Finding Good Chicken

Looks like a battery broiler

I almost had a line on really good, free-range, local chicken. I came across a gentleman at my town market a year ago who was so proud of his chickens that he regaled me about just how slow-grown, and properly free-range they were. You could taste it too. The skin was delicious and the chicken had just a hint of gaminess that I’d never tasted before. Also, the meat was dense and extremely flavourful.

I was in a frugal phase a year ago and wasn’t prepared to splash out so much for roast chicken on a weekly basis. I was content with the Lidl free-range at about half the price. Yet, just before the latest lockdown, I saw this local farmer again and was planning to chat with him about feed, animal welfare and the like. Having done my research on the way industrial methods were changing the fat composition of chickens, I thought now was the time to bite the bullet, pay a bit more and enjoy better chicken. It wasn’t that I’d discovered anything bad about Lidl; it was that I couldn’t discover anything about their chicken other than it met free-range criteria. Then, of course, Bojo the Clown locked England down for a third time and the market was no more.

So what is a boy to do if he can’t find local chicken? I went to my butcher first and tried their free-range birds. I have to say I was disappointed, even though I love everything else they have there. The bird’s breast was enormous, the legs tiny and one wing was broken. For me, these are tell tales that the chicken has not been able to forage much. Moreover, the breast was too tender and spongy; there was no muscle density. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that this farmer was doing the bare minimum to gain the free-range label.

For the immediate future, I’ve found an alternative until the local market re-opens. I’m not that surprised that it ended up being Sainsbury’s because, even though they’re a big retailer, they deliver on a lot of good, organic food. The chicken is very tasty, not as good as my local experience, but still you can tell that these birds have been out and about and fed well.

This range adheres to the Soil Association standards which are the highest in the kingdom. What does this mean in practice? All kinds of good things for the chickens and us:

  • Must have access to pasture (when weather and ground conditions permit) and are truly free range, and must have plenty of space (indoors and outdoors).  
  • Are fed a diet that is as natural as possible and free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 
  • Graze and forage naturally on organic pasture (grasses and other crops) where only natural fertilisers are used and pesticides are severely restricted. Instead of manufactured chemical fertilisers, clover is used in organic farming to fix nitrogen so that crops and grass grow. Organic grazing animals therefore have a diet containing high levels of clover, which is linked to nutritional differences in Omega 3.
  • They live in smaller flocks – eight times smaller than in free-range systems – this is because the health of individual birds can be much more easily managed within a smaller flock.
  • Organic poultry must have continuous and easy daytime access to a diverse outdoor range – farmers must provide more pop holes from the hen-house than free-range farms do too, to encourage them to explore the range.

So until I can touch base again with the local farmer, this is the best I can do when it comes to welfare and food quality. In particular, I’m encouraged about what the soil association says about diet and Omega-3s.

Big Dinners Linked to Covid Deaths?

I stumbled across this study last week when I was researching the “King, Prince, Pauper” eating method. The title is pretty catchy “Early dinner or “dinner like a pauper”: Evidence, the habitual time of the largest meal of the day – dinner – is predisposing to severe COVID-19 outcome – death.”

The paper concludes that the later one eats, the greater the chance of dying from covid. The authors believe that eating later promotes inflammation which allows covid easier entry into the body’s cells.

This is a not a gold standard study by any stretch. The data are from dietary surveys which have the built in flaws of memory errors or even dishonesty (though I don’t see why people would lie about the time they have dinner). However, it is and interesting first step.

Of course, people die from covid for many reasons: age, co-morbidities, obesity, lifestyle, bad luck, etc. Nevertheless, all other things being equal, eating later looks like it could be another reason. I hope more research is carried on this in the near-future. In the meantime, it looks like another good reason to continue with my new eating regime!

Sacred Cow – Why Well-Raised Meat is Good for You and Good for the Planet

Some of you may remember that I linked to Tom Woods’s interview with Robb Wolf a few months back. Wolf was on the show to discuss his new book Sacred Cow: The Case for (Better) Meat. It was such an interesting interview that I bought the book a couple of days later. Sacred Cow has finally got to the top of my reading list.

