Tag Archives: Diet

What’s missing from the Paleo diet? (and EVERY popular diet, for that matter!)

Paleo explained in a graphic

Why do so many people, including ‘experts’ hate on the Paleo diet?  From people like Christina Warinner in her viral TedX speech (excellent rebuttal here from Robb Wolf to the chop-shop speech given by Warriner at TedX) to poorly researched books like “Paleo fantasy” by Marlene Zuk (Incredible rebuttal to Zuk’s idiotic book here by Mark Sisson).  Heck, even major news outlets like US News run an absolutely abhorrent yearly piece ranking the best and worst diets for our health each year.  The paleo diet comes in DEAD LAST every year, ranked way lower than SLIM FAST (click here to read a fantastic rebuttal to the drivel that US News puts out about diets every year)!  That’s just laughable.  And even more laughable is that the ‘experts’ who rank these diets are the very nutritionists and dietitians who are supposedly advising America to better health through diet.  Yikes…

Look at the graphic above.  The paleo diet is all about eating REAL, FRESH, UNPROCESSED, PERISHABLE, NUTRIENT-DENSE foods.  How this diet is ranked behind some of the other diets like Slimfast on that US News list is absolutely beyond me!

The Paleo diet has its short-comings, which I’ll get to shortly, but I want to be clear about my stance on it:  I have eaten paleo/primal on and off (mostly on) for about 4 years now.  I have intimate experience with this diet, and have helped many of my friends and family adopt some version of the paleo diet into their lives with incredible results.

What led me to the paleo diet?  

 

I was in my mid-thirties and suffering from what many other people my age suffer from: slowing metabolism, weight gain, constant exhaustion (which fueled a hefty caffeine addiction), frequent sinus infections, joint pains, allergies galore (which led to a dependency on Afrin, breathe right strips, nasonex, and insert 50 other commonly used nasal allergy sprays), mood swings, food cravings (read SUGAR), and a nasty case of GERD (Gastro-Esophegeal Reflux “Disease” – think heartburn on steroids…like you feel as if you’re having a heart attack).

I had been to a nutritionist.  She joked that my cholesterol was so low that I was either dead or in the best shape on earth.  Well, I was neither.  In fact, I would argue that I was closer to death and, had I continued taking her advice and my gastroenterologist’s advice, I would have had a very bad health outcome by now.  They told me that I should eat lots of heart healthy grains, avoid all acidic foods like coffee, tea, tomatoes, alcohol, and citrus fruits, and to take acid blockers like Prevacid and Prilosec.  Following their advice gave me temporary respite from the GERD, but the minute I stopped taking the Prevacid, it came back with a vengeance even though I continued to eat the diet they recommended for me.  So, what gives??  Was I supposed to just take these pills for the rest of my life to feel like I’m not being stabbed in the chest after every meal?  Big Pharma sure wants me to think so…

My health issues not only remained, but significantly worsened until 2009 when I had heard of the Paleo diet.  At first I brushed it off as idiocy just based on its name (which doesn’t do it any justice, imo).  But after hearing a few of my crossfit brethren rave about it I decided to do some research.  I ended up buying Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution” and I read it cover to cover within 4 days (I’m a slow reader).  It’s a really easy read, very entertaining and very informative.  I highly recommend this book as a starting point to learn about the paleo diet and how it can help you reverse chronic illness, lose weight, and regain energy.  Based on this book, I gave paleo a try.  I then discovered other amazing paleo resources like Mark’s Daily Apple and Everyday Paleo.

The results:

  • Weight: I lost 27 pounds of excess fat within about 4-6 months.  Without counting calories.  I ate to my heart’s content in each meal.
  • GERD: Completely eliminated, and did so without the use of antacids, and I ate citrus, cooked tomatoes, and drank tea to my heart’s content (all supposed “no-no’s” when you have GERD)
  • Allergies: Almost completely eliminated.  And by implementing the diet, I figured out that Dairy was one of the main culprits of allergies and inflammation for me.  GOT MILK?  NOT.
  • Chronic Fatigue: The diet didn’t fully end the fatigue but helped it enough that I no longer needed coffee and caffeine (which led me to the discovery that I had sensitivities to coffee and caffeine).
  • Frequent sinus infections: Frequency was greatly reduced, and my immune function improved.  Apparently grains and dairy were 2 major culprits of low immunity and inflammation for me (as well as millions of people who don’t realize it).
  • Blood lipid profile: Unfortunately, I didn’t have a blood test done before I started eating paleo, so I have nothing to compare my results to, but a recent blood lipid profile showed absolutely no issues with my cholesterol, and showed excellent ratios b/w HDL:TC, HDL:TRIG, and low triglycerides.  This is despite me regularly eating organic uncured nitrate free bacon, and pastured organic eggs constantly (no, not egg whites…FULL eggs with the yellow, which is the most nutritious part of the egg!  It drives me crazy to see people ordering egg-white omelets at a restaurant thinking they are doing something good for their health!).
  • Joint Pain: Reduced…although not fully (I have a major sports injury in my left knee that involved a permanent metal plate and screws). 
  • Fitness: My endurance improved, my strength improved, and I was easily able to do rigorous crossfit or muay thai workouts.  The low carb diet worked just fine for me.
  • Food cravings: This was the one area that I was not able to conquer with paleo alone.

Now, how can a diet that is capable of results like mine be so adamantly panned by the talking heads out there?  You see, I am a walking, living, breathing testimonial for the paleo diet.  And I am not the only one.  Click here to see just ONE resource for thousands of testimonials like mine.  To my readers that have experience with the paleo diet (good or bad) I would love to read about your story in the comments section below!

