Monday, October 19, 2020

The Body, Health, and The Energy Input-Output Question

Biology is seemingly infinitely complex. Here's a definition of the biological sciences: "Biological sciences encompasses all the divisions of natural sciences examining various aspects of vital processes. The concept includes anatomy, physiology, cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics, and covers all organisms from microorganisms, animals to plants."

We've been on a quest to discover and understand all of the interactive mechanisms that play individual and coordinated roles in life function, and an almost unimaginable amount of data has been compiled. Just think of the data that has been compiled in the process of discovery and mapping of the human genome alone.

Why do we do this? Well part of the answer is simple - we are a species possessed of insatiable curiosity. But why? And the answer to that question is the topic of this blog - we want to achieve higher and higher levels of functioning.

To see examples of "the genetics solution", take a quick glance at this NIH (National Institute of Health) site for the National Human Genome Research Institute:

Two of the bullet points that stand out:

- Genetics and genomics both play roles in health and disease.

Why are genetics and genomics important to my health?

After many years of discovery and research we've mapped the human genome with the overarching purpose of understanding and controlling disease processes. And not a moment too soon, health in the developed world has been getting worse for quite some time. So we've mounted great effort and resources to understand exactly, down to microscopic minutiae level, how to control our health for the better. Underlying all this effort was the belief that the answers lay in what is not yet known.

Newer and better drugs will be developed to that end. They will be expensive, probably very expensive, but no doubt worth every penny.

You may have noticed my tongue in cheek just there. There are subcultures among us that regularly achieve very high levels of health from birth to death, and longer happier lives in the process, with relative ease and at almost no cost. How is this possible? The answer is they have focused almost exclusively on the cause of health. Or, one might say, the energy input-output question.

I've been writing in this blog about this since discovering the importance of this question, which was finally made completely clear to me by my primary health educator Dr. Doug Graham. It's basically quite simple, but there are some puzzle pieces that have to come together for understanding. And there is a general thrust in this direction by other health educators and other similar schools of thought. Integrative medicine is one such, and the paleo movement is another.

I've looked carefully at the variations and have found the school of thought that goes under the broader name of "no oil whole food plant based" to be of the highest quality to the "input" side of the equation, and so the more efficient approach. The word vegan doesn't describe this approach sufficiently, but a particular approach to veganism can.

You may have guessed by now what the energy input-output question is referring to. It is simply this: the quality of the inputs (to the body) equals energy out. The computing phrase "garbage in garbage out" works. It is basically that simple.

The psycho-cultural problem we run into is that it is very difficult bringing ourselves to see the "normal" ways we've been eating and living our lives is garbage in garbage out. There are complexities here but the primary problem is the things we've learned in the formative years are very "sticky"... in other words we have come to unconsciously associate these things with our very survival. And survival is of course the prerequisite to health. So, ironically, we have come to unconsciously associate "garbage in" as health producing.  And we've come to think of all sorts of toxic substances as "healthy" to "protect" these unconscious associations. But the problem of course is these toxic inputs are killing us en masse way too early. It is, as they say, one hell of a hoary conundrum.

Paleo and integrative medicine take steps toward resolving this conundrum by retaining as much of the old way as possible, while being considerably better than the old way. We get to keep our "anchor" comfort foods while improving the foods around the anchors, and improving lifestyle habits also.

But there is a revolution going on in the young that I believe will eventually overtake the less efficient ways, it is the vegan revolution. I don't consider this an idealistic fantasy, I'm well aware there will always be those who know full well that "smoking is bad for you" and smoke anyway. There is a curious relationship between what we may perceive as near term pleasure and long term pain. But that is a different issue for another time perhaps.

The scientific evidence for the more energy efficient inputs is being established as we speak, and in fact many consider "the weight of the evidence" to have landed already, and I agree with that view. But cultural change can happen slowly.

Meanwhile, we don't have to wait. But we first need convincing. The book that really convinced me in the early stage of my health education was a fast easy read about the foundational work in reversing heart disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. This work resulted in published studies, and was followed by "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease", the popular book referred to above.

The energy input-output question, properly addressed, fixes way more than heart disease, but heart disease is the leading cause of all death in the developed world, so Esselstyn chose it as the best thing to study.

