Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Diabetes And Cancer

Interesting stuff:

"Diabetes and cancer are common diseases that have a tremendous impact on health worldwide. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that people with diabetes are at a significantly higher risk of many forms of cancer. Type 2 diabetes and cancer share many risk factors, but to our knowledge, potential biologic links between the 2 diseases are incompletely understood....

"The association between weight loss and subsequent cancer risk is less clear. Most evidence has been derived from breast cancer studies, in which weak or null associations were observed. Because the weight loss definition and the referent groups differed across studies, these studies are difficult to compare. Weight loss categories tend to have small numbers, and many women who do lose weight do not maintain their weight loss beyond 1 year. In the Nurses' Health Study, a statistically significant inverse association between adult weight loss and postmenopausal breast cancer was found only when the weight loss had been maintained for 2 survey cycles, or 4 years."

So you'd better keep the weight off...  I was happy to see this (emphases mine):


"A majority of studies (despite different study designs and differing study populations) suggest that diets low in red and processed meats and higher in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are associated with a lower risk of many types of cancer. Diets that are low in red and processed meat but high in monounsaturated fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals, and dietary fiber may protect against type 2 diabetes, possibly through improving insulin sensitivity. Low-carbohydrate diets (which often include a greater consumption of red meats and fat) have also been associated with weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. However, to the best of our knowledge, randomized controlled trial evidence of dietary interventions and diabetes prevention exists only for low-fat, low-calorie, plus/minus high-fiber diets.

"Several studies have suggested that diets high in foods with a high glycemic index or load are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, evidence of their associations with cancer risk is mixed. Regardless, to the extent that energy-dense and sugary foods contribute to overweight and obesity, the American Cancer Society, the World Cancer Research Fund, and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend limiting consumption of these foods. "

Given where the science is on this, I would say this is a totally fair summary.  Kudos to the researchers for giving the low-carb option fair mention.

Of course the NY Times buries any mention of the dietary options:

"People with Type 2 diabetes tend to have a higher risk of getting certain cancers. And preliminary evidence suggests that metformin, the most widely used diabetes pill, might be effective in treating or preventing cancer.

"It is still not clear if high blood glucose is the reason diabetics have a higher cancer risk. A more likely explanation is that people with Type 2 diabetes have high levels of insulin, a hormone that is known to promote growth of certain tumors, according to the consensus statement.

"Similarly, metformin might fight cancer by lowering insulin levels, not blood sugar levels. But there is some evidence that the drug works in part by inhibiting glucose metabolism in cancer cells.

"Even if blood sugar levels fuel tumor growth, however, experts say that trying to lower the body’s overall level of blood sugar — like by starving oneself — would probably not be effective. That is because, at least for people without diabetes, the body is very good at maintaining a certain blood glucose level despite fluctuations in diet."

So keep piggin' out until the Doctor gives you a pill. This message brought to you by Big Pharm.

Given what I've read about diabetes and cancer and the emergence of both as widespread diseases since the adoption of the Modern American Diet, I'd run screaming away from the Modern American Diet ASAP.  Oh, wait, I already have...

Unfortunately the phrase "linoleic acid" does not appear in the link above.

While you're pondering all this, go for a run:

"Physical Activity

"Evidence from observational epidemiologic studies consistently demonstrates that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of colon, postmenopausal breast, and endometrial cancer. Physical activity may also help prevent other cancers, including lung and aggressive prostate cancer, but a clear link has not been established to date. Some evidence also suggests that physical activity after diagnosis may improve survival for some cancers, including those of the breast and colorectum.

A protective role for increased physical activity in diabetes metabolism and outcomes has been demonstrated. Data from observational and randomized trials suggest that approximately 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking, at least 5 days per week substantially reduces (approximately 25-36%) the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Analyses of the effects of different components of the intensive lifestyle intervention in the Diabetes Prevention Program have suggested that those who did not reach weight loss goals still significantly reduced their risk of diabetes if they achieved the physical activity goals, although weight loss was the only component found to be independently associated with diabetes prevention on multivariate analyses.

Vitamin D Foolishness

The NY Times reports on a new study about the level of vitamin D we should ingest. 

The problem with the aproach taken, which seems to be the usual "take this much a day", is that it doesn't address what the natural level of vitamin D ought to be. 

That's not entirely correct.  They do address the "natural" level of vitamin D, and admit that they have no idea whatsoever what it might be.

The report is essentially taking a "take this much because we know it prevents rickets" aproach, and the recommendations are all based on someone who gets "minimal" sun.  They mention several times the imaginary link between sun exposure and skin cancer as a justification for this approach.

I don't find this compelling.  What the report boils down to is: "In 100 years, since we started adding vitamin D to food, we've never bothered to figure out what the "natural" level should be."  So keep taking our advice.

I'll continue avoiding linoleic acid, which has a clear link to skin cancer, and getting regular doses of good, old-fashioned sun.  I supplement in the winter.  I'll note that, excluding sun exposure, I supplement probably less than what they recommend on a year-round basis, but my sun exposure over the summer put my serum vitamin D levels at more than four times this report's recommendation.  (52 ng/mL vs. 12 ng/mL.)  In fact, my body's natural production of D over the summer when I did not supplement at all leaves me in the category they describe as, "There may be reason for concern at serum 25OHD levels above 125 mnol/L (50 ng/mL)."  So I guess my body is trying to poison itself with vitamin D.  How unfortunate.

I think that following this report's advice is a good path to a far-lower than "natural" level of vitamin D in your system, which does not strike me as a conservative approach.

You take the risk that they're wrong:

"The established function of vitamin D remains that of ensuring bone health, for which causal evidence across the life stages exists and has grown since the 1997 DRIs were established (IOM, 1997).  The conclusion that there is not sufficient evidence to establish a relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes other than bone health does not mean that future research will not reveal a compelling relationship between vitamin D and another health outcome."

