Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reader Feedback

Before starting this article I would like to state that I have no desire to make a personal argument with any vegetarians. I did express in past writings personal feelings on vegetarianism however I intend no personal attacks on anybody who chooses this lifestyle. Though I feel that it would be a healthier choice to eat meat, this in no way influences my feelings towards my vegetarian friends. Especially some of my old Capoeira buddies who I sincerely wish not to alienate.

Now here is a letter from one of my readers

Hi Joey 

     All very interesting. However, you have to keep in mind a few things about meat - how it is produced and how it is processed. Meat and animal products are not in and of themselves negative things, it is the amount consumed and scale of production that is the primary problem. There is also the concern over bio-magnification which is a major issue in seafood but is also an issue in terrestrial food as well. Also the dietary quality of meat that is mass produced is lower in what we need from meat - omega oils etc. due to their profit driven diet.
It really not that easy to dismiss the value of a vegetarian diet - there are the internal benefits -eg. gastrointestinal health and exposure to high levels of pesticides and the external benefits eg. lower carbon emissions and destruction of natural landscapes.
Not to mention all the dietitians I know here at Acadia advocate for a low meat intake or no meat intake diet.

Its really not "good" research to discredit something based on "poor" research - find some good rigorous studies to base your information on - I am sure there are just as many studies out there that have been done badly that advocate for an animal product heavy diet. Keep in mind that there were and continue to be whole societies that were primarily vegetarian. Many much older than our own.

Thank you for bringing the subject to light and keep working on making people think about what they eat. Drop me a line if you want to talk about it.

In this letter they Brought up some very good points. So good in fact that I feel I need to bring it to light with a whole article of it's own.

In response...

        The points you bring up here are very good points and I thank you for bringing them to light.

Concerns about how meat and animal products are produced are no less valid than concerns regarding pesticides and genetic modification of fruits and vegetables. One has to agree that both these products have been so far removed from their original state that neither of them contain even close to the nutritional value they once did and we, the consumers, are the ones suffering for it.

I would also like to point out that nothing in my article mentioned how these goods are produced. That is, however, a great topic for a future article which will most definitely be addressed shortly.

If it is not "good" research to discredit somebody's "poor" research than what would you define as "good research" The studies I refer to are all "good rigorous" studies and I will happily provide references so you may review them yourself and make your own judgment.

I ask you to provide the references to the research stating that eating meat negatively affects one's gastrointestinal health and as far as exposure to high levels of pesticides... I'm not exactly sure which side are you arguing there?

In regards to destruction of natural landscapes, development of agricultural farmland has a far more devastating effect on natural habitats than farming livestock. The amount of landscaping required to produce fields for large scale agriculture requires large combine harvesters and vast open fields. This requires the destruction of thousands of miles of natural habitat. This destruction forces thousands of species of native wildlife from their homes, many of which fall victim to the machinery required to produce your agricultural fields.

Where animals are farmed (at least when they are farmed using fields), they require comparatively small fields to keep them in. This only requires fences or hedgerows and requires no alteration of the land they are kept on. In these fields they graze naturally and their droppings provide natural fertilizer. Therefore negating the need to provide artificial fertilizers in order to grow the vegetation to support the livestock.

In defense of the Moral vegetarian though, more and more of these animals are kept in pens when they should be allowed to roam free in the fields where they can graze naturally producing a meat which is much higher omega3's as opposed to the grain fed variety which produces a meat containing a proportionately high amount of Omega6 which lends itself to inflammation.

 I am not trying to argue that vegetarianism has no merit whatsoever. If you have read any of my past articles then you are aware that my position is that vegetarianism is a step away from the diet that we evolved to eat. We have thrived for millions of years eating a diet consisting of "paleolithic" foods. With the development of agriculture also came many of the diseases of civilization (ie diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, heart disease) that were largely unknown to our omnivorous ancesters.

Yes there are whole societies that continue to be largely vegetarian. The Kikuyu Tribe in Kenya are a prime example. Yet they were relatively shorter and in ill health compared to their largely carnivorous neighbors, the Masai, who were taller, leaner and in much better overall health.

The Madrassis, Bengalis and Kanarese of India also eat a vegetarian diet consisting of mainly rice yet they are short, overweight and unhealthy compared to their neighbors, Pathans, Sikhs and Hunzas. Who live in the same country, in the same climate, yet they eat meat and fish are much healthier overall.

Now I do have to thank you for calling me out on these points in my article. My intent is not to brainwash people into thinking the way I do. Rather, it is to provide people with information so they can come up with their own rational decisions therefore I do welcome any rebuttals to my articles and would love to  welcome any open discussion.

