I've written rather extensively about dieting on this site in the past, and have used my own experience as well as my training in the past 3 years of medical school to back it up, hopefully to help people get on a sustainable path to a healthier life. Unfortunately, all the while my own lifestyle is saddled with a bit of hypocrisy. While I rail against bad lifestyle on here, my own personal diet is basically an abominable heap of shit.
I don't consume soda, sweets, or carb-loaded snacks, but I eat fast food nearly every day out of convenience. The only reason my weight has been controlled is daily exercise including weights, trail running, and mountain biking. It's always been my contention that no matter how busy you are, you can always find time and energy for self-maintenance. Moreover, health should be a priority up there with whatever personal or professional things you're doing--as it's equally important to long term success in life.
Unfortunately, the delicate balance between my activity level and my shit-eating was upset recently due to a rather horrific accident. On a beautiful day last October, I was running alone on a secluded mountain trail by my home. My only care in the world was that my knee had been sprained a few weeks prior and I had a slight limp even before I started. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do, but I uttered the famous last words "what's the worst that can happen?" and hobbled on. Every step was somewhat painful, and it didn't take long for the limp to get worse. Finally, I was making my way down a gravel embankment when my foot slipped and my knee gave way. I let out a loud "FAAAHHHHHHRGH!!" and ended up on my back. Confused and breathless from the pain I looked down at my leg, only to find my right knee cap had moved from its normal anterior perch to the outside of my knee. I had laterally displaced my patella. I quickly reached down and relocated it (by squeezing the lateral thigh and passively extending the joint) and it slipped back into place with a loud "POP". Relieved, I laid back down to catch my breath and collect myself.
As I lay there in the sun, watching my aching knee joint swell with blood, I calculated the recovery time, plotting out the weeks to come and how I was going to bounce back. I figured I'd be on this trail again in 2 months at nearly full speed--a slightly depressing thought, but oddly amusing. Finally my brother arrived with a knee wrap and a walking stick and I made my way back to my car. What I didn't realize was the amount of effort and pain involved with recovery. With the torn muscles and lack of use, my thigh atrophied extremely quickly. Within 3 days it was noticeable, within a week it was rather freakish. I could walk on the knee (and did for my 35+ hours a week at work), but the limp was exhausting and excruciating. I didn't run again for 2 months, and even then my knee would swell following each attempt. I couldn't even use a weight bench for 4 weeks because my knee wouldn't flex past 30 degrees.
It's now been five months since that day and things still aren't close to what they were. My home-brewed rehab regimen has been fairly effective, but has its own ups and downs. All the while, the stresses in my professional life have been mounting and calorie intake has remained constant. Finally, a few weeks ago I was doing BMI calculations on some patients only to find I've been fluctuating over the 25.0 mark--the technical definition of "overweight." I know that BMI is a highly imperfect measurement, especially for my body type, however the fact remains that I'm not in the shape I want to be.
So what's to be done? Well I guess I need to get off my ass and take my own advice. I'm not going to track my progress on here very closely as I'm far too busy, but I'll try to update every few days. This represents an opportunity to demonstrate the efficacy of proper diet and exercise. With my work (and study) hours being consistent with or beyond those of the average American, hopefully this will also demonstrate time constraints are no excuse. Either that or I'll gain 60 pounds and join Blues Traveller.
Today is March 26, 2010, I'm 6'1", 181 pounds (BMI: 23.9; Body Fat: ~17%) -- we'll call this Day 1. (399,510)
In this article, they're basically saying 'junk food' is bad, and stating that 'processed food' is synonymous with 'junk food', and therefore also bad.
Of course with the UK waddling down the trail blazed by the US in regards to unhealthiness and lard-buttedness, they're having increased incidence of gluttony-N-sloth-related illnesses.
Depression, of course, is one of them.
The problem with making the leap from depression to processed food is that unprocessed food can and does lead to just as many problems as processed. If you find me a 100% organic cheesecake that wont make you as fat as a processed one, I'll find you the ring of power and a hole to stick it.
The only link between processed food and obesity is that processed food is cheaper and that the moniker applies to more foods. For instance, you can't find unprocessed Ho-Hos, therefore that's one food that is worse for you than its 'organic' counterpart ... the infamous imaginary organic Ho-Ho (now with < 0 calories!). On a 'No Processed Foods Diet', you have to cut out foods such as Sodas, Twinkies, and Fast Food--all of which are verboten in ANY OTHER DIET.
Obesity, in all but a few cases, requires a huge amount of food to maintain. "There were no fat people in Auschwitz", as the saying goes, and likewise there are few obese people who don't eat too much.
One obvious advantage to an 'organic' diet is that it is invariably more expensive, and therefore you have to eat less. With that also comes less access to food since many dining establishments wont serve 'guaranteed organic'. This results in an additional de facto diet restriction.
Another advantage to 'organic' foods is that they are often fresher and therefore taste better. Taste is an obvious yet commonly overlooked part of sticking to a healthy diet. However, there's no rule saying processed foods can't be just as fresh and tasty as unprocessed, nor is there a rule saying organic is always fresher.
Heck, I've eaten TONS of organic foods that taste worse than store-bought produce or even FROZEN foods! I bought some 'organic' tortilla chips the other day that were stale, gross, and less healthy than generic cheap crap. I think some people see the 'organic' stamp and convince their senses it must taste better because it's organic. WRONG. The only things organic food 'must' do are cost more and be sold by hippies.
Make no mistake though, if you mixed all the natural ingredients of a McDonald's meal together in a blender--even without their added preservatives and whatnot--and chugged that sucker down, you'd still be just as big a fat ass as just buying them freeze-dried, re-fried, and laced with formaldehyde. Carbs are carbs, fat is fat, so why not save some money, get some discipline, and eat right... or you could 'be an individual' like everybody else and sell your soul to Whole Foods and 400% markups. (268,955)
Today, I wrapped up a weekend of Italian food adventure with a trip to Pizza Fusion in Mesa to check out their organic pies and general vibe. It's very hard to find restaurants that serve organic chow in Phoenix, and I'm a stone-cold pizza fanatic, so I was uber stoked to experience this joint.
Now, when I mention my pizza fanaticism affliction, I'm not kidding around. I was a regular haunter of Bianco's before it blew up and turned into a day trip instead of a date, and I've pored over every word of Jeff Varsano's blog like it was Henry Jones' Grail diary. Pizza gets created from scratch weekly in the DiBiase haus, and if there's a pizza on a menu, I order it. The way that some guys treat wine, I treat my ancestral home's gift to the universe.
Pizza Fusion is a small multi-state chain that started in 2006, but I never heard of it until local cool person K. Van Slyke (@KrysVS) mentioned it today. They sling organic flatbreads, pizzas, salads, and beer. We hit the joint at 3pm for Happy Hour, when drinks and certain appetizers are half-price.
First off, I'll express appreciation for Pizza Fusion's choice of brand in my preferred libation, soda water : they offer Boylan's, which even for a greaseball like me is a welcome change from the ubiquitous San Pellegrino. Boylan's comes in 12-ounce bottles with nice 50s-style graphics that please the lamp. My co-diners K.J. Van Slyke, W. Nash, and T. Trainor filled their 'Lil Jon' chalices with Lost Coast Great White and New Belgium Blue Paddle. The draft beers were $2 per pint -- unbeatable pricing, especially on a Sunday. There was a significant selection of organic beers on tap, including an $11 pint whose label insisted that the beer was free of crustaceans!
Notes on atmosphere : the whole place is slathered in strangely-attractive green paint, with digital prints everywhere that are emblazoned with green slogans. The prints are a little hokey, but nothing really bothered me until I got to the bathroom, the mirror inside which has the words "This person is changing the world" written on the bottom BAAARF . Some points were won back, though, after I tried the hand dryer, which appears to be a reclaimed jet engine from a downed MIG or something -- it's one powerful blower! My hands were drier than a boozehound in Bridgewater, Connecticut after about ten seconds. One thing that was really great was the countertop of the bar, which was made of concrete mixed with recycled glass and high-polished; a cool touch. The manger told us that everything -- building materials, paint, chairs, etc, are totally green'd out, made from reclaimed stuff when possible, and LEED-certified. It's a nice gesture for sure.
Van Slyke ordered up and graciously shared the flatbread appetizer with marinara, which was pretty good. The flatbread had good texture and wasn't too heavily-seasoned (the latter being a common pitfall of wack flatbread); the marinara was tangy and not bitter or overly-sweet.
There was no pizza Margherita on the menu (what the hoot!?), so we strong-armed our host into making us one, with a multigrain crust. In reality, the guy was more than happy to make us the requested pie -- super nice fellow with fresh ink on his arm that offered us excellent service and didn't complain as we proceeded to nerdily occupy his bar for the next three hours.
A chicken -topped salad was ordered as well. The chow was served with good speed. The manager informed us that 75% of the ingredients are certified organic with the balance 25% being non-certified but 'all-natural,' pesticide-free.
[This last point is worth mentioning -- I've been speaking about the iffiness of the "organic" certification for a while, as it still allows a fair number of chemicals both natural and synthetic, and foods only need to be 95% organic to meet certificate standards. Places that eschew bad chemicals completely but don't jump through the government hoops to get certified, like Desert Roots Farm for example, are more desirable to deal with than mass-produced "certified organic" producers (many of which have lately been rocked with scandal).]
The pizza verdict :
The oblong pie was good, though the most crucial aspect, the crust, didn't have a lot to do with my concept of what pizza crust is about. It was very dense and totally flat. The denseness is probably partially attributable to the heavy multigrain dough; as an amateur pizzaiolo myself, I can attest that whole-grain doughs don't rise as much as white doughs do. Still, there were no air pockets or structure at all -- weird. So I asked the nice manager guy if they rolled the dough out; it happens that they feed it through some kind of flattening robot before loading it into the fancy rotary oven. I'd have much preferred a nicely structured hand-shaped crust. These issues aside, the crust had very good flavor; not too salty and with plenty of interesting grain flavors. The outside was well-charred after a nine-minute cook time. I asked what the oven temperature was set at, expecting it to be in the 700 Fahrenheit degree range; it turned out to be 525, just 25 degrees more than a standard residential oven (which never char well) can get. Props to the oven designers for getting great results at low heat. The crust was also confirmed made in-house, which is a philosophically important point. [Note : they do offer gluten-free crust, but it's not made on-site]
The crust was very crunchy and satisfying to eat; i enjoyed it. It had a real hearty texture that complemented the riot of grain flavors.
The sauce had good flavor and excellent color, though I suspect that it may have been pre-made and bottled rather than made that day from whole tomatoes; it didn't have that fresh kick that just-made sauce has. It wasn't bitter, grainy, over-sugared, or flavorless though; instead, it was a mild, soft-textured sauce.
The fresh mozzarella was undoubtedly the real deal, judging from the characteristic uneven melt pattern. It had a pretty firm texture and wasn't too salty -- nice choice. Mozzarella is probably th' least important ingredient in a pie, but it's much appreciated when they don't skimp on it.
The chicken salad thing was big enough to feed MC Hammer's posse circa 1992. Massive, it was like a huge platter of vibrant greens topped by about a pound of diced chicken breast and accompanied by two vessels of Chelten House Raspberry Vinaigrette. I don't eat birds, so I can't attest to the flavor of the salad directly, but my compatriots seemed very well pleased and scarfed it down like a college kid with an overdue assignment and a bag of Chee-Tos [Am i projecting too much here?] I did sample the vinaigrette, which ranks with my favorite flavored dressings -- specifically, it's not overly sweetened. Nice choice.
The bottom line : Pizza Fusion has good food, though it's not in tune with my preferences for "pizza proper." Tasty and not your average pie, though; a welcome new flavor in flatbread. The beverages and pricing were outstanding. The atmosphere, while a little overwrought, was sufficiently inviting. And the recycled-glass-n-concrete countertop and the hi-power hand dryer were nifty bonuses. the fact that they use strictly organic and pesticide-free ingredients alone makes it a must-visit for Phoenicians who like to avoid poison.
Nicholas' EatHouse Rating : B+
A window into the DiBiase pizza method and results :
Above you'll see my preferred sauce ingredients : very fresh local pesticide-free Roma and little yellow tomatoes and fresh garlic, all from Desert Roots Farm. The tomatoes are de-seeded and crushed with a hand blender; never cooked. It takes less than ten minutes to make the raw sauce, including washing time. The cheese on this pie was Trader Joe's very good organic shredded mozzarella; the knife of choice is a Wusthof Classic. Not shown in this shot : fresh basil, also from Desert Roots; organic olive oil; true Pecorino Romano cheese, which I apply liberally (even though it voids the 'true Margherita' status, it's hella tasty).
This dough has lots of structure; it's prepped the night before using only flour (one-third whole wheat, two-thirds unbleached white; all organic), water, yeast, and salt. I knead it by hand (even though I should probably start using the pictured KitchenAid mixer for efficiency's sake) and it ferments in the fridge overnight for best flavor. The dough is at just about 50% hydration before cooking; very wet indeed. I prefer it like this to promote structure. In defiance of the Neapolitan rules, I coat my hands with olive oil before hand-shaping in the air. The entire dough process from mixing to shaping only takes about 5 minutes, fermentation time excluded.
The results : Delicious pizza. The crust is thicker and puffier than the Neapolitain rules alllow, but that's just how I've come to like it. The 500-degree maximum heat on my oven precludes good charring, sadly. The sauce tastes incredibly fresh, yummy, and flavorful, with a strong hint of garlic kick. I like my pizzas that use shredded mozzarella to be very cheesy [I use fresh mozz more sparingly]. The basil is put on the pie about 5 minutes into an 11-minute cook time. I used to cook for only 8 minutes, but have come to value a more-cooked crust with cheese at the edge.
Scratch-made organic pizza is a taste revolution! Once you start taking command of your pizza supply chain, you'll be rocketed into unexplored realms of deliciousness. Give it a shot and demand better pizza from your local pizza joint! (723,710)
The PhD who taught us nutrition at our medical school was this old skinny vegetarian guy who, after three decades of teaching, still had a modicum of enthusiasm for professing, but none left for research. On the rare occasions he did update his lectures, he'd do it by just adding an addendum to his PowerPoints stating the exact opposite of what he'd just spent 45 minutes talking about. Through no fault of his own, he taught us the folly of thinking you know everything, and the skepticism required when dealing with statistics and studies.
One thing that always did strike me as extremely solid, however, is the role of potassium in diet. After going through a list of foods that were high in potassium, I could see right away one immutable fact: If you are American, you are almost certainly potassium deficient.
At the time, I was new to biochemistry working hard to get through it, but I kept this thought in my head until my physiology teacher finally taught me what potassium does.
Special K+ Makes Kidneys Happy
The most important function of the kidney is to regulate electrolytes (for reasons I'll get to later). A close second, however, is management of blood pressure (BP). Without adequate blood pressure, your tissues run out of oxygen and nutrients, and then die.
The kidney produces urine at a roughly constant rate 24 hours a day. 20% of blood volume that goes through the kidney ends up in urine. This ends up being about 34 gallons of urine per day.
You may saying "Listen idiot, you need to learn some math. 34 gallons would weigh 280 pounds. Converting to metric, that's about 1,400 milli-Oprahs a day. I'd have to drink like 70 Mountain Dew big-gulps to keep up with that!"
The reason why you don't end up peeing out all that liquid is because the kidney reabsorbs what it wants to keep. The nutrients it chooses to reabsorb with that water depend on the hormone levels in your blood that tell your kidney what to do (there are many).
The problem with this kind of biological machine is that it's not very exact when it comes to blood pressure.
The kidney manages blood pressure in part by regulating the total amount of urine excreted. One of the mechanisms it uses to do this is by actively pumping sodium into the urine. The higher salinity of the urine will draw water from the body through osmosis. More water in urine means less water in the blood.
The reverse is also true: The more sodium you have in your blood, the less urine you will pee. This is why high-salt diets cause high blood pressure.
One such pump is actually a molecular machine (enzyme) that exchanges a single potassium ion (K+) for a single sodium ion (Na+)--one at a time. This sounds ineffective, but it when you consider that there are millions of these things each moving faster than a migrant worker at an AFLCIO meeting, you realize that it is more than adequate.
The problem with this particular pump is that the urine has to have an equal amount of potassium to the amount of sodium you want pump into the urine (and remember, the more sodium you pee out, the more water comes with it, and therefore the lower your blood pressure is).
You see where I'm going with this?
Being as how you need potassium to reduce your blood pressure, if you're potassium deficient like most Americans, you're going to have higher blood pressure.
So Should I Eat More Potassium or Less Sodium?
The Unrealistic Dick™ answer is "both." However, the more useful answer could actually be potassium!
In a study done of blacks (who are less tolerant of sodium than whites), it was found that higher potassium diets lowered blood pressure better than restricting sodium in the diet.
Potassium is also highly effective at lowering blood pressure in whites, but it's inconclusive how much.
What about asians? I'm not sure. You guys can use google as well as I can though.
Obviously reducing your sodium is a smart thing to do, so don't totally overlook it. Nor should you think you can get away with eating more of Mr Ed's salt-lick just because you're eating more bananas. Though technically you can, it's incredibly tough to gauge your salt and potassium levels without a blood test (remember what I said about BP not being exact?)
Great! So I'll Just Take a Potassium Pill Then!
"No you fucking wont, asshole!" -- Food and Drug Administration
The problem with taking too much potassium is that having too much potassium in your blood will upset the electrical system of every cell in your body... This includes your heart. High potassium in your blood will literally cause your heart to short-out and start misfiring.
Ahh, now you know why electrolyte balance is the most important thing the kidney maintains: Your heart wont pump right without it.
So why does the FDA say you can't have it in multivitamins? The simple answer is that Americans are, for the most part, damnable idiots that can't be trusted.
People overdose on vitamins all the time, and it so happens that taking too much potassium will kill you in just a few minutes. Compare this with taking too much vitamin A, which takes weeks or months to die of.
So what the hell do I eat then?
Luckily, high potassium foods are usually quite good for you. In general, we're talking about high fiber foods, green vegetables, and certain fruit.
Also, there is no risk of overdosing on potassium from eating it in foods unless you have certain medical conditions.
Here's a list of some really good ones that are easy to throw into just about any diet:
Okay maybe that was an overreaction. Some of my best friends are vegetarians, I swear!
Really, all you need to do is eat more veggies. As you can see from the above list, staples of the vegetarian diet are very high in potassium. That, combined with the way meats are usually seasoned (read: bacon) is why vegetarians usually have lower blood pressure.
With just a few, albeit painful, changes to your carnivorous lifestyle, you may be able to avoid being stuck on a blood pressure pill. The best part is, changes in blood pressure can be seen within a few days.Electrolyte consideration in diet and weight loss is curative for hypertension in the majority of those who have it.
Addendum on black licorice: For those who don't know, black licorice is a disgusting candy eaten by home-schooled children, old ladies, and goths. Black licorice has a chemical that acts similar to a certain salt-regulating hormone (aldosterone) and can decrease blood potassium levels. It is for this reason that you should NOT eat large amounts of black licorice. The level of the chemical varies in each batch, and too much can kill you. This became news a few years ago because people lady died after eating nearly a half pound of it per day. Can you guess her symptoms?: High blood pressure and muscle (including heart muscle) weakness.
Update: black licorice addendum needed to be corrected, as it was backwards: It is certainly not a diuretic, but a pressor. (355,187)
There's a simmering icy volatility deep in the reality crevice tonight. I can feel the parasite crows pecking away at the chinks in my spiritual armor. When I start to feel like that, I know that there's only two things that can help me : a stiff dose of The Book of Joel, and some delicious and effortless flatbread.
Flatbread as we understand here it has a lot in common with pizza, but is less formal and not subject to the strict pizza rules. This is like the distinction between a Reuben and a standard sandwich -- one is a highly Platonic construct that borders on religion, and the other is a broad category of expedient chow. It's impossible to mess up a flatbread -- it's like fingerpainting with dough and toppings.
This flatbread, which I call the Collegiate, is one of my favorites for late-night wolf action and subsequent lunch noshing. I start, as always, with a modified version of Jeff Varasano's dough recipe, some of which I keep started in my fridge most always. Ideally, you want this stuff to sit in the fridge overnight and be ready to go when you make the bread, but I've also made this work with just a couple hours' autolyse and rise time. Note that the modified Varsano dough is very, very wet; this is because I like this flatbread to be crazily-formed, fairly dense, and yet with structure. Experiment with your own ratios of flour to water if so inclined.
Step 1 : the modified Varasano dough :
1 cup warm filtered water 1 cup organic whole wheat flour 1 cup organic unbleached white flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon yeast
Step 2 : the toppings :
Freshly grated Romano cheese -- don't skimp -Note on cheese and poisons : I always get organic cheese if buying American, but make exceptions for Italian and someother European cheeses. Dairy farming standards are a lot different over there, and I'm more confident in the wholesomeness of the 'normal' cheeses from those countries. Also, I've never seen an organic authentic Romano. Just consume it, like all cheese, in wise moderation 3 cloves fresh organic garlic, sliced Organic extra-virgin olive oil
^^ these are the basics, but you can pretty much put anything on a flatbread. I like to chop some pistachios and put them on there, for example, or sliced green olives or any vegetable
Combine the water and yeast in glass bowl; stir until yeast is dissolved. Add flour in half-cup increments and mix with fork as you add. Add salt and mix until mass is thoroughly wet, soggy, and shaggy. Let sit out for at least 20 minutes -- I usually let it go for up to an hour, until it starts to rise a bit. This is the autolyse period, when the structure of the dough begins.
Lightly grease the inside of a small glass bowl with olive oil.
Turn dough out onto flat, floured surface and knead for a bit, turning the dough over and in on itself and squashing it down with the ball of your hands. Keep the surface and your hands floured to avoid sticking. During this stage, I usually end up letting about a quarter-cup or so of flour get soaked into the very hydrous dough mass as I knead. Knead for a minute or two -- the more you knead, the more structure your dough will have when done; however, this isn't pizza dough, so don't worry about achieving Varasano's 'windowpane' effect. Since this is lazy flatbread, I usually knock it off after about a Ramones song length. Of course, if you have a strong stand mixer, by all means use that instead.
When kneading is complete, form the "gluten cloak" on the dough ball (stretching its surface over itself and pinching in back) and set it seam-down in the greased glass bowl. If leaving overnight, cover and place in fridge; if just letting rise for a few hours, leave out on counter.
When dough has sufficiently risen (about doubled in volume), fire up your oven to 500 Farenheit degrees or as high as it'll go. You want to start heating up your baking stone about an hour in advance to get the best crust result from an electric oven.
Get your Romano grated, your garlic sliced, and your olive oil ready to pour. Stage everything so you can get to it real quick. Lightly flour your pizza paddle with rice flour to prevent sticking (rice flour is what you want to use for this, it's the move). Here comes the hard part.
Get the dough out of the bowl by flopping it out onto your hand, then start working it into a vague disc shape, taking care not to pop the 'bubbles' in the dough. Handle it gently; no need to throw the thing at the ceiling fan, but do kind of rotate it on your hands. When more or less flat, set it on the pizza paddle and push it into final shape with your fingers as quickly as possible. Remember : every second it sits on that paddle is another second for moisture to soak through and make the dough stick. i like my flatbread to be wildly shaped, with a modest roll to the crust perimeter.
NOTE : if you don't have a pizza paddle and stone, build directly on the baking pan you'll use to cook the bread on.
When shaped, apply the olive oil to the dough so that you have a thin coating over the surface with a few small pools for Italian charm. Then, quickly distribute the garlic slices across the dough, followed by the grated Romano and any other toppings. Again, speed is key, and it's OK if it looks a little sloppy.
Get that thing into the oven pronto! If you've done it right, it should transfer to the stone with little or no sticking and start a-cookin' Cook for not more than 7 minutes (if your over is 500 degrees). When done, cheese will have browned somewhat and crust will have taken on a light-brown coloring and feel hollow when tapped.
When done, take out of the oven, let sit for a minute or two, then slice and scarf! Generally, one of these will make a 14" flatbread and feed two very well.
All this sounds more involved than it is. Since time does most of the dough work (just like the New York Hassle-Free Bread), it's really just an assembly process once the cheese is grated.
This flatbread is great dipped in soups (thick like broccoli-leek or thin like minestrone) and is the perfect platform for any ingredients / toppings you feel like adding. The fiber from the whole wheat flour and the olive oil kind of counteract some of its carb-bomb attributes. It's an all-occasion staple in the Hank house.
Stay tuned for more tasty, poison-free organic bread recipes! Just don't tell Dr. Roe, OK? (287,932)
Last time on Poisoned foods, I ended with a teaser about the artificial sweetener Aspartame (NutraSweet) and made the blanket statement that it shouldn't be used by dogs, cats, rats, or, I guess, you.
There's this old lore floating around which may or not be true regarding the Romans and lead pipes. Roman plumbers used to use lead because it was cheap and extremely easy to work with--low melting point, very soft, etc. In fact, the latin word for "plumber" is named after their word for lead, "plumbum." Lead is a rather annoying poison with subtle effects like infertility, anemia, and mental retardation when exposed at low levels for long periods of time. Some even claim that lead poisoning contributed to the decline of Rome.
It's a fascinating story, but it may not actually be true. The Roman people were exposed to a lot of lead, but the pipes may not have been to blame. Sucrose (found in cane sugar) was extremely scarce in ancient Rome, so they sweetened their foods with, among other things, defrutum, carenum, and sapa. These were basically all the same but sapa is the most concentrated form, and was highly sought-after. Roman prostitutes were sometimes even paid in sapa. The problem with these sweeteners was that one of the main components was, you guessed it: plumbum.
Cato (a Roman senator, philosopher, and cooking hobbyist) wrote about how sapa should be used in moderation--noting the agitation and nervousness accompanying acute lead poisoning. However, since it didn't actually kill anyone, and the health effects were subtle, their use continued to be very popular.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Organic Foods
Unfortunately, like many subjects on the internet with maybe a tiny glimmer of truth to them, google results for "Aspartame" are inundated with a shitstorm of nonsense. Most of this, of course, is propagated by morally gray competitors and cult-like followers of "organic foods."
In the case of aspartame, I believe the main driving force behind most of the FUD can be summed up in a single word: Stevia. Stevia is a "natural artificial sweetener." That's right, it's both natural and artificial. Mind-blowing, isn't it?
Like all things natural, it has to be better for you.
Here are some other things that are natural (and therefore "good for you"): - Cyanide - Arsenic - Acetone (paint thinner)
Cyanide is a deadly poison found in cashew nuts (especially the shells). Arsenic is found naturally in soil (especially in Bangladesh--where it gives cancer to thousands every year via the groundwater). Acetone is a "ketone body" made in tiny quantities by the liver when you haven't eaten in a few days. In larger quantities, it is deadly-toxic to the liver and kidneys.
So now that we're sold on natural bull-crap, we'd better turn around and put some hate on heavily synthetic products like aspartame. Let's just find all the dumb-ass, nonsensical FUD we can and repeat it like it's gospel.
Unfortunately, this is the thinking that wasted a good half hour of my time today when I went to research this subject.
Aspartame IS bad for you. However, that doesn't mean 99% of what you read about it isn't BS put out there by Stevia salesmen and natural food ex-hippie failures to get you to switch to their products.
As an aside, according to this wikipedia article, among the patchouli-infused cloud-O-stupid that surrounds this issue, there was some sort of elaborate hoax related to spreading rumors around about how aspartame managed to get through FDA approval due to some mass corruption in the system. Actually aspartame did have a tough time getting though, but there was no actual documented corruption, as far as we know.
Of course, this begs the question: even if aspartame did manage to get through the FDA smoothly, does this mean shit? Not only can the FDA not find their ass with both hands, but they really only test what they can find in laboratories. Can lab rats tell you if they have headaches or feel lethargic? Is this some new hip music that I don't understand?
By whatever mechanism, aspartame does raise insulin levels. This causes lower blood sugar and increases appetite. Though it likely doesn't result in weight gain directly, it would definitely make it harder to exercise and lose weight. Studies have shown people who switch from regular soda to diet do not lose weight (or the other way around). This is probably why.
Aspartame mongers will respond to this fact by referring you to the recent large study done of aspartame and insulin. In this study, participants saw no significant changes in insulin levels. However, this is kind of moot, because all the participants were type II diabetics, who are by definition jacked on insulin and resistant to it at the same time! Other, smaller studies done previously show the correlation quite significantly.
Personally, I'm not a diabetic, are you? You are? Oh, okay, you may eat aspartame, but the other 92% of Americans will have to abstain.
