The Truth About Grains

10 Facts You MUST Know About Grains

Whole grains, like wheat, corn, and oats, have been touted for many years as healthy and nutritious, but over the past decade, grains have come under attack. Are whole grains healthy or not? If not, what makes them unhealthy? Looking back over history, grains were never a major source of calories or nutrition until the industrial revolution was able to offer machines for planting, harvesting and processing. Early Americans rarely enjoyed wheat because of the long growing season; the original 13 colonies offered poor growing seasons for wheat and oats; they did find Native Americans growing corn or maize. But even so, corn was very seasonal; they had few methods of storing grains safely for long periods of time.  Reviewing dietary intake of early colonists and Native Americans reveals high intakes of fats and proteins, not carbohydrates. These Americans also had very low rates of heart disease and diabetes; the biggest threat to survival was infection, like pneumonia or tuberculosis.

Over the past decade, authors like David Perlmutter and William Davis have published articles and books regarding the dangers of wheat and other grains. Blogs and social media abound with articles and commentary about grains and the risks they now pose to health. Going “gluten-free” is the new fad among “health bloggers” and “crunchy moms” who are trying to provide improved nutrition to their families and friends. All the while, governmental agencies and non-profit health organizations continue to advocate the consumption of high amounts of grains as part of a healthy diet. So, how do we figure out the truth? What is good or bad about grains? Is gluten-free good nutrition?

Here are 10 facts about grains for you to consider:

  1. All grains, no matter their glycemic index result in elevated glucose levels. Test for yourself. You can purchase glucometers over-the-counter at discount chain stores. Test your glucose first thing in the morning, before eating or drinking anything. This number is your fasting blood sugar level. Eat white bread. Test your glucose level at 30 minutes, 1 hour and 2 hours AFTER eating. Record these numbers. Another day, eat whole grain bread and test again at the same intervals. There will be very little, if any, differences in the percentage of change in your glucose levels. Anyone can do this test; it does not apply only to patients with diabetes.
  2. All breads sold commercially have similar nutritional values. Go to the store and locate the bread aisle. Locate any 2 or 3 brands or kinds of bread and compare the nutrition label. You will find that most breads contain very few vitamins and the ones you DO find, have been “enriched”. Enriched products SOUND healthy, right? However, what that word really means is that most nutrition was stripped during growing or processing, so to make product somewhat healthier-appearing, something was added. Usually it’s iron or B vitamins that are added. But take note of the nutrition label; notice how many carbs are in 1 serving and then how much nutrition is 1 serving providing?   Is the minimal nutrition TRULY worth the high number of empty calories?
  3. According to Davis & Perlmutter, grains, especially wheat, contribute to significant systemic inflammation which in turn creates health problems. Perlmutter has said that wheat may be one of the greatest unrecognized health threats today. Evidenced by a huge rise in diagnosis of celiac disease since 1950, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even asthma are being linked to wheat intake by some experts. Bloggers and author around the world attest to reducing or eliminating symptoms by eliminating wheat, gluten, or grains in some capacity.
  4. It costs approximately $8 to produce a box of cereal, but cereal sells for approximately $3-4 per box. How is this possible? Many years ago, the small farmers struggled to make ends meet; buying expensive machines to aid in planting and harvesting economically overwhelmed family farms. Farmers appealed to their governmental agencies for help; thus began the biggest subsidy effort undertaken by government ever. Over time, the family farms have all but disappeared, yet, the subsidies continue because they have been passed on as farms were purchased by bigger and bigger corporations.
  5. Genetically modified organisms or GMOs are commonly found to contribute to less nutrition and more inflammation according to a variety of authors and bloggers, including Perlmutter and Davis. With the advent of the industrial revolution, machines took over many processes and techniques involved in planting, harvesting, and processing. In order to speed up & economize processes has genetic modification created potential health hazards? Have GMOs been so altered that they are making us sick? According to NPR.org, genetically modified seeds appeared mysteriously in a farmer’s crop in 2013; these seeds had never been approved for marketing, sale, planting, or harvesting by the FDA. These particular seeds had been treated with a glyphosate-tolerance gene inserted into some varieties. The investigation was finally closed with absolutely no resolution; the GMO seeds were never found to have a source. No one was even found to be responsible for releasing these unapproved seeds into circulation and use. This “release” of GMOs into the fields allows for cross-contamination as pollination occurs.   Because of the lack of governmental oversight and refusal to pursue a responsible party, many authors believe that GMO use is becoming more widespread and is quite subtle, as seen in the example above. Even among our governmental agencies like the FDA, experts are warning that this subtle release of GMOs into our food supply is producing unpredictable and dangerous side effects, likely contributing to all sorts of ailments and illness.
  6. Independent research into whole grain nutrition is extremely limited. Most of the famous recommendations, advocating whole grain consumption as part of a healthy diet, are either produced by or funded by grain growers, supporters, pharmaceutical companies, or governmental agencies that support grain consumption. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black.
  7. Carbohydrates from grains can cause significant gas and abdominal pain in many people because of the way some are digested. FODMAPs are fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols – osmotic components of some carbohydrates that pull water back into the intestines, creating discomfort and bloating. This chemical reaction begins to cause fermentation secondary to poorly digested carbohydrates moving through the intestines; fermentation results in gas formation and results in discomfort and abdominal cramping.
  8. Gluten-free is just a new buzzword that many people are using to justify a supposedly “healthier diet.” However, many people who go gluten-free are only substituting other high carb, junk-food type products for gluten. For example, many alternative flour mixes contain bean, rice, or potato flour instead of wheat. Many times, this substitution results in a higher carb intake overall and sometimes even less nutrition. Remember that the front label is designed to attract a customer; most of the nutrition information on the front of packages can be very misleading.
  9. Grains have been encouraged for 50+ years as part of a healthy diet in order to provide “energy”. While carbohydrates DO convert to glucose and are utilized internally for cellular energy, fats are a much healthier source of energy. Overconsumption of carbohydrates is pretty easy, especially when governmental agencies and nutrition experts recommend up to 7-10 servings of whole grains on a daily basis. 1 serving of generic whole grain bread can provide about 12 grams of carbohydrates; multiply 48 calories by 10 servings for the whole day and you see quickly that 480 calories of energy is provided to the body. (Remember that carbs provide 4 calories per gram.) Now, 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams; eating 10 servings of breads & grains in 1 day is the equivalent of eating 120 teaspoons of sugar. Medical experts have reported that the average healthy adult’s bloodstream usually contains approximately 4 teaspoons of glucose at any given time.  If 4 teaspoons is all we NEED at any given moment, why do health and nutrition experts continue to recommend such enormous amounts of sugar, carbs, and grains?
  10. Whole grains have been advocated as healthy because refined grains are so unhealthy, but labels do not support this idea. Experts have long claimed that whole grains are so much healthier than processed and refined grain products. Reviewing over the previous 9 facts, this author challenges that statement utterly and completely. There are too many questions surrounding the health of grains today; from GMOs, processing methods, enriching products, and uncertain governance from the FDA, grains now take the limelight of nutritional attention. While it is easy to see that refined grains and processed foods include poor nutrition and empty calories, it is often assumed that whole grain versions offer a much healthier and more nutritious alternative; when really reading nutrition labels, it becomes clear that whole grain foods are similarly nearly devoid of vitamins and minerals the body needs.

