Nut Wars, Part 2
- Created on Saturday, 15 September 2012 10:19
I have been following some of the debate on the veggie forum about nuts. I have been encouraged to participate, but instead, I am going to make some comments here.
There has been a lot of positive research on nuts, showing that they protect against heart disease and even encourage leanness, although that seems paradoxical to many, especially to fat-o-phobes. They want to reject the research because, not infrequently, it has been paid for by the consortium of nut growers. The implication is that that research must be rigged.
However, the fact is that conducting medical research is expensive, and it has to be paid for by somebody. If nut growers are not supposed to pay for research on nuts, then who is? The drug companies? The US taxpayers? As long as the research is conducted independently, and the nut growers provide only money, then I don't see a problem with it. The mistake being made is assuming that nut growers have undue power over medical research institutions the way drug companies do. They do not. Drug companies control the curriculum at medical schools, the output and editorial policies of medical journals, including the leading ones, and they control the dictates of the leading medical boards and institutions. They indeed have an undue influence over medical research. But nut growers have no such power. I appreciate the fact that nut growers believe in their product enough to sponsor scientific research about it.
Another issue I have seen raised as an objection to nuts is that they are "acid-forming" and may lead to weak bones. One study was cited in which nuts were added to a conventional diet, and it was found that they did increase the acid load, resulting in increased chemical markers for acidity. However, the kind of person who eats nuts regularly as part of a healthy diet is not eating a conventional diet. Anyone who is eating nuts every day is probably also eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are highly alkaline. In fact, I have found that those who eat a plant-based diet based on fruits, vegetables, and nuts, tend to have no problems with acidity. In fact, they tend to be alkaline, and the urine ph will often be very alkaline, such as 8. In Medicine, the official dogma is that average urine ph is acid, around 6. But that is no doubt due to people eating conventional diets. When people eat high fruit and vegetable diets and avoid or minimize meat and animal products, the urine is usually alkaline, even as high as 8. That's a huge difference. And even when nuts are included, the urine is still alkaline. In fact, I'm inclined to think that the acid-forming effect of the nuts is a good thing; it helps prevent excess alkalinity. I believe that people can get overly alkaline from diet, which can lead to Candida and other yeast problems, and I believe it directly weakens the immune system. As long as you are eating fresh fruits, green salads, and steamed vegetables every day, the "acidity" of nuts is not a problem and may even be a blessing.
But, let's continue the reasoning on this, and we'll use me as an example. I've been eating nuts every day for the last 40 years, so if anyone should have been harmed from it, it's me. Have my bones been damaged from eating nuts? Well, let's consider the evidence. I am 61 years old, and so far, I haven't lost any height. Well, if I have it's a tiny fraction of an inch. I meet people in their 40s who have lost height, so I think I'm doing very well that way. I am also doing well with my teeth. The density looks good in my dental x-rays, and the main probem I have is with wear from grinding, but that's a separate issue. My teeth are definitely holding up, and remember that teeth are just specialized bones. I have not done a bone density test, but I have no worries about it whatsoever. I am sure that my bones are fine.
Of course, the biggest complaint that the other side has against nuts is that they are high in fat. But, the idea that fat is bad is just a mindset; it's a perspsective, and a very biased one. And it is not a bias that anyone was born with. The natural instinct of humans is to relish fats, not avoid them. The oldest known human food is the walnut. Walnuts, just like the ones we have today, have been around for over 1 million years. They are native to western Asia, and it's known that humans (that is, humanoids, pre-homo-sapiens) ate walnuts. We know that because the shells fossilized, and have been found in "human" settlements and encampments. So, it turns out that we have been eating nuts not only throughout all of human history but even during pre-human history. Unless there was caveman named Mcdougalla who was going around telling everyone not to eat those nuts, chances are they ate them and enjoyed them.
You can't overestimate how deeply ingrained nuts have been in human history.
