Friday, June 29, 2012

"Chew Like A Caveman For Good Teeth"

I like it!:
"The shift from hunter-gatherers to farmers, which started 13,000 years ago, is central to our modern dental problems. As it spread throughout the world our food became softer, so we didn’t need to chew as much.

"This has a direct effect on the development of our jaws, which are now smaller - too small to accommodate all our teeth.

"“Our diets once consisted of everything in raw form - such as seeds, nuts, vegetables, meat and fruit,” explains Professor Jimmy Steele, head of the School of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University. “Now it consists of foods that are often highly processed, pre-packaged, soft and full of sugar.”

"Our food is so soft in relation to what it was that our teeth are actually redundant, says Dr Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation. “Shocking though it might sound, I’d say that apart from the necessity of teeth for appearance and speech, we probably no longer need them.”

"The arrival of sugar in Britain, at the start of the 19th century, also had a notable effect, adds Dr Carter: “From that point, the state of our teeth plummeted.”..."
There's an idiotic line at the end, however:
"“Some US experts believe orthodontic work, to correct these problems, could be started earlier,” says Professor Steele - as early as four years old.

"Eating tougher meat and coarse grain to build bigger jaws has also been suggested. But that would take centuries to have an effect."
Centuries? The evidence is that it takes only a generation to go from perfect teeth to horrible teeth, as Weston Price (a dentist) discovered. And there's no reason to think that kids raised with proper nutrition won't have perfect teeth. Of course Steele's a professor of "dental science", the very group that's buried the solution for curing tooth decay for 90 years: bad for business, you know.

Ned Kock relates the tale of his daughter, in a post titled "Looking for a good orthodontist? My recommendation is Dr. Meat":
"What if you have a child with crowded teeth as a preteen or teen? Too late? Should you get him or her to use “cute” braces? Our daughter had crowded teeth a few years ago, as a preteen. It overlapped with the period of my transformation, which meant that she started having a lot more natural foods to eat. There were more of those around, some of which require serious chewing, and less industrialized soft foods. Those natural foods included hard-to-chew beef cuts, served multiple times a week.

"We noticed improvement right away, and in a few years the crowding disappeared. Now she has the kind of smile that could land her a job as a toothpaste model"
That's my kind of solution.

Jimmy Moore just interviewed a dentist who's drawn the correct conclusion about all this: all the nonsense that dentists do is unnecessary if you eat a healthy, low-carb diet. To counter Prof. Steele's credentials, Dr. Hujoel's a "research professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington School of Dentistry".

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Jogging Barefoot Moves From Fad To Accepted Option"

"'I have really bad knees,' says Rebecca Ouding.

"'I have an old knee injury that gets aggravated,' says Bud Uyeda.

"'I ran a marathon 20 years ago, and after that my arches collapsed,' says Dave Hafera.

"Not what you typically hear from people enjoying a fun run on a sunny summer Sunday. But there they were in Maryland's Meadowbrook Park at the Naked Foot 5K last weekend, happily joining 450 others despite injuries that usually spell the end of running careers.

"Their secret? After years of frustration trying to cure these ailments, all have switched to running barefoot or in the minimalist shoes that mimic running shoeless...."
And no obligatory ding-bat podiatrist quote.

I don't know that barefoot running's even risen to the level of a fad. Very, very few people actually run barefoot on a regular basis. But lots of people, like me, see old injuries improve or disappear when running barefoot or in minimalist shoes. Strengthening your feet and legs has many benefits.

"Jogging"? <shudder>.

Go Barefoot To Your Local REI Store...

This is great:
"The lady then said that they reached the conclusion that it is not necessary to prohibit barefoot shoppers and that they notified the managers of the stores, telling them to instruct the workers as such. Wow, I still can't believe this...

