Why Do I Eat Grass-Fed Beef?
Over the years, there has been much debate regarding the health benefits vs. dangers of eating beef. But, it is vital that any discussion include the source of the beef, grass-fed vs. conventional. This distinction is necessary since these sources lead to radically different outcomes for our health.
In comparison to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef has many benefits:
The following links explain the above summary in greater detail:
Joe and I rarely eat regular beef. But, we also limit grass fed beef meals to 2 or 3 per week, since it is recommended that we limit consumption of red meat to 12 to 18 ounces per week. Regarding portion size, I eat about 4 ounces of protein per serving, whereas Joe eats about 6 ounces per serving. People who consume more than 2 red meat meals per day have increased health risks, including certain types of cancer, heart disease, and kidney stones. We try to stay well under the threshold for problems.
A Practical Guide to Keto
Here is an excellent website with a wealth of information for anyone starting a ketogenic diet. I wish this was available when I first started low-carb living.
The Title of the blog is “The Complete Ketogenic Diet Food List: What to Eat and Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet”.
- Carb counts in foods
- Good fats
- Quality protein sources
- Foods to eat
- Foods to avoid
Please click on the following link:
A Personal Note on Keto…
A ketogenic diet is one form of a low-carb diet. I have followed some form of a low carb/ketogenic diet since February of 2001.
At the beginning, in my ignorance of carb counts, I eliminated obvious starchy and sugary carbs, but continued to eat chicken fingers and an occasional side of onion rings. Within a few months, I reached a plateau where the pounds did not seem to want to budge. As my weight loss stalled, I dug deeper into carb counts and realized that even the carbs in vegetables such as onions, as well as those in “a little bit of breading” could totally derail my plan. I then began to pay closer attention to total carbs and net carbs, refining my diet over subsequent months and years as I studied a multitude of sources.
I have never looked back. I lost 40 pounds within the first 5 months. And, over the years since then, as I have learned more about healthy fats, hidden carbs, and quality protein; I have lost an additional 10 to 15 pounds.
As of writing this blog article, I have been low-carb for over 21 years. At the age of 66, I take a daily hour long beach walk, I have the energy necessary to cook healthy meals, I am not experiencing chronic pain, and I am happy, enjoying healthy relationships with family and friends. I get a little annoyed with articles vilifying keto plans, stating that we do not know the long-term effects of following a low-carb diet. After 21 years, all I can say is, “So far, so good.”
Why I Avoid Certain Fats
Fats are essential for life. But, not all fats are created equal. Some fats promote health, while others are deadly. In this post, I will explain why I am not generally fat phobic, but I am fairly terrified of one group-- trans fats.
First of all, I enjoy a fair amount of fat in my diet. Following a Ketogenic plan, I understand the vital necessity of consuming healthy fats. Please read this excellent article on Healthline:
5 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Fat in Your Diet
According to this article, Vitamins A, D, E, and K require fat in order to be absorbed in the body. Serious deficiencies would result from a lack of dietary fat. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the brain, eyes, and central nervous system. Fats are also necessary for the production of hormones, for the blood’s ability to clot, and for energy.
Now that you understand the importance of good fats in your diet, it is time to determine which fats to enjoy and which ones to avoid.
There are 4 types of fats:
The importance of saturated fats has been grossly underreported in past medical news. But, saturated fat is in fact vital for our heart, brain, bones, immune system, and nervous system.
Many peer-reviewed recent studies, involving thousands of individuals, have debunked the myth that saturated fats lead to heart disease:
Here is a list of healthy sources of saturated fats:
What About Butter?
Butter has been vilified in the past. But, recent scientific studies, outlining its nutritional benefits, have shown that butter can be enjoyed in moderation.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
The Majority of Our Dietary Fat should come from Monounsaturated Fats and Polyunsaturated Fats.
Trans fats are found in processed foods, such as microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, and all crackers, store-bought pie crusts, cakes, and cookies, fried foods such as doughnuts and French fries, margarine, any buttery spreads, coffee creamers, potato chips, packaged snacks, and vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Trans fats significantly raise your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. They are outlawed in some European countries.
