72. The median number of marathons was 20. Weekly mileage was 35 (55km). Mean work was 4700 METs per week.

"There were 102 totally asymptomatic age-matched controls, also with no history of diabetes, who had no significant history of vigorous exercise.

"All subjects had cardiac MRI with LGE imaging. Those with LGE abnormalities were called back to have perfusion imaging as well to help tell if they had evidence for ischemia (which might indicate narrowing of a coronary artery).

"What do you think they found? After all, these were a bunch of completely asymptomatic runners.

"Would you believe 12% of asymptomatic marathon runners had evidence of myocardial damage on LGE?

"Would you believe that among the sedentary age matched controls only 4% had abnormal LGE?"

I definitely suggest reading the whole thing.  I don't agree 100% with Dr. Harris on this topic, but he covers most of the objections I would make in his article, along with his replies.

I do think that he's a thoughtful person, and his ideas deserve careful consideration. 

What I would love to see is a reconciliation by him of the studies he discusses in this article with the Stanford Running Study, which has contradictory results.

"First Day Without Pain in 10 Years"

Suzy A posted the following at Barefoot Ted's Google group:

"Today I got out of bed and took a step without pain for the first time in at least 10 years.

"I walked from my car to my desk at work without having to try to hide a slight limp. After work, I drove home pain-free. And now I've walked from the car without pain.

"It was 24 hours without pain in my heel (PF) or Achilles, and there is an indescribable abundance of pure joy within me. All because of this group, and others out there who have started to go barefoot and spread the message.

"I have been about as sedentary as they come for a while. I'm now over 200 lbs. and have not been able to walk to my car without pain in as long as I can remember. There were days I crawled to the bathroom to take a shower in the morning, and times when the pain was so intense and unbearable that I thought my Achilles would snap. At one point I used crutches.

"Years ago I had done some triathlons with aspirations of working up to longer distances, and always was eventually in such severe pain I had to stop for fear of serious injury. And the pain just never went away.

"I've gone from doctor to doctor to try to deal with the pain. Rest, they said, and stretch. I did. Wear orthotics. I did. No, these orthotics are all wrong. Use these. Motion control shoes, heel lift, physical therapy (3x), I did. Compression socks, night splints, night socks. Stretching devices, golf balls, Trigger Point therapy, massage, myofacial release. Tape. Padded socks. "The stick." Wear shoes 24 hours a day. Never go barefoot. I even wore flip flops in the shower in my own house.

"More support, they said. More stretching, more rest. Whatever they wanted me to do, I did without question. Until I gave up.

"I first noticed all these might be BS when I went to a friend's house, and she asked me to leave my shoes at the door. She didn't know about my pain, and I didn't want to be rude, so I thought I'd try it. I'd leave when it hurt. I braced for the worst pain imaginable, and it never came.

"I learned about the barefoot and minimalist movement from a paleo podcast, and I instantly started reading more and more and tore through "Born to Run" in 3 days. It made so much sense. About 3 weeks ago or so I wore sneakers for the last time, was in agony by the end
of the day, and started transitioning. I've been taking it exceedingly slow. A few days ago, I walked around the block (part barefoot, part in flip flops) without pain for the first time in at least a year. Seeing the smile on my face, you'd think I won the lottery.

"Along the way, and through this group and other resources, I've learned a major cause of pain in my case is having anything against the back of my heel. I have spurs under the calcaneus and also in the back. Even a pair of Vivo Barefoot Evo's currently irritate it.

"All this time, the answer was so simple. I didn't have to suffer. I should not have had to give up bicycling and running because of Achilles pain. If you want to geek out about it, it reminds me of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode where the Enterprise becomes stuck in some sort of alien being/cloud-like thing. And the captain keeps calling for more power, and that gets them more stuck. Finally he cuts the power, and the ship goes free.

"The answer hasn't been more support; it's been no support.

