Ötzi The Ice Man: Agriculture Didn’t Do Him Any Favors

5,300 years ago in what is now the Oetzal Alps between Austria and Italy, a man that researchers today decided to name “Ötzi” lived and also met an untimely and suspicious death.  His frozen and mummified body was discovered at nearly 11,000 feet of altitude melting from glacial ice in 1991 by a pair of German hikers.  Archaeologists considered this the discovery of the century—an intact, frozen semi-prehistoric man.  His body and possessions were almost perfectly preserved.  He was about 46 years of age, 5’2” (fairly average height for his day) and evidently a person of some higher status due to the quality of his possessions.  His likeliest cause of death, as forensic researchers determined, was actually murder…but his health was anything but stellar the day he died.

Even though he lived several thousand years ago, Ötzi was already quite clearly a neolithic (agricultural era) human, even as he may have also hunted for some of his food along the way.  Let’s just say that agriculture didn’t do Ötzi any favors.  For starters, he apparently suffered severe tooth decay and even had the grains that helped cause that still stuck in his teeth when they discovered his body.  Along with lousy oral health he also showed signs of suffering arteriosclerosis and advanced arthritis.  He may be portrayed by the media as a prehistoric human, but his state of health was decidedly forged by the dietary pitfalls of an agricultural-based society.  According to his stomach contents, bread was part of his last meal.  Despite whatever hunting and gathering he may have done along the way he clearly wasn’t “Paleo” in many of his dietary choices.  He was basically modern enough to have suffered some of the earliest diseases of modern civilization.  In short, Ötzi was an agriculturally-influenced, medical mess.

His shorter stature and ill health was actually typical of many post-agricultural societies.  Early agriculturalists commonly suffered mineral deficiency-associated diseases like rickets, stunted growth and bone mineral disorders. Osteoporosis, skeletal abnormalities, malnutrition, birth defects, dental malocclusion and degenerative disease also became much more commonplace once we adopted the widespread consumption of grains (yes–including whole grains).  Cereal-based diets also commonly led to numerous other vitamin and mineral deficiencies not typically shared by their more Stone Age ancestors; such as pellagra, scurvy, beriberi, as well as vitamin A, iron and zinc deficiencies (the minerals contained in grains are actually poorly available to us, if at all, due to the presence of a substance known as phytic acidsomething never mentioned by proponents of the government “food pyramids”, or the commercial purveyors of supposedly “healthy whole grains”).  According to the researchers analysis, Ötzi’s dental problems show the results of switching from a strictly hunter-gatherer to an agricultural one.

Grain consumption has been linked with allergies, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders (now numbering in excess of 100 that have been identified thus far, and 40 additional diseases thought to have an autoimmune component), numerous cancers, pancreatic disorders, mineral deficiencies, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, celiac disease, epilepsy, cerebellar ataxia’s, dementia, degenerative diseases of the brain and central nervous system, peripheral neuropathies of axonal or demyelinating types, and myopathies as well as autism and schizophrenia, to name a few of our more common modern day health-related issues.

Contrast this with the primary cause of death in more Stone Age hunter-gatherers:  accident and infection.  That’s about it.  As long as we survived that, we stood pretty good odds of making it to old age without the chronic degenerative diseases that plague the elderly and not so elderly today.  Fast-forwarding to today— as we continue to follow this slippery slope of embracing products and byproducts of Monoculture Agriculture and the ever-powerful Food Industry, according to new findings, people today are being diagnosed with disease 33 percent (15 years) faster than their grandparents.  Age 30 has become the new 45 in reference to on-setting disease.  This is all relatively new—and NOT because we suddenly began consuming more animal-based foods or fats (which our ancestors have eaten consistently for close to 3 million years)!

Certain popular books today encourage those of us that have been smart enough to shed non-essential and highly problematic grains from our diet, to actually bring wheat back into our diets again.  Really?  Do we really want this (even as it may be telling some folks what they want to hear)?  So much is wrong with this idea that it isn’t even funny….but I’ll save the rest for another article.

Even as an agricultural lifestyle allowed us to live in better protected, safer and controlled environments, an agricultural lifestyle wasn’t exactly our fast track to optimal health and longevity.  Even as human populations exploded (ultimately leading to planetary overpopulation issues we face today), life expectancy actually declined by half—relative to our supposedly short-lived Paleolithic forebears–early on into the agricultural revolution.  In fact, between the Neolithic Revolution and the late 18th century human life expectancy never exceeded roughly 25 years! What basically improved longevity in more modern times sure as heck wasn’t our back-breaking, nutrition- and health-compromising agricultural lifestyle, but instead (apart from protection from the elements and predators) better technology, sanitation, and modern economic growth.

When researchers compared the health of farmers versus hunter-gatherers they found that the farmers suffered much higher rates of infection due to the concentration of stationary human populations in farming communities, much poorer nutrition due to their increased cereal grain intake and reduced meat/fat intake and problems with mineral absorption due to the effects of the cereal-based diet (Cohen, 1989).  Neolithic farmers were shorter, had many more health-related issues and a lower life expectancy relative to Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.   We also became much more vulnerable to famine; not to mention the oppression and control (and the other delightful things) that come with concentrated population centers and opportunistic ruling class hierarchies, not the least of which has been an unending and unprecidented pattern of full scale wars.

Agriculture also served to shift our macronutrient content from a focus on dietary fat and protein to a diet based far more upon carbohydrate intake.  The impact on human health in this regard has not been trivial.  Only in modern times, for instance, have we humans developed an emergency need to lower blood sugar through the unnaturally chronic and metabolically dysregulating release of insulin.  We were never designed to tolerate being marinated in a caustic and inflammatory mix of glucose (and other sugars) and insulin 24/7.  This is a modern-day development and one we need to rethink if we are ever to reclaim our primal birthright as a species of foundational health.

Agriculture cost us as a species, big time.  We’ve spent the last 500 generations—or less, less than 0.4% of our evolutionary history —after we spent more than 100,000 generations (99.9+%) on a mostly meat and fat diet—eating a diet that is demonstrably and increasingly unnatural to our species.  Pre-agricultural paleolithic hunters and gatherers derived most of their calories from about 100-200 different species of wild animals (meat and fat being as much as 90% of their dietary economy)…and to a lesser degree fibrous vegetables, greens and nuts/fruits.

Suddenly, all of about 17 species of plants today, most of which are entirely new to the human diet—are providing 90 percent of the world’s food supply.  That’s an insanely huge flip-flop, and it has NOT been a healthy one. The toll this has taken upon our health, not to mention the health of the planetary environment is immeasurable and tragic.

The energy and nutrient value of starch-based foods we have come to rely upon in modern times are considerably inferior to animal foods, even after cooking.  Sugar-based foods in particular have led to an epidemic of metabolic disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and a huge variety of sugar-hungry cancers.

And these foods aren’t just problematic in today’s world.  They have been problematic from the beginning of their widespread consumption. They were literally never the cornerstone of optimal health.

Grains and legumes, much less refined carbohydrates weren’t necessarily all to blame for poor health related to starch consumption in pre- (and post-) agricultural humans.  An interesting study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2014 revealing that pre-agricultural starchy carbohydrate consumption led to ill health and dental disease in prehistoric hunter-gatherers from time to time, as well.  In other words, we can’t blame it all on farming.  The research by a team from Oxford University, the Natural History Museum, London, and the National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage (INSAP) in Morocco actually showed that widespread tooth decay occurred in a hunter-gathering society in Morocco several thousand years before the dawn of agriculture.  The team analyzed 52 sets of adult teeth from hunter-gatherer skeletons found in Taforalt in Morocco, dating between 15,000 and 13,700 years ago. Unexpectedly, they found evidence of decay and abscesses in more than half of the surviving teeth, with only three skeletons showing no signs of cavities.  Excavations revealed evidence of the systematic harvesting and processing of wild foods, including sweet acorns, pine nuts and land snails.  The guilty food?  Sweet (starchy) acorns, apparently.  In other words, even naturally occurring starch in its whole food, wild state wasn’t an optimal food for our ancestors, either.

Dental abnormality such as malocclusion and dental crowding (attractive as they are) first became common among the world’s earliest farmers some 12,000 years ago in Southwest Asia, according to findings published (04 Feb 2015) in the journal PLoS ONE.  Pre-agricultural, paleolithic hunter-gatherers, on the other hand had almost no malocclusion and dental crowding demonstrated in any research to date.  In a Science Daily article illuminating highlights of this PLOS ONE study, interviews with the research scientists behind the study revealed that, “Our analysis shows that the lower jaws of the world’s earliest farmers in the Levant, are not simply smaller versions of those of the predecessor hunter-gatherers, but that the lower jaw underwent a complex series of shape changes commensurate with the transition to agriculture,” says Professor Ron Pinhasi from the School of Archaeology and Earth Institute, University College Dublin, the lead author on the study.

“Our findings show that the hunter gatherer populations have an almost “perfect harmony” between their lower jaws and teeth,” he explains. “But this harmony begins to fade when you examine the lower jaws and teeth of the earliest farmers.”

In the case of hunter-gatherers, the scientists from University College Dublin, Israel Antiquity Authority, and the State University of New York, Buffalo, found a correlation between inter-individual jawbones and dental distances, suggesting an almost “perfect” state of equilibrium between the two. While in the case of semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers and farming groups, they found no such correlation, suggesting that the harmony between the teeth and the jawbone was disrupted with the shift towards agricultural practices and sedentism in the region. This, the international team of scientists say, may be linked to the dietary changes among the different populations.

The diet of the hunter-gatherer was based on “hard” foods like wild uncooked vegetables and meat, while the staple diet of the sedentary farmer is based on “soft” cooked or processed foods like cereals and legumes. With soft cooked foods there is less of a requirement for chewing which in turn lessens the size of the jaws but without a corresponding reduction in the dimensions of the teeth, there is no adequate space in the jaws and this often results in malocclusion and dental crowding.

The link between chewing, diet, and related dental wear patterns is well known in the scientific literature. Today, malocclusion and dental crowding affects around one in five people in modern-world populations. The condition has been described as the “malady of civilization.”

In short, we humans were fundamentally designed by our evolutionary selective pressures and earliest dietary preferences to be fat-heads, not potato-heads (or acorn-heads), much less grain-brains.  

Ketones, the basic energy units of fat, along with free fatty acids are an extremely abundant, reliable, stable and steady source of fuel, even in the absence of regular meals.  Furthermore, brain cells (and delicate brain tissue) are more vulnerable than just about any other tissue to the ravages of glycation and the oxidation or free radical activity that glucose and glycation attracts.  The brain actually prefers ketones (or, more specifically, BOHB) to glucose as it’s primary source of fuel (from the standpoint of being non-damaging, as well as being a “superfuel”, yielding even more ATP than either glucose or free fatty acids).  Interestingly, acetoacetate (another form of ketone body) is the preferred source of energy in our heart muscle and renal cortex… but your brain can also use that if it needs to, and it adds needed balance to BOHB in those who may be seizure-prone.  Nature was beyond wise to design us this way, but unfortunately most people today fail to take advantage of this incredibly elegant and efficient design, instead diverting away from the energy we were mostly meant to rely upon and forcing an unnatural and enslaving dependence upon carbohydrates as a primary source of fuel.

Think about what we’ve been mostly eating for the last 10,000 years while our brains have been progressively shrinking and our collective health increasingly deteriorating…

The most obvious and far-reaching dietary change during the last 10,000 years is, of course, the enormous drop in consumption of high-energy, fat-rich foods of animal origin which formed easily 90% of our diet in Paleolithic times, to as little as 10% today, coupled with a large rise in less energy-dense grain consumption. This switch—this literal flip-flop to a carbohydrate-based diet embraced by the corporately controlled USDA Food Pyramid (and other nearly identical guidelines offered in Europe/UK and Australia/New Zealand) is far from optimal and far from benign in its effects.

In fact, more recently, there has been a long overdue, detailed analysis of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, which has been measuring dietary trends, caloric consumption and the body heights and weights of americans for nearly 50 years.  What it revealed is both shocking and telling:

It turns out that Americans HAVE been following the rules and taking the mainstream government guidelines to heart in their dietary choices (all the while the health of the public has been deteriorating).   –And even more shockingly,  It seems the more obediently we have followed the rules, the sicker and more obese we have become as a society.  Trading animal source foods for carbs and animal fats for vegetable oils has effectively pushed the collective health of Americans (and others following similar guidelines the world over) to the brink of collapse.

It’s well past time we take the USDA Food Pyramid and turn it upside down.  I think even Ötzi would agree.