As more evidence makes it way to the forefront, consumers will make more decisions and choices regarding health and nutrition. Some health care providers are even on board with lower grain and carbohydrate intake because so many ailments improve significantly when patients change eating habits. While carbs have been the “favored” child of nutrition in previous decades, fats may be a better source of energy without significant side effects; healthy fats do not cause weight gain, elevated glucose, high cholesterol, or obesity – all of which are known contributors to heart disease and mortality. Increasing fat intake actually improves many conditions like diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. As these conditions are life-altering, increasing fats will provide a much healthier lifestyle with fewer risks of complications and health problems; decreasing carbohydrates will also contribute to a much healthier lifestyle with fewer risks of health problems. The controversies surrounding low carb vs. low fat will continue over the next few years, but more of us in health care can make a difference in people’s lives…. One patient at a time.

 

Husband’s Delight Low Carb Dessert

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Husband’s Delight Low Carb Dessert

LAYER 1:

1 ¼ cup almond flour

1 stick (4 oz) real butter, melted

½ cup finely chopped nuts, optional

Mix well and press into 9×9 baking dish or deep dish pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Crust edges should just be slightly darkening to be considered done. Let cool for about an hour.

LAYER 2:

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz full-fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered Splenda or Stevia

Whip heavy cream and sweetener until stiff peaks form. Add in cream cheese and continue mixing until well combined thoroughly. Spread over cooled crust.

LAYER 3:

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries (frozen can be used, but thaw, rinse, & dry first)

Spread blueberries evenly over mixture.

LAYER 4:

1 large pkg of sugar-free Vanilla Jello

1 ½ – 2 cups heavy cream

Mix well and spread evenly over blueberries.

LAYER 5:

1 cup chopped nuts – I prefer pecans, but almonds, cashews, or walnuts will work

Sprinkle nuts over top. Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve.

Fats Got a Bad Rap…

For the past 50 years or so, we’ve all been taught that fats are unhealthy for us; we believed these “experts” because they seemed to be honest and respectable scientists and doctors.  However, most of these experts had very strong personalities and pushed their way to the forefront of nutrition advisory councils, various dietary boards, and media outlets across the nation.

Capitalizing on President Eisenhower’s heart attack, researchers and nutrition “experts” used the diet-heart hypothesis to set forth recommendations to cut fats.  Food processing companies fell right into line with these new low-fat recommendations, producing a myriad of convenient food items.  More families became 2 wage-earner supported and life became busier and more hectic; convenient, boxed low-fat foods began to line the shelves and household pantries.

Time rocked on; companies produced more convenient foods.  More scientists said low-fat nutrition was good for us. As the low-fat mantra was repeated and stressed, more of us believed it; more of us cut fats out of our lives.  We swapped natural butter for factory-developed low-fat margarine; we traded natural farm-raised dairy cow’s milk for low-fat and skim milk, and we succumbed to peer pressure to stop using old-fashioned lard for highly processed and lower fat vegetable oils.

Food-like Items Take Over the Supermarket…

As less natural food entered our daily intake, more chemicals and preservatives found their way into more and more foods.  Low-fat became the buzz-word for sure.  One of the biggest battles was in the dairy industry.  Low-fat and skim milk products were not well-accepted by the public; it just did not seem “natural” to alter nature’s apparently near-perfect food.  Finally, in the 1970’s repetition was finally successful, and low-fat sales actually overtook regular whole milk sales.  However, as fats were removed from our daily diets, the incidence of heart disease and diabetes sky-rocketed.

Millions of dollars were donated to research studies and organizations with goals that ranged from reducing heart disease, curing diabetes, to the development of dietary guidelines.  The major problem here, though, is the list of companies donating to organizations.  The American Diabetes Association had been struggling to make ends meet, as it tried to develop resources for millions of Americans being diagnosed with diabetes.   (Diabetes is a condition where insulin is no longer able to transport glucose out of the bloodstream into the body’s cells for use.  When the glucose cannot leave the bloodstream, it remains within the bloodstream, resulting in very high levels of glucose and serious organ damage.  The ADA was trying to organize and develop dietary and management guidelines to aid patients in better control of their health and thus reduce organ damage.)  As medications for diabetes were developed, pharmaceutical companies began donating millions of dollars to the ADA and the American Heart Association.  ADA and AHA board members often included physicians, researchers, authors, and other medical experts, employed or contracted by pharmaceutical companies.  So, not only were the operating expenses for these non-profit agencies being funded by pharmaceutical companies, but these same companies were “loaning” or “sharing” many of their most well-respected experts with these health-oriented organizations trying to help heal Americans.

Remember the food processors? Well, they wanted to help Americans too, so big cereal producers like Kellogg’s and General Mills also began donating money to the ADA and/or the AHA; while intentions were likely honorable, now that we are beginning to understand carbs, fats, and funding relationships, it doesn’t look as honorable as CEOs and other health experts once thought.