What percentage of cardiologists still do not recommend this approach as the only known way to reverse heart disease? And instead prescribe comparatively ineffective drugs and surgery? These doctors either reject it out of hand, or "go along to get along" with "the standard of care". To be fair, it's not their job to teach health education, their job is to do the best they can under the circumstances. But it's not good enough, in fact it's not good at all. I question that it even reaches the level of "triage medicine".

But you better believe cardiologists have all heard about Dr. Esselstyn's work by now, it's a threat to their way of practicing medicine. Think about it...a proven way to reverse heart disease. An inconvenient truth for the medical system as it currently exists, and an incredibly convenient truth for the rest of us. It's completely free, easy to understand, and the only side effect is radiant health. Sound too good to be true? It's not. There are 10's of thousands of "anecdotal proofs" walking around now. Folks that would have been long dead following the standard of care. I know this because I'm one of them.

So I will heartily and happily recommend this book as an excellent starting place on a journey toward the highest levels of health. For a quick introduction to Dr. Esselstyn and his work, have a look at this recent talk he delivered to a Sentara Healthcare audience.

The revolution is growing.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Why is herd immunity controversial?

I'm not sure why herd immunity has become such a controversial topic. Herd immunity is simply the biological mechanism that ends pandemics, there is no other. It comes about through exposure, to the virus, and/or to the viral mimic in a vaccine. If one is never exposed to any form of the virus, biologic or artificial, there can be no immunity, herd or individual. This BTW is the reason lock down extends the duration of pandemics.

I've heard that vaccines are between 40-60% effective. Not sure how they arrive at that number, presumably in isolation where there is no other opportunity to be exposed to a biologic form of virus to confound results. If that's true, consider that exposure to active viruses has to be much more effective than exposure to artificial viral mimics, otherwise our species sapiens would be very unlikely to have survived our 100,000 years on the planet preceding vaccines.

I have no objection to vaccines that are safe and effective, but I have come to be concerned about the corrosive effect of outsized profits on the vetting process. And then in addition has come a kind of denial that herd immunity is even a real thing. Or the idea natural herd immunity is a bad thing, and vaccine induced herd immunity is the only good thing.

The obsession with cases blurs the issue also. Epidemiologists focus on mortality because as the virus "consumes it's resources" (non-immune humans), two things happen. One, it runs out of "food", and two, it mutates but as it does virulence drops. Both factors cause mortality rates to decline as herd immunity increases.

An overall combined benefit is possible to a double exposure to both live virus and viral mimics. But that is mostly beside the point.

One pandemic we humans are increasingly infected with is hubris, which is correlated to and increases with industrialization and technology.  We have a god complex that gives the delusion we are in control of nature, not the other way round. Herd immunity to covid is pretty much here already, but who knows that? Not the general public. Hubris will lay claim to defeating the pandemic after nature has already vanquished her.

There are studies by epidemiologists published online that show herd immunity is already well along the path toward the end of the pandemic in the measures that epidemiologists use, mortality rates. The epidemiologists who appear on bought and paid for BigP TV talk about cases. But non deadly cases do not a pandemic make.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Jordan Peterson at his most succinct and brilliant

 If you know anything at all about Jordan Peterson you will probably know he is considered to be quite controversial. I have to admit I don't understand this point of view at all, I find him to be self-evidently grounded, common sensical, and brilliant. Can we also call him an original thinker? I think so, if only in the sense he arrives at eternal truths of what it is to be human more quickly and fluidly than other original thinkers who've come before him.

Friday, October 2, 2020

A Topical Question: Where does Hubris Come From?

I think we all know what hubris is, defines hubris as excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance. The Wikipedia page says hubris describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence. And in ancient Greek hubris referred to actions that violated natural order, or which shamed and humiliated the victim, sometimes for the pleasure or gratification of the abuser.

We shouldn't have to work too hard to think of an excessively hubristic individual that occupies the world stage at the moment. But the point of this post is not the extremes of hubris (one might say intractable, or pathological hubris), but rather more common everyday examples of hubris, and where hubris comes from in general. And yes, I have a personal interest in this as a result of some of my experiences with my own hubris.

