One Day Of Ketosis

krebs

graphic reproduced from Joseph Arcita

I’m not even remotely an expert on this, but I thought I would share a sample day in hardcore ketosis, which is different from LCHF. The conventional ketogenic diet (designed for epileptics) requires the daily ratio of fats by weight to be four times greater than the combined weight of proteins and carbohydrates. Whereas the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) folks tend to eat an amount of protein appropriate for their body size, and then less than 10g (but as much as 50g sometimes) of carbohydrates, and then they round out the rest of their diet with fat – but not in any specific ratio and usually not nearly so much as required on the classic ketogenic diet.

In other words, the classic ketogenic diet would have 50g of protein, 50g of carbs and (50 + 50 x 4 =) 400g of fat. This is a crazy amount of fat and calories (4000!), so I have designed a modified or modern ketogenic diet that still does the same thing without having to eat a couple tubs of mayonnaise throughout the day.

My modified, modern ketogenic diet would have 50g protein, 10g carbs and then (50 + 10 x 4) 240g of fat for an average person.

Whereas the same person doing LCHF would have 50g protein, 10g carbs and maybe just 100g – 150g of fat.

All three versions seem to keep people in ketosis, but since I have not personally tested all the methods with an at-home ketosis strip monitoring device, I can’t say for sure. Now I’ve got a goal this year. At last.

(However I would never test or play around with the “classic ketogenic diet”, as that much fat would invariable cause nausea and I just don’t need to do that to myself. I will definitely experiment with the others, though).

I put this sample menu together to improve upon one of my previous posts about cancer as a metabolic disease. I figured the information would be much more useful if readers could visualize what it really means to eat this much fat!

This menu is designed for me. Because of my body size and low level of activity, my body probably requires just about 45g of protein each day to maintain growth and optimum repair.  You may require more, or less. No matter what your protein requirement is, you will probably still want to consume around 10g of carbohydrates and not much more. For this “modified ketogenic menu”, you will add your protein to your carbs (mine is 45 + 10) and multiply by 4 to find out how much fat you will require.

MY SAMPLE MODIFIED KETOGENIC MENU

  • FOR BREAKFAST I could have a “Big Fat Coffee” (1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp coconut oil, espresso and hot water), 1 egg cooked in 1 Tbsp butter with a cubic inch of cheese shredded or melted into it. This comes out to 10g protein, 1g carbs and 48g of fat. Within the range!
  • FOR LUNCH I could have a salad with 1 1/2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup of chopped cucumber, a cubic inch of grated cheese, 2 pieces of bacon crumbled on top and a dressing made of 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp sour cream, spices and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. I would have to eat ALL of the dressing. This comes out to 11g of protein, 5g of carbs and 60g of fat. Within the range!
  • SNACKS are tricky. Pâté and cheese, even on its own without crackers, has too much protein compared to fat – so I would have to also spread butter on it or something equally strange. I wouldn’t need much more protein on this “meal plan” suggested here, so all I could really can snack on is fat. I would suggest making an unsweetened chai tea (from a teabag) and emulsifying coconut oil into it as a creamy beverage. This gives me 14g of fat, which is great and filling.
  • FOR DINNER I could have a can of sardines packed in olive oil (I chose that because it’s easy to visualize), a 1/4 stalk of broccoli with 3 Tbsp butter melted on it, and another small salad of 1/2 cup of shredded romaine with a dressing made of 2 tbsp olive oil to 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. For dessert I could have 1/2 cup of whipped cream. This gives me 19g of protein, 5g of carbohydrate and 92g of fat. Just within the range!

DAY TOTAL = 40g of protein, 11g of carbohydrates and 215g of fat, and 2100 calories.

This was really hard! And even after all this work, I was 5g too low on protein, 1g too high on carbs and 5g too low on fat. However this would absolutely keep anyone in ketosis, without starving or feeling hungry whatsoever. This is a lot of fat to get through, and it keeps you feeling really full. But the point of this exercise was to show that you can get into ketosis with a low amount of carbohydrates without resorting to a low amount of calories.

I think what I really need to do is order some ketosis monitoring strips, so that I can verify for myself if LCHF, which is much more palatable, can still maintain adequate metabolism of ketone bodies.

WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THIS?

Well, in addition to reversing tumors, nourishing mitochondria and providing preferential ketones for efficient metabolism, ketosis promotes cardiovascular health, increases HDL cholesterol and particle size while decreasing LDL cholesterol; ketosis increases neuronal stabilization and mental functioning, preserves lean body mass while reducing fat stores, and stops the progression and can reverse Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hypertension and various cancers.

My question is, why wouldn’t you want to do this?

Showing small to moderate ketone levels on these possibly unreliable Ketostix

Showing small to moderate ketone levels on these possibly unreliable Ketostix

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FURTHER READING

I have updated my earlier post, CANCER IS A METABOLIC DISEASE, to include more specific details on the ketogenic diet and also this sample menu to help people visualize what it means to eat this way

A link to My Big Fat Coffee recipe and post

My thoughts on how much protein you should eat for your specific body size and needs

Here is a look at some ketostix test strips for monitoring ketone levels in urine, that you can use at home to see if you are still burning ketones or if you have slipped back to burning glucose

Here is the wikipedia page on THE KETOGENIC DIET

A pretty great and thorough “Guide to Ketosis” posted by Joseph Arcita, whose graphic I used up above. He is really comprehensive!

Inexpensive Ketostix in Canada if you want in on this game

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A Toast To Your Health: Hot Buttered Rum

hot buttered rumOkay I’m actually going to do this. While everyone else – including those in my own family – are pushing for a “dry January”, I’m going to be contrarian and promote the Devil’s water, also known as alcohol. Specifically, I am going to try to seduce you into drinking hot, buttered rum.

For starters, let’s look at the fact that drinking alcohol is not a new thing for humans. It’s probably pretty close to the oldest thing. In other words, we have evolved alongside drinking alcohol since the beginning. Ingesting fermented fruits and honey were an early window into the spirit world. Archeologists have found evidence of honey fermentation as long as 40,000 years ago. That’s not to say we haven’t been doing it for longer – just that’s all we can find hard evidence for. It is possible and largely speculated that humans settled down to farm in the cradle of civilization not primarily to grow food but to grow grains specifically for fermenting into alcohol. Have you ever noticed that humans are not entirely practical? (Ever seen Easter Island?) We don’t change our ways just for a bland food choice like sprouted grains. Nope, we dream bigger than that. Humans put to rest our nomadic ways in order to grow ancient barley to ferment into beer – a product that brought us closer to the gods and delivered us untold status. In other words, there would be no civilization without the promise of beer.

Now beer isn’t for everybody, and certainly not for celiacs or anyone with gluten/gut sensitivities, which includes anyone with auto-immune issues. Alcohol and wine isn’t for everyone either – particularly not anyone with addiction issues or possibly chronic, debilitating illness. No, alcohol is mostly for healthy people – and believe it or not – in moderation it actually promotes health.

In moderation, alcohol seems to prevent osteoporosis, various cancers (kidney, thyroid, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and pancreatic cancers have been studied so far), gallbladder disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, metabolic syndrome (the blanket pre-cursor to type II diabetes, obesity and heart disease), arthritis, enlarged prostate, macular degeneration, kidney stones, stress and depression, tremors and among other things, the common cold.

Now I’m not just talking about the resveratrol darling, red wine. A glass of red wine a day seems to be unequivocally better than not having a glass a day: for heart health, longevity, etc. But the benefits are not just from the antioxidant resveratrol (which is in pretty small amounts in a glass of wine); the benefits are mostly from the ethanol content itself.

SOME ETHANOL A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

Again let me be very clear: I am not talking about binge drinking, or even drinking the way I have always known it. I’m only talking about moderate drinking which means from 1 – 2 alcoholic drinks per day, but mostly landing on one drink per day if you are a small woman and two drinks a day if you are a large man. One drink is a 5oz glass of wine or a 12oz can of beer or an ounce and a half shot of alcohol spirits. Period!

So before I go any further you are probably going to want some bullet points and some studies. I could do this all day, but here is a short selection:

  • A study that examined nearly 10,000 men and women at age 23 and again at age 33 found that the moderate drinkers experience lower levels of poor general health, long-term illness, and psychological distress when compared to abstainers and heavy drinkers.(1)
  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks each day.(2)
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks per day for women and 2-4 for men) was found to reduce risk of mortality significantly according to meta-analysis of 34 studies of alcohol and total mortality among 1,015,835 men and women around the world.(3)
  • A Harvard study found the risk of death from all causes to be 21% to 28% lower among men who drank alcohol moderately, compared with abstainers. (4)
  • Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study of over 85,000 women found reduced mortality among moderate drinkers. (5)
  • A study of more than 40,000 people by the Cancer Research Center in Honolulu found that “persons with moderate alcohol intake appear to have a significantly lower risk of dying than nondrinkers.” (6)
  • A review of the research reports that moderate drinking appears to reduce the risk of numerous diseases. “These include duodenal ulcer, gallstones, enteric infections, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes mellitus (type II). Compared with abstainers, moderate drinkers exhibit improved mental status characterized by decreased stress and depression, lower absenteeism from work, and decreased dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).” (7)
  • Researchers examined the evidence from 33 studies and found that alcohol consumption increased neck bone density for each drink per day over the range of 0-3 drinks per day; reduced the risk for hip fracture with increasing quantities consumed; and was generally associated with reduced bone loss over time, compared with abstention from alcohol. (8)
  • The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment followed over 200,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S. with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis who were seen at doctors’ offices, with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis. As a result of screening, the study found that 39.6% had osteopenia or low bone density and 7% had osteoporosis. The study found that drinking alcohol reduced the chances of developing osteoporosis. (9)
  • Scientists at the University of London concluded that light and moderate drinking saves more lives in England and Wales than are lost through the abuse of alcohol. If everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher. (10)

Like I said, I could go on all day – but I’m going to stop there, and pause, to reflect on that last statement: “If everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher.” In fact, that’s such a big deal that I’m going to make it a heading:

IF EVERYONE ABSTAINED FROM ALCOHOL, DEATH RATES WOULD BE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER

I know this seems shocking, but we have to step back and look at the cultural bias that we have all been raised under. We are a product of the pious Protestants, the people who burned witches (women, basically) and anyone who threatened the church’s power. We have a belief system that holds on dearly to the idea that alcohol is bad and leads to immoral acts (like enjoying sex, and having fun!). So let’s step back and take the long view. Biologically, we are not the product of the last 400 years. We are the product of millions of years – and for at least tens to hundreds of thousands of those years, our biology has adapted to drinking (or eating) some version or another of ethanol.

What we are NOT adapted to: abstaining from alcohol. It is literally unhealthy to abstain from alcohol, unless you have contraindications (like being an infant or in a growth stage, being pregnant or nursing, being on certain medications etc) or you are performing some kind of specific fasting period. So I’m going to give the “dry January” folks a green light since their teetotaling has an end date. Possibly taking a month off of alcohol also helps you to reset your tolerance and habits, and to better appreciate and respect alcohol once you reintroduce it.

WHY IS ETHANOL SO AWESOME

Alcohol, in moderation, appears to improve cholesterol particle size, while increasing HDL and decreasing LDL; it decreases thrombosis (blood clotting) and also helps make existing clots dissolve; it reduces blood pressure and reduces blood insulin levels; it increases blood flow to the brain which increases brain function; it increases coronary blood flow while decreasing coronary spasm reactions in response to stress (abstainers from alcohol have DOUBLE the stroke risk of moderate drinkers).

