On the SCOTUS gay marriage decision

We’ve just moved from one bad policy to a different bad policy. This is standard politics: Some people think something is bad and want it banned; others think it’s good and want it not only legalized, but condoned. The possibility of the government just not being involved is barely considered, if at all.
The role of government should be to protect the lives, freedom & property of the people in its territory from being wrongly taken by force or fraud. This means the only behavior that should be banned is people harming other people.
We do not need government to license, register, perform, or define marriage. Government has a role in forcing parents to care for their children (neglect being harmful), and in arbitrating break-ups if the people breaking up choose to involve the government. Those roles can be performed without it having anything to do with marriage.

Christians should oppose government involvement in marriage for many reasons – one being that government is therefore also involved in divorce. This leads to Christians violating Paul’s instruction in 1Cor 6 to settle our disputes in the church, not in the secular courts. And in the previous chapter, we are told that the immoral behavior of those outside the church is none of our business.

Having said all that … today’s ruling doesn’t really change much. The USA is still heading the way it was heading before.

My Response to Paleo-Mom’s “Adverse Reactions to Ketogenic Diets”

My response to this blog post:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2015/05/adverse-reactions-to-ketogenic-diets-caution-advised.html

Short version:

Keto is not a good fit for everyone. But most people can get the benefits without any of these adverse reactions if they do it right. Also, most of the adverse reactions she reports are from studies involving children eating ketogenically to treat intractable epilepsy – so they were quite ill from before this diet.

I appreciate Keto-Mom’s balanced approach and correct understanding of ketogenic diets.

Very long version:

I was previously not familiar with PM (as I will call Paleo-Mom), but have had several people from different circles of my life ask about this article.

I have been eating a ketogenic diet since March 22, so 1½ months as of this writing. In that time I’ve read a lot about it & done a lot of research. I will give off-the-cuff responses to Paleo Mom’s statements. If anyone wants details or references behind what I’m saying, please ask me – I will be happy to go dig them up. But I’m not going to spend a lot of time beforehand turning this into a well-referenced dissertation.
PM: “… the discussion of the pros and cons of this high-fat, low-carb, low/moderate-protein diet.”

An excellent start. I agree we need to have this discussion. Confirmation bias is a huge problem, particularly in the sciences which inform human behavior (see my last post) – we need to be careful to consider the cons of any way of doing things we have chosen.

Having initially been very skeptical of the ketogenic diet, and having unsuccessfully tried Atkins in 2004 before my current attempt (which is going very well), I believe I am in as good a place as anyone to consider both sides.

I also appreciate that she actually understands what a ketogenic diet is – it is very low carb but not high-protein. I also appreciate that she doesn’t conflate dietary ketosis with the deadly ketoacidosis that can occur in type-1 diabetics.

PM: “The origins of the ketogenic diet …Hippocrates in 500BC …”
They also include ancient people such as the Inuit of arctic North America, the Masai of east Africa, and the Sioux of South Dakota, who ate meat almost exclusively for centuries or millennia.
More here (ok… maybe a few references to references to references): http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/all-meat-diets/

An Arctic Explorer named Vilhjalmur Stefansson, had lived among the Inuit in the 1920s. He was called a liar for claiming he could stay healthy on a diet of just meat and fat. To salvage his reputation, he allowed himself to be locked up in Belleview Hospital in New York City for most of the calendar year of 1928. Actually, he was only locked up for three months and then monitored closely when he went out. For that whole year he ate a diet consisting of meat and fat which was about 15% protein and 85% fat, a very high fat diet with no fruits and vegetables, no vitamin pills, and he did not develop scurvy.
http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/23/steve-phinney-on-pemmican-and-indigenous-diets-will-become-public-in-2-weeks/

But kudos for PM’s excellent summary of ketogenic diets in the treatment of epilepsy.

Also note that even this keto critic acknowledges it “… may at least partially alleviate … Alzheimer’s…”

PM: “… any study that allows for keto-adaptation, which takes up to a month, can be considered long-term.”

Excellent – glad to see she understands that you can become ketotic in a matter of days, but that adaptation requires 3-6 weeks.

Now we get to the meat: the list of adverse reactions. Most of these fall into three categories:

1. The sufferers have a minority condition (such as a food allergy or inability to process a particular amino acid) which means keto is not a good fit for them, or that they need to avoid particular foods but can still successfully eat ketogenically without adverse reactions.