~Nora

(Check out my new weekly online program: Primal Power 52)


References:

1 Rollo, F.U. et al., “Ötzi’s last meals: DNA analysis of the intestinal content of the Neolithic glacier mummy from the Alps.” PNAS October 1 vol 99 no 99 (2002)

2 L Hallberg, et al. “Phytates and the inhibitory effect of bran on iron absorption in man.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1987; 45(5): 988.

3 Seiler R, Spielman AI, Zink A, Rühli, F. “Oral pathologies of the Neolithic Iceman, c. 3,300 BC”. European Journal of Oral Sciences (2013) 1-5

4 http://www.livescience.com/28608-otzi-iceman-had-bad-teeth.html

5  Cordain, L. Cereal grains: humanity’s double-edged sword.  World Rev Nutr Diet. 1999; 84:19-73.

6 Hulsegge G, Susan H, Picavet J , et al. Today’s adult generations are less healthy than their predecessors: generation shifts in metabolic risk factors: the Doetinchem Cohort Study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Published online April 10 2013  (http://cpr.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/08/2047487313485512.abstract)

7 Angel JL. Health as a factor in the changes from hunting to developed farming in the eastern Mediterranean. In: Cohen MN, Armelagos GJ, editors. Paleopathology at the origins of agriculture. New York: Academic Press, 1984:51–73

8 Fogel RW. The fourth great awakening and the future of egalitarianism. Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 2000:48,137–75.) and (Kuznets S. Modern economic growth: rate, structure, and spread. New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1966:8–16.

9 Acsa’di, G.Y., and J. Nemeskeri, (1970), History of Human Life Span and Mortality, (Akademiai Kiado, Budapest).

10 Cohen M. N.,(1989),Health and the Rise of Civilization (Yale Uni. Press: New Haven).

11 Diamond, J. (1997),.Guns,Germs,andSteel:TheFatesofHumanSocieties.(Norton, New York).

12  Wesidorf, J. L. (2006) “From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution,”Journal of Economic Surveys,19, 561-586

13 Humphrey LT, De Groote, I, Morales J, Barton N, Collcutt S, Bronk Ramsey C, Bouzouggar A. “Earliest evidence for caries and exploitation of starchy plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from Morocco.“Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1318176111

14 Pinhasi R, Eshed V, von Cramon-Taubadel N.  “Incongruity between Affinity Patterns Based on Mandibular and Lower Dental Dimensions following the Transition to Agriculture in the Near East, Anatolia and Europe.” PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (2): e0117301 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117301

15 Malocclusion and dental crowding arose 12,000 years ago with earliest farmers.” Science Daily.  February 4, 2015.

16 Cahill GF Jr, Veech RL. “Ketoacids? Good medicine?” Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2003;114:149-61; discussion 162-3

17 John L. Tymoczko, Lubert Stryer and Jeremy Berg. Biochemistry 7th Edition. W. H. Freeman; Seventh Edition edition (December 24, 2010), Chapter 22 (Fatty Acid Metabolism).

18  Eaton, S Boyd, Eaton, Stanley B III. Evolution, diet and health. Presented in association with the scientific session, Origins and Evolution of Human Diet. 14th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1998.

19 Cohen E, Cragg M, deFonseka J, et al. “Statistical review of US macronutrient consumption data, 1965-2011: Americans have been following dietary guidelines, coincident with the rise in obesity.”  Nutrition J. 2015. 31: 727-732.

Is There One Universally Foundational Human Diet?

Is There One Universally Foundational Human Diet? Too many of us I think have bought into the idea that “everybody is different” (as though this were stating some deep, rational and solemn wisdom)—therefore where being a vegetarian works for me it might not work for you—or where being a sugar burner is better for me being a fat burner works better for you…  Yes, we are technically omnivores, and some of us get away with certain things better than others. But by no means does this imply that ALL foods we are capable of consuming are all equally optimal for us–or that we somehow need to consume a little of everything to be optimally healthy.  Variety in some respects is good (our microbiome certainly likes variety—especially when it comes to fibrous vegetables and greens), but that by no means implies anything and everything goes with respect to our likes and preferences if we want to be optimally healthy in a world today where health compromises are hitting us from all sides and easily exceed health promoting influences.

We seem to rationalize every indulgence with the other pseudo–wise mantra, “everything in moderation.”  Why everyone silently nods their heads in reverent agreement every time they hear this phrase as though some great wisdom is being spoken is beyond me.  REALLY? That’s not wisdom, that’s politics and/or wishful thinking! How much of anything metabolically dysregulating or inflammatory or disruptive to your endocrine and immune system or even potentially autoimmune provoking do you really want to enjoy “in moderation”?  Are you really that completely healthy and symptom-free? And if you’re lucky (or young) enough to say yes—do you really think it’s always going to be that way?  It is an almost unavoidable fact that we will all choose moments of some compromise in life, but these moments need to be chosen carefully and consciously, and compensated for as much as possible.  And some compromises– especially in light of the dangerous autoimmune epidemic— should never, ever be made at all…by anyone. Case in point: gluten.

And yes—it IS possible to enjoy what you eat while also do the right things. Eating for joy does not need to mean “a little bit of everything goes.”

So getting to the first important point that needs to be made here….There isn’t a separate anatomy and physiology book written for everyone in this room. There are fundamental principles of anatomy and physiology that apply to each and every one of us as human beings.  From there, we extrapolate from nuances and polymorphisms…but those nuances do not necessarily change the solidly established foundations we all share in common.

We each have unique fingerprints, but everyone has fingers.

As human beings we are all much more alike than we are unalike.  We are all the same species (we are even all the same race for God’s sake–the HUMAN race, and we need to start acting like it) and we are ALL bound by the same fundamental anatomical and physiological laws.  There isn’t a lot of wiggle room here. We all share a hydrochloric acid-based digestive tract that’s designed to make optimal use of animal source foods—-including animal fats—and not a fermentative-based digestive tract designed to make optimal use of plant foods (we can eat them, and benefit from them as omnivores, but they cannot supply any of us with everything we need to be optimally healthy on their own).  There isn’t a different digestive design between any one person and another.  We all physiologically have the same complement of digestive juices (namely HCl and pepsin) and digestive pancreatic enzymes. We all are SUPPOSED to have gallbladders to help us digest fats and fat-soluble nutrients. We all have the same basic skeletal structure, tissues, hormones, glands and neurotransmitters. We all share the same kinds of organs, the same type of unique brain (although some clearly work better than others). And unless something important has been amputated, we all share the same complement of appendages that work in roughly the same way (some of which are admittedly gender-specific). We all have a blood pH that ranges very narrowly between 7.35 and 7.45…or else. We all have and rely upon minute intracellular fat-burning factories known as mitochondria that make up close to 10% of our total body weight they are so numerous in us. Our cells all make energy—a-la something called the Krebs cycle, breaking down fat and/or glucose for generating the ATP that fuels our human machinery.

We all require the same ranges of macronutrients. We all need complete source protein.  We all need a significant amount and variety of quality dietary fats, critical (animal source) fat-soluble nutrients and certain essential fatty acids that simply cannot be gotten from plant-based foods in order for us to be optimally healthy.  And I am not saying we should not eat plants.  Not at all. Far from it. But the fact is that there is no human alive for whom carbohydrates are dietarily foundationally essential, therefore there can be no such thing as a sugar or starch deficiency in anyone. There is no denying that. There are those that like to debate this.  Within the actual science of human physiology there really is no debate.

All the same foundations are foundational for all of us in an extremely basic way. The rest is all nuance…

A few takeaways from my AHS16 talk:  

1) The most important key to optimal health and to what makes us human in the first place lies not in our individual differences, but in that which we all have in common.

2) “Biochemical individuality” supplies the nuance, but it is our common physiological design that supplies our most essential foundations, which ALL humans share.

You can watch my full length talk for FREE here: https://youtu.be/8k5QixWL0fU

(If you like it, please comment on Youtube, thank you!)

To Your Health and Self-Empowerment,

~ Nora

 

Occupy Your Food in 2012

Happy New Year!

What’s your New Year’s resolution? I’ll share mine.

My resolution is to become part of and help inspire an entirely new breed of “occupy movement”. It’s an occupy movement that in my view matters more than any other in that it is foundational to everything else we might hope to accomplish in our lives or in reforming our society.

My proposal is that we all make the decision, here and now, to “occupy” our Primal Bodies and Minds by first and foremost “occupying” our Food.

“Say WHAT?” you say?

By this, I do not speak of pitching tents and carrying signs with fist-waiving slogans or pitchforks, complaining about what others are doing to us or taking from us (and then waiting for something magical to happen). –In saying this I do not mean to denigrate what is born of an important awakening across the globe through the greater “occupy movement” taking place. It is heartening to see the shift in consciousness happening across the globe. I would submit that this movement is yet in its infancy and has yet to find its power through actionable and systematically focused purpose. I believe the essential foundational starting place must be–first and foremost—to take up our own quiet and immeasurable power through taking responsibility for our own health.

This means nothing less than a commitment to fully conscious eating, awareness of where our food comes from and the impact this has on our single most important commodity:  our mental and physical health.  This means a new level of personal responsibility.  This means no longer “feeding” the “1% agenda” by blindly accepting what we are told by mainstream sources about profitable and damaging dietary myths. This means saying NO to laws that restrict our access to healthy unadulterated food, saying NO to efforts being put forth to restrict our access to quality nutritional supplements or alternative care options of our choice (yes—these things ARE being restricted increasingly world-wide as we speak). This means saying NO to forced acceptance of GMO’s, food additives and preservatives, pesticides, gluten-containing foods (and crappy, pseudo-healthy, processed “gluten-free” foods), monoculture agriculture, factory farming, and inhumane commercial livestock/feedlot practices. This means speaking up in restaurants and grocery markets and making known your preferences and demands (diplomatically, of course) for the kind of quality food you expect and what you will no longer buy from them. This means making every effort to avoid the processed garbage being sold as food and also looking in the mirror and becoming candid with ourselves about our addictions, vulnerabilities/weaknesses and unconscious avoidances of these issues.

Such a movement will never work if it is “led” by any one person. Charisma or no charisma–enough already with those who pretend to lead us. Leaders can easily become corrupted by power, or derail whole movements through disillusionment generated by their own human failings, or be conveniently “eliminated” any number of ways by those that would rather have them out of the way, thereby rending those they lead undirected and impotent. We ALL must become our own sovereign leaders that set an example for everyone else we hope to influence. We must all become our own best ambassadors. We also need to speak up! We must act peacefully but uncompromisingly in our quest for creating our own best possible health and food supply.

It’s not too late (hey–there’s still a little time left on that Mayan calendar). We CAN do it. Not only that—but we MUST do it. Nothing else matters if you lose your mental, neurological or physical health. In the event of any devastating medical diagnosis in your family will fighting for the state of the economy, the environment, human rights, truth in labeling, political or banking reform, the overthrow of multinational corporate dominion of the system, or anything else really matter? Heck, it wouldn’t even take more than a little brain fog to shut down most people’s capacity to give a rat’s behind.

If we as a society are to succeed in creating a better world for ourselves and our children, then each of us must all first begin with the state of our own health and well-being. Think foundationally. Without that, the rest is nothing. –Believe me, the arrogant, over-stuffed, power-addicted and relentlessly strategic 1% totally get this. They make it as difficult as possible for us to get a grip and hang on to it through any number of distractions, misinformation/disinformation, efforts to divide and conquer through petty polarization on every front, seducing us with mindless entertainment and indulgences that numb our minds and neutralize our defenses. They also work insidiously to undermine our food, air and water quality, and by keeping us in reaction mode. With every person empowered by mental and physical health and just a “titch” of conscious awareness, everything becomes possible and the so-called “global elite” are basically screwed. On the other hand, enfeebled and destabilized by sub-optimal health we become vulnerable to fear, reactiveness, cynical or negative thinking, apathy, distraction and ultimately failure. Then we all lose.

Mahatma Gandhi once said “We need to become the change we wish to see in the world.” The kind of change we all want to see with the healthcare (read: disease management) system, the degraded, depleted and contaminated food supply, the corporate control of the media, politics, education, food production, water and even the air we breathe all become possible the moment we decide to become conscious and simply say NO to the “1%”agenda by deciding what we are willing and not willing to accept any longer. We also need to go out of our way to make sure we are operating within our own integrity and not compromising those standards for the sake of convenience or temptations. It’s up to each and every one of us.

We don’t need a rally for this part of it. We don’t need cardboard signs. We don’t need to rush into our nearest outdoor supply store to buy a tent. We just need to wake up, clarify our priorities (making your health first and foremost among them) and then set out to act consistently with them. Hey—it’s simple! And it’s immeasurably powerful.

