Monthly Archives: December 2006

Dr. W’s “Llama Chow” or Beneficial Motivator Cereal

Dr. W’s “Llama Chow” or Beneficial Motivator Cereal

Purchase and keep in dry storage a 50:50 mix of cracked wheat and steel cut oats.    You can use a pure cracked wheat, a pure steel cut oats, or any other WHOLE grain.  Spelt is delicious and chewy (takes a little longer to cook).  Buckwheat avoids gluten.  Try them all.  You might just end up with quinoa – the grain of the Inca.


To Cook:

1 cups of the above mix of whole grain oats and wheat

3 cups of water  (4 cups for buckwheat) (2 cups for quinoa)

1 tsp salt

Simmer for 20 minutes with frequent stirring to prevent boiling over

Set aside: let cool.  Place in plastic storage container in fridge.  Last 10 days


To Prepare Breakfast

About ½  cup of the above mix

Add ~ 1 cup almond, coconut or skim milk

(I add ½ cup frozen blueberries) – ORAC score of 3500.  LOTS of pterostilbene

Place in microwave and heat about 3 minutes

Add ¼ cup ground flax seed (15 grams extra fiber and tons of omega 3s)

Conclusion: don’t get hungry till lunch time.  And you have great BMs.

Trans Fats: The Nurses Study Slams the Door!

Trans Fats:  The Nurses Study Slams the Door!

Competency # 13 Fats

Reference: American Heart Association Annual Meeting, Report on the Harvard Nurse’s Study, Released Dec 6th, 2006

We all love trans fats.  That wonderful pie crust at Christmas, all those luscious holiday chocolates and the Dairy Whip topping.  Trans fats are wonderfully delicious.  The restaurant with its fantastic fried onions on tops of the salad and the French fries with your sandwich. We Americans eat about 4% of our calories in trans fats otherwise known as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.  They sneak in everywhere because they make food taste so so good.  And they never spoil.

This new study is definitive.  The Harvard Nurses study has been going on for over 30 years now.  It has over 130,000 nurses in it and they have rigorous methods.  With such a huge population for such a long time, information gleaned from it is some of the best we have on long term problems caused by our nutritional choices.  This study is just about the biggest cohort of carefully followed diets and consequences of those diets in the world.  This study took a sample of women who had blood work to follow and who had coronary artery disease.  It then matched them with controls based on blood work and time of follow-up.

What they found:  with blood work actually collected and measured, those women with the highest amount of trans fats (top 25%) in their blood (had eaten trans fats recently) had 3.3 times the likelihood of having coronary artery disease compared to women with the least.  A 330% increase in incidence!   This wasn’t just a questionnaire, it was real blood work.  It complements many other studies.  This one was drawn from a larger cohort than most which makes it more reliable.

This study complements the Harvard Professional Men’s Health study that had reducing trans fats to less than .5% of calories to be one of their 5 strategies to reduce coronary artery disease by 87%.  That’s two studies we’ve reported on this year.

WWW:  What will work for me?  This is now the first item on my resolution list for next year.  I’m going to try and avoid trans fats even more.  I’m getting good at reading labels on food I buy with packages.  It’s time for me to also think about restaurant food.  New York is banning trans fats in their restaurants.  Cleveland is considering doing the same.  Some school districts have done the same.   When I go to a restaurant, however, I can’t tell what’s made with trans fats.  I know I can’t eat the fries.  I’m also just avoiding restaurant fried food.  It’s the hash browns, the Friday Fish Fry, the grilled cheese.

Vitamin D and the Shortest Day of the Year: MS the Worst Prison Sentence lack of Vit D Provides

Vitamin D and the Shortest Day of the Year:  MS the Worst Prison Sentence lack of Vit D Provides

Competency # 17  Vitamin D

Reference: Journal of the American Medical Association,Dec 20th 2006

Here it is again.  The Harvard Nurses Study has already suggested this sort of association.  Now, another main-line Journal is coming out with a confirming study.  Published yesterday in JAMA and widely spread in the national news media is another article confirming that Vit D is strongly correlated with MS, or preventing it. (You can read more if you Google the Washington Post and Vitamin D)

The details were as follows.  Dr. Ascherio, also at the Harvard School of Public Health, found blood work on women who developed MS and two matched controls who didn’t.  Those women who had the highest Vit D blood levels (top 20%) had a 62% lower risk of developing MS over the subsequent years than those with the lowest levels.  The data came out of the Armed Forces data base where blood work can be tracked down from many years prior and samples can be tested for the amount of Vit D in the blood.  They didn’t find the same effect in Hispanic and African Americans, but they conjectured that their sample sizes were much smaller and may simply not had the ability to statistically predict with confidence.  We do know that the more pigment your skin contains, the more sunlight you need to make equivalent Vitamin D (by as much as a 500% factor) and we do know that women of color have dramatically lower blood levels of Vit D.  But this study didn’t prove that association.

We’ve known for years that there is a strong association between MS and living in the north.  There is much less MS in the southern American states, and in the tropics.  This effect seems to be set in childhood with folks growing up in the south having a lower risk than folks who grow up in the north.  So, taking Vit D may not prevent MS in later years.  But we do know that MS also has a greater incidence of onset during winter months by almost double.  So, something about winter and our plunging Vit D blood levels is important and does set off something.

But this is the shortest day of the year.  The angle of the sun is at its lowest.  It’s raining in Wisconsin and we are all indoors.  As we celebrate the return of sunlight (albeit way too slow for me) we can contemplate the value that a good dose of sunshine does for each of us.  Here in Wisconsin, the angle of the sun is so low that we will get virtually no Vit D until April, and then only if we can brave the cold air with our bare skin.  This study’s authors caution that it is way too early to recommend the use of Vit D to prevent MS.  I’m a little more comfortable recommending more.

WWW.  What Will Work for me?  Scientific studies need to be rigorous and not make claims they can’t prove.  That’s good.  I like that caution.  But I want to weave together the convergence of ideas.  I personally haven’t got 30 more years of time to wait for definitive answers, and like all of life’ persistent questions, I’m trying to muddle through as best I can.  The Vitamin D story is unfolding and the momentum continues to be in the direction of increasing comfort with higher recommended doses.   I’m taking 2000 units a day of Vit D.  And everyone I can badger enough is too.  Every Aurora Pharmacy now carries the stuff.  It’s cheap.  But does anyone have an extra ticket to Cancun in January?  God intended us to be getting more sunshine.

Olive Oil: What’s the Best Kind?

Olive Oil:  What’s the Best Kind?

Competency # 13  Fats;  #20  Culture: Lifestyles of the Long-Lived

Reference: Covas, et al  Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept 5, 2006  145:(5)

We know that olive oil is good for you.  It’s the main fat in the Mediterranean Diet (MD).  Greek men, living prior to 1950, had 10% of the heart disease incidence we have today in America.  It has been repeatedly shown in the last two or three years that MD with its inclusion of olive oil to some 30-35% of total calories is a great strategy for improved health.  There are lower incidences of coronary artery disease.   America went on a low fat binge for the last 30 years and avoided all oils, much to our detriment.

Now the question is asked, what is it about olive oil that makes it so good?  The main oil is oleic acid, which is a mono-unsaturated fat.  But there are dozens of other subcomponents, and thousands of minor components in olive oil.  Do the others help?  And do they vary by kind of olive oil?   And the answer now is YES!   This research article shows how.  Extra virgin olive oil is the easiest stuff to get.  It comes from the first pressing.  It has more compounds called phenolic acids.  Those compounds gradually decrease with each pressing of the olives.  The regular old discount, cheapy stuff has much less phenolic acid content.    The extra virgin has 366 mg per liter of phenolic acid.  The regular, last pressed had only 2.7 mg.  That’s about 1% of the extra virgin content.

The study took 200 men and had them eat 25 mls (about a tablespoon) of extra virgin versus regular versus blended oil for three weeks. The researches then looked at all the biomarkers of inflammation in the volunteers bodies.  What they were most interested in were the markers of oxidative stress.  Oxidative damage to lipids decreased in a linear fashion with the increase in phenolic acid content.  The fancy items they looked at were called conjugated dienes and hydroxyfatty acids.  Those things change the shape of your LDL cholesterol and help them get into the white cells in your artery walls.  That’s what ends up being plaque.  And it’s plaque that ends up causing artery damage by way of heart attack and stroke.

We’ve followed the line of evidence back from heart attacks all the way to its source.  The whole food called olives in its least refined form, extra virgin olive oil, has this tiny percentage of its content called phenolic acid.  And that tiny segment has a huge impact on  your body.  It’s not just the oil, but the antioxidants in the oil. Phenolics are also present in green tea and cocoa.  Antioxidants matter!

WWW: What will work for me?  Extra virgin olive oil.  Not the Sam’sClub 5 gallons for $ 5 stuff.  It’s been over-squeezed.  Though it has the right oil, it’s lost 99% of its phenolic acid, and that turns out to be an important component.  I’m going to be an olive oil snob and get the extra virgin stuff.  I’m going to have more salads for supper instead of red meat.  And when I go through that buffet line at the Christmas Party, I’m going to take a few olives to make up for  the cheesecake.  If you want to really be an olive snob, check out the olive bar at Whole Foods.  Amazing place.