Did Paleolithic Cavemen Die at a Young Age?

This is one of the arguments against eating a paleo-style diet. “Cavemen died very young, so why should I try to eat like them?” I don’t know, and I’m too busy sharpening my spear and gathering roots to think about it. I think this argument is silly, obviously, but I still thought I would explore it to see what the real life expectancy of people living in the paleolithic era was. According to this article (1), the life expectancy then was 33 years old at birth. So this included babies and children. If the person made it to age 15, the life expectancy increased to 54 years. This article is peer reviewed I believe, but it is still more anthropology and is considered “soft science.” Now some would say that babies and children should be included in the measurement, but think about this. Babies then were not born in sterile hospitals, there was no medical care, and starving was common. Infectious diseases are now well-controlled in developed countries, and so are wild animals that could eat you. It seems that agriculture was not the miracle we all thought it was. It makes sense to be able to conveniently produce more food, but not if that food is unhealthy. The following article is not peer reviewed, it’s merely an opinion of a researcher, but he makes some good points. The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. One interesting point that is made is that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle means fewer people living in one place. They also moved around more to follow food. This spreading out kept diseases from killing huge amounts of people. A disease may be airborne, but it’s not going to travel 20 miles without a body. Agriculture allowed people to gather in larger groups and not move often. There was no tuberculosis and no diarrheal disease before the beginning of farming, and measles and bubonic plague were not around until cities began to develop. Yes, the crowding caused this, not necessarily the agriculture, but one encourages the other.


I am not the only blogger interested in this. Check out this post by Turning the Tide. There is no good way to conduct any hard science in this area as the subjects of interest are long dead. I encourage all readers to consider the information presented and make a logical decision on what they think happened, but don’t just assume that agriculture is the best thing ever. Do some research, and consider what the effects of agriculture have been on our society. I’ve posted a few more articles in the sources that are considered reliable. There are also plenty of articles out there that tell a different story. This has been debated for a long time, mostly because no one can really prove anything. I encourage you to read both sides and make a logical decision.


1. http://www.unm.edu/~hkaplan/KaplanHillLancasterHurtado_2000_LHEvolution.pdf

2. Tellier, Luc-Normand (2009). Urban world history: an economic and geographical perspective. PUQ. p. 26.

3. Jared Diamond (2012). The World Until Yesterday. Viking. p. 353.

The Nutrition Community’s Pitfall – Group Thinking

I just read a well-cited article by a fellow blogger. He is not a paleo advocate per say, but more like a low-carb, low-crap diet advocate. Group thinking is almost always a bad thing, and it runs rampant in nutrition communities. The purpose of my blog is not to start any sort of thread that is based solely on what a group thinks, but on what science has discovered. Group thinking is not just a general term. It’s considered an actual psychological phenomenon. Wikipedia says the following without specifying sources:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”


I highly suggest you read the article I posted above for more information. If I were to continue writing this blog post, I would pretty much just copy and paste what my fellow blogger says. I’m sure it could spark a great discussion. Here is the link again


Feel free to challenge and consider everything fully. Even me!


Thursday Rant – GMOs: Safe or Unsafe?

I’m really, truly not sure where all of the hatred for genetically modified organisms has come from. I’m all for people questioning what the government does, but seriously! Do some research. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that GMOs are harmful to humans, soil, the environment, etc. In fact, most of the evidence is to the contrary. Just to make sure I was on the right track, I did the research. Here we go.


