Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD - Grass fed — Beginning the blog
In August my blood test results showed elevated cholesterol levels. My doctor immediately wanted me to take a statin, given a rich family history of CVD (my dad died at 44). I rebelled.
I am dietitian and eat exceptionally well. I am concerned that the knee jerk to statins is masking a more wholistic solution to our current concerns about heart disease in this country. Despite exercising regularly and eating well, I knew there was at least one more thing I could change.
We eat a good deal of red meat. I read the research and see holes in the arguments against red meat. Now it is time to test the hypothesis. I don’t think it is red meat or beef that is contributing to our risk to disease. I even wonder if saturated fat is the public enemy that current nutrition thinking assumes. I think the problem with beef is how we feed our livestock. Corn, soy, even stale pastries and out of date candy end up in the feeding trough. None of this “food” is the cattle’s native diet.
My hypothesis is this: Consuming meat from animals that are allowed to eat their natural diet and dairy products from animals that are grass fed can improve our cardiovascular disease risk profile. From September 10 to the present date I have chronicled my experiment in the grass fed world. This first entry will include all my blogs from Sept 10 to present. Future blogs will continue recording my personal journey.
September 10, 2009
My blood test results came in today. The total cholesterol shot up to 249 mg/dl from the 208 reading from May last year. LDL-C was up, too (173 from 147 mg/dl). Thankfully, so were the “good” cholesterol numbers, HDL-C (58 mg/dl from 46). I know I will be getting a call from my doctor. She will want to put me on a statin for sure. As a dietitian, I am balking. I want there to be a lifestyle solution.
Statins accounted for 28 billion dollars of sales in 2006. Two of the statins were the 4th and 11th most commonly prescribed drug in 2006. Lipitor is the biggest selling drug of all time. Yes, statins save lives. The strongest data is for treatment of men who already have cardiovascular disease. But the research is not all that impressive for prevention of disease.
Lifestyle trumps the statins in reducing risk. In a study published in June of 2009, risk reduction for those who took statins because of elevated cholesterol—not because they already had cardiovascular disease– was a mere 0.6%. Studies like HALE and others show lifestyle changes can reduce risk by 70-80%. I want there to be a lifestyle solution for me.
My Early Life
My family history is a big black mark on my health profile. Dad died at 44 from congestive heart failure. His first attack of angina was at 32. An overweight heavy smoker, he did nothing to minimize his risk of disease. Little did we anticipate that Aunt Kathy’s stroke at 21 was foreboding for the rest of her siblings. One uncle would have a heart attack at 36 years of age. Another would die of a heart attack at 39. Most would go on to die of heart disease or cancer by 50 years of age.
As a dietitian, I have had my struggles with food. I always felt chubby. I look back at pictures and ironically realize that I wasn’t overweight. But I had a belly and was quite self conscious. That didn’t really stop the eating until I was in my teens.
Growing up in an Italian household in the exuberant days of the 60’s meant that we enjoyed piles of pasta and lots of fruits and vegetables from the garden in the back yard. We also feasted on t-bone steaks and homemade cookies. Mom was a good cook and Dad celebrated his hard earned success by making sure his kids were well fed. No child of his was going to suffer the hunger he did as a child.
We ate with most of the aunt and uncles and 37 cousins every Sunday during the year; practically every day during the summer. And every one of those aunt and uncles parented each of us kids. I remember one particular summer evening. The pile of spaghetti on my plate was more than I wanted to eat. I tried to sneak past the scrum of uncles and my dad sitting at one of the long folding tables at “the ranch” in order to dump the excess. Soon I was directed back to the table to finish my plate. It didn’t occur to me that one of the uncles on the other side of the table would be signaling my dad. We were overfed.
I also helped the feeding all by myself. I was especially fond of anything with a carbohydrate, both savory and sweet. I would just as likely snag another Italian roll as I would another chocolate chip cookie. I started dieting at nine, but most attempts were short lived. I remember the mimeographed sheets of the “mayo clinic” diet with one half of a grapefruit before each meal. I remember broiling a steak for lunch, following the 1960 version of the Atkin’s diet. Nothing really stuck until after summer vacation before I started high school.
We went on a two week road trip to Vancouver. It was a nightmare. My dad was notorious for having things his way. His goal was to reach Victoria, BC. It didn’t help that we spent the first 5 days in California, having started from our home in Southern California. That meant that the next 7 days would basically be an all out sprint to the Canadian border and back to Carmel for a family wedding. We were on the road 12 -14 hours a day with stops at the most convenient restaurant on the interstate, Denny’s.
I ate my way up and down the west coast. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, but every lunch and dinner was the same: patty melt and fries. I came home 10 pounds heavier and couldn’t fit into my clothes. It was then I stumbled onto a “Diet Watchers” book by Jean Neditch, an earlier version of Weight Watchers.
It was an easy fit for me to follow the program. Family meals had changed considerably after dad’s first attack of angina. Mom dutifully prepared lots of fish and vegetables, no salt. Chickens were baked and we rarely feasted on Italian favorites. I got good at dieting, losing the ten pounds and eventually much more. I was anorexic by 11th grade, hovering around 105 pounds at 5’8”. I was proud of my 24 inch waist and finally squeezing into a size 5. I didn’t like losing my hair, but skipping periods seemed like a bonus. Still, all that “success” didn’t do anything to stop the storm ahead.
Most anorexics tumble into some mix of binge and purge behavior after the halo of anorexia wears off. Consistently starving yourself is just too hard. And that is what happened to me. I struggled with anorexia/bulimia for years to come, right through my bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition as well as my earliest years working as a dietitian and the master’s degree that followed.
The fact that I eventually learned out how to manage my life effectively, and finally figured out food’s rightful place, is a testimony to my persistence. The angst and pain of struggling with an eating disorder (as well as the dysfunctional family systems that accompanied the behavior), was at times overwhelming, and is one of my proudest achievements.
BACK TO THE BLOOD TEST
I had seen my physician earlier this summer, and finally made time to get to the local Kaiser clinic to have my blood drawn at a fasting state last week. It was the last week of summer and easier to fast and get to the clinic without the usual rush around getting my son to school. Done.
When I saw the elevated lipids, I felt angry.
