An Upbuilding Discourse

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Research on Being

What About the Liver?

I’ve done quite a few dietary experiments, supplemental regimens, and herbal remedies. Some of them have worked somewhat, some have not but overall, I have to say results have generally been mixed. Looking at other people’s experiences can often have the effect of producing wonder at how so many others respond so well while I feel so mixed still. What could be the problem?

Diet is important. Exercise is important. Stress reduction is important. However, I believe perhaps I have forgotten the importance of specific organs in all of this and optimizing their function. In some cases, changing diet, stress, or exercise is how you optimize that organ’s function. With the liver this is not necessarily the case and considering that the liver is the master toxin removal system of the body, it seems that its malfunction could have pretty large ramifications.

Thyroid and Liver

A large component of Peat’s approach has to do with optimizing thyroid function as much as possible via diet and supplement if necessary (usually T3), however, problems with the thyroid may be related to problems with the liver considering that the liver metabolizes many of the thyroid hormones. If someone is doing a pro-thyroid diet and having problems, I hypothesize that the liver may be involved as a secondary factor.

Primary factors that can hurt the liver appear to be iron overload, alcohol, and polyunsaturated fats over and above random toxins like pesticides and industrial chemicals. One component of the Peat protocol which I have neglected has been his recommendation to consume coffee to reduce iron absorption (mostly because I don’t like coffee and it makes me very jittery). However, the more I look into it, the more coffee appears as a liver protective compound. This mechanism may be through the inhibition of iron absorption. If this is the case then the most useful things one can do from a dietary perspective is manage iron intake and reduce PUFAs.

There is also the possibility of a doing a liver cleanse/gallbladder flush. Unfortunately, good data on the efficacy of doing this protocol is lacking though most people who do it (~75%) don’t regret having done so. This is why I am trying this out though not in its most extreme form. I’m implementing the gallbladder flush as described in John Pollard’s The Digestive Awareness Diet which consists of 3 days with 2 qts of apple juice a day (plus your regular diet) and then olive oil/grapefruit mixture on the 3rd night and 2 tablespoons of epsom salts the following day.

To put some of this in context, the white tongue that I have had at least since the GAPS diet has followed me through high starch, and now high simple sugars. Sometimes it retreats and sometimes it doesn’t. Some say that the white tongue is a marker of liver function so I shall put this to the test. Since I’ve started drinking the apple juice though, my tongue has been looking redder. We shall see. My working hypothesis is simply that with impaired liver function, the efficacy of supplements, herbs, and dietary changes will be impaired no matter what they are. Consequently, one must optimize liver function in order for everything else to take hold.

Filed under: Cleanse, Coffee, Health, Iron, Liver, Nutrients, phytic acid

An Evolutionary Hypothesis on Protein

As you may have guessed by now; I have been reassessing some of my ideas in light of the experience of the Peat-a-tarians. I set out my general evolutionary hypothesis for what I believe underlies the possible efficacy of a Ray Peat style diet in this post but I wanted to go into a little more detail in regards to protein.

The fact that gelatin has the most anti-inflammatory amino acid composition of any protein according to Peat implies a few interesting things about what we are best adapted to. The non-gelatin proteins that most closely resemble the amino acid composition of gelatin are (big surprise) the gelatinous seafood proteins, namely the bivalves followed by the cephalopods. Other proteins with a relatively balanced ratio include the rest of the shellfish (mostly anthropods) and, finally, dairy and eggs. If we accept that dairy is useful as a approximation of many conditions of our early diet (high calcium:phosphorus ratio, low iron, anti-inflammatory protein) then I think it becomes clear that humans most likely began to steal eggs and shuck bivalves as their first exposure to animal protein, moving up the chain to creatures harder to capture and eat thus anthropods come next followed by fish and then larger land mammals. This is also consistent with the idea that we evolved in coastal equatorial forests thus being near trees and water meant availability of seafood, eggs, and small mammals in addition to fruit and greens. The only remaining puzzle from this is why iron would be low. Many bivalves are pretty high in iron. The only answers I have come up with is that we just didn’t eat too much animal protein and hence didn’t intake too much iron and that, because of our green consumption, we probably had a whole lot of different phytochemicals in our body inhibiting iron absorption.

Filed under: Diet, Health, Peat, phytic acid, protein

Doing Ray Peat without Dairy: Some Suggestions

When I first started reading Ray Peat, I was somewhat incredulous at his recommendation to consume so much milk and cheese as well as at his belief that lactose intolerance problems are the result of various hormonal problems as opposed to simply the fact that most people in the world do not have genes for lactase persistence. In any case, even if Ray Peat is correct on all accounts, consuming high amounts of dairy on a healing program when you know it gives you issues sounds like a world of pain. I’ve come up with a few suggestions for those who still want to try Ray Peat’s dairy suggestions without actually consuming dairy.

Why Does Peat Recommend Dairy?

There appear to be three main reasons: dairy has an anti-inflammatory amino acid profile, dairy has pro-thyroid minerals, dairy has a high calcium/phosphorus ratio.

The Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio

There are lots of foods with a high calcium/phosphorus ratio but most of these are vegetables meaning that you’ll have to consume a relatively high volume of them in order to get enough (for 1g of calcium you need about 2-3lbs of collard greens or 19 oranges). You can also get a boost from molasses which has a great ratio and is high in many other minerals including magnesium (look for one low in iron).

