The Arrow #121
Greetings from Dallas.
Got back a few days ago from a whirlwind trip to Little Rock to celebrate our youngest grandchild’s first birthday.
Robbie didn’t really understand what hit him so he was a little out of sorts. He had multiple generations of people there to celebrate. He had four generations on his mother’s side; three generations on his father’s.
Here is young, possum-haired Robbie during a happy moment on his first birthday.
The tornado that hit Little Rock a few weeks ago wreaked some major damage. It kind of bounced up and down as it crossed the city, devastating an area here and there, leaving all the spaces in between touchdowns unscathed.
MD and I weren’t specifically out looking for any damage, just driving around to a few of our favorite haunts. And as we cruised along, everything looked pretty normal until we happened to go by a tornado-ravaged area, then it looked as if a bomb had hit. Here’s a car-window photo of one such place. There are many. And you just come on them suddenly, as we did this one. Normally, you wouldn’t even be able to see this area from the road as the multitude of trees would have blocked your line of sight. Now there isn’t a tree standing.
As I say, we just came upon this unexpectedly. And a lot more like it. The only place we sought out was our old office. It’s shown below. It’s the part of the building to the right with the white pickup parked in front of it. The edge of the tornado hit it as it hopscotched across town.
With all the devastation, it’s a miracle that only one person died during all this.
On a happier note, as we always do now that we’ve discovered it, MD and I made a slight detour on our trip to Little Rock and hit our new favorite restaurant in the tiny town of Glenwood, Arkansas. The Fish Nest. Best catfish in the world. And the absolute best green tomato relish ever made.
While we were eating, I noticed all the employees were wearing Fish Nest tee shirts in a variety of colors. I asked our waitress if they were for sale or for employees only. She said they were for sale. I said I’ll take one.
So, now I am the possessor of a Fish Nest long sleeved tee shirt that I wear proudly. How much did it cost? A whopping $14.99. I love small town pricing.
Here’s a photo MD took of me admiring my new purchase in the hotel bathroom mirror.
Of course she thinks it will ultimately be hers because it is 100 percent cotton and will shrink after a few washings. It’s an XLG, so if it does, I’ll go with an XXLG next time we go through Glenwood.
Continuous Glucose Monitor Results
MD and I have had CGMs sitting around for a while. We keep forgetting to put them on. This time when we got back to Dallas, we CGM’d up to put them to the test. We have done this a couple of times before just to see what happened with our regular diet. This time we wanted to test some specific foods.
I hate to have to report it, but a) I’m not sure the data is all that valid, and b) you would have to take my word for it if it were.
Here’s what happened.
When we pulled the things out to put on, we realized they were at the very end of their use-by date. As a consequence, we wondered if we could rely on the accuracy of what they told us. We put them on at midday and everything graphed out about what we expected. Both of us stayed in the normal glucose range all day with one exception. MD did a strenuous workout and her glucose shot up, which is to be expected.
What wasn’t expected is what happened to me during the night. My glucose dropped to around 35 mg/dl and stayed close to that during about four hours from say 1 am till 5 am, when it started back up to the low 80s.
That happened pretty much every night during the two weeks I wore the thing. When we experimented with them before—three years ago—there was no severe glucose drop during the night. So, either something has drastically changed with me, or my sensor wasn’t working properly. I’m fairly low-carb adapted, which might explain the drop, but I was as low-carb adapted three years ago, and it didn’t happen then.
I wasn’t really worried about the blood glucose at 35, because low-carb adapted people can go much lower than that. In fact, later we’ll go over a nice paper showing just how low they can go.
One of the reasons I was so eager to test the CGM this time was because I had heard from multiple people that sour dough bread doesn’t raise glucose levels. An idea that just doesn’t make sense to me. Although a little of the glucose in the starch is probably turned to CO2 by the fermenting sour dough ‘mother’. So I wanted to test it for myself.
