Monday, January 31, 2011

Gary Taubes Interviewed By Jimmy Moore

Jimmy was kind enough to pass along a question to Mr. Taubes.  In the second part of the interview, my question starts at 35:02 and (interspersed with the next two related questions) finishes at 40:45.

"What do you think about alternative explanations for the metabolic syndrome [linoleic acid and wheat]?"

Taubes answers about the way I expected him to.  Thoughtfully, but wheat and linoleic acid have not been focuses of his research. 

He notes, correctly, that historically it's tough to separate wheat and sugar ingestion as the cause of metabolic syndrome when introduced to traditional societies, as they typically were introduced at the same time.  He mentions that he's curious to read Dr. Davis' new book, supposedly to be titled Wheat Belly, and to hear the case that he makes.  His answer concerning linoleic acid is a bit less satisfying, but, since it's not been his focus, it's not surprising, or disappointing.

Sugar, wheat, and industrial vegetable oils (linoleic acid) are the three problem foods that seem to be involved in metabolic syndrome.  Taubes has focused his work on sugar, and that's great.  I don't think that anything I've learned about the other two invalidates anything that he writes about, or contradicts it.

He notes that "Insulin resistance is a fundamental problem."  I agree with that, and think that sugar, wheat, and linoleic acid are all independently working on increasing insulin resistance.  In my humble opinion, I think that any one of them is bad, and all three together are really bad.

To note my own experience, I stopped eating sugar in my late teens, and have avoided it ever since.  I've been reading labels and skipping deserts for the most part for a long time, and I've not been a huge fruit eater.  So I think that I consume far less sugar and fructose than the average American.  But I was eating a lot of wheat and linoleic acid, and was well on my way to metabolic syndrome nevertheless, according to my doctor.  I didn't drop the "middle-age middle" until I stopped eating wheat and linoleic acid, in addition to the sugar, and this corrected my blood sugar readings.

So in a nutshell, I think Taubes' work is great so far as it goes, and it goes a mighty long way.  But I don't think his answer is complete.  Stephen Guyenet's work, along with other sources, makes it clear to me that carbohydrates in toto are not the problem.

As Taubes notes, it takes only a tiny imbalance to throw our metabolic processes out-of-whack, resulting in obesity.  Glucose, and starches containing glucose, have been part of our diet for a very long time.  Logically, therefore, it has to be one of the other three factors that has thrown us off: fructose, wheat, or linoleic acid.  The quantities in which we eat these three are very far out of line to what we ate historically.  Linoleic acid alone is probably not the primary cause, as it was introduced too late to account for all the changes we've seen.  My money's on wheat being the lever that moves a normal glucose metabolism, but I don't have any hard evidence.

In the meanwhile, I'm still plowing through Good Calories, Bad Calories, and if Mr. Taubes ever reads this blog, I want to thank him for all of his hard work.  It's really a wonderful public service that he did in writing that book.

High-Heel Blues

In my review of the Inov-8 F-Light 195s, I noted:

"The heel lift bothered me from the outset.  I found that they strained a muscle in the sole of my left foot, just from walking around inside."

I spent yesterday building an igloo with my daughters.  I decided to wear my good old (20+ years old) LL Bean boots; since I never applied that second treatment of Obenauf's to my Russells their water-resistance is suspect.

The Bean boots are unmodified, they have the regular heel lift, whatever that is.  But the rubber keeps you dry, and some decent socks keep you warm.  Also, they have the typical Bean "chain-traction" sole, which is horrible in the snow, IMHO.

Once again, I got a pain in my left foot at the front of the arch, and I'm limping around as a result of it.  This hasn't happened the last couple of times I wore these (I've been doing a lot of snow shoveling lately), so it may just be that I was wearing these for longer this time around.

But there you go.  Once you get used to barefoot-style shoes, you wind up having to adapt back to regular shoes.  I need to treat my Russells again.

We didn't finish the igloo, despite putting about 4.5 hours into it.  What we have looks pretty cool, though.  I've got to give those "primitive" Eskimos a lot of credit: they invented the arch and the dome with stone-age technology.  It's very impressive, and not easy to execute.

Truth In Advertising

This is one of the most bizarre ads ever.



For those who don't want to, or can't, watch it here's the synopsis: A bunch of guys do a "persistence hunt" of some barefoot Kenyan runner [correction, they give him sleeping pills. Wasn't paying particularly close attention until I read about the ad.]. When he finally collapses, they tie sneakers on to his feet, to his horror.

The ad is for a defunct (I wonder why?) shoe retailer, Just for Feet, and from what I've read, not far from the truth.

My thought when I first watched this was:

"It's pretty honest, actually. The only way to get these shoes on a proper barefoot runner is to chase them to exaustion and put them on while they're passed out.

"It's the only way they'd get me to wear some Nikes."
Of course Barefoot Ted nailed it:

"This ad is about what happened to ALL of us."
Full thread here.  Thanks, Sean.

P.S.  Morbid curiosity got the better of me, and I did a bit of research into this.  Turns out that this ad is considered "the worst Super Bowl ad ever made", or "the ad from hell":

"Just For Feet had hoped the commercial would launch it on the national stage as a growing, family-owned, friendly company. The company had never done a national ad buy before and went to the big guns for its inaugural effort.

"The company filed for bankruptcy later that year. THAT’S how bad the ad was!

"Just For Feet sued Saatchi for $10 million, claiming that its executives had strong-armed the company into signing off on an initial version of the ad by telling them it was edgy and clever and people expected that of Super Bowl ads. Just For Feet execs said they were wholly unfamiliar with how to play on such a huge stage and believed Saatchi knew best."

Kind of sad. Just For Feet achieved a form of immortality, all for an ad that may have looked bad, but really wasn't.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The Diabetes Epidemic"

Yikes.  Given that diabetes is associated with higher risk of both cancer and heart disease, this is pretty grim.

"Why does energy intake exceed energy needs in modern America and in most affluent countries? Why has the typical person's calorie intake increased by 250 calories per day since 1970 (4)? I believe it's because the fat mass "setpoint" has been increased, typically but not always by industrial food. I've been developing some new thoughts on this lately, and potentially new solutions, which I'll reveal when they're ready."

If you don't follow Stephen Guyenet's blog already, you need to.

"Why Bacon Is A Gateway To Meat For Vegetarians"

Too funny.  My daughter's friend claims that she's a vegetarian, but she always manages to find room for bacon when she's over at our house.

"Because bacon is one- to two-thirds fat and also has lots of protein, it speaks to our evolutionary quest for calories, Lundstrom says. And since 90 percent of what we taste is really odor, bacon's aggressive smell delivers a powerful hit to our sense of how good it will taste."


Of course since this article is from NPR, they don't make the obvious connection: it's not about calories, it's about nutrition.  Your body needs the nutrients in animal fats and proteins to be healthy.  And your body knows this, even if your brain has some foolish notions about vegetarianism.  Hence, a craving for bacon.

Via Instapundit.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Buy this book as fast as you can: Why We Get Fat"

I think John Durant likes it...  Why We Get Fat is the more-digestible version of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, which I'm currently reading.

GCBC may go bad in a dramatic fashion, but at the point I'm at, I think one could do nothing better for health in American than for everyone to read this book, and then buy a copy of The Primal Blueprint to understand how to follow up on it.

