Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mice Stereotype Humans

Little misandrists...
Eek, a mouse!

"We found that exposure of mice and rats to male but not female experimenters produces pain inhibition. Male-related stimuli induced a robust physiological stress response that results in stress-induced analgesia. This effect could be replicated with T-shirts worn by men, bedding material from gonadally intact and unfamiliar male mammals, and presentation of compounds secreted from the human axilla. Experimenter sex can thus affect apparent baseline responses in behavioral testing."

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Gift

Seth and I corresponded via email occasionally. He was very generous with his time. I wanted to copy these two posts from his blog, as I don't know how long it will remain available.

Make Yourself Healthy: Diverticulitis

You have diverticulitis when “diverticula in your digestive tract become inflamed or infected. Diverticula are small, bulging pouches.” A man in his forties named Tuck had a serious case:
In my twenties I got really sick; lying in bed for 5 days, bleeding from the lower part of my digestive tract: not pretty. . . Delirious days later and ten pounds lighter and I was recovered, except for one problem: I had diarrhea for the subsequent 14 years. . . . Two years ago [2008] I passed out on the toilet on a ski weekend. The emergency room at Bennington Hospital [Vermont] told me it was a stomach flu.
Four weeks later I got cramps at work. I had to lie on the floor until it passed. Then I drove to my doctor’s office, and he told me that I had diverticulitis, and I had to go to the emergency room. I drove myself, and barely made it. I was in agony; I nearly passed out again while they were interviewing me to see if it was “serious”. . . . I had a perforated colon. . . . I spent the next four days in the pre-operative ward, so if it got worse they could cut me open immediately. I lost 10 pounds. Then I started bleeding, and I realized these were all the same symptoms that I had had 14 years before. My blood pressure got so low that the automated blood-pressure machine wouldn’t work . . .
I mentioned to all three of the doctors I saw that I had had constant diarrhea for the last 14 years, since the first attack, and they shrugged. They told me to eat more fiber, and whole wheat, even though that was what I had been eating for the last 20 years. So I avoided surgery, started eating salad with salad dressing (containing industrial seed oils) and lots of whole wheat. . . . But the more salad and whole wheat I ate, the worse it got. I couldn’t understand why. Finally had to have eight inches of my colon removed. The diarrhea continued, so obviously the cause remained.
Then something happened that, before blogging, wasn’t possible:
Someone sent me a post that Stephen Guyenet did about how dental problems were pretty much all due to diet, not genetics, as I’d been told. As someone who’d had a ton of cavities, and 8 teeth pulled, and was determined to spare his daughters the same fate, I found this of interest.
I started reading the blog. 6 months later, I decided to stop eating seed oils, which eliminated my carb cravings, hence no wheat. Two days later, [unexpectedly] my diarrhea stopped. A good bit of trial and error, some accidental, ensued. [I learned that both] wheat and seed oils cause distress, but different types. The two combined can cause me to pass out. If I eat wheat by accident, then eating saturated animal fats (like cream) causes things to settle down.
He found that “traditional” oils (palm, coconut, olive) are okay. Industrial oils (corn, canola, cottonseed) are not. Animal fats (butter, lard, beef tallow) are best.
After 16 years my symptoms are now completely under my control. . . . I read the ingredients on everything. I make a big mistake once every 6-9 months. [Other benefits:] I’m much more resistant to sunburn, for instance, and my vision improved a bit.
So his problems were due to (a) wheat and (b) too much omega-6. His doctors had no idea.
The Mayo Clinic recommends a “diverticulitis diet” that is clear liquids and low-fiber foods. According to the Mayo Clinic, “mild cases of diverticulitis can be treated with rest, changes in your diet and antibiotics. But serious cases of diverticulitis may require surgery.” The Mayo Clinic, it appears, has no idea what causes diverticulitis.
Tuck added:
It really pisses me off when people dismiss this, because it really makes a difference.  I had a colleague who was in the hospital for a colon resection for diverticulitis.  When he heard my story, he had the hospital put him on a gluten-free diet.  Four days later, instead of having surgery as scheduled, he checked out: cured.  He’s symptom-free on a gluten-free diet to this day.
I agree. As someone on the Shangri-La Diet forums put it, “you are handed a GIFT.” A story like this is a gift.

How Common Are Medical Errors? A Horror Story

In this post a contract artist who calls himself Wolverine gives a long list of life-threatening medical errors that happened to him. I hope that he will eventually add dates so that the rate of error becomes clearer [more: all the errors happened within a 14-month period] but even without them the stories suggest that life-threatening errors are common. (As does the effectiveness of surgical checklists.) Medicine is a job where if you make a mistake only the customer suffers not you. Surely this is why the error rate is so high. Wolverine was operated on by a surgeon who, because of a fatal error, had lost his license to practice in California. He changed states, was hired again, and made the same error on Wolverine.
I learned about this from Tucker Goodrich, who has been corresponding with the author and told me something remarkable:
He’s eating a paleo with raw milk diet.  The other transplant patients he knows are all eating the modern American diet and dying of infections; he’s been infection-free for two years.