I thought it might be fun if I wrote a running chapter commentary on Fridays until I’ve finished the thing. I got the idea from the always interesting Bionic Mosquito. Here we go.

Introduction

“Why we’re doing this” sums up the introduction. The authors discuss their backgrounds. Ford is pretty big in the paleo community and Rodgers is a dietician, recipe author and organic farmer. Their mutual interests got them talking, and they decided to explore Optimal Human Food and Regenerative Agriculture. Keeping in mind the title, they are going to make the case for meat to solve both of these problems.

The authors spell out how they’re going to make their case for better meat. Before they do this, Wolf tells an interesting story about being asked to participate in a PBS debate with John Mackey (Whole Foods) and John McDougall (vegan doctor). Wolf rejected the proposed format of the debate, “a discussion on the relative merits of meat-inclusive diet versus a vegan diet” because “Discussions like this tend to involve a lot of moving the goalposts: They typically start with the health topics…and as the many problems with a vegan diet become obvious, the discussion inevitably shifts to the environment. Once the significant doubt emerges about the plausibility of a food system absent animals, the discussion then shifts to ethics. Once the least-harm principle and basic understanding of food production systems is established, the topic inevitably shifts to feeding the world.

Instead, Wolf insisted that “both sides should make their respective cases on each of these topics and then be “cross-examined” by their debate counterparts. He would not participate in a format where the counterparts could hop from topic to topic; obscuring the topic at hand. The PBS representative thought this was a good idea and would make for a much more robust discussion. For reasons known only to them, Mackey and McDougall pulled out of the discussion once these rule of engagement were in place.”

[As an aside, this seems to be the modus operandi of those on the left. They are almost never prepared to have a real, honest discussion or debate where their ideas will be scrutinised. Are they cowards? Do they know truth is not on their side? Probably both.]

The authors tell Wolf’s story in order to explain the format for the book “Sacred Cow will follow the same format Robb [Wolf] suggested for the PBS debate because a book about why we need “better meat” in our food system must address the three main criticisms against meat: nutritional, environmental, and ethical.”

Conclusions

The book’s style, based on the introduction, is for the intelligent layman. It’s devoid of scientific jargon or highfalutin words. Wolf and Rodgers want to make their case to as many people as possible. I also appreciate that they are laying down the gauntlet to “anti-meaters” by telling the reader they will address the main criticisms against meat. We’ll have to see if they provide a fair appraisal of the vegan arguments in later chapters. I’m looking forward to reading about this intellectual battle. Till next week.

Eating Dinner Like a Pauper

I’ve been struggling with the dawn phenomenon for years. While I was researching the Mastering Diabetes programme, I stumbled across a very good article which discussed the hoary dictum “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” I’d never heard this saying despite its hoariness; yet, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if this might be one reason I have blood sugar spikes in the morning? Maybe breakfast and lunch should be my big meals and dinner should be comparatively tiny. It made sense intuitively. I’ve been eating this way for the last ten days.

The Prince and the Pauper - eBook - Walmart.com - Walmart.com
Was the pauper healthier?

Results

Well my blood glucose has been getting better in the mornings. It was not an immediate improvement, and It’s still not where I want it to be, but it’s getting there. Readers will know that I’ve been waking up with readings usually above 8.0 mmol/L since New Year’s. However, I’ve gone seven days with readings between 7 and 7.6 mmol/L. I’ve been doing more blood testing across the day, just to get a feel of where my glucose is. It doesn’t appear to be going above that morning reading. Instead, it hovers for a while and slowly goes down to the low sixes or high fives. It goes up a little after my pauper dinner, but on some nights it’s actually going down while I sleep. So we’re really on to something here. I should add that I haven’t been doing any fasting for the last ten days except skipping the odd breakfast because I wasn’t hungry.

