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Musings: Vegan babies, the “Evil Trifecta” & How your genes affect your jeans

Hi Folks!

Spring is getting closer!

So I fully intended on having a well written, long and informative article to post this week but I just haven’t managed to get around to it.  So today will be a smattering of link posts and thoughts about the happenings as of late.

As I previously posted about, the Robb Wolf seminar was a great refresher about paleo nutrition and the optimal approach to the dietary management of chronic disease.  Since then I have had the chance of speaking with some friends and family about the seminar and about diet in general and some questions/comments arose, as they usually do.

  • Vegan babies are occasionally not well taken care of and they die, usually due to malnutrition – As far as I’m concerned this is unacceptable, and these parents are knowingly starving their babies to death.  This is tragic and unnecessary.  The parents should know better, but if they’re mistaken enough to think that humans can thrive on a vegan diet, they are more than likely mistaken about most things related to human physiology.  I think it would be interesting to find out if the parents who were responsible for these babies had to rethink their logic and understanding of nutrition, seeing that this type of diet not only does not create optimal health, but doesn’t even create an environment where a human baby can survive.

o   Links here (1 old, 1 new):  http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.35c2caa5efa0e183b7b38a2d0e2b7f40.71&show_article=1

o   http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/opinion/21planck.html?_r=1

  • Far less intense is the “evil trifecta” proposed by Robb Wolf (and also explained at length by Dr. Kurt Harris, Dr. Emily Deans, and I’m sure many others) of gluten, linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated, n-6 fatty acid found in many vegetable oils), and fructose.  After having mentioned this to people I get a mixture of responses.

o   For those familiar with paleo nutrition, the next question is usually from the person shooting for perfection, “so should I stop eating fruit?” or the person who is already annoyed with having given up grains, “so you’re telling me I can’t have fruit anymore either?”

o   The answer is no, you don’t have to give up fruit.  They’re fruit.  Reminds me of a post by the folks at Whole9 (http://www.urbangetsdiesel.com/2009/06/carrot-train-to-crazytown.html).  While the main sugar in fruit IS fructose, there really isn’t THAT much that you need to worry about fatty liver disease or insulin resistance.  That is unless you’re crushing a LOT of fruit.  This tends to be the tendency to those new to paleo/primal eating.  They’re still sweet, and they generally taste better than vegetables.  But if you’re replacing all your vegetables with fruit, it might eventually become a sticking point for weight-loss and well-being.  Just saying.

o   The other answer is, “but I love grains!  WHOLE grains must be good right?  I don’t eat white wonder bread, I eat the stuff with lots of fibre!”  Sorry folks, but no bread is the best kind of bread.  If you want to lose weight, manage your auto-immune disease or just feel better in every way, you need to give up grains.  Am I telling you that you can NEVER have grains again?  No.  Try giving them up for 30 days, and then have some occasionally.  The bloated, gassy, headachy, hangover-y feeling you get (and to which degree you get it) will determine if enjoying it is worth it.  I’ll be honest, for me, sometimes it is.

o   Links worth checking out:

§  http://crossfitflood.typepad.com/nutrition/2009/03/damn-dirty-grains.html

§  http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2010/09/19/paleo-diet-solution/

o   Interesting to note is that no one really complains about the vegetable oil.  That could be because it all tastes terrible and that all our favourites that we gave up are SO much more delicious (butter, ghee, coconut oil, pork fat, beef fat, etc.)

  • Finally, I just want to speak about genetics.  Your genetics is your bodies’ recipe for health.  When myself and other speak about us “all having the same genes”, what we AREN’T saying (although I should only speak for myself here) is that we all have identical genes (as in identical twins, although even then there are some differences).  What I am saying, is that we all have the gene to create the cornea in our eye, the gene to up-regulate insulin receptors on our cells, the genes to induce the many steps to apoptosis to prevent cancer.  We all have these.  But what do we have that affects these genes?  Everything we eat, every way we move and everything we think.  These inputs are the reason our body activates and expresses genes and inhibits others.
  • In health care, we’re all around this paradigm without ever (almost) delving into it.  Bruce Lipton, James Chestnut and many others have figured this out.  It gives us a solid foundation to create questions and theories from.  It gives us a leg to stand on when we ask, “Why?”  My question to the general public and to the many areas of healthcare is, “why have we stopped asking why?”  It’s killing us!
  • This new report is about the differences we have between us.  Our epigenetics are responsible for the many differences in disease states and susceptibility to disease states and general adaptations to lifestyle inputs.  This person can eat whatever they want and not put on a lot of fat, this person cannot.  If studies from the agouti mouse tell us anything, it’s that the lifestyle of past generations DOES matter.  But what we don’t seem to make the connection to, is that it doesn’t mean that living in healthy ways still matters, and that it’s reversible!

