Frozen Berries are Expensive

It occurred to me to run the numbers on what it costs to eat berries every day. I’ll use blueberries as an example, since they are often on lists of superfoods. They are also cheaper than raspberries and blackberries.

12 ounces of store-brand frozen organic blueberries (the Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic for domestic blueberries) costs ~$4, 32 ounces costs ~$9. The bag says that a serving is one cup and that those 12 ounces is 2.5 servings or 4.8 ounces/serving. A family of 4, eating a serving a day, would eat 19.2 ounces/day or 134.4 ounces/week. If 32 ounces costs $9 then 134.4 ounces costs $37.80/week.

So, it would cost a family of 4, $37.80/week to eat a serving of blueberries a day.

As we saw from this post:

Americans earning a median income spend about $5,646/year, or $470/month, or $118/week on food. If there are 21 meals in a week, that’s about $5.62 per meal for the household.

A middle-income family would be spending about a third of their weekly food budget making sure everyone ate a serving of frozen berries a day. Put another way, $80.20 would be left for food for the week after buying berries, or $3.82 per meal for a family of 4, or 95 cents per person per meal … which is really low. Berries don’t have many calories so you’re left looking for calories for that 95 cents. It’s not going to be lettuce.

Also, where does a family keep 8 or 9 pounds of frozen fruit? Assuming they purchase it every week?

I think those who promote eating berries every day mean well but their message is directed towards an affluent audience, not middle America, certainly not those on the lower rungs of the wealth ladder.

The Lindy Hop

The human body can move like this, and, it appears, have fun doing it.

Probably the greatest Lindy hop sequence ever filmed. Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers from the 1941 film Helzapoppin.

I can’t get over how fast they’re moving, and with such accuracy.

Lindy Hop

The Lindy hop is an American dance which was born in Harlem, New York City in 1928 and has evolved since then with the jazz music of that time. It was very popular during the Swing era of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based on jazz, tap, breakaway, and Charleston. It is frequently described as a jazz dance and is a member of the swing dance family.

Chemicals In The Environment Cause Weight Gain

Endocrine Disruptors And Obesity, Nature Reviews, Endocrinology, September 2015

A substantial body of evidence suggests that a subclass of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which interfere with endocrine signalling, can disrupt hormonally regulated metabolic processes, especially if exposure occurs during early development. These chemicals, so-called ‘obesogens’ might predispose some individuals to gain weight despite their efforts to limit caloric intake and increase levels of physical activity.

Although the obesogen hypothesis is less than 10 years old, the obesogenic properties of ~20 environmental chemicals are already known. Given the difficulty in treating obesity, the obesogen hypothesis opens the door to reducing the incidence of this global health problem by focusing on its prevention through reducing early-life chemical exposures.

These chemicals, endocrine disruptors, also predispose individuals to diabetes … by way of weight gain and through more direct mechanisms. We can prevent these outcomes by limiting our exposure. Will we?

What Is A Low-Fat Diet?

Grains, beans, and potatoes form the foundation of a healthy, low-fat, starch-based diet.

The USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines say that between 20-35% of a day’s calories should come from fat. They call that moderate fat, not low fat.

Here are some groups that ate “low-fat”:

Kempner Rice Diet patients: 2-3% fat
Okinawans before 1960s: 6%
Cubans during Special Period: 10%
Barnard’s 2006 study (High-Carb, Low-Fat For Diabetes) : 19% (their goal was 10%)
The Famed PREDIMED Mediterranean Diet, low-fat arm: 37%

So, low-fat has been described as anywhere from 2 to 37%. (That 37% is crazy high, I don’t know how they get away with it.)

In my mind, a realistic low-fat diet contains something less than 20% fat but higher than what the Cubans and Okinawans ate, more in the range of 10-15%. What does that mean in terms of food?

If you ate 2000 calories a day:

37% fat would be 740 calories or 82 grams of fat.
35% fat would be 700 calories or 78 grams of fat.
20% fat would be 400 calories or 44 grams of fat.
15% fat would be 300 calories or 33 grams of fat.
10% fat would be 200 calories or 22 grams of fat.
6% fat would be 120 calories or 13 grams of fat.
3% fat would be 60 calories or 7 grams of fat.

So, a low-fat diet has about 22-33 grams of fat, depending on how many calories you eat.

Here are some low-fat foods:

  • A 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal has about 2.6 grams of fat.
  • A 1/2 cup of chickpeas has about 2 grams of fat.
  • A cup of cooked brown rice has about 2 grams of fat.
  • Two slices of whole wheat bread has about 4 grams of fat.
  • A cup of cooked spaghetti has about 1 gram of fat.
  • A cup of almond milk has about 3 grams of fat.
  • A 1/2 cup of corn has about 0.5 grams of fat.
  • A 1/2 cup of peas has about 0.5 grams of fat.
  • A medium red-skinned potato has about 0.3 grams of fat.
  • A medium banana has about 0.4 grams of fat.