Challenges

The big challenge is re-arranging my whole way of eating especially at the weekends. You know I love my roasts, and those have always been served at dinnertime. I haven’t made this adjustment yet. The difficulty is I need to adjust more than just the cooking. I need to also consider when to do the weekly shop, when to do my chores, etc. Weekdays are hard too because after work is the only time I have for proper cooking. So tonight, for instance, I’m roasting a guinea fowl. However, instead of eating a traditional dinner, I’ll just have a little and save the rest for breakfast or lunch. Keeping with this is not hard in itself, but it will take time to re-arrange long ingrained habits.

Your family could be another obstacle here. I don’t mean them obstructing you. Yet, what if you have a wife and kids? Are you going to bring them on board? What if they don’t want to? Well, your kids wouldn’t have a choice if they’re young but your spouse? Fortunately, my better half likes the idea of this, so she’s following it too.

Conclusions

This is really worth a look if you’re trying to improve your blood glucose or improve your general health. The article I linked to goes into a lot of scientific evidence that suggests this is a much healthier way to eat. I’m going to keep with this for the foreseeable future. I’ll be fasting for a couple of days next week. I’m curious to see what will happen once I break fast and go back to eating dinner like a pauper. Watch this space.

Insulin Resistance Diet — Real Doctor Reacts

I’ve moved on from the “Mastering Diabetes” Team; however, the Youtube algorithm tracking my every move, thank you Big Tech Brother, hadn’t. As a result, a couple of days ago they suggested this video:

In this case, I’m glad the algorithm did its job (if only it would stop the music shout outs). I’d watched some of Dr Ekberg’s videos here and there but never came across this one. In it, he gives Cyrus Khambatta’s programme a very, very fair appraisal.

It is very much worth watching through to the end Dear Reader, since you are probably like me: an intelligent layman who can follow scientific arguments but doesn’t have the time to delve into all the nooks and crannies of endocrinology and health science. Dr Ekberg does that for us.

Mastering Diabetes – Veganism in Disguise?

I have nothing against vegans, so long as they leave me alone to eat animals. Unfortunately, a lot of people gravitate towards a herbivore lifestyle for moral reasons: killing animals is bad. As a result, many don’t want to leave me alone. They’re zealots who would force their eating habits on meat eaters given the chance. Again, I must stress that I’m not writing about all vegans. Surely some of you are of the to each his own mentality.

So what of the Mastering Diabetes Team? My previous article pointed out that a newbie got chastised for eating cheese by some Mastering Diabetes coaches. It seemed that there was more going on here than simply pointing out an error:

“This language and expectation of 100 percent compliance within the first week of the program left me feeling incredibly alienated and criticized. I knew that even while continuing with the program, I wouldn’t be posting any more pictures or trying to engage in discussion about my personal experience.”

That said, Khambatta himself doesn’t seem like a zealot for veganism. In one interview, he discusses keto. He doesn’t criticise it a great deal. His beef is that there is not enough research out there on the lifestyle:

“The truth is that when it comes to ketogenic diets and low carbohydrate diets, very low carbohydrate diets, there’s a strong paucity of research of what happens to people over the course of two, three, four, five years and beyond. Until that body of research starts to surface, we’re not going to be able to answer the question about what happens to somebody who’s just strictly avoiding carbohydrate energy and maintaining a good A1c and fasting blood glucose.”

Nevertheless, Khambatta and Barbaro seem quite friendly with one Dr Michael Gregor. See their chummy video here. Gregor is the Director, Public Health and Animal Agriculture for Humane Society International (HSI) This organisation looks like it lobbies against things that many people would find laudable like dog-fighting, factory farming, animal abuse, etc. So far, so what. Yet, a rummage around the HSI site and you come across how farm animals contribute 15% of global warming gasses. Say what you will about the so-called science of anthropomorphic global warming, there is no doubt that this “crisis” has been used for decades by politicians, do-gooders and lobbyists to increase their control over us through taxes, regulations and laws. Just look here and get reading if you don’t believe me.

More worrying is the HSI page devoted to, you guessed it, “plant-based eating.”