You’ve got to be careful when you’re looking for sour dough bread, because a lot of it is not real sour dough bread. It’s bread made with sour dough flavoring. If you want the real stuff, you’ve got to look for sour dough starter—aka the ‘mother’— in the ingredients.
MD found some that you have to bake yourself, which she did. I cut a one inch thick piece right out of the middle, which was one serving. According to the label, it contained 27 g carbohydrate and 1 g fiber. I ate it without butter. Just the bread. And I hadn’t had anything to eat in about four hours, so no other foods were affecting what happened. And what happened was pretty much nothing. A tiny blip in my glucose level. When you get a reading from one of these CGMs—we used the Freestyle Libra—it varies a little up and down during the day, even if you don’t eat anything. The blip from the sourdough bread looked just like one of the up and down blips seen during a non-eating period. It was that small.
Which is hard to believe given the 27 g of bread carbohydrate consumed over about a minute. Remember, white bread is what the glycemic index is based on. Subjects consumed 50 g of carbohydrate as white bread, then their glucose curves were measured. The peak of the glucose curve was set at 100. Then all the other foods tested were measured against that. If some food had a glycemic index of 50, that meant it raised blood sugar half of what an equal amount of carbohydrate of white bread would elevate it. Just for comparison’s sake, sucrose—table sugar—has a glycemic index of 65.
The sourdough bread I ate was definitely white bread. And the slice I ate was 56 grams. So my blood sugar should have gone up, but it didn’t. I don’t know why not, but I have a couple of guesses. First, the sensor didn’t work properly. Second, there may be a gut hormone, as of yet undiscovered, which some component of sourdough bread stimulates that may prompt a rapid release of insulin from the pancreas. There are a number of these gut hormones already found. Here is a talk I gave a few years ago about two of them.
When I ate a half piece of young Robbie’s birthday cake, my glucose did spike up to 142, but came back down pretty rapidly. Which was to be expected. Why didn’t the sourdough bread do almost the same?
Problem is, due to the time on the sensor running out and my glucose falling into into the 30s during the night, I’m just not sure I trust the readings.
I was planning on posting some of these today, but when our sensors ran out, everything vanished from the app. We didn’t sign up for the program simply because we both are deluged with emails, and we didn’t want the Freestyle Libra people sending us even more. Now that I know that’s the only way to save your data, I will sign up next time. We’re headed back to Montecito soon, so we’ll redo this experiment there with brand new sensors.
A Protein Power 2.0 Request for Help
We’ve engaged a company to help us come up with a book cover design for Protein Power 2.0. So far, we’ve received over 40 samples from various designers. Of those, we’ve picked six that we like. Now I’m going to throw them out to you to vote on them. These won’t be the final covers, but should we end up picking one from the list, the final cover will be close in how it looks. They are listed by number below:
Okay, here is the poll. Let us know which one you like the best. I just discovered that Substack gives me only five choices on any given poll, so I’ll divide it into two polls. Pick the number of whichever choice you like most.
I look at MD every day, and she looks at me. She doesn’t look like the picture of her in the book covers above. And she says I don’t look like my photo in the covers above. We’ll get new photos of us for the real cover. And I’ll probably post these and some others as we go along, so this won’t be your last chance to vote on what turns out to be the final cover.
I told MD I didn’t think either one of us looks as old in the flesh as we do in these photos. Her comment was that we are always called the OG at the various low-carb meetings, and that we can’t be OG unless we’re O.
The Connected Class
Unfortunately, I could never dig up the article in which “the connected class” was mentioned, so it will have to go unattributed until I do.
But I do want to give you a classic example of the connected class, with a hat tip to Don Surber for putting me onto it.
Take a look at a description of this quiet little wedding almost 12 years ago to the day.
Alissa Mary Gordon and Henry Charles Heinerscheid were married Saturday evening at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla, Calif. The Rev. John H. Finley IV, an Episcopal priest, performed the ceremony, with the Rev. Eleanor Ellsworth, also an Episcopal priest, taking part.
