Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Science of Gluten vs. Stupidity of Journalism

In early May of 2014, after fighting a slow, vicious, and losing battle with type 2 diabetes over 25 years, I decided to try a gluten-free diet based on some readings and testimonials of friends. Having tried multiple diet courses over the years, I was extremely skeptical and pessimistic, and extraordinarily surprised when it worked.  I was so surprised that one, relatively minor dietary change could have such a drastic effect that I have felt compelled since to research the subject and discover why. Many of the claims in the few books I've read are mostly unsubstantiated by other research, which means, scientifically they are just wild speculation as to cause (well-educated guesses, since these books are by doctors).  The proof of the results, however, is undeniable.

In the course of my research, I've come across a multitude of opinion articles against the gluten-free "movement", and for my amusement, I've been collecting links to them. The onslaught of group-think in journalism has forced me to mostly abandon it since late September, when the number of worthless opinions exploded in quantity, but I still try to link the most opinionated articles.  The one common denominator among all of the articles is that the authors really don't know what they're talking about. To be fair, most people following a gluten-free diet may not, either, but in their defense - they know it works, even if not why.  This lack of knowledge on the subject, by both sides, creates a conflict, and if there's anything journalists are good at, it's stroking conflict.  It certainly isn't doing research and reporting on it.

While I also maintain a research page, it's mostly just a place for me to throw links to research that I've found, and I offer little explanation of why that research is important to understanding, or what I've come to understand from it.

The 'Famous' Australian Research Team

If you're a well-read know-it-all, let me begin by addressing Peter Gibson's research studies, since you've probably read ignorant journalists reporting on it, without reading the actual reports, and thus think you know "science" has disproven the gluten-free movement and everyone doing it is an idiot and the whole thing is stupid. Here's how patients were selected for the study:

"Celiac disease was excluded either by absence of the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 haplotype or by a normal duodenal biopsy (Marsh 0) performed at endoscopy while on a gluten-containing diet in individuals expressing the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 haplotype."

To translate, anyone with a measurable immune response to gliadin (the 'offending' protein in gluten) was excluded from the study as a Celiac. This excluded not only those presenting with Celiac's (specific to gluten induced intestinal damage), but also anyone with a medical diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), where an autoimmune response may have been measured, but a biopsy may not have been performed or did not show Celiac's damage. Typically, a medical diagnosis of NCGS is derived by a lab test confirming an autoimmune reaction to gliadin, without presenting symptoms of Celiacs. This is opposed to a clinical diagnosis, which is derived solely from a doctor's opinion based on the results of a patient removing gluten from the diet. Then, there are the self-diagnosed, who have reached the conclusion without the assistance of a medical professional. Finally, there are the people in this study, who are both self-diagnosed, and subsequently medically confirmed as NOT having NCGS.

In other words, this study was only on people who were absolutely not, by current testing standards or by prior clinical evaluation, reactive to gluten, and the paper does not give the information on how many people applied for the study vs. how many were rejected, which could be an important, missing data point in a larger picture.

Second, the diets tested in the study specifically separated gluten from FODMAPS.  There was no condition tested where gluten and FODMAPS were studied together, which was THE condition of this team's 1st study that this 2nd study supposedly refutes, so there is no direct comparison data point between the two studies.  From the discussion section of the article:

"Alternatively, gluten might induce symptoms only in the presence of a moderate content of FODMAPs."

In other words, they don't know, mostly because they didn't look, and this may be critical oversight given the most basic understanding of the processes of gliadin related problems, both in Celiacs and other 'alleged' gluten related disorders, which I'll get to in a minute.

Finally, the study was small: 37 people completed 7-days, and only 22 of those stayed for an extra 3-day re-challenge (from which most of the conclusion is derived). This analysis isn't to 'debunk' the study - it's actually an important study, and will ultimately help to differentiate the paths by which gluten harms. It's to debunk the journalistic (ie: moronic) claims associated with the study, which are unfortunately supported by some of the suppositions (not fully substantiated claims stated as reasonable speculation) the researchers put into their conclusion to explain the differences between their 1st and 2nd study.

If you have further interest in Gibson's research team, they also did a 3rd study on gluten, which is usually conveniently ignored by the journalists, who are mostly too stupid or lazy to understand it let alone tease out implications without cribbing someone else's wild, click-bait interpretation of it, first.

