Monday, 16 April 2012

Food Ratios

It is always interesting to think about the ratio of vegetable to meat intake and what is appropriate.  I find myself leaning toward thinking we should eat a higher percentage of plant matter.  However, in daily practice, end up eating a lot more meat.

Recently having exchanged a purple onion craving for a liver pate craving has been an interesting recent occurrence for me.

I still wonder why I was craving purple onion so much for several months.  I had read that the closer to a paleolithic regimen, the more organ meat cravings would set in.  So it is curious that I since I have become more strict, once again, that a liver craving has set in.  Is it the long-chain polyunsaturated fats (LCP) that my body is yearning for?

What is most interesting to me is that when adopting a vegetarian way of life (a lot of grain - wheat - and cheese), which may have been wrong but I see many vegetarians eating this way even now, and I was frequently ill.  When I brought meat back into my regimen, I felt better immediately with no apparent negative repercussions.

When my regimen reduces grain, dairy and refined sugar to none or almost none, I do not appear to become ill (viral) and when I increase that intake (during special occasions such as Christmas and Easter),  I don't feel any differently at first but gradually begin to decline.  The end result is a feeling of great fatigue, some minor joint pain and clearly being bloated (measurements prove this).  It is always a relief to get away from those 'treats' that end up, ultimately, replacing the amount of meat and plants in my regimen.

So why do I begin to feel so poorly even only 3 to 5 days into a grain/dairy (some refined sugar) increase?  Is it that I am replacing a higher fibre source (fibrous plants) and lower my LCP intake too far?  It is an interesting idea.

This is today's read that I am pondering:

 "...Chimpanzees are closest to humans genetically, sharing more than 98% of their DNA code with humans, and their digestive tract is functionally very similar to that of humans[citation needed]. Chimpanzees are primarily frugivores, but they could and would consume and digest animal flesh, given the opportunity. However, their actual diet in the wild is about 95% plant-based, with the remaining 5% filled with insects, eggs, and baby animals.[105][106] Some comparative studies of human and higher primate digestive tracts do suggest that humans have evolved to obtain greater amounts of calories from high-quality sources such as animal foods, allowing them to shrink the size of the gastrointestinal tract, relative to body mass, and to increase the brain mass instead.[91][107]

A difficulty with this point of view is that humans are established to require certain long-chain polyunsaturated fats (LCP), such as AA and DHA.[108] Human LCP requirements are much greater than chimpanzees' because of humans' larger brain mass, and humans' abilities to synthesize them from other nutrients are poor, suggesting readily available external sources.[109] Pregnant and lactating females require 100 mg of DHA per day.[110] But LCPs are nonexistent in plants, and DHA is also almost nonexistent in most tissues of warm-climate animals.

The source of DHA in the modern human diet is fish and fatty organs of animal like brains, eyes and viscera. Despite the general shortage of evidence for extensive fishing, thought to require relatively sophisticated tools which have become available only in the last 30–50 thousand years, it has been argued that exploitation of coastal fauna somehow provided hominids with abundant LCP.[109] Alternatively, it has been proposed that early hominids frequently scavenged predators' kills and consumed parts which were left untouched by predators, most commonly the brain, which is very high in AA and DHA.[110]

Just 100 g of scavenged African ruminant brain matter provide more DHA than is consumed by a typical modern U.S. adult in the course of a week.[110][111] Other authors suggested that human ability to convert alpha-Linolenic acid into DHA, while poor, is, nevertheless, adequate to prevent DHA deficiency in a plant-based diet.[112]..."


Friday, 6 April 2012

B Vitamins

B vitamins are, for many, the biggest favour a person can do for their body. Ten years ago, I couldn't believe the difference they made in my life.  That said, there are caveats at the beginning.  And many people worry about becoming 'addicted' to vitamins.

First of all, I believe it's always wise to be worried about becoming addicted to anything.  It makes a person careful, watchful and aware of themselves.  In my view, this is always a good thing.  That said, I have taken very high levels of vitamins (therapeutic doses) and now require them very seldom.

