Friday, August 31, 2012

"How Not to Label Biotech Foods"

"In November, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, a ballot initiative to impose a mandatory labeling requirement on all foods produced with or from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For reasons I discuss in this New Atlantis article, this requirement is unnecessary, unwise and potentially unconstitutional.

"The effort has been endorsed by numerous progressive organizations and the California Democratic Party. Of note, those who usually police the misuse or politicization of science have been strangely quiet about the misleading and inaccurate scientific claims made by Prop. 37 proponents. Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs. Yet about traditional crop-breeding techniques, we can say no such thing. It’s no wonder that the National Academy of Sciences has issued numerous reports concluding that the use of modern genetic modification techniques, in themselves, have no bearing on the relative safety of a food product. What was done to a specific GMO matters more than whether specific modification techniques were used...."
As I posted in the comments at that page:
"Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs."

There's no requirement that these foods be tested for safety for human consumption in the long or the short term. And absence of evidence that they're not safe is not evidence that they are safe.

So we'll find out that that they're not safe in the same way we are finding out that thalidomide was not safe, or that Vioxx or some of the modern, traditionally bred wheat varieties are not safe: when millions of people start getting sick from consuming them. (Here we have hard evidence, btw. Incidence of celiac disease is up 400% since the modern varieties were introduced, and the disease has been called the most common genetically-determined disease in the world. According to the Grain Foods Association, 1% of the populations has celiac, and 7% of the population of the US gets ill from eating modern wheat.)

If we're expected to be the guinea pigs for these experiments, the least we can request is that we be allowed to participate in an informed way. Tell us whether our food contains GMOs or not, or test them for safety prior to their being released.
"The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which delineates FDA's regulatory authority for foods, defines food as articles used for food or drink for man and other animals. The Act, however, does not require pre-market clearance of food and thus, many genetically modified plants do not require formal pre-market review by the FDA as they are food...

"...The labeling of food derived from genetically modified plants is a matter of some controversy. FDA does not consider the method of production, including genetic modification, to be meaningful information which is required to be on product labeling unless the modification results in a significant material change in the food product....

However, the majority of the plants which have completed the [voluntary] consultation process have not triggered any labeling requirement."
So Prof. Adler, your position must be that all laws requiring informed consent in human experiments are unconstitutional?
Those lasts quotes are from this post.

Here's a page at the National Institutes of Health detailing the laws related to the protection of human subjects:
"In the past, the role of human research subject has been fraught with danger and suffering. The ancient Hippocratic Oath specified a duty from a physician to avoid harming the patient, but that oath, highly honored today, was not even subscribed to by a majority of doctors at the time. Advances in protection for human subjects have often come in response to particular abuses or scandals. The German atrocities of World War II, some of which were committed in the name of science, led to the Nuremberg Code of international ethics, which in part spelled out the requirement that any human subject must give informed consent to the research undertaken. The disaster of thalidomide in Europe and Canada was largely averted in the United States, but thousands of patients had taken doses without being informed of the drug's experimental nature. The brush with thalidomide helped the U.S. pass the 1962 Kefauver-Harris amendments, which strengthened federal oversight of drug testing and included a requirement for informed consent. A 1966 study of abuses, written by Dr. Henry K. Beecher, helped inform government policies adopted in that year. Likewise, the discovery in the 1970s that unwitting subjects had been allowed to suffer syphilis in the 1930s Tuskegee Experiment preceded a call for tighter regulation of federally-funded human research."
The notion that a labeling requirement that would lead to informed consent of the participants in a human experiment is unconstitutional is a big stretch. I'm surprised a law professor would make it.

P.S. Some further stuff I put in the comments over there:
"Although the proposition warns of “adverse health consequences” from genetic engineering of foods, there is not a single documented case of adverse health consequences due to the use of GMOs."
Turns out this is not true.

