Human Diet Perspective

There's been a recent diet fad that emphasizes sugars and grains.

After 2.5 million years of eating minimal sugars, grains, and vegetable oils, people are addicted to (and are suffering from) a radical new diet. Sugars and grains are ubiquitous and common foods have recently begun to include unusual amounts of heat-processed vegetable oils. Food industries, governments, and medical institutions endorse and promote this way of eating and the resulting chronic diseases have caused alarming levels of pharmaceutical sales.

Our first 1.5 million years of human diet history is omitted from the graph, although it would show the same 18 percent consumption level. For time perspective, if the history of mankind were represented by a distance of 100 meters, the last 100 years would be within the final four millimeters. If the complete 2.5 million year history were shown on the graph, the recent spike of carbohydrate eating would be so thin it would be nearly invisible. A graph to illustrate consumption of heat-processed vegetable oils would appear similar to the one for carbohydrates, except the vegetable oil consumption would be depicted as a flat line on the x-axis until modern times.

The time the graph shows is enough to make the point that our switch to eating sugar, grains, and heat-processed vegetable oils is an extreme change.

No Way in Hell I’ll Take Statins

 

Although my other labs are in “normal” ranges, my physician informed me that the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) is very high at 202 mg/dl. He said I should start statin drug therapy to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke and he issued a prescription for atorvastatin (Lipitor). This is troubling considering the known risks of these drugs and the fact that no science indicates that high cholesterol causes heart disease. Unfortunately, the doctor is probably just following his organization’s protocol. According to Mayo Clinic, LDL should be lower than 100 mg/dL (1).

Adverse effects of statins include cognitive and memory problems, muscle cramps, general weakness, impaired walking, numbness, and weakening of the immune system. Based only on these considerations, I will not take statins.

If you have a statin prescription, learn the benefits and risks yourself. Don’t blindly join the millions who spend over $30 billion per year to lower cholesterol for no benefit. Unless medical professionals you use can provide compelling evidence for you to take these drugs, their credibility, and the credibility of the organization they work for, is suspect.

You can easily find authoritative scientific evidence that support statements I make in this post. A great place to start is the following book that references many of the largest studies. All doctors and anyone given a statin prescription should read The Great Cholesterol Myth by nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden and cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra.

A concerning aspect of my doctor’s recommendation is that it is based on LDL cholesterol level. Sure, statins lower LDL, but there is seldom reason to do so. There is no correlation between higher cholesterol levels and cardio vascular disease (CVD) risk. In fact, many studies show an inverse correlation between LDL numbers and risk. The chart below illustrates an example.

ldl-patient-distribution-3

This was a sizable study with nearly 137,000 data points. If LDL level matters at all, I would not want it to be at the average level of 116 mg/dL and I certainly would not want it to be less. In fact, risk CVD risk seems to increase as LDL decreases below 160 mg/dL.

Low LDL does correlate with dementia, which is not too surprising considering how essential cholesterol is for brain health. In fact, 25 percent of the body’s cholesterol is in the human brain. Statins lower brain cholesterol.

Factors known to cause CVD are…

1. smoking
2. excessive alcohol consumption
3. lack of exercise
4. obesity
5. sugar, omega-6 vegetable oils, and low fiber foods.

This information comes from the Nurses’ Health Study by Harvard University, where 82 percent of coronary events were attributed to these five factors (not LDL).

My triglyceride measures low at 45 mg/dl mainly because I avoid sugars and processed carbohydrates. Since I eat a low-carb diet, excessive glycation and resulting inflammation that comes from high blood sugar is unlikely. Factors such as these should be considered when statins are prescribed instead of dispensing them based only on LDL level. Medical protocols need to be supported by science, but prescriptions for statins based only on LDL level are only the result of a consensus of opinion.

You don’t have to look far back in history for examples of consensus of opinion not working well for advancement of health. Examples include the “artery-clogging” saturated fat myth, a calorie is a calorie, and the belief that trans fats are safe. Cholesterol myths are more complicated, but the idea that prescribing drugs for anyone with high LDL is good preventative medicine may someday be seen in the same category.

A metric that does correlate with CVD risk is triglyceride to HDL cholesterol ratio. My TG/HDL ratio is 45/66, which equates to 0.68 (low risk). Most people can keep this ratio low through a low-carb diet and exercise. By now, that’s mainstream health knowledge.

Here is an informative article with more about the TG/HDL ratio from Professor Grant Schofield:

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FASTING TG/HDL RATIO

Statin drugs reduce the body’s levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – an essential nutrient found in almost every cell in the body and one that is critical for heart health. In fact, the largest concentration of CoQ10 is in heart muscle. Depletion of CoQ10 may have something to do with the adverse effects of statins that involve impaired muscles.

The physician that prescribed statins for me explicitly categorized LDL as “bad” cholesterol. That’s a common thing to do, but it makes no sense. The body makes LDL because it is essential to human life. No test was done to assess whether my LDL includes high levels of the small-particle type of LDL (LDL-B) that can be easily oxidized and cause inflammation. However, the fact that my triglyceride is low is a strong indicator that the LDL is mostly LDL-A, which is not prone to oxidation and inflammation.