So I'm not surprised that John likes WWGF.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Women, Red Meat, And Stroke Risk

My doctor sent me a link to this study:

Does Red Meat Consumption Raise Stroke Risk [In Women]?

We've discussed my diet change, and exchanged thoughts and emails about it.  It's nice to know that he's concerned enough to send me stuff like this, even though he does apparently refer to me as "Caveman" now (some of my friends are also his patients).  But who can blame him?  First running in toe shoes, and now the Paleo diet...  If the shoe fits, wear it.

Am I concerned about this news?  Not really, and here's why:

"Comment: These results agree with those from the Nurses' Health Study, in which women who consumed [greater than or equal to]1 serving of red or processed meat daily were at excess risk for ischemic stroke (as well as hormone receptor-positive breast cancer [JW Womens Health Jan 11 2007])."

Tom Naughton has a great post titled "Meaningless Associations":

"Perhaps you recall the estrogen fiasco. Examining data from the Harvard Nurses Study [aka the Nurses Health Study], researchers found that post-menopausal nurses who took estrogen had a lower rate of heart disease. Based on that finding, doctors were ready to start prescribing estrogen to every middle-aged women in the country. Just one little problem: when estrogen was tested in a controlled clinical study, the women who took it ended up with a higher rate of heart disease, not lower. Same thing happened in a clinical study with men.

"As it turned out, the nurses who took estrogen were simply more health-conscious than most other nurses and were taking estrogen because they believed it was good for them — not because it actually was (at least for heart health). Health-conscious people are different. They exercise more, eat less sugar and other junk food, make sure they get enough sleep, take their vitamins, are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol to excess, and more likely to see a doctor if something doesn’t seem quite right with their health. Estrogen wasn’t making nurses healthy … healthy nurses were taking estrogen."

In other words, just because an epidemiological study shows that X is associated with Y doesn't really tell you anything.  If fact, you may find out, as in the case above, that what is going on is exactly the reverse of what you might think. 

Next, we have this:

"One limitation of this study is that constant consumption of red and processed meat for 10 years was assumed (diet was only ascertained once)."

That's one heck of a big assumption.  It pretty much means that this is a wild guess, with a tenuous attachment to reality.

But what do I know: I'm not a doctor, or a scientist, nor do I have any specific expertise...  Fortunately, people like that exist, have web sites, and have looked at this study:

"'This study is an observational study that relies on dietary recall, which is a notoriously unreliable parameter. Further, the ‘42 percent increased risk,’ while making for a good headline zealously exploited in simplistic reporting, makes me wish yet again that epidemiologists would be a little more honest so that unless they observe a relative risk in such a study of at least double, perhaps they should not bother reporting it. As long as data dredging like this is published by allegedly respectable journals, we can’t blame reporters for jumping on it.'

"The study, like so many lacking proper controls, presents an array of problems with regard to confounding variables and the problem of separating cause and effect.

"The media has capitalized on the research, however, because 'it fits in with the popular wisdom that red meat is bad, and the less of it you eat, the healthier you are,' says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. 'Other retrospective analyses have demonstrated that red meat actually has no effect on stroke risk, yet they get thrown down the epidemiology garbage chute because it doesn’t create nearly as big of a media splash.'

Don at Primal Wisdom also looked at this study recently:

"Thus, we know that the absolute incidence of cerebral infarction in the low meat group was not more than 4%, and conclude that in the high meat group not more than 5% of subjects had a cerebral infarction type stroke--which means that more than 95% of women eating the so-called high meat diets (more than 3 ounces daily) did not have a stroke. The absolute difference between the two groups was not more than 1%, but by using relative risk, the authors get to report it as a 22% increase in risk. Creative accounting."

A one percent difference in a study like this is pretty much noise.

But here's the meat of his post (pun most definitely intended):

"Now take a close look at the last sentence of the abstract of the journal article:

"Fresh (unprocessed) meat consumption was not associated with total stroke or with any stroke subtype."

"What? In the immediately previous sentence, they stated that red meat was associated with a 22% relative risk in cerebral infarction type stroke, but the last sentence says that fresh meat was not associated with total stroke or any subtype, which would include cerebral infarction.

"I feel confused. How can "high" red meat consumption be associated with a 22% greater risk of stroke, and yet not associated at all with total stroke or any stroke subtype? It seems that the trick must be in combining both fresh and processed red meat to get the positive association.

So the final conclusion of that original link:

"Nonetheless, these results show that even healthy, nonsmoking women can lower their stroke risk by cutting back on red meat intake; clinicians should consider inquiring about the dietary habits of all their patients."

Is entirely bogus.  The results show nothing at all, in fact, except that the scientific establishment and the media are to be treated as one would any other source of information: with extreme scepticism.

Caveat Emptor.

Ladies, start cutting your steaks...

"N=1?"

A very good post by Dr. Kurt Harris.

The key is you have to be skeptical, and thoughtful.  Try not to just jump to conclusions.

When I discovered my wheat sensitivity, I was actually testing something else (vegetable oils).  I actually thought the whole gluten-free thing was kind of bogus...

But I'd inadvertently changed two variables in my diet.  When I stopped eating veggie oils, I also lost my cravings for carbs.  Which meant I didn't eat any wheat, by dumb luck, for a week.   It was a happy accident.

And as Dr. Harris suggested, I went to my Doctor and had him run thorough blood work, so that I could confirm that I wasn't killing myself with this caveman diet.

"Fat Mice and the Laws of Thermodynamics"

Tom Naughton hits one out of the park:

"At the end of first experiment (four weeks), the calorie-restricted mice weighed a teeny bit less than their free-eating counterparts — the difference was not statistically significant, but it was there. However, the calorie-restricted mice also had 68.5% more fat mass, and 12.3% less lean mass.

"Being put on a diet made them fatter.

"At the end of the second experiment (three weeks), the average weight for both groups was virtually identical — it was also virtually identical to their baseline weights. But the calorie-restricted mice had 43.6% more fat mass and 6.4% less lean mass than the free-eating control mice. Once again, being put on a diet made them fatter."
(Emphasis mine)

Now, before you go saying that this only applies to mice, I'm in the middle of reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes' opus on human obesity and diet, and this behavior is perfectly consistent with behavior seen in humans.

Click image for the data.
This is also perfectly consistent with human economic behavior: it's perfectly rational. 

The savings rate in the United States had been declining for years.  But it recently turned drastically upwards.  What happened?  The US had a recession: peoples' incomes were put on a diet.  So what happened?  As you can see in the chart, they cut back on expenditures, and started saving vigorously.  They were storing up just like the mice were, and it's a perfectly rational reaction either way. 

Since neither us nor the mice can predict the future, the only rational thing to do is to react to changing conditions.

The mice (and us) interpret a diet as "lean times", and start saving.

Here's the study Naughton discusses.

P.S. I recalled that Stephan Guyenet had posted recently on this same topic.  In a correction to a post about sleep-deprivation and calorie restriction in humans, he notes that:

"The correct numbers are even more interesting than the ones I made up. Even in the high-sleep group, nearly half the body weight lost by simple calorie restriction was lean mass. That doesn't make calorie restriction look very good!