Aside from the thousands of testimonials and case studies, and despite what its detractors say, The Paleo diet does have sound science behind it as well (just scroll to the bottom of the page I just linked to and see the 8 randomized control studies on the paleo diet).

But the title of this article is “What’s missing from the paleo diet?”…so I’m sure you weren’t expecting to read a love-fest about it!  Despite it’s proven superiority to the standard American debacle…err…diet, the paleo diet does fall short in one area.  But, in fairness, so does just about EVERY single diet out there including vegetarianism, veganism, Ornish and Essylstyn’s plant-based diets, etc:

 

The concept of bio-chemical individuality

 

Have you ever noticed that one person will thrive on a specific diet, while another person will see no change and yet another person’s health will worsen with the same diet?  Why is that?  I have met people who have tried the paleo diet and gained weight!  I have personally met vegans who have eaten that way for 20 years and they look and feel amazing.  Then I’ve spoken to other vegans who report terrible, life-threatening experiences with veganism (from malnutrition).  How can that be?

The answer is this: There is no one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter diet out there.  Every single one of us is, metabolically speaking,  as individual on the inside as we are in our outward appearance.  Every single one of us has unique genetic nutrient needs, deficiencies, abundances, metabolic rates, stress levels, and genetic ability to cope with internal and external stressors.  So, a diet that makes one person feel incredible because it happens to offer the perfect nutrition for his or her situation might be exactly the opposite of what another person needs to thrive.  

 

Truly, one man’s food is another man’s poison.

 

This is not a new concept.  It’s just a vastly under-reported and under-appreciated one.  The understanding of bio-chemical individuality started with the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who set out to travel the world and to study native cultures that remained untouched by western nutritional concepts or industrialization.  What he found was astounding.  In these cultures, he observed that:

  1.  They had almost NO incidence of the diseases that plague westerners today such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.
  2. They had very little obesity.
  3. Their bodies were lean and strong, like Olympic athletes, despite the fact that they didn’t train like them.
  4. Most importantly, they all consumed vastly different diets based on the geographically available foods in their area.

 The last point, #4, is extremely important.  Eskimos evolved over thousands of years in Alaska eating whale and seal blubber, caribou, and kelp.  They ate lots of animal flesh and saturated fat and very little in the way of vegetation simply because that was what was available to them.  Evolution (natural selection) allowed for the Eskimos who adapted well to a diet such as this to thrive and procreate, whilst Eskimos who failed to adapt and thrive on this diet simply died out.  Click here to read a fascinating piece in discovery magazine about the paradox of the Eskimo diet.

By contrast, Aboriginal cultures that lived in a vastly different geography and climate thrived on insects, beetles, grubs, berries, kangaroo, and wallaby.  They also ate much more vegetation and fruits than the Eskimos, yet they also thrived until western civilization introduced them to McDonald’s 😉 .

mcdonaldsThe Swiss people thrived for many years on whole rye bread, large quantities of high fat cream cheese, cream, and raw goat’s milk, some wine, and small amounts of meat.  They enjoyed robust health even in glacial winters on a diet that is vastly different from the other cultures.

The African Masai thrived for thousands of years on a diet that consisted of wild meat, milk, and blood extracted from cattle!  They exhibited extraordinary physical and mental development.

Now, ask yourself this question: After adapting over thousands of years to these geographically and climate-dictated diets, what would the health outcomes be if we were to switch diets among them?  For instance, what if we had the Aboriginals eat the Eskimo diet and the Eskimos eat the Aboriginal diet?  Again, these are people who have evolved and adapted to a specific way of eating over thousands of years.  This is one of those times in your life were you just need to apply some logic and the correct conclusion will come to you.  We can see what the switch over to a western diet is doing to them: making them very sick!

Other pioneers in the concept of biochemical individuality and eating according to your genetic predispositions are Dr. George Watson who wrote “Nutrition and your mind”, Dr. William Kelly, Rudolf Wiley, PhD and author of “Biobalance”, and of course, the man who put these ideas together and created what is now called “Metabolic Typing, William Wolcott (author of “The Metabolic Typing Diet”, a must-read for anyone interested in this stuff).  MT book

Metabolic Typing

 

OK.  So now we understand that adaptation and natural selection over thousands of years has made us all genetically predisposed to thrive via eating a certain way.  So, all we have to do to eat right for ourselves is trace back our lineage as far back as we can go…maybe back to our great grandparents and mimic what they ate, right?  Not so fast!  I wish it were that easy, but our ability to transport ourselves from one geography and climate to many other vastly different geographies and climates started back way further than you or I can possibly trace our lineage.  And once humans were able to travel by horse, boat, car, and plane, things got a little wacky.  People from different cultures and background started mixing with other very different cultures and backgrounds.  For me personally, I know that my mother had ties in Egypt, Morocco, and Israel, while my father had ties in France and Poland…and who knows where their lineage traces back to?  So, how should I eat?  Should I try to mimic an ancient middle eastern diet, or a traditional old school east European diet?  Or neither?  Or a little of both?  We have become such mutts at this point, that it’s really a pointless exercise that will leave you more frustrated than satisfied.  

Enter Metabolic Typing,  an assessment developed and refined over the last 30+ years by William Wolcott and which answers these questions.  It may sound unbelievable, but with a relatively short online assessment of your physical traits, metabolic traits, and psychological/neurotransmitter traits, Wolcott found a way to accurately uncover your individual metabolic type.  Wolcott’s work was based on the following principle: 

When you eat the wrong foods, the wrong macro-nutrient ratios (protein:carbs:fat), and the wrong micro-nutrient ratios (think nutrients, supplements) for your specific metabolism, that leads to imbalances in the body, and metabolic dysfunction.  You become less efficient at metabolizing protein, fat, and carbs.  This leads to all sorts of sub-clinical health problems, like the chronic symptoms I described myself as having above (fatigue, headaches, indigestion, hypoglycemia, constipation, rashes/hives, and pain/inflammation, and malnutrition).  If intervention by eating for your individual metabolism is not achieved, these conditions eventually manifest as chronic degenerative conditions such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, colitis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, or auto-immune conditions.  