From High Triglycerides – How to Lower Triglycerides by Axel F. Sigurdsson MD:

Small dense LDL particles appear more strongly associated with the risk of cardiovascular events than larger particles (2,3). In the SCRIP trial, high triglyceride levels were associated small, dense particles in 90 percent of subjects whereas lower triglyceride levels were associated with larger buoyant particles in 90 percent of subjects (4).

Other indicators of my cardiovascular health include blood pressure, which measured 120/80 and my VLDL that tested at a low 9 mg/dl. My blood tests revealed no information that scientifically indicate I have unusual risk for CVD and I have not had symptoms of heart disease. Without threatening existing symptoms (like a heart attack), drugs should not be used for a condition that can be helped with diet and lifestyle.

Statins never result in significant improvement to longevity and they are toxic. They degrade health in many ways, sometimes causing death. These drugs can be useful for middle-aged men with symptoms of low HDL cholesterol and heart disease. I am at the upper end of middle-aged (60+), my HDL is not low, and I do not have heart disease so prescribing statins for me was clearly very wrong.

The medical industry generally excels in care for acute problems, but incidence of CVD continues to worsen as use of sugar, vegetable oils, and statin drugs increase. Excessive drug use that is happening now will someday be seen as a travesty. I’m sure future generations will learn to use the information that is now easily available to reverse the modern chronic disease epidemics of dementia, diabetes, and heart disease. This will happen mostly through healthy nutrition and reduction of unnecessary drug use.

 

 

 

(1) Mayo Clinic staff article: Statins: Are these cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you?

(2) JAMA. 1996 Sep 18;276(11):882-8.
A prospective study of triglyceride level, low-density lipoprotein particle diameter, and risk of myocardial infarction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8782637

(3) JAMA. 1998 Jun 24;279(24):1955-61.
Fasting insulin and apolipoprotein B levels and low-density lipoprotein particle size as risk factors for ischemic heart disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9643858

(4) Circulation. 1996 Nov 1;94(9):2146-53.
Predominance of dense low-density lipoprotein particles predicts angiographic benefit of therapy in the Stanford Coronary Risk Intervention Project. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8901665

 

Unacknowledged Objects from Mars Curiosity Rover Sol1459

The following was cropped from a raw image taken with Mars Curiosity Rover’s right mast camera of the Murray Buttes region. NASA published the image on the Mars Curiosity website without comment.

NASA did comment on the terrain in this region: Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations.

nasa-curiosity-rover-image-from-sol-1459-martian-snake-650x725

Area 1 – Curiosity Rover Raw Image From Sol 1459 (2016-09-13 05:35:46 UTC)

Image source: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01459/mcam/1459MR0072390340703509E01_DXXX.jpg

Photos of surrounding terrain: http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=1459&camera=MAST_

The location of these objects is identified as Area 1 from the gigapan image shown below.

An object is visible to the right of the large rock at the bottom of the photograph. The object is significantly different from surrounding rocks in several ways. Unlike the rocks, it is long and slender. At least two sides are curved and the curves follow each other, except the distance between the curves consistently changes, resulting in a tapered shape. Lines normal to the curves make the object appear to be segmented.

A smaller and similar object appears to the left of the main object. This is also curved, tapered, and has an unusually small aspect ratio compared to the rocks. Visibility of both objects appears to be partially obstructed by a rock so it is possible these objects are joined.

mars curiosity sol1459 snake formation - enhanced image 1000x500

Curiosity Rover Image From Sol 1459 – Enhance Image

The anomalies were reported in alternative and social media after discovery in 2016. Pareidolia has led to misinterpretation of features on Mars and there isn’t much to be gained by speculating about what the objects are. Perhaps geologists can attribute them to a natural formation, although it is hard to imagine how they could be interpreted as rocks. Because they are extraordinary, anyone with an interest in Mars and certainly scientists from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory must be intensely curious; however, there was no press release. There must be unpublished research and other communications about this. Perhaps there is a scientist or a science journalist who will become interested and help make more information become available.

There is at least one other image of this taken on Sol1462 and it shows the same objects in the same location. The images are compared below.

Sol1459 - Sol1462 Image Comparison

Sol1459 – Sol1462 Image Comparison

Sol 1462 image source: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01462/mcam/1462MR0072970220703603E01_DXXX.jpg

Locations of Objects

Locations of Objects at Murray Buttes

Gigapan image source: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/191358

Area 2 includes a similar feature that also appears cylindrical and segmented.

NASA Curiosity Rover image from Sol 1459 AREA 2

Area 2 – Cylindrical and Segmented Object

Image source: https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01459/mcam/1459MR0072390390703514E01_DXXX.jpg

So far, there are no published articles from mainstream media, scientists, or science journalists. Obviously there is otherwise much focus on Mars and thousands of people are involved in study of the planet. Although these are extremely remarkable objects, mainstream media is either censoring discussion about this finding or they are incompetently failing to give it the attention it deserves. A discovery of purple rocks on Mars received much scientific and media attention, but this formation is ignored. An important story is behind the silence and I continue to seek authoritative analysis or at least acknowledgement that curiosity exists on this subject. I want to know why this was published by NASA, yet they ignore questions regarding it. More importantly, I want to know what these objects are.