Starlink corn was a corn that was not approved for feeding to humans. It was nevertheless found in food supply and some people seem to have had a reaction to it. There was no test to see whether or not it had an effect in humans, the test they derived after the fact may or may not have been accurate. Again, a lack of testing is not evidence of safety.

27 Wm. & Mary Envtl. L. & Pol'y Rev. 593 (2002-2003) Myths of Voluntary Compliance: Lessons from the StarLink Corn Fiasco; Bratspies, Rebecca M.
"CDC developed a case definition that included a) a suspected anaphylactic reaction (e.g., dizziness, weakness, or loss of consciousness) that occurred within 1 hr of product consumption; or b) any of the following dermatological or oropharyngeal symptoms (hives, rash, pruritus, oropharyngeal tingling or swelling) that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption; or c) any of the following gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping) that occurred within 12 hr of product consumption and that involved only one individual among meal companions. It was also necessary that these symptoms were not explained by a preexisting medical condition....

"Twenty-eight of the 51 reports were consistent with the case definition....

"...The StarLink experience demonstrates many of the limitations in using postmarket surveillance for adverse reactions to food as a method for assessing allergenicity to a protein that has been newly introduced into the food supply. Intensive epidemiologic investigation and laboratory test development by federal investigators was not sufficient to determine whether individual allergic reactions were associated with the inadvertent release of a geneticallymodified protein into the human food supply. It is also unlikely that postmarketing physicians or hospital-based surveillance would have been able to detect any increase in allergic reactions during the time that StarLink corn was available to consumers. The symptoms described in the case definition used inthis investigation are generic and could have been attributed to a variety of etiologies. The StarLink example demonstrates many of theproblems with any surveillance system that tries to capture rare and somewhat generic health events such as food allergy."
Clinical and laboratory investigation of allergy to genetically modified foods.

Development and Use of an ELISA Test to Detect IgE Antibody to Cry9c following Possible Exposure to Bioengineered Corn
And just one more observation: Prof. Adler makes the case, incorrectly, that there's no evidence of tainted GMO foods. What he doesn't seem to be aware of is that the issue of tainted foods allowed to be sold under current law may well be the biggest health issue we have today, and a major cause of our health-care crisis.

For instance, the trans fats that Mayor Bloomberg banned in NYC are a major problem, despite this being pooh-poohed by conservatives ignorant of the science. (I am a conservative, and I was ignorant of the science.)

In the scientific literature, they're widely regarded as toxic in any amount, and have been reliably demonstrated to cause severe health effects. 30% of the US population is currently sufferingfrom Non-Alchoholic Fatty Liver Disease. If you want to induce NAFLD in animals, you feed them trans-fats and sugar. Junk food, in other words.

Novel foods are being put into the food supply without any testing, and are making millions of people sick. This is not hypothetical. People who are aware of this fact are trying to avoid being the next victim of the next novel food introduced into the food supply without any safety testing whatsoever.

By law, no scientific experiment in the US can be performed without the informed consent of the participants in the experiment. Unless you're a food company introducing a novel food the safety of which is unknown. In that case, Prof. Adler argues, no information needs be provided to the participants of the experiment, the public buying the food. This is completely contrary to all the rest of the law in the country.

This is the language used to exempt food consumed:
" (6) Taste and food quality evaluation and consumer acceptance studies, (i) if wholesome foods without additives are consumed or (ii) if a food is consumed that contains a food ingredient at or below the level and for a use found to be safe, or agricultural chemical or environmental contaminant at or below the level found to be safe, by the Food and Drug Administration or approved by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture." But the FDA does no testing to determine what the safe amounts [of GMOs] are.

It just assumes that they're safe.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Does Calorie Restriction Extend Lifespan in Mammals?"

Stephan's analysis of the odds seems about right to me. But over-eating does seem to be bad for you...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fat-Adapted Horses

In The Perfect Health Diet, the Jaminets point out that while a ruminant like a cow may each lots of carbohydrate in the form of indigestible fiber, what actually makes it into their blood stream is nearly pure fat, along with about 10% protein, thanks to the fermentation of fiber into short-chain fatty acids. (No link, sorry, and I can't find my copy to quote it directly.)