"Recently there was an archeological dig in Israel where researchers found evidence showing that nuts formed a major part of man’s diet 780,000 years ago. Seven varieties of nuts along with stone tools to crack open the nuts were found buried deep in a bog. The nuts were wild almond, prickly water lily, water chestnut and 2 varieties of both acorns and pistachios. The pistachios and water chestnut are similar to those found in the Far East and northern Europe today."
"Native Americans would place a nut in the depression of a stone, then hit it with another stone called the “hammer stone” The shelled nuts were eaten whole, and also were ground with mortar and pestle to make flour, or a nut butter. Nuts used were beech nuts, chestnuts, hickory nuts, and black walnuts. After removing the nutmeats, the shells were used to fuel their fires. Sometimes the nutmeats were cooked, and when the broth cooled, the congealed fat would be taken off and saved for later cooking."
There are hundreds of varieties of nut trees, and they grow spontaneously on all the continents of Earth except for Antartica, where there are no trees at all due to the cold. Of course, most are entirely unknown to most people. I remember when I lived in Oregon, the forests where I used to hike had scattered groves of butternut trees. The nuts were small, but the shells were soft, and I could easily extract the meats by hand. Butternuts are incredibly delicious- and I mean really creamy and exquisitely good. But the trees were never developed commercially probably because they are very slow-growing. Butternut trees used to grow all across the northern US and southern Canada, but there aren’t too many left. But all across Siberia, there are still gargantuan cedar trees which produce what are called cedar nuts. I have never had cedar nuts, but I am told that they are very delicious and very nutritious.
The macadamia nut is actually the only native Australian food that is under wide cultivation in the world today, although nearly half the world crop is still produced in Australia. I have bicycled through the immense macadamia orchards in New South Wales. It’s quite a sight. For tens of thousands of years, the Australian Aborigines made use of the macadamia nut as a dietary staple. And there are dozens of other Australian nuts used by the natives and considered part of “bush food” such as bunya nuts and candle nuts.
Any tree that produces an edible seed is considered, generally speaking, a nut, and the natural world is teeming with them. Most nuts are oil-bearing although a few store energy as starch, such as the chestnut.
So why did Mankind gravitate more towards eating grains? It was because of agriculture. Grains produce a crop in one season- a few short months. But, if you plant a pecan in the ground, as squirrels do all over Central Texas where I live, it could be 10 years before you have a significant crop, and there is plenty that can go wrong within that 10 years to prevent harvesting. That is why, up until quite recently, nut culture had more to do with horticulture (growing for the fun of it) than agriculture (subsistence). It takes a sophisticated economic model to make nut growing pay off commercially. But grains can be grown quickly and stored rather easily, and that is why on a subsistence basis, they prevailed over nuts.
But, are there really human societies that live on nothing but starches and fruits and vegetables? The answer is no. There are societies in which starches and produce weigh heavily in the diet, but not exclusively. Vitamin B12 deficiency alone would have stopped such a practice, and I mean by killing off the ones trying to do it. I eat some grains, and I am not opposed to them. But, I value nuts much more highly. If I were forced to give up one or the other, I would ditch the grains and hold on to my nuts (no pun intended).
The Nut War is getting nasty
- Created on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 03:05
Presently, there is a war going on in the vegetarian community over nuts. Some doctors, such as McDougall and Esselstyn, are adamantly opposed to nuts. And other doctors, such as Fuhrman and Greger, are in favor of nuts. The attacks have been coming from the anti-nut side on various blogs and forums.
I stand staunchly on the side of Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger, except that I’m not as polite as they are. I say that it is INSANE to demonize nuts. The only thing more insane is to demonize air or water.
We are born into the world and the first food we experience is our mother’s milk. It may be our entire diet- or close to it- for the first two years of life. And it has got over 50% of its calories from fat. So, we are conditioned from birth to a creamy taste.
