Please Debunk “The Iron Food Enrichment Hypothesis” of Obesity and Disease

It's been about 10 days since the 6K word-whopper went up: Iron, Food Enrichment and The Theory of Everything. So far very well received—as an hypothesis to investigate—by various communities. We were purposely diet agnostic in that post for, we consider the hypothesis also unifying in terms of at least partly explaining why vastly different diets provide benefits to diverse groups of people. For instance, myriad diets an LCer or Paleo would find unacceptable within the confines of their paradigms are nonetheless healthful; in many cases, more healthful—if longevity is the gold standard (see: The Blue Zones).

I think we're back to square one: Eat Real Food and that may even include various grains...though primarily in a fresh, whole-grain way, so as to derive important nutrients from the bran and germ (e.g., manganese and copper, both critical in the regulation of iron absorption and storage regulation).

...All just food for chewing and thought.

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Iron, Food Enrichment and The Theory of Everything

This is the promised greatly expanded post that we touched on here: How Food Enrichment Made Us Fat, Diabetic, and Chronically Diseased. The Duck Dodgers team has been working on this for months and the purpose of that earlier post was to kinda crowdsource the idea, see if there were serious objections we weren't aware of prior to putting it all out there more formally. In addition to the home team, we've also run this by a number of others and received lots of valuable feedback.

Keep in mind that we're floating a hypothesis here, not claiming causality. And we think it's solid, as it appears to work in every single obesity / disease "paradox" worldwide we can think of. Contrast that, say, to a hypothesis were dietary carbohydrate is per se behind the obesity epidemic. Well, right off the bat you have to contend with The Blue Zones where longevity is highest, and every single one consumes a carbohydrate rich diet...

Iron is an essential element for human beings—you can't live without it. However, too much of it can be harmful. The US, UK and Canada are the only developed nations to have mandated iron enrichment of white flour, white breads, pastas, rice and cereals—no other developed countries do it. And as we'll suggest, the policy has potentially been disastrous for our health, contributing to most of the major diseases of civilization including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's. Some countries, like Denmark, have even banned the imports of fortified foods. In fact, flour fortification is a practice that is almost exclusively practiced by third world countries

The reasoning behind iron fortification stems from the idea that some women are believed to have iron deficiency due to menstruation. Besides the fact that skewing the micronutrients of the food supply for a fraction of a population can be counterproductive for the majority, it turns out that the entire concept of women becoming anemic due to normal menstruation was recently disproved. There is no anemia epidemic due to menstruation. And even if there was, it would not warrant a modification to an entire nation's diet.

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The Baja Six-Month Challenge Update

Photo on 6 14 15 at 4 42 PM

It's an understatement, really. Particularly contemplating that I have almost 5 months of challenges left to go under my lease. I'm not going to get into lots of detail now because it's really too complex, intertwined, involves personal motivations and goals towards molding a different person in myself; one I like a little better. That last point is important because I didn't come here to win friends, influence people, or party hardy (well, not altogether too hardy!). I'm doing this for me.

Chief among the challenges is the raw brutality of it. It's not really a tropical paradise or desert island oasis. A 5-Star resort an hour west over in Cabo is a tropical desert paradise—compete with umbrella drinks served poolside. Here, it's just fucking hot. Always fucking hot—and cacti provide no shade. Save for manmade structures there's just no shelter at all. Don't know what I'd do without that outside shower.

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Pick Your Comment

The ocean is pristine right now. The weekend mini-storm here at the tip of Baja really pushed the reset button and we're back to more of a seasonal dessert weather pattern (cool, breezy evenings matched by hot days) and seas coming more from the south than west (Pacific).

I went and played around in the light surf for a long time. Just felt to good to get out. Got back and checked in on comments.

"Keto User," on a post that is 14 and 1/2 months old:

Angry idiot. No amount of carbs will get rid of the hate you cultivate in your mind as an attempt to hide from your guilt.

Some useless nonsense from David:

Everything on FreeTheAnimal is just some guy spouting off unproven shit. The whole potato starch fad is an example of how over the top he takes things to build his brand.

...And finally, the stuff that's always better than money, from Julie:

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More Crazy Probiotics Stuff

People are really getting good at refinements. Including myself. I now ingest probiotics (when I do, which is occasional, high dose) first thing AM with water, and wait hours before eating anything. The reason is simple. Your aim is to get them to the colon to establish as floral community members. You don't want them being held up by food in transit, nor sidetracked by meals en route. So, one of my favorite mega-dose probiotics that you only take from time-to-time for six day, is Elixa Probiotic. Here's a back-&-forth between Elixa's creator, and Wilber, a commenter who's a fiber menace to society.