In my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind I systematically address numerous myths, expose serious issues and challenges with our food supply and propose a way of eating that is as close to optimal for mental and physical health and our longevity as is currently possible. It’s based in part on the original diet of our Primal ancestors and also new developments in modern science. For some this represents a radical departure from the manner of eating and thinking about food to which they have become accustomed or simply unquestioningly accepted. For a few of these, the approach to health I propose may seem somewhat extreme in light of what is accepted in the mainstream and what some are most comfortable with. I would propose, however that the “extremes” are in the marketplace, the environment, the politics, in the manner in which Big Agribusiness has hijacked the agricultural system globally and in the way large multinational corporations are seeking to control and contaminate every aspect of our food supply to its complete detriment. This has also resulted in our increasingly limited access to simple, genuinely natural unadulterated food. THAT is what is extreme. None of us should have to go so far out of our way to find real food that is safe and nourishing.

Those of us going out of our way to find clean, quality unadulterated food aren’t crazy or extreme…just informed.

In response to the sometimes naïve and self-rationalizing mantra “Everything in moderation” I would ask: How much compromise to your health (or your children’s health), well-being, cognitive function, emotional well-being, immune system, or anything else are you feeling the need to enjoy “in moderation”? In the end it becomes a matter of what we ultimately prioritize in a world where there is precious little room for error for the “99%” of us. For Homer Simpson and others like him, it’s Duff beer and donuts. Or the convenience of fast food, pizza delivery, processed, packaged food, momentary short-sighted indulgences and/or blissful ignorance.

Yep–Score one for the 1%.

D’oh!

Like “boiling frogs” we’ve become gradually desensitized to the deterioration and contamination of our food supply, the environment, the laws (favoring profit-driven interests) that govern these and state of our own health standards. As long as we’re above ground and can get up and go to work every day we think we’re healthy. We are easily distracted by trivial or day to day things while everything worsens. We somehow rationalize unconsciously that it’s up to others to make things better. As I said in Primal Body, Primal Mind, we are truly now living in a world and in a time where there is no longer any room for error with respect to what we must do to maintain our mental/physical health and survival. Where there is so much of our environment outside our control, we must take control of what we can.

The truth is we do need to go out of our way in this day and age—and we also need to demand what we want. This does not mean acting like a 13 year-old drama queen having a hissy fit over every little thing she doesn’t like and whining about the inconvenience. Decorum, folks! Simply refusing to spend money on processed, genetically modified, adulterated, inhumane or inferior products (and making sure those that are selling them know why) can be the ultimate protest and the only method of voting that corporate interests ultimately pay attention to. For that matter, simply go directly to those producing the kind of food that meets your standards and buy from them. Rather than focusing on what we don’t want instead focus on what we DO want and make the 1% irrelevant. Be positive and proactive. Poof! That’ll show ‘em. It really takes extreme vigilance and informed know-how to recognize real food anywhere anymore for many of us unless we know the source firsthand. It is everyone’s responsibility to change this by changing our own individual choices and actions.

As with anything, transforming the way you eat along with the way you feel and think about that, as well as transforming your habits and your body, mind and health is a process. It doesn’t happen in its entirety overnight, yet radical change can begin in an instant—the instant you make the decision to no longer accept the status quo and decide to truly commit to a new and far better way of life.

Keep in mind this is not just a diet we’re talking about, but is a way of life that will transform your entire being—and quite possibly many others around you by your very own example.

 

A few basic steps:

  • Read (or re-read) my book. Understand not only what you need to do but really absorb the “why”.

 

  • Develop an intimate first hand knowing of where your food actually comes from to the extent possible by patronizing local farmer’s markets and getting to know the farmers

 

  • Inform your grocers about what you do and don’t like about what they carry. The good ones WILL listen!

 

  • Speak up in restaurants about your preference and/or requirements for 100% grass-fed meat, locally grown organic produce, non-GMO foods, and gluten-free options. If enough people ask for these things they WILL eventually listen.

 

  • Buy at local food co-operatives. Buy from the sources working hard to do the right thing. Learn to grow, hunt, fish or raise your own food. Maybe even start your OWN co-op or buyer’s club!

 

  • Stick to what our ancestors would have recognized as actual food—minimally processed, humanely and responsibly grown or raised (totally grass-fed).

 

  • Learn to read labels—every time (I have to remind myself of this one, too).

 

  • Pay attention to what is happening!

 

OK…I’m climbing down off my soapbox now.

 

In closing, I’d like to share a video about a rancher in Australia named Rob Blomfield who, after suffering a multitude of setbacks to the quality of his health over many years made a conscious choice to take charge of his own health and make some real changes after reading my book. The result on his health and sense of well-being has been nothing short of miraculous—but more than this he has inspired an entire community of farmers and ranchers around him to do the same. Through all this he also cultivated a greater awareness of his own importance in overseeing the quality of the food supply for others and the health of the soils fostered by his ranching practices. Rob’s humble charm, quiet integrity and genuineness alone speak volumes in this two-part video (filmed at the University of New England in Armidale). Enjoy!

 

Part One

Rob compares his old diet (standard Australian diet) with his new diet (Primal Body, Primal Mind diet) and how he transitioned to a healthier way of eating and feeling.  Basically from eating lots of starchy carbohydrates to eating protein, fat and vegetables and no processed foods.


 

Part Two

Rob tells the audience what happens to his body after going on the Primal Body, Primal Mind Diet. Before changing his diet, he felt like a 60 year old going on 70 years old. Now after being on the diet for a few months, he feels like a 40 year old!  His analogy of people on the typical standard Australian (or American) diet is spot on.

 

Rob was also interviewed for a news story in a widely read publication called “The Land”.

What’s Your New Year’s Resolution? 

 

ARE YOU A FAT BURNER OR A SUGAR BURNER?

 

One of the most common complaints one hears about from friends and family these days is not having enough energy.  Energy drinks, bars and supplements, not to mention the ubiquitous presence of coffee shops on almost every corner in every city are a testament to these complaints and they are also BIG business.  Of course, when it comes to so-called “energy drinks” and caffeine we’re not talking about generating real lasting energy so much as we are talking about adding a jolt to the system in the form of a stimulant that provides the short-lived illusion of energy.  That said, one thing virtually all these products has in common is that they can dramatically spike your blood sugar levels.

So…that’s a good thing, right?

Well…

Anyone who takes a conventional course in nutrition, medical school, nursing school or any chiropractic or naturopathic school today will likely be taught that their brain, tissues and organs greatly depend upon sufficient blood sugar to fuel energy, maintain their day to day energy supply and fuel all their metabolic processes.  We are taught that “blood sugar” is important—critical, even–and that it must be sustained and regularly managed for optimal health. Unfortunately, this is only a conditional truth at best and one that conceals a rather mammoth sin of omission that is overlooked by nearly everyone.  The fact is that we are all one of two things:  we are either a “sugar burner” or we are a “fat burner”.  Perhaps since fat is (erroneously) assumed to be inherently evil, nothing about its potentially vital role in all aspects of health or primary energy production is ever discussed.  We are encouraged to avoid it at any cost and not ask any questions.

Blood sugar management is big business, too.  VERY big business.

We are taught that complex carbohydrates—up to 11 servings a day of grains, beans, rice, potatoes, pasta, etc should form the very basis of our daily food supply, with only honorable mention given to (what they insist should be) LEAN meats and fish, lots of fruits and veggies and next to no fat of any kind (other than perhaps a dollop of olive oil).  Alongside the lonely morsels of fat at the top of the food pyramid lie the sugary snacks…to all be eaten sparingly.  We are also taught to “eat a large breakfast” and many nutritionists admonish us to eat a small snack every couple of hours between meals “to keep that blood sugar up”.

So is the need for “blood sugar” for our energy real and valid…or is it just like its initials would suggest: “B.S.”?

As with many things the answer is “it depends”.  But what if the basic essentiality of blood sugar for our brains, organs and day to day energy was really a myth?  In fact, what if that dependence on “blood sugar” for our day to day energy actually did more harm than good?  What if there was an alternative?  Not only this, what if that alternative were the very fuel we were actually designed to depend upon nearly all the time from the very beginning and that very fuel were the one you actually had the hardest time using… all because you are too busy fueling yourself with sugar?

Come closer…and fasten your seat belt.  You are about to undergo a bit of a paradigm shift.

As with many things, certain things can be conditionally true, within a certain context.  Case in point:  IF you are metabolically adapted to depending on sugar as your primary source of fuel (and all non-fiber carbohydrates are sugar once they hit your bloodstream) then you must of necessity continue to refuel yourself with foods that keep these blood sugar levels elevated so there is no interruption in the energy supply.  Many people experience these interruptions of steady blood sugar supply as mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, irritability, jitteriness, problems thinking, and cravings for anything that will boost those sugar levels back up.  For some people this is experienced as more of an extreme urgency than others.  Either way, the dependence on sugar as a primary source of fuel is more or less the same in those adapted to it with a variable manifestation of consequences

So what does this mean?

If we are to look at the macronutrients in our diet (carbohydrates, protein and fat) strictly from the standpoint of the energy they provide our “metabolic fire”, then carbohydrates in this context can be viewed as a form of metabolic “kindling”.  Brown rice, beans and whole grains could effectively be viewed as “twigs” on our metabolic fire.  White rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta and bread would be “paper” on the fire and substances like alcoholic beverages would readily constitute “gasoline” on that metabolic fire.

Now I’m from a very cold place called Minnesota originally so wood stove analogies work well for me.  If you have ever had to heat your living space with a wood stove you know that the fire in it has to be fed.  If all you had to feed that fire was kindling (twigs, paper and gasoline) you could certainly do it.  The problem is that you would be able to think of or do little else but stay perched in front of that stove, loading it up with handfuls of twigs and wadded up paper all day long just to keep it going.  The flames would flare and die down relatively quickly and you’d need to add more fuel with fairly constant regularity.  God forbid you should need to take a bathroom break or run an errand.  By the time you returned to the stove the fire would be nearly out and you might need to resort to some gasoline to shock it back to life again, just so the process could continue.  Good luck sleeping, too.  Even if you could attach an alarm to the stove to awaken you when the fire got too low you would be awakened well before you were fully rested in order to feed the hungry flames (hmmmm…there’s an analogy here).  In essence you would be enslaved to that wood stove and your preoccupation with it would of necessity be relatively constant.  The flames would rise and fall like a roller coaster ride.  Much as I love a good wood stove fire, though (or carnival ride) that would be anything but my idea of a good time.

What if instead you were to place a nice big “fat” log on the fire?  All of a sudden you would…have a life! –What a concept!!  You could leave the house and run errands.  Heck–you could even get a good night’s sleep!  By morning if the fire was burning low all you’d need to do is grab another big log and toss it in.  You wouldn’t need to think too much about it most of the time and your fuel wouldn’t take up too much space, either.

Sugar is best described metabolically as “rocket fuel”.  It burns best anaerobically (in conditions of low oxygen—as while sprinting or extreme exertion).  Far from being a steady, lasting or reliable fuel, sugar burns very hot and very fast.  How badly do you need rocket fuel in your car to go most of where your car takes you day to day?  Do you really want to have your engine burn that hot all the time?  Don’t racing cars need a lot more maintenance in part because of that?  Increased metabolic heat also makes for a very hungry engine.

Sugar’s presence additionally attracts what is termed “free radical activity” which leads to unhealthy oxidation (damage) of tissues.  Sugar also undergoes a process known as “glycation” in the body where molecules of sugar combine with proteins and fats there and cause them to become sticky, misshapen and start to malfunction.  This in turn leads to even more free radical damage and basically fuels the degenerative aging process.  The brain and nervous system are particularly susceptible to all this as they don’t respond much to insulin and are therefore more likely to be bombarded with all the dangerous stickiness.  In diabetics and alcoholics this can result in accelerated forms of neuropathy, organ damage and degenerative brain conditions.  In others, glycated tangles of amyloid proteins eventually lead to a diagnosis of Alzheimers…technically a form of “brain neuropathy”.  Advanced glycosylation end-products (A.G.E.’s) lead to mutations in DNA and help potentiate cancerous processes which blood sugar additionally feeds the growth of.  In short, it ain’t pretty.

Most people feed themselves as if there were no alternative to running their metabolic fires other than kindling.  Food advertising consistently supports this.  Told to eat “low fat”, many people instead eat diets high in addictive sugar and starch in order to feed (and feed) themselves.  Those that don’t care about “low fat” eating often eat large amounts of sugar and starch along with dietary fat, which has its own brand of consequences.  Dietary fat in the presence of carbohydrates (sugar and starch) behaves very differently than dietary fat in the absence of carbohydrates.  The dietary fat in the presence of sugar and starch is far more likely to be stored as excess and also to become damaged through peroxidation, as the body looks to preferentially burning off the sugar to get the excesses out of the bloodstream quickly and as sugar combines with the fat to damage it and make its presence more problematic than it otherwise would be.  And as long as insulin is present (in other words, as long as dietary sugar and starch keep coming in) it becomes impossible to burn fat at the same time.  Weight gain is the most common consequence, but there is more to this.  You can be skinny and athletic and also suffer serious consequences from a dependence on sugar burning.

