Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy, Healthy 2018!

Hello, Veggie Pharmers!  I hope you all are well.  I just read a nice little article over at MedicalXpress that I found extremely helpful.  As we head into 2018, please keep in mind that it's the simple changes that make the biggest differences in our lives.

Six Steps to a Healthier You

1. Keep a personal health calendar.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
3. Cook at home rather than eat out.
4. Support healthy gut bacteria.
5. Don't underestimate the benefits of healthy lifestyle changes.
6. Don't neglect your sinus passages.

Keeping a calendar is a very valuable tool for personal accountability in exercising, eating, or remembering birthdays. It's empowering to mark off days when you eat according to plan, eventually seeing more good days than bad in a month.  FitDay.com has several free food logs that can be used to track your eating, but anyone with a smartphone has innumerable apps for that.  If you want to go old-school, like me, just use a cheap wall calendar to track your weight, miles run, and important dates, like when you planted tomatoes.

Eat. More. Fruits. And. Vegetables.  'Nuff said.

Eating out is probably the cause of most of the civilized world's health woes. A Big Mac, fries, and Diet Coke is not a meal. Olive Garden does not care that you eat healthy foods. If you must eat out, get a giant salad with salad dressing on the side. Don't feel compelled to use the salad dressing at all...most likely it's crap, anyway.  Most anything besides raw veggies in a restaurant will be served in a way that's adulterated with unhealthy cooking oils, unneeded salt/sugar, and just too damn much food for a single meal.

Supporting a healthy gut bacteria is now easier than ever since the world has discovered resistant starch. A spoonful or two of raw potato starch is all it takes, folks. Cooking and cooling your starchy foods helps, as does eating lots of fruits and vegetables.  If you eat a big serving of beans a couple times a week, your gut will thank you.  If you are looking to lose weight, the potato hack is the gut friendliest diet ever devised. It makes me very happy to read articles every day about ways to create a healthy gut, and most of these articles include mention of resistant starch, fiber, or prebiotics found in real foods. Big Pharma probably has a hit out on me, lol.

A healthy lifestyle does not require much effort. Get to bed earlier, stop smoking, don't drink too much.  Exercise, walk, get out in nature.  Remove stress from your life as best you can.  Start eating better.  Lose weight.  Be happy.  Sadly, most people reside at the other end of the spectrum...stress filled days, late nights, and bad food.  No exercise and more time on the couch than in the yard.

#6 surprised me a bit, and I must admit I do neglect my sinuses. Back when I was obese and unhealthy, I had terrible sinus infections 2-3 times a year...the kind where you cannot believe that so much snot can be produced in a human head.  I'd go through 2 boxes of Kleenex in a day, and sleep was out of the question. I became addicted to nasal decongestant sprays (yes, you can become addicted!). Somewhere around 2010, I started eating better and sought out more natural ways to keep healthy.  I discovered neti pots and started irrigating my sinuses when I'd get a sinus infection.  But within about a year, I stopped getting nasal infections altogether and haven't had to use a neti pot, nasal sprays, or boxes of Kleenex in 6 or 7 years.  Perhaps my oil-pulling regimen also keeps my sinuses clean?

Anybody else have any good tips to share? Did you all see Wild Cucumber's latest post?  Sometimes you just need a good slap.

Happy New Year!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Unconventional Medicine

Chris Kresser, Lac

Chris Kresser has long been one of my favorite bloggers.  With an acupuncturist (Lac) background, Chris operates one of the biggest naturopathic practices in the US. He freely shares information on his website.  He writes articles instead of blog posts, and many times has guest authors writing these articles. One of my favorites was an article written by Dr. Amy Nett, MD; How Resistant Starch Will Help to Make You Healthier and Thinner. Poor Dr. Nett was just not prepared for the interest generated by RS and she received over 600 comments!  What fun I had explaining how RS works.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Dear Readers - Thank you for reading my blog. Recently scammers and spammers have been actively making my life miserable. I was able to stop most spam comments from being changing some settings that require moderation on old posts, but now they've hacked my email subscriber list.

I'm going to be deleting my email subscription list as soon as I post this, and putting up a new bar for email subscribers. If you wish to get an email notification of VegetablePharm, please re-subscribe. Otherwise, check back occasionally to see if I've posted anything new.

Sorry I have not been so active on the blogging front.  Life, ya know.  I'm doing well and hope you are, too. I'll probably get back to more frequent blogging this winter. I want to discuss diet, exercise, and health more.


Friday, September 22, 2017

High Carb vs. High Fat vs. High Protein Diets

Ketogenic diets are all the rage right now. Even Mark Sisson who has routinely advised against ketogenic diets, is releasing a new book, The Keto Reset Diet.

Alternatively, high carb diets are also making a comeback. Rusty Moore is offering his High Carb Fat Loss course for just $17 if you'd like the lowdown on a high carb diet with many real-world examples, meal plans, etc.

Steve Cooksey, the Diabetes Warrior, is advocating a nearly all-meat diet using intermittent fasting a la The Snake Diet and seeing great results.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's in your snack? Titanium Dioxide

I've been warning about the dangers of processed foods for many years now. Today an article on the dangers of a common food additive, titanium dioxide, caught my attention. Titanium dioxide is used widely by the food industry as a coloring agent. Titanium oxide, also known as Ti02, is extracted from certain rocks in mines around the world. When purified, Ti02 makes an excellent pigment for paint, paper, and plastic. Over 4.6 million tons of Ti02 are produced annually around the world. So what does this have to do with food?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gut Testing Limitations

Finally, some "not-so-fake" news from the world of gut testing.

Back in 2012 or so, I was really excited that some companies...first American Gut and then uBiome, were offering gut bacteria testing for under $100. These same tests used to cost $1000's and were off-limits to the general public. With the use of new digital methods for testing and cheaper machines, the price of testing gut bacteria is now just a matter of market demand.

Illumina Genome Analyzer

I've written several posts on how bacteria are discovered in a stool sample, so I won't rehash that here. However, from nearly the very beginning I was seeing some huge problems. The biggest was that reports from two companies on the same sample rarely looked similar, and the second was that medical conditions and diets rarely corresponded to the bacterial report.

Over the years, I've become increasingly leery of gut testing companies. Ubiome is now offering "suggestions" for changes in diet based on a single report, and even starting a medical-grade test option ("SmartGut") that must be ordered by trained physicians. American Gut is offering a similar feature, called "MapMyGut," also clinician-ordered.  But this week an article from Smithonian Science made me realize that there is some transparency in the world of gut testing.

You Are What You Eat, And What You Eat Is Millions of Microbes (Smithsonian.com, June 2017).  

We've been discussing the acquisition of microbes for years around here. We discussed how gut bacteria magically appear in your gut based on the food you eat and your daily interactions with the world. Finally the researchers are also looking at this angle, too.

When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and those with seemingly similar diets. 

This also holds true for medical conditions such as Crohn's disease and the myriad other dysbiosis-inducing diseases we deal with. As I've been preaching for years: When gut dysbiosis gets hold, all bets are off.

I'm quite amazed that Rob Knight of Knight Lab was the leading contributor to this article. Rob was one of the founders of the American Gut project. He's basically admitting that they have learned very little about the gut despite analyzing the feces of over 9000 people. Their new line of bacterial inquiry will be focused on the bacteria found within the foods we eat, they intend to analyze 1000 different foods from around the world to see what secrets they hold.

Bottom Line

While this is a good start, we are still a long ways off from understanding the complex interactions between bacteria and human health. The trend is a focus on bacteria, but there are also phages, viruses, and fungi in the mix. And these collective microbes are not only found on the foods we eat, but they can incorporate themselves into the DNA of the foods we eat...how will Rob Knight suss all this out? I have a feeling that the next blockbuster will be, "When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and the bacteria found in the foods they ate."

Take Home Message

Don't worry so much about the microbes that inhabit your gut.  Nature has developed ways to get them where they need to be...all that you have to do is eat mostly real food, lots of plants, and very little processed food.  Exercise, get dirty, and live a stress-free lifestyle. Get some sun and good sleep. If you have terrible gut problems, the same rules apply, but you may have a tough time sorting it all out. There are plenty of gurus who will promise the world if you follow their advice...but they are just guessing.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Microbe/Host Genetic Interactions

Nuclear Receptor

Here's a brand new paper out of Duke University that shows for the first time how gut microbes directly can effect host cells which could lead to human disease. This strengthens my notion that we must maintain a healthy gut flora and avoid upsets that can lead to colonization by pathogenic microbes.

Microbiota regulate intestinal epithelial gene expression by suppressing  the transcription 1 factor  Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (Davison et al., 2017).

Sure to get a collective *yawn* from most readers, and even researchers, this paper explores a phenomenon that many seem to ignore:
...the roles of nuclear receptors  in host responses remain poorly understood, and no previous study has defined the impact of microbiota on nuclear receptor DNA binding. Nuclear receptors are a metazoan innovation.