Friday, 31 December 2010

More odds and sods.

2011 is nearly here, so here's a quick post before I go off and start celebrating.

1) Mum: She had a good Christmas at Acacia Lodge. She even got a visit from Jenny Wood, Mayor of Henley!

2) Computers: I've been doing a spot of housekeeping on my lap-top as there were some start-up errors in the System Log.

It turns out that Microsoft had screwed-up. The Driver Protection feature in Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 1 (SP1) prevents the operating system from loading drivers that are known to cause stability problems (for example, preventing Windows XP from booting). However, the XP Registry still contained entries for the removed drivers so the operating system couldn't find them, causing errors. Editing the Registry using regedt32.exe to remove the keys that pointed to the missing drivers fixed the problem. There were still start-up errors, though.

It wasn't just Microsoft that had screwed-up. The Registry was full of keys belonging to programs that I had uninstalled. National Instruments LabView left loads of spurious keys. Virgin PCguard left over 1,000 spurious keys relating to virus pattern updates. If I'd known that there was so much crap to clean out, I would have used a free Registry Manager!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Eat Less, Move More: Solutions to problems.

The fact is, in order to lose weight and be healthy, we need to Eat Less, Move More. The problem is that most people (apart from bodybuilders) just can't/won't do it consciously. In Determinants of the Variability in Human Body-fat Percentage, I listed a number of reasons why people eat what (and as much as) they do. Here are some solutions to the problems that cause over-eating and under-moving.

1) Parents: If you've been raised to be a plate-clearer, use a small plate which makes a small amount of food look like more.

2) Genetics: Eat foods that satisfy your appetite for as long as possible. You have to find out what they are by experimentation, as everybody is different.

3) Peer pressure from parents, siblings, friends, business partners & significant others: Thank them but politely decline. If they persist, reduce the level of politeness until they get the message.

4) Religion/tradition: Start a new tradition of not stuffing yourself silly at religious festivals. Then spread the word!

5) Culture: Try new foods. They won't kill you and they may actually taste good. Learn to cook. Herbs and spices or a splash of Worcestershire/Sweet Chilli Sauce can make horribly-bland foods (e.g. boiled/steamed rice) eatable.

6) Time: Be prepared. Pack a lunch-box with sufficient provisions to get you through the working day/night. Microwave cooking/heating saves a lot of time. It only destroys nutrients if you add a lot of water to the food before cooking (which is not necessary) and then throw the water away after cooking, or overcook foods. All cooking methods that raise the temperature of food to >70°C denature proteins. Denaturing proteins only changes their 3-D structure, which actually makes them easier to digest.

7) Habit: Habits can be changed.

8) Media: When an advert for something moreish is broadcast, flip channels for 30 seconds or if that's not possible, look away and hum a tune to mask the sound. Make sure that there's no food in sight while watching TV to prevent mindless nibbling. Keep a bottle of low-calorie drink nearby to sip on regularly. EDIT: I now watch TV on my computer with Ad-blocking, which eliminates all TV adverts.

9) Physiological & psychological reasons: Maintain a stable blood glucose level by not eating foods that are made mostly out of grain dust (a.k.a. flour) and/or sugar and/or other refined carbohydrates. If you're very active and you need to eat a lot of carbohydrate, choose grains that still look like grains (e.g. rolled oats, rice, quinoa etc), fruits, shoots, roots and tubers. Either get sufficient sun exposure or supplement with ~5,000iu/day Vitamin D3 to reduce the risk of low mood due to Seasonal Affective Disorder. The long-chain omega-3 fats in oily fish help to stabilise mood. Magnesium helps to reduce anxiety (also muscle cramps).

10) Allergies & intolerances: Avoid foods that are very moreish.

11) Geography: Eat locally-grown foods from Farmers' Markets, where possible.

12) Season: Eat foods that are in season, where possible.

13) Boredom: Keep busy. Do something!

14) Exercise: This has always been a problem for me. Exercise used to make me hungry, resulting in me eating more calories than I burned exercising. Solution: If I dress warmly enough, that stops me from getting the munchies due to feeling too cold.

15) Beliefs: I'm not going to try to change your beliefs.

16) Senses: Avoid supermarket aisles that contain junk foods. What your eye can't see and your nose can't smell, your heart won't grieve over.

17) Hunger: Don't let yourself become really hungry as that encourages over-eating when you do finally eat. Don't go food shopping when you're hungry, as that encourages the buying of junk foods.

18) Comfort: Don't buy larger clothes/loosen your belt. If your clothes are getting tighter, let that suppress your appetite. If your clothes are getting looser, buy smaller clothes and/or tighten your belt. Never loosen it.

19) Shame/Self-loathing: If that suppresses your appetite, make the most of it.

20) Current fatness: N/A.

21) Willpower: Hopefully, the above solutions will help you to resist temptation.

I hope that you all had a good Christmas/whatever.

Continued on Move More: Solutions to problems.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Odds and sods.

Christmas is nearly here, so here's a quick post before I go off and do Christmassy things.

1) The weather: We Brits love to moan about the weather. As we don't get much snow here for most of the year, when we do there's chaos on the roads and railways. Here's what it was like last Monday morning, shortly before I set off to visit mum.