2. They are doing it wrong – not eating “a well formulated ketogenic diet” (to quote “P&V”: Doctors Phinney & Volek, authors of New Atkins for a New You, The Art and Science of Low Carb Living, and The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance, and their blog http://www.ketothrive.com/.

PM agrees with me here: “some of the above adverse reactions can be prevented with careful choice of foods and/or targeted supplementation (such as nutrient deficiency).”

3. A certain percentage of people are going to get all of these reactions. That they got them while doing a particular activity does not mean the activity caused the reaction. This is especially true for people eating low-carb – low-carb helps people with a lot of different conditions (metabolic syndrome, PCOS, epilepsy, kidney stones, etc etc) so people predisposed to many disorders switch to keto because they were sick … even if they keep being sick, it may be that they are less sick on keto than they otherwise would have been.
PM agrees with me here too: “it’s not typically the robust healthy person who experiments with ketogenic diets to improve their health”

I am going to list each one, and then say what I’ve read about them from proponents of ketogenic diets:

PM: “Gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea …”

If a person unaccustomed to eating a lot of fat suddenly starts eating a lot, it can cause these types of distress. That is a transitory reaction for most people; PM prefaced this section by clarifying these are primarily long-term adverse reactions. So: long term, while a small amount of Ω6 PUFA (omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid) is essential (we need it and can’t make it), only a small amount is needed, and it should ideally be evenly balanced with Ω3 PUFA. Western diets typically include FAR too much Ω6 and not enough Ω3. When someone someone switches to keto, especially if they believe the mistaken claim that SFA (saturated fatty acids) are bad, they are likely to eat far more Ω6 PUFA than they had been before keto. This causes the digestive problems PM mentions, as well as other problems (see “inflammation” below). Phinney discovered this in trials of elite athletes eating keto in the 1970s or 1980s – he fed them a large portion of their fat in the form of soy-oil-based mayonnaise, which has a large proportion of Ω6. After a week or two of that, the athletes cut their consumption of the mayo way back because it became distasteful to them. Mayo made from canola (yes I know there are other problems…), olive, avocado, or coconut oil is low in Ω6 and more appropriate.

Solution: a ketotic person should eat most of their fat as SFA and MUFA (mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as are found in olive oil and lard), and Ω3 (from fish oil – vegetable sources of Ω3 are better than Ω6 but inferior to fish oil). We should sharply limit Ω6 – it is virtually impossible to go too low while eating a high proportion of fat. And ITF (inflammatory trans-fats) from hydrogenated & other processing should be completely avoided (as opposed to healthy, natural trans-fats that are also cis-fats such as those found in butter from grass-fed cows).

PM: “… constipation”.

This is a well known effect of not eating enough sodium. High-carb diets cause the kidneys to retain sodium; thus the AHA’s misguided advice to sharply limit sodium intake to 2300 mg/day or even 1500. (This is harming even people on high-carb diets, but that’s for another post). Low-carb diets cause the kidneys to excrete more sodium, so ketotic people must eat more like 5 g/day, or the body will compensate by also excreting potassium and other electrolytes to keep them in balance with sodium. The Inuit solved this problem by picking sea ice with a moderate amount of salt to melt for cooking. The Masai solved it by drinking blood. Like vampire bats, they would nick their cattle, drain maybe half a cup of blood to drink, then allow it to heal. We in the west, of course, find it easy to get enough salt if we just know to do it.

PM: “Inflammation risk”
Too much Ω6 is inflammatory. Eat less Ω6, and more SFA, MUFA & Ω3 (see above).

PM: “Kidney stones”

This can be caused by eating too much protein, which many people do if they try to eat low-carb and low-fat simultaneously (not a good plan).

It can also be caused by not eating enough potassium, magnesium & other electrolytes, which draws sodium & calcium out of the body.

Eating too much oxalate and refined sugar – especially fructose causes kidney stones – these are all avoided by people eating ketogenically. Some switch to keto because they (being predisposed to kidney stones) got kidney stones from eating those foods.

PM: “Muscle cramps or weakness”
This is a well known consequence of not eating enough magnesium.

PM: “Hypoglycemia”
Many people start keto to resolve the symptoms of type-II diabetes – and it works FANTASTICALLY. Many people – especially in the early stages – can completely get off exogenous insulin and quit daily testing their blood sugar by sharply limiting carbs. This makes sense, as carbs cause rapid, sharp insulin spikes, while protein causes small, longer duration insulin swells, and fat does almost nothing to insulin.