P.S.: My vitamin D experiment.  I think letting your body do what it's supposed to do is generally the wiser course than trying to tweak it based on the medical professions' grossly imperfect knowledge.

"How to Get More Vitamins from Your Produce"

Fascinating post:

"Last year, a USDA research plant physiologist by the name of Dr. Gene Lester conducted a fascinating study on the phytochemical metabolism of two types of spinach. He wondered if, since spinach growing in the field relies so heavily on visible sunlight exposure for producing the phytochemicals that make humans want to eat it, perhaps exposing the spinach to light post-harvest continued to affect its phytochemical composition. And so he found out."

A good argument for going to the market every day for your produce, rather than buying a bunch and letting it sit in the fridge...

Cool Blog In The Netherlands

She's wearing Speeds
Barefoot farm girls.

Nice shoes!  (They seem all to be wearing Vibram Speeds.)

Glenn Reynolds has a theory that any successful social movement has to include beautiful woman... Let's hope he's right!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Future American Olympians

"Hannah Oneda is still surprised at what she accomplished in cross country this fall even though her coaches and fellow Winters Mill runners can’t imagine why.

"Oneda went from wowing WM coach Kelly Gruber on the first day of practice to almost winning the Class 2A state championship Nov. 13. Oneda put together a three-month stretch for the ages, winning eight of her 10 races and creating some excitement on the county’s girls cross country scene en route to being named Times Girls Runner of the Year.

"Maybe it was the junior’s impressive two-mile interval times back on Aug. 14. Or her methodical dominance on courses around the region. It could have been her beating Century senior Maura Linde, perhaps the greatest female runner in Carroll history, four times in six matchups.

"Maybe it was the weird shoes....

Sounds like she's got a great coach:

"...On Sept. 4, Oneda won the Clear Spring Invitational by 35 seconds. The finish and time took her aback. It didn’t faze her coaches. Oneda remembers boys coach Dan Replogle talking with her before the race.

"'He was like, "I hope you know the last mile, right?" I was like, "Yeah, why?"' she recalled. 'He said, "I wanted to make sure you know where you’re going the last mile, because you’ll probably be ahead of everyone." I was thinking, "Are you crazy? No way!"'

"'After the race, I came back and said, "Why is he always right?"'

VivoBarefoot Evo II Review And Give-Away

And yes, I was going to post this anyway.

Barefoot Running Survey From The University Of Virginia

I'll just quote Pete:

Hey All - Jay Dicharry at the UVA Speed Clinic is trying to collect some data about barefoot runners via a short survey he has posted on-line (one page - very quick). He's the guy that was featured in the recent videos on Running Times about fixing broken runners.

If you are interested in helping out, here's the link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2JCDQFS. You don't have to be a full time barefoot runner, just someone who incorporates some barefoot running into their training.


I just did the survey.  Quick, as advertised.

Pete's post about it is here, with more info.

Comparing The Claims Of A Vegetable Based Diet With The Science

AKA: "Bill Clinton's Diet":

"Ornish, Campbell, and Esselstyn are all certain that they have found a dietary solution for coronary artery disease, but they have not found the same solution. If you look closely you will realize that their programs are far from identical. And the evidence to support any of their programs is pretty skimpy. And others disagree strongly: Gary Taubes wrote the huge, extensively referenced tome Good Calories, Bad Calories to debunk the alleged certainty that dietary fat has anything to do with cardiovascular disease, and also to expose the colorful history of nutrition science and how surprisingly little good diet research has actually yet been done.

"A systematic review found that

"3 dietary strategies are effective in preventing CHD: substitute nonhydrogenated unsaturated fats for saturated and trans-fats; increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, fish oil supplements, or plant sources; and consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and low in refined grain products. However, simply lowering the percentage of energy from total fat in the diet is unlikely to improve lipid profile or reduce CHD incidence.

"A 2010 systematic review concluded

"The evidence base for multifactorial lifestyle interventions is weak."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caveman Returns To Harvard, Visits Relatives

Great post.  I would have loved to have tagged along.

Russell Moc. Review

Damien Tougas reviews his second pair:

"From a minimalist standpoint, the design is solid. The soles are a little thicker and stiffer than some other minimalist shoes on the market (from insole-to-outsole mine measured 10mm), so if you are looking to feel every pebble, then these shoes probably aren't for you. Despite the thicker sole the flexibility of the shoe is excellent, and in my opinion, allows the foot to function naturally as designed."

When I started looking for minimalist shoe options, Damien's site had the best list of options.  It was a big help to me, so spend some time there.  He's got a lot of great info.

My review of the prototype of these shoes, Russell's minimalist line.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Kabloona: Among The Inuit"

Sounds fascinating:

"He’s also amazed by the endurance of the Eskimos. The nutritionists who parrot their textbook knowledge that 'you need carbohydrates for energy!' should read this book. Poncins recounts running along trails with Eskimos for hours – he was fatigued and panting, while they barely seemed to notice the effort. After a year in the Arctic, Poncins finds he is beginning to prefer their diet, even though he had supplies of 'white man' food on the sled carrying his belongings. As he explains in one passage, boiled rice could warm him up temporarily, but then he’d feel colder an hour or two later. By contrast, raw meat or raw fish was cold going down, but then he felt warmer for the rest of the day."

New England Winter Forecast for 2010-2011

From the Single-Chair Weather Blog.
Good news and bad news, depending on your perspective. ;)

The Wacko In The Office

Too funny:

"By now, most people have heard of the barefoot running movement. You probably even know some wacko at your office whose got a pair of “the feet gloves” or better yet, those Born to Run-style huaraches."

I am the "wacko" at my office.  And I have a bunch of happy converts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Artificial Intelligence Just Got Pushed Back...

"A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth."

That's pretty remarkable.

