Aw, what the hell, eh? I’d embed, but it’s disabled:
Tracy Bonham: Mother Mother (Live).
Big fan of that song & performance for long times.
Aw, what the hell, eh? I’d embed, but it’s disabled:
Tracy Bonham: Mother Mother (Live).
Big fan of that song & performance for long times.
~ Reader Rafi Bar-Lev has a project brewing: Passionate Fitness. From our email discussions and from what I can see from the website, Rafi aims to create a social network for health & fitness folks. There’s a forum, you can write and submit posts for the front page, and more. I plan to participate. So how about you?
~ Tom Naughton, the big Fat Head (aren’t we all?), deconstructs margarine.
Farmers grow seeds. The seeds are harvested. The seeds are crushed to extract some of the oil. The rest of the oil is extracted by mixing the seeds with hexane, a chemical solvent. The hexane is (supposedly) all removed. The oil is pumped full of hydrogen gas and nickel powder. […] The remaining oil is subjected to heat and high-pressure CO2 gas. The oil is mixed with sodium hydroxide and passed through a centrifuge. The oil is mixed with water and passed through another centrifuge. At this point, the margarine is a gray, speckled, oily mass that doesn’t smell so good. So … The oil is mixed with hydrated aluminum silicate that binds to and filters out the unwanted pigments. The mix is heated again and the oil is extracted. The oil is passed through a steam distillation chamber to remove unwanted odors. Yellow food coloring and artificial flavors are added.
Makes my mouth water.
~ Don Matesz tells you what you need to know about vitamin K, particularly K2, and even more in particular, the MK-4 subform, menatetrenone. I’ve blogged about K2 a number of times.
~ Dr. Mark Hyman at The Huffington Post takes on The Cholesterol Myth. What a muckraker:
• If you lower bad cholesterol (LDL) but have a low HDL (good cholesterol) there is no benefit to statins.
• If you lower bad cholesterol (LDL) but don’t reduce inflammation (marked by a test called C-reactive protein), there is no benefit to statins.
• If you are a healthy woman with high cholesterol, there is no proof that taking statins reduces your risk of heart attack or death.
• If you are a man or a woman over 69 years old with high cholesterol, there is no proof that taking statins reduces your risk of heart attack or death.
• Aggressive cholesterol treatment with two medications (Zocor and Zetia) lowered cholesterol much more than one drug alone, but led to more plaque build up in the arteries and no fewer heart attacks.
• 75% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol.
• Older patients with lower cholesterol have higher risks of death than those with higher cholesterol.
• Countries with higher average cholesterol than Americans such as the Swiss or Spanish have less heart disease.
• Recent evidence shows that it is likely statins’ ability to lower inflammation it what accounts for the benefits of statins, not their ability to lower cholesterol.
Read the whole thing. As to the last point, my money is on eliminating wheat, other grains, and vegetable oils for more effective reducing of widespread and systemic inflammation, the root of heart disease. Later: oops, forgot to give my friend and reader Kathleen credit for emailing me that.
~ Dr. Eades, with perhaps his best two posts ever, particularly the second.
I gleefully skewered that dumbass Kathy Freston right here (and Richard Leaky should be ashamed of himself).
Meat eating made us human. The anthropological evidence strongly supports the idea that the addition of increasingly larger amounts of meat in the diet of our predecessors was essential in the evolution of the large human brain. Our large brains came at the metabolic expense of our guts, which shrank as our brains grew.
You simply must read those two posts.
~ Reader and commenter Michael Pizolato has a good idea for exercise: Primal Tag.
Reader Alexander Thorn in the UK put together some impressive work using data from the British Heart Foundation and emailed it to me the other day. Let’s take a look. You can click on all the graphs for the much larger "lightbox" image, and/or click on the links below each graph to download the files.
You can download the linked file here. Explains Alex:
Taking the same European countries and plotting the incidence of the various diseases against each country ranked in ascending order of the amount of saturated fat consumed as a percentage of total calories — from 3.9% for Bosnia to 15.5% for France — I got some very definite trend lines — all sloping downward toward the countries with the greatest saturated fat intakes (France being the highest, of course).
Unlike Keys, I used all the countries with the relevant data available (no cheating!). While there is the odd outlier on both sides of the divide — some countries with high disease rates and high sat fat and some with low disease rates and low sat fat — the vast majority, I think, echo the overall trend of more disease for less sat fat that is eaten as a percentage of total caloric intake.
But Alex wasn’t satisfied there. He noted that in using DALY figures, population size of the countries would make a difference. He explains.
Just thought I’d better clarify some points re the graph. The figures for CHD, stroke and other CVD are actually DALY figures – that is Disability Adjusted Lost Years – and it is per 100,000 of the countries’ populations (I hadn’t registered this distinction at first).