Significant Conflict of Interest…

Now, take all that information… Fats have been removed from diets; carbs and grains have replaced them.  Grain processors and pharmaceutical companies have become the major funding sources of agencies which are also providing board members and decision-makers to non-profit organizations and governmental agencies that are developing dietary guidelines for Americans.  The USDA was urging people to consume 9-11 servings of grains per day.  The grain processors and drug companies were financially supporting the non-profit agencies now in control of making dietary recommendations.

Are you still with me?  The diet guidelines that we have used for the past 40 years have been established by people with a serious conflict of interest.  In no other segment of our society, would rules be allowed to be made by people or companies profiting from the advice.  How have we allowed this to happen?  What do we do about it now?

It is time to take control over our OWN health and that of our families.  The food industry responds to our dollars.  If we stop buying all the processed food, they will hear.  I recently read an article where cereal companies have already begun to see a drop in sales.  They see the handwriting on the wall.  The advent of the internet, social media, and ease of interacting online has contributed to grass-roots efforts to change dietary advice, using N=1 experiments.  The N in a research study is recognized as the number of participants; a well-designed and reputable study usually includes as many participants as possible in order to account for variables.  But over the past 20 years, the internet has multiplied the effects of N=1 experiments via social media.  People from across the country are researching and finding their own methods to healing, reversing illness, and taking control of their health.

If we change our spending habits, manufacturers will see the drop in sales and will perform market research to identify food interests; this research will in turn create opportunity for companies to create and sell lower carb, higher fat foods.  If we stop eating cereals and low-fat products, companies will stop selling them.  If we eat more vegetables and fats, more farmers will grow more vegetables and animals.  Becoming a healthier nation really is a grass-roots effort…pun intended…LOL

Cut the CRAP…

We START by cutting out the CRAP – literally.  C – stands for carbonated drinks; R – stands for refined sugars.  A – stands for artificial sweeteners; P – stands for processed foods.

Basically, if someone else made, bagged, boxed, or canned it, it isn’t likely to be healthy for us.  To keep food stable on the grocery shelf for 3-6 months at a time, there are likely unhealthy preservatives and chemicals that contribute to high blood pressure, elevated glucose, and organ stress.  Even the FDA recently published a statement that says most processed foods should no longer be recognized as safe for human consumption, due to the high content of trans fats used.

Carbonated drinks contain lots of chemicals, sugars, and chemicals that companies are not required to divulge on labels.  Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide; remember basic breathing anatomy? We breathe in room air, consisting of nitrogen and oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide.  Why should we have a DESIRE to swallow hundreds of ounces of carbon dioxide weekly, when they human body recognizes it as a toxin that should be eliminated by the lungs with every breath? Many people who have lung problems often find that the more soda they consume, the harder it is for them to breathe; why?  Because intake of carbon dioxide stresses the sick lungs; the weakened lungs are struggling to keep up with the demands of normal life and then there’s a whole new load of carbon dioxide to eliminate.

Refined sugars are extremely dangerous; high intake of sugars causes elevated glucose levels and signals the pancreas to secrete insulin in order to transport the extra glucose into cells and triggers a myriad of processes throughout the body to help keep blood levels of sugar within normal range.  When we overeat carbohydrates that our bodies cannot utilize right away for energy, the liver begins to store some of the extra sugar as glycogen; glycogen is like “money in the bank” for our bodies.  After glycogen fills muscles and the liver, the excess sugars are then knitted together to form chains of triglycerides; this process allows for longer-term storage… like putting money into a trust or annuity – it’s there, but it takes more work to get it back out.   Elevated glucose and triglyceride levels within our bloodstream contribute to thick, sticky blood… like syrup.  Imagine pouring syrup from one bottle while you pour water from another.  What do you see?  Syrup moves slowly and in very thick and large globules or streams, while water runs freely and in a thin stream. Which do you think moves more easily through tiny blood vessels?  Which do you think forms microscopic beaver dams, preventing proper nutrition and oxygenation to body parts?

Artificial sweeteners have been found to contribute to all sorts of potential hazards to health; from chemical poisonings to Parkinson’s, to multiple sclerosis, hundreds of ailments have been linked formally and informally to the use of aspartame, saccharin, and other artificial sweeteners.

Processed foods, as mentioned previously, contain all sorts of preservatives and trans fats and can sit on grocery store shelves for many, many months at a time prior to purchase; many foods come with expiration dates up to a year away from moment of final production.  Foods are packaged, boxed, and shipped via boat, train, and truck for days to weeks at a time, often sitting in shipping containers in the heat or cold of the day, in warehouses with poor ventilation, and then are stocked on a shelf, just waiting for your purchase.  Chemicals and colors used as food additives have been linked to allergies, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, and even cancers.

Time to Make a Change…

Reducing the CRAP is where we start — start by picking something you are willing to live without and ADD some healthy fats.  Many people are afraid of change; they don’t want to spend money on another “fad” diet.  Patients are tired of yo-yo diets and are skeptical to make a change.  So start small.  Pick a couple things you KNOW are unhealthy and replace it with vegetables and healthy fats.  And gradually keep this habit up until all the unhealthy items are completely out of your pantry.  While some people are willing to make massive changes, it just isn’t practical for many of us; most of us have hundreds of dollars invested in our groceries in our pantries and refrigerators.  I couldn’t afford to throw all that money away either, so starting small helps avoid a huge grocery bill.

The other problem that many people believe about eating healthy is that it costs more.  This myth can often be seen as real when shoppers try to ADD healthy groceries to their normal purchases.  And in the past, buying “healthy” foods would be much pricier than “regular” foods; for example, replacing a $2 loaf of white bread with a $4 loaf of whole grain bread doubles expenses. Eliminating CRAP, though, is about cutting out expenses… NOT buying processed and pre-packaged foods.  When most of these food items are cut out, most people actually see a reduction in grocery costs.  Focusing on natural, farm produce and less expensive meat cuts, not only reduces costs, but increases nutrient density…. Meaning, you get more vitamins and nutrition for your dollar than when you eat processed foods.  Another benefit to eating low carb, high fat is that we usually purchase the higher fat-content meats; I buy the 80/20 ground beef, at a savings up to $1 per pound or more.  We eat chicken, pork, turkey, beef, fish, and other wild game.  We use heavy cream and butter; we eat fresh and frozen vegetables, and we drink bulletproof coffee.  Our grocery bill runs about the same now as it did before low carb nutrition.  We just get more nutrients for our dollar now.

It’s Just Too Expensive…

In general, fats are not very pricey, and keep you feeling much fuller than carbohydrates.  A mug of bulletproof coffee can keep me full til around 2-3 pm every day — No need to munch, no growling tummy, no snacking or craving.  On work days, I do carry a tiny plastic box of leftover dinner items for lunch the next day.  Occasionally, I have a piece of cheese or a handful of toasted almonds for a snack.   I can buy a 3 pound bag of almonds and use it over about 10-12 weeks; eating a small handful once every 3-4 days is a nice addition nutritionally and costs approximately $.65 per snack… less than most other individually-packed commercial snacks. So, while some foods may seem a little more expensive on this nutrition plan, it really works out about the same.  Fewer foods consumed in smaller amounts, with more nutrients available for absorption and use, with little difference in expenses, adds up to a much more sustainable, long-term lifestyle change that is much easier to maintain.

So, what’s holding you back?  You’ve seen the articles.  You’ve seen the dangers.  You’ve known for some time you needed to eat healthier.  You’ve heard the success stories of low carb, high fat nutrition.  What is keeping you from becoming healthier and reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke?

 

 

Nurses as N=1? Let’s Do This!

As nurses, we are trained in critical thinking processes and much of our classroom and clinical experience is designed to facilitate practical application of critical thinking, logical reasoning, and actions and consequences.  We are taught to use these skills as we deliver care to our patients.  We are encouraged to utilize these reasoning skills even as we follow physicians’ and other provider’s medical orders.  For example, when a provider writes an order for a medication, we are taught to calculate it for ourselves, read and re-read the label, and even certain medications require verification by another nurse.  If we find that the order seems different from the expected order, we are obligated to notify the original prescriber to verify and ADVOCATE for the safety of the patient.  Over the years, I have seen many nurses and nursing students confront many providers over orders that seemed “not quite right” or somehow seemed unsafe.  I’ve seen labor & delivery nurses put their jobs on the line advocating on behalf of sick women who are in a most vulnerable state during labor and pre-birth situations.

Advocates – that’s what we are.  We are taught by some of the best advocate nurses in the nation.  We learn logical and reasonable process skills that help us determine the best method to advocate for our patients.

As patient advocates, nurses change the world…. or at least the world of the patients for which we provide care.  We make significant changes that patients remember; during some of the most dire moments in hospitals, nursing homes, private homes, and clinics, we hold hands, offer support, and administer treatments. We assist our clients and families make changes that improve quality of life.

Over the past 15 years or so, nurses have been recognized as the most trusted profession; we are trusted because we are advocates, and we help patients maneuver the health care system, medications, and treatment schedules with only the interests of the patient in mind… and patients SENSE that we are truly interested in their lives.  We laugh and we cry with our patients – sharing emotions helps build trust.

All this groundwork I’ve laid out serves to arrive at this point…Patients TRUST nurses…

For the past 50 years or so, nurses have taught the standard American diet rules: high carb, low fat, and encouraged many highly processed food-like items as food.  We listened to the “experts” who told us that President Eisenhower’s heart attack was caused by high cholesterol.  We heeded the warnings of the American Heart Association that issued statements connecting high fat intake to heart attacks and strokes.  We participated in teaching patients to adhere to the American Diabetes Association’s guidelines encouraging patients to consume upwards of 160 grams of carbohydrates daily.  We were GOOD nurses.  We listened. We learned.  We followed the rules.  We taught those rules.

We were wrong.

We have betrayed our patients.  We were wrong to blindly heed advice that goes against all our common sense, logical reasoning, and critical thinking.

Even ants will seek out the sweet urine of a person with diabetes.  That is how diabetes acquired its name; diabetes means siphon, and mellitus was added later as it means honey – diabetes mellitus… the disease where sugar is siphoned into urine.

In the early 1900s, diabetic patients were given a strict diet; there was no insulin.  There were no fancy medications.  Early practitioners made the logical and reasonable connection between sugar-in & sugar-out; they advised patients to have no more than 10 grams of carbohydrates, 75 grams of protein, and 150 grams of fat daily.  This nutrition plan also allowed for 15 grams of alcohol and provided approx. 1800 calories per day.  Patients were instructed to eat meats, poultry, game, fish, clear soups, gelatin, eggs, butter, olive oil, coffee, and tea.   This nutrition plan is a FAR-cry from the 160+ grams of carbohydrates recommended today.

Once our nation entered the industrial era following World War 2, companies and manufacturers began to produce massive quantities of food items.  Many of these floundering companies and small-time farmers petitioned and lobbied the government for grants and subsidies to help them reduce consumer costs so they could invest millions of dollars into more machines, planting, harvesting, and processing techniques – techniques that could save time and money, so the companies could invest more into production.  It was a vicious cycle and the American family thrived on this new form of employment.  The returning military veterans often transitioned back into society with handicaps and trauma, and at the time, there was little known or recognized in our mental health care system that helped these wounded warriors.  Many of these vets settled into assembly work easily; there was a set schedule, with pre-determined tasks and responsibilities, easy methods to do their jobs and bring home a paycheck.  Wives, often now widowed, entered the workforce like never before; many of these women had been denied education and thus were considered unskilled laborers.  Factory work suited many people, singles, marrieds, separated, etc.  No one questioned the plans.  Not that anyone had real plans then.  It was just the many pieces of the puzzle coming together.