My Thanksgiving Present From My Doctor

He emailed me a link from the New England Journal of Medicine of an editorial about this study:

"Diets with High or Low Protein Content and Glycemic Index for Weight-Loss Maintenance"

Basically, they starved people for a bit, and then put them on a bunch of different diets to see how they did.

Dr. Briffa commented on this study this morning:

"However, the truly interesting part of this study concerned what happened next. Each of the study participants was randomised to eat one of five diets. These were:

1. a relatively high-protein, low-glycaemic index (GI) diet

2. a relatively high-protein, high-GI diet

3. a relatively low-protein, low-GI diet

4. a relatively low-protein, high-GI diet

5. a ‘control’ diet

"For each of the diet, individuals could eat as much as they like. This phase of the study lasted 6 months."

As Dr. Briffa notes, and I'll paraphrase: If you've been reading about or eating in a Paleo, Primal, or Low-Carb manner, nothing in this study will come as a surprise. It works, it works better than the alternative, and you'll be quite happy eating this way for the long term.

Of course, if you listen to Jimmy Moore's excellent "Living La Vida Low-Carb" podcast, you would have already heard this interview with Dr. Ludwig, the author of the editorial in NEJM:

Dr. David Ludwig: Are Carbs Turning Your Kid’s Liver Into Foie Gras?

What's really fascinating about this study is that it involved entire families, not just individuals:

"Investigators observed that in families where the participating adult was randomized to the high-protein/low GI diet, the percentage of overweight/obese children in those families actually fell over the course of the study."

I think a good label for it would be the "Cheating Diet": you eat great, you feel great, and as a happy side-effect, you lose weight.

First Primal Thanksgiving

Yesterday we had our first Primal Thanksgiving.  It went extremely well.

(I didn't offer the typical "Happy Thanksgiving" post because I was too busy living life.  So, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all.)
Celeriac Soup
For an opener, we had this Silky Celeriac Soup using a recipe from Mark Sisson.  Celeriac soup was a vegetable with which I was unfamiliar.  But I'd starred this recipe in Google Reader, and when I went to the farmer's market to pick up our turkey, I saw that it was available, and decided to wing it. (Pun intended.)

One of the attributes our Paleo ancestors would have had in spades was flexibility.  You eat what you find, not what you'd like.

After being appalled by the added mystery ingredients in the whole cream at Stop & Shop, I drove to Whole Wallet and bought some Sky-Top Farms pastured, unhomogenized (but pasteurized) cream, which featured prominently in this soup and in several other dishes.  (I doubled the portion of cream in the soup, replacing some of the optional water.)

I also made Nell Stephenson's brussell sprout recipe.  I hate brussel sprouts, but for some reason when I saw them at the farmer's market, I craved them.  I had also starred this recipe in Google Reader.  The sprouts turned out reasonably well, but I think they were a bit undercooked.  I would steam them for longer, or cut them in quarters, so they'd be a little less chewey.  As advertised, they were quite tasty.  I used dates but not pecans, as my older daughter has a nut allergy.  Bacon would also have been a good addition, and I think cooking them in lard or bacon grease would have been a good route to go.  Nell's recipe suggests using olive oil, but since we know that's not paleo, I felt free to replace it with another "not paleo", but more tasty and nutritious oil: pastured butter.  This is produced from May to September; I have a freezer-full of it for the winter months, since we use it liberally.  My occasionally-lactose-intolerant younger daughter does just fine on it, thank you very much.

I made mashed potatoes for the traditional aspect, with lots of raw milk, cream, and pastured butter included.  Note to self: do not use power tools when making mashed potatoes next year.  They rapidly became glue-like, and while the addition of dairy products rescued the taste, the texture was a bit lacking.

We had a salad, two different gluten-free stuffings, gluten-free corn muffins, and, of course, a pastured turkey, which was easily the tastiest bird I've eaten in my life.  Not to mention some cranberry sauce, and acorn squash.  And gravy, of course.  Skimming the turkey fat off the top of the gravy is key, by the way.  I omitted this step last year, and regretted it.  Turkey fat is high in linoleic acid, which is prime amoung the "bad fats", I've noticed that poultry fat with too much linoleic acid in it leaves me feeling out-of-sorts.

One of the stuffings' ingredients called for Campell's cream of celery soup, which is listed as "Heart Healthy" and approved by the American Heart Association.  Paranoid that I am, I read the ingredients anyway, and was horrified to note that this "cream" of cerery soup listed "vegetable oil" as the second ingredient, after celery.  "Truth in advertising" includes lies, apparently.  A high concentration of linoleic-acid-rich vegetable oils and it's metabolites are well-correlated with heart disease.  So I wound up making a quick cream of celery soup in the morning to be included in the stuffing, following an old recipe from Fannie Farmer.

For desert we had gluten-free brownies, ice cream, and, for our guests, a couple of pies with a wheat crust.

Strict observers of the Paleo or Primal diets will notice that we did not strictly follow either one.  A bit of grain (like corn) now and again isn't going to be harmful, IMHO.  Even my daughters appear to do fine with the occasional bit of wheat; my wife and I do not, however.  I think that regular, long-term consumption is what causes harm that the body cannot repair; as even celiacs who do not eat wheat for a period can tolerate it once in a while without symptoms.  This meal was more in line with Stephan Guyenet's research or Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet, therefore.

This meal involved a fair amount of work and research, as you may gather.  But it was worth it.  Really the only fiasco was the potatoes.

What was fascinating to note was our guests' reactions.  They all loved it, and cleaned their plates.  But no-one went back for seconds, and one guest who had piled her plate particularly high was unable to get through it.  It was a very satiating meal, in other words, even with all the carbs.  Neither my wife or I had any of the bad effects that we've now come to associate with a meal including wheat or vegetable oils: we felt great after this meal.