I eat exceptionally well. I love cooking and enjoy eating “close to the earth”. I shop at farmer’s markets 1-2 times a week, filling in with staples at the local grocery store. I have a limited number of items I pick up at Costco and also enjoy the access to discount warehouse prices via my husband’s food distribution company. Most of our meals are made from scratch, with a modest amount of eating away from home. In essence, I walk the talk.
I love being physically active, having learned that I can choose to do what I love and what works for me: Hiking, biking, swimming, walking with friends and a fabulous yoga practice twice a week with neighbors in my home. I gave up tortuous running years ago. I am often teased about returning to my European roots, biking to work more often than not, and biking or walking on most of my errands.
Managing stress is an ongoing challenge. I am well aware of how easy it is for me to gain weight when I am stressed. That rise in cortisol drives the insulin resistance that I live with, that I have probably always lived with. Not only is there the genetic predisposition, but I was born four weeks premature, amping the likelihood that my glucose tolerance is not what most are born with.
“Premies” are known to have higher risk of developing glucose intolerance (another way of saying insulin resistance) and eventually type II diabetes. I think my childhood carbohydrate compulsion was an early sign of that metabolic intolerance. The horrible periods and cramps of my teens before the anorexia and early twenties after was another sign, although we didn’t know it at the time. I wasn’t diagnosed with an intense form of insulin resistance called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) until my forties, and I basically diagnosed myself.
So, I am one of those folks who blows up like a balloon when I am stressed. The most confusing symptom is that the anxiety of stress feels like the anxiety of hunger. When over stressed, I think I need something to eat. I feel lightheaded and weak. Eating helps calm those unsteady symptoms. It also packs on the pounds. Even when I am determined to not eat more and continue to exercise, I have consistently gained about 10 pounds during the most stressful times of my life. I feel like I sit and watch my belly grow.
The elevated cholesterol lab values stress me out, but today I have a plan. I know there is little chance I am going to acquiesce and accept a pharmaceutical solution unless it is clear to me that my life is at stake.
I immediately go into research mode. I know the research regarding cholesterol and risk of heart disease is controversial. You wouldn’t know it if you just read the most available literature. But the link between elevated cholesterol levels and heart disease is not as strong as most people think. In fact, despite sales of 28 billion dollars a year, statins have had little impact on mortality.
In one recent meta-analysis study (where statisticians look at several studies together in order to increase their scientific significance), it took treating 174 people with statins in order to reduce the risk of death by one person. There is a little better impact on reducing risk of heart attack. For every 82 persons treated, one heart attack was prevented. For every 245 persons treated, one stroke was prevented. (BMJ/ June, 2009)
I am finding out lots of interesting information, including a few critiques of the research that has had people buzzing all year—that anyone at risk for cardio-vascular disease (CVD) could benefit from taking a statin. (I have been aghast at the audacity of the scientific community. 8 of 9 of the scientists who developed this recommendation work for pharmaceutical companies that sell statins. Something here never felt right.)
I am not alone thinking that taking a statin without evidence of disease is risky. And elevated cholesterol is not a disease. I find a key conclusion by one reviewer, “widespread use of statins in primary prevention is problematic.” (Roberts.www.procor.org, 2009) Lifestyle factors are known to reduce risk of CVD disease 70-80%. There has to be more I can do.
Last month I saw a client I have worked with for years. C. initially came to me for weight loss counseling, hovering over 350 pounds at a medium 5’4” height. She had recently moved to Los Angeles after a painful divorce. The young woman was reeling. She was depressed and anxious. Food was a comfort and she was an accomplished cook, it the most mid-western sense. Cream, butter, sugar and starch, her basic four food groups, dominated her culinary efforts.
Living in California soon grew on here, and she developed a taste for more produce, leaner meats and lighter cooking methods. Despite much progress and over 50 pounds of weight loss over the years, she decided that she wanted to explore bariatric surgery. I supported her.
In August C. checked in with more questions and an opportunity to review her recent lab results. She lost over 120 pounds in the 15 months since her surgery and continues to explore food’s rightful place in her life. A tendency towards compulsive behavior, our visits center and steady her. For the last three months C. has been following food traditions proposed by the Weston Price Foundation (WPF).
Weston Price was a dentist in the 1800s that drew criticism for daring to connect dental and gum health to overall health. Many health care proponents continue to dismiss his findings. I am not so sure. It is ironic that current research links gum health and cardiovascular disease today.
Whole milk, cheese and yogurt along with red meats are celebrated—but only in their most natural state. Red meat and whole milk dairy products come from grass fed cows and other animals eating their natural food supply. Fresh fruits and vegetables are grown locally, sustainably and organically if possible. WPF food traditions encourage plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and other whole foods—but not necessarily whole grains. Starches are drawn from root vegetables, beans and legumes.
Weston Price Foundation teachings intrigue me. I have read Mary Enig, PhD. A published lipid scientist, Dr. Enig resigned her tenured faculty position in protest of the assault on saturated fats in the 1970’s. That kind of commitment impresses me. I want to know more.
I already champion a mostly protein and produce diet. I found that this way of eating makes me feel better, more focused and more energetic. It helps me manage my weight and quiet the insulin resistance. I have been eating far less grain for over 15 years and thriving. I lived with a nagging concern about the quantity of dairy and meat in my diet. Knowing how much better I feel has historically trumped the research associating red meat and high fat dairy products with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about it.
I reviewed C’s questions and her blood work. All lipid and glucose values have improved significantly since her weight loss. But that was evident last June when we reviewed the labs taken then. After three months of eating whole fat dairy and meats from grass fed animals, I am stunned with her even more remarkable results since then. The improvement is dramatic.
At the end of the session C. invited me to review a recent edition of “Wise Traditions”, the quarterly publication of the WPF. I gratefully accept. I read the publication cover to cover and started to think hard, considering the possibilities. Was I ready to experiment again? I’d been a contrarian before.
In the early 1990’s I was gaining weight and looked like I was six months pregnant. I even bought and took pregnancy tests, secretly hoping there was a good reason for the weight gain—even though I didn’t really want to be pregnant. I wasn’t. What else was going on?
I knew I was eating about 1800 calories a day and exercising most days of the week—up to 8-12 hours a week. My private practice was located in a gym and I also consulted for a sports medicine facility. In addition to riding my bike on the weekends and occasionally riding to work, I also had access to the gyms in both locations and could work out whenever I had the opportunity.