So here are some things I learned while researching to figure out what vitamins I wanted.

First of all, multivitamins are practically useless.  Putting the same stuff in your body day after day means that your body eventually doesn't even recognize it.  This is the addiction issue.  Also, most people resorting to 'suddenly' taking them, are people with health issues that include fairly severe vitamin deficiencies.  So giving a severely B deficient person a multi with only 10 mg of Bs, is kind of like giving someone dying of thirst one drop of water.  Think it'll save them?  Doubtful.

Should you get your doctor's advice before setting up an intensive protocol for yourself?  Of course.  At the time I did this though, I did not have a doctor to consult with, so I did a LOAD of research beforehand.  Now, I know more than the last doctor I spoke to could tell me and I'm happy to have this knowledge... but self-experimentation has risks and people should be very clear about that.

Case in point, don't take niacin at 100mg if you're not used to it. You'll get a niacin flush. It feels like you are internally combusting. I know, I've done it... a couple of times. The first time was on purpose to see if it would happen to me. (I don't trust a lot of literature and tend to 'test things out') lol The second time, I ate a piece of chicken at the same time. Good lesson though.

That said, I went back and cut those B100s in half and worked my way to a full B100 when I first 'cleaned up' my life.  I continued to take this level for years, slowly weaning myself off. The last few years, I only need a B50 occasionally.

It's worth taking a B50 for a while, to avoid 'flushing' then one and a half of those for a while, and then trying a B100 WITHOUT eating meat right before or right after. Take 2-3 weeks to work that in, then you're gold and should be fine with a B100.  To get 100mg of Bs from a multi, in some cases, you would have to take ten pills... which might put you over the top with some of the metals in the multis.  If you feel you must take a multi, which I have at times just supplemented my Bs on top of it.  So 10mg of Bs in the multi, I cut off a bit from a B100, ground up the rest and put it in the garden.  That way I felt it wasn't being wasted.

Also, never get timed release Bs. You can damage your liver over the long term. Those are really only for special scenarios that should be overseen by a doctor. You know I don't say that very often, so please, see a doctor before doing timed released Bs as they will need to evaluate you liver from time to time in such a case.

Most people who are short on Bs, are short on (everything of course) zinc. So I did 25mg every other day for two weeks, then took two weeks off. Now of course, I only take them for an occasional boost.

B12 must be taken with folic acid as too much of one will unbalance the other. This is especially important for women wanting to have more babies (spina bifida).

B12, methyl form, is immediately useful to the body. It is a sublingual and is absorbed by the tissue under the tongue. B12, cyano form, needs to be converted by the body before it is able to be used. If you lack the conversion enzyme, your body can't use it. That said, any people have had great success with both forms. Both B12 and folic acid are very helpful and important. I will repeat, even more important for women of child bearing years, to aid in the prevention of spina bifida.  Please supplement these BEFORE you even realize you want to have a baby, so that when you're ready, you're covered.

There's more to know about B vitamins and getting them naturally from your food. You can read about fermentation (LABs - Lactic Acid Bacteria) and sources of meat high in Bs. Not only is fermenting foods fast and easy, it makes for easy side dishes and snacks, provides healthy food instead of junk food. AND they can provide you with extra Bs you weren't getting, but maybe needed. LABs do not need be acquired via a dairy source.

hth K:)


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Barefoot: Can Fallen Arches Be Rehabilitated?

Barefoot running is something I have recently become interested in.  I suppose it was only a matter of time since I lean toward 'old ways of living'. I prefer to call it "Earthy Living".

Nevertheless, over the years I have wondered, why do we all have fallen arches with all of the foot healthcare that goes into our daily lives?  Our feet are protected, coddled, padded, painted, massaged, etc.  Then it came to me... Are shoes like a corset?  Corsets historically left women with barely enough muscle to sit up on their own because the corset took over the job and the core muscles (stomach and back) became lax and eventually could no longer do the job of holding their person upright.  This very thing is referred to in the book, "The Corset - A Cultural History" by Valerie Steele,

"...weaken the back and abdominal muscles resulting in atrophy..."