As many companies made arrangements with government, grains in particular became much less expensive to grow and process.  With a growing season of approximately 4 months, wheat required a huge labor force and many hours in fields; too costly to really become profitable, governmental subsidies allowed companies to purchase smaller farms and bigger machines & equipment.  Researchers began looking for ways to shorten the growing season and reduce weed and insect infiltration.  As generation after generation of seeds were harvested and modified, the processing costs were absorbed by governmental grants and subsidies, providing companies with increasing profits.  This vicious cycle has continued into today’s modern American society; this subsidy program is why a box of cereal costs you about $4 at the supermarket, but actually costs about $8 to produce a box of cornflakes.

Then, President Eisenhower had his heart attack while in office; his care was widely publicized; many doctors and scientists capitalized on his illness by using the TV time to make claims that high cholesterol was going to kill all our citizens.  The media played a huge role in pushing the low-fat, low cholesterol theory, showing the President eating his dry toast and egg whites every AM for weeks.  The SCIENCE they all failed to mention is that at the time of his heart attack, Eisenhower’s cholesterol level was actually NORMAL.  By the time he left office, however, and while eating his low cholesterol diet, his cholesterol level climbed to over 250, well above normal limits.

As fat intake was discouraged and fat content in dairy products and other foods plummeted, the grain-producing manufacturers had an “aha” moment: “if fats were so unhealthy for us, then grains are not fatty and thus we can make millions of dollars selling all kinds of low-fat foods!”  And that is exactly how we came to be where we are today.

Nurses, are you angry yet?  The “system” has used us…. Used our connection to patients…. Used our ability to care…. Used our compassion…. Used our education… used our hard-earned trust….

It is time we take on our advocate role – more seriously than ever before.  It is purely common sense that intake of carbohydrates causes glucose levels to climb, forcing the pancreas to secrete more insulin, but eventually the pancreas is working so hard, something happens that changes the insulin; the insulin is no longer effective at transporting glucose into the body’s cells for use.  Over time, insulin resistance and continued unlimited carbohydrate intake worsens, and patients become diabetic.  This effect can easily be measured by using a glucometer to check fasting glucose levels, then eat a carbohydrate, and monitor glucose levels every 15 minutes for 3 hours.  Charting glucose levels is a simple and scientific method for monitoring the effect of any food on a patient’s blood.  It is much more expensive to check insulin levels, but that can be done at any health care provider’s office or lab.  Beginning to record this effect will help cement the concept that carbs are killing us, while fats were never the evil nutrient we were told.

Once the concept of “sugar-in, sugar-out” really registers, it is vital to start changing your own way of eating.  Eliminating the

C – carbonated drinks

R – refined sugars

A – artificial sweeteners & colors

P – processed foods

becomes easier.

This simple plan is such a great way to start your journey to a healthier you, and in turn, you will begin leading the way to improved health for your family, friends, patients, and colleagues. Yes, you can become a test case.   While N=1 experiments used to be frowned upon, the internet, social media, and bloggers are all promoting N=1 trials and experiments.

Nurses, it is time we band together, use our logical reasoning, and ADVOCATE for the health and well-being of ourselves, our families, and our patients.  N=1 usually means N is the number of participants in a research study for an experiment; let’s use it to mean millions of NURSES are working as 1 when it comes to advocacy & improved health for our patients; let our ONE voice be heard.

Time for a Change!

Recently, the US Dietary Advisory Council withdrew its long-standing recommendation for a low cholesterol diet for Americans. This change is a huge step for dietary guidelines; for the past 50+ years, medical and dietary experts have issued recommendations and guidelines that encouraged low fat foods, little red meat and pork, and high intakes of carbohydrates, starches, and even sugars. These recommendations have contributed to the widespread epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes across the nation.

Now that cholesterol is no longer the dietary enemy, what does it mean? It means we can go back to eating the way our grandparents and great-grandparents did – from the farm. Farm-raised animal & vegetable products offer a good source of healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods, including bacon, real butter, and heavy cream. While whole milk is a better source of healthy fats for little children, it’s not all that necessary for adults because it still contains a lot of milk sugar and the adult body, just does not need that much sugar – and low-fat milk products contain exactly the same amount of sugars as whole milk.

Low-fat products often contain high amounts of corn syrup, fructose, and other sugars in order for them to be tasty. But it’s these sugars that are “hidden” from most of us, and these sugars add up quickly.  Low-fat salad dressings, for example, often contain 3-10 grams of carbohydrates, which is relatively high.

In addition, fats have been found to be necessary for proper brain development in infants and children; it has been long-established that youngsters transitioning from formula to cow’s milk at 1 year of age should only be offered whole milk because they need the fats for adequate brain and nervous system development.

Now that dietary recommendations allow for increased fat intake, many researchers will be more apt to perform studies on people with higher fat intakes. In the past, telling people to purposely consume fat for a study would have appeared unethical due to all the dietary regulations which discouraged fat for health’s sake.

The low-fat mantra of the past is fading into the history books, but many doctors, nurses, dietitians, and other experts are still very hesitant to jump on this high fat bandwagon; they are afraid. We have all been schooled and trained that fats are bad for us; even little kids now believe that a bagel and low-fat cream cheese is much healthier than eggs and bacon. Yet, check out the nutrition labels on each; there are hardly any nutrients at all in the bagel and low-fat cream cheese when compared to eggs and bacon! Even butter contains about 7% of the day’s recommended Vitamin A intake!

Since I was a young girl, we’ve seen the USDA issue a variety of nutrition recommendations; I remember the basic 4 food groups that encouraged 9-11 servings of breads/grains! Even as a 9 year old, I remember thinking “I could NEVER eat that many breads in a day!” Then came the pyramid, and now the plate; with each change, there were slightly fewer grains and more vegetables recommended. But even today’s recommendations include way too many grains and breads. Why? Likely, it’s because the federal government has subsidized the farming industry and the government officials don’t want to appear wrong or poorly-informed. The grain subsidies have provided tons of research dollars that companies like Monsanto have used to speed the growing season up, reduce pest infestations, and hasten processing – all in order to increase sales and profits.