AN EXCEPTION: CERTAIN CANCERS

Alcohol seems to slightly increase levels of endogenous estrogen in the body, which is a risk factor for breast cancer and other estrogen-receptor positive tumors. So: if you have breast cancer or are already in a high-risk category for breast cancer – no booze for you! No sugar either, friend.

Possibly by another mechanism altogether, alcohol is positively associated with greater morbidity from colorectal cancer. So this doesn’t mean alcohol will put you at greater risk of getting colorectal cancer, just that if you already have it then get on the wagon and get out of here.

And obviously if you have cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer or Hepatitis C or something similar, you shouldn’t drink any form of alcohol at all. But I didn’t have to tell you that. Like, duh.

HOW TO DRINK FOR BEST HEALTH

Now we are going to run into a problem pretty quickly because a lot of alcoholic drinks are also full of carbohydrates, and as we have explored previously, excessive carbohydrates are a menace leading to metabolic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and dementia; causing dysbiosis of the gut flora which presents as auto-immune diseases; as well as promoting and feeding cancer cells.

For example, a 12oz can of regular beer has about 13g of carbohydrates. If you drank two in a day, you would use up at least half, if not all, of the carbohydrate amount that I think you should be consuming in a day for optimum health (as recommended by the LCHF – Low Carbohydrate High Fat – loving Swedes and a long tradition of Northern Europeans). Now beer does have some nutrients to recommend it – a can has almost 13% of your RDA for Vitamin B6 and B3, and almost 2g of protein. It also has decent amounts of trace metals and minerals. However beer has negligible amounts of anything else. All those carbohydrates for such slim nutritional benefits is just not acceptable, in my opinion. Better to eat carbohydrates as broccoli, salad or tomato sauce.

Now a 5oz glass of wine has about 5g of carbohydrates. Actually it has 4g, but let’s face facts and recognize that you’re never going to pour yourself a measly 5oz glass of wine. For all of wine’s resveratrol and other anti-oxidant potential, a serving has less B vitamins than beer (by half), a little bit of iron and negligible protein. So it’s not a bad option by any means, but it is still a source of largely empty carbohydrates.

Now let’s talk spirits. A serving of spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey, rum and tequila has no carbohydrates to speak of (and no protein, vitamins, minerals or otherwise). All of the sugars have been converted by fermentation into ethanol. The health problem with consuming spirits in moderation arises when you add margarita mix, cola and other cocktail blends. For example, an 8oz vodka tonic has 22g of carbohydrates, whereas vodka on its own has no carbohydrates.

Now there are all sorts of industries popping up creating low carb cocktails (hello, Skinny Girl) and even bartenders mixing up drinks with Splenda and Truvia. And while this is a possibility (but please try not to use nasty artificial sweeteners very often), it would be nice to find an alcoholic drink that is full of bona-fide nutrition.

WELCOME TO HOT, BUTTERED RUM

I’m choosing old-fashioned dark rum, distilled from cane sugar or molasses, because it was the first commercially produced spirit, and one of the oldest spirits humans have experimented with. Which means we might be pretty well adapted to it, all things considered. In its day, rum was considered medicinal and necessary. Again, there is a difference between a daily ration of rum and getting drunk on rum. In the 1600s, the sailor’s rum ration was “half a pint” or about 8oz per day, to be drunk at noon, but it is not known if that ration was pure or diluted with water by thrifty sea captains. A large and active sailor of yore could probably have metabolized a safe 4oz of rum per day and reaped the health benefits. However 8oz per day is NOT what I am suggesting; I am only suggesting between 1oz and 3oz per day, depending on body size.

1.5oz of rum is 80% “proof” or 80% full of health-promoting ethanol. On its own, rum has a pretty harsh kick to it, and burns going down.

To perfect this drink, add 1 Tbsp of pastured butter (Kerrygold, Organic Valley Pasture Butter etc), and top off with boiling water to melt the butter. The butter will give you 12g of fat (7g saturated) – remember that this is a good thing so long as we are not going to add any sugar. Saturated fat from appropriate sources (biodynamically pastured ruminants, for example) is the good fat! Saturated fat is made up of stable molecules, unlike polyunsaturated fats which have unstable electrons which easily oxidize and create damaging free radicals in the body. If you are looking for a safe, stable fat – butter and coconut oil are the bombs. The butter  in this drink also has 8% of your vitamin A for the day and some CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega-3 fatty acids. Pasture butter’s vitamin A is perfectly balanced with vitamin D and vitamin K2 – the golden triad of vitamins for bone, heart and general health.

Now all you have to do is sip this concoction in front of a roaring fire and you are drinking hot, buttered rum.

LET’S KEEP GOING

Your basic hot, buttered rum is still a bit harsh for me.

So I like to add some spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and the tiniest bit of cloves. Maybe a bit of vanilla. Hey, why not some ginger – or add hot ginger tea instead of boiling water!? You could add up to a teaspoon of cinnamon, which contains 28 mg of calcium, 1 mg iron, 1 g fiber, and considerable vitamin C, K and manganese. Cinnamon improves insulin resistance, digestion and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

And then for extra sweetness (and fat!) I add another tablespoon of coconut oil. There are no carbohydrates in coconut oil, but it has a sort of “sweet” mouthfeel to me. The coconut oil will add more CLA along with antimicrobial and antiviral properties. I don’t know HOW you could ever get a cold if you drink one of these every night.

The coconut oil will add 14g of fat (12g saturated). It will also essentially compete with the rum’s ethanol to enter brain cells, possibly protecting against brain cell tolerance to drinking – so that you can keep getting the same “feeling” of mild intoxication at the same level of alcohol. (This is complicated, but when an alcoholic gives up drinking booze cold turkey, her brain is barely able to function because it has sort of been adapted to run on ethanol instead of glucose. Take away the ethanol and the ethanol-adapted brain cells need time to adapt back to glucose, resulting in impaired brain function and withdrawal symptoms – but use coconut oil and the transition is easier and smoother. Short story: coconut oil is awesome for alcoholics too! Both for withdrawal, and for continued abuse!)

MY HOT, BUTTERED RUM RECIPE

I must be really healthy because I've almost finished my bottle of Mount Gay

I must be really healthy because I’ve almost finished my bottle of Mount Gay

  • 1.5 oz dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp pastured butter
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • up to a tsp cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla, nutmeg and cloves
  • mugful of boiling water or ginger tea

Now I throw it all in a blender, Vitamix or Magic Bullet and emulsify it until it turns a frothy caramel color. Pull up a chair to the roaring fire, lean into your knitting and drink up.

Happy New Year!

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REFERENCES CITED ABOVE

(1) Power, C., et al. U-shaped relation for alcohol consumption and health in early adulthood and implications for mortality. The Lancet, 1998, 352, 9131.

(2) Highlights of the NIAAA position paper on moderate alcohol consumption. Press release from the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, July 14, 2004.

(3)  Di Castelnuovo, Augusto, et al. Alcohol dosing and total mortality in men and women: An updated meta-analysis of 34 prospective studies. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006, 166, 2437-2445.

(4) Camargo, C. A., et al. Prospective study of moderate alcohol consumption and mortality in US male physicians. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1997, 157, 79-85.

(5)  Fuchs, C. S., et al. Alcohol consumption and mortality among women. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1995, 332(19), 1245-1250.

(6) Maskarinec, G., et al. Alcohol intake, body weight, and mortality in a multiethnic prospective cohort. Epidemiology, 1998, 9(6), 654-661.

(7) Power, C., et al. Goldberg, D. M., et al. Moderate alcohol consumption: the gentle face of Janus. Clinical Biochemistry, 1999, 32(7), 505-518.

(8) Karina M. Berg, Hillary V. Kunins, Jeffrey L. Jackson, Shadi Nahvi, Amina Chaudhry, Kenneth A. Harris, Rubina Malik & Julia H. Arnsten. Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Both Osteoporotic Fracture and Bone Density
The American Journal of Medicine, 2008 (May), 121(5), 406-418.

(9) Siris, E.S. Identification and fracture outcomes of undiagnosed low bone density in postmenopausal women: Results from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, 286(22), 2815-2822.

(10) Britton, A., and McPherson, K. Mortality in England and Wales attributable to current alcohol consumption. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2001, 55(6), 383-388.

FURTHER READING

An introduction to LCHF

How to Eat More Butter

Pubmed article on alcohol as a risk factor in breast cancer. And another meta-analysis.

What sugar does for cancer (spoiler: promotes and feeds it!) and what a lack of sugar does (starves it out)

Want another weird drink that’s full of antioxidants and spices? Don’t forget to make The Crazy Hot Drink – it’s a Foundation Drink after all.

Why I don’t use hyperlinks within the body of my arguments anymore! I have also finally dug into my pockets for the $30 charge to eliminate ads from my blog. You’re welcome.

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Cancer Is A Metabolic Disease

Image

That is some headline!  What does it mean? It means that cancer, the second-leading cause of death in North America (a hair behind heart disease), is a disease of impaired cellular energy metabolism which causes gene and cell mutations – not the other way around. It means that cancer is rarely genetic, so therapies at the gene level are not going to “cure” cancer. What is going to cure cancer? Understanding its cause, and then preventing those causes from happening. Both: doable now, not at some point in the distant future.

WHAT CAUSES CANCER: IMPAIRED CELLULAR RESPIRATION

Cellular respiration is the term for essentially turning carbohydrates (specifically glucose) into carbon dioxide and water, which releases energy that can be used by the body. There are two steps to cellular respiration. The first step takes place in the intracellular fluid and is called glycolysis: the breakdown of glucose into pyruvic acid. The second step takes place in the mitochondria, where pyruvic acid is stripped of its electrons (oxidized) into carbon dioxide and water, which creates energy. When it all works well, it is a beautiful thing.

BUT WHEN IT GOES WRONG

Cellular respiration goes wrong for two reasons. The first is if a mitochondrion becomes damaged, the pyruvic acid cannot be oxidized into carbon dioxide and water to produce energy. The second reason is if there is not enough available oxygen in the blood (hypoxia), the pyruvic acid cannot be oxidized. Oxidization requires oxygen. In both cases, oxidation cannot occur so cellular respiration is thwarted.

But the cell wants to stay alive and produce energy, so it adapts – and avoids the damaged mitochondrion altogether, and instead uses FERMENTATION in the cellular fluid to produce energy. Handy adaptation, right? This fermentation adaptation has become known as the Warburg effect.

A cell fermenting glucose is the main biomarker for cancer, and is picked up by an MRI measuring metabolic effects on citrate and choline (as in the photo above).

Fermentation is great for an individual cell and it thrives. However the cell can no longer perform any useful actions for the rest of the body. It’s on its own now, a rogue cell, and what it does is multiply. Cancers with the highest growth rates have the highest fermentation rates.

Most cancers are the result of a damaged mitochondrion, not of hypoxia.

WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP READING

I’m going to jump way ahead to keep you interested. Cancer cells ferment glucose, got it? Well what if there isn’t any glucose available?