But if a diabetic accustomed to eating 50g carbs at every meal and taking the appropriate drugs to counteract this carb-overload suddenly stops eating carbs, the drugs can indeed cause blood sugar to go too low.

Interesting tidbit – 40 or 50 years ago, some scientist did a trial where he took some keto-adapted people (who had been eating keto for at least 4 weeks) and injected insulin until their blood sugar levels dropped into the 20s (this would put glycolic people – those primarily using glucose for fuel – in a coma). They were all fine and clear-headed.

PM: “Low platelet count”
This is new to me… I’ve spent some time on various keto / Atkins / LCHF (low-carb high-fat) discussion boards and never heard anyone mention this. I see from the study link in the PDF that this was found in epileptic children eating a 4:1 ketogenic diet (80% fat). 1% of the children were reported as having thrombocytopenia. Seeing as thrombocytopenia is defined as having a platelet count below the 2.5th percentile, it looks to me like this was a lower number of incidents than would be expected.

PM: “Impaired concentration/cognition, or mood”

Most people doing keto report the opposite, because ketones provide a steady supply of fuel to the brain regardless of when we’ve eaten, as opposed to a glycolic person whose brains are adapted to use glucose as its primary fuel – if they go too long without eating, they get fuzzy headed. This is the same thing as “bonking” or “hitting the wall” that long-distance athletes experience, but ketotic endurance athletes avoid.

It appears these adverse reactions were reported in studies of epileptic children – those who had brain disorders prior to eating keto, so I doubt eating keto caused these problems.

PM: “Renal tubular acidosis”

I’m pretty sure eating keto does not cause this.

PM: “Nutrient deficiency, Disordered mineral metabolism”

Yes – it is possible to not get the nutrients you need eating keto, just like with any diet. You need to get your vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids. It’s easy to get these nutrients eating a lot of meat, but vegetarians eating keto must be especially careful.

PM: “Poor growth in children”
The people I mentioned above who had been eating meat almost exclusively for centuries (Inuit, Sioux, Masai) were much taller and more muscular than the Europeans who initially came into contact with them. This leads me to believe poor growth is due to “doing it wrong”. It may also be associated with unhealthy children, as most Western children are not put on ketogenic diets unless they have epilepsy, PCOS or other problems.

PM: “Skeletal fracture, Osteopenia/osteoporosis”

Again, we need to get enough electrolytes – sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

PM: “Increased bruising”

I have seen this on the boards I frequent … may really be caused by keto …

PM: “Sepsis, infection, bacteria overgrowth, Pneumonia

Again – this was from a study of people with intractable epilepsy. I’m not aware of these being more prevalent than average for people eating keto to control metabolic syndrome or PCOS.

PM: “Acute pancreatitis”

Again, people often switch to keto due to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome or diabetes, which means they’ve been stressing their pancreases before switching. It can also be caused by not drinking enough water.

PM: “Long QT intervals, Heart arrhythmia”

Some people switch to eating keto because they have hypothyroidism – keto relieves some of the symptoms of that disorder, but it also causes long QT intervals.

PM: “Cardiomyopathy”

Again, people on the road to heart disease often switch to keto. It delays heart disease in far more people than not. We are more and more learning that cardiomyopathy is an inflammatory disease, so people eating too much Ω6 or ITF (see above) could increase their risk.

PM: “Shift towards atherogenic lipid profiles”

We are discovering that total cholesterol and LDL-C counts not only don’t cause atherosclerosis, they are completely uncorrelated with heart disease! Eating keto will raise total cholesterol, but it raises HDL, which is associated (not necessarily causative though) with good heart health. In many people it lowers plasma triglycerides. People with hypertriglyceridemia are often eating too many inflammatory fats such as Ω6 or ITF.

PM: “Menstrual irregularities and amenorrhea”

I have seen this complaint pretty often on the keto boards I frequent. This one seems pretty legitimate. A lot of people complaining of these real problems switched to keto because they have PCOS – for many people it may be other underlying conditions causing the problem. Or it may be the diet itself for others.

PM: “Myocardial infarction, Death”

Heart attacks! Yes, people eating keto have heart attacks and die. I’d argue that for the vast majority of people doing it right (especially those like me with low carb tolerances), eating keto postpones these outcomes more than eating higher-carb diets.