 

Or to put it in plain English, eating the wrong way for your metabolic type will make you sick, and eating correctly for your metabolic type brings balance and optimal function back to your body!  Think of metabolic typing as a highly individualized paleo diet based on your specific physical, metabolic, and psychological needs.  Why do I say that?  Because metabolic typing has many similarities to paleo eating.  Regardless of what the assessment tells you that your metabolic type is, Metabolic Typing diets: 

  • Shun processed foods and promote eating only fresh, organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, pasture raised, nutrient-dense, perishable foods.  
  • Shun all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. 
  • Advise to consume only raw, organic, grass-fed dairy products (similar to primal)
  • Advise you to eat only sprouted nuts, seeds, and legumes when possible (similar to primal)

There is one major difference in metabolic typing diets and paleo, and that is that it allows for some organic sprouted ancient grain consumption IF your body does well while eating them, although it warns not to overdo it. After all, if you are someone who can eat clean, sprouted grains without incidence (no weight gain, no negative changes in blood lipids or levels of inflammatory markers, and no digestive or inflammatory symptoms), then why shouldn’t you eat grains in a limited fashion?  Simply because humans didn’t consume grains prior to 10,000 years ago?  Again that is a very cookie cutter approach to an individualized diet plan.  And, as someone who wants to help make the world a healthier place, I am personally more concerned with doing what is right for my clients and not trying to stuff them into a specific diet plan that works for me but may not be ideal for them.

Always think: what is the goal, here?  The paleo diet is a wonderful, fantastic diet that has helped me and many people I know tremendously.  But to follow it so rigidly without acknowledging that everyone is different is a mistake.  Some people might do very well on more carbs than others.  Some people might do well with much less meat than others.  Some people, like myself, have a metabolic type that thrives when we eat 70% fat and protein in each meal, with only 30% of our meal consisting of carbs derived from non-starchy vegetables.  Others might get deathly ill following my metabolic type diet.  Do you see where I am going here?  This is the reason you see one person thrive on a diet, another person feel no change, and a third person actually get sicker on that same diet.

But don’t let this change your opinion on the paleo diet being a terrific diet!  Again, in fairness to paleo, every other diet out there misses the mark on this as well! 

By the way, back to my food cravings:  once I tweaked the macro and micro-nutrient ratios of my paleo diet to my metabolic type, I was finally able to rid myself of the intense sugar cravings that plagued me for years!  This is because once I tweaked my diet to reflect the correct macro and micro-nutrient ratios that are best suited to my body, my body started getting the exact nutrition that it needs for energy.  So, I feel less sugar cravings, and I only get them when I eat a meal that had out of balance macro-nutrients (i.e. too many carbs and not enough fat/protein).  

Metabolic typing has been an amazing journey of self-discovery for me.  It taught me how listen to my body after my meals and how to adjust my macro-nutrient ratios accordingly.  It taught me how to become an expert at ME!

Watch this short, 8-minute video that does a great job of explaining the concept of Metabolic Typing: 

 

In my practice, I approach diet in 2 ways: 

 

  1. Find out how to eat right for your Metabolic Type: I recommend that every client do the metabolic typing assessment to find their individual metabolic type.  The assessment is the most complete dietary program I have ever seen.  It includes a wealth of reading material and a very educational and entertaining video series that teaches them exactly how to eat, shop, and cook for their specific metabolic type.  It also teaches you very easy ways to break down your ideal macro-nutrient intake (protein:fat:carbs) for each meal without needing to use food scales or portion control.  
  2. Find out what foods cause inflammation in your body: I also recommend that every client has a food sensitivity panel done to assess what foods and food additives are problematic for them and cause inflammation in their bodies.  They then remove the reactive foods from the metabolic typing diet to decrease the stress on their bodies.  

 

The Metabolic typing assessment is done online by following this link.  The test costs $189 and, in my opinion, is worth EVERY penny.  Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the Metabolic Typing test and I have no financial connection to them.  I make nothing from your $189.  

Of course, dietary changes are just one part of getting healthy.  Aside from Metabolic Typing, I use functional lab testing to help clients uncover as many hidden internal stressors on their body as possible.  A diet that is not right for your metabolic type is only one of them.   I teach them how to assess and optimize adrenal function, hormonal balance, digestion, immune function, neurotransmitter balance, and how to reduce or eliminate emotional and environmental exposure to stress.  It is this holistic approach that has healed me more than any diet alone can do and it has improved the health of thousands of people as well.  

I hope that you found this article informative, and I hope that you take the first step of your journey and do a metabolic typing assessment online.  Please let me know if you do in the comments section below!  Thanks for reading!

Rick 

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness, FDN Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

Email: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

 

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

 

The focus needs to shift from more cancer drugs to teaching prevention.

I recently spoke with a woman who was diagnosed with cancer.  She received chemo and surgery. This is a success story (sort of) in that she, by good fortune, detected a deadly cancer growing inside of her and had surgery to remove it before it could take hold.  That part of the story is a great success, and a clear testament to the marvels of modern medicine.