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Survivorman: Hurricane Blanca On The Tip of Baja

Preparations had been going at levels of concern, up to hysteria, around Los Zacatitos for days. Some of these folks got bulldozed in the Cat 3 Odile, last September, and harbor short memories.

For me, the problem was science. There exist physical absolutes in the universe, and Earth and its conscious inhabitants are not excluded. Ideally, the human mind is a reality integrating organ, never a reality creating one. Just as naturally—we're social animals—there was a level of understandable crowd hysteria that I took in stride. Like I said, for many, Odile was an outrage, never-happens-again deal for a lot of folks: some of whom have still not bothered—or are financially unable—to rebuild from. But on the other hand, history, per se, is not omniscient.

So, the science. It took like 5 minutes of Googling to reach absolute certainty that even if this Cat 4 Hurricane 750 miles south of us—feeding on the warmest seas in EastPac—hit us head-on dead-center, it would be some high wind gusts and heavy rain at most, tropical storm like. And even that didn't happen.

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3-4 Hours Before Closest Point of Approach
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The New Science of Probiotics

I've previously blogged about my use of a new high-dose probiotic called Elixa. It's not one you take all the time, but a 6-day course you take now & then. I've written about it twice before:

One thing its creator, Karl Seddon, is happy to do is to interact personally with customers via email. For instance, one woman had some flu-like symptoms, detailed here, here, and here. That last one is Karl's input.

Hi Gordon,

Feel free to contact me directly to discuss your theory further, as it is interesting indeed – as far as acidosis-susceptible individuals are concerned.

However…. while there is a logical chain linking it all together on paper, I happen to have had clinical experience with patients suffering from several conditions, 3 of which could relate (for purposes of discussion) to this type of situation: bacteremia, metabolic acidosis (including lactic acidosis post-surgery for ileal pouch), and Jarisch-Herxheimer response to IV antifungals.

The ‘hot/flushed’ symptom you have listed is a typical presentation of Jarisch-Herxheimer and would differentiate the diagnosis away from investigations of acidosis or hyperlactemia.

While the J-H response is an indicator that large amounts of non-beneficial microorganisms are experiencing cell lysis (a GOOD thing), I can fully appreciate that it may be a disconcerting experience. In any case, I think she will make the right choice to discontinue it if the response is this acute.

The unfair irony is that certain people who can benefit from probiotics, will experience this type of Jarisch-Herxheimer response much more than others. (I believe this is what you are referring to as ‘die-off’).

Very un-sales-pitch like, one might say.

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I Have Off The Grid Internet Now

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Battery operated.

Ubiquitous, reliable sunshine gets stored from 4 solar panels into 7 truck batteries during every day. Lets me run lights, internet, computers, water pump...even a fan: because it's not's fucking hot. But this line of sight deal into the network smokes. So far, way better than endless video steaming spinning wheels on Comcast Xfinity Anywhere Bay Area California—who're simply just quasi-monopoly frauds, now—protected from competition, in no rush to actually deliver on the promises they spend $100 million + in advertising per year to lie to you about, all with the blessing of your municipalities and fed whores you actually take the trouble to stand in line to vote for, getting your 1/300 millionth say in your own affairs like fucking wankers.

So, this is all now kinda the last bit, from where I begin crafting new simple habits and write about the struggle. Bro David left yesterday. It was beyond great for us to be completely just the two of us: Baja 1,000 in 18 hrs, and then 4 nights here at the new place. I'm 54, so he's been in my face for about 51 years and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love and adore that man. So different from me, but also so similar on levels important to me.

But now: Tout seul.

Doing Fine In Baja


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Hair tied back in a man-bun, back of head, cool like.

...My newest friend, a Canadian expat, just 200 yards away, drives a Harley, has 3 enormous Dobermans, plays Pink Floyd loud, and has a sign on his gate that proclaims:


Whenever I snivel? I go down to the beach—5-minute walk away—so that I'm automatically reminded about what the fuck I'm doing and why.