Some fattier foods:

  • A 1/4 cup of pureed avocado has about 9 grams of fat.
  • Two tablespoons pumpkin seeds have about 7 grams of fat.
  • Two tablespoons peanut butter have about 16 grams of fat.
  • Two tablespoons olive oil have about 28 grams of fat.

Even an oil-free, vegan diet contains fat, sometimes quite a lot.

Sugar Does Not Make People Fat, Case-In-Point: Kempner’s Rice And Sugar Diet

I want to revisit this post about Kempner’s Rice Diet that I posted back in 2014. First, no one is saying or even suggesting that a person should eat only rice, fruit, and sugar. Kempner designed this diet for people with advanced kidney disease. It wasn’t even intended to be a weight loss diet. Second, as you can see from the photographs, eating sugar, and lots of it, in some cases up to 2000 calories a day in pure white sugar, did not make people gain weight. In fact, people lost weight. What makes people gain weight? When they eat fat along with sugar.

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What would happen if you fed people only white rice, fruit, juice, and sugar? At up to 2400 calories a day? Would they gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same?

This is what happened when, in the 1940’s, doctor Walter Kempner began feeding his patients a rice diet:

KempnerRiceDiet2

His initial intention was to feed patients who had advanced renal disease with a diet that would lessen the amount of filtering the kidneys had to do. The diet would reduce nitrogen (from dietary protein), sodium (from salt), etc. White rice fit the bill since it was low in protein and fat while providing all the essential amino acids, and it was widely available. The diet was a success.1

The refugee with the strong German accent explained his ideas about renal failure to his skeptical medical students. “The problem with renal failure is the resultant metabolic dysfunction. The kidneys excrete waste products, amino acids, keto-acid metabolites, hydrogen ions, the salt that is eaten, and all these things are the result of what the people are eating. Theoretically, we should be able to make them better by reducing the amount of work the kidneys have to do. Namely, we could radically alter the patients’ diets and thereby save lives.” The (Duke University) students challenged the Herr Professor. “Sounds cool but prove it!” And so he did. The ideas behind this gallant hypothesis were not that novel. Others had prescribed various similar ideas about reducing renal work by modifying the diet, particularly in terms of sodium content. However, they had not been that successful in sending the kidneys on vacation. Kempner introduced the first comprehensive (global) dietary program to treat chronic renal disease. By doing so, he revolutionized not only that disease but also the treatment of hypertension, obesity, and a host of other disorders.

It was by accident that he discovered the diet could do a lot more than treat kidney disease: 2

A major breakthrough occurred by accident in 1942 when one of Dr. Kempner’s patients, a 33-year-old North Carolina woman with chronic glomerulonephritis (kidney disease) and papilledema (eye disease) failed to follow his instructions. Because of Dr. Kempner’s heavy German accent she misunderstood his instructions to return in two weeks, and after two months, she finally returned, with no signs of deficiency, but rather with robust health. The woman had experienced a dramatic reduction of her blood pressure, from 190/120 to 124/84 mmHg, resolution of eye damage (retinal hemorrhages and papilledema), and a noticeable decrease in heart size.

Rice, fruit, and sugar really was all they were eating. This was not just a diet to which lots of rice was added. It was a diet very low in protein, fat, and sodium: 2

KempnerRiceDiet4

  • Dry rice of 250 to 350 grams daily forms the basis of the diet. Any kind of rice is used as long as it contains no milk or salt. The rice is boiled or steamed in plain water or fruit juice, without salt, milk or fat. (One cup of dry white rice weighs about 200 grams, and contains about 13 grams of protein, 150 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fat, and 700 calories.)
  • Fruit and fruit juices are allowed.
  • Dried fruits can be used as long as nothing but sugar has been added.
  • White sugar may be used as desired (ad libitum); on average a patient takes in about 100 grams daily (400 calories) but, if necessary (to maintain body weight), as much as 500 grams (2000 calories) daily has been used.
  • The nutrient breakdown is about 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day (depending on the patient’s body weight): 95% carbohydrate, 4 to 5% protein (20 to 25 grams), 2 to 3% fat (rice is relatively high in the essential fat linoleic acid), 140 milligrams of calcium, and 150 milligrams of sodium daily.

These photos of a retina that show reversal of diabetic retinopathy (bleeding/hemorrhages and leaking/exudates from blood vessels) are nothing short of remarkable:3

KempnerRiceDiet3

And this: 2

His numbers also showed how a high-carbohydrate diet improved blood sugars and often cured type-2 diabetes.