Hold on, let me bold this answer because it’s going to SAVE YOUR LIFE:

AN ABSENCE OF GLUCOSE MAKES A CANCER CELL STARVE AND DIE

If a cancer cell cannot access any more glucose, then it has nothing to ferment and cannot produce any energy to reproduce or even to exist. It will literally starve and die.

Conversely, glucose accelerates tumor growth. Do you remember what glucose is? It is what all carbohydrates are turned into. Do you get what I’m saying here? Eating carbohydrates makes your tumor grow; abstaining from carbohydrates makes your tumor shrink.

Now if you have been living under the sofa, you might still think that you also need glucose and carbohydrates to exist. Well that’s not quite true! Sure your cells are great at using oxygen to break down glucose – but your cells have another option beyond fermentation. I really need you to pay attention to this:

YOUR CELLS CAN RUN ON FAT INSTEAD OF GLUCOSE

I’m not kidding. This is totally true. It’s called dietary ketosis, ketogenesis, or fat-burning, and I have talked before about how the Swedes are embracing this lifestyle under the banner of a “Low Carbohydrate High Fat” (LCHF) diet. (Not to be confused with ketoacidosis which is the life-threatening condition known to Type 1 diabetics).

When your body runs out of glucose in the blood, and cellular carbohydrate stores have been exhausted, a signal is sent to the mitochondria of liver cells to start producing ketones. This whole KREBS CYCLE thing (also known as citric acid cycle) is initiated: ketone bodies make available energy which is stored as fatty acids, which are then broken down enzymatically into Acetyl coenzyme A (Acetyl-CoA) which is beta-oxidized for energy.

The cells in the body that have healthy mitochondria are going to oxidize the products of the Krebs cycle (such as acetone)  instead of glucose for energy.

But how can a cancer cell oxidize the products of the Krebs cycle for energy if its mitochondrion is damaged? It can’t. The answer is that while the cell can adapt to ferment glucose in the intracellular fluid and bypass the damaged mitochondrion,  the cell CANNOT adapt to ferment fatty acids or the products of the Krebs cycle. Can’t do it! So that cell with its damaged mitochondrion, fresh out of adaptations, will have to perish. Good riddance, damaged cell! And sayonara cancer.

GREAT, CANCER IS CURED. BUT WHY DO MITOCHONDRIA GET DAMAGED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Let’s do a list. Agents of damage to mitochondria:

  1. INFLAMMATION
  2. CARCINOGENS
  3. RADIATION
  4. VIRUSES
  5. OLD AGE
  6. VERY RARE GENETIC MUTATIONS
  7. RAS ONCOGENE OVERACTIVE SIGNALING – responsible for cell growth and division. This is a cause but also an effect of factors 1-6.

What do you notice about that list? Is it that we can actually control some of those impairment factors except viruses, age and very rare mutations? And even viruses we can get a handle on pretty early these days (not to mention the miracle of oregano oil and astragalus root). And very rare genetic mutations are likely a result of carcinogens, radiation or inflammation – so possibly also controllable at some point in your family tree (maybe not helpful for you, but it should be for your kids and grandchildren)?

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD NOTICE

On that list of agents of damage to mitochondria: radiation. Yet another reason why the conventional cancer treatment of RADIATION THERAPY is a future death sentence, even if it buys some time in the present.

Also consider: using any kind of RADIATION TO DETECT CANCER is simply crazy (see: mammograms etc). Basically if you look for cancer long enough with radiation, you will find it thanks to the radiation.

Also on that list: inflammation. What this means is that using SURGERY (which is about as high on the causes of inflammation as you can get) to cut out your cancer can actually cause a lot more cancer. If inflammation causes abnormal cellular respiration, then using inflammatory surgery is not an easy solution for cancer unless you are only concerned with the short game. But more on this later.

NOW LET’S BACK IT UP

I haven’t offered up much supporting evidence so far, so let me be clear that I have sources. I have been suspecting the roles of inflammation and glucose (which can cause inflammation) in cancer for a while now, but was overwhelmed by the detailed research I came across in this really long, boring and expensive ($162!!!) book: “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Prevention of Cancer” by Thomas Seyfried. I will post a link at the bottom.

asametabolicdisease

If you have cancer or care about someone with cancer, you can either take my word for it (don’t do that) or you can order this book. But hurry, only 5 left in Canada! I think you should read the supporting evidence for yourself – over 1,000 scientific and clinical studies demonstrating that cancer can be more effectively prevented, managed and treated when it is recognized as a metabolic disease instead of misinterpreted as a genetic mutation. The genetic mutation is real, but the cancerous genetic mutation is largely the symptom of broken cellular respiration, not the cause.

In Seyfried’s words, from Chapter 9:

“Despite overwhelming evidence showing cancer is a metabolic disease in line with Warburg’s original theory, most investigators today view cancer as a genetic disease where mutations and chromosomal abnormalities underlie most aspects of tumor initiation and progression. The view of cancer as a genetic disease is the dogma driving the academic pursuit for resolution and is what currently underlies the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to new therapies. Each person’s tumor contains mutations unique to that tumor and to that person. Consequently, tailored or personalized molecular therapies are considered to be the future for cancer treatment. This therapeutic strategy has emerged from a widely held view that cancer is a genetic disease. How sure are we really that cancer is a genetic disease?
What if most cancers are not of genetic origin and that the multitude of gene and chromosomal defects seen in cancers are effects rather than causes of the cancer?”

In other words, what’s the point in inventing and fundraising for expensive therapies that target genes when the gene mutations are only the symptom and not the cause – and when the cancer will not be cured by these extravagant and complicated interventions?

THE CURE IS HERE NOW

The first thing I would do if I got a diagnosis of cancer would be to go on a water fast for at least 7 days. So would Thomas Seyfried. I would starve the crap out of my cancer and get my body into ketosis.

I would also change my entire life to eliminate outside stressors, make peace with the people around me, and limit my exercise to walking and gentle stretching and yoga. I would divert my energy towards healing instead of wasting it on exercise. So would Seyfried. He shows that vigorous exercise increases blood glucose due to muscle release of lactate and amino acids. Glucose feeds cancer, so vigorous exercise would be counterproductive.

After that though, Seyfried would go on a conventional ketosis diet with limited inputs (low calories). Basically he has seen the best results with a near starvation diet in the conventional ketosis ratio of fats:carbs:proteins. In case you don’t remember what a conventional ketosis diet is: traditionally the fats must be delivered in a ratio that is 4 times greater by weight than the combined proteins and carbohydrates.

I CAN DO BETTER

Seyfried’s research forté is oncology and cellular respiration. He falls short when it comes to diets. He knows that he needs his patients to reduce glucose and replace it with fat, and yet the only “safe diet” he has encountered to do this is the classic ketogenic diet created for epileptics and modified in the last twenty years to include industrial foods like canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil etc. No friggin’ way! Because those industrial oils are inflammatory! And inflammation damages mitochondria. Enough said.

In addition, Seyfried has a misunderstanding that to get into ketosis and stay in ketosis, it is mandatory to maintain a very specific ratio of fats:carbs:proteins. What is mandatory is the maximum amount of carbohydrates and proteins. The carbs need to be crazy low (say under 10g/day to starve a tumor) and the protein needs to be appropriate for your specific body or less. What is not mandatory is the ratio of fats to stay in ketosis, which can be increased.

Seyfried did not do any research or studies specifically into fat; instead he used his predetermined bias against the safety of fats that pervades our popular culture and medical literature. Let me say this one more time: fats and especially saturated fats are safe and healthy so long as carbohydrate consumption is limited. In this protocol, carbohydrates are especially limited, so fats and saturated fats are extremely safe and healthy. I do not blame Seyfried for missing this conclusion; it was simply outside the scope of his very detailed research.

LET’S REVIEW KETOSIS FOR A MOMENT

Conventional ketogenic diets (for epilepsy) say you must eat 4 times the amount of fat by weight as proteins and carbs. It also specifies that proteins and carbohydrates should be matched equally by weight. So that means if your body REQUIRES 50g of protein, you must also eat 50g of carbohydrates and a whopping 400g of fat in a conventional ketogenic diet. Incidentally, this is an insane amount of food and calories and everything.

This was Seyfried’s problem – that when he presented a cancerous body with 400g of fat a day, plus 50g of protein PLUS 50g of carbohydrates, it was just too much energy – about 4000 calories for a sick person who is not supposed to be exercising. In addition, 50g of carbohydrates was just too much glucose to starve any tumors at an effective rate. So Seyfried experimented with much lower values in the same ratio, and found that cancerous tumors regressed much better in a restricted caloric setting.

For example, the only way Sefried thought a patient could cut back on the carbs in a ketogenic diet was if he also cut back on the protein and fat, according to the ratio. So in order to make the diet work for 10g carbs per day, for example, he would cut back the protein to 10g and the fats to 80g. He thought it was important to reduce the amount of fat being ingested because of a cultural bias against fat and saturated fat. However he did not test for the safety of high fat/saturated fat diets on cancer or write about it; I contend this oversight was a cultural blind spot put there by conventional, outdated nutritional advice.

But I don’t think this is a successful recipe long term because the body requires what it requires for protein, roughly 1g per day per kg of body weight. This intense caloric restriction may be successful (in fact it is) in the short term at regressing tumors, but you will start to suffer without adequate levels of protein. And in addition, you will be really, really, really hungry and you will literally waste away. And furthermore, malnutrition is a huge risk for cancer in itself.

So if you consider that the body requires a certain amount of protein for daily growth and repair, that really doesn’t leave much room for carbohydrates because for every extra carb you must increase your fats fourfold. The trick to doing this successfully is to strip your carbs down to a bare minimum. The body actually doesn’t require any carbohydrates at all – not to stay in ketosis and not for optimum health. However it is almost impossible not to consume them one way or another. Even plain old meat breaks down into glucose at some level. The body makes its own glucose as needed, so you will never really be able to be completely free of it for the purpose of reversing tumors. However you can go pretty far in that direction if you put your mind to it.

SHOW ME A TYPICAL DAY

I think you’re going to want to visualize this with a typical day of eating. The challenge goes like this: if my specific body REQUIRES 45g of protein per day for optimum body growth and repair, then instead of adding another 45g of carbs and a whopping 90g x 4 = 360g of fat (as was Seyfried’s initial model), and instead of completely restricting consumption to 10g protein, 10g carbs and 80g fat, I am going to present another option.

First of all let’s get this out of the way: the barest-bones model. If my body requires 45g of protein then theoretically I could exist on that plus 45×4 = 180g of fat. But what I am suggesting is that we can have a little bit of carbohydrates if we just add some more fat. But we are by no means going to match the protein with the carbohydrates.

The daily menu I am aiming for has 45g of protein, 10g of carbohydrate and 220g of fat.

