Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science - Magazine - The Atlantic

I read this article about a week ago. This helps to me to not feel like I am being unreasonably cynical and negative and validates some of my skepticism around doctors, drug companies, researchers, and medications.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science - Magazine - The Atlantic

I do not mean to fall victim to conformational bias here, but I have been very suspicious of the whole industry for some time now and this is confirmation that not only am I not alone in my suspicions, but that my suspicions are reasonable and not just "crazy talk".

This subject relates to my belief that you should always question authority. You should not blindly disrespect authority, because many times it is correct. You should not blindly follow authority either. Unquestioned compliance and closed-minded rebellion are both equally dangerous in this situation.

So, I say to you, "Never be afraid to ask 'Why?'." Just because someone cannot answer the question does not make them incorrect, but answering the question does not make them correct either. A person's answer does, however, shine light on the person's reasons for their opinion which can help you to determine the validity of their opinion without having to be technical enough to qualify the correctness of their answer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TED Talks

Today's post is short and simple. It has been a while since I have had a chance to catch up on TED Talks. I found several of them interesting and wanted to share.

The first is by Heribert Watzke, and is titled "The Brain in YourGut". It is about human digestion, cooking, and how the two have interacted over evolution. Very interesting stuff.

The other 2 talks are more about opinions and theories. Of course, I do not agree 100% with all that they say, but I did really like the underlying messages in these 2 talks. Yes, you will also probably disagree with some of their ideas, but if you can make it through, they do deliver an inspiring overall theme.

The second is by Mark Bittman, and is titled "What's Wrong with What We Eat?".

The third is by Barton Seaver, and is titled "Sustainable Seafood? Let's Get Smart".

Men’s Health – The 16 Best Suppliments for Men

For future reference, any time that I am adding my two cents, I will post the link the the article here at the beginning of my post. I am doing this to give you the opportunity to read the article sans my personal bias before reading my opinions on it.

So without further adieu, here is today's article:

I would like to comment on each suggested supplement individually, but first I want to list all the natural sources for all 16 suggested supplements together. My reason for doing this is so that you can see that if you are already consuming these natural sources, then you have no need for any of the suggested supplements (in pill form of course). I am a fan of getting as many of your nutrients from real food as possible and only supplementing when the only natural source is a food that you just personally do not like to eat. Being a somewhat picky eater, this is the case for me in that I do supplement some things in pill form because I just do not like the taste the foods that are the natural sources of the nutrient.

The list of natural sources for the 16 suggested supplements:

Red meat, dairy products, fish (especially fatty fish), eggs, broccoli, sunshine, leafy greens, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, coffee, nuts, "some fortified cereal grains", Yogurt, kefir, Red wine, parsley, grapefruit, onions, apples, Crustacean shells, green tea, Fresh or cooked tomatoes, fruits with red/pink flesh, Red wine, red grape juice, Saw palmetto berries

My first thought on this list is to immediately remove a few items for various reasons.


Psyllium Husk: "some fortified cereal grains"

If a food item is "fortified" that means something was chemically added to it by processing. That does not fit the definition of a "natural source". Also notice fortified milk as a source of Vitamin D. Logic fail, next...


Glucosamine: crustacean shells

Seriously?!? Have you ever heard of someone eating crustacean shells? Please correct me if I am ignorant on this, because I could honestly be missing something here. Glucosamine is also present in animal bones and bone marrow. Many people in the Paleo community praise the nutritional content of bone broth. I personally have never had it, but I am interested in giving it a try. I do know that one time that I made red beans with the bones from the Thanksgiving turkey, it tasted damn good.


Saw Palmetto: Saw Palmetto berries

From Wikipedia: "it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas."

I have a logical problem when anyone tries to tell me that there is a nutrient found only in a special plant found only in a special climate/region that is necessary for all humans to consume. Do you see where I have an issue with the logic of this line of thinking?


Magnesium: whole grains

I have to remove whole grains here because people can have anywhere from a mild, hardly noticeable reaction to gluten, to being totally gluten intolerant. Since there are other source than whole grains (Leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, coffee, nuts), I think we have plenty of natural option without whole grains.


EGCG: green tea

This is supposed to be used to help reduce extra body fat because it "is thought to prolong exercise-induced boosts in metabolism." For me, "thought to" doesn't mean shit as far as being a logical reason to support the need for supplementation via pills.

First, what would you think if somebody came up to you on the street and tried to sell you a pill because they thought that it would increase you happiness. When you ask "how?", they have to respond "I don't know exactly how, but I think it does."

Second, I have read recent studies that show evidence that a high metabolism might actually not be a good thing. It showed that higher metabolism equals higher rates of oxidation and more rapid spread of cancer. People in the study with lower metabolisms appeared to be healthier and live longer than those with high metabolisms. Of course you cannot do a controlled study on long term differences between high and low metabolisms and this was an epidemiological study, but I do find its results to have merit and be worthy of additional thought on the subject.


Resveratrol: Red wine, red grape juice

From Wikipedia: "Resveratrol (3,5,4'-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Resveratrol is currently a topic of numerous animal and human studies into its effects. The effects of resveratrol on the lifespan of many model organisms remain controversial, with uncertain effects in fruit flies, nematode worms, and short-lived fish. In mouse and rat experiments, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and other beneficial cardiovascular effects of resveratrol have been reported. Most of these results have yet to be replicated in humans. In the only positive human trial, extremely high doses (3–5 g) of resveratrol in a proprietary formulation have been necessary to significantly lower blood sugar. Despite mainstream press alleging resveratrol's anti-aging effects, there is little present scientific basis for the application of these claims to mammals (see Life-Extension section below)."