The bride, 27, and the bridegroom, 28, met at Harvard, from which they both graduated cum laude. In August, they will each begin studying for an M.B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Heinerscheid was until March a consultant in Boston with Tapestry Networks, a consulting firm specializing in corporate governance for Fortune 500 companies.
She is the daughter of Lisa Long Gordon and Douglas Bruce Gordon of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. The bride’s father is a lawyer in San Diego.
Rancho Santa Fe is an enclave of the extremely wealthy and well connected just north of San Diego, California.
You can read the description of the rest of the parties to this lovely wedding here.
If you click the link above, you’ll find this wedding in La Jolla, California was reported in the New York Times. As Surber wrote in his column, if you’ve done anything of distinction in your life, you might earn a New York Times obituary, but a wedding mention is a whole ‘nother world.
That’s the very definition of connected.
As is the part where they met at Harvard, where both of them graduated cum laude. And both are headed off to Wharton for their MBAs.
Remember that I have written about the connected class being dumb as dirt. Well, I may have misspoken there. What I really meant was that those of that class are totally out of touch with the average person. Which leads them to make decisions that seem hunky dory to their connected class, but which strike the average person as moronic.
Which is why government is so screwed up. It is run by the connected class.
You may have recognized the name of the bride above. Alissa Mary Heinerscheid nee Gordon. She was formerly employed by Anheuser-Busch and may still be, but has taken a leave of absence. As has the man who hired her. And maybe even the person who hired him.
She single handedly caused a $5B (with B) loss of value of Anheuser-Busch as a consequence of her hiring choices of spokesperson for the Bud Light brand.
Said she as reported by Newsweek:
“I am a businesswoman. I had a really clear job to do when I took over Bud Light, this brand is in decline. It has been in decline for a very long time. And if we do not attract young drinkers to come and drink this brand, there will be no future for Bud Light.
“So I had this super clear mandate. It's like, we need to evolve and elevate this incredibly iconic brand. What I brought to that was a belief in, okay, what does evolve and elevate mean? It means inclusivity. It means shifting the tone. It means having a campaign that's truly inclusive and feels lighter and brighter and different and appeals to women and to men.”
Take a look at a couple of ads that really made the Budweiser brand.
Do you think the demographic these ads appealed to are the same demographic the Dylan Mulvaney ads appealed to?
More importantly, from an advertising perspective, do you think the people in this demographic, who drink the lion’s share of Bud Light, might be offended to learn their favorite beverage is now being promoted by a transexual?
It’s hard to imagine the cleverness built into these ads. Back when the first one above was ubiquitous, I was playing in a baseball league with mainly blue collar guys. Every time any of them were asked a question along the lines of Are you starting at first base tonight? The answer was invariably Yes, I am. In the same cadence and tone the guy uses in the first ad above. It really struck a chord with that group.
The game in advertising is to maintain your demographic and expand it. Not to destroy your current demographic by appealing to a totally different one.
If you’re a member of the connected class, the discussion of ESG and transgender rights are a part of your everyday conversation. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the transgender community represents only a fraction of a percent of the population. But not in your mind. In your mind they’re everywhere. And so you see nothing wrong with using one to advertise a beer that heretofore has been promoted as a man’s beer. Then you wonder what happened when it blows up in your face.
This is the group who wants to lead the country. Are you worried yet?
Speaking of ESG and diversity, take a look at this photo of Ms. Heinerscheid’s team at Anheuser-Busch. Other than a lot of young women, I don’t see a lot of diversity.
I pulled this from the tweet linked below. Ms. Heinerscheid is identified with the red arrow.
More on the Connected Class
A week or so ago Bari Weiss’s Substack had a piece by Yeonmi Park, a young woman who, along with her mother, escaped from North Korea. Unfortunately, they escaped through China, where Yeonmi witnessed her mother being raped, and where she, herself, ended up as a sex slave. She ultimately made her way to the US, where she now tries to raise awareness of the horrible conditions under which people live in North Korea and the horrors that await them if they escape through China. Her stories are gut wrenching.
Her story is behind a paywall, but I’ll post enough of it to give you the flavor of what it’s all about. Bari’s substack is one of the many I pay for and is well worth the price.
Younmi wrote a book a few years ago about her escape. The notoriety of the book about her horrific struggle to escape first North Korea then China is apparently a real page turner. I’ve got the book, but haven’t read it yet. Based on her book, she has been invited to speak to many, many groups about her experiences.
Her article on Bari’s Substack tells about her interactions with the connected class.
She is often asked to speak to groups whose stated agenda is to help women. Whenever she does speak to these groups, the audience is usually left in tears. They all surround her and tell her how courageous she is to have done what she did. And they offer to help. Then she never hears from them again.
She writes about how when she started college at Columbia she was swept up in liberal politics. She read the mainstream media and had long discussions with her classmates. She loathed Donald Trump. (I don’t know how she feels about him now—the article doesn’t say.) But based on a few interactions with the connected class, she realizes she has been almost as subsumed with groupspeak and groupthink as she was in North Korea.
It took a long time for me to start thinking for myself, rather than within the boundaries set for me. For the first fourteen years of my life, which is when we learn how to think, there was no thinking for me to do. What kind of haircut should I get? That was a decision made only by the regime. What kind of music should I listen to? The regime decided for us. What kinds of books and movies? The regime, again. There was no opportunity to develop critical human faculties like judgment, imagination, or taste, which of course is the objective of every dictatorial regime.
North Korea is so successful in this respect that once I was finally free in South Korea, I was crippled by the expectation and even the thought that I had to make decisions and think for myself. Which jeans should I wear? I wished someone else would pick for me. Where should I eat dinner? Can’t someone else decide? In the first several months I lived in Seoul, I felt overwhelmed even by small, meaningless decisions like these—so much so that at one point, I remember thinking that if I could be guaranteed a supply of frozen potatoes and an exemption from execution for having defected, I’d like to go back to North Korea.
It was not the education I received at Columbia, or following the American press, that helped me finally break out of this habit. It was reading old books. Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy was one; George Orwell’s collected writings were another. I started to believe, as I still do now, that the only way to think for yourself is to ignore the mainstream media, and largely forget the daily news cycle, and connect instead with the great minds of the past, who know all of our problems better than we do ourselves.
There is a reason why the great books of Western civilization are all banned in dictatorships. Before my father’s arrest, when I was seven or eight years old, I remember that one night in our home, he was sitting with a small glass bottle with cooking oil and a cotton thread inside, which he ignited with a lighter to turn it into a reading lamp. My father was holding a bundle of bound pages with no front or back cover. When I asked him what it was, he said it was part of a book about North Korean soldiers that were captured by the South during the Korean War. I remember him telling me then that the benefit of reading books, if you could find them, was that you could learn common sense, which you don’t get taught in classrooms, because they are filled with propaganda. [My bold emphasis]
She discusses how she was approached by Jeff Bezos (who had approached her before, but she didn’t respond, because she didn’t know who he was) to attend a meeting called Campfire to be held in, of all places, the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, where our own son got married.
Previous attendees of Bezos’s campfires she discovers were among others “Neil Armstrong, Bette Midler, Walter Mosley, Neil Gaiman, Robert Sapolsky, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and Billie Jean King.”
Bezos arranges to have her picked up in a private jet from an airport in New York. She discusses how beautiful the plane is and how the food and drink were provided in obscene amounts. The plane was a bit delayed because of a late passenger, who turned out to be Harvey Weinstein, his wife, kids, and nanny. Yeonmi did not know who he was, but her fiancé (also on the trip) told her he was a famous movie producer.
She gets there and checks into her hotel room.
The hotel room I was given was like a scene out of science fiction for me. Growing up in Hyesan, our faucet didn’t have a warm water option; cold water came out of it only a handful of times in my life. Nor did we have in our home any space we might have called a “bathroom.” We always washed our faces with the same water we used to wash any food we had, which was the same water we used to wash our rug and clean the floor. For all other matters, we just went outside.