It was the early 1990’s and high carbohydrate, low fat diets were sanctioned as the way to eat. I was happy to comply. I love carbohydrates. Al dente pasta, good chewy sourdough and homemade Italian bread, even store bought cereal brought me bliss. But I never seemed to be satisfied.
I always wanted more. It was crazy. I would buy seven boxes of cold cereal a week—for just my husband and myself. It was every breakfast, several lunches, a regular snack and a few too many diners. It tasted so good and I usually had a hard time stopping until I felt overfull and bloated. But it was low fat and coupled with non fat milk, that couldn’t be a problem, right?
Eventually my cravings for carbohydrates and sweets had me hiding a stash of Good ‘n Plenty in the top drawer of my desk at work. I would feel so fatigued that I would pop a few in my mouth just to get through the next session. How crazy is that? I didn’t understand why I felt so lousy and so fatigued. I just knew that it was sugar and/or caffeine that would get me through the next hour.
One day I happened upon a copy of “The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet” by the Hellers. I flipped through their book, seeing myself described on the pages. I glanced at the 500 calorie diet they proposed and scoffed. I could do better than that—and I wouldn’t have to starve myself.
I felt like I was committing blasphemy. I was eating more protein, more fat. I ate far less carbohydrate, mostly vegetables with some fruit. I would allow beans and legumes but minimal amount of grains. I rigidly ate egg frittatas with vegetables or cottage cheese and fruit in the morning. I was in mourning. I missed cereal badly. One day I found myself in tears, pounding on the refrigerator door. I just wanted a bowl of cereal. After a couple of weeks I finally broke down and had one. I felt awful within the hour– bloated, lethargic and sleepy. I was stunned at the response of my body.
With renewed effort I continued to secretly eat in a way that screamed against everything I had been taught. I didn’t dare tell any of my friends and colleagues. But I knew I felt better and within the first six weeks my body had changed dramatically. I could wear something other than my expansive wardrobe of elastic waisted clothing.
I wonder if this new experiment will enjoy a positive outcome as well. I am willing to try.
I push through the crowds at the Santa Monica Farmer’s market. I buy my usual cornucopia of organic produce and impulsively purchase grass fed ground beef from a vender. I am put off when he rails against vegetarians. I remind him that there is room for everyone to eat in their own way. He softens, and thanks me for my purchase. I think to myself, it is that kind of rigid thinking that is a big part of the confusion about food today.
I have passed the grass fed raw milk vender three times. It is like I am circling the wagons. Why am I so ambivalent? What is my fear? I was taught too well the benefits of pasteurized milk. I almost laugh at myself and then walk up to the vender. I tentatively purchase a quart of raw milk from grass fed cows. Once in my bike bags, I race home to minimize any risk of contamination. I calm my fears remembering that farmers selling raw milk are intensely conscious of public perception of risk. They are more closely monitored and bacterial counts are tightly limited, unlike conventional dairy farms that rely on the “safety” of pasteurization to limit risk.
I am now ready to start. In addition to preferentially buying organic produce and other grocery items, I want to find out if grass fed beef and dairy makes a difference—in my lab tests, in how I feel, in my overall health. The experiment begins.
I’m making my morning latte with raw full fat milk from grass fed cows. I’m not used to shaking milk first. I’m still feeling some trepidation. I learned my lessons in nutrition 101 a little too well. Since those many years ago, the conventional dogma regarding food safety hasn’t changed much in the USA. I have traveled extensively to northern Europe and find that our food culture and food safety system is not practiced universally.
Friends and family pasture their own chickens, collect their own eggs and don’t refrigerate them. Food is kept in outdoor cupboards, holding produce and dairy, even leftovers. Butter and opened containers are kept in cellar cupboards with no refrigeration—even in the summer. And they don’t get sick.
Closer to home I pause as I watch countless homeless and street dwellers collect food from trashcans. They are not dying of food poisoning. I wonder what this means. Could it be that our food safety laws are the result of a hyper-vigilant and litigious society more than an issue of food safety?
I determinedly prepare the latte, putting my misgivings aside. It is delicious, if just a little unusual. I’m not quite sure what tastes different. Is it my head tasting something different because I know it is different?
We grill the tri tip after marinating it in our usual favorite, Mojo Criollo. The stronger taste is familiar and I like it a little bit better. I like it enough to tell Frank he can bring some more home.
I am thinking there is an advantage to being a dietitian in this situation. For years I have questioned the conventional wisdom regarding saturated fats and cholesterol. I don’t like the emphasis on vegetable oils and feel that we made a big mistake encouraging vegetable oils over naturally occurring saturated fats over the last 30 plus years.
Ironically the vegetable oils that replaced naturally saturated palm and coconut oil, butter and lard over the last 30 years were partially hydrogenated vegetable oils known as “trans fats.” The “trans” designation refers to the biochemical structure of the fatty acid. When hydrogen is added to polyunsaturated fats like soy and other vegetable oils, the fat becomes “partially hydrogenated.” Today we know that “trans” fats in our diet are known to be twice as problematic as naturally occurring saturated fats. Trans fats do double damage, increasing “bad” LDL-cholesterol and at the same time reducing “good” HDL cholesterol.
Partial hydrogenation typically occurs in a factory setting with high temperatures and usually a metal catalyst. The result is a more saturated fat but in a unique configuration called “trans”. (The naturally occurring configuration, the “cis” arrangement of the carbon to hydrogen bonds, is not the problem.)
I have eliminated trans fats for years. Over fifteen years ago I decided that stick margarines—the epitome of trans fats—were a problem. We have been eating real butter ever since. Granted, I primarily cook with olive oil, with some peanut and sesame oil as well, so we don’t use that much butter. But I don’t even like the newly configured margarines that claim no trans fats. I have come to believe that we don’t really know what we are doing with the food supply. I’d rather stick with foods as they naturally occur.
Ironically the primary source of trans fats in our diets is found in breads and bakery items. Certainly the quantity has changed over the past few years since trans fats are now listed on the nutrition facts food label. But even “0″ doesn’t mean zero.
The FDA pretty much sold out when they allowed any manufacturer to identify the trans fat quantity as “0” as long as it is less than 0.5 grams per serving. When the American Heart Association recommends less than 2.5 grams a day of trans fat, it is not difficult to see how easy it is for people eating a highly processed food supply to get far more than 2.5 grams a day—even when eating food listing “0” trans fat on the label.
