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A new study is generating a lot of buzz in health circles. While I’m still working on my educational classes (which will go into great detail about general nutrition as well as foods like dairy, meat, grains, and produce), I felt compelled to comment on this study considering all the attention it’s getting.

This was a cohort study which analysed the intake of over 100,000 individuals. The results of the study concluded that those who consumed the most red meat were more likely to die 20% sooner than those who consumed less red meat. The authors of the study concluded:

“Our study adds more evidence to the health risks of eating high amounts of red meat, which has been associated with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers in other studies”.

Well, there you have it folks, time for me to chuck out all the beef I have in the freezer!

Okay, not quite. Let’s get into the details here. As I mentioned, this was a cohort study, so it was purely observational, and it checked in with participants (via a questionnaire) every 4 years to analyze their diet and general health (and whether or not they died). The end result, as stated, showed that the more red meat you ate, the more likely you were to see an early grave. Does this sound familiar? Why yes, I talked a lot about cohort studies in my article Will Ditching Meat Save You From Disease?. Here are some basic questions that the study fails to address:

What kind of meat was consumed?
Pastured? Organic? Conventional? Burger King?
What was consumed along with the red meat?
What was the health-related lifestyle of these individuals like?

Without these being properly answered, how can it come to the conclusion that it was the meat?  What if the red meat eaters consumed white bread and vegetable oil along with their steak? That would increase their risk of heart disease and cancer. If these same individuals drank a soda at each meal, that would increase their risk of diabetes and obesity. All of these factors will increase the risk for mortality. So hey, where’s the beef?

Ben Coomber sifted through the full study and made some fantastic bullet-points:

  • The people that consumed the least amount of meat did the most exercise, so there was a correlation that the people already looking after themselves presented less disease risk and thus ate less red meat anyway
  • Smoking in the high meat group was almost double
  • % rate of current diabetes was almost double in high meat group
  • The people that consumed the least meat actually had higher cholesterol levels
  • More “healthy” participants consumed a multi-vitamin
  • High bad meat consumers drank 1.5x more alcohol
  • High bad meat consumers consumed nearly 1/2 as much fish indicating 80% lower levels of omega 3 fats
  • Both men and women with high processed meat intake were less likely to exercise, more likely to smoke, have more body fat, eat more calories good and bad in general, eat less fruit and vegetables and drink more, a catch 22 bad lifestyle making you more prone to disease
  • The study showed a correlation that red meat consumption is declining in general, but we are seeing higher rates of disease, so is it the red meat or a multitude of factors that is effecting the rate of disease?
  • So in light of the above the study focused on red meat but reported the people eating the most red meat also had all the other lifestyle factors that lead to disease in the bag!
  • If you consume more processed meat like hot dogs you will be at a high risk of disease
  • The review understands that one of the two pooled studies didn’t differentiate between red meat and processed meat….. epic fail!
  • They appreciate that cuts of meat were hard to quantify and left room for error in terms of things like ham, red meat, rate of processing as it was up to the participant to quantify and tick a box … Hmmm
  • They were unable to assess the impact of fat content in the meat and disease correlation as there were too many variables
  • People consuming processed meats have higher chance of impaired insulin response – a key marker of diseases like diabetes linked to a multitude of other diseases
  • The link to red meat and cancer ACTUALLY seems to come from high temperature cooking which causes carcinogenic materials to be released! So it’s not just red meat but how we cook it
  • The conclusion they made: replace red and processed meat with fruits, vegetables, whole grains etc – so what they are really saying is be healthier. No mention of all the other lifestyle factors that they correlated like exercise, smoking etc etc

Considering all these caveats. would you attach your name to this study? Would you support the conclusions of this study? I’d be embarrassed to associate myself with it, personally, and I’m amazed that these researchers can actually stand by this turd.

It’s poor studies like this that have a dramatic effect on the dietary choices of the public. It only serves to misinform them, and in 20 or 30 years, we’ll hear that the research was wrong all  along. It is very unfortunate that people have to suffer because of bad research.

To get a humorous look at what’s wrong with cohort studies, click here.

Hey folks!

As you’ve no doubt noticed, my posts went from regular to nonexistent. What gives? Well, it all started on a dark and rainy night 3  days before Christmas. I was doing my regular commute home from work an I was halfway home. I had begun my departure – by bike – from the Staten Island Ferry terminal and as I was pedaling up the hill my bike slipped out from under me and I smacked the pavement. I was unscraped, but I felt a slight pain in my wrist and I figured that I had sprained it. After getting home, I took an old hemp sock and soaked it with the rest of the wood lock oil I had left and then kept attached it to the wound so as to help the sprain. The next day my hand wasn’t looking that great. It was very swollen and it hurt, man! Well, I knew from reading A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth that the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) was only half-true. Elevation (to prevent swelling) and rest are good, but compression and ice restrict blood flow to the area. Here’s a copy and paste from the book (much thanks to Simona for typing this out, since my copy of the book is out on loan!)

RICE TREATMENT

The Western treatment for reducing this kind of inflammation is known as “RICE“: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It is usually recommended that RICE begin in the first 24 hours after the injury.

  • Rest is obvious. Continued activity may further inflame and irritate the injury.
  • Ice contracts the blood vessels in the local area, reducing swelling. It reduces pain and cools the heat of the inflammation. In Western medicine, ice is universally recommended for all kind of inflammation, including that present in chronic injuries. In Chinese medicine, it is almost never used and is considered a culprit in joint injuries that don’t heal properly, because cold causes contraction of the muscles and tends to freeze and congeal the fluids that cause swelling, ultimately preventing their complete re-absorption.
  • Compression limits swelling. Usually an elastic bandage is wrapped around the injured area to compress the tissues, thereby limiting blood flow into the area. This is contrary to Chinese medicine, where such constriction is felt to cause blood to stagnate and congeal above and below the injury. This slow re-absorption into the blood vessels.
  • Elevation involves simply raising the injured part above the level of the heart to let the force of gravity aid in draining excess fluid. This method is also employed in Chinese sports medicine.

CONTRAST BATHS

Once inflammation and swelling are reduced, treatment is directed at restoring movement and circulation to the injured area through gentle movement and exercise. Sometimes after the first 24 to 28 hours of RICE, when the swelling has stabilized, contrast baths (alternating hot and cold baths) are recommended. Contrast baths cause an alternating contraction and dilation of blood vessels in the local area, which serves to pump blood and fluids through the injured tissue. This helps restore normal circulation to the local area.

LIMITS OF RICE TREATMENT

This mechanical approach that Western medicine used to diagnose and treat ankle sprains is useful in many ways similar to Chinese medicine, but beyond RICE, it doesn’t give the athlete many tools to work with in rehabilitating an injury, and it leaves many questions unanswered:

  • Why do some sprains heal while others do not?
  • Why does one athlete quickly shake off an injury and return to his or her sport while another athlete with the same injury is caught in a cycle of chronic pain and re-injury?
  • Why do some fractures and sprains hurt more in damp or cold weather?
  • Why do some injuries become arthritic in later life while others do not?

Fortunately, Chinese medicine provides clear, concise answers to these kinds of questions and offers a host of treatments for different injuries. We will see them later.

I don’t have a conventional Doctor that I see, since I only use Western medicine when it’s an emergency, so I went to my acupuncturist, Dr. Fu Zhang. He gave me a look when he saw how swollen it was and then treated me. A week later I went in for a second treatment to address some nerve compression in the area as well as some pain I was still feeling in a small part of the wrist. After another week, there was no improvement in the pain, so I was forced to get an X-ray. That’s when I was hit with the facts: I fractured my scaphoid. The scaphoid is a small, fickle bone in the wrist. It’s the most common bone affected in wrist injuries (60% I believe) and it’s also a very fickle little bone. Little scaphoid is fickle because it doesn’t get a lot of blood flow and it has a tendency to heal back incorrectly if not adjusted through orthopedic surgery. Guess who went for surgery for the first time in his life? This guy!

Due to this, it’s been difficult to write new articles (my hand is in a cast and it’ll be in a brace for 2 or 3 months after that). There is a silver lining, however. I’ll be using this extra down time to work hard on these nutrition classes I keep talking about in my newsletter (an in-depth discussion of food, food groups, and lots of debunking!). So, bear with the silence here while I heal and I promise that the wait will be worth it. You will notice that within this update, there is some educational material. See what I did there? 😉