This is in line with the theory that the harmful stuff in the Modern American Diet isn't the carbs, but wheat and vegetable oils.

I weighed myself after returning from my nine-mile Thanksgiving trail run prior to all the cooking and eating, and then again the following morning: zero weight gain, but I nevertheless skipped breakfast due to still feeling full.

I will note that if I was the only one planning this meal, it would have been more Primal, but marital concerns dictated some of the menu. ;)  I don't think that the meal would have been any less well-recieved if it had been more Primal.

Can Barefooting Cure Flat Feet?

Yes.  As we already know.

I complain a lot about podiatristsDr. Nirenberg, however, is the very model of a modern podiatrist.  We should have a lot more like him.

Now you'd think that 100 years of evidence that barefoot-style shoes or barefooting can cure this condition would have some effect on medical practice, wouldn't you?

Thanks to Andy Southerland.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Our Police State

Raw Foods Raid – The Fight for the Right to Eat What You Want.

Just insane.  Although I should say their police state.  Fortunately in Connecticut where I live it's perfectly legal to sell and consume raw milk.

Lee Saxby on Barefoot Running

 “That's great,” says Lee. “You look like the average jogger. You’re running really badly.”
Via Terra Plana.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ignore The "Experts"...

Wait for the data:

"Even the researchers themselves, however, were surprised by the results. 'We expected there to be virtually no fish out there based on all the reports we were getting about the toxicity of the dispersant and the toxicity of the hydrocarbons, and reports that hypoxia [low oxygen] had been created as a result of the oil and dispersant,' says John Valentine, who directed the study. 'In every way you can imagine, it should have been a hostile environment for fish and crabs; our collection showed that was not the case.'

"Also surprising was how quickly the populations grew. 'In the cosmic scheme of things, a matter of four or five months led to this huge difference in everything, sharks, fish of all forms, even the juvenile fish found in sea-grass beds. That’s a pretty interesting and unanticipated outcome, I would say,' says Valentine. The surge is so robust, he says, that it may be impossible to determine whether the oil spill has had any effect on sea life at all."

Newton Natural Running...

Yikes.  What's natural about that?

Merrell Barefoot Trail

The Holy Grail.

Thanks to Pete.

More info from Merrell's blog:

"With that in mind, Merrell created the Barefoot collection. We know that when you’re outside running, playing with your kids, or cruising the farmer’s market that you want feel connected to the experience. So we partnered with Vibram to bring you a shoe that is the next best thing to being barefoot. Super lightweight, flexible, low profile, beneficial and stylish. That’s the collection in a nutshell. But there’s so much more, too. The Barefoot collection helps to strengthen your feet and legs, re-align your posture and stimulate your senses. All of these benefits in one pair of shoes, the fun is an added bonus."

Marketing-speak, blech. But at least they're saying the right things.

More News From Podiatry

"Dr. Gregory Clark, head of podiatry at Scripps Clinic Medical Group in Rancho Bernardo, concedes that the conceptual advantages of barefoot running may have some valid benefits for elite runners who are in tune with their bodies and able to alter their gait and running style. But Clark cautioned the average or beginning runner that the laundry list of potential injuries is extensive, ranging from stress fractures to skin lacerations and infections.

"'The foot, which is the body’s primary shock absorber, is an absolutely amazing anatomic structure,' Clark said. 'Unfortunately, the majority of people are not in good enough physical condition or have not trained appropriately to take advantage of these things.'"

Doc, we're not all cripples out here, you know.

Believe it or not, I feel bad about indicting an entire profession.  But I keep reading things like this coming from podiatrists, and I happen to know that they're entirely lacking in any grounding in reality.

So, to the podiatrists, please stop making fools of yourselves.  This guy is a podiatrist, and he got it, so it's possible.  And he wrote this book in 1961.  You've got no excuse.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Twinkie Diet

This was a ridiculous bit of theatre; a professor of nutrition, Mark Haub, putting himself on a diet of Twinkies, among other things, to lose weight.

So it's somehow fitting that the best take-down of this bit of theatre comes from a comedian, Tom Naughton, who does a better job of debunking the "diet" than the pros, IMHO:

"Now, 173 grams of carbohydrate per day certainly isn’t low, but it’s not high either. Depending on whose figures you use, that’s about half as many carbohydrates as an average American male consumes per day. It’s also at least 1,000 fewer daily calories than an average male consumes. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that Professor Haub lost weight on a “Twinkie Diet” that is actually moderate in carbohydrates and very low in calories. I’d lose weight on that diet, too. (I’d hate it, but I’d lose weight.)

"I would also lose muscle on such a low protein intake, and according to his health assessments posted on Facebook, Professor Haub did in fact lose 6 pounds of lean body mass over the 10 weeks. So we’re looking at a fat loss of 20 pounds in 10 weeks, or two pounds per week...."

So the takeaway from this foolishness is that if you starve yourself, you will lose weight.  Duh.  What point the professor thought he was making by this is beyond me.  As Dr. John Briffa put it:

"While I do not buy into the ‘it’s only calories that count’ school of thinking, I do believe that inducing a caloric deficit of several hundred calories each day is likely to being about weight loss. I don’t know anyone, in or out of the ‘low-carb community’ who would dispute this (though I accept some people may hold this view). The point is Professor Haub has demonstrated through personal, anecdotal experience that the vast majority of people would not dispute. He has, in effect, demonstrated what most people would be regarded as something entirely predictable. Nice work Professor Haub."
So why was Naughton's takedown the best?  Aside from the fact that he made a movie, Fat Head, about a similar bit of theatre, he actually tracked down Haub's menus:

"November 12
Pumpkin Spice Donut
Protein shake
Onion Rings
Macaroni and Cheese
Baked potato casserole
Dynasty Lychees
Baby carrots
Peanut butter cookies
2% milk"

What's missing?  Twinkies!  That's actually a far better diet than most Americans probably eat.