"The lady said, "We want you back as a customer and you are welcome to shop barefoot"."
That's terrific. Good for REI. (Just got a pair of Vibram FiveFinger SeeYas that I ordered from REI, now I'm glad I did.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"How To Be An Ultra Pacer"

Read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
"...One of the most selfless acts a human can perform is pacing another person in an ultrarunning event. Mother Teresa never paced, nor did any of the popes. It transcends all mundane humanity and will surely secure you a ticket in heaven (I visualize heaven as an all day BBQ on the 4th of July with the majority in attendance being thin twenty year old women - you get your own heaven)...."
Hilarious. Thanks to Sean.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"An Interview with Endurance Expert Dr. Philip Maffetone"

Very interesting interview covering a lot of topics that should be of interest to ultra runners. Read the whole thing:
"Will: One of your trademarks is the 180 Formula, which is designed to develop the aerobic capacity of endurance athletes. How did you come to develop the 180 Formula?

"Dr. Phil: I started using heart rate monitors in the late 1970s, and all I had as a guide were the old 220 formulas. But training at these heart rates seemed to induce excessive stress after a very short period of time. I tried searching for the scientific rationale for these formulas and realized there were none. So I began evaluating runners on a treadmill using slower paces, attempting to find a less-stressful and more effective training pace. I eventually performed these tests with a gas analyzer (the athlete would breath through a tube so oxygen and carbon dioxide could be measured), which gave me important information on fat- and sugar burning at various heart rates (along with other factors such as VO2 max).

"I began using training heart rates based on the highest fat-burning levels before the shift to more sugar burning took place. These training intensities were much lower than the 220 formulas, much less stressful, and I saw much more rapid improvements. For example, athletes could soon run faster at the same heart rate, and even burn more fat for energy (and not just while running, but at all times). I soon realized a new formula would be very useful as most runners were not able to have an expensive treadmill evaluation, and the 220 formulas were unacceptable. By experimenting with the math (I basically worked the numbers backwards), I was able to get a formula that correlated extremely well with what the treadmill tests were providing. This became the 180 Formula.

"A heart monitor is a simple biofeedback tool (the hardware), and the 180 Formula (the software) is what makes it useful. Biofeedback can help any athlete because it’s a means of more objectively evaluating progress (or lack of it), impending injury and ill health, and other factors. (I’ve used biofeedback in many other ways throughout my career, including developing various biofeedback techniques such as those for muscles and the brain.)...

"...Will: One of the biggest challenges in a 50 or 100 mile race vs. the marathon is the need to consume calories throughout the entire event to sustain energy. This is often difficult because the stomach doesn't always cooperate. What advice can you give to athletes regarding nutritional needs in races lasting up to 24 hours?

"Dr. Phil: my advice is generally the same for any endurance athlete needing to consume calories during a race: find out what works for you. This involves experimenting during training (not racing). I can make some basic suggestions. The first is water – you’ll usually finish the race dehydrated, so drinking small amounts of water throughout the race, and often, is important.

"Carbohydrate liquids can provide both nutrient (carbs) and water. These carbs actually help maintain our fat-burning process. I prefer monosaccharide carb liquids because they don’t require digestion (which uses energy), so there’s no stomach bloating or gas from undigested carbs, and you can absorb the sugar much easier. These liquids include fruit juice (I don’t recommend citrus) diluted with water, and honey diluted with water. Vegetable juices work well too, but I’ve known only a few athletes who used them. (I also like adding sodium chloride to this type of drink.) Solid carbohydrate foods are important too, but use those that are easy to digest. The best are ripe fruits. While they are in a monosaccharide form and don’t need digestion to get the sugar available for energy, they do need to be well chewed.

"I don’t recommend grains (flour products like breads), potatoes and most sports drinks because they contain carbohydrates bound together that must be digested before they can be absorbed. For example, white sugar (sucrose), maltose sugar products (including maple sugar products) and other commonly used carb sources contain two sugars bound together that require digestion. Grains and potatoes are made up of three sugars bound together (called starch) that require even more digestion. Carbohydrate digestion begins in the mouth and most athletes don’t chew sufficiently for this phase of digestion (especially liquids). During a race (and even training) digestion is normally very inefficient, so give your gut something easy to deal with. Creating digestive stress commonly causes intestinal upset – gas, bloating, and even diarrhea. And, you may not get the full load of nutrients from your foods.