Sorry Blog, But I’m Living for a Living

 Long story short:

  1. Bro and I crossed the border in Tijuana on 6:30 am Wednesday morning. Goal was about 750 miles down the road at Loreto. We made it to Santa Rosalia, a Mexican New Orleans. Check it out.
  2. Stayed in Hotel Frances, the former French administration building for the copper mining and smelting operation, left 5 am.
  3. Got to Zac at about 3pm.
  4. I've driven cross country a couple of times, including in 3 days once by myself. This drive, with Dave and I trading off, at 1/3 the distance, was the most nerve wracking, exhausting drive ever in terms of the speed and intensity with which we did it (90% very narrow, 1950s style 2-lane with hundreds of semi trucks going very fast). This is an intense mind drive. You have to be 100% on your game 100% of the time. You get to see the hundreds of roadside memorials along the way for those who didn't.
  5. Three miles from new home, my X5 Baja Buggy that I just spent 4K on for custom lift (no kits), wheels, adapters, steel wheels, kitchen sinks, etc., blew the right frot strut on a pothole.
  6. Everything being sorted, I get Internet at the home on Tuesday, maybe even a cell-phone repeater...right now scrounging from Zac's in exchange for a drink and dinner.
  7. I've managed two ocean swims in the last 24 hours. That will be a habit.

I fucking feel more alive than I have in years. I quite enjoy having some problems to solve. Reminded me of having my 'Vette break down 40 miles from home in Toulon, France, after I drove it from where it came in to port in Rotterdam. Got it sorted.

...Running low on water...another problem to sort. Next week, a Mexican guy is going to truck out 10,000 liters over 12 miles of dirt road for $65, to fill my two 5,000 liter, cross-connected tanks.

I love this world! Lots lots more later, including the story of no gas stations in 340 KM, and we missed the memo.

In the meantime, find a way to fucking love your life. Really, really love it!

Good Morning Mexico


And remember, no looking back, just forward.

Trip began Monday at noon from San Jose where I hit the 101 south to Santa Barbara, stopping off in Montecito for the evening at the invitation of Drs Mike & Mary Dan Eades. She had amazing sous vide ribeye steak at the waiting, accompanied by roasted asparagus, cauliflower puree, and a fantastic caesar salad. I provided the old vine zin. Sat around the table and chatted until midnight and rest assured: all the world's problems have been taken care of.

Soon after the morning rounds of cafe Americanos, I headed out, down the Hwy 1, and stopped off in Malibu for a brief lunchtime visit with Mark Sisson in his backyard, overlooking Malibu canyon. More world problems solved.

Picked up my brother at SAN in the late afternoon and we snatched a cheap room at Motel 6 just a few hundred yards from the border and beginning now, 5am:

  1. Gas the X5 BajaMobile, check oil and tire pressure.
  2. Hit the Starbucks for a triple-shot latte.
  3. Cross the border.
  4. Drive until Lareto, which we ought to be able to do by 8-9pm.
  5. Cabo by lunchtime Thursday.

Updates to follow.

What Precisely and Explicitly Are You Memorializing?

Or, is it really just a day off?

What would you wager that her memorials don't trump yours? Or, how about her infant's eventual resentment over lack of birthright memorials compared to your Memorial-Day beer pong?

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How Food Enrichment Made Us Fat, Diabetic, and Chronically Diseased

OK, thats's indeed a bold title, but this is a TL;DR post. See, this one was drafted a good while ago. The Duck Dodgers decided to prefigure with a few things that have been posted—like this and this—but then there were more revelations, so what we have is this one, about 900 words and way incomplete, and a 4,000 pound whopper coming up next week. So here's the "Too Long; Didn't Read" version for the lazy asses.

Update: Well, it didn't take long for a commenter to misunderstand what we're doing here, so let me preface some clarification. This is not an assertion of causality searching for a hypothesis. It's clearly a set of reasonable, testable associations that give rise to a hypothesis that fortification or enrichment of foods with iron (and perhaps other vitamins and minerals) may have a host of unintended consequences and this should be studied specifically. The follow-on post will contain a lot more justification. For additional clarification I've added an additional image below as well.

It's becoming more commonly known that iron overload can be a prominent feature of obesity and metabolic issues. Obesity and insulin resistance has been linked to an iron-enriched diet. Obese people have iron in the hypothalamus of their brains, their urine, their adipose tissue, and they do not absorb iron well and iron blood levels can be low in some cases. The body may very likely be using adipose intentionally to keep excess iron out of the blood so that pathogens and cancer cannot thrive (i.e. anemia of chronic disease). As those studies point out, adipocytes use hepcidin to regulate the iron status of the blood.