Hopefully, addressing the (journalistic) issues around this study is enough to open the average skeptic's mind enough to continue.

The Insulin / Amylin Metabolic Process

Before we even get to gluten, we need to first have an understanding of this aspect of the normal metabolic process: the insulin / amylin process.

Most people are familiar with the insulin process, simply because of the wide prevalence of Diabetes (in all its varieties), and the fact that people like to talk about their problems.  The pancreas produces insulin to control the amount of sugar in the blood.  If the process is disrupted, blood sugar levels can get too high or too low, both of which can be dangerous.  Hypoglycemia and (all forms of) Diabetes are fairly well known disorders associated with insulin disruption.

What most people are not aware of is the amylin process.  The pancreas also produces a protein called amylin, which is the other half of the blood sugar regulation process.  The technical term is Islet Amyloid Polypeptide (IAPP).  In the normal process, amylin is cosecreted with insulin, and it helps regulate blood sugar by being part of the signalling system to the brain which suppresses appetite, slows the digestive process, and slows insulin production.

When the amylin process is disrupted, it simultaneously disrupts the insulin process, as amylin is the regulator of insulin production. Amylin process disruption is a well-known problem in a wide variety of chronic illnesses, but the source of the disruption and the importance of finding the source is generally overlooked in treatment considerations.  In the case of Diabetics (all varieties), the treatments generally only address the insulin disruption, and ignore the amylin disruption.

When the amylin process is disrupted, it is generally because the amylins are not reacting properly with nutrients in the blood plasma. The results of these poor reactions are often termed "amylin residue".  This residue presents as either fragments of amylin peptides, or as fibroids, often termed "amyloids". For the sake of convenience, I'll refer to them all as amyloids (mishapen amylin peptide residue, either as fragments or fibroids).  Amyloids are toxic to the body, and the body seeks to remove them.  Amyloids have a tendency to collect in certain areas of the body, but where they collect varies considerably. This may be determined by the nature of the amyloid itself, likely by which destination the normal version of the peptide was supposed to go.

The removal of amyloids from the body is dealt with in a normal process called autophagy, but in some people, either by genetic variation, or quantity of amyloids, a greater immune response might also kick-in to assist with the removal.  When this happens, there is generally a lot of cell-death in the areas around where the amyloids have been collecting, and there are nasty side effects.

There are a number of chronic illnesses associated with amyloids, including: Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Chronic Heart Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Celiac's Disease.

What has only begun to be studied is what causes the amylin disruption to begin with. Previously, it was uncertain if the amyloids were a cause or a biproduct of the diseases they are associated with, but by seeing that the immune reaction is a response to amyloid collection, many studies are now being focused on the amyloids, and more information should follow in the future.  In the meantime, there is enough information from many completed studies to shed light on a number of conditions.

Gluten and the Amylin Process

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, which has many components, but the one I'll be addressing is called gliadin. When gluten is digested, it is broken down, and one of those results is gliadin - more accurately, hydrolized gliadin.  Hydrolysis is a process of cleaving proteins into smaller components with water, and while gliadin does cleave, the human digestive system is not designed to cleave gliadin into its further basic components (where it would no longer be considered gliadin, but its basic amino acid structures).  So, when you see the term hydrolized gliadin, it is referring to a partially digested substance.  In a normally functioning digestive process, hydrolized gliadin should be discarded, and not allowed into the blood stream through the villi of the small intestine.

Unfortunately, hydrolized gliadin is reactive with amylin.  In the presence of other peptides reacting with amylin (as they are supposed to do in normal function), hydrolized gliadin disrupts amyloid formation. Hydrolized gliadin, like a catalyst, is misfolding the normal amylin reaction process with nutrients, resulting in either leftover fragments, or fibroid production.  Hydrolized gliadin creates amyloids in the presence of amylin and nutrients.

If one now looks back to Gibson's limited 2nd study with this understanding, the result that gluten alone produced no reaction in his study can be seen in an entirely different light. The fact that gluten and FODMAPs weren't tested together can be seen as a critical oversight that may have provided a great deal of information.  If one were a suspicious person, one might suspect this was an intentional oversight, as this process was speculated in medical literature prior to Gibson's study. Gibson is selling low-FODMAP dietary books, so it would be a crying shame if his books were rendered highly irrelevant by the results of his own research team and the current dietary trends.