Australian researchers discovered in 2009 that humans have very sensitive fat-detectors on their tongues. Those particular taste buds enable us to determine whether fat is present and how much. And even when the researchers tried to deceive the subjects by creating look-alike foods that were expected to have fat but didn’t, and where they duplicated the creamy texture but without actually including fat, the subjects could easily tell the difference. Our drive to consume fat is every bit as powerful as our drive to consume sugar.
Once weaning occurs, a human toddler gains access to the whole wide world of natural foods, and there are plenty that are teeming with fat. There are fatty nuts, which include all the nuts except for a rare few, such as chestnuts. There are fatty seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, and more. There are fatty fruits like avocado, olive, durian, and others. There are fatty legumes like peanut, soy, cocoa, and more. And there are even a few fatty vegetables such as artichokes. And obviously, if animal foods are consumed, they are teeming with fat as animals do not store calories as carbohydrate to any great extent. Animals store food calories as fat. So, fats are ubiquitous in Nature, and the human drive to eat fats is universal and deeply rooted in our genes. Instead of condemning fats, wouldn’t it better to separate the good ones from the bad ones, and to eat the former and eschew the latter?
The ironic thing is that the fat-o-phobes ridicule the carb-o-phobes for condemning carbs, but it is just as extreme and unnecessary to condemn fats as it is to condemn carbs.
And raw nuts are among the very best of fats. Nuts are highly nutritious. Nut oils have been found to be thermogenic (fat-burning) cardio-protective, and to have protective antioxidant effects. Nuts are extremely satiating, where they satisfy hunger for many hours while supporting good energy throughout the day. Nuts have a much better mineral component than do grains, including whole grains. Compare the calcium and magnesium content of almonds to brown rice. There is no comparison.
I have eaten nuts every day for the last 40 years, and I have maintained the same lean, solid build that I had 40 years ago. If they were going to make me fat, don’t you think they would have done so by now? And I have every intention of continuing to eat nuts every day for the next 40 years.
Statin drugs found to increase arterial calcifiction
- Created on Sunday, 12 August 2012 15:20
Newly published research reveals that more frequent statin drug use is associated with accelerated coronary artery and aortic artery calcification, both of which greatly contribute to cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.
Published Aug. 8 th 2012 in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers studied patients with type 2 diabetes and advanced atherosclerosis and found that coronary artery calcification "was significantly higher in more frequent statin users than in less frequent users."
Furthermore, in a subgroup of participants initially not receiving statins, "progression of both coronary artery calcification and aortic artery calcification was significantly increased in frequent statin users."
What is perhaps most alarming about this new finding is that statin drugs have already been shown to significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, prompting the FDA on February 27, 2011 to add "diabetes risk" to the warning label of all statin drugs marketed in this country.
Now, with this latest discovery, it is safe to say, not only do statins likely induce type 2 diabetes, but they also accelerate the cardiovascular complications associated with the disease -- a painfully ironic and highly concerning fact, considering that statins are supposed to reduce cardiovascular disease, not accelerate it.
Dr. Uffe Ravnskov says that this is only the tip of a massive iceberg of statin-induced adverse effects, including heart failure.
If you know someone on a statin drug, especially someone who also has diabetes or is at risk of developing it, please tell them about this.
My cholesterol isn't high, so taking a drug to lower it is not part of consciousness. But even if it were high, I would not take a statin drug. I would sooner live with high cholesterol than take a statin drug.
Fish oil found to reduce inflammation
- Created on Friday, 10 August 2012 20:32
Fish oils -- which contain omega-3s -- may reduce proteins that cause inflammation, which are linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes, U.S. researchers say.
Study leader Janice Kiecolt-Glaser of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research Ohio State University School of Medicine said study participants, who were either overweight or obese, were given supplements of fish oil in different doses, while some got placebos.
The study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found both higher and lower omega-3 fish oil doses helped reduce inflammation.
"If you can't have fish that frequently or you're not that fond of it, the fish oil supplements clearly have benefits for your immune response," Kiecolt-Glaser said in a statement.