Surprisingly, what virtually all researchers miss is that the countries that fortify their food with iron (or rely heavily on imports of fortified food with iron) are the countries that tend to have the most obesity and metabolic issues—particularly as those countries consume more iron-rich meat.

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I Dare You To Not Make This Your Staple: Mixed Bean & Polish Sausage Soup

This is an effort to pay back Angelo Coppola and Stephan Guyenet; both in terms of a recipe for leurs-mêmes, but also to pay it forward to you, because it really hits a lot of the bases they cover in a podcast that you're missing out if you don't take the time to listen to.

...Frankly, it took me three days to get through it, but what that means is that even though I got interrupted dozens of times, I always came back, rewound a few minutes to re-acquire the beat, and could do nothing else but take in every really sane and enlightening moment. Yea, I have 2 or three quibbles with Stephan, mais pas suffisamment merveilleuse to make any big deal about, so they remain forgotten.

Just do yourself a favor enormement-like, and take it in.

Then, make this, eat some every day until you run out, then make another pot and keep doing that ad infinitum.

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The Fall Of The Jimmy Moore “Webpire”

That last word in the title is tongue in cheek, of course. For years—before I got tired and banned her—I had this commenter—Eat Less Move Moore (get it?)—who literally made reference to Jimmy Moore in each and every of several hundred comments, and was the one who first used "webpire" to describe his online activities.

Of course, it put her into context. Nobody knows how well Jimmy does $$$-wise with his spare bedroom Low-Carb business, but it's certainly not proportional to any sort of Empire I'm aware of.

Rather, it was simply a case of "everybody loves Jimmy." Jimmy is a likable, affable guy—in person, and in his online presence. And, as a businessman, a loss-leader sort, where he gives of his time and efforts in trust that those who like what he does will support him via his various ways he has available to pay back—recognizing that any individual is perfectly able to get away scott free for life.

And, over the years, he also goes so far as to entertain alternative and even contrary ideas (to LC) on his blog and podcast, with no real guarantee that the information he's exposing his readers and listeners to for free isn't undercutting his own livelihood. This is admirable.

This is part of why I gave him a pass on inconsistencies for a long time. And of course, the those living in glass houses throwing stones thing.

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Moving Beyond “One Trick Pony” Paleo

In many ways the Paleo playbook in retrospect—back to when I got involved in 2008—models a tendency in humans to have easy, formulaic answers and solutions to complex problems—rather like church and state as just-so solutions to complex philosophical and social problems.

At various times and places, the predominant emphasis was on one of these things:

  1. It's the grains
  2. It's the high PUFA vegetable & seed-based oils
  3. It's the toxins and anti-nutrients
  4. It's the corn and corn-fed livestock
  5. It's the carbohydrates
  6. It's the processed food

I'm sure I've overlooked a devil or two (I just can't get excited about avoiding certain light spectrum!). But these evils gave rise to various fads all along the way, sometimes emphasizing one evil, sometimes integrating several. I've participated in and promoted a number of them myself, if not all of them.

  1. "Paleo" baked goodies from breads, to cookies, to various treats, desserts...even candy
  2. "Paleo" enterprises with a giveaway a day
  3. "Paleo" echo chambers called conferences and symposiums
  4. Thousands of "Paleo" How-To and Cookbooks
  5. "Paleo" orthorexia in the form of hysterical fear of "toxins" and "anti-nutrients"
  6. Fear of starch, followed by a limited embrace, dubbed "safe"
  7. "Paleo" Low-Carb
  8. "Paleo" Very-Low-Carb
  9. "Paleo" Ketosis, dubbed "nutritional"
  10. "Paleo" for Women, Girls, and Mothers
  11. Wheat Bellies and Grain Brains (the apparent fad du jour)

There are many others but for purposes of brevity I'm only touching on the mostly diet related stuff and setting aside all the various lifestyle, fitness, athletic stuff like workouts, play, fasting, footwear (and lack thereof), cold exposure, sleep, sex, social relationships, workaholism, etc. And frankly, I find the endeavors in all of those lifestyle things to be far more "Paleo" than virtually all of the dietary and food stuff, which, frankly, has kinda been a Royal Fucking Mess.

I really just wanted to toss this out there for thought and discussion, so rather than a long essay, let me show you some of what I've been reading and chewing on during my recent low-activity status after spine surgery.