The reason why this was “sort of” a success story is that her story also exemplifies everything that is wrong with modern medicine and the state of healthcare today.  It’s also the reason, despite the trillions spent on pharmaceutical research, that cancer rates have skyrocketed for decades.  This will continue unless we change the way we look at the disease.

I asked her what the doctor advised her to do moving forward to prevent the cancer from returning.

She replied that he told her to just follow-up with 3 ct scans per year for the next 5 years.

OK, but that is merely early detection, not prevention.  Were there any dietary recommendations, or recommended preventive lifestyle changes to build your health?  Did he explain the likely reasons other than genetics behind why the cancer happened in the first place?

“No.  I just need to keep following up with those ct scans.”

Do you see what the problem is here?  If you understand epigenetics, you must understand that

our current healthcare system completely disregards the fact that everything you eat, breathe in, put on your skin, worry about, your activity levels, and the quality and quantity of your sleep has a profound effect on your chances of developing cancer and other deadly diseases. 

 

Our healthcare system has failed this woman because they did not help her to understand the WHY and the HOW:

  • WHY did she get cancer in the first place?
  • HOW can she prevent it from happening again?  

 

The American Institute for Cancer Research recently published a report estimating that “For the 12 most common cancers in the United States, about one third of the cases are preventable through a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. This translates to about 374,000 preventable cases of cancer per year.”

Her doctors didn’t tell her things like:

  • Cancer feeds on sugar.  Watch Craig B. Thompson, President and CEO of Sloan Kettering explain this:

 

  • Ketogenic diets show great promise for prevention and treatment of cancer.  University of South Florida researcher Dr. Dominic D’Agostino explains: 

  • Another way to prevent her cancer from returning is to lose weight and increase her physical activity:

There are so many things that we can do to drastically lower the chance that we will develop cancer in our lifetime:

  • Decrease our exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals in the household.  Watch this video:

Bottom line: we can raise all the money in the world to fund research geared towards “finding the cure” for cancer, but our focus may be misplaced.

 

THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL TO CURE CANCER, AND SURGERY THAT REMOVES CANCER DOES NOT CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT IN YOUR BODY THAT MADE IT A FERTILE GROUNDS FOR CANCER GROWTH.

The only answer is to understand why cancer develops in our bodies, and how to prevent it.  Then we need to make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent it.  Our healthcare system, or should I call it a “sick”care system, is in shambles!  Its only function is to treat disease once it occurs, not to teach people about why it occurs and how to prevent it.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!

 

Rick

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.
Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

e: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

 

 

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

More BS about diets being fed to the general public (and I’m calling it out).

Here is a link to an article that I just read about the mediterranean diet and it has me seething.  It is astounding how piss poor the quality of this journalism is.  And to make matters worse, the person who wrote this is a registered dietician (tsk, tsk).

I don’t know where to start:

  • How about with the Ancel Keys “7 country study” that she uses as the basis for why she recommends eating a Mediterranean diet.  Anyone who is plugged into nutritional science knows by now that this study has been completely invalidated and discredited.  Keys was a fraud.  The study initially included 22 countries but when he kept all of the countries studied on his chart there was absolutely zero statistical evidence to indicate a connection or causal relationship between saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease.  There were countries plotted on his chart that had high saturated fat and cholesterol intake yet they also had very low incidence of heart disease.  There were countries that had low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol that had very high incidences of heart disease.  So what did keys do?  He simply threw out 15 of the countries that wrecked his hypothesis, kept the 7 that did, and the us government based their entire food pyramid and “healthy eating” strategy on fraudulent science.  And that still haunts Americans to this day.  The fact that this dietician does not know this is concerning.
  • Regarding the actual Mediterranean diet, I will agree that it is healthier than a standard American diet.  In fact, if you look at most of the studies done on the Mediterranean diet, you will find that the health benefits that it purports come from studies that pit it against the standard American diet, which includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, chick fil-a, Dairy Queen, KFC, and loads of cotton candy.  I could eat solely DIRT and be healthier than I would be eating the standard American diet.  So yes, bravo Mediterranean diet, you eclipse the SAD in health benefits.
  • The reason why this dietician thinks that the low carb diets which eliminate sugar and grains are not backed by science is because there has yet to be a popular study that puts the 2 diets against each other.  I’d be VERY curious to see the results of a study like that one.
  • And she claims there is no science behind low carb dieting? She she learn to use google.  Enter “ketogenic diet studies” and see what she finds.
  • She suggests eating refined grains and throwing some arugula on your pizza.  Uhh, lady I hate to break it to you but: if you throw a vegetable on a pile of shit, you’ll end up eating vegetables on a pile of shit.  Refined flour wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels and is one of the main culprits in obesity and inflammation.

Just goes to show you that having a “license” doesn’t mean you have any idea whatsoever about what you are doing.  Whenever your read or watch the news or editorial articles like this one, you really need to put your thinking caps on, or you can and will get taken for a ride.  It’s unfortunate, but true.

That is all for today guys.

Thanks,

Rick Gold.

What is ‘Epigenetics’ and how does it pertain to everyday life?

DNA Strand

We all know about genetics, at least on the surface. It’s basically the science that tells us “no matter how hard you try to change your physical fate, your inherited genes will always dictate your health.” That idea has been so thoroughly ingrained in our minds. We constantly say or hear people say things like:

  • “Nothing I can do about it. It’s in my genes” OR
  • “Bad cholesterol runs in my family, so I have to take this statin (i.e. Lipitor)” OR
  • “Cancer runs in my family. I’m bound to get it too so I might as well have fun while I’m healthy” OR
  • “Obesity runs in my family, so that’s why I am overweight” OR…

Well, you get the picture. Do you notice a trend here? Any observations? The first observation I make when I hear these statements is that most people truly still believe in this line of thinking, The second observation is that usually these statements are a mechanism that the person saying it uses to rationalize their situation by blaming it on something outside of their control. This is totally understandable. It feels much better to think that your body is failing you because of your genetic makeup and that there is nothing that you can do about it. In fact, that is exactly what the pharmaceutical industry would have you believe if they could. The message from them is ” Just take these pills for the rest of your life. It’s the only way for you to treat your condition.”