o   Let’s say your grandma had type-2 diabetes, and your mom has type-2 diabetes, are you silly to think you might be “predisposed” to type-2 diabetes?  Not at all!  But can you make the connection that if you are diligent and live healthy and do not get type-2 diabetes, and your daughter does the same and also doesn’t get it, that that would “predispose” her daughter to NOT acquire type-2 diabetes?  Ahhhh, perfect.  Healthy living is healthy living.  There are degrees of health within your genetics ability to express it (whether you have predispositions or not).

o   Here is the link to the news article:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110323104737.htm

o   The other idea is that the input you create matters and affects the genes that are expressed.  This is easily demonstrated by putting someone suffering from glioma (a type of brain cancer) on a ketogenic diet.  Gene expression changes.  Interesting right?  It’s just proof that the way we eat, move and think matters.

o   Here’s the link to the journal article:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949862/?tool=pubmed

So that’s all I have to say right now.  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, and if you’re competing in the Crossfit games open sectional, good luck & have fun!

Cheers!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why I care about MORE than your spine, Part 1

Alternate title: I can’t let someone else worry about it, unless by someone else, you mean me.

Eating quality food is a pre-requisite for quality health

I recently attended a chiropractic seminar that was full of folks who are very concerned about your health.  But from what I can gather, they are only concerned with knowing you’re getting adjusted (by them, of course).  I like the general ideas they run with, in theory.  The idea being, that as chiropractors we understand the biomechanics of the spine and its’ effects on the nervous system, and therefore your health better than anyone else.  We learn (for years) how to adjust specifically to correct any motion restrictions/subluxations/misalignments that may be preventing you from expressing the health you’re meant to.  This is a very good thing and is hugely important to human health.  This is where their effort to make you healthy ends though.

Let dietitians worry about diet.  Let physiotherapists and personal trainers worry about the muscles and exercise.  Let therapists worry about mental health.  This is the idea running with the folks running this recent seminar I attended.  Well that’s a great idea… in theory.  It’s a great idea until 6 months into your chiropractic care with me you still aren’t getting the results we’d expected.  It’s great until I learn that your lack of health is because the dietitian that is taking care of your nutrition believes that you need to be eating 9-12 servings of grains a day and that eating too much meat will give you cancer.  Uh oh.  BIG uh oh.

Problem 1: Most people giving dietary advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  Without going into a lot of details and talking about all the exceptions, the human species has evolved (or been created) to eat a diet that is congruent with our genetics.  What this means, is that our genes are meant to express health, but they can only be “turned on” if the signal we send (via our lifestyle and nutrition) asks them to.  This means no grains, legumes, and in some cases no dairy.  Read more about what we SHOULD be eating here.

Problem 2: Most people giving exercise advice don’t know what they’re talking about.  You don’t need to spend hours in the gym.  You don’t need to exercise LONGER, and for many people, doing this will make things WORSE.  I’m not telling you not to exercise.  I’m telling you to be smart about it, but most people don’t have a good idea of what being smart about exercise means.  Exercise is a stressor in your life.  Fortunately it is a healthy, predictable, measured and planned stressor.  An intelligent exercise program will make you healthier, without stealing all your time.  Read more about how you SHOULD be exercising here.

Problem 3: If you’re doing these other things correctly/intelligently, then you will experience health a lot more quickly (due to decreased stress levels).  I can’t morally have you come to my office 3 times a week for 13 weeks knowing that if I was intelligent enough to address your diet and lifestyle, you’d need just a fraction of that amount of care.  It would make me a lot more money if I told you to eat according to the USDA food pyramid, exercise using isolation machines and stairmasters, and then come see me whenever you felt you weren’t making progress (indefinitely, in this situation).  I do care about making money (we all have to live), but I want to make my money from making you healthy, and having you tell your friends and loved ones.

My goal as a health care provider is to make you healthier every time I see you.  To influence you to make healthy decisions, and to give you the ability to make those decisions more easily.  I won’t compromise my morals and assume you’re eating and moving well.  Maybe it’s neurotic or obsessive of me, but I’ll sleep better knowing you’re out there making good choices.  Within that same vein you shouldn’t compromise your health by expecting your body to produce excellence while you feed it crap.  I can make your spine move more appropriately but I can’t make you eat well, exercise and de-stress.  If you care about yourself you’ll make a commitment to doing those things.  I’ll be providing you the information and ability (as well as referring you to sources I know and trust) to make good decisions as well.