Depending on blood sugar for your primary source of fuel means you will be hungry more often and that you may experience regular cravings.  It also means you must eat regularly or else suffer energy and mental and physical performance loss.  Consider the animals that are natural (what I term) “carbovores” (herbivores and ungulates).  What do you see them doing ALL day?  Their faces are on the ground and in the bushes continually.  Eating for them is constant.  I, for one have far better things to do with my time!

It additionally means the quality of your moods and thinking are often hugely dependent upon that steady supply of fuel.  You might also require caffeine to boost your kindling supply first thing in the morning if that supply gets too low, or you may crave alcohol in the evenings.  If you manage this balancing act poorly by regularly eating high glycemic foods then over time the swings can become greater, along with more symptoms typically associated with blood sugar lows: fatigue, anxiety, irritability, explosive anger, jitters and more cravings.

Addiction to the fastest form of this rocket fuel is called “alcoholism”.  This is why recovering alcoholics are never considered “fully recovered” even after stopping their alcohol use.  Most are still suffering from constant sugar cravings, using things like caffeine and even nicotine to boost their blood sugar in the absence of alcohol.  They often crave sugary sweets and beverages, but the craving for alcohol never fully goes away because the underlying condition has never actually been addressed: an addiction to sugar.   In others, the tidal waves of insulin needed to lower excessive blood sugar would over time lead to either something termed “reactive hypoglycemia” or deeper states of clinical hypoglycemia.  –Or (taking it in the other direction) the same bombardment can eventually lead to insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic disorders.

Insulin resistance occurs whenever there is a breakdown in communication between blood sugar and insulin.  Through unrelenting bombardment of insulin the cells eventually become resistant to its constant message.  It starts to take more and more insulin to get the same message across.  Eventually blood sugar that can’t go anywhere creeps up in the bloodstream and other tissues to a point where finally one becomes diagnosable as type 2 diabetic.  On the way there, obesity is basically often the price you pay for avoiding becoming diabetic…at least as long as your pancreas is willing to continue supporting the effort.  It is possible, however, to be skinny and be diabetic also.  Being slender is not necessarily synonymous with optimal health (see my “Top 10 Nutritional Mistakes” on my web site: www.primalbody-primalmind.com).

Who benefits from diets based in carbohydrates?  Certainly not the people who are forced to live this way.  The food industry, diet industry, big agribusiness, the pharmaceutical companies and ultimately the petroleum companies (upon which big agribusiness and others are dependent) all make out like bandits, though.  For them it is immensely profitable to have the entire world depending upon carbohydrates—particularly addictive grains—as their primary source of fuel.  The vast majority of advertising dollars spent are designed to support these interests.  And schools of all kinds are, in turn, encouraged to teach whatever maintains the profitable status quo.

If, instead, one elects to metabolically adapt ones-self to becoming a fat burner—someone who uses sufficient dietary fat to satisfy one’s appetite (while simultaneously avoiding sugar and starch) this forces the body to adapt to fat as a primary source of fuel for their metabolic fire.  What is the result of this basic metabolic change?

You have now become free.  You have effectively removed the constant need for “blood sugar” for your primary energy, mood or cognitive functioning.

All of a sudden eating becomes more of a choice rather than a constant necessity.  Energy levels maintain more constancy and an even-ness that allows for clearer thinking and stable moods.  Your Ice Age-forged body no longer is in the business of greedily storing fat from the carbohydrates you were eating and is freer to burn stored fat for fuel, both away from constant presence of insulin and recognizing that as long as there is “enough” fat at mealtime that “hunting must be good”—therefore stored fat can be comfortably spared and utilized for energy.  Not only this, but you suddenly find your food bills lessening considerably.  The natural dietary fat you eat quickly fills you up and leaves you less hungry, with cravings rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Insulin sensitivity becomes gradually restored, and all that this implies.  Sleep becomes more restful.  Aging slows and becomes more graceful.  You begin to look and feel younger.  Energy is never in short supply.

In becoming a “fat burner” one comes to depend instead on something called “ketones” which are the energy units of fat, as well as using free fatty acids for fueling almost everything sugar did before.  –The big difference here is that fat fuels it all longer, better, more consistently, reliably and more evenly.  And also far more cheaply.  Our body still maintains the ability to utilize sugar in the event of an emergency (as sugar still constitutes our best “rocket fuel”) but is able to make use of supplies of ATP, existing blood glucose and stored glycogen to easily meet this more episodic demand.

I write much more about what it takes to make this metabolic conversion in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind.  It’s far easier that you might think (or than certain corporate interests might want you to know).

But don’t we still need blood sugar all the time?

Well, it turns out that the only tissues in the human body that MUST have a small amount of blood sugar at all times in order to survive are our red blood cells. They feed anaerobically in order to spare their precious cargo, which is oxygen.  Every other tissue in the body—including the brain—can run beautifully and far better on ketones.  As it turns out, one can manufacture all the glucose your body needs from a combination of protein and fat in the diet.  In fact, the only macronutrient for which there is no actual dietary human requirement is carbohydrates.  We never have to eat them at all!  And if we want to be optimally healthy and live longer, cutting out the carbs (all the sugar and starch) can only improve your health and well being in the long run.  Low insulin levels are the single biomarker that most consistently characterizes all the longest lived individuals.

Good thing, too.  If Nature had been so stupid as to design us to be dependent on sugar as our primary source of fuel we likely never would have survived the extremes of the Ice Ages.

Either that, or we’d still be swinging in the trees.

For more information about this and much more look for the book: Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet For Total Health and A Longer Life and go to www.PrimalBody-PrimalMind.com.

~ Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT

Radiation and Your Health: To Iodine or Not to Iodine?

The very term RADIATION conjures nightmarish images of mushroom clouds, apocalyptic scenery and people dying slow, agonizing deaths. Then again, one doesn’t need an imagination to turn on the news and see the mounting horrors and suffering of Fukushima or the gaseous plumes erupting from the enormous, multi-reactor nuclear facility there.

In some respects the press is having a field day with this simply because it is BIG news…and in other ways many of us suspect we aren’t being told the whole truth and paranoia is reigning supreme. What and who can we believe? We know the Japanese are in deep trouble and we fear for them but we also wonder (and reasonably so) how much we here in the Unites States and elsewhere in the world have to fear from not one, not two, but THREE nuclear reactors in a now-undeniable state of melt-down . We know the radiation has already been making its way over the Pacific and that radioactive elements from this disaster have already begun showing up in places like California, Oregon Washington and across the entire United States, including the Midwest clear over to the East Coast. Radiation from this event is primarily circulating the northern hemisphere now but will ultimately show up everywhere…and it will continue to circulate our planet essentially forever. It is a part of our lives, believe it or not and like it or not.

So what can we do? How do we protect ourselves and to what extent?

The popular trend right now is to start guzzling potassium iodide as though it were some sort of magical all-protective potion that can save us from the horrors of radiation-induced illness. Emergency preparedness outlets and online supplement retailers are making a killing and are getting wiped out of their iodine inventory.

Slow down and get a grip, folks! Please take a moment here to think about what you’re doing!

I value iodine as much as the next guy, but its supplementation is not for everyone and it’s certainly not a magical potion. –Not only that, you could actually be taking some risks and worsening your own health in the process. For starters, keep in mind that radioactive iodine 131 is primarily a danger to an iodine-deficient thyroid…but also radioactive iodine 131 (half-life 8 days) is only one threat among many that one may face with radiation particulate exposure. There is also radioactive Cesium 134 (half-life 2 years) and 137 (half life 30 years), radioactive strontium-90 (half-life 28-29 years) and (with this particular disaster) plutonium (half-life 27,000 years), as well as the intense oxidative free-radical activity and DNA mutagenic properties of ionizing radiation and its particulate elements that may enter our food chain, our lungs through the air we breathe and our water supplies. Iodine is no panacea for this. Not even close.

There is a fine line we must tread between denial and fear mongering. Falling to one side or the other of this line does not serve us. We need to face this rationally if we are to have the best chance of getting through this stressful, vulnerable time intact. Reality for better or worse is grounding and sobering…and we all need to become as grounded and sober as possible to navigate clearly in these uncertain times. Both paranoia and denial get us into trouble.

Paranoia leads us to rash, desperate and impulsive behavior….and conversely, if your head is in the proverbial sand in a state of denial then, well, let’s just say your butt is in the air.

I have been getting inundated with e-mails from friends, clients and fans concerning the question of whether to take iodine at this time and what to do. Keep in mind that I am fully able to sell supplements to my clients and could be making a real killing right now in potassium iodide sales, if I so chose to. As such, I am neither advertising nor recommending it, and (in case you’re curious) I am not personally taking it. There is a very real concern that can come with haphazard iodine supplementation, despite the fact that in my book I share information concerning the need for iodine and the common deficiencies leading to numerous health problems. –All true, but it’s simply not for everybody. I am personally able to take iodine supplements if I so choose without much risk, but am relying mostly right now on iodine-rich foods and focusing more on other aspects of my own health and immune function.

Basically, I see four potential problems with haphazard iodine supplementation:

  1. The potential for iodine sensitivity or “allergic” reactions in certain sensitive people
  2. The potential to either trigger or significantly exacerbate autoimmune thyroid issues
  3. Detox reactions resulting from overly rapid displacement of toxic halogens
  4. Finally, there is the risk of what is referred to as “iodism” (basically iodine poisoning).

To further clarify each point:

#1:  Iodine allergies (which many people would probably know they had….but there are always a few that may not) can include symptoms such as itching, throat swelling, rash, fever, joint pains, hives and other typical and more severe allergy symptoms including the potential for anaphylactic shock and death.

#2:  The body uses iodine to manufacture the enzyme called “Thyroid Peroxidase”, also known as TPO.   The very thing autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto’s) individuals are producing are TPO Antibodies, resulting in cytokine (inflammatory) “storms” and destruction of the thyroid.  Not pretty.  IF you have consistently tested negative for TPO antibodies (I say “consistently” because even those with full-blown Hashimoto’s will have periods of time where TPO antibodies may register as “negative” during quieter phases of the illness), and if taking iodine has not led to any symptoms of discomfort for you, then supplementing with iodine might be an OK or even beneficial thing.  It is an essential element, after all.

Note, however, that overdoing iodine or “loading” iodine too quickly can also stimulate over-activation of the thyroid in certain individuals in general, leading to possible heart palpitations, nervousness, trouble sleeping and anxiety-related issues.  I would be inclined to test for TPO antibodies in such individuals just to be sure it wasn’t an autoimmune activation.

#3:  Finally, iodine is a member of the “halogen” family in the periodic table of elements.  In this same family are chloride (chlorine), fluoride (fluorine) and bromide (bromine).  Bromides are by far the most common halogen toxicity and some degree of “bromidism” is present in most of us. –Sign o’ the times. Pronounced symptoms can include feelings of apathy, difficulty concentrating, headaches and a general mental dullness (don’t get me started on my conspiracy theories about this).  Bromides are in everything from people’s hot tub spas, flame retardant in everything from carpeting and clothing to electronics, it’s used as an anti-caking agent in baked goods and processed flour, it is an additive in certain pharmaceuticals…it’s everywhere.  Most people walking loose are chock full of these toxic halogens, which (among other nefarious things) can have the effect of displacing our friend iodine from its natural receptor sites.  Taking larger doses of iodine can theoretically be used to displace these halogens and reclaim its proper place in your tissues…but these toxic halogens can reap havoc in a body unprepared for handling a detox or utilizing iodine properly.   Detox reactions can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, nausea and diarrhea, emotional crises (odd, but I’ve seen it), headaches, skin eruptions (i.e., rashes, acne and unpleasant secretions), sleep disruption, appetite disturbance, brain fog and extreme fatigue.  –Not my idea of a good time.

#4: The medical dictionary defines iodism as “an acute or chronic intoxication caused by the ingestion or absorption of iodides. Manifestations of acute poisoning include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, hyper-salivation, conjunctivitis, and collapse. Chronic manifestations include hyper-salivation, fever, acute rhinitis, swelling and tenderness of the salivary glands, and dermatitis and stomatitis in hypersensitive individuals. Iodism is a toxic condition that sometimes follows the use of preparations containing iodine.”

In certain individuals clearly deficient in iodine who are interested in improving this, it makes sense to prepare the body for what is termed “iodine loading” by first and foremost testing one’s thyroid to be sure autoimmune issues are not present (PLEASE). Some of the symptoms of iodine deficiency may certainly include hypothyroidism, symptoms of which are extreme fatigue, goiter, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures. Make certain it isn’t autoimmune in nature (do NOT just assume it isn’t just because your doctor never mentioned it).