Side Effects of Corsets

"...Abdominal muscle atrophy: Corsets worn extremely tight can cause the body to become dependent on them for support of the torso, allowing the abdominal muscles to waste away from lack of use..."

What if we have done the same to our feet?  What if the very things that were supposed to 'protect' our feet, have actually done damage to them and everything around them? (fallen arches, weak calves)  What if this is the source of so many leg problems today?

Steele's book goes on to state that if atrophy has not been extended too long or too far, it may be possible to rebuild muscle strength and integrity.  Might the same type of philosophy exist for fallen arches and weak calf muscles from walking in an unnatural heel-toe pattern?

It's a hopeful way of thinking. After all, witness the extremely out of shape humans who move on to look fabulous simply by virtue of working multiple muscle groups in their bodies.  And not only do they look fabulous, they are stronger and healthier than in their previously flabby state, even if that flabby state was 'thin'.

And so I decided to try strengthening my feet and all the connecting muscle groups around them by doing some barefoot exercises.  Some information I found on the internet were very helpful regarding retraining one's self to walk or run 'properly'.  I used some of the techniques and found them to have some seeming validity.

Everyone seems to agree that this is something that should be done gradually:

One site explained that a very quick way to learn the pattern of barefoot life is to begin by walking on gravel.  So I did that on the first day.  "Ouch".  I ended up with my arms in the air looking like I was trying to fly somewhere rather than walk.

That said, it certainly did illustrate the type of 'setting down' of the foot that one is more naturally inclined to do without the use of shoes.  It is more of a roll from the outer ball of the foot toward the inner ball of the foot while evenly spreading the weight over the upper 2/3 of the foot.

Here is a pretty good example on Youtube of how the foot should move.

Another site went on to explain that the calf muscles are extremely under-worked after years and years of heel-toe walking.  I found this to be true when I tried my first 2km run the next day on a track. (A track because it will take a good long time for me to be able to run on gravel I think)  The first interesting thing is that, though slower, I could run the whole 2km, and could have run farther very easily.  I do not yet know if this is because I was barefoot (socks only) or because I've reduced my grains to only once a week (popcorn on movie night).  However, either way, I did run the whole distance without stopping to walk at all.  My calves definitely started feeling taxed after the first time around the track.  It wasn't too hard to work through it but I did limit myself only to 2km to prevent over-stressing my gastrocnemius and my soleus (where I am definitely feeling some strain today).

There are two possible benefits from barefooting:  Earthing by Dr. Sinatra and correction of fallen arches (which is my goal).

According to,

"...Correcting Arch with Ankle Strength
The large gross movement muscles in the ankle can also help fix your arches. Standing calf raises work these muscles. They are done by placing your toes on the edge of a stair or raised surface with your heels hanging down and then lifting yourself up onto your toes. This will make your heels higher than your toes. This movement help to restore the arches of your feet and strengthen the entire foot and ankle complex as well...", 

This is exactly the type of motion one performs naturally when not wearing shoes.

And the Society for Barefoot Living has posted some very intriguing and inspiring study notes that have been published through the ages, of the possibility of correcting fallen arches.

And so I will continue with my experiment as I get both the benefits of a molecular exchange with the earth and nicer looking calf muscles.  I will take before and after photos and post them if there are, in fact, visible changes.

For now, I will say that my starting point measurements, as of 2012-04-04, are:

just under the kneecap: 31cm
widest point of calf:  36cm
10cm above the top of the ankle bone: 27.5cm
ankle bone: 22cm
Description of the back of the lower leg: non-descript.  No apparent muscle visuals even upon flexing.

Can I rehabilitate my fallen arches or are they too atrophied at this point and beyond repair? :queue mystery music here: