A Morning in San Francisco

Alright, mostly just photos. Mostly about food. We began the morning with breakfast at Sears Fine Food. Years ago (before the timeshare), we used to stay at the Chancellor, right next door. Then we stayed at a hotel on the other side of the Saint Francis at Union Square, and now we're on the opposite corner and about 3 minute's walk at a timeshare. If you stay in SF, stay close to Union Square. Just trust me. You'll have an amazing time. We do several weekends per year. On the way, we went up to the 36th floor of the Grand Hyatt to take this. Then we went down to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Terminal. Quite an affair. Here's pics.


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Weekend

I'm likely to get something off in the AM, links most likely. For the time being, I'm sitting at the bar in the Daily Grill, just off Union Square in amazing San Francisco. As much as they try, the commies just can't seem to completely ruin it. I'm eternally charmed and count myself lucky to live a mere hour's drive away. Next up: Morton's Steakhouse.


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What Do You Think You Know About LDL Cholesterol? (Pt 2 of 2)

Part One The purpose of part one was to demonstrate the meaninglessness of calculated LDL cholesterol in relation to the equation used to calculated it, and how triglycerides, while being a very important risk factor for heart disease in its own right, have been steadily increasing on average and potentially giving a false sense of security as increases in triglycerides cause a mathematical (not necessarily biochemical) lowering of calculated LDL serum cholesterol. I promised that in this second and final part, I will demolish the notion that you have any real idea of what your actual LDL cholesterol is, based on standard bloodwork involving calculated values. And I shall deliver. Let me frame what I'm going to say this way: there are millions of people with low calculated LDL (say, <50-60) who are at infinitely more risk for atherosclerosis, rupture, and fatal heart attack than are many people with calculated LDLs in the high 200s and higher. If you eat significant amounts of carbohydrate, especially as processed food, have low HDL (<60), high triglycerides (>200), then it's essential to know exactly what your LDL really is. The standard blood panel is essentially worthless for this. But I'm here to help....


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Thanks

Thanks to all of you for the many wishes for a happy birthday by email and writings on the wall on Facebook. I really appreciate it, and hope this single post serves as adequate acknowledgement. I turned 48 today. Still working a few bits on the second LDL cholesterol post, but I'll be up later.


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Just Go Ahead And Wait For “Public Policy”

I had to laugh. The National Institutes of Health awarded Creighton University $4 million to continue its landmark study linking vitamin D to a reduction in cancer risk. The study’s findings, reported in June 2007, showed for the first time in a clinical trial that postmenopausal women consuming optimal amounts of calcium supplements, as well as vitamin D3 supplements at nearly three times U.S. government recommended levels, could reduce their risk of cancer by 60 to 77 percent. “The vitamin D3 finding was a secondary goal in the original study,” said Creighton researcher Joan Lappe, Ph.D. “We must now confirm these findings with a clinical trial specifically designed to look at calcium, vitamin D and cancer. Confirmation is necessary in order to have evidence solid enough to change public policy regarding intake levels for vitamin D.” [...] A total of 2,300 women will be recruited and followed for four years with half of the participants randomly assigned to take daily supplements containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 and 1,200 mg of calcium; the second group will receive placebos. (emphasis added) There you go. Something that's intuitively pretty obvious (that most plants and animals need sunlight for various metabolic and biochemical...


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What Do You Think You Know About LDL Cholesterol? (Part One)

Are you aware that the LDL cholesterol results you get in your routine blood workup is likely a complete fiction? That's right, and it's because LDL isn't measured, but calculated. Here's the formula, called the Friedewald equation: LDL = Total Cholesterol - HDL - Triglycerides/5 So, for example, if one goes on a grain based, high carb, low fat diet which is well known to make triglycerides skyrocket, what would be the effect on your (calculated) LDL, all else remaining about equal? Your LDL would go down, your doctor would be pleased, you'd be ecstatic, and you may have actually increased your risk of, um, death (but maybe not of a heart attack, so yippee!). In fact, both very high and very low LDL associate with all-cause mortality (death from all cause, not just cherry picking heart disease). Where does risk appear to be lowest? I'm not sure, but for cancer risk, it's an LDL of around 130, i.e., lower or higher equals greater risk, and remember, I'm talking about LDL alone. So, you want to reduce your LDL like a good soldier? Then increase your triglycerides dramatically. All else remaining equal, each 5-point increase in Trigs gets you a...


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Modern Day Weston Price?