Breast cancer has also been associated with iodine deficiency (as well as low thyroid and autoimmune thyroid tendencies…so TEST!). Fibrocystic breast disease. cervical dysplasia, and certain oral and salivary related diseases/problems have additionally been associated with iodine deficiency.

Certain things can predispose one to having an iodine deficiency or an extra iodine need:

  • Living in the “goiter belt” of the US (see below: states in red are where iodine is known to be deficient in the soils—not to be confused with “red political states”)   😉
  • Tobacco use
  • Excess alcohol use
  • Over consumption of goitrogens (i.e., soy, flax seed, raw cruciferous vegetables, peanuts and other legumes)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy (infants and young children are the most vulnerable to effects of iodine deficiency and radiation exposure, with the developing fetus and newborns the most extremely vulnerable, BUT ALSO these are the most vulnerable to potentially ill effects of excess potassium iodide). Pregnant women should only take iodine under the supervision of a knowledgeable and qualified health care provider.
  • Thiocyanates (herbicides and insecticides) exposure
  • Perchlorates (from rocket fuel and found significantly contaminating many areas—particularly those with little or no rainfall) – turning up in tap water, vegetables and milk almost everywhere nowadays
  • Selenium deficiency
  • And…(tah-dah!) –Exposure to radiation

Once you have determined you really do need iodine (and real radioactive danger is not imminent), then it may be advisable to spend about a month supplying ones-self with increased magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, extra B-complex and good old fashioned full-spectrum sea salt (Celtic sea salt or Himalayan sea salt are best).  It also makes sense to be sure all one’s “avenues of elimination” are open (a healthy, well functioning colon, liver, kidneys and being well hydrated) and that the liver is well supported for both phase-one and phase-two detoxification.  Once the ground work has been laid for iodine’s best utilization then caution should be taken to start with a preferably lower dose of iodine and gradually work up (this is NOT a race) to the full “loading” dose over time (with no bad symptoms), then work back down to a maintenance dose.  It is absolutely best to do this under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider. Also, be careful to use a complete source of iodine and not just potassium iodide. As long as you’re not living next to the melting-down nuclear reactor you have time to do this right.

The thing is, if people really want to effectively protect their thyroids from radioactive iodine 131 (only one small component of radioactive danger)—and they’re not living next door to the nuclear reactor—they really do need to build their iodine dosing slowly and very cautiously as I’ve described in order for it to work the way it’s supposed to and be free of potential unpleasant or even dangerous side effects.  I believe it is best to first supply full spectrum iodine, then—if needed or if the radiation concern becomes more realistically serious then add extra potassium iodide to help thwart its radioactive cousin from setting up shop in the body where it doesn’t belong once the plume sets in overhead.  Note that potassium iodide supplementation is really only meant for high dosing short-term, and not long-term use. In the long run we are better off restoring healthy iodine levels slowly and safely than mega-dosing on potassium iodide for any length of time (unless one is at risk for mega-radiation exposure). Given the deteriorating nuclear events in Japan, with confirmed meltdowns occurring in an unbridled fashion as we speak this concern could in time become more pronounced for us.  It’s hard to say. The long term tragedy, of course, is that we ALL will be faced with this potential threat circulating the globe for decades and even centuries to come.  As physicist Michio Kaku succinctly puts it, “nuclear meltdowns are forever”.

Word on the street is that folks are rushing online and into preparedness centers looking for Geiger counters (not cheap) to monitor the dangers. The particulate forms of radioactive material actually carried on the wind and likeliest to reach us here in the US (radioactive iodine-131, cesium-134 and 137 and strontium-90) probably wouldn’t budge a Geiger counter but could very potentially damage your DNA and enhance your risk of any number of cancers markedly if you happened to come into contact with the through your food, skin or lungs. The unfortunate reality is that we all will come into contact with these elements sooner or later to at least some extent as this nuclear meltdown nightmare will not be going away in any of our lifetimes. It is part of our day-to-day reality now and in our future (and children’s future). Detectable levels of radioactive fallout in the US have been already found as far east as Florida and the Carolinas. Right now the northern hemisphere is circulating most of it in its jet-stream but eventually the southern hemisphere will be involved, as well. There is no escape from all of it.

So what can we do?

First and foremost, do not panic!

I believe where radiation exposure is concerned with where we are here in the States our primary concern should be mainly taking the best possible care of our overall health that we can as a foundational defense, which can actually go a long way toward enhancing our resilience. There really isn’t anything one can do to avert all the potential problems with radiation, other than avoiding exposure as much as possible.  In my book (which I wrote long before this nuclear disaster—more true than ever now) I make the case for the fact that we are living in a time where we really have no room for error anymore and simply do not have the luxury of enjoying empty indulgences.  We can’t approach our food any more as a nutrient-devoid source of entertainment.  We have to really nourish ourselves as our ancestors once did (with real, nutrient dense naturally produced and unprocessed food), avoid overly provoking insulin and free radical activity and take care to include lots of antioxidant-rich vegetables and greens.  Balanced natural fat strengthens the brain, immune and nervous system and sugar and starch destabilize and suppress the same, making us vulnerable to environmental and free radical onslaught, as well as inflammation.  –Avoid it.  Get adequate sleep/rest.  Manage stress in any and all ways possible (that’s the REAL killer).  Drink plenty of purified water.  If you can, do far infra-red saunas for general detox.  Cells in the bone marrow and GI tract are particularly susceptible to radiation exposure. Your blood health and digestion are areas potentially requiring extra care. The most important key is in our dietary and lifestyle foundations…not the supplements we take.

YOUR MOST EMPOWERING TAKE-AWAY MESSAGE HERE:

It may well turn out that the principles outlined in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind are the best possible guidelines for supporting a cancer-free life (cancer being the most frightening consequence of radiation element exposure) in existence. There are four primary things to consider where any risk of cancer is concerned: The #1 most necessary substance in order for cancer to take a foot-hold in anyone is sugar (in any form or guise). Sugar is cancer’s primary and nearly sole source of fuel. The more carb-free you are the less welcome cancer will ever be in your body. The next key to a cancer-free existence is low insulin levels. Stimulating insulin through excess (particularly) carbohydrate intake also stimulates cellular proliferation. If you happen to have DNA damage or mutation happening then cellular proliferation is decidedly NOT a good thing. That’s what cancer growth is all about.

You may also recall the part in my book about mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). Eating but not exceeding sufficient protein intake per day (0.8 grams of protein per kg of ideal body weight and no more than 25 grams of actual protein in a meal) helps not only keep mTOR and cellular proliferation from activating but by keeping mTOR suppressed this has the effect of enhancing DNA repair! –The best of both worlds. Also, keep in mind that a significant percentage of protein consumed that is in excess of what you actually need for your daily maintenance and repair will convert to sugar and get used exactly the same way. This is why the modified caloric restriction I talk about in my book has such longevity enhancing effects and why cancer is so non-existent in these subjects.

Making natural fats and anti-inflammatory EFA’s the primary source of fuel in the diet and establishing a dependence on ketones (instead of glucose) as a primary source of fuel provides steady energy for virtually every single cell in our body and brain—and furthermore, cancer cells cannot make use of ketones for fuel. A ketogenic diet is literally a cancer-starving diet. In addition, natural fats feed the lymphatic system and strengthen the immune system. Fat is where it’s at!

Finally, by enhancing our intake of fibrous vegetables and greens (and by maybe adding a few green drinks) we substantially improve our cancer-thwarting phytonutrient and antioxidant intake. Consuming enough fat to keep your appetite satisfied puts the proverbial (low carb) cherry on the sundae and helps fuel us in a very stable way for longer periods of time on less. We all need to learn to do with less and indulge less in these economic and environmentally dubious times. It simple makes sense.

EXTRAS (just as an FYI or if desired or needed):

If your inner “foundations” are in order and you want to do something extra, you can add the following:

  • Modifilan seaweed: a highly concentrated form of seaweed containing lots of natural iodine and other natural components.  Modifilan was formulated to help the detoxification and recovery of the victims of Chernobyl.  It’s WAY better in my mind than taking a bunch of potassium iodide. There are numerous online sources.
  • Eat iodine-rich seafood and seaweeds/sea vegetables.  Kelp noodles, by the way, are lovely.  You will never miss pasta.
  • Calcium (ionic or another bioavailable form—avoid calcium carbonate) can help block the uptake of radioactive Strontium (and you thought radioactive iodine was your only problem).  Be sure to also get sufficient magnesium (ionic form or trans-dermal magnesium “oil”)
  • Potassium rich foods and supplements (but don’t go too crazy with the supplementation) can help thwart radioactive Cesium uptake.
  • Siberian ginseng has supposedly been shown to help reduce damage caused by radiation (and is excellent adrenal support, to-boot)
  • Chlorella (broken cell-wall) has been used as far back as WWII to help flush radiation from the body
  • Turmeric is powerfully helpful for reducing free radical activity and inflammation
  • Astaxanthin – potent singlet oxygen free radical scavenger
  • Glutathione or GSH (avoid glutathione pills, as glutathione cannot be directly absorbed through the GI tract). Transdermal glutathione preparations (such as Oxi-Cell and Super Oxi-Cell made by Apex Energetics) and the use of glutathione precursors are best. Precursors include NAC (N-acetylcysteine), alpha lipoic acid, vitamin D, sulfur-rich foods, SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine). Radiation literally decimates the body’s supply of glutathione. Diminished glutathione levels greatly elevate cellular vulnerability to oxidative stress. Critical antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase is dependent on selenium/vitamin E (only mixed tocopherols rich in gamma tocopherol in a glycerine base—NOT soybean or canola oil!).
  • If you feel you’ve been exposed to radiation a combination of baking soda and sea salt in a bath soak is a low-cost combo purported to help. Sodium bicarbonate is known to safely bind with uranium. The kidneys are, in fact, particularly vulnerable to uranium exposure. Research recommending sodium bicarbonate originally came from the Atomic Energy Commission in the 1950’s. It can supposedly be used both internally and externally following exposure. The recipes are as follows: Add 1 cup each of sea salt and baking soda into a tub of hot water and soak in it for at least 20 minutes. This should theoretically be done daily for as long as there is a threat of exposure. For use internally, add 1 teaspoon each of sea salt and baking soda into a quart of pure water and drink an 8 ounce glass four times a day. Remember, this is only if exposed to radiation, not for prevention. For protecting lungs baking soda (bicarbonate) together with glutathione (if available) can be nebulized to support and protect radiation-exposed lung tissue.
  • Magnesium baths using Epsom salt can also help support vital hepatic detoxification pathways
  • “Ancient Minerals” (a great company) makes a “magnetic mineral” clay bath specifically designed to absorb radioactive elements from the body following exposure
  • Calcium bentonite clay (use for bathing following exposure)

For additional protection, another thing to consider is possibly avoiding certain foods known to concentrate radioactive elements more. One food that has the unfortunate potential to concentrate radioactive fallout (radioactive iodine and strontium) is milk.  If the radiation issue gets much worse you might want to limit or avoid most milk products, which may not be the worst idea, anyway (many people are more casein sensitive than they realize).  The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the US government has admitted to radioactive iodine-131 showing up in milk from Washington State.

Here’s the link to that story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703806304576233221749626458.html

BTW—radioactive iodine levels are 10 times higher in goat and sheep milk products than in cow’s milk. Iodine in milk is additionally seasonally influenced and is also likely to concentrate more in winter than in summer months. Technically, if a farmer were to supplement the diets of their grass-fed milking animals with healthy iodine the radioactive iodine contamination could potentially be avoided. Eggs are another potential concern unless the feed were similarly supplemented with healthy sources of stable iodine. The bottom line with both these foods is get to know your local farmer. Buying your food locally from well-known sources has never been more important than it is now. Other foods that were shown to concentrate radioactive fallout following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Europe also included spinach, lettuce, leeks, berries and mushrooms. The reality is this, folks…sooner or later radiation will turn up in everything we eat, the water we drink and the air we are breathing. It is with us here-on-out no matter what we do (or what the media says or does not say). With all the supplements or clay baths you could take or all the time you could spend hiding indoors, nothing will ever protect you more from the EFFECTS of this exposure than your foundational diet. –And no diet will be more foundationally sound than the one I’ve outlined in Primal Body, Primal Mind.

You can bet on it.

–That’s my personal take on this.