"I'm going to keep taking things very slow. I'm in no position to start running tomorrow or anything. But the view of myself has gone from someone crippled by pain and incapable of even walking to someone capable of running one day.

"So I thank everyone here for being the trailblazers you are and having the courage to speak up about it or go barefoot or in VFFs when others made fun of you. I can't tell you what it's meant to me in my life, and how it is going to radically transform my life. I know this is going to be a great resource as I make this journey, but I have hope again. Thank you. Rock on.

PUMA H Street Returns?

PUMA H Street
Looks like it

After I read Born to Run and started looking for minimalist shoes, these pretty quickly came up as a favorite of Pose runners.*  Unfortunately they'd just been discontinued.

I'll have to swing by a Puma store and give them a try.  I'm very curious...  Plus they're only $60.

See here for an old post about how they build a shoe like this.

Thanks to Matt Metzgar for the find.

* Pose is a barefoot-style running technique for shod runners.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Fried, Fatty, Processed Foods and Sugary Drinks are Hurting our Armed Forces."

Oh brother.  It's from Slate, so it's the unthinking conventional wisdom.  Slate has certain standards to live down to.

"Two years into the Revolutionary War, a surgeon general in the Continental Army issued a pamphlet on nutrition. 'The diet of soldiers should consist chiefly of vegetables,' Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote in Directions for Preserving the Health of Soldiers. 'The nature of their duty, as well as their former habits of life, require it.' Directions' counsel sounds thoroughly modern, like advice from good-food crusaders Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman—and it probably fell on deaf ears. It was routine, in Rush's time, for soldiers to consume a 'pound or two of flesh in a day.'"

So turning our soldiers into vegetarians will allow them to join the ranks of the legendary vegetarian warriors from the history books.  (Hint, there aren't any.)  I'll note that we won the war Rush wrote about, despite not following his advice.

"Five years ago, Sonya Cable, an Army lieutenant colonel and dietitian who works for the command that trains recruits, began analyzing data showing that more than 60 percent of soldiers were nondeployable due to dental issues and were lacking in calcium and other vitamins that help the body prevent and recover from injuries."

Oh no.  A dietician.  In a uniform...  Weston Price would have told this lady what to do, and it wouldn't have involved more vegetables.

Reading this reminded me of another group of athletes that recently adapted a diet geared mainly towards vegetables: the Boston Red Sox:

"Today’s post is about another group of people who frequently break their bones and don’t heal well: the Boston Red Sox....

"...If a biomedical scientist were asked to contrive a diet that maximized the likelihood of bone fractures, the advice would be:
  1. Eat lots of grains to induce rickets.
  2. Eat vegetable oils and non-tropical fatty plants to reduce bone mineral density.
  3. Avoid animal and dairy fats to deprive the body of fat-soluble vitamins needed for bone mineralization, such as vitamin K2.
  4. Do not take nutritional supplements, in order to maintain a deficiency of bone nutrients.
It seems that this is precisely the advice that is being given to the Red Sox and their minor league players."

Since that's working so well, let's adopt the same diet for the Armed Forces!

I'm mostly making fun of the Slate reporter here, the one who closes her article with: 

"The recently-released Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the first time ever stipulates that produce should take up half the plate. At the very least, that recommendation and Hertling's approach should be strongly considered not only by other Army commands, but by all the armed services."

That would be these dietary guidelines, btw.

Clearly the military would be well advised to do something about the poor diet they're feeding their soldiers.  Hopefully they'll do something more sensible than what the Red Sox are doing. 

(Thanks to John Durant for the link to the Slate article.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wheat and Malnutrition

Healthy whole wheat, on the left.
From all my reading Melissa is spot-on with this post.  The better the diagnosis of wheat-related diseases in a population, the higher the frequency with which they're found.

"Testing found that 5.6% of them have celiac. Unfortunately wheat flour is their staple food (I wonder what that started?). Before celiac was diagnosed, people thought their children were merely dying from a malnourishing diet or GI illness. Researchers are now finding celiac hotspots across the Middle East, India, and Africa.