It is time that “We the People” stand up. We must take control of our own health and nutrition. Low carb, high/healthy fat nutrition is gaining favor among the grass-roots people of our nation. Slowly but surely, health care providers across the land are beginning to catch on; and one step at a time, nutrition recommendations are changing.

Take charge of your health and the health of your family by adopting a lower carb lifestyle; eliminate breads, rice, corn, cereals, or sodas from your choices. Start with small steps. You don’t have to boycott every grain or sugar to start making a difference. Make one or two changes this week; after you start seeing the improvement in your health, it will encourage you to cut out something else you know is unhealthy. Start right where you are; do not go out and purchase tons of “gluten-free” foods – they don’t stack up to the regular products, and your taste buds will likely REVOLT!   Start with just reducing some unhealthy choices; increase your vegetable intake. Use real fats – like butter, coconut oil, and bacon grease – to season and cook.

Share your story on our Facebook page; tweet us, using #KetoNurses. Don’t keep silent anymore. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association will have to listen to us if we make enough dietary “noise”!!

KetoNurses’ Biscuits & Gravy

Biscuits & Gravy with Chopped Steak
Biscuits & Gravy with Chopped Steak

Biscuits:

1/3 cup almond flour

¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese

1 Tbsp coconut flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp xanthan gum

1 egg

2 ½ Tbsp melted butter

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl. I use a fork for easy mixing.

Shape into 4 evenly-sized balls and place on parchment-lined baking pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Watch bottoms carefully – the bottoms will brown much faster than tops; tops will NOT brown much at all & will still be done.

 Gravy:

¼ – ½ pound sugar-free sausage (or leftover steak, chicken, or chops from a recent supper – my fave)

2 Tbsp. grass-fed butter (optional)

½ cup heavy cream

Black pepper to taste

While biscuits bake:

Brown ¼ – ½ pound of sugar-free sausage in skillet and remove from pan. Do NOT drain fats off.

If using leftover meat, you will need the butter for heating/browning it.

In same skillet as above, and after removing cooked meat, add 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter & allow to melt over low or medium-low heat. Butter should NOT sizzle, but just melt.

Pour ½ cup heavy cream into melted butter; using whisk, stir pretty constantly.  Add pepper to taste.  Simmer and stir for about 3-5 minutes, until cream just begins to thicken.

Add the previously cooked/heated meat and stir in.

Serve over open baked biscuits.

Does Cholesterol Cause Heart Attacks? Is fat bad for me?

For the past 50+ years, many agencies and experts have recommended a low fat, low cholesterol diet to manage diabetes, heart disease, and just overall good health.  However, much of this advice began as one man, Ancel Keys, decided that fat “must” be the cause of heart attacks.  More information on Keys’ influence can be found in Barbara’s blog post about the low fat dogma on Feb. 23, 2015.

Low fat nutrition was thought to be the best way to maintain health, get healthy, and prevent many diseases.  However, after 50 years of low fat eating, we have not eliminated, nor reduced heart disease, diabetes, or obesity; in fact, all of those conditions have worsened.

But here is where cholesterol got its bad name:

In 1955, President Eisenhower had a highly publicized heart attack; at the time, his total cholesterol was 165 mL/dL – normal is considered to be less than 200 mL/dL. According to media reports that were held daily during his recovery, Eisenhower ate dry toast and coffee for breakfast every morning.  He was supposedly allowed 1 egg per week as part of his prescribed low fat, low cholesterol diet.  Even though he continued the low cholesterol diet, he suffered several more heart attacks and left office with a 259 mL/dL total cholesterol level; he died of heart disease anyway.

Over the next several years, food manufacturers began producing low fat, low cholesterol products as fast as possible; trying to keep up with all the media attention on President Eisenhower’s health conditions, hundreds of other low fat foods like margarine, skim milk, & corn oil were developed and marketed.  By 1957, margarine outsold butter for the first time. Many of these low fat products contained a large quantity of omega-6 linoleic acid and in excess, this particular fat causes injury and systemic inflammation within the bloodstream and multiple other tissues within the body.

Presidential Influence…

By 1961, Eisenhower left office and left his mark on nutritional history for decades.  This same year, findings from the massive Framingham Heart Study were released; this study showed that overweight men under 50 years old who had high cholesterol, smoked, and did not exercise were at higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease.  One correlation completely overlooked was elevated glucose; no one seemed to make the connection to high blood sugar, but they made famous the Framingham risk factors, which continue to be included in today’s health assessments across the nation. None of the researchers actually ever made any true connection between the elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease.  The “risk factors” made the headlines and drew all the attention.  The other problem with the Framingham Heart Study was that it did not address the highest rate of heart attacks which was in men above the age of 50.  All of the data presented in this huge and well-respected study only presented data from men under 50 years old, the least likely men to suffer from heart attacks or strokes.  Much publicity and media attention was given to the “risk factors” as presented in this study, while no mention was made of the possible relationship to sugar, or the fact that the healthiest population had the highest risk factors.  All of this activity in nutrition and health led to the huge expansion & reach of the American Heart Association; with all the focus on Eisenhower’s health & AHA’s dietary advice, TIME magazine’s January issue hit the newsstands with Ancel Keys on the cover.  Now, the media has a job to do: tell the nation just how terrible fat is for us, and they did quite an excellent job of it… repeatedly…consistently…persistently…frequently…repetitively…doggedly…

The AHA gets involved…

By 1966, the food industry has begun to taint dietary advice when a member of the board of the American Heart Association published a book, Your Heart Has Nine Lives.  Author, Jeremiah Stamler was a friend and support of Ancel Keys, and the publication of his book was funded by Mazola Corn Oil and Fleissmann’s Margarine.

The federal government’s Women, Infants, & Children’s program, also known as WIC, adopted the AHA’s stance for low fat nutrition for all pregnant women and children; basing nutrition on the low fat mantra, WIC began distribution of vouchers for low fat and skim milk products in 1970. Later in the 1970s, George McGovern organized and hosted a series of hearings where politicians and other government employees gathered to argue the nutrition science, now widely publicized.  While most were pretty biased against fats, none of them, including McGovern, had any real scientific background.  The hearings were argumentative and truly not based on any research studies, but rather, on opinions of strong-willed politicians who were able to influence decisions and entire agencies.