Trans fats are probably a non issue for me. I buy whole grain bread from the farmer’s markets with no fat added and I make all my desserts from scratch, the only significant source of trans fat in our food would be from foods eaten away from home. Salad dressings are made from olive oil and occasionally a nut oil such as walnut or hazelnut. I stopped buying prepared salad dressing years ago. NO trans fats there. So if the problem is not trans fats, what could it be?
OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6 Fatty Acids: Less Omega 6
I taught nutrition at SMC and UCLA for years (15 and 12 years respectively). The balance of omega three vs. omega six fatty acids was just beginning to gain traction as I stopped teaching. Once the free textbooks stopped, I had to continue the research on my own.
I realized that much of the added fat in food in the market relies on cheap sources of oil, including soy, corn, safflower, and other. Especially corn and soybean oils have dominated the processed food supply as they are the cheapest. Food policy in the US, dominated by the Farm Bill passed by congress every few years, allows for significant subsidies to corn and soybean growers.
I know these oils are omega 6 dominant. Nutrition research shows us that excessive amounts of omega six fatty acids creates an more inflammatory state than a healthier ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. So, I have been conscientiously decreasing omega six fatty acids in our diet. I stopped buying prepared salad dressing years ago. Salad dressings are made from olive oil and occasionally a nut oil such as walnut or hazelnut. Cooking most of my meals at home means I get to monitor the minimal amount of corn oil I use and I have gradually shifted to peanut oil preferentially for those foods that don’t work with olive oil.
For years the dietary guidelines have recommended eating 2 meals of fish per week to enhance omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. I don’t think that is enough. In “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, Michael Pollan begins the first chapter talking about corn. It is in everything. I have known that for awhile—but it took reading his book to bring the issue to front and center.
OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6 Fatty Acids: More Omega 3
It was a small shift to buy peanut oil, not corn. The bulk of my food supply did not have appreciable amounts of omega six vegetables oils. But I am a carnivore. I eat a good amount of red meat and other animal products. I love my lattes, yogurt and cheese. I have been buying organic milk products and some meat products for years, but you can feed cows organic corn.
Organic produce is really important for a lot of reasons. One of the primary reasons is to enhance and preserve soil ecology and the environment. The second reason is that organic produce is known to have enormous amounts of naturally occurring antioxidants compared to conventionally grown produce. The difference in nutrition density is not that remarkable. Vitamin content of produce is much more dependent on sunlight and genetic predisposition. Mineral content is dependent on the air, water and soil concentration of those nutrients. But organic meat and dairy doesn’t address the omega 6 issue. I knew I would have to address the source of the omega six: what the animals are fed.
Ninety seven percent of domestic beef is corn fed. I grew up hearing advertisements crowing about the superiority of corn fed beef. I never questioned the practice of feeding cows. Most of us don’t. We have grown up far away from the ranch and the farm. Few of us know how to grow our own food, certainly not enough of it to count. I don’t think our own delicious but modest attempts at home grown tomatoes and a few lemons really count.
After “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, I continued reading. Joel Salatin was one of Pollan’s protagonists and I stumbled upon his book that followed, “Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.” I cracked up at the title and his book didn’t disappoint. I was finally reading words from the prophet of farming close to the earth. Salatin is a master of poly farming, even calling his farm “Polyface Farms.” He put everything into perspective.
I soon learned that while organic is important, so is local and sustainable. And most important of all is allowing each “face” on the farm to do their part. The cows eat the grass, and dump manure to enrich and fertilize the grass and soil. The chickens follow the cows, pecking at the bugs and other insects thriving in the rich soil. Each “face” is carefully led through a highly orchestrated dance across the pastures, allowing the grass to recover after each grazing. The soil ecology is carefully cultivated to provide an ideal environment for feeding each face on the farm with its natural feed. Good for everybody.
Frank is bringing home grass fed beef from Australia. They are far ahead of the curve when it comes to their food supply. Or maybe they just never bought into the efficiencies parading as progress in our own domestic food supply. On my honeymoon to Australia in 1988 I remember not being able to get aspartame, an artificial sweetener, there. They use domestic cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. They grass feed their cattle.
We tried grass fed beef earlier in the summer. I was merely curious to taste the difference. At that time, Frank could only get frozen grass fed meat from Australia. It definitely tasted different. Most of us wanted to like it more than we did. I appreciated the stronger taste, but still liked our domestic corn fed version better. Was it a matter of taste or familiarity?
Fast forward to September. Frank tells me he now has access to fresh grass fed meat—still from Australia, but vacuum packed and in smaller quantities than the original 25 pound pack Frank brought home earlier in the year. No more playing butcher, and that is a relief. I can choose from three cuts: tri tip, top sirloin and flap meat. Not bad. I like cooking with all three. But that doesn’t get me our favorite New York steaks and the everyday staples like chuck and ground beef. I’ll try our local Whole Foods market.
I swallow hard. Grass fed ground beef costs $7.99 per pound. Check roast is $8.99 per pound. I can buy grass fed beef at Whole Foods and the farmer’s market and it s a lot more expensive than the wholesale beef Frank can get. I asked Frank to bring home some tri tip and flap meat for carne asada.
We have tried grass fed beef before. Frank brought home 25# frozen hunks of meat from the warehouse. I played butcher and it was a lot of work. And I didn’t much care for it. But that was before the specter of my elevating cholesterol. I was game to try it again.
So, a full six months later, he now has access to smaller quantities and it is vacuum packed fresh. Better. In the meantime, I have been buying pastured chickens ($4.50 a pound) and eggs from pastured chickens (4.50 a dozen). Frank is ready to choke. He can get me 15 dozen eggs for $11.00 wholesale. But that is not the point. I want to find out if the omega six in corn fed farm animals– cattle, dairy cows, chickens, and laying hens– has been part of the problem. I need to explore and find out if it makes a difference to me when animals are allowed to eat their natural diet: grass for the cows, worms and insects for the chickens.
Sunday’s Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica. It’s not my favorite: too crowded, too many people buying prepared food and standing in the way of those of us just trying to buy food to take home. And it is as if the city has forgotten that some of us ride our bikes and need access to them as we purchase our food. The free bike valet is on the opposite side of the market from the farmers and they park the bikes so close together that it would be a huge hassle to get my purchases inside the panniers.
