Monday, November 13, 2017

Unconventional Medicine

Chris Kresser, Lac

Chris Kresser has long been one of my favorite bloggers.  With an acupuncturist (Lac) background, Chris operates one of the biggest naturopathic practices in the US. He freely shares information on his website.  He writes articles instead of blog posts, and many times has guest authors writing these articles. One of my favorites was an article written by Dr. Amy Nett, MD; How Resistant Starch Will Help to Make You Healthier and Thinner. Poor Dr. Nett was just not prepared for the interest generated by RS and she received over 600 comments!  What fun I had explaining how RS works.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Dear Readers - Thank you for reading my blog. Recently scammers and spammers have been actively making my life miserable. I was able to stop most spam comments from being changing some settings that require moderation on old posts, but now they've hacked my email subscriber list.

I'm going to be deleting my email subscription list as soon as I post this, and putting up a new bar for email subscribers. If you wish to get an email notification of VegetablePharm, please re-subscribe. Otherwise, check back occasionally to see if I've posted anything new.

Sorry I have not been so active on the blogging front.  Life, ya know.  I'm doing well and hope you are, too. I'll probably get back to more frequent blogging this winter. I want to discuss diet, exercise, and health more.


Friday, September 22, 2017

High Carb vs. High Fat vs. High Protein Diets

Ketogenic diets are all the rage right now. Even Mark Sisson who has routinely advised against ketogenic diets, is releasing a new book, The Keto Reset Diet.

Alternatively, high carb diets are also making a comeback. Rusty Moore is offering his High Carb Fat Loss course for just $17 if you'd like the lowdown on a high carb diet with many real-world examples, meal plans, etc.

Steve Cooksey, the Diabetes Warrior, is advocating a nearly all-meat diet using intermittent fasting a la The Snake Diet and seeing great results.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's in your snack? Titanium Dioxide

I've been warning about the dangers of processed foods for many years now. Today an article on the dangers of a common food additive, titanium dioxide, caught my attention. Titanium dioxide is used widely by the food industry as a coloring agent. Titanium oxide, also known as Ti02, is extracted from certain rocks in mines around the world. When purified, Ti02 makes an excellent pigment for paint, paper, and plastic. Over 4.6 million tons of Ti02 are produced annually around the world. So what does this have to do with food?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gut Testing Limitations

Finally, some "not-so-fake" news from the world of gut testing.

Back in 2012 or so, I was really excited that some companies...first American Gut and then uBiome, were offering gut bacteria testing for under $100. These same tests used to cost $1000's and were off-limits to the general public. With the use of new digital methods for testing and cheaper machines, the price of testing gut bacteria is now just a matter of market demand.

Illumina Genome Analyzer

I've written several posts on how bacteria are discovered in a stool sample, so I won't rehash that here. However, from nearly the very beginning I was seeing some huge problems. The biggest was that reports from two companies on the same sample rarely looked similar, and the second was that medical conditions and diets rarely corresponded to the bacterial report.

Over the years, I've become increasingly leery of gut testing companies. Ubiome is now offering "suggestions" for changes in diet based on a single report, and even starting a medical-grade test option ("SmartGut") that must be ordered by trained physicians. American Gut is offering a similar feature, called "MapMyGut," also clinician-ordered.  But this week an article from Smithonian Science made me realize that there is some transparency in the world of gut testing.

You Are What You Eat, And What You Eat Is Millions of Microbes (, June 2017).  

We've been discussing the acquisition of microbes for years around here. We discussed how gut bacteria magically appear in your gut based on the food you eat and your daily interactions with the world. Finally the researchers are also looking at this angle, too.

When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and those with seemingly similar diets. 

This also holds true for medical conditions such as Crohn's disease and the myriad other dysbiosis-inducing diseases we deal with. As I've been preaching for years: When gut dysbiosis gets hold, all bets are off.

I'm quite amazed that Rob Knight of Knight Lab was the leading contributor to this article. Rob was one of the founders of the American Gut project. He's basically admitting that they have learned very little about the gut despite analyzing the feces of over 9000 people. Their new line of bacterial inquiry will be focused on the bacteria found within the foods we eat, they intend to analyze 1000 different foods from around the world to see what secrets they hold.

Bottom Line

While this is a good start, we are still a long ways off from understanding the complex interactions between bacteria and human health. The trend is a focus on bacteria, but there are also phages, viruses, and fungi in the mix. And these collective microbes are not only found on the foods we eat, but they can incorporate themselves into the DNA of the foods we will Rob Knight suss all this out? I have a feeling that the next blockbuster will be, "When researchers crunched the numbers, however, they found no discernible correlations between gut communities and the bacteria found in the foods they ate."

