The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #144 – Why Paleo Dieters Need Glycine and Folate, The Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and Hugelkultur Gardening

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Anyone Doing Paleo Without Liver, Bones, Skin, and Greens?

Now this is interesting. I’ve recently decided to go from die-hard veganism to a paleo-inspired diet. Most paleos stick to muscle meats and eggs without including organ meats, which is understandable because organ meats seem pretty gross. I think it’s really a matter of getting over your fears of eating something you’re not used to. Who was the first person to crack open an egg and eat it? That’s pretty gross, isn’t it? I can’t say much about organ meats myself because I’m newly paleo and haven’t gotten the courage yet to try them, but I used to eat menudo when I was younger so I imagine I’ll be fine once I jump back into it. Anyway, until then it looks like gelatin is a good place to get glycine and romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beats and beans (lentils being the most tolerable) are a good source for folate. I soak my beans and prepare them myself, so I’m not too worried about negative health aspects of non-soaked beans.



Are Legumes “Paleo”? And Does It Really Matter?

Chris Kresser explains why people shouldn’t bound themselves to dietary dogma, which is common in the paleo community (and vegan or any other community). The paleo diet should be viewed as a template that we can build on and this post explains the exact reason why I’m leaving soaked beans in my diet.



Non-GMO Shopping Guide

A couple weeks ago I watched several interviews from the Super Size Me 10 Year Anniversary conference and in the interview with Jeffrey Smith, I learned about the Non-GMO Shopping Guide website, which contains information about how to avoid GMO foods when shopping. There are categories for things like baby food, dairy products, beverages, body care, breads, candy, oils, fruits, spices, meats, pet products, supplements and much more. There’s also a Non-GMO Shopping Guide iPhone app, which I’ve already downloaded. The app needs work to be more user-friendly, but it should still prove handy.



hugelkultur: the ultimate raised garden beds

Hugelkultur looks like a great concept. If I had the space to test this in my backyard, I definitely would. I actually do have the space on the side of my house where my current garden sits, but I don’t have the time to do a project like this with spring already almost here. I’m going to have to stick to my old traditional garden this year. Maybe next year…



How To Clean an Oven With Baking Soda & Vinegar

I don’t like to use the self-cleaning feature of my oven because it stinks up the house like crazy and it sets of my smoke alarms. I also don’t like to use nasty toxic chemicals in my oven. Well here’s the best alternative!



DIY: Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric-Almond Milk

I don’t doubt that this is a “wonder” drink, but I hate how turmeric stains everything. I hate it so much that I just can’t bring myself to make this.



Tastes-Like-Ice-Cream Kale Shake

I haven’t made this yet, but with a name like that, you know I’m going to. πŸ˜‰



Grain-Free Flatbread (Paleo, Vegan, and AIP-friendly)

My family has a lot of March birthdays, including mine ;), and we had a big pizza party get-together. I’m not currently eating gluten, so I obviously I couldn’t partake, but I saw this recipe and thought it would make the perfect base to make my own pizza. To be honest, I didn’t really like it. It was too heavy. It seems like it would be great to use as a side to go along with pasta though, which is why I’m saving it here to use for later.


Quick and Easy Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowls

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Chipotle has always been one of my favorite fast-food restaurants. When my wife and I decided to start eating meat again, we thought Chipotle would be a good entry food. It was ok, but not great.

The first thing we tried was the steak bowl. Their steak has a great flavor, but the meat just doesn’t seem high quality. The next time we tried a carnitas bowl. We felt the same way we did about the steak. So now when we get Chipotle, we just order the vegan option like we have for years πŸ˜‰

But this got me thinking that it would be better to make my own Chipotle at home with grass-fed beef. It’s fast, it’s tasty and my ingredients are higher quality.

Let me start by saying that no, my burrito bowls don’t taste like Chipotle’s. I only used them as inspiration. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious!

Ingredients

Main Ingredients

  • Cooked rice, organic white or brown (1 cup per person)
  • Pinto beans, cooked
  • Grass-fed ground beef, 1 lb.
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

I throw two cups of rice and 4 cups of water into the rice cooker and forget about it for 30 minutes. While that’s cooking, I brown a pound of ground beef in a pan and finish that off with cumin and sea salt. I usually have beans already prepared and frozen so I just grab a container of beans, put them in a small pot and add cumin, sea salt, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder – I just toss it in, no measurements.

Toppings

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Tomato, chopped
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Shredded cheese, grass-fed and raw

Use whatever toppings you want. The above are what I usually use, minus the cheese. I just happened to have that on hand this time.

Guacamole

  • 1 avocado
  • tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. MCT oil (optional)

You can use any guacamole recipe you want, but this is usually how I make it. I only make enough for me and my wife for dinner, which is why I only use one avocado. You can make more if you want. Mash it all up until it creamy and it’s done!

Putting It All Together

This is the easy part. Put the shredded lettuce on the bottom of your plate or bowl, add rice, sprinkle with a little ground beef, add beans if you’re using them, add your toppings of choice and top with guacamole.

I love this meal. It’s fresh and tasty and it only takes about 30 minutes, which is about how long it would take for me to drive to Chipotle, wait in line and drive home.

The Best Health and Fitness Articles of the Week #143

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Why Getting Your Nutrition Only from Food is A Bad Idea

I always see health experts talking about how all we need to be healthy is whole foods, and while that may be true to some extent, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be even healthier with supplementation. This is a great article that discusses the problems with the whole foods society consumes today and why it’s necessary to supplement. It’s a great read, but would have been even better if he provided “the answer” to each bullet point, aside from taking a supplement, for example what’s the best way to get your water, or how to make sure your produce comes from farms who aren’t using soil-depleting practices. That would have made this article bulletproof πŸ˜‰


Recipe: The Holy Grail of Homemade Almond Milk

Here’s another recipe that I was sure I mentioned in one of my weekly updates, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’ve made this nut milk recipe before and I liked it, so I had to search the web to find it again. I’m linking to it in my update so that I don’t forget it again πŸ˜‰


7 Big Benefits of Blending, 5 Shocking But Healthy Foods You Can Safely Put In Your Blender & Does Blending Destroy Fiber?

Ben Greenfield blends egg shells and avocado seeds into his smoothies. That’s crazy! I would have never thought to blend that stuff. I have a Vitamix blender so I probably wouldn’t have any problems blending an avocado seed. I make smoothies every single day, so I’m gonna try it!


To Juice of Not to Juice. That is the Question

This article talks about why you shouldn’t purchase commercial fruit juices from the store. It also discusses juicing fruits, but I think they really should have gone in more depth about the benefits or drawbacks of juicing veggies as well. It’s good information, but I also have a problem with one of the first sentences on the page – ” in all of our six years of travel to more than 135 countries, we never witnessed a remote group of tribe that woke up and enjoyed a tall glass of juice for breakfast.” Who gives a shit!? I absolutely hate when health experts use this as an excuse for a reason why we shouldn’t be doing something. We are living in a modern world! While it might not be healthy to buy pasteurized juice, it’s quite healthy to consume homemade juices, as long as they don’t contain a bunch of fruit.


Are Any Plastics Safe? Industry Tries to Hide Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Bottles, Containers

It’s sickening that the companies who create these products spend so much money to falsely discredit research that proves how unsafe their products really are. Our only safe bet is to purchase all of our cooking and storage containers in glass or metal form.


How much omega-3 is enough? That depends on omega-6

My omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is something I’ve been concerned about for a while, but I never really actively tried to reduce the amount of omega-6 I take in. I do make sure to take supplements to increase omega-3 though.

I’m No Longer Vegan After 2 and Half Years. Here’s Why I Think Eating Meat Is Ethical

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I’ve been vegan since July 1, 2011, but as of February 4th, 2014, I’ve started including animal products back into my diet. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

I went vegan for ethical reasons, not health, which makes my decision all the more difficult.

It took a lot for me to buy meat for the first time in 2 and half years. I felt “dirty” when I was standing in the meat section looking through all the packages of meat. I felt like everyone in the store was judging me, even though I knew most of them also ate meat. I felt like I was turning my back on the vegan community and all my vegan friends. I felt terrible.

It was just as hard to take that first bite too.

I’ve been doing the research behind this article for several months and my plans to leave veganism has been in my mind for even longer than that, but I wasn’t fully ready. That is until after our baby, Illiana, was born in January.

illiana-11-days-old

My wife knew that I was considering going paleo, but we had still planned on raising a vegan child. My wife also had no plans of leaving veganism, but when she struggled to produce enough breast milk to feed Illiana, we thought a diet change might help. Not being able to produce enough milk has been the most emotionally troubling thing Michelle has ever had to deal with. She was distraught and didn’t know where else to turn. We tried all the galactagogues (natural remedies for increasing breast milk production) such as oatmeal, fenugreek, Shatavari, alfalfa pills, goats rue, and blessed thistle with no success. She has since started taking prescribed Domperidone. Needless to say, it’s been emotionally draining and quite expensive.

Food was the next step.

Health Reasons for Leaving the Vegan Diet

It’s proven that a good diet can do amazing things for the body. Dr. Katie Reid cured autism in her daughter by removing glutamate from her diet, such as from grains and pasteurized milk. Dr. Terry Wahls defeated progressive multiple sclerosis with vitamins and minerals and by replacing doctor-prescribed drugs with a paleo-inspired diet.

A healthy paleo diet can help the body fortify its defenses. It can correct hormonal issues (thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, etc.), it can prevent/correct gut damage/leaky gut syndrome, repair damaged metabolism and give your body what it needs to perform optimally. This is why we chose to move towards a paleo diet. No grains (except the occasional white rice, not brown) and no soy – just grass-fed meats, eggs from pasture-raised chickens, some organic fruit, and lots and lots of organic vegetables.

It is the benefits of a paleo diet as it pertains to hormonal balance why we felt like it could be of some help to Michelle. Hormonal issues such as PCOS and Endometriosis (PCOS can cause reduced breast milk) can be treated with proper diet.

All the health benefits of eating animal products combined contributed to my decision to change my diet. I’ve had several health problems since going vegan (although I’m not saying that a vegan diet caused those issues). I don’t know if my diet did any damage, but I want to see if a different diet could fix my health problems.

Here are some of the problems I’ve had:

  • Constant Fatigue (tired often, low energy)
  • Extreme Gas (sometimes painful)
  • Trouble Concentrating (so bad that I’ve had to visit the doctor several times)
  • Dizziness (only 2-3 times, but one time so bad that I fell)
  • Joint Pain (especially in my knees)

I’ve only been on the paleo diet for a month now and I haven’t had signs of most of the issues mentioned above, although those health problems also aren’t constant for me. They come and go, so only more time will tell if the paleo diet is working for me. The gas issue has definitely changed, though. I hardly have any gas at all now, or at least not like I did. So far, digestion issues have just gone away. It’s great.

I still believe that people can be vegan and healthy, as long as they eat good foods and supplement with things that aren’t typically found in a vegan diet, such as Vitamin K2, B12 and EPA & DHA. Vegan registered dietician, Jack Norris, has a good list of recommended supplements and Chris Kresser recently published an article about the important nutrients that are often devoid in vegan diets. I think these are both great places for vegans to start when thinking about the supplements they need to stay healthy. Being healthy is totally doable on a vegan diet, although I don’t believe vegans are as healthy as what is possible.

Do Vegans Cause More Animal Death Than Meat Eaters?

This is the question that started this whole thing. I first heard this idea from Dave Asprey who had made a claim on his blog that more animals are killed when farming soya beans and wheat via accidental tractor kills and harvesting machinery than what are killed on a local farm to feed a person for one year (one cow). That’s not to mention that wheat and soy production is a major contributor to the destruction of our topsoil.

When I first heard this, I sought out to prove him wrong. I did a ton of research but the deeper I dug, the more I started to believe that he was right.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation (paleo propaganda, I know):

“By some estimates, at least 300 animals per acre–including mice, rats, moles, groundhogs and birds–are killed for the production of vegetable and grain foods, often in gruesome ways. Only one animal per acre is killed for the production of grass-fed beef and no animal is killed for the production of grass-fed milk until the end of the life of the dairy cow.”

Although I did find an interesting comment from “Paul R.” opposing this statement on this page:

“Though I’m an enthusiastic consumer of home reared animals, I have to disagree strongly with the contention that only 1 animal per acre is killed by eating grass-fed (beef). Feed paddocks are traversed by vehicles and implements nearly as often as crop paddocks, and grass fed animals are typically fed hay or cut feeds during the winter. It is this use of machinery etc that kills the 300 animals per acre referred to on the vegetarian side, making collateral damage on both sides of the fence pretty similar.”

While Paul R. makes a great point, I don’t think the amount of hay used to feed grass-fed cows is anywhere near the same amount of wheat used for human consumption or to feed animals on industrial farms.

The big question for me here is if it’s better that I contribute to the accidental death of hundreds (maybe thousands) of animals every year or to purposely killing 1-3 animals per year.

Three deaths sound better than thousands, but is it more ethical?

The animals killed in the field have lived normal and free lives, although they might also be very young and have not lived full lives. They might be killed suddenly or perhaps have body parts chopped off causing them to bleed to death. We can’t just assume that tractor-kills result in instant and painless deaths to these little animals.

If I forgo grains and soy altogether and replace them with meat, I cause only a few deaths. Then again, these are animals that have lived very short and somewhat unnatural lives. Ethically-farmed animals are killed “humanely,” according to current standards, but their deaths are still not very humane. Or at least not as humane as I think it should be.

