21 March 2011

the grain saga continues

It seems that beans have large amounts of lectins. The book Food Poisoning by Anthony T. Tu documents cases of one hundred percent mortality rates in cases where rats were fed black or kidney beans. But according to this book, 100% removal is possible using heat. 5 hours of heating at 80 degrees C (176 F) inactivated 90% of toxins and raising to 100 degrees C ( 212 F) for 20 minutes "abolished hemagglutinin activity completely."

In "cereal grains" (oats, barley, rice, rye, sorghum and wheat) lectins are contained in the germ. They are heat stable (not destroyed by cooking) and can survive the digestive process. It's important to note that this book states that the lectins in rice are heat labile (can be removed with heat). This next bit was far too important to paraphrase since it answers such a key question in my grain biology hunt.

"Based on evidence available in the 1950's, Jaffe proposed that a possible explanation for the toxic action of lectins, resistant to gastric and intestinal digestion, is that they combine with cells lining the intestinal wall, causing lesions and nonspecific interference with the absorption of nutrients. Since then several groups of researchers have produced direct evidence to substantiate the fact that bean lectins interact specifically with intestinal epithelium cells, damage, and even kill them both in vivo and in vitro."

This is the scientific backing I needed in order to believe that lectins: a. exist b. are actually harmful. (That quote was riddled with source references but since I gave you the link I didn't type them all out. Go look at them all yourself if you need further convincing). This still begs the question, "Why is no one concerned about lectins in raw vegetables!?" And as I read on, JACKPOT!

"The concentration of toxic bean PHA in blood is higher than that of nontoxic tomato agglutinin. Up to 10% of bean lectin was detected in blood vs 0.1% of the tomato lectin. The latter, taken up at a lower level of the intestinal villi by endocytosis than PHA, is retained in the liver and detoxified. The former can act on various organs of the body, carried by blood circulation." 

So I feel like progress has been made. More questions remain.
1. If cooking beans removes all toxins, why cut them out completely?
2. How much is your liver designed to process? 
3. What foods are above the "liver limit"?

( I also just noticed the actual speck check feature blogger provides. No excuse people, no excuse.)  

20 March 2011

the truth behind grain

During my Whole30 experience, Cliff has been asking a lot of questions about the scientific reason behind the Paleo diet. I am of course also interested not only for the obvious reason that I want to continue eating in this manner but also that I don't think you should do something without reason.

So here is my soapbox: if you lack purpose for an action then don't do it. Be excited about your life and the things you are involved in.  Do what makes you happy and do the best possible job you can at it. From the coolest president ever: 
"Whatever you are, be a good one."
Abraham Lincoln

Moving on, why does the paleo diet cut out grain?
(Please keep in mind I am not a nutritionist nor do I have any formal education in the following subject. Here is interesting information but please take it with the knowledge that again: I am a design student NOT a nutrition expert). 

According to this article, "avoiding grains", it's because grains contain the following bad guys in the food realm:

1. Phytates-part of the "antinutrient" group. The claim is that the phytates gang up on "calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc" which are also hypothetically the nutrients the grain would provide to the body. It then acts as a bouncer to your digestive track. Not only does it deny access but it can storm through and kick out other nutrients already in the club. They are also said to hinder protein digestion. 

2. Lectins. These little d-bags are the reason peanuts, legumes and soy beans are cut from both Paleo and Whole30. These are said to wreck the microvilli. If you don't remember that from way back in 7th grade biology, then here is a little microvilli background:

They are described as "hair-like" structures that line the surface of the small intestine (for our purposes). I guess they are also in your ear but that is irrelevant for the discussion of protein absorption. They exist to increase surface area of the small intestine and therefore help with digestion. If you really want to get in depth, google image search for it. I tried to put a picture but people are really strangely strict with their microvillus copyrights. Watch out! Someone might use your biology diagram to learn! 

3. Gluten. The article states that in animal studies, gluten has irritated the digestive track every time. 

So I googled for hours and hours looking for scientific studies to fact check that article. While I'm putting my personal rants into blog form, let's pause on this topic for a second. If you have a blog and you are displaying information as correct you BETTER be fact checking it. If it's controversial, put that out there! Also, while we're on this, SPELL CHECK too! It's 2011. Most programs even underline misspelled words with red lines. Come on.

The findings:

1. Phytates. Incorrect. According to "Food Phytates" by N. R. Reddy and Shridhar K. Sathe, phytates will mostly be harmful to cases in third world countries where people are living off grain. In these cases, the phytates become a problem because they are consumed in much larger amounts with grain being the main nutrition source. 

In addition, red meats contain tons of iron which is making it subject for investigation as a carcinogen. In this case, phytates are possibly beneficial for removing some of the excess iron. Further research is being done to find the benefits of phytates.

Last to debunk: Paleo and Whole30 cut out peanuts, soy and legumes for the reasons above. But according to research of phytic acid by percent in certain foods, pumpkin and squash both contain 4% with soybeans only at 1.55%. (There are many more examples like that one).

2. Lectins. I think there is some substance here but it's been a challenge to dig up some hard facts. It's even harder to find specific applicable information. I'm going to keep looking and update this post further later but here is what I've got for now.

It seems pretty well agreed upon that lectins can be pretty resistant to removal (soaking, boiling, even stomach acid). It appears that the "avoiding grains" article was spot on with their assessment that lectins damage the small intestine through the microvilli and inhibit proper digestion and absorption. 

According to Dr. Laura Power, "Lectins can also disrupt carbohydrate absorption and metabolism. Lectins can reduce intestinal glucose uptake by 50%." (Read on here.) Another big problem for me is that in this research the following foods are listed that contain damaging lectins: coconut, bananas, celery, strawberries, salmon, and the list goes on. Clearly these are all paleo endorsed foods. This seems contradictory to me. 

One more little wrench to throw in the mix: "The irony of this is that high-lectin diets are also high-fiber and whole-grain diets, which contain more nutrients needed for better health. High-fiber diets have been associated with low incidence of bowel cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and diabetes." (Also from Dr. Power's information.)

Clearly, I have more research to sort through.

15 March 2011

Whole30-Halfway point.

I gave the blog I facelift. In the process, I deleted the existing comments on accident. My apologies, I promise I wasn't upset with the comments and removing them out of spite. I also added some ways to follow if you're interested.

Well I am on day 16 of Whole30 today, which is a little over my halfway point. For those of you familiar with the conquest, I have updates for you. (If you need a little background-check back 2 posts or so.)

In summary, it's going great. I've had one difficult night when we met a friend for dinner in LA but otherwise it's been smooth sailing and much less difficult than I first anticipated.

First up: some of my better meals for the week and in general my routines. This information is not to try to look awesome because as far as meals go, I'm not the best blog you could be watching to plan your meals. But it does provide you a little insight into how to start your own Whole30 quest. There are some much more creative people with better culinary ideas than "your humble correspondent." But I am a busy, poor college kid so maybe you can relate to that a little more. Also, I have a solid amount of resources here to provide you the opportunity to be one of those energetic chefs if you so choose.

Breakfasts: In general, the fastest possible because maximum sleep is of utmost importance in my book.
I tend to roll with the banana/Sunbutter combo or 2-3 eggs sunny side up with hot sauce. I have also found unsalted almond butter at the Trader Joe's here which is equally as delicious. (I almost cried in Trader Joe's when I realized my little perfect lifestyle from Fort Collins is about to be gone and replaced with the sadness of the Mojave wasteland.)

Recipes for this week: "Fauxjacks"Scotch EggsEggs with sauce

Lunch: During weekdays, I don't get a lunch break. So I pack items that can be eaten on the fly. I've basically always just thrown in apples, oranges, kiwis and a bag of assorted nuts which I buy in bulk so I can mix and match later. Sometimes if I'm lucky, I'll have leftovers that are microwaveable. I'm going to try to plan for that a lot more this week. Cliff and I scored big time this week finding some great dinner/next day leftovers which are about to be mentioned in the dinner section.

Dinner: This is the easiest yet hardest meal of the day. Easiest because you have home court advantage with all kitchen supplies at the ready. Hardest because after a long day the last thing you want to do is come home and spend time cooking before you can feed your exhausted, ravenous self. My main goal is to find something easy. This to me means I can either throw it in the food processor and then eat OR it can sit on the stove or in the oven while I multitask by accomplishing other necessary household things, like washing the endless dish pile. The best of the week: Sweet Potato Hash, any meat at all with amazing bbq sauce, chicken and celery with mock peanut sauce, King Salmon cooked in olive oil with lemon, dill, and finely sliced carrots. I'll post this separate recipe later. Note: My peanut sauce was only 1/4 clove crushed garlic and missing the coconut aminos because I couldn't find it. I was perfectly happy. Also, all of these are great for next day lunches.

Coming up for dinner: Me finding an orange glaze sauce for meat, Lamb Kabobs with veal insteadchili

Questions? I will now answer some common questions you might be having, if I miss a question feel free to ask and I'd love to answer.

1: How are you feeling?
Great. I've also been making a point to get 8 hours of sleep per night and work out at least 4 days a week so it's honestly hard to attribute energy levels to diet habits alone but if you dig around the Whole30 site you'll see that they strongly promote all 3 areas to be in good health. I've been making it through 8am classes without any urge to nod off as well as skipping that 2pm afternoon crash I dealt with previously.

2. Are you having a ton of cravings?
Nope. Day 2/3 ish I was really wanting some sugar cookies or Peanut Butter Tagalongs but Girl Scout cookies aren't really a fair craving standard. Who DOESN'T want some Girl Scout cookie deliciousness?? It was a little bit of a sad transition to go from caramel syrup in my morning latte to strait espresso but it's normal now. It's really just become a thought of "No, I'm not eating that because it has high fructose corn syrup" rather than feeling restricted and taunted.

3. Have you noticed a difference in your size?
Yep. Within the first week, my clothes fit looser. It's not that I lost fat or toned up immediately but that my body isn't bloated. (Which makes sense especially for cutting out salt.) I will post later if I eat some salt and blow up like a balloon :) A lovely little friend of mine also halfway done reports the same results and bought jeans a size smaller already.

4. Do your taste buds actually adapt to love stupid, boring celery?
Affirmative. I can verify this based on true events from last night. I made the aforementioned delicious "peanut" sauce and I was completely satisfied. Cliff tried it and said it was pretty bland. I made him his own batch with peanut butter instead of almond butter and added some soy sauce. He also threw in a few cashews or something trying to be creative haha. This new sauce was acceptable to him and I was perfectly happy with my paleo sauce. I can also drink coffee with just a splash of coconut milk and be satisfied. Mind you, it's not my favorite but I don't gag anymore like day 1.

5. What about your hair and skin?
This will also be something I'll update well after the fact since it's just too early to tell. But I am watching it and I will post later.

11 March 2011

the verdict on no shampoo

Should you actually quit using shampoo?


I hate to start my first verdict out with a maybe but I can't stand behind a definite yes or no; my hand is forced. 
I will stand behind the idea that most people are shampooing too frequently. I will also say that I think it would be beneficial to take a shampoo hiatus and let your body relax a bit. From then on, shampoo only once or twice a week. If you have curly, dry hair then try no shampoo. Here is what I found to be a good process to accomplish it effectively with a little rhyme and reason to explain.
 Note: If you are a hair product junkie; you have a choice. Lay off the products or keep using shampoo as you are. This comes strait from the stylist's lips.

1. I'd recommend finding a time it's acceptable to look borderline non-hygienic and go as long as you can without shampooing. I've read brushing your hair with a bristle brush helps distribute oils to the ends, which I tried, and I didn't notice a big difference one way or the other. If you have curly hair (like me) I'd also advise straitening it pre sans shampoo lifestyle. It's easier to keep the tangles out as well as style without looking embarrassingly disgusting. At this point, invest in some dry shampoo or use cornstarch (harder to rub out). Wait it out.

2. When you finally crack and need to wash it there are a few options. Some people say they rinsed often with only water (all methods assume you really rub your scalp down). I found this to be horrible. My hair was oily, frizzy, and overall nasty. Second choice-use only conditioner. This is what I have been doing for the last few weeks with great success. It's not AS lightweight and lustrous as using shampoo but it's pretty damn close. Third option-baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Mix the baking soda to a paste, rub on your scalp, let sit a few minutes, wash out. Then dilute the cider vinegar, pour through your hair, let it sit, wash out. I did this as my first wash before I was warned that this will strip the living beejeesis out of your color (luckily mine was already faded).  If you don't color or only highlight-go for it.

Keep repeating steps 1 and 2 over and over until a. you find what works best for you or b. you hate your hair and yourself and just want to use shampoo like a normal person.

Personally, I am going to use only conditioner for a few months, cut the hair product input and see how it goes. When I got my hair colored last week, Bre shampooed it and much to the contrary of other people's experiences all was well. My scalp didn't freak out, I didn't get crazy dandruff. So, if I find a time where I need to use alot of product and shampoo to wash it out, so be it. But as is, I'm pretty satisfied to not have greasy hair the next morning after I shower.