Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Previous Interviews

Due to an increase in readers over the past few months and to continue providing publicity for those I've interviewed, the following is a list of interviews arranged by topic.

Economic Interviews

The education bubble is growing and may result in a worse outcome than the housing bubble.

Aurora Meneghello of Default: the Student Loan Documentary | 6-15-2011

Dr. Paul Cwik on Austrian Economics | 8-12-2011

Mark Thoma of Economist's View | 2-2-2012

Matt Kramer on Predatory Leadership | 3-1-2012

Natalia Antonova - "I Can't Afford My Student Private Loans" | 3-29-2012

Sociocultural Interviews

The U.S. marriage rate is at an all-time low, while hooking up and cohabitation have been growing in popularity. The genders seem set on pointing fingers across lines.

Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart | 11-17-2011

Stephanie Coontz on Contemporary Families | 12-20-2011

Kay Hymowitz on "Manning Up" | 1-5-2012

Dr. Thomas White on Male Leadership in Protestant Churches | 2-16-2012

Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist | 3-15-2012

Suzanne Venker: The Effects of Feminism on Millennial Women | 6-20-2012

Health Interviews

While officials love the food pyramid, some of these health experts question whether it provides a sound basis for a healthy lifestyle.

Jessica Setnick on Eating Disorders | 1-19-2012

Tom Naughton of Fat Head | 4-5-2012

Dr. Layne Norton on Health and Fitness | 4-19-2012

Christine Cronau on Saturated Fat | 4-26-2012

Dr. Carlos Munoz on Health Topics | 5-19-2012

Dr. Cate Shanahan: Food, Genes and Our Behavior | 7-6-2012

Dr. Lindsey Mathews: Food As Fuel For Your Body | 7-27-2012

Other Interviews of Interest

How does the age of fathers affect telomere length? What does telomere length tell us?

Sander Daniels of Thumbtack | 11-16-2011

Dan Eisenberg Discusses Telomere Length and Age | 6-15-2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Med School Blows Past the Education Bubble

I expect the partisans to argue about this article as far as the health care law is concerned:

Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.

However, pertinent to the education bubble, we need doctors - and medical school is not in a bubble compared to other degrees. Of course, in how economics says education is a waste, we find that supply and demand ultimately matter, something many are missing when they try to argue in favor of education. While our marketplace holds too many degrees, unfortunately, we are seeing a major gap in some professions - the main one being medical school. In fact, law school is in a huge bubble, while these same students won't consider pursuing a medical degree (an M.D. is much harder to obtain).

The Supply and Demand Problem

Unlike other degrees, we have a major supply problem with medical school. We have a massive generation aging (the Baby Boomers), we've expanded medical coverage under the health care law (increasing competition for goods and services), while we don't have the equivalent increase in students attending medical school. In other words, health care costs will continue to rise for the foreseeable future due to a lack of doctors (this factor alone will cause problems).

Another factor, contributing to this problem, is the hostility toward young men on college campuses. In too many young men in STEM fields, we see a government policy trying to attract more young women, while punishing young men with interest in science (normally, a precursor to medical school). To put it bluntly: we need doctors regardless of their gender (note the the policy to decrease help to young men in STEM fields while trying to promote young women is a move to strengthen Obama's popularity among young single women - most of whom support his candidacy).

Ideology Over Pragmatism

A college professor once told me that all problems fundamentally begin when people place an ideology over pragmatism and we see that here. We have a shortage of doctors, an aging population, and plans to expand healthcare (all on top of a growing national debt that will eventually bankrupt the country), yet don't have the fundamentals in place for these things to exist in reality. In a way, the future looks bright for those in medical school, but sadly looks dim for the rest of the country.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dr. Lindsey Mathews: Food As Fuel For Your Body

The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.

Eating For A Purpose

Many people eat for pleasure in the moment, whether the food offers a sweet or salty taste, this temporary pleasure can keep many people coming back to it time and time again. However, others view food as something to consume for fuel and health and thus evaluating what foods serve us best in those areas trumps the temporary taste in the moment. I caught up with Dr. Lindsey Mathews of BirthFIT about the food pyramid as well as issues related to nutrition.

Who is Dr. Lindsey Mathews?

Image provided by Dr. Mathews

Lindsey Mathews is a chiropractor that specializes in the biomechanics of the body and balancing the musculoskeletal system. She focuses on women’s health, prenatal and postnatal chiropractic, and pediatrics. Lindsey aspires to create purity in pregnancy in today’s modern world and empower women to become “birth fit.” She has doctorate of chiropratic. Lindsey is also trained in the Webster technique and as a D.O.N.A. doula. She is also trained in energy healing, the graston technique, kinesio taping, laser therapy, and specific myofascial therapies.

Lindsey was born in Houston, Texas. She grew up on the river in New Braunfels, Texas. During high school, Lindsey participated in cheerleading and played soccer. While in college, she played intramural soccer and maintained her gymnastic skills while working at the Center for Student Athletes at Texas A&M. She is the proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2005.

While on a medical mission trip to Tanzania, Africa, Lindsey decided that she wanted to enhance people’s lives in a natural way. Lindsey decided to become a doctor of chiropractic. She moved out to Los Angeles and completed her doctorate at the Southern California University of Health Sciences.

Lindsey worked at the International Sports Performance Institute from 2009-2012. She now sees patients at American Health and Performance Center in Beverly Hills, CA. Lindsey has started BirthFIT which is designed to empower and educate women on the natural birth process. Lindsey has treated numerous active people such as Olympic and professional athletes, Crossfit athletes and Crossfit moms, and traveled the world to be on set for demanding stunts in film and television.

Lindsey practices what she preaches. She eats a paleo/primal diet, exercises five to six times a week, gets adjusted, and takes fish oil. She currently is enrolled in and donates one weekend a month to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). She is immersed in research and is relentless in her mission to naturally improve the lifestyle of women, mothers, children, and others.

You can read more at her website at BirthFIT and find her on Twitter at BirthFit.

So, Just Had To Ask ... (Interview Section)

1. The food pyramid, the official guideline promoted by government agencies, encourages a nutritional view high in carbohydrates while recommending low protein and fat intake. What, if anything, is wrong with this view?

Many people in the world of human nutrition agree that there are many holes in this current plan. To me it feels like the government took a stab at a growing problem that was cardiovascular disease in America. I think it was an honest attempt at making a healthier nation. However, it was wild guess, at best. We now know that saturated fat and cholesterol are not the evils that we once thought. Instead, foods that drive systemic inflammation and abnormal insulin regulation are the culprits. Yet, the food pyramid remains unchanged, even with numerous amounts of research available. Why not flip the food pyramid upside down?

2. From a macronutrient perspective, how would you advise a person when it comes to fat and protein intake (I think that the current recommendations are around 50g of protein and 65g of fat per day)?

In my experience, prescribing portions, ratios, or any numbers and math in regards to nutrition steers more people away from success than otherwise. That’s not to say there is value in doing so. Nutrition tinkering is a process that never ends. I’d be open to talking about specific quantities and ratios after one’s diet is cleaned up.

I prefer to focus on increasing the quality of food such as animal source protein (i.e. grass fed beef, eggs, wild caught fish) and quality fats (i.e. avocado, coconut, olive oil, nut butters). In the past six months, I’ve really modified my diet to only include protein and fat with very little carbohydrates, mostly from fruits and vegetables. I’ve never felt better. To me everyone is different, so you, as an individual, must figure out what makes your body function optimally.

Protein and fat are essential to life. I’d advise a person to build meals around adequate protein and fat sources. Protein is needed for the immune system to function properly, for growth and repair in the body’s tissue and muscle, and also DNA replication. Fat is used for a source of heat and energy, support system for the organs, absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, and as a source of fatty acids that affect the adrenal and sex hormones production. Without adequate amounts of protein and good fat, these functions of the body are significantly impaired.

Start to think of food as a fuel for your body. I aim to consume the most nutrient dense food possible at one sitting.

3. What are some popular misconceptions about health and fitness that you would like to see addressed more in the medical community?

Somewhere along the way someone made fat the enemy, so labels boast things as “low fat” or “fat free” and pride themselves on being low calorie options. The result has been high glycemic processed foods with low nutrient density and Americans are fatter and sicker than ever before.

I’d rather see us let fat off the hook and begin fighting a war on insulin abuse and inflammation.