Let’s first go over the difference between GMOs and conventionally grown products. GMOs have 1 or a few well-characterized (known, defined) genes fused into their genome. These genes can be from any species, usually bacteria or viruses.  Conventional methods use genetic manipulation, not modification, to accomplish similar goals. Think of a German shepherd. These dogs have been selectively bred over many years to produce the desired traits of loyalty, intelligence, and herding. Selective breeding is used in every single crop you can imagine. Breeders force things to happen genetically. This can also introduce new genes, but they are always within species.

non gm vs gm

When the plant genetics are engineered in GMOs, the new genes are reviewed for unintended consequences. These products go through three government organizations (not all US) that are specifically designed to test GMOs for undesirable effects on humans, soil, environment, and insect biodiversity. Conventionally grown products that have been genetically manipulated do not have to go through any of these agencies to test for safety. They are assumed to be safe because they are “natural.” So far, the only proven harmful chemicals to humans from crops have been from conventionally grown crops that have been manipulated. For example, a strain of celery grown conventionally was shown to have a higher than normal concentration of psoralens which is a chemical that deters insects. The farmers were excited about the prospect of having insect resistant crops, but soon came to realize that the excess psoralens was giving everyone rashes. If this strain of celery would’ve gone through the process of being determined safe, this wouldn’t have happened (1).

The current controversies surrounding GMOs right now are as follows:

1. Whether genetically engineered (GE) foods should be labeled

2. The effect of GE foods on health and the environment

3. The effect on pesticide resistance

4. Impact on agricultural finance

5.  The role of GE products on feeding the world

I want to talk about number 1 after I’ve made my point.

The most successful genetic modification of crops so far has been the addition of genes that produce toxic proteins from soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (2). These proteins are toxic to common insect predators, but do no damage to humans or other non-target wildlife (3). Another great thing about the toxins is that they are present inside the plant tissues. Topical pesticides have contained Bt proteins for decades, but the proteins never killed pests already inside the plant. Since it has been long established that Bt proteins do not hurt humans, scientists were given the go-ahead to genetically modify corn and soy with Bt proteins (4). Another benefit of this modification is that insecticide use has gone down by 8% per planted acre of Bt crops. This has also lead to increased yield and increased profits for farmers (5). Even further, since the Bt proteins only kill target organisms, other insects have been allowed to thrive without being destroyed by broader insecticides. A study of 42 plots of land was conducted and various insects were collected to a result that there were 23% more insect species in Bt corn fields and 71% more insect species in Bt cotton fields than conventionally grown and sprayed corn and cotton (6).


Another prime example is the viral resistant papaya. Pretty much all papayas are genetically modified to resist  papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). Here is where GMO haters get on the industry for treating papayas like tobacco. Tobacco had a common virus, as well. The similarity is that both viruses were treated with an internal vaccine. Two difference vaccines for two different viruses (7). This has nothing to do with the detrimental health effects of tobacco. So basically, all papayas have a very mild strain of the virus inside them the same way we all have a mild strain of measles or influenza in us from vaccines. Without this vaccine, it would be nearly impossible to grow papayas at all because the virus is so widespread (7).

I have one more example of a GMO that hasn’t been released just yet but looks promising. It is called “golden rice.” Rice is a staple crop grown in over 100 countries, and Vitamin A deficiency is a real public health problem in over 100 countries. Carotenoids, the compounds that give yellow and orange vegetables their color, can be used to make vitamin A within the body. Scientists have incorporated a gene from the yellow daffodil flower and two genes from bacteria to create golden rice (8). The second generation of golden rice has been shown in human feeding studies to have the proper balance of carotenoids to create vitamin A, even in children (9). An 8 oz cup of golden rice has enough vitamin A for 50-60% of RDA for vitamin A (10). The purpose of golden rice was not to make an extra profit. People already buy rice. The purpose was purely humanitarian in nature.


Of course there are many more examples, but they are all in this reference (2), and I have no need to go over each one. However, it has been scientifically shown over and over that GMOs boost agricultural sustainability, lower the amount of insecticide used, improved soil quality (11, 12), and increase the biodiversity of invertebrate wildlife in crop fields (13).

There are also a lot of issues with the patenting of GMOs. I’m sure this will follow the way of gene patenting and be outlawed so that everyone can have access to GMOs. Everyone can have access now with royalty and patent fees to the creator, but that will soon be outlawed I would hope.

