Antibiotics and meat

If you include meat in your diet, you may want to check out this article from the New York Times:

SCIENTISTS at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse.

Woah. That’s rather alarming. How much antibiotics go to livestock?

In 2011, drugmakers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock — the largest amount yet recorded and about 80 percent of all reported antibiotic sales that year. The rest was for human health care. We don’t know much more except that, rather than healing sick animals, these drugs are often fed to animals at low levels to make them grow faster and to suppress diseases that arise because they live in dangerously close quarters on top of one another’s waste.

Eighty percent? That’s  an incredible number.

I appreciate that not every lawmaker is as convinced as I am that feeding low-dose antibiotics to animals is a recipe for disaster. But most, if not all of them, recognize that we are facing an antibiotic resistance crisis, as evidenced by last year’s bipartisan passage of a measure aimed at fighting superbugs by stimulating the development of new antibiotics that treat serious infections. Why are lawmakers so reluctant to find out how 80 percent of our antibiotics are used?

We cannot avoid tough questions because we’re afraid of the answers. Lawmakers must let the public know how the drugs they need to stay well are being used to produce cheaper meat.

This is an interesting article written by former Food and Drub Administration commissioner, David A. Kessler. Highly recommended reading.


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An ancient diet expert on the paleo diet

Interesting information.

TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an expert on ancient diets. So how much of the diet phad the “Paleo Diet” is based on an actual Paleolithic diet? The answer is not really any of it.

Dr. Christina Warinner has excavated around the world, from the Maya jungles of Belize to the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and she is pioneering the biomolecular investigation of archaeological dental calculus (tartar) to study long-term trends in human health and diet. She is a 2012 TED Fellow, and her work has been featured in Wired UK, the Observer,, Der Freitag, and Sveriges TV. She obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, specializing in ancient DNA analysis and paleodietary reconstruction.

I especially appreciated the last five minutes where she compared eating whole, natural foods (yay!) to processed junk, like soda. The calories ingested in just one soda equaled eating over eight feet of sugar cane. Just that description alone highlighted how a whole foods diet is a powerhouse when it comes to maintaining health.

It’s a great talk. Enjoy!

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What does the world’s oldest person eat?

From Reuters: To heck with the diet wars. When it comes to longevity, Japan has a whole lotta centenarians. Now, they have the world’s oldest person as well.

Japan has more than 50,000 people aged 100 or more, 2011 government data showed, reinforcing its reputation for longevity.

Jiroemon Kimura of Kyoto, Japan recently celebrated his 116th birthday. I wonder what he eats.

Kimura is living with his 60-year-old granddaughter-in-law and has a three-meal-a-day diet of rice, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, according to local media.

Sounds like my kind of person!

Oh, and Japan also boasts the longest living woman, a 115 year old named Miaso Okawa.


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North Pole Marathon winner is plant based

It’s a particularly difficult marathon with temps around -28c but Fiona Oakes not only won the North Pole Marathon, she broke the record by 44 minutes.


According to the Buxton Advertiser, conditions this year were the “worst in the marathon’s eighty-year history.”

Double woah. She says:

“I knew it was going to be bad but just how bad I couldn’t possibly have prepared for. Not just the consequences of running at -30 with a wind chill but for half the course through deep snow.

“I haven’t got the longest legs in the world and kept falling it was so deep as when you put your foot on it you didn’t know if it was frozen enough to take your weight.

“On one occasion I sank up to my groin, on another I fell on my hand and now have a suspected fractured thumb.

“Never mind, job done, win in the women’s race, new course record and 3rd overall. Can’t ask for any more.”

She’s competed in 26 marathons.


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Yum. It’s dinner time.

Corn tacos with a Boca burger, corn, spinach, and southwestern mustard on a soft corn tortilla. Yummy.

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We’re testing recipes left and right and our latest incarnation from the upcoming “One Mix, 50 Fab Recipes: Healthier Baked Goods for a Healthier Lifestyle” (tentative title) :), is chocolate chip cookies.

I don’t know what’s funner, developing these recipes or taste testing them. I’ve got a freezer full of cookies, cakes, candies, and more. Sheesh. I guess that’s why I took a bunch of the completed recipes and created single serving recipes out of each… one muffin, two cookies, one cupcake, etc.

It’s been a blast and I thought I’d share this pic. Enjoy!

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Paleo and woo

I stumbled on a fascinating post from Respectful Insolence at titled Paleo and woo: Bad company until the day they die.

Now, I know I’ve been a little hard on Paleo these last few posts, and I apologize. In my defense, all the articles that have run across my desk have been science heavy, reasonable, and related to heart health. Exactly my preferences. 🙂

But I digress.

Here’s something that jumped out at me:

But how does one determine what the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was in the ancient past? Time and the decomposition it brings are brutal on the flimsy meat of which we are made, and it is uncommon to have access to anything other than bones, much less bodies intact enough to be examined for signs of atherosclerotic disease. Even so, however, there have been indications that the idea that ancient humans didn’t suffer from atherosclerosis is a comforting myth, the most recent of which is a study published a week ago online in The Lancet by Prof. Randall C. Thompson of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and an international team of investigators entitled Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations. Basically, it was a study of 137 different mummies from four different geographic locations spanning 4,000 years. The areas spanned included ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, the Ancestral Puebloans of southwest America, and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands.

Hmmmm. So, the meat heavy diet wasn’t necessarily heart healthy? Go figure. But, what about cave people?

A related site is called CaveMenMeds. Although it features rather strong support for the theory of evolution, unfortunately, it also misuses evolution in much the same way that Cordain has done (as discussed in this very post) and in parallel make the same sorts of fallacious arguments about placebo effects that we’ve discussed many times before here. Basically, it couples myths about how paleolithic humans lived with a typical “integrating” of ideas that range from the sensible to the pseudoscientific to discuss disease. This is just the most direct link between CAM and paleofantasies that I came across in my web wanderings. There are many more less direct links to be found.

But, how are the mummy findings and paleo thought connected?

Zuk detects an unspoken, barely formed assumption that humanity essentially stopped evolving in the Stone Age and that our bodies are “stuck” in a state that was perfectly adapted to survive in the paleolithic environment. Sometimes you hear that the intervention of “culture” has halted the process of natural selection. This, “Paleofantasy” points out, flies in the face of facts. Living things are always and continuously in the process of adapting to the changing conditions of their environment, and the emergence of lactase persistence indicates that culture (in this case, the practice of keeping livestock for meat and hides) simply becomes another one of those conditions.

For this reason, generalizations about the typical hunter-gatherer lifestyle are spurious; it doesn’t exist. With respect to what people ate (especially how much meat), the only safe assumption was “whatever they could get,” something that to this day varies greatly depending on where they live. Recently, researchers discovered evidence that people in Europe were grinding and cooking grain (a paleo-diet bugaboo) as far back as 30,000 years ago, even if they weren’t actually cultivating it. “A strong body of evidence,” Zuk writes, “points to many changes in our genome since humans spread across the planet and developed agriculture, making it difficult at best to point to a single way of eating to which we were, and remain, best suited.”

Zuk, in this instance refers toMarlene Zuk, evolutionary biologist and author of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. To make matters worse, it turns out that paleolithic people got cancer, too. Dang it.

As much as I wish all the Paleo promises were true, it looks like they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.


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Salt, Sugar, Fat

Wandering through Sam’s Club a while back, I stumbled on the most fascinating book called Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss. It’s an interesting read that details how food manufacturers create a product (not food) that’s irresistible.

I found a cool review courtesy of the New York Times. Here’s what they have to say:

And that is the nub of Mr. Moss’s case: By concentrating fat, salt and sugar in products formulated for maximum “bliss,” Big Food has spent almost a century distorting the American diet in favor of calorie-dense products whose consumption pattern has been mirrored by the calamitous rise in obesity rates. Entire food categories were invented to support this strategy (Mr. Moss is particularly fascinated by Kraft’s near-billion-dollar line of Lunchables snack trays), as processors bent the American appetite to Wall Street’s will.

Moss’ credentials are impressive. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times. He’s also the person who highlighted the nightmare called “pink slime.” (If you don’t know what this is, click the link… if you dare.)

What I enjoyed about his title is that it’s not only engaging, but it’s hype-free, heavy on science, yet easy to read. The guy’s a great story teller.

It’s not an optimistic book, but I found his conclusion interesting:

The only counsel Mr. Moss offers consumers dribbles in with the last two sentences: “After all, we decide what to buy. We decide how much to eat.”

Very true. You can thrive eating awesome plant based, healthy food. It’s really not expensive either. This is a great book. Highly recommended.


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Consumers waste billions on gluten free food

From Time Magazine:

A new survey from market research firm the NPD Group finds that America is cutting gluten out of its diet in a big way. Just under one-third of 1,000 respondents agreed with the statement: “I’m trying to cut back/avoid Gluten in my diet.”

Interesting information considering only approximately one percent of the population actually would benefit from a gluten free diet.

As food fads go, though, this one’s not only enormous: It’s enormously expensive — and many of us paying a premium to avoid gluten are doing so without any legitimate medical reason.

First of all, why is gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — so bad? Well, for most of us, it isn’t. The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center estimates that more than 3 million Americans — about one in 133 — have celiac disease, in which consuming gluten triggers a serious autoimmune response in the digestive system. A larger number — exactly how many has been the source of debate, with studies some claiming as many as one in 16 Americans and others saying  far fewer — have a less-severe sensitivity to gluten that causes gastrointestinal distress.

We’ve found this trend to be true. As I teach cooking classes, more than once participants have requested that we teach a class on full fledged gluten free recipes. So far, we haven’t done so for a couple reasons. First, we want to make sure this isn’t a dietary fad. Secondly, gluten free ingredients are exceedingly expensive for many of our participants.

Healthy eating shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

“We’ve come to address health as something beyond removal” of ingredients, he says. In other words, we’ve abandoned the idea of deprivation and decided that instead of simply eating less to feel better and be healthy, we’ll just eat different stuff. “The concept of being on a diet is, I think, losing favor even if you are watching what you eat,” Balzer says. “It’s so much easier for Americans to say I’m concerned with wellness — I’m on a gluten-free diet.’”

This is why we love a plant based diet: healthy people worldwide live long healthy lives eating this diet. The longest lived people on the planet live on a plant based diet. Plant based diets are low in calorie density and high in nutrient density.

It doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂


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91 year old marathoner

What keeps him going? Plants, of course.

Runner’s World reports that Mike Freemont, a 91 year old marathoner finished the Knoxville Half Marathon in only 3:04. That’s fantastic!

The hills were horrendous, Fremont says, but he felt fine throughout the race. “I can’t run fast enough anymore to get tired,” he says of his 14-minute-mile pace.

Plus, he’s a record holder.

Fremont’s time is believed to be a single-age world record, but it falls a few minutes shy of his pending American record at the distance for the 90 to 94 age-group. He ran 2:56:26 for the half-marathon at age 90.

Fremont also holds the American and world records for the marathon in the same age group for his 6:35:47 finish at the Huntington Marathon last November (ratification pending).

He looks fantastic, trains often, and runs round 35 miles per week. He gave up meat and dairy at age 69 due to cancer. He believes the change shrank his tumor and he eventually had what was left of it surgically removed.

In the mean time, he runs and enjoys his plant based lifestyle. Kudos!


Via the Happy Herbivore

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