Best: Dark leafy greens (especially collard greens, kale), molasses, oranges

Anti-Inflammatory Proteins

I did a look on nutrition data in order to figure out how proteins compared to gelatin in terms of being high in proline, glycine, and alanine as well as which were low in methionine, cystine, and tryptophan. Here is some of what I found:

Low tryptophan: Milk, yogurt, oysters, clams, scallops, cuttlefish, squid

Low cysteine: Milk, yogurt, clams, oysters, snow crabs, cuttlefish

Low methionine: Milk, yogurt, clams, oysters, scallops

High glycine: Pork skin, pork ears, pastrami, crab, cuttlefish, lobster, veal liver, crawfish, scallop

High proline: Laver (seaweed), egg white, casein, beef spleen, tuna, pike, cod, haddock, whitefish, pastrami

High alanine: Ham, beef lungs, shrimp, beef round

Among these proteins, we have a few that are also high in cysteine, tryptophan, or methionine such as egg white (methionine, tryptophan, cystine), tuna (methionine, tryptophan), crustaceans (tryptophan), and dairy (cystine).

Being Pro-Thyroid

There are many pro-thyroid vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, selenium, zinc, copper, and iodine. Many of these are in dairy but they are also abundant in mollusks, crustaceans, liver, egg yolks, and seaweed.

What we can conclude from this is that, as a general rule, mollusks and crustaceans are your best source of protein in terms of amino acid profile and mineral content.

Best: Gelatin, oysters, clams, scallops, squid, octopus, crustaceans, liver, egg yolks, seaweed

To summarize, to get the right calcium/phophorus ratio you should consume dark leafy greens in high volume, oranges, and molasses. To get the right amino acid profile, vitamins, and minerals you should consume gelatin, mollusks, egg yolks, liver, crustaceans, and seaweed.

Update:

I forgot to mention the fact that Peat also likes dairy because of the fact that it inhibits iron absorption by its high calcium content. I would suggest that you eat your calcium rich foods together with your proteins for best results (and also with coffee, tea, or cocoa if you like as these also inhibit iron absorption). Egg whites are an interesting case in that they contain phosvitin which helps inhibit iron. It is also interesting to take note of the fact that many of the calcium rich greens (collards, spinach, chard, kale) contain oxalic acid which also inhibits iron absorption. You may also make a homemade calcium supplement by saving the eggshells from hard boiled eggs and grinding them into a fine powder; this powder will be calcium carbonate.

Filed under: calcium, dairy, Diet, Health, Peat, protein, Vitamin A

Ray Peat, Paleo, and 80-10-10: A Synthesis

Lately, things have been clicking like crazy. All the confusion and contradictory information from Ray Peat, Paleo, and 80-10-10 is finally congealing into a framework that I think makes a lot of sense and which resolves itself into a diet which is essentially the reverse Perfect Health Diet by which I mean that fat and carbohydrate ratios are reversed and the preferred carbohydrate source is fruit/simple sugars. Let me explain further.

 

Ray Peat

The main tenets of what I have read in relation to Ray Peat seem to resolve into reducing absolute PUFA levels as much as possible, maintaining a high calcium/phosphorus ratio, preference of sugar to starch as a fuel source, the importance of salt, and balancing your amino acids by limiting more common (and more inflammatory) amino acids such as tryptophan and preferring less common (anti-inflammatory) amino acids such as gelatin. These lead to several base recommendations of his such as high dairy consumption (especially milk), avoiding muscle meats, and eating a lot of fruit. I believe these explain a lot of the successes and difficulties of those following an 80-10-10 protocol as well as some of the problems of a Paleo diet as usually done.

 

Paleo

As you already no doubt know, Paleo is about getting rid of beans and grains and eating meat, vegetables, and fruit. The first iteration of Paleo was low carb while the second iteration was at least moderate carb. In both cases, the preferred fuel source has been saturated fat and the preferred carbohydrate source has been starch. Sugar has always been demonized within Paleo even in fruit which has generally led to very low sugar consumption among this demographic. I would like to suggest that the most common Paleo diet is really the diet that humans adapted to once we began moving to more northern climates and that this switch over was relatively easy due to the metabolic flexibility most humans have. However, I would also like to suggest that perhaps lingering issues on a Paleo diet are due to the fact that your main fuel sources (saturated fat and starch) are later adaptations that are more difficult for you to process due to metabolic damage sustained through multiple generations. I will get into this more in a second but first.

 

80-10-10

So how does Ray Peat explain the success and failure of 80-10-10? The extremely low fat levels in 80-10-10 will produce extremely low levels of absolute PUFA in the diet, the high consumption of greens mandated by the diet (half by volume) will produce a very good calcium/phosphorus ratio, and the very low protein consumption coupled by the lack of animal protein means pro-inflammatory proteins are basically eliminated. The dental problems (and probably also the skin problems) encountered on 80-10-10 are due to a lack of fat soluble vitamins and could be solved by adding eggs, butter, and liver to the diet. Low body temperature can be explained by the fact that the thyroid is likely being suppressed by any raw cruciferous vegetables being consumed and the fact that low protein (as Matt Stone has pointed out) depresses thyroid. Simply by eating more protein and not being vegan, this diet becomes a lot better and I think may potentially represent a truer picture of the Paleo diet.

