Archive for the ‘Diet’ category

Fat and Stupid

September 4, 2012

A new American study has come out saying that metabolic syndrome (MetS) has a negative impact on cognition and brain structure. Infowars, that bastion of objective reporting run by Alex Jones, is crazily reporting that this study was undertaken by the pharmaceutical industry in order to have a pretense to begin manufacturing drugs for the purpose of reversing these outcomes. Also being claimed by Infowars is that this is all done with the goal of population reduction through pharmaceuticals.

Okay, that may be, I don’t really know. However, it seems to me that the study is merely showing a correlation between MetS and lowered cognition/brain size, and that there are many reasons to believe that nutrition is a causal factor in this case. So, wouldn’t it be easier for somebody who becomes aware of this to just change his diet to one that doesn’t cause MetS? Granted, I know that is easier said than done in many cases, that many people don’t know a thing about nutrition, and most don’t really care anyhow (they engage in higher risk). But this problem is far easier to solve than in cases where studies show lower cognition and brain size in those with malnutrition, because usually the malnutrition is caused by poverty.

Drug companies are going to produce a drug for any perceived illness. They don’t need a correlation between MetS and cognition to justify making drugs for fat idiots. There already exists metabolically damaged people, there already exists stupid people, there already exists metabolically broken stupid people; of course drugmakers will look for chemical solutions to these problems, that is what they are in business to do. How does one get to the conclusion that this is a population control scheme when one merely notices the correlation between these two factors? That’s just stupid (though not fat).

However, since I am into the whole conspiracy theory stuff, I will bring up one thing that I often notice in studies such as this. Many of the conclusions derived from the dietetics and medical literature is often based upon non-causal ideas. Often, observational studies showing a correlation of factors just aren’t rigorous enough to come to a valid conclusion, yet many in the field try to pass such conclusions off as settled science. I see this all of the time, and it almost always has to do with meat studies undertaken by vegetarian researchers. The study above doesn’t appear to do this to such an extent.

However, since I love shoddy conclusions based upon correlation, here’s my take: The results of this particular study could very well be due to the fact that a lot of Americans are fat and a lot of Americans are stupid, and that a correlation was ensured by the shear numbers of fat idiots in America. If this is the case, then maybe the researcher’s conclusion is actually entirely wrong, because surely if they are American researchers then some of them will be stupid (and probably really fat). If this is true, then maybe they got it backwards, and it is stupidity that causes MetS in the first place. Therefore, we should only trust this data if the researchers involved are really skinny. I call it ‘The circular-correlation, fat idiot researcher theory’.

Note: I must add that I am of the opinion that stupidity most certainly has an effect on health and health choices.

Update: Damn These Hands

August 2, 2012

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and that I have been battling it for about 13 years. I also mentioned that I was going to engage in a little self-experimentation to try to isolate the triggers of this debilitating ailment, the first being dairy (whose reintroduction was suspected of causing an earlier flareup). Well, I am happy to conclude that I have found that it was definitely the dairy that was increasing the prevalence of symptoms.

During this experiment the tendency of overuse of the muscles of the wrist and hand were increased, as I increased my playing of guitar and drums, and my work (which is physical in nature) was steered toward more heavy use of the hands. So, while the other triggers increased, the outlier (dairy) was eliminated entirely. Within a week the numbness of my fingers began to subside and nighttime flareups disappeared entirely. However, what really sealed the deal (that the cause was dairy) was that when I had dinner at my mother’s house last weekend, she served a salad that had mozzarella cheese included. This allowed me the opportunity not only to not offend my mother, but to also allow a small reintroduction of dairy to further substantiate my conclusion.

That small reintroduction of dairy resulted in a flareup of symptoms the following night, as well as having no feeling (other than tingling) in the fingers of my left hand for a few days thereafter. However, since it was only a small dose of casein and it was a solitary instance, these symptoms disappeared within 3 days.

Conclusion: 1) Casein (the protein of dairy foods) causes an autoimmune response that leads to inflammation in those who are sensitive to casein. 2) I am sensitive to casein. 3) Those with CTS should investigate whether their CTS symptoms are exacerbated by ingestion of casein.

On a side note, but still related, gluten is a protein that is very similar to casein, so it also makes sense to investigate the role of gluten in causing inflammatory symptoms to arise. Since I had already eliminated all gluten-containing foods prior, it was not a factor in this particular experiment.

Note: the rest of my diet during this two-week experiment was a reproduction of the two weeks prior to the experiment (when symptoms increased) thanks to Fitday.

Damn these Hands

July 14, 2012

I’ve been dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) for about 13 years or so. I remember around when it started, back when I was about 19 I would wake up in the middle of the night with my hands numb, tingling and burning. This would go on all night long, every few hours waking to extreme pain caused by inflammation squeezing down on the nerves to my fingers and thumb. It really is no fun, that’s for sure.

A while ago, when I gave up grains, dairy and legumes, all of this inflammation went away and I never had to deal with these waking bouts of pain. In fact, I thought that I had kicked it entirely, that is until about a month ago.

A month ago four things came together, all of which are possible culprits: I went back to work (manual labor), I started playing guitar more often, I started practicing drumming more often, and I reintroduced dairy into my diet. I am currently looking for a different line of work, but the reason for that goes beyond my current job’s impact on my CTS (I just hate my job). As for guitar, well, I don’t know that I can just stop, it is just a part of me (same with drums). I would probably cut my hands off before I would give up guitar (or drums), more out of spite (to my hands) than anything. So, that leaves dairy.

When it comes to figuring this stuff out, one must take into account that it can be compounding variables causing the problem, or it can be just one, so one must do a little self experimentation to weed out those that aren’t causal. All of the activities mentioned (work, drumming, guitar) are things that I’ve done in combination over periods of time without having CTS symptoms rear their ugly head. So, it only makes sense that I should begin my self-experiment with the one thing that is the outlier: dairy.

To be honest, it makes perfect sense that dairy might be the problem, because not only have I been indulging quite a bit lately (Kerrygold Dubliner is like heaven), but the casein in dairy is highly inflammatory for those who are sensitive/allergic to it. To be honest, I don’t know what my sensitivity level is with dairy, because I quit eating dairy at the same time that I cut grains and legumes from my diet (both of which I am ultra-sensitive to). So, beginning today, I will not be eating any dairy other than butter (which I don’t have any reactions to).

Just a little something that I’d like to add for those who have CTS but have tried everything in the book. Something that has certainly helped me in the past is a little thing called the ‘NSD Powerball‘. Basically, it is a weighted gyroscope inside of a ball that fits in your hand. What you do is get the weight spinning and use your hand in a circular motion to keep the weight spinning. As you spin it, it creates a counter force to the circular motion that your hand is doing. The faster you spin it, the more force it creates. Some people might think that this would be counterintuitive, that CTS is caused by overactivity of the wrist and hand, but this isn’t always the case. Much like the fact that many cases of chronic back pain are caused by a weak abdominal section, thus causing an imbalance and inflammation of the back muscles, the same is true of carpal tunnel syndrome (in some cases). Sometimes the inflammation of the muscles that go through that tunnel is due to the lack of exercise of the countering muscles. For those who know what CTS is like, anything is certainly worth trying.

I will certainly keep you posted on how this self-experiment turns out. I have a feeling that the reimplementation of dairy is going to prove to be the culprit. If it is, that doesn’t mean that I must give up dairy entirely, it just means that I will have to be more moderate regarding its use in my diet. After all, I freaking love cheese.

Note: I wish to thank Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and Mathieu Lalonde for the wealth of knowledge that they’ve provided me in the past regarding nutrition. You guys are awesome!