These types of amyloids are referred to as gluten-peptides or gliadin-peptides, instead of simply as amyloids.  This is an important distinction because gliadin is not the sole source of all amyloids, so when one is looking for a specific amyloid connection to gluten, gliadin-peptides are the distinguishing marker.

Recognizing this process identifies hydrolized gliadin as a potential source of amyloids, which makes it a viable candidate as a source of amyloids in any of the amyloid related diseases - one simply needs to look at the amyloids and determine if they are gluten peptides or not, which science is only beginning to do, and the results of which clearly haven't translated into a broader audience, because journalists are stupid group-think creatures incapable of processing raw information without a spin filter, until there is an overwhelming abundance of information that even they can't deny, and everyone already knows about before they finally report the truth.

Back to examining the metabolic process: we're still left with a barrier that needs to be crossed that shouldn't be; the small intestine.  In the normal digestive process, hydrolized gliadin should be discarded.  It shouldn't have access to the amylins to disrupt the insulin/amylin process to begin with.

Gluten and Intestinal Permeability

If you're well-read, you might have heard ignorant journalists or air-headed health-avid nuts use the term "leaky-gut", which I despise.  It's a layman's term for intestinal permeability that provides no information about the process, and is more designed to induce a low-brow reaction. Intestinal permeability is a description of the ability of the small intestine's villi to allow or reject molecules from passing through into the blood stream.  It does this by tightening or loosening the junctures between the cells.  When the regulation of this permeability is disrupted, molecules that should't pass through, do.

The regulation of intestinal permeability has been linked to a protein called Zonulin, which is generated in the intestine, and controls the junction between cells in the digestive tract. The more Zonulin present, the looser the space between cells, and the greater the possible uptake of larger, not fully cleaved molecules, like hydrolized-gliadin, entering the blood stream.  This regulatory process is a relatively recent discovery (2000), which explains the asinine name assigned to the protein (Zonulin) and why most people aren't familiar with the process, or misunderstand it.

Heightened levels of zonulin in the system have already been linked to a number of chronic illnesses, including Celiacs, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and Parkinson's.

Excessive Zonulin secretion has been linked to the presence of hydrolized gliadin in the digestive system.  In other words, gliadin itself is a stimulator of the release of zonulin, which then allow hydrolized gliadin to pass into the blood stream where it can more easily create gluten-peptides (amyloids).

Gliadin isn't the only stimulator of Zonulin release - it's also been linked to bacterial and viral infections, and other sources are suspected (like glyphosate), but haven't been confirmed.  Also, research shows a wide difference between Gliadin's stimulation of zonulin between normal individuals, and those already diagnosed with gluten-related disorders.  In normal individuals, gliadin still stimulates additional zonulin production, but not to the degree of those already known to be suffering from gluten reactions (primarily Celiac and Type 1 sufferers).

In other words, some unknown, environmental factor may be a trigger which turns on excessive zonulin production in reaction to gliadin, which once turned on, doesn't seem to turn off.  While this probably means, in a larger, undiscovered picture, that gluten is not the end-all-be-all evil of food consumption, it also means that once the body reacts to it in this fashion (ie: zonulin disruption, amyloid production, and/or auto-immune attack), it doesn't matter - the most effective treatment will be to remove gluten from the diet.

Let me reiterate: the primary cause of the zonulin process disruption is unknown, but once disrupted, gliadin is an amplifying source of that disruption.

The Many Competing Theories:

Modern Wheat is dangerous! This is the premise of Wheat Belly.  The hybrid wheat that spawned the "2nd Green Revolution" in the 60's doubled the number of chromosones in the wheat, and introduced a type of gliadin into gluten which had never before been in the human diet: gliadin-d. It's been a while since I read it, but I consider it mostly bunk because I haven't found a single study that bothers denoting a difference in gluten types, or comparison of reactions to gluten type, or found any bothersome problems from additional chromosones, etc.  While there might be some differences and problems for some people, the rise in T1 & T2 diabetes, obesity, celiac disease, et al. didn't start until the 70's, and didn't accelerate noticeably until the 90's.