While I seriously doubt aspartame products raise insulin levels high enough to cause severe hypoglycemia (life-threatening), moderate hypoglycemia (AKA hunger) is still not good for losing weight or resisting the urge to punch people in the head at random intervals throughout your day (it's harder for some of us than others.).
Aspartame, when broken down in the body, turns into four chemicals (by the way, the first 3 are all naturally-occurring): Methanol -- The shit in moonshine that makes you go blind. Phenylalanine -- The shit that is a cause of severe mental retardation in infants. Aspartic Acid -- an "excitotoxin" that damages nerve cells. Aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine -- May turn into a chemical that causes brain tumors.
Now, the question is: how are the above tolerated by the human body in the quantities included in, say, the standard 16oz Diet Coke. That's the question right there: Given that all these chemicals are bad, are the low doses ingested with every piece of gum or soda enough to cause illness?
The truth is fairly complicated, and the research (what little there is) states that whatever the health issues with aspartame, they're probably fairly subtle, unless you have a predisposing medical condition.
One of the problems with research is that poisons can work very differently. In the case of carcinogens, low levels for long periods of time can kill you. In the case of acutely poisonous materials, it's more about blood-concentration than total amount. The body can handle almost anything as long as it doesn't overpower the natural metabolic pathways, but once you get past those, the poisons can wreak serious havoc. It all depends on the poison.
Another problem is that it's nearly impossible to detect extremely diffuse damage. If 1,000 random and non-contiguous neurons die in your brain within the next 5 minutes, you might notice, but tests would reveal nothing--even if they opened up your skull and dissected your brain!
Keep that in mind when reading studies: They can only report on what they can quantify, and they can only quantify what they can detect with equipment. If a test subject says "Yo doc, I feel like festering putrid ballsack over here," the study may not have a standardized ballsack detection device on hand to verify his "anecdotal" claims. Therefore, that information may get thrown out--especially if the data is collected by worthless good-for-nothing grad students.
Let's start with methanol. Methanol does cause blindness and even death in large doses. The aspartame manufacturers claim that since there are higher levels of methanol in say, an apple, than in a diet coke that it makes aspartame safe by comparison. While, strictly speaking, there is more methanol in apples than Diet Coke, this argument discounts the fact that the blood level of methanol goes up disproportionately higher in aspartame-laden sodas than in an apple. This is because apples have pectin and fiber and junk that slows the rate at which the methanol enters the blood stream. In fact, much of the methanol in fruit does not get absorbed at all!
It's common sense: taking any chemical on an empty stomach will increase blood-levels faster--same principle. Does methanol cause problems for people who eat aspartame? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that it passes through the blood-brain barrier much easier after physical activity, which may not have been factored into the big aspartame studies.
Phenylalanine is kind of a mixed bag. Phenylalanine is a vital amino acid, which means it's necessary for people to consume at least some of it in their diet. For some people, however, high doses can have serious side effects. When fetuses, infants, or small children are given high doses of phenylalanine, it causes severe mental retardation. This doesn't actually occur very often, because the body is quite good at breaking it down. However, in some people, this is not the case, and they (or their children) suffer. The inability to break down phenylalanine properly is called phenylketonuria (PKU). In this rare but serious disease, blood-levels of phenylalanine can be extremely high. In adults, this doesn't usually cause problems... unless they're pregnant. Pregnant mothers with PKU need to watch their diet, or risk poisoning their unborn children. Children are regularly screened for PKU so they can be put on a low-phenylalanine diet until they grow up.
Phenylalanine is definitely okay and even necessary for the vast majority of people--not that it matters, considering the levels in aspartame containing foods are not really that high. Interesting note: Phenylalanine is also metabolized into adrenaline.
Aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine is a weird one. Apparently it could possibly turn into some chemical that might cause brain tumors. I call bullshit, this seems a little far-fetched to me.
Aspartic acid, on the other hand, is kind of a wild card. It is an excitotoxin, which means it does increase neuronal activity and, in high enough concentrations, neuron death. Not a whole lot has been studied with lower aspartic acid levels as far as clinical effects, but it is likely the source of the anecdotal reports of headaches (which are very real, and I've personally done double-blind experiments verifying them). Whether or not aspartame products raise the levels of aspartic acid high enough to cause damage, let alone significant damage, is unknown at present. What we do know is what it does in higher doses is scary.
In cases like aspartame, you have to go with simple facts: half of its byproducts are evil poisons, and there are plenty of alternatives out there. It seems aspartame fans and manufacturers are making an awful lot of excuses to try and keep people on the stuff. What a total waste of time: it's sketchy biochemistry and it's a totally unnecessary product attempting to supplant many that were already proven cheap and safe.
I'd recommend just stop trying to cheat calorie intake and use good old-fashioned sugar in moderation...
Woops, I forgot: this is America... Moderation is not an option, let's all switch to Splenda. (249,976)
The kids on the Internet seem to find this site when they're looking for organic bread recipes, like the one I wrote last year. Pretty encouraging, huh? Poison-free food is for everybody. That recipe is pretty labor-intensive, though, and I'd hate folks to get turned off from the home-baking thing because of the hassle factor.
So, in the spirit of the classic New York Times no-knead five-minute bread recipe, here's the preferred Easy Organic Bread Recipe, now heavily favored for daily use at the house of Hank. The wife and I now often use the Dutch oven method recommended by the NYT instead of direct-on-stone baking; it really keeps the steam in contact with the bread and eliminates the need to spray or baste with water, making a crispier crust. Winner! You can do this recipe as no-knead, but I'm a kneading fool, so I recommend a light knead for this recipe.
2 cups organic whole wheat flour 1 cup organic white flour (unbleached, natch) 1.75 cups warm filtered water ~ 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) !/2 teaspoon yeast
Dissolve yeast in water; whisk. Add flour in half-cup increments, and then add salt, mixing in with a fork until a loose, shaggy mass is achieved. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, let sit out on counter overnight -- ideally, for about 24 hours. This period is when the flavor and gluten develop; it's like a super autolyse.
It's going to get huge. The next day, flop it out onto a smooth floured surface and knead for a little bit, folding the dough over on itself, pressing and turning, keeping the surface dusted with just enough flour to prevent it from sticking to your hands. I knead this version for about a minute and a half. After kneading, you form the so-called "gluten cloak" by stretching the dough's surface over itself and pinching a seam in the back -- imagine that you're making the surface smooth and making it into a round ball by closing it on itself . This makes for a nice crust. Then, wipe the inside of a glass bowl with a little organic olive oil and place the dough seam-down in there.
Let it rise, covered, in the bowl for two hours. Then, lightly flour the bottom of a Dutch oven (note : this is just fancy speak for a big put with a cover that you can put into the real oven -- we use this :
Preheat your oven to 450 to 475 degrees (depending on your oven -- mine is wack, so I set it high).
Carefully release the dough from the oiled bowl and put it, seam-down, into this floured Dutch oven. Sprinkle a little flour on top for looks. Put the lid on the thing.
Bake covered for 30 minutes, then (using an oven mitt yo) remove the lid and bake four about another 15 to 20 minutes. When the bread is browned on top, and sounds hollow when tapped with a fork, it's done. Cool well on a wire rack, slice up, and enjoy with some nice cheese or butter (such as our favorite, Beurre d'Isigny).