"This is interesting because so much government food aid contains gluten. How many of the children you see on those "save the children" campaign ads are really suffering from celiac like this child?? How many such starving children will be given gluten-containing food aid and will die as a result?"

5.6% of a population is celiac?  And that's likely only the tip of the iceberg.

As I mentioned in a comment a while ago, wheat is a proven cause of heart disease, cancer, and even schizophrenia, in humans.  Would you eat any other food about which that could be said?

P.S. Added excerpt from Melissa's post.

P.P.S. Wow, Melissa buried the lede on this one.  I got around to following the link (To Frontiers in Celiac Disease by Alessio Fasano, et al) in her post above, and found this:

"We have recently completed a screening project on school children in Cairo City, Egypt.  Blood samples were obtained from 1,500 children attending school in Cairo City between October 2001 and June 2004...  The prevalence of [celiac disease] in this sample of Egyptian students was 53% (95% CI 0.17-0.89).  This estimate may be low, as more CD cases could be diagnosed at the follow-up, e.g. in the group currently showing a positive tTG IgA and a negative EMA [partial CD symptoms]."

53% of the kids!?  That's incredible.  This is from the region where wheat cultivation has gone on the longest, mind you.  (Alessio Fasano is the leading researcher on celiac disease.)

"2011 Paleo Community Survey"

Just took the survey...  David Csonka and Richard Nikoley are behind this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Barefoot Golf Shoe

Pro golfer in Vivos.  There is actually a minimalist golf shoe.  I'm hoping to post a review from a friend of mine who bought a pair.

"Are You Sure You’re Allergic to Penicillin?"

What a great post

Thanks to this post, I went to visit my allergist to see if I was really allergic.

The first two skin tests: no reaction to penicillin. We’re doing an in-office challenge test in a few weeks, which will fully clear me, but there wasn’t a hint of a reaction.

I’ve also had reactions to sulfa drugs and amoxicillin, and he said they don’t have good tests for those, unfortunately.

But it’s nice to be able to cross one allergy off the list.

Friday, March 11, 2011

North Face to Release Minimalist Shoe Line?

That's what the WSJ says:

"With the help of Vibram, North Face and Merrell too are due to release near-barefoot, minimalist models soon..."

Interesting.  It's the first I've heard of it.

I Thought Fiber Was Good For Diverticulitis?

"I immediately jumped onto the whole-grain wagon and started eating oatmeal by the boat load, whole grain bagels every morning, fiber crackers with lunch, and every other classic conventional wisdom food you could imagine. A few months into this lifestyle I developed a crippling case of diverticulitis that resulted in having a foot of my colon surgically removed at the age of 24."

Sounds familiar.  Read the whole thing...

"My diverticulitis, I believe, was a direct result of my attempts at eating 'healthy' whole grains."

Exactly right.  Someone please tell Cordain and Lindeberg.

Luckily for me, when this happened when I was in my 20s, I didn't go see a doctor.  They got me the second time around, however.

"Japan Makers Jump Feet-First into the Five-Toed Shoe Market"

Asics Okitabi
More good news.

I really would love to have a pair of hte Okitabis pictured to the right, but unfortunately this is a Japan-only, limited production run.

"Vibram Five Fingers Kid's KSOs for Sale!"

Cool stuff.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vibram's New Shoe Testing Center

Here's the Wall Street Journal story, for those who have a subscription, and here's an excerpt, for those who don't:

"...Mr. Mendl says manufacturing soles for other shoe retailers remains the primary business of Vibram. But the VFFs now account for 30% of the firm's global sales. And while sales of the unusual-looking shoe were slow at first, the company sold 400,000 pairs in 2009, and 2.5 million pairs last year, Mr. Mendl says. In 2011, Vibram's global sales target is more than four million pairs. "We can't make them fast enough," says Mr. Mendl, who, along with 100 other mostly Chinese employees, lives on campus.