 

A Hypothesis on the Evolution of the Human Diet

If we look at bonobos then we see that before our evolution into humans, we were likely frugivores with a small consumption of meat and vegetables. Higher consumption of meat is likely what forced our digestive tracts to change (shrink the colon, increase the size of the large intestine, etc) and with this came the capability of relying on more calorie dense foods. If we consider cooking to be an adaptation that comes some amount of time after eating meat then we see that humans likely ate very little starch until the advent of cooking at which point the caloric density of root vegetables became available. I am thus proposing that there is a hierarchy of foods we are best adapted to and that this hierarchy is as follows: fruit, meat, greens, starch. Considering that humans evolved in equatorial Africa, it makes perfect sense that the diet would be as such since there would be no need to suddenly stop eating fruit in a place where fruit is abundant year-round. I believe the move to starch as a main energy substrate for diet is likely the result of the fact that roots grow and store well in northern climates thus making them suitable for humans there and the fact that because roots are so much more calorie dense, they may be seen as a more efficient energy source than fruit. This is why I think most modern foragers rely on starch or fat for bulk calories rather than fruit. The first authentically human diet appears from this to be either high sugar with some meat and greens or high fat with some fruit and greens. However, seeing as we began as frugivores, there is no reason why we would suddenly switch to eating so much meat.

Because humans are built to be flexible and adaptive, the northern diet should present no challenges to the normal human and, indeed, this is why you see such a huge variance in diets among human cultures. You see the Inuit, the Masai, the Kitavans, and so on. Each group eats highly different ratios of food yet all are lean and healthy on their traditional diet.

 

Matt Stone has also pointed out that people coming from traditional cultures can often withstand much more stress than your average person including the stress of subpar and denatured foods while those from the industrial cultures suffer allergies and bad digestion rampantly. If we can suppose that most people in the industrial nations suffer many of their ills as a result of reduced ability to withstand stress from the buildup of multi-generational malnutrition and lifestyle then perhaps the metabolic flexibility that allowed humans to moved from a high sugar, meat, and greens diet to a high fat, starch, meat, and greens diet has been impaired also. These people, in particular, I believe may benefit from the tropical (or southern) paleo diet which may be viewed as a more relaxed, omnivorous 80-10-10 or a sugar fueled reverse Perfect Health Diet.

This is what I shall be experimenting with in the next few months to see how it all bears out. Has anyone eaten like this (besides Minger and Roddy)? What is your experience?

Filed under: 80-10-10, Diet, Health, Paleo, Peat, PUFA, TPD, Veganism, , ,

Coming Full Circle (recap of 2011)

This year has been an ever changing erratic mix of dietary experiments in food essentialism but I have learned a few things and, after everything, have come more or less full circle back to a sort of a Paleo diet but a very different sort which will be my first experiment for 2012.

The year started out with me continuing on my Paleo diet heavily influenced at that time by Mark Sisson and Melissa McEwen with the goals of helping to improve my digestion. The tweaks I did to the diet towards this end had to be abandoned around April when I realized I was developing a cavity at which point I implemented the tooth remineralization protocol based on Ramiel Nagel’s book. This diet worked in reversing my tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums and also improved my digestion somewhat as far as I could tell but not entirely. This led me to try a zero carb Paleo diet with some raw animal products (liver, heart, eggs) with limited results. I started feeling worse and eventually introduced carbs again as it became clearer and clearer that they served an important purpose. At this point, I became more or less an adherent of the Perfect Health Diet for a while. A course of antibiotics shocked me back into digestive anxiety which led me to do zero carb again for a little while followed by a fruit and sugar free GAPS diet. After a few months on the GAPS diet and with some reading from Matt Stone I felt confident enough to reintroduce starch into my diet and heavily. The consumption of lentils when I was on the GAPS diet first began to corrupt my sense of their evilness and once I fully embraced starch I decided to allow a limited amount of legumes, grains, and pseudo-grains again. My diet basically became WAPF style. On the GAPS diet, however, I had noticed a coated white tongue indicative of candida. This has still not gone away entirely which leads me to my latest experiment based on Ray Peat, Danny Roddy, and Denise Minger and which, I realize now, is basically fully or nearly fully compliant with SCD, GAPS, PHD, and Paleo while at the same time being radically altered in ratios. This is what I like to call the “Tropical Paleo Diet” which is essentially the 80-10-10 diet plus seafood, red meat, eggs, and dairy (if well tolerated) which I will explain in more detail later.

Filed under: 80-10-10, Diet, Digestion, Health, Paleo, TPD, ,

New Directions in Nutrition

It it high time for an update around here. I had been hesitant for a while mostly due to the fact that what I’ve been reading about recently (sexuality) does not seem to fit in thematically with this blog. However, I have recently also changed some of my views on optimal nutrition and am finally implementing some of these changes. Most of my changes in thinking come from my experience with the GAPS diet, the Perfect Health Diet, the Danny Roddy Blog, and 180 Degree Health.

On the Question of Gut Dysbiosis

“Gut dysbiosis” has become a sort of trendy phrase these days and I do not doubt that it is a widespread problem in our society from the lack of fermented foods, overuse of antibiotics, pollution, chemical adulteration of food, and so on and so forth. How is one to deal with it? There are a lot of ideas about this. I basically bought wholesale into the idea that starch is impossible to digest and that simple sugars feed pathogens. This led me to do the GAPS diet which is pretty low in carbohydrate as a therapeutic diet for a while. The problem is that I had already been pretty low carb for a while at that point as my reaction to subjective feelings of gut dysbiosis has always been to go ZC or VLC as a way to starve the bad guys. I realize now that this path was mistaken since probiotics will not grow well without prebiotics and this was shown time and time again by constipation and reduced stool volume. At the time, I also didn’t realize that a VLC diet increases susceptibility to fungal infection in addition to the other problems postulated by the PHD. It is now my conviction that to treat gut dysbiosis it is important to eat a lot of prebiotics and probiotics along with gut healing foods and a low toxin load. This means foods that contain resistant starch or inulin as these seem to be the least problematic sorts of prebiotics and ones that are preferred by good bacteria. Reducing sugars is still important but going low carb can backfire by increasing susceptibility to fungi and also impairing immune function while not providing enough feedstock for probiotic colonies to flourish and do their work. For healing gut dysbiosis, I have thus changed my mind from the GAPS diet to instead a GAPS-style diet plus foods high in resistant starch and inulin including pseudo-grains, white rice, pulses, and starchy tubers. I would also eliminate nuts, seeds, and fruit. Each person will need to test these foods to see if they have reactivity to any of them and eliminate those that produce reactions. In general, however, I have changed the way in which I believe these sorts of problems need to be conceptualized. Instead of starving out the pathogen while also starving yourself of important foods, it’s better to eat enough of every major macro- and micro-nutrient category while simultaneously adding immune system and detoxification support otherwise you risk weakening yourself as you weaken your pathogen which may have more tricks up its sleeve to feed off of you. This does not mean your diet can be a free for all but you must not be totally carbophobic and take the food lists provided by the diet to be gospel. For instance, on the GAPS diet why are lentils and white beans okay but not adzuki beans or mung beans which are both supposed to be very low in toxins and easily digestible.

On Hypothyroidism

It has come to my attention by way of Matt Stone that it seems that part of the efficacy of low carbing is the fact that it pumps up your adrenals for a while and makes you hypothyroid. In the short term, this works out great but it backfires when one does this relentlessly. Low carbing would thus be most effective when combined with carb refeeds every so often to allow the adrenals to rest. Many low carbers have experienced a certain pattern of symptoms that comes after being low carb for a while, this includes oral thrush, dandruff, intolerance to cold, low body temperature, reduced libido, the return of some fat, and so on. I have experienced many of these at this point especially since returning to the GAPS diet for a few weeks thus providing another reason to increase my carbohydrate intake.

On Protein Consumption

By way of Danny Roddy I have become acquainted more and more with the detrimental effects of high tryptophan consumption on the body. These negative effects are largely the result of the increased circulating serotonin that eating a lot of tryptophan can produce. The tryptophan amino acid is, of course, especially rich in muscle meats. In addition, eating too much protein does not seem to be all that beneficial unless you are attempting to build muscle mass. High protein consumption is associated with hypothyroidism, decreased testosterone production, and a shorter lifespan. In addition, restricting protein can produce beneficial results from the autophagy that may be induced. All these considerations make me feel that protein can be anywhere from 5-15% of a diet and should come mainly from variety meats, seafood, gelatin, pulses, and pseudo-grains.

Other Stuff

A few other things to consider are that fructose and alcohol both appear to be treated similarly in the body and thus produce similar effects when consumed in excess (such as a fatty liver). A few studies, however, appear to show that many of these ill effects of overconsumption can be significantly reduced or eliminated when the consumption is done in the absence of polyunsaturated fats. It thus seems to me that in the hierarchy of evil things that supposedly destroy health, fructose and alcohol may, in fact, both be conditional toxins whose toxic dose depends on PUFA consumption. Reduction of PUFA to minimum levels (while also balancing n-3/n-6 ratio) appears to be the chief thing to do with reduction of fructose and alcohol being secondary. Another interesting thought is about stress. It seems that people who’ve grown on very nutritious foods in a traditional manner can tolerate way more dietary stress without having as many food allergies or problems. I am thus starting to wonder how much optimal adrenal and thyroid function have to do with susceptibility to food intolerances. Recently, I have either become lactose intolerant or only just realized that I am more lactose intolerant than I initially thought. After I finish this phase of carb refeeding, however, I plan to test dairy again to see if my tolerance has improved with improved thyroid and adrenal function but we shall see.

Summary

To summarize some of the conceptual changes:

-I believe a healthy gut depends on prebiotics as much as probitics especially resistant starch and inulin. Low carb programs for treating the gut can impair immunity (especially to fungi) while slowing down growth of probiotic colonies.

-I believe reducing protein (especially tryptophan-rich protein) can be beneficial which means that the optimal protein sources become seafood, variety meats, gelatin, pseudo-grains, and pulses and the optimal protein amount becomes 5-15% of calories.

-I believe a minimum level of carbohydrate must be maintained in all cases. For this minimum I’ll defer to the PHD who puts it at about 20% of calories, however, more may be beneficial depending on your circumstance. I no longer believe fat is a preferred fuel source. Either carbohydrate or fat can be good as long as a few guidelines are observed. Carbohydrate sources are low in toxins, fructose, and insoluble fiber. Fat sources are low in PUFAs. You have an open window of 85%-95% Fat/Carb calories though you will generally do best if you prefer one source and moderate the other one.

-Polyunsaturated fats are the master toxin that can activate fructose or alcohol to produce physiological problems in the body. As such, make sure to balance and minimize PUFAs. I’ll defer to Stephan for this and say that PUFAs should comprise no more than 4% of calories.

Filed under: Bacteria, Diet, Digestion, Fermentation, Health, Macronutrients, Nutrients, VLC

Towards a New Paradigm of Health (or the T-DOMES concept)

So this is meant to be an outline of my ideas concerning how disease is caused and how it may be prevented and managed. There is a standard framework set up in advance by the institution of medicine that has its own philosophy pertaining to how the body is to be viewed and treated and this is challenged in specific ways by alternative and complementary medicine. Nevertheless, these are all techniques that manage bodily conditions once illness has struck. When it comes to prevention, there is a lot of obvious and simple advice given about what one must do. Your average text on health tends to construct a simplified conceptual framework of how health functions in order to organize the activities that produce wellness into a whole that may be conceived and acted upon. I have not yet found an author, however, whose way of doing this has completely satisfied me so this is my attempt to produce my own simplified but hopefully useful way of conceptualizing disease treatment and prevention.

Toxicity

The central concept that relates to health is the idea of toxicity. This is the master concept that is usually at work whenever a problem arises whether the matter has to do with nutritional, pharmacological, psychic, or mechanical toxicity. I am thus using this term in a very broad way to include within it any life stress that is chronically maintained or which is beyond the threshold of benefit. Beneath the idea of toxicity are the various specific objects which we must be careful to be aware of in order to maintain wellness. Toxicity is thus the T in the T-DOMES acronym I have produced, the DOMES being a specification of the possible toxicities to avoid, manage, dissipate, and neutralize depending on your desire, circumstance, and temperament.

Digestion

Digestion is the first and most important part of the health equation, the one most likely to be disrupted, and the one that shall bring the most benefit once it is under control. A compromised gut is implicated in a wide range of problems including, obviously, the digestive problems but also autism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, muscular pain and so on. In other words, it’s always good to rule out the gut as a causative factor as it may be playing a role in a variety of ailments. Good digestion is also important for the sake of extracting the most nutrition from food, having good energy balance, and so on. Below the macro idea of digestion lies several things. The most obvious one is to have a proper diet that is good for digestion and nutrition and to go through a therapeutic diet if necessary so that the gut may be healed. As far as therapeutic diets specifically for gut healing, it seems the GAPS or SCD diets work in many people. As a quick summary: eliminating lactose, casein, and/or polysaccharides may be useful for a limited time in allowing the gut to heal. Besides the diet, is the issue of having healthy and beneficial probiotic colonies in the gut through consuming fermented foods and supplements. Enzymes as well as betaine HCL (or apple cider vinegar) may also be needed to help weak digestion and/or low stomach acid production. There are also basic things of importance like the proper chewing of food and reduced meal frequency. Chronic stress is also a factor that may reduce stomach acid production. The goal of this level is then to deal with and avoid a wide variety of digestively related ailments and to improve energy production as well as our nutritive status and thereafter to maintain a nutritious and low toxin diet (i.e. PHD style diet or my regular diet).

Outlook

Outlook in life is extremely important both physiologically and psychologically (as if there were a difference) as the physiological tension from stress, depression, anxiety, and so on can affect digestion, the amount of adipose tissue that you have and where it is deposited, brain function, sleep quality, and the adrenal glands. As much as people attempt to turn into machines, our basis in biology cannot and will not be denied. The fact that we have a biological basis means that we need to understand that we all have certain social, sexual, and physiological needs and that we need to accept them and embrace them. Of course, I cannot delve into this topic deeply right now as this is just a cursory summary but the basic point is that we should not be experiencing chronic stress and isolation and learn to take our activities lightly and accept our circumstance as this will lead us towards a better life. In my view, however, this is the most difficult task to manage as the untangling and dissolution of neuroses is no easy feat due to the structural role that neuroses play in the psychic economy of the individual. Nevertheless, progress may be made such as through having valuable relationships, goals in life, practicing meditation, getting sufficient rest, and so on. The goal of this level is to avoid the problems of chronic psychological stress and self-defeating behavior, loneliness and so on.

Movement

The idea of movement encompasses both exercise and posture as these are two important things that affect our bodies. Exercise is a necessary activity in life in order to keep us strong and able to engage in a wide variety of activities not to mention that muscle cushions us from injury and provides a reserve store for our immune system to feed upon when necessary. I personally believe in the primacy of high intensity, but slow, weight lifting plus leisure and locomotive activities throughout the rest of life (walking to places, playing sports). Posture is important in weight training to avoid injury but it is also important in general as chronic bad posture can lead to a variety of spinal and muscular problems over time not to mention the fact that out culture is geared towards sitting and inactivity which is generally bad for posture. In this realm I suggest the Gokhale method as it very clearly explains what properly balanced posture is and how to achieve it. The goal of this level is then to avoid the mechanical injuries that arise from bad posture and to avoid other bodily injuries that become easier to incur when one is weaker in the body.

