Monday, September 27, 2010

Saturated Fat Part II

Journal Entry Sept. 27, 2010: Weight = 172.8 lbs (weight up and Saints down, a bad combination); Coinage = $3.01, 81 pennies, 3 nickels, 8 dimes, 5 quarters; one glass bottle; two ground scores including a working toaster (it will need a few scrubs.)

Journal Entry Sept. 26, 2010: Weight = 172.0 lbs; Coinage = $1.33, 43 pennies, 1 nickel, six dimes, 1 quarter; 6 glass bottles; 2 ground scores.

Feature Entry: Saturated Fat Part II

The MoneyWalker is doing a series of posts concerning the role of fat within the diet of a person that is losing weight, maintaining weight, and/or seeking to prevent diseases. The last post featured one of the current counterpoint bariatric MDs that advocate diets low in carbohydrates and liberal with saturated fats allowed. In juxtaposition to his position were views that are more conventional. We continue the sparring in this entry.

Conventional Wisdom (CW): Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. of Mayo Clinic: Unquestionably, an excess intake of saturated fat is linked to weight gain. This is because a fat gram contains more than twice the amount of calories as a protein gram – 9 calories versus 4 calories.

Michael R. Eades, MD (Eades): Improved Liver: “Adding saturated fat to the diet has been shown in medical research to encourage the liver cells to dump their fat content. Clearing fat from the liver is the critical first step to calling a halt to middle-body fat storage.”

CW: Zeratsky of Mayo Clinic: The world of nutrition has long since known the link between dietary fat and weight gain. Unsaturated fat can be a trusted ally in the fight against weight loss. Understanding how it differs from saturated fat helps demystify the stigma of unsaturated fats – a stigma that should be reserved for its unhealthy cousin, saturated fats.

Eades: Saturated Fat facilitates healthy lungs: “For proper function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin layer of what’s called lung surfactant. The fat content of lung surfactant is 100 percent saturated fatty acids.”

CW: Center for Disease Control and the Food Pyramid: Of the seven guidelines from the food pyramid for healthy living is the admonition for “eating foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Eades: Eliminating or severely limiting saturated fats impair Proper nerve signaling: “Certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil, function directly as signaling messengers that influence the metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin.”

CW: American Institute for Cancer Research: “When AICR's expert international panel reviewed all the scientific findings relating to fat and cancer, they found a pattern suggesting that diets high in animal fat and/or saturated fat possibly increase the risk of lung, colorectal, breast, uterine and prostate cancers. We also know that saturated fat contributes to cardiovascular disease risk.”

Eades: ” Strong immune system: Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Human breast milk is quite rich in myristic and lauric acid, which have potent germ-killing ability. But the importance of the fats lives on beyond infancy; we need dietary replenishment of them throughout adulthood, middle age, and into seniority to keep the immune system vigilant against the development of cancerous cells as well as infectious invaders.
So how should we build our meals, with or without saturated fats. As one news network likes to brag, “Fair and balanced, you decide.” The MoneyWalker will weigh-in on the issue in a future blog.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

“In this corner, weighing…” Eating Saturated Fat versus Prevailing Conventional Wisdom

Journal Entry, Sept. 24, 2010: Weight = 172.6 lbs.; Coinage = $1.40, 30 pennies, 1 dime, 4 quarters (one supper find of two quarters in a telephone stand); 2 glass bottles; one ground score.

Journal Entry, Sept. 25, 2010: Weight = 172.0 lbs; Coinage $1.42, 42 pennies, 7 nickels, 4 dimes, 1 quarter: 4 glass bottles, 2 ground scores including a recyclable patch work quilt (even as I type it is the washer soaking after being carefully treated with a generous amount of Ms. MoneyWalker’s stain removal. She won’t be happy.)

Feature Entry: “In this corner, weighing…” Eating Saturated Fat versus Prevailing Conventional Wisdom

It is undoubtedly true that America has an obesity problem and that overeating and low exercise are the leading contributing factors. As for diet much has been written about the dangers of fat, especially saturated fat. Yet, all nutritionist agree that some fat in the diet is necessary for good health.

The MoneyWalker is often in counterpoint with those that provide conventional wisdom concerning so-called exercise and nutrition “best practices.” For the next few paragraphs, conventional experts will duke it out with a controversial bariatric expert, Michael R. Eades, MD.

Conventional Wisdom (CW): From Spark:”Our bodies expect us to eat balanced meals containing complex carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables, healthy fat, and goodies every now and then.” Unhealthy fat is defined as saturated fat and trans fat.

Eades: You have no doubt heard the drumbeat of current medical thinking on fats: some fats are now good for you—olive oil and canola oil*—but others are bad for you—trans fats and all saturated fats. That’s an improvement from the old cry, but far from the truth.

CW: From the editors of EHow: Decrease your intake of saturated and trans fats, as these modified products can increase your risk of heart disease.

Eades: [I am not worried] that these foods will increase your risk of heart disease and raise your cholesterol. In fact, we encourage you to make these important fats a regular part of your healthy diet. Why? Because humans need them and [later I will provide a few reasons why.]

CW: Food Pyramid - Using the food pyramid, Food groups">From Science Encyclopedia, we recommend that individuals should be “eating foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.”
Eades: [I have no fear of] “fatty cuts of meat, chicken with the skin, bacon, eggs, butter, coconut oil, organic lard, and heavy cream in the plan.”

CW: From Science Encyclopedia: Some fats are worse than others. The intake of saturated fats should be limited because they raise blood cholesterol levels which increases the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal and dairy products, and coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils. Saturated fats should not contribute more than 10% of the daily calories.