Editor’s Note:

Awesome stuff! And she's not alone in this statement; some of the others I've interviewed also have positive things to say about fat:

Tom Naughton of Fat Head

Dr. Layne Norton on Health and Fitness

Christine Cronau on Saturated Fat

Dr. Carlos Munoz on Health Topics

Dr. Cate Shanahan: Food, Genes and Our Behavior

The verdict seems to be similar: fat is not the enemy, but our dietary focus on too much carbohydrates - which might be increasing insulin resistance - could be a problem.

I believe the two big fitness issues are divergence from functional training and a worldview that views fitness as a Band-Aid. I think it’s a big mistake to seek out fitness as a response or a reaction to poor health, fatness, or vanity. Much in the same way that we are quick to medicated and dose our way out of poor health, fitness is too often viewed as only a rebuttal to poor health. True fitness is neither quick nor easy, and to sell it in any other fashion is a mistake in my mind that further ingrains this unfortunate worldview that I’ve described.

Today’s average person doesn’t go to the doctor until something is broken whether it be an ankle or an appendix. It blows my mind the type of investments people are willing to make outside health and wellness, i.e. jewelry, cars, vacations, pets, but when it comes to health and wellness, people are only willing to go as far as their insurance deductible.

4. How is the role of insulin sensitivity important for people and what ways can a person increase their insulin sensitivity?

This video provides a ton of useful information in such a short clip. That's why I'll continue showing it until the day I die (credit: Fat Head).

In general, majority of people have abused their insulin regulators in their body. They are numb to the regulation effects of insulin. Insulin is the major director in carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Much like a sponge getting saturated with water, people that continue to consume high glycemic index foods and processed foods are mishandling their insulin regulation in their bodies. People that have insulin sensitivity issues should completely reset their body and hormone levels. For thirty days or more, eat foods that are substantially low glycemic index foods, no grains, or artificial sugars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

College Degrees' Value Plummets

No Degree Required

As more Echo Boomers pursue their education, we are witnessing a rise in jobs that don't require degrees. In fact, they don't require high school diplomas. Case in point: the oil boom in North Dakota has created high paying jobs, but doesn't require high school graduates. A geologist friend of mine told me about these opportunities while we spoke about the declining value of education (note that these "oil jobs" usually pay about 70-80K a year - very well for a non-high school graduate). These jobs in North Dakota aren't, and won't be, the only jobs from the oil boom we are beginning to see.

Manufacturing also appears to be returning to the United States. Manufacturing jobs may require a few skills that a high school graduate would have, but college graduates are unnecessary (and with a degree to their name, these students may be entitled, thinking that they're "above" manual labor).

These two trends are continuing to drive the education bubble, as Generation Z will witness college becoming less necessary than it was in the past.

So, What Happened?

Recall in How Economics Says Education Is A Waste that something becomes devalued if everyone follows the same trend - in this case, education. Students are left with a choice - continue their meaningless education with higher degrees (and stay out of the real world, where boundaries don't always exist in the way that educational institutions tend to propose) or enter the marketplace with a degree that many other competitors already posses. In both cases, the loser is the student. In the four years required to obtain a degree, the same student may have been able to build a business, work several jobs while amassing wealth, or find an opportunity that doesn't require a degree (and might pay well, like sales). Education, like everything, comes with a major opportunity cost - and one that's increasingly rising because many other people have degrees.

Modern education is no longer expanding our production possibilities frontier. It creates massive debt, wastes time, and fosters an environment where students learn to party and have fun over actually learning through failure. No society has ever or will ever be able to continue on a route like this and succeed. And if you think the United States is succeeding, take a glance at the national debt and consider that Americans are more educated now than ever before in our history.

And yet, as Thiel mentioned in the video posted yesterday, we aren't seeing growth in technology (more information is not necessarily growth).

However, after writing the above statements, actual wealth in terms of harvesting resources in new ways (such as my geologist friend mentioned) will grow in demand. Harvesting these resources requires human-power and creates jobs. Likewise, at a certain point, manufacturing becomes better to do here in the United States (relative to the dollar's value) than out-sourcing it to other countries. In a sense, we have an office, desk-sitting bubble - we really don't need this many office jobs and thus manual labor is beginning to grow and pay well.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dr. Catherine Shanahan: Food, Genes and Our Behavior

The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.

