Reader Feedback – Doctors and Cholesterol

First up, an email from Robert, who'll become a medical doctor in under a week. He must be completely thrilled, eh? ~~~ Just wanted to say hello. I’ve been a regular reader for several months now and thought I should take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Robert and I will be an MD in about six days. I’ll be starting an internal medicine residency in Reno, NV in July. I am both excited and nervous about starting, nervous largely because my patience with “modern” medicine is in rapid decline and I have three years of attending physicians to deal with. Yes, Richard, all of the doctors I have worked with personally approach health and nutrition in as mindless a manner as you think and often rant about. ~~~ I know, Robert, and isn't it the damnedest thing? Here you spend all that time, money and effort -- all the while enduring an enormous burden in terms of mental and physical stress and fatigue -- and it would certainly be an appropriate reward to be held in the sort of superman high esteem doctors have traditionally and often deservedly been held. But I think it's safe to say...


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Unbridled Reductionism vs. Common Sense

I get lots of interesting questions. For instance, the other day I was in the 40F deg. cold plunge at San Jose Athletic Club -- a mere 5-minute walk from the loft -- and while coming up on the minute mark and my intended time to get out, another guy got in and asked if I hadn't lost quite a bit of weight. I ended up staying in and chatting for over five minutes about things Primal, Paleo, and "Ev-Revolutionary," not feeling a bit cold. But the questions were remarkable, in that he could see the transformation in front of his very eyes -- which meant he also had no reason to doubt my performance gains in the gym either (and he could just go ask my trainer, Mike, anyway). But I guess they had to come... Fasting? Doesn't that "harm your metabolism?" Answer by question: does it harm the metabolisms of wild animals if they don't always get their kill?... "Skipping" breakfast? Don't you have to "fuel" the body for the day? Answer by question: are you saying that I should eat when I'm not hungry, and, do you observe wild animals eating that way?... "Only" two meals per...


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“WTF”: Read the Label

I've become a real label reader lately, and I almost never like what I find. There are exceptions, such as when I got to Whole Foods and get a few tubs of Alexander Valley Fresh Sauerkraut, where the ingredients are: cabbage, filtered water, sea salt, and... there is no "and." That's it. That's what the label of a Real Food product reads like. It even works for dogs, where I regularly get the dried chicken breasts, duck breasts, venison and buffalo livers, and even lamb's lung. In each case, the ingredient label has only one word: chicken; duck...you get the idea. The biggest shocker is the way HFCS or High Fructose Corn Syrup has made its way into virtually everything. I recall looking at a bottle of BBQ sauce a while back, and, you guessed it: HFCS was ingredient number one. Same with catsup. Virtually all of them have HFCS as the first, second or third ingredient. OK, so now what? We'll, how about a "healthy alternative" sweetened with, let's say, "agave nectar?" Sounds exotic; healthy even. But at 80-90% fructose, it's not only a health fraud but is actually far worse than corn syrup. Here's why: Not All Sugars...


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Vitamin K1 vs. Vitamin K2

I've written a healthy bit on the enormous benefits of vitamin K2 (MK-4) Menatetrenone. To access those posts, click here. Via Dr. Eades' excellent Twitter feed, I just got wind of this study on K1 (Phylloquinone) and its ability to modestly slow the progression of coronary artery calcium ("CAC" - 6% less progression than the control). Conclusions: Phylloquinone supplementation slows the progression of CAC in healthy older adults with preexisting CAC, independent of its effect on total MGP concentrations. There's also a media writeup on the affair. Let's probe. Speaking to NutraIngredients.com at the recent Vitafoods show in Geneva, vitamin K expert Professor Cees Vermeer from VitaK at the University of Maastricht explained that matrix Gla protein (MGP) in the vessel walls is a hot topic. “It is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, and it definitely needs the vitamin K to be active in that way. So, vessel walls have only MGP to defend themselves against calcification,” he said. So, what's "MGP," or, matrix gla protein? Lets close the loop, and Wikipedia will do just fine. Matrix gla protein (MGP) is a protein found in numerous body tissues that requires vitamin K for its optimum...


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A Great Email (FTA tops Zone; Medical Professionals)

As I muddle around, trying to get back in sync from the long weekend -- of which I took every advantage -- here's an email from Eileen that came in last Friday that I was really pleased to receive. ~~~ I just wanted to let you know that you are certainly changing (saving?) lives with your blog. I forget how I found Free The Animal, but it was shortly after I started my New Year's resolution to drop the 20 lbs I'd gained in the past 18 months. I had the idea that I was going to Zone because it had helped me lose weight in the past, although I remember quitting because it was a hassle to weigh and measure every bite of food (and quite frankly, I was starving on 12 blocks/day). Anyway, finding your blog coincided nicely with my Zone procrastination so I decided to follow your recommendations instead. January 1st, I weighed 145 lbs and a week ago, 125 lbs. The best part of that is that much of the weight lost was this big spare tire of fat around my waist and no starving. Also thanks to you/your blog, I began to supplement Vit D...


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Great Comments: Experience, Knowledge, Encouragement and Inspiration

Wow do we have some great readers who are willing to share all that in the title and more. A couple of days ago I posted this plea, from someone trying to get things together in terms of diet, exercise, health. The community really responded. There are many great comments there, and I encourage you to read them all, but I also want to re-post a couple as recognition for some really good help. ~~~ First, from David: Obviously you got into your current condition through a combination of what you eat, how much you eat and what you do (or don't) for exercise. Here's the obvious. Keep doing the same and you'll continue down the same path, at least as fast. if you figure you're 60-80 lbs overweight now, you'll be another 60-80 lbs heavier in 10 years. So here's something obvious ... change what you eat, change how much you eat, change your exercise. Now, we all know that is easier said than done. After all we eat the amount that we do because we're hungry. Overweight people have a hard time exercising, because they're overweight. I think the place to start is with WHAT you eat. Start...


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The Thing With Grains

Another reader question today. Why is grain so dangerous to health? can you send me a listing of those grains that are not to be eaten and why? Well, fortunately, there's a lot of good info out there and so rather than rehash it, let's just call attention to it here, particularly for the benefit of newer readers. I just checked the number of RSS subscriptions to Free the Animal and it's now over 1,000, which would represent regular, daily readers. Just a couple of months ago, last I checked, it was less than half that. Growing all the time, so thanks for the support I get from readers. Let's begin with Mark Sisson and his Definitive Guide to Grains. First, let's look at the principle behinds the thing, which I call The Paleo Principle. Here's Mark: Those of you who have been with us a while now know the evolutionary backdrop I mean here. We humans had the pleasure and occasional scourge of evolving within a hunter gatherer existence. We’re talking some 150,000 plus years of hunting and foraging. On the daily scavenge menu: meats, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, some tubers and roots, the occasional berries or seasonal...


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A Reader Question

Here's one that I think applies to a whole lot of folks. They know, but practice is tough. I stumbled across your web-site a few months back and must say that I find it thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking. I am 43 yrd old married father of a nine month old-daughter who is frightened to death of dying prematurely of heart disease and yet I am still unwilling or unable to make lasting changes in my lifestyle to lessen the chance of this occurring. Being 5' 7.5" tall and weighing 242 is not healthy w/a cholesterol level of 302 with a BMI over 35 is a far cry from my days of being athletic while playing football. The ironic twist to this sad tale is that I have been an avid reader of nutrition & Exercise related materials since I was 15 yrs old, I am very knowledgeable but even I am completely confused as to what to eat!! Who else reads the Paleolithic Prescription at 18 for fun and went to school to be a nutritionist!! Who's right? Is the AHA, Cleveland Clinic, Cholesterol Fascists, etc? Or is it the people such as Weston Price, Sally Fallon, Mary Enig, Udo...


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Vitamin D and Soap

I've had this one hanging around for days and since I'm on a roll just now, and just got a question about D, here goes. I'm not going to dig up the many past posts, but you can find most of them here, or simply search vitamin d to the right. The short version is that vitamin D is crucial for a host of processes and modern life has come to the point of shielding humans from receiving the vitamin as nature and evolution intended. The things we already know about are clothing, shelter, working indoors and sunscreen that keep us from the D we need. But here's another: soap. Yep, all you clean freaks: you're washing your vitamin D off before it gets absorbed. It was an interesting discovery for me, as it has been a very long time since I've put soap to anything but hair, face, armpits and groin. I never use lotions or creams and I have wonderfully soft skin. Maybe that's one reason for my high levels of D, along with supplementation, of course (now 4k IU per day instead of 6, since I get sun about 4 times per week). So, here's Dr. Mercola...


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MovNat at Wildfitness

I've mentioned MovNat before: here, here and here, but here's a new MoveNat video done at Wildfitness that really demonstrates the beauty, fun and playfulness of this sort of movement. Be sure and click the HQ button once the video begins for the high quality version.


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Thinking Through It

It began yesterday, when I was thrust into yet another battle with "conventional wisdom," only somewhat against myself. For the first time in quite a wile, I ended up last Friday with a sciatic nerve flare up. How did that happen? Well, it's probably related to the much heavier dead lifts and squats I'm doing. But I can say there was no specific lift or event that gave the slightest clue. Anyway, it was pretty uncomfortable over the weekend and I took it easy. Sitting in any position but a contorted one with my right big toe touching my left ear was painful. Monday came around, and I moved my workout to Tuesday afternoon (the 'yesterday' from above). I took a long walk in the morning and noticed something. Whereas, I could hardly move my right leg forward without a lot of pain upon getting out of bed, once I was three minutes into the walk I had total relief. Then, when I got back I sat at my stand-up computer bench on a barstool. Pain returned. I stood the rest of the day and felt good. But, pain was still there various times. The relationship was pretty clear: the...


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Simple Salmon

A commenter asked on another post about ideas for salmon. I pointed him to this past preparation of mine, but then got hungry for salmon, so here was dinner last night coming off a 1-day fast. I just salted & peppered the fish, put it on a rack under the high broiler for about 2 minutes on one side and 3 or so on the other, until golden. In the meantime I wok fried asparagus in coconut oil and in a saucepan, melted a couple tbsps of ghee, to which I added just a tiny bit of minced garlic, making sure not to toast it to much. Then I added in the juice from half a lemon (for two servings) and let the juice boil off. This ghee, garlic & lemon oil went over the salmon and mixed very well with the coconut oil fried asparagus. Very satisfying.


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Noodless Lasagna Recipe

Yesterday I posted about the noodless lasagna I made over the weekend. In this post I'll take you through the procedure. That way, you can try my recipe, vary it, or use your own. This is a variation on my grandmother's old recipe. Ingredients - Meat Sauce 1 pound ground beef, veal, or venison (I used venison this time) 1 medium onion, chopped 3 large stalks celery, chopped 1 cup (more is fine) finely chopped mushrooms 3 cloves of garlic, crushed & chopped 1 large can (28oz) crushed tomatoes 2 small cans tomato sauce 1 small can tomato paste 1 tbsp Italian seasoning 2 tsp marjoram 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped 1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped 1 tbsp sea salt (or as desired) 1 tsp finely ground black pepper (or as desired) 1/2 cup water, or as needed -- less is better, but enough so you can simmer without scorching - Meat & Cheese Filling 1 pound sweet Italian sausage 1/2 small to medium onion, chopped 1-2 clove of garlic, crushed & chopped 1/2 tsp fennel seeds 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil 1-2 tsp sea salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 2 packages (salad size) of...


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“Noodless” Lasagna

I'll go through my own recipe and procedure in another post, probably tomorrow. But this should work with any lasagna recipe, of which there are hundreds. Now, that's step one. Step two is to go out an look up moussaka recipes and find out how to do the eggplant layers. Combine the two and you've got a lasagna that will come out pretty amazing.


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Saturday Cooking

I'm just about to get going on assembling stuff to make lasagna, tonight. But of course, it's going to be noodle-less, based instead on something I've had in mind for quite a while. Also, it will have a very unique meat ingredient. In the meantime, here's last Saturday's fair for friends & family. It was braised short ribs again, but different from my last go-round. Here's stage one. That's most of the stuff. In this case, I actually began with a recipe and made some changes. First, I used 4.5 pounds of meat and so reduced quantities accordingly. I also further cut down the amount of tomato to the one 14 oz can. In addition, I cut back on the wine and increased the amount of beef broth somewhat, using my own broth, of course. I also added in about a handful of blueberries and, as well as pine nuts. In terms of procedure, I did this in the oven, about 4 hours at 300F and I only put the carrots and pearl onion in for the last hour. Alongside is a stir fry of finely chopped cauliflower, done in lots of butter and some almond meal. You should be...


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Help For a Fellow Traveller?

If I had a paid subscription, here's where I'd have you pay (in comments with your own experiences). From a comment to a previous post: I have a question. I am married to a vegetarian, so low carb per se is not possible. Even if it wasn't in India it is quite a bit more difficult to do. I am trying to reduce my Wheat consumption. Now down to 8 rotis (indian flat bread) per week. It is whole grain. I am thinking of replacing a few of them with fermented flat breads (aka naan) soon. I have also increased my butter and ghee (aka butter oil) consumption. I have also increased my meat and egg consumption. The problem I am facing is that over the weekend when I try to go low carb, for a full day, next morning I have vertigo (not the messy one just head spinning). I guess my brain is going bonkers with no glucose. Is there any solution. I cannot go completely low carb. And it seems that the liver will not start producing glucose just because I have not had carbs for a day. I have heard that some people need to go...