Before I ended my research, I looked all over the internet for a reliable article against GMOs. I found 1, yes 1! article that had any peer reviewed references at all (14). This article is laughable in it’s credibility. It makes outrageous claims with no references at all, and most of the references it does have are not peer reviewed or from some agency no one has heard of. The first 8 references were personal opinion single author books (which are not peer reviewed.) I went to PubMed and read the very first peer reviewed article on the list. This was a study on genetically modified soy and whether or not it had more allergic affect than conventionally grown soy. Skin tests of 49 subjects for both types of soy showed 14 patients with positive skin tests for allergy: 14 total showed an allergy, 8 to both types, 5 to the conventional, and 1 to the GMO (15). They had used this article to say that GM soy had a new allergen. IN ONE PERSON! It took away the allergen in five people! I guess they thought no one would check their sources.

Hey, I’m all for scientific skepticism. Look things up, do some reading. But don’t take every little piece of propaganda seriously. The article I mentioned actually said that GMOs reduce crop yield. That is their whole point! Immediately, I knew what I was reading was garbage. But a lot of people don’t. This is why I’m ok with the US not having GMO labeling laws. People freak out over the littlest things and don’t do any sound research on it.

Now, I’m all for food safety, but until I see any reasonable evidence stating that these foods are bad for me, I’m eating them, and I encourage you to do the same.

1. Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health, and National Research Council (Editors), 2004 Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects.National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

2. Pamela Ronald. Plant Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture and Global Food Security. Genetics May 1, 2011 vol. 188 no. 111-20.

3.  Mendelsohn M., Kough J., Vaituzis Z., Matthews K.,  2003 Are Bt crops safe? Nature Biotechnol. 21: 1003–1009.


5. Fernandez-Cornejo J., Caswell M., 2006 The first decade of genetically engineered crops in the United States, pp. 1–30 in Economic Information Bulletin, edited by United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. USDA, Washington, DC.

6. Marvier M., McCreedy C., Regetz J., Kareiva P., 2007 A meta-analysis of effects of Bt cotton and maize on nontarget invertebrates. Science 316: 1475–1477.

7. Tripathi S., Suzuki J., Gonsalves D., 2006 Development of genetically engineered resistant papaya for papaya ringspot virus in a timely manner: a comprehensive and successful approach, pp. 197–240 in Methods in Molecular Biology, Vol. 354: Plant–Pathogen Interactions: Methods and Protocols, edited by P. C. Ronald. Humana Press,Totowa, NJ.

8. Ye X., Al-Babili S., Kloti A., Zhang J., Lucca P., et al., 2000 Engineering the provitamin A (beta-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm.Science 287: 303–305.

9. Stein A. J., Sachdev H. P. S., Qaim M., 2006 Potential impact and cost-effectiveness of Golden Rice. Nat. Biotechnol. 24: 1200–1201

10.Tang G., Qin J., Dolnikowski G. G., Russell R. M., Grusack M. A., 2009 Golden Rice is an effective source of Vitamin A. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 89: 1776–1783.

11. Huang J., Hu R., Rozelle S., Pray C., 2005 Insect-resistant GM rice in farmers’ fields: assessing productivity and health effects in China. Science 308: 688–690.

12. Qaim M., Zilberman D., 2003 Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Science 299: 900–902.

13. Cattaneo M. G., Yafuso C., Schmidt C., Huang C.-Y., Rahman M., et al., 2006 Farm-scale evaluation of the impacts of transgenic cotton on biodiversity, pesticide use and yield. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 7571–7576.

14. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks#11

15. Yum HYLee SYLee KESohn MHKim KE. Genetically modified and wild soybeans: an immunologic comparison. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2005 May-Jun;26(3):210-6.

Paleo: Budget friendly tips you can actually USE

I read articles all the time on how to conserve money when eating paleo because hey… grass-fed meat, organic vegetables… this stuff gets expensive. I understand. I’m living the food bill nightmare. However, all of these articles I read do not give a lot of tips that are relevant to my life. For instance: Buy a deep freeze to keep whole halves of animals. Not feasible for a grad student living in a studio apartment. Now, those tips are great for a young family of four, but for me on my own, not useful. I’m going to go over my own personal tips for younger people on their own, and I’ll make reference to some articles that I think will be useful for more established families.

1. Buy cheaper cuts of meat. 

Chicken is probably the cheapest meat, and the easiest to store. Remember, dark meat and chicken skin are ok on paleo as long as they are raised the right way. I love chicken thighs, and they are so cheap compared to chicken breasts. I buy a big batch, say 10 thighs, and freeze them in bags of 2 since they are usually small. Then I can take a bag out of the freezer in the morning and put in the fridge to thaw to have for dinner. Another tricky thing to do with chicken thighs is to save the grease from the pan and freeze it in ice cube trays to use for cooking other things later. Saves you on your coconut oil and grass-fed butter bill.

2. Only buy fresh veggies that you plan on eating raw. If you’re going to cook it, buy it frozen.

I buy fresh veggies for salads, but if it’s something I plan on roasting or boiling, I buy it frozen. This is much cheaper and lasts much longer.  A few of my favorite frozen veggie purchases are frozen chopped onions for soups and stir fries, and frozen California blend veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I just add some garlic powder and salt and roast them in foil. Now if you ask me honestly, I would say I prefer fresh vegetables for everything. However, I can’t deny that it’s much cheaper, and me being on my own, I don’t go through an entire onion before it spoils, and I don’t go through fresh heads of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots before they all spoil. It just makes sense to buy frozen. Make sure they don’t come with all that preservative-laden sauce on them.

3. Find a good place to get eggs. Preferably not the grocery store. 

I live in the city, so I usually end up buying eggs from the grocery store. I buy organic which are usually around $4/dozen. Regular eggs are about $1.29/dozen. My parents live in the country, so every time I’m home, I make sure to pick up some local eggs which are $1/dozen, and most likely more organic than what I bought in the store. I also tend to eat eggs every day because they are cheaper than meat and full of magic, I swear. Zucchini LatkesEgg MuffinsFritatta

magic egg

4. Make expensive meat last awhile.

When I buy a nice expensive pound of grass-fed ground beef, I don’t usually make burgers, or meatloaf, or meat bagels. Yes, those exist. I make something like paleo chili, so that I get some grass-fed beef for the next three or four days. If I really get on a protein kick, I just eat some tuna. I don’t like the can much, I go for those little pouches. FYI, they also have salmon in those pouches. I think the salmon tastes better plain than the tuna. Or a hard boiled egg. Just saying, eggs are magic.

5. Watch for meat sales, but use that meat quickly.

Grocery stores tend to have meat sales when they have a surplus of something. This means that the meat could be old. Whole Foods has periodic sales on ground beef, and I usually buy some and either use it or freeze it within 2 days.


6. Watch for affordable farmers markets

There are farmers markets in the city, but fresh produce is in such high demand that the prices are usually higher than the grocery store. This is not always the case, so I checked out a few different farmers markets in my area to see which had the most reasonable prices. This is the best way to get fresh vegetables, especially if you are into canning. I’m not, I don’t have the time or the space to store all of that, but a farmers market is a great place to get bulk veggies for canning.

7. Buy produce in season.

This tip is in almost every money-saving article because it is so true. In season produce is cheaper, tastes better, and has more nutrients.

Other articles you may find useful:




Trans fats, Look Before You Leap – Thursday Rant

When I was young and naive and followed the USDA food pyramid, my thoughts about government organizations went as far as “they have this job because they are the best and the smartest. I should do what they say.” Then I started to read.

