Friday, January 30, 2009
Hope you liked it
Here is the results
Johnny - 10.09
dave - 10.46 (I did it during PT)
Joel - 12.11
Reagan - 12.14
Liz - 12.22
Stacy - 12.44
Lee - 14.29
Alicia - 14.39
Charlene - 14.45
Leslie - 14.50
Alan - 16.09
Mondays will be posted on sat or sunday.
Please be on time Monday as it will most likely be just me as don is on TDY
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Run 1 Mile,
Every min stop and do one min of walking lunges
Continue till you finish the mile
It should be in the 50s by the time we start, so dress accordingly
For Monday I am going to post two workouts,
one is a Steelers WOD and one will be a Cardinal WOD
We will do the Super Bowl Champ WOD
It just might change who you cheer for. Keep an eye out it will go up sometime Sunday
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Here you go
First Overall Winner is TEE with 374
Here is the group/Weight Breakdown
Group 1 (Low Weight - SDLHP-25, VS-10, PP-25)
Stacy - 344
Kim - 320
Alicia - 266
Group 2 (Middle Weight: SDLHP-45, VS-25, PP-45)
Tee - 349
Regan - 316
Leslie - 284
Earnest - 374
Geraldo - 181
Group 3 (High Weight: SDLHP-75, VS-45, PP-75
Dave T - 324
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Modified "Fight Gone Bad"
This is a workout made for UFC fighters, We have to modify it based on equipment, but it will still be a great WOD
You do three rounds with one min at each station, and rest one min between rounds
Virtual Shoveling (Men-45lbs, Women-25lbs)
SDLHP (Men-75lbs, Women-45lbs)
Push Press (Men-75lbs, Women-45lbs)
OHS - PVC
Hope everyone is excited
We will quickly go over the movements for this and then get started on the WOD
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
From this point on, feel free to let us know if you will or won't be able to make the WODs, comment on the posts and you can post your times / number of rounds after each WOD in the comments too.
This is an explanation straight from the Crossfit.com Site:
Complete 32 intervals of 20 seconds of work followed by ten seconds of rest where the first 8 intervals are pull-ups, the second 8 are push-ups, the third 8 intervals are sit-ups, and finally, the last 8 intervals are squats. There is no rest between exercises.
We may change it for scale and work but you get the idea. Its a great burner in just a short amount of time.
Also, Great Job on the WOD from Wednesday! That was a smoker. I did it this morning during PT to see how it was and I got 4 rds + 8 Burpees as rxd, and let me tell you my whole body hurt from those dumbbells thrusters. My boss also did it with me and he knocked out a great 3 rds + 10 burpees with 25lbs.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
When a 5-foot, 275-pound woman found out she had a tumor on her spine, she was told by her local hospital to go the zoo to have a MRI because a regular MRI machine could not hold her weight, MyFOXKC.com reported.
Carolyn Ragan told the television station she discovered the tumor two years ago and, after the hospital told her she could not use their MRI machine, a medical assistant said he would help her find a solution.
“So he suggested the Kansas City Zoo,” Ragan said. “I thought, I know I’m big, but I’m not as big as an elephant. And my husband got mad.”
The University of Kansas Hospital would not comment on Ragan’s claim, but said its MRI department does not know of any animal MRI in the Kansas City area that would scan a human.
Ragan’s problem was two-fold: She was too heavy for the table and too wide to slide through the opening.
Medical Imaging in Kansas City North, which has both closed and open MRI machines can typically hold up to 440 pounds, but sometimes a person who weighs less can still be out of luck, according to an MRI technician.
“It depends on how they are built a lot of times and what part of their body we’re scanning,” said technician Sarah Abbott of Medical Imaging. “(The machine) can only be so open before the magnetic field dissipates into the room.”
Ragan, who ended up having two surgeries and some paralysis, said she finally found an open MRI machine that held her weight, but it was embarrassing and frustrating.
“They should have machines that fit most everybody,” she said.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
You’re into the Primal style of eating, so it’s easy to resist this stuff, right? You ignored the dirty looks when you turned down that piece of fudge-smothered bundt cake offered by your boss’s wife at their employee open house. You don’t mind gnawing on the few anemic carrot sticks left at the annual holiday party. Dessert just isn’t part of your vocabulary.
But would it hurt to indulge this once? This guy’s birthday? Well, you like him well enough, and the cake is a lemon cream after all. And it’s the end of the work day. Seriously, it’s not like you’ll suddenly burst into flame and melt in a fiery, torturous death, leaving nothing but a smoldering spot on the carpet. You’re disciplined. You can more than make up for this later. The worst that can happen is a sugar rush, and you spent half your time at summer camp walking (well, running) around in that state. Those were good times. Oh what the heck, gimme a slice. Yeah, sure, a little ice cream too.