First, you’re met with these scary stats:

Scary

What’s wrong with 80 billion raised and killed animals? Why not 160 billion or two billion? The number itself is meaningless. However, the underlying message is “this is a lot and it’s bad.” Ditto for the amount of water to produce one kilo of chicken: “that’s a lot and it’s bad. Plants use less water”. Sidebar: I’ve got chickens and this number seems ludicrous. I’m guessing there is some creative statistics being used here.

Following the scary stats, we’re met with the money quote:

An animal-based diet is implicated in multiple human health conditions, causes immense animal suffering due to factory farming, intensive confinement and inhumane animal handling and slaughter, and has significant negative environmental impacts. Adopting a more plant-based diet will help combat climate change through reducing the carbon footprint of our food choices and will conserve precious planetary resources. It also benefits our health, as diets rich in fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, and of course it spares animals from suffering on factory farms, creating a more healthy and humane world for all.

Readers who go to this site might respond, “but Paleo, they only complain about factory farming.” Well not so if you read closely. The quote above covers animal based diets generally. Moreover, this is a common tactic of those who want to use the barrel of the gun to foist their views on others. You take something that most people disagree with, e.g., factory farms/animal cruelty, and you use it as a wedge for larger issues such as banning meat entirely. Those on the political left are in it for the long-game and have been doing this for decades. Moreover, you’ll see again the linking of meat with so-called global warming.

Conclusions

I’m not going to resort to guilt by association. Just because Khambatta and Barbaro roll with someone who is an animal rights zealot does not mean they are too. Still, it gives one pause. Are they promoting a plant based diet for health reasons only, or are they smuggling in their ethics too? My post yesterday suggests that some of their coaches are certainly up for “struggle sessions” if you eat cheese. Forfend! I suppose if they are coming from that position, then keto will always be wrong even if it leads to good health for those who follow it.

This is my last post for these chaps. I say good luck to them. There is clearly a market out there for vegans who have developed diabetes for whatever reason. If they want to eat plants and nothing else, good luck to them. I hope the programme works. So long as they leave me to eat what I want, then I don’t really care. Unfortunately, many of these people won’t leave us alone. Indeed, readers will remember that I linked to a video from Low Carb Down Under in the summer where one of the lecturers said this about plant based types, “We think they’re mistaken; they think we’re evil.” And so it goes.

Mastering Diabetes – A First Hand Account

Given that I backed out on “guinea pigging” myself with the Mastering Diabetes programme, the least I could do is find some information on those who gave it a go. Of course, the Mastering Diabetes website has some testimonials which is the hallmark of all good businesses. This is the bread and butter of direct response marketing. This one is typical:

“I lost 26 pounds in 5 months. I lowered my A1c to a 6 in just 3 months. Diabetes is a food related disease and can be reversed!”

Most of them look healthy, though a couple are on the portly side to be honest. You can see for yourself here. Now, I should say that although I’m sceptical about this programme, I’m not saying they’re selling snake oil. Maybe the programme did work for those who gave their testimonials. Why would they lie? What would Khambatta and co. risk fraud? Doubtful.

Still, is there anyone out there who went through the programme and had a different experience? Well come on down Ginger Vieira at the Diabetes Strong website. I highly recommend that you give her article a good gander. She spent a lot of time writing a fair account of her nine days on the Mastering Diabetes programme as a Type-1 diabetic. She typically follows a paleo regimen. Here are the highlights:

The Good

  • After three days of high carbs, Ginger dropped her Tresiba insulin dose from 10 to 9 units.
  • She had a strong feeling of burning through the high-carb food she was eating. I think this is characterised as a positive.
  • When she had to correct for high blood glucose, her sugar came down faster than when she was on paleo.
  • By day six, she had lost a pound.
  • By day seven, she was seeing improved insulin sensitivity.
  • Ginger’s insulin to carb ratio was much higher.
  • Ginger got words of support from some members when she inadvertently broke with the programme’s 100% vegan protocol (more on that below).