"The food pyramid promotes health." "We are stuck with the genes we have." "We cannot affect the genes of our children." Are these assertions and assumptions true? I interviewed Dr. Catherine Shanahan (MD), who has not only written books on these topics (and more), but also assists clients with questions similar to this.

Brief Bio:

Dr. Cate Shanahan is a board certified Family Physician. She trained in genetics and biochemistry at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She practiced in Hawaii for ten years where she studied ethnobotany and her healthiest patient’s culinary habits. She has published 2 books: Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food and Food Rules: A Doctor's Guide to Healthy Eating. When not writing or working, she can be usually found on the nearest mountain biking trail. Learn more at her website: DrCate.com

1. The food pyramid tends to be promoted by the medical community, almost implying that a diet higher in fat and protein would be discouraged by medical professionals. How do you see the food pyramid as a guideline to nutritional recommendations?

The Food Pyramid was designed by lobbyists with industrial relationships rather than by scientists intending to help anyone engineer a healthy body. The notion that starches should form the base of your daily food intake and that a person on a 2000 calorie diet should get at least 250 grams of carbohydrates every day makes no physiologic sense because carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood as sugar. So as far as your body is concerned, a plate of whole grain pasta is like a pile of sugar laced with traces of fiber.

We've grown up equating sugar to energy, but research into a metabolic state called "nutritional ketosis" is uncovering incredible advantages to burning fat.

Even if you get those 250 grams of carbohydrate from supposedly healthy whole grains, few people are so active that they can afford 1000 calories of mostly empty energy. Don't forget the FDA recommends those 250 grams from whole grains in addition to several servings of fruit. Fruit, too, is mostly sugar. An average banana has about 30 grams of carbohydrate and only 1 gram of protein.

Topping off the food pyramid is more sugar! In the form of added sweeteners, which should make up 10 percent of your caloric intake according to the government. This would not be there at all without industrial lobbyists and the fact that such a ridiculous suggestion made it to print gives you some idea the degree to which the foxes have taken over our FDA henhouse.

As far as the recommendation of 2000 calories per day, this is way more than I can eat and I exercise regularly. Most women over 40 need significantly less than 2000 calories.

2. What would be some good general guidelines to follow as far as fat and protein consumption?

I'm glad you asked this question because everyone asks this question in attempt to start defining a healthy diet and it's the wrong place to start. I can't tell you how much protein you need because the protein you get from sushi, for instance, is entirely more valuable to your body than any protein you might get from something like whey powder or tofu. I can't tell you how much fat you need because that depends entirely on what kind of fats we're talking about.

We need to start instead by defining what we mean by food. Our definition should not include the words, "protein, carbs, and fat."

Dietitians and nutritionists have trained us all to talk about food in reductionist terms and now health books pretty much only use these terms. Better that our discussion about healthy eating begin using the language of farmers, ranchers and chefs--the people who have been nourishing us all along (up until the past 150 or so years). We got into the mess we're in with rampant obesity and chronic disease partly because we stopped using terms like "good soil" "fresh" and "wild" and started describing foods as "carbohydrate," "fat," or "protein." These words fool people into buying empty calories and unnatural, harmful chemicals that are likely to promote metabolic derangements leading to hormone problems, inflammatory diseases, and more.

Luke and I wrote Deep Nutrition to empower readers with the ability to constantly create and refine their own perfect diet. But to do that you need to completely revise the way you think about how to meet your body's needs for food. We advise doing away with calorie counting and struggling to find the perfect ratio of carbs to protein to fat. These terms aren’t useful because they say nothing about what really matters to your body. The following definition of food comes from from the introduction to Deep Nutrition:

Food is like a language, an unbroken information stream that connects every cell in your body to an aspect of the natural world. The better the source and the more undamaged the message when it arrives to your cells, the better your health will be. If you eat a properly cooked steak from an open-range, grass-fed cow, then you are receiving information not only about the health of that cow’s body, but about the health of the grasses from which it ate, and the soil from which those grasses grew. If you want to know whether or not a steak, or a fish, or a carrot is good for you, ask yourself what portions of the natural world it represents, and whether or not the bulk of that information remains intact. This requires traveling backwards down the food chain, step by step, until you reach the ground or the sea.
Make sure you know how to recognize processed foods disguised as health foods so you can avoid them completely--at least that's the ultimate goal. I'll talk about this at Sean Croxton's Real Food Summit.

So how should you portion out your foods?