"The genesis of the shoe is partly due to the barefoot-running trend that has taken off in recent years in cities like New York and London, and which gathered pace following the success of Christopher McDougall's 2009 best-selling book "Born to Run."

"Proponents argue that the cushioning and structure of regular shoes lead to an intense heel strike that doesn't allow the wearer's feet to absorb shock well, potentially causing injuries. Barefoot runners—there are now dedicated websites, clubs and numerous books backing the trend—say running au naturale happens with a less-intense strike of the forefoot that rocks to the heel, putting less strain on the knees and spine.

"While debate still rages among running groups, podiatrists and fitness experts about the merits of barefoot running, several running-shoe manufacturers have looked to get in on the trend developing shoes that mimic the barefoot style. Nike and New Balance both have minimalist shoes that are lighter and encourage a midfoot strike. With the help of Vibram, North Face and Merrell too are due to release near-barefoot, minimalist models soon...."

Brooks Announces Their "Minimalist" Line

At least I think that's what they're doing... Tough to translate jargon into English:

"So on October 1, we will introduce the PureProject collection from Brooks. PureProject is a new line of footwear that promotes a natural ride and a truly unique running experience in a lightweight package. We utilize a new proactive approach to biomechanics called Ideal. Ideal technology is built into the very geometry of these shoes. It was created to promote a runner’s ideal alignment by attempting to shift force application points to align force vectors, and then load internal structures to enhance performance and decrease the risk for injuries. With this incredibly unique product line, the shoes work together with the body to put runners back in the driver’s seat. Let them be completely connected to their runs, hugging the turns, and dynamically tuned into every step."

See here for what may or may not be a picture of this shoe...

Thanks to Pete the Runblogger

P.S. Here's Pete's take.

"The Western Diet and Lifestyle and Diseases of Civilization"

From Cordain and Lindeberg. I just posted this as a comment on Robb Wolf's Facebook page, which is where I learned about this:

"Looks interesting, but pretty scatter-shot. Just looking at one area where I've done a lot of reading, fiber & diverticulitis, they're throwing out a lot of unproven hypothesis, and some that have been disproven, or where counter examples can easily be found (Maasai and Eskimos eat no fiber, and don't get diverticulitis, for instance.) They also don't discuss that the food that moved in to replace vegetable fiber in Africa was wheat flour, which is a known intestinal carcinogen. In my case, I can reproduce my diverticulitis symptoms at will by eating some wheat. I avoided sugar, but ate lots of fiber, and still got diverticulitis."

It's pretty dense.  It will take some time to digest and have a better reaction than the above snippet...

Follow-Up to "Gary Taubes on Dr. Oz"

Jimmy Moore just posted this on Facebook:

"The Dr. Oz Show was receiving so many complaints about his treatment of Gary Taubes that they removed my YouTube video of the segment today. It seems they can't stand to think that anybody would dare disagree with what Dr. Oz says about diet and health when they're supposed to agree with everything he has to say."

So if you're wondering why the links don't work on the original post, now you know.

"Debunking the Myth of Specialized Running Shoes"

Great title, that's exactly what's going on.

"“I was completely convinced that impact is something bad, and pronation is something bad, and I wanted to show that,” recalls Benno Nigg, a biomechanics researcher and co-director of the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Lab, who helped shape the original theory of pronation."

At least he's honest, and he's working to undo some of the harm he did by not following the scientific method.

However, it doesn't seem to have harmed his career at all...  Find a radical hypothesis, and then find some evidence that appears to back it up, but don't actually test it.  Young scientists take note: this is how you get ahead in Institutional Science.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Cramp

So I was in the gym right now, and I got a cramp in my foot.

(One of the amusing things about this whole barefoot movement is getting cramps in your feet, btw.)

This cramp was in the muscle that pulls your big toe away from all the other toes. You know, that muscle that you NEVER use in shoes? I looked down at the big toe being pulled away from the other four toes and I was surprised. I didn't even know that it could flex in that direction!