"Anyone can experience inflammation, but research at the National Institutes of Health showed it could be more a problem in the presence of excess body fat," Kiecolt-Glaser added.
Even though I believe strongly in the benefits of a plant-based diet- meaning that it's composed mostly of unrefined, whole plant foods- I still take fish oil. I know that radial vegans object to it and discourage it.
But, I am going to point out again, that strict veganism wasn't even possible for a human being until the latter half of the 20th century. We must assume that there were no populations of vegans living long-term on a pure vegan diet prior to the latter 20th century. Or I could use the term "successful vegans". And by that that, I don't mean anything pertaining to money and income. I mean "biologically sucessful" where you thrive and survive and reproduce.
The issue of Vitamin B12 deficiency alone would have stopped a vegan in his tracks, and Vitamin B-12 wasn't discovered til the year of my birth: 1951. It was quite a few years after that that it was realized that it depended entirely on getting animal foods, and where vegetarians were especially susceptible. And it was discovered in relation to unsupplemented vegan women who went through pregnancy without Vitamin B12- with disastrous results.
Therefore, pure, absolute veganism is only possible for humans because of science and technology: the manufacture of Vitamin B12 supplements. The means for that did not exist until modern times, and even the knowledge of it did not exist until quite recently.
So, I agree with the idea that humans tend to lean towards veganism in their dietetic character. But, it's not absolute thing, and there is absolutely no historical basis for it until very modern times.
So, what happened in the past when people tried to live on plants only? Well, if they made exceptions, even occasionally, it may have been enough to carry them through. That's because the minimal requirement for Vitamin B12 is only 1/28,0000,000,000 of an ounce a day. Plus, the body can store vast amounts of it. Plus, in ancient times, there may have been inadvertent animal food consumption, such as animal waste, animal larvae, insect eggs, etc. That kind of thing may actually have carried the day as well- on a very marginal basis.
So, I, personally, don't lose any sleep about consuming fish oil because I realize that it's more natural for a human being to be near-vegan than all-vegan.
But, if a person doesn't want to consume fish oil, then I think they should take the DHA that is derived from algae. But they should also take Vitamin B12. And they should also take Vitamin D3., which is also an animal product. And as far as replacing that with the vegan alternative Vitamin D2, I say DON'T! Vitamin D2 is NOT good for you. And it's just I who says so. That John Cannell, the head of the Vitamin D Council, also says so.
Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis- Get to know it
- Created on Monday, 06 August 2012 19:13
Hundreds of Americans each year are diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). It is a rare serious allergic reaction to medications that causes the skin and mucous membranes to react severely, literally burning from the inside out as blisters and severe skin burns form.
In its later stages, SJS develops into Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), which can be life-threatening, as large areas of the skin slough off, exposing the patient to infections, sepsis and death. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against pharmaceutical companies for knowing about the risk of developing TEN from taking their drugs but inadequately warning users. To this day, many consumers are still unaware of these risks, even though a class action lawsuit is already underway.
About 300 new diagnoses of SJS are reported every year. Plaintiffs in Stevens Johnson Syndrome lawsuits and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis lawsuits cite numerous symptoms and complications. The drugs involved have included over-the-counter NSAIDS like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil; antibiotics like Zithromax, azithromycin, Z-Pak, amoxicillin; Cox-2 Inhibitors like Bextra, Celebrex, Vioxx; anti-seizure medications like Dilantin and many more.
SJS is a severe allergic reaction to medication that begins with flu-like symptoms and a rash, and can lead to blistering, severe peeling, open sores, and even death. About 5% to 15% of patients with Stevens Johnson Syndrome die, which is why it’s imperative that patients are closely monitored under the close supervision of hospital staff. SJS recovery can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of the case, which can rack up tens to a hundred thousand dollars or more in medical bills.
In Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, large sheets of skin detach from the body, and the same happens to the mucous membranes, such as the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina. TEN symptoms are often preceded by 1 to 2 weeks of fever, followed by a rash over large parts of the body. The top layer of the skin fills with fluid deposited by the body’s immune system, usually as a result of a negative reaction to the drug. The skin then begins to sag from the body and can be peeled off in large sheets, leaving the patient vulnerable to infections that can result in sepsis – the leading cause of TEN death. Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis can also cause mouth blisters that make eating difficult, as well as eye problems such as swelling, crusting, ulcers and blindness. About 30% to 40% of TEN patients die.
Possible TEN and SJS complications include:
Secondary skin infection (cellulitis)
Sepsis (blood infection)
Eye problems that can lead to blindness
Internal organ damage
Permanent skin damage
Medications Linked to SJS & TEN
Stevens Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis can be caused by almost any medication, including antibiotics, anticonvulsants (like Dilantin,) sedatives and over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. The following list of SJS medications and TEN medications are most commonly cited in Steven Johnson Syndrome lawsuits, although this is not a comprehensive list:
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS):
Cold Medicines Containing NSAIDS:
Advil Cold & Sinus
Motrin IB Sinus
Aleve Cold And Sinus
Sulfa-Based Antibiotics (Sulfonamides):
Cox-2 Inhibitors pain relievers:
Diuretics such as:
Topical Ocular Medications:
Americans have been living in a fools’ paradise when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs. The inherent danger and toxicity of pharmaceutical drugs is largely ignored- certainly by doctors, but even more so by patients. The sad irony is that they are rarely necessary, and there are almost always better, safe, more natural ways to deal with health problems.
Low-Carb Diets Increase Risk of Heart Disease
- Created on Friday, 13 July 2012 17:57
This is from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
"A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet greatly boosts risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. The diets of nearly 44,000 Swedish women were tracked for about 16 years. Those who ate a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein increased their risk of heart disease. Here is the math: Every 10 percent decrease in carbohydrate intake or increase in protein intake resulted in a 5 percent increased risk of heart disease. The risk of heart disease increased even further as carbohydrate intake fell and protein intake climbed. Women sometimes adopt low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss, however, this study and many previous studies show low-carb and high-protein diets to be dangerous."
I took a look at that study, and it also found increased cardiovascular mortality and total mortality among the women who adopted the high-protein diet. It will be interesting to see what Dr. Ravnskov has to say about this study, and I'll be surprised if he doesn't address it.
Even though I have the greatest respect for Dr Ravnskov for doing battle against the anti-cholesterol and pro-statin mentality in Medicine, the fact is that I still think that a plant-based diet is best. I don't say that it has to be entirely vegetarian, but I certainly think it should be largely vegetarian. I say that because there is simply no good reason to eat a lot of animal food. There is no need for it based on protein, on iron, on calcium (milk) or on any other need. Loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables is, of course, a good idea. And other plant foods, such as raw nuts and cooked beans and legumes, are also healthful and desirable. And although grain-bashing is very popular on the Internet, I am not opposed to whole grains either. So, simply by including the full range of plant foods, which include, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains, one is going to have the makings of a broad and varied diet, and it doesn't leave very much room for animal foods. But, if one incorporated a little animal food, along with a preponderance of plant foods, a good health outcome can still be achieved, and that is my considered opinion.
But one thing is very clear: loading up on meat and other animal foods three times a day is an unwise practice, and one is asking for trouble in doing it. So, don't do it.
The OSWALD INNOCENCE PROJECT has begun
- Created on Friday, 13 July 2012 03:47
I am happy to announce that a project that began because of my vision has come to fruition: the Oswald Innocence Project. It concerns the JFK assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald's complete innocence on the grounds that he was standing outside watching the motorcade at the time the shots rang out, as caught on camera by James "Ike" Altgens in the famous Altgens6 photograph.