The short answer is hubris is an example of something called egocentric bias. And perhaps the most interesting and complex thing about bias is it's typically completely unconscious. And we all have various forms of unconscious bias, it's simply part of being human: where there is an unconscious mind there is also bias.

It seems to me there are fairly widespread misconceptions about the unconscious part of our human mind. And the most basic of these is that the unconscious is accessible. And of course it is to some extent, as in dreams and myths. Perhaps Joseph Campbell, the well known professor famous for his work on mythology, would have said The Power of Myth is in its ability for us to better understand our unconscious human mind.

So perhaps it's accurate to say the unconscious is partially accessible. Accessibility is, after all, the point of psychoanalytic and other therapies that intend to reach into the unconscious mind and find and resolve those "stuck parts" that repeat counterproductive thoughts and behaviors over and over in never ending loops. These therapies pursued with diligence can be successful to varying degree, which itself speaks to the relative inaccessibility of our unconscious mind.

The central idea that came out of the Age of Enlightenment was that the capacity for reasoning bestows on us the power to control our destiny. This is, of course, a very attractive idea that continues to predominate the Western perspective. But more recently brain science is discovering the degree to which Freud was correct in his most basic idea that our behaviors are governed mostly by the unconscious. A wonderful book that delves into the implications of this is "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than EQ" by Daniel Goleman.

So then where does hubris come from? We can all have it, and probably have to varying degrees and times in our lives. There is a somewhat surprising answer, it is luck, combined with the unconscious.

I came across a great Youtube channel recently named Veritasium (a made up word) where the author covered the degree to which luck plays in success and hubris very nicely. The title of this video: Is Success Luck or Hard Work? It's 12 minutes, and worth every one of them:

For those who would like to learn more about unconscious bias I'd also like to recommend a book on this fascinating topic, Everyday Bias: Identifying and Navigating Unconscious Judgements in Our Daily Lives, by Howard Ross, who is probably as expert on this as anyone.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Vaccines are wonderful? Or toxic? Which is it?

The following is a rebuttal I made to a very good friend who is 100% in the vaccines are wonderful camp. And let me say at the outset I am not 100% in the vaccines are crap camp, but I am skeptical for reasons that will become apparent if you have the patience to follow this post fully to completion.

My friend said:

That notion about getting autism from vaccination has been proven false after thorough investigation!!!!

And I responded:

Proven false after investigation by the industries that profit from it. The models under test were heavily contaminated with bias. If you watch the entire hour and a half interview of Dale Bigtree (link below) you will see the allegation there were no placebo controlled trials, and understand the importance of that in studies on health.

Do you think the autism epidemic is a mystery? It's only a mystery in that we do not have studies that track down the exact mechanism...because the industry that profits is powerful enough to block those unbiased studies from taking place. IMHO we know what the general mechanism is, it is the ingress of toxins into the body that overwhelm the body's detoxification capacity.

Let me unpack that a little bit. First this is the mechanism that causes all the epidemic increases in so called post industrial diseases from alzheimer's to diabetes. These diseases collectively kill about 90% of the developed world population prematurely. Heart disease alone kills more people than any other post industrial disease, and there are dozens of epidemic post industrial diseases, I'm not going to list them all here. The mechanism of all these diseases is overload of the body's innate capacity to remove toxins, which is the basis of the body's self-healing capacity.

Here is the critical point - modern pharmaceutical medicine gets this completely wrong. It adds more toxins to the mix. These toxins can serve to mask symptoms at best, but they also degrade health overall. Pharmacology is, and continues to be, blind to this problem because of profit bias and what I'm going to call (shorthand) "magic thinking" bias, both of which operate completely on the unconscious level. To understand the depth of this problem it's important to realize the "unconscious" part of this equation is the root of the problem. The entire point of science is to do an "end around" unconscious bias with the placebo controlled method! But the design of models under test are contaminated with unconscious bias at the outset, eliminating or degrading effective placebo controls, and skewing results in favor of pre-existing bias.