So, what will happen? To your body, we mean. Once the plastic fork (with its spongy contents) hits your mouth. What goes on in there anyway? And why are you suddenly thinking of Willy Wonka and that kid who gets sucked down the garbage chute?
First off, the good news. There’s no purple suited man to pull an ominous lever. Nor is there any other permanent fate awaiting you. You’ll leave work a live, generally functional human being. They’ll be no curse or pox on your house or even truly long-term risk elevation for that matter. Nonetheless, you’ll likely regret your decision.
Within a matter of 10 quick forkfuls, you’ve gone from small doses of quality carbs wisely spread throughout the day to possibly 100 or more grams of pure sugar in one sitting. O.K., some guilt is setting in…. But that’s not all that’s happening.
And it continues. The gush of insulin now creates a see-saw effect. If your glycogen stores have room, some of the sugar goes into muscles. If there’s no more room, the excess goes into fat cells, where it is stored as fat. In reaction to this quasi-emergency that looks like another life-threatening stress, the body steps up its efforts to achieve homeostasis by releasing both epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol from your adrenals. Your heart is racing, and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, maybe even sweating. And we’re still likely within the first hour after you finished off that cake!
A bit more time passes. Burnout settling in yet? That’s called a sugar crash - when all the glucose is gone from the bloodstream and you start to feel sluggish, off-kilter, like the internal circuits are all fried after sparking in a heap of now smoldering wires. Hmm. Maybe that spontaneous combustion image wasn’t so far after all.
But there’s more…. The havoc that sugar rush set off - the swing of glucose and insulin, the cortisol and adrenaline - they’ve sent your immune system into a tailspin. Research has shown that the function of immunity-related phagocytes is impaired for at least five hours after intake of simple sugars. Free radicals have their heyday as well within the first few hours after sugar increases oxidative stress on the body. Your blood even thickens as a response to the stressors.
Wait, you aren’t out of the woods yet. You get home and try to sleep it off, but you toss and turn as your heart continues to beat faster than normal. Hmm. Little surprise there. The old hormonal system is confounding in its interconnectedness. You lay there cursing not just that cake but the entire cultural custom of birthday celebration. As the sun comes up and you roll out of bed, you think you should be done with this sugar business by now. Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately, a hefty dose of sugar can compromise the immune system for more than 24 hours. Groan. The images flash before you. The flu your daughter brought home earlier this week. The miserable cold (that incessant cough!) your boss has. Passing plans or reports around the meeting room. Shaking hands with the new clients who came by yesterday. Your toddler’s insistence on drinking from your cup last night. Suddenly you’re seeing your week in a new (and dimmer) light. Your immune system might have handled it all quite easily before the sugar incidence/insult. That’s one birthday cake that keeps on giving!
As bad as this sounds, it could be worse. If you follow the Primal Blueprint regularly and the lemon cream was just a detour, you’re a generally healthy person. You’ll experience the effects, and you may feel them more acutely than you did before you chose the low-carb path. (This isn’t a bad thing.) Nonetheless, after the dust settles, the worst thing you can end up with is maybe a cold you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Your system will realign itself pretty readily. Within a couple of PB style days you’ll be as good as new.
But if this is a normal day? Sigh. This presents a much bleaker picture. That see-saw of insulin and glucose? The process breaks down in your body until you develop insulin resistance. That rush of adrenaline and cortisol? That hormonal havoc over time fries your adrenal system. Your body is constantly in a state of “fight,” and inflammation becomes a constant state of affairs. Enough sugar over enough time (with the lack of exercise to boot), and you’ve gotten yourself into quite a pickle. (Maybe a pickle would’ve been a better snack choice….)
The Primal Blueprint offers up a plan to help guide our everyday choices as well as information to help us weigh the compromises we choose to make along the way. How we take care of ourselves each and every day can ameliorate the more taxing damage from occasional concessions we make for personal and social reasons.
And so we conclude the Willy Wonka journey.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
400 meter run
30-25-20-15-10-5 box jumps (men 24" / women 20")
5-10-15-20-25-30 kettlebell swings (men 1.5 pood / women 1 pood)
400 meter run
Clink the links below for examples of the exercises.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Latest statistics show numbers have flipped and now 34 percent are obese
WASHINGTON - The number of obese American adults outweighs the number of those who are merely overweight, according to the latest statistics from the federal government.
Numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight. It said just under 6 percent are "extremely" obese. (That's 66.7% of Americans that are overweight or obese!!! Obviously the USDA food pyramid is NOT the answer)
"More than one-third of adults, or over 72 million people, were obese in 2005-2006, the NCHS said in its report.
The numbers are based on a survey of 4,356 adults over the age of 20 who take part in a regular government survey of health, said the NCHS, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The figures come from the 2005-2006 survey and are the most current available.
"During the physical examination, conducted in mobile examination centers, height and weight were measured as part of a more comprehensive set of body measurements," the NCHS report said.