Stephen Guyenet (one of the pros) also has an excellent post on this farce:

"Well, then why did Dr. Haub's diet allow him to lose weight? The body can only maintain body composition in the face of a calorie deficit up to a certain point. After that, it has no choice but to lower fat mass. It will do so reluctantly, at the same time increasing hunger, and reducing lean mass***, muscular strength and energy dedicated to tissue repair and immune function. However, I hope everyone can agree that a sufficient calorie deficit can lead to fat loss regardless of what kind of food is eaten. Dr. Haub's 800 calorie deficit qualifies. I think only a very small percentage of people are capable of maintaining that kind of calorie deficit for more than a few months, because it is mentally and physically difficult to fight against what the hypothalamus has decided is in your best interest."

By the way: Tom Naughton's Fat Head movie is excellent, and extremely funny.  I recommend it highly.

P.S.: Jimmy Moore interviewed Dr. Haub.

"America's Hottest Brands"

Cool.  I think the retailers have got the message:

"It isn't easy to reinvent a 75-year-old company, especially with a product that people have deemed 'ugly' and 'disgusting,' but that's exactly what Vibram has done in the past few years with its FiveFingers shoes brand....

"While FiveFingers began a PR campaign in January 2006, the company found its first consumer advocate in 'Barefoot' Ted McDonald, a barefoot enthusiast who ran the Boston Marathon in FiveFingers that April. News of the shoes began to spread quickly online; and by June 2006, Vibram was sold out of the product....

"With no traditional advertising to date, Vibram FiveFingers has grown from about 10,000 pairs sold in 2006 to 1.5 million pairs of shoes sold in the past year, with products tailored for activities from yoga to kayaking. It is projected to double those numbers in 2011, said Mr. Post...."

Not that anyone's counting, but that's a 14,900% increase in sales since 2006. If they hit next year's targets, and I don't know why they wouldn't, that's 29,900% since 2006. Not too shabby for ugly shoes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gluten-Free In Italy

Great post from Robb Wolf:

"Now, Italy is interesting in that folks HAVE historically eaten loads of gluten containing pasta. Ya know what? Tons of people there are gluten intolerant! They screen for it at birth, and ANYWHERE you go to eat if you say “Sono Celiaco” they know exactly what to do, and remarkably…I never got sick while traveling there. The US is about 10-15 years behind the curve on this awareness. It’s not that gluten or similar grain intolerance happen less frequently, we are just not aware of them yet. I also find it ironic that an Italian, Alessio Fasano, was one of the first people to draw the connection between gluten intolerance, gut damage and other autoimmune diseases."

Fasano is one of the premier researchers on this stuff, and as you peruse through the literature, you find that a lot of it is being done in Italy. 

Now if even the Italians haven't adapted to eating wheat...

Merrell Barefoot Line Update

A little bird (OK, a big bird) told me that these are indeed going to be zero-drop. 

Given the disappointment in this department we've suffered from Inov-8 and New Balance, I'll withhold judgement until I've got the new Merrells in my hot little hands, but I'm very excited.  Merrell makes great shoes, IMHO, that fit me well and work well.  This should be a home-run product for them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An "Outsider's" Perspective On The Weston A. Price Foundation

Very interesting post by John Durant.  Weston Price from the Paleo perspective.  I wish I could have been there.

"Epilepsy's Big, Fat Miracle"

You can cure epilepsy with a high-fat, low-carb diet.  Pretty incredible.  Of course Jimmy Moore had the story long before the New York Times did...

It works for migraines, also.

I did have to laugh while reading this article.  All the pictures of the foods they eat in this "keto" diet looks like the daily fare at my paleo house.  They're fussing about how difficult it is.  It's not, it's delicious.  Sugar is over-rated.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meatless Mondays?

I'm OK with this, so long as vegan and vegetarian restaurants are forced to serve meat on one day.  Perhaps we can call it Fatty Friday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Balance Minimus: First Reviews

Thanks to Jason, and to NB for letting him write it.  I had a chance to see Jason's Minima (?) in NYC, and they are fine looking shoes.  I just wish they'd ditch the heel rise.  They'd be perfect.

Bryon Powell also got a pair.  Since he's not a barefoot-style runner, he had the reverse problem that Jason did: he found the heel to be a bit too low, but acceptable.

What's interesting is the warning that NB has affixed to the shoe (the box, I guess?):

"Caution: This product increases the strain on the foot, calf, and Achilles tendon. Overuse of this product or use of activities outside of running and walking may increase the risk of sustaining injury."

"This product should be introduced slowly into a running exercise routine. New Balance recommends limiting initial use to 10% of overall running workouts and very gradually increasing training time and distance."

I think this is commendable, and probably a good service to their customers, so that no one goes out and tries a 20-mile run first go in these.  They'd be very unhappy about it...

But, I'm probably going to skip these.  After my experience with the latest Inov-8 model, I have no interest in a sneaker with a heel.  But if you're looking to transition down from a regular sneaker, without having to re-start from zero, this is probably a good way to go.

P.S.: Here's a third review, from Runblogger.  Pete also loves them.  Sounds like a real winner.

Mountain Biking in CT

Crazy stuff...  I'm in the yellow shirt.  The guy with the camera is known by all as "Psycho", and I make no attempt to ride everything he does. ;)

Wilton Woods 10-30-2010 from dfrancefort on Vimeo.

I'm wearing these shoes, and they're terrific.  Enough room for your toes to curl as you're terrifying yourself. ;)

Minimalist Running and Coaching

Just posted this on Barefoot Ted's group, and liked it:

I approached full-time minimalist running as an experiment, and therefore was paying careful attention to how I was feeling and doing. I did only three-mile runs for quite a while, and then bumped up to 4 and then 5 mile runs. I don't think I did an 8-mile run for probably 2 months. Of course, I'd never done an 8-mile road run in regular running shoes in the previous 10 years of running, so this was quite the triumph.