SAMPLE TUMOR BUSTING MENU

  • FOR BREAKFAST you would have to have a “Big Fat Butter Coffee” (1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp coconut oil, espresso and hot water), 1 egg cooked in 1 Tbsp butter with a cubic inch of cheese shredded or melted into it. This comes out to 10g protein, 1g carbs and 48g of fat. Within the range!
  • FOR LUNCH you could have a salad with 1 1/2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup of chopped cucumber, a cubic inch of grated cheese, 2 pieces of bacon crumbled on top and a dressing made of 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp sour cream, spices and 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar. You would have to eat ALL of the dressing. This comes out to 11g of protein, 5g of carbs and 60g of fat. Within the range!
  • SNACKS are tricky. Pâté and cheese, even on its own without crackers, has too much protein compared to fat – so you would have to also spread butter on or something equally strange. You wouldn’t need any more protein on this “meal plan” I have suggested here, so all you can really can snack on is fat. I would suggest making an unsweetened chai tea (like from a teabag) and emulsifying coconut oil into it as a creamy beverage. This gives you 14g of fat, which is great and filling.
  • FOR DINNER you could have a can of sardines packed in olive oil (I chose that because it’s easy to visualize), a 1/4 stalk of broccoli with 3 Tbsp butter melted on it, and another small salad of 1/2 cup of shredded romaine with a dressing made of 2 tbsp olive oil to 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. For dessert you could have 1/2 cup of whipped cream. This gives you 19g of protein, 5g of carbohydrate and 92g of fat. Just within the range!

DAY TOTAL = 40g of protein, 11g of carbohydrates and 215g of fat, and 2100 calories.

This was really hard! And even after all this work, I was 5g too low on protein, 1g too high on carbs and 5g too low on fat. However this would absolutely keep anyone in ketosis, without starving or feeling hungry whatsoever. This is a lot of fat to get through, and it keeps you feeling really full. But the point of this exercise was to show that you can get into ketosis with a low amount of carbohydrates without resorting to a low amount of calories.

The ratio of proteins to carbohydrates does not need to be maintained to stay in ketosis.

WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO EAT SO MUCH FAT?

That’s a great question. Conventional ketogenic diets required that the grams of fat in the diet be a huge multiple (4x) of the protein plus carbohydrate grams. This heavy handed dose of fat literally guaranteed that children with epilepsy would stay in ketosis and not have seizures. However if you have some Ketostix to measure your ketone level, you can probably observe that in your body you don’t need to be so heavy handed. You might only need 80-90g fat per day to feel satiated, not over 200g. (I will link to Ketostix buying options at the bottom). My point in describing a day in the life of a diet of 220g fat was to show that you don’t need to go hungry to be on a ketogenic diet.

YOU DON’T NEED TO INDEFINITELY STARVE THE BODY TO STARVE CANCER

I can’t see that many cancer patients would choose to live out their days in ketosis if they had to be near starvation every day. It’s just too much to ask, and furthermore IT’S NOT NECESSARY. Just eat an appropriate amount of protein and eat more safe, stable, benign fat for goodness sakes. So long as you keep your carbohydrates under or as close to 10g/day and don’t go overboard on protein (because excess protein essentially converts to glucose), you will stay in ketosis and starve your cancer cells.

In fact, there are thousands of people who are living in ketosis RIGHT NOW, simply as a healthy choice and not because they are reversing tumors or diabetes or anything, and they are finding that they can stay in ketosis without resorting to the 4:1 ratio of fats: proteins and carbs. Their ratios are much less severe, and yet according to their at-home ketosis monitoring strips, their bodies are still metabolizing ketones instead of glucose. The most important part about reversing tumors is that your body must be burning ketones instead of glucose; it doesn’t much matter how you get there.

You can wait for some large scale human clinical trials to be completed. But in my opinion, you don’t have the time. A therapeutic ketogenic diet with less than 10g carbs/day, bulked up with extra fat for satiety, is going to prevent and at the very least arrest most cancers.

ANOTHER BENEFIT OF KETOSIS AND KETONE BODIES

Ketone bodies are anti-inflammatory on your system. They are actually a more efficient fuel, and a preferred fuel, than glucose. Possibly this was an evolutionary pre-cursor to burning glucose. When our system metabolizes ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose, our mitochondrial health is maintained and nourished, which reduces the possibility for cancer to take hold.

NOT ALL CANCERS

There are a few  cancers that do not depend completely on fermentation of glucose. Some cancers can adapt yet again, or simultaneously, from fermenting glucose –  into fermenting glutamine instead. Glutamine is an abundant amino-acid in the body. In addition, glutamine is the preferred fuel source for cells lining the small intestine, so cancers in that area might not respond as efficiently, or at all, to carbohydrate/glucose restriction.  These cancers might require specific drugs that arrest glutamine production from glutamic acid or glutamate.

However it gets a little too complicated for me here because glutamine is found throughout the body and is pretty much essential; not sure if we could survive without it. In fact, a low level of glutamine is typically expressed as a weakened immune system and a more permeable gut (“leaky gut syndrome”) – so basically as auto-immune diseases. I’d hate to remove glutamine from the system to starve off certain cancers only to develop a weak immune system and auto-immune disease. So I’m just not sure for these cancers of the small intestine (and possibly cancer of the lining of the stomach but not the stomach itself), that dealing with glutamine head-on is really the way to go.

However even these cancers will benefit from a nutritional ketosis or an LCHF diet because eliminating excess glucose is only going to be anti-inflammatory and beneficial.

WHAT ABOUT SURGERY?

Only after the patient has tried to reverse tumor growth with a ketogenic or LCHF diet should surgery be used. The initial period with the diet transformation will reduce inflammation, possibly shrink the tumor (seriously, this happens) and make the surgery more effective and less damaging if it still needs to be done at all.

WHAT ABOUT CHEMOTHERAPY AND OTHER DRUGS?

Seyfried is very, very careful to say that he thinks patients should still use traditional drug therapies as an adjunct to his diet protocol (consuming less than 10g carbs/day). He does not come out against chemotherapy or drugs (only against radiation), but he thinks they will work much, much better if the patient avoids glucose and carbohydrates. Chemotherapy is “much better” than it used to be!  However none of us can know what Seyfried would do himself if the situation arose. We all have a personal decision to make when it comes to our own treatment, and we should all be flexible as newer, safer drug protocols are developed.

The main thing I would look at when considering a drug protocol is: does this drug promote inflammation or does it reduce inflammation?

WHAT ABOUT OTHER ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS?

Obviously! Look into the gifts of the Magi: Frankincense and Myrrh. I read about a guy who injected these essential oils into his tumor and made it disappear! Why would these essential oils be given to baby Jesus if they weren’t the freaking most powerful substances ever?

Look into super doses of Vitamin C (between 20 – 100 GRAMS/day), which can act as a non-toxic chemotherapy in some cases, as the ascorbic acid targets cancer cells but not healthy cells. This can be done in addition to conventional chemotherapy with no negative reactions – but it can make the conventional treatment more effective. Vitamin C should be taken in intervals throughout the day because if you take it all at once it doesn’t get absorbed (the expensive pee syndrome). Try out 500mg every 45 minutes while awake – and know that you’ve reached your maximum if you get loose stools. This is a fairly inexpensive and harmless thing to try. This would work best with pharmacologic concentrations delivered intravenously, and I will post the clinical research at the bottom which explains these findings. (There has been a long and controversial debate about this effectiveness, but it has recently been studied correctly and resurfaced).

Don’t fly around the world paying gurus and healers big money for their “treatments of the moment”. But if you read about an inexpensive treatment that DOES NO HARM, then what is the risk? Humans have been curing cancers for millenia before the medical system stopped curing it this century. Why not find out how they used to do it?

You’ll also want to be careful that your new diet isn’t malnourishing you. So that is going to take some concentrated effort. In particular, you are going to want to eat a lot of foods that contain active groups of respiratory enzymes (iron salts, riboflavin, nicotinamide, and pantothenic acid). You can get your dietary iron from grass-fed liver, beef and lamb etc. To be extra certain you are getting these B vitamins, I would try using a topical B-complex cream (I will post a link below). In addition, Vitamin D is known to enhance mitochondrial efficiency – so get outside or take high quality cod liver oil. Finally, melatonin protects mitochondria in bone and brain cells – so either keep your room completely dark at night and get a good sleep or consider a melatonin supplement, especially in a topical cream form (again, I’ll post a link to one at the end).

JUICING, THE STEVE JOBS/DR. DEAN ORNISH CANCER TREATMENT

Juicing, for all its hype, is a diet of pure carbohydrates. This is the single fastest way to get glucose into your blood except for eating candy. Cancer cells need glucose to survive. That’s what cancer cells do, they ferment glucose and multiply. I really don’t need to keep connecting the dots for you, do I?

LET’S TALK MORE ABOUT INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is the one thing you probably have the most control over. Inflammation is so key in the chain of events that lead to cancer that I’m going to make another list of variables that provoke tissue inflammation:

  1. infections, either viral or bacterial
  2. excessive sugar, glucose and carbohydrates
  3. trans fats, oxidized oils, excessive vegetable oils and Omega-6 fatty acids
  4. physical trauma (lacerations, breaks, burns, surgery etc)
  5. smoking
  6. excessive alcohol consumption and most drug use
  7. carcinogenic chemicals (in foods, lotions, workplace etc)
  8. ionizing and even non-ionizing radiation (including x-rays and mammograms, cell phones etc)
  9. stress, worry, lack of sleep, negative attitude
  10. grains, improperly prepared or otherwise
  11. obesity

Inflammation damages cellular mitochondria, impairing oxidation and paving the way for intracellular fermentation. So your primary health goal should be to reduce inflammation at every turn.

WHEN DO I HAVE TO START EATING LESS THAN 10G OF CARBS/DAY?

You really only have to start eating less than 10g of carbohydrates a day if you find out you have a cancerous tumor, and only after you have done an initial water-only fast (or a much easier “fat fast” – fats and broths only). Most adults can function for 30-40 days on just water. If you think doing a fast is hard, you should consider how hard it will be to die and leave your family behind to pick up the pieces. Harsh, right?

Now let’s say you don’t have cancer (yet! Ha! I’m hilarious!) Probably you could get enough of a preventative effect from eating less than 50g of carbohydrates/day, provided you were mostly in ketosis. Let’s just make this a goal, okay? Now let’s say you slip out of it and go on a bender for a few weeks. Well guess what, it’s not the end of the world. Just do a therapeutic fast! Probably as little as 5 days on just water (or a fat fast) could set you straight if you were truly worried. Any cancer that was starting to take hold will be starved out. We all know we’re not really going to bother to do this, but I’m just putting it out there! 

What’s more, it’s my personal opinion that if you are generally healthy, you don’t need to go to the extreme of a water fast to get the benefits of starving cancer cells. All you need to do is a fat/broth style fast – eliminate carbohydrates for a week and you will be in the same place as if you had water fasted, but you won’t be hungry or malnourished.

DO CARBOHYDRATES AND SUGAR ACTUALLY CAUSE CANCER?

No way, not at all. Emphatically NO. Excessive consumption, over a lifetime, will certainly cause inflammation and set you up for metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease etc. However we are clearly designed to flourish on a varying amount of carbohydrates. If your people (the people you are descended from over the last thousand years or so) lived in the tropics year round, chances are they adapted to eating a higher proportion of fruit, fructose and starchy, readily available carbohydrates; whereas if your people descended from the high north, you probably aren’t as well adapted to huge amounts of vegetation in your diet, and might thrive better on meats and fats. Humans are infinitely adaptable in their diets for survival; however it takes knowing where you’re from and understanding your own body to determine what kind of diet makes you personally thrive.

For me, I used to literally faint in public places if I started the day with carbohydrates and not enough protein or fat. Then when I hit my thirties, I noticed that carbohydrates caused my body to expand totally differently than in earlier days. I had to adapt and learn more about replacing most of my carbohydrates with fat. It’s not easy every day; it’s more of a journey to be honest.