PM: “… tolerating the detriments to other body systems (such as endocrine …)”
I’d argue that ketosis is beneficial to the endocrine systems of most people, especially the insulin-resistant among us. Even insulin-sensitive elite long-distance athletes are finding their performance improved while eating keto.

I did not read the whole linked PDF at the bottom, but I did search it for the adverse reactions with which I wasn’t already familiar.

Again – if there are any questions, or anyone wants links to a claim I’ve made, please contact me & I’ll be happy to respond.

On Which Topics Are Scientists and Science Journalists Trustworthy?

I’ve been thinking about the many examples of flawed science we’ve been taught. Examples include:

– The impending disaster of anthropogenic global warming.

– The entire field of clinical psychiatry.

– Humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

– Nutrition advice has been horribly misguided for 60+ years, including:

• Eggs are bad for you.

• Dietary fat (and especially saturated fat) is bad for you.

• Everybody should eat a lot of grain.

• Dietary carbohydrates are essential.

• Everybody should reduce their sodium intake below 2.3 g/day. 1.5 is better.

• Dietary cholesterol will harm your heart.

• High blood cholesterol totals cause heart disease (they aren’t even correlated).

I believe these are well-intentioned people telling us these things – they believe what they are saying is true, but it’s based on flawed science.

What do these topics all have in common? They all inform human behavior. By contrast, the science we’re taught that is not so informative on human behavior (physics, chemistry, molecular biology, space flight, etc..) seems to be of much higher quality.

Paleo / Keto Evolutionary Reasoning

Having read a lot about paleo / primal / ketogenic eating over the past 6 weeks, I’ve noticed a trend. Very well educated physicians and scientists researching the optimal human diet come to correct conclusions (that eating paleo and/or ketogenically is optimal, depending on one’s tolerance for carbohydrates). But part of the reasoning used to get there is humans evolved over the past 2 million years, adapting to eating paleo / keto, and only started farming and eating grain within the past 10,000 years (or far less for some societies). Then, often in the same chapter of the same book, they refer to studies in rats or other non-apes to bolster the value of restricting dietary sugar and starch. This seems inconsistent.

I think they are correct that subsisting on farmed grains is less healthy for mammals than eating more “natural” diets. I propose this will still be true even if the vast majority of humanity subsists on farmed grains for the next 2 million years – the harmful effects of such a diet usually do not reduce reproductive potential – they don’t fully manifest until after the prime reproductive years. The human population is far too high for natural selection to fix any beneficial adaptations even if they did improve reproductive fitness. So the presumed recent history of humanity is a red herring.

Coffee Experiment

Coffee

I’m doing a randomized controlled trial on myself. I average a 20% boost in cardio performance after I drink coffee verses just drinking vitamin water. But I want to know how much of that is physiological and how much is placebo. So I have designed the following experiment to find out:

I bought 18 Donut House Coffee K-Cups and 18 Donut House Decaf K-Cups. All 36 are identical other than the contents having most of the caffeine removed or not, and their labels. I dumped all 36 dumped into a bag and swirled it around. I will choose one at random before my workout (approximately every other morning) and insert it into a Kuerig without looking at it. I will then tell Kuerig to make 16 ounces of strong coffee, and mix in two heaping plastic spoonfuls of cocoa, 4 packets of Splenda, and a generous shot of vanilla extract. No fats added to the coffee … not bulletproof, etc…

I will prepare and eat a low-carb breakfast including eggs and steak, totaling 60-70 grams protein, and 760-840 total kcal
with the coffee. I’ll have 1-2 liters water with a lemon airborne tablet in each liter, drunk to thirst with breakfast.

I’ll have no coffee or caffeinated soft drinks for at least 45 hours before the test coffee. One hot chocolate 45-14 hours beforehand is acceptable. Last workout will be between 36-50 hours before each test.

The treadmill workout will begin 15-30 minutes after finishing breakfast and coffee.

I will warm up by walking 5 minutes at 20% grade, 2.1 mph, then ramp up speed to 2.3 mph and elevation to 27.5%. The primary result is the time to reach 1000 feet elevation increase (1184 cumulative feet including warm up). That is the fitness test for Tranter’s correction to Naismith’s rule. I will keep the speed at 2.3 mph during the whole test climb, and vary the elevation to climb as steeply as I feel I can sustain.