"Although the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980, the prevalence of overweight has remained stable over the same time period," it said.
Obesity raises serious health risks
In the 1988-1994 surveys, 33 percent of Americans were overweight, 22.9 percent were obese and 2.9 percent were morbidly obese. The numbers have edged up steadily since.
Being overweight or obese raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, arthritis and other conditions. (I submit that all these problems: overweight / obesity, heart disease, diabetes, many cancers, arthritis and Alzheimer's stem from the consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates)
In May, the CDC reported that 32 percent of U.S. children fit the definition of being overweight, 16 percent were obese and 11 percent were extremely obese. (Passing on the poor eating habits and setting your kids up for failure is truly tragic. Type II diabetes used to be called "adult onset diabetes". Thanks to our consumption of sugar and refined carbs, people get it younger and younger hence it was renamed "type II" - by the way, it's completely curable with the proper diet.)
Childhood and adult obesity has emerged as a growing problem not only in the United States but also in many countries around the world.
Copyright 2009 Reuters.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
A great post that Joel (thanks!) found on CrossFit Endurance (their link is on down on the right under "friends of CrossFit Fort Hood") Bottom line - cut sugar out of your diet ASAP.
The Harmful Effects Of Sugar On Mind And Body
Of all the foods consumed today, refined sugar is considered to be one of the most harmful. ...In 1997 Americans devoured 7.3 billion pounds of candy. Americans spent an estimated $23.1 billion dollars on candy and gum. The average American consumed a record 27.3 pounds of candy and gum in the same year-the equivalent of about six regular sized chocolate bars a week-marking the fifth consecutive year of increased demand. (1)
...Consumption of processed foods (which are laced with sugar) cost the American public more than $54 billion in dental bills each year, so the dental industry reaps huge profits from the programmed addiction of the public to sugar products. ...Today we have a nation that is addicted to sugar. In 1915, the national average of sugar consumption (per year) was around 15 to 20 pounds per person. Today the average person consumes his/her weight in sugar, plus over 20 pounds of corn syrup. To add more horrors to these facts there are some people that use no sweets and some who use much less than the average figure, which means that there is a percentage of the population that consume a great deal more refined sugar than their body weight. The human body cannot tolerate this large amount of refined carbohydrates. The vital organs in the body are actually damaged by this gross intake of sugar.
...Refined sugar contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes, only empty calories. What happens when you eat a refined carbohydrate like sugar? Your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the incomplete food. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to make use of the sugar.
Many times, so much calcium is used to neutralize the effects of sugar that the bones become osteoporotic due to the withdrawn calcium. Likewise, the teeth are affected and they lose their components until decay occurs and hastens their loss. ...Refined sugar is void of all nutrients, consequently it causes the body to deplete its own stores of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes. If sugar consumption is continued, an over-acid condition results, and more minerals are needed from deep in the body to correct the imbalance. If the body is lacking the nutrients used to metabolize sugar, it will not be able to properly handle and rid itself of the poisonous residues. These wastes accumulate through the brain and nervous system, which speeds up cellular death. The bloodstream becomes over-loaded with waste products and symptoms of carbonic poisoning result.
...Sugar also makes the blood very thick and sticky, inhibiting much of the blood flow into the minute capillaries that supply our gums and teeth with vital nutrients. Therefore, we wind up with diseased gums and starving teeth. America and England, the two largest sugar consumers, have horrendous dental problems.
...In 1948, a $57,000 ten-year study was awarded to Harvard University by the Sugar Research Foundation to find out how sugar causes cavities in teeth and how to prevent it. In 1958, Time magazine reported the findings, which were reported in the Dental Association Journal. They discovered there was no way to prevent the problem and their funding immediately disappeared.
..."The most significant human study was done in Sweden, reported in 1954, and known as the Vipeholm Dental Caries Study. More than 400 adult mental patients were placed on controlled diets and observed for five years. The subjects were divided into various groups. Some ate complex and simple carbohydrates at mealtimes only, while other supplemented mealtime food with between-meal-snacks, sweetened with sucrose, chocolate, caramel, or toffee. Among the conclusions drawn from the study, was that sucrose consumption could increase caries activity. The risk increased if the sucrose was consumed in a sticky form that adhered to the tooth's surfaces. The greatest damage was inflicted by foods with high concentrations of sucrose, in sticky form, eaten between meals, even if contact with the tooth's surfaces was brief. Caries, due to the intake of foods with high sucrose levels, could be decreased when such offending foods were eliminated from the diet. But individual differences existed, and in some cases, caries continued to appear despite avoidance of refined sugar or maximum restriction of natural sugars and total dietary carbohydrates." (2)
...Diabetes is another commonly known disease caused by sugar as well as a high fat diet. Diabetes is caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin when the blood sugar rises. A concentrated amount of sugar introduced into the system sends the body into shock from the rapid rise in the blood sugar level. The pancreas eventually wears out from overwork and diabetes then rears its ugly head.