The next day, the talks began.
On the first day of the conference, Harvey Weinstein gave a speech to everyone gathered there about his life: how he came from nothing, and how now, so improbably successful, he was giving back by helping disadvantaged people. I was deeply touched by his remarks. He is not from a wealthy family and had no connections to powerful people, but he did have grit and determination, and worked hard to become one of the most influential men in one of the most significant and culturally central industries in America, if not the world. As I listened to him speak, I thought his story was not all that dissimilar to my own; at least the context was.
It was America that made his story possible, the land of opportunity where anyone who was willing to work hard and persevere could succeed, even a nobody from Flushing, Queens, the son of Polish immigrants; even a dirt-poor refugee from North Korea who barely spoke English. But then Weinstein went on to share a story about how he’d tricked a wealthy man from Saudi Arabia into giving money to one of his humanitarian causes: the Saudi businessman wanted to meet a famous actress, and Weinstein arranged for her to come to his hotel room, where the Saudi was waiting. Weinstein assured the audience that his wife was accompanying the actress, so everything was kosher. On this sunny California morning in the fall of 2016, when Clinton’s victory was all but assured and Weinstein was nothing but a genius who made the dreams of young actresses come true, everyone clapped and hooted passionately, and later that day enjoyed discussing their pleasant surprise at what a hero Weinstein was.
Several years later when ol’ Harv got caught up in the #MeToo movement, Yeonmi couldn’t believe it. He had been such an inspirational speaker. She reached out to someone she had kept in contact with from the Campfire meeting and “asked if she’d known about Weinstein’s behavior before it became public, she said that of course she knew—everyone did. Did I not?”
Yeonmi’s turn to speak comes the next day.
I then spoke about my journey from North Korea. By then I’d gathered that this was a less-than-serious gathering of the elites, where a greater number of delicious cocktails would be consumed than global problems solved, but I decided not to spare them any details. I described the starved and dead bodies I saw on the streets in Hyesan, and the risks my mother and I took to find a bowl of rice. I told them that one of the first things I witnessed after crossing the frozen Yalu River into China was the rape of my mother, that she was sold into sexual slavery, and that by the time we left China, I’d been raped by the broker who purchased me and suffered attempts by others, mostly human traffickers.
I told this eminent audience about the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans still enslaved in China, many of them women and girls enduring the same treatment that my mother and I suffered. It was evidently not the speech they were expecting. I could see looks of disbelief and sheer horror on the faces of many of those present. Jeff Bezos, for his part, looked to be in tears.
After I was done speaking, and the audience ventured a unanimous but uncertain applause, Bezos raised his hand and asked a question that I still remember vividly. “What kept you going against all the odds, and convinced you not to give up hope?”
She tells the group it was her father who instilled in her the urge to keep going.
After my speech, it finally happened: a few actors, businesspeople, and politicians came up to me and asked what I wanted them to ask—how they could help. I told them what it would cost to buy the freedom of an enslaved North Korean girl in China, but that China has a very sophisticated and impenetrable system of human trafficking, and so the single most effective thing they could do was to raise awareness about the Communist Party’s sponsorship of the modern-day holocaust in North Korea, and about the modern-day slave trade of North Koreans in China.
The people who only a moment before had looked at me pleadingly for advice on how they could help people like my mother, still stuck on the other side of the Pacific, now looked at me again like I’d come from another galaxy, or else like a naive little girl who didn’t understand the complexity or importance of China to their livelihoods. Their interest in me seemed to recede quickly, as did mine in Campfire.
She continues to describe similar outcomes at the Met Gala she was invited to along with a handful of other such occasions populated with the connected class. All with the same results. Tears, offers to help, then a good ignoring.
For them, it’s more than enough to be emotionally overcome momentarily. Then it’s on to other things.
I urge you to pay the five bucks and read the entire essay. It’s incredible. And enlightening. As I wrote above, these are the folks who want to run things. And believe they are entitled to.