When I was an undergrad, I was a vegan for almost a year because of the horrible way that animals are treated and the poor quality of meat and meat care. In this day and age of government regulation of… say… everything, why isn’t quality control taken more seriously? Preservatives, hormones, factory farms, mad cow disease… I’m all for farms and farmers being able to make a living, but not at the expense of my health. Just because hormones make a cow get bigger, does not make that extra meat healthy. Feed them grass, please –> Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed

Anyway, I digress. What I really wanted to talk about in this rant is trans fats. There are a few very insignificant naturally occurring trans fats out there, but most of them are created by an industrial process called hydrogenation. In the early 1900’s, people were starting to get this idea that saturated fat was bad. It also tended to spoil, making things harder to preserve. In 1898, Paul Sabatier developed the process of hydrogenation of vapors that would  come to change fats as we knew them. By 1902, the process of hydrogenating saturated oils like whale oil into partially hydrogenated oils became a patented procedure. Believe it or not, this won Sabatier a Nobel Prize (1). The reason it was such a big discovery was because trans fat content increased the shelf-life of everything it was in. Just because we can, we should…? (Look before you leap.) Put a stick of butter and a stick of margarine out on the table. The butter will spoil. The margarine won’t. Also, bugs won’t eat the margarine. Hint hint.


Over the years, the body of research implicating trans fat in disease has just grown, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that it was finally admitted to be killing people. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil had replaced much of the natural saturated fats people consumed, mostly for shelf-life and financial reasons. People tried to ignore the growing amount of research in favor of their Crisco cookies that would last forever, but in the 1990’s a study came out linking trans fats to 20,000 heart disease deaths per year (2). It was only then 1994! that trans fat labeling became regulated (3). Still to this day, a label can read “0 grams trans fat” if there is less than 0.5 grams per serving. Anyone use non-dairy creamer? Eat any commercial baked good? Anything with “partially hydrogenated in the ingredients list? That’s enough trans fat to affect your vascular health.

Because this is my area of research, I could get very very in depth here, but I’ll try to keep you interested. When fats are ingested, they are broken down into fatty acids that can be used for energy, hormone production, or phospholipid cell membranes. Cells have no efficient mechanism to break down unnatural trans fats, so the only thing they can do with them is incorporate them into cell membranes. Trans fats are rigid. Cell membranes need to be more fluid most of the time. Cells that are rigid don’t flow through the blood as well. Things back up. Cells accumulate lipids. –> Atherosclerotic lesion in vascular intima –> plaque build-up –> cardiovascular event. But wait, there’s more. Because the cells are trying desperately to break down the trans fat, they neglect other dietary fats. My research showed this quite reliably. In the following graph, every situation contained radioactive oleate which is a healthy fatty acid found in olive oil. To the radioactive olive oil was added either more olive oil, trans fat (elaidate), or stearate, which is a saturated fat found in animal products. Each bar measures the amount of radioactive oleate was metabolized. The presence of the elaidate caused the cells to “forget about” the oleate.

Data 1 graph

But that extra fat has to go somewhere.


These are human macrophages that have been treated with trans fat. The blue is the cell nucleus. The brighter red circles are excess lipid droplets. By very definition, these are developing “foam cells,” the main cells that make up arterial plaques (3). (Yes, I cited myself.) But hey, it saves us some money.

Thankfully… before I go any more insane, I found this article this morning in the New York Times. The FDA (how many years later) has figured out that we would rather not have heart attacks. They are in the process of fully banning trans fats from everything. Apparently, the voices of the health conscious have finally been heard.

FYI, since a paleo rule is NOTHING PROCESSED, we strict paleo eaters have been safe. This rant is more for the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association who have bake sales with trans fat-laden cookies to raise money. Who’s idea was that? The drug companies? Let’s give everyone diabetes and heart attacks! Fatten up all the people!!!


Rant over.

1. Nobel Lectures, Chemistry, 1901–1921. Elsevier. 1966.Reprinted online: “Paul Sabatier, The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1912”. Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-01-07.

2. Willett WC, Ascherio A (1995). “Trans fatty acids: are the effects only marginal?”. American Journal of Public Health85 (3): 411–412.