By Gary Taubes

Gary Taubes.. Good Calories bad Calories, Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease. Knopf. 2007

Gaulin S. J. C., Konner M.. On the natural diet of primates, including humans. In: Wurtman R. Y., Wurtman J. J., eds. Nutrition and The Brain. Vol 1, Raven Press, New York. 1977.  

Kovda V. A.. Soil Preservation. In Polunin N. ed, The Environmental Future. Macmillan, London, 1972.

Lee R. B.. What hunters do for a living, or how to make out on scarce resources. In: Lee R. B., DeVore I., eds. Man The Hunter. Aldine, Chicago. 1968. 

Bryant V. M., Williams-Dean G.. The Coprolites of Man. Scientific American, January 1975. 

Hawkes J. G.. The Hunting Hypothesis . In: Ardrey R., ed. The Hunting Hypothesis . Collins, London, 1976.

Crawford M., Crawford S.. What We Eat Today . Spearman, London, 1972. 

Yudkin J.. Archaeology and the nutritionist . In: Ardrey R., ed. The Hunting Hypothesis . Collins, London, 1976. 

Groves B A. The Cholesterol Myth . A Second Opinion publication, 19th revision, March 1999.

reeland-Graves J.. Mineral adequacy of vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr 1988; 48: 859. 

Sanders T. A. B.. Micronutrients: vitamin B-12. Matern Child Hlth . 1992; 17: 19-20. 

Herens M. C., Dagnelie P. C., Kleber R. J., Mol M. C. J., van Staveren W. A.. Nutrition and mental development of 4-5 year old children on macrobiotic diets. J Hum Nutr Diet 1992; 5: 1-9.           

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vegetarianism Part II, Myths and Legends

Let's take a look at some of the studies done to prove whether vegetarianism is the healthier lifestyle.

In July of 1994, the British Medical Journal published a study which claimed that vegetarians experienced 40% fewer rates of cancer and coronary disease than meat eaters. The problem here is that the results of the study were obviously stacked before the study even began. Here's why.

-The vegetarians for the study were picked by the vegetarian society to be in obvious good health. Then The vegetarians also hand picked the meat eaters for the study as well. This was an obvious attempt to fix the results

-The vegetarian group was mostly comprised of women and the meat eaters were mostly comprised of older men. Younger people obviously have far fewer instances of death than older folks and in the age groups selected, the older men have about four times the amount of case of heart disease than younger healthier women.

For these reasons, the study was clearly biased and is therefore worthless.

Now lets take a look at the study which determined that meat eaters have higher instances of high blood cholesterol.....

For this study scientists used rabbits, which are obviously obligate vegetarians. They fed the rabbits pre- oxidized cholesterol. (As an aside note, is is not the amount of LDL in your blood that is harmful but the amount of oxidized cholesterol in your system that does the damage) Now imagine the amount of harm that would be caused by feeding an animal, that doesn't have the faculties to digest animal flesh, pre-oxidized cholesterol. Yet another obviously biased study, and therefore worthless.

Introducing Ancel Keys

In the 1950's, a scientist named Ancel Keys, became known as the father of the "Lipid Hypothesis". This states that eating high amounts of saturated fat will increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood and clog your arteries and cause heart disease.

He embarked on a journey to prove this hypothesis and to get his picture on the cover of time magazine. The problem here is that his studies would come to no definite conclusion. His results were literally scattered. He found countries where people ate relatively small amounts of dietary fat and have higher instances of heart disease. He also found countries where people ate high amounts of dietary fat and had lower amounts of heart disease (ie; France and Holland).

Unfortunately for Dr. Keys, his results were, quite literally, all over the map. This is no way to get your face on the cover of Time magazine, so Dr. Keys took the only logical action and threw out all the evidence which didn't support his claim. Thus earning him fame and fortune and kicking off the mass hysteria called the "Lipid Hypothesis". Therefore we have Dr. Keys to thank for the low in fat, high in processed carbohydrate and processed vegetable oil diet that has more than doubled the heart disease and obesity rate since 1950.

The French Paradox

For years, scientists have baffled over the fact that Europeans, particularly the french, eat approximately eight times the amount of dietary fat that Americans do yet suffer a fraction of the heart disease. At one point they even tried to say that it is because of the tannins in the red wine they drink.

It turns out that though the French eat a diet much higher in saturated fat, they also eat fraction of the sugar and processed carbohydrate that Americans do.

Now here's a little something to chew on with your cheese and wine

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vegetarianism Part I, Animals are our friends, and we should eat them

I'll be honest, this is going to be a difficult article to write. I have some personal views on vegetarianism. It is directly contrary to the caveman way of life. Many believe that it is the holy grail of healthy eating. Yet why is it that in order to be a vegetarian and still get all the necessary nutrition, one must go to great lengths and do much research in order to make it a sustainable lifestyle.