Environment

This is a very broad category that relates somewhat back to outlook in that it is important to exist in an environment that is conducive to your optimal functioning. However, one can be more specific in that many environments have stale or dry air, toxins present from the production of the carpets, furniture, and so on not to mention those present in various products used such as shampoo. The idea is to avoid unnecessary exposure to these sorts of things and also to balance it with being outside and in the sun as this is an activity that produces vitamin D in the body among other benefits. To this we may also relate the idea of time, the body responds to the environment and perceives time. When we engage in shift work and sleep all day, this can have a negative hormonal impact so it is recommended that one sleeps in the right environment at the right time. The goal of this level is to avoid the problems of vitamin D deficiency, exposure to toxicity, disconnection from nature, and so on.

Sanitation

This refers to a specific idea of cleanliness as I do not in any way advocate antibacterial cleaners as they are damaging to yourself and the environment. What I mean is the management of space. This includes the space of the body and as such can be seen as being synonymous with the idea of hygiene. Being “clean,” for me, does not mean the destruction of bacteria but rather the proper colonization of it especially as far as bodily entry points are concerned. The mouth, the nose, the anus, and genitals are all possible points of entry into the body from the exterior environment. If one maintains these areas in proper bacteriological balance then the likelihood of disease diminishes so I suggest probiotic treatments for these areas when warranted. For instance, one may wish to use a suppository or enema to help with the colon if a person has severe digestive issues from a loss of colonic bacteria. If a person is prone to chronic ear infections or sinusitis, it may be useful to introduce probiotics into that area of the body via a netipot. Also UTIs in women can be prevented through probiotic treatments which may be done orally or genitally. As for the mouth, there are many ways of modulating dental hygiene through the food consumed and the products used. The goal of sanitation is thus to control the entry points to the body as well as maintain the space around you in such a way that is does not constitute a threat to you. This does not mean destroying bacteria but, rather, being aware of them.

The Healing Modalities (SHOPP): Supplements, Herbalism, Osteopathy, Probiotics, Psychotherapy, Allopathy

The preceding sections outline the most salient concepts for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease, however, it is inevitable that one will become ill at some point and so it is necessary that one should have a plan for this eventuality. The “plan” that I have produced is constructed of several healing modalities that should be applied to the situation depending on the nature and gravity of the situation and the amount of harm and benefit the medicine is likely to produce in the patient. In life threatening situations, there is no option but going to conventional medicine (allopathy from now on) as this is what allopathy is best at, however, for all other ailments I believe a different approach is warranted due to the amount of problems that allopathic remedies tend to produce in individuals and the fact that this sort of medicine is based on symptomatic treatment as opposed to snuffing out causes.

Supplements

Many diseases are caused by vitamin toxicity or deficiency, as such supplemental vitamins constitute an important healing modality as anyone who has ever heard of scurvy can tell you. Even in the case of vitamin toxicity, vitamins may help since they work synergistically together and thus may be able to modulate one another such as vitamin A and D where toxicity in one is often present because of deficiency in another. Besides vitamins, there are many other compounds that can help in alleviating problems. For instance, alpha lipoic acid can chelate some heavy metals and could thus be useful for people with heavy metal toxicity.

Herbalism

Before getting to pharmacological substances to which bacteria (among other vectors of disease) can more easily adapt to due to their simplicity, it is important to attempt to treat disease with herbal substances. Of course, one should not assume that herbs are safe and nontoxic, it all depends on the herb but these are less likely to cause issues in individuals and are thus worth a try before getting to more dangerous treatment options. These are especially good with more minor ailments as there are many herbs that are antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial such as garlic and ginger.

Osteopathy

I do not know so much about osteopathy but do know that it has been shown to be effective and involves manipulation similar to chiropractic practice. As such, it seems to be a prudent option if you have some sort of mechanical difficulty and since osteopaths are full doctors they will move you towards allopathy if they believe it is necessary.

Probiotics

Probiotics are very important in preventing and treating disease as these bacteria constitute our endogenous bacterial army that battles against pathogenic bacteria. When a person has insufficient friendly bacteria, that individual becomes more susceptible to disease and when a person is given probiotics during illness, the illness tends to resolve faster. In most cases, except for gut dysbiosis, this will be either a complementary method or a preventative method, nevertheless, it is still very important as it may save you from recurring infections of the same sort as explained above.

Psychotherapy

If you have a psychological problem then psychotherapy should be your first option of treatment. It is just as effective, if not more so, than pharmacological treatment but gets the shaft because it’s easier and more profitable to prescribe medicine instead. In any case, using drugs to treat these sorts of disorders usually functions as symptomatic treatment that does not untangle any issues in the individual thus forsaking him/her to lifelong medication with the associated side effects.