AND NOW FINALLY, SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME ENRAGED

youkilledher

Mary and her grandchildren engaged in a sick, sugar-fueled suicide pact thanks to your gift

Fundraisers for cancer research that promote carbohydrate eating and especially that fetishize sugar-laden treats drive me bananas. Do you really want to cure cancer if you are right there in the front lines feeding people cookies and Fruitopia? Please tell me you see the irony if not the criminal negligence in this action.

See:

  • every fundraiser at your kid’s school that sells lollipops, cookies, juice or cake in exchange for a donation to cancer research
  • cancer research advertisements asking you to give money so that Mary can spend one last year with her grandchildren baking cookies
  • kids selling chocolate bars with the pink ribbon on them, or any candy with a pink ribbon on it
  • foundations specifically called names like “Cookies for Kids’ Cancer” (even though it is an honest name – cookies ARE for kids’ cancer since cookies literally feed the cancer)

I am not trying to offend you if you are dedicated to raising money for cancer research (or ANY medical research for that matter) through selling the poison that feeds cancer. But maybe you should examine what you are doing? Maybe sell crafts instead? Maybe don’t support those fundraisers in your kid’s school anymore. After all, your kid is at school to learn something – make this lesson your top priority.

ANOTHER NOTE ON CANCER FUNDRAISING

This is a sore point so I’m not going to get too deeply into this. But cancer fundraising is a huge, multi-billion dollar business that doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with curing or preventing cancer, in my opinion. I might be overstating it. But again, in my opinion, cancer fundraising has a lot to do with funding itself and finding medical interventions for people who don’t want to change their diet or lifestyle, and for economies that don’t want to change their reliance on easy carbohydrates to make a profit.

You should be advised that despite over 1,000 clinical studies showing that cancer is a metabolic disease, and that it can be reversed into remission by eliminating carbohydrates from the diet – the famously esteemed Mayo Clinic is still calling this concept “a myth”. I can absolutely guarantee that if you get a diagnosis of cancer and go to your oncologist and ask what role nutrition or carbohydrates have in cancer, you will be told patronizingly not to worry about it.

However avoiding sugar and reducing carbohydrate consumption is possibly the best medicine and it is FREE. And it causes no harm. I really don’t know what else to say.

Oh yeah, happy holidays.

____________________

Further Reading and Links:

Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer by Thomas N. Seyfried

If you don’t want to read the whole book, read this short version online

Didn’t like my rudimentary glossed-over version of the Krebs cycle/citric acid sycle? Read more about how the body can “run on fat” 

At least read this Chapter 2 available online from Mitochondrial Genetics and Cancer, by Dakubo, G. D. : The Warburg Phenomenon and Other Metabolic Alterations of Cancer Cells

The Steve Jobs Diet, Dr. Dan Ornish, and Vegetarian Cancer from The Bulletproof Executive

Mega Doses of Vitamin C selectively killing cancer cells and sparing healthy cells – a research paper from the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

How to eat LCHF again and what it is

This helpful Australian website by Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar – you can buy her books on Amazon

How to determine how much protein you should eat

An absolutely awesome cookbook that will show you how to eat Low Carbohydrate High Fat for life and enjoy it immensely, no starvation or deprivation whatsoever

Ketosis test strips are really expensive but there are lots of types to choose from for at-home monitoring. Actually, they are super cheap at Well.ca

My favorite topical Vitamin B complex cream, expensive but kind of awesome

A topical Melatonin cream that I haven’t used but looks okay

NEW: Article on radiation in the New York Times: We are Giving Ourselves Cancer

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Reset Days

Sometimes a weekend gets away from you when there are birthdays and holiday parties to host and attend. I’m talking excessive wine and champagne, buttercream cakes, croissants, scalloped potatoes, chips and crackers, candy and chocolate. Well that was my weekend anyway. No big thing, let’s do a reset.

Today I’m going to eat a moderate amount of nutrient-dense food (let’s say 1400 calories for my body size and activity level), and I’m going to consume my proteins and carbohydrates exclusively during an 8-hour window, between noon and 8pm. But I can eat fats in the morning to give me energy and bowel motility for the day ahead. This plan is specifically tailored as an LCHF (Low Carbohydrate High Fat) day to reset my fat burning potential and redirect my body into an appropriate state of ketosis.

START OF THE DAY

I’m going to start with a “Butter Coffee”. I brew a long espresso over a Tbsp of organic, pasture butter and a Tbsp of coconut oil. You could also add some boiling water if your espresso isn’t “long” enough. Then I shake in some organic cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla or a few shakes of vanilla bean powder. Then I dump this oily mess into my Vitamix or blender, and blend on high for about 10 seconds to really emulsify the fats. My long espresso turns from black to creamy caramel. I pour it into my favourite mug and enjoy.

This gives me a lot of energy for my morning, and also gets my bowel motility going pretty rapidly. I’m sharing that because I know you want to know. But I am adjusted to this amount of fat, which is an important detail. Sometimes I do 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of coconut oil. Sometimes I’m just that kooky. If you are not used to eating this much fat, try starting with just 1/2 Tbsp of coconut oil. Maybe the next day add 1/2 Tbsp of butter, and then work up from there. Too much fat too soon can literally make you feel nauseous, especially coconut oil. But if you are adjusted to it, it makes you feel great: alert, energized and moisturized!

Butter Coffee 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp coconut oil: 25g of fat and about 220 calories

BREAKING THE FAST: LUNCHTIME

At noon, or closer to 1pm if convenient, I’m going to eat a pretty easy lunch of a can of sardines packed in olive oil or water (not soybean or canola oil), and a parsley salad.

The can of sardines I have handy (Open Seas Portugese sardines) has 11g of fat and 15g of protein.

parsley saladThe parsley salad is a revelation that I discovered in Istanbul. It’s basically tabouli without the couscous. I take 2 bunches of washed flat-leaf parsley and 1 bunch of washed mint and chop them in a food processor with some cucumber. You can also add some lemon peel, lemon juice, garlic and scallions. Then I add some grape tomatoes and a dressing of olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, a touch of dijon mustard and fresh garlic.

Why this salad is a revelation is that parsley is off the charts with nutrient density. 1 serving of this salad is worth about 2 cups of parsley, which gives you 303% of your Vitamin A for the day, 213% of your Vitamin C, 41% of your iron and 17% of your Calcium – not to mention over 2000% of your Vitamin K1, 46% of your Folate, 19% of your Manganese and 10%o four Phosporous. There’s more to parsley, but the numbers are starting to get boring and smaller.

And as far as macronutrients go, 2 cups of parsley has 1g of fat, 8g of carbohydrates and 4g of protein. This is a salad winner. Add some olive oil and vinegar dressing as the fats and acids will help your body metabolize the nutrients in the salad.

lunchSNACKING

First of all I’m going to drink a lot of tea today, specifically nettle tea. Nettles do a million great things, including stimulating the lymph system and boosting the immune system – great at this time of year.

If I feel like a snack today, I’m going to have some high quality olives. 10 large olives have about 5g of fat and 3g of carbohydrates. In addition to their blood pressure lowering properties (due to high monounsaturated oil content), olives are packed with phytonutrients like phenols and terpenes that specifically interrupt the life cycle of breast cancer and gastric cancer cells, and also protect DNA from oxidative damage.

GET READY FOR DINNER

As I’m calling this a “reset day”, these meals are going to be quick and easy.  I’m going to have a 3-egg omelette for dinner with 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese inside. The whole thing will be cooked in butter. I might add some scallions and hot sauce if I feel like it.

I might have a few radishes on the side as a garnish, or a little scoop of fermented carrots and beets as an additional condiment.

DESSERT

Okay it’s not fair to call this dessert. But it’s the most “carby” item of the day, so it sort of fits into this category. After I’ve digested dinner but before my “8 hour window” is done, I’m going to have 1 cup of home-made whole milk kefir. You could have a little bowl of yoghurt or some whole milk kefir (unflavored) from the store. I really like to finish my day with some heavy duty probiotics like this, so that they can get to work on my digestive system overnight. Also, the sugar and the fat in the milk will keep me from getting at all hungry over the night, and will help guide me to sleep.

LET’S LOOK AT THIS 1400 CALORIE DAY

I think I should just re-state that I don’t “count calories”, but that they are still a handy marker for how much food I have eaten. When I am adjusted to eating more fat, I tend to consume less calories overall and yet feel more satiated.

Today’s meals and condiments break down to a ratio of calories from 70% fat, 11% carbohydrates and 19% protein.

Stated another way: 117g fat (51g saturated), 45g carbs (15g sugar) and 70g protein.

I will also have eaten over 1000% of my daily Vitamin A, over 400% of my Vitamin C, 122% of my Calcium, 84% of my iron, 40% of my Vitamin D, over 3000% of my Vitamin K1, etc.

My Vitamin D from today’s foods is a little low, so I will take my cod liver oil supplements like I always do to compensate. My B vitamins are also a little low (only meeting about 60% of required B6, B12 and Folate), so I will supplement with a topical Vitamin B cream, which is designed to bypass digestion and get right into my cells. I’m also only hitting about 50% of my Magnesium requirements, so I’m going to use a topical Magnesium gel and an Epsom salts bath. And as Vitamin K2 is either not measured in our foods or not present, I am always going to take a K2 supplement (mine comes with Vitamin D as well).

This is a pretty good reset day. Probably a little higher in protein for me than necessary, but basically a good day.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

This week I’m going to do the Butter Coffee regime every morning. For lunch I’ll switch it up with a kale salad and some boiled eggs. For dinner I’ll have lamb chops or wild salmon with some broccoli or leeks. I’ll try to finish off every day with some kefir.

I’ll let you know how long this lasts before I accidentally eat a bag of chips.

SOME FURTHER READING

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Raw Eggs: Let’s Crack this one Apart

Raw Eggs: Let's Crack this one Apart

Here’s what you need to know: eggs are good for you and it is a fallacy that their dietary cholesterol content somehow contributes to high LDL blood cholesterol levels. These are unrelated factors regardless of what conventional dietary guidelines will have you believe.

In the “old days” people were always eating raw eggs. See: grandma and her quirkiness. See the expression: “you don’t need to tell me how to suck eggs” etc. But since the advent of factory farming and industrial, sadistic production of chicken and eggs, it became common for raw eggs to be contaminated with salmonella and worse. So it has become a preventative practice to cook eggs because heat kills salmonella.

My rule is that if you are buying the kind of eggs that need to be cooked so that they don’t make you sick, you should just avoid them in the first place. Because what else is lurking in that sickening, industrial egg? What was the chicken eating? What were the conditions? What kind of drugs and hormones was that chicken on so that it could survive being cramped in a battery cage, pecked nearly to death and surrounded by feces? Don’t just cook those eggs, throw them out to the raccoons. Stop creating a demand for eggs that can hit store shelves for under $3. Seriously, people.

WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN AN EGG

You want eggs that come from a small farm where the chickens actually go outside and get sunshine on their backs. This natural form of Vitamin D is essential for synthesizing all the other vitamins and nutrients that will make your egg nutritious rather than a waste of your time, or worse, inflammatory.

Another reason you want chickens that go outside is because you want them to peck grass and forage for bugs, especially the kind of bugs that hatch out of fresh cow patties etc. Sounds gross, but this is the circle of life and you need to get on it. Eating grass means high carotein content; eating bugs means high DHA content.

