Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Essential Gear for the Perfect Bro-Gym

***This is a cross-post from hackingevolution.com***

1. Olympic rings. Hang 'em high.

2. Hex bar is a more natural deadlift

3. Thick rope for battling, climbing, and rows.

4. Fighter's ground-and-pound heavy bag.

5. High fidelity, wide range speakers. Because bass is a thing.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

This is Me Getting All 'Aristotelian' on Grains

Aristotle was perhaps the first to popularize the notion that human beings are rational animals, that reason is simply a part of human nature. It is also commonly recognized that arguments must be structured according to reason; therefore, so should our personal decisions.

For those that are still on the fence about grains, or are having trouble seeing the Reason surrounding them, I've laid out all the reasons here for you, for and against.

Reasons to Eat Grains

  1. They have lots of fiber*
  2. They contain vitamins and minerals**
  3. They are inexpensive***
  4. They taste good****

*Though, it's insoluble fiber, which does not create habitat for healthy gut flora, may disturb a sensitive gut, and may even promote bad gut bacteria colonization.

**Once cooked, which is necessary in order to digest them, grains are among the least nutrient dense foods. And they are dramatically inferior to their carbohydrate alternatives in fruit, tubers, and starchy vegetables.

***Does not account for indirect health care costs, which, upon inclusion, may place grains among the most expensive foods along with sugar and vegetable oil.

****You're damn right they do.

Reasons to Not Eat Grains

  1. They might be toxic to you (gluten, gliadin peptides)*
  2. Grain production via annual monocropping is environmentally destructive and unsustainable**
  3. They are highly rewarding (opioids) and palatable (sugars), which fuels their overconsumption***
  4. They are nutrient-sparse compared to all other carbohydrate sources****

*Although up to 80% of the population may see inflammatory markers go up with the consumption of these proteins, classifying these things is difficult, arbitrary, and the lines have not been clearly defined in regard to who can and can't safely consume grains.

**Does not apply to traditional grain farming that promotes biodiversity, polycultures, etc.

***Palatability applies to anything that tastes good.

****Except for refined sugars and sweeteners, obviously.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Three Glaring Red Flags in "Forks Over Knives"

***This is a cross post from HackingEvolution.com***

I've heard an awful lot about this movie from my friends, some of whom acquiesced to their deceptive endorsement of a "whole foods" diet, so I reluctantly gave it a watch. Since this vegan propaganda isn't worth much of my time, I'm gonna keep this short. Here are four red flags that should have you discounting everything this movie endorses -- except, of course, the importance of whole foods.

Red Flag #1: Fear Factor

Among all the things that motivate people, fear is largely regarded as the most potent. The entire beginning of this movie is a conflation of the fact that you are going to die. Soon. You will get heart disease. You will get cancer. And it's all because of your western diet: processed foods and industrialized meats.

Well, everyone agrees with that idea. But they don't need to instill the fear of God in me before presenting the facts, because that's overtly manipulative. A logically sound presentation will suffice. So from the very outset of this movie, we are already immersed in a world of emotion and sensationalism, then dragged through image of heart surgery after image of fat-attaching-to-our-arteries (an idea from the Eighties, by the way). That's a red flag.

Red Flag #2: False Designation

I'd guess that they said the phrase "whole foods, plant-based diet" about 100 times throughout the mindless drivel and half-truths that were this film. But guess what? This vegan diet is not composed entirely of whole foods, because grains are not whole foods -- even 'whole grains' are still highly processed. Their processing is necessary to make them edible. So, they're lying.

Also, double lie, because this is not a plant-based diet. This is a plant-dominated diet, consisting of 100% plants. The USDA food pyramid is plant-based. Hell, almost every diet is plant based. McDonald's menu is plant-based. It's clear they're using false buzzwords to further deceive us. That's another red flag.

Red Flag #3: Campbell Got Fired

The shady meat-loving secret police must have had it out for Campbell because he had the courage to tell the truth. That, or not that, are two possibilities.

One thing I love about scientists: they are very careful about what they say. You'll often see an abstract where their data overwhelming concludes something, yet they will still end up saying, "More research is needed in this area." It's nearly ubiquitous. I love that. It's humble and responsible.

Another thing. Scientists understand clearly that correlation is not causation. They understand that if you find a correlation, which is what Campbell did, you still need to take that idea to the lab and conduct real science: randomized controlled trials. Then, after you find something, and others confirm it, and a biological mechanism is revealed. Then and only then can you start running around, declaring that you have something to say.