"But there’s another issue just as important. The whole idea behind building the aerobic system is to burn more body fat for energy. You’ll also burn more fat during a race, providing a significant amount of your energy needs. This makes the supplemental nutrition part – eating during a race – a lot easier because you won’t need as much. Supplemental carbohydrates are important during and immediately after racing, and very long training sessions, but not before you train and race...."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Half-Marathon PR, Or, How Not To Run A Race

The first half-marathon I ever ran was the Brooklyn Half-Marathon in 2010. (See all my results here.) I'd just put up a decent showing in a 20k a few months prior (also at that link) and was all set to smoke the half.

Well, nearly everything that could go wrong in a race went wrong.

I lost my colleague I was running the race with, and when the race started I was at the absolute tail end of the pack. So I spent most of the early part of the race running hard, as I worked through the 7,000-strong crowd, instead of starting with the 8 mile-per-minute pace group.

I'd also just bought a pair of the then-brand-new Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas, and decided to use the race as the break-in run for these shoes. Rule no. 1 for racing: never wear new shoes; I knew this. Since the interior of the Bikila was supposed to be barefoot-friendly, I ran the race without socks. This worked fine until about mile 6, when the strap anchor point started abrading my foot, and I was actually bleeding. Luckily, I had a pair of injinji crew socks in my pocket, and I spent a good four or five minutes putting those on. Putting new toe shoes on over socks is never easy on a good day, try it when you're watching the race run past...

And finally I bonked at about mile 12 (aka 20k...). 12+ miles was the farthest I'd ever run at that point, and my body reminded me of it. Spots, dizzyness, a tingling scalp and general miserableness joined me on the run. I'd just gone paleo before that race, and was trying not to resort to carbs during the race. At this point I tried some Gatorade, but it did no good. I walked most of the rest of the course.

I had enough juice left to run down the boardwalk to the finish, and then started walking, and limping. The middle of my left foot hurt, in what I subsequently learned was the metatarsal-cuboid joint, a joint I wasn't aware I possessed until that point.

I found my colleague, and we walked the couple of miles to his apartment, where I'd left my car.

Nevertheless, of the five road and trail half-marathons I've run, that 8:53 pace was my personal record, much like my first 5k race was my PR until this Memorial Day.

Happily I've gotten smarter about running races. I learned to always wear socks, to avoid the chafing that can happen during a race. I learned to go out easy, and to keep the pace for the first couple of miles in line with the pace you expect to finish in, leaving some juice for a strong finish, if possible. I've gotten used to running on only coffee and cream prior to the race. Haven't bonked in a while.

So you'd think I would have been all set to put in a stellar effort on this half, right? Being a more experienced runner and just having set a 5k PR?

Sadly, no.

I bought a pair of Vibram FiveFinger SeeYas a few days prior to the race. Unlike my experience with the Bikilas, I took the SeeYas out for a six-mile and then a three-mile run, sockless. That went so well that I decided to run the half in them, also sockless. I ran the race with a friend, who even pointed out that I was foolish not to put the socks I had brought along on prior to starting the race. I persisted.

Inspired by my recent 5k success, and my nutty friend's gung-ho attitude, I went out hard...

And sure enough, after a few miles the right shoe started to bother my foot. I adjusted the strap, and that helped for a bit, but didn't eliminate the problem. Right around the 6-mile mark, I stopped and put a sock on that foot. Around the 8-mile mark, I stopped and put the other sock on, as I could feel a blister forming under my left heel. Note to self: when you can feel it, it's too late. You've already done the damage, you're now in damage-control mode.

The first sock stop left me with an 8:04 average pace to that point. The next stop put me up to an 8:12 average pace. I was happy to make the second stop, because I was running out of juice. Not bonking, but tired legs. I was happy to stop, and when I started running again, the legs were hurting. I was not happy about the fact that I had five more miles to run.

Fairfield vs. Pain to Paine
As you can see from this chart, comparing this race to the Paine to Pain Half last fall (the only other race I have data for) my pace fell off pretty dramatically after the second sock stop at mile 8.