How to Find an Ethical and Sustainable Farm

PETA has a great article about how organic and free-range animals are often thought as humanely raised, but aren’t. What they claim in that article is true and that’s why you need to really know the farm that you’re purchasing from. Just because your food is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Here are some questions to ask when seeking out a local, humane farm.

  • Do they debeak, dehorn, castrate, or remove testicals without painkillers?
  • Are there in extremely crowded, filthy housing conditions?
  • Are animals fattened before slaughter?
  • Do they practice forced pregnancy?
  • Are baby calves removed from their mothers? (they don’t have to be. Check out what Jordan Rubin does with Beyond Organic)
  • Do they treat infections of udders?
  • Do they practice horn and testicle removal?
  • Branding?
  • Are pig tails chopped and ears notched?
  • How are animals fed in the winter?
  • How do they handle breeding?

You might not be able to get around some of the above issues, but if you find a farm that aligns with most of your concerns, they are probably a good farm to support.

Are Grass-Fed, Natural Farms Sustainable?

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Joel Salatin is an expert on sustainable and ethical farming. You can look to his practices for finding a farm that you can trust. In this interview with Salatin on Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Executive podcast, Salatin discusses the problems with industrial farms, such as how they want people to think that they are self-contained, but those farms don’t show us the miles and miles of corn, soybeans, tillage destruction, and petroleum fertilizers that go into keeping those factories going. Those farms require a ridiculous amount of energy and in the end, produce nutrient deficient meat.

But with smaller sustainable farms, the farms can exceed the production of a factory farm per square foot because everything takes place right there on the farm. There is no manure to haul because animals spread it themselves. No concrete to pour because the animals stay out in the fields. Salatin’s farm has no tillage, no plowing and they plant perennials instead of annual forages in the pastures. The energy that goes into the farm happens in the beginning but once it’s in place, it only needs to be well-managed.

While there are claims that sustainable meat is a myth, most of the info is cherry-picked to support their cause. Sure, the farms that practice sustainable methods are few, but their numbers are growing as more people become aware of their benefits.

You can find local, ethical, and sustainable farms – and the restaurants and grocers who carry their items – on EatWild.com and LocalHarvest.org.

How I Plan To Be an Ethical Meat Eater

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Based on everything that I’ve read, I’ve decided that the right choice for me is to no longer be vegan. I believe that it’s the healthiest choice and that I can do it in a way that will result in less animal death than any other diet. There’s only one other diet that might compare and that’s raw vegan, but I just don’t trust that a long-term raw vegan diet is healthy.

As I mentioned earlier, I went vegan for ethical reasons. That means that since I’m eating meat again, I need to make sure that I buy the most humane and ethical meat possible – raised, treated and slaughtered.

Let me be clear that when I say “ethical” and “humane,” I do realize that when talking about animal farming, “ethical” and “humane” are a somewhat contradictory. I’ve been vegan for over two years and have been deeply immersed and involved in the vegan community the entire time. I know that there is no real humane way to farm animals, but when I say “ethical” or “humane,” I mean in the MOST humane or ethical way currently available.

My love for animals is not gone. Being an ethical vegan isn’t just about food. It’s also about fighting against the mass-production of animals for things like clothes, belts, leather, using bugs for coloring, and so on. I will never buy products made with fur or leather and I’ll continue to buy products from vegan-friendly businesses. Whether the vegan community will still accept me, it’s hard to say, but I will always fight to prevent animal suffering.

Here’s how I plan to move forward with this lifestyle choice:

  • Buy only from sustainable, ethical farms
  • Only eat meat if it comes from an ethical, humane farm
  • Eat meat from large 100% grass-fed animals (cow and buffalo)
  • Eventually purchase a whole cow, put in the freezer and use only that. No grocery store trips.
  • Minimal amount of meat (I believe that overindulgence is destroying our environment)
  • Eating eggs from pasture-raised chickens (my stance on this might change)
  • Buy organic pasture-raised turkeys for Thanksgiving
  • If I go out to eat and the meat isn’t ethical, I will eat vegan
  • Eat only wild-caught non-endangered fish
  • Consume only organic, raw dairy (maybe)

paleo-hamburgers

Just because I’m eating meat again, doesn’t mean it’s free for all. I’m not going to eat shitty meat from Taco Bell or a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut.

If I eat any animal products they MUST be ethically-raised, otherwise I will choose to eat something vegan instead.

Sources and Additional Reading

This is everything else I read that went into my decision. There is a mixture of articles that are both for and against veganism.