~ Nora

Additional resources:

Here’s some additional information on potassium iodine:

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/BioterrorismandDrugPreparedness/ucm072265.htm

Environmental radiation levels in the United States updated in real time:  http://www.radiationnetwork.com/

USA EPA’s RadNet Monitoring: continuously monitors the nation’s air regularly monitors drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation: http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-data-map.html

 

Info on calcium bentonite clay: http://www.aboutclay.com/clay_info.htm

 

Question About Raw Vs. Cooked Fat

Ask NoraQ: For a little while a few years ago I did a diet called the Primal diet by Aajonus Vonderplanitz, which is a raw meat diet.

Anyway, I decided it wasn’t really a good diet for me overall, but one thing that stuck me from it was that he thinks that raw fat is really important, and much better for you than cooked fat.  At that time I was ordering raw butter from California , (which was expensive and a hassle).

Now that I’m focusing on eating a lot of fat again, I’m just wondering if you think there’s anything too this.

Thanks again,  Ann

A: Eating fat that is as unprocessed as possible and fresh (non-rancid) is, of course, important.  OVER-cooking fats can have negative consequences with respect to rancidity and oxidative damage.  (see information on oxidative stress here)

Minimally cooked fat is always best.  That being said, saturated fats (coconut oil, tallow, lard, butter) tend to be fairly resistant to oxidation by comparison and have a high smoking point, so cooking meats, eggs, etc…as long as they are not OVER cooked should be OK.

I never ever cook with vegetable oils and only use olive oil in salad dressing or in a dish after it has been cooked.  I may use a dash or two of sesame oil at the end of a cooking process for flavoring but minimize its time being heated.  Polyunsaturates (i.e., safflower oil, flax oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil…etc) and oils such as canola or soybean oil (all of which—unless specifically labeled as “organic” and “expeller pressed”–are partially hydrogenated as part of their deodorization process) should never, ever be used for cooking, in my opinion.

~ Nora

Wise Traditions Conference ~ King of Prussia, PA ~ November 12-15 2010

"Pushin' 50"

Nora Gedgaudas

Here it is…June already…and I am fast approaching yet another semi-milestone along the path of my existence:  It just so happens I turn 49 years of age this Thursday, June 10th.  I’ll be “pushin’ 50”.

A lot of folks (women, in particular, I think) would be freaking out about this, maybe “feeling old”, maybe counting the aches and pains or gray hairs and wondering what other downturn was next.  For me, though, it’s just another birthday (though I really like birthdays) along the way and a time in which I am celebrating excellent health and vitality.

Some of you might be thinking “well, she’s probably got good genetics and was just blessed with good health.”

Not so.  My genetics actually suck.

My family tree is riddled throughout with health issues on every level—including issues with cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and autoimmune illness, along with weight issues and various other assorted brain, nervous system and emotionally related challenges.  In the past I have struggled with weight, eating disorders, long-term depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  Those are all very much things of the past.  More recently, various stress-related challenges have really rocked my equilibrium and have tested what I have learned in no small way.  Thus far, I’m happy to say I’ve managed to dodge the other bullets and am the only member of my family that has managed to never spend a single night at a hospital for anything.  I can tell you, though, that “luck” and “great genes” have nothing to do with the health I enjoy today.  I have worked hard at this…and I’ve learned that I really don’t have that much room for error.

I have been passionate about diet and health for 30 years now, though I would have given anything to know what it is I know now even 20 years ago.  I’ve been led down a lot of different paths.  It has literally taken me most of this time to sort out the convoluted quagmire that is the current realm of nutritional information and nutritional dis-information to arrive at what it is you read in Primal Body-Primal Mind.   I continue to learn and reach for answers that underlie the supposed answers and will forever continue to do so.  I have looked both inside and outside “the box” of accepted dogma to arrive at a coherent picture that makes foundational sense and (more importantly) really works.  I’ve learned, too, that the answers are seldom where one would expect to find them and that economic and political interests are there to seduce and trip you up every step of the way.  There is no university program that teaches it in full.  There isn’t even a single university course available as yet in the field of Functional Medicine.  The field is THAT new.  Accurate foundational nutrition or health education is never taught in a conventional setting.  There are simply too many vested interests influencing and distorting such curriculums.

It’s been a journey for me of peeling away layers of an onion to get at the principles I’ve uncovered that can make becoming healthy—and remaining healthy into even old age a very plausible reality for most anyone that is willing to apply this foundational and functional approach to well being.  Sometimes the answers were so obvious they were difficult at first to see (such as the evolutionary basis for establishing our nutritional requirements…DUH!) and sometimes it took the willingness and self-discipline to relinquish the temptation to reach for simple “single note” answers and be willing to take into account the complex orchestration of the human organism and all its dimensions; and a more systems-related and functional approach to unraveling the truth.  It’s a more difficult and less seductive pathway to take, but one that yields far more genuine rewards.  It takes de-compartmentalizing the body and mind to get that it’s all part of a functional network that can’t be separated out or fully understood inside a limited box.  Things are rarely as literal as they seem and you seldom can fix one system by viewing it as something that stands alone.  In other words (just for instance), if your thyroid is functioning low it is probably not as simple as adding more thyroid hormone or just thyroid “accessory nutrients” to fix the problem, even though this is the “gold standard” approach in conventional and even most natural medicine.  There are other endocrine networks to take into account, possible immune challenges, environmental factors, food sensitivities and basic nutritional requirements that all factor into the total picture.  That’s what’s called the “functional” picture.  This is the paradigm I come to you from…and I’m sticking to it.

So….here I am in my last days of being 48 years of age, still feeling fully functional and even feeling “younger” in some ways than I felt even a year or two ago.  I’m still on the path to figuring out the mysteries of longevity and optimal health and wellness…and as long as there’s someone who wants to hear about it I’ll be around…hopefully for a very long while…to share what I’ve learned with all of you.

This is, after all, what I believe I was born to do.

~ Nora

"Cereal Killer": Be On the Lookout For Gluten

 

Gluten (the Latin word for “glue”), is a substance found in numerous grains.  It is actually a complex of proteomes and lectins that are a part of most known grains, including even rice, however the form of gluten associated with the most adverse health issues is found particularly in wheat (durum, semolina, spelt, triticale, kamut) rye, and barley.  This is the form of gluten I will be referring to in this article.

 

This large, complex and impossible to digest protein has been associated with literally hundreds of health related issues, though more misinformation and misunderstanding about it exists in medicine and even the field of nutrition than up-to-date, accurate information.  Part of the reason for this is because the field of immunology where the newest information clarifying the effects of gluten mostly arises is not made up of medical doctors, but rather PhD researchers.  There is a real disconnect between medicine and immunology and there really is no such thing as a “medical immunologist”.  As such, the exponentially growing numbers of patients filling hospital beds with some form of gluten-related issue are seldom addressed on this foundational level.  They are treated for their symptoms and their dietary habits are largely ignored and treated as insignificant.

 

It turns out this is VERY significant.

 

For the record, wheat gluten contamination is typically present in oats, soy flour and buckwheat flour, too, due mainly to modern processing and storage methods. Small amounts of wheat gluten contamination are also typically present in processed corn products and corn starch unless otherwise labeled.  All grains and processed foods should be considered suspect. 

 

What is called “gluten” is actually made up of hundreds of peptides.  The only proteome typically screened for by doctors is gliadin, which consists of subtypes alpha gliadin, beta gliadin, gamma and omega gliadin, as well.  All are potentially immunoreactive but the only fraction of gliadin currently tested for in most serologic or salivary testing is alpha-gliadin due to its close association with celiac disease, which leaves considerable margin for error in the form of false negatives.  Interestingly and also tragically, celiac disease (which until very recently was the only form of gluten sensitivity conventionally recognized) comprises no more than about 12% of those suffering with the effects of gluten sensitivity. Celiac is literally but the tip of a much larger iceberg.  If you happen to be sensitive to a fraction of gliadin (or other commonly reactive epitope of gluten) other than alpha-gliadin then you will likely test negative for “gluten sensitivity”.  This is deeply problematic.  And only about 40% of celiac patients actually even test positive for alpha gliadin.  A LOT ends up falling through the cracks with standard medical testing.  In fact, more actually falls through the cracks than not.

 

Tip of the iceberg       

 

Gliadin in some form exists in most grains.   Wheat, durum, spelt, triticale, barley, and rye are members of a family of grains having the most pronounced antigenic effects on those sensitive to gluten, though all grains (including rice) contain some form of gluten.  The gluten in these other grains may or may not be significantly problematic, though a general avoidance of dietary grains for numerous reasons (outlined in detail in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind) is probably a good idea.

Wheat Diagram

 

Gluten, used in baking it gives bread dough its elasticity and baked goods their fluffiness and chewiness.  It is also used as an additive and stabilizing agent in innumerable processed foods and personal care products.  Insanely, gluten is nearly everywhere.  Laws do not require its labeling on all products so the consumer is left to judge for themselves whether gluten may be an additive or not.  I, personally, don’t trust any product that isn’t clearly labeled “100% gluten free”.

 

For us humans, where we have spent nearly all the last 2.6 million years as hunter-gatherers, gluten (and its closely related compounds) is a very new inclusion to the diet and is essentially impossible for us to digest.  In fact, according to respected celiac expert and researcher, Dr. Alexio Fasano, NO human can actually digest gluten.  This, to me, effectively takes it out of the food category and into a category of being no more than a contaminant.  Researchers at GreenMedInfo.com have recently identified fully 300 health related issues associated with gluten.  To say that gluten can add complications to your health is putting things mildly.  Problems with gluten are becoming literally epidemic and although public awareness about this issue is certainly growing there is more that is poorly understood by most than not.  The consequences of gluten sensitivity (diagnosed or undiagnosed) can literally be lethal and often are, particularly in tandem with other vulnerabilities.  You may not think you’ve heard about this but the fact is that you hear about it every day.  It just goes under different names:  cancer, heart disease, autoimmunity.  The consequences of gluten exposure are potentially very real.

 

Although commonly associated with celiac disease many do not appreciate gluten’s potentially incredible impact on the health of countless individuals or the commonality with which people may be afflicted with non-celiac “gluten sensitivity”.  In fact, gluten may well be at the silent root of a great many of the health challenges millions of people face today, both physical and mental.  Its inflammatory and immune compromising effects can be a dangerous catalyst for many things.  It is rarely even suspected as an underlying culprit in most instances, however.  Furthermore, the inherent presence of what are called exorphins in grains (morphine-like compounds) make gluten-containing grains quite addictive for large numbers of people and leave many in frank denial of the havoc it can wreak.

 

Allow me to elaborate:

 

A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Sept 16; 302(11):1171-8) found that those with celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed had a significantly higher risk of death, particularly from heart disease and cancer.  It is currently estimated (very conservatively) that one in every 100 people suffers from celiac disease, a devastating consequence of gluten-containing grain consumption. Some more recently have hypothesized that this number may be closer to one in 30.  Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (as opposed to celiac disease) is itself also an autoimmune condition and is considerably more common.  In fact, it is currently nearly epidemic in its scope.  The effects of and markedly increased mortality risks associated with both full blown celiac disease and gluten sensitivity happen to be virtually identical.  Both are autoimmune conditions that create inflammation and immune system effects throughout the body.  They can affect all organ systems (including your brain, heart, kidneys, etc.), your nervous system, your mood, cognitive functioning, your immunological functioning, your digestive system and even your musculoskeletal system.  Almost literally everything from your hair follicles down to your toenails and everything in-between. 

 

Bread

 

Exposure to gluten in a sensitive individual essentially shuts down blood flow to the prefrontal cortex—the part of our brains that allow us to focus, manage emotional states, plan and organize and exercise our short term memory.  The prefrontal cortex is our brain’s “executive function” control center and is the part of our brain that basically makes us the most human.  The inflammatory response invoked by gluten exposure additionally activates the brain’s microglial cells, which have no built in inhibitory mechanisms and do not readily wind down again on their own. In some individuals this destructive inflammatory cascade can literally take months, years or even potentially decades in some to abate.  Additionally, these periods of cerebral hypoperfusion followed by reperfusion can be quite damaging (much the way heart muscle cells typically die following reperfusion after the ischemia of a heart attack).  The damage and neurodegeneration this can cause over time, together with sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system over-arousal can be significant. 

 

In routine blood tests, seeing functionally chronic states of anemia (serum iron below 85 ug/dL or especially ferritin below 40, plus hemoglobin below 13.5 in women or 14 in men), functionally depressed or elevated serum protein levels (below 6.9 or above 7.4 G/dL), unusually depressed triglycerides (below 75 mg/dL–especially where carbs play a significant dietary role) and/or elevated CRP, significantly “elevated” or depressed (below 150 mg/dL) serum cholesterol, alkaline phosphatase levels (significantly below 70 U/L), functionally depressed BUN (below 13 mg/dL), abnormally high HDL (in excess of 75 mg/dL) and/or chronically (even functionally) elevated SGOT/SGPT liver enzymes, among other chronic inflammatory and malabsorptive markers although not diagnostic here can be cause–especially when found in combination with one another–for possible suspicion and further investigation.  It takes further testing to be sure–though even some of the best testing methods can vary greatly in their accuracy.