This ends, of course, when they're put on the feed lot, and they develop a nice layer of fat and fatty deposits in their muscles, if a grain-based diet doesn't kill them first.

I stumbled across this link looking for some information about athletes on a fat-based diet:

Feeding Oil or Fat for Horses - A Review

I got what I was looking for, and it turns out it's fascinating. Stance Equine is a company that "...pioneered the feeding of no grain, low sugar and starch feeds to horses to avoid the metabolic chaos caused by high NSC [non-structured carbohydrate] feeds. The Stance Equine feeds are based on the unique attributes of copra, coconut meal and coconut oil."
"The Domesticated Lifestyle

"The modern, domesticated horse lives in an environment markedly different to the evolutionary one. Horses are often kept in paddocks and stables, restricting access to quality pasture. This, coupled with the high-energy demands of performance, can make safely meeting horses energy needs, a tall order...."
Huh. That sounds familiar... Horses on the Paleo diet.

Well, not quite, as (from the first link): "The option of feeding horses the balanced and natural diet on which they evolved is, in most cases, unfeasible due to space, time and financial constraints. Besides which it is most unlikely that the natural diet of horses would suffice to meet the energy needs demanded of many performance pursuits."

Of course, as it requires a lot of time and chewing. Nevertheless, this puts horses squarely in the same position as a human athlete, who also can't afford to spend all their time hunting ruminants, and so must make do with a second-best diet.
"The Grain Solution

"Traditionally, horse diets have often included large quantities of grain (ie. starch) in an attempt to sate energy needs. However, horses have a limited capacity to digest starch and high starch feeding practices can result in starch overload into the hindgut (Kohnke et al 1999; Rowe et al 2001). A number of metabolic disorders - such as tying up, laminitis, colic, and excitable behaviour - are associated with high grain diets. Advances in feed processing technologies have reduced the risks associated with high grain feeding, but have not eliminated them...."
But unlike human athletes, it turns out that there's been a good bit of work done on the effect of a fat-based diet on horse's athletic performance. Now mind you, they're not people, or even mice, but based on the similarities of the ill effects on the horses from a high carbohydrate diet, it's an interesting possibility that the benefits would be the same.

It turns out there's also a Maffetone Method for horses:
"Training to Facilitate the Aerobic Pathway

"The aerobic metabolism provides energy for slow-twitch muscle fibres and therefore stamina. It also provides much of the energy for explosive exercise, which cannot be met by energy from the anaerobic process alone. Training the horse to facilitate aerobic metabolism, is advantageous to performance in all disciplines as a result of the elevated ATP production.

"With training, horses have a higher number of mitochondria and enzymes in their muscles, which produce more energy. Training also increases the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the muscles, through increased haemoglobin concentration in blood. Training allows horses to carry out aerobic energy production more efficiently...."
The article goes through a variety of information about feeding fat to horses. "Horses exhibit a preference for vegetable oils over animal fats (Potter n.d.).", thank heavens, but that got me worried about the ill effects of vegetable oils on horses...
"The Link Between Dietary Fats and Cancer.

"In humans nd [sic] rodents, dietary fats have been implicated in carcinogenesis, partly via the mechanism of oxidative DNA damage (Loft et al 1998). Loft et al (1998) found high total energy intake (rather than simply high fat intake), to be the major cause of oxidative DNA damage in rats, irrespective of degree of saturation of dietary fat consumed. D'Aquino et al (1991) reported that unlike coconut oil, fish oils are highly susceptible to oxidative deterioration and challenge the antioxidant defence system in rats, thereby increasing susceptibility of tissues to free radical oxidative damage.

"An experiment involving tumour-bearing mice indicated that the level of dietary linoleic acid consumed was proportional to the weight of their tumours and to the number of macroscopic metastases. Mice that consumed proportionally more saturated fatty acids (in the form of coconut oil) had lighter tumours and fewer macroscopic metastases (Rose et al 1993).