But is it true? Does our genetic makeup really predetermine whether or not we will get cancer, or have cardiovascular disease? Autoimmune conditions? Obesity? Diabetes? Is it really out of our control? Perhaps in certain cases this could be true. But before 20 years ago, just about every scientist on earth believed this to be 100% true. That was, until the discovery and application of a new science called “epigenetics” came along.

Epigenetics is “The study of changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype, caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi, (Greek: over or above) -genetics.” Here is what that mumbo jumbo means in plain english:

Epigenetics is the study of how things OTHER than your DNA and genetics (such as where you live geographically, pollution, stress, diet, sleep patterns, your career, toxins you ingest, the amount and quality of exercise you perform throughout your life, etc.) can actually alter how your genes express themselves.

This is not to say that we are not genetically predisposed to certain conditions and diseases, because we all are. What this is saying is that even though we might be genetically predisposed towards (insert type of cancer) cancer, in order for us to actually get cancer, something other than our genetic code actually works to instruct our genes to “flip the switch” and begin mutating cells. And that ‘something’ is in many cases the lifestyle that we lead.

So for instance, let’s say that you have a genetic predisposition (gd forbid) for lung cancer. The first question to ask yourself is “if that is my genetic predisposition, then why don’t I currently have lung cancer?”. The answer is that the genes in your body have not yet been triggered to create cancerous mutations in your cells. An environmental trigger could be what flips that switch. Smoking is one. Living near or working in a coal mine (or near some other drastically polluted air) could be another. Or, it could be all of the sugar that you eat that triggers it by promoting widespread inflammation in your tissues. I can go on and on. Mercury toxicity from dental fillings you received 30 years ago. Toxins and pesticides from the foods you eat. GMOs. Toxins from our deodorants, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, lotions, makeup and sunscreens we use on a daily basis. Severe lack of sleep or exercise. Leading a chronically stressful lifestyle. All of these things can be the environmental triggers that flip that proverbial lung cancer switch to the “on” position. By the same token, the reverse (leading a healthy lifestyle) can be linked to keeping that switch turned off even with a genetic predisposition.

In terms of our health, I really can’t think of a more profound concept than this. What this means is that the choices that we make every single day pertaining to how we lead our lives is the ultimate determinant of whether or not we die early from a horrible disease or if we are destined to live vibrantly until the ripe age of 100 years old.

Are you reading this? Take a moment to let this concept soak in. This burgeoning field of science called Epigenetics is telling us that we have the power to make ourselves healthy and happy, regardless of our genetic predispositions.

What’s scary is that now scientists are learning that our epigenetic traits, altered by the lifestyles that we lead, are passed down from generation to generation. So the lifestyle choices that you make today are altering your epigenetic markers in a way that can profoundly impact your grandchildren. No pressure though…

As such, it would follow that in order for us to be healthy and to keep the disease switches “flipped off”, we MUST address and optimize each one of these areas of our lives:

1) Diet –

  • Ideally, take steps to determine your metabolic type, and the diet best suited for it (this is something that I do for clients so feel free to inquire with me about this).
  • Use lab work to determine if you have any food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances that might be causing hidden stress in your body (read: inflammation).
  • Do your best to eliminate or severely cut down your intake of sugar, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and starches, and vegetable oils.
  • Eat REAL FOOD. Read labels. If you can’t pronounce or recognize an ingredient, don’t eat it.

2) Rest –

  • Get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
  • Keep your bedroom cool (ideally less than 70 degrees fahrenheit will promote sound sleep).
  • Stop using your computer, phone, ipad, or TV at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Try to keep the same bedtime every night.
  • Keep your room as dark as possible. Cover up any LED lights from fans, alarm clocks, cable boxes, etc.

3) Exercise –

  • Try to move periodically every day. If your work is generally sedentary, try getting up to stretch or do light exercises every 15 minutes.
  • HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is a great way to get a fantastic full body workout in a short period of time. I also really like crossfit and martial arts (muay thai, jiu jitsu). Here is an intense Tabata workout variation as an example.
  • Yoga is a terrific choice for exercise and it gives you a lot of physical and mental bang for your buck. You can tone, strengthen, and limber up your body while learning the powerful art of meditation and stillness which can work wonders for your stress levels. I personally love practicing hot yoga. I can’t say enough good things about it. I feel incredible after every class.
  • Exercise, but don’t over-exercise. There is evidence that over exercising is actually detrimental to your health.
  • Get outside and connect with nature. Take long hikes and walks. Play outdoor sports. Make exercise fun.

4) Stress Reduction –

  • Eustress is the good kind of stress, like when we ride a roller coaster. Chronic stress, external or internal is what we need to watch out for. There is evidence that chronic stress is highly correlated with a multitude of serious diseases like cancer and heart disease.
  • External stressors (your job, marriage, relationship, financial situation, children, friends, family, geographic location) must be dealt with. To do this, you need to become a master of your own mind through meditation, deep breathing, and gratitude training. You also might want to consider the “toxic” people that you have in your life and creating distance between you and them.
  • Aside from chronic emotional stress that stems from circumstances outside of your body, we all have chronic hidden internal stressors that wreak havoc on every system of our bodies. Internal stressors can come in the form of food sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity, gut dysfunction, bugs, parasites, hormonal imbalances, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, and the list goes on. In order to uncover any hidden internal stressors that might be wreaking silent havoc in your body you need to do functional lab work (As a Functional Diagnostic Wellness Practitioner, this is another thing I can help you with. Just inquire with me if interested).