The DALY figures were already ‘age-adjusted’ and include not only the years lost due to mortality from the particular disease but also disability. It is calculated – as follows – from relatively accessible incidence data (ICD codes). Years of Lost LIfe (YLLs) is based on the inputs life expectancy at age of death and age at death, while Years Lost to Disability (YLDs) is based on the inputs duration of disease/injury, disability weight of disease/injury and percentage of long-term cases.
The only possible criticism I can foresee is that the population size of each country is obviously going to have a bearing on the DALY statistics. So I have just re-entered all of the data into another spreadsheet and made adjustments for the population size of each country. This has obviously made the graph less ‘exciting’ to look at but the trend lines for all diseases still slope downward toward the countries with the highest saturated fat intake.
And, it should also be noted: they don’t slope upward, so, where in that does one imagine a testable hypothesis where increased saturated fat intake causes anything bad?
Then he had the idea of plotting on a logarithmic scale. The simplest way to explain that is that it scales to percentage change rather than absolute values. So, for example, in a graph with a vertical axis from 1-100, 10 would be halfway, since the change from 1-10 in terms of percentage is the same as the change in 10-100.
But he still wasn’t finished.
Taking the same DALYs statistics from the last graphs (but this time combining the figures for CHD, stroke and other CVD) I have plotted the countries in ascending order of the total DALYs per 100,000 head of population (left to right along the x-axis) against the macro-nutrient ratio (C:P:F) for those same countries (along the y-axis) and plotted the linear regression (or trend) lines for each macro-nutrient. The relationships are pretty clear in the bars themselves but the trend lines confirm it: The less (total) fat you eat the greater the DALYs score (line slopes down toward the higher scores at the right-hand end of the x-axis) but even more telling, the more total carbohydrate you consume the greater the DALYs score (the line slopes upward toward the right-hand end of the x-axis). Protein appears to be neutral, with a perfectly level trend line.
So, more saturated fat, better, more carbohydrate, worse, and protein is not associated.
Download the file here.
Now let’s take a look at something related: total cholesterol. It so happened that Ricardo Carvalho rang in around this same time, calling attention to some data crunching of his own.
As I’ve speculated before, a total cholesterol of 200-220 seems to be the sweet spot for total C. Ricardo is calling it 200-240 and that looks like a good call, to me. Bear in mind, this does not equal causality, only association. Any individual can die of anything with any cholesterol number, or live to 101.
What this does accomplish, however, is tantamount to utter falsification of the hypothesis that either "high" saturated fat intake or "high" total cholesterol is independently causal for heart disease, stroke, or indeed, death from any cause.
I’m pretty sure it was Roger Ebert, somewhere along the line, who taught me the principle that underlies this paraphrased statement:
Judge a film by what its makers intend to deliver, not by what you think it should deliver.
This time I wish to stay on particular point and just write about her chapter on “moral vegetarians.” The book is essentially four parts beyond the first chapter, where she explains her reasons for embarking on her punishment (if you’ve checked out some of the Vegan boards, as I have):
Here’s why I mentioned Ebert: I don’t agree with Lierre’s moral code. I’ll get to that, but that’s a difference in philosophy and it doesn’t mean she didn’t make a consistent argument according to her premises — she absolutely does, and a devastating one. In the meantime, this chapter is really the essential meat of the book, as it should be. We are moral beings and morality informs our politics and our actions, including our nutritional choices and our idealism.
Lierre Keith certainly accomplishes what I believe she sets out to do: use the vegetarian moral code against vegetarians by exposing their ignorance. In page after page she describes beautifully the whole cycle of life, from microbe to human being, and how everything that lives has to eat, someone or thing has to die, and that everyone is just taking their turn. Even us. Eventually, we’re food for worms, bacteria and other crawlies. “We all take turns at the table,” says Keith.
And in taking our turn at the table — responsibly, respectfully, sustainably — far from inflicting harm to anything, we are actually playing a crucial role in this whole cycle that is life on the planet.
And here’s where I learned the most from this book: agriculture, in terms of raw destructive power, is the cat’s meow. Global warming? Ozone depletion? Pollution? Whatever you may think of those and other issues, Keith has news for you: they pale in comparison. She convincingly demonstrates that the practice of stripping land (she calls it “biotic cleansing”) to grow annual monocrops is far more destructive and devastating to ecosystems and, above all, topsoil — alive with trillions of microbes in a mere cubic yard.
