Category Archives: Nutrition

Crossfit Paleo Diet: Low-carb high-fat diets may impair glucose tolerance

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Low  Low carb diets may work better when people wear WODMASTERS workout shirts.

Low carb diets are very popular now.  This post is about a new research finding on the effects of low carb diets on glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.  The finding is that Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets may impair glucose tolerance (Biehohuby et al. 2013).  This was unexpected.  While, low carb/ high fat diets are used by many people for weight loss programs, some diet books and health advocates have been promoting low carb/high fat diets as a means of  improving insulin sensitvity.  And protecting people from developing diabetes.  In fact, improvement of insulin sensitivity is often listed as one of the reasons why the general public should follow low carb/high fat diets.

Crossfit Paleo Diet: Benefits of low-carb high-fat diets?

So far research has been inconclusive.  Some studies support the hypothesis that low carb/high fat diets help improve insulin sensitivity but others don’t.  Some have found that low carb/high fat diets make insulin sensitivity worse.  The study by Biehohuby et al. (2013) was undertaken to see how low carb/high fat diets change glucose and insulin handling.  Subjects were male rats.

Study Synopsis:

Four groups of rats were fed one of four different diets:

  • a low carb/high fat with normal amount of calories for a rat or
  • a low calorie low carb/high fat diet or
  • a high protein low carb/high fat diet, or
  • a low protein ketogenic low carb high/fat diet.

Sensitivity to glucose and insulin was tested.  Results were as follows:

  • Animals had lower fasting glucose and insulin levels (generally thought to be good)
  • the low carb/high fat diets impaired glucose tolerance (generally thought to be bad)
  • low carb/high fat diets impaired insulin sensitivity (generally thought to be bad)

Research Conclusions

Here are the scientists conclusion about their study in their own words:

“Taken together, these data show that lack of dietary carbohydrates leads to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in rats despite causing a reduction in fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. Our results argue against a beneficial effect of LC-HF diets on glucose and insulin metabolism, at least under physiological conditions. Therefore, use of LC-HF diets for weight loss or other therapeutic purposes should be balanced against potentially harmful metabolic side effects.”

Many, if not most, people have heard or been told that a low carb diet is health protective. It may be a good strategy for weight loss.  Diabetics may also do well or better on a low carb diet.  However, it may not be good for otherwise healthy people to stay on low carb/high fat diets for long periods of time.

Many diet trends have roots in science and research. The Paleo diet is just one.  However, of these roots get tangled with dogma, loyalties, financial interests and personal reputations. It is not uncommon to hear disdain or contempt for people who do not follow low carb diets, as well as concern for the health of people who continue to eat carbohydrates.  At least among my crossfit paleo diet associates.  I As a scientist, I often wonder where dogmatic thinking comes from.  As a professor I wonder how best to teach people to use other approaches to figuring out the order of the universe.  Its not always easy.  It may be simply part of human nature to

  1. build little compartments
  2. stick things in the compartments
  3. put them back in the compartments if they get out
The WODMASTERS Rhino Design ruminates on Vitamin K
WODMASTERS Rhino thinks about low carb diets

The problem with taking this approach to health and nutrition information is that we are learning so much, so fast and more is pouring in every day.  Its awesomely incredible.  Really.  But with all these little bits floating around and new bits being added to the pile its hard to find permanent homes for everything.  A high fat diet may not belong in the “avoid” pile.  Maybe it should be taken out and placed into the “go for it” pile.  Better yet, keep it on the table and see what it fits into.

For Medical and Research People:

Might glucose challenge test results from people on low-carb/high fat diets lead to their classification as pre-diabetic?  What is the clinical significance of low-carb diet induced changes in glucose and insulin handling anyway?

ResearchBlogging.org

Bielohuby M, Sisley S, Sandoval D, Herbach N, Zengin A, Fischereder M, Menhofer D, Stoehr BJ, Stemmer K, Wanke R, Tschöp MH, Seeley RJ, & Bidlingmaier M (2013). Impaired glucose tolerance in rats fed low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism, 305 (9) PMID: 23982154

Vitamin K may keep your brain from falling apart

Keeping your brain from falling apart is serious business.  Tape and twine have their places, but we are writing to report on some other . . . . “stuff.”   Today’s stuff is Vitamin K.

Vitamin K, Health and Research

Research is indicating that Vitamin K may be important in protecting brain function. Researchers recently measured vitamin K levels in blood (as serum phylloquinone) and compared them with how well people did on several tests of cognitive function. People with higher levels of Vitamin K did better on tests of verbal memory and recall.   320 men and women between the ages of 70 and 85 participated in the study. This is good news because we do have some control over our vitamin K intake. The study has its limitations of course.  A blood test measures only what is currently in a person’s system.    The blood test used in this study was not able to measure people’s Vitamin K intake over a long period of time.

What is Vitamin K?

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Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin.  There are two common forms K1 and K2.  K1 comes from plants.   K1 was the form of vitamin K evaluated on the study of cognitive function.

Animals (like us) use K1 to make K2.  K2 is also synthesized by bacteria in the gut.   People may have many different kinds of gut bacteria.  Your gut bacteria will be influenced by your diet and medical history.

Vitamin K is best known as the vitamin the helps blood clot.  Good dietary sources of Vitamin K include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli
  • Grains (minor sources)
  • Liver, eggs, meat, fish

Vitamin K may be important for maintaining bone health as well as brain health.  Vitamin K is being evaluated as a possible treatment for osteoporosis.  Until we hear more on that it is probably best to eat real food and plenty of vegetables rather rely on supplements.  Vitamins in vegetables come “packaged” with many other biologically important molecules.  You may need the entire package (by which we mean vegetable not multivitamin).  A dose of one particular molecule may not be particularly helpful.

Presse N, Belleville S, Gaudreau P, Greenwood CE, Kergoat MJ, Morais JA, Payette H, Shatenstein B, & Ferland G (2013). Vitamin K status and cognitive function in healthy older adults. Neurobiology of aging, 34 (12), 2777-83 PMID: 23850343

Knapen MH, Drummen NE, Smit E, Vermeer C, & Theuwissen E (2013). Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA, 24 (9), 2499-507 PMID: 23525894

Coffee Study: Its not just the caffeine that makes you smart and athletic

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Caffeine and Coffee have been used by athletes to improve athletic performance and to make training easier.  Research is also indicating that coffee may also reduce risk of cognitive decline that comes with age.  A recent study sought to determine which is responsible for the positive effects of coffee on function:  Coffee itself or caffeine?  Aged (or Masters as we prefer to call them) Rats who drink the equivalent of 10 cups of coffee a day do better at cognitively and physically challenging tasks than rats who were given only caffeine supplements.

The Rat Coffee Study Design

All rats were male.  And aged.  Which for rats means about 18 months old.  Rats were given divided into groups and given either

  • Rat chow spiked with powdered coffee
  • Rat chow spiked with the equivalent of plain caffeine

for 8 weeks.  Rats were then subjected to a battery of psychological and neurological tests:

  1. Rod walking:  requiring the animal to balance on a stationary, horizontal rod
  2. Wire suspension: measures muscle strength and ability to grasp a horizontal wire and remain suspended
  3. Inclined screen: measures muscle tone, strength, stamina, and balance by placing the animal on a wire mesh screen tilted 60° to the horizontal plane of the floor
  4. Accelerating rotarod: measures fine motor coordination, balance, and resistance to fatigue by assessing the duration that the animal can remain standing/walking on a rotating, slowly accelerating rod.
  5. Keel hauling.  Rats were immersed in water at one of four random start locations. Each rat was allowed 120 s to escape onto the platform
  6. Plank walking, which measures balance and coordination making the animal walk a plank set out over the starboard bow at a height of approximately 20 feet above shark infested waters.

Now that is a workout.  Performances were recorded with video for submission to the CrossFit Games 2014.

Coffee Performance vs. Caffeine Only Performance

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Mona Lisa Hoists her Kettlebells on a soft, quick-drying tri-blend WODMASTERS workout shirt

The rats who got the powdered coffee did better than the rats who received caffeine supplements.   What does this mean for us?  Coffee, like most foods, is a complex mixture containing hundreds if not thousands of different chemicals.  These chemicals include vitamins and minerals, but there are also many many others whose actions we don’t yet understand.

We also understand very little about how different nutrients interact.  We also know little about the effects of taking too much.   This is why it is better to eat a healthy diet of real food than to rely on supplements or No-Doze Monster drinks or whatever that stuff in the tiny bottles is called.  College students take note.  Masters athletes: Hold off on massive anti-oxidant supplements.  Anti-oxidants at high levels can damage DNA.

Coffee Study: Its not just the caffeine that makes you smarter and more athletic

 

Last note on coffee:

10 cups is probably too much.  No note was made on how jittery and neurotic the rats felt.  High coffee consumption is associated with other problems.

 

Cropley V, Croft R, Silber B, Neale C, Scholey A, Stough C, & Schmitt J (2012). Does coffee enriched with chlorogenic acids improve mood and cognition after acute administration in healthy elderly? A pilot study. Psychopharmacology, 219 (3), 737-49 PMID: 21773723

Cho ES, Jang YJ, Hwang MK, Kang NJ, Lee KW, & Lee HJ (2009). Attenuation of oxidative neuronal cell death by coffee phenolic phytochemicals. Mutation research, 661 (1-2), 18-24 PMID: 19028509

Shukitt-Hale B, Miller MG, Chu YF, Lyle BJ, & Joseph JA (2013). Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 35 (6), 2183-92 PMID: 23344884

BREAKING NEWS: Green tea anti-oxidant EGCG may increase cancer risk. TWF!

 Basics: The anti-oxidant EGCG can cause DNA strand breaks and mutations.

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EGCG stands for Epigallocatechin gallate.   Epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC) is a polyphenol found in green tea.  Some people take it as a supplement.  Or it may be part of “green tea extracts.”  Anti-oxidants are thought to protect cells and DNA from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage can occur when one atom or molecule “steals” electrons from important molecules in your body. Cell membranes, for example. Or DNA. When DNA undergoes oxidative damage it may become mutated. Mutations in body cells can lead to cancer. So, protecting your body by taking anti-oxidants seemed to make a lot of sense. No oxidants, no oxidation, no mutations, no cancer. Many people believe(d) that taking anti-oxidants would protect against illness and aging and extend life. The benefits of anti-oxidant supplements now appears to be more complicated that we thought.

Hypoxia study.  Hypoxia can also cause cellular damage
Hypoxia study without anti-oxidants or oxidants.  Hypoxia can also cause cellular damage.  It might also increase cancer risk.  Brain damage for sure though.

Anti-oxidants have had a mixed history when used medicinally.

There are many anti-oxidants.   Vitamins C, A, E and selenium are commonly used as nutritional supplements for their anti-oxidant properties.  And many have assumed that more is better.  As with many other things in life, more is not always better.  Sometimes “more” makes more trouble than less.  Selenium, for example, seems to have protective effects against cancer.  Unfortunately when too much selenium is taken, it can increase the risk of cancer.  One of the problems with taking supplements is that we rarely know how much is too much.  And we almost never know how much is optimal.   Studies of Vitamin A, C and E have also shown signs of creating problems when taken above levels one would normally get eating from food.

EGCG as an inducer of mutations and cancer.

A paper newly released by Nature (Lu et al. 2013) shows how anti-oxidants are able to cause DNA damage and increase risk of mutations. The researchers used epigallocatechin gallate as the test anti-oxidant.  The researchers present their data very clearly and efficiently with minimal interpretation.  They simply report that Epigallocatechin gallate caused DNA damage and increased number of mutations (among other non-good things.)  These results may or may not apply to other anti-oxidants, but they are a good indication that we should exercise caution with anti-oxidant supplements.    There is sure to be a lot of discussion and debate over the results of the Lu study.  And many additional studies are sure to follow.

Anti-oxidants, oxidants and health
It you are feeding your pets anti-oxidants you might want to hold off for a while.

This is a very interesting paper and sure to upset a lot of boats.   ECGC is a powerful anti-oxidant.  Other anti-oxidants may not be strong enough to cause damage.  It was just a year ago that  ECGC was reported to be the most effective anti-cancer chemo protective compound in green tea.  ECGC may turn out to be health protective.  It may turn out to be one of those “nutrients” that is good for you at low levels but dangerous when high.  Its too early to tell.  More research is needed.

Until we know more, eat real food.  Eat a varied diet so you don’t get too much of something that may be harmful.

 

 

Lu LY, Ou N, & Lu QB (2013). Antioxidant induces DNA damage, cell death and mutagenicity in human lung and skin normal cells. Scientific reports, 3 PMID: 24201298

Du GJ, Zhang Z, Wen XD, Yu C, Calway T, Yuan CS, & Wang CZ (2012). Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is the most effective cancer chemopreventive polyphenol in green tea. Nutrients, 4 (11), 1679-91 PMID: 23201840

Thangapazham RL, Passi N, & Maheshwari RK (2007). Green tea polyphenol and epigallocatechin gallate induce apoptosis and inhibit invasion in human breast cancer cells. Cancer biology & therapy, 6 (12), 1938-43 PMID: 18059161

Science over Sciencey-ness: Is it safe to indulge in beans? What about the Lectins?

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Talking about the Paleo Diet always feels dangerous.  It never made sense to me.  When I first brought that up at our CrossFit Box I was warned by a CrossFit trainer not to speak publicly about it.  “They will destroy you.” were her exact words.  Not being sure exactly who “they” were, I’ve written about it, pretty much as delicately as I can, a few times.  I don’t intend to offend anyone, or threaten anyone’s sense of self or loyalties.  But, as a professor and toxicologist (and hopefully responsible citizen) I feel compelled at times to discuss issues of logic and incomplete information when they are potentially damaging to people’s health.    So, in advance, to my Paleo friends . . . I only wish you well.

The Paleo Diet basics.

Most people on the Paleo Diet are trying to lose weight and become healthier.  The paleo diet eschews refined food and junk food.  It also eschews a number of other foods.  Grains are on the “not paleo” list as are beans and peanuts.  The rationale centers around gut inflammation.  Gluten, a plant lectin, is on the “not paleo” list because it causes inflammation in people who have celiac disease.  The paleo diet treats all people as though they have celiac disease.   It is a perfectly normal conclusion to make when immediate experience is the only source of information.    It makes sense on a primitive level.   A gut level.  For most paleo experts the  “medical establishment” and the FDA are misguided at best and are often seen as enemies.   For paleo advocates, there is very little information that can be trusted.  Paleo diet advocates do rely on selected papers published in scientific journals to support their hypotheses.  For a more articulate discussion watch the video below:

lectin Quinoia Paleo? CrossFit Social after CrossFit WOD
Fear of Lectins and anti-nutrients can make people neurotic. Maybe its just fear that makes people neurotic.  Either way its not good for you. Relax and enjoy life.

The Paleo Diet and Lectins and What are Lectins?

Lectins are binding proteins.   Humans, like other organisms, use binding proteins to protect and control various substances in the blood.  Binding proteins help protect hormones from being degraded before they can reach their targets.   Binding proteins can also serve to limit the amount of an active substance in the blood stream.  Binding proteins help the body maintain control of itself and its operations.  Lectins are binding proteins that bind to sugars.  In humans lectins play important roles in

  • Cell communication
  • Cell differentiation
  • Movement of cell vesicles

Why do Paleo Diet Experts think lectin is an anti-nutrient?

The rationale may be that

  • Gluten can harm the gut of people with celiac disease.
  • If some people cannot tolerate gluten, then gluten is probably bad for everyone
  • Gluten is a lectin, therefore lectins are bad for people

 

Much of the belief that lectins are anti-nutrient seems to come from a single paper published in an open-access online journal called BMC Endocrine Disorders.    It is a “hypothesis paper.”  The authors of the paper make associations between obesity and other diseases of affluence and cereal-based diets.  The paper was published in 2005 and has two citations.   Citations by other researchers are a way to judge the impact of the paper on other scientists.  If your paper gets cited it means that other scientists have referenced your work to support their research.  Two citations in 8 years is not a huge amount . . . and both citations were self-citations. Interestingly, neither of the citing papers discussed lectins.  Hypothesis generation is a worthy endeavor.  A lot of good comes from hypothesis generation.  Hypotheses can be fun and interesting.  And they can inspire research.  But unless the practice of noting associations goes beyond hypothesis generation to hypothesis testing the ideas should stay in the fun and interesting pile and not become a foundation for a diet for millions of people.

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It seems to be true that some lectins can cause intestinal distress.  The Miyake et al. (2007) paper (below) was an investigation of the mechanism by which uncooked lectins cause acute gastrointestinal distress.  Fortunately, cooking breaks lectins down.  Unless you are a big fan of raw beans you will probably have no problem with lectins.   Most people cook beans.  And most people will get a huge stomach ache it they eat them uncooked.  If you do get a huge stomach ache after eating something (a lectin or not) you should probably not eat it anymore.  Our ancestors ate grains.  We are, in most likelihood, well adapted to their consumption.  Uncooked beans are probably another story.  Eat them after they have been cooked.  They are a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Science over sciencey-ness

Reasonableness over rigidity

 

 

Miyake K, Tanaka T, & McNeil PL (2007). Lectin-based food poisoning: a new mechanism of protein toxicity. PloS one, 2 (8) PMID: 17668065

Jönsson T, Olsson S, Ahrén B, Bøg-Hansen TC, Dole A, & Lindeberg S (2005). Agrarian diet and diseases of affluence–do evolutionary novel dietary lectins cause leptin resistance? BMC endocrine disorders, 5 PMID: 16336696

Anti-Inflammatories and Anti-Oxidants in Licorice: Is Licorice good before a workout?

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This article started in response to a question: “what is the best supplement to take before a workout.”  Licorice seems as good a choice as several other products.  So I looked into it.  First of all Licorice has a lot of interesting chemicals in it.  Many of these seem to be good for you.   As long as its used in moderation.  Every silver lining has a cloud.  Licorice contains several different pretty powerful anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are important because they protect cells and DNA from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage increases risk of cancer and shortens cell life.   A research team in China, isolated six different compounds from licorice extract.  The licorice compounds were then tested for anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.   Inflammation can also lead to oxidative damage and can increase risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and etc.  Anti-inflammatory agents may protect long-term health.   The compounds are listed below in case anyone wants to look into them a little more deeply.  Interested in making the switch from booze and cigarettes to licorice and tea? New research indicates licorice may be the better choice.

omega-6 fatty acids and health discussion with licorice
CrossFit Trainer talks about nutrition and omega-6 fatty acids and licorice.

 

All of the compounds had health protective qualities.  Many shared the same properties.  Here are a few of the things licorice extract can do:

  • Anti-Oxidant Power.  Three of the compounds in licorice extract were strong anti-oxidants.  The three were better at scavenging free radicals than Vitamin C.
  • Inhibit Lipid Peroxidation.  A number of the compounds were able to inhibit lipid peroxidation.  Lipid peroxidation damages cell membranes.  Stopping lipid peroxidation is generally considered a good thing.  Licorice compounds also inhibited production of reactive oxygen species.  Reactive oxygen species are compounds that cause oxidative damage including lipid peroxidation.
  • Inhibited prostaglandin E2.  Inhibition of prostaglandin E2 may or may not be a good thing.  Prostaglandin E2 is important in pregnancy and birth.  But it also stimulates tumor growth possibly by increasing inflammation.   It is possible that licorice extracts may be anti-carcinogens.  It is possible that pregnant women should stay away from licorice.
  • Inhibited production of interleukin-6.  Interleukin-6 inhibitors are under study as anti-arthritis drugs.  Interleukin-6 also activates inflammation.  Elevated interleukin-6 is associated with atherosclerosis, depression, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, among other things.  Interleukin-6 is important in good ways too.  Inhibiting the hell out of it may create other problems.  Such as maybe suppressing the immune system.

Should I eat tons of Licorice to protect my health?

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No.  Don’t eat tons of it.  Licorice has a down side.  Too much of most things is not good and there is not enough research to support going overboard.  There are also compounds in licorice that are harmful.  Licorice has been shown to raise blood pressure, for example.   And there is a case report of a woman who overindulged in licorice (about 1.5 pounds) and became extremely ill.    Her body underwent a series of changes unfavorable to a long life.  To quote from the paper:  Creatine kinase, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia with low aldosterone and plasma renin levels and high intact PTH.  So go light.  She also got rhabdomyelesis.

Should I eat Twizzlers before working out or doing a CrossFit WOD?