You'll find that this Dutch oven method really gets the crust happening. It's like having your own, tiny, professional steam-injected oven.
If you want more substance in your bread, you can add soft wheat berries (my personal fave), raisins, rye berries, millet, etc, in the initial mixing stage.
Do more for yourself. Learn to self-suffice. Start eating poison-free.
Note for people with brains : bread is a high-carbohydrate food. This recipe has plenty of fiber, so it's not like eating a stack of Wonder Bread, but for those following Dr Roe's poison-free diet advice (and you all should be), eat this and other carby stuff in wise moderation, with vegetables and stuff. (270,806)
Last time on poisoned foods, I explained how PhDs are full of crap, and how it is that this comes to effect doctors and their advice to patients (you).
Unfortunately, this time I'm going to have to get a little bit more scientific on you. Sorry for the diversion, but once you understand at least some of the science behind metabolism, you too will be able to "call bullshit" on the PhDs. They'd like to keep science confined to the narrow confines of their tiny pinheads, but the reality is that science is for everybody, and it doesn't take an especially smart person (or someone who just thinks they're smart, in the case of the PhD) to come to conclusions based on scientific fact.
First, we're going to talk about insulin. If you get nothing out of this article, you should associate insulin with weight gain. So if I were to say that "this food stimulates insulin release", you would say ....? ...? That's right! it makes you fat!
Insulin, under normal circumstances, is created and released by the pancreas usually, BUT NOT ALWAYS [ -- Note this], in response to a rise in blood sugar. The insulin is merely a SIGNALING hormone that tells your muscles, fat cells, etc, to take up sugar from the blood (sugar is actually converted to fat in the liver and dumped into the blood, then the fat cells take it up and grow plump). These muscle/fat/liver cells are primed and ready to suck up the free sugar. As soon as insulin gives the go-ahead, *FOOM* the sugar is burned / stored like an inferno from that movie Backdraft. This is why when diabetics inject insulin and forget to eat, they can put themselves into a fucking coma™ due to lack of blood sugar.
So, to kind of summarize: in the same way that 'roids tell your pecs to turn into a couple of chest-hams and balls to turn into peanuts, insulin tells your ass to get fat and your belly to inherit the Earth.
You may have heard of insulin resistance. I'm not going to cover that here in detail, but it's incredibly important to understand:
Insulin resistance is caused by hormones released by fat cells in the belly and it forces the pancreas to secrete more insulin to compensate. The fatter you are, the more resistant you are, and the more insulin your pancreas releases;
The liver is immune to the resistance hormone, so while muscles aren't eating and burning the sugar, the liver's responding to the high insulin levels by going crazy turning the sugar it into fat, leading to weight gain and even hunger! Therefore, in a person with insulin resistance, more ingested sugar is going to be converted into fat than in a person without resistance.;
Eventually, the give-and-take between insulin and the resistance hormones may result in the pancreas being overworked, damaged, and eventually being unable to compensate. This condition is known as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus [Pro tip: This is how most diabetics acquire their condition.];
Often, the pancreas will get so chewed up that the person can give themselves a big fat case of Type 1 Diabetes, meaning that even after the person loses the resistance-hormone-secreting fat cells (think treadmill), they will still have overly high blood sugar.
Almost everyone has some small amount of fat cells making them insulin resistant. We're going to assume that you haven't gotten to the point of extreme insulin resistance... yet. However, insulin is still a great barometer to determine how fat something's going to make you. Remember, MORE INSULIN = MORE FAT.
Now that you've learned the magic of insulin, you're probably wondering how you're going to use your newfound knowledge to control your weight.
Sadly, there's no way around this: Carbohydrates stimulate insulin release. I know, it's sad, but those low carb numb-nuts actually had a point. Atkins is an extreme example, but really any amount of carbohydrate abstention helps.
You might be asking: "So how does my bagel become sugar in my blood? It doesn't taste sweet, it must not have sugar!" You know what it takes to turn starch into sugar? Saliva (spit). Starch (the main source of carbs from wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, and others) is actually just a whole crapload of sugar linked together in a weak chain. One tiny snip by an enzyme (present in saliva and elsewhere) and a little bit of water added and they turn into single-monomer sugar molecules that float into your intestine cells just as fast as a Jolly Rancher candy.
Carbs are pretty much all the same. The only difference is what other food you mix it with to change the peak and duration of the sugar high. FYI: Though I wont go into too much detail on it, the peak and duration of the sugar high is called the "Glycemic Index."
The fact is, carbohydrates have ZERO nutritional value outside of providing energy for cells. If you're overweight, you already have more than enough energy in your body to burn for a while. Therefore, you don't actually require any carbohydrates if you have sufficient fat stores.
By contrast, in order to burn ingested protein, the body actually has to tune down the insulin and increase levels of the antagonistic hormone glucagon.
A study done of Atkins dieters found that they routinely consumed fewer calories than those not on the diet. The rules don't say they have to do this, but the dieters found they were compelled to eat less due to the the satiety caused by the foods they ate due and due to the lack of an insulin-induced blood sugar dip (which leads to people getting hungry again quickly after carb-rich meals).
The brain, unfortunately, loves to eat sugar. It cannot eat fat directly, so the only choices are ultra tasty sugar and unpleasant, slow burning, ketone bodies, which is like leaving your brain stranded on a desert island with nothing but mulchy disgusting powerbars for eternity--you're alive, you're technically healthy, but you wish you weren't.
That's why a lot of diets simply encourage cutting back on carbohydrates and not eliminating them. The goal is to burn stored energy, so don't be a fool and introduce more energy into the system than you have to, however, keep in mind the only diet that works is one that you can stick to. Carb cravings can drive you nuts, so cutting back may be more to your liking than abstaining completely.
No Fat? No Deal!
You're probably wondering: if the goal is to consume less energy, why not ditch the energy-rich fatty foods instead of that tasty CocaCola? After all, Fat has about twice the calories per weight than carbohydrates, and it can dissolve directly from the food, float right through the intestinal wall, and fly right into that adipose tissue on your already overly-plump posterior.
The fact is: if you're overweight, you're probably already insulin resistant. If you're insulin resistant, more of the carbohydrates you eat go into making fat than being burned by muscle (when compared to a normal person). Also, since the insulin levels are higher than normal in the resistant, the liver will be making fat out of the sugar long after your blood sugar has normalized. This will actually cause low blood sugar, making you even hungrier!
So, to summarize, with sugar: you eat, you spike your insulin, you crash, you feel hungry, you eat again.
"Okay!!" you say "But what about fat? You said you were going to talk about fat, stop stalling!!"
I only mention carbs so that you can keep it in mind when you compare it to fat:
Fat does not spike insulin, period. It also increases satiety directly by release of special hormones.
Fat decreases the rate your stomach empties into the small intestine, leaving you feeling "full" for longer and therefore decreasing your desire to eat
Fat, when combined with a regular helping of carbohydrates, can actually reduce the rate at which it is absorbed, lowering the insulin spike. This reduces the 'crash' effect and therefore reduces the urge to eat again later.
Fat is burned highly effectively by muscle, and does not increase lactic acid levels (so you can work out longer and harder than you can on sugar).
