Thursday, February 6, 2014

Update on nuts and seeds

Here are a few background posts on my ramblings about nuts:

Some older posts I think are still relevant:

here is a uTube clip of Jeff Novick showing how flawed the nut studies are:

here are some articles promoting the no-nut route:

Here's my most recent blog post expressing confusion about the whole thing:

And here is my view today, at 5:19 pm (could change any minute).  I've been logging my calories for the past week to help guide me in the process. I want to keep my fat percentage above 10%, unlike I was doing a lot of last year when I didn't even eat flaxseeds much of the time (I was consistently at 7%).  I haven't been eating nuts, but I've added back in some higher fat foods like home-made soy yogurt or edamame or occasional avocado (notice I said "or", as I'm trying to lose a few pounds), and I'm eating about 1 Tbsp of seeds per day, usually in my dressing.  My seed mixture contains flax, sesame, hemp, and chia.  All except sesame are high in omega-3 fats.  My fat percentage has consistently been about 10-15% which is in the range suggested by Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell, and not so much by Dr. Fuhrman (he prefers higher).  I'm getting plenty of vitamin E (about 107% recommended) from the vast amount of carrots and green vegetables I eat (I like them!).  I'm getting about 1.5 gm of omega-3 fats and 2.9 g of omega-6, which is enough and at the ideal ratio according to a lot of the plant-based doctors (except Furhman who says the ratio doesn't matter if the fat sources are from healthy whole foods like nuts and avocado).  I'm loving the soy yogurt.  See yesterday's post for how I eat it.  

Based on this, I don't see any reason to add nuts to my diet, except for the enjoyment of them, but not because there is a dietary need for them.  I'd rather not have large quantities in the house because I occasionally overindulge in them.  When I do that, I suffer from unpleasant burps, YUCK.  Plus I am a person with low-calorie needs (the model of efficiency!  or menopause), and nuts every single day squeezes out things I might enjoy a little more.  So I'm okay with nuts when I want them but I don't think they need to be a part of my every single day diet.  One way I can envision enjoying nuts occasionally is to buy some raw cashews for when I go out to eat and sprinkle them on my salad. 


Darryl said...

Have you read T. Colin Campbell's new book Whole? His thesis is that the focus on individual nutrients, as in "plenty of vitamin E (about 107% recommended)", misses the big picture. The amount of a nutrient in a given sample of food varies with the way it was grown, how it was harvested, shipped, and stored, how you prepare it, what other foods you eat it with, how well your body absorbs it, and so on. So we can't know with any accuracy how much of a given nutrient the body is actually using. And once the nutrient is in the body, things get really complicated.

Campbell would have us look beyond the reductionist paradigm, stop over-analyzing, and just eat a diet based on a varied selection of whole plant foods. Nuts are certainly excellent foods, very strongly associated with decreased mortality.

At the risk of sounding negative, I have to say that Jeff Novick is simply not an impressive intellect, and his fat-phobia doesn't surprise me. It's a pity that he is out there confusing some of the rare people who are serious about eating a healthy diet.

kneecap said...

Darryl, I'm very confused. I wish I could chat with you. Yesterday I decided I need the nuts. I'm just not getting enough fat otherwise. It shows in my nails and dry patches of skin. Yes, I read Whole. That is what pushed me away from some of the rigidity of the Furhman "requirements," and the supplements he recommends. But then I found the looseness of the McDougall plan not right for me either. I guess I'm like Goldilocks. I know I'm nitpicking. I feel like I don't agree with everyone perfectly so I have to make my own plan and somehow it was easier when I just believed and followed someone else's. Maybe I'm more of a follower than a leader. :)

Darryl said...

No need to feel bad, Barb. Nobody has the whole truth, not Dr. Furhman, Dr. McDougall, or Dr. Campbell, not me, and most certainly not Jeff Novick. One reason it's hard to evaluate different healthy diets is this: processed food and sugar confections are so unhealthy that most any diet that eliminates them produces health improvements, even the so-called "paleo" meat diet.

L and I found a very good doctor here in Florida, expert in both conventional and alternative medicine. He tested both of us very thoroughly, and found that our cholesterol levels were too low (106 and 109), that I needed salt (low sodium and chloride with no disease-based cause), and that L needed more protein. In fact once one reaches 60, there's pretty good evidence that protein needs increase. At any rate, I eat eggs now, plus about a half to 3/4 teaspoon of added salt a day, and L uses a protein supplement and eats egg yolks (she has sensitivity to egg whites). This keeps our blood markers in the healthy range, cholesterol about 140-150. Apart from these modifications, it's pretty much full Fuhrman. We both eat a lot of seeds and nuts, especially me as I do a lot of physical work these days, and I need them to keep my weight from dropping. As far as we know, we are about the healthiest people we know in our age bracket, apart from L's residual damage from her long-dormant MS.

It would be neat to exchange emails or talk by phone. You could PM me at the Member Center for contact info.