Dangers of Refined Oils
Refined vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil are loaded with Omega 6 fatty acids and should be avoided. The ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids should be no less than 1:4. But, these refined oils have a ratio closer to 1:20. Refined oils lead to bodily inflammation, contributing to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The typical American diet contains up to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Correcting this lopsided ratio by balancing out the omega 6 fatty acids with omega 3 fatty acids will go a long way towards decreasing inflammation and chronic disease.
What Fats should be used for cooking?
For high heat cooking, ghee, coconut oil, or avocado oil are recommended.
For medium heat, grass-fed butter or extra virgin* olive oil should be used.
For salads, use only cold-pressed oils and avoid refined oils.
* Extra virgin refers to the process by which oil is made. Normally oil is refined (processed with heat and chemicals) rendering it unhealthy. Extra virgin oils are made by cold-pressing to extract the oil.
I have recently added extra virgin sesame oil to my salad. It has been found to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is actively being studied for benefits related to the heart, lowering blood sugar, and reducing arthritis.
Being on a Ketogenic Diet, Joe and I consume a great deal of fat. But, the majority of the fat comes from avocados, nuts, coconut milk, omega 3 fish oil, sesame oil, olive oil, extra virgin sesame oil, cheese, eggs, a little dairy, salmon, olives, and occasional lean grass fed beef. We don’t have any idea of the types of fat hidden in the meals that we consume while dining out. So, we try to limit restaurant meals to twice a week.
The best article I have found on the topic of healthy fats is found here:
Why Are Power Naps Beneficial?
A power nap is a short nap specifically designed for people at work.
This practice is widely accepted in some European and Asian countries such as Spain and Japan.
There are a number of benefits from a short ten to twenty minute nap taken between 12:30 and 2:00 pm. Longer naps are discouraged as they could lead to a phenomena called “sleep inertia” which could impair cognitive performance throughout the day.
Power naps have been shown to improve long-term memory, creativity, and brain function—a win-win situation for both employee and employer. With increased alertness, improved logical reasoning, and faster reaction time, a worker would gain benefits in a variety of work environments.
A Swiss study discovered significant health benefits for people who regularly napped 1 or 2 days per week for eight years. These individuals had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Healthy workers are not only more productive, they take fewer days off from work.
Those with access to a napping environment at work ought to consider taking advantage of this simple and quick activity that offers such significant long-term rewards!
Here is a link to an actual company who has a mobile nap service: The Nap Experience. This company will come to your workplace, offering power naps to employees. The site also contains a wealth of information regarding the benefits of naps.
Sources of information for this article:
I take supplemental calcium to strengthen my bones. With an inability to consume much dairy, and the importance of calcium in combating osteoporosis, calcium supplements are a necessity for me.
But, life is never that simple. Calcium must be supported by other vitamins and minerals to work properly. For example, supplemental calcium depletes the body's stores of magnesium.  Therefore, magnesium may need to be added as a nutritional supplement when calcium is involved. When deciding how much calcium and magnesium to take, most sites recommend a ratio of 2:1 So, if a person takes 1,000 mg of calcium, he/she would need about 500 mg of magnesium. 
Vitamin K2 is also needed, when calcium is taken, in order to direct the mineral into the bones, rather than allowing it to take up residence in the arteries. (For more on this, see blog post #2 on Vitamin K2.)
Finally, Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb supplemental calcium.  There is no point in taking any vitamin or mineral if the body cannot absorb it.
The benefits of calcium supplementation, as well as contraindications, are outlined in an excellent article on the mayoclinic.org site.  Please visit the site below!
Timing considerations are also important. For example, some articles suggest that magnesium and calcium should not be taken at the same time.  They are both minerals, and they compete with each other for absorption.  But, for me, there are not enough time slots to separate these minerals. I take a liquid combination calcium/magnesium/Vitamin D supplement daily.
Most forms of calcium need to be taken with a meal. But, calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. It is recommended for people like me who have low stomach acid. 
Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 are both fat soluble. These vitamins must be consumed with a meal containing some fat in order to be absorbed effectively. I take Vitamins D and K2 MK-7 in the morning with breakfast (a meal containing 35 g of fat). Refer to the blog post #11 My Typical Daily Food Diary detailing the fats I am referencing.