Why didn’t someone stop them?

I know by now, many of you are asking, “why didn’t someone stop them?” “How come other scientists didn’t publish an opposing opinion or research study?”  Well, a wide variety of people attempted to publicize other data; several scientists, including Margaret Albrink, Peter Kuo, Lars Carlson, Joseph Goldstein, Pete Ahrens, and several others continued to report that elevated triglycerides appeared to be a higher risk for heart disease.  Even as far back as 1957, a well-respected children’s obesity expert said, The great progress in dietary control of obesity was the recognition that meat was not fat producing; but that it was bread and sweets which lead to obesity.”

No one could hear the opposition, however.  Keys developed close ties to the White House during Eisenhower’s unhealthy years after the heart attack, as he tried to help “heal” Eisenhower’s heart disease with his low fat diet.  Power and strong personalities led the media where they wanted, and opposing viewpoints were silenced quickly by removing grant funding from some researchers.  Others were simply “un-appointed” to nutrition committees, or touted as fakes or quacks who did not want to follow the AHA’s new “rules”.

Sugar touted as “safe”…

When these low fat rules were actually finally release in 1977, the American Medical Association was quite skeptical and at first, refused to succumb to the AHA’s recommendations.  However, the media hype was intense and repetitive, and by the mid-1980s, the AMA enthusiastically joined the low fat bandwagon. Also in 1986, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued statements that there was “no conclusive evidence” that sugar contributed to disease, and even said that up to 25% of all calories could come from sugars, although this recommendation completely eliminated nutrients, vitamins, or fiber.

As the “war on cholesterol” raged in the late 1980s, statin manufacturers were busily researching and developing medications that would lower cholesterol;  the first one was moved through the FDA rapidly and released to market in 1987.  Since 1990, the rate of congestive heart failure has more than doubled, and some experts believe the increase is directly related to the massive number of statin prescriptions filled daily.

After only 14 years of encouraging sugar intake up to 25% of total daily calories, the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes had begun to skyrocket.  About 80% of diabetic patients were dying of heart disease. While per capita sugar intake jumped from 15 pounds in 1830 to 150 pounds in the year 2000, fat intake dropped from 18 pounds to 4 pounds in the same time period.  Obesity had become an epidemic, as 30% of Americans were overweight and still gaining weight.

Massive media blitz…

Between 2005 – 2009, many organizations including the Corn Growers Association has begun spending millions of dollars, lobbying Congress and the public with the massive media message that high fructose corn syrup is safe for toddlers and children. Gyms and workout centers abound in every community, as Gary Taubes became an advocate of exercise to lose weight and be healthy.  Nutrition and health science has become quite the booming business, all while the incidence of heart disease continues to climb, and the rate of diabetes has jumped from 1 in 30 Americans in 1910, to 1 in 3 by 2008.

Just a few weeks ago, in early 2015, the US Dietary Advisory Council issued a statement saying that it would retract its recommendation for a low cholesterol diet.  However, in the body of the news release, the Council continues to advocate for a diet high in unsaturated fats like those found in nuts, fish, olives, & vegetable oils.  While this statement is the FIRST baby step in the right direction, the low carb science continues to build support in a wide array of settings.  Small journals publish articles and studies, but mainstream medical journals continue refusing to print these studies, likely because millions of advertising dollars come from statin & insulin makers.  Social media has become a source of nutrition advice and specialized groups have developed on Facebook & Twitter, where patients have taken control of their own health.  They share stories of medical providers who refuse to listen to reason and dieticians who teach them how to eat 130 – 150 grams of carbohydrates DAILY, while taking multiple medications to help manage the elevated glucose readings and life-changing complications like vision loss, nerve pain, and kidney failure.  These Americans are facing their diseases head-on, with dedication and persistence; they share meal ideas, recipes, and tips on how to reduce medications, because physicians and health care providers don’t.  They help each other cope with sugar addictions, cravings, and “missing” carbs.  They help interpret lab results when the clinic doesn’t really offer much education in reading the near-hieroglyphics printed out.

Many of these people have completely eliminated diabetes and cholesterol medications using a low carb, high fat nutrition plan.  It’s not a 30 day or 90 day fad “diet”. Low carb high fat (LCHF) is a total and complete lifestyle change that is meant to be permanent.  LCHF offers much nutrient value, satiety or holding power, and much better glucose & cholesterol control.  And this eating plan actually makes really good, logical sense; if sugar is the problem, why not remove sugar from the diet?

Real cause of heart disease…

Over the past 3-5 years, it has become more evident that elevated glucose and high triglycerides contribute to high numbers of heart attacks and strokes; inflammation contributes to another huge portion of heart disease.  Once thought to be safe and free from harm, sugars, vegetable oil, and soy are being linked to increased systemic inflammation within the bloodstream.  Add these inflammatory markers to thick, sticky blood, and even to tobacco use, and you have “3 strikes, you’re out.”  Inflammation, sugary blood, and smaller blood vessels are all linked to the highest incidence of heart attacks, clots, and strokes – so, to answer the original questions…

Does cholesterol cause heart attacks?  Is fat bad for me?  NO… a RESOUNDING NO!  Cholesterol NEVER was found to have any true relationship to heart attacks, as you can see by the history provided here.  Fat was NEVER bad for us; NATURAL fats that come from animals and plants, without massive processing, are necessary for every cell of the body.  The entire cell membrane of every single cell is made of a fatty layer; fats are required for most hormones to function properly.  Natural fats are not unhealthy; the unhealthy fats include those that require many man-made processes.  Corn oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine and shortening are the most common examples of the truly UNhealthy fats.

Healthy fats include coconut oil, butter, ghee, heavy cream, olive oil, pork fats, bacon grease, lard, beef fats, full-fat cheese, avocado, avocado oil, & tree nuts. Start your LCHF nutritious eating plan today!  Eat more fats!!!