2) NoScript: As I want my ancient lap-top to browse as quickly as possible, stopping unnecessary scripts from running is a good idea, so I added the NoScript add-on. Every new site that I visit has to have scripts marked as either approved for that site, or untrusted for that site. Approved scripts can run. Untrusted ones can't. I like it and it's definitely speeded-up surfing.

3) Vacuum Places Improved: Something that slows down auto-completion of web addresses and Firefox start-up is fragmentation of the Places database, so I added the Vacuum Places Improved add-on. This defragments the Places database and can be run by either clicking on an icon or set to auto-run.

4) Flagfox: The Flagfox add-on
displays a country flag depicting the location of the current website's server and provides a multitude of tools such as site safety checks, whois, translation, similar sites, validation, URL shortening, and more...

5) Adblock Plus: I've been using the AdBlock Plus add-on together with its companion Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus for quite a while and I'm still impressed with it.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Nutritional dogma.

Gary Taubes now has a blog. His first two posts have resulted in a lot of opinions being expressed, mine included.

As Henry Larson said in the film "Home for the Holidays (1995)":- "Well, opinions are like assholes, honey. Everybody's got one and everybody thinks everybody else's stinks."

I don't know why, but people adopt nutritional beliefs with a religious fervour. See Low Carb Talibans and read the comments. They choose their TOP EXPERTS (to quote Razwell) and believe everything that they write & say, dismissing any contrary views. What people don't appreciate is that even "experts" get things wrong and have cognitive biases that affect their opinions. See also Elvis lives!

I try to support my opinions using peer-reviewed studies from PubMed. As there are over 20,000,000 studies on that site, the average Joe & Josephine may have difficulty in finding what they're looking for. Here's a tip. Limit the results to studies in English on humans that have abstracts or free full text.

E.G. To find all studies by Leibel RL that meet the above criteria, copy & paste the following line into the search box:-

Leibel RL[Author] AND ("loattrfree full text"[sb] OR hasabstract[text]) AND "humans"[MeSH Terms] AND English[lang]

Other authors worth searching for are Frayn KN, Jéquier E, Flatt JP, Hellerstein MK, Parks EJ, Krauss RM, Dreon DM.

Does anyone have any other author suggestions?

Another useful resource is NCBI Bookshelf.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Uh-oh! There may be trouble ahead...

I won't deny that I'm not very active. On days that I don't visit my mum, I spend many hours reclining on a sofa with a lap-top on a small table, surfing the internet. I make sloths look hyperactive!

I thought that this wasn't a problem as I also don't eat very much (as I'm so engrossed rummaging through the vast amount of information out there) and I'm maintaining a relatively stable weight.

Then I read Sedentary Physiology at Obesity Panacea which lead me to Sedentary Physiology Part 1 – Not Just The Lack of Physical Activity , full study HERE.

"Hamburg et al. (2007) examined the effect of 5 days of complete bed rest on metabolic health in 22 adult volunteers. Study participants remained in bed for over 23.5 h per day, rising only for matters of personal hygiene. At the completion of the study, despite no changes in body weight, they experienced significant increases in total cholesterol, plasma triglycerides, glucose, and insulin resistance. The changes in carbohydrate metabolism were particularly pronounced, with participants experiencing a 67% greater insulin response to a glucose load following the 5-day intervention."

The thing is, I've never liked sports & formal exercise. In infant school, exercise involved running around in the playground. That, I could do. In primary school, exercise involved running around in the playground, some PE and some outdoor sports (rounders & cricket, using a tennis ball). That, I could also do, although my short legs made me rubbish at running. In secondary school, in addition to PE, there were sports such as football, rugby, cricket, hockey, tennis, swimming & cross-country running. That, I utterly hated (tennis was just about bearable) and so to avoid doing them, I developed an art for forging sick notes in my mum's handwriting. This improved my normal handwriting, so some good came of it. So, what to do?

As toilet breaks force me off the sofa, I shall drink more to make me wee more often. I shall also use the upstairs toilet during the day and the downstairs toilet during the night. See also Eat Less, Move More: Solutions to problems.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet

Thanks to Stephan Guyenet for bringing the study n-6 Fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials to my attention in his post Diet-Heart Controlled Trials: a New Literature Review. This shows that diets high in omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturates but low in omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturates are heart-unhealthy.

In the West, we are advised to eat lots of "heart-healthy" sunflower oil & spreads. These contain about 70 times more omega-6 than omega-3. Safflower, Grapeseed, Corn & Groundnut Oils also have high omega-6:omega-3 ratios, according to Comparison of Dietary Fats Chart.

I then found the following study also on the British Journal of Nutrition:- Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet.

This shows that traditional hunter-gatherer diets have a short-chain omega-3:omega-6 ratio of 1·12–1·64 and a long-chain omega-3:omega-6 ratio of 0·84–1·92. In other words, there is a moderate balance between omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturates.

The diets are also relatively high in protein (25–29% energy) and fat (30–39% energy) but moderate in carbohydrate (39–40% energy).

I thought that followers of a Paleo-type diet would find this interesting.

EDIT: I've just noticed that O Primitivo has already posted about this study!