At mile 10 I hit the big hill climb. I walked up part of the hill prior to the big hill, and started walking at the bottom of the big hill. Happily, I saw a fellow run past barefoot. "Hey Adam!" I called out. Barefoot Adam Gentile slowed down, and I started running, and we chatted for a bit. Thanks to Adam I didn't walk the whole big hill, but trotted along, and after he left I checked the average pace again: 8:36. Well, at this point, I realized, all I had to do was keep running at a reasonable pace and I was going to PR. I took a couple of short walk breaks, but managed to run almost all of the rest of the race, and finished in 1:54:10, for a pace of 8:43, compared to 1:56:33, at 8:53 from Brooklyn, and 1:59:25 at 9:06 from last year's Paine to Pain.

And then I started limping. I had developed a huge blister on the heel of my left foot. No, I don't think this was the new shoes, as I got a similar blister on my right foot a few years ago from running up a steep hill in my KSOs, after I'd been wearing them for at least 8 months. That prior blister was a form and calf-strength issue, and I'm sure this one is the same.

So yeah, I finished. But it wasn't exactly a heroic effort: I definitely feel that my poor planning and head-strong ways cheated me out of a better performance. In fact, one would be justified to wonder if I was subconciously trying to sabotage the race, or repeat the Brooklyn experience point-for-point. I can't help but think that if I'd started out at an 8:30 pace, I could have carried that through the whole race. My legs indicate that I gave it my all: my calves, hamstrings, and quads are all really sore. What seems to happen with Maffetone-style training is that as your fitness improves, muscles that were adequately trained find themselves to be inadequate to the new requirements. That's a good thing, just painful in the short term.

From a training perspective, this race was a big improvement over the Paine to Pain Half I ran last fall. While the chart above makes it tough to compare the numbers, pace yesterday was 23 seconds/mile faster (11 seconds/mile faster than my Brooklyn PR), average HR was 178 yesterday vs. 177 in the fall, the temperature was probably 25F higher, and the course was much hillier. So, on average, it was a big improvement. Thank you Dr. Maffetone.

Also, my problem right foot and leg felt pretty good during and after the race, and I had an exciting new ache during the race. Which is usually a sign of improvement.

But I've still got that first 20k looming over me. That was a similar course to this one, also in Fairfield, but my pace in that race was 8:04, and that with severe IT band pain for most of the race in the problem right leg. Of course it was in the 20Fs that day, and as last weekend's Western States demonstrated, a cold day counts for a lot.

There's always next year.

P.S. Due to a request from a scientist friend, I've posted a picture below of the blister on my heel. If you're squeamish, as I am, don't scroll down too far...

P.P.S. Here's Barefoot Gentile's account of the race. 80F at the start and 87F at the finish? I had no idea... BTW, while I had plenty of self-inflicted stupidity to complain about, it's a great race, and I really enjoyed running it. I highly recommend it, and I'm looking forward to next year's race.

I ran three miles yesterday on that blister, wearing my Lunas. I've not done anything to treat it, and it's coming along nicely.

Here's the data from the chart:

Paine to Pain Fairfield
Mile Pace HR Pace HR
1 8:08 170 7:17 174
2 9:23 181 7:24 181
3 8:54 182 7:38 184
4 9:49 178 7:45 185
5 8:35 179 8:45 184
6 9:02 178 9:18 179
7 9:44 178 8:20 184
8 8:54 179 7:49 180
9 9:49 177 8:31 178
10 8:51 176 10:24 173
11 9:21 174 9:10 178
12 9:41 173 9:13 177
13 8:51 179 10:10 170
0.2 ? ? 8:43 179

Isn't that lovely?  Doesn't hurt much...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Low-Carb Vs. Low-Fat and Heart Disease

"Lowering fat intake to reduce cardiovascular risk may not be the best advice for most people. Recent studies suggest that reducing carbyhydrate intake is a more effective way to reduce the risk of atherogenic dyslipidemia. For overweight or obese individuals who have trouble losing weight, a moderate reduction in carb intake can confer the same benefit as losing 15 to 20 pounds.

"'When we studied a low-fat diet thinking that would benefit individuals with an atherogenic lipid phenotype, we found something quite different,' said Ronald M. Krauss, MD, Senior Scientist and Director of Atherosclerosis Research at the Children's Hostpital Oakland Research Institute in California. 'A significant portion of healthy individuals who went on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet instead were converted to the high-risk atherogenic profile. That was quite a surprise.'
I'll bet that was quite a suprise.