Eades: Though you may not have heard of it on the front pages of your local newspaper, online news source, or local television or radio news program, saturated fat plays a couple of key roles in cardiovascular health. The addition of saturated fat to the diet reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein (a)—pronounced “lipoprotein little a” and abbreviated Lp(a)—that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease. Currently there are no medications to lower this substance and the only dietary means of lowering Lp(a) is eating saturated fat. Moreover, eating saturated (and other) fats also raises the level of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. Lastly, research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat lose the most weight.

CW: Science Encyclopedia: Unsaturated fats are a healthier choice and include olive, peanut, canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, cottonseed, and soybean oils.

Eades: saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone? According to one of the foremost research experts in dietary fats and human health, Mary Enig, Ph.D., there’s a case to be made for having as much as 50 percent of the fats in your diet as saturated fats for this reason. That’s a far cry from the 7 to 10 percent suggested by mainstream institutions.

…To be continued.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kōan Walking and Problem Solving

The Theory of Relativity

Journal Entry, September one to September 17, 2010: Average coinage find for the last 17 days = $1.43; Average weight for last 17 days = 171.75 pounds.

Journal Entry, September 20, 2010: Weight = 172.2 lbs; Coinage = $2.33, 63 pennies (one wheat), 1 nickel, 9 dimes, 3 quarters (one super find in a parking lot consisting of 2 quarters, a nickel and two pennies); Glass bottles retrieved = 8; Ground Scores = 3 (one, a 25 cent gum ball machine that was promptly opened by picking the lock, retrieving the money (a total of one penny), cleaning all parts both inside and outside, painting the antique cast iron “carousel” base, and reassembling. The trophy now holds a featured spot in the MoneyWalker’s herrenzimmer.

Feature Entry: Kōan Walking and Problem Solving

A friend that knows well both the personality of the MoneyWalker and about the orthodoxy of what it means to be a Southern Baptist once remarked to me: “You are not a Southern Baptist but a Zen Baptist.” I thought of his remark after reading Gretchen Rubin’s blog about happiness . This link is to her recent comment about Pablo Picasso Paints Fakes? -- A Koan about Creativity. Being a Zen Baptist is not the same as being a Zen Buddhist so I had to look up the term “koan.”

A kōan (most in the West ignore the correct spelling) consists of a story, a question, or a statement whose understanding cannot be understood by rational thinking but is accessible through intuition. Zen Buddhists would use the word heart as in “accessible through the heart.” In Western thinking kōans are often reduced to mere riddles, puzzles, or meaningless statements. However, in Zen practice a kōan requires a thoughtful response. Kōans are used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy if not the futility of logical reasoning.” To a Zen Buddhist, “doubt is strength.”

Kōans are often presented as paradoxical poems or anecdotes in a question format. Yet there is no solution. A devout listener when presented the Kōan will meditate for meaning outside of logical thought processes. Kōan’s then, although not riddles, will initially appear as a riddle to the mind. In the case of Picasso, an art dealer asks him to authenticate a Picasso painting. Picasso said “It is a fake.” Later the art dealer returned with another painting. “It too is a fake,” said Picasso. Perplexed, the dealer replied, “But I was with you as you painted this very article.” In which Picasso replied, “I often paint fakes.” While this example is not a true Kōan, it is Kōan-like. This rather simple example for me relates to why 21 days have passed since my last blog. The blogs were all starting to feel redundant; whatever the title or theme of the blog, I felt as I had written it all before.

As for kōan walking, Robert Baker Aitken (aka, Roshi Aitken) in his book The Practice of Perfection: The Parameters from a Zen Buddhist Perspective, suggest that the practice of using kōans during meditation is to practice mindfulness, the practice of noticing what you are doing. He uses walking to illustrate his point. Walking, for efficiency, is below the awareness level and the very act is controlled by autonomic brain/body processes. Mindfulness for walking is the act of bringing the subconscious to consciousness—to be aware and noticing the "heel, foot, ball, toe action as you walk." To consciously process the feeling of all aspects of the walking behavior is kōan walking at its simplest. One may say, “So what?” Thus, a critical part of utilizing kōans for meditation is to practice mindfulness, to delve deeply into the obvious with questions that have no logical answers.

Kōan questioning is related to kōan problem solving. “So what, what?” is a kōan. As we walk, the mind must be occupied with something and often the mindfulness of that something takes the form of a problem. Kōan-like problem solving contains at least three stages according to John Tarrant in his blog essay “The Power of Koan Practice.” First, “contain the problem.” In the MoneyWalker’s current crisis of allowing three weeks to pass without writing a blog, containment meant getting back to the basics. Note the specificity of the above Journal entry. Recently, I had gotten away from what journals provide, a written history of the specifics of a practice, in this case walking for fitness and using the excitement of finding money and “ground scores” for external motivation to persevere. Thus, by being specific, I began the process of containing the problem.

Second, Tarrant would say, “focus upon it.” This entire blog about kōans is allowing me to focus on why I have lost the motivation to write two or three blogs a week about walking, health, and motivation. In truth, trying to contain the problem and focusing on a solution occurred weeks ago, even before my last blog of August 31st had been written. My focus has many prisms one of which is “Why I am writing a blog that contains, to me at least, such a cerebral requirement for something as straightforward as walking for health?” Don’t ask me, I’m still in focus mode.

Third, in Tarrant's tutorial is “allow its solution to emerge.” Tarrant says, “With a problem, listen to the mind’s conversation before trying to solve it.” A great turn of phrase is that thought to “listen to the mind’s conversation.” Kōan walking is a perfect time to listen to the mind’s conversation.

Well, it is well past time for the MoneyWalker to cut his losses and turn off the word processor. But before leaving, a great walk need not be a kōan walk, but when the MoneyWalker has a problem there is nothing better than taking a walk to contain the problem, focus on it, and let a solution present itself.

Perhaps kōan walking leads to good karma whatever that might mean