I park my bike where there is no support and worry. I buy my pastured eggs and chicken from Healthy Family Farms. Last week someone knocked over my bike with those precious eggs inside. Not one of the broke. I noticed right away that these eggs sport shells that are stronger than the store bought eggs. I think that means something. As I mentioned earlier, I got hooked on these chickens a few months ago. With the weather changing, I plan to make soup. I bet the broth will be fantastic, too.
I have a few foodie friends. Marlene and Troy are probably the most ardent. Troy is amazing in the kitchen. He is self taught and masterful. I have often joked that I am a “mom cook”, he is a chef. So a few months ago I was curious to compare a conventionally grown chicken from California with a pastured chicken offered to me by a local butcher.
Candy owns a butcher shop inside Alan’s market in Venice. I have been talking to him for months, encouraging him to source grass fed beef. He wants me as a customer, but I want to buy grass fed beef. I think it would be a boon to his business. He already sells his homemade sausages at the farmer’s market. I think grass fed would be a natural fit. In the meantime, he started to sell pastured chickens from Healthy Family Farms. So sometime back in July we planned a taste test.
Frank put both birds on the rotisserie outside. I wish I bought both birds at the same weight, but I had already purchased a three pound pastured chicken and the smallest conventionally raised California grown roaster I found was 4 ½ pounds. Neither bird is treated with antibiotics or hormones. So how much difference does the feed make?
As is turned out, plenty. The flavor in the pastured chicken was a whole other intensity of “chicken”. The meat was firmer and delicious, moist without being greasy. I’m surprised (and really not surprised) at how fatty the grain fed chicken tastes. I immediately note that I can’t buy conventional chicken again. The pastured chicken is fabulous. I now understand why so many seniors and immigrants complain that chicken here doesn’t taste like chicken anymore. I guess if you grew up eating pastured chickens, grain fed chickens don’t come close.
The Wednesday farmer’s market in Santa Monica is a feast for foodies. I have gotten rather extravagant in my food tastes. I’m not telling Frank the heirloom tomatoes are $4.50 a pound. I have come to appreciate the quality of buying from farmers who really know their product. I am impressed by the woman at this particular booth who has grown up growing tomatoes. She encourages me to buy a mix of the heirloom tomatoes—for color mostly. I’m making a version of Caprese salad with the (gasp!) $8.99 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese made from grass fed cow’s milk.
I am giddy with the sight of peaches and nectarines in October. The folks at Tenerelli Farms tell me they’ll have them for a few more weeks. I am loath to say goodbye to summer’s stone fruit but I am choosing to buy less these days. My practice is slower and I have time to shop at the Farmer’s markets 2-3 times a week. I am amazingly fortunate to enjoy five different markets a short walk or bike ride from my home in Venice or my office in Santa Monica. So, I choose enough fruit and vegetables to last 3-4 days.
Frank makes note and tells me he likes it better than shopping once a week. Easy for him to say. Between shopping at the Farmer’s markets and filling in at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Costco and my favorite local grocery store, Gelson’s, I am often marketing 3-4 times a week. We are getting spoiled.
How ironic that during my first trip to Europe I thought it so quaint when my sister’s host mother shopped every day for her family. She pointed to her small refrigerator to feed her family of seven —about the size that sits under the counter in my office. I never imagined I would be following in her footsteps twenty five years later—even with my huge American refrigerator.
I buy another half gallon of raw whole milk from grass fed cows. I ask the producers how long the product is supposed to stay fresh. I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. I bought a half gallon container last week—it was a dollar cheaper than purchasing two quarts–and didn’t like the smell after 6 days. They tell me it is good up to a week, but I am not convinced. I will pay a dollar more and buy two quarts. It lasts longer if it is not opened. This stuff–at $3.99 a quart– is too expensive to allow it to go bad. It is my last purchase and I pack my panniers and ride like the wind. It is a warm October afternoon and home is 20 minutes away.
Later that evening I gasp audibly in delight. The tomatoes are amazing and the caprese salad is a big hit. It is a good thing I know how to shop for our clothing and household goods on sale and at discount shops. Our food bill is going up, but not as much as expected. We are more careful about purchasing and preparing just enough. I am not as cavalier about waste. And food doesn’t go bad as often. It would be interesting to really compare our food bill pre and post experiment—I might not be spending so much more after all.
I pick up some of our favorite yogurt at Whole Foods (cheaper here than at Gelson’s despite the moniker of “whole paycheck”.) I also purchase some more grass fed ground beef and lamb. I mix the two to make meatballs. Delicious. I remember my Uncle Louie making spaghetti sauce with a mix of pork, lamb and beef. It is really tasty. And the lamb is cheaper—a nice way to buffer the costs of grass fed ground beef. I’ve thought about asking our local butcher to grind the grass fed sirloin—it would cost me less than half. But without buying it from him, I am hesitant to ask for the favor. It seems a little too cheeky for now.
I start thinking about the yogurt. Maybe I will try sheep milk’s yogurt next. I ‘m not quite ready today—I really like my favorite flavors and brands. It has taken me some time to find yogurt that is not overly sweet with good flavor. I already like sheep’s milk feta cheese and chevre. I vow to try to buy more sheep and goat cheese—that will take off some of the pressure to try to give up our favorite yogurts and Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese.
The business of eating grass fed animal products is becoming more routine, but not necessarily easier. It is still takes a significant amount of time and effort to purchase food in so many different places. I feel different. That is surprising to me. I feel leaner, less puffy. I know omega 6 fatty acids are the precursors of prostaglandins that have inflammatory properties. In layman’s terms that means that when we eat too much omega 6 fatty acids, our bodies will experience more inflammation.
Inflammation receives a lot of attention in the medical world these days. Inflammation is considered the core mechanism that contributes to heart disease, type II diabetes, auto immune diseases like lupus and fibromyalgia, even cancer. The American diet has been seriously out of balance for decades. The increase in omega 6 in our diets has been gradual, almost insidious.
Decades ago all the animals grazed until slaughtered. Today cattle are fattened up in pens eating soy and corn—rich sources of omega 6 fatty acids. Ironically, the conventional beef industry celebrates the longer the animal is corn fed, 90 days better than 30 days and 180 days celebrated most of all. Research shows how corn fed beef loses its omega 3 content over 90 days of being grass fed. (See table below). Grass fed beef has 5 times the amount of omega three of corn finished beef.