I’ve used Twitter to ask people and organizations for comment. Simple questions were directed to people with professional interest in Mars. I generally find social media users responsive to questions, but scientists and science journalist have been oddly silent or, at best, dismissive. One type of response I get is a declaration that this has been Photoshopped. I like that one – it authenticates this as obviously extraordinary. More specific and useful information is sometimes offered too. Initially, I was not aware there was another image taken of Area 1 until a Space Community Google+ user pointed me to an image from Sol1462.

I use hashtag #Sol1459 when I inquire about the objects on Twitter and I encourage anyone to include this tag in their tweets. Search on #Sol1459 with Twitter to see what conversations there are. By the way, “Sol” refers to “solar day” of the rover’s mission.

It may be helpful if many people make their own inquiries to scientists and science journalists with connections to the exploration of Mars. Perhaps this is just some sort of amazing geological feature. Even if it is a rock formation, I expect curiosity about it – not silence.

Polluting for Sugar

There is no way it is a good idea to burn fields for food production – especially for a nonessential food. I made the graphic below to illustrate how relatively thin our atmosphere is. I think it makes the point. Unnecessarily dumping toxins into the air we breath is just nuts.

atmosphere thickness

Atmosphere Thickness

Unfortunately, this is done for sugar production on Maui by Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (a Division of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc.). In addition to burning the plants, polyethylene plastics used for drip irrigation are burned. A&B contends that burning these plastics do not produce any harmful compounds.

Since the company is phasing out sugar cane as a crop, this article will probably be the extent of my activism to end this. However, A&B is working to find more economical crops. This is good, but if they continue polluting the atmosphere as part of their agricultural process, I intend to put more effort into ending this.

sugar cane field burn

Sugar Cane Field Burning on Maui

20160923-0645am-cane-burning-on-maui-2

 

An interesting lunar feature…

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) got the following images which are shown on the northern polar mosaic at this link:

I became interested in an area at the edge of a crater named Plaskett near Plaskett U after watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoiGz4hXgb8

At about 4.5 minutes into the video, the commentator discusses what looks like a road near Plaskett U in the area of the red rectangle shown below.

This area is most likely on a slope so this “road” feature may be from rolling rock. The feature vectors away from Plaskett U and toward Plaskett. However, there’s some things that make me wonder about this…

The “road” has a geographic feature at both ends. It starts from a tall structure, which may not be too peculiar if this was caused from gravity. If it is from a rolling rock, it could have ended in countless other locations. However, it ended at a crater. A light colored object appears at the end of the feature near the small crater. Perhaps that rolled and caused this. That seems like the most likely cause, but I’m not sure so I think this is interesting.

plaskett and plaskett u with box
road

The “road” extends from the upper left of the photograph to the lower right. I don’t know how tall the feature on the lower right is, but it casts a shadows that is significantly larger than anything else in the area.

The feature appears to have received an impact after it was made.

road termination 2 650x500

Another possibility is this is collapsed lava tube, although this is straighter than examples of ballistic lava flows elsewhere on the moon.

Triglyceride Advice

Mayo Clinic posted this video years ago, which includes two critical health actions for anyone:

  1. Exercise
  2. Lower Carbohydrates.

This should be important to any person who wants better health and to avoid cardiovascular conditions – the most common reasons Americans become unhealthy and die.

They indicate that exercising and lowering carbs is important because you can lower LDL and triglyceride levels. While their advice is excellent, the idea that simply lowering LDL will improve health is incorrect. This part of the video is simplistic and idiotic. You can find out more about that elsewhere on my blog.

The focus on refined carbohydrates is also unfortunate. All carbohydrates are processed into simple sugars. Some process faster than others yet there is little difference in glycemic load between whole and refined grains. There’s much more about that elsewhere too.

Still, the basic advice is excellent. What interests me about this video is that it is an example of a mainstream institution advocating health through lowering carbs.

Probably the most important blood lipid metric is the triglyceride/HDL ratio. This happens through exercise and long-term LCHF eating. Ideally, your Trig/HDL ratio will be less than one and mine was 0.69 when last checked. For me, this is one of many indicators that confirm LCHF benefits.

Except in extreme conditions, heart health can only be achieved without drugs. It’s simple – just follow Mayo Clinic’s basic advice and take carb reduction more seriously than to just avoid sugar.

Here is a recent example of CNN picking up on this, but still focusing on high glycemic carbs:

In spite of pressure from health institutions, misguided nutritional education, and disinformation from the pharmaceutical industry, some medical professionals actually use the simple steps (exercise and LCHF eating) that reverse metabolic syndrome:

Credit Suisse Research’s Fat: The New Health Paradigm

better-pyramid
I want to point you to a really interesting report: Fat:The New Health Paradigm, which was released this month from Credit Suisse Research. This is more about how reversing trends of metabolic syndrome start with ignoring conventional nutrition guidelines. The link is to the report in PDF format.