"Reddy (1992) noted that diets containing coconut oil, olive oil or fish oil had no colon-tumour enhancing effects regardless of whether they were fed at rates of 23% or less. However rats fed diets containing 23% corn oil, safflower oil, beef tallow or lard had increased incidence of colon tumours.

"The links between dietary fats -their type and level of consumption- and impact on CHD and carcinogenesis are poorly understood. However, it appears that coconut oil may play a non-promotional role with regard to carcinogenesis...."
I won't get into beef tallow at the moment, but I agree that feeding lots of linoleic acid to anything is a bad idea.
"Benefits of Feeding Fat

"Fat supplemented diets for horses have proven to be beneficial beyond that mentioned above. Adding fats to the diets of growing and breeding horses has increased milk energy yield in lactating mares and increased growth rate in weanlings (Scott et al 1989; Davison et al 1991). However, the most exciting effects of feeding fat to horses have been observed in the equine athlete.

"The effect of fat supplementation on muscle glycogen storage and utilisation has been widely tested. Other areas - such as effect of extra dietary fat on thermoregulation, energy requirement, management of Equine Rhabdomyolysis, and other exercise parameters - have also been explored...."
Needless to say, read the whole thing. I regard the effects of a fat-based diet on human athletes as somewhat contradictory. Glycogen storage is reduced, according to some studies, but according to others, training in the fasted state increases glycogen stores. I was looking for information to shed some more light when I came across this article. I find it very interesting that a fat-based diet is a full-on benefit to glycogen management in horses. After all, in some respects, humans are better runners than horses...

Of course these folk are selling fat-based feeds for horses, so they have an axe to grind, but it seems consistent with what I've been reading about other species.

I'm beginning to come around to Gary Taubes' view... Easily-digested carbohydrates may be best avoided, regardless of what species you are.
"Should We Feed Fat to Horses?

"Current research indicates that fat supplementation is a viable energy source for performance horses which is of greater benefit than simply caloricifically. However, almost all studies investigating the effects of fat supplementation on horses have been relatively short term, involved a small number of horses and produce results which are not always highly repeatable. In order that more confidence be placed in the long term feeding of fats to horses, studies need to be of longer duration, involve more horses and more consistent results are necessary. The best type of fat for horses should also be ascertained...."
Sounds to me like these folks are on the right path.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"New Research Debunks Gluten-free Diet for Weight Loss"

Science for sale.
"...Approximately one percent of Americans have celiac disease and another six percent are estimated to suffer from gluten sensitivity, yet many others believe going gluten-free leads to good health...."

"This paper is one of the first to look at the other side of the gluten craze. While the gluten-free diet is an important medical treatment for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, far too many Americans are following the diet for reasons that simply do not make sense," stated Dr. Gaesser. "Even though it has been endorsed by celebrities for weight loss, let's face it – they are not the experts on nutrition and health. It's time to listen to the science."

These findings run counter to a recent Harris survey of more than 2,000 adults polled about their perceptions and use of the gluten-free diet. Of those participants who followed the diet, half reported doing it to "feel better" and 26% as a "diet for losing weight."

...For expert nutrition advice, and more information about the gluten-free diet, please visit

About the Grain Foods Foundation The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling, baking and allied industries formed in 2004, is dedicated to advancing the public's understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided through voluntary donations from private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. For more information about the Grain Foods Foundation, visit, or find GoWithTheGrain on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Grain Foods Foundation
They list 7% of the population that shouldn't eat wheat. That's pretty big progress, considering the source. Can you think of many other foods that are patently toxic to 1% of the population, and probably toxic to another 6%?

I wonder when the warning labels will appear...

And of course a few years ago the "experts" were poo-pooing the whole concept. Celiac was extremely rare, after all.

From Dr. Davis on twitter.