The most important thing to do is limit your sweet tasting foods to a couple of bites or sips per day. Go for intensely flavored foods as often as you can. Don't follow any arbitrary rules like "eat every three hours" or "don't eat just before bed."

3. Genes play a major role in health and our lives, as we are born with these genes and "stuck with them" in a way. Can genes be influenced by our behavior - such as eating healthier and exercising more often?

It's natural to worry about problems that run in your family and my patients often worry because "My mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer," "My dad had a heart attack at 45," "My grandmother has Alzheimers'." I explain that, contrary to popular medical mythology, which places family history in the "unmodifiable risk factor" column, there IS something you can do to improve the health of your genes.

Our genes are changing constantly. Everything we eat, drink, breathe, and do will affect their behavior and can physically alter the chromosomes in ways that can ultimately rewrite parts of the letter code for future generations. In that sense we are all guardians of our family DNA. This means that, just as an irresponsible debutant can squander his family inheritance, or the opposite--a few smart business moves can greatly enrich a family's wealth--we are the authors of our own family history and have as much control over our health as our parents did.

If your parents got sick early in life, whatever illnesses afflicted them are the illnesses most likely to affect you--if you eat the way they did. This is why certain diseases tend to run in families. But just because your parents developed metabolic imbalance that led to their own illnesses doesn't necessarily doom you to the same fate. No matter your age or your family history, no matter what your current metabolic impairments, your genes are ready to do their part in reviving your metabolism as soon as you get serious about a healthy lifestyle. The improvements in your metabolism won't necessarily happen overnight or in one smooth continuous progression, but every day you can make the wiser choices will be a good day--one that edges your metabolism and your genes towards optimal function.

Editor's Note:

Recall the interview with Dan Eisenberg about telomere length and age of fathers and remember his advice about telomere length: "don't eat too much, eat healthy food and exercise."

4. In your experience in practice, what are three common contributors to poor health in the United States and how can we address these?

I like to keep things as simple as possible. In my view, there is one single cause.

When I was in Hawaii, my healthiest patients were those who grew up fishing, gardening, and hunting. When I was in NH, Yankee territory, some of the healthiest people there were in their 60s and 70s and over and over I heard them tell the same story "we lived on a farm and we were dirt poor but we always had good food." Now that I'm in Napa, the folks who can afford to dine out at our world-famous restaurants don't meet me in clinic; they don't need a doctor.

What all healthy people share is access to nature. Our bodies demand that "unbroken information stream that connects every cell in your body to an aspect of the natural world" and when we eat processed foods the stream is broken. The one thing that is contributing to poor health in America now, more than lack of access to healthcare, is lack of access to nature. How many kids now grow up in neighborhoods where there is no place to "go out and play?" As much as the communities we live in have been de-naturalized during the past few generations, the edible landscape has been de-naturalized as well.

Editor's Note:

Tom Naughton, the director of Fat Head, made a similar point: "When I was a kid in the 1960s, the only mothers in our neighborhood who worked outside the home were the very few who were divorced. So kids came home from school, had a quick snack, then went outside to play. Now a lot of kids go from school to some organized, indoor activity where they're kept busy until Mom or Dad picks them up after work." Note that obesity is only a recent problem as our culture has favored more sedentary activities.

100 years ago, almost all of our food was organic, local, seasonal and most farms were diversified in that they grew a variety of complementary animal and vegetable products from properly fortified soil. This complementary crop production was key, as one crop enhanced the soil for the next. Over the past century, millions of acres of small family farms have been sold to agribusiness interests. The picket fences and red barns are gone. In their place we find machine-groomed monoculture, chemically soaked, pre-industrial food products (mostly corn, soy, and wheat) that will sit on unrefrigerated shelves in the grocery store before going home to American cupboards where they will sit again for months or years without changing. That's not natural.

The fact is that there is no replacement for nature. So addressing this on a population level is a bit of a political dead end. In fact, in the midst of this chronic disease epidemic, our elected officials are taking actions to shut down the few remaining family farms that can actually grow the kinds of foods we all want to eat.

5. What's the greatest moment you've experienced since you've been a doctor?

There's nothing better than meeting someone, making a couple diet suggestions, and when they come back they're transformed and happy. I get to think "I did that." Of course they did it themselves. I just pointed them in the right direction.