"In the sleep-deprived group, 80% of the weight lost by calorie restriction came out of lean mass. Ouch!

"That illustrates one of the reasons why I'm skeptical of simple calorie restriction as a means of fat loss. When the body "wants" to be fat, it will sacrifice lean mass to preserve fat tissue."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"'On the Move' Gets Harvard Going"

Christopher McDougall and Professor Lieberman both spoke at this event.

Review: The Four-Hour Body By Tim Ferriss

Sounds interesting.

Article About Prof. Daniel Lieberman

"'It turns out barefoot runners are about 5 percent more economical than shod runners, even after you account for the weight of the shoe,' he reports. 'We are trying to figure out why.'"

Very interesting article about some of the research projects Lieberman's working on.  You've got to like a guy who puts shoes on sheep.
From John Durant.

Cool Interview with Anton Krupicka

UTMB is going to be an amazing race this summer, and it looks like he's got a great season ahead of him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Brooks Minimalist Shoe?

Nice blue sole (on the left)
Looks like it.  See Scott Jurek's feet in the picture from this thread at Toe Salad.

2011 is going to be a busy year...

P.S. Follow-up here.

New Balance Minimus Available

They've got 4mm of heel, so I'll be passing on these.  I've got a pair of MT100s and a pair of MT101s gathering dust already.

For a barefoot-style runner, the new Merrells are the way to go.

P.S.  The link no longer works.  Guess they jumped the gun...

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove: First Impressions (Literally)

This is not me.
I've been shying away from going out running of late, because, primarily, I've not had the right shoes for the job.  My New Balance MT100 and 101s have been gathering dust after the job they did on my weak knee in September, and the Flow Trek's I ordered were stuck on backorder. 

Secondarily, I've just not been motivated, which is always a problem.

But the recent arrival of the Trail Glove (TG) has inspired me.

I wore them to the gym on Monday, and confirmed that I'd rather be wearing my Vibrams.  But they weren't horrible, and to judge from the reaction of the majority of the folks in my gym who haven't been inspired to buy Vibrams, Merrell is going to sell a lot of these.

I've been living in CT on and off since 1973.  This is, hands down, the snowiest winter I recall.  Both in terms of the amount of snow we've got, and the length of time it's remained on the ground.  The photo was sent to me by Carl Asker, local ultrarunner and Pose coach, to taunt me. ;)  It's -9F in that picture, btw, and he's wearing Inov-8's X-Talon 190.  We now have more snow than in this photo.

So, I finally decided to man up and take my dog for a run in the snow, wearing my new shoes.  I did the 4-mile loop from my house, which includes about a mile of trail running. 

Trail Glove Side Ventilation
I wore heavy, knee-high Patagonia socks under the TGs, and the shoes really excelled.  The 2 miles to the trail section was perfectly servicable in the TGs, my feet stayed perfectly warm, and the ventilation was noticable.  It was 25F, so not really cold, but enough to notice the weather.  The TGs have a big, well ventilated window over the toes, but only holes throught the sides, so the toes were cool at first, but warmed up and were fine.  My feet were not cold at any time, which was impressive, as you will soon see.

We got about 3 inches of snow yesterday, so I was hoping that the would be mostly packed down, with only a few inches of new snow.  Unfortunately this was only the case at the beginning.  My dog and I soon wound up slogging through knee-high snow untracked except by a nordic skiier, which served only to remind me why post-holing through the snow stinks.  Oh, the things I do for barefoot-style running.  Or slogging, in this case.  I was no longer running at this point, but nevertheless my feet were never cold, which is a testament to both the Merrells, since the under-foot insulation was perfectly adequate; and to the Patagonia socks.  The Merrells did shed snow very well, and I wound up with balls of snow stuck to my ankles, but little on the shoes.

They did far better under these conditions than they had any right to.

Trail Glove Toe Cleats
The traction was excellent all along, and I never slipped once, despite running up and down hills, and over ice, snow, and slush.  The dog slipped once, but I did not.  Again, better performance then I expected.  I'll note that the Vibram-Trek-style toe cleats (I don't know how else to describe them) worked terrific in the snow, I never slipped back when going up hill.  This bodes well, I think, for their performance in mud, although they're not as cleated as Carl's shoes.

So for a first run, I have to say they were really terrific.  Vibram and Merrell clearly put a great deal of thought into these shoes, and the fit well into a niche above the KSO Trek or Trek Sport.  They really should be called the Trail Mitten, however, for obvious reasons.  As an introductory fully-barefoot-style running shoe, I expect these will do extremely well, and hopefully will show New Balance and Inov-8 how a barefoot-style shoe should be done, and that there is a market for such a shoe.

Bravo.

My only concern with these shoes is that they may not be well-ventilated enough for summer-time running.

P.S.  Indeed, it turned out to be the snowiest winter in CT history.

Kosher Pastured and Grass-Fed Meat

Talk about a niche... 

Fad Diets

You know, like that one the USDA is pushing?

Interesting, and sadly funny post:

"Defining fad diets as 'diets that do not have scientific backing, that have no underlying principle, and do not perform well in the long term' Feinman cleverly points out that the current nutritional dogma on low-fat diets fits this definition of a fad diet very well. There is no real science behind low-fat science, and the writings of the 'father of the lipid theory of heart disease' Ancel Keys have been widely discredited, even back in the 1950s when they were first published. The political action that was taken to promote the low-fat dietary theory came out of Senator George McGovern’s report on the matter, and was written by a young staff member who was a vegetarian. Many researchers were at the hearing, captured on TV by CBS and on Youtube here, and objected strongly to the lack of research to back such a dietary philosophy. McGovern's response: 'we Senators don’t have the luxury that a research scientist does of waiting until every last shred of evidence is in.'

"The rest of Feinman's report is excellent with solid information that I hope many will take the time to read. The real goal Feinman is desiring to accomplish is to attack the problem of diabetes, and not attack other researchers with emotional terminology such as 'fad diets.' One of the biggest attacks against carbohydrate restricted diets is the supposed lack of long-term studies on their effects. Dr. Feinman answers this crticism:

"It might be said that basic science tends to take a bottom-up approach, placing emphasis on fundamental mechanism, in this case the importance of the glucose-insulin axis, whereas medicine frequently favors a top-down approach favoring long, large-scale trials. I would argue that the nature of diabetes suggests that we start with underlying biochemistry, placing the burden of proof on those who think that the short-term effects of carbohydrate restriction will not persist as long as the diet is adhered to. Along which lines I offer the following real conversation:

"Endocrinologist: There are no long-term studies on low-carbohydrate diets in diabetes.

"Richard Feinman: Well, let me ask you this. Suppose, for some reason, your patient had gone on the Atkins diet since their last appointment. If they came in having lost weight, with improved HbA1c, improved lipid panel, and you had to reduce their medication, what would you do? Tell them to stop because there are no long-term studies? What would you do?

"Endocrinologist: I would tell them to keep doing it.

"Richard Feinman: Good call."

Here's the link to Fineman's study, "Fad Diets in the Treatment of Diabetes":

"Use of the term 'fad diet' reflects the contentious nature of the debate in the treatment of diabetes and generally targets diets based on carbohydrate restriction, the major challenge to traditional dietary therapy. Although standard low-fat diets more accurately conform to the idea of a practice supported by social pressure rather than scientific data, it is suggested that we might want to give up altogether unscientific terms like 'fad' and 'healthy.'"