Dr. Krauss is, among many other things, "founder and past Chair of the [American Heart Assocation] Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism, and a National Spokesperson for the AHA."

The committee that came up with the "prudent diet" described here:
"After five years on their respective diets, 3.4% of the control (prudent diet) group and 1.3% of the intervention ("Mediterranean") group had died, a 70% reduction in deaths. Cardiovascular deaths were reduced by 76%. Stroke, angina, pulmonary embolism and heart failure were also much lower in the intervention group. A stunning victory for this Mediterranean-inspired diet, and a crushing defeat for the prudent diet!"
I find it prudent to test things before making recommendations, but at least Dr. Krauss has the integrity to correct his mistake.

Back to the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Dispatch:
"His interest in dietary effects on atherogenic dyslipidemia began when he and his research colleagues discovered that, when placed on a high-carbohydrate diet, a quarter of healthy individuals converted from a low-risk atherogenic profile with large LDL particles to a high-risk profile with small LDL particles without a change in LDL cholesterol, but with an increase in the total number of LDL particles."
The cholesterol hypothesis is basically dead. No wonder statins don't work. Lowering LDL cholesterol has no effect on atherogenic risk.
'Even though LDL cholesterol is the main lipid used to guide the evaluation and management of cardiovascular disease risk, atherogenic dyslipidemia is not commonly associated with elevated LDL cholesterol levels...'
H/T Dr. Eenfeldt, another skeptical doc.

(Here's the page from the Dispatch, just in case that link stops working...)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jesus Saves!

"In the village in O’Yadav district’s Som Thom commune, about 80 per cent of the community have given up on spirits and ghosts in favour of Sunday sermons and modern medicine.

"Sev Chel, 38, said she made the switch because when she used to get sick, it could cost her hundreds of dollars to appease the gods with a sacrificial package that might include a cow or buffalo, a chicken, bananas, incense and rice wine.

"“So if I sold that buffalo and took the money to pay for medicine, it is about 30,000 riel to 40,000 riel [for them to] get better, so we are strong believers in Jesus,” she said. “If I did not believe in Jesus, maybe at this time I would still be poor and not know anything besides my community.”...

"“We believe in Christianity because we are poor; we don’t have money to buy buffaloes, chickens and pigs to pray for the spirits of the god of land or the god of water when those gods make us get sick,” he said.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drug Companies Tweaking Results For Marketing?

It appears so:
"The truth for most drugs is usually something like this: Xlimicorconaphil was found, via the usual FDA process, to be marginally better than the generic in some subset of the population. Xlimicorconaphil produces slightly different side effects, or of different intensity or frequency. The drug company, having to recoup its investment, takes this information, dresses it up, and sells the pill as New and Improved!

"Nothing shady about this, especially in our all-marketing-all-the-time culture where such behavior is expected of everyone. The real worry is if doctors cease being skeptical gatekeepers."
I wonder if doctors ever were skeptical gatekeepers? Well, a few are. Dr. Briffa is one, and in a post from 2010 he notes:
"A commentary published earlier this year [2]draws our attention to the fact that while initial statin trials were overwhelmingly positive, more recent evidence has been generally negative. Specifically, since 2005, all but one statin trial has yielded neutral or negative results [3-11].It was in 2005 that new regulations regarding the registration and publishing of clinical trials came into being."
The numbers he presents in that post lead one to think that the only reason statins were found to be effective is that the researchers only released the positive results...

Nevertheless, in another post Dr. Briffa observes:
"Generally speaking, doctors have almost unbridled enthusiasm for cholesterol-reducing drugs including statins..."
Caveat emptor.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Scurvy And Modern Medicine

...It took more than 200 years for a simple and effective remedy [for scurvy]... to spread widely.

The sailors at risk of scurvy did not control what they ate. The people who controlled what they ate never got scurvy. Sure, the people who controlled what sailors ate did not want them to get scurvy (high rates of scurvy were a big problem) but they also had other concerns. The lesson I draw from this story is do not let anyone else (doctor, expert, etc.) solve your health problems for you....
I'd been meaning to do a post along these lines after reading this lengthy account of the battle against scurvy. Now I don't have to.