Alright, heck with it. I was going to do my best to write a completely unbiased article exploring the merits of vegetarianism but I can't, in good conscience bring myself to do it. In my early twenties I decided I would try to be a vegetarian. To tell you the truth it was a huge mistake. As long as I can I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of fitness and trying to be a vegetarian drastically slowed my progress.

I am in no way trying to say that you can't be fit as a vegetarian. There are many accomplished athletes who are vegetarians.  But for the type of training I was doing it was the wrong decision.

Now I'm going to take it upon myself to present some supporting evidence  that we are evolutionarily intended to be meat eaters

First let's look at the anatomical design of humans compared to that of our closest relatives, the great apes.  Humans  have a comparatively smaller abdominal area than the apes and gorillas. This is because in order to digest and process the leaves and grass that these primates eat, they require large masses of specialized organs. Humans lack those organs and therefore can not make efficient use of the plants that are consumed in such large quantities my the great apes.

Now when you compare the relative skull and brain size of humans and apes you see that we have much larger more well developed brains. This is hypothesized to be because once we discovered that we get much more energy and nutrition from eating meat, we were able to dedicate more time and energy to evolution and advancing the species and less time foraging for the massive quantities off plants required to sustain ourselves on a daily basis

True meat does contain cholesterol and saturated fat, but if you have followed my blog at all then you know by now that they have been demonized and do not deserve the negative press that they have been given over the years. Scientists have been trying for years and have not yet been able to actually correlate a link between dietary cholesterol and clogged arteries. Likewise in a still going 40 year study scientists have been trying and are still unable to find an actual link between between dietary fat and heart disease. That's because it doesn't exist. People of the far north have exhisted for generations living almost exclusively off of meat and blubber. It is an extremely high fat by our standards, yet heart the diseases of modern civilization were largely unknown to these people until we "modernized" their diets and introduced them to the conveniences of precessed and canned goods.

The Masai in Kenya, one of the last hunter and gatherer tribes, lived for years off of almost exclusively beef and milk mixed with the blood of their cattle. Yet they were all taller, leaner, stronger and healthier than we are. That is, of course, until we introduced them to our civilized diet. Then they diseases of civilization began to effect them as well.

Our brains and nervous system's are largely made up of cholesterol and saturated fat. It is the same with our cells and blood vessels. We require these substances for proper brain and tissue development and we can not get them from eating plants. We have to get them from the animals that eat the plants. Without these long chain fatty acid molecules our brains would not develop properly. If we did not evolve by eating meat our brains would not be as evolved as they are today. We would still be simple primates.

Children of vegetarian parents, who are growing up on a vegetarian diet show a definite cognitive deficit. They are not getting the nutrients they need and have shown to be defficient in iron, calcium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, riboflavin and the fat soluble vitamins, particularly vitamin D. Meat poultry and fish are the best sources the these. One exerpt from an article by Dr.  Barry Groves states...

"With the more extreme macrobiotic diets the situation is even worse. Serious brain damage is seen in children on macrobiotic diets where it was found that " Vitamin B-12 is sufficiently low as to have psychological consequences that also raise legitimate concerns about neurological development " (21) . Other research confirms the depth of the problem. Mental development of four- to five-year-old children on macrobiotic diets (almost devoid of animal foods and fat) with long-term growth deficits, was studied. In addition food consumption and behavioural style of the children, and family and parent characteristics were assessed. Children had only seventy percent of the energy and forty percent of the calcium intake of that reported for children on conventional diets. Thirty three percent of the children studied failed to finish IQ tests due to an inability to concentrate"
This statement effectively shows that vegetarianism is a form of child abuse. Children require a large amount of energy in order to develop properly and the requirements can not effectively be met with a diet devoid of animal products.

Vegetarianism as a whole is not healthier. especially for an athlete trying to get faster and stronger. One can meet the minimum dietary requirements if a great deal of care is taken. However, most (not all) people can't really be bothered to dedicate the required time and energy  to learn how to do it in a sustainable way. As well, the foods which are believed to meet those requirements are mostly NOT caveman friendly and contain a host of substances such as Phytates and lectins which inhibit the absorption of the very nutrients that most vegetarians think they are supplementing with these foods in the first place.

This is going to be a longer article than I originally thought. It is going to require multiple parts so make sure you check back soon. Next I'll explore the very flaws in the studies which are supposed to lead us to believe that vegetarianism is the better choice

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Chief

Just a little note to let you know what I've been up to.