P.S. Had to change the link, the old one to the Sacramento Bee stopped working.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Value Of Being Conservative

"...I was not trying to prove that the industry itself is doing everything right.

"That's because it most certainly isn't. But it is the only biopharma industry we have, and before someone comes along with a scheme to completely rework it, one should ask whether that's a good idea. In this very context, the following quote from Chesterton has been brought up, and it's very much worth keeping in mind:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."
"This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.
Emphasis mine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

RSS Feeds

I may have just screwed this up... So if you can't read this in your reader, let me know.

This is a test... Nope, all good (I think).

Junk Science About Junk Food

Good point:
"In the fight against obesity, should science matter? It depends on whom you ask. The answer may surprise you, and could make you realize that you shouldn't always trust the do-gooders."
The do-gooders often care more about being able to tell you what to do than about whether what they're telling you is correct. And even if they're occasionally correct, does being right as often as a stopped clock make them good advisors? Sorry, "rulers" is a better word than "advisors"...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat At The Western States 100

What did other racers eat?

STEVE PHINNEY: We really can’t say. We only got data from 25 athletes out of more than 200 athletes in the race. That’s less than one in 10. We were sort of rushed to get this protocol in place and so we did not recruit people months ahead of time. We were recruiting people the day before the race. They were walking in saying, “I want to be in your study,” and so I do know, that it’s fair to say that among the top 20 males, in addition to the winner, Tim Olson, there were at least a couple other well adapted low-carb runners among the men, and among the top 20 women there were at least two of them who were low-carb runners.

Were some top runners high carb?

STEVE PHINNEY: Absolutely So this speaks quite possibly to the issue of individualization. It may well be that all of us don’t come out of the exact same cookie-cutter in terms of what we look like and what our metabolism looks like. It seems that some people’s metabolism tolerates lots of carbs without much in the way of side effects. That is, the people who tolerate carbs remain highly insulin sensitive even when they eat a high carbohydrate diet, so that fuel they eat is rapidly processed and goes to the tissue and gets burned for fuel and doesn’t get stuck in fat storage. But it also seems that if there is even a hint of insulin resistance in a person’s metabolic makeup, you can make it worse with a high carb feeding. Meanwhile, in that same person, you can make that insulin resistance essentially go away with low-carb eating. So some people are probably are well adapted to be high carb runners and some people are much better adapted to be low-carb runners.

Thanks to Mark Sisson, who may be coming around on this whole Chronic Cardio thing...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Good Podiatrist in England, And This Is How He's Treated

Podiatrist 'banned' from Tesco after insisting on walking around the store barefoot:
"'I have always thought that people needed to wear shoes as they can support your feet up to 80 per cent.

"'However, then I read a book named Born To Run and it was about a barefoot runner. After reading it I did a bit of research about barefoot walking and running and liked what I read.'

"Amazingly, Mr Bloor said he has never had any injuries from going barefoot, and has only encountered a few splinters.

"He has been shopping barefoot at the Tesco branch for years without incident but was suddenly blocked by a security guard on August 5.

"Mr Bloor explained: 'When I got banned from Tesco I was pretty shocked, I had been going there for two years and spent hundreds of pounds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You've Been Conned

What a fabulous piece of journalism by Joe Uhan at iRunFar.
"...But in the US, the sports drink industry drove a different agenda and wanted runners to drink as much of their product as was possible. As a result US runners were conned to believe that if they did not drink “as much as tolerable” they would at best have a poor race and at worst die from dehydration. Instead, this advice caused an epidemic of hyponatremia and poor performances since we now know that athletes who drink ahead of their thirst impair their exercise performance...."
This is becoming a common theme. Shoes, food, hydration...