William Briggs and Broken Science
Here is the video of a speech William Briggs gave at Hillsdale College a couple of weeks ago on how research has gone off the deep end. It’s a sad state of affairs, but his sense of humor makes it not so sad to watch.
Since so few people actually watch these videos, I’m going to briefly summarize what Briggs talked about so we can refer to it in the future.
I’ll skip over the first part in which he talks about the replication crisis science is enmeshed in today. And how many papers have been shown to be out and out wrong, yet they are still out there as part of the scientific literature. Waiting to ensnare the unwary.
The main part of his talk is about how people create shoddy results.
He starts with the easiest to understand and finishes with the more difficult.
The goal of science is to show or prove causality. You want to know whether X causes Y or whether it doesn’t. If you can prove X causes Y, then you’ve achieved something.
But it is often difficult to prove X causes Y, so you default to other ways to make it seem that you’ve proven X causes Y, but you really haven’t.
X is not measured, but a proxy for X is, and everyone forgets it’s a proxy.
He lists an example of how small particulate matter is thought to cause heart disease. But this small particulate matter is itself never measured. Some proxy is such as living in a house by a dusty road.
He also discusses a hilarious study concluding that folks who attend 4th of July parades as children are more likely to grow up to be Republicans. The attendance of 4th of July parades is X. Y is growing up to be a Republican.
Problem is, what the researchers looked at was rainfall in the area where the subjects lived years before when they were kids. If it did not rain on 4th of July, they assumed the subject went to a parade. If it did rain, they assumed the opposite.
They used causal language: “experiencing Fourth of July in childhood increases the likelihood that people identify with and vote for the Republican party as adults.”
Thus San Francisco, which rarely sees rain in July, should be a hotbed of Republicanism.
The fallacy there is that there are probably few 4th of July parades in San Francisco.
2. Y is not measured, but a proxy for Y is, and everybody forgets the proxy.
Briggs uses the example of masks. I have a better one.
X is saturated fat. Y is heart disease. You often hear lipophobes say consuming saturated fat causes heart disease. But there really isn’t a practical way to test that without spending years and years feeding people saturated fat and waiting to see if they have heart attacks. Instead they use a proxy for Y. That proxy is LDL-cholesterol.
There is no conclusive evidence that LDL-cholesterol causes heart disease, but the lipophobes all believe it does. There is evidence that eating saturated fat brings about an increased LDL in some subjects, so by using LDL as a proxy for heart disease, we hear that saturated fat causes heart disease.
3. Attempting to quantify the unquantifiable.
Briggs uses the example of happiness. He describes a mock experiment in which he asks how many people in the audience to his right are happy. He counts hands. Then he asks those on the left. Not so many raise their hands.
He then hypothesizes that those people sitting on the left of the speaker at conferences are less happy than those on the right.
He describes how a thesaurus describes “happy”.
“accepting, accidental, ad rem, adapted, addled, advantageous, advisable, applicable, apposite, appropriate, apropos, apt, at ease, auspicious, beaming, beatific, beatified, becoming, beery, befitting, bemused, beneficial, benign, benignant, besotted, blessed, blind drunk, blissful, blithe, blithesome, bright, bright and sunny, capering, casual, cheerful,”
and even more.
How can the people raising their hands know the precise definition of happy they’re committing to?
Then Briggs does the experiment one more time, gets the same result, which validates his methodology. And findings.
Sounds ridiculous. And is. But many studies in the soft sciences are done this way.
4. Mistaking correlation for causation.
We all know about this one. Briggs has some hilarious examples.
5. Multiplication of uncertainties.
This one is kind of complex. Briggs uses climate change as an example. You should watch him explain this one. I’ve queued his talk to this very point right here if you want to watch, which I highly recommend.
In short, we can’t even predict the weather, much less what the climate is going to be doing in a decade. There are too many complexities and too many uncertainties to each complexity. Which make overall prediction impossible. And models next to useless.
Scientism is the belief that science has all the answers. And that following the science is always good.
Not always so.
