We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, November 15. 2017
What factors are associated with increased risk?
- Age (obviously)
nb: Correlation does not mean causation. These things just represent the current knowledge. Also, medical researchers never include "Bad luck" as a disease risk factor, but it is usually a major one in most ailments.
Monday, November 13. 2017
While muscles respond well to stress, joints do not. The worst thing you can do to your hips and knees is to be overweight. That is why, in the UK and many other European nations, if you are overweight they will leave you a cripple and tell you it's your own fault. Government medicine will buy you a 12-Euro cane. In Euroland today you see people with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs who would be playing tennis and hiking in the US.
Similar issues apply to hips and lower back. Nothing but trouble. Shoulders can wear out too, but that's a separate topic with different causes.
Saturday, October 28. 2017
A friend emailed this photo of his foot this week. Ouch. It's the classic presentation. Fortunately, Gout is easily treated these days.
Have any readers had this nasty problem?
Thursday, October 26. 2017
It's high school bio, but it's easy to forget even these big ones. When I took Gross Anatomy, they injected the arteries with red plastic and the veins with blue. That was a big help because arteries and veins in cadavers collapse and turn brown otherwise.
Everybody ought to know the major muscle groups too, but that's easy.
Tuesday, October 24. 2017
Monday, October 23. 2017
Other than hibernating animals, few animals are adapted to handle the sort of abundance that humans have remarkably produced with brains capable of entirely changing the planet's surface and modifying nutritional sources for its own purposes. Humans are nutritional outliers, and it is not "natural." In a sense, humans are not natural animals because of the extent to which they remake nature for their convenience.
One example: What Does It Mean to Be Fat-Adapted?
It means you have trained your body to adapt to a plentiful flow of fresh carbs and sugars (sugar is carbs and vice-versa) so it takes the burden off using fat as a fuel. Intake trains the body that way. Thus what we term the "False Hunger" of overweight people. Human physiology will never adapt to modern abundance of food because fatness tends to kill or disable people after child-bearing years.
Among other reasons, Fat Adaptation is one of the reasons heavy people feel more hunger and end up consuming food more avidly and in higher volume than trim people. In fact, overweight people have zero dietary energy requirements and minimal nutritional requirements despite subjective hunger.
Wednesday, October 4. 2017
Everybody knows that having a belly is the major risk factor for heart and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and dozens of other nasty ailments, but the association of overweight with at least 13 cancers is not so well known.
Being heavy may be one of the greatest risk factors for a large variety of cancers. There are many theories about why this might be. Breast and prostate cancers are high on the list.
It is worth thinking about, even though we all must accept that the odds are, now that we can handle most infectious diseases, that we will die either of cancer or cardiovascular disease sooner or later. But why rush it?
Wednesday, September 27. 2017
Physical (and mental) fitness begin slowly going downhill after age 30-35 and accelerate thereafter. Deconditioning by avoiding strenuous exertion makes it worse. I am a skeptic about mental exercise, but not about the role of exercise in slowing natural physical decline.
Skeletal muscles, and the bones to which they attach (muscle stress is what keeps bones strong), undergo continual alteration and renovation. They are both adaptive: they respond to lack of stress by weakening or atrophying, and to stress by becoming more robust. This occurs regardless of age. Those 80 year-old women I see lifting weights in the gym are doing a smart thing. Weights are good for females.
There is also growing evidence that regular intense physical exertion is good for maintaining mental functioning. It's definitely good for mental health.
Sunday, September 24. 2017
Then he became one. Dr. Dennis Charney studied resilience in the face of trauma, then was shot by a pissed-off former employee.
A good story. He survived. Yes, he had always worked out and lifted weights.
Sunday, September 17. 2017
Friday, September 15. 2017
Tuesday, September 5. 2017
How can that be adaptive? Not all of physiology is adaptive to everything.