So all this resveratrol hype is not based on any evidence from human or even mamal studies at reasonable doses? Again, fail...



SAMe is "Made in your body, possibly after eating meats, greens, and oranges". I have two objections to this one.

I cringe when someone is trying to persuade me on their argument and they use words and phrases like: thought to, possibly, can aid in, may help to, is believed to, etc. Now in my own personal defense, I do use these term where appropriate when I am mentioning something as conversation fodder to see what others' opinions are on it, but I would never use them as hard evidence to support my argument.

The second complaint I have for this suggested supplement is that they are suggesting I supplement something that is made naturally inside my body after eating meat and/or vegetables. Seriously?!? Also, I have noticed a pattern with supplements that are chemicals which are naturally made in you body seem to have an extremely low bio-availability when ingested in pill form. So, the alternative seems to be to supplement the precursors to the chemical in question. This is the case with glutathione and supplements like Protandim.


My Conclusion

So, after I have ran this article through my personal filter, I come to the following conclusion:

If you regularly eat red meat, dairy products, fish (especially fatty fish), eggs, leafy greens, nuts, onions, apples, and tomatoes and you get plenty of safe exposure to sunshine, then you have no need to take any of these pill supplements.

I personally need to work on the leafy greens, but I do consume all the other foods on a regular basis (at least once a week).

As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcome, so please comment if you want to.

Lovers of Elusive McRib Pork Patty Track Their Sightings

I found several things interesting in this article from both a nutritional and business perspective.

From a nutritional perspective

My favorite quote from the article:

"I saw a dog turn his nose up at a piece of one. That's all I need to know."

McRib Nutritional Info:
490 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 1040 mb sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 24 g protein, 11 g sugars.

McRib Ingredients
McRib Patty: Boneless pork (Pork, water, salt, dextrose, citric acid, BHA, TBHQ).
McRib Bun: Flour (wheat flour bleached and enriched with thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folic acid, malted barley flour), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated soybean oil, cottonseed oil). Contains 2 percent or less of dextrose, fumaric acid, calcium sulphate, salt, acetic acid, soy flour, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium sulphate, cornstarch, fungal protease, natural culture, ammonium chloride, ascorbic acid, azodicarbomide, mono- and diglycerides, propionic acid, phosphoric acid, corn flour, calcium peroxide, calcium propionate, dicetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides.
McRib Sauce: Water, high fructose corn syrup, tomato paste, distilled vinegar, molasses, natural smoke flavor, modified food starch, salt, sugar, soybean oil, spices, onion*, mustard flour, garlic *, xanthan gum, caramel color, sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavor (vegetable source), corn oil. *Dehydrated
Pickle Slices
Cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, natural flavorings (vegetable source), polysorbate 80, turmeric (color).
Slivered Onions
I think it is safe to say that it is general knowledge that this is not a healthy item to consume. Beside the obvious, does anyone have any comments about any of the specific ingredients?

From a business perspective

"McRibs are almost never available at all McDonald's restaurants at the same time. Instead, the Oak Brook, Ill., company offers them in different cities at different times, rarely for longer than a few weeks...The sandwich's elusiveness has created a fan base of people who go to considerable lengths to munch on a McRib. Ryan Dixon of Burbank, Calif., once drove 10 hours to Medford, Ore., after hearing a McDonald's there was selling the sandwich."

This really is basic economics and marketing stuff.

"On Nov. 2, for the first time in 16 years, McDonald's Corp. will offer the McRib at outlets across the U.S., but even then, only for six weeks or so. "It doesn't sell well all year long because people get tired of it," says McDonald's USA President Jan Fields."

Again, pretty basic stuff here. If it is widely available at any time, "meh...", but if you have to drive 10 hours just to find one, "ZOMG, I must have one!!!" We as consumers are interesting creatures.

What are your thoughts on planned scarcity as a business tactic to increase sales?

What do you think about the commonly taught business rule that a low supply naturally creates a high demand?

Inspirations and Resources

Before we get into any specific topics, I want to give you all a list of my commonly used resources.  Many of my posts will refer to articles on these blogs because these are sources that I trust and often have articles that I find interesting.
Lifestyle / General Health
Nutritionists / Doctors / Researchers
I am always interested in new perspectives and opinions, so if you have any resources that you think I should add to my list of reading material, please feel free to suggest.

Opening Post

This is the opening post to my blog, so I will begin with a general introduction of myself then give a brief list of the topics that I intend to cover.

My name is Richard McCollum.  I am a BBA degree-holding business professional in the software development industry.  However, my posts will not be about my profession or industry.  My posts will be about topics that I think we all struggle with in life.

My posts will included topics such as:
  • Nutrition/Diets/Supplements/Recipes
  • Exercise/Training/Sports
  • Drugs/Medications/Treatments
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Politics
  • Life Lessons
  • Inspiring Stories

These are broad topics and I do not intend to get overly technical on any of these subjects because I am not an expert on any of them.  I am, however, a life-long student in these areas of study and I often find interesting information that I feel could be of value to others who share my interests.  So, some of the content of this blog will be original, but much of it will be just my two cents on something that I found interesting with a link to it to for my readers to check out on their own.  I encourage mature discussions in the comments, so please add your two cents if you want to contribute.
I welcome you all to my blog and hope that this can be of benefit in some way to you.