3. Zacherl JRMihalik SJChace DHChristensen TCRobinson LJBlair HC. Elaidate, an 18-carbon Trans-monoenoic fatty acid, inhibits β-oxidation in human peripheral blood macrophages. J Cell Biochem. 2013 Jul 31. doi: 10.1002/jcb.24633

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a staple in any hard core paleo-eater’s diet. This is because A. we aren’t afraid of saturated fat, B. we know the dangers of rancid oils, and C. we like to have nice skin. It’s also an acceptable way to fry food because of the high smoke point.


Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts by one of two methods: wet processing or dry processing. Most coconut oil is dry processed because it is more economical (higher yield) and more appealing (1). The dry process involves  removal of the coconut meat from multiple coconuts, drying it in a kiln, and pressing what is left. Two products come out of the press: coconut oil, and copra which is a high-protein fibrous mash that is used in ruminant feed and not suitable for human consumption. The copra is strained out, and the coconut oil remains (2).

Commercial coconut oil is about 91% saturated fatty acids, 6% oleic acid (healthy monounsaturated fatty acid), and 3% polyunsaturated fatty acid. It’s smoke point (why we love it) is 350 degrees F (3).

Many health organizations including the FDA (4), WHO (5), American Heart Association (6), etc, advise against the ingestion of coconut oil because of the high saturated fat content, but if you’ve read my post about saturated fat, you know how I feel about that.

According to a 2003 meta-analysis (7), the use of coconut oil as a replacement for other sources of saturated fats (just partially, not entirely) increased overall cholesterol, but much of the effect was on the HDL (good) cholesterol. One of the most accurate predictors of cardiac events is the following ratio total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol. The lower this ratio is, the safer you are. Consumption of coconut oil, decreased this ratio compared to the addition of CARBS. Replacing saturated fatty acids with carbs had little effect on the cholesterol ratio, but it did increase the concentration of triglycerides when fasting (7).

Besides its uses in cooking, coconut oil is great for skin and hair topically (8, 9). I know this from my personal experience, as well.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, coconut oil has a very high smoke point compared to other oils like olive (3). When an oil reaches its smoke point, it begins to break down to its components, fatty acids and glycerol. The glycerol will continue its breakdown to a substance called acrolein which is a compound in the smoke that is irritating to the eyes and throat (10). It is also a component of cigarette smoke (11). Since coconut oil has a high smoke point, it is safer to cook with. As oils break down, they also begin to lose nutritional value making olive oil healthy when raw, but not so much when heated.

Coconut oil does have a mild coconut scent and flavor. I prefer to cook with ghee or butter because the flavor is better, and the smoke point is still adequate. I mostly use coconut oil for topical purposes because the smell is nice. Different skin types react differently to the oil. For instance, my skin is firm, so it doesn’t absorb the oil quickly. The oil makes my skin look great, but I have to wash it off before going anywhere as it looks greasy. I’ve heard other people say that their skin soaks it right up. Trial and error. I’ve also used it to treat rashes, scrapes, burns, and even acne. It can even be used as a mouthwash, but I don’t do this anymore because it uses a lot of oil, and coconut oil is expensive. This is the brand that I use.


Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try, topically if not in cooking, and see how you like it. I think it’s pretty wonderful.

1. Grimwood et al., 1975, pp. 193–210

2. Grimwood, BE; Ashman F; Dendy DAV; Jarman CG; Little ECS; Timmins WH (1975). Coconut Palm Products – Their processing in developing countries. Rome: FAO. pp. 49–56.

3. Katragadda, H. R.; Fullana, A. S.; Sidhu, S.; Carbonell-Barrachina, Á. A. (2010). “Emissions of volatile aldehydes from heated cooking oils”. Food Chemistry 120: 59.

4. “Nutrition Facts at a Glance – Nutrients: Saturated Fat”Food and Drug Administration. 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2011-03-16.

5. “Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes” (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2011-04-06.

