Sunday, September 20, 2009


Here is an excellent article by Dr. Michael Eades comparing the health and nutrition of early agriculturists vs that of Hunter-Gatherers: Nutrition and Health in agriculturists and hunter-gatherers.

Will a 100% meat diet kill you?  Hardly. The well documented story of Vilhajmur Stefansson:
Two Brave Men Who Ate Nothing But Meat for A Year.

The meat may not kill you but Triathlons might:
Are Triathletes Healthy?

Finally, should we rely so much on vitamin pills to keep us healthy?  Me thinks whole foods are the answer, but do we need to throw our vitamins in the garbage?
Vitamin Pills: A False Hope?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crossfit is worth over $1000 a month!

About two years ago I became interested in Olympic weightlifting.  The Olympic lifts consist of two lifts : the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch.  That's it, sounds simple right?  Well until you've tried to Snatch anything over 75lbs, you have no idea! Both lifts are extremely complicated, dangerous, and have an exceedingly long learning curve.  Not the kind of thing you want to teach yourself. They are also probably the most beneficial compound exercises for your whole body.

Being the typical gym guy that I was, I did try to teach myself.  I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and practiced. Then I started adding weight... Believe it or not I practiced the Olympic lifts for a year and a half with no formal training.  Bad idea.  My back hurt for three days after Clean & Jerks, and my shoulders would hurt for nearly a week after heavy Snatch training (when I say heavy I only mean about 150, no Olympic feat). I knew I was doing something wrong, and I knew I needed a coach.

At typical gyms you have personal trainers for hire. Some of them are good at what they do, training non-athletes how to use simple bodybuilding and aerobic techniques so they don't look like complete jackasses in the gym.  Beyond that it is a crapshoot. Not one of the trainers in my gym was versed in Olympic lifting. Quite frankly the gym had no facilities for this kind of lifting either.  You need bumper weights and a safe spacious area. Bailing is about as common as in skateboarding, and you don't want to hit Johnny treadmill with a 200lb barbell! Alas even if my gym was set up for it, trainers charge between $45-75 an hour! As my friend Kevin likes to say "Muthafucka"!

This is where Crossfit comes in to play.  About a year ago I came across the website.  I was infatuated with their daily WOD's (workout of the day), posted on the main website. These guys were performing incredible feats of strength and endurance, on a daily basis, usually for time (most WOD's last for 20-30mins or less). I also noticed they performed both Olympic lifts, and other lifts meant to specifically train for these lifts, all with good form. So naturally I started to train the WOD's at my gym. Have you ever walked down the street dressed up as a giant Taco?  I haven't but I'd imagine the looks I got in my gym, were similar to the poor walking Taco. People think you're either an insane crack addict, or someone who wants to show off, but looks more like a chimpanzee.

Joining Crossfit was a scary experience.  I expected a group of elite athletes, x-navy seals, and jock monsters. I balked for months,  thinking I could get the same results in my gym if I just tried hard enough.  Quite honestly my gym was comfy and cushy.  It had a swimming pool, a sauna, a steam room, 20 showers etc...

Finally I convinced my brother to give Crossfit a try with me, just to check it out.  Wow! the first thing I got was a great vibe.  Everybody was friendly, encouraging, and curious about us.  Yes, many of them are amazing, elite athletes; however just as many had never even played sports before joining crossfit.  Some of the nicest guys in the gym are competing at national levels. It was so different than the average gym: where guys wear their ego like they won a heavyweight title, Where people don't talk or make eye contact, just workout with their headphones blasting,  Where the dudes think it is a meat market, and the ladies get off on it. Crossfitters learn from day one to leave their egos at the door. It is a great community, and you literally feel like you just joined a sports team (which in some ways is true).

The best part is the training, and the great savings compared to  having a personal trainer.  Not only is every class led by a coach, but the other members are always doling out great advice.  Perhaps more important they give me the motivation to do my best, and try harder. I admit at $150 a month for membership it cost twice as much as my old gym. On average I attend class about 5 times a week.  If I was paying $50 bucks a session for personal training elsewhere, that'd be $1000 dollars a month!

I love Crossfit, although I admit I am both addicted and obsessed (maybe a little crazy too)! The results in just 6 months have been off the charts.  I have gained strength in every lift, and am doing them with correct form (most of the time :). My body is more defined, though not in a bulky bodybuilder sort of way. Combined with the paleo/primal way of eating (which is heavily supported by the crossfit community), I dropped 20lbs in 3 months, leveling out to my ideal bodyweight.

If anyone lives in the Chicago area, definitely contact our head trainer Justin Marcis and drop in. Here's the link WindyCityCrossfit.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cod Liver Oil for Life!

    There are many reasons to love cod liver oil.  It is possibly the single most important supplement available for overall health. It has all the Omega 3's of our beloved fish oil, plus a giant serving of vitamin D and vitamin A.  One thing that amazed me, it may have the highest anti-inflammation abilities of any food, one tablespoon is +1024 on Nutrition Data's scale (see for yourself).  To put that number in perspective a whole serving of salmon is  +919, celery is +14, and a cup of grapes is -56 (inflammatory).

The importance of a good cod liver oil can't be overstated.  With all the toxins that may be in fish, you can rest assured with any good brand of cod liver oil.  The best brands are all 3rd party purity checked to have no detectable level of contaminants.  This plus mercury is water soluble, therefore separates from the oil. It is like taking the guesswork out of eating fish. We get the best nutrients at concentrated levels with no contaminants.

