Category: Fats

Confessions of a Former Lipid-Phobe

Sara here. Are you a lipid-phobe? I used to be one, too. Here’s why every woman needs to lose the fear of fat!

Every friendship has That Conversation. You know, that one thing you debate ad infinitum. My best friend and I have had many a tendentious tiff over the issue of dietary fat. Like any self-respecting woman in the prime of her dieting years (translation: life span), lipids and I have had a rocky relationship. In high school and college I was firmly convinced, like most people, that fat was bad. I scarfed bagels and pasta and low-fat cookies with impunity. So did all my girlfriends. Fat was the enemy, and we were slavishly mindful of every hidden gram. I can still tell you the grammage of just about any food (and I bet you can, too).

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8 Essential Aging Hacks

We face eight key health challenges as we age. The steps you take to prevent and mitigate these challenges can make the difference between just hobbling through your golden years and actually thriving. There’s just no reason not to enjoy energy and vitality well into your seventies, eighties and beyond. Everyone’s into hacks: life hacks, brain hacks, productivity hacks, tech hacks, budget hacks, house hacks. I’m into aging hacks. Let us hack. Here are the top health issues we all must face when we descend to the other side of the hill, and the smart steps you can take – now – to stop them. Although I think it’s worth stating that the hill metaphor of life should be chucked entirely. “Over the hill” doesn’t make sense in this day and age with all the amazing scientific and nutritional advances of which we can take endless advantage. So I prefer to think of life as a gently sloping valley that gets a bit steeper the closer you get to the other side. You just need a few more tools to ace the slope. 1. Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome This is the biggest cause of preventable death, because it’s linked to virtually all the other major causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease). 75% of adults over 60 are overweight or obese. Obesity and poor health go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to live a long, healthy life if you are seriously overweight. No wonder we’ve got such a massive health care tab and drastically reduced quality of life among seniors. Though I ought to quibble with the BMI, for the purposes of this post I won’t. The general guideline is to make sure your waist is less than 40″ if you’re a man and 35″ if you’re a woman. I don’t recommend focusing on LDL cholesterol to the detriment of other crucial factors like raising your good (HDL) cholesterol and keeping your triglycerides and inflammation under absolute control. The four simple steps required: – Eat smart protein that contains good fat: grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, fermented tofu (and take a fish oil supplement, too). – Cook with olive oil or walnut oil. – Absolutely avoid all refined foods that contain processed grains, sugars, corn syrup, starch, flour, etc. – Move a little. A daily walk is sufficient if you do your best to make it brisk. 2. Arthritis Half of us will get it. I even have osteoarthritis from my time as a pro runner. We’re also prone to joint troubles thanks to our primal past – er, the fact that we walk upright hasn’t quite registered with our DNA. Hence, we experience knee and back issues like they’re going out of style (only as of yet, they are not). Of course, obesity is a big culprit. Losing just ten pounds can cut your risk in half. I manage arthritis successfully by doing the following: – Taking at least a gram of fish oil daily. – Reducing … Continue reading “8 Essential Aging Hacks”

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The Yolk’s On You

Apologies for that headline.

By now, most folks are aware that eggs are not unhealthy despite their high cholesterol content. (Though not everyone, because Eggbeaters is still in business!) Eggs contain quality protein, fat, and important vitamins and minerals. Most of the nutrition is found in the yolk of the egg, which is why we’re making the yolk this week’s Smart Fuel.

Paul Goyette’s Flickr Photo (CC)

Yolks contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish your eyes, your brain, your heart and your mood. A sampling: lutein, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, Omega-3’s, sulfur, tryptophan, choline, magnesium, B12, the complete amino acid profile, and much more. Yolks are truly one of the most dense nutrition sources on earth. Take a look at this rundown from the USDA.

Egg tips:

– Choose organic or free-range eggs. Better yet, if you live near any farms, see about purchasing fresh farm eggs. The best yolks are a rich yellow.

– You can eat eggs after the “sell by” date, but definitely toss them a week beyond that. Fresh is best with eggs, both for safety and nutrition.

– If you aren’t sure about the freshness, plunk your egg in a bowl of water. If it rises, it’s old. If it sinks or bobs near the bottom, it’s fresh.

– It’s not really a smart idea to eat eggs every day, because allergies can sometimes develop (this is true of many foods). But several eggs a week is genius.

More Smart Fuel

[tags] egg, yolk, cholesterol, food [/tags]

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Another Round of Stump Sisson Friday

All right, gang, you flooded my inbox this week. I can certainly think of worse problems to have, though. (People read the blog! A whole lot of people, as it turns out). I always answer as many emails as I can. If you don’t hear from me, it’s a good idea to talk about your health questions in the forum, so that if I don’t answer them, someone sure will – a very encouraging and interesting gang, as you’ll find.

This week, I got a whole slew of questions about my controversial case against cardio, my antipathy towards carbs, what food I eat in a day, and oddly, not one but several emails about spirulina.

A samplin’:

“Mark, is it true that spirulina is a good source of Omega-3’s? Is it better than fish oil?”