But many folks (as we all know) slap on a pair of Vibrams and think they're Bikila. Those folks are going to have a rough time of it. (I did that my first run in Vibrams after reading Born to Run.)

Just as succeeding at minimalist running requires that you listen to your body, so deciding if you know if you need a coach requires you to know your self. I've taught myself a number of sports, all of which are far more dangerous than running. I've learned a cautious, scientific approach, since I hate getting hurt. So I think I'm a fine candidate for teaching myself minimalist running.

But for some folks, a coach is a good idea. If you feel like you're struggling, or something's wrong, and you can't determine how to solve the problem, get some help.

When I taught myself white-water kayaking (which is far and away the most dangerous sport I taught myself), I wasn't able to figure out how to do the eskimo roll consistently. I was about at 50% success. A good instructor showed me the trick in one try. It took about 5 minutes. But I had to know myself well enough to ask for, and take, the advice. Another fellow I know was able to teach himself an eskimo roll both with and without a paddle without a coach.

We all have different capabilities in some respects. The real trick to being a good athlete, IMHO, is in knowing yourself. And that means knowing when you need some help (maybe a coach) and knowing when you don't.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Altra Shoes In Production?

Things are a little fuzzy, but it seems so.  Thanks to Pete.

Vitamin K2 and Cancer

A speculative post, but very interesting. Unfortunately I doubt that studies confirming any health benefits will be done any time soon.  But I think that going back to an ancestral diet is a no-brainer, regardless of the studies. 

The "scientific" approach to diet has been a bit of a bust, after all, and when an experiment isn't going well, returning to the default state is the scientific way to go about it.

I had dinner with my 77-year-old father Sunday night, and I mentioned the Atkins diet.  He expressed some disdain for it, and I pointed out that the meal he was eating (steak, baked acorn squash with butter, salad with my vinaigrette dressing) was an Atkins meal.  He observed that this was the kind of meal he grew up eating, except it would have included potatoes.  My grandmother died at 86, and my grandfather died at 91, both after lives of excellent health.  I'm liking the ancestral diet... ;) 

The butter I used in the squash was pastured butter, and the steak was grass-fed from a local farm.  Both are excellent sources of K2.

Here is a recipe from Atkin's site that's very similar to how I prepared our squash.  The actual recipe that I used was from Fannie Farmer's 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, which was Grammie's favorite cookbook.  It was delicious. ;) 

FUD On Barefoot Running

From Michael Sandler's Facebook page:

"We heard an impressive attack on barefoot running yesterday by a lead researcher for the only major manufacturer NOT producing a minimalist shoe for 2011. Speaking before 500 running store retailers about the 'barefoot running swindle' he quoted nearly 30 year-old research, showed a barefoot runner heel-striking, and tried to discredit Dr. Lieberman. Our concern about his attack - it could directly affect which shoes retailers decide to carry for 2011. If you want choices and selection, please contact your favorite local running store this week and let them know you want more minimalist shoes! Let your voices be heard!"

I'm guessing he's referring to Brooks.
I don't think we need to worry about the shoe retailers.  They've gotten the message loud and clear, with a few exceptions.

Minimal/Barefoot Running Research

David Csonka is keeping a list.  It looks pretty comprehensive, although there is one big miss...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anabolic Fantasies and Strength Gains

Ned Koch at the Health Correlator has an amusing post on the placebo effect, and a commentary on anabolic steroids (testosterone replacements).

I'll note that if you do feel you need some chemical assistance to improve your strength, there's an easy, and completely legal, way to increase your circulating testosterone.

No Wonder Kids Are Obese

Because researchers are clueless:

"Half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk."

"Whole milk" and "solid fats" are an empty calorie?  Really?  Is there any evidence that saturated fat is bad for you?  No, there isn't.  Is there any evidence that dairy is bad for you?  None.  This is from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

As Jimmy Moore has observed, the best thing you can do with our "science" on diet is to do the reverse of everything they tell you to.  "Science" has gotten to this point.  Sad.

P.S.: I should clarify, it occurred to me after firing off this post.  Too much wheat and sugar are the problematic parts of the list above.  The folks who published this don't make that distinction.  And they're right about part of the "solid fats": Crisco is a killer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Paleo Dog Treats

Yes, it's nasty.  And he's never been happier. 

Kipling is a Norwegian Elkhound.  (In Europe, a moose is an elk.  What we Americans call an elk ought to be called "red deer".  Moose-hound would be the accurate translation to American of the original elghund.)

The first time Kipling saw a moose, he went bananas.  He was a puppy, and he was in a car, so going bananas was not really the ideal reaction. ;)

The first time he saw a moose antler, he immediately went up and started chewing on it.  Given that the dog had never seen a moose or an antler up to that point, this was rather suprising. 

Clearly there's some sort of genetic memory in an animal like this.

That's a white-tailed deer skull that I found while mountain biking, btw.  The carcass had been torn apart by coyotes.

Like his master, Kippy had a problem with the runs while on a high-grain diet.  He's now a paleo dog, and his digestive problems are a thing of the past.

Barefoot Ted's Talk At The Born To Run Cabaret

Nice job, Ted.

How Your Feet Change From Barefooting

Good post.  I've noticed similar changes.  Folks with high arches report that their arches come down, which makes sense.  You can also see similar improvements from simply exercising more in barefoot-style shoes, as Dr. Munson noted almost 100 years ago.

What also amazes me is that now that my feet are strong, they just don't get tired.  My leg muscles wear out before my feet do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Downside Of The Popularity Of Paleo

Bacon prices are skyrocketing.

Phedippidations on Abebe Bikila

A really great episode of Phedippidations, which I reviewed a while ago.

