Friday, July 29, 2016

"THIS DOESN’T SEEM ESPECIALLY SURPRISING: Being Unfit May Be Almost as Bad for You as Smoking. “Poo…"

Link via Instapundit

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Low-Carb Athletes: Chris Froome, Tour de France Winner 2013, '15, '16.

I think we're pretty close to putting this whole thing to bed.  Two of the three Hardrock 100 winners are low-carb athletes, and the third, while high-carb, trains fasted for hours on end and can do prodigious feats on stored fat along.  (I haven't done a post yet on any of them!).

Now this.

"Especially the carbs, he's got such a sweet tooth. But he's found now that if he does cut back on carbs the weight does come down a lot easier than it did in the past. And cutting out foods like breakfast cereals and a lot of the wheat products and bread but still eating enough food — the right food — that he is able to not feel hungry during the day. If you look at his build from the 2011 Vuelta compared to now, he's still lean but his muscles look a lot more defined. So now he has found a way of doing it ..."
That's his girlfriend and nutrition advisor.

Here's the athlete:

"In the Vuelta that year (2011), I think my muscles were probably lighter. I was gangly. You wouldn't look at me and say, 'That's someone who's strong.' Whereas now, my diet is a lot more protein based. I've cut back on carbs completely but I'm not losing muscle."

Yeah, that is how it works.

"I think hard about the quality of the food I'm eating – organic fruit, vegetables and meat wherever possible. It's a common misconception that because we're training five or six hours a day that we can eat what we want and burn it off. It really is a case of watching every little thing you put in your mouth and how it's going to benefit you. Your body really does respond to tweaks then."

Paul Jaminet would approve of this:

"I try to go very light in terms of diet. In the mornings I limit myself to just the one bowl of porridge, and normally a two-egg omelette, with no hint of extras on the side. No second helpings, no picking, nothing. If there is a big stage ahead that day I'll try a three-egg omelette, but warily, and I'll mix a small amount of white rice into the porridge ..."

So he's not no-carb, but he's pretty explicitly low-carb.

The incomprehension of this feat in the press is simply priceless.  I found this article, "This is what you have to eat to compete in the Tour de France", which states:

"09:00 Breakfast 
"Riders have their breakfast around three hours before the race — carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, muesli, cereal, fruit, coffee, smoothies, orange juice and even noodles help top up glycogen stores. 
"“One thing all riders avoid is eating heavy food,” says Judith Haudum, sports nutritionist to the BMC Racing team
"“They have to resist the enticing pastries from the hotel breakfast bar because this type of food isn’t fully digested in time for the start, making riders’ stomachs feel uncomfortably heavy.” 
10:30 Pre-race snack 
"Transfers from hotels to stage starts can be long, offering an opportunity to top up carbohydrate and calories — typically, rice cakes with honey, raisin bread or a sports bar are consumed with fluid."

No mention of Chris Froome, who won the race last year and again this year. We saw what he's eating above.  Is a three-egg omelete "heavy"?

Breakfast of champions
Here's his breakfast on a recovery day:

"The carbohydrates in the avocado (which contains about 320 calories) provide him with a source of quick energy, while the hefty amount of protein and fat in the eggs (70 calories each), avocado, and fish (100 calories for 3 ounces) helps fuel muscles and slow the breakdown of food in the body. 
"That helps steady energy levels and stave off hunger pangs. Plus, since the eggs are poached and the fish is smoked, they have no added fats or oils.
"As an added energy boost, Froome has a sachet of cherry-juice concentrate, 2 tablespoons of which would give him about 18 grams of carbohydrates and about 70 calories."
"Carbohydrates in the avocado"!?!  An avocado contains 17 grams of carbs, and a lot of that is fiber, which enters the bloodstream as fat, not glucose.  I'd be surprised if there are more than a few grams of digestible carbs in an avocado.  So that puts him at 20-30 grams of carbs for breakfast, a far, far cry from what's "required"!

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that a low-carb athlete could never win the Tour. "Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action."  The enemy in this case is coming to obliterate the carbs-are-needed-for-performance baloney we've been sold for decades.

The other thing I always hear is that low-carb doesn't improve performance.  It pretty clearly improved Chris Froome's performance!

"After Chris Froome cut back on carbs for more protein, he lost 20 pounds, started winning the Tour de France, and became a millionaire"

Your results may vary.

Via the excellent Diet Doctor.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

"America's First Double Hand Transplant Recipient Wishes He Could Have Limbs Removed"

This is pretty horrible:
"Mr Kepner, from Augusta, Georgia, had lost his hands in 1999 due to sepsis, which begun as a throat infection and spread. 
"He used prosthetics, and was able to drive and have a job. 
"He says his functionality has reduced from around 75 per cent to zero since the double hand transplant, and his wife Valerie has resigned from her job to look after him full time. 
"“From day one I have never been able to use my hands,” he said. “I can do absolutely nothing. I sit in my chair all day and wear my TV out.""