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“…we eat too much because we’re too dammed hungry.”

We don’t eat too much because we’re more gluttonous than our grandparents. We eat too much because in the 1970s because the McGovern committee convinced us we need to live primarily on low-fat grains and other starches. We eat too much because our insulin levels are too high. We eat too much because we’re storing too many calories as fat. Tom Naughton. Yep, as I have said, it's all about hunger. It's been a different world for me for a long time, now, and it's the primary reason I know it's for life. If you eat lots of "whole grains," even fair amounts of sugar, and load up even moderately on other forms of carbohydrate, it's very likely that you and I don't mean the same thing when we talk of hunger. But I think I know what you might mean. For, I remember a day when hunger was nauseating. It was debilitating. It was: eat something now, and all attention turned to that. It's one reason I talk less about fasting to beginners at this. One day I realized that I had been eating pretty decent Paleo for 3-4 months before I did my first fast, I had been...


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Ouch! More Low LDL Cholesterol to “Die For”

Here's one you probably won't find reported far & wide: Low admission LDL-cholesterol is associated with increased 3-year all-cause mortality in patients with non ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. After 3 years, patients with admission LDL <= 105 mg/dL had higher all-cause mortality rate compared to patients with LDL > 105 mg/dL (14.8% vs. 7.1%, p = 0.005). The higher all-cause mortality persisted (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0-3.5, p = 0.05) even after adjustment for confounding variables. CONCLUSIONS: In our cohort, lower LDL-cholesterol at admission was associated with decreased 3-year survival in patients with NSTEMI. Whether this was a result of current therapy or a marker for worse baseline characteristics needs to be studied further. The bottom line? The body count for 517 patients with heart problems over three years was twice for the low LDL cholesterol as the for "high" LDL cholesterol people. Peter the UK veterinarian has observations. My take home message is that having a low LDL cholesterol, as guesstimated by your cardiologist using the Friedwald equation, is very bad news if you have just had a heart attack. This is really just a quick hit to call attention to Peter's analysis, so go have a close...


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Crystallized Cottonseed Oil (“Crisco”)

Tom Naughton is going to be placing some of his additional Fat Head footage up on YouTube. Here's the first installment, which features Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation, biochemist Mary Enig, PhD, and Dr. Michael Eades, MD. Listen as they expose the Big Corporation lies Proctor & Gamble and others engaged in in the early 1900s to demonize relatively expensive but healthful natural fats like lard, butter, and coconut oil in favor of "frankenfats" -- chemically extracted, then deodorized, hydrogenated, interesterified, and so on. Crisco, for example, is a consequence of electrification and light bulbs. For, you see, Crisco was originally intended to replace the expensive animals fats used to make...candles. From Wikipedia: When William Procter and James Gamble started the company Procter & Gamble, they hired chemist Edwin C. Kayser and developed the process to hydrogenate cottonseed oil, which ensures the shortening remains solid at normal storage temperatures. The initial purpose was to create a cheaper substance to make candles than the expensive animal fats in use at the time. Electricity began to diminish the candle market, and since the product looked like lard, they began selling it as a food. This product became known as...


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How To Raise Your Cholesterol

Huh? Why would you want to do that? Well, the short answer is that it very well might lengthen your life. Let's have a go at Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, MD. When I went to medical school I was told that the very high rate of heart disease in Scotland was caused by a diet containing far too much saturated fat. This raised our Scottish cholesterol levels. The excess cholesterol was, in turn, deposited in the artery walls, thus narrowing them to the point where they blocked up - causing angina, heart attacks and death. The answer, therefore, to preventing heart disease was to eat less saturated fat, thus lowering cholesterol levels. Or, if you couldn't get people to eat less fat, then simply lower cholesterol level with drugs. It all seemed very simple and exceedingly straightfoward. Why look anywhere else, when the answer was clear. Uh, OK, so why raise cholesterol? He continues. For years I did not question this orthodoxy. Then, one day, I was on holiday in France. Whilst chewing on a fatty steak, dripping in butter, it suddenly struck me that the French ate rather a lot of saturated fat. As I peered through the smoke filled...


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