You'll learn that the Ethiopians have a lot more in common with the Tarahumara than I would have thought, what it means to run barefoot if you're a poor African (and why most of them take up shoes as soon as they can), and what a monumental accomplishment his win in Tokyo in 1964 really was.

If you're interested in this great barefoot runner this is a must-listen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"I Would Rather Run Barefoot..."

"[Ramolefi] Motsieloa told Public Eye the 2010 Commonwealth Games did not only mark his debut in the competition but also saw him compete wearing shoes for the first time in his career.

"According to Motsieloa, he had previously run barefoot in top competitions such as the 2010 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Poland in March, adding the experience in India had been alien to him.

"'I feel more comfortable running barefoot and I have always been doing it during the Lesotho and regional races in the past. I had to forgo the habit here when my coaches advised me to use my new running shoes, which caused me a lot of discomfort,' the youngster said.

"Motsieloa insisted the outcome in the Delhi races could have been different had he been given the new shoes for his training.

"'I was only given those shoes a day before our departure from Maseru and this denied me the chance to use them in training.

"'I also developed some blisters on one of my toes after putting on those shoes.'

"Apart from sustaining the blisters, Motsieloa said the new shoes were also heavy for him, insisting this had negatively impacted on his tactics.

"'My feet were soaked in sweat because there was a lot of heat generated and I felt uncomfortable in the process. The shoes were also too heavy for me. I know I could have done better had I run barefoot.'

"The experience in India, he said, had taught him a lesson.

"'I will no longer run barefoot in future so as to keep up with international trends. And this will start with the 10km Soweto Marathon in Johannesburg next month.'"

Thus is another barefoot runner crushed under the padded heel of the Sneaker Empire.  Darth Vader would be proud.

Sean Reads Too Much...

Here's his review of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Are Doctors The Most Unscientific Profession?

That's rhetorical, of course.  They're not politicians.

But when you come across a comment like this one:

"The scientific reasoning why man was born to run long distance is flawed however: though our ancestors outran their prey, the average human probably did not live to be 40 years old, but died in his teens after reproducing early. Perhaps death was from an infected splinter in the foot, broken tooth, or becoming the meal of a lion. Yet, our ancestors were not plagued by degeneratice knee disease because they did not run many marathons

"— Markham Kirsten, MD"
Start here, Doc.  Then go read Professor Lieberman's work.  You know, go crazy, read the actual science.  Yeesh.

Dr. Kirsten got a BA in Biology from Harvard, btw.  Sad.

Future American Olympians

"While waiting for everyone to join a conference call, one of the guys started telling me about the road race he ran this weekend, in which case he got beat by a 12 year old girl. He kept thinking he would pass her, and he kept trying. Every time he got close, she'd speed up. Eventually he started saying "here I come again," and she would go faster. He never caught her.

"The great part about it? She was wearing VFF's!

"He ran 7 minute miles, so for a 12 year old, she was cruising."

Awesome story from Sean Butler.

Quote Of The Day

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."  --Henry Kissinger

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Gluten: What You Don't Know Might Kill You"

Great article.  I was going to try to summarize or exerpt some of it, but you really should just go read the whole thing.

Via Denise Minger on Facebook.

And They're Off!

Good luck to the folks who just started the 2010 NYC Marathon, especially Dan Lieberman and Christopher McDougall.  Run strong, and may the best man and woman win.  I'm going out for a run here in CT, and I'll watch the finish when I get back.

Silly Articles About Barefoot Running

Here's the latest:

"What has the medical community said?

"Plenty. Medical professionals quoted in The Times claim 'there is no scientific research that shows barefoot running reduces injuries.' Other doctors believe that while shoeless running isn't inherently dangerous, 'bare feet aren't meant to support running on modern day hard-top surfaces.' For all of running shoes' flaws, they 'excel at diminishing the force of impact on hard ground.'"

Professor Daniel Lieberman at Harvard has shown that running shoes do an abysmal job of diminishing the force of impact.
In fact barefoot runners experience no shock at all regardless of the surface they're running over, while shod runners experience a force of several times body weight.
This is the key to understanding the appeal of barefoot running: it's fun without the pain of impact.
Other than the conclusion being wrong, a nice piece. ;)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

U.S. versus British Health Care

We're sicker, but we live just as long, due to better health care.

Lucky us. 

What's known as the Standard American Diet (I prefer the Modern American Diet), is one of the biggest disasters in history, in my humble opinion.

The upside is that if you don't follow the MAD, and take advantage of our superior medical care, you ought to do pretty well.

How Your Foot Ought To Work

"Unfortunately for shoe-wearing people, none of the above windlass foot mechanics happens in shoes, and this is one reason why shoes are so damaging to feet. Whether you’re wearing a wedge or a sneaker, the foot is immobilized inside the shoe."
But don't tell the podiatrists. ;)

A great post.  Also see Prof. Howell's first post on Foot Anatomy 101.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Interview With Denise Minger

She discusses her analysis of the China Study, and her thoughts on veganism, raw veganism, and vegetarianism.  Interesting stuff, she's clearly quite thoughtful.

Editor-in-Chief Of "Runners' World" Wears Vibrams?


"A few days a week, I wear my Frees around the office. My feet get tired, but that's the point. They're getting stronger. I've also run a few races in seven-ounce minimalist shoes, and yes, I have a pair of FiveFinger shoes. Once I got them on for the first time (more like squeezing into a wetsuit than donning a pair of slippers), I couldn't help but smile. They feel good. I run on grass and can feel my forefoot padding the ground. Still, these aren't my running shoes any more than my road bike is a full-time substitute for my car."

One sole at a time... ;)

Christopher McDougall in the New York Times

"But at mile 22 something strange happened, followed by something even stranger. Ms. Radcliffe grimaced and fell back. Her left hamstring had seized. It was the chance of a lifetime for Ms. Tulu — and she blew it. Instead of blazing toward the finish, she let the lead pack pass while she stopped and waited for Ms. Radcliffe."

