9.15.2014

A Paleolithic Diet Guinea Pig?

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An opportunity may have fallen into my lap to be a guinea pig in a Paleolithic Diet study and documentary. I was talking to a friend of a friend on Facebook who is some kind of documentary filmmaker or something like that, and we got to talking about the Paleolithic diet. I think she brought it up.

I told her I try to follow a Paleo diet when I can and have trouble adhering due to all the non-Paleo foods that are everywhere in America and tempt me daily.

That’s when she told me about her study documentary and asked if I would be interested in being a subject, since doing so would require 100% adherence to the dietary guidelines of the study. Win-win. I told her I would love to participate and now I am just awaiting follow-up.

Right now, the possibility to be a subject in this study and documentary is on the table, but that’s all. I don’t have any further details, but I hope it pans out. Naturally, I will keep you updated.

If you need a little background, the Paleolithic Diet is based on human evolution and genetics. Its premise is that 10 million years of hominid evolution can’t be wrong. The genome and biochemistry of Homo sapiens has been modified by natural selection as our ancestors foraged an omnivorous diet in nature, before agriculture. Most humans thrive on this diet, because if they didn’t, they would not survive in nature.

The diet is made of up vegetables, lean wild-caught meat, fruits, nuts, and any other kinds of foods that grow wild in nature and can be foraged. Agricultural foods are a relatively modern development and our genome has not adapted to it yet. Because we are omnivores, we can get some nutrition from agricultural foods, but there are also negative side effects of a modern agricultural based diet. The latter is high in salt and the wrong kinds of fat. We are not optimized for processing grain and high calorie foods, so we process them inefficiently, and store a lot of tha calories as fat. The Paleo diet was a low glycemic one, high in fiber, so calories did not get stored as fat and hunter-gatherers were much leaner.

9.03.2014

10 Miles and No Filler

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Chet’s three mile run with his neighbor seemed fairly easy after his 10 mile run on the weekend. It seemed to go faster than usual and he had fewer aches and pains after it was done. He had been doing three milers for a few weeks prior to the 10 mile run, and that definitely put him in better shape for the longer run. He did the 10 miles at a relaxed pace, averaging about 5 mph (12 minute miles), and it took him just over two hours to finish (he walked briefly a couple of times, and stopped once to photograph a cool mushroom growing in the ditch by the side of the road).


Chet’s left hip had been giving him some grief during the past several weeks of running. He thought the 10 mile run would amplify that soreness, but because he took it easy, the inflammation was no worse than after his three mile runs, during which he tended to push himself a little harder to keep up with his neighbor, who was in better shape. He had discovered a decent stretch to alleviate the hip soreness and he did that stretch after the 10 mile run, which probably helped. In fact, his hamstrings hurt more than his hip after the long run.

Chet bike commuted to work after his run this morning, getting more aerobics under his belt (and hopefully, with time, less beer gut under his belt). At work, he got a salad and a piece of baked fish for lunch. The past two days he has been eating “half size” salads in the cafeteria at work. He had been loading the plastic to go salad trays to the rim before, rationalizing that because salads were healthy, you could eat them in unlimited quantities. But he decided to cut back the portions, because these salads contained a lot of protein (chicken, eggs, black beans, chick peas) and thus more calories than a salad filled with a lot of leafy filler.

He usually put a small base of spinach in the bottom of the salad tray and then piled on the good stuff. As a result of cutting back to half as much salad, he also used half as much salad dressing, albeit a low calorie and sugar free one (Newman’s Own Light Italian).

Chet also used to force himself to add raw broccoli and cauliflower to his salads, because they were “healthy.” But all that did was make him like salads less. So he did away with the crunchy veggies and now he likes salads more. He is getting more health benefits from eating average salads he likes more regularly than eating healthier salads he does not like less regularly.

8.28.2014

Coffee Napping is a Thing

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So, coffee napping is a thing.

Apparently, you get more benefit from drinking coffee immediately before taking a 20 minute nap than you get from only drinking coffee or only taking a 20 minute nap.

The way it works is interesting. The reason you get tired is because as the day goes on, your brain produces adenosine, a chemical that binds to specific receptors in the brain and tells the nervous system to slow down. This makes you less alert and sometimes quite sleepy, especially after using your brain a lot. Taking a short power nap can lower the amount of adenosine, making you more alert.

Adenosine is a nervous system suppressor, and when you ingest caffeine, it inhibits adenosine and stimulates the nervous system in a variety of ways.

It pretty much is that simple. But more specifically, at the molecular level, caffeine resembles adenosine, and binds to adenosine receptors in the brain. This means adenosine cannot bind at the receptors blocked by caffeine and so the nervous system suppressing effects of adenosine are blocked.

So both caffeine and power napping are ways to stimulate your nervous system and be less tired and more alert.

A coffee nap combines these two things together. When you ingest the caffeine, it takes 20-30 minutes for it to be absorbed in your small intestine. So if you lie down for a power nap immediately after drinking coffee, say, your adenosine levels begin to drop, and when you wake up, the caffeine is starting to enter your brain. Due to the nap, the caffeine has less adenosine to compete with for brain receptors and thus it has a greater stimulant affect by blocking adenosine from binding those receptors as adenosine levels begin to rise again.

They did studies and it appears to be true.

However, I have a question. After a good night of sleep, adenosine levels in the brain should be at an all-time low. So why am I so groggy and sluggish in the morning? Coffee in the morning does seem to have more potent awakening effects than coffee later in the day, presumably because it has very little adenosine to compete with when I wake up. But I usually wake up groggier than when I fell asleep, and that’s a quandary.

Here’s a list of the amount of caffeine in various ingestible things.