Issue #1. December 2013
This section features new content from 180 founder Matt Stone.
The Elephant in the Room
Hello and welcome to the very first edition (sort of, I ran a newsletter for a while back in 2009), of the 180 Newsletter. In this first edition, rather than breach and explore a health topic, I figured it might be better to just talk about the big, hairy mastodon in the room. No, it’s not me jerk face! I’m talking about the disappearance of the old blog format and the ushering in of a completely new content delivery system.
Listen, I know those of you who have been part of the 180 community for months and even years found the blog, connected with it, and made it a big part of your life. And I really love and appreciate you all. Communicating with you over the years and building up such a clan of intelligent readers, independent thinkers, and exceptional communicators has been a real joy. But you have to understand, you were the exception, not the rule. And this new system will grow that community much faster.
The site had a really tough time engaging new readers because the conclusions that my research came to don’t make much sense to someone with no prior exposure. It’s not like other health entities. It’s not clearly aligned with any other health group, cult, or ideology. It is its own breed, and to those who have been brainwashed by other ways of thinking, 180 seems like a very strange and confusing place.
You come to the site and read about people gaining weight to improve their health? Adding more sugar to their diets to strengthen their teeth? Talking about their pee and its relation to keeping their hands warm?
The place looks like a damn lunatic asylum on first blush.
And I got to see the real numbers behind this flawed format. They weren’t pretty. I was getting around one new subscriber for every 1,000 visitors, and subscribers are everything really. People don’t tend to just skim an article on a site they are visiting for the first time and suddenly develop overwhelming interest. In fact, almost everyone quickly leaves and never comes back. To reach people in a meaningful way with any information, repeat exposure is key. With work like mine it’s probably ten times more important to get repeat exposure than it is for the average blogger/writer.
And so here we are. Everyone who comes in gets to start on the same page, starting with a free 90-day eCourse on metabolism that I’m currently putting together. If you’ve subscribed three or more days ago, you will have received the first installment of that eCourse already.
When I release most of my new content, it will come out on Amazon and be released for the exact same price that it was released for on the blog. FREE. Except this time the information will be more in-depth, more complete, and will get a lot more time and attention than simple blog posts that were meant to, if anything, just keep the blog’s traffic rankings above water.
So there you have it. More time for me. Better quality writing still published for free. Excellent forums to keep the community socializing happily. And, most importantly, new people get a proper education, getting to live the 180 ?experience? from a reasonably clean starting point.
While many of you will remain concerned about this change for a while, and I don’t expect to stop hearing complaints of the disappearance of old content for quite some time, eventually, in the end, there will be a collective silence as the last of the whiners shuts the f%$& up and realizes how much BETTER the new system, and the new content, is. This change is for the best. Trust me will you?
Our intent was not to take information away from anyone either. For those who really wish they could access the old stuff, email firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll be more than happy to send the text over for you to read. I mean, don’t pester the kid to death. But if there’s an old article that you would love to revisit and don’t see posted in the ?Best of the Blog? section in the coming months, let Rob know and he’ll send it over.
If you are a blogger and would like to post an old blog article on your own site as a guest post from 180D, let Rob know as well.
Thanks everyone for your support. I won’t let you down or let the newbies to the site fall in between the cracks either. Long live the new 180D!
This section features one of the greatest hits from 180D’s seven year blog and its 666 published posts.
Breakfast Cereal Causes Obesity
I mean, they serve this devitalized, sugar-laden, grain-based garbage to kids… why I oughtta!!! Some kids cereals have over 30% of their calories coming from sugar! White, crappy sugar! And grains? Obviously grains are responsible for the obesity epidemic. As Dr. Mercola has been talking about for years, (and you know he’s a renegade insider that really knows what’s going on), grains spike insulin. I mean, INSULIN!!! Jeeman tapdancin’ Christmas!!! We know that insulin is the fat storage hormone, and the more carbs you eat, grains and sugar especially… well, Adios kids. R.I.P. Sorry we’ve been making you all obese and diabetic with these damn breakfast cereals. And to think, marketing to young children with prizes and toys and cartoon tigers and toucans and stuff? Despicable!!!
In a rumored rat study, those that ate the box lived longer than those that ate the cereal! That just says it all right there!
One of the big objectives at this site is to help health fanatics who have found me in the sauerkraut-scented bowels of the alternative internet health scene to overcome their irrational food fears and phobias. And to help people stop embarrassing themselves in front of friends and family with their psychotic health crusade du jour.
A couple of weeks ago, long-time 180 peep Collden, mentioned something about breakfast cereal protecting against obesity and diabetes in both kids and adults?at least in clinical study. And not all these studies were funded by General Mills or were even American-sponsored. While studies are just studies, each one in isolation being about as important to me as, in the words of R.J. Fletcher, a “festering bowl of dog snot,” there are an awful lot of them. And they all seem to show pretty much the same thing…
This one is good from a Paleo standpoint, as fruits and vegetables lost to breakfast cereal and cereal bars in a head-to-head body composition and diet adherence/satisfaction comparison…
My favorite is the one that showed that the more sugary and refined the cereal, the leaner the kids…
That’s particularly ironic, as when I googled “breakfast cereal and obesity” I ran into literally hundreds of scathing articles about how horrible and tragic and sinister these breakfast cereals are?and how they are causing obesity like it’s nobody’s business. The ones about sugar in particular were quite venomous. What’s interesting, is that most studies that isolate the effect of sugar, or grains, seem to find the same theme repeated again and again. The more you eat, the leaner you are. It reminds me of the story Chris Masterjohn told us at dinner after the WAPF conference about how he kept running into a problem when feeding his experimental rodents buttloads of fructose. They were just too dang lean! The more fructose he gave them the less body fat, visceral fat specifically, that these rat bastards had.
I also posed a question about breakfast cereal and obesity the other day on Facebook, to see what kind of response I got. And the response was big. Most people think breakfast cereal is like el diablo in a box. And while I once claimed that Tony the Tiger ate my appendix, I can no longer say that Tony was fully responsible. I didn’t eat Frosted Flakes anyway, but “health food cereals.” If I had been eating Frosted Flakes instead of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Total, and Cracklin’ Oat Bran who knows? Maybe I would still be toting around that little slimy sucker in my lower right abdomen.
What was interesting is how many people that were super lean as kids stepped up to share their cereal experiences. While they, and I too would agree that breakfast cereal probably isn’t the best overall food from a nutrition and health standpoint (that’s not the argument I’m making here), there was certainly some defensive responses to the assertion that eating breakfast cereal would be inherently fattening. The infamous Chuck Johnson even shared a photo of himself at 6’0″, 121 pounds tearing into a fresh box of Cocoa Puffs?a breakfast cereal-based diet was actually something Cocoa Chuck used to get lean when needed (a box a day will make the obesity go away!).
Anyway, I’ve been eating breakfast cereal again regularly for about 6 months now?and none of that indigestible bran-laden crap either. The simple corn, oat, and rice-based cereals are where it’s at. I find it incredibly convenient in today’s modern world. This is even more important to me now as I sacrificed the niceness of my kitchen in order to afford living 200 feet from what is considered the best beach in the United States. I assure you my health will not suffer from making this choice! I also think there may be something inherently beneficial about eating rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates to break a fast, and doing so in the morning hours when sugar is so hard to hold onto (most have a greater tendency to ?crash? after breakfast than at other times of day, but this is true after any long fast regardless of time of day, and, I should point out, that this is by no means universal).
We know there is a huge advantage to eating high-glycemic carbs in a glycogen-depleted postworkout state. Nothing shuts down the fattening and muscle-wasting stress hormones faster. Even Loren Cordain, godfather of the notoriously low-carb Paleo Diet, recognizes the superiority of rapid-release postworkout carbs. After a long overnight fast the body is in a similar state, which is probably why eating breakfast has a negative association with obesity?breakfast cereal in particular amongst breakfast choices. I certainly have had improvements from eating a sugar and starch-heavy breakfast over the past 6 months. And, perhaps even more importantly, I like it. I grew up in the cereal generation. It’s a nice thing to wake up to from time to time. And dude, sometimes the prizes are like totally sick! Some even glow in the frickin’ dark! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
So yeah, maybe you can relax and have a little breakfast cereal if that’s what you want. And maybe your kids will not suffer from instant death upon Cheerio impact if it makes your life a little less stressful to throw down a box and a carton on a day when you aren’t up for making something that is grassfed, raw, sprouted, fermented, and fried in ghee from Goji-fed Himalayan Yaks. It, at the very least, doesn’t seem to be something to feario.
Well, unless you don’t let it get a little soggy before eating. Then you might get some serious cereal lacerations on the roof of your mouth. Damn Kix. Gets me every time!
This section features recipes, cooking tips, and food discussion by Matt Stone.
Mega Sugar Smoothie
I’m a former chef that has made some of the most elaborate food concoctions imaginable. Think bourbon foie gras torchon and 8-hour braised abalone. Okay, you probably don’t even know what those things are, never mind.
I’m also a recently-disillusioned health nut that has come to realize that my health is perfectly fine eating a typical Western diet with lots of convenience foods. So that leaves me in a state of perpetual culinary limbo.
My interest in making food at home is extremely intermittent because of this. So, as you follow along each month’s 180 Kitchen section, you just never know what you might find. Funny enough, many of you will probably find your own kitchen life to be similar. For a couple weeks you’re a regular Susie Homemaker gourmet, and then you get bored and find other hobbies. Soon after, lots of boxed cereals invade your kitchen ?carbinets. Especially after this month’s Best of the Blog selection!
And so, as I type this alongside a large stack of pizza boxes (six of them in all, waiting for their trip to the recycling bin), let’s talk about something I really enjoy during those times when I feel no inspiration to cook:
The Mega Sugar Smoothie
Years ago, although I knew better than to buy into any of it too deeply, I watched excessive amounts of Durianrider videos. If you aren’t familiar with Durianrider, please don’t become familiar. I lost many valuable hours, days even, watching several hundred of his videos. And in those videos I saw shocking amounts of fruit being eaten. Bananas in particular.
Interestingly, these videos did help me overcome an anti-sugar fetish that I had had for many years. For that I am thankful. In fact, still to this day on a personal level, I find the more that sugar displaces other dietary calories, generally the better I feel?as long as I have at least some complementary food in there with it: starch, meat, fat, salt, etc.
While I can’t gorge myself on the same quantity as fructose legends like Durianrider, I still can put away an impressive amount of fruit. And watery, sweet fruit in the form of a smoothie with a couple of slices of very salty pizza to go with it, makes for the perfect balance of water, sugar, starch, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, and potassium?what I consider to be the primary elements in food worthy of your metabolism’s immediate attention.
Without further ado, it goes something like this:
- 3-5 ripe bananas
- 1 cup or so of orange juice
- A few frozen strawberries
- A few ice cubes
Over 100 grams of glorious sugar to complete a pizza meal. A quick rinse of the Vitamix and the mess is gone. A minute of total labor. That’s about all I’ve cared to spare on food preparation for the last month. And I couldn’t be happier with this staple concoction of mine. Just don’t down this all by itself or your feet are going to need thawing. Mine do at least.
And remember with anything discussed in the 180 Kitchen section, some foods and recipes may not be appropriate for you. I wouldn’t put a smoothie like this anywhere near your mouth if you are recovering from a severe eating disorder.
I apologize for being seasonally-insensitive. I live in Florida. I literally rode my scooter past a banana tree full of nearly-ripe bananas just a few days ago. So this, for me, is perfectly seasonal. And many 180 readers are enjoying a wonderful spring right now.
A Supplement you May Be Missing
This section features an article by one of the leading minds in health each month.
The Limitations of Blood Tests
By Dr. Garrett Smith, co-author of Solving the Paleo Equation
The methods healthcare practitioners of all sorts out there use to ?diagnose? your particular health issue are legion. Many people want what they believe to be an ?evidence-based? or ‘scientific? approach, which to most means there are studies behind it, and it is accepted in the mainstream. The issue with what passes for evidence-based these days is an article for another time. For these folks, blood is typically the preferred method, because?in addition to the standard urinalysis’that’s what their doctor does as a first-line look into the body’s chemistry. Since this is what everyone does, it’s perceived as the main option, it’s accepted as evidence-based, and everyone keeps doing it. Momentum is a hell of a thing.
In the same vein?questioning authority, contrarian nature, open-mindedness, whatever you want to call it’that drove Matt and I to become friends and co-authors, I believe there is a better way than blood to assess the body’s longer-term internal workings that just so happens to fall outside of the norm. In this article, I want to discuss why I have mostly abandoned blood tests ***for nutritional assessment and treatment of longstanding (chronic) conditions.*** In a future article, I’ll discuss what I have since moved to.
How did blood become our first line test for practically everything? I don’t know, and I don’t have the time or interest in researching it. My guess is that conventional medicine mainly started using blood tests in hospitals for the treatment of acute conditions. People with an acute condition in a hospital need a right-here-right-now ‘snapshot? view of their body’s chemistry so that their doctors can make rapid decisions on their treatment! If there is one place where blood tests are used best, it is in the acute setting. This probably trickled down to the public and general practitioners in the form of: ?Well, if it’s good enough to prevent someone from dying in a hospital, I guess we can probably use it on non-acutely sick people too. I disagree.