The Bad

  • Serious hunger “to be honest, food was all I could think about during my non-fasting window of about 1 p.m. until bedtime.”
  • Lethargy “Eating oat bran (rather than oatmeal) was starting to give me that same lethargic feeling that oatmeal and rice have given me in the past. I just don’t feel good when I eat those foods.”
  • Flatulence “I should add that I’ve never been a “gassy” person and holy moly, the daily bean intake was making me extremely gassy. I eat a lot of fiber in my usual diet, so my digestive tract is plenty accustomed to high-fiber intake, but the beans are another story.”
  • A general unwell feeling after a week “Despite my declining insulin needs, I was noticing that I felt like my blood sugar was high even when it wasn’t. I felt that sort of lethargic, thirsty feeling that comes with blood sugars around 250 mg/dL or higher.”
  • Headaches “I also had developed a headache that wouldn’t budge with more water or Asprin. Can I say that this headache was absolutely the result of this high-carb diet? No, but headaches are a truly rare thing for me, and this was the only change in my life at this time.”
  • Getting it in the neck for eating cheese with veggie tacos. Ginger posted her tacos with cheese on the members only Facebook group and was met with cries of criticism from Mastering Diabetes “coaches” for breaking with veganism, “This language and expectation of 100 percent compliance within the first week of the program left me feeling incredibly alienated and criticized. I knew that even while continuing with the program, I wouldn’t be posting any more pictures or trying to engage in discussion about my personal experience.”
  • A real feeling of being unwell by Day 9 ” I felt like one big starchy bean. My blood sugar felt high all day even though it wasn’t. I felt foggy and thirsty. And I was confident in what was causing this: this high-carb diet. I felt like my veins were full of starch. And that headache that started on Day 7 was still rocking hard.”

This was when Ginger decided to call it quits and go pack to paleo. She carries on in the article that she quickly went back to feeling better.

Ginger did state that Khambatta and Barbaro argued that she needed to stick with the programme to see long term benefits. Moreover, she admits to having one cheat day when she went out for her anniversary supper. Fair enough, she didn’t follow it 100%. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like Mastering Diabetes’ claims against paleo/keto hold up with Ginger’s experiences.

Conclusions

It doesn’t look like this is a lifestyle for everyone. One of the big reasons I went with paleo and then keto was that it was so easy. I’m always satiated and don’t feel hungry. The idea of going back to hunger pains and all that sounds depressing. If it works for some people, well done. Who knows, if this keto sometimes carnivore thing fizzles for me maybe I will give it a go someday. I doubt it, given I’m fitter than I’ve ever been.

Vieira finished her post with an impassioned plea for all of us just to get along. I don’t think channelling Rodney King will work sadly. What’s interesting though is the criticism she got for eating that cheese. Shame on you Ginger! Indeed, Khambatta told her that they are vegan at Mastering Diabetes but they don’t use the term “because of the negative connotations that can go along with it.”

Now this is interesting because I came across something yesterday that suggests that the Mastering Diabetes people may be motivated by more than optimising health. They may be sneaking in some animal rights moralising via the backdoor. Till Thursday.

Not Going Plant Based – Sorry

About four months ago, I wrote about Cyrus Khambatta who advocates a plant based diet through his Mastering Diabetes programme. I even vowed to guinea pig myself in the New Year. Dear Reader, I swear I was going to do it this week. I figured I would eat sweet potatoes and salad for a week, or more likely until my blood glucose became dangerously high, and then report back to you. The problem is that the more research I did last week, the clearer it became that Khambatta and his partner Robby Barbaro promised no quick fixes. This was a programme that needed to be followed for weeks and months before one started to see true results. Moreover, this is a pay to play operation where one has to fork over $149 for the basic “do it yourself” plan. I can only guess what their one-to-one coaching costs. You can’t find that easily on their site. They’ve got a waiting list though. Good for them. I like to see capitalism at work. Find what people want, in this case vegans, and sell it to them.

Dr. Cyrus Khambatta - T1D - What He Ate #1 - YouTube

Insulin Resistance

The Mastering Diabetes unique selling proposition (USP) is that the conventional Western diet is wrong and that we should be eating a very high-carb, very low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. Moreover, keto and paleo lifestyles that advocate high fat, moderate protein and low carbs are not so good either. Why? Because both promote insulin resistance. So their argument goes: if you follow their super high carb diet, around 800 grams of carbs per day, then your body will become insulin sensitive and your Hba1c will improve significantly. They claim if you are a Type-2 diabetic and follow this approach, you may be able to reverse your diabetes.