The cure for scurvy, of course, is to have an adequate intake of vitamin C. Lest you think that it would take that long in the modern era to determine the adequate intake of a vitamin that might be related to illness, I direct you to this post:
"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.'"
Caveat emptor.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tony Post Resigns From Vibram

Interesting... I've been hearing the Vibram FiveFingers' sales volume is off. I wonder if that explains it:
"Although the Vibram brand means so much to me personally and professionally, I believe now is the right moment for me to move on..."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Shoes for Dogs

I'm having one of my "I love the Internet" moments. Thanks to this post:
"30 years time and we'll be seeing the vibram five finger equivalent for dogs."
Doggie boots with Vibram sole
I pointed out the Vibram already makes doggie toys and doggie boots:
"Bad news, dude:

Could be next week..."
Which led me to this page: The Dog Boot Dance:
"So, you’ve determined your dog does needs boots. You head to the store (or order them online), open the box, call your dog over, and reluctantly they hand over a paw as you outfit them in their new boots. And then…the boot dance. You know, the paw shaking, high-stepping, boot dance.

"If this happens to you, don’t be alarmed. Remember this is probably the first time your dog has ever had something on their paws, and just like humans have a break-in period for their shoes, dogs will too! Here are a few tips to keep your dog from doing the moonwalk in their Ruff Wear boots (or at least keep the moonwalking to a minimum!).

1.Don’t laugh. This may be difficult, but laughing is likely to cause your dog further anxiety....
It wouldn't be complete without a video of the "dog boot dance":


There are times when dogs need shoes. If you walk your dog in an area where they use a lot of salt on the streets (like NYC), you should use booties, as the salt will cause the dog's foot-pads to crack. Dog-sled racers also use booties to protect the dogs' foot-pads from ice crystals. Some of the breeds that they use for dog-sled racing aren't 100% nordic breeds, and don't have the adaptation that a 100% nordic breed does.

So there are some cases where they're called for. And those look like pretty non-supportive, moccasin-style booties.

When people start talking about arch support for their dogs, then it will be time to leave the planet.

BTW, I'm a big fan of RuffWear's products. My dog has a couple of different RuffWear leashes, and his collar is another RuffWear product.

This leash is great for runners: you wear it like a belt, or hold it in your hand, or you can clip it to a tree.

They make good stuff, and I highly recommend them. But my dog doesn't have shoes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dan Lieberman On Diet In The New York Times

Oh no.

Let me start out by saying that I've met Professor Lieberman, and he's one of the smartest individuals I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He's careful, thoughtful, and loth to get ahead of the facts as he can prove them: the model scientist, as far as I'm concerned. He's also funny as hell, and if you have the opportunity to see one of his presentations on his areas of expertise, do so.

So what to make of this editorial? First, note what he's not doing. He's not telling you what to eat, he's not telling us what he eats, and he's not voicing an opinion on what we ought to be eating. He objects to the fact that Bloomberg's ban applies to all New Yorkers:
"Though his big-soda ban would apply to all New Yorkers, I think we should focus paternalistic laws on children."
Mayor Bloomberg does want to tell you what to eat... for better or worse.

Lieberman's making a narrow observation that in the primitive state, we were limited by supply in our consumption; "coerced" not to eat excess sugar. We no longer have that limitation. Unlike a hunter-gatherer, you could get 100% of your calories from sugar, if you so choose. He therefore thinks that this regulation is a reasonable extension of similar regulations:
"For this reason, we need government on our side, not on the side of those who wish to make money by stoking our cravings and profiting from them. We have evolved to need coercion. "
Most folks are reading a lot more into this editorial than what's above. I did.

Lieberman's publishing a book soon on human evolution and health. I expect that we'll learn a lot more about his thoughts on topics like this in that book; it's important to note that we're not learning much about them in this editorial, which is only addressing one narrow point. Unless you're a mind reader I wouldn't read more into this than what's been written.