The Innocence site is loaded with information and images, including many comparative collages. And there is a way in which you can become a member of the Oswald Innocence Project, for which there is no cost or obligation. We simply ask that you endorse the following statement:
Long-term use of drugs to remedy heartburn can lead to complications
- Created on Sunday, 01 July 2012 15:05
Do not take acid-blocking drugs. Like every other human being on the planet, you need your stomach acid. It helps you digest your food (protein), and it protects you from disease. It's not easy to concentrate all that acid in the stomach, and the healthier and more vigorous you are, the more you make. Think of a low-acid stomach like a low-power battery- one that is almost expired. If anything, you want to take steps to increase your stomach acid- not decerease it. Medicine has got it all wrong.
The first time Jolene Rudell fainted, she assumed that stress as a medical school student had gotten to her. Then, two weeks later, she lost consciousness again.
Blood tests showed Ms. Rudell's red blood cell count and iron level were dangerously low. But she is a hearty eater (and a carnivore), and her physician pointed to another culprit: a popular drug used by millions of Americans like Ms. Rudell to prevent gastroesophageal acid reflux, or severe heartburn.
Long term use of the drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, can make it difficult to absorb some nutrients. Ms. Rudell, 33, has been taking these medications on and off for nearly a decade. Her doctor treated her anemia with high doses of iron, and recommended she try to manage without a PPI, but that's been difficult, she said.
As many as four in 10 Americans have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and many depend on PPIs like Prilosec, Prevacid and the famous "the purple pill," Nexium, to reduce stomach acid. These are the third highest-selling class of drugs in the United States, after antipsychotics and statins, with over 100 million prescriptions and $13.9 billion in sales in 2010, in addition to over-the-counter sales.
But in recent years, the Food and Drug Administration has issued numerous warnings about PPIs, saying long-term use and high doses have been associated with an increased risk of bone fractures and infection with a bacterium called Clostridium difficile that can be especially dangerous to elderly patients.
Studies have shown long-term PPI use may reduce the absorption of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12, and might reduce the effectiveness of other medications.
Other research has found that people taking PPIs are at increased risk of developing pneumonia; one study even linked use of the drug to weight gain.
Drug company officials dismiss such reports, saying they do not prove the PPIs are the cause of the problems.
But while using PPIs for short periods of time may not be problematic, the drugs tend to breed dependency, experts say, leading patients to take them for far longer than the recommended eight to 12 weeks; some stay on them for life. Many hospitals have been starting patients on PPIs as a matter of routine, to prevent stress ulcers, then discharging them with instructions to continue the medication at home.
"Studies have shown that once you're on them, it's hard to stop taking them -- it's almost like an addiction," said Dr. Shoshana J. Herzig of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
PPIs work by blocking the production of acid in the stomach, but the body reacts by overcompensating and, she said, "revving up production" acid-making cells. "You get excess growth of those cells in the stomach, so when you unblock production, you have more of the acid-making machinery," she said.
Moreover, proton pump inhibitors have not been the wonder drugs that experts had hoped for. More widespread treatment of GERD has not reduced the incidence of esophageal cancers. "When people take PPIs, they haven't cured the problem of reflux -- they've just controlled the symptoms," said Dr. Joseph Stubbs, an internist in Albany, Georgia, and a former president of the American College of Physicians.
And PPIs provide a way for people to avoid making difficult lifestyle changes, like losing weight or cutting out the foods that cause heartburn, he said. "People have found, 'I can keep eating what I want to eat, and take this and I'm doing fine,"' he said. "We're starting to see that if you do that, you can run into some risky side effects."
Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, a physician who specializes in integrative therapy at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis, said, "We put people on PPIs, and we ignore the fact that we were designed to have acid in our stomach."
Stomach acid is needed to break down food and absorb nutrients, he said, as well as for proper functioning of the gallbladder and pancreas. Long-term of use of PPIs may interfere with these processes, he noted. And suppression of stomach acid, which kills bacteria and other microbes, may make people more susceptible to infections, such as C. difficile.
Taking PPIs, Dr. Plotnikoff said, "changes the ecology of the gut and actually allows overgrowth of some things that normally would be kept under control."