Now this view on paleo ran counter to my personal experience. Once I started the paleo diet, I quickly got off of insulin and for over a year I was not taking anything. I now take metformin. I also feel a lot better than I did when I was on a conventional diet before my diabetes.

My third alarm bell about the Mastering Diabetes programme was this linked interview with Khambatta and Barbaro where they discussed being Type-1 diabetics and injecting large amounts of insulin daily. They both claimed that they were more insulin sensitive because of their new plant-based lifestyle, but it was not as if they were reversing their diabetes or injecting hugely lower amounts of insulin.

As for other alarms bells, my first was the original video I stumbled across since it went against my own personal experiences. The second alarm was when I went to their site. Now maybe these are decent chaps, but I always get a bit put off when you see people smiling like maniacs in practically every photograph. I don’t know if this is what an advertising agency is telling them to do, but it puts me off since it seems unnatural. I mean look at these guys. Barbaro’s even worse in the video. It’s too much.

You're a Great Candidate - Medium Insulin Resistance
Cyrus Khambatta & Robby Barbaro: Mastering Diabetes With a ...

With a little more digging I came across several seemingly open-minded people who tried their programme or looked into it closer than I have. Marty Kendall wrote a very in depth article about the programme and pointed out that Khambatta and Barbaro seem to have invented their own definition of insulin sensitivity by combining bolus and basal insulin. Kendall explains why he thinks this is a misleading approach. When he pointed this out on the Mastering Diabetes Facebook Group, Barbaro kicked him off and deleted his comments. If that’s true, it doesn’t fill me with confidence about the Mastering Diabetes team. We should all be prepared to defend our positions in an open forum. To do otherwise is cowardly.

Conclusion

I’m not done looking into this programme. The Mastering Diabetes video is a marketing device designed to get you to their web page. A little bit of research suggests that their big claims don’t live up to the hype. What about those who have tried it? Do they have anything significant to say? Tomorrow.

Paleo Friendly Treat – Grain-Free Granola

This is definitely a paleo treat rather than a keto one. It’s a little sweet. Personally, I can’t have more than the occasional small handful. It’s in the house because my better half has a fully functioning pancreas.

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The Paleo Foods Co. is really on to something here. It tastes better than traditional granola, yet it’s wheat and gluten free, high fat and somewhat low carb. It’s also very delicious. I just had a little taste while writing this to remember the flavour. Really, really tasty.

Here are the ingredients of the Chia and Almond variety:

Chia_Ingrediants.png

What about the nutritional makeup?

Chia_Nutrition.png

What’s also great is that this company has produced three other varieties:

Berry & Almond.png
Cocoa & Hazelnut.png

Pecan & Almond

I do hope that there are similar products outside the UK because this one is a winner!

The Starch Solution Follow Up

Back in the summer I stumbled across some Youtube videos that argued the answer to reversing Type-2 diabetes was high-carb, starchy foods. They also attacked the keto lifestyle. Now, I am very sceptical of these arguments for several reasons: firstly, this Khambatta chap doesn’t seem to offer anything in the way of citations on his videos. In one where he does, it is from the very flawed Nurses’ Health Study which is simply a questionnaire. Do some research and honest scientists will tell you this is one of the weakest types of studies one can use. Secondly, everything that he says goes against my personal experience. He offers a laundry list of negative effects from keto. My experience has been the exact opposite. Finally, the man himself looks unhealthy. Now, I don’t mean his alopecia. That’s not his fault. I mean his pallor. Vegetarians all seem to have this same strange colour to their skin. It’s almost a touch of greyness. In contrast, keto-types look healthy.

So, I said back in the summer I was going to guinea pig myself on this and see what happens. I’ve broken my fast today with six egg yolks and I’m going to go full carnivore until next Monday. I’m then going to follow the “Starch Solution” for a week or so and see what happens to my blood glucose and general health.

Watch this space.