Surgeons get away with murder.  If a medical device or pharmaceutical company was performing experiments like this on human subjects, they'd throw them in prison.

Kempner's at least taking responsibility for his own decision:

"“That’s the chance you take,” he said. “And that’s the chance I took.”"

Sadly, they can't even remove the hands and give back the 75% of his life that he had before.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Varicose Veins and Linoleic Acid

I've really come to think that my little dietary odyssey is coming to it's close.  This is just getting too easy.

So this morning I went for a run with a fellow who had surgery for really bad varicose veins.  He disclosed this in a conversation where I suggested that he was training too hard (he said his zone 2 HR was 140-160, based on a max HR of 220: the old, debunked formula).  Needless to say, he was struggling.  I used to follow the same approach, so I know what it feels like.

I suggested he'd benefit from reading Maffetone's work, and he said he'd knew of Maffetone, but was following his doctor's advice.  He seemed very dismissive.

Oh Lord, please help all those who follow their doctor's advice.  No one else can.

So I got curious about causation of varicose veins.  They're highly correlated with generic cardio-vascular disease, after all, and might well share the same cause, as the symptoms are superficially similar.

It's become overwhelmingly clear to me that oxidative linoleic acid metabolites (OxLAMs), which are produced in the body in the mitochondria, and are often highly toxic, are the likely cause.

"HODEs are stable oxidation products of linoleic acid (LA; C18:2, omega-6). LA is the most abundant fatty acid in atherosclerotic plaques, being seven times more abundant than arachidonic acid (AA). Oxidized lipids accumulate at sites of tissue injury, including atherosclerotic plaque. It was recognized more than 50 years ago that oxidized fatty acids accumulated in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) with age, particularly in individuals susceptible to atherosclerosis []. HODEs were 20 times more abundant in the LDL of patients with atherosclerosis compared with controls []. The structure of 9-HODE and 13-HODE, are shown in Figure 1, along with LA and the omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid (ALA; C18:3, omega-3). Although the structures of these fatty acids differ only subtly, there is accumulating evidence that HODEs have distinct biological properties. Accumulation of HODEs in human atherosclerotic lesions was described nearly two decades ago [], when they were shown to be components of both the cholesterol ester and phospholipid fractions. LA accounts for 40–45% of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in plaque, and 30% of PUFAs in plaque are oxidized. HODEs are the most abundant oxidation products in plaque, and they are present in all advanced lesions, although the quantity varies from patient to patient []."

I've not found a randomly-controlled study just yet, (although this one comes close):

"The Lyon diet-heart study was one of the most successful intervention trials of all time. The experimental group increased their intake of fish, poultry, root vegetables, green vegetables, bread and fruit, while decreasing intake of red meat and dairy fat. A key difference between this study and other intervention trials is that participants were encouraged to eat a margarine rich in omega-3 ALA. In sum, participants decreased their total PUFA intake, decreased omega-6 intake and increased intake of ALA and long-chain omega-3s. After an average of 27 months, total mortality was 70% lower in the intervention group than in the control group eating the typical diet!"

Linoleic acid (LA) is the primary polyunsaturated omega-6 fat in the Modern American Diet. OxLAMs are produced in the body from excess LA in the diet, can be reduced by a reduction of LA from the diet, and such reduction appears to have (in one small study) a 100% success rate in reducing at least one major aspect of the Metabolic Syndrome, the primary health scourge of our time.

Took a while, a couple of hours, but here we are:

"Generation of reactive oxygen species by a sufficient, insufficient and varicose vein wall
(Full-text PDF, backup link here.)

I'll snip a few relevant points:

"Despite numerous theories, the etiology and pathogenesis of primary varicose veins remain unclear. The etiology of chronic venous diseases (CVDs) known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is related to leukocyte trapping. Leukocyte trapping involves trapping of white cells in vessel walls followed by their activation and translocation outside the vessel. Release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) from trapped white cells has been documented. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) directly inhibits the generation of free radicals and compounds that are produced during oxidation by ROS, such as malonyldialdehyde (MDA). The aim of this study was to determine the involvement of free radicals in the etiology of venous changes."

Well there we go.  MDA, along with 4-HNE and acrolein (and a whole host of others) are OxLAMs. I will object to their statement that OxLAMs are generated by ROS, as it's clear that they're generated independently.

"The levels of oxidative stress markers strongly correlated with lesions observed by USG in insufficient and varicose veins. In both a higher concentration of MDA was observed, which is a sign of lipid peroxidation. Antioxidative mechanisms, SOD activity and total antioxidative power expressed as FRAP were inversely proportional to MDA concentration. In insufficient and varicose veins both FRAP and SOD activities were significantly lower than in normal veins. The severity of clinical changes was inversely dependent on the efficiency of scavenging of ROS, which additionally proves the participation of free radicals in pathogenesis of CVDs."