5) Supplementation –

  • Supplementation is vitally important to our health. The state of our food system today is disastrous. Widespread chemical and pesticide usage has hurt the soil that we use to grow our food, rendering it far less nutritious. If the soil has less nutrients than it used to, the foods we eat will have less nutrition as well. Between the degradation of nutrients in our food, the processed junk foods, the toxic loads that we assault our bodies with each day (pesticides, chemical exposure, etc) and the chronic stress that we all have come to live with and call “normal”, just about every person on earth should be supplementing. But I am constantly approached with these questions regarding supplements:
  • What supplements should we take?
  • In what dosage?
  • Which brands are best?
  • How do I really know what supplements I need for my body?
  • These are all great questions, and again, as a Functional Diagnostic Wellness Practitioner, this is something that I help people with. The only way to know what your body needs in the way of supplementation is to do functional lab work that identifies dysfunction and healing opportunities in your body. Only then will we know what supplements you should truly be taking. Any other form of supplementation is essentially guesswork and, apart from being a potential colossal waste of money, could actually be harmful to you. For instance, did you know that calcium, magnesium, vitamin d3, vitamin k2, and vitamin a all work together synergistically in your body? If you are supplementing with one you need to consider supplementing with several of them or you could potentially do more harm than good. I am actually going to blog soon about smart supplementation so stay tuned for that.

If you are interested in learning more about the science of Epigenetics click here or here. They are both excellent videos that will give you a solid basic understanding of the science.

As always, thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave comments below. Just keep it classy!

Thanks,

Rick Gold, FDWP.

Recipe – Paleo Banana, Cherry, Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Today’s blog is a recipe (courtesy of my wonderful wife, Lissa.)  These muffins are:

  • Gluten free
  • Grain/Flour Free
  • Soy Free
  • OK for most lactose intolerant people (only contains butter which is low in lactose).
  • Packed with nutrients, healthy fats, protein, and unfortunately carbs (which is why this should only be an every once in a while treat!)
Banana-Cherry-Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Banana-Cherry-Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Here is the recipe:

Paleo Muffins

5 or 6 ripe bananas, mashed well
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
Vanilla to taste
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 cups blanched almond flour
Whole frozen cherries, defrosted, drained and cut in half
Chocolate chips (80% dark)

Heat oven to 350. Use coconut oil to lightly grease muffin tins.

Beat eggs with vanilla and butter.
In large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Pour egg mixture into dry mixture and mix well. Add mashed bananas and mix thoroughly. Fold in cherries and chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin tin filling each cup near the top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Feel free to substitute the cherries and chocolate chips for whatever floats your boat!!

it makes between 18- 24 muffins depending on how much you fill each cup. Sometimes I overfill the cups to get big muffins (but generally always more than a dozen).

Enjoy your weekends!

Thanks

Rick Gold

 

Why is it so hard to lose weight? Part 1

It’s the age-old question, isn’t it?  There are more fad diets and weight loss supplements than anyone can keep track of these days.  In fact, recent figures show weight loss to be a $21bb industry!  That’s a lot of people looking to tantalize you into parting from your hard-earned money with the promise of fast and long-lasting weight loss in a pill, supplement, or diet.   Unfortunately, as most of us know, while some of these magic pills or diets can work temporarily, the weight typically comes back with a vengeance once you stop taking them or stop the diet.

Because there are many factors that contribute to weight gain and the inability to lose and keep weight off, I have decided to tackle the issue in a series of blog posts.  Here is the breakdown:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Gut health
  4. Sleep quality & quantity
  5. Chronic stress & hormonal imbalances

Without further adieu, let’s get into it, starting with DIET:

The antiquated science of the last several decades has led us to believe that weight loss or weight gain is nothing more than a simple mathematical formula:

  • If Caloric intake (eating) > Caloric expenditure (living and moving), we gain weight.
  • If caloric intake < caloric  expenditure we lose weight.
  • If caloric intake = caloric expenditure, we will live in this mystical happy world of homeostasis in which we dance around in a field of tulips, totally in love with our perfect figures.

Thus, all we have to do to lose weight and keep it off is to eat whatever we want so long as we burn more calories than we eat on a daily basis.    “You mean, as long as I burn enough calories each day, I can eat chocolate lava cake for breakfast, waffles and candy syrup for lunch, and rigatoni a la vodka for dinner every night?  Sounds amazing, actually!  Where do I sign up?”

Raise your hand if you believe that (for the sole purpose of weight loss)  eating 500 calories of that chocolate lava cake is no different from eating 500 calories worth of kale.  Wait…why isn’t every person’s hand raised that is reading this?  Don’t you believe that a calorie is a calorie for the purposes of weight loss?  Then why does it seem so intuitively natural to us that eating an equivalent caloric amount of kale will have a different effect on our weight than eating an equivalent caloric amount of chocolate lava cake?  If you did not raise your hand, then you are on your way to understanding the truth about diet-related weight gain and obesity.  Here it is:

A CALORIE IS NOT JUST A CALORIE.

Put simply, there are “good” calories and “bad” calories and if you want to lose weight that is what you need to focus on.  When you eat, if you only eat foods that contain the good calories you will lose weight regardless of how many calories you take in (unless you are taking in 3000 + calories per day).