...Hypoglycemia occurs when the pancreas overreacts to the large amount of sugar in the blood and releases too much insulin leaving one with the "tired" feeling as the blood sugar level becomes lower than it should be.
"A recent article in the British Medical Journal, entitled The Sweet Road to Gallstones, reported that refined sugar may be one of the major dietary risk factors in gallstone disease. Gallstones are composed of fats and calcium. Sugar can upset all of the minerals, and one of the minerals, calcium, can become toxic or nonfunctioning, depositing itself anywhere in the body, including the gallbladder.
..."One out of ten Americans has gallstones. This risk increases to one out of every five after age forty. Gallstones may go unnoticed or may cause pain-wrenching pain. Other symptoms might include bloating, belching, and intolerance to foods." (3) ...Another serious problem with sugar that is now coming to the forefront is the various levels of mental problems. Our brains are very sensitive and react to quick chemical changes within the body. As sugar is consumed, our cells are robbed of their B vitamin, which destroys them, and insulin production is inhibited. Low insulin production means a high sugar (glucose) level in the bloodstream, which can lead to a confused mental state or unsound mind, and has also been linked with juvenile criminal behavior. Dr. Alexander G. Schauss, brings this solemn fact out in his book, Diet, Crime and Delinquency. Many mental ward and prison inmates are "sugarholics" and erratic emotional outbreaks often follow a sugar binge.
REFINED SUGAR-A DRUG?
...Refined sugar, by some, is called a drug, because in the refining process everything of food value has been removed except the carbohydrates-pure calories, without vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes or any of the other elements that make up food. Many nutrition experts say that white sugar is extremely harmful, possibly as harmful as a drug, especially in the quantities consumed by the present-day American.
...Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition says, ".white refined sugar-is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11. It has 12 carbon atoms, 22 hydrogen atoms, 11 oxygen atoms, and absolutely nothing else to offer." ...The chemical formula for cocaine is C17H21NO4. Sugar's formula again is C12H22O11. For all practical purposes, the difference is that sugar is missing the "N", or nitrogen atom.
...Refining means to make "pure" by a process of extraction or separation. Sugars are refined by taking a natural food, which contains a high percentage of sugar, and then removing all elements of that food until only the sugar remains. ...While sugar is commonly made from sugar cane or sugar beets. Through heating and mechanical and chemical processing, all vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, enzymes and indeed every nutrient is removed until only the sugar remains. Sugar cane and sugar beets are first harvested and then chopped into small pieces, squeezing out the juice, which is then mixed with water. This liquid is then heated, and lime is added. Moisture is boiled away, and the remaining fluid is pumped into vacuum pans to concentrate the juice. By this time, the liquid is starting to crystallize, and is ready to be placed into a centrifuge machine where any remaining residues (like molasses) are spun away. The crystals are then dissolved by heating to the boiling point and passed through charcoal filters. After the crystals condense, they are bleached snow-white usually by the use of pork or cattle bones.
...During the refining process, 64 food elements are destroyed. All the potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, phosphate, and sulfate are removed. The A, D, and B, vitamins are destroyed. Amino acids, vital enzymes, unsaturated fats, and all fiber are gone. To a lesser or greater degree, all refined sweeteners such as corn syrup, maple syrup, etc., undergo similar destructive processes. Molasses is the chemical and deranged nutrients that is a byproduct of sugar manufacture. ...Sugar manufacturers are aggressive in defending their product and have a strong political lobby which allows them to continue selling a deadly food item that by all reason should not be allowed in the American diet. ...If you have any doubts as to the detriments of sugar (sucrose), try leaving it out of your diet for several weeks and see if it makes a difference! You may also notice you have acquired an addiction and experience some withdrawal symptoms. ...Studies show that "sugar" is just as habit-forming as any narcotic; and its use, misuse, and abuse is our nation's number one disaster. It is no wonder when we consider all the products we consume daily which are loaded with sugar! The average healthy digestive system can digest and eliminate from two to four teaspoons of sugar daily, usually without noticeable problems, (that is if damage is not already present). One 12 oz. Cola contains 11 teaspoons of sugar, and that's aside from the caffeine. It's the sugar that gives you quick energy, but only for a brief time due to the rise of the blood sugar level. But the body quickly releases a rush of insulin, which rapidly lowers the blood sugar and causes a significant drop in energy and endurance. It is easy to see why America's health is in serious trouble.