Fila Skeletoes

Wow.  The first legit Vibram FiveFingers knock-off.  From what Justin says, it sounds like they worked around the Vibram patent.  Good for them.  Competition is good for all of us, even if Vibram would like to continue to have an exclusive.

Combining the 4th and 5th toes is a really interesting approach, IMHO.

P.S. Reviewed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whole Foods versus Supplements

"Folic acid, which is in fortified foods and multivitamins, is different than the folate you get from food."

It's always a good idea to avoid supplements, and get proper nutrition from natural sources, as this link makes clear.

Running Barefoot Up The Empire State Building

"Matherne, a 23-year-old Stamford resident, will find himself on the ground floor of the Empire State Building at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 1, mentally preparing to run 86 flights -- 1,576 stairs -- in the 34th annual Empire State Building Run Up, a New York Road Runners event.

"This runner, though, will hit the road with bare feet.

"Shortly after he began running more than a year ago, Matherne started experiencing knee pain and stress fractures. Matherne ignored the pain initially, but could no longer endure it after running the New Orleans Rock & Roll Marathon. His doctor said the meniscus in his knees could not take the impact of running and advised Matherne to stop.

"His physical therapist suggested he try barefoot running.

'I tried it and pain that almost had me under the knife was completely gone,' he said. 'It was either barefoot or don't run, and I don't quit,' Matherne said."

The obligatory ding-bat podiatrist quote:

"For all the selling points, he admits that 'I'm sure a podiatrist would look at my feet and say, `What's wrong with you?''

"He may be right. Dr. Michael Sabia Jr., a podiatrist from Stamford Podiatry Group, advises against barefoot running. He said it is OK to run barefoot on packed earth, but not on man-made, hard surfaces.

"'The foot really needs help to run around on concrete and hard surfaces . . . it's not designed to do that,' Sabia said. 'You have some yielding that comes with the earth or football field. There is a natural cushioning that say a good running shoe would provide. Obviously asphalt, concrete or steel does not yield.'"

And a nice comment from the NYRR:

"Drea Braxmeier, a spokeswoman for New York Road Runners, said they don't know how many other runners will forgo shoes on race day.

"'We don't discourage it, we don't really encourage it either. It's really up to the runner,' she said. 'We actually have quite a few runners that are starting to run with the Vibram Five Finger shoes . . . but not necessarily barefoot.'

Braxmeier said only a handful of competitors have run barefoot in the NYRR races.

Cool story.

Review: Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove

This is the woman's version of the Trail Glove, and Barefoot Angie Bee seems to like them quite a lot.

She has a complaint that's seems to be common to barefoot runners who wear the new Merrell shoes: they're built for a "normal", that is to say, deformed by shoes foot.  So barefooters with their wider forefoot complain that they're a bit narrow.

I've not noticed this myself yet, but there you have it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Teva Zilch Sandal

Eh...  I've not been a fan of Teva sandals.  These could be interesting, hopefully they won't suffer from the blister problems of my previous batch of Teva sandals.

It is a good sign of how everyone is trying to jump on the minimalist bandwagon.  These aren't particularly minimalist, but they're heading in that direction.

From Toe Salad.

RIP: Jack LaLanne

Paul Jaminet has a nice post, one of many to memorialize Mr. LaLanne's death.  Mr. LaLanne pretty much invented the modern fitness craze.  And lived to 96 in great health to prove that it's worth the effort.  Godspeed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Eating Wheat Causes Symptoms in Some People Who Don't Have Celiac Disease"

Interesting.  I'm doing a gluten-free January, since I do gluten-free every other month. ;)

It's nice to see some scientific confirmation of my own experience.

Running In The Military

Pose, Chi, and Evolution are making inroads in the military, to help cut down the injury rate.  (Running related injuries are now the number one training injury in the military.)

"Meanwhile, a slew of recent studies are overturning long-held running maxims as researchers struggle to more clearly define the emerging doctrines.

"'The answer to decreasing running injuries is not to limit running, it is to develop the runner,' says Maj. Charles Blake, a 3rd Special Forces Group doctor serving as physical therapist for special ops units in Afghanistan.

"Blake insists the key to reversing injuries and improving running is simply a matter of technique.

"'I have taken four minutes off a person’s two-mile run time in a week. That can only be related to technique in movement,' he says.

"Change can’t come soon enough. More than a million troops suffer serious sprains, strains and other injuries every year, with running as the leading cause, according to Defense Department research....

"Termain says Pose did what numerous sports medicine docs, podiatrists and expensive orthotic inserts never could — put an end to what seemed like an endless string of running injuries."

Via Runblogger on Facebook.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You Are The Long-Term Test, Part 2: No One Is Tracking The Effects Of Innovations

"Veterinarians who started their practice after GMOs were introduced in 1996 might assume that many chronic or acute animal disorders are common and to be expected. But several older vets have stated flat out that animals have gotten much sicker since GMOs came on the scene. And when they switch livestock from GMO to non-GMO feed, the improvement in health is dramatic. Unfortunately, no one is tracking this, nor is anyone looking at the impacts of consuming milk and meat from GM-fed animals."

Wonderful.

Here's a link to one of the papers published by Dr. Huber, who's quoted in the article above.

Vibram FiveFinger KSO Trek Sport Review

Very thorough.  Sounds like a nice option, although I only use my Treks occasionally.  I much prefer the better ground feel of the regular KSO. 

Interview With The Designer of Vibram FiveFingers

Interesting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Long-Term Review of Vibram FiveFinger Speed

Simply put, it's the best Vibram model offered.  But nothing's perfect, so I have a review to write. ;)

I was told by a Vibram employee that the Speed was being brought to the United States in the summer, which is a long-overdue development.  I was asked not to disclose this information, so I kept mum, but since Birthday Shoes is now reporting the news, I feel free to confirm it.

Speed work, from Birthday Shoes

The impression I had in this post has been confirmed, with a caveat.  The Speeds are indeed not only the best-looking FiveFingers, and I'll include all the current and prospective models in that statement, but also the best for running.

As far as the looks go: people don't notice them.  As amusing as I find peoples' reactions to Vibrams, it does slow you down sometimes.  It's nice to have a stealth toe-shoe, and the Speed delivers.  And they're just downright good-looking.

As far as performance goes, they have the Bikila sole, but without the Bikila's extra EVA padding under the forefoot.  This improves ground feel and also maintains the natural dynamics of the foot, which I found to be lacking in the Bikila.  (I've not worn my Bikilas once since getting the Speeds.)  They also have a better, more comfortable interior than the Bikila.  I found that the strap attachment points on the Bikila caused me some blistering issues, especially if I snugged the strap down.  I like a snug feel across the instep.  I have had some minor irritation issues in the Speeds, from the seams around the laces, but it's been much better than my experience with the Bikila.

Compared to my other favorite running Vibram, the KSO, the primary advantage is the much more comfortable interior.  It's plush.  The KSOs have slightly better ground feel, but worse traction on slippery surfaces, so it's a trade-off (this is the caveat).  I've been reluctant to use the Speed as a trail shoe, due to their pretty exterior and white interior, but I have used the Bikila (which has the same white exterior and interior; Vibram, what were you thinking?), and the Bikila sole has just enough extra traction to be superior on the trail to the KSO, especially in slippery conditions.