Science shows us how to use genetics to get the characteristics we want in cattle, chickens, and pigs. It’s called selective breeding, and we’re good at it.
If we apply it to humans, it’s called eugenics, and it’s abhorrent. Yet it is The Science. If we want a better line of people…
7. The Deadly Sin Of Reification: Mistaking models for Reality.
Models alway tell us what the makers of the models want them to tell us. There is way more to this, but then we’ll be getting into metaphysics. If you’re interested, listen to what Briggs has to say on it.
Just remember these seven ways things can mislead you in studies.
With that, let’s look at a study of the kind we see all too much of these days.
A Typically Terrible Study
This one came across my email a few days ago. This is the press report from MD Edge.
Poor diets account for most newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes cases worldwide, a new analysis has found.
More specifically, the modeling study showed that roughly 14 million cases of type 2 diabetes – or 70% of total type 2 diabetes diagnoses in 2018 – were linked with a poor diet, found Meghan O’Hearn, a doctoral student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, and colleagues. The study was published online in Nature Medicine.
The results also indicate that the greatest burdens of type 2 diabetes were accounted for by excess wheat intake and refined rice (24.6%), excess processed meat consumption (20.3%), and inadequate whole-grain consumption (26.1%). Factors such as drinking too much fruit juice and not eating enough nonstarchy vegetables, nuts, or seeds, had less of an impact on new cases of the disease, the researchers determined.
If you look at the actual study, you find this chart.
This was published in Nature frigging Medicine, a prestigious journal.
One of my recurrent gripes is the idea of whole grains. Have you ever in your life heard a nutritional recommendation (from a non-low-carb source) that didn’t include plenty of whole grains? I haven’t.
What is a whole grain?
I learned about whole grains when I was a kid in the back of my grandfather’s pickup in the Ozarks.
He had hauled a load of wheat somewhere, then had come back to go gather eggs from his many hen houses scattered across his farm. I always liked to ride in the back of his pickup when he made his rounds. I found a big stalk of wheat with its head full of kernels. I knew bread was made from wheat, so I figured if I tried to eat the grains, it would be kind of like eating bread.
I shucked off the grains, popped them in my mouth, and started chewing. And chewing, And chewing.
I masticated the wheat kernels into a white, slippery glob of I don’t know what. It didn’t have the consistency of chewing gum, but it was chewy. I kept thinking it would ultimately kind of dissolve and I could swallow it. It never did. I contemplated swallowing it, but in the end, I spat it out.
What made it chewy and cling together was, of course, the gluten. But it was the whole grain I was trying to eat.
What do the people who write these papers think whole grains are?
If you took kernels of wheat (the whole grain) and put them in a bowl with a little cream and sugar, you would get the sweetened version of what I got in the back of the pickup. It’s inedible.
Whole grains have to be processed to be edible.
If they are processed, are they still whole grains? What is the working definition of whole grain? Does anyone have one?
Whenever I hear or read anyone telling me to eat whole grains, I know they’re an idiot. Or, at best, simply ignorant.
So, if the whole grains have to be processed to be edible, how do they differ from the refined grains that are bad, at least as listed in the chart above? And how much do grains need to be processed to get beyond the sticky, gluteny sludge I was trying to chew?
The above paper suffers from the multiplication of uncertainties. Just take a look at it. 187 countries all over the world, all filled with people who have different availabilities of food and different tastes. How can you possibly come up with a chart like the one above that in any way approaches being accurate.
According to the chart, processed red meats are almost as bad as refined grains (which are almost as bad as whole grains (whatever those are) are good).
People who write these kinds of papers don’t understand that processing meats makes the protein in them more accessible. Protein malnutrition is a major problem in developing countries. These countries also often have a diabetes problem due to high carb intake, because carbs are cheap. And often highly refined. So we’re to deprive them of their processed meats, while giving them whole grains. Jesus wept.
How Low Can You Go?
I just read an almost unbelievable paper by Ernst Drenick et al done at UCLA and the Veterans Hospital in LA in 1972. I doubt any IRB would let this study be done today.