Today, we'll look at why cardio workouts suppress appetite and subjective hunger. Weight-lifting sessions, not so much. High-intensity exercise suppresses Appetite By Affecting Appetite Hormones
It's an interesting effect which may have some adaptive value, or maybe not. It does explain why many normal-weight fitness-seekers need to force themselves to eat some protein when they have no appetite and no interest in food. It could be part of why hard cardio exercisers lose weight. Exercise doesn't provide fat loss, but the cardio reduces appetite. I am not talking about anorectics, just regular people who want to be in fighting shape and kind to their joints.
Sunday, September 3. 2017
Good info on this depressing topic.
Friday, September 1. 2017
We term this phenomenon "False Hunger" because overweight people have no need for outside energy sources. In fact, though, overweight people tend to experience more subjective hunger than normal-weight or ectomorphic people. Is that cause, or effect?
A bit of both but mostly effect, as it turns out. It mostly has to do with how pudgy people ramp up their insulin response and the resulting, or related, insulin insensitivity. Illogical as it seems, having extra body fat makes people feel hungrier. Feed me, Seymour. It's a vicious cycle: Always Hungry? Here’s Why.
Overweight people can survive weeks or months without carbohydrates/sugars using their body fat as an energy source as long as they consume protein, fats, and oils to prevent muscle deterioration.
Can you lose weight via exercise? No, not practically
Does high-intensity exercise reduce appetite? Yes, usually. Dedicated fitness people force-feed themselves to keep their strength and endurance improving.
Stomach-stretching? People who eat bulky meals on any regular basis do stretch their stomachs, which can result in increased subjective appetite and hunger. We recommend small meals for everybody, regardless of weight. Except on feast days or special occasions. People feel less tired, more energetic, and more productive with small meals.
Fast eaters, voracious eaters? Fast eaters trick their satiety signals by overeating (ie, greater volume of nutrients than needed to thrive) before satiety can kick in. Very few fast eaters are in good shape. A bad habit, and bad manners too.
Wednesday, August 30. 2017
The Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb Diet Debate Has a New Answer
Even more evidence that we’re eating all wrong. Forget fat, it’s carbs that might stick it to your ticker.
By the way, does any normal person in the Western World eat five servings of fruit and vegetables daily anyway? But never mind, it doesn't matter. We all know that broccoli causes cancer, carrots and fruit are basically sugar, and coffee helps you live forever.
Thursday, August 3. 2017
Part 1 is here
Now to the related topic of Satiety.
It was not long ago that being pudgy or having a bit of a gut signaled prosperity, and leanness signaled lower class. Now it's the opposite. With incredible food abundance, and with obesity always in the news, funding for nutrition-related studies has grown. So now we know a lot more about how insulin works and about how the three food categories (fats and oils, carbs, and protein) are handled by the body. We are also learning about how hunger and satiety work. It's quite interesting but complicated.
These are "First World issues." In our world of nutritional abundance, recreational, social, and emotional eating, and the constant temptation of food porn, "hunger" often does not denote a need for nutrition except for the skinny, and satiety is often over-ridden by habit, speed-eating, stomach-stretching, delicious foods, sugar-and-carb dosing, and insulin-resistance. That is what it means when overweight people, who have no pressing energy needs at all other than water, vitamins, and minerals, eat hungrily two or three times a day. We term that appetite "false hunger" not because the appetite is not subjectively experienced but because appetite has, for them, disconnected from nutritional need and satiety signals (which are very slow to go into effect). That luxury used to be only for the wealthy.
It's like the flip side of anorexia. Anorexia nervosa is famously difficult to ameliorate, but it is not too difficult for most pudgy or fat people to re-set their bio-psycho-social food-o-stat if they want to. For starters, that entails small portions, plenty of protein to satisfy the hormones, and very slow eating so as not to short-circuit the awareness of the moment at which "That's enough to sustain me, because I don't feel hunger anymore." That way, the "Eat 'til I'm filled or stuffed...now I'm stuffed" effect never has to happen.
In the Western world, "sufficient" can be the stopping point, not "filled." Except Thanksgiving, when feeling ill from getting stuffed with stuffing is expected.
Being too scrawny, with underdeveloped muscle and bone, is life-limiting and unhealthy, but not as life-limiting as carrying excess fat around with its lengthy list of associated ailments. There's no need to carry it on your body, because there's a pizza joint on every corner to prevent sudden death from starvation. Most people, fortunately, make themselves sensitive to satiety signals most of the time so most active adults are neither significantly under- or over-weight.
Obviously, little of this applies to most children and adolescents.
Tuesday, August 1. 2017
Where did the cultural habit of three square meals per day come from?
It's quite recent, actually, and really a European cultural concept. More specifically, a British aristocratic concept because even today an Italian breakfast (except for the tourists) is an espresso or latte and a biscotti, and a typical French breakfast is a cafe au lait and a croissant. Typical Italian supper? Soup and bread, or cheese and leftovers.
"Eating between meals"? I suspect people might feel better with 5 mini-meals - balanced snacks, really, because stuffed and lazy after supper is not an effective life plan. Stuffed and lazy after any meal is not a good plan except on Thanksgiving. Serious exercisers and athletes tend to discipline themselves to a 5 meal program to keep the nutrients flowing. They have to eat when they aren't hungry to maintain their level of fitness and power, and to keep their weight up.
A mini-meal for many can be something like a couple of slices of chicken and a handful of olives, or an apple and some cheese slices, maybe a slice of pizza or a cup of yoghurt or oatmeal with berries. Volume and details depending, of course, on total muscle mass, body frame, daily physical demands, physical goals, etc. Body-builders need 4-5 full meals daily to put on muscle mass, while the old-fashioned three squares/day will make most adults flabby if not obese.
To understand what your body needs, look at it nude in the mirror. One look will tell you what it needs in fitness and nutrition in terms of muscular development, leanness or fatness, posture, etc. When it comes to food, we can't listen to our body too much. It's a liar because it was programmed for scarcity a long time ago, before agriculture. Humans seem to have the instinctive inclinations (eat, nap, fight, play, sex, and repeat until dark when the predators come out) of monkeys, chimps, and gorillas but we have some added higher capacities, or so the scientists claim.
A brief history of the origin of three meals/day.
Part 2 on Thursday will deal with hunger, appetite, and satiety.
Tuesday, July 11. 2017
Monday, July 3. 2017
Friday, June 30. 2017
Except for Blueberries. There is no reason to even think about this topic unless you want to lose weight, or unless the physiology is interesting to you. Fruit is a fine dessert because its main nutritional ingredient is sugars. Especially Fructose. There is nothing "healthy" about fruit or fruit juice.
Fructose is metabolized in a different way than is Glucose.
The very short story is this: All sugars are not created equal. Fructose is metabolized into fat. Glucose in moderate amounts is turned into glycogen for energy. Table sugar is Sucrose, which is metabolized first into its components of Glucose and Fructose.
Corn syrup, the most common commercial sweetener, contains Glucose and Fructose. Thus eating a fruit, or drinking fruit juice, is equivalent to drinking a Coke other than the virtue signaling. No common sweeteners contain pure Glucose.
Children are best off drinking milk or water.
Tuesday, June 27. 2017
It is not just the compensation that discourages physicians, especially internists and pediatricians, from working for the government (eg Medicare, Medicaid). A major issue is the paperwork burden. The government paperwork requires a specialized back office staff which only large practices can afford.
A recent sample of the bureaucratic mess doctors are supposed to figure out. A Medicare billing error is a potential felony, even if inadvertent.
Thursday, June 22. 2017
Wednesday, June 21. 2017
Tuesday, June 20. 2017
Wednesday, June 14. 2017
From knee and hip replacements to coronary bypass, there is considerable evidence for permanent brain damage in some individuals.
This phenomenon seems to be not unusual in patients over age 55. It seems to be an unmentioned risk of surgery. I have seen several cases of long-lasting (? permanent) cognitive setbacks after surgeries, so I am glad that people are exploring the topic.