When I ran the Reach the Beach Relay Race this fall, these were the shoes I chose to wear.  With a pair of Injinji crew socks, these were flawless.  Just enough protection to be able to run over gravel at night, and no blistering or abrasion issues whatsoever.  Of course none of my team-mates could believe I was going to run the whole thing in these, and I did bring my New Balance MT100s along just to play it safe, but I had no need for them.  The lacing does an excellent job of locating the foot in the shoe, and as I volunteered to do the worst downhill section in the race, this was an important consideration.  They did not disappoint.  (I'd tested downhill running in them in Colorado over the summer.)

I've tried to wear the KSOs a bit more since finishing that race, due to the superior ground feel.  I especially prefer the KSOs on tough trail runs, since they give the feet an extra workout that I really enjoy.  (Yes, I also have a pair of KSO Treks, but I find them to be just too much except for the roughest conditions.)

But the Speeds remain the first pair of shoes that I reach for in the Vibram line.  They're not perfect, but they're marvelous.

P.S.  The laces.  The first time that I saw the Speed I thought it was freaky.  The laces make it look like a regular sneaker, but it has toes.  Downright bizarre. 

I absolutely love the laces.  They make them a snap to put on (hence the "Speed" name, perhaps?), and even with socks on it's easy to get a good fit.

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove

My new shoes.
They're on my feet.  They won't replace barefoot, or my Vibram KSOs or Speeds, but they're darn nice.  They'll be an excellent winter shoe and trail shoe.

So far they've been called "gorgeous", so they're off to a good start.

P.S. First impressions.

Paleo Apples

"...a bitterness so profound that it makes the stomach rise even in recollection."

Mmmm. :)

Mammoth For Dinner?

Now that would be paleo.

"...The Very Latest Fitness Trends"

"Barefoot training

"Exercising with bare feet is expected to get even bigger in 2011. 'Off the back of some research done into running with bare feet and the benefits of it, there's a lot of buzz about barefoot training at the moment,' says Alan Holl, head of commercial fitness at Virgin Active. 'It's the natural way to run, and means you usually land on the front of your foot, which reduces impact. If you wear trainers, you tend to land on the heel, the impact of which is not good for your legs and can even lead to knee and shin problems.' Exercising barefoot helps to develop ankle, knee and hip stabilisation, promoting good movement and preventing injury.

"Virgin Active gyms are offering the group exercise willPower & Grace [sic], a barefoot training programme that aids the functionality of the entire body. Originating in New York, it is a cardio-meets-body-and-mind exercise class. A new book on barefoot running, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running by Dr Craig Richards, is published on 1 February, and Vibram FiveFingers, a company that manufactures a type of shoe that acts like a glove for the foot, allowing you to mimic exercising barefoot, while actually wearing some protection, is growing in popularity...."

Unfortunately those ridiculous toning shoes also get a nod.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Magic Diet?

Wow... if you're looking to reverse glucose poisoning with a "magic" diet...

"The ketogenic diet is well established as therapy for intractable epilepsy. It should be considered first-line therapy in glucose transporter type 1 and pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency. It should be considered early in the treatment of Dravet syndrome and myoclonic-astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome). Initial studies indicate that the ketogenic diet appears effective in other metabolic conditions, including phosphofructokinase deficiency and glycogenosis type V (McArdle disease). It appears to function in these disorders by providing an alternative fuel source. A growing body of literature suggests the ketogenic diet may be beneficial in certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In these disorders, the ketogenic diet appears to be neuroprotective, promoting enhanced mitochondrial function and rescuing adenosine triphosphate production. Dietary therapy is a promising intervention for cancer, given that it may target the relative inefficiency of tumors in using ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source. The ketogenic diet also may have a role in improving outcomes in trauma and hypoxic injuries."
"The Ketogenic Diet: Uses in Epilepsy and Other Neurologic Illnesses."

The more I read about this stuff the more I think Jaminet is on to something with his Perfect Health Diet. Keep carbohydrate intake sufficient to keep glycogen stores topped off, and no more. (McCardle disease, mentioned above, is the inability of the body to burn glycogen stores.)

Susan Allport Eats Linoleic Acid For A Month

"Later that morning – after all the tests were completed, I learned from Volek just how profound the changes to my body had been. Yes, my weight was almost the same, but what weight I had gained – 5.6 ounces or just under half a pound – was almost entirely fat and in my abdominal area, as the follow-up body scan showed – exactly as I had experienced it. Just as interesting, and the cause, perhaps, of this gain, was that my resting metabolic rate had fallen, by an intriguing five percent. This drop was within the day-to-day variation for this test (6.2%), but it was in the direction predicted by the diet and the magnitude to explain my small gain in weight.

"In just one month, it seems, I had reduced the number of calories I needed to maintain my body at rest by 5%, the equivalent of 76 calories. This may not sound like a lot, but over time, those calories – the amount in a one-ounce piece of mozzarella, for example, or eleven whole almonds—would add up. If I didn’t reduce my food intake in order to compensate for this decrease (go on a diet, in other words), I would put on a pound in about 46 days; 8 pounds in a year. And this 5% drop in metabolic rate was after just one month. What if I kept to this high omega-6 diet for six months? Or a year? A lifetime as most Americans do? Would my metabolic rate continue to fall?

"The change in resting metabolic rate wasn’t all. At the same time my RMR was falling, my arteries were becoming stiffer, or less able to expand and contract, as revealed by the follow-up ultrasound. In just 30 days, the amount of dilation my brachial artery was capable of had dropped by 22%, a change much larger than the day-to-day variation of this test. The direction of this change was also predicted by what is known about omega-6s, but the amplitude surprised everyone involved in this project.

"In the coming weeks, these findings from Volek’s lab were backed up by the results of the blood tests, analyzed by Bibus in Minnesota. At the same time my metabolic rate was decreasing and my arteries were becoming stiffer, the omega-6s in my red blood cells (and therefore the rest of my body) were increasing and the amount of omega-3s were falling – dramatically and precipitously.

"In just ten days, the total amount of omega-3s in my red blood cells had dropped from 10% to 6%. The amount of omega-6s had risen from 21% to 29%. The substitutions continued during the last twenty days of my diet, but the biggest change was almost immediate, as I thought it might be. The omega-3s in my cells were quickly being replaced by seed fats, as I find it helpful to think of them, fats that change with the seasons for most animals, but that Americans eat, and overeat, all year long."

Holy cow.

The report (Microsoft Word doc) this is excerpted from is also on her web site.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Attack Of The Blue Slushie

Yikes.  I have to say, when I talk about food something like this is so far off my radar screen I don't even think of it as food.  Why on earth would you eat something like that?

(And this attitude far predates my paleo enlightening last spring.  This is obviously not something that should go in your body.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Evolution Of Man In "The Economist"

An interesting article, although I don't agree with all of its points, and think it's a little too optimistic. 

The last sentence reminds me why I no longer read The Economist, which was once my favorite news weekly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review Of "Why We Get Fat"

This one's not so positive, although he agrees with the premise

Tom Naughton did an excellent interview with Mr. Taubes, in which he addresses some of the points raised in the above review.