Thanks to http://www.dietheartpublishing.com/diet-heart-timeline for a great timeline!

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

Bulletproof coffee is gaining popularity among dieters and those seeking to improve energy levels,  metabolism and brain function.  About 5 or 6 years ago, a visit to Tibet resulted in the development of the new recipe for coffee; Dave Asprey created the coffee with “upgraded” coffee beans with lower amounts of mycotoxins.  Mycotoxins are toxic fungi that easily colonize crops and can contribute to disease or sickness.  Regular coffee often contains mycotoxins, these organisms may be related to some people’s stomach upset or sensitivities when they drink coffee.  While some recent studies have suggested that up to 4 cups of regular coffee can help postpone symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the “upgraded” bulletproof coffee (BPC) may turn out to be even more helpful.

It is referred to as “bulletproof” because drinking the “upgraded” coffee with lower mycotoxins and higher fat content seems to make people feel better with higher energy levels, improved brain function, and thus feel “bulletproof” – like nothing can stop them.

Adding fats to the coffee has become quite a trend; it’s a hot topic on many blogs and even made it to “The Today Show” a couple of years ago.   More recently, BPC made its debut on “The Queen Latifah Show.”

What fats?  Most people that drink bulletproof coffee start with coconut oil or MCT oil.  MCT oil is a medium-chain-triglyceride, shown in some studies to aid weight loss and possibly increase metabolism.  Medium-chain triglycerides are different from short-chain triglycerides and long-chain triglycerides, in that MCTs do not require bile salts or energy for absorption and digestion. MCT oil is currently being studied as possible benefits for a variety of conditions including Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s.

In addition to coconut or MCT oil, many recipes include grass-fed butter or ghee; ghee is clarified butter where the butter is heated and solids are separated out.  In the Hindu and Indian cultures, ghee is considered a special part of many religious ceremonies, because it comes from “holy” cows and is “separated” or pure.  It is believed that ghee is much healthier than regular butter because of the separation of ghee from solids, which are thought to be impurities.

Athletes and bloggers began using this bulletproof coffee and claimed to have better test scores, memory function, energy, and moods.  As more people tried it and noticed results, news of this miracle wonder hit the internet on a variety of blogs and social media.  As word spread, BPC no longer was only made with the “upgraded” beans, but with all sorts and brands of coffees.

Many recipes abound today; using coconut oil, MCT oil, butter, ghee, and flavors just like fancy baristas use to prepare gourmet coffee blends are widely published on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.  While there may not be a lot of research to support the use of BPC, it is quite a drink! Bloggers and Tweeters have shared hundreds of BPC recipes, and people are concocting their own personal twists to flavors.

Benefits of BPC do appear to include keeping people from feeling hungry; other advantages include feeling more energetic and more alert, with less forgetfulness.  Many people drink BP in place of some meals, while other use the BPC with or following meals to help improve satiety and prevent “the munchies” or frequent snacking.  Making BPC is quite simple, and recipes abound. Just perform a Google or Bing search for “bulletproof coffee recipes.”  Choose a recipe with flavors you like; use a blender for a few seconds to thoroughly mix; remember fats and water don’t stir to mix well.  Drink while it’s warm; trust me, congealing fats don’t go down well! LOL

It took me about 2 weeks of tweaking the recipe to get it right for me.  So, if you don’t get it right the first time, keep trying.  Here is my recipe:

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp grass-fed butter

1/4 cup unsweet vanilla almond milk

1 Tbsp sugar free Torani vanilla flavor – like they use in the fancy coffee shops

Approx. 10 ounces of coffee

Blend for 5-8 seconds, and enjoy.  Can be reheated without problems.

1 Tbsp grass-fed butter

1/4 cup unsweet vanilla almond milk

1 Tbsp sugar free Torani vanilla flavor – like they use in the fancy coffee shops

Approx. 10 ounces of coffee

Blend for 5-8 seconds, and enjoy.  Can be reheated without problems.

One last tip… some people have a little tummy response to sudden high intake of fats and end up with a bit of urgent need for the restroom.  So, if you are JUST beginning to increase fats, use smaller amounts of fats in your BPC for the first week or two.  Allow your body a little time to adjust to higher fat content.

Diet? Energy Deficit? LCHF?

As many experts have claimed, energy deficits will contribute to weight loss, but historically, patients opt to discontinue the “diet” even after being somewhat successful.  Maintaining a total lifestyle change is required to avoid re-gaining the weight or succumbing to some health condition, i.e. diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc.  Dr. Eric Westman from Duke University has been using a low carb, high fat (NOT truly Atkins) for several years now with good success, and is developing quite a following.  Some of the earliest advocates of low carb, high fat (LCHF) eating were deliberately silenced by Ancel Keys’ strong personality and his aggressive methodologies.  (See Barbara’s entry about low fat dogma.) Even from the beginnings of diabetes, ants recognized the urinary wastes from human contained sugars; somehow, “experts” in the 1950s – 1980s totally believed Keys dogma or were coerced to go along.

In recent years, Jeff Volek & Steve Phinney have published nutrition guidance that supports LCHF eating.  I have begun utilizing LCHF nutrition in my practice and regularly am able to discontinue medications because glucose levels are falling into normal ranges.  Patients come in for visits ecstatic that they have lost weight, lowered glucose, dropped cholesterol, and no longer need some medications.  And most are willing to continue this lifestyle forever.

Nutrition advice should NEVER have come from committees that included insulin or statin manufacturers, cereal producers, or any other profession that could gain from the advice.  Current American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines urge diabetic patients to consume about 160 Grams of carbohydrates daily.  No matter what type of diabetic you speak to, each one of them will tell you right off the bat that they can NEVER get glucose controlled eating this way.  They will tell you about spikes and lows and miserable symptoms; it is a terrible battle that most patients are tired of.

Diabetes should be looked at like it is an allergy to carbohydrates; reducing the recommended carb intake to 30 grams per day or less actually reverses diabetes and many providers and researchers are beginning to have data to support it.  We have many patients who are now well-controlled using LCHF eating, and they express much gratitude for giving them their lives back.