EFFECT OF SUGAR ON NEUROLOGICAL PROCESSES ...One of the keys to orderly brain function is glutamic acid, and this compound is found in many vegetables. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria in the intestines, which manufacture B vitamin complexes, begin to die-these bacteria normally thrive in a symbiotic relationship with the human body. When the B vitamin complex level declines, the glutamic acid (normally transformed into "go" "no-go" directive neural enzymes by the B vitamins) is not processed and sleepiness occurs, as well as a decreased ability for short-term memory function and numerical calculative abilities. The removal of B vitamins when foods are "processed" makes the situation even more tenuous.
WHAT ABOUT GUM CHEWING? ...Besides the sugar in gum being damaging to the teeth there is another harmful problem to consider and that is: "teeth and jaws weren't designed for more than a few minutes of solid chewing per day-far less than the two hours clocked in daily by hardcore gum chewers. All this chewing results in inordinate wear on the jawbone, gum tissue and lower molars, and can change the alignment of the jaws" says Michael Elsohn, D.D.S., in the Medical Tribune.
Monday, January 5, 2009
How can people who gorge on fat and rarely see a vegetable be healthier than we are? by Patricia Gadsby, Photography by Leon Steele
Patricia Cochran, an Inupiat from Northwestern Alaska, is talking about the native foods of her childhood: “We pretty much had a subsistence way of life. Our food supply was right outside our front door. We did our hunting and foraging on the Seward Peninsula and along the Bering Sea.
“Our meat was seal and walrus, marine mammals that live in cold water and have lots of fat. We used seal oil for our cooking and as a dipping sauce for food. We had moose, caribou, and reindeer. We hunted ducks, geese, and little land birds like quail, called ptarmigan. We caught crab and lots of fish—salmon, whitefish, tomcod, pike, and char. Our fish were cooked, dried, smoked, or frozen. We ate frozen raw whitefish, sliced thin. The elders liked stinkfish, fish buried in seal bags or cans in the tundra and left to ferment. And fermented seal flipper, they liked that too.”
Cochran’s family also received shipments of whale meat from kin living farther north, near Barrow. Beluga was one she liked; raw muktuk, which is whale skin with its underlying blubber, she definitely did not. “To me it has a chew-on-a-tire consistency,” she says, “but to many people it’s a mainstay.” In the short subarctic summers, the family searched for roots and greens and, best of all from a child’s point of view, wild blueberries, crowberries, or salmonberries, which her aunts would mix with whipped fat to make a special treat called akutuq—in colloquial English, Eskimo ice cream.
Now Cochran directs the Alaska Native Science Commission, which promotes research on native cultures and the health and environmental issues that affect them. She sits at her keyboard in Anchorage, a bustling city offering fare from Taco Bell to French cuisine. But at home Cochran keeps a freezer filled with fish, seal, walrus, reindeer, and whale meat, sent by her family up north, and she and her husband fish and go berry picking—“sometimes a challenge in Anchorage,” she adds, laughing. “I eat fifty-fifty,” she explains, half traditional, half regular American.
No one, not even residents of the northernmost villages on Earth, eats an entirely traditional northern diet anymore. Even the groups we came to know as Eskimo—which include the Inupiat and the Yupiks of Alaska, the Canadian Inuit and Inuvialuit, Inuit Greenlanders, and the Siberian Yupiks—have probably seen more changes in their diet in a lifetime than their ancestors did over thousands of years. The closer people live to towns and the more access they have to stores and cash-paying jobs, the more likely they are to have westernized their eating. And with westernization, at least on the North American continent, comes processed foods and cheap carbohydrates—Crisco, Tang, soda, cookies, chips, pizza, fries. “The young and urbanized,” says Harriet Kuhnlein, director of the Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment at McGill University in Montreal, “are increasingly into fast food.” So much so that type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other diseases of Western civilization are becoming causes for concern there too.
Today, when diet books top the best-seller list and nobody seems sure of what to eat to stay healthy, it’s surprising to learn how well the Eskimo did on a high-protein, high-fat diet. Shaped by glacial temperatures, stark landscapes, and protracted winters, the traditional Eskimo diet had little in the way of plant food, no agricultural or dairy products, and was unusually low in carbohydrates. Mostly people subsisted on what they hunted and fished. Inland dwellers took advantage of caribou feeding on tundra mosses, lichens, and plants too tough for humans to stomach (though predigested vegetation in the animals’ paunches became dinner as well). Coastal people exploited the sea. The main nutritional challenge was avoiding starvation in late winter if primary meat sources became too scarce or lean.
These foods hardly make up the “balanced” diet most of us grew up with, and they look nothing like the mix of grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy we’re accustomed to seeing in conventional food pyramid diagrams. How could such a diet possibly be adequate? How did people get along on little else but fat and animal protein?
What the diet of the Far North illustrates, says Harold Draper, a biochemist and expert in Eskimo nutrition, is that there are no essential foods—only essential nutrients. And humans can get those nutrients from diverse and eye-opening sources.