And Jimmy Moore's interviewing Taubes again today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nutrition Joke

"Three students are leaving their last classes of the day.

"The law student is thinking, 'I'm tired and thirsty. I must have coffee.'

"The engineering student is thinking, 'I'm tired and thirsty. I must have beer.'

"The nutrition student is thinking, 'I'm tired and thirsty. I must have diabetes.'"

From Chris Masterjohn on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Persistence Hunting: Can It Really Be This Easy?

This is from 1978 in Sports Illustrated:

"Outside the trees myself, I slowed to a walk. I was only 10 yards away from him. He took a tentative step, but his head sank. He could go no further. I stopped where I was and talked to him soothingly.

"Flies circled over his back, at least a couple of dozen of them, but he was trembling so severely that they couldn't light. His wide brown eyes never blinked or left my own the whole time I was talking to him.

"When a full minute had passed that way, he had rested enough to raise his head. The trembling eased. The flies alighted.

"I walked up slowly and touched his sweaty flank. He started away, jerkily and graceless for the first few steps, then with increasing confidence, and all the way his head was turned to watch me."
On his first try, an experienced runner is able run down and touch a deer.  That's incredible.

Thanks to Josh W.

How A Scientist Constructs A Diet

He listens to people following his advice, and adjusts accordingly.

Kudos to Dr. Jaminet.  His post at the link above is about yams and the problems people and animals could have while eating sweet potatoes:

"For our part, we may cease listing sweet potatoes among our 'safe starches' and specify yams instead, since a 'safe starch' should probably be low in fructose."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vegetable-Based Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

No, Virginia, you can't eat enough flaxseed oil.  It's either fish oil or algae.  Or better yet, just avoid linoleic acid and eat grass-fed beef and oily fish now and again.

Vegetarians are consistently low in DHA and EPA, and this is why.

Flouride

So I've been reading for my entire life about these nut-jobs who thought flouride in the water was a government plot, that it didn't do any good, and that we didn't need it, if it wasn't actually bad for you.

Looks like they were right.  Read all of Dr. Briffa's post.  It's the longest post I've seen him do.

Whoops.
 
Just remember this: if you have a question about the science behind some dietary issue, you might not live long enough to get the answer.

Tour Of The SCARPA Boot Factory

The last step.
As a peripheral follow-up to my post on Merrells and lastsLou Dawson visits the Scarpa factory in Italy.

Lots of interesting pictures of the lasts and an explanation about the tricky business of making shoes that fit all feet.  Scarpa uses 3 different lasts for each size, depending on where the boot is being sold!

(The lasts are those green things in this picture.)

I have a pair of Scarpa hiking boots.  Not minimalist, so I no longer wear them, but they're nearly 20 years old (yikes), and are built like a brick outhouse, as the saying goes.  Lord knows how long they'd last...

100 Barefoot Marathons

Wow.

Damien Tougas Launches Toe Salad

When I started looking into barefoot-style shoes 18 months ago, the best resource I found for the various different options was Damiens' blog.

Happily, he's now started a directory of barefoot-style (minimalist) shoes; Toe Salad.

Is Bok Choy Paleo?

There seems to be a conception in the paleo community that foods deemed "paleo" are somehow "safe".  Folks shy away from milk because, "dairy's not paleo!"

Paleo, in a nutshell, is a diet that avoids grains, legumes, dairy, and suggests eating less fat.  (I confess I've not read the latest version of "The Paleo Diet", but this was what the original version said, basically.)

The presumption is that certain foods were introduced late in our evolutionary experience, and that we're not fully adapted to eating them.  Therefore, we should avoid them.  Sounds sensible.

One of things that the paleo diet is hot on, however, is vegetables.

"How about daikon radishes, bok choy, or bamboo shoots? We encourage you to explore ethnic markets and check out their produce sections." --The Paleo Diet Cook Book, page 159.

Then we have the raw paleo diet:  "To obtain enough calcium on a raw Paleolithic diet, you will need to regularly consume raw leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy, okra, sesame seeds[,] and almonds. "

The raw paleo diet takes the paleo diet one step further, and presumes that we should not eat anything that's not paleo, and, additionally, that we should only eat things that can safely be consumed raw.  (This is a fairly ridiculous qualifier, IMHO, but that will have to be fodder for another post.)

Wow.  So this bok choy, it must be a paleo super-food, right?

Myxedema Coma Induced by Ingestion of Raw Bok Choy
"An 88-year-old Chinese woman was brought to the emergency department by her family, who reported that she had been lethargic and unable to walk or swallow for 3 days. She had been eating an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg of raw bok choy daily for several months in the belief that it would help control her diabetes...."
I'll note that bok choy is safer when it's cooked.

The real point of the Paleo diet ought to be to recognize that our ancestors ate a wide variety of foods, and were very attentive to foods effects on their bodies.  (Primates also test foods before they eat them, that's not just a paleo trait.)  They tried to avoid over-consuming the toxic ones, and they developed means of detoxifying many toxic foods to allow for safe consumption.

Even then our paleo ancestors may have had a grandmother who lacked common sense.

Lindsey Vonn On A Paleo Diet?

Sounds like it to me:

"Vonn likes a good challenge, though, and she's not letting more attention get in the way of her determination to be the best. She said she's been training as hard as ever, and is taking her diet a lot more seriously now, too.


"She's on a strict diet these days — she has eliminated rice, pasta, bread and dairy and is eating a lot of protein, she said. She's only eating carbohydrates naturally, through vegetables and fruit.

"When one of her neighbors at the Arrabelle brought Vonn cookies and candy on Halloween, Vonn said she had to give the treats to her husband."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stanley Fishman On Pastured Butter

Interesting stuff.  We're pretty weak and sorry in comparison to our ancestors...

And yes, treating burns with butter is an old wives' tale.  Those old wives were pretty canny birds, unlike our modern scientists.  The old wives were judged by their results, not what they published.

"You're Crazy"

Or, "Don't run through pain":

"Limping toward the first-aid station, I encountered three Kenyans who had been among the top finishers. They pointed at my feet, and I noticed that they were wearing ordinary running sneakers.

"'Did you really run in those?' one asked.

"'I did.'

"'We used to run barefoot to school every day, until we got shoes in high school,' he said. 'But we used to run on dirt and grass. We would never run like that on pavement.'

"He paused and laughed. 'You’re crazy.'

"I spent the rest of the day with ice wrapped around my foot and taking ibuprofen. And the next day I went for an MRI. I had a stress fracture on the second metatarsal of my foot."

Sigh.

P.S. I'll note that Mr. Abel got all the warnings from both sides of the argument, ignored them all, and got the most common serious, yet preventable, barefoot-style running injuries: the metatarsal stress fracture.  At Barefoot Ted's Google Group, we have people come to us all the time with "top of foot" pain, and we tell them what's going to happen to them.  This is what's going to happen to them.

I, on the the other hand, ran my first half marathon in Bikilas, and had a grand old time.  I've not had any stress fractures from doing too much too soon.  That doesn't mean I'm better than Mr. Abel, but his experience was not inevitable, as Dr. Kirby the podiatrist would have you believe.