Well, perhaps not exactly, but let's see if we can't find something to cheer about. But first, in review: In 1939, he published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a book that details a series of ethnographic nutritional studies performed by Price across diverse cultures. Some of the cultures studied include the inhabitants of the Lötschental in Switzerland, the inhabitants of the Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the Eskimos of Alaska and Canada, the Native Americans, among the inhabitants of New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, Rarotonga, Nukuʻalofa, Hawaii, the Masai, Kikuyu, Wakamba and Jalou tribes of Kenya, the Muhima of Uganda, the Baitu and Watusi of Rwanda, the Pygmies, and Wanande in the Congo, the Terrakeka, Dinka and Neurs of Sudan, the Aborigines of Australia, the inhabitants of the Torres Strait, the Māori of New Zealand, the Tauhuanocans, Quechua, "Andes Indians", "Sierra Indians" and "Jungle Indians" of Peru. In his studies he found that plagues of modern civilization (headaches, general muscle fatigue, dental caries (cavities), impacted molars, tooth crowding, allergies, heart disease, asthma, and degenerative diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer) were not present in those cultures sustained by indigenous diets. However, within...


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Diet Fad Insanity

Here's a couple of articles that came to me by way of email (thanks Karen & Jim). 100-calorie nibbles For the dieter who's looking to lose a few, the market wants to help you. For the past couple of years, certain companies have offered small portions of snack foods bundled in 100-calorie packs. Roughly 175 products -- among them Nabisco's Oreos and Teddy Grahams, Hershey's Dark Chocolate and, yes, even Hostess' Twinkies, in the form of Twinkie Bites -- come in small sizes. Do they work? Weight loss surgery's complications devastate some patients Sandi Krueger of Turlock dropped 120 pounds with weight-loss surgery, but she is hardly a success story. The 2002 surgery led to chronic malnutrition and anemia. As the pounds melted away, so did her life. With a sunken face and protruding collar bones, she is too weak to work and spends most afternoons on the couch wrapped in a blanket. She has thoughts of giving up, but wants to be there for 12-year-old daughter Megan and 19-year-old son Dustin. "It's not acceptable leaving me like this," said the 103-pound Krueger, who at 38 looks closer to 50. "I've gone to doctor after doctor and basically they don't...


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Ask Mark Sisson

Many of you will recall my guest post over at Mark's Daily Apple. At the time, Mark and I agreed he'd do one here as well, and I decided it would be best to wait until after the holimonth. Well, it's time; and though he and I bounced a few ideas back and forth, I was always left disappointed about all he could've addressed, but wouldn't, in sticking to one subject. Well, I'm happy to announce that Mark solved that little dilemma by suggesting a guest post that will actually be a lot more work for him. So here's the deal: Ask Away. Preferably in the comments, but you can also send me an email (the address is on my About page). Of course, anything having to do with food, diet, fitness, weight loss, fasting supplementation, cooking, etc. etc. is fair game. Want to know more about Mark so that you can be best informed about what to ask? Then read all about him and take in those photos. Also, Mark is the designer of The Primal Blueprint, so you might have a question or two about that. You won't even have to wait for his forthcoming book. OK, folks,...


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Hot Chicken Bacon Salad

Here's one that I often eat down at Trials Pub, as it's the most Paleo friendly dish on their menu. I didn't take as long to prep this as would normally be called for (more reduction on the balsamic vinegar), but it was very tasty nonetheless. How it went was there was a chicken breast and a half, three strips of thick-sliced bacon, red onion, spinach, and a bottle of inexpensive balsamic. Get about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the vinegar boiling, then simmering to reduce. Ideally, you can get it down to a pretty syrupy consistency but I didn't take the time, this time. Instead, I used the bacon dripping to help it along. So, instead of an olive oil and vinegar preparation, think bacon drippings and vinegar. So, cut up the chicken into chucks and cut up the bacon into about 1" lengths. Then fry up both together until the bacon is pretty crispy and the chicken is done. Then, chicken goes into the simmering balsamic for the time it takes to prep the spinach. Get a big salad bowl and strain the hot balsamic through a wire mesh over the spinach and toss thoroughly. Then, do exactly...