6.  “Tropical Oils”American Heart Association. Retrieved 2011-03-16.

7. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB (May 2003). “Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials” (PDF). Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77 (5): 1146–55.

8. Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM (September 2004). “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis”. Dermatitis 15 (3): 109–16

9. Rele, A.; Mohile, R. (2003). “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage” (pdf). Journal of cosmetic science 54 (2): 175–192.

10.  Morgan, D. A. (1942). “Smoke, fire, and flash points of cottonseed, peanut, and other vegetable oils”. Oil & Soap 19: 193.

11. Feng, Z; Hu W, Hu Y, Tang M (October 2006). “Acrolein is a major cigarette-related lung cancer agent: Preferential binding at p53 mutational hotspots and inhibition of DNA repair”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (42): 15404–15409.

Savasana Juice Cleanse Diary – Part 2, and My Thoughts on Deadlifts

Juice Cleanse Diary – Part 2

I got quite a bit of attention for my first juice cleanse post. I thought I would update you since I’m now on my 5th day. I think I would  be enjoying this more if there was more variety in the juices. They all have apple, lemon, or celery flavors. This really isn’t my type of diet. Not that it’s not working. I can definitely tell the difference in my energy level, and an unexpected bonus is that my fall allergies aren’t bothering me as much. I probably won’t do this again mostly because I look forward to good, healthy food as a bright spot in my day. I enjoy eating whole, good foods. I don’t look forward to drinking the juice. So although it has many benefits, it’s not really the ideal way of doing things for me.

yucky juice

Deadlifts: Friend or Foe?

The deadlift http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP8lEbeY4LM is one of the most basic barbell lifts there is. Basic, but not simple. Without proper form, deadlifts can cause more injury than almost any other movement. Let’s talk about why people even practice deadlifts if they are so dangerous. The answer is that they work many of the largest muscles in the body, and this style of lift is capable of moving the most weight. It is also said to increase the load capabilities of the spine by increasing the bone mineral density of the vertebrae (1). This idea has a law behind it called Wolff’s Law. It states that healthy mammalian bone will adapt to heavy loads (2). But you have to subject the spine to those loads if you want the benefits.

Current World Record Holders of the Deadlift

  • 114 Pound Class – E. Sajeeva Bhaskaran: 573.2 pound deadlift
  • 123 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 639.3 pound deadlift
  • 132 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 683.4 pound deadlift
  • 148 Pound Class – Dan Austin: 705.5 pound deadlift
  • 165 Pound Class – Oleksandr Kutcher: 793.7 pound deadlift
  • 181 Pound Class – Giovanni Brunazzi: 793.7 pound deadlift
  • 198 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 859.8 pound deadlift
  • 220 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 901.7 pound deadlift
  • 242 Pound Class – Yuriy Fedorenko: 892.9 pound deadlift
  • 275 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 948 pound deadlift
  • 308 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 939.2 pound deadlift
  • 308+ Pound Class – Benedikt Magnusson: 1015 pound deadlift

If you or someone you know has an aversion to deadlifts because of lower back pain, I would encourage that person to check their form with a pro and also read this great article with lots of tips and tricks to improve.

I am a firm believer, however, that strict deadlifts may not be right for everyone, at least at first. There is some hip flexibility that goes into proper deadlift form. A simple solution to this problem is to perform the deadlift with the barbell up on some boxes. As hip flexibility improves, the boxes can be reduced, then removed all together.

Also, anyone with any kind of previous lower back injury should consult a physician before attempting deadlifts. Any deficit in the posterior spine can be a weak spot for the vertebral compression created by a deadlift.

The bottom line is this: a deadlift can be one of your greatest fitness weapons if done correctly under qualified supervision.



1. Granhed HJonson RHansson T. The loads on the lumbar spine during extreme weight lifting. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1987 Mar;12(2):146-9.

2.  Wolff J. “The Law of Bone Remodeling”. Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer, 1986 (translation of the German 1892 edition)