Products that change recipes to gain their "low fat" moniker almost always raise sugar to compensate for taste. This decreases the satiety caused by the fat and increases the urge to eat again later due to the sugar
It's the combination of all these facts that lead many, including myself, to believe that the "low fat" diet craze is one of the prime reasons for America's obesity problem. Fat is not good for you, but it's a necessary addition to carbohydrates, and certainly not any worse. Fat may be more "energy dense" than carbs, but that hardly matters when you're eating three times the food twice as often because it's not filling you up, and it's making you more hungry.
For God's sake. Eat more fiber.
Fiber lowers the rate of absorption of carbs, so eat high-fiber bread.
Fiber increases satiety, so eat more fiber.
In the same way that sawdust is used to clear up oil spills, fiber absorbs fat and cholesterol in the gut and prevents absorption--decreasing blood cholesterol and therefore the risk of heart disease. So eat more fiber.
Fiber is incredibly important for GI health and prevents a long list of possible ailments including diverticulitis.
Perforated diverticulitis is where your colon blebs off, fills with puss, gets inflamed, and then pops. When it pops, it leaks out puss into your abdomen, sending you into septic shock. Your immune system goes nuts and starts telling your platelets to clot all over your body so you get little bloody patches on your skin and your internal organs. You start out with blistering fever but the shock is so bad you don't have enough blood to fill your vessels so you get very cold. In the event you survive, you have severe damage to every organ in your body including your brain. This isn't something that takes long to develop, either. The patient I first saw this in was 30. So you're going to eat your fiber now, right?
Oh, fiber also prevents colon cancer. Heard of it? Yeah, fiber's the most important factor in preventing colon cancer behind genetics, so eat more fiber.
Fiber has somewhere between zero and almost zero calories, so why the hell aren't you eating it? Shut up, I know you aren't.
I'm only going to say a few words on protein. First of all, you've probably heard that the Atkins "high protein" diet causes kidney problems. Most of the hubbub about this was from exaggerated claims made by puppet organizations setup by PETA (a pro-animal and therefore anti-high protein diet organization).
Even if that were true: Far and away, the #1 and 2 causes for for kidney failure in the US are Obesity and Tobacco (I don't know which is #1, sorry). Being fat is way worse for you, stop making excuses! Having diabetes is going to eat your kidneys faster than any steak, even that one John Candy ate in "The Great Outdoors."
Luckily, it's not actually true. High protein diets will not wreck your kidneys... unless you're dumb, but dumb people run into trouble with many things.
One of the results of increased protein in the diet is an increase in ammonia (ammonium, actually, but it's almost the same) concentration in the urine. This is normal and natural in animals, and the ammonia in the urine of animals is a necessary part of the ecosystem. If you were to somehow eliminate all the ammonia from the waste of all the living things around the world, it would literally end most life on earth in a matter of months.
If the world ends, what's the body count on Panda bears?? Take that, PETA!!
Alright, fine: Theoretically, higher ammonia concentrations are bad. It may have actually resulted in one or two people suffering some problems. That's why we're going to drink more water, which lowers the concentration of ammonia to safer levels, right?
If you're losing weight, you should be drinking more water anyway. Just add another little bit if you choose to augment your diet by eating more protein.
Protein does not increase insulin. In fact, you need to lower insulin just to convince cells to burn protein as fuel.
Protein also increases satiety, meaning you feel full faster.
When insulin and sugar levels are low, the body makes new sugar (to feed the brain, heart, and red blood cells). It sucks ass at this. I mean it's pathetic. Animals are terrible sugar-makers, and they know it. That's why they only do it when they're hungry. In order to make sugar, the body combines protein with stored fat. The body stores fat, but it doesn't "store" protein, so it has to cannibalize itself to get it. With low insulin levels, muscle protein is broken down. This is why when people lose a lot of weight, they tend to lose muscle mass as well.
With a high protein diet, instead of burning muscle, your body will use the dietary protein, leaving the muscle intact. It's actually been proven that high protein dieters end up with more muscle mass after they lose weight than people who diet without high protein.
When losing weight, you probably want to eat more protein and definitely want to drink a lot more water. Higher protein will keep more muscle and may allow for faster weight loss.
As an aside, it's not a choice between the Atkins "I ate Bambi's Mom" diet and the Vegan "Suck my Potatoes" diet. That's the kind of binary PhD nonsense that you see all over the literature on this. Some sources on this subject made it seem like you couldn't even eat oranges because it made Dr. Atkins hit-list. It went on to complain that this meant all higher protein diets resulted in scurvy, and that this was the reason "all low carb diets are bad." I'd just like to say that I can eat whatever 'the fuck I want, thanks very much. Yes, it's possible to eat lots of healthy foods, eat fewer carbs, and consume more protein all in the same meal, or at least in the same diet.
Diet Sweets: The Devil You Don't
I wanted to conclude this edition of Poisoned Foods with something definitive and instructive, but really everything I've told you so far is solid fact, and why start pointless controversy by mentioning specifics?
However, one of the things I can say specifically is: avoid artificial sweeteners. No, this is not a "maybe just a tiny bit" situation. Just don't.
Recently, a team of researchers discovered what many of us have already known: artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels.
Unfortunately, the study only tested Nutrisweet (present in nearly all sugar-free gums and beverages). We'll assume (because let's face it: it's true) that this applies to all artificial sweeteners, not like it matters because if we can get people to stop drinking diet coke, the world's going to be a better place hands down.
Side note: I wrote a report for my organic chemistry class on aspartame (nutrisweet). I may make the next edition entirely on that, you're gonna flip when you see the evil. EVVVVILLLLLL!!!
Remember when I said insulin decreases blood sugar in part by increasing the creation of fat? especially in people who are already fat? Hint: I said it like 10 times already.
YES: Diet drinks have no sugar, NO: You will not lose weight if you drink them.
Studies have definitively indicated that switching from regular soda to diet soda will not automatically lead to weight loss. Now you know why.
When you eat carbs, your blood sugar spikes, your insulin spikes, your blood sugar declines, you gain weight, you crash, you get hungry again.
When you consume artificial sweeteners, the exact same thing happens, only without the blood sugar spike. Artificial sweeteners make you hungry for real food, which you have to consume more of to make up for the blood sugar you've locked away into your fat cells.
Usually, these products mask some of the crash effect by being mixed in with caffeinated liquids. In the case of aspartame (nutrisweet), part of the molecule is actually converted into adrenaline (yes, that adrenaline). These effects may not be entirely obvious, but they are occurring.
I'm not saying you should switch from Diet Coke to Dr. Pepper. That would be stupid, now wouldn't it?
What I am saying is: if it tastes sweet, don't eat it if you want to lose weight. Especially soda.
In fact, there was a study done of childhood obesity. It found there was one unifying characteristic of most obese kids. We're talking undeniable correlation here. What was it? The one thing that commonly separates fat kids from skinny kids?: Soda.
That's it for this edition. Join us next time. (244,892)
So I'm sitting up here in Cake City trotting through my second year of medical school and I thought it was time to stop and take stock of some of the things I've learned.
For instance, I can tell you first-hand now that the reason doctors give conflicting advice is because the professors from whom all us pre-doctors learn the academics of our profession don't actually profess correct information, but actually a mixture of up-to-date facts, out-of-date facts, and outright lore in unknown proportions they've concocted from many years of palling around with fellow squirrel-faced PhDs.