In addition, the natural and desired form of trans fat, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in cow milk products and beef—and more is found in grass fed beef than corn finished beef—up to 20 times more. Despite knowing this, I didn’t expect to feel leaner. I am physically smaller even though it doesn’t show on the scale. I bought some workout clothes in a too small size a couple of months ago. They fit now. Darn! I didn’t measure my body composition before starting this experiment. I made the same mistake when I switched to a protein and produce based diet.
Still, I have been observing how my body responds to lifestyle factors for decades. I know when I feel different. My skin is thinner, there is less puffiness in my hands, basically all over. I feel my ribcage more definitively when I rub lotion on my back and belly. My arms are leaner and more defined. My legs have more definition and my clothes fit looser. This is unexpected.
I noticed two bruises on my forearms today. They look just like the bruises from powder puff football when I was a 16 and a junior in high school. I was the chronic dieter and tumbling into full blown anorexia nervosa at that point. I’m wondering—what else could cause my cell membranes to be fragile.
I eat so clean it astounds even me. I feel better and don’t feel so hungry. But that has been true since late July. I have consciously been moving slower, making choices in life so I feel less hassled. It started when I took off for 24 hours with Marlene late July.
I was tired and stressed by mid June. The school year was over and I needed a break. Frank was too busy at work to leave and I actually felt too exhausted to go away with Noah by myself. It was actually easier to stay home and have help with him during the week. But I didn’t get the break I needed. I don’t do “staycations” very well.
By the end of July I was spent and can’t bear the thought of going on vacation so empty. It is no fun to be exhausted and grumpy. At the last minute I booked a room at a local hotel and spa and bribed Marlene to join me. We arrive and it is 103 degrees. I questioned why I left the beach. No wonder the spa package rates are so low.
I feel mildly guilty, bailing on a family gathering that evening. Frank and Noah show up for the family. Frank explains my absence, claiming that it was the lesser of two evils. If I didn’t get a break, “someone was going to get hurt.” I’m not so sure it was a joke.
Twenty four hours later I feel amazingly restored. We lounged for hours in the shade by the Jacuzzi away from the squealing children in the pool. We enjoyed our spa treatments and managed to not even leave the room that night, dining on cheese, bread, fruit and wine. Breakfast was a lazy latte about 11 A.M. Marlene accuses me of starving her. More relaxed than in months, I just don’t feel hungry.
In hindsight it is always easy to see. But when the exhaustion creeps up on me over time, I am challenged to see the increased sense of needing something—of feeling hungrier—in real time. It is my classic sign of being over stressed. My sense of hunger plummets once I rest and restore. The restorative overnight was perfectly timed. We leave for vacation July 31. I enjoy that grounded energy and keener sense of hunger and satiety the entire 2 ½ weeks. Perfect.
Back to my bruises. Yes, I have been eating less, but eating well none the less. This is not about malnutrition—despite how the bruises look.
I immediately think the unwanted thought. What about cancer. I had a scare about 12 years ago—elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts that alarmed my doctor. After a second set of tests confirmed the finding, I was on a table enduring a bone marrow biopsy. They needed to rule out the icky stuff.
I got good news on two fronts. There was no sign of leukemia. During the procedure the hematologist climbed onto the gurney and used all her strength to gain access to the bone marrow. As the doctor tried to accomplish the biopsy, she grunted “no sign of osteoporosis here.”
Over the years, I think I understand that particular time of elevated white blood cell counts. It is a sign of inflammation. We didn’t know it at the time, but between the stress of a young child, one who would soon be diagnosed with autism, and the challenge of an increasingly stressful marriage, I was more than stressed. Couple the stress with a heavy corn fed beef and milk product diet (despite all the fruits and vegetables), as well as my predisposition for insulin resistance. It is no surprise to me that my white blood count was elevated. I felt inflammed.
I sit at the computer and flashback to that time. I shut my eyes and mind to the possibilities, but immediately type in key words: bruising, cancer, fatigue. Links list in front of me, but nothing seems striking or conclusive. I’m am mildly alarmed, and keep puzzling. What else could cause these bruises?
More bruises; two more on my arms and two on my leg. One is even between my fingers on my left hand. Now I pay more attention. I move too fast. I knock my arm into the counter, my leg on the stool. Presto! More bruises. Ok, something is compromising my cell integrity. And then the Aha! Could it be the fish and flax oil supplements?
I have been taking two capsules of each every night for months. Peri-menopause has haunted me for almost 10 years. Mostly I have very mild symptoms—except the hot flashes. Over months of observation I notice that they increase in intensity and frequency when I am stressed. Yes there is a link with cortisol.
But about 2 ½ years ago a close friend and colleague claimed that she doesn’t get any. She is intensely active. I noticed that is true for many of my peri-menopause clients who physically train intensely. I decide to increase the intensity and frequency of my physical activity. It helps some.
Some months later I am speaking to another friend and colleague. She’s six years younger, but keenly up on the literature. She says she recommends flax and fish oil supplements. I hate the idea. I categorically don’t like the idea of supplementation. I have a hard time getting my head around the idea that we evolved to need supplementation to avoid hot flashes. Yes the exercise shift helps some, but not enough. It takes me six months before I decide to buy the supplements. I am waking too often at night soaking wet. It is uncomfortable to feel drenched in my clothes at work. People look at me funny as I bead with perspiration on my brow while sitting down.
I notice right away that the supplements help. They help every day. I notice the hot flashes are worse when I inadvertently forget to take them. I have continued to take them—even during this experiment. The difference today is my diet is now much higher in natural omega 3 fatty acids and much lower in omega 6.
Back to the internet. Yes. Too much omega three is commonly associated with bruising. It makes sense. Fatty acids are a primary component of the cell wall. The kind of fat determines the cell wall’s rigidity. Rigid cell walls are associated with poor transport of nutrients and waste across the cell membrane. Trans fat and saturated fats are known to increase the rigidity of cell calls. Polyunsaturated fats are associated with a more pliable and flexible cell wall.
Omega three fats may have a more profound effect on cell walls than most people appreciate. Too much is a problem. I am bemused. I consistently tell my clients to regard supplements with caution. Supplements are often not supplemental at all. They often contain far larger amount of a nutrient than is typically found in the food supply. I laugh to myself. How ironic to not have anticipated this effect.
We have become a nation of supplement users. Over 50% of adults use supplements in the hopes of improving their health. People don’t realize that they can potentially overwhelm our body’s natural sense of balance. My experience with the flax and fish oil supplements could be a perfect example.
My thinking flashes forward. The rise in popularity and benefits of omega three fatty acids is probably because our usual diet provides excessive amount of omega six fatty acids. High omega 6 vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil are used extensively in our manufactured food supply. Even most Italian and Caesar salad dressings are made with soy oil, not monounsaturated rich olive oil.
Most domestic animals and even farmed fish are fed omega 6 rich grains. All of these foods have a different fatty acid ratio because of the animal feed. We have known for years that farmed salmon has a much lower omega three level than wild caught salmon.
I have preferentially purchased wild caught fish for years. Now I am purchasing grass fed beef, lamb and bison. I am purchasing pastured chicken and eggs. I am eating a lot less omega 6 fatty acid in my natural diet. Now that the intake of omega 3 is higher, I think the supplements provide more omega 3 fatty acids than I can handle. I stop taking the omega three rich flax and fish oil capsules immediately.
Frank came home with a hunk of grass fed tenderloin. We have some prime cut tenderloin in the freezer. Not exactly a clean taste test, but we’re trying anyways. Frank is happy to grill and I put together an arugula and heirloom tomato salad and bake a few potatoes. Troy’s making dessert.
We all like beef and immediately notice the distinct differences in taste and texture. I am surprised. Over the last few weeks I have become accustomed to the stronger, gamier flavor of the grass fed beef. I also like the texture better. The corn fed prime beef tastes blander, and feels greasier on the tongue. Everyone else like the conventional corn fed filet better. Is it a matter of familiarity? I remember an earlier taste test during the summer when I definitely preferred the corn fed product, no matter how much I wanted to like the grass fed beef better. I wonder if this grass fed beef is from a different supplier, or maybe it tastes different because it is fresh product and vacuum packed instead of frozen. I don’t know. In the classic scientific tradition, I think that we need more research.
I’m shopping in Carpinteria for our three day “vacation”. Noah’s school has the kids plan goals for their year and then work to assess their progress and adapt their goals during the year. It is brilliant. It takes the teachers three days to meet with all the students and their parents. We scheduled Noah’s conference for 8AM the first day and now we have a 5 day weekend ahead of us. Noah and I planned an impromptu get away to my favorite place, Carp.
We are staying in a sweet one bedroom apartment. I can see the mountains and the sea. The views are exquisite and feed my soul. But I am shopping at the local Vons. No grass fed meat, no pastured eggs, and no dairy products from grass fed cows, except the exotic imported goat and sheep milk cheeses.
I brought up two pastured Cornish game hens and we’ll go out to dinner the other two nights. I will try to order wild caught fish and dishes that don’t rely on corn/soy fed animals. I’ll do my best to stick with my experiment.
Noah and I biked to Santa Barbara and I can hardly keep up. I knew the day would come when he would become a stronger rider than me. It is here. I scramble eggs for breakfast and we leave before lunch. We will figure out a place to eat lunch in Santa Barbara. We’re riding down State Street and Noah spies a Wahoo’s restaurant up the street. We eat at Wahoo’s.
Wahoo’s Hawaiian-Mexican fusion food is a favorite. There is a Wahoo’s restaurant a block from my office in Santa Monica. They know me by name and recognize my family.
Wahoo’s does a better job than most restaurants. They use lovely fresh ingredients and are pretty conscientious overall. I especially appreciate their homemade chicken tortilla soup. They fry in no trans fat oil– long before it was even on the radar for most restaurants. They serve delicious pico de gallo—chopped tomatoes, onions and chilis with every order. Delicious. But the meat is not from grass fed animals.
On the way back, I stop by one of Carpinteria’s local health food stores. Yes, they carry the raw milk from grass fed cows. I talk to the proprietor and make a note to myself for our next trip.
I am driving home and thinking that I already feel different after two days of eating more conventional foods. I still observed a mostly produce and protein diet overall, but I think the conventional animal food makes me feel different.
Within two days of eating more conventional (read corn or soy fed) animal products I feel different: thicker, puffier, and more bloated. My hot flashes seem more intense. Could it be that omega six fatty acids delivered through meats and dairy products make that much difference?
Later that day….
We’re back home. It’s 4 PM and I’m shopping at the local Whole Foods market to get us by until I can get to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow. I pick up two quarts of grass fed raw milk and vegetables for tonight. I stop by the meat counter and notice there are no labels identifying grass fed beef. The only grass fed selections are ground bison and the lamb.
I look for the butcher to ask about the change in food labels in front of the selections in the meat case. Every label says “organically fed”, but not grass fed as before. There is plenty of organically produced corn and soy there days. While I applaud the impact on the environment, organic doesn’t address the critical issue for this experiment: the balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in my food supply.
When I ask the butcher about the missing grass fed beef, he tells me the cows are fed grass for 75% of their life. I am appalled. Most people will not know what that means. Most cattle graze for most of their lives. It is the last months of life—from 3 to 18 months that they are corn and/or soy fed. That is the time when the fatty acid distribution in the beef shifts from a high CLA level to 5% of the amount in grass fed beef; from 3% of fat from omega 3 fatty acids to O. What a disingenuous answer.
When pressed, the butcher explains. He says that feeding the cows corn for the last few months takes away that “stinky smell.” He either doesn’t have a clue about the health ramifications or he doesn’t realize that I know better. I find it interesting that I have come to enjoy the higher flavor notes of grass fed beef. Corn fed beef now tastes bland and the texture is mushier and feels greasy on my tongue.
Still, his less than honest answer raises my hackles. I intend to contact store management and find out what is behind the switch. My guess is that people complained about the taste (it is different) and the smell (it is gamier) and Whole Foods couldn’t sell enough of it to be profitable.
There is more to this story. Stay tuned.
October 26, 2009
Two days of grass fed animal and dairy products. I feel leaner again. And more regular.
After two days on a conventional diet in Carpinteria I noticed I was not as regular, feeling more constipated. When I finally had a bowel movement after coming home on Saturday and Sunday, the stool was harder and more difficult to pass. After two days back consuming more grass fed animal product, I am back to regular.