Seth Roberts: RIP

I'm shocked:
"Hello, this is Seth’s sister, Amy, with the sad news that Seth died on Saturday, April 26, 2014. He collapsed while hiking near his home in Berkeley, CA. He had asked that any memorial gifts be made to Amnesty International. Thank you to all for following and sharing Seth’s work."
I've followed Seth's blog for quite a while, and was lucky enough to have met him at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2012. He will be missed.

P.S. "Seth Roberts’ Final Column: Butter Makes Me Smarter":

"These results made me stop believing saturated fat is bad. The results were very clear. Sleep is central to health. Something that improves your sleep is likely to improve your health. My experiments were far from perfect but I found them more convincing than any of the evidence used to claim saturated fat is bad. Almost all that evidence came from surveys that compared people who ate more saturated fat with people who ate less. The two groups always differed in other ways (e.g., income) besides fat intake."
Seth was the archetypal scientist: unafraid to follow the evidence to its logical conclusion.

P.S. "Cause of Death":

"We’re told that we’ll get a full coroner’s report in about 6 months. In the meantime we were given only “Cause A: Occlusive coronary artery disease” and “Other significant conditions: cardiomegaly.”"
A heart attack, in other words. Cardiomegaly means an enlarged heart, which can have many causes, including infection.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Glycogen and Water Weight

One regularly hears that when one goes on a low-carb diet, one loses glycogen, and the weight loss is due to the fact that glycogen is stored with water, so the weight one loses is due to the water lost with the glycogen.
"Glycogen losses or gains are reported (2) to be associated with an additional three to four parts water, so that as much as 5 kg weight change might not be associated with any fat loss."
Here's that footnote:
2. Olsson K. Saltin B. Variation in total body water with muscle glycogen changes in man. Acta Physiol Scand 1970:80: 1 1-8.
From here:
"Glycogen storage: illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition."
Interesting. How did they get to that number?
"The total body water increased 2.2 1 which is assumed to be caused by the glycogen storage in the muscles and the liver. The amount of glycogen stored was calculated to be at least 500 g, which means that 3—4 g of water is bound with each gram of glycogen."
"Variation in Total Body Water with Muscle Glycogen Changes in Man"
Emphasis mine. Wait, they assumed? Has anyone checked this?
"Muscle water content expressed as mumol H2O lost/g wet tissue weight or made relative to protein content showed no consistent relationship to the glycogen content. These data, therefore, do not support the commonly accepted muscle glycogen-to-water ratio of 1.0:2.7 (g:g). Further work is necessary to quantify the exact amount of water that is actually associated with the glycogen complex."
"Muscle glycogen storage and its relationship with water."
And here:
"The extent to which muscle glycogen concentrations can be increased during exposure to maximal insulin concentrations and abundant glucose was investigated in the isolated perfused rat hindquarter preparation.... Total muscle water concentration decreased during glycogen loading of the muscles."
"Mechanisms limiting glycogen storage in muscle during prolonged insulin stimulation"
I can't find any evidence that anyone's tried to confirm this assumption in man.

An assumption does not equal knowledge. It's a guess, however educated. And a guess is not "science".

I do think, however, that body weight can go up with glycogen increase. But the water's not in the muscles, it's in the gut, buffering the sugar that is generally used to replenish muscle glycogen:
"What he discovered was that if he drank sugary water, his body reacted to it by flooding his stomach with water. 
"...Two lights went on over my head on hearing this. The first is that this explains diabetics’ frequent thirst and urination: they’re thirsty because diabetics consume a lot of sugar, which requires their bodies to dump water into their guts. They need to replenish this water in their systems, and perhaps drinking the water helps in diluting the sugar in their guts."
And going on a low-carb diet allows the body to lose the water that's in the gut (doing you no good from a running performance perspective), not the muscles.

At least that's n=1, not n=SWAG.

[Scientific Wild-Ass Guess]

P.S. OK, it's not just me:
"...Several attempts have been made to estimate the amount of water stored in muscle in association with glycogen, but this is not easily quantified. Early data suggested a value of about 3 g of water for each gram of glycogen (Olsson & Saltin, 1970). However, a subsequent study by Sherman et al. (1982), in which the muscle glycogen content of rats was manipulated by exercise and diet, suggested that there was no consistent association between the amount of glycogen stored in a muscle and the muscle water content. Richter, Hansen, and Hansen (1988) found a decrease in muscle water concentration after muscle glycogen loading. Nygren, Karlsson, Norman, and Kaijser (2001) have also suggested that glycogen loading may alter the disposition of water molecules within the muscle. These apparently conflicting data may result from different amounts of water storage with different structural forms of glycogen and changes in the proportions of these different forms as the total amount of glycogen changes.
"Notwithstanding the uncertainties, there is good evidence of gross changes in body mass as a consequence of diet and exercise manipulations designed to induce alterations in glycogen storage in humans. Any major change in the amount of glycogen stored in muscle will result in a change in body mass, with the major part of the mass change being a consequence of the storage of the associated water (Olsson & Saltin, 1970)...."
The studies they cite are the studies linked to above. They're not particularly logical with that last statement, however, as there's still no evidence for the proposition that glycogen is stored with water.

But that's how scientific myths stay alive!

P.P.S.  The whole point of the glycogen molecule is to store glucose without water...

"Glycogen is also a suitable storage substance due to its insolubility in water, which means it does not affect the osmotic pressure of a cell."