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Saturday Link Roundup

So much stuff and so little time to comment extensively on everything I'd like to. So, rather than let stuff stack up for the "someday" when I can get to it, I think I'll clean out the queue once per week and just give you the links, along with a quick comment. If I've got a lot, I'll probably split them between Saturday and Sunday entries. - A friend emails to alert me to PumpOne Workout Software for your iPod or iPhone. Haven't tried it, yet, but looks pretty cool. Also, this friend contacted me a couple of months ago with interest in the Paleo approach and is now happy to report a weight loss of 8-10 pounds; this, after years of trying without success. - Diana Hsieh shows how to go about cleaning out your pantry to get Paleo compliant. - In an essential weekend special, Mark Sisson reports on new research that suggests low-carbohydrate diets and go a long way towards rectifying fatty liver. Though the focus is on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), I suspect that a Paleo diet would be ideal for a recovering alcoholic with a fatty liver, not only because the diet will stimulate...


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Quick Workout Note

Beginning last week, my trainer and I have decided to switch things up. Instead of predominantly lifting weights twice per week, I'm now doing weights once and the other workout is a crossfit styled routing, always different. So far, I've had two workouts, and we're talking about lots of pull-ups, push-ups, kettlebell swings, and just now, TRX suspension straps, and various other variations of various varieties. Quite a different routine. I like it. And I shall report. Right here. This may end up delaying my photo update a few weeks, perhaps to middle or late February (I had intended it for my birthday next week, as I turn 48). Presently, I'm down about 5 pounds net from my last shoot, and so far as I can tell, there's not a lot of visual difference. I'm thinking this just might do the trick, as I become more adapted to the routine. We'll see. Bea & I are headed up to the cabin in a few hours. I intend a barrage of posts over the weekend. Then, Monday morning, part one of a BIG 2-part surprise, so stay tuned.


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We Live in a Zoo

What a day for a title like that, eh? What, with about a million cattle and sheep herding around D.C., trying to get an angle on how they get to be led around by the nose for the next four years... Alas, politics isn't the core subject of this post. Rather, I would like to introduce you to someone worth paying attention to. I got an email from this gentleman last week introducing himself, and I'm sure glad he did. His name is Erwan Le Corre and he operates MovNat. The “zoo” is a modern, global and growing phenomenon generated by the powerful combination of social conventions, technological environment and commercial pressures. Increasingly disconnected from the natural world and their true nature, zoo humans are suffering physically, mentally and spiritually. Are you experiencing chronic pains, are you overweight, do you often feel depressed or do you suffer from frequent illnesses and general lack of vitality? These symptoms indicate that you are experiencing the zoo human syndrome. Modern society conditions us to think that this is normal and unavoidable. We don’t think so. Our true nature is to be strong, healthy, happy and free. We have designed a complete education system...


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Vegetarian Paleo

Here's how to deal with me when we have a fundamental conflict, unlike some people. A comment from a vegetarian reader. I see this blog all of the time and I love reading it. I never comment because, as interesting as I think it is... I am newly a vegetarian and am really enjoying this lifestyle choice. Is it possible to practice this diet with the exclusion of meat? I keep a foodie blog, tracking my progress as a vegetarian. Well, I took a quick five or so at your blog and there's no mystery at all. You're having a ball. Quite obvious, and I salute and congratulate you on it. Even though our food choices are not the same, much of what you're doing is real food, you're doing it yourself, and you're doing it with imagination and gusto. Salut! How could I possibly dis that? Here's what I think: in spite of you adopting a diet that I would not undertake, I think you're heads & tails above most. I didn't see any fish, and I've had many acquaintances over the years who call themselves "vegetarian" but eat fish and/or shellfish. Could you consider that? It would make...


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Saturated Fat

Who eats the most of it? Think you know? Let's speculate first, based on heart disease death stats, by country. So, if the "diet-heart hypothesis" were true in its general position on fats, and on saturated fats in particular, then ought we not see some significant correlation between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease deaths? That graph above coveres only the first 15, but there are 26 countries if you click the link above. Well, let me let the cat out of the bag and just tell you that the highest saturated fat intake isn't among the first 15. And guess what, it's not even on the list of 26 at all, which goes all the way down to 30 deaths per 100,000 people. In the United States, average saturated fat intake is estimated at around 12% of total energy. Now, what if I told you there was a country where it's documented that the population derives about 50% of it's energy, not from just fat, but from saturated fat! That is, they get about 60% of total energy from fat, 50% of which is saturated. And they're not even on the list. Note: I realize the list is...