And more kudos to Western States for leading the way to better runner's health. It's a horrible tragedy when runners are injured by following medical advice, as was happening at WS a few years ago:
"...So, for the 2010 event, we completely removed from the weight change guidelines any criteria for holding a runner based upon weight change. These guidelines provided to the medical and aid station staff basically specify that weight loss of up to 3-5% is appropriate, less than this should trigger a recommendation to consider reducing fluid and sodium intake, and more than this should trigger a recommendation to consider increasing fluid intake, and possibly sodium intake, as well....
And in conclusion:
"Be minimalist..."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thoughts on the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012

Last year I missed the opportunity to attend the first AHS, in Los Angeles. I have a certain visceral opposition to LA, for no good reason (I once spent a night there when I missed a connecting flight, and that's my entire exposure to the place). I spent the rest of the year regretting that, especially after hearing what a great event it was.

AHS 2012
So this year I rectified my error, made easier by the fact that they held it at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, 140 miles from my house.

I was a little apprehensive heading up there as I was unsure how valuable this event would turn out to be, as I do spend a fair bit of time reading about all this stuff. What would I learn? Where would I eat dinner? All sorts of concerns...

All of which were totally unfounded. What a terrific event, what a terrific bunch of people. The event reminded me very much of the early meetings of the World Wide Web Artists' Consortium in 1994 and '95 in New York. The WWWAC helped to creat the Internet that we all take for granted today, as it was the focus of early web development in NYC. Just like then, at AHS you got the feeling that you were in on a Great Truth, and that all that remained was to let the world in on it, and thereby change everything. I don't doubt for a minute that AHS will help this to happen, just as the WWWAC did. It's a great feeling to be at the early stage of a revolution like this.

The symposium was organized into sessions, held in what seemed to be rapid-fire order. The first day only contained one track, but the second and third had dual tracks, which got annoying when you wanted to attend two simultaneously, or even worse, when you started chatting with someone and then realized you'd missed the first 10 minutes of your next session.

Dan Lieberman of Harvard was the keynote speaker, opening the symposium with a terrifically funny (as usual: he's wasted on Harvard, he should do stand-up comedy) overview of human evolution and evolutionary adaptation, setting the stage for all the sessions to follow. I understand the sessions are all to be posted on the 'net, I highly recommend watching them: access will be free. Some of them were breathtaking, some left me with tears in my eyes, like Joel Salatin's ringing cry to take back our freedom to feed ourselves, and Terry Wahls' account of her recovery from multiple sclerosis. A few annoyed me, like Dr. James O'Keefe's misconceived but well-meaning account of the cardiovascular dangers of marathon running, but all that I attended were very informative and led by intelligent and well-spoken presenters.

When Robb Wolf describes John Welbourn as large, he's wrong. The dude's enormous, and he gave a fascinating discussion of how some athletes he's working with have become world record holders while eating a low-carb paleo diet. Carbohydrates appear to be seriously over-rated...

Joel Salatin closed the first day. What a speaker! It felt like a revival meeting, and he was the preacher of real food and the good life. He also explained how much more productive his holistic approach to farming is, and touched on how impossible it is to do with government meddling. He got a resounding standing ovation.

Prof. Lieberman led a barefoot run along the Charles River the morning of the second day, which offered a rare opportunity to have a guided tour through Cambridge by a leading scientist. Lieberman's a fast runner! The easy, conversational portion of the run was at a quick pace, and at the end he announced that we were going to to "strides", "at the end, when they have the most benefit!" I kept up for a bit, but my poor aerobic fitness allowed the professor to leave me in the dust. Happily Ben Greenfield, a Maffetone disciple and triathlete, completely understood, and promised he'd never tell Phil that I exceeded my MAF HR. (I had to stop at the beginning of the run and turn off the audible alert on the Garmin.) Too funny.

The only negative thing about barefoot running is that the range of adaptation is narrow: the fact that I can run 6 miles around my roads didn't mean that I could run 6 miles on the rougher roads and paved trails of Cambridge, and my feet were tingling for the next two days.

Professor Lieberman was kind enough to offer me a tour of the Mecca of barefoot-running science: his lab at Harvard. I got to see the famous treadmill, some of his new gadgets for measuring runners, and an interesting explanation of how difficult it is to measure many of the things that may lead to running injury. Mathematical correction of jiggling is a major undertaking, it turns out. We also went looking for Eskimo teeth, but only found a few cavemen.