One might, for instance, imagine gross vitamin deficiencies arising from a diet with scarcely any fruits and vegetables. What furnishes vitamin A, vital for eyes and bones? We derive much of ours from colorful plant foods, constructing it from pigmented plant precursors called carotenoids (as in carrots). But vitamin A, which is oil soluble, is also plentiful in the oils of cold-water fishes and sea mammals, as well as in the animals’ livers, where fat is processed. These dietary staples also provide vitamin D, another oil-soluble vitamin needed for bones. Those of us living in temperate and tropical climates, on the other hand, usually make vitamin D indirectly by exposing skin to strong sun—hardly an option in the Arctic winter—and by consuming fortified cow’s milk, to which the indigenous northern groups had little access until recent decades and often don’t tolerate all that well.
As for vitamin C, the source in the Eskimo diet was long a mystery. Most animals can synthesize their own vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, in their livers, but humans are among the exceptions, along with other primates and oddballs like guinea pigs and bats. If we don’t ingest enough of it, we fall apart from scurvy, a gruesome connective-tissue disease. In the United States today we can get ample supplies from orange juice, citrus fruits, and fresh vegetables. But vitamin C oxidizes with time; getting enough from a ship’s provisions was tricky for early 18th- and 19th-century voyagers to the polar regions. Scurvy—joint pain, rotting gums, leaky blood vessels, physical and mental degeneration—plagued European and U.S. expeditions even in the 20th century. However, Arctic peoples living on fresh fish and meat were free of the disease.
Impressed, the explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson adopted an Eskimo-style diet for five years during the two Arctic expeditions he led between 1908 and 1918. “The thing to do is to find your antiscorbutics where you are,” he wrote. “Pick them up as you go.” In 1928, to convince skeptics, he and a young colleague spent a year on an Americanized version of the diet under medical supervision at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. The pair ate steaks, chops, organ meats like brain and liver, poultry, fish, and fat with gusto. “If you have some fresh meat in your diet every day and don’t overcook it,” Stefansson declared triumphantly, “there will be enough C from that source alone to prevent scurvy.”
In fact, all it takes to ward off scurvy is a daily dose of 10 milligrams, says Karen Fediuk, a consulting dietitian and former graduate student of Harriet Kuhnlein’s who did her master’s thesis on vitamin C. (That’s far less than the U.S. recommended daily allowance of 75 to 90 milligrams—75 for women, 90 for men.) Native foods easily supply those 10 milligrams of scurvy prevention, especially when organ meats—preferably raw—are on the menu. For a study published with Kuhnlein in 2002, Fediuk compared the vitamin C content of 100-gram (3.55-ounce) samples of foods eaten by Inuit women living in the Canadian Arctic: Raw caribou liver supplied almost 24 milligrams, seal brain close to 15 milligrams, and raw kelp more than 28 milligrams. Still higher levels were found in whale skin and muktuk.
As you might guess from its antiscorbutic role, vitamin C is crucial for the synthesis of connective tissue, including the matrix of skin. “Wherever collagen’s made, you can expect vitamin C,” says Kuhnlein. Thick skinned, chewy, and collagen rich, raw muktuk can serve up an impressive 36 milligrams in a 100-gram piece, according to Fediuk’s analyses. “Weight for weight, it’s as good as orange juice,” she says. Traditional Inuit practices like freezing meat and fish and frequently eating them raw, she notes, conserve vitamin C, which is easily cooked off and lost in food processing.
Hunter-gatherer diets like those eaten by these northern groups and other traditional diets based on nomadic herding or subsistence farming are among the older approaches to human eating. Some of these eating plans might seem strange to us—diets centered around milk, meat, and blood among the East African pastoralists, enthusiastic tuber eating by the Quechua living in the High Andes, the staple use of the mongongo nut in the southern African !Kung—but all proved resourceful adaptations to particular eco-niches. No people, though, may have been forced to push the nutritional envelope further than those living at Earth’s frozen extremes. The unusual makeup of the far-northern diet led Loren Cordain, a professor of evolutionary nutrition at Colorado State University at Fort Collins, to make an intriguing observation.
Four years ago, Cordain reviewed the macronutrient content (protein, carbohydrates, fat) in the diets of 229 hunter-gatherer groups listed in a series of journal articles collectively known as the Ethnographic Atlas. These are some of the oldest surviving human diets. In general, hunter-gatherers tend to eat more animal protein than we do in our standard Western diet, with its reliance on agriculture and carbohydrates derived from grains and starchy plants. Lowest of all in carbohydrate, and highest in combined fat and protein, are the diets of peoples living in the Far North, where they make up for fewer plant foods with extra fish. What’s equally striking, though, says Cordain, is that these meat-and-fish diets also exhibit a natural “protein ceiling.” Protein accounts for no more than 35 to 40 percent of their total calories, which suggests to him that’s all the protein humans can comfortably handle.