The problem is, testing the blood for that ‘snapshot? is very dependent on many things, including but not limited to the day of the month, the dawn phenomenon, time of day, (intermittent) fasting, and hydration. Let’s cover some other problems with blood tests for nutritional purposes:
- In a past blog post, Matt discussed an obviously hypoglycemic client. When this person measured their blood glucose by finger stick during one of these ?hypoglycemic? episodes, they saw that the glucometer showed significantly elevated blood glucose! Eating resolved these symptoms and brought the blood glucose back down to normal. Here’s the quote from Matt:
I had a very difficult time helping this person to rehabilitate herself from a high-protein/low-carb distance running combo that left her completely unable to metabolize food and hospitalized for months. She was a wreck. When carbohydrate was freely available to her system she actually felt pretty good. When it wasn’t, she would tremble and shake, vomit, lay awake sleepless, and deteriorate rapidly. We tried again and again to tweak macronutrient ratios and things like that, but still she would experience these crushing hypoglycemic blows.
What she was experiencing, without a doubt, was the symptoms of her adrenal glands kicking into hyperdrive in order to elevate sugar levels in the body. That’s where the shaking, psychological and mood disturbances, cold hands and feet, and so forth stem from. Not exactly rocket science.
And she was at her worst early in the morning. 4am is a very common time of day to enter into a hypoglycemic state and it progresses throughout the early dawn hours if no food is ingested. This person had a glucose meter, so she tested. During this hardcore (and I mean hardcore) hypoglycemic episode, her blood sugar levels would soar to 130 mg/dl (technically hyperglycemia!)?a diabetic fasting level. But this person was definitely no diabetic. In fact, eating would immediately make her feel better and send the blood sugar plummeting to 75-ish.
Due to the long-term lack of usefulness of both measuring blood glucose in hypoglycemic folks combined with the medical definition of hypoglycemia (below 65 mg/dl), I have since changed my standard of hypoglycemia to be ?unpleasant symptoms that are relieved quickly upon consuming carbohydrates. Complicated, right? Unbelievably useful too! My main thought on this is, if blood glucose level isn’t even reliable to ascertain what we ASSume to be happening in the blood short-term, why are we even considering it to assess longer-term nutritional issues?
- Way back in 1975, in ?Clinical Significance of the Essential Biological Metals,? Lahey showed how a copper deficiency anemia was indistinguishable on standard blood tests from an iron deficiency anemia. When have you ever heard a physician discuss a copper deficiency anemia? For those of you who follow Ray Peat, you’ll note he talks positively about copper and negatively about iron quite a bit. Maybe, just maybe, differentiating between and assessing the status of both of them is important!
- I’ll follow this up with the fact that too often patients come to me with an anemia diagnosed by another physician and were given the standard prescription of iron. They aren’t feeling better, and sometimes are doing worse. In 5 seconds of looking at their bloodwork, it becomes obvious to me that iron was not what they needed at all, but rather B12 and/or folate. Discerning a macrocytic versus microcytic anemia is like first or second-year med school stuff, this should not be screwed up!
- Next, the body does its best to maintain the main electrolyte minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium) levels in the blood, or else the heart rhythm is very quickly affected in negative ways. So…we’re left looking at a set of numbers from a ’tissue? that is on one hand very labile and changing all the time, while on the other hand it is giving its best poker face. Does it make sense to use this for long-term *nutritional* monitoring of any sort? Do you think that movie posters tell you all about what’s in a movie? No, I’d say not.
- Regarding toxic metal testing, blood testing is not best. Blood testing for toxic metals is mainly useful in people who have been exposed to them in the last 30 days. The problem here is, the body works very hard to push these toxic metals out of the blood into the tissues (assuming it can’t detoxify them at the time). Why? Toxic metals in the blood affect other metals, which then affects the heart. Better to get them out of the blood and choose slow death rather than to let them stay in the blood for fast death.
How are reference ranges?known incorrectly by many laypeople and doctors as ?normal? ranges?for blood tests derived? Here’s a great synopsis:
?The standard definition of a reference range for a particular measurement is defined as the prediction interval between which 95% of values of a reference group fall into, in such a way that 2.5% of the time a sample value will be less than the lower limit of this interval, and 2.5% of the time it will be larger than the upper limit of this interval, whatever the distribution of these values?
Regarding the target population, if not otherwise specified, a standard reference range generally denotes the one in healthy individuals, or without any known condition that directly affects the ranges being established. These are likewise established using reference groups from the healthy population, and are sometimes termed normal ranges or normal values (and sometimes “usual” ranges/values). However, using the term ?normal? may not be appropriate as not everyone outside the interval is abnormal, and people who have a particular condition may still fall within this interval.
However, reference ranges may also be established by taking samples from the whole population, with or without diseases and conditions.
If you didn’t understand the above, it means that the statisticians (not doctors) will be basically ?curving? the test so that only 2.5% of the highest and lowest values fall outside the reference range. As to the assertion of using ?healthy? individuals to make up these ranges, just how many truly healthy people do you know, or should we guess at their definition of health and the ?fudge factors? they might use? On the other hand, how many really sick people do you know who go to the doctor and have all their bloodwork come back within all the reference ranges?
Or, the most likely solution is that the lab mashes up all the people who come in (see last bolded sentence in quote above) and curves those numbers to fit? On that note, it should be obvious that the people getting labs done most often are generally not healthy, and this obviously skews the ranges even further from where they should be. My suggestion to you is, if you have bloodwork values that are falling outside of the reference ranges, you should definitely look into it more deeply if your doctor won’t.
Next, someone will bring up that they see (or that they are) a practitioner who does ?functional? blood testing. Been there, done that. It means that someone decided that the normal reference ranges are too broad to be useful, and that narrower (?optimal?) ranges should be used. When I used to think functional blood testing was the best option I had to work with, here’s how it went:
- Took a seminar on Functional Blood Chemistry authored by this guy.
- Treated patients exactly as the seminar and manual said.
- Noticed that the number of supplements people had to take was excessive (and when you hear an ND who is also an ex-supplement store employee say ?damn, that’s a lot of pills! you should definitely take note).
- The supplements seemed to be really expensive for what they were.
- There was never any notion of actually fixing the underlying problem through this program, only a lifetime of supplements that changed with each successive blood test.
- Patients eventually quit because they weren’t feeling that much better and they didn’t want to take the pills and/or spend the money.
I eventually quit using this method because A) I didn’t feel we were ‘treating the cause,? we were simply treating the symptom of blood test values that were not in their ?optimal range,? and B) In my experience with it, it wasn’t working well to even manage the symptoms it professed to be addressing?at all.
Testing blood is invasive. Having to go back to the lab to get a forgotten/missed/add-on test is a pain (literally and figuratively). Maybe you’ve also experienced the joy of going to creepy, dirty labs where the technicians sometimes don’t seem bright enough to collate papers, let alone draw blood cleanly and do the paperwork with it.
Testing blood is significantly expensive. To run some basic bloodwork and hormones will, if you get really good self-pay-up-front pricing, cost $200 and up. If you’ve ever seen the prices the lab charges your health insurance for that same bloodwork, I hope you didn’t hurt yourself when you fell over.
In conclusion, I don’t use blood testing any longer ***for nutritional assessment and treatment of longstanding (chronic) conditions.*** In a future article in the spring of 2014, I’ll go into the type of testing that I have found to be infinitely more helpful than blood to treat conditions at their root.
This section features some thoughts and experiences shared by a 180 reader. If you would like to contribute, send an email to rob@180degreehealth and you can be the next featured reader.
180 Reader Karen Engler
2013 has been an amazing year of recovery for me. Gratitude abounds because there were 48 years leading up to 2013 that I’d been fatigue’s bitch. Desperate to find the answer why, I searched for the right therapist, supplements, diet, geographic location, colon hydrotherapist, mattress, lover, taiji teacher, alignment teacher, acupuncturist, coach, teaching certificate, books, research, and urine reading to free me from my sluggish state.
I’m grateful for the journey, truly, but if I was given the chance to go back in time and offer guidance to my 18 year old self I’d take it in a second. I’d have to keep it brief though, because I kind of had ADD. But this is what I’d say:
“First: Don’t deny yourself anyone or anything that will make you feel good. Friends, lovers, painting, singing, gardening, running, reading, food, and whatever. Find the people and things that turn you on and do them. Begin where you are, with what sounds good on any given day. Don’t let anyone tell you what you need to do to be healthy. Or to be anything. Your best consultants are your gut and your heart and being grounded enough so that you stay connected to them.
Second: Take the time to close your eyes and listen to your breath. A lot. Don’t change it. Don’t judge. Big inhale, small exhale–small inhale, big exhale, no worries. You’re perfect. Follow it. Let the air soften, expand, and stretch you. This will make you well again, and keep you thriving in so many ways you can’t understand right now. You will thank me forever.
Lastly: You suffered trauma. This is bad. Something that trauma survivors don’t have the biochemistry to understand because of said trauma. This hardship had a huge impact on your health and happiness. And fixing yourself is not going to work. It isn’t even possible because there’s nothing wrong with you. Be compassionate with yourself. The acceptance of the messiness that is your humanity will give you the space and the power to heal. Did I mention following your breath?”