There are even more limitations surrounding calcium supplementation. According to Consumer Labs , people should not consume more than 1,000 mg of supplemental calcium per day. Also, it should be noted that a maximum of 500 mg of calcium can be absorbed at a time. Therefore, a greater dose of this supplement would need to be divided over the course of the day.
Proper calcium supplementation is vital for those of us with bone concerns. Research demonstrates that 1,000 mg of calcium paired with 400 iu of Vitamin D works to reduce fractures of women who are on hormone replacement therapy due to hysterectomies. 
As you can see, decisions regarding supplementation can be a bit tricky. Much research needs to considered before adding any vitamin or mineral supplements to the diet. And, each person's doctor should be consulted prior to starting any supplement regimen.
ConsumerLab.com information is available for members. I have a subscription to this site, and I recommend it for anyone who is taking supplements. The information is unbiased, paid for by subscribers, and not influenced by manufacturers of supplements.
I have low stomach acid. In order to digest the food that I consume, I must take digestive enzymes and HCL with Pepsin. HCL stands for hydrochloric acid.
I realized that I had this condition about 20 years into taking 1500 to 2000 mg of calcium carbonate each day in an effort to strengthen my bones. I did not learn until it was too late that this particular calcium supplement could permanently destroy my stomach acid. Doctors prescribe forms of calcium carbonate to lower stomach acid in people who produce too much. Tums is one example. But, I did not have that problem.
The amount of calcium that literature recommended I take for my bones was too much. Over the years, I was developing more food sensitivities, stomach bloating, leaky-gut, and undigested food in my stool. And worst of all, once I was able to connect the dots with more recent research, I realized that likely much of the nutritious foods, vitamins, and other minerals I was consuming were not being properly absorbed by my body.
I later began seeing a medical doctor, specializing in internal medicine, functional medicine, and nutrition. She has been overseeing my hypochlorhydria (official name for low stomach acid), diet, nutritional supplements, and meds ever since.
I am confident that my diet and supplements are fairly well-regulated now. I will likely always have low stomach acid. But, the digestive enzymes and HCL with Pepsin work well.
I must add that I was a bit uncomfortable sharing this post. Yet, I am doing so in the hopes that anyone who is indiscriminately popping TUMS will be careful.
A must read article follows, explaining how 90 % of people who are taking medication or supplements for acid reflux are doing exactly the opposite of what they need. These individuals actually have low stomach acid. If you have symptoms such as bloating, burning, indigestion, or nausea, please read the following article:
Below is another article explaining how low stomach acid may be related to antacids such as calcium carbonate.
The following article shares 10 symptoms of low stomach acid.
There is much conflicting information regarding the amount of toxic mercury in various fish. But, there is agreement that the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the dangers of mercury. 
Fish are among the healthiest foods that humans can eat. They provide an excellent source of protein, important nutrients, and healthy fats for the brain, the nervous system, and heart.
So, what is the ideal amount to consume? The FDA recommends that adults may safely eat up to 12 ounces of fish per week, as long as they avoid the large predatory fish.  The smaller the fish, the less mercury it stores.
The 12 ounce limit amounts to about two meals per week. Healthline  lists the amount of mercury found in various fish species.
Shrimp, scallops, sardines, oysters, and anchovies have only trace amounts of mercury.
Salmon, catfish, and canned light tuna (not albacore) have slightly more of this toxin.
Haddock, crab, trout, whitefish, lobster, cod, and canned albacore tuna contain medium amounts of mercury.
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) , it is best to avoid the following fish, due to their large content of toxic mercury:
- Ahi tuna,
- King Mackerel
- orange roughy
The American Pregnancy Association  has a handy list of fish that can be consumed two times per week:
Trout (fresh water)
It is recommended to avoid eating the following fish more than 3 times per month:
Chilean Sea Bass
canned white albacore tuna
Besides mercury content, the decision regarding consumption of farmed vs. wild-caught fish needs to be considered.
Wild-caught fish are strongly recommended over farmed fish by Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain. Farmed fish are contaminated with 16 times more cancer-causing PCBs than wild-caught. Farmed fish are pumped with antibiotics, and they contain a much greater proportion of inflammatory omega-6 oils. 
Unfortunately fresh wild-caught salmon is not available all year. It is generally available late spring through early fall.