I climbed 2000 feet up the chief in Squamish  B.C. on Saturday. It was an amazing experience. The only problem is that I found out the hard way that 2000 feet up is much closer to the sun than sea level. Oooooh it burns!

It was an amazing weekend. Stay tuned for more CaveMan nutrition and wellness posts to come soon.

Take care!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A video you really must watch

If you would please take some time out to watch this video.

It does my heart good to know that there are people with as much influence as Jamie Oliver carrying the torch on the same crusade. I watched this video on Saturday and was very moved by it.

I'm sure most of you know who Jamie Oliver is.  He has made food his life's passion and has made a very good life out of it. I have always said that food is the most powerful of medicines and the ost powerful of drugs. What you eat directly affects how you feel and perform. Not only in sport and competition but in life.

When I first got into health and fitness, I was 14 years old. I got a book called "Getting Stronger" By bodybuilder Bill pearl. I got it because there was a section on training for wrestling and I was looking for anything I could find to be a better competitor. I had no Idea that that book would set off a chain reaction of events that would decide the direction and focus of what will surely be the rest of my life.

I spent the next 13 years trying to learn everything I could about bodybuilding. Not paying much attention at all to the importance of nutrition. Even working as a personal trainer I knew nutrition was important, but I didn't give it anywhere near the consideration I should have. I figured that if I could see my abs I was doing good enough. We all have situations in our lives where we say "If I could go back to then, knowing what I know now". Well that is mine.

Sometime between the ages of 26 and 27, so, two to three years ago I figured that if I spent the last thirteen years of my life obsessing about lifting weights (and most of that time was wasted lifting the wrong kind weights) it's about time I really take a look at my nutrition. So I picked up some books like "The Zone Diet" by Dr. Barry Sears, and "The Paleo Diet" By Dr. Lauren Cordain and found a new area to obsess about. Once again my life took a drastic turn and I have mad some shocking discoveries along the way.

Something that I hope you are starting to pick up on as you follow my blog, is that a side benefit of learning how to eat, is that that it becomes glaring obvious how not to eat. Now my wife Megan and I are both guilty of looking into people's shopping carts in the grocery stores, and if you follow the caveman2.0 lifestyle at all, I know you do too and evaluate people's food choices. It is, in  and of itself, a bit of food snobbery. What immediately jumps out at me is the processed artificial food that people choose to feed themselves is also the food they feed out children. This has resulted in a generation of children who not only look like the obese parents who feed them but share the same health problems as their overweight and obese parents.

I am quoting Jamie directly from this video when I state that "for the first time in history, we have produced a generation of offspring that will have a shorter lifespan than their parents" Please take a minute to contemplate the significance to that statement.....

The very thought of that last statement makes my chest tighten up and I begin to feel a slight panic for the future of our race. It's not even 100% the fault of the parents. How many times have I seen people struggling to loose weight. The poor misguided people turn to vegetarianism and wonder why their health deteriorates. We have been told to avoid dietary fat so we choose low fat options, eating food than can no longer keep us full but is also loaded with sugar and we are told that it is healthy.

People now live in a constant state of protein deficiency coupled with perpetual hyperinsulinism. We are told that we have to eat at least five meals a day to "stoke the furnace" so we choose high carb, low fat food and perpetuate the cycle wondering why we keep getting fatter. I know so many people hat claim that if they don't eat every 3 hours they get light headed and nauseated. They don't realize that it's because they are making their blood sugar run crazy and they have no idea how to control it.

It doesn't help that advertising companies intentionally lie to us and mislead us to think that their unhealthy products are the next big think in healthy eating. I have seen with my own two eyes the "Mars Slim" commercial. Who doesn't recognize that the word "slim" has been attached to a candy bar and then a fancy jingle sung by slim people is completely intended to mislead  us into thinking that you can eat this chocolate bar and loose weight. BUT IT'S A CANDY BAR FOR GOD'S SAKE!

Where I am going with all this is that people need to be educated about what they're eating and we have been inundated with false information that is completely misleading us into following a destructive path.

We are what we eat. There are few statements that are as true as this one. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves how to take care of not only ourselves, but our children, and our children's children.
Watch the above video and you will be absolutely shocked when you get to the part where Jamie takes a selection of fruits and vegetables into an elementary school and not one of the children are able to identify a single one of the products he puts before them. I can't imagine a six year old not being able to identify a tomato. But it happens and you will see it.

I can't tell you how important it is that we have people like Jamie, with a vast amount of resources and influence spreading essentially the same message as the likes of Mark Sisson, Mike O'Donnel and myself. The world needs to make a drastic change if we are to ensure the health of our generations to follow. We have gotten to the point that what we eat is not food at all anymore and that absolutely has to change.

Please, watch the video and spread the message.