And here’s a good thought for you environmental skeptics out there. Many systems, in particular climate, may be far too complex to be sure of what man’s contribution is, if any. On the other hand, there’s no doubt about what agriculture does to ecosystems. Moreover, so much of it now is devoted to the growing of corn, such that HFCS is in virtually everything. And it’s being fed to cows, an animal that is designed to eat cellulose. Paraphrasing Keith: Cows eat grass, bacteria eat the cellulose — multiplying into the trillions — and the cows eat the bacteria. Corn makes cows sick and it’s inhumane to feed it to them.
The trickle down havoc wreaked by agriculture is a pretty easy case to make (once you have information) and Keith makes it very well.
In the end, the “moral” vegetarian has nowhere to go. If indeed their moral code is not anthropocentric, as is mine, Keith has nailed them to the wall. If, indeed, all life is more or less morally equivalent in their eyes, then in seeking to do no harm by promoting agriculture, they have instead unleashed the most destructive harm imaginable, in far greater magnitude. But it doesn’t end there. There’s an economic and political side, too. By promoting big-agra, they have made it very difficult for ecosystem preserving, topsoil building, humane and sustainable local polyculture operations to exist.
So then, what if your moral code is anthropocentric, i.e., one that essentially regards humans (whether by design or evolution) as being qualitatively different in an essential way from the rest of the animals, such that we possess a certain natural dominion? Does that make Keith’s arguments invalid? I don’t think so.
Keith does try to convince the reader that animals are as morally important as we are with a number of examples of animal and even plant “behavior” that certainly looks like human behavior, including self-sacrifice for offspring, a herd, or even a grove of trees.
But I had this nagging essential question: could any of these animal or plant entities unilaterally, willfully opt out of behaving in accordance with their designed or evolved natures? See, humans can choose to live by their natures; they can choose to strive to live above their natures; they can sink far, far below their natures; they can blow their own brains out.
Humans, unlike other animals, have to willfully determine what values are necessary for survival and prosperity, and then they have to decide whether or not they are going to pursue them. They have a choice by nature. Other animals seem to simply “know” what values they require and automatically set about to acquire them. If their environment is sufficient, they thrive, and if not, they perish. They have no willful choice in the matter.
And since a prerequisite for morality is to have a choice in matters, I have to conclude that morality applies only to human beings, and that we are naturally moral beings, since it is our very nature that demands we chose. Moreover, that choice, by nature, implies the right to choose, by nature, and so I cannot accept the notion that animals have natural rights in the sense humans do.
Alas, though very important to me from an ethical and political standpoint, I am actually quite open to dealing with folks who by virtue of the values they have chosen to live by, wish to hold themselves to what they see as a higher standard. Accordingly, though I do not ascribe morality and rights to animals, I have never been cruel to one in my life, and never would. And anyone who does is my enemy.
In the end, Keith and I don’t share the same moral code, but we hold many of the same crucial values. Thanks to her book, I now have a couple of particularly important additional values to hold dear and promote than I had before.
To the right, I have finally decided to add a donations button. Donate whatever amount you like, and/or, you can purchase from the products shown at the right, from our recommended items at our Amazon store, or, you can support the work at Free the Animal with any purchase at Amazon.
In the last year I’ve managed to put up over 450 posts. That’s a lot of work, when you think about it. And now, I have been going through the painstaking process of organizing every post I’ve written on health, fitness and diet since May, 2007, for the purpose of the book project. That’s not to say that the book is going to be a reproduction of the blog — it’s not — but I need those posts for reference into what areas I need to address, what research I need to look up, and just plain to make sure I don’t miss anything.
So if you look at it this way, a $25 yearly subscription comes out to about 5 cents per post.
But why should you do it? After all, if you don’t, I’ll still be writing posts no doubt, and so why not just ride for free? And, anyway, look how many other free blogs there are out there, most of which don’t even ask for donations?
Well beyond the issue of simple value exchange, those are questions you have to answer for yourself. Certainly you can’t subscribe or donate to everything, but I do hope you might have a top two or three that you’d donate a reasonable amount to, then let me worry about getting there, in your mind.
And what will subscriptions and donations accomplish? In order of importance:
I read a lot of blogs out there and the one thing I have noticed is that very few put out the volume I do, with often weeks passing without much of anything. Not here. Since November of 2003 when I started this blog (originally political), I have posted almost 2,500 posts — an average of 416 posts for each of the nearly 6 years I’ve been at this.
So, in closing, I would submit to you that I think I’ve demonstrated that I have what it takes to stick around and really deliver on the exchange of value represented by a subscription or donation.
I hope you’ll consider it.
1/12/2010: I have decided to forego the automatic renewing subscription option and have cancelled all renewals in PayPal (so those who selected that option will not have an automatic renewal).
One-time or anytime donation.