A few scientists and doctors recounted their research testing ketogenic diets on cancer progression (very promising) and epilepsy (the best treatment approach by far). Nevertheless, institutions are very reluctant to fund or even allow these studies; insurance companies are reluctant to pay for them, despite being more effective and less expensive; and one doctor described the need to refer to these diets as "therapies" to get them through the morass of bureaucracy...

Outside the sessions...

Oh, and God, I got to meet Stephan Guyenet and thank him for probably saving my life. I wouldn't be typing this, or enjoying a symptom-free existance right now, if it wasn't for his incredibly level-headed and well-reasoned blog, and for all the hard work he's done. Thanks again, Stephan. I had the additional pleasure of standing around with drinks in our hands talking with him and Prof. Lieberman about teeth. Moments like that made this whole thing worthwhile. And I'm really looking forward to what he produces in his professional career.

End P.S.

I met too many other people to recount here, but have a few thoughts in general. It was an incredibly healthy-looking crowd. But the game I played was to ask the people I met how they'd gotten into the paleo/ancestral health scene. Most recounted some story of health issues that the medical establishment had been unable to resolve, which abated once a healthy diet (meaning one in opposition to the government regulations) had been adopted. Terry Wahls is the most extreme, but many of the rest of us had similar experiences. Considering how many of these people have intractable, incurable conditions of one sort or another, they're looking terrific and acting like they're the happiest people on the planet. Oh, and a couple of years after getting out of her wheelchair poor Dr. Wahls showed up to AHS with her arm in a sling. She broke it falling off her bicycle.

I've also never seen so many people with minimalist, or no, shoes on. Lunas were a popular option (Prof. Lieberman and John Durant wore them for part of our run, as did I, Ben ran the whole thing in his bare feet.), Vibrams, VivoBarefoot, New Balance Minimi (suitable, since their HQ is in Boston), Skora, Merrel and again, too many others to recount, including some I didn't recognize. It's hard to believe that two years ago it was hard to find a minimalist option. Now I couldn't keep track of them all. Happily, there were many doctors in attendence. While one cardiologist did explain the many difficulties in changing the "standard of care" in our bureaucratic, sclerotic medical system, one hopes that a grass root effort like this one can upend the medical establishment's understanding of the relationship between diet and chronic illness, and offer help to the many people who are ill-served by the current regime.

Tower of low-carb power
Of course the closing ceremony was the Barefoot Banquet, held at the Charles Hotel just down the street from the law school. As with all the rest of the sessions, all the food was paleo, so folks like Dr. Wahls and me could eat without concern, and enjoy the famed NorCal Margarita. Some of us seemed to enjoy them a bit too much. ;) The funniest moment of the evening was when they brought out the grass-fed, gluten-free sliders. So many buns were left over that some enterprising folk built a fort out of them. What a terrific time.

And then, to top it off, I gave John Durant a ride back toward NYC to save him from a long bus ride, and got to hear all about the book he's working on. It sounds terrific, I'm quite excited to read the whole thing.

I think this alliance of scientists, doctors, patients, and athletes have a real chance to change the world. What exciting times.

And a side note: the conference was organized by volunteers. I've been to expensive, professional conferences that weren't this well organized, and certainly not this cheerful or thoughtful. Bravo to all involved.

P.S. Here's a roundup of recaps of AHS12 if you're interested.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How To Handle Running Injuries And Adaptation

From this discussion: "How to know if your body is bullshitting you":
"There are a couple of things that I think are pretty reliable indicators that you've done too much: getting sick right after you do a heavy workout, as I did last weekend. Any injury that doesn't resolve after 3-4 days, or continues to reoccur. That typically requires rest for the former, and attention for the latter.