Why do we need vitamin D?  Well, the body can synthesize vitamin D on its own, the best method is to strip down naked (at least to a thong), and stand under the sun for a couple hours everyday. Of course this could have a few negative side effects like skin cancer and crow's feet, not to mention the unwanted attention of standing around in a thong. Also there is that small problem we have up North: WINTER.  There is a lot of evidence most of us non tribal humans are deficient in Vitamin D.  The data is stacking up too, low levels of vitamin D has been linked to: congestive heart failure, cancers, bone loss (rickets anyone), diabetes, depression to name a few. So lets do like our Scandinavian friends and make sure to get the sunshine vitamin naturally, by taking a daily dose of cod liver oil. By the way it's not nearly as disgusting as it sounds.

Vitamin A is a bit more common in foods, but also very important.  It is important to get your vitamin A from natural food sources, and absolutely avoid it in supplementation.  The kind of vitamin A that your body uses most ready is retinol. The true food sources of retinol are animal livers, eggs, cheese and cream. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and greens have a form of vitamin A known as beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene must be converted in your body to retinol. Vitamin A helps the body fight infections, protects the eyes, prevents cancer, strengthens bones, prevents degeneration,  and fortifies the immune system.

Of course cod liver oil also has  a healthy dose of Omega 3's in the most ready to use forms DHA and EPA. Unlike seed supplements that claim to have high levels of Omega 3 but really have ALA, which the body must convert (somewhat inefficiently to DHA and EPA).  Flaxseed oil has also been known to cause inflammation, and possibly promote prostate cancer (so much for being a health food). If you want the real deal you're going to have to stick with fish.

Some great brands are:
Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Carlsons Cod Liver Oil
Genuine Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Here is a link to an in depth article on Cod Liver Oil: The number one Superfood

High Fructose Corn Syrup BS

Click Here to see the kind of crap corporate agribusiness is trying to pull.  In the previous video Dr. Robert Lustig proves that HFCS is poison, and these brutes are promoting it as health food!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Have an hour to kill?  Check out this informative video:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sugar and AGE's: Advanced Glycation End Products

Imagine the Possibility 

Imagine if there was a pill, scientifically proven to slow aging to a halt. This would inevitably be a billion dollar industry.  Most people would do anything short of a facelift to look ten years younger.  Now what if you were told it was free.  Well, it just might be: sugar free.

Are you willing to make the sacrifice? No more soda, juice, candy, muffins, cake, cookies, ketchup, corn syrup, maple syrup, bread, even fruit! Even with the massive health benefits of a sugar free existence, most of us are not capable of severing the addiction (and diet drinks don't count, we all know that is like taking heroin to cure alcoholism).

Sugar is Thy Enemy!

Why would a kind Creator give us sugar, and then make it deleterious to our health!  Well the truth is nature gave us fruit.  Fruit in its whole state, and in reasonable moderation is very healthful. True it does contain sucrose and fructose, but it is full of enzymes, vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants.  In other words it is balanced, it is a whole food.  Man on the other hand was not satisfied. We figured out how to separate the sugar from the healthy stuff! How very clever... and how very dangerous.

Unfortunately for us, we have done this with almost every source of carbohydrate.  We strip grain down to the bare essence of flour, which once in our body acts the same as sweet ol' sugar. Polished and bleached rice is another example. We pull all the vitamins and nutrients out of a food, and then try to get it back in a vitamin pill.

One big problem is that these stripped down sugars are creating advanced glycation end products (AGE's) in our body.  AGE's are the equivalent of rust, in fact it works in much the same way.

Ageless or AGE's

What happens is that we consume sugar. That sugar molecule ends up in our bloodstream, and attaches itself to a protein.  The problem occurs when there is excess sugar in the bloodstream. The sugar binds to protein without the necessary enzyme to guide the process.  This process is called glycation. The enzyme can be seen as the manager who oversees the process, and makes sure everything is done correctly. Things can become chaotic without this enzyme. If enough sugar is consumed over time, and enough glycation occurs we end up with advanced glycation end products. These abnormal proteins have a way of binding together, and creating the equivalent of a junkyard in your body.  One end result is cataracts. Since AGE's have a predilection for collagen proteins, one of their first footholds is saggy, wrinkly skin. Ditto weak joints, bones, tendons and even lungs and arteries.

Gary Taubes, in Good Calories, Bad Calories states "AGE's and the glycation process also appear to play at least one critical role directly in heart disease, by causing the oxidation of LDL particles and so causing the LDL and its accompanying cholesterol to become trapped in the artery wall, which is an early step in the atherosclerotic process. Oxidized LDL also appears to be resistant to removal from the circulation by the normal mechanisms, which would also serve to increase the LDL levels in the blood. As it turns out, LDL is particularly susceptible to oxidation by reactive oxygen species and to glycation."

In other words dietary cholesterol is all well and good for the body until it is placed in jeopardy by high blood sugar.  The sugar binds with the cholesterol and through glycation causes it to become a hardened plaque. In the meantime it is also binding with collagen in artery walls, and they become stiffer and less flexible with age (or should I say AGE's).

Beat the Odds

Fortunately if we are eating a natural primitive diet there will be a very limited amount of sugar in the bloodstream.  Meats, nuts, and vegetables contain almost no sugar.  Fruits have a small, but manageable amount of sugar.  If we eat fruit only when they are in season, it helps us to limit the amount we eat and maximizes the freshness and therefore overall nutrition of a fruit. Winters in Chicago would definitely be fruitless (pun mildly intended)!  Still, if you find yourself choosing between chocolate cake or an orange, go for the orange. Hell eat the whole bag of oranges.

The image at the top was taken from Sugar Stacks, a highly entertaining and informative pictorial of the amount of sugar in common food products.