You should avoid black licorice if you have high blood pressure.   Otherwise a twizzler or two is probably fine once in a while.  One or two red twizzlers will help you get pumped without the risks posed by black licorice.  And exercise stimulates the body to produce its own anti-oxidants.  Adding anti-oxidants before a workout may blunt your body’s response.  In this case red Twizzlers may be better than black twizzlers as a pre-workout stimulant.  Only black twizzlers are made with real licorice extract.  If you check the package you will see that it contains “less than 3% licorice extract.”  With good quality control you could eat a pound of black twizzler licorice and consume less than 3.6 grams of extract.  The University of Maryland posts that licorice can be used at about 1.2 grams per day.  A pound of twizzlers may contain three times that limit.    Hard to say when the content might be anywhere between 3.6 grams and nothing.  There is a lot of information and a lot of research being done on licorice as a medicinal plant.  Much more than I expected.  More than I can chew right now.   There does not seem to be any research on the benefits or dangers of red twizzlers.

Licorice compounds with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties:

  • 5′-(1,1-dimethylallyl)-3,4,4′-trihydroxy-2-methoxychalcone
  • licochalcone B
  • licochalcone A
  • echinatin
  • glycycoumarin
  • glyurallin B

Fu Y, Chen J, Li YJ, Zheng YF, & Li P (2013). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of six flavonoids separated from licorice. Food chemistry, 141 (2), 1063-71 PMID: 23790887

Sigurjónsdóttir HA, Franzson L, Manhem K, Ragnarsson J, Sigurdsson G, & Wallerstedt S (2001). Liquorice-induced rise in blood pressure: a linear dose-response relationship. Journal of human hypertension, 15 (8), 549-52 PMID: 11494093

Shah M, Williams C, Aggarwal A, & Choudhry WM (2012). Licorice-related rhabdomyolysis: a big price for a sweet tooth. Clinical nephrology, 77 (6), 491-5 PMID: 22595392

Research, Fads, Nutrition and Science

CrossFit Science or maybe Paleo Diet Science.

Pain is a frequent topic of conversation among people who do CrossFit.   Hip pain seems to be fairly common.   My hip hurts.  Its been hurting for several years.  It might be tendonitis.  It might be years of cumulative damage from back packing, portaging, backsquats, back country skiing, kettlebells, or rowing.  Or maybe the series of cycling accidents of my youth.  One of my crossfit friends told me that if I followed the paleo diet my hip would stop hurting.

  • I don’t follow the Paleo Diet and I have hip pain.
  • I don’t wear a beanie with a propeller on it and I have hip pain
  • There are probably other things that I don’t do.  But right now that’s all I can think of.

Why would someone think that hip pain is caused by diet?  How much of what we know comes from somewhere we don’t know?  A lot of the time we know things because they have been repeated a lot. Or because they have been stated authoritatively. Or because the people we hang out with believe something is true. Often, we believe to belong. Or we believe because we think we have the whole story.  Check out this video on media and science.   I believe this guy (Ben Goldacre) really has to pee.  But, he’s done a good job clarifying a lot of nonsense.

Paleo Diet Recipe for Chocolate Cake of Power.

If you are looking for a paleo diet recipe for chocolate cake give this chocolate cake a try.  Its pretty paleo.  It is made with Olive Oil, Carrot Juice and lots of Cocoa.  So it is extremely healthy and full of vitamins and anti-oxidants.  It is not a completely paleo recipe.  Some sugar is used to help with texture and to bring out flavor.  You can try it without.  It will come out somewhat like very dark brown Irish Soda Bread, but denser.

Ingredients for the Paleo Diet Recipe for Chocolate Cake of Power

  • 1 cup of Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups of Quinoa flour (whole wheat will work too)
  • 1 teaspoon of iodized salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup carrot juice
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of boiling water

Directions for the Paleo Diet Recipe for Chocolate Cake of Power

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease pans (two 9-inch rounds or 13x2x9 rectangle)
  3. Sift together all the dry ingredients.
  4. Add all the wet ingredients except for the boiling water.
  5. Mix for two minutes on medium speed or stir to exhaustion
  6. Add boiling water and mix until well blended, but don’t kill it.
  7. Bake for about 30-35 minutes.
  8. Cool completely before applying frosting.
  9. Decorate with symbols of power.
Paleo Diet Recipe for Chocolate Cake
Paleo Diet Recipe for Chocolate Cake. Its pretty close.