Allopathy

Like I mentioned before, allopathic medicine is very good for emergencies. If you have a life threatening situation on your hands then you do not have the luxury of shopping around for the best treatment but instead need to just stay alive and allopathy knows how to do that. Besides this very special circumstance, I recommend that you use allopathy once other options have been exhausted as its treatments are the most damaging and dangerous. It may be useful, however, to go to an allopathic physician for the sake of certain diagnostics which you may then use for your own purposes and I believe this is the best use of them.

Other Considerations: Saunas, Laughter, Chiropractic, Acupuncture

There are other activities that can help health that are not treatment modalities in themselves or with which I am not familiar enough with to really endorse fully. I will quickly outline these here now.

Saunas

Saunas have been used for health for quite a long time and it makes sense as the sauna is nothing more than a simulation of the fever. The fever in the disease process does not happen for no reason, rather it is an immune defense. By increasing bodily temperature, the immune system is attempting to kill pathogens. This is why fevers should be allowed to run their course so long as they are mild. In any case, this appears to be the basic idea behind the sauna and why it is associated with longevity.

Laughter

Laughter is an activity which can help bring oxygen into the body, reduce stress, and improve outlook. As such, it seems to be something that should be included in a well rounded healing strategy especially considering how easy it is to get dreary when one is sick.

Chiropractic

So far, chiropractic practice has appeared to me as nothing more than a less professional form of osteopathy with fewer qualifications and more possible injury (especially if the manipulations are done on the neck). For this reason, I do not really see why someone should want to see a chiropractor when that person can simply just go and see an osteopath instead. Nevertheless, chiropractic does have a plausible method of functioning so feel free to go to them if you do have certain mechanical problems and prefer them.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture also has a plausible physiological method of functioning (that is, the needles stimulate bloodflow to the areas being pricked thus improving healing), however, I have not seen much in the way of proof that this does, in fact, work except when it comes to headaches and some muscular and joint pain. As such, I recommend that if you believe in it then go ahead and use it, it is unlikely to do you much harm, however, it does not seem very necessary and the clinical evidence behind it does not seem particularly large.

Conclusion

It is my opinion that the T-DOMES strategy should be a sufficient way to maintain very good health indefinitely. The problem is in implementing it fully as I believe many people likely have chronic digestive issues that require healing, chronic anxiety or stress, and may suffer from psychological problems such as anger, loneliness, depression and so on that put their bodies in compromised states of being. This is not even to mention the encouraged sedentariness of our culture and the bad posture that inheres in too much sitting and the toxic environments in which we often work and live. All these problems feed back into eachother very easily such as a job where you’re stuck at a desk all day in bad posture that leads to strain with a loved one which increases your stress and anxiety which you escape from by watching too much television while eating potato chips and ice cream. Here you have bad food with bad posture with bad environment with lack of movement working together to produce psychic and physiological stress that the person in question finds difficult to deal with except by indulging more fully in that which injures him/her. It is thus a difficult path to find a way to unravel ourselves from the traps of culture that attempt to tell us what to do, what to eat, what it is that is worthwhile to do with a life, who should be desired, how a person should act, what to buy and so on and so forth (not to mention the production of anxiety through news media). This often all eventually congeals into a clinically diagnosable disease which can then, through the cycle of unintended consequences and a faulty framework, lead to even more disease via the side effects of treatment if the treatment was even warranted in the first place. That is the additional insult here; that even people who are healthy can be made to be ill through the manufacture of imaginary diseases that need to be managed such as high cholesterol or the medicalization of problems that should be properly dealt with in psychotherapeutic ways such as depression or anxiety or through screening tests on the asymptomantic which often detect non-threatening phenomena that end up leading to unnecessary surgery. All this medicalization of the physiologically healthy even while the ill are symptomatically treated only thus allowing their diseases to progress further instead of instituting programs that reverse the disease process such as happens in GERD and diabetes. This is how one falls into the plague of iatrogenicity that must be avoided and this is why I suggest the T-DOMES framework above as a way to maintain health and to use allopathy only for diagnostics while using the other modalities (SHOPP) for actual healing if at all possible.

Filed under: Bacteria, Diet, Digestion, Hcl, Health, Iatrogenicity, Medicine, Nutrients, Pathogenesis, Supplements

The Problem with Modern Medicine

It’s been a while since the last post here but I have not been idle. I have been considering the topic of modern medicine and its modalities of healing. This was precipitated by my own recent encounter with the medical behemoth after a severe earache incapacitated me temporarily which led me to the clinic. This experience left me realizing just how vulnerable the patient is in the face of the authority of the doctor who hands down judgment upon the helpless patient desperate for an answer to the ailment that afflicts him/her. The doctor, usually, will give you an answer since that is what you seek. Whether this answer will in fact help your condition is another question entirely and it is in this way that it becomes easy for the doctor to prescribe medicine for conditions that don’t require it. This is all to say that going to the doctor is as much a psychological experience as anything else and that this must be taken into account in order so that the patient is not mislead or taken advantage of in his/her vulnerability. After all, the cures of modern medicine are not without their risks and to be taking a drug or undergoing a procedure simply because the doctor believed that that is what you wanted and without any proof of the efficacy of the drug or procedure is to be gambling with your health as hospitals are not safe places. Mistakes are made and antibiotic resistant infections breed there. No, we must be aware that doctors are people who make mistakes and who are subject to influence. That modern medicine is itself a pseudoscience based upon a lot of conjecture and questionable data and that it is sold like any other product, with lots of spin. I will now outline some of these problems.

Absolute Risk versus Relative Risk

Have you ever heard an advertisement for a drug where it was stated that it reduces the risk of some condition by let’s say 50%. This percentage refers to the rate of reduction as compared to another group, it is relative risk. This means that if there was a trial done with two groups of 1000 people and in group A, 1 person died while in group B 2 persons died then it could be said that the intervention done for group A reduced their risk of death by 50%, quite impressive despite the fact that the risk of dying in group A was 0.1% and the risk of dying in group B was 0.2%. This is one way in which unimpressive data can be made to appear much more impressive than it is in order to sell product. The problem with relative risk is that is meaningless unless you know what the percentages being compared are. If in the example trial above, 250 people died in group A and 500 people died in group B, the relative risk would be the same even though the risk of death in group A would have now been 25% been versus 50% in group B, a much bigger difference. This is but one example of why you should be very skeptical of procedures or drugs that are “proven.” You need to investigate the data yourself and do your own cost/benefit analysis to ensure that it’s not just hype and statistical abuse.

The Authority of Medicine

Modern medicine has been able to occupy a position of power and authority that very few other institutions have and this has given them something of a carte blanche to do what they like. Everyone seems to accept that the doctor knows best or that modern medicine is usually the most effective or most proven. The problem with these conceptions of modern medicine is that they are wrong. There are many obvious and standard procedures in medicine which in fact have nothing to support them. Cardiology is a great example of a pseudoscience as it seems to have the highest prevalence of procedures and medicines that harm people while procuring no benefit. Trials have shown that stents, angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass grafts are essentially worthless not to mention the overprescription of statins which treat a number but not a condition and may increase the prevalence of cancer since really low cholesterol is correlated with higher cancer risk. If these procedures did not have any risks then I suppose using them would not matter but the fact is that people become ill and consent to these procedures which have not been shown to work only to become sicker from complications related to these procedures. It is in this way that going to see the doctor can, paradoxically, make you sicker than if you had stayed at home and done nothing. For instance, ear infections are self limiting conditions that don’t generally need antibiotics, nevertheless, doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics for ear infections and this can lead to diarrhea or constipation as a side effect due to the disruption of gut flora and in trials it has been shown that those who took antibiotics for ear infections have a higher chance of recurrence than those who did not. Nevertheless, doctors do not seem to inform patients that they should take probiotics with their antibiotics or that a shorter course may be just as effective as the longer course or even take the trouble to make sure the infection is bacterial or what sort of bacteria it is so that the narrowest spectrum antibiotic is prescribed.

The Problem of the Screening Test

The screening test has come to appear as a thing that saves lives by detecting life threatening problems way before they actually threaten life. Unfortunately, the screening test doesn’t really save lives as much as it turns perfectly healthy people into patients, patients who become survivors because the problem they had wasn’t a problem in the first place. A screening test in an asymptomatic individual is seldom necessary since many screening tests are unreliable and since most of the types of cancers detected by screening tests are not ones to worry about. There is the tumor that is static, the tumor that grows so slowly as to have no effect on mortality, the tumor that grows slowly and can have an effect on mortality, and the tumor that grows quickly. If you have one of the first two then you’ll be getting medicalized for no reason. If you have the last one then you will become symptomatic rapidly and will not be helped by any screening test. Thus, out of 4 types of cancer, only 2 are worth worrying about and of those 2 only 1 can be detected at a screening test. I personally am not interested in lining the pockets of the medical industry for a problem I may or may not have so I suggest avoiding all medical screening tests unless you actually have symptoms.

Iatrogenicity

All of this is to say that if one is to remain healthy one must avoid doctors, hospitals, drugs, and procedures as much as possible otherwise one risks falling into the trap of endless iatrogenicity and lifelong disease management. The approach of modern medicine is treatment of symptoms and this leads to treatments that mask the problem while allowing it to progress. For instance, GERD is a condition that usually is caused by low stomach acid but is treated in ways that further reduce stomach acid thus helping the disease to progress while only providing minor symptomatic relief. In this way, the individual can become a patient for life who manages his/her chronic illness as opposed to someone who is getting better and will cease being diseased at some point. There are few cases in which one must remain diseased and manage it, certainly many fewer than what modern medicine believes and, in any case, considering how harmful treatment through conventional methods is, it seems prudent to always begin with the least harmful treatments and work up to the more harmful ones. As such, modern medicine should always be a last resort for treatment and be used chiefly for diagnostic purposes. Herbalism, osteopathy, rest, relaxation, psychotherapy, saunas, placebos, probiotics, laughter, nutrition, and vitamins all have healing potential that should be exploited before one runs into the arms of allopathy where the possibility of unintended consequences greatly increases. I will be expanding on some of these topics more later but this serves as a general exposition of my position.

References:

Hadler, Nortin. Worried Sick.

Welch, Gilbert. Overdiagnosed.

Schmidt, Michael. Beyond Antibiotics.

Bremner, Doug. Before You Take that Pill.

Cohen, Elizabeth. The Empowered Patient.

Filed under: Health, Iatrogenicity, Medicine