Campbell went around spouting that all animal foods cause all the degenerative diseases, based almost entirely on correlations he found with the worst kind of data: government data. A scientist would never something like this because it drastically oversteps the boundaries of their evidence. Anyone with any level of statistical knowledge would not say this. I wonder why he got fired.

If you'd like more detail about the half-truths, check this out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Lifestyle of a Surfing Legend

*This is a crosspost from HackingEvolution.com*

"I think the key to happiness is maximizing each day. So if you're unhappy,
here's a simple prescription: Live harder." -Laird Hamilton 

Laird Hamilton. Lance Armstrong. Micheal Jordan. See where I'm going with this? These men are sports icons. They have accomplished more than most men dream and have pushed the boundaries of sport in ways unimaginable. To many they are heroes and to all they are legends. But only one of them has a self-help book.

That book is Force of Nature, an examination of Laird Hamilton's success in surfing and in life. It breaks things down into four sections, Mind, Body, Soul, and Surfing, going into detail about his diet, training, social life, purpose, attitude, goal-setting, etc. in order to decode how and why Laird Hamilton became the surfing phenom that he is today.

And get this. He doesn't know it, but Laird Hamilton is living an ancestral lifestyle, one that is admirably close to nature in almost every way. In fact, Hamilton's lifestyle is an ideal example for all of us.

In the nutrition section, he praises organic, free-range beef as his number 1 favorite food. He explains that it's superior even to grass-fed beef, saying, "The closer to the wild, the better." He then goes on to sing the praises of raw seafood, seaweed, coconut oil, and raw butter from the milk of grass-fed cows. He extols the virtue of eating "real food from the earth" and warns readers to "beware of any 'food' that has been created by humans rather than nature." Sound familiar?

On a short list of the four foods he avoids, the first is bread, the second is pizza, and the third is soda. (The fourth on the list was cheese, but then he includes it later in grocery lists and dishes and admits that he prefers raw cheese...I'm not sure why he included it here with the others. This list should have been the 3 foods he avoids, given how he and the publisher/editor looked rather favorably on the right kinds of cheeses.)

Hamilton's training routine focuses on functional fitness. He writes, "It's not how much weight you can lift, it's how much strength you can incorporate into your movements. You want strength that you can actually control and apply." He also advocates changing up your routine and working on balance. These ideas are central to the programming you see in the world of ancestral health, where movements are based on natural patterns and skill-building.

Hamilton is also big on going barefoot:
"As many runners are discovering, shoes can actually decondition feet. That weakness leads to decreased performance and increased injury, which is why many athletes are now incorporating barefoot training into their workouts. 
I go barefoot whenever I can. When I surf, I'm using every last muscle, ligament, and tendon down there. There's a matrix of tiny muscles between the sole and ankle that most people aren't even aware of. I need them. I need my feet and toes to be able to dig in; to be sensitive, flexible, strong, and resilient. I don't need them to be trussed up and immobile--ever...Anyone who's ever walked barefoot through warm sand or cool grass knows that feeling the earth through your soles is one of life's great joys." 
The book also slights mainstream advice. In a brief cameo by trainer and educator Paul Chek of the Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology Institute, Chek writes, "I'm constantly amazed -- perplexed, actually -- at how all these people with master's degrees and PhDs in health and medicine can't even keep themselves healthy. They don't eat right, and they don't know how to take care of themselves. Some of the sickest people in the world are at nutrition conferences. Blows my mind." While knowing health and practicing health are two separate things for many health professionals due to the demands of their education and careers, I certainly agree that conventional health authorities may not be the ideal place for people seeking to optimize their health. The purpose of medicine, after all, is to make sick people better. And the purpose of nutrition is to reasonably sustain the Average Joe. Neither of these seek optimization.

This book is good for its simple, fad-free accessibility, built only on the popular brand of Laird Hamilton himself. It's something that anyone can pick up and respect. And the fact that it's so in line with an evolutionary perspective, without ever saying so, means winning my endorsement. Hamilton is a strong example of the ancestral lifestyle, so immersed in nature, that he makes me feel like a slacker.

While the book has some minor problems, I would recommend it to anyone for the quality advice and the cogent way it captures all the elements of health and well-being within an overall lifestyle. Here, it's presented as a surfing lifestyle -- but I like to see it as one very close to nature. In evolutionary terms.

"I may be an extreme case, but we all need to take risks. I think it goes back to our primitive state, our deepest DNA, when we were hunters and had to avoid getting eaten by large animals. Survival meant risk. The thirst for adventure is part of human nature. It's in every cell of our bodies."- Laird Hamilton