Heck, I didn't even know I had a muscle that could DO that!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead"

Thanks to Paleo Runner(who I don't think is Paleo, but is old):

Looks like a good movie. But why is he on a juice fast?

Because Dr. Joel Fuhrman told him to eat this way. Poor Joe Cross.

Example of a wheat belly.
In the trailer Joe describes how he likes to eat two pizzas. That's not slices, he points out, that's pizzas. Joe has a wheat belly, as you can clearly see.

Joe mentions that he's got urticarial vasculitis, which is a rare, chronic auto-immune disease of unknown cause.

Hmm... Wheat belly and a chronic auto-immune disease.  Could it be?

"Dermatitis Herpetiformis Presenting as Chronic Urticaria"

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is also known as celiac disease, which is a subset of wheat poisoning.  Sure enough.  Of course the juice diet wouldn't include any wheat, one would imagine.

Joe Cross is a perfect candidate for a paleo/primal diet.  The fast is a high-fat diet, as he's using the stored fat in his body to fuel himself.  A low-carb paleo/primal diet replicates this, sustainably, unlike the mostly-vegan approach Fuhrman advocates, which starts out high-fat, but turns low-fat as soon as Joe runs out of body fat.  High-fat diets are sustainable, low-fat diets are not.

Fuhrman's diet, which is some ways is a vegan take on the paleo diet, is way better than the two-pizzas-a-day diet, but it's not optimal. 
And I feel for Joe, I really do.  I did the Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead thing myself, and it sucks.

P.S. How's Joe doing?
"JC: At the beginning of the movie I was 310, after juicing for 60 days I lost about 80-85 pounds – thereabouts. I lost another 20 pounds for the next three months by just eating plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, until I was off full medication. So that was five months of me like that and I was down to 210. Then since that – Feb. 8th – and three and a half years later – I’ve fluctuated 220 on the low side and 240 on the high side. Most of the time I sit at about 230. So that’s about a 85-90 pound consistent weight loss."
"Chronic urticaria: A cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease":
"Celiac disease, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is an immune-mediated disease of the small bowel that results in malabsorption. It classically presents with gastrointestinal symptoms including chronic diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal bloating and anorexia. It is becoming more frequently identified in asymptomatic patients with a diagnosis of deficiencies related to malabsorption of iron, folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. It is increasingly identified as a cause for early or refractory osteoporosis. Occasionally, celiac disease presents with cutaneous manifestations alone. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a well-recognized cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease. Other cutaneous manifestations include alopecia, angular stomatitis and aphthous ulcerations. Described here is a case of a 24-year-old woman who presented with intermittent urticaria and gastrointestinal complaints. She was found to have celiac disease on small-bowel biopsy. Both her gastrointestinal symptoms and urticaria resolved when she was put on a gluten-free diet, suggesting that her urticaria was a cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease."

Follow-up to "Another Thought On Health Care"

Yup, we're in big trouble:

"Now the European Union health care advisory committee– a bastion of socialist medicine and open rationing of care – has found that Avastin in combination with chemotherapy helps women with metastatic breast cancer live longer without their disease worsening. That is exactly what American cancer patients and doctors have said all along."

But you're still going to be out of luck.  The FDA doesn't care.

"Bones and Cyclists"

Fascinating post by Joe Friel:

"In recent years there have been a number of studies showing that osteoporosis and osteopenia may well be associated with riding a bike. A quick check of PubMed found the following recent studies, most of which seem to support this possibility. There are some very interesting conclusions here for road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes and runners. Following the citation for each study is the quoted conclusion from the authors followed by my comments..."

"...Essentially, running, even if mixed with cycling as with triathletes, seems to maintain or even improve BMD."
All forms of exercise are not equal.  Your body expects certain inputs, both in diet and activity, and if those correct inputs are not provided, the system will go awry. Our bodies evolved to run, and running promotes bone density. Cycling provides most of the input of running, minus the impact. It appears that's an important loss.