FREE RANGE FOOLERY

At the store you will see plenty of labels on eggs stating they are “free-range”. Well all this means from a regulatory point of view is that the chickens have ACCESS to a tiny door which leads to some form of outside pen. This does not mean that the chickens use the access door, nor does it mean that the outside pen has any grass or bugs in it whatsoever. Furthermore, the chickens used in large-scale egg operations are weak, inferior animals (suitable only for laying eggs, really) who are too timid and ill-equipped to go outside, so they generally do not choose to venture out the terrifying access door. What I am saying is that you cannot win with a large-scale operation.

So you are going to have to find eggs from a small-scale operation. My rule of thumb is less than 500 chickens. That way a human farmer can actually keep track of the chickens and their various issues, and can remove sick chickens from the flock and also just act like farmers instead of factory foremen. You can get these kinds of eggs directly from farmers, farmers’ markets, CSA clubs and also in Ontario from the “Small Flock” egg co-op, which is a co-op of farmers who keep less than 500 chickens per farm but sell under one label. And of course you can also just keep your own chickens if you want to be hard core.smallflock

FEEDING FLAX TO CHICKENS

You see the “Omega-3” label on eggs as well, and this just means that the farmer (or factory foreman) feeds a high ratio of flaxseeds to the chickens. Chickens are pretty efficient at metabolizing flaxseeds and producing eggs higher in Omega-3 fatty acids as a result – so this is a valid claim.

However factory eggs also happen to contain 19 times more pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids than pastured eggs, so you can see why it is essential to add some Omega-3 back into them so that they are not a total junk food. Adding in some Omega-3 will reduce the inflammatory effect of all that Omega-6 – but in the end it will not make very much Omega-3 available to you. Tricky, huh?

What you should know is that chickens who eat grass and forage for bugs produce eggs that are just as high, if not higher, in Omega-3 fatty acids – yet they have 19 times less inflammatory Omega-6 issues to mitigate.

So when you see the “Omega-3” label on eggs, what that says is that these are industrial, factory chickens that have been slightly ameliorated with a health claim for more Omega-3s. It’s kind of like adding Omega-3s to a candy bar – at the end of the day, it’s still a candy bar and the inflammatory properties of the candy bar just can’t be magically canceled out by the additions of some Omega-3s. So let’s call these eggs “industrial plus”, but let’s not confuse them with the eggs from small-scale pastured chickens.

EGG NUTRITION

More than half of the protein in an egg is in the white, but most of the nutrients and all of the fat are in the yolk. Misguided conventional nutritional advice favors protein and fears fat, which is why freaky conflations like egg-white omelettes exist. I’m sorry for you if you ever had to eat one of those.

I don’t think you should throw any part of an egg away; I think you should eat the whole egg. But if you were going to favor any part of the egg, favor the yolk.

A big, natural yolk should be bright orange and contain at least 5g of fat, nearly 3g of protein – and no meaningful carbohydrates. The yolk contains 13 essential nutrients including 10% of your Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin D , 5% of your B6, B12 and Vitamin A – all in a super bioavailable package. It is also a source of lutein – for your eyes, and biotin (Vitamin B7) – for glossy hair and dewy skin. However it should be noted that raw egg whites contain anti-nutrients which bind with biotin, among other things, which both make it unavailable and can lead to a biotin-defficiency.

The white of an egg contains nearly 4g of protein – so nominally more than the yolk. The reason everyone has this idea that the whites are soooo much higher in protein is because it is a lean protein, which excites a lot of people who hate fat. There is neither fat nor meaningful carbohydrates in an egg white. So it can totally be used as a pure protein supplement if you are somehow lacking protein – like if you are a vegetarian who eats eggs. But if you are looking for protein, why don’t you just eat the whole egg and get nearly 7g, plus a bonus of all the healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients in the yolk?

EGG WHITE TRICKINESS

While the protein in egg yolks is readily available in its raw state, egg whites contain trypsin-inhibitors which ironically make it more difficult to digest protein. Easy fix is to cook the egg whites, which mostly disables both the trypsin-inhibitors and the anti-nutrient avindin (which binds with biotin). What I am saying is that there is no benefit to eating raw egg whites. Cook them already.

WHY THE CHOLESTEROL CONFUSION?

Two things.

First: When you cook an egg yolk right through, the cholesterol becomes oxidized. When you eat that oxidized cholesterol, it causes inflammation in the body. The body reacts to this inflammation by producing protective cholesterol, including LDL cholesterol. Ergot it has been broadly interpreted that eating eggs raises blood cholesterol serum. A more accurate interpretation is that eating hard-cooked egg yolks can cause inflammation which leads to elevations in LDL cholesterol.

Second: Eating factory eggs, which are freakily high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, causes inflammation in the body which makes the body react by producing protective cholesterol including LDL.

It is very, very easy to fix both these issues. Just use small-farm biodynamic eggs and eat your yolks raw or soft-cooked. End of discussion.

HOW TO WIN AT EGGS

Egg whites are better for you cooked. Egg yolks are better for you raw. So either add raw yolks to your smoothie, or else soft-poach eggs or serve them sunny side up or over-easy. It’s really not that complicated.

My daughter doesn’t like eggs, so I secretly put a raw egg yolk in her breakfast shake some mornings. Recipe = 1 raw egg yolk, 1 cup raw organic milk, 1/2 TBS organic raw cacao, 1/2 TBS coconut oil, 1/4 tsp raw honey from our own bees, 3 drops stevia, vanilla, cinnamon. She falls for it every time.

FURTHER READING

Review study shows eggs do not contribute to heart disease risk, in fact offer beneficial effects

Three Eggs A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The Cruelest of All Factory Farm Products

An article from Salon about the social costs of purchasing factory farmed eggs, meat and dairy, which accounts for 80% of antibiotic use in America.

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Get Your Mag On

Mg12

Photo from the helpful Periodic Table

I’ve talked before about how I recommend using topical magnesium oil as a better method of supporting the body’s magnesium needs (see the “Start Here” link under “Home” in the menu bar). But let me break down my recommendations again:

  1. Rub an almond-sized dollop of topical MAGNESIUM OIL on yourself every night about half an hour before bedtime. Magnesium oil makes your skin a bit itchy, like how you feel after getting out of an intensely salty sea. I rub the oil on my stomach and the leftover on my legs. After half an hour, if the itchiness is still irritating me – I wipe it off. All the magnesium should have been absorbed through my skin by that time.
  2. Take epsom salt baths. There are other kinds of salt baths – like Dead Sea Salts, Brittany Fine Sea Salts, Himalayan Salts etc. All of these are great, and I love to alternate. But if it’s magnesium you are after, epsom salts have the most. Epsom salts are also by far the least expensive. I buy huge tubs of it at Whole Foods in the bulk section for about $2.
  3. Consider taking a magnesium supplement, especially if you are prone to constipation, arteriosclerosis or kidney stones. Magnesium chlorate might be best for you, possibly in powder form – but others are also good. But skip magnesium oxide – it doesn’t absorb very well at all.  This should be taken ideally in the morning and then again at bedtime. You need to pace it out. The problem with oral magnesium is that if you take too much, you can get diarrhea. So at least you always have an easy and relatively harmless way of knowing if you have taken too much. The topical magnesium oil above bypasses the digestive system, so will never give you diarrhea. Hooray for that.

A TELLING EXPERIMENT

Take an ounce of water. You know: a shot glass. Now crush up a calcium pill and try to dissolve that in the water. You will see that it doesn’t dissolve very well and leaves some chalky bits suspended in the water. Now crush up a magnesium pill and add that to the same glass. Suddenly the calcium starts disappearing. The magnesium helps keep the calcium dissolved in solution.

/END OF EXPERIMENT

When you take calcium or even just get a lot of it from your diet – without enough magnesium – this is what can happen to calcium in your body: Calcium will precipitate out of solution and form nasty things like kidney stones, stiff cell walls and arterial plaques.

So first of all, never, ever, ever take calcium supplements on their own. I don’t want you to take them at all, not for any reason. But if you absolutely must because of some deep belief or fear – then please, please take a calcium/magnesium combo. And of course make sure you are also taking Vitamin K2, which also directs calcium to your bones and teeth and away from soft tissues. Please see my book review of “K2 and the Calcium Paradox” under the “Books” tab in the “Home” menu above. (I will provide a direct link below.)

Magnesium won’t reverse arterial calcification on its own; only Vitamin K2 can do that. However to reap the full benefits of Vitamin K2 (and A and D), you will need magnesium for the maximum vitamin metabolism.

magnesium miracle

THE MAGNESIUM MIRACLE

I learned about this easy-to-visualize experiment from a book by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND called “The Magnesium Miracle”. If you want to get hot and heavy on magnesium, this is a great place to start. She promotes a very specific pico-ionic magnesium which is apparently absorbed “100% at the cellular level”! So maybe if you are not seeing profound enough effects with the above recommendations after 3 months, these crazy blue bottles are the way to go. I will link to the product at the bottom of this post, though I haven’t used it.

FOODS THAT ARE HIGH IN MAGNESIUM

  • Wild nettles
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sea salt

I am going to skip right over grains. That’s because although grains have incredibly high levels of magnesium, the magnesium is bound up with the grain’s high phytic acid content – so it is unavailable. Furthermore, the phytic acid can bind with the magnesium in your body and further deplete you. It is a total misunderstanding and marketing ploy to indicate that you can get magnesium from modern grain products. A caveat: if you soak your grains (at least overnight in an acidic solution), you can reduce the phytic acid content and make the magnesium more bioavailable. This is the case with traditional, whole grain sourdough bread. But come on people, we’ve come so far… Just skip the grains altogether!

Likewise legumes, which have the same phytic acid business going on.

BACK UP. REMIND ME ABOUT THIS PHYTIC ACID BUSINESS AGAIN?

Okay listen up. Phytic acid is a storage form of phosphorous which is bound up with grains, legumes, nuts and seeds to prevent them from sprouting. This is why you can store grains, legumes, nuts and seeds for so long without them growing into plants or rotting. Phytic acid does this by “locking down” these minerals: calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc (and others). Locked up means you can’t get them! Not for you!

So if you want to source fresh organic wheat berries grown on magnesium-rich soil, stone-grind them at home for freshness and to prevent oxidizing the fatty acids, then soak the ground flour overnight in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar or whey, and then pour off the phytic acid-rich water and make a sourdough with an extended rise over a couple of days – like, go for it. You can probably get a good dose of minerals from this effort.

What I do is split the difference. I buy raw, organic almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds – which are all rich in phytic acid – and I soak them overnight with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. In the morning, I rinse them all and then put them in a dehydrator at 105F to keep the seeds “alive”. You can also use a low oven setting (ideally 140F or less) for a day or so. If you don’t dry out the nuts, they will go rancid pretty quickly.

Alternatively, you can do the super Ayurvedic thing and soak just 10 almonds overnight, and maybe 2 Brazil nuts, and then eat them “wet” the next day.

Nuts and seeds have more nutritional density and less effect on insulin than grains and legumes.

MORE BORING PROBLEMS: OXALATES

Green leafy vegetables are also rich in magnesium (and other minerals), BUT WAIT! They are also high in oxalic acid, which works just like phytic acid to bind minerals and make them unavailable to you.