The bad calorie foods are the ones that spike your blood sugar too much when you eat them. When your blood sugar spikes, your pancreas secretes insulin to move the sugar from your blood to your muscles. If your muscles are already full of glycogen stores, they will reject the sugar offering from the insulin.  Insulin then stores the sugar in every available fat cell.  Fat cells have unlimited storage and expansion space for sugar (aka energy reserves).  Hence, we get fat from eating more sugar than our bodies actually need or use.  This eventually causes insulin resistance (see this recent blog post of mine on metabolic syndrome.).

Conventional wisdom also  tells us that, if we want to lose weight, we must stay away from fat, especially that nasty saturated fat from animal products, because fat is what makes us fat, right?  Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

According to this “wisdom”, we should all be totally svelte!  The USDA even has data to show that we have decreased our consumption of “fattening” and “artery-clogging” animal fats:

Animal fat consumption has gone down significantly since 1970 yet people are  getting fatter at an increased clip.  Why?

Animal fat consumption has gone down significantly since 1970 yet people are getting fatter at an increased clip. Why?

Unfortunately, that experiment has already been done.  It was done on the entire population of the US for at least the last 4-5 decades.  So how has it worked out for us?  According to the CDC over 35% of Americans are considered to be obese.  Check out this very cool representation of the increases in BMI from 1985 – 2010 (towards bottom of the page.  It’s STAGGERING.  They literally had to start creating new categories as the years went on).  That’s at least 100,000,000 obese Americans, and many more than that are considered overweight (probably most of the population), and childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing as well.

The reason behind this is that FAT IS NOT THE CULPRIT.  Fat does not make you fat.  Sugar and carbs do.

So the trick to losing weight, keeping it off (and getting healthier) is: don’t worry about the quantity of calories! Worry about the quality of calories you consume.  

Let me clarify:  I’m not saying that calories don’t matter.  They do.  Regardless of what you are eating (yes even Kale), if you eat 3000-5000 calories a day of it and you are generally a sedentary person then you will gain weight.  BUT..and there is a big but here…I challenge you to eat 3000-5000 calories of kale each day.  Do you have any idea how much kale or leafy greens you would have to eat to get that many calories out of them?  Your stomach might explode before you get there.  Foods like leafy greens expand in your belly and do a great job (when eaten along with a healthy fat and a healthy protein) of satiating you for long periods of time, especially when paired with copious amounts of healthy fat.  So, when you eat them, you won’t need to count calories.  Your body will let you know when you’ve had enough.  You typically won’t overeat.

At the bottom of this post I linked to several videos by Dr. Robert Lustig, a brilliant endocrinologist at the heart of the debate on what makes us fat and sick.  But to sum all of this up for you:

  1. Sugar and carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes when you eat them, which in turn causes your pancreas to secrete insulin.
  2. Insulin’s job is to get that sugar out of your bloodstream, where it poses a toxic threat to your life.
  3. If you are a very active person there may be a good chance that insulin will deposit the sugar into your muscles to be stored as energy.
  4. If you are relatively sedentary (which most Americans are compared to their sugar and carb intake) your muscles, which only have a limited store for energy, will “turn away” insulin’s sugar offering.
  5. Insulin’s only other pathway to remove the sugar from your blood stream is to store it in FAT cells which, unfortunately, have unlimited capacity for storing energy.
  6. Every time this happens, you get fatter.
  7. Chronic excessive sugar and carb intake will cause a condition in your body called “insulin resistance” which basically means that your Pancreas now has to work overtime to supply more insulin to remove the sugar from your blood since the previous amounts of insulin it secreted are no longer getting the job done.
  8. Hence, with chronic excessive sugar and carb intake you are literally instructing your body to build energy stores, which is what we know as getting fat.
  9. This mechanism of weight gain, not surprisingly since it has everything to do with blood sugar and insulin, is associated with type 2 diabetes.


If you are looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you’re not going to get very far if you are having oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich, potato chips, and a coke for lunch, and pizza or pasta for dinner.  Unfortunately, that is how most Americans eat.  It’s pretty much considered a “low-fat” diet.  So, why then is 1/3 of this country OBESE??

My best advice to you for weight loss is to completely cut out ALL grains, most fruit (keep berries), and dairy from your diet.  For people who have the willpower to do this, they experience tremendous results, not only with weight loss, but improvement in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, allergies, and digestive issues like GERD, heartburn, IBS, etc.

If that sounds too daunting for you, then I recommend joining a service like fitday which will help you keep track of calories as well as your macros (carbs:protein:fat intake).   The SAD (Standard American Diet) recommends somewhere in the line of 260-300 grams of carbs PER DAY.  That’s just insanity.  If you can shoot for less than 100g of carbs per day to start off, and replace the lost carb calories with lots of healthy fats and moderate protein increase, you will see results.

Some additional considerations:

  • Add tons of healthy fats to your diet from coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocados.
  • Add a moderate amount of healthy proteins to your diet in the form of wild caught fish, pasture raised chickens, fowl, and grass-fed meats.
  • Make 60%-70% of every meal a (non-starchy.  Sweet potatoes SPARINGLY) vegetable (use a wide variety of vegetables in your diet to optimize nutrient profile) .
  • Every meal should have copious amounts of fat, veggies, and a fistful of protein.

Here are the links to Dr. Lustig’s series called “The Skinny on Obesity”.  Each one is no longer than 10 minutes and it’s an eye-opening, sobering watch:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Here’s a really interesting youtube video of a presentation by Dr. Christopher Gardner, a professor and researcher at Stanford University (and a vegetarian) who did one of the better studies around comparing the ornish (vegetarian, higher carb, low fat), and the atkins (lower carb, higher fat, higher protein).