 

Gluten can also be looked upon somewhat as a bit of as “gateway food sensitivity”.  It is known to increase an enzyme in the body known as zonulin, which controls intestinal (and also blood-brain barrier) permeability.  Elevated zonulin levels in the presence of gluten can also serve to allow other types of undigested proteins to slip past what would otherwise be more selectively permeable barriers and cause additional immunological reactions to other foods.  Casein (milk protein) is the most common co-sensitivity and cross-reactive compound with gluten, but the immune system can come to react to almost anything if gluten consumption persists.  This can be a very real problem.  Once multiple food sensitivities take over it can amount to a very vicious cycle that only worsens with time and becomes extremely difficult to correct.  Living with this can be miserable at best.

 

A study published in 2009 in the peer reviewed journal, Gastroenterology (July;137(1):88-93) compared 10,000 available blood samples from individuals 50 years ago to 10,000 people today and found that there has been a 400% increase in the incidence of full blown celiac disease (defined by conventional medicine as a total villous atrophy of the small intestine)!  There are numerous potential reasons for this.  Part of it has to do with the fact that wheat has been so hybridized.  Each time they hybridize wheat in order to try and improve or modify some of its characteristics for specific growing regions or some desirable change it literally creates roughly 5% new (foreign) proteins every time.  Proteins which are inherently foreign to us.  The deamidation of wheat to broaden its use in processed foods has significantly increased its immunologic reactivity potential.  There is also more selection for gluten in grains by Big Agribusiness.  Today, wheat is also beginning to be genetically modified, which will unquestioningly add an exponential problem.  Furthermore, I believe we are also looking at an increasingly weakened human genome through multi-generational exposure now to processed foods, depleted soils, environmental contaminants, pesticide use, increasing heavy metal contamination, fluoride, radiation exposure, EMF, and on and on.  According to this study in the Annals of Medicine in 2010, “The prevalence of Celiac Disease has increased five-fold overall since 1974. This increase was not due to increased sensitivity of testing, but rather due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood.”  Ann Med. 2010 Oct;42(7):530-8

According to the Journal of Gastroenterology fully 30-50% of all people carry the gene for celiac disease (known as HLA-DQ8 or HLA-DQ2)–and eight times more people with celiac disease have no GI symptoms whatsoever.  Gluten sensitivity genes are significantly more common (HLA-DQB1, Alleles 1 and/or 2).
Although oats, soy flour, buckwheat flour and processed corn products technically are not part of the gliadin-containing family of grains, modern methods of processing and storage nearly always ensure gluten contamination of these products and the presence of actual gluten should always be assumed unless labeled “100% gluten free”.  The prolamin (avenin) content of oats, however, still makes them at least potentially suspect for inherent sensitivity issues, as is corn (zein).

 

Easily 99% of those who suffer from this entirely curable and potentially devastating condition do so completely unaware of the dangerous vulnerability within themselves.  Although a biopsy of the small intestine is commonly used to diagnose (intestinally-based) celiac disease, fully eight out of ten celiac sufferers exhibit no intestinal or GI symptoms at all. In fact, an article in the journal Neurology (Vol 56/No.3 Feb 13, 2005) states that “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease”, affecting not only the brain and nervous system directly, but also cognitive and psychiatric illness.”  In the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (1997; 63; 770-775) an article states “Our finding…implies that immune response triggered by sensitivity to gluten may find expression in organs other than the gut; and the central and peripheral nervous systems are particularly susceptible.”

 

A 2002 review paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (Jan 17; 346(3):180-188) found that fully 55 diseases were known (at that time) to be potentially caused by gluten.  These partly included heart disease, cancer, nearly all autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as many common psychiatric illnesses, partly including anxiety issues, ADD, bipolar disorder, depression dementia, schizophrenia, Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disorders), migraines, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, ALS, neuropathies (having normal EMG), and most other degenerative neurological disorders…as well as Autism, which is technically an autoimmune brain disorder.  In my opinion, it is always safest to assume the presence of gluten sensitivity in these populations, or frankly wherever significantly compromised health, mood or brain function is an issue.

 

Testing for gluten sensitivity

 

Although there are numerous methods for assessing gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease, most are unfortunately somewhat unreliable (at best) in their accuracy (including the so-called “gold standard” approach of intestinal biopsy), which may be partly why so few are properly diagnosed even when testing is sought out.  With respect to blood and salivary testing, out of potentially hundreds of different sub-fractions of gliadin, for instance, typically only one—alpha-gliadin—is ever tested for.  If you happen to have a sensitivity for any of the other forms of gliadin (or other compounds in gluten) it might not ever show.  False negatives are a notorious part of this type of testing, unfortunately.  Accuracy (where negative results are concerned) is never 100%.  In fact most standard serologic or salivary testing is no more than about 30% accurate. Immunoglobulin testing for food sensitivities in those with autoimmune disorders and particularly Hashimoto’s are almost always skewed due to chronic imbalances of TH-1 (T-cell) and TH-2 (B-cell) immune response.  It’s critical to look for multiple markers (although the overwhelming—nearly 100% association between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s and many other autoimmune disorders make the automatic assumption of gluten sensitivity a good idea).  The most important tests to run in regular serologic testing are IgA (anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-endomysial antibodies), IgG (anti-gliadin antibodies), IgM, antibodies, tissue transglutaminase 2 antibodies (which are most associated with small intestine villous atrophy (IgA and IgG)), Transglutaminase 3 antibodies (associated with epidermal gluten effects (IgA and IgG)) and Transglutaminase 6 (associated with neurodegenerative effects of gluten (IgA and IgG)), gluten antibodies, total IgA antibodies and if possible, it may be helpful to test for the presence of genes’ HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, as well as HLA-DQB1, Alleles 1 and 2.    WHEW!

 

Cyrex Labs

In lieu of ordering all these individual tests (with highly variable standard deviations of sensitivity/accuracy) I’ve found that by far the most accurate assessment may be made by simply using a the Array 3 panel offered by Cyrex Labs (www.CyrexLabs.com). Cyrex offers by far the most advanced, comprehensive, sensitive and accurate testing of any other lab in the world right now (and likely for some time to come) and is setting a new Gold Standard for this.  They look at fully 9 different epitopes of gluten (that’s 8 more than anyone else looks for), they test within one to two standard deviations of sensitivity (an accuracy otherwise unheard of) and look at IgA, IgG and in some tests even IgM immunoglobulin reactivity. You will need to get this testing through your licensed health care provider.  They also offer accurate testing for the presence of gut barrier compromise (some refer to as “leaky gut”)—including what the specific nature of that leaky gut is—which makes a big difference in treating this, as well as accurate testing for other major common food sensitivities and gluten cross-reactivities, as well. They also have a test array for the presence of potentially inappropriate antibodies to 24 different tissue complexes to help you identify and be able to address developing autoimmune processes sometimes decades before one might otherwise obtain a diagnosis (and usually by then it’s too late).   

To quote the site, itself, “Cyrex™ is an advanced clinical laboratory developing and offering cutting-edge tests based on the latest scientific advances in the field of immunology. These tests cover mucosal, cellular, and humoral immunology and specialize in antibody arrays for complex thyroid, gluten, and other food-associated autoimmunities and related neurodysregulation.”  Make no mistake about it, Cyrex Labs WILL revolutionize the entire field of immunology.  And no, I have no financial stake in this company.  They are really just that good—and that unique. 

 

Elimination diets can at times be an effective means of determining the potential for gluten sensitivity, but must be strictly adhered to for no less than 2-3 weeks and ideally at least 6-8 months to make a genuinely clear determination.  Any exposure of any kind (even seemingly innocuous unintentional slip-ups) means you must start over with the time spent on the elimination diet.  Without a real lab result to motivate you, disciplined adherence to this type of self-testing can be difficult.  Avoidance of gluten must be no less than 100% from all (even hidden sources) and not so much as even a single crumb of bread or trace contamination.  Also, beware of cross contamination issues—where non-gluten foods may come into contact with gluten-containing foods via cooking/preparation surfaces and utensils in restaurants or at home (yes—all this matters).  The inflammatory effects of even trace gluten exposure in the brain especially and throughout the rest of the body can reverberate for several weeks, months or more in sensitive individuals.  

 

This is decidedly an issue that needs to be taken extremely seriously.

 

The journal Gastroenterology (2009; 137:88-93) states that “During a 45 year follow up, undiagnosed celiac disease was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death.”  The prevalence of undiagnosed CD seems to have increased dramatically in the United States during the last 50 years.”  In an individual with either full blown celiac or gluten sensitivity the risk of death from all causes, according to the journal Lancet (Vol 358, August 4, 2001) was dramatically greater: “Death was most significantly affected by diagnostic delay, pattern of presentation, and adherence to the gluten free diet…Non adherence to the gluten free diet, defined as eating gluten once-per-month increased the relative risk of death 600%.”  Next time you want to rationalize that “one little piece of bread” –think twice.  Is it really worth playing Russian roulette?

 

Being “mostly gluten free” or allowing yourself to imbibe in gluten-containing foods “only occasionally” just doesn’t cut it. In the case of diagnosed or undiagnosed gluten sensitivity or celiac disease the popular mantra of “all things in moderation” can literally cost you your health—maybe even your life.

Brain and mood disorders, migraines, osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders and cancer are rampant. Grains are rarely suspected as an original culprit, though every one of these disorders, among many more, can potentially be traced to often-insidious gluten exposure. Gluten sensitivity is only rarely obvious to the afflicted, and many are even entirely surprised to learn they have this sensitivity.  I know I was.

 

That said, one doesn’t even need to have an immunoreactivity to gluten for it to be damaging to anyone that ingests it.  All gluten consumption at least temporarily compromises gut barrier (and likely blood-brain barrier) integrity and can open the gates to the potential for all kinds of immunoreactivity and inflammation/neuroinflammation. Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), richest in supposedly “healthier” sprouted grains can pass right through your blood-brain barrier, attach itself to the myelin on your neurons and other nerve cells and inhibit nerve growth factor.  (Myelin is the protective sheath on nerves and nerve growth factor is important for the growth and maintenance of your neurons.)  So, even in the absence of immunoreactivity to gluten, wheat can cause brain damage!

 

Not much more than 1% of all people suffering gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are ever diagnosed, by the way.

 

The good news is that the devastating symptoms of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are at times entirely reversible.  –The treatment solution?  You MUST eliminate 100%–not just “most”–gluten from your diet, including not just gluten containing dietary grains but all hidden sources, as well, which can include (but are not limited to) commercial soups, commercial broths, processed food mixes and soy sauce, teriyaki and other sauces, corn products and corn starch, and salad dressings. Even buckwheat and soy flours are commonly contaminated with highly significant amounts of gluten due to modern processing and storage methods.  Gluten can be cryptically listed on food labels as vegetable protein, seitan, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch and others. Gluten is even an ingredient in many shampoos, cosmetics and lipsticks (which can potentially absorb transdermally–through the skin), children’s Play-Doh, medications, vitamins (unless specifically labeled “gluten free”)–even non self-adhesive stamps and envelopes.

 

Although I realize all this need for ultra-strict avoidance sounds rather tedious and extreme, an article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (1997; 63; 770-775) states clearly: “Even minute traces of gliadin (gluten) are capable of triggering a state of heightened immunological activity in gluten sensitive people”, meaning prolonged inflammation and other symptoms.  Saying you’ve eliminated “most” gluten from your diet is a bit like saying you’re just “a little bit pregnant”.  Either you are or you’re not.  There are NO in-betweens.  Avoidance must be strict…and total.

 

Many people will claim they have been adhering to a strict gluten-free diet when, in fact, they have only been avoiding the obvious sources and really haven’t been paying attention enough to potentially hidden sources, including their personal care products.  They will eventually rationalize their lack of positive health results to the idea that they weren’t gluten sensitive after all and they simply go back to eating whatever they want.  This is a HUGE mistake! 

 

Even where adherence to a genuinely gluten free diet doesn’t seem to generate expected turnarounds in health and well-being, you have at least removed one very major hurdle to improvement.  There can always be other hurdles yet to conquer, not the least of which is identifying and addressing potential as yet undiagnosed cross-reactivities (Cyrex Labs Array 4 panel can help identify these).  In a peer reviewed article in the journal, Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2008 Feb; 8(1):82-6 the authors stated that “The phenomenon of immunologic cross-reactivity occurs when an adaptive immune response to one antigen results in reactivity to structurally related antigens.”