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Rare Newsletter Update

Haven't done one in months, but as a lot is changing in life, thought I might toy with putting one out there every few weeks to a month and see how it goes.

Latest Issue. Topics covered:

  • Everything has changed
  • I love Paleo but I'm not really Paleo
  • I've embraced lots of starch in the diet
  • I had a public dispute with Dr. Mike Eades ...And Mike and I buried that hatchet
  • Are you eating enough toxins to optimize health?
  • FODMAPs, Prebiotics & Arms Dealers, Probiotics & Mercenaries, and Uganda
  • I'm moving to Mexico, tip of the Baja.

On the last point, less than 6 days from departure to Mexico for a minimum of 5 months. Again, link to the Newsletter. From there, you can access archives. My series on "The Milk Diet" might interest some.

FODMAP Prebiotic Arms Dealing, Probiotic Mercenaries, and Uganda

I think I have a real treat for you. I asked Karl Seddon, creator of Elixa Probiotic, to write a post offering his perspective on probiotics and prebiotics, or FODMAPs. Little did I know he was clever enough to write such an engaging travelogue about Uganda, making it such an engaging read. I previously blogged about my experience with Elixa here.

Based on the emails I receive, I'd say that the average person interested in probiotics and gut health are well-read on the topic. Due to the relatively recent emergence of majority access to the internet and mainstream awareness of the microbiome, there's a huge amount of crowd-sourced research and shared information regarding probiotics, the microbiome, and prebiotics—or what I prefer to call FODMAPs.

Self-experimentation, anecdotal meta-analysis (collating 2nd hand reports), and scientific experiments are all legitimate means to increase our understanding of how the gut bacteria affect us and how to manipulate this understanding to our advantage.

Although I am the developer and manufacturer of Elixa Probiotic, this article does not directly concern probiotic supplementation. There is plenty to discuss about the individual attributes of Elixa, however I would prefer to start chronologically by detailing some of the R&D that came before. Hopefully this will be a brief insight into some of the thoughts and work performed during the 3+ years of development that has occurred since I graduated.

With a science-based, academic background, most people will assume: Oh, so you learned this stuff at university, right?

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A Completely Different Sort of Podcast Interview For Me

I sympathize with those who don't really listen to many of my podcast interviews anymore, since in so many since way back, I get asked the same questions and respond largely the same way.

I wanted this one, with Adam Smith, Prymal Radio, to be different and I think we achieved that. One way to look at it is an accounting how wrong I think I've been about so much over the years. I also had my Fitbit on while I was pacing the house on Skype, via my phone, and I walked 5,000 steps during the interview (I'd told Adam 4,000, but it turned out it was 5 once I manually synched).

Here's the main points.

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Are You Eating Enough Anti-Nutrients, Toxins, Etc. To Be Truly Bulletproof?

This was to be Part 3 of The Duck Dodgers' "Hormesis Files" series, but it's way broader than that. It's beyond hormetic effects. Rather, think of it as anti-nutrients as nutrients. While you're at it, contemplate a tender little Paleo flower, born of Trademark.

There's a long list of phytochemicals and "anti-nutrients" that people in the Paleo™ and "Bulletproof" world tend to worry about and try to avoid. Among others they include: lectins, saponins, phytate, polyphenols (tannins, isoflavones), protease inhibitors, cyanogenic glycosides, and favism glycosides. Even mycotoxin problems might be related to gut health since ruminants have little problem with them. These phytotoxins and anti-nutrients are also known as secondary metabolites. But what is never mentioned in Paleo™ circles is that there are a number of scientific papers showing benefits to consuming marginal levels of all of these toxins.[1][2][3][4]

From: Potential health benefits and problems associated with antinutrients in foods (1993)

Phytic acid, lectins, phenolic compounds, amylase inhibitors and saponins have also been shown to reduce the blood glucose and insulin responses to starchy foods and/or the plasma cholesterol and triglycerides. In addition, phytic acid, phenolics, saponins, protease inhibitors, phytoestrogens and lignans have been related to reduced cancer risks. Because antinutrients can also be mitigating agents, they need re-evaluation and perhaps a change in name in the future...It is evident that both adverse and health benefits may be attributed to antinutrients in foods. It is also evident that, in many cases, the same interactions that make them antinutritive also are responsible for their beneficial effects.

In terms of mycotoxins (shit from fungi), there are even some compounds that have anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even anti-fungal properties. [5][6][7][8][9][10]

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