If The Police Stop You When You're Running Barefoot...

Gluten-addled Schizophrenic?
Remember this guy, and be polite.  They're just trying to make sure you're, a) not in trouble, or b) not a cop-killing schizophrenic.

"Wanted in the stabbing of a policeman, he has evaded police for a month by running barefoot through the wilderness, covering 30km (19 miles) a day, traveling with nothing but the clothes on his back."

But really, the guy was doing 19 miles a day in his bare feet?  That's pretty impressive.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Why We Get Fat"

An excellent review of Gary Taubes' new book:

"What Taubes does, however, is to gather and synthesize the known science into a coherent whole. This does not mean his conclusions are not controversial, just that the science itself isn’t....

"Diet and nutrition is not a field that has received much scrutiny by the skeptical community, but Why We Get Fat fits squarely within the canon of skeptical analysis. We skeptics like to believe that we reach our conclusions based on reason and evidence, and we are supposed to be willing to change our opinions in the face of new evidence. Well, here it is: a book that turns upside-down almost everything we think we know about human nutrition.

"If Taubes is wrong, well, his error is a doozy! Following his advice will lead to increases in obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and all the other conditions Western civilization is heir to. Ironically, this is exactly what we are already experiencing. If bad science leads to bad results, then maybe it’s time for a paradigm shift. That is certainly what Taubes believes."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Merrell Factory Inspection

With the Merrell Barefoot line coming out, it's useful to note that Merrell's parent company, Wolverine, also makes the Patagonia line of shoes.

Wolverine factory
Patagonia pretty much invented the modern notion of corporate responsibility, and one of the the reasons I'm happy to patronize Patagonia is that they're the model for how to run a business, IMHO.  (Plus they make the best outdoor clothing available, period.)

So I thought it would be interesting to folks to share this link from Patagonia's inspection team examining a Wolverine factory in China.  I don't know that this place will be making the Merrell Barefoot line (for all I know they'll be using slave labor) but I expect they're a pretty decent business for Patagonia to have partnered with them.

By the way, years back Chouinard Equipment supn off from Patagonia and became Black Diamond Equipment.  I recently heard a BD product tester describe his job thusly: "My job is to make sure my friends don't die."  Patagonia runs their business the same way.  Hopefully, so does Wolverine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

PaNu, Back From The Dead

This is a fascinating guest-post at Dr. Kurt Harris' long-dormant PaNu blog, abou the dietary habits of the Bushmen.  Read the whole thing, but especially note the reference to mongongo nuts and linoleic acid.

M.A.D. Versus S.A.D.

Paleo and low-carb diet advocates like to refer to the diet that's making America sick as the Standard American Diet, SAD.  It's a happy acronym, because it's makes a clear point, but not clear enough, I think.

I prefer to call in the Modern American Diet, MAD, because the diet our great-grandparents ate, even if they lived in the United States, was a healthy one, resulting in low rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

I also like my acronym more because the diet that the scientific and medical establishments have foisted on us isn't just sad, it's insane.

So this bit of news (via Summer Tomato) is even more infuriating, on several levels:

"Nine in 10 Americans say their diet is healthy but only a quarter limit the amount of fat or sugar they eat, and two-thirds don't eat enough fruit and vegetables, a poll published Tuesday found.

"'Americans tend to give themselves high marks for healthy eating, but when we asked how many sugary drinks, fatty foods, and fruits and veggies they consumed, we found that their definition of healthy eating was questionable,' said Nancy Metcalf of Consumer Reports Health, which conducted the poll."

First: most Americans make a good effort to follow the dietary advice they've been given.  This is reflected in the food sales statistics as compiled by the USDA.

Second: If you follow the advice given by the authorities, you will get sick.  Not least because they recommend that you get most of your fat from linoleic acid, which is toxic in the doses regularly consumed in America.

Despite the fact that people are following the advice given, and that the advice given doesn't work, we are all exhorted to double our efforts.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." --Albert Einstein

As an aside, the dietary advice we're given is skewed by vegetarians, as you can see from the quote above.  Are vegetarians healthier than non-vegetarians?  Nope

(If you want to be a vegetarian, for moral or religious reasons, that's fine by me.  It should be a free country.  But if one objectively evaluates the vegetarian diet, it falls short.)

If you were to come to the conclusion that people are intentionally trying to make us sick, it wouldn't be surprising.

And we don't even need to get into the fact that our authorities tax us to subsidize farmers to grow the food that is making us sick.

The MAD is insane.

Merrell Barefoot And Lasts For Shoes

Pete posts an interesting picture of the new Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove:


In this side view, you can see pretty clearly that even though this is a zero-drop shoe (it does not have a raised heel), it was built using a last that had a heel.

When I had my New Balance MT100s dropped, I had the opportunity to learn a lot about shoe-making from the cordwainer.  (I probably learned very little about shoe-making, actually, but it was a lot compared to what I knew at that point.)

One of the things I got to do was see a whole bunch of lasts, of various vintages.  A last is the model of a foot that a shoe is made around.  A last can be a mold of a particular foot, but more often it's sort of an idealized foot.  Since a shoe is made of materials that aren't perfectly flexible, certain adjustments are made to the last to accomodate the movement of the foot when it's in the shoe.  Toe spring is the curve up under the toes, to accomdate the movement of the foot while walking or running.

Another adjustment is that the last is designed as if the foot were bent in the way it would be if it were standing on a heel.  (Look at the curve of your foot when it's unweighted to get an idea of the shape.)  Very few lasts are made without heels (the cordwainer had some, in fact), and lasts are expensive to make, about $600 per last.  And yes, you need a last for each size shoe you're going to make.

It looks like Merrell has done what Russell did when they made my shoes: they just used a last with a heel built in, even though there was no build-up under the heel in the actual shoe.  If the material of the shoe is flexible enough, there's no reason why this should be a problem.  My Russells now look completely flat; you can't tell that the last originally had a heel built in, but leather is more adaptable than the plastics the Merrells are made from.

This does help keep the price of the shoe down, which is a good thing.  Barefoot-style shoes, being a niche market, have tended toward the expensive side.

Oh, and if you're wondering, I'm wearing a pair of Russells today.  I wear them almost every day.  They're hands-down the most comfortable minimalist shoes I've found, and they're the most comfortable shoe period I've ever worn.  Yes, they're on the expensive side, but sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Horrors of Barefoot-Style Running

"A bit of my background: During basic training and my advanced training I suffered stress fractures in the right side of my pelvis, stress fractures in my shins, and 3 broken bones in my left foot (I believe the broken bones in my left foot were due to me overcompensating for the stress fractures of my pelvis). Before this, I was a relatively active and healthy kid. I didn't run cross country or anything, but I sure as heck was never injured! Military doctors told me that I was never going to run again and that were going to medically discharge me. I asked for a chance, and by not much more than the skin of my teeth (17:58 for a 2 mile), I passed. I've always had more upper body strength than lower, but I knew something wasn't right. I was a healthy 18 year old and I was getting injuries that people twice my age were barely getting..."


Barefoot-style running is so bad for you! Oh, wait, she was wearing regular sneakers. Whoops...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What To Eat?

Skip the carbs:

"Carbohydrate restriction favorably alters lipoprotein metabolism in Emirati subjects classified with the metabolic syndrome....