Prof. Lieberman also is not endorsing the wisdom of this particular regulation. Are there better ways this same goal could be accomplished? He doesn't go into that.

I don't think it's wise: it's too easy to bypass (just buy two sodas!), and I think the whole notion of government micromanaging our diet is a mistake; and that even if it were a good idea, I don't think the government at any level is competent to do it. Government intervention in diets has been a significant factor in creating our current obesity epidemic, in my opinion. Sadly, we're so far down that slipperly slope that a regulation like this is just a minor extension. But that gets into a political discussion more than a scientific one. And that whole discussion is not what this editorial is about. Although that would be an interesting one...
"If these are acceptable forms of coercion, how is restricting unhealthy doses of sugary drinks that slowly contribute to disease any different?"
If they are, then this isn't any different. That's pretty indisputable. That's how slippery slopes work.

Prof. Lieberman and I (and most of us, I suspect) are on the same page in that we think that most Americans eat too much sugar, and consuming a lot less of it would be an extrememly good idea, as is this:
"Along these lines, we should ban all unhealthy food in school — soda, pizza, French fries — and insist that schools provide adequate daily physical education, which many fail to do."
OK, I ban those foods in my house, for the most part. I would like them not to be available at the school, either.
"It should be illegal to advertise highly fattening food as “fat free.”"
"Fat free" is factually correct, but the food doesn't make you fat free, which is what the people purchasing these foods seem to expect. But if we're regulating claims made about the health values of foods, and we are, this is a pretty misleading claim.
"People have the right to be unhealthy, but we should make that choice more onerous and expensive by imposing taxes on soda and junk food."
Well, I'd prefer to see the subsidies that make soda and junk food cheap removed. Layering one bad regulation on top of another doesn't make a better system, I don't think. But the idea is the same: make the unhealty foods more expensive.

So do I disagree with his point in this editorial? Yes. But it's a very narrow disagreement, and it's about the means, not on the science, or the goal.

Oh, and if you're going to argue this topic with Prof. Lieberman, you'd better bring your A game...

N.B. This was brought to my attention when Melissa McEwen tweeted this post by John Hawks: The Stalin Age Diet. The first version of this post of mine got deleted... :) I'll post some of it later.

P.S. Researchers Whose Work Was Cited to Justify Bloomberg’s Large Soda Ban Explain Why it Won’t Work:
"...Yes, we have found that when people are given larger portions, they do drink or eat substantially more. But to claim that these results imply that the ban will be effective is to ignore our larger body of work. In our experiments, subjects were given larger or smaller portions of food in a dining or party setting, where they were unlikely to notice portion size. It is exactly because participants weren’t paying attention that we got the results we did.

"The mayor’s approach, however, overtly denies people portions they are used to be able to get whenever they want them. In similar lab settings, this kind of approach has inspired various forms of rebellion among study participants. For example, openly serving someone lowfat or reduced-calorie meals tends to lead to increased fat or calorie consumption over the whole day. People reason that because they were forced to be good for one meal, they can splurge on snacks and desserts at later meals."

The Problem With Statistics in Science

They're not proof:
"Cornell’s Daryl Bem case is instructive. He’s an academic who has published several notable peer-reviewed articles which claim that (several different versions of) ESP is real. Trouble is, despite the prominence of the journals, and the peer review, almost none of his peers believe his results. "They publish his papers anyway because the papers meet the statistical criterion of success, which is to say the papers contain wee p-values, which are p-values less than the magic number. Bem always finds, at least in the papers he submits for publication, publishable p-values. In his latest work he touts, “all but one of the experiments yielded statistically significant results.” This is code for “p-values less than the magic number.” "This sets up a conflict in the mind of the researcher. Small p-values are thought to be the proof definitive..."
A really great post. I'll note that there's something wrong with a scientific journal if their only criteria for inclusion is the statistical result...

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Happens With High Levels Of Vitamin D?

It's not good...

I no longer supplement with D unless I'm fighting off a bug. And that doesn't happen very often any more. However, I do spend a lot of time in the sun, without wearing sunscreen, so my blood levels are higher than the usual malnourished industrial human...

Your body is perfectly capable of keeping D at the correct level if you allow it to.