Sorry, but spirulina is a very poor source of Omega-3’s – a dose of fish oil has ten times the amount. I have a bit of a beef with spirulina supplements, because while it’s technically true that spirulina is a good vegetarian protein as well as containing beneficial fatty acids, the amounts are seriously microscopic. You’d literally have to consume spirulina breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get even a minimal amount of nutrients you can easily get from consuming just a few servings of wild salmon or even olive oil every week. This is something I see in general with a lot of supposed “miracle food” supplements. I won’t name names (for now) but potency means zip if the dose itself is puny. Look at grams per serving, always.

“Mark, how do I find out my nutritional type?”

Oh, boy. This is one that just persists and persists. I am not a fan of body-typing for diet or anything else, apples. Something you learn in Biology 101 is that we all share the same metabolic pathways – so we should all stay away from the same things – sugar, namely. It’s just that some of us are better at extracting and storing calories than others (see the Bees’ coverage of gut bugs). The problem is simple, but very common (like 65% of Americans share it!).

Stick around for more fun and insights daily.

Further reading:

Carbs Are Not the Devil

It’s the Calories, Not the Carbs

Here’s a Tip: Eat Plants

[tags] spirulina, omega-3, nutritional type, diets [/tags]

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Grubs, Part 2

Last week I outlined my basic philosophy of nutrition, informed by my evolutionary biology knowledge. Or, as I call it, Primal Health. The lifestyle is simple: peer into the past at how our robust ancestors lived and take some notes from the DNA handbook (well, I’ll do that part).

Before the advent of agriculture, before the industrial revolution, and certainly before the modern era of fast food, long commutes, and sedentary office jobs, humans had evolved into the amazing creatures that they still are. To say we’re amazing isn’t anthropocentric – all creatures are amazing in the sense that they are finely tuned to survive in their niche. We are no different. For the delicacy of our skin, eyes, and bones, the susceptibility to environmental and emotional stress, and the infectious side effects of communal living, we are remarkably resilient. But it’s really our intelligence that has gotten us this far. Are we powerful? Well, not really, compared to apes. Sturdy? Again, nope. Our young take longer than just about any other mammal to mature (and also come with tuition bills). But brains? We have massive, enormously complex brains.

My Primal Health philosophy is really a marriage of ancient and high-tech. I believe we should harness the power of our knowledge, tools and intelligence to maximize human health and longevity. And the place to start is in our ancestral blueprints – our DNA – which haven’t changed in 10,000 or more years.

Great, Sisson. What does this mean for dinner?

Early humans were omnivorous (though in fact, there’s a bit of scavenger in the old DNA as well). I don’t consider my diet the Caveman Diet, as that’s a bit of a misnomer anyway. Rather, my “diet” is simply the very natural lifestyle I adhere to based upon what our genetic composition (that DNA blueprint) tells us about our highly successful evolution and adaptation. I attribute many, if not most, of our health problems – including mental health conditions – to a diet and lifestyle that’s severely out of sync with human physiology. I’ll be discussing the implications of this for exercise and stress in further articles, but today, let’s talk about the tastier aspects of primal health: what’s for dinner?

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How to Eat More Fat

Sara here. Alert the press, for I am going to share with you the best ways to eat a lot more fat. That’s right (whew…you can stop stressing now). Your weekly health challenge: eat more fat. I want you to get greasy with it. But this isn’t a license to hit up the candy aisle or to stop in at McDonald’s. I want you to eat more healthy fats this week. Here are some tips and types. Try them out and then give all your fellow apples a hand by talking about your favorite fats in the forum (we narrowly missed a tongue-twister there, didn’t we?). Fats to eat: – Cream, eggs, butter That’s right – I’m recommending saturated fat. Irresponsible of me, I know. Actually, provided you’re eating organic dairy and eggs, and you’re not getting crazy with the portions, saturated fat is not the monster it’s made out to be. I personally am more concerned about triglycerides and inflammation than I am about cholesterol, and refined fat and sugar have the most impact on these two health wreaking balls. I’m not saying cholesterol doesn’t matter; it does. It just doesn’t matter as much as you think. You can enjoy a little saturated fat. – Nuts, avocados, fish Omega 3’s, people! – Coconut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, olive oil Put down the corn, soybean and canola oil. These may be unsaturated, but that doesn’t make them healthy (they are still refined, and contain some undesirable fatty acid chains). Liven up your meals, give your tastebuds something to live for, and try out new, omega-3-rich oils. Go and drench thyself. Stat. Fats you’re too good for: – fried anything, breaded anything, processed anything, packaged anything, not-natural anything. Keep these junk fats away from your precious body! I mean it! Why eat fat: Well, for starters, fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat also helps with stress management, cognition, mood, sleep, energy, weight management, healthy tissues, skin and hair – even digestion and nutrient absorption. Why I know what I’m talking about: I’m not a scientist and I’m not a doctor, so while I hope you consider my thoughts to be helpful, just remember that if you tell your doctor “But my homegirl Sara told me…” you might not have her immediately convinced of the glories of your newfound decadent fat consumption. I have spent the last several years reading endless studies and articles, so in my own defense I am pretty darn educated on the subject. Please don’t let all those nights your editor spent reading go to waste. 😉 But what probably matters most and is ultimately most insightful is my own health story. For several years there, I was quite the little frumpalump, and I wasn’t very healthy, either. Thanks to what I’ve learned from Mark, I dropped 20 pounds of literally depressing and unattractive grad-school pudge (the impossible “last 20” stubborn clinger kind), and got rid of my horrendous migraines and “adventures” with mood imbalances. That was … Continue reading “How to Eat More Fat”

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