Take Home Message

Don't worry so much about the microbes that inhabit your gut.  Nature has developed ways to get them where they need to be...all that you have to do is eat mostly real food, lots of plants, and very little processed food.  Exercise, get dirty, and live a stress-free lifestyle. Get some sun and good sleep. If you have terrible gut problems, the same rules apply, but you may have a tough time sorting it all out. There are plenty of gurus who will promise the world if you follow their advice...but they are just guessing.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Microbe/Host Genetic Interactions

Nuclear Receptor

Here's a brand new paper out of Duke University that shows for the first time how gut microbes directly can effect host cells which could lead to human disease. This strengthens my notion that we must maintain a healthy gut flora and avoid upsets that can lead to colonization by pathogenic microbes.

Microbiota regulate intestinal epithelial gene expression by suppressing  the transcription 1 factor  Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (Davison et al., 2017).

Sure to get a collective *yawn* from most readers, and even researchers, this paper explores a phenomenon that many seem to ignore:
...the roles of nuclear receptors  in host responses remain poorly understood, and no previous study has defined the impact of microbiota on nuclear receptor DNA binding. Nuclear receptors are a metazoan innovation.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Potatoes Cure T2D!

Here's a fairly recent paper that I missed last year (hattip DuckDodger).  Glycemic Control for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (Sept 2016).  A release article was presented that seemed to imply that blood glucose control is not important at all. It seemed to say that drugs such as Metformin for blood sugar control did absolutely nothing. The article demands we get new drugs to treat diabetes!

There is a risk that all of the attention on blood sugar levels is distracting researchers from pursuing new leads. If doctors check the shelf for other medications that do something beyond glucose control, they will find that medical cupboard is bare. 

Big Pharma to the Rescue! 
Here's what the paper says, a little different than the fake news. They conclude:
The evidence summarized here  requires us to explore factors other than tight glycemic control  to  explain  this  improvement  and  better  address  the  diabetes  mellitus  epidemic.  Exciting  new  questions  and  new  answers  may surface as we look beyond glycemic control. 

The paper showed that if you have diabetes and you take blood sugar controlling drugs, you will have a slightly longer life than those who do not take drugs. 

The researchers are asking: Could we spend our research dollars more wisely than developing more glucose lowering drugs?

The answer is YES!
Potatoes for the Win!
If you have Type 2 Diabetes, you need to make some MAJOR changes in your life. I assume that people who take drugs to control their BG may also decide to make some big lifestyle eating whole, unprocessed foods. Exercising. And more crazy ideas: Low Carb Diets, Ketogenic diets, high RS diets, Diabetes Warrior Diets, heck...[gratuitous Amazon Link warning]: The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified which details the use of all-potato diets to cure diabetes. 

Yes, yes. We need to look beyond treating T2D with drugs! The drugs work, though. Don't get me wrong. But why the drugs work may be bigger than tight blood sugar control. Maybe the changes are related to a change in gut flora after taking some drugs (ie. Metformin). In fact, Metformin in particular, is a really good drug for diabetics after it's too late to reverse normally. 

Metformin has a number of actions within the gut. It increases intestinal glucose uptake and lactate production, increases GLP-1 concentrations and the bile acid pool within the intestine, and alters the microbiome.
It's obvious that diabetes can be treated differently. Drugs are not the only option. T2D's need to completely give up sweets and breads, fried foods and fast-food. T2D's need to routinely check their blood glucose with a home test kit and strive to keep their fasting blood glucose under 130 and reduce post-prandial spikes. If diagnosed with pre-Diabetes or T2D, you HAVE to make changes. Most people's only change is to take drugs, and make no lifestyle modifications:

Here you have an obese, middle-aged person. Probably has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a host of auto-immune conditions. They take Glucerna, Metformin or Cycloset and their doctor is encouraged about their good blood sugar numbers. Chides to lose weight and eat whole-grain wheat and lean meat. This person only sees a slight advantage in life when compared to people whose blood sugar in not controlled in any way. 


Type 2 Diabetes is common. Very common. It's easy to find diabetic test subjects. It's hard to find people with diabetes who are controlling their own disease progression with dietary interventions and lifestyle changes.

My contention is that everyone is at risk of developing T2D. All you have to do is eat the foods presented before you on TV and billboards. Eat all you want. Whenever you want. You'll soon be a candidate for diabetic drugs. Want it faster?  Don't move around so much. Take antibiotics.

Once T2D sets in, it's pretty late to be starting to get healthy. Prevention is key. Pay attention to blood glucose levels. Take action at the first signs of Pre-diabetes. Persons with T2D can benefit greatly from different diet plans that control blood glucose without medicine. Low carb diets, high carb diets, and everything in between.  It's not just the carbs, it's the quality and quantity.

The preferable option is to eat right, exercise, and get a good night's sleep. You'll never have to worry about diabetes.

Anybody here fighting diabetes or concerned about their blood glucose numbers?  Tell me about it.

I am collecting data from 10 people who are tracking their blood glucose levels immediately after ingesting 2 spoonfuls of RS, as soon as they all get me their data, I'll write up a blog post that I think you will find very interesting.

Oh, and forgive me for the sensationalist post title. It seems to be the thing to do lately.

Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, R., & Montori, V. M. (2016). Glycemic Control for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, CIRCOUTCOMES-116.