HEALTH

Paleo Pumpkin Brownies

Image credit: fitfoodiefinds.com

Image credit: fitfoodiefinds.com

 

"These brownies are legit the most amazing dessert I’ve ever made…and I’ve made a lot of dessert. Linley and I tested these babies 4 times before getting it JUST right. I based the recipe off of Davida’s Avocado Brownies, but there’s no avocados involved. When I was in Toronto a few months ago (I can’t believe it’s already been a few months since I as in the TO), I had the pleasure of eating her Avo Brownies first hand and huzzzzzah….they were delicious!"

Read more at Grain-Free Pumpkin Brownies

Trans Fats Reduce Memory in Adult Males

Image:  Glane23

Image: Glane23

By John Micheal

Potato chips, French fries, onion rings, ice cream, pancakes… Wait, what are we talking about? A study commissioned by the American Heart Association has found that men who eat more trans fats than their peers may experience a decrease in the performance of their memory.

In the study, 690 adult males completed a survey about their dietary habits, from which researchers estimated their level of trans fat consumption. Then participants were shown a series of cards, each containing a single word. To assess their memory, researchers asked participants whether each word was new, or whether it had already been shown to them.

The study found that men who ate more trans fats on average remembered 10% fewer words than their peers. This correlation remained even after the researchers factored in age, education, ethnicity, and depression.

Generally used to increase the shelf life of foods, trans fats can go for months without rotting. Yet since the 1990s scientific research has demonstrated that trans fats have a negative effect on human health, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. 

The recent American Heart Association study further confirms the dangers of trans fat consumption.

“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego. “From a health standpoint, transfat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease. As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people.”

To avoid trans fats, always check the nutritional information on any item that you purchase. Trans fats also go by the name “partially hydrogenated oils,” so make sure to avoid them as well. Products that generally contain trans fats include store-bought baked goods, deep-fried foods, and non-dairy creamer.

The American Heart Association recommends avoiding trans fats by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and nuts. Given that trans fats are only found in processed foods, your best bet would be to embrace an all-natural diet like what our Paleolithic ancestors enjoyed.

So the next time you’re at the grocery store, skip the cookies and fried food, and pick up some fresh berries and lean meat.

It’ll be the best decision you’ll remember having made in a long time.

Celiac disease, or is it gluten toxicity?

Celiac disease, or is it gluten toxicity?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines a disease as:

a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, esp. one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury

For this discussion, the key point is “a disorder of structure or function.”

Simple Paleo: Chinois Chicken Salad

Chinois Chicken.jpg

By Suzanne 

Dinning out is often challenging to persons adhering to Paleolithic nutrition.  I was delighted to order a Chinois Chicken Salad (pictured above) at a local burger joint, Lil H Burger in Denver, Colorado.  If you have an opportunity to visit this restaurant simply request the wontons be held from your salad and order the dressing on the side.  The salad was so tasty I omitted the dressing completely. 

Following is my attempt to recreate this gem at home beginning with the grilled boneless chicken breast. 

The chicken breast is the centerpiece of this simple salad and careful selection and preparation of the meat is essential to serving a delicious meal.  Cook's Illustrated reports that the typical American consumes approximately 84 pounds of chicken per year and the majority of sales in stores are for boneless chicken breasts.  In taste-tests Cook's Illustrated (2012) recommends the Bell & Evan's air chilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts for overall quality, taste, and texture.  I purchased the local Whole Foods organic skinless chicken breasts with an animal welfare rating of 2.  When purchasing prepackaged chicken breasts check the ingredient list and be aware that "injected" or "enhanced" chicken breasts may dilute the taste of the chicken with sodium, broth, and water. 

The breasts for this salad are lightly salted and peppered prior to cooking.  I use a Panini pan to grill chicken breasts; however, the chicken breasts may also be gently sautéed in olive oil in a conventional pan or prepared on the grill with internal temperature of the breasts reaching 160 degrees.  I encourage you to use your favored method of preparation.  After cooking allow the breasts to rest 10 minutes after cooking and prior to serving on the salad.  

Salad-serves 4

  • 1 5 ounce container organic baby romaine greens, rinsed
  • 1 cup organic green cabbage- shredded coarsely
  • 2 organic granny smith apples thinly sliced (16 slices per apple)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)
  • 4 grilled chicken breasts sliced with a diagonal cut (this technique is called “fanning”)

Mustard vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 turn of celtic sea salt from salt mill (large pinch)
  • 1 tsp. organic french thyme (dried)

Combine ingredients for vinaigrette in mini food processor and mix for 15 seconds.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.  I served this dressing on the side to allow for individual choice and preference regarding the amount of dressing per salad.  The remaining dressing may be refrigerated for up to one week.

In a large mixing bowl combine romaine and shredded cabbage mixing gently, refrigerate prior to serving.  Slice apples approximately 10 minutes prior to assembling the salad to prevent browning of fruit.  Set cranberries and sesame seeds to the side en mise. 

Prepare four plates.  Distribute salad greens evenly on plates into four servings.  Sprinkle cranberries and sesame seeds (optional) evenly over salad.  Apply apple slices in circular pattern.  Complete the salad with individual sliced chicken breasts placed on the greens.  Serve and Enjoy with mustard vinaigrette served on the side.

Substitutions
I received positive comments from my family about this salad- most especially the chicken breast reaffirming my philosophy that product quality is crucial to successful cooking.  One possible substitution is kiwi and walnuts for the apples and sesame seeds.  The basic recipe is a simple palette for your special touch. Enjoy!

Initially published 9/5/12

Donny’s advice on Paleo dinning with friends

   Credit: PaleononPaleo.com

   Credit: PaleononPaleo.com

Donny, an undergraduate student at Ohio State University, lost 40 lbs after 6 months on the Paleo diet. She experienced many other benefits as well, including, “unblemished skin, healthier hair and nails, endless energy… and a great night’s sleep every single night.” Like most college students, she enjoys a good dinner party or a night out. However, she found it hard to adhere to the Paleo diet when dining with friends. Her advice as reported in PaleoNonPaleo:

1. Don’t let your new choices affect your social life. Don’t decline dinner party invitations, just offer to bring something to the party that you know you’ll be able to eat.

2. My friends and I used to spend an exorbitant amount of money going out for nights on the town including dinner and drinks. Now, at my suggestion, we spend a lot more of those nights cooking dinner together at one of our apartments and then watching a movie or sitting around a table playing a board game. It’s really brought us closer, and we all agree that we have a lot more fun now.

3. If you’re dining out, outline the basics for your waiter. Most restaurants are a lot more accommodating than you think that they are, and will happily cook your food in olive oil and avoid feeding you gluten. On that same note, a lot of restaurants have gluten-free menus that aren’t advertised. I can usually find lots of paleo options (or options that can be made paleo) on those.

Read about Donny at PaleoNonPaleo.

Find more Success Stories here

Mark Sisson on the Primal lifestyle

Mark Sisson, of MarksDailyApple.com, writes about "tapping into our genetic recipe for health, happiness, and fulfillment" in his book The Primal Connection. Here is a brief section from the Introduction on moving from "the age of distractions" to a "healthy, grounded life."

In the age of distractions, relentless stress, strained relationships, and overemphasized materialism, we often try to rationalize our way toward some precipitous point of balance. We follow regimens. We manage our time and relationships. We pencil in physical activities. We compartmentalize our needs and anxieties. For all the comforts and conveniences, the innovations and the accommodations, something about this whole picture of modern living isn't working for us. For all our knowledge, we impose an increasingly narrow, shallow definition on well being. 
So, what makes for a healthy, grounded life, anyway? What does it genuinely mean to thrive, to feel satisfied and fulfilled? We assume the answers are to be found in further progress: a new medication, a more elaborate gadget, the latest fitness class, or a social trend. The truth is, the answers we seek are often not that complicated. 
What if it isn’t a failure of progress but the frustration of some unmet meed at the cellular level? What if we entertain the notion that we aren’t - all of us as a hominid species - living the lives we were designed to live? Forget the caves and the skins and matted hair for a minute. I’m talking about a life of physical challenge but ample leisure. I’m talking about living by the natural ebb and flow of light and darkness, season to season. I’m talking about living in smaller groups. I’m talking about play and creativity and getting dirt under our fingernails - a life of the raw senses and and overlapping of the self with the natural environment.

Related Post: Book: The Primal Connection

LocalHarvest: Making fresh locally grown food easy to find

Looking for fresh food grown locally? The LocalHarvest online directory helps you find “over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets, along with restaurants and grocery stores that feature local food.” Over 7 million people search the directory yearly “to find local food, farm events, and family farmer-grown specialty products.”  Using the sites Google Map, you can search by farm, farmers market, Grocery/Co-op, restaurant or more. You can also search by product, and best of all, by city or zip code. 

Take a look and see what you can find. If you grow locally, get registered to be included.

Evidence for Paleo foods continues to grow: Almonds

IMAGE: Daniel Schwen

IMAGE: Daniel Schwen

Science World Report reviews a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on snacking on muffins versus almonds in overweight middle-aged adults with elevated LDL cholesterol:

While past evidence has shown that eating almonds can improve heart health, the researchers decided to investigate this phenomenon a bit further. They conducted 12-week, randomized, controlled clinical studies. In all, 52 overweight, middle-aged adults who had a high total and LDL cholesterol but were otherwise healthy participated. These volunteers ate cholesterol-lowering diets that were identical; the only difference is that one group was given a daily snack of 1.5 ounces of whole natural almonds, while the other group was given a banana muffin that provided the same number of calories.

According to one of the authors:

Our research found that substituting almonds for a high-carbohydrate snack improved numerous heart health risk factors, including the new finding that eating almonds reduced belly fat. Choosing almonds as a snack may be a simple way to help fight the onset of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.

Anne-Marie: Year 1 beyond Crohn’s Disease

Anne-Marie’s Crohn’s disease was making her fade away. At 5’8”, her weight went from thin 105 pounds to dangerous 73 as her disease failed to respond to treatment. Writing her story for Mark’s Daily Apple, she continues:

My doctor told me there was one last drug he wanted to prescribe, and if it didn’t work the next step would be surgery to remove the damaged part of my gut. He prescribed a powerful immune-suppressor called Humira.

And later - 

During our engagement, my husband heard Mark give an interview on a podcast that convinced him to buy The Primal Blueprint. He had changed his whole lifestyle after reading it, and when I was finally discharged from the hospital, I went completely Primal. It wasn’t an easy process. The eczema and psoriasis seemed to intensify at first, but I was vigilant and kept following the Primal guidelines. About six months later, when a paperwork mix-up on the part of my insurance lead to my Humira shipment being delayed, I was sure a flare was right around the corner. But that temporary delay turned into a week without my injection, then a month, and now a year.

Paleo Meals to Go

We are happy to announce that finally, there is a place you can purchase freeze-dried meals that adhere to the general principles of the Paleo Diet! Sometimes a snack just isn’t enough and you need a solid meal, whether you are backpacking in the wilderness, camping, competing in ultra marathons, undertaking an epic adventure, participating in extreme events, traveling, or anytime you do not have access to fresh foods and your own kitchen. Paleo Meals To Go are a great option!

Learn more: Paleo Meals to Go

Initially skeptical, Pamela finds a new understanding of human biology

Mark’s Daily Apple is a leading & insightful resource on evolutionary health. If you are new to the site, the menu selection Success Stories is a good place to start. Here are a few snippets of Pamela’s success story:

“Unfortunately, I still kept up my vegetarian ways by day, which led to one of the worst summers of my life. Depression and anxiety were my constant companions. Psychosis would not be too strong a word. And, I was still fat. My diet was, admittedly, atrocious. I remember eating cinnamon rolls, brownies, dipped ice cream, and frozen pizza all summer, with a few iceberg lettuce salads tossed in for good measure.” 

“Around that time, I began writing for LIVESTRONG on health and fitness. I continued to toe the line of conventional wisdom on healthy whole grains and calorie restriction. I even explored veganism and created a vegan food blog.”

“In the course of the job, I began exploring the paleo diet. I was skeptical. Didn’t cavemen die before their 30th birthday? In an effort to confirm that this was all just a fad—that was certainly the opinion of nearly every other health publication—I sent an email to UCLA’s evolutionary biology department and requested an interview. They directed me to Aaron Blaisdell PhD, founder of the Ancestral Health Society.”

“The interview forever altered my perspective and led me down a new path of understanding human biology.”

Read more: Skeptical Journalist Turned Primal Advocate

Paleolithic and Mediterranean diets reduce chances of colorectal adenomas

In a study reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology earlier this year, researchers found “that greater adherence to the Paleolithic diet pattern and greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern may be similarly associated with lower risk of incident, sporadic colorectal adenomas.” The authors suspect “evolutionary discordance” may explain the increase of colorectal neoplasms found in the Western dietary pattern.

Take home: Western dietary pattern is a significant departure from our evolutionary dietary pattern and may lead to more colorectal adenomas.

Junk food limits intelligence of teenagers

From a study on the dietary patterns and cognitive performance in 602 adolescents performed at The University of Western Australia, researchers found a “higher dietary intake of the ‘Western’ dietary pattern at age 14" was "associated with diminished cognitive performance 3 years later, at 17 years."

Using a food frequency questionnaire administered when the children were 14 years old (2003–2006), ‘Healthy’ and ‘Western’ dietary patterns were identified by factor analysis. Associations between dietary patterns at 14 years of age and cognitive performance at 17 years of age were assessed prospectively using multivariate regression models.

Epoch Times reports:

It was observed that children with higher consumption of takeout foods, processed meats, soft drinks and other refined and sugar-laden fare had decreased psychomotor function, impaired reaction time and problems focusing visually. Junk food eaters also had trouble learning and remembering things compared to those who ate more fruits and leafy green vegetables.

Paleolithic & hunter-gatherer sleep

Are humans evolved to sleep through the night or is natural sleep bimodal or otherwise fragmented? What can we learn from the sleep of Paleolithic hominins and modern hunter-gatherer societies?

Paleo-anatomists studying fossilized skeletons of Australopithecus (3.9-2.9 MYA) and Homo habilis (2.3-1.4 MYA) found they were well adapted to climbing. Although much of their daytime was probably spent on the ground, these hominins likely slept in trees. (Recent findings suggest some early hominins may have created “ground nests” for sleeping.)

Homo erectus appeared 1.9 million years ago and was well adapted to migrating over land. Their vestibular anatomy suggests a primarily ground-based existence. Homo erectus was likely the first hominin to control fire, a technology that would have made sleeping on the ground safer. Richard Wrangham, Professor of Anthropology at Harvard, in his book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, writes:

"Homo erectus presumably climbed no better than modern humans do, unlike the agile habilines. This shift suggests that Homo erectus slept on the ground, a novel behavior that would have depended on their controlling fire to provide light to see predators and scare them away." 

Once hominins began sleeping on the ground, they slept “as people do nowadays in the savanna”: 

"In the bush, people lie close to the fire and for most or all of the night someone is awake. When a sleeper awakens, he or she might poke at the fire and chat a while, allowing another to fall asleep. In a twelve-hour night with no light other than what the fire provides, there is no need to have a continuous eight-hour sleep. An informal system of guarding easily emerges that allows enough hours of sleep for all while ensuring the presence of an alert sentinel."

Chronobiology blogger Bora Zivkovic believes our natural sleep pattern is bimodal:

"Until not long ago, just about until electricity became ubiquitous, humans used to have a sleep pattern quite different from what we consider "normal" today. At dusk you go to sleep, at some point in the middle of the night you wake up for an hour or two, then fall asleep again until dawn. Thus there are two events of falling asleep and two events of waking up every night (plus, perhaps, a short nap in the afternoon). As indigenous people today, as well as people in non-electrified rural areas of the world, still follow this pattern, it is likely that our ancestors did too."

Is there evidence for this bimodal pattern? What happens to the typical 8-hour sleep pattern when the period of darkness is increased?

In 1992, Dr. Thomas Wehr placed normal volunteers in a setting of 14 hours of dark-period (nighttime) for one month and found the subject’s sleep “divided into two symmetrical bouts, several hours in duration, with a 1–3 h waking interval between.” Wehr concluded that sleep becomes biphasic (bimodal) when the photoperiod (daytime) is shortened.  

Beyond the tendency of sleep to fragment when dark-time is longer, culture also plays a role. Carol Worthman Ph.D., Director of the Laboratory for Comparative Human Biology at Emory University, studied the sleep pattern in various cultures and also found a fragmented pattern. When interviewed by Jane Bosveld for Discover magazine:

"Worthman flipped open a book and showed me photographs of big families piled into large, sprawling huts, little kids peeking up from the arms of Mom, older generations wrapped leisurely around the fireplace. “Forager groups are a good place to start, because for much of human history we’ve been occupied with their mode of existence,” she said. 'There are the !Kung of ­Botswana and the Efe of Zaire. For both of these groups, sleep is a very fluid state. They sleep when they feel like it—during the day, in the evening, in the dead of night.'”

"Sleep, it seemed, was putty—some cultures stretched it out, some chopped it up, and others, like our own, squeezed it into one big lump."

What about sleep in the modern world? Psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman, MD believes interrupted sleep may be normal for some of us:

“Many patients tell me they have a sleep problem because they wake up in the middle of the night for a time, typically 45 minutes to an hour, but fall uneventfully back to sleep. Curiously, there seems to be no consequence to this 'problem.' They are unaffected during the day and have plenty of energy and concentration to go about their lives."

The problem, it seems, is not so much with their sleep as it is with a common and mistaken notion about what constitutes a normal night's sleep.”

Our ancestors began sleeping on the ground over 2 million years ago. Some individuals likely slept for long stretches while others slept in a bimodal or multimodal pattern. With the development of artificial electric lighting in the late 1800s, the photoperiod became longer while dark-period became shorter. For many of us, our circadian rhythms resist this compression of nighttime. Soon enough, the alarm clock reminds us we live in a modern world where dark-time compression is the norm. We continue trying to adapt our mostly Paleolithic genes to the modern world.

John Oró, MD

Initially posted December 02, 2010, Revised August 10, 2014.

Related Entries: The End of Night