There you have it.

"These results confirm that a patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency are constantly under oxidative stress. Their TAS is lowered and lipid peroxidation level (measured as MDA concentration) increased.... 
"...Interaction between leukocytes and endothelium (which results in toxic metabolites e.g., MDA; Rojas & Phillips, 1999) is promoted by slow venous flow (Danielsson et al., 2003). Mahmound et al. (2002) found strong lipid peroxidation (increased MDA concentration) around insufficient venous valves (compared to normal noninflamed vessels). This phenomenon was also confirmed in our research. Also Tryankina et al. (2003) drew attention to decreased amount of plasma antioxidants and increased lipid peroxidation in patients with varicose veins in comparison to healthy individuals. All this shows how strongly oxidative stress can decrease defense mechanisms of patients witch [sic] CVI (Wlaschek et al., 2005)."

This also suggests that the mechanism behind varicose veins is identical to that behind atherosclerosis.

LA isn't directly toxic, but it turns into poison in the body.  Excess LA consumption is to be avoided like the plague.

P.S.  Well, I missed this:

"First, all parameters we researched: antioxidant enzyme activity, TAS and FRAP bring us to a conclusion that the main reason behind CVI is antioxidative system dysfunction."

That's wrong.  It's antioxidative system overload.  Reduce the load, resolve the disease.

"Also simple modification of the patients diet and lifestyle can have beneficial effects."

They're right about that, but they don't specify what to do.  If you're dealing with an overload of oxidative linoleic acid metabolites, and linoleic acid solely enters the body through the diet, the answer should be clear...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Barefoot Running and Working Memory

"The aim of the present study was to compare the potential cognitive benefits of running barefoot compared to shod. Young adults (N = 72, M age = 24.4 years, SD = 5.5) ran both barefoot and shod on a running track while stepping on targets (poker chips) and when not stepping on targets. The main finding was that participants performed better on a working memory test when running barefoot compared to shod, but only when they had to step on targets. These results supported the idea that additional attention is needed when running barefoot to avoid stepping on objects that could potentially injure the foot. Significant increases in participant's heart rate were also found in the barefoot condition. No significant differences were found in participants' speed across conditions. These findings suggested that working memory may be enhanced after at least 16 minutes of barefoot running if the individual has to focus attention on the ground."
Emphasis mine.

The certainly falls under the "No Duh" category of scientific studies!  Anyone who's ever run barefoot can attest to the fact that you pay much closer attention.  The idea that it may have some larger benefit is neat, of course.

And the higher heart rate is likely just a factor of novice barefoot runners.  I've consistently noticed over the years that my HR drops a few beats per minute when I take off the shoes during a run, even if they're minimalist shoes.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Primates Prefer Alcohol

And are, apparently, well-adapted to consuming it:

"It’s somewhat “shocking” that the animals preferred beverages with the highest alcohol levels, says Matthew Carrigan of Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., who was not involved in the research. Alcohol is loaded with valuable calories, but “it’s a challenge to use those calories without getting inebriated. … If you are climbing around in the trees, 40 to 50 feet off the ground, perhaps at night and surrounded by predators, would you want to be drunk?”
Probably not a great idea.  

I've always pooh-poohed the idea that moderate alcohol consumption is more healthy, since alcohol is a toxin, after all.  But the dose makes the poison, and everything's toxic in the wrong amount.

If we're well-evolved for it, perhaps it's because there's a benefit.  This study doesn't show that, but it makes me think...

Research links:

Alcohol discrimination and preferences in two species of nectar-feeding primate

Tools to tipple: ethanol ingestion by wild chimpanzees using leaf-sponges

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Paying Farmers To Go Organic, Even Before The Crops Come In"

The power of the free market.  Corporations respond to their customers' demands.

Reminds me of Yvon Chouinard:

TH: Well, let's talk about politics for a second. I've got a quote here from you that I really like. "A million or ten million dollars a year won't go far toward solving the world's problems; however, if you want to change government, change the corporations, and government will follow. If you want to change corporations, change consumers." 
Are you trying to change the government through consumers? 
YC: Well, I've kind of given up on government, the idea that government is going to solve our problems. If you look at the candidates now, the environment hardly even shows up. But they're all talking about symptoms: Iraq is a symptom, healthcare is a symptom. They're all symptoms of society breaking down. Nobody is really attacking the causes. 
And so I'm trying to change corporations, and I'm trying to change consumers.

He succeeded in his business, and set the model for everyone else to follow.


"If You Have Back Pain Do Not Forget About Your Feet"

Great post.

Link via The Paleo Diet – Robb Wolf on Paleolithic nutrition, intermittent fasting, and fitness