"...These results suggest that weight loss favorably affects lipoprotein metabolism and that the [Carbohydrate-Restriction Diet] had a better effect on atherogenic VLDL and HDL than the low fat diet recommended by [American Heart Assocation]."

Thanks to the Healthy Skeptic on Facebook.

"Vegetarians and Heart Disease"

Not surprising, I'm afraid. 

Most of these chronic illnesses seem to boil down to malnutrition, and being a vegetarian is an excellent way to be malnourished.

Review Of The Petzl Core USB Headlamp Battery

This is off the chart on the geek runner scale: Petzl Core USB rechargeable and programmable headlamp battery

Yes, that's right, you can plug the battery into your laptop and charge it (via USB) as well as program its discharge characteristics.

For the right use, I imagine this is a no-brainer.

Galahad Clark In Barefoot Ted's Group

Several folks have had problems with blistering in the VivoBarefoot Evo, and started a thread about it.

Galahad Clark, CEO of Terra Plana, the company that makes Vivos, pitched in:


"Dear Harry and Friends,

"I want to reiterate the points made by Asher last year.

"It pains me to read that some of you still have problems with the Evo. I want to extend my sincere apologies to anyone that has not had pure joy from these shoes and 'barefoot running' in them.

"Creating the ultimate barefoot running shoe and educating people in the skill of barefoot running is our goal. As a company we do our utmost to incorporate consumer feedback into improving existing products and perfecting designs in development -- we take each and every comment very seriously.

"In the first production run of the Evo we received reports that a small group of customers were experiencing blister problems on the Achilles and toes. While none of our testers experienced such issues, we went back to the drawing board to investigate. We identified the following technical areas for improvement:

"The Achilles rubbing: This was addressed by reducing the counter height and adding a bit of volume to the back of the last. This allowed for a more universal and comfortable fit around the top line of the heel.

"The toe blister: The overlap of 4 layers of microfiber, 3M piping and lace loop reinforcement at the base of the lace gusset, where the tongue attaches to the upper, was causing a build-up of material. The layers have been reduced and softened and we have reduced the density of the PU cage.

"The EVO II is designed with a recycled nylon upper and non-friction Lycra lining, which means any blister issues have been reduced even further. In the rare cases that there are still blister issues – I can recommend the Neo mesh running shoe that has a completely simple and clear mesh upper – please get in touch with me direct if you have had issues with the Evo and feel you deserve a free trial pair of Neos!

"It is very important to us that our customers love our shoes and are confident in their wearability and durability, so, in addition to listening and acting on feedback, we have a sustainability guarantee that exchanges faulty shoes long beyond traditional exchange policies and we will take care of making sure shoes are recycled correctly.

"We are proud to be part of a movement started by a pure demand for a healthier and more natural way of life and driven by a desire for honesty and transparency. We take our role in this very seriously and value feedback when striving for product perfection. Please continue supporting the barefoot shoe movement with your comments and suggestions so that we, and like-minded companies, can continue to make products that allow people to run as nature intended.

"One of our main goal as a company is to educate the skill of barefoot running and we are producing new DVD’s, training programs, eBooks, coaching models and events to support this.

"Please don’t hesistate to get directly in touch if you have any further questions or would like to share any suggestions,

"Sincerely,

"Galahad Clark

"MD, Vivobarefoot"

Well done.

All companies have problems. What seperates good companies from bad ones is how they deal with the problems.  Galahad seems like a class act.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Exercise For A Weak Ankle

In my ankle post I mentioned that one of the signs that something was wrong was when I ran across rough surfaces and had an Achilles' tendon pain.  Well, thanks to my trainer, I've found an exercise that replicates that pain in a few short minutes.  Hopefully this will allow me to strengthen the ankle...

The exercise is pretty simple: procure a step box, about 4 inches high, and starting on the left side, using one foot, jump up on the box, then down on the right side, then back up on the box, and then down on the left side.  Continue until you're unable to, or whatever. ;)

What I found really fascinating about this exercise is that when I did it with my strong left leg, I landed almost silently.  My weaker right leg made a loud sound each time I landed on the box. 

One of my principles of barefoot-style running is that if you're doing it right, you're doing it quietly. 

Clearly my right leg is in bad shape.

Dr. Davis Versus The New York Times

"Can You Be Addicted To Foods?" the NYT asks.  They then present a bunch of near-useless pseudo-scientific blather from a psychiatrist.  Gary Taubes could have answered this question, but Dr. Davis does an even better job:

"So what do morphine-blocking drugs have to do with weight loss?

"An odd series of clinical studies conducted over the past 40 years has demonstrated that foods can have opiate-like properties. Opiate blockers, like naloxone, can thereby block appetite. One such study demonstrated 28% reduction in caloric intake after naloxone administration. But opiate blocking drugs don't block desire for all foods, just some.

"What food is known to be broken down into opiate-like polypeptides?

"Wheat. On digestion in the gastrointestinal tract, wheat gluten is broken down into a collection of polypeptides that are released into the bloodstream. These gluten-derived polypeptides are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. Their binding to brain cells can be blocked by naloxone or naltrexone administration. These polypeptides have been named exorphins, since they exert morphine-like activity on the brain. While you may not be 'high,' many people experience a subtle reward, a low-grade pleasure or euphoria.

"For the same reasons, 30% of people who stop consuming wheat experience withdrawal, i.e., sadness, mental fog, and fatigue...."
Dr. Davis has an older post on the topic as well.

And in poking around for this post I came across this:

"The effect of exogenous opioid peptides, gluten exorphins A5 and B5, which were isolated from the enzymatic digest of wheat gluten, on the postprandial insulin level were examined in rats. The oral administration of gluten exorphin A5 at a dose of 30 mg/kg w. potentiated the postprandial plasma insulin level and the effect was reversed by naloxone. The administration of gluten exorphin B5 showed a similar effect at a higher dose (300 mg/kg w). Furthermore, intravenous administration of gluten exorphin A5 at a dose of 30 mg/kg w. also stimulated the postprandial insulin release. The fact that orally and intravenously administered gluten exorphin A5 stimulates insulin release suggests that it modulates pancreatic endocrine function by the action after the absorption rather than within the the gastrointestinal tract."


So, in a nutshell, wheat gluten causes an insulin response, which naloxone blocks.  Gluten causing an insulin response, even if isolated from the carbohydrates in wheat, would certainly explain wheat's tendency to lead to obesity...  If insulin spikes, the body clears the blood of glucose, which leaves you with a state of low blood sugar, and that leaves you hungry for more carbs. 

Wonderful.

In my own experience wheat definitely acts on me like a drug, and a fast-acting one.  I can feel the rush from even inadvertent wheat ingestion in minutes, if not seconds.  If I have too much, I get light-headed and have to lie down for a while.

"First Impressions - Altra Adam"

Glad to hear Damien likes them.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gary Taubes On His New Book

"Weight Loss Advice from Author Gary Taubes".  As much as I despise books about diets, I suppose I'm going to have to read this one... I've not yet read Good Calories, Bad Calories, but I suppose I'm going to have to read that too, at some point. ;)

Oh yes, this link is from Instapundit, who seems to be coming on board the low-carb/paleo bandwagon quite quickly...