This ceiling, Cordain thinks, could be imposed by the way we process protein for energy. The simplest, fastest way to make energy is to convert carbohydrates into glucose, our body’s primary fuel. But if the body is out of carbs, it can burn fat, or if necessary, break down protein. The name given to the convoluted business of making glucose from protein is gluconeogenesis. It takes place in the liver, uses a dizzying slew of enzymes, and creates nitrogen waste that has to be converted into urea and disposed of through the kidneys. On a truly traditional diet, says Draper, recalling his studies in the 1970s, Arctic people had plenty of protein but little carbohydrate, so they often relied on gluconeogenesis. Not only did they have bigger livers to handle the additional work but their urine volumes were also typically larger to get rid of the extra urea. Nonetheless, there appears to be a limit on how much protein the human liver can safely cope with: Too much overwhelms the liver’s waste-disposal system, leading to protein poisoning—nausea, diarrhea, wasting, and death.
Whatever the metabolic reason for this syndrome, says John Speth, an archaeologist at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropology, plenty of evidence shows that hunters through the ages avoided protein excesses, discarding fat-depleted animals even when food was scarce. Early pioneers and trappers in North America encountered what looks like a similar affliction, sometimes referred to as rabbit starvation because rabbit meat is notoriously lean. Forced to subsist on fat-deficient meat, the men would gorge themselves, yet wither away. Protein can’t be the sole source of energy for humans, concludes Cordain. Anyone eating a meaty diet that is low in carbohydrates must have fat as well.
Stefansson had arrived at this conclusion, too, while living among the Copper Eskimo. He recalled how he and his Eskimo companions had become quite ill after weeks of eating “caribou so skinny that there was no appreciable fat behind the eyes or in the marrow.” Later he agreed to repeat the miserable experience at Bellevue Hospital, for science’s sake, and for a while ate nothing but defatted meat. “The symptoms brought on at Bellevue by an incomplete meat diet [lean without fat] were exactly the same as in the Arctic . . . diarrhea and a feeling of general baffling discomfort,” he wrote. He was restored with a fat fix but “had lost considerable weight.” For the remainder of his year on meat, Stefansson tucked into his rations of chops and steaks with fat intact. “A normal meat diet is not a high-protein diet,” he pronounced. “We were really getting three-quarters of our calories from fat.” (Fat is more than twice as calorie dense as protein or carbohydrate, but even so, that’s a lot of lard. A typical U.S diet provides about 35 percent of its calories from fat.)
Stefansson dropped 10 pounds on his meat-and-fat regimen and remarked on its “slenderizing” aspect, so perhaps it’s no surprise he’s been co-opted as a posthumous poster boy for Atkins-type diets. No discussion about diet these days can avoid Atkins. Even some researchers interviewed for this article couldn’t resist referring to the Inuit way of eating as the “original Atkins.” “Superficially, at a macronutrient level, the two diets certainly look similar,” allows Samuel Klein, a nutrition researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, who’s attempting to study how Atkins stacks up against conventional weight-loss diets. Like the Inuit diet, Atkins is low in carbohydrates and very high in fat. But numerous researchers, including Klein, point out that there are profound differences between the two diets, beginning with the type of meat and fat eaten.
Fats have been demonized in the United States, says Eric Dewailly, a professor of preventive medicine at Laval University in Quebec. But all fats are not created equal. This lies at the heart of a paradox—the Inuit paradox, if you will. In the Nunavik villages in northern Quebec, adults over 40 get almost half their calories from native foods, says Dewailly, and they don’t die of heart attacks at nearly the same rates as other Canadians or Americans. Their cardiac death rate is about half of ours, he says. As someone who looks for links between diet and cardiovascular health, he’s intrigued by that reduced risk. Because the traditional Inuit diet is “so restricted,” he says, it’s easier to study than the famously heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, with its cornucopia of vegetables, fruits, grains, herbs, spices, olive oil, and red wine.
A key difference in the typical Nunavik Inuit’s diet is that more than 50 percent of the calories in Inuit native foods come from fats. Much more important, the fats come from wild animals.
Wild-animal fats are different from both farm-animal fats and processed fats, says Dewailly. Farm animals, cooped up and stuffed with agricultural grains (carbohydrates) typically have lots of solid, highly saturated fat. Much of our processed food is also riddled with solid fats, or so-called trans fats, such as the reengineered vegetable oils and shortenings cached in baked goods and snacks. “A lot of the packaged food on supermarket shelves contains them. So do commercial french fries,” Dewailly adds.
Trans fats are polyunsaturated vegetable oils tricked up to make them more solid at room temperature. Manufacturers do this by hydrogenating the oils—adding extra hydrogen atoms to their molecular structures—which “twists” their shapes. Dewailly makes twisting sound less like a chemical transformation than a perversion, an act of public-health sabotage: “These man-made fats are dangerous, even worse for the heart than saturated fats.” They not only lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) but they also raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, he says. In the process, trans fats set the stage for heart attacks because they lead to the increase of fatty buildup in artery walls.