A diet of essentially all refined carbohydrate – white rice and white sugar – often cured type 2 diabetes. Why is this knowledge being lost on us? How did it come to pass that high-fat, meat-based diets reign? Because there’s little money to be made in telling people to eat rice? 3

In the 1950s, diuretics were introduced for the management of high blood pressure. And still later the direct application of Kempner’s dietary regimen diminished as a large array of blood pressure medications — Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin antagonists, and calcium channel blockers — became available for the management of hypertension. Kempner could take solace in knowing, nevertheless, that his regimen could provide comparable, if not better, results.

Many of today’s high-carb, plant-based diets are incarnations of Kempner’s rice diet from the 1940s.

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1 Who And What Drove Walter Kempner? The Rice Diet Revisited, Hypertension, October 2014
2 Walter Kempner, MD – Founder Of The Rice Diet, McDougall Newsletter, December 2013
3 Fifty-year Anniversary: Reversal of Diabetic Retinopathy With Rice Diet, Retinal Physician, 2008

Dietary Treatment Of Hypertension. Clinical And Metabolic Studies of Patients On The Rice-Fruit Diet, Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 1950
Treatment of Massive Obesity With Rice/Reduction Diet Program, An Analysis of 106 Patients With at Least a 45-kg Weight Loss, JAMA Internal Medicine, December 1975

The Downside To Fasting: Oxidative Damage And Muscle Loss

A couple more studies that raise a red flag about fasting:

Decreased Mitochondrial Metabolic Requirements In Fasting Animals Carry An Oxidative Cost, Functional Ecology, September 2018

The reduction in total hepatic metabolic capacity in fasted fish was associated with an almost two‐fold increase in in vivo mitochondrial H2O2 [hydrogen peroxide] levels.

The resulting increase in mitochondrial ROS [reactive oxygen species], and hence potential risk of oxidative damage, provides mechanistic insight into the trade‐off between the short‐term energetic benefits of reducing metabolism in response to fasting and the potential long‐term costs to subsequent life‐history traits.

Intermittent Fasting Results in Tissue-Specific Changes in Bioenergetics and Redox State, PlosONE, 2015

Surprisingly, IF [intermittent fasting] animals also presented an increase in oxidative damage in the brain.

Both of these studies discuss the cost of fasting: oxidative stress.

It is fair to note:

The body can repair damage from oxidation, to a degree. Free radicals, products of oxidation, can damage DNA. Damaged DNA, as you know from radiation effects, can cause cancer. The body has DNA repair genes, although these can be overwhelmed. The body also has in-house antioxidants like glutathione which can quench free radicals. These also can be overwhelmed. How much damage oxidation does depends upon a person’s general health, the presence of any chronic conditions like diabetes or liver disease, diet, and the length and frequency of fasts.

There’s something else to consider:

Anything that depletes your glycogen, a storage form of glucose, can lead to the breakdown of muscle – muscle in your heart, muscle in your arms and legs, muscle everywhere. That’s because muscle supplies the raw material for gluconeogenesis, the new making of glucose. The body sacrifices muscle to provide glucose for the brain. For an older person, this muscle loss contributes to sarcopenia which is very difficult to reverse. Fasting and low-carb diets (Keto, Paleo, Atkins) deplete your glycogen. That’s how they work.

Related:
Could Intermittent Fasting Increase Diabetes Risk? Yes, Say These Researchers
Another Study Challenges The Benefits Of Fasting

The Greatest Photographer Of Modern Istanbul, Ara Guler, Died On Oct. 17

His photos are beautiful.

Ara’s attentiveness to the inhabitants of Istanbul’s back streets — the fishermen sitting in coffee shops and mending their nets, the unemployed men getting inebriated in taverns, the children patching up car tires in the shadow of the city’s crumbling ancient walls, the construction crews, the railway workers, the boatmen pulling at their oars to ferry city folk from one shore of the Golden Horn to the other, the fruit sellers pushing their handcarts, the people milling about at dawn waiting for the Galata Bridge to open, the early-morning minibus drivers — is evidence of how he always expressed his attachment to the city through the people who live in it.

The crucial, defining characteristic of an Ara Guler photograph is the emotional correlation he draws between cityscapes and individuals.

These two are oddly familiar. The hill, the cobblestones, the houses bearing down, no street lamps. Maybe from a photo I saw as a child.

Concrete apartment houses have replaced the old wooden houses throughout Istanbul over the past two decades.Credit Ara Guler/Magnum Photos

And this one … What do you see? No refrigeration. Manual labor.

Porters at the Beyolglu market, 1954. CreditAra Guler/Magnum Photos

All of the photos tell a story. Perhaps that’s what makes a good photographer.