During the climb: I will:

– have water with a lemon airborne tablet in each liter, available to be drunk to thirst.

– have sugarfree gum in my mouth.

– listen to the “treadmill slow” playlist from beginning, so the same music every time.

– A/C set to 70, Fan blowing on me running at medium, towel available.

– Not hang on to the treadmill rails. Minimal resting of hands on my laptop is OK

– Record my Heart-rate and incline at 5 minute intervals, in beats per 10 seconds.

When I read 1000 feet elevation gain relative to the end of warm-up, I will record the time, final inclination, and final heart rate. I will then go find out if the coffee I drank was Decaf or Regular, and record that. Finally, I will record my shod weight, and any possible confounding factors.

After the test, I will also do HIIT and strength training workouts, but that’s not relevant to the test.

I’ve already done the first two test climbs. I randomly chose decaf for both, and my performance was definitely below what it had been on the previous attempt with caffeinated coffee (but that’s not a sample for this test, since I knew it was caffeinated while I was climbing). Both of the first two tests had confounding factors – one was after a “high-calorie meal” that got out of hand … I ended up eating 4000 Calories of mixed nuts in one sitting.Home_Alone

So … I’m not going to put myself in THAT situation again. Anyway, the other was that I had done a HIIT workout with 100m sprints 36 hours before, and was quite sore from it. In fact, I’m still sore now.

If any of you have suggestions on improving this trial, please let me know!

Is “Libertarian Christian” an oxymoron?

No!

Are “libertarian” and “libertine” the same?

No!

Can Christians decide not to behave sinfully, expect others in their churches and families to behave righteously, while at the same time expecting those outside the church to sin? Can we oppose sin in our own lives while avoiding the use of our governments to force others to behave righteously?
Yes!

pot

Proper government should:

1. Protect people from each other.

2. Promote the general welfare (as opposed to the welfare of specific individuals at the expense of others).

3. NOT attempt to protect people from themselves.

Premises:

1. The Bible is the inerrant word of God.

2. Humans are fallen, naturally selfish, like to tell each other what to do, but don’t like being told what to do. And that’s the good ones.

3. The goal of Christians is primarily to glorify God – and the #1 way we do this is to LOVE – love God, others, and ourselves in a humble, selfless way. One significant reason we exist on Earth is to bear witness to God’s glory and love to those who do not believe in Him as our part of bringing others to Him.

4. There are a number of activities God says are sinful (wrong, falling short of His design for us). These include sex outside the marriage of a man and woman, taking drugs for pleasure, getting drunk, gluttony, stealing, murdering, and taking His Name in vain.

5. Proper government is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense of their lives, freedom & property. (see Bastiat’s “The Law” for details)

Wrong activities are only the governments’ business if the people engaging have harmed or are threatening to harm someone else. Gov’t exists to protect us from each other, not ourselves. Romans 13 speaks of government using the sword to punish evil-doers, but then calls the government “God’s avenger”. This could mean government is God-ordained to avenge people who have been wronged by others, since we are not supposed to take our own revenge. Or it could mean that (as we see in Romans 8) that God uses evil governments for good despite themselves.

Having the government force people to act right is counterproductive to our goal as Christians, which is to glorify God by loving – partially by encouraging people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If people are being forced to act like Christians, that will be counterproductive to that effort. They may think they are behaving well enough to qualify as Christians, having their own depravity hidden from them. Romans 8 makes it very clear that it is impossible for non-Christians to please God anyway. They need faith, not forced outward obedience.

Christians are supposed to exercise self-control, not government control.

Paul makes this explicitly clear in 1Cor 5:9-13: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”

Taken to its logical extreme, theocratic philosophy of helping people live healthy (smoking bans, etc) and righteously must conclude in total state control similar to what we read in 1984 (you have to get up & do your calisthenics in front of the TV, etc)

Also, there is legitimate debate among Christians on what is right. For example, Heb 10:25 says we are supposed to go to church. Taken to its extreme, a theocrat might require people to attend church, and my involvement in a home-church might land me on the wrong side of the law. This is obviously an extreme case, but it IS the logical conclusion of that philosophy of government.

To sum up, right behavior is between people and God – not the government. And the problem with non-Christians is not their lack of right behavior anyway, but rather their lack of faith in God. Government should only step in when people harm or endanger each other.

Now, if and when Jesus returns to rule this Earth … at that point I will definitely be a theocrat.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
– C. S. Lewis