Sorry to "yell", but this is the critical point - NO PLACEBO CONTROLLED STUDIES OF CAUSAL MECHANISMS FOR AUTISM have been performed. This problem "infects" pharmacological "science" (using the word loosely) in general, but is particularly acute in the case of autism. Where there is profit there is unconscious bias, period. All of us mere humans are subject to this bias.

The "disease reversal diet", and I'm not talking vegan here, I'm talking whole foods in general, works because of two things in particular: first it removes toxic post industrial foods from the diet and replaces them with foods we are evolutionarily adapted to - which are exclusively whole foods. There were no toxic brew food lab concoctions and concentrations 100,000 years ago. Paleos and a certain subset of vegans understand the criticality of this idea. In addition to food lab chemical garbage consider all the toxins we regularly consume that are considered "OK", or even better than ok. Coffee. Alcohol. Refined carbohydrates (pure sugars). Refined fats (pure oils). Disease reversal diets work to the extent ALL toxins are removed from the diet. It does not have to be perfect, it only has to be "good enough" to get back to the point the body's innate capacity for 24/7/365/birth-to-death detoxification is no longer overwhelmed.

Physical activity accelerates detoxification, it is not enough on it's own. Fasting, done properly, accelerates detoxification, and is enough on it's own to "reset the body", but if not followed with a "good enough" whole foods diet will fail in the long run.

A complete lifestyle change is required, and that is difficult for three reasons. 1) No "authority" is telling us we should do this. It's amazing but true, most humans have a need to believe their government "has their back". But governments are rarely a good source of health information. 2) "The food doesn't taste good." There is a brilliant little book "The Pleasure Trap" that explains this very "sticky" problem in detail, IMHO one is not fully "armed" without this information. Very basically we become addicted to toxins because we do not understand the unconscious instinctual complex sufficiently to deal with the biological forces working to attract us to overstimulation. The food doesn't taste good because we are addicted to overstimulation. 3) We are herd animals, we only feel safe in numbers. There are valid reasons for that but they quickly become counterproductive, and we have difficulty with discrimination on that point. We only want to eat what everyone else is eating and everyone else is not eating real food.

Get yourself an extremely healthy subculture, it's the only hope.

Post industrial technology is giving us choices that did not exist 100,000 years ago. Our instincts, like the rest of our biology, evolved in that era. In an era where resources were scarce, nature "controlled" what we put in our bodies. Paradoxically however, technology also gives us the opportunity for the longest "healthy life spans" in human history, but we are not taking advantage of it. Generally we do not even appreciate that this is possible, it's not "a thing". These technological advantages boil down basically to protect us from "exposure to the elements". Combine that advantage with the advantage of the very best diet and lifestyle choices and we might see a boom in centenarian populations. Instead everyone is dying prematurely from post industrial conditions.

(I'm going to add one thing here I did not think to say in my original rebuttal to my friend. I don't want to give the impression that I naively think all cases of autism are reversible with dietary changes. There are definitely cases where toxicity is at such a concentration it becomes irreversible. This rises to the level where "poisoning" is the more appropriate descriptor, and of course goes beyond autism.)

So, if you are still with me and you'd like to continue, please watch the entire Del Bigtree interview with an open mind, otherwise I've said my piece. Here is the link again

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Women Deserve to Know

Women deserve to know there is a much higher risk of breast cancer with consumption of dairy products. To underline the point The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is suing the FDA to put health warnings for breast cancer risk on cheese and dairy.

This may sound absurd to our ears today, but consider a situation that may end up being very similar to this one: the warning label for lung cancer risk went on cigarettes in 1964, but as early as 1957 the link between smoking and lung cancer had become scientifically incontrovertible:

The video below should begin at 4:10, where the cheese and breast cancer link is discussed:

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Undoing the Consequence of Dietary Excess

 Various approaches to fasting seems to be the topic du jour from cancer researchers to paleo/keto dieters. Here's an excellent conversation between Rich Roll (Author of "Finding Ultra" and podcaster par excellence) and Dr. Alan Goldhamer, the founder of True North Health Center, longest running fasting clinic in the US.

I personally did a 12 day water fast with Dr. Doug Graham at a retreat center north of Seattle. Doug teaches the principles of fasting while you are in a water only fast, experiencing it first hand. The benefit of this kind of personal experience and education is profoundly life changing.