Good work, team,

Dr. Adam Ball

Let me know what you think, if you disagree, or if you love grains!  Drop a comment! – Please share this on Facebook/Twitter too!

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How Do YOU Stimulate Yourself?

DNA, RNA, transcription, translation,

Image via Wikipedia

Hey Folks,

In a previous post I mentioned how animals in captivity have shortened lifespans and a whole slew of other problems.  Today we’re going to delve into the guiding principles of health, and why the oneswe’re currently using don’t work.

The human body is designed to respond and adapt to the stimuli with which you provide it.  That stimulus can be either genetically congruent, or it can be genetically incongruent.  Whether you believe in evolution, creation or any mix of the two, this guiding principle applies to you.

So what type of stimuli am I speaking of, that are causing you to adapt?  The stimuli I’m speaking of includes everything from where you are, to what you do and think.  To avoid chaos and bad science we need a guiding principle, to direct the stimuli you experience and to help us make intelligent choices with regard to those experiences.  How about evolution for a guiding principle?  If we use consider the things we do in life, are they consistent with the actions we have evolved to go?  Genetics appears to be the new culprit for poor health, but do you think that over the millions of years of our evolution that poor genes that made us sick were more successful at being passed onto the next generation than healthy genes?  Would it make any sense that your body was directed through tens of thousands of generations to sabotage you when you least expect it?  This is what we’re being taught and exposed to all day everyday.  Many drug companies claim that they are only indicated when other forms of treatment have not worked.  Lately it appears that step has been skipped over, and we’ve all assumed it won’t work.  Adusting your lifestyle is the ONLY thing that will make you healthier.  Taking medications will change your symptoms or lab values and you and your MD can celebrate those values, but you aren’t any healthier, that’s for certain.

For just a moment, let’s pretend that you are the proud owner of the perfect genes.  If you were consuming a diet high in processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and grain fed meats.  You didn’t have any physical activity for the day, and you sleep poorly.  Do you think that your perfect genetics are making a mistake when they decide to upregulate the genes that lead to increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and a down regulation of the proteins responsible for producing the insulin receptors on cells?  Or is your DNA just responding to the stimulus that you’re providing it?

If you believe it isn’t a mistake, and that it happened for a reason – would it make any sense to you to take a drug that prevents your body from being able to react to the stimuli you provide it?

I’m willing to bet you said “no” to that question.  But that’s what we’re doing with our current health and wellness model.  High cholesterol?  Who cares WHY it’s happening, continue to eat crap and take statins.  Little to no midline stability?  Forget correcting posture and how you move, do crunches until your face goes numb.  Depressed? Don’t worry about changing your lifestyle, it has nothing to do with you, it’s serotonins fault!

We are stuck in the one cure for one ill model, and we’re slowly being convinced that any inadequacies in our lives have nothing to do with us!  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t as unique as you think you are.  As homo sapiens we have the same genes as our ancestors from 40,000 year ago.  They’re all in there.  What we do with our lives is what affects how they’re expressed.  The diversity of people on the planet is a good example of the many different ways our genes can be expressed.  Can you think of anyone that exercise is BAD for?  That eating high quality, organic, free range food would be bad for some people and good for others?  That getting adequate sleep would be bad for some people?  That smiling and laughing is bad?

How can there be things that are good for EVERYONE?  Because we’re all designed to be healthy, happy, successful humans.  Full stop.  Your body can’t help but express crap if you feed it with crap.  It also can’t help but express excellence if you provide it with excellence.  Too much sitting is just as toxic as too much gluten.  Proper diet is just as important as getting exercise and sleeping well.  We need to give up the “I have this problem that requires that solution”, and embrace the, “am I living in a way that will best allow my DNA to express health?”.

What are you providing your body?  Are you feeding in crap and expecting excellence?   Take stock in what you’re doing well for yourself and celebrate it.  Acknowledge what you aren’t and plan a way to address it.  There is always a better you out there, waiting to be experienced.  Don’t get lost among the shiny promises of the one problem-one solution people!

Dr. Adam Ball

Why do I train?

I was recently asked during a workout (I work out in my driveway on a semi-busy street) by a passerby, “why are you doing that?”