Wild animals that range freely and eat what nature intended, says Dewailly, have fat that is far more healthful. Less of their fat is saturated, and more of it is in the monounsaturated form (like olive oil). What’s more, cold-water fishes and sea mammals are particularly rich in polyunsaturated fats called n-3 fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids. These fats appear to benefit the heart and vascular system. But the polyunsaturated fats in most Americans’ diets are the omega-6 fatty acids supplied by vegetable oils. By contrast, whale blubber consists of 70 percent monounsaturated fat and close to 30 percent omega-3s, says Dewailly.
Omega-3s evidently help raise HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and are known for anticlotting effects. (Ethnographers have remarked on an Eskimo propensity for nosebleeds.) These fatty acids are believed to protect the heart from life-threatening arrhythmias that can lead to sudden cardiac death. And like a “natural aspirin,” adds Dewailly, omega-3 polyunsaturated fats help put a damper on runaway inflammatory processes, which play a part in atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, and other so-called diseases of civilization.
You can be sure, however, that Atkins devotees aren’t routinely eating seal and whale blubber. Besides the acquired taste problem, their commerce is extremely restricted in the United States by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, says Bruce Holub, a nutritional biochemist in the department of human biology and nutritional sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
“In heartland America it’s probable they’re not eating in an Eskimo-like way,” says Gary Foster, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Foster, who describes himself as open-minded about Atkins, says he’d nonetheless worry if people saw the diet as a green light to eat all the butter and bacon—saturated fats—they want. Just before rumors surfaced that Robert Atkins had heart and weight problems when he died, Atkins officials themselves were stressing saturated fat should account for no more than 20 percent of dieters’ calories. This seems to be a clear retreat from the diet’s original don’t-count-the-calories approach to bacon and butter and its happy exhortations to “plow into those prime ribs.” Furthermore, 20 percent of calories from saturated fats is double what most nutritionists advise. Before plowing into those prime ribs, readers of a recent edition of the Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution are urged to take omega-3 pills to help protect their hearts. “If you watch carefully,” says Holub wryly, “you’ll see many popular U.S. diets have quietly added omega-3 pills, in the form of fish oil or flaxseed capsules, as supplements.”
Needless to say, the subsistence diets of the Far North are not “dieting.” Dieting is the price we pay for too little exercise and too much mass-produced food. Northern diets were a way of life in places too cold for agriculture, where food, whether hunted, fished, or foraged, could not be taken for granted. They were about keeping weight on.
This is not to say that people in the Far North were fat: Subsistence living requires exercise—hard physical work. Indeed, among the good reasons for native people to maintain their old way of eating, as far as it’s possible today, is that it provides a hedge against obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Unfortunately, no place on Earth is immune to the spreading taint of growth and development. The very well-being of the northern food chain is coming under threat from global warming, land development, and industrial pollutants in the marine environment. “I’m a pragmatist,” says Cochran, whose organization is involved in pollution monitoring and disseminating food-safety information to native villages. “Global warming we don’t have control over. But we can, for example, do cleanups of military sites in Alaska or of communication cables leaching lead into fish-spawning areas. We can help communities make informed food choices. A young woman of childbearing age may choose not to eat certain organ meats that concentrate contaminants. As individuals, we do have options. And eating our salmon and our seal is still a heck of a better option than pulling something processed that’s full of additives off a store shelf.”
Not often in our industrial society do we hear someone speak so familiarly about “our” food animals. We don’t talk of “our pig” and “our beef.” We’ve lost that creature feeling, that sense of kinship with food sources. “You’re taught to think in boxes,” says Cochran. “In our culture the connectivity between humans, animals, plants, the land they live on, and the air they share is ingrained in us from birth.
“You truthfully can’t separate the way we get our food from the way we live,” she says. “How we get our food is intrinsic to our culture. It’s how we pass on our values and knowledge to the young. When you go out with your aunts and uncles to hunt or to gather, you learn to smell the air, watch the wind, understand the way the ice moves, know the land. You get to know where to pick which plant and what animal to take.
“It’s part, too, of your development as a person. You share food with your community. You show respect to your elders by offering them the first catch. You give thanks to the animal that gave up its life for your sustenance. So you get all the physical activity of harvesting your own food, all the social activity of sharing and preparing it, and all the spiritual aspects as well,” says Cochran. “You certainly don’t get all that, do you, when you buy prepackaged food from a store.
“That’s why some of us here in Anchorage are working to protect what’s ours, so that others can continue to live back home in the villages,” she adds. “Because if we don’t take care of our food, it won’t be there for us in the future. And if we lose our foods, we lose who we are.” The word Inupiat means “the real people.” “That’s who we are,” says Cochran.
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