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Reader Questions

Reader Auti emails in: You look 30 years younger and absolutely amazing! I am impressed with your results... I am a 31 year old nurse. I follow Marksdaily apple as well as Arthur De Vany. I have dabbled in low carb only to go on a splurge by the end of the night when my cranky mind is driving me toward that oh so yummy and deadly cookie. Not that I am over weight, because I am not but I followed a low fat calorie counting diet for a long time and it made me very food obsessed. I want to find the joy again and I definately found that once I stopped dieting. However, now I want that energy, clear thinking, drive, reduced risk of cancer, no risk of diabetes, and youthful aging. I am sure it is a low carb diet but I have yet to perfect it. Can you offer any advice as to what you have learned and how you have stopped cheating... OH my goodness, you eat so much fat. I am not a fat free person (I used to be) but I would be scared my ass would grow bigger if I did that....


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Surf & Turf

Bea & I decided to split a ribeye steak and a dungeness crab last night. Notice the clarified butter. I like to make my own rather than use ghee, because I like it just slightly browned. That makes for a slightly sweet taste that goes way good with the crab (steak too, actually). The steak has what I call a "drizzle." I pan fried it in bacon dripping in a casr iron skillet, medium high, and with a lid that would just cover the steak. It was about 2 1/2 minutes on one side and 1 1/2 on the other, covered. Then, let the steak rest, dump off all but about a tablespoon of the fat, and then deglaze the pan with some red wine, about 1/4 cup. Scrape with a spatula as the wine evaporates; about two minutes. Then when it's thick like a syrup, check the steak. You'll notice it has released some of its juices, and you stir those back into your glaze, then drizzle on the steak. Way yummy, and easy.


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Paleo Tales of Success

I find that many people don't really grasp the essence of the Paleo (and Paleo-like) way. They approach it like they approach other diets, focus on what you can't have, and eventually go on in their endless quest for some silver bullet. To my mind, the Paleo way is about two things, primarily. 1) To obtain not just sufficient or even good nutrition from food, but to obtain optimal nutrition from food. So, with respect to that piece of bread, pile of rice, dessert -- or any of the other things we don't eat -- we're eating, in its place, an additional piece of meat, fish, more vegies, fruit, or what have you. Over a week, or even a day, were you to compare your nutrient intake to any other average diet, you would blow it out of the water. Big time. It's not even close. 2) Hunger normalization. The problem with this one is that most people have no idea that their hunger it totally berserk. They consider the idea of fasting, for instance, and it's horrifying. Yet, people on the Paleo way embrace fasting naturally. Why? Because hunger is a hugely different experience for someone on the Paleo...


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Veggie Color & Spaghetti

Let's get right to it. The other night I had family over and did a Thai green curry. While I didn't get a final dish pic, here's a transitional, all color. Prior to this, I did the chicken breast and Polish sausage (in coconut oil). In a separate sauce pan, I heated a can of coconut oil and about a couple of tablespoons of Thai green curry (should be able to get in most supermarkets). Once the veggies were well on their way, I added back the meat, dumped the curry over the whole thing, covered and simmered about 15 minutes. It was devoured. Inspired by Mark Sisson, I tried my hand at spaghetti squash last evening. Rather than his meat sauce recipe, I used my mom's (with a few of my own mods). Here's the ingredient list in photo. So we have ground beef (I used lean, this time, as free tallow doesn't improve the taste of this sauce), onions, green bell pepper, celery, mushrooms, canned tomatoes, olives, and tomato sauce. Spice & herb wise, we've got the fresh parsley, oregano, and basil, and in addition, dry Italian seasoning and marjoram will go in. I also used about a...


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Vitamin D and All-Cause Mortality

This is from August, but I just stumbled on it. Here's a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and the Risk of Mortality in the General Population Conclusion: The lowest quartile of 25(OH)D level (<17.8 ng/mL) is independently associated with all-cause mortality in the general population. I like this kind of science because, duh, why trade risk of one disease for another? That's the big blind spot with so much of the research surrounding obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. They associate one disease with one thing (like high cholesterol with heart disease -- but not really), only to find out that "the fix" increases risk for another disease, or worse, as in the case of low cholesterol, increases risk of...death. That's right, particularly for an elderly person. If you're patting yourself on the back over low cholesterol, studies repeatedly show that low cholesterol is associated with higher rates of dying. In other words, on average, people with high cholesterol simply live longer. So, go ahead and undertake questionable dietary habits and take questionable drugs in the pursuit of a questionable association, only to die earlier -- only not of a heart attack. Yay; you win!...


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