Now of course there is a bit of natural buffering going on, but essentially what this means is that if you are trying to do yourself a favor by eating a lot of raw spinach, Swiss chard, and even kale to a lesser extent – you are inadvertently depleting your body of minerals. Which is pretty ironic because spinach, Swiss chard and kale are pretty packed with minerals.

SO HOW DO YOU WIN AT THIS INFURIATING GAME?

This part is easy. COOK your dark leafy greens. Swiss chard, which is particularly rich in oxalic acid, should be boiled, for a long time (!), and then drained of its oxalic acid-rich water.

I know there is a big movement afoot to eat raw vegetables for all of their fabulous enzymes. But the fact is that minerals trump enzymes. Why? Because enzyme action is driven by minerals. Not enough minerals? No enzyme action. Minerals are the chicken that comes before the enzyme egg.

So you should eat the majority of your vegetables (ALL VEGETABLES) cooked. It’s not my fault that we evolved this way.

SOME RAW IS PERFECTLY FINE!

Oxalic acid is not all bad. It’s also a fine antioxidant. So don’t freak out so much.

QUICK SAMPLE LIST OF MAGNESIUM-DEFICIENT SYMPTOMS

  • migraines, pain and insomnia
  • strokes, brain problems
  • cholesterol and hypertension, heart disease
  • obesity and diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia
  • PMS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • infertility, pregnancy, preeclampsia, cerebral palsy
  • osteoporosis, kidney stones and tooth decay
  • anxiety and depression
  • chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, asthma

WHY DID I EVOLVE TO NEED THIS MUCH MAGNESIUM BUT I’M NOT GETTING IT NOW?

It’s our industrialized food system, stupid! Growing food on depleted soil means no minerals. That’s why they add fertilizers like Potash, which is essentially a cheap potassium solution. Potassium is great! But it pushes out the magnesium. Now it’s not available in your crops! Those cheap crops are fed to your “protein sources” like factory-farmed cows, chickens and farmed fish. Are you getting it? What you’re not getting is magnesium.

OTHER THAN SUPPLEMENTING, WHAT CAN I DO?

Buy your vegetables from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group or farmers’ market, and check in on their farming practices. You’re looking for some biodynamics going on – crops fertilized with cow and chicken manure either from the same farm or a local neighbor. You’re looking for naturally mineral-rich soils, or soils that are supplemented with balanced minerals (like Redmond Clay).

Eat pastured meats (grass-fed, grass-finished) like lamb and beef, and true free-range poultry – animals that can absorb the minerals from the soil in the grasses they eat. Use these mineral-rich bones to make stock!

Eat brains and hearts! Brains and hearts are super concentrated with magnesium. Choose young lamb brains and hearts from a butcher you trust.

THE MAGIC OF ROCKS

Did you know that having rocks in a field used to signify mineral-rich and fertile soil? But now we think rocks in a field means the farmer is too poor to remove them and buy himself a tractor. That’s because rocks mess up tractors – from tilling to seeding to harvesting, so we have developed a bias against them. Industrial farmers have to remove the rocks from their fields.  But the rocks were the sweet naturally slow-releasing mineral depositories. Now they have to replace those lost (free) minerals with purchased fertilizers and nutrients. That’s an expensive proposition, and besides, a lot of the fertilizers just get leached away when it rains… Which then accumulate in wetlands and create salty, acidic, life-averse environments. So on every front: bummer.

The CSA I buy my vegetables from uses horses to plow their fields. I’m serious! There are rocks everywhere!

THE VERY BOTTOM LINE

Magnesium is deficient in almost everyone. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is between 300 – 400 mg for adults. Any overdose is self-correcting (you will get diarrhea if you ever take too much). It improves the body’s ability to metabolize other minerals and vitamins. There’s not much magnesium doesn’t help with, and it doesn’t cause any harm.

FURTHER READING

The Magnesium Miracle” by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND

ReMag Pico-Ionic Magnesium drops

Ancient Minerals Magnesium oil, available at Smith’s Pharmacy on Yonge Street in Toronto

My book review of “K2 and the Calcium Paradox”

Arteriosclerosis linked to magnesium deficiency.

Migraines and magnesium

Diabetes and magnesium

Plowshare Organic Farm CSA outside of Toronto that uses Sally and Milly, two fine work horses to plow

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Let’s Make a Pumpkin Pie

Image

First a disclaimer: I just can’t make a sugar/sweetener-free pumpkin pie yet, so if you are looking for an LCHF (Low Carbohydrate High Fat) pie, this isn’t it.

I don’t trust the “sugar substitutes” like Stevia drops and any of the other more complicated industrial sweeteners; I am still turned off by the flavor of green Stevia leaf powder; I don’t eat grain so this is made with an almond flour crust – other nut crusts tend to brown too quickly; unlike the Paleo People, I still appreciate whole fat organic dairy like butter and sour cream, so I use those instead of coconut oil and cream; and finally I can’t just eliminate the sugar without everyone in my extended family ridiculing me ad nauseum.

So this is a very simple pumpkin pie made with some nutrient-dense ingredients (eggs, butter, almonds, sour cream, pumpkin purée) and plenty of free radical-fighting spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, lemon zest, vanilla). This version is not Low Carbohydrate though, it is simply a pie.

START WITH THE CRUST

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Now I’m going to do all the mixing for the crust and the filling in the bowl of my 7-cup Cuisinart food processor – because it’s simple and tidy. Into the bowl, add:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 egg white (reserve the yolk for the filling)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Pulse it up until a dough forms. Press this dough out into a pie plate, and crimp up the edges. Put it in the freezer for ten minutes while your oven gets up to temperature. Finally, prick the pastry with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, until the crust is barely brown and dry on the surface.

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NOW LET’S MAKE THE FILLING

Don’t even wash your food processor bowl; I’m sure it’s fine. Now add:

  • 2 eggs plus the reserved yolk
  • 1 can of pumpkin purée or equivalent freshly baked pumpkin
  • 1 cup of full fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of rapadura or coconut sugar
  • 3 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 TBS freshly grated ginger
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp powdered cloves or less
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Pulse a few times until all mixed together. When the crust has finished its 10 minutes in the oven, remove and fill right to the top with this mixture. It will be pretty runny, but the eggs will make it set nicely.

Image

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook for at least 50 minutes or until it is barely “jiggly” in the center, and before the crust starts to brown too much.

The filling is going to really puff up, and then will deflate a little as it cools.

Serve heated with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

A NOTE ON NATURAL SWEETENERS

Honey is great but I like to use it raw, so never in baking. Agave nectar is too high in fructose, so basically no better than HFCS. Regular table sugar and brown sugar have been really refined, so are missing their trace minerals.

Better to choose maple syrup or molasses for your wet applications, as they are both high in trace minerals. And use rapadura (also called Sucanat) or coconut sugar crystals for your dry applications, as they are simply evaporated, so also high in trace minerals.

Trace minerals don’t make maple syrup, molasses, rapadura or coconut sugar good for you; they just make those sweeteners less of a waste of your time. They all have basically the same 4 or 5g of sugar/carbohydrate per Tablespoon – so are interchangeable depending on what flavor you are going for.

In this recipe, I used 1/2 cup of rapadura, which imparts a mild sulphurous molasses note, and 3 TBSP of maple syrup for a sweeter, earthier note. There is even more natural sugar incorporated from the pumpkin purée, but at least its sugar effect is moderated by its own soluble fiber.

NUTRIENT BREAKDOWN

This makes a huge pie. If you divide it into 8 really generous slices, each slice has:

  • 19g carbohydrates (13g sugar, 4.7g dietary fiber)
  • 26g fat
  • 8.4g protein
  • 135% of your Vitamin A RDA
  • 12% of your Calcium RDA
  • 12% of your iron RDA
  • trace minerals

I am pretty satisfied with this ratio of fats:carbs:protein at 67:23:19, especially since I know the generous amount of cinnamon and fat will help lower blood sugar spikes resulting from this dessert.

But if you are worried about pleasing your crowd, I would suggest adding at least 1 TBSP of maple syrup, some vanilla and cinnamon to the crust recipe, and possibly adding another TBSP of maple syrup to the filling. You might also cut back on the powdered cloves because some people find them overwhelming.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING CANADA!

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Sending Out An S.O.B. (Save Our Brains)

We are all worrying about it. We have all noticed changes in our our memory, our attention and our behavior. I’m talking about what “the internet” is doing to our brains.

I took my worry to a book, because it is still my opinion that long-form authors can contemplate the strongest research and compose the deepest arguments. There are at least ten books on this topic to choose from now; I read some book reviews (online!) and chose “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr.

Okay if this is a book review, then here’s my review: great book. But this isn’t really the place for a formal book review; this is a blog, and you are reading it online, so what you are really doing is just skimming the screen in an “F” pattern looking for BOLDED INFORMATION and being distracted by hyperlinks and flashing ads. Turns out even though I’ve tried to keep it simple and engaging, you’re probably not even reading any of my posts from beginning to end, as I have logically expected you to.

BUT IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT

It’s the fault of our limited human short-term memory. Carr uses a fabulous metaphor that transferring new information from our short-term memory into our long-term memory is a slow and limited process, much like trying to fill a bathtub with a thimble. The bathtub is our long-term memory – and it is actually infinitely fillable, theoretically. But the bathtub can only be filled with a thimble. There’s a serious bottleneck of information at that thimble, and adding more information doesn’t help it transfer to our long-term memory. Making the thimble bigger might help, but that is not what the information age is doing, and I don’t have any specific ideas on how to hack the brain to increase this transfer rate.

APPLYING THE METAPHOR TO THE SCREEN

When we read a page online, the information is frequently surrounded by other distractions: there are the friendly icons at the bottom of our home screen, there are the indicators on your mail and text icons that you have a new message, there is a warning light on your reminders icon or equivalent that you still have things to complete today; on a specific webpage, there are sometimes ads on the sidebars or at the bottom which are helpfully targeted precisely to your needs, there are hyperlinks embedded within the text to help you define tricky words or pop culture references, or to direct you to further information or a buying opportunity.

We may think that we have the self-restraint to push forward through these distractions, and it may help on some level if we do practice the discipline of maintaining focus on the task at hand (reading through this page, for example). However the real problem is that in our unconscious mind, we are being distracted by the ads and hyperlinks because we are unconsciously trying to make decisions about whether or not to click on a link. Trying to make all these, albeit unconscious, decisions taxes our working memory. It uses up some of the thimble. Now if we are also consciously regarding the hyperlinks and ads and consciously trying to decide whether to click on a link or an ad, then we are using even more of the thimble. There is not much room left in the thimble, or in our working memory, to transfer any information into the bathtub or long-term memory. The result is a shallow, at best, retention of the information.

THE THIMBLE IS SHRINKING

Now there are many references to research by legit organizations (Stanford etc) which show that test subjects retain information from a printed page better than from a screen. Hands down. You can go and read the book and look up the research, or you can just take my word for it.

You will remember the details and context in a news article better if you read it in a printed newspaper than if you read it online. This is easy to test for so go ahead and design an experiment at home with your family, and see the results for yourself. Comprehension and retention are impeded by reading online. The distractions and choices inherent in online reading and surfing tax working memory and make the thimble smaller.