Modern Wheat has More Gluten! While it's possible that the rise in gluten related problems is due simply to the increased amount of gluten in people's diet, there is no indication I've found that modern wheat has a greater quantity of gluten in it than prior.  I've seen competing claims about the amount of wheat consumed rising, or being the same, historically, so there's nothing clear about this.

GMO, GMO, GMO! No varieties of wheat in the commercial market are GMO, so this is just idiocy. In fact, it's my understanding that most GMO crops, like Corn and Soy, are actually using genes from wheat in the splicing, not the other way around.

Bromine Poisoning.  Most baked goods add potassium bromide (or other bromine salt) to wheat flours for structural integrity and longevity.  Bromine is known to replace sodium chloride and iodine in the body's many salt processes, and can be particularly damaging to the thyroid and pituitary glands, as well as greatly disrupt blood pressure.  I've found no studies on bromine's affect on the gut, however, so its place in intestinal damage is unknown.  Still, a good idea to cut this crap out of your diet if you have blood pressure or glandular issues.

Your Wheat is Poisoned!  What seems the most conspiratorial claim of all is probably the most likely. A common practice in harvesting wheat (and many other crops) is to spray it with glyphosate (RoundUp) or another weed killer a couple of days beforehand, forcing it to go to seed before it dies, and to help desiccate the crop for easier harvest and sorting.  Glyphosate soaks into the seeds (the part you eat) and doesn't wash out, and glyphosate poisoning is known to damage the intestinal membrane (villi), perhaps sparking the zonulin disruption, and then the amyloid disruption.

The timeline of the use of glyphosate is also incriminating; it was first used in the 70's (patented in 1974), coinciding with the initial rise in public health problems related to diet, but it wasn't until the 90's that it saw widespread use with newly introduced GMO crops, and the practice of spraying before harvest became widely used.

The newer studies on glyphosate are beginning to back up these claims, both as being more poisonous to humans than originally claimed (the "nonactive" additives aren't part of the studies), and as being damaging to the intestine, and mimicking or creating gluten sensitivity problems.

So what's the answer? Hell if I know for certain (though I seem to know more than any single journalist, whose job is supposed to be to research and report this stuff).  What I do know is going gluten-free has been life changing for me, and for every T2 diabetic who's listened to me long enough to try it, and for my wife's immune problems, and even for my kids (who certainly don't appreciate it, yet).

So, if you're still caught on the "it's just a fad" bandwagon, well, put some shut the fuck up in your own diet.

Are You a Stupid Journalist?

If you are a stupid journalist, and you're aggravated that I haven't bothered to footnote and link my references - please visit this research link page, where I throw links in a mostly unorganized fashion.

Better yet: do your own fucking research you lazy turd; it's all out there, and if someone like me can find it all and derive a basic understanding without resorting to reading other half-wits, you possibly could, too.  If you had tried to begin with, you wouldn't have wasted time and potentially endangered lives by laughing off gluten-free as a "fad" with your asinine ignorant opinions.

A small list of asinine ignorant opinions, proving that you (stupid journalist) are just a cow in the herd and haven't done your job or offered an original thought on the subject.

This was going to be a much longer article, but I've grown frustrated with the topic, since scientists are lollygagging on the additional research that needs to be done, journalists are nothing more than groupthink moths, and with everyone else I'm either preaching to the choir or to the deaf.  I've sat on finishing it for a couple of weeks, and now I'm just rushing it out to clear it out of my posts.

Since going gluten-free, I've been catching up on projects and goals I've been putting off for years, and I've been putting this aside, and probably will again after I post this.  I was hoping to expand the explanations of the different amyloid diseases, show the proof of gliadin peptides in T1 Diabetes, the proof of amyloids in T2 diabetes, Alzheimers, etc. and show the suspicions of gluten peptides as the cause, and then try to dive into the gut bacteria/mental health connections. Then I realized no one really gives a shit if it means they can't have their bread or pizza, so obviously the best conclusion that allows me to retain my sanity yet still feel like I've done something is to just get it the hell out of my post que, link it for friends & assholes in the future, and then try not feel bad for them (and especially not feