Sunday, May 19, 2013

Statins do not reduce heart disease risk.

I'm not a regular reader of Mercola's site, though this article on cholesterol and statins piqued my interest.  It explains why our society's focus on lowering cholesterol levels is nonsensical. Instead:
Two ratios that are far better indicators of heart disease risk are:
  • Your HDL/total cholesterol ratio: HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your total cholesterol. This percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it's a significant indicator of risk for heart disease
  • Your triglyceride/HDL ratios: This ratio should ideally be below 2.
The second half of the article explains why taking statins will not reduce your heart disease risk and lists a number of sensible steps everybody can take to avoid CHD.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Whole 30

The Whole 30 is a 30 day online eating challenge that cuts out sugar, grains, dairy and legumes.  It might sound daunting, but I like the way it's structured.  For example, although there's no calorie counting involved, and there are no restrictions on the healthy foods, the approach is slightly different than many diets, which allow cheat days or tell you that it's not a big deal if you eat something from the forbidden list - just get up, dust yourself off and carry on.  No, the Whole 30 is pretty hard core about cheating, and expects you to be serious about the challenge.  I must say it reminds me a little of the different approaches to religion:  some people think it's ok to ask forgiveness after sinning, which allows them a more easy-going lifestyle, whereas more puritannical types don't allow themselves to even come near to temptation.

For example:

Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip”. Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip”. You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give yourself an excuse to fail before you’ve even started. 
You never, ever, ever HAVE to eat anything you don’t want to eat. You’re all big boys and girls. Toughen up. Learn to say no (or make your Mom proud and say, “No, thank you”). Learn to stick up for yourself. Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, or your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything. It’s always a choice, and we would hope that you stopped succumbing to peer pressure in 7th grade.

What I really like about the approach is that it doesn't allow ingredient substitutions that enable you to continue eating foods that are substantially similar to forbidden ones.  You wouldn't believe how irritated I get seeing endless recipes online for foods like paleo bread or grain free pancakes and muffins.  This is about healthy eating and avoiding the culture of baking
In addition, no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices. Trying to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold will ruin your program faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.”  This means no desserts or junk food made with “approved” ingredients—no coconut-flour pancakes, almond-flour muffins, flourless brownies, or coconut milk ice cream. Don’t try to replicate junk food during your 30 days! That misses the point of the Whole30 entirely.
I could see that this approach wouldn't work for everyone, and since I haven't given up dairy yet, it might be a challenge I should try myself.  I always maintain that you need about 2 weeks to get over the worst of the grains and sugar withdrawal symptoms, so presumably the second half of the challenge is usually easier to maintain than the initial fortnight.  

Check it out here.  It's a program, like so many others, that you can follow for free on the website.  There is also a paid component that offers premium services, but that part is optional.  There appear to be plenty of free resources to take advantage of.