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO

Well I’m certainly not going to tell you to stop reading online, to cancel your internet account or to look down your nose at the incredible advantages that the internet information age has brought us. But I am going to offer you some behaviors that you can adopt to mitigate the changes in your brain from our ubiquitous web surfing.

  1. Read paper books. Books are not obsolete. The physicality of books still has a relevant function. Paper books allow the brain to gently relax into a state of deep reading and thinking. Books do not overtax the working memory (except for certain hyper-footnoted books – anything by David Foster Wallace comes to mind). Books are a great way to move information from short-term memory into long-term memory. I especially like to underline and make notations in books – adding a physical component to my visual exercise helps me remember. This is not distracting, this is enhanced learning. Neurons that fire together wire together.
  2. Read physical, long-form journalism. Most magazines are simply excuses for selling ads. If you want to protect your brain, read magazines with limited ads that are truly maintained through subscriptions and foundations. My favorite example is Harpers Magazine, which is consistently excellent. I also love reading The New Yorker and The Utne Reader. I can admit that The Economist bores me to tears, but it would be a great contender for long-form journalism. The Atlantic Monthly is alternatively filled with astounding articles and pandering infogendas. Read these in their physical manifestations. Only go online to look up out-of-print articles, then print those out and read them.
  3. Listen to long-form radio productions. NPR and the CBC usually have a story longer than 5 minutes every day. I’m not talking about a talk show. Howard Stern is not there to enrich your long-term memory. Our most ancient style of learning is obviously auditory; hearing the different voices and textures of life is similarly an enriching learning experience, which fills the thimble efficiently and lets you transfer information to long-term memory. Alternately, attend lectures that hopefully aren’t full of soul-sucking powerpoint presentations.
  4. Practice mindfulness. This is a very basic and non-denominational method of stilling your mind chatter. In addition to formal meditation practice, it is useful to engage in mindful listening, mindful eating etc. Even when you are at your computer, try to engage fully in one task at a time. (That means don’t talk on the phone while also checking your email, reviewing your calendar, dreaming of a holiday, buying school supplies online and drinking your coffee. Ease up already!)

ELITIST? HELL YA

Are these mitigating suggestions elitist because it costs money to buy books and magazines, attend lectures and hire a mindfulness coach, but the internet is free? Sort of. But there are libraries, for now, where books and magazines can be freely borrowed. You can listen to radio documentaries and probably learn mindfulness from a book or a friend. The fact is, good information has to be paid for. Good information has to be researched, fact-checked, edited, crafted by experience and presented in an intellectually and aesthetically compelling manner. That has never come free, does not come free and will never come free. If that offends you, then support a library so that people less fortunate than you can also read journalism and fiction.

I would like to be among the few who still has room in my working memory to transfer information to my long-term memory. I would like to retain a richness of memories and experiences to draw from so that I can think deeply about ideas, form considered opinions and have wisdom in my old age. I do not want to erode this process because of my addiction to technology and end up a listless, shallow shell of a human – someone who is easily distracted by bright colors and baubles. Let that happen to everyone else. They will be easier to care for and sell to, after all.

NO MORE HYPERLINKS EMBEDDED IN BODY OF TEXT

So for my small part, I made a decision not to imbed hyperlinks into the body of my text anymore. Instead, if I think a link is going to be helpful, I will submit it at the bottom of my post.

WHY BLOG AT ALL

Writing this blog was really my own form of mitigating forgetfulness. I read so many books and plow through so much information, but find it difficult to retain it all. One of my best strategies for learning was to make sure someone else was reading a certain book at the same time as me, and then engage in long conversations about the book. These conversations would force me to go back to the book and make references, and to reconsider my point of view based on the other reader’s impressions – behaviors that deepen learning. Usually these conversations would raise even more questions and I would seek out another book for further answers. This was imminently helpful. But I ran out of humans that could be interested in reading books at the exact same time and with the same intensity as me. What a betrayal that people have different interests than mine! My mom is the only one who keeps pace with me nearly book for book, and I try to keep pace with her books in return.

Writing these posts is really just a chance for me to process the books and information that I have been reading, either in the absence of long conversations or in addition to them. This is my way of extending the time this information is in my working memory, so that my little thimble has more of a chance to transfer information into my long-term memory. In addition, once the information has been posted, I can refer back to it at any time when my long-term memory fails me, giving the thimble another opportunity to fill the bathtub. I can re-read the posts whenever I need to deepen my memories of it.

NOW YOU CAN GET CLICKING AGAIN

The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains” by Nicholas Carr

Harper’s Magazine

The Utne Reader

The New Yorker

Petition to save Toronto’s Public Libraries

Wiki site on Mindfulness

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Super Matcha Fragilista

Super Matcha Fragilista

Oh brother, another drink. The thing is, I just assumed that everybody was already doing this but it turns out I need to hammer this message home:

YOU NEED TO DRINK MATCHA EVERY DAY

I’m talking tea ceremony! Fancy whisk! Drinking from a bowl!

Matcha is finely stone-ground, high quality shade-grown, steamed green tea leaves. You spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into a lovely bowl, add some water just south of boiling (60-70 degrees Celsius), and whisk it until frothy and dissolved. If it doesn’t froth well, then what you’ve got is crappy powdered green tea, not matcha. The whisk is supposed to be bamboo (called a “chasen”), and your whisking style is supposed to be in a Z pattern. Think Zen. Hey, if no one’s watching: whisk how you like.

GREEN TEA VS MATCHA

Green tea has a ton of benefits; we all know that. But see if you can get through this next paragraph without having a FOMO panic attack and brewing yourself a preventative cup:

Green tea increases the metabolism while also reducing appetite. Polyphenols work to intensify fat oxidation. Green tea regulates glucose levels, preventing high insulin spikes. It relaxes blood vessels so changes in blood pressure don’t lead to heart attacks; also, reduces high blood pressure and protects against blood clotting. It rebalances cholesterol ratios – more good, less bad. It targets cancer cells without damaging the surrounding cells. It delays Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s deterioration, protects brain cells from dying and restores damaged brain cells. Catchetin in green tea is an antioxidant which destroys bacteria and viruses that cause throat infections and cavities. L-Theanine in green tea is an amino acid that imparts tranquility and eases depression. Green tea is full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, so will protect against aging and disease in general. Phew, tell me you’re drinking some already!

The problem is, you need to regularly drink at least 2 cups a day for these benefits, and probably a lot more. Drinking that much tea is so exhausting.

SO LET’S CUT TO THE MATCHA

Matcha has all the benefits of green tea (catchetins, amino acids), but possibly 137 times more. That’s kind of a huge multiple, so let me back it up with this study from the University of Colorado in 2003. To break it down, the antioxidants in a bowl of matcha tea are 137 times stronger than in a cup of the green tea specifically available at Starbucks, which is to say: stronger than low quality green tea. Most of the green tea available in the West is low quality. So if you can get your hands on some really fancy imported high quality green tea, and if you infuse the leaves at least 3 times, then possibly matcha is only 3 times richer in antioxidants than your custom import. But why go to all that trouble when high quality, organic matcha powder is readily available at health food stores, tea shops and high end groceries – and is usually sold right next to the bamboo whisk.

Matcha powder was invented by a Buddhist monk, Eisai Myoan in the late 1100’s. He introduced it to his fellow monks as an early biohack – using it helped the monks calm down and prepare for meditation. The secret weapon: L-Theanine. This is an amino acid and a glutamic acid which crosses the blood-brain barrier and induces changes in brain alpha waves and reduces mental and physical stress. Combined with caffeine, L-Theanine improves cognition, promotes faster reaction times, and increases working memory.

You only need one cup a day, and should start with a small amount of matcha powder (1/4 tsp). I’ve been using it for a pretty long time, so I tend to shovel the powder in. But I pay for it. There is A LOT of caffeine in matcha powder, and even though it is slow-release and alkalizing (rather than fast release and acidifying like coffee), you are still going to feel it. Don’t drink this at night unless you are trying to catch up on a whole season of Breaking Bad.

There are also warnings about drinking matcha with milk, as a latté, as conventional dairy milk can reduce the antioxidant effects of the tea. So try almond or cashew milk, especially homemade from soaked organic raw nuts. But I’m not terribly worried about a bit of steamed milk, especially if it gets you to start enjoying matcha. Something is better than nothing.

RITUAL NOT CONVENIENCE

Drinking matcha tea should be a ritual, not a fast-food convenience. See if you can keep a little bowl, a whisk and a small tub of matcha powder at your office or place of work, and enjoy this every morning.

When I’m out and about, I am often tempted to order a Matcha Latté from Starbucks or the Whole Foods café – but be warned that these chains use a matcha powder that is really low quality and diluted with sweeteners. Always ask for unsweetened (it will still be sweetened, just less so), and know that you are having a treat, not a healthful beverage.

Finally, a shout out to my cousin Kyra who forgot her matcha tea ceremony set at my cottage six years ago, which turned into me appropriating it and discovering a new love. THANKS!

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Back to School Bagels

Back to School Bagels

This can actually happen, people. Bagels without grain. I mean, the Oopsies are a game-changer because they are perfectly LCHF. But these come close.

Let’s Talk Macronutrients

This recipe makes 6 bagels, which break down to 7g carbohydrates each, plus an amazing 18g of fat and 11g of protein. Your ratio for one of these is 69% fat, 13% carbs, 18% protein. Pretty ideal.

(Compare that a classic bagel has 45g of carbohydrate, 1g of fat and 9g protein – you can see that it is the opposite of a low carb high fat product. If you eat a classic bagel, you are probably going to feel full, bloated and yet simultaneously hungry. You can see why Dr. William Davis chose to put a stack of bagels on the cover of his best-selling book, Wheat Belly!)

Now if you add a few ounces of cream cheese or nut butter, or cheese and salami, or a fried egg with bacon and cheese… OMG I could go on and on.

But for people who still remember fruits you could do the classic Australian breakfast: toasted grainfree bagel smeared with ripe avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sea salt. Throw a tomato on top, preferably fried in bacon, and life is pretty good.

To make this really easy on yourself, do this in a food processor (like a classic Cuisinart).

Back To School Bagels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Into the bowl of a food processor, add:

1.5 cups almond flour
.25 cup golden flaxmeal
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp sea salt

Pulse a few times to blend.

Break into a large measuring cup or similar:

5 eggs
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Stir this up with a fork and then pour the wet mixture into the adding funnel of your food processor while you pulse everything together.

Now it gets a little messy. If you are a tidy person, you can carefully spoon this thick dough into a buttered DOUGHNUT PAN (mine is from Crate and Barrel).

If you are not as skilled, scoop the dough into a pastry bag or a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner. Pipe the dough out into clean circles in your doughnut pan.

Seeds on top help this to “look” more like a bagel, as eating is a visual exercise. So over the top of the bagels, sprinkle:

.5 Tbsp sesame seeds

Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 6 bagels.

After you’ve perfected these, start adding cheddar, scallions, garlic powder, poppy seeds, onion powder, jalapeños, cinnamon and raisins, or whatever you feel like.

It’s as if you just inherited your own What-A-Bagel.

One Last Note (of Caution)

You couldn’t actually take these bagels to school, even though they are called Back To School Bagels. They are made with almond flour, and schools don’t allow any kind of nut product anymore. So these are technically for breakfast before school, unless you go to some awesome nut-loving school or are home-schooled, you lucky freak.

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