As you can imagine, this particular passerby was a young, curious child with walking somewhere with one of their parents.  I didn’t have a lot of time to answer, as they were continuing their walk by, and while dripping sweat on the ground, chest heaving, I dropped my weight and said, “because it’s fun!”

Maybe the kid thought I was lying, and I’m fairly certain that the parent did, as they smiled and walked away.  After I finished my workout I got to thinking, why DO I train?  This blog post will look to answer this question.

I want to remain extremely functional as I grow old. I think if I can work hard to max out with a 500 pound deadlift now (or hopefully within the next couple years), than lifting my grocery bags off the ground when I’m 90 years young will be a breeze.  While I can appreciate the reduced work capacity associated with aging, it just gives me more reason to work hard now.  Studies have shown exercises can increase functionality in the elderly, the young, and those with disease (1, 2, 3).

I want to avoid disease and give my MD no reason to doubt my health. As we all know, obesity rates are through the roof, heart disease is killing about half of all North Americans, and diabetes rates are increasing at an alarming rate (I’ve seen they’re changing the name from “adult onset” to “age onset”, I assume this is because too many young people are suffering from this condition).  My genetics aren’t exactly stellar in the cholesterol department, the heart disease department, and to a small degree the diabetes department.  If I can optimize my blood markers and provide my body with a calm, balanced environment, I’m going to do what it takes to create that environment.  Many sources have found that insulin sensitivity is increased with exercise.  Body weight, body mass index, body fat, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and hsCRP (an inflammation marker) all respond favourably to regular exercise (1, 2, 4, 5).

I want to stay sane. Exercise is known to help reduce the occurrence of depression and lead to better well-being (6).  I know that when I exercise I feel better for that day and in the long run.  I don’t usually feel fantastic DURING the workout (sometimes I do), but shortly afterward I feel great.  I think it is due, psychologically, to a sense of accomplishment, as well as the endorphin release and further cascade of hormones released by the body in response to the stimulus of the exercise.  In my, n=1 case, I know it makes me more productive, happier, and more relaxed, consistently.

I want to look good naked. Don’t we all?  I don’t think I need to argue the fact that exercise is an important factor in body composition.  Diet is also hugely implicated, but we’ll talk about that in another post.  Exercise provides the stimulus your body requires to release hormones that will increase your insulin sensitivity, and cause you to synthesize protein to fix the damage you did to your muscles while exercising.  This protein synthesis is a metabolically expensive process, and you do it while at rest.  This means you’re burning mostly fat for the fuel used to assemble the amino acids provided by the protein in your diet (you’re eating high quality protein, right?) to restore your muscle tissue.  There is a lot more involved but that’s part of what is going on.

I like the challenge. Originally with exercise, I never stayed with my program which was usually because I didn’t HAVE a program.  I just figured going to the gym and doing some stuff was enough.  Occasionally I would follow the mens health monthly workout poster thingy.  I employ Crossfit for my training, which constantly challenges me to get better at everything as well as trying new movements or weights on a frequent basis.  It keeps me interested, and I ALWAYS feel like I have a lot of room to improve.  As long as you don’t let it get you down, it’s a great motivator to keep at it to get better.

Anyway, that’s what I can think at the moment as to why I train.  Why do YOU train?

References:

  1. Martins, R., Verissimo, M., Coehlho e Silva, M., Cumming, S. & Teixeira, A. (2010)  Effects of aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health indicators in older adults.  Lipids in Health and Disease. 9:76.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.lipidworld.com/content/9/1/76
  2. Ansari, W., Ashker, S. & Moseley, L. (2010)  Associations between Physical Activity and Health Parameters in Adolescent Pupils in Egypt.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  7: 1649-1669.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2872361/?tool=pubmed
  3. Subin, Vaishali Rao, V. Prem & Sahoo (2010)  Effect of upper limb, lower limb and combined training on health-related quality of life in COPD.  Lung India. 27(1): 4-7.  Accessed online on 28/08/2010 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2878713/?tool=pubmed
  4. Bradley, R., Jeon, J., Liu, F. & Maratos-Flier, E. (2007)  Voluntary exercise improves sensitivity and adipose tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese mice. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. (295) E586-E594
  5. Kirwan, J., Soloman, T., Wojta, D., Staten, M. & Holloszy, J. (2009)  Effects of 7 days of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and responsiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus.  American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.  (297) E151-E156
  6. Babyak et al (2000)  Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.  Psychosomatic Medicine. (62) 633-638