 

Currently identified cross-reactive compounds with gluten/wheat include:

[X]Rye, barley, spelt, Polish wheat (also known as “Kamut”)

[X]Cow’s milk

[X]Alpha-casein and beta-casein (milk proteins)

[X]Casomorphin (peptide created during digestion of

milk protein that produces an opioid affect in the

nervous system)

[X]Milk butyrophilin (a protein in milk fat)

[X]Whey protein

[X]Milk chocolate

[X,*]Oats

[X]Baker’s Yeast

[*]Prepackaged, Pre-ground and Instant coffee

[X]Millet

[X]Corn

[X]Rice

 

This isn’t to say that everyone having an immunoreactivity to gluten will necessarily have these cross-reactivities, but some certainly will be reactive to one or more of them.  In this case the immune system sees the cross-reactive compound as indistinguishable with gluten and reacts accordingly—potentially perpetuating symptoms even on an otherwise gluten-free diet!  Obviously, it’s important information to have.  Cyrex offers this testing in their Array 4 panel.

 

Gluten is certainly not the only modern substance challenging the health of the masses—but it is the most common, the most potentially damaging and the one most likely to facilitate all other food/chemical sensitivities.  Restoring health can be like peeling back the layers of an onion.  It is a process.  Still, often enough, by simply removing this one major/key dietary antigen the turnaround in some people can seem nothing short of miraculous.  It can also make a massive difference where seemingly more benign issues like resistant weight loss may be concerned.

 

Wait just a minute, back up—did you just say “personal care products”?

Crazy sounding, but true.  You need to examine your shampoos, conditioners and other hair care and skin care products for the presence of wheat protein, sometimes also listed as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”.  Look for corn-related additives, also.

 

While you’re at it (digressing a bit here), you might also want to consider avoiding toxic additives like parabens, pthlates, artificial fragrances, sodium laurel sulfate, methylisothiazolinone (MIT), and petroleum derivatives like mineral oil, toluene, petrolatum and paraffin (slightly off-topic, but extremely noteworthy, nonetheless).  Note that the FDA does nothing to ensure the safety of any chemical used in personal care products, so you’re left to trust the manufacturer.  Ummmm, yeah (er, NOT).  Even the FDA states: “Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives … Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.”  Out of roughly 126 or more chemicals consumers regularly apply to their skin, 90% have never, ever been tested for their safety.  Most people think nothing of the products they apply on their hair or skin and the cosmetics industry readily capitalizes on this ignorance at tremendous potential cost to your health for considerable profit.

 

Why is this important?  I mean, we’re just talking about skin, right?  It’s not like you’re drinking the stuff…

In fact, it’s probably worse. Keep in mind that your skin is your largest organ and that it is exceedingly thin (less than 1/10th of an inch in thickness) and permeable.  If you were to eat or drink these products you’d have several things come into play to help protect you from direct bloodstream exposure—your gut lining, hydrochloric acid, enzymes, etc.  In a hot shower, however, with your pores open wide and barefoot up to your neck, there is very little between you and direct absorption of anything you are applying to your scalp and skin right into your bloodstream where it is all free to travel throughout your body to your brain and all your other organs.  These compounds may also even be inhaled with the shower’s steam.  The concern here is very real—especially if you happen to be symptomatically vulnerable.  When you’re reading hair and skin care labels it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you would be willing to actually drink the contents of that product or not.  If you’re reading a list of a whole lot of difficult-to-pronounce chemicals and/or also seeing wheat protein/vegetable protein on the label you’d do well to think twice about using it.  And don’t let buzzwords like “organic” or “natural” fool you.  A partial listing of product sources can be found at www.celiac.com.  Also, just Google “gluten and additive-free hair and skin-care products” in your computer’s browser.  The potential selection is huge.  If you happen to have a smart phone there are also numerous available “gluten-free apps” available to help you screen individual products, restaurants, grocery stores and other shopping sources at your fingertips.  The good news is that the awareness of these issues is rapidly spreading and resources are likely to grow exponentially in the very near time to come.

 

So what about gluten-free “substitutes”?

Seeking out gluten-free substitutes is certainly an option, as there are scores of “gluten-free” products of all kinds available today. It’s big business for food manufacturers these days, in fact. Clearly, gluten free shampoos and cosmetics are a good and necessary idea, as are gluten free condiments and soup bases (chicken/beef/vegetable broths, etc).  Unfortunately, even though other grains, such as quinoa (actually more of a starchy seed than a grain), corn, millet and buckwheat or rice do not contain the same gluten as wheat, many are still a source of potential cross-reactivity, high glycemic starch and the majority of “gluten-free substitutes” are highly, highly processed foods.   Many are soy-based, as well (don’t get me started on THAT!).   Just because something is “gluten-free” does not mean it is actually healthy for you, any more than the word “organic” does.  “Gluten free organic brownies” are still junk food.  Don’t be fooled.  Gluten and carbohydrate intolerance, in general, are far more the rule than the exception in today’s world. It is logical to conclude that grain consumption, especially gluten-containing grains, just isn’t worth the dietary risk, given our modern day culture’s innumerable health challenges and vulnerabilities. Why play Russian roulette? Why add to the unnecessary, glycating, fattening and neurotransmitter and hormonally dysregulating carbohydrate load?  In my view it’s better to take processed food off the radar screen entirely and mainly stick to the foods that don’t need a label you have to read every time.

 

In short, there is no one alive for whom grains are essential for health and gluten, in particular, is a health food for no one.

 

It stands to further reason that the more symptoms a person has physically, cognitively or psychologically, the more primitive a diet  (in other words, pre-agricultural or “Primal”), one ought to consider adopting for reclaiming rightful health.  The commonality of degenerative diseases does not make these diseases a normal part of aging, or even remotely inevitable.

 

The choice is mostly ours.

 

 ~ Nora Gedgaudas

    Author of Primal Body, Primal Mind

 

For more information about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease go to www.thedr.com and/or www.celiac.com.

 

For the most accurate testing and more information go to:  www.cyrexlabs.com.

 

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"Primal" Primates Live Longer

Studies involving the use of caloric restriction for significantly improved health and longevity have been ongoing for about the last 75 years.  Most of these studies have involved species such as worms, fruit flies,  mice and dogs due to their shorter life spans.  Although some degree of benefit, often enormous benefit relating to the impact of caloric restriction has been shown in every species studied, some degree of skepticism existed as to whether such dietary restriction would be of similar benefit to primates such as us.

In July of 2009 the eagerly awaited results of a twenty year study on the effects of caloric restriction on primates were finally published in the journal, Science (2009 Jul 10; 325(5937): 201-204).

Two groups of Rhesus monkeys (selected for their strong similarity to us) were studied.  One group of Rhesus monkeys were allowed to eat as much as they wanted and the other group was given a sufficiently nutrient dense diet with 30% fewer calories than they would normally consume.  Twenty years later only 63% of the monkeys that ate as much as they wanted were still alive.  37% of them had died due to age related causes (heart disease, cancer or diabetes).

And the caloric restriction group?

Fully 87% were still alive and only 13% had died–and of these only 5 of the 14 individuals died of age related causes!  The rest died from complications of anesthesia, gastric bloat, endometriosis or injury.

Even the researchers themselves were blown away by these results and confidently speculated that these findings would have considerable implications for combating aging and disease in humans.

Of all monkeys that survived–the remaining two groups of monkeys even looked considerably different from one another.  Each group had aged very, very differently.

Throughout their lives the calorically restricted group maintained superior health and aging-related biomarkers in every area: brain health, metabolic health and rate, insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular vitality.  The caloric restriction group enjoyed a 3-fold reduction in age-related disease!!  Also, they lost fat weight but maintained healthy levels of lean tissue mass.  They additionally retained greater brain volume (which normally shrinks with age and glycation) but more than that they retained superior cognitive function.  The cardiovascular disease rate of the caloric restricted group was fully half the rate of the control group.  40% of the control group developed diabetes (or pre-diabetes).  Not ONE single monkey in the calorically restricted group developed either.

Remarkable.

Photos from the study, shown here, present examples of age-matched individuals from the two groups.  The contrast is visually striking.  Stunning, even.  The caloric restricted monkeys looked almost literally half the age of the controls:

Control group monkey on left and calorically restricted monkey of the exact same age on the right

Example of a control group monkey is shown on the left (AB) and a calorically restricted monkey on the right (CD)–both are exactly the same age

The study was designed, of course, well before Cynthia Kenyon’s work was published or anything related to mTOR–both of which have added richly to the understanding behind the mechanisms of just why caloric restriction is so effective, so one can only imagine how much more might have been accomplished with that awareness in mind.

FYI–Among the most common misconceptions about monkeys and apes, incidentally, is that they are vegan animals.  They are better adapted to making use of plants in some ways than we are, but they also readily eat the same things we eat. ALL monkeys and apes are known to eat meat–and many even hunt for meat. The one notable exception is the mountain gorilla…and even they get some insects in their diet. Monkeys and apes are omnivores and, like us, will eat whatever might be available to them in their environment. Some even catch and eat fish (crazy, but true)!  One of the reasons Rhesus monkeys were selected for this particular study, in fact, is because of their pronounced similarity to us, even in terms of diet.  For more reading about this particular aspect of things I can recommend the book, “The Hunting Apes: Meat Eating and the Origins Of Human Behavior” by Craig B. Stanford.

See  full size image

Recent Human Longevity Research

There are actually other recent studies, too, showing significant health benefit where caloric restriction in actual humans is concerned.  A newly released study in the Journal of Applied Research, Clinical Experience of a Diet Designed To Reduce Aging (Ron Rosedale, MD, E.C. Westman, MD, MHS, J.P. Konhilas, PhD; Vol 9, No. 4, 2009) demonstrated in the context of an outpatient medical clinic that a diet high in fat (unlimited quantity), adequate in protein (50-80 grams per day) and very low in carbohydrate, with some added multi-vitamin and mineral supplementation (together with 2,000 mg/day L-carnitine, 400 mg alpha lipoic acid, 100 mg CoQ10, and 1 TBSP cod liver oil) led to significant improvement in recognized serum factors related to the aging process (glucose, insulin, leptin and triglycerides).  Patients were told to eat when they were hungry.  The results also included a significant loss of adipose body weight, a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and a reduction in levels of leptin, insulin, fasting glucose, and free T3 (with TSH levels and creatinine largely unchanged).  Despite the predominance of fat in the diet, serum triglycerides were also greatly reduced.

Another area of human longevity research getting a lot of publicity these days involves manipulating the length of something called “telomeres”.  Telomeres are sequences of nucleic acids extending from the ends of chromosomes and act to maintain chromosomal integrity. Every time our cells divide telomeres are shortened, leading to cellular damage and cellular death associated with aging. Scientists (at Geron Corporation) discovered that the key element in rebuilding our disappearing telomeres is the “immortalizing” enzyme telomerase, an enzyme found only in germ cells and cancer cells. Telomerase appears to repair and replace telomeres manipulating the “clocking” mechanism that controls the life span of dividing cells.  Drug companies, of course, are looking for ways to enhance telomerase any way they can.  In fact, look for up-coming supplements and possibly “life extension” related medications claiming to do just this.  What they won’t tell you, however, is that caloric restriction also preserves telomere length.  You don’t have to wait for a questionable drug to come out or go broke buying hyped “designer supplements”.

Of course, it’s easy to restrict overall calories with lab animals, as they have no choice in the matter.  It is quite another matter to try and restrict overall caloric intake when you’re driving past 15 fast food joints on your way home, are surrounded by constant advertisement and have a refrigerator and cupboards full of food at your ravenous fingertips.  UNLESS, of course, you apply the caloric restriction model in a way that does not leave you hungry–which is exactly what Primal Body-Primal Mind tells you how to do.  Just follow the simple, most basic dietary guidelines outlined in my book to eat optimally well while feeling fully satisfied, live healthier, longer–and even save some real money along the way!

The most basic guideline to remember is this: greatly restrict or eliminate sugar and starch (preferably eliminating gluten completely), keep your protein intake adequate (roughly the RDA–44-56 g/day or 0.8 g/kg of ideal body weight) amounting to approximately 6-7 ounces of organic grass fed/wild caught meat/seafood total per day, eat as many fibrous “above ground”/non-starchy vegetables and greens as you like and eat as much fat (from fattier cuts of meat or fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, butter/ghee, olives, olive oil…etc) as you need to satisfy your appetite.

The bottom line here is that natural dietary fat is not at all our enemy–and that in the absence of dietary carbohydrate and with adequate protein can result in a far more satisfying, longer and healthier life overall. Simple, delicious and satisfying.  No hunger or feelings of deprivation needed…and all the benefits of supporting a longer and healthier life while saving you money.

If you do nothing from my book other than what was outlined in the paragraph above your health and well being will change remarkably–and chances are you will age much more gracefully and live longer.

And that’s no monkey business.