"Can Alberto Salazar straighten out American distance running?"

Maybe.  He'd have more impact on Mr. Ritzenhein if he'd just take his shoes off and have him train that way.  Or even better, get Nike to design a shoe we all could buy that doesn't interfere with biomechanics.

But as for who should get the credit; Dr. Romanov has been preaching this technique for decades.

Follow-Up To "Vibrams Taking Off In The Military"

From a letter to the editor:

"Lastly, I am stunned by comments suggesting that VFFs may offer an unfair advantage. The last time I checked, I thought the Army prided itself on being the best Army in the world. Do weapon optics give soldiers an unfair advantage? Does MultiCam camouflage give us an unfair advantage? Does it matter evidence says running injuries have gone up since the 1972 invention of waffle sole-style running shoes?"

I'll wager this was a pretty common reaction: "Unfair advantage?  I want that!"  It was my reaction, and yes, they are an unfair advantage.

Original post, first follow-up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Born To Run Cabaret Hits The Daily News

Should be fun

And I can't imagine anyone reading this blog hasn't read Born to Run, but if you haven't, it's a great read.

Backpacking In Vibram Flow Treks

Nice article.  I think Vibrams make awesome hiking shoes, and if the Barefoot Sisters can do 4,200 miles mostly barefoot, the Flow Trek is practicallly cheating. ;)

This Is Excellent

By Flee.

Thanks to Sean.

Barefooting In The New York Times

Pretty standard fare, as someone who reads a lot of these newspaper articles on barefoot running.  Complete with the obligatory dopey podiatrist quote, at least rebutted this time around by Dr. Irene Davis.

Running and Rambling Reviews "The Barefoot Running Book"

It's a good review.  I've not finished it yet, but Jason did a good job from what I've read so far.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jason Robillard Reviews the VivoBarefoot Evo II.

Sounds like a winner.  I skipped the first version due to the blister issue.  I may have to go pick up a pair...

Diabetes and Minimalist Shoes

One of the first thing I noticed after becoming a full-time minimalist during the summer of 2009 was the increase in "vascularity" in my feet.  The increased demands I was placing on my feet were met by increased blood flow (the veins got bigger, which my wife pointed out to me), and circulation got much better (warm feet all through the winter).

Now one group of folks who would seem at first blush to be bad candidates for barefoot-style shoes are diabetics.  Late-stage diabetes typically results in poor circulation to the feet, and in "peripheral neuropathy", that is, loss of feeling in the feet.

The loss of feeling means that diabetics are indeed poor candidates for barefooting.  You must have good feeling in your feet to avoid injury.  But increasing circulation should be a good thing.  Fortunately, there are a number of good options for diabetics looking to take advantage of the barefoot running movement.

It turns out that the production manager for one of the good options, Feelmax, is a diabetic.  Here's what he has to say about his experience:

"Well, I have diabetes as well and since 3 years I use Feelmax shoes (easy on me please :-) ) and my feelings in both feets have improved. Still can not run as I have wound on my foot (right - ball area) that is not healing well, but it is going in the right direction and looks that it is finally in the stage of closing up. Running is still out for me, but I wear my Feelmax as much as I can and my doctor told me that the blood circulation has improved in both of my feet.

"I do think that minimal footwear is the way to go in this case and also a large / covert toe box that protect the toes is needed. "
While I think that podiatrists are often way off base on their shoe recommendations, this is one case where if you're seeing a podiatrist for diabetic foot care, you should certainly consult with him.  His primary concern ought to be ensuring that your feet are protected, which is a valid concern.

Comparing High And Low-Carb Diets For Athletes

This is an interesting post, which analyzes an article titled, "Science of Sport: Are the Atkins, Zone, and South Beach Diets Slowing you Down?"  Suffice it to say most of the reference studies either don't address the contention of the article, or in fact refute it.  Unfortunately this seems to be pretty typical of "science."  Drown your article in bogus cites and hope no one notices.

The weight of the evidence seems to be: no real difference except for sprinting (which is anaerobic, that is, glucose-burning), but there are plenty of side benefits that don't directly affect athletic performance in the short-term.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Haile Gebrselassie On Barefoot Running

Interesting, if short, interview.

I think Adidas has a very astute spokesman. :)

P.S.: Some folks had a problem with the first link I posted, as it changed to something else.  Hopefully this one will stay pointed at the interview.

Yvon Chouinard On Tuesday's Election

He's one of my heros, and he's both remarkable smart and remarkably practical.  Here are his thoughts on the upcoming election. 

Clearly being good caretakers of our planet is one of the most important tasks for any generation.  It's important to note that the countries that do the best job of taking care of the environment are capitalist democracies.  Vote accordingly.

Paleo Heaven

Dark chocolate, lactic-acid cured bacon, and perhaps a bit too much sugar, but for a treat it can't be beat.  Folks tend to love it or hate it, and it's a bit expensive, but what the heck.

The bacon candy bar.

P.S.:  These have way too much sugar.  I felt lousy for the rest of the afternoon.  So, take in small doses, it's a delicious candy bar.

Vibrams Taking Off In Football?

"Stanzi, of course, is Iowa’s three-year starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, and as O’Keefe went onto say, there’s a lot of good about Stanzi...

"When Stanzi arrives at a media gathering on Oct. 19, he’s immediately swarmed by cameras and microphones, recorders, and Flip Cams. Wearing his typical outfit — a gray Iowa-football-licensed hooded sweatshirt, black shorts, and his ever comfortable-looking Vibram Five Fingers sandals (seriously, Google them) — Stanzi is backed up against a wall of windows. Literally. He answers questions in a monotone only Ferentz can emulate, his interests seemingly elsewhere...."

Sandals.  Funny.