So there you have it, folks.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Have you tried a low carb diet?  How did it work for you?  What are your main concerns?

Thanks,

Rick Gold

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this blog are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.

How to make a healthy diet unhealthy in a few easy steps!

Is it possible to eat a paleo diet and damage your health?  How about on a vegetarian or a vegan diet?  Can you possibly eat SO “healthy” as to be lumped into one of these categories but yet be damaging your health?

Yes.  Yes it is possible, and I’m here to bring clarity to this.

I’ve been getting approached by friends and family more and more over the course of the last few years, asking me to help them start and adapt to a paleo diet.  Of course, I’m always happy to help, and I always do.

But one word of caution I will give to anyone who is contemplating starting a paleo diet or ANY diet for that matter, is that it is 100% possible to follow the basic tenets of a diet and to actually damage your health as a result.

Some examples:

Many people understand the paleo diet simply to be the exclusion of grains, dairy, and legumes from what they eat.  What does that leave us with? Meats, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  But does that mean that you can stuff a McDonald’s big mac burger patty down your throat every day (sans bun of course…and sans special sauce…what the hell is in that sauce anyway?)?  Does that mean you should eat tons of processed meats like conventional cold cuts that are full of nitrates?  Does it mean you should be scarfing down 2-3 dark chocolate bars per day, or eating tons of fruits?  No, absolutely not.  Should you be grilling all of your meats, poultry, and fish with canola oil, soybean oil, or any other vegetable oil?  While all of these foods and/or cooking methods technically may fall into the basic tenets of a paleo or ketogenic diet/lifestyle, I would NEVER EVER recommend that anyone make these foods a staple of their diet.  If you really want to see the true benefits of a paleo diet (weight loss AND internal health improvements), you need to take things a step further:

  • If you have the money, always choose 100% grass-fed (and grass finished…some farms load up their cows with grains a few months before slaughter to “fatten them up”…hmmm grains used to fatten up cows….verrrrry interesting) meats.  Grass fed beef, grass-fed bison, grass-fed lamb…all are among some of the healthiest foods you can eat.  Their omega 3: omega 6 fatty acid ratio is way more skewed to the omega 3 side than conventionally raised meat from grain fed animals.  Thus, eating meats from grass-fed animals actually has a net anti-inflammatory effect on your body.  See Chris Kresser’s series on grass-fed meats for more info.  Conventional meat comes from grain-fed, sick, antibiotic, pesticide ridden cows.  Garbage in, garbage out folks.  (side note: all of those wonderful studies that we see demonizing red meat as a demonic artery-clogging, cancer-causing substance that should be made illegal surely used conventional grain fed, antibiotic ridden, McDonald’s quality meats as their study group, simply bc that’s what the vast majority of our omnivorous population eats.  So, you do the math…aside from those studies’ inability to adequately address confounding variables, is red meat really bad for you?  Well, maybe the red meat that they use in these “scientific” studies is…).
  • Again, if you have the money, always buy and eat organic “pastured” or “pasture raised” poultry and eggs.  What that means is simply that the poultry was raised outdoors on grassy fields where they ate their normal diet (which consists of bugs, worms, and other small animals as well as vegetation and seeds).  Do this for the same reasons above.  And because conventional chicken contains arsenic (which is in their “all-vegetarian feed”..I guess vegetarians eat arsenic?).  Again, garbage in, garbage out for the chickens and the cows.  So let’s extrapolate that to us humans.  get my point?
  • Again, money-permitting, ALWAYS eat wild caught fish over farm raised.  Here’s why.
  • Always opt for organic grass-fed butter or ghee over conventional butter or conventional ghee.  For eating and cooking, always opt for organic extra virgin coconut oil over any other vegetable oil like canola, soybean, or peanut oil.  I referenced this in my last blog post.
  • If you want to eat bacon or cold cuts, buy only organic uncured with only naturally occurring nitrates from celery and sea salt.  Never buy conventional nitrate filled bacon or cold cuts.

Here’s an example of vegetarianism gone wild:

ImageImage

MMMM…chocorice dark chocolate snacks…I have seen these now in 3 health stores locally in recent weeks.  It’s vegetarian, and sold in health stores…MUST be healthy, right?  Except, it says on the label that it does not contain trans fats…but…wait a minute, last I heard, “partially hydrogenated” palm oil is a freaking trans fat!  Seriously, makers of chocorice…WTF, guys.  I mean, really…does anyone think “if I eat vegetarian, I can snarf down a few of these chocorice’s every day and I’ll be healthy because it’s vegetarian!”.  Well, many people DO think that way.  Again, technically a vegetarian product, but really not good for you.

Vegetarianism (if practiced properly and includes organic pasture raised eggs and raw milk from grass-fed cows) can actually be a pretty healthy diet.  But not if you are going to eat french fries fried in soybean oil several times per week, and not if you are going to replace the proteins you lose from meats with a tons of gluten filled conventional wheat products or other gut irritating grains.  Technically vegetarian?  YES.  Healthy eating?  NO.

It’s very easy to eat a “healthy diet” and actually do damage to your health.  You can’t just look at it from a macro point of view of “I eliminated grains, dairy, and legumes so I should be good to go, right?”.  You have to be responsible, thoughtful, and informed with your food choices on a micro level.  Your body is your temple, guys.  This isn’t like fix-it felix, where when you die you just re-generate for your immediate next existence as yourself and get a second chance (not to get into spirituality and reincarnation instant breakfasts on you or anything).  Take the time to understand what every morsel of food does when it enters your mouth, your stomach, your small intestines, your bloodstream, and eventually your cells.  Garbage in, garbage out!