You know the scenario. It’s the morning after Thanksgiving and you’re recovering from a day of marathon cooking and pulling off a holiday feast with all the fixins, Your kitchen still looks like it’s been ransacked, you still have dishpan hands and the only thing you want to do is pull your duvet cover over your head and sleep in. But everyone else in the house seems to be awake and suddenly you hear someone say the four words you’ve been dreading. “So, what’s for breakfast?”
After killing yourself putting together a holiday meal, the last meal any host wants to think about is breakfast. But the thing about house guests (especially those permanent house guests also known as your kids) is that it doesn’t matter how much turkey they ate the day before, they’re going to wake up hungry. As any veteran host knows, the best defense is a pan of something wonderful tucked away in your freezer that requires no more work from you other than turning on the oven. For this reason, even though it’s a simple, no-frills dish, the breakfast casserole is pure genius.
With all the talk of food this week, I didn’t want to give the impression I’d missed the forest through the trees. Primal or traditional eats aside, it’s really about gratitude, isn’t it? Gratitude for those we love, for all we have, and for how far we’ve each come in one way or another. For my part today, I’m grateful for the love of my family, the benefit of health, and the continuing inspiration and support of the MDA community. While I appreciate the many emails I get from readers saying how the PB has changed their lives, this community has, indeed, changed mine. I want to thank you all today for reading and contributing. I value the wisdom, perspective, challenge, humor, and personal stories you have offered here over the years. MDA would not be what it is without you – the active, intelligent, and supportive community behind it.
Plants are not passive things. Oh, they’re not running and fighting and directly acting on the local environment with any sort of mammalian consciousness or intent, but they do employ defenses against hungry animals, insects, intrusive plant life, and disease – just like we do. We differ greatly in a few major areas, of course. Plants make themselves (or their seeds) unpalatable, indigestible, and downright poisonous through the lectins, gluten, and other antinutrients we enjoy railing against; to defend themselves and their offspring (fuzzy “seeds”), animals bare teeth and claws, run incredibly fast, climb trees, burrow into the ground, or wield semiautomatic rifles. But plants’ and animals’ respective modes of management of “internal” threats, like disease or infection, are more similar than not: we all manufacture antioxidants. With animals, the immune system, which defends from pernicious invading forces and helps determine the inflammatory response to harmful stimuli, is well known by all, but there are also the endogenous antioxidants that animals produce to deal with oxidative stress and free radicals. Humans, for example, have the potent arsenal of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, alpha lipoic acid, catalase, and CoQ10. Vitamin C is another common, endogenous animal antioxidant, just not in bats, guinea pigs, tarsiers, monkeys, humans and other apes.
It’s time for the annual procession of all things carb: potatoes, rolls, cranberry molds, all manner of desserts. Thanksgiving, however, needn’t be a salivating stare down with the spuds. The subject du jour: how you plan to handle the holiday. Primal types seem to fall into two camps when it comes to these occasions. Some say every day is a Primal day, and they go about preparing their Thanksgiving feast the way they do every other meal. If they’re visiting for the holiday, they selectively forage and might even bring a Primal dish of their own (to share or relish alone). Others take a looser approach, balancing the value of family traditions with their Primal interests to forge a reasonable compromise for the day. There’s plenty of room under the Primal tent for both good, old-fashioned moderation and rock solid resoluteness, I’d say. Let’s take a closer look.
Overburdened doctors sure do love tangible targets, like lipid numbers. They’re easy to hit with drugs. There’s no guesswork – statins and the like actually do lower cholesterol (whether that’s helpful or harmful is the question) – and that makes a physician’s life simpler. Oh, sure, lifestyle changes work, but most patients won’t bother trying them (especially when the changes you prescribe are founded in faulty science and no fun following). Doctors can usually get patients to take a pill.
There’s yet another cholesterol-busting wonder drug on the coming horizon called anacetrapib. A recent eighteen-month trial found that it boosted HDL (from 40 to 101) 138% greater than placebo and slashed LDL (from 81 to 45) 40% better than placebo in patients already taking statins by hampering the effects of the CETP enzyme. Another potent CETP-inhibitor – torcetrapib – made similar headlines in 2006 when it boosted HDL and reduced LDL like nothing else before it, but those headlines were overshadowed when 60% excess mortality occurred in people taking the drug versus those on placebo. So far, anacetrapib seems safe enough, but I’m not holding my breath. I tend to get a little uneasy when we change a single variable and mess with enzymatic pathways in a very complex closed system, with a single goal (raise that HDL, drop that LDL!) in mind. Focusing on numbers that are largely an indication of your lifestyle without doing anything about the lifestyle itself is like pissing into the wind: quite often, it’ll splash all over you, and you’re lucky if it’s just the shoes.
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