Let me tell you about PhDs. PhDs are funny. If you get a medical doctor (or DO) in a room with two PhDs and ask them what the best flavor of ice cream is, the two PhDs will debate for hours and then pat themselves on the back, for they have somehow served "the scientific community" by spurring debate, though they have not reached a conclusion. Meanwhile, the real doc has walked out hours ago, leaving a note in his stead reading "Best flavor? sometimes chocolate, sometimes vanilla, and sometimes PhDs are as useful as sex organs on a pair of Nikes."
After the two PhDs are done giving each other high-fives and reach-arounds, they'll meet up with the D.O. at the bar, much to his dismay. Some girl will walk up eyeballing one of the three, introduce herself and gesture for reciprocation. The PhDs seem to always push their title around like it demonstrates some kind of social prowess, so they'll answer Drs. Douchebag and Pedant, while our buddy the MD will simply say "Jim." It's baffling, really, because all a PhD represents is that you had a masters degree and then fellated a few other PhDs for a couple more years--sort of a bizarre hazing ritual--in lieu of joining the workforce. With the infinitely more expensive, difficult, and humbling feat of a medical degree, one would think medical doctors would be showing off their "Doctor" status at every occasion; not so. In fact, we call those kind of doctors "assholes." You can look it up in Dorland's medical dictionary.
With their anal-retentive attention to detail, one would think that PhDs would be the prime source of accurate and up-to-date information in their respective fields. This is not always the case, since PhDs are also incredibly lazy. They complain endlessly about their "terrible" jobs in which they have no responsibility but to read, word for word, the same slides they wrote 5 years ago at least 3 hours a week. It is true that some PhDs do revise their lectures and put in some effort to teach effectively, however it is not a requirement for employment.
Luckily, medical students like myself don't have to suffer PhDs and their ilk for more than the first two years of medical school. The last half of "school" is on-site training. Unfortunately, the poisoned seeds of misinformation have already been planted in our minds and we'll carry those with us until such time as we can have patients of our own to recommend chamomile tea instead of nitroglycerin--just like Dr. Douchebag told us to.
Obviously wrinkles in reality such as substituting vasodilators with diarrhea-flavored herbal teas would get ironed out in training. However, things such as patient education are very commonly tainted with the narrow-minded pea soup that gets sprayed on us daily in our first two years of hell (think Gallagher stand-up).
Calories Are BULLSHIT
The first thing PhDs will tell you about dieting is the synopsis we've all grown tired of: Eat fewer calories and burn more energy, and the pounds will disappear magically!
Yeah, no shit. Thanks Dr. Dipshit, who's you're employer? I want recommend they promote you to full fucktard.
Yes, everybody knows they need to exercise more, eat less, blah blah blah. That's of course technically correct, and I'm sure Dr. Obvious will roll you around in the dry-rub of thermodynamic laws for a few minutes before baking you in the "energy dense foods" oven. I'm sure that's what Dackow was really all about: just a friendly debate between the prison guards about calorie counting.
What people really want to know are what foods to eat, not how much of it. Obesity essentially fries your hormones and makes plain "calorie counting" extremely difficult. It takes an incredible amount of willpower for an obese individual to lose 10% of their body weight without use of a malignant cancer (which you may order from our online store any time!)
Of course if you eat enough of anything with any nutritional value, the body will retain weight, but there are simple things you can add to or subtract from foods to actually increase satiety--the feeling of fullness--so that you will not feel the need to eat so much.
This doesn't just work on the obese, it works on anyone, including the mildly overweight and even athletes.
Well this is my intro to the 56-part series on "poison foods".. it may be two weeks for the next one (514,665)
2 cups very warm filtered water
2 rounded teaspoons dry active yeast
1 tablespoon organic unfiltered molasses
1 tablespoon organic raw agave nectar
2 cups unbleached organic white wheat flour
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups organic rye flour
1 cup organic hulled whole millet
1/2 cup organic whole soft wheat berries (not hard winter wheat)
1/2 cup organic flax meal
Dash of salt
Teaspoon of organic cornstarch
The evening before baking, separately wash and sort the whole millet and
wheat grains, rinsing them until clean and picking out any nasty bits.
Place the millet in a bowl and add ~3 cups of warm filtered water. Cover
bowl. Choose another bowl, put in wheat berries, and add one cup warm
water; cover bowl. Let these sit out until bedtime, then put them in the
fridge to soak overnight.
Proof the yeast by putting it in a large glass bowl, adding 1/2 cup of warm
water and the molasses, and waiting for it to bubble up to double volume.
After it's proofed to satisfaction, add one cup of warm water, one cup of
the white flour and one cup of the whole wheat flour and mix gently with
hands or a fork until a shaggy, soggy mass is formed. This will become the
'sponge.' Let the sponge sit out until bedtime; if you listen to it, you
should hear the yeast well at work and it should gain considerable volume in
an hour or two. Then cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and leave in
fridge overnight to ferment.
The next evening, take the grains and sponge out of the fridge. The sponge
will have fallen somewhat and should be about 50% bigger than it was at the
very beginning (if it's bigger, no problem). Begin slowly adding the
remainder of the flour and mixing it in with a fork, no more than 1/2 cup at
a time. Add in the remaining cup of warm water at the same time. When all or most of the flour has been added, but before the dough
gets too stiff to work with the fork, stop and let the mixture rest, covered
loosely or with plastic wrap a damp towel, for 20 or 30 minutes to encourage
the gluten. Before the dough gets too stiff to work with the fork, add the
flax meal, the millet, and the wheat berries, and finally the agave nectar
and salt. [Throughout this process, add small amounts of warm water or
flour as needed if the dough seems to be too watery or too stiff at a
particular stage.] All ingredients should be evenly incorporated when dough
is at kneading stiffness. When the dough becomes too stiff to mix with the
fork, transfer it to a floured surface for kneading.
Knead the dough vigorously until the it takes on an elastic character, can
stretch somewhat without breaking, and has a smooth appearance on the
surface (excepting any protruding grains). This will take a fair while due
to the amount of bran present in the dough. Keep the kneading surface
floured and dust the dough with flour as needed.
After the dough has been kneaded to satisfaction, clean the original bowl
and very lightly grease with organic olive oil. Pat dough into a smooth ball
and place in the bowl; turn the dough over so that both sides have a (very)
thin coating of oil. Let dough rise for approximately two hours; it should
be really big after rising. Punch dough down, divide in half, and shape
each half into a moderately thin French bread shape (or other shape of your
preference; adjust cooking time to suit bread shape). If you have a bread
paddle and baking stone, place the loaves on the lightly floured or
cornmealed paddle for rising and then transfer to the stone after they're
risen; otherwise, let loaves rise on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
The loaves should rise until they increase somewhat in volume and look a
little puffy, about 45 minutes. Do not over-rise at the risk of a collapsed
In a small cup or bowl, mix some warm water and a very small amount of
molasses with the cornstarch. This will be used for basting.
Heat oven to 425 Farenheit degrees. Put a Pyrex bowl of filtered water in
oven during warm-up and leave in during baking. Place loaves in oven and
bake until done (inserted toothpick emerges clean / loaves sound hollow when
knocked upon), approximately 25-30 minutes. During baking, lightly baste
with cornstarch mixture every 5 minutes to enhance crust.
When done, remove from oven and cool the loaves well on wire racks. When
cooled sufficiently, slice and enjoy. (236,054)