The connection between diet and elimination is significant. It takes up to 72 hours to pass waste from a previous meal. The gastro-intestinal tract is 26 feet long from mouth to anus. There is a lot of work done throughout the 26 feet. Mastication (chewing) breaks down the food into a semi solid mass in the mouth. In the stomach food mixes with gastric juices and more enzymes. During the mixing the semi solid mass in the stomach becomes a semi liquid mass. The next stage of digestion in the small intestine prepares the “food” for absorption with nutrient specific enzymes breaking down fats into fatty acids and glyceride. Proteins are broken down into di- and tri-peptides (small amino acid clusters of 2 or 3 units). Carbohydrates are broken down into the three simple sugars (called monosaccharides): glucose, fructose and galactose.
Once nutrients and water are absorbed, the waste products consolidate in the large intestine and are eliminated through the anus. The pace of digestion, absorption, and elimination is influenced by many factors. For example, adequate hydration and activity improves elimination, low fiber intake slows it down. Does the fatty acid ratio impact elimination as well?
I have known for years that for me too much carbohydrate, especially sweets and grain based carbohydrates like bread, cereal and pasta, increases my chance of getting constipated. It is one of the first signs to me that my diet has been too indulgent with sweets or starches. Likewise, regular elimination is one of the earliest signs that my diet and lifestyle are back on track.
Over the years I have noticed that anything that increases insulin resistance—poor diet, excessive stress, less exercise, the week before my period when progesterone is higher—seems to effect elimination for me. But I hadn’t considered fatty acid ratio. Now I want to pay closer attention to the next time I can’t get my preferred food choices. I wonder if it will happen again in the same way.
I stop by Trader Joes to get a favorite yogurt (a Greek style pomegranate flavor that has an unbelievable 14 grams of protein to 12 grams of carbohydrate) and a few other staples. I hear they have grass fed beef but forget to look. Next time.
I circle around to Ocean Park Boulevard and stop by Bob’s Market on 17th street. I was told they also carry grass fed beef. They do, but it is not in the case. I inquire about the product, and talk to Terrence and coworkers at the butcher’s counter. They offer New York and Rib Eye steaks as well as Tri tip roasts. A modest selection, but I’m impressed that they carry grass fed meat in the first place.
I am writing my annual newsletter and have a one page article about the benefits of grass fed meat. I ask if they would like to have it available to customers to help people understand the benefits of choosing grass fed over corn fed beef products. Many people looking for grass fed meat already know the environmental impact, but aren’t as aware of the nutritional and physiological benefits. They are interested, thinking it might improve sales. I make a note to get them copies when it gets printed next week.
I talked to Esther today. She just raised her eyebrows when I suggested that what we conventionally believe about saturated fats may be skewed since all the conventional dairy and meat products that are studied in the US are raised on corn and soy. Not their natural diet.
I also talked to another dietitian today. She also had an “aha!” moment. There are decades of data suggesting that vegetarian diets are healthier than mixed diets, and many findings concur that red meat is a problem. Maybe it is more about the animal feed-not the animal.
I am brushing my teeth today and see lot more blood. It clicks. The last dental visit the hygienist was especially concerned and lectured me about proper flossing, stimulating my gums, on and on. She is like a broken record and says the same thing regardless of what I do. But I realize this time I had been on the grass fed diet.
I am bruising more, and I am bleeding more readily when I do cut myself. Are the bleeding gums another presentation of a different ratio of omega three to omega 6 fatty acids? I think I’ll put a call into Dr. Khoe. If nothing else, both the hygienist and he could rule of omega 3 supplementation or diet as a factor for other patients.
Another two bruises on my arm. This time I know exactly when I got them: Scrambling around the house getting ready for Halloween. But they are disconcerting none the less. I am open to other reasons. Menopause? Anything else?
I’m attending a conference on gestational diabetes. The information is familiar and still startling. When a embryo is developing in the uterus, the cells are incubated in the mother’s nutritional and hormonal environment. This environment either increases risk of developing diabetes or not. When women eat poorly, don’t exercise, live with elevated blood sugars and/or secret too much insulin before they get pregnant, eating well after getting a positive pregnancy test may not be soon enough. The embryo may already be imprinted with higher risk.
Our food supply is unbelievably adulterated today. Even people who eat well, don’t realize how adulterated their food is. You can eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but when they are not organic, they don’t have the same antioxidant levels. On study at Davis reports higher antioxidant levels in organic vs. conventionally grown produce. Interestingly, over a ten year period, the organically farmed produce exhibited higher and higher levels of antioxidants, while conventionally grown produce does not. The take home messages: eating organic produce is advantageous and the longer the organic farmer is in business, the better.
So many people are careful to eat lean meats, avoid eggs and red meat, eat only chicken breasts with no skin, and fish—especially salmon. But they are eating corn and soy fed animal products with their excess of omega six fatty acids. People are mostly eating eggs from grain fed hens—same problem. They are eating farmed salmon with much lower levels of omega 3 than their wild counterpart. For most people, this is as good as it gets.
Poor eaters consume vast amounts of highly processed and adulterated foods: more corn and soy from the grain itself or from the oils used to produce, bake and fry the colas, cookies, crackers, and chips. These foods intensely tilt the omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratios, creating a greater and greater inflammatory environment.
Thankfully, the most inflammatory source of fat—partially hydrogenated fats or trans fats—is decreasing in our food supply. But it is not entirely gone. Trans fats are noted on the Nutrition Facts label today. Over the last few years manufacturers rushed to reformulate their products so they could post the coveted “0” grams trans fat on the Nutrition Facts food labels. Ironically, to the FDA zero does not mean zero. Companies are able to identify “0” grams of trans fat on a food label when their product contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat per serving.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2.5 grams trans fat per day. A smaller bag of chips that is commonly consumed in a single sitting ironically contains 2 ½ servings. If the ingredient list contains the words “partially hydrogenated fat”, you are consuming trans fats regardless of what it says on the nutrition facts label. It doesn’t take many handfuls of “0” trans fat chips to reach 2.5 grams of trans fat consumption.
We eat an increasingly compromised food supply with continued use of trans fats, excessive intake of pro-inflammatory omega six fatty acids, too few anti-inflammatory omega three fatty acids from animal products, and compromised levels of antioxidants (which can also reduce inflammation) in conventionally grown produce.
And what is wrong with inflammation? It is the cornerstone of every chronic life style disease people are suffering with today: diabetes, asthma and allergies, autoimmune diseases like arthritis and lupus, heart disease, even cancer. What if it is how we produce our food supply—how we grow it and wh