Here is the set up.
The researchers studied obese males weighing from 240-403 pounds by giving them insulin tolerance tests and measuring a number of parameters.
An insulin tolerance test involves injecting subjects with 0.1 to 0.2 units of insulin per kg body weight. We used to do this some in our clinic, especially when we were working with Ron Rosedale. He loved to do these tests.
You insert an indwelling catheter into the arm of the patient, so you can monitor glucose every few minutes without having to stick them over and over. You give them the dose of insulin—we always used 0.1 unit per kg. If the patient’s blood sugar drops to about half of what it was at the start, then we considered that patient to be insulin sensitive. If it didn’t drop much—which was often the case—we knew the patient was insulin resistant.
After a couple of months of the low-carb diet, we would repeat the procedure. If the blood sugar fell significantly more than it did the first time, we knew we were making progress in treating insulin resistance.
Sometimes patients experienced hypoglycemic symptoms during this test. We could quickly give them a bit of glucose to treat the symptoms, if needed.
In this study, the obese males underwent these insulin tolerance tests, but instead of just checking glucose levels, the researchers checked insulin levels and catecholamine levels. The catecholamines are a measure of metabolic stress.
When first the subjects were tested, they experienced a drop in glucose (which kind of surprised me as many of our patients didn’t. The paper said they used 0.1-0.2 units per kg. Maybe they did the 0.2 units.
As the blood glucose fell, the catecholamines in these subjects increased. Which told the researchers the bodies of these subjects read this rapid decrease in glucose as a stressor.
After these initial tests, the subjects were fasted (apparently) in the hospital for 60 days, which resulted in an average weight loss of 73 pounds.
After weight loss, the tests were again administered. The dosage of insulin was decreased in an amount relative to the amount of weight lost.
In these subjects the blood glucose dropped precipitously. In one case down to 9 mg/dL! With no symptoms of hypoglycemia. Which is absolutely incredible. Almost unbelievable.
At the same time, urinary catecholamines did not increase. The body wasn’t reading this precipitous drop in glucose as a stressor. Really incredible.
Since these subjects had been fasting, they were basically consuming a high-fat diet, with the fat being drawn from their own fat cells. They were definitely low-carb adapted.
The graphic below shows the glucose changes from before and after the fast.
These are averages from nine subjects.
The average starting glucose before the fast and weight loss was ~103 mg/dL.
After the fast it was ~83 mg/dL. A significant difference.
The real difference shows up in what the glucose levels fell to after the fast as compared to before.
Before they dropped to ~53 mg/dL, which surprised me. I wouldn’t have thought they would have dropped that much based on my own experience with the test. It shows these folks did have some halfway decent level of insulin sensitivity even before they fasted.
After the fast, glucose dropped to about 35. Which you would think would be symptomatic. But these patients weren’t symptomatic as evidenced by their lack of conscious symptoms and by a non-response in catecholamines.
It all goes to show that going on a low-carb, high-fat diet, even if it’s your own fat, will bring about a massive increase in insulin sensitivity.
Video of the Week
You’ve probably never heard of Chris Smithers. Somehow MD and I started listening to him years and years ago. MD especially enjoyed his music.
One day we were driving home from a restaurant where we had just had dinner, and MD screams out LOOK!!! She had seen a sign that said Chris Smithers in person here tonight. She practically grabbed the wheel from my hand and turned us into the little strip mall where he was playing.
We got in just a few minutes before he started up and had front row seats. We also had back row seats if we wanted them. Almost no one was there, so we had as near to a private concert as one could have. And some conversation with him after. A really nice guy. I hated that the turnout for him was so low.
He is a great guitar picker and has some kind of wooden contraption [it’s called a board, the bride interjects] on the floor that he stomps on to provide the percussion.
That’s about it for today. Keep in good cheer, and I’ll be back next Thursday. The trip to Little Rock kind of threw me off my schedule,. so I didn’t get to the post full of links as I had intended. Let’s see if I can pull it off this next week.