Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Treating Patients by Doing Nothing

The Medicine of Nothing

A Simple Solution to Disease

Dr. Alan Goldhamer discusses fasting with Aron Choi of Bastyr University. He says, “The power in the medicine is the diet, sleep, exercise. Everything else is, as they say, the feathers on the rattle, rather than the principles upon which we are getting people well.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where's the beef?

Do you know where your beef comes from?

Paso Robles rancher Coco Collelmo.
I do. Last week I met rancher Coco Collelmo. She raises a small herd of grass-fed New Zealand Angus seven miles up Adelaide Road from our house in Paso Robles.

Coco’s father started the business in 1959. In 2001, Coco met David Foss of New Zealand who brought a new breed of Angus to the ranch. They share a philosophy of cattle ranching based on sustainable farming and healthy food. They work with the land’s own resources, using superior cattle, managing stock humanely, feeding only fresh grasses, and never using antibiotics or hormones.

These animals evolved over tens of thousands of years to feed on grasslands, not to be fattened up with corn and food by-products, like you find most places. We humans evolved to hunt and eat animals raised on the plains, not feedlots.

I decided to look for more local, healthy alternatives for our family and to cut back on what the industrial food complex is selling us.

A bull at Fair Oaks Ranch
So, last week I drove up a narrow dirt road to Coco’s Fair Oaks Ranch to pick up our quarter-share of steer. Her ranch is one of many community supported agriculture (CSA) programs in town.

After the steer was cut and trimmed the yield was about 400 lbs., not counting the lard, organs, etc. Our share was 1/3 steaks, 1/3 roasts, 1/3 ground beef. It cost us $8 per pound.

This was our second year and we doubled the order. Last year the supply lasted a few months. We should make it farther this year. Surprisingly, the 100 pounds of beef only uses about 4 cubic feet of space and fits well in our regular freezer in the fridge.

Grass-fed beef is good
1. Perennial grasses are better for soil.
2. Animals that are grass-fed their entire life are healthier — and their meat is safer for you. 
3. Grass-fed animals produce the right kind of fat.
4. The corn fed to feedlot cattle is fossil-fuel intensive and heavily subsidized. 
5. Perennial pasture reduces flooding and pollution-laden runoff.
6. Grazing animals don't need the large quantities of antibiotics that feedlot cattle do.
7. Perennial pasture is a carbon sink.
8. Modern grazing methods match the efficiencies of industrial-scale grain production.
9. Pastured animals are treated more humanely.
10. Grass-fed is more expensive, so you eat less.

"The meat you buy in the store comes from cattle that have been fed corn, grain, or feed byproducts," Coco says. Cattle that are fed in confinement are routinely fed high carb diets with low doses of antibiotics and added hormones to make them bigger, quicker.

Their diet changes the composition of their fats from being high in omega 3, which is a natural anti-inflammatory, to being high in Omega 6, which does the opposite. 

Factory farms fatten their cattle in crowded feedlots where they sometimes get sick. Then the sick animals are forced into slaughterhouses with electric prods, forklifts and bulldozers. If you think you can stomach it, watch this video, Slaughterhouse Investigation: Cruel and Unhealthy Practices.  I don't really want to eat sick beef.

Commercial ground beef is usually blended parts from dozens of these factory farms. This increases the chance the meat is contaminated with E.Coli or another pathogen. To prevent tainted meat, some factories add ammonia, according to a New York Times article. Mmm… tasty ammonia.

How to cook grass fed beef
Grass fed beef cooks faster. It stays redder in color even when it is medium temperature, so be careful not to overcook it. Because it is low in fat, I like to drizzle a little olive oil on my steaks to keep them from sticking to grill.

Grass-fed shoulder roast. Yum!
With the ground beef I make burgers, tacos, meatloaf, meatballs and meat sauce. I love to add diced onion, garlic and fresh herbs like cilatro, parsley, dill and basil to my burgers. I’ll usually add a raw egg, some olive oil and a dash of hot sauce, too.

The roasts I slow cook in the oven or crock pot with broth and vegetables.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sitting is the new smoking

A GeekDesk like mine.
Sitting might be just as bad for you as smoking, according to several new studies. It doesn’t even matter how much you exercise. "Heavy sitters" have higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and early death. Your chair is killing you.

• More than four hours a day spent sitting in front of a screen doubled the risk of heart disease in middle-age adults, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

• In a study of 100,000 men and women, those who sat more than six hours a day were more likely to have died over the course of the 14-year study than those who sat for less than three hours a day.

• People who spent a decade or more doing sedentary work were almost twice as likely to develop lower colon cancer, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology.

When we first moved into our office, one of the cubicles was already set up as a standing desk. I had to lower it back down to accommodate an employee, but now I'm thinking someone was ahead of their time.

It makes sense that we evolved to stand and move around, not sit at a desk. So, a year ago I thought I should give it a try. After all, bank tellers, waiters, factory workers, farmers, nurses and many more stand most of the day. If they can, why can’t I?

I started in October, 2010, and I’m still standing all day, every day. I’ve never felt better.

Burn calories
My daily work desk.
It offers lots of space.
You could be burning an extra 100 calories an hour just by standing at work. If you are as overfed as most of us, this small daily change could make a big difference in your weight loss goals. Check out how many calories you would burn standing - Click here. I personally think it’s closer to 30 calories an hour for me, but it all adds up.

Reduce back pain
Years of sitting and gaining weight had left my lower back in pain way too often. I found the best way to reduce the pain in the short run is go for a walk. The best way to reduce it in the long run is to lose weight and build your lower back muscles. Standing at work, instead of sitting, has built up those muscles and I rarely experience back pain now.

Good posture
I notice it’s easier to maintain good posture more often, since there is a lot less slouching in my life. The standing desk is very ergonomic. It just feels great to be standing up at work. I am more focused and alert.

Join the club
Winston Churchill, Donald Rumsfeld, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and Thomas Jefferson used stand-up desks.

Standing options
I wasn’t ready to commit to a standing desk when I began. I simply moved my laptop to a three-drawer file cabinet. After a month of standing, I decided to order one. I bought a GeekDesk for around $700. It moves up and down with a motor, but is pretty basic. As far as usefulness, my review of the GeekDesk is a big thumbs up.

Take it easy
I started working on top
of my filing cabinet.
If you’ve been sitting eight to 10 hours at work and then more at home, it’s tough to just start standing all day. I started with two hours and slowly increased the time. By the end of a month, I was standing at work for eight hours. Every hour or so, I take a short walk in or out of the office and sit down occasionally to read an article. I recently added a rubber pad to stand on. Curiously, it is much more comfortable to stand barefoot than with shoes, but that doesn't go over well in the office.

Try it out
Try standing a couple hours a day. I think you will like it. Let me know how it goes.

Read more
Sitting Vs. Smoking - CBS HealthWatch