Suggested symbols of power:

  • Large Plastic Dinosaurs
  • Plastic nose pencil sharpeners
  • Chipotle peppers
  • Hot Wheels race cars
  • Small Rubber Ducks

 

 

 

For the Paleo Diet Purist we suggest the following:

  • Twigs
  • Bits of Hemp String
  • Tea Leaves
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Plastic wild animals

As always, be careful when decorating cakes for children.  Children should not, except in extremely rare cases where this is part of the child’s normal diet, eat Chipotle peppers.  All toys and non-edible decorations should be removed before consuming regardless of the servees age.

Healthy Frosting for Paleo Diet Cake Recipes

If you figure out how to do this please let us know.  We have managed to make stuff that looks like frosting by blending coconut oil with beet juice.  While the cake looked great, most guests were pretty disappointed with all other aspects.  We have also tried frosting with all-fruit jam.  It was pretty sticky and unattractive.  We recommend a light layer of traditional frosting, or a dusting of confectioners sugar.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: Lutein Supplements Improve Night Vision even in people who do not have Macular Degeneration.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition and Vision. Our vision changes with age.  Much of that change may be due to exposure to ultra-violet light (uv-radiation).  Ultra-violet light is the same range of light that causes sunburns.  Eyes are naturally protected from ultra-violet light by anti-oxidants.

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There are three anti-oxidants that protect the eye.  These are lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin.    Lutein accumulates in the retina.  These macular pigments are powerful anti-oxidants.   As we get a bit older (wiser, smarter, cooler) these macular pigments tend to change.  And not for the better.  They get depleted and vision gets worse.    There are a number of things that can cause Lutein levels to drop off:

  • Diet low in Lutein
  • Smoking
  • Oxidative Stress from many different sources such as air pollution, arsenic and other bad stuff.
  • Maybe age

Fortunately, there are things we can do to protect our vision.

  • Don’t engage in nasty habits
  • Eat well to protect your vision and keep your vision strong over time.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition:  The Eyes Have It.

Most of us will notice vision changes in our forties and fifties.  Its not just a need for reading glasses.   Eyeball pigments (macular pigments) are needed for more than reading.  The loss of pigment makes us lose some of our capacity for clear, central color vision.   We may have a harder time with glare and with contrast.  These things can make depth perception and driving a problem.

Researchers been investigating the role of lutein supplements as a means to counter these changes in vision.  While we may not notice vision changes until we are in middle age changes and damage may occur decades before.  If Lutein is depleted it cannot protect your eyes from day to day stress.  This may cause damage to accumulate over time.   People who spend a lot of time outdoors seem to lose macular pigments like Lutein.  Loss of macular pigments is associated with increased risk of macular degeneration.  Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: The study in brief.

The new study (Yao and Yuan 2013) looked at healthy, relatively young people.  Ages ranged from 25 to 47.   This study is especially interesting because the subjects did not have macular degeneration or other vision problems.  Subjects were given a thorough eye exam and given Lutein supplements for a year.  There were significant improvements in sharpness of vision, contrast sensitivity and sensitivity to glare.  Nice to know that improving your diet and help your driving and night basketball skills.  More studies are needed to see if increasing other macular pigments will also improve vision.  Lutein must be obtained from the diet.  The same is true for zeaxanthin.  Its possible that increasing intake of zeaxanthin would also improve vision.  Or that taking both would produce better results.  More studies will tell.

CrossFit Masters Nutrition: Supplements or Real Food?

You can get Lutein supplements if you want to go that route, but the best choice is probably to get lutein from real food.  Lutein is a carotenoid.  Like Vitamin A.  There are about 600 different carotinoids identified so far.  Most vegetables will contain many different carotenoids.  Some of these are also important for health.  Good sources of Lutein include:

    • Kale and other leafy greens
    • Peas
    • Egg Yolks
    • Carrots (Lutein in cooked carrots is more accessible)
    • Other Yellow vegetables

If you are following the Paleo diet and eating lots of vegetables you are probably doing well in this department.  If you are a vegetarian and eating lots of different vegetables you are probably doing well too.