Generally, if the fish is labeled Atlantic, it is farmed. If it is labeled Alaskan, it is wild-caught. Otherwise, if not expressly stated as wild-caught, assume it is farmed.
One final note regards tilapia. It is one of the most popular fish consumed in America. Ironically, it is one the most important fish to avoid. Farmed tilapia is the only type available in America. This fish is highly toxic, inflammatory, and can lead to serious health concerns. Many sites advise against its consumption.
Joe and I rarely eat farmed fish. Our one exception is salmon. But, we always select wild-caught salmon when it is available at the grocery store or a restaurant.
Protein along with fats and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients (macros) needed by the body in large amounts. All three are necessary. But questions arise, similar to what Goldilocks experienced, as dietary choices need to be made. Am I consuming too little? Am I consuming too much? What is the “just right” amount for me?
When I first started a low-carb diet in 2001, my focus was on eliminating sweet and starchy carbohydrates. Gone were breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, and sweets. I paid little attention to the amount of protein and fat that I was consuming. With the carbohydrate modification alone, I was able to drop 40 pounds. My energy level increased dramatically, and I was content.
But, I began to notice that if I did not eat all three macros in a meal, I would become somewhat foggy-brained, weak, and hungry. I could not get away with just eating a hunk of cheese or a chicken breast for lunch. If I did not have an adequate amount of fat in a meal and some vegetables, along with the protein, the brain fog, weakness, and hunger would again plague me.
On the other hand, if I consumed too many carbs or ate low-carb desserts, not only would my brain and energy level suffer, but I would begin to have cravings along with weight gain. I think the body tries to communicate its needs in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
By trial and error, listening to my own internal cues, I have gained insights into the quantity of macronutrients that my body needs. I had to reduce my protein somewhat, add healthy fats, and include a variety of non-starchy vegetables. I now consume the equivalent of 2 to 3 tablespoons of total fat with each meal. Both non-starchy vegetables (carbs) and 3 to 5 ounces of animal protein are also contained in my lunch and dinner. Over these past 10 years, without trying, I have gradually lost an additional 14 pounds. And, I am still the same size 6 that I have been since 2001.
Since stabilizing my weight, I have shifted my focus to other areas, including the micronutrients in food. The vitamins and minerals within the 3 food groups are necessary for every process in the body, protecting each of us from disease and deficiencies.
A major purpose of this blog is to chronicle my search for the most recent and relevant information in order to determine the appropriate micronutrients that I need to protect my heart, brain, vision, and overall health.
The following article gives more information about these 3 macronutrients.
I have osteoporosis, as my mother did. Each of us had a hysterectomy in our mid-thirties which we believe contributed to the condition due to a loss of estrogen and progesterone.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease causing the bones to weaken and become susceptible to breakage. As the disease progresses, a fracture may occur not only due to a fall, but from a sneeze or a bump.
I watched my mother go through the pain of breaking bone after bone in her lumbar spine (with compression fractures), starting in her 60s. At the age of 94, she finally broke her hip and passed away within a week of the break. For several decades, my mother dutifully took the recommended drugs for osteoporosis. She took Fosamax for many years. After developing esophageal hernia, she switched to Prolia injections.
By my late 30s, I was experiencing significant bone loss. But, after seeing my mother’s pain and suffering from spinal fractures and problems with her esophagus (which I associated with her meds), I declined my own doctor’s advice to begin taking bisphosphates. I was committed to finding natural alternatives. I then began taking calcium, magnesium, and vitamin d, each of which will be discussed in separate blog posts.
I have now added 180 mg of vitamin k2 in the form of MK7 to my supplement regimen. A number of studies are showing a correlation between vitamin K2 (in the form of Mk7) and positive impacts on bone strength, as well as improvements in other areas of health (as noted in a separate blog post).
Along with the supplements, I have since added a number of bone strengthening strategies, including absorption of natural vitamin D from sun exposure, nearly hour-long daily walks, “earthing” in wet sand, and slow-cadence weight training. A DEXA scan, after 18 months on this regimen, showed some modest improvement. Each of these strategies is covered in a separate blog post.
Here is an article that explains osteoporosis and treatment options.