I don't bike on the road, only off-road. Good news for me:

"Three groups were studied: 16 competitive mountain bikers, 14 competitive road cyclists and 15 recreationally active men (control group). [Bone Mineral Density] was significantly higher at all sites in the mountain cyclists compared with the road cyclists and controls. Mountain biking may not have as deleterious an effect on BMD as road cycling. The study also suggests that it may be more beneficial than being “recreationally active.” This may be due to the need to dismount and run with, and perhaps even carry, the bike over challenging sections on the course."

It may also be attributed to the fact that mountain bikers fall a lot. I broke three bones in my first 12 months of mountain biking: two ribs and a nose. 

(And then three more bones (toes) in my first year of barefoot running.  This is more bones than I've broken in my entire life.  It's definitely occurred to me that I may have been undergoing increasing loss of bone density, as I've had lots of falls from motorcycle riding and roller-blading, and never any breaks.  The dietary changes I've made should resolve that.)

From a Paleo perspective, carrying things through the woods is something that would have been a daily occurrence.   Mountain bikers also take a lot of shocks just riding along, despite the suspensions a lot of the bikes have.

I'll also note that our Paleo ancestors had significantly denser bones than desk-bound weekend warriors like myself.

P.S. I'll note there's an interesting parallel between barefoot-style running and mountain biking in this study.  While barefoot-style runners were probably not included in any of the studies (a safe bet), both barefoot-style running and mountain biking involve low-impact exercise.  In barefoot-style running, the low impact is guaranteed by using your body's suspension system properly (no heel-striking), and in mountain biking it's provided by the bikes' suspension and tires.  So hard shocks like those occuring when heel-striking should not be required for increased BMD.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gary Taubes on Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz: "How can you live your whole life with only these [pointing to a plate of vegetables] as your carbohydrates?  You're not giving yourself the options long-term...  How many people in an audience of two hundred-plus people and the millions of folks at home can actually live on a diet long-term like this?  There's no sugar in it!"

Gary Taubes: "And that's a good thing!"
And then they cut to the audience...

Dr. Oz's In-Studio Audience

[P.S. The video link no longer works.  This is why.]

Dr. Oz. The reason poor Oprah is still fat.

I ate the way that Dr. Oz advocates on this show, and I put on about a pound a year, and became pre-diabetic. I switched to Taubes' style of eating, lost all the weight, and am no longer pre-diabetic.

And I gained weight DESPITE the fact that I avoided sugar and white bread for 20+ years...  And the amount of exercise I did had NO IMPACT on the weight gain.  And I'm very active.

Taubes' thoughts on this circus are here.

Paul Jaminet (Of The Perfect Health Diet) Interviewed By Jimmy Moore

Should be fascinating.  Here's Paul's welcome page...

P.S. It was fascinating.  Diet and nutrition for engineers, as my friend Gordo put it.

I need to read the book, but I'd be inclined to recommend this approach to anyone.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Another Thought On Health Care

My mistake.  You're not in charge of your healthcare, and neither is your doctor.  Some unfeeling beaurocrat will decide if you live or die.  Have a nice day.

A Thought On Health Care

"You are the consumer and in charge of your health care: [the] physician is a technical consultant."

Very well put.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Can Running Help You Live Longer?

Reduced Disability and Mortality Among Aging Runners

Progression of Disability
"Background: Exercise has been shown to improve many health outcomes and well-being of people of all ages. Long-term studies in older adults are needed to confirm disability and survival benefits of exercise.

"Methods: Annual self-administered questionnaires were sent to 538 members of a nationwide running club and 423 healthy controls from northern California who were 50 years and older beginning in 1984. Data included running and exercise frequency, body mass index, and disability assessed by the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ-DI; scored from 0 [no difficulty] to 3 [unable to perform]) through 2005. A total of 284 runners and 156 controls completed the 21-year follow-up. Causes of death through 2003 were ascertained using the National Death Index. Multivariate regression techniques compared groups on disability and mortality.