Yao Y, Qiu GH, Wu XW, Cai ZY, Xu S, Liang XQ.  Lutein supplementation improves visual performance in Chinese drivers: 1-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  Nutrition.  29 (7-8): 958-964.

Loughman J, Akkali MC, Beatty S, Scanlon G, Davison PA, O’Dwyer V, Cantwell T, Major P, Stack J, & Nolan JM (2010). The relationship between macular pigment and visual performance. Vision research, 50 (13), 1249-56 PMID: 20394766

 

Feeney J, Finucane C, Savva GM, Cronin H, Beatty S, Nolan JM, & Kenny RA (2013). Low macular pigment optical density is associated with lower cognitive performance in a large, population-based sample of older adults. Neurobiology of aging, 34 (11), 2449-56 PMID: 23769396

Celiac Disease: protecting children from Celiac and Gluten Intolerance

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a problem of auto-immunity and exposure to the plant protein gluten.  It can be a rough road, especially for children.  They can’t eat the same things other children eat.  Other kids and even adults may not understand that something that seems so normal to them, like a cupcake or sandwich, can cause serious pain and discomfort for a celiac child.

two children without celiac disease
Two children enjoy a Box lunch at CrossFit Seven in Fort Worth, TX.

Celiac disease is more common in people of European descent and probably has a strong genetic component.  However, there are other factors involved as well.  An individual may be predisposed to developing Celiac disease but not get it unless a combination of other factors line up as well.

Can Celiac Disease be Prevented?

One thing I had written about in an earlier post was the possibility that gut flora (microbial species and ratios of species) might influence the development of Celiac disease.  Intestinal flora in infants will be dependent on whether the infant was born by C-section and on whether he or she was breast fed or bottle fed.  The infant digestive system is not completely developed at birth.  It is suited for breast milk.  New research published this month (October 2012) supports a role for bacterial ecology in Celiac Disease.

Delaying introduction of wheat until the infant reaches 12 months of age appears to reduce risk that a genetically at-risk child will develop the disease.  Children with a genetic predisposition to Celiacs may take longer to develop an intestinal ecology favorable for wheat (and possibly other foods) than other children.  The study was a joint project of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Universita` Politecnica delle Marche, in Ancona, Italy.

Should I let my children eat gluten?

The answer to that seems to be yes.  Not exposing your children to gluten may make them more likely to develop celiac disease.A Systematic Review of infant feeding practices and incidence of Celiac (Coelicac) disease has also been published very recently (Szajewska et al. 2012).  The authors suggest that the best time to introduce wheat into an infant’s diet is between 4 and 7 months, and that it should be done while the child is still breastfeeding.   Introducing wheat before a child is under 4 months increases the likelihood that he or she will develop Celiac Disease.  Likewise, delaying introduction until a child is older than seven months may also increase risk of Celiac’s.

Gluten-free diets, such as the Paleo Diet, are very popular right now, especially within the CrossFit community.  If you are wondering “what is CrossFit?” here is a link.  If you are wondering “what is the paleo diet?” try this link.  Do parents who raise their non-celiac children on gluten free diets put them at risk of developing celiac disease? That could be the case.  This website, “Growing Up Gluten Free” is written and maintained by a child with celiac disease.  It helped me understand what life is like for kids like her.

There are lots of unknowns still.  The Szajewska paper does a great job of defining what they are.  

Sellitto M, Bai G, Serena G, Fricke WF, Sturgeon C, Gajer P, White JR, Koenig SS, Sakamoto J, Boothe D, Gicquelais R, Kryszak D, Puppa E, Catassi C, Ravel J, & Fasano A (2012). Proof of concept of microbiome-metabolome analysis and delayed gluten exposure on celiac disease autoimmunity in genetically at-risk infants. PloS one, 7 (3) PMID: 22432018

Szajewska H, Chmielewska A, Pieścik-Lech M, Ivarsson A, Kolacek S, Koletzko S, Mearin ML, Shamir R, Auricchio R, Troncone R, & PREVENTCD Study Group (2012). Systematic review: early infant feeding and the prevention of coeliac disease. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 36 (7), 607-18 PMID: 22905651