As you run more, you'll encounter plenty of aches and pains. If they appear and clear up shortly, and don't reoccur, then they're likely adaptation. Enjoy, you're becoming a better runner.

The real trick is injuries that can only be resolved by stressing the injured bit. Achilles tendinosis and eccentric heel drops are the perfect example: you must hurt the tendon to heal it.

Misinterpreting another type of injury as this type and attempting to "work through it" is how a lot of injuries occur, I think. Torn muscles need rest, for instance. Continuing to strain them will only make it worse.

Also figuring out cause and effect can be a trial. I've had injuries appear on one leg that were the result of a problem on the other leg. It took a very long time to figure out what was going on, and how to resolve. Typical "injuries" that are really symptoms of [some] other problem, in my experience, are the aforementioned achilles tendinosis, runner's knee (aka patellofemoral pain syndrome), iliotibial-band syndrome (ITBS), and plantar fasciitis. The famous "top of foot pain" can be such a symptom, but not always.

People weren't meant to start running in the middle of their lives. Doing so is a complicated process
Links added. This is a pretty good summary of my thinking on this topic at the moment: no doubt it will evolve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fibromyalgia And Oxalic Acid


As with most of these dietary interventions, they're pretty low-risk. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you don't eat a group of fruits and vegetables for a few weeks, so if you've got the disease, it's worth a shot.

Also, the woman who discovered that her fybromyalgia symptoms disappeared after cutting out oxalic-acid-containing plants is a medical doctor. She observes:
"As a GP of 17 years I’ve come across many patients convinced their alternative approach is beneficial — whether it’s homeopathy or herbal supplements — and my attitude has always been sceptical.

"But ‘you are what you eat’, and we are increasingly finding associations between various foods and diseases, which were scoffed at in the past — a fact with which many of my medical colleagues would agree."
Perhaps someone can enlighten me: at what point "in the past" did the medical profession forget about Hippocrates, the founder of Western medicine?
Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food."
Kudos to this doc for using her inner doctor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carbs Bad, Fat Good: The New Conventional Wisdom?

"Diet Wars Turn Family Feud"; too funny:
"...More importantly, in the past decade, science and dietary culture in general have left low-fat ideology (and, increasingly, calorie counting) in the rear view mirror. The fatwa on dietary cholesterol has more or less evaporated. Saturated fat is still wrongly maligned as a risk factor for heart disease, and a debate still brews over the health of red meat, but few researchers in a position to know better will argue that butter, cream and beef fat have much to do with putting on the pounds, and the growing popularity of diets based on whole foods—Michael Pollan readily goes to bat for butter—are an implicit rebuke of the margarine mentality. The defenders of the low-fat message, the dietary authorities behind our nutritional guidelines, still talk smack about fat and sodium, but have increasingly shifted their ire towards unrefined carbohydrates, a concession to the effects of insulin. Public health interventions are taking aim at Big Gulps, not Ben & Jerry’s. The dietary arena has become a more uncertain place for low-fat missionaries like the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Michael Jacobson, and a less hostile place for people like Gary Taubes.

"Then there is The New York Times...."
Well, the Times is always the last place to figure things out.

But if this article is appearing in the Columbia Journalism Review, it's well on it's way to being the conventional wisdom.

Dr. Atkins, you've won.

And there's this:
"For fans of pique and bad manners, you could do worse than [Gina Kolata's] largely stenographic Q&A with Dr. Jules Hirsch, an emeritus professor and emeritus physician in chief at Rockefeller University. Hirsch waved off the JAMA paper’s findings as an artifact of water-loss in a low-carbohydrate diet. He referred to the paper’s premise as “hocus-pocus.” There was the title: “In Dieting, Magic Isn’t a Substitute for Science.” Hirsch invoked “the law of science,” and ”the inflexible law of physics,” but Ludwig knows a little bit about science too. As the Harvard endocrinologist pointed out in a letter published the following week, the study controlled for the effects of water weight in several different ways. Oops."
One suspects the author's not a big fan of Kolata.