"Results: At baseline, runners were younger, leaner, and less likely to smoke compared with controls. The mean (SD) HAQ-DI score was higher for controls than for runners at all time points and increased with age in both groups, but to a lesser degree in runners (0.17 [0.34]) than in controls (0.36 [0.55]) (P < .001). Multivariate analyses showed that runners had a significantly lower risk of an HAQ-DI score of 0.5 (hazard ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.46-0.84). At 19 years, 15% of runners had died compared with 34% of controls. After adjustment for covariates, runners demonstrated a survival benefit (hazard ratio, 0.61; 95% confidence interval, 0.45-0.82). Disability and survival curves continued to diverge between groups after the 21-year follow-up as participants approached their ninth decade of life.

"Conclusion: Vigorous exercise (running) at middle and older ages is associated with reduced disability in later life and a notable survival advantage....

"...Annual attrition rates among living subjects were approximately 3% for runners and 6% for controls."

So, why wouldn't you run?

P.S. I've been referring to this as the Stanford Running Study, just for ease of reference.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Barefoot Running App From Merrell

This is pretty cool. 

Although I've not tried it (I don't like running with gadgets) I especially like the idea of an iTunes list with songs to help you run at a cadence of 180.  Jason Robillard, if you were involved in this, nice work.

Fila Skele-toes Review

At Birthday Shoes.  These sound like a really nice option, although I'm happy with my (many pairs of) Vibrams.

And while Justin notes that the Filas aren't intended for running, neither were the Vibrams...

Oh, and yes, Chris McDougall broke both pinky-toes running in Vibrams, as have I.  The conjoined 4th and 5th toe pocket is a good idea.  Plus getting the pinky toe in it's pocket is generally what gives most people the biggest problem with they first get a pair.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Barefoot Ted's New Venture Gets Some Press...

"Owners of new running store believe they were 'born to run'":

"Barefoot Ted McDonald, a 46-year-old Seattle resident, qualified for the Boston Marathon just two years after picking up running. Living up to his name and cementing his reputation, he did it barefoot. But that's hardly the most interesting thing about him.

"Bold, bald, with a tribal monkey medallion hanging around his neck and a scattered entrepreneur past, Barefoot Ted teaches running technique, preaches running philosophy, and organizes and participates in long-distance runs worldwide. Now, along with Dan Fairbank, McDonald is the cofounder of the new Born to Run store in downtown Bellevue."

Good luck, Ted!

"New Balance Launches 'Let's Make Excellent Happen' Global Brand Campaign"

In this post, I wrote:

"And now, the last piece of the plan: You want something a little more traditional? New Balance Minimus, with a Vibram sole, and Tony Krupicka's smiling face."

Well, here it is: "New Balance Launches 'Let's Make Excellent Happen' Global Brand Campaign":

"For the first time in its recent brand history, New Balance is closely aligning key products with its roster of world-class athletes to highlight their source of inspiration. The NB 890 is named "Barringer" (women's) and "Baddeley" (men's) after record holders Jenny Barringer Simpson (U.S.) and Andy Baddeley (U.K.). NB Minimus Trail is inspired by ultra champion, Anton Krupicka (U.S.)."
They're going to make an ultra-runner their front man in a global shoe campaign pushing a pretty minimalist shoe.  That's a big deal.
That old post is holding up pretty well, I think...

Loren Cordain on Saturated Fat...

And other topics.  Should be fascinating.

P.S.  Got around to listening to this interview.  It's very good.  My feelings about Prof. Cordain are pefectly captured by Peter at Hyperlipid: "Cordain drives me up the wall. He's so almost right so often."  I laughed out loud when I read that.

That said he's willing to confess error (no more canola oil!), and is a guy who's been willing to go (mostly) against the conventional wisdom for a number of years.  He's done far, far more good than harm in this world.

Hopefully he'll come out against the cholesterol hypothesis before he retires.

If you do read this book, make sure you read the revised, 2010 edition.