Thursday, February 17, 2011

Having the gall

I've had a few people approach me lately wondering what they can do about poor gall bladder function. My first thought was to recommend they take bile salts with all their meals, but obviously that's applying a band-aid to an axe wound, so I set off to do a bit of googling and learning...

Turns out that the gall bladder is signaled to do its thing (its main thing is to release bile salts, which help break down fats) by a chemical messenger called cholecystokinin , or CCK for short, which is released by the lining of the gut.

Now all of us primal-/paleo- diet proponents/dilettantes know that the guy lining is likely to be damaged by certain kinds of proteins, mainly glutens, although there are certainly other culprits.

Robb Wolf's recent book apparently went into this in more detail than I managed to absorb in a single reading. Fortunately, Tim Ferriss reproduced the pertinent parts here.

Alternative information that may be helpful: Apparently, even with impaired gall bladder function, the short-chain and medium-chain saturated fats can be broken down without too much trouble (e.g. those in butter and coconut oil, respectively). Intermittent fasting has also been shown to have a positive effect on the breakdown of fats, a process known as lipolysis.

Really glad that people sought my advice on this issue, or I never would have learned any of this. This blog isn't a platform for me to simply catalog what I believe/know about fitness and nutrition, but a place for me to learn, and document what I learn, and hopefully bring some people along with me on the journey towards greater wellness. I hope people will continue to challenge me, whether it be out in the real world, or here in the comments section, to think about areas that I've yet to explore. Thanks!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Final Frontier

I really want to explore the concept that the digestive system and the immune system are inextricably linked to the point that talking about them as 2 separate entities is misleading at best, but that's going to require a little bit of searching for things I've read and seen in order to not say anything factually incorrect.

Today, I'm just going to talk about the last category of dairy I'm adding back. I've had great success incorporating raw milk and grass fed fermented dairy, raw milk fermented dairy, grass-fed fermented dairy, and now fermented dairy. The final frontier is that drop of whipping cream in my coffee. I get to enjoy that tomorrow, and I'm quite excited about it.

That being said, I've definitely broken the habit of making cheese an easy go-to source of fats and protein, despite its relative portability and affordability. We'll see if I can keep it a role player rather than a team leader in my diet.

Upcoming competition means I'll be back to stricter intermittent fasting. Why I ever stray, I don't know. I guess it's the social thing. Eating (and drinking a bit) in the evening is just fun. But my 2 meals 3-5 hours apart, one late morning, one early-mid afternoon and then letting my body do its thing uninterrupted for the main part of a day always leaves me leaner, sleeping better, and performing better.

Re-joining my old gym as well, excited to get back to some hypoxic swimming and some sprinting (treadmill, concept 2 rower, versaclimber), and use of a glute-hamstring bench.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crossing the line

Last night represented my first foray into pasteurized dairy since the beginning of my no dairy experiment. Bacon cheeseburger meatzza with Trader Joe's New Zealand Grass-Fed Cheddar.

To me, this is the first of 2 semi-drastic changes I plan to attempt in an immunodigestive sense. And yes, I just made that word up.

The pasteurized, fermented cheese has yet posed no issue whatsoever.

A few more days, and I will eat fermented conventional dairy. While I think this is nutritionally inferior to grass-fed, I don't think there's going to be any difference in my ability to process/digest it.

Then, the final frontier, which is unfermented, pasteurized dairy. I am looking forward to heavy cream in my coffee.

The news, so far, is no news. Haven't felt anything but great. Which is what I hoped would happen from the beginning of the experiment. And I've made cheese more of a compliment to the main course at meals, rather than the main course itself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Big Cheese

Okay, so I ate about a 2 ounce portion of grass-fed raw milk Colby cheese from nearby Pennsylvania yesterday. I have to admit, it tasted great, and I certainly have yet experienced no ill effects. In fact, it may be due to the fact that I was ending a long fast with the cheese-containing meal, but I felt the sense of my brain and body being populated with nutrients it had been starved for, much like I've read about in accounts from vegans and vegetarians when they "relapse" into eating proper foods. And raw milk cheese has that bitter/sharp taste that really makes you appreciate that you're eating something real, that prevents you from eating it by large mouthful like you might a block of Cracker Barrel Vermont Sharp White. It really was enjoyable with a small handful of raw almonds. One or two more days, and I'll run out of raw milk, grass-fed Colby.

I have been debating whether to add back raw milk non-grass-fed next or grass-fed pasteurized. Here are my thoughts:

Raw milk is probably better from a digestive/immunological standpoint. The heating of pasteurization kills some of the good micro-organisms along with the feared, deadly bad ones.

On the other hand, the nutrition value of grass-fed is likely superior. I think that with plenty of fermented products in the diet, I may be able to handle pasteurized dairy without any trouble. Ultimately, I think I will incorporate this into my diet more often than raw milk/non-grass-fed, but I'm thinking for the sake of the experiment, that it should probably come afterwards, just so that I'm adding things in ascending order of potential for digestive/immunological difficulty.

The next dairy category for inclusion will be full-fat, fermented dairy which is neither explicitly grass-fed nor made of raw milk. (e.g. Full-fat Greek Yogurt). The long term goal will be to minimize (or, at least to keep reasonably low) protein and sugar from dairy in general, due to the tendency of dairy to cause higher secretions of insulin than other sources of the same categories of macronutrient. I'll definitely be careful about sprinkling anything with additional sugar content on my fatty Greek Yogurt simply because I don't want to add sugar to already insulinogenic protein sources.

By that point, I'll probably be dying for some grass-fed butter, which I won't worry much about, because protein and sugar content are negligible. I do plan to add heavy cream to my coffee (although the fauxconut version I've been using is not bad at all), but in very small quantities, and with negligible protein contribution.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 30

Okay, Day 30 of the experiment is upon us. I have consumed 0 dairy or dairy-derived products for 29 days and change, and now the real fun begins.

That is, I get to start adding things back to see what, if anything, has an ill effect.

This is keeping in mind the idea that I want to make dairy less of a dietary staple than it's been in the past, due to several factors, mainly its tendency to cause high levels of insulin to be secreted.

I've always felt that I tolerated dairy well though, and I've been my leanest while including it in my diet pretty regularly.

But in the name of the scientific method, I've cleared my system, and now it's time to mess around. First up is grass-fed, raw, fermented (basically cheese from unpasteurized milk from grass-fed animals)

Why this first? It's the best of everything. (making it the hardest to find). Grass-fed cows produce less milk, the laws favor pasteurization, and fermentation takes time and effort. Of course, only grass-fed cows can ever be healthy (cows just aren't built to digest corn. See The Vegetarian Myth for the dirty details), fermentation makes dairy easier to digest, and pasteurization kills not only potentially bad bacteria and microbes (although feeding cows grass makes this less of a necessity), but also changes milk products to be less easily digested.

In any case, I'm all but certain I will feel every bit as vital and well on Thursday when I add this back to my diet (tomorrow's a fasting day, didn't mean for it to fall on day 31 of the experiment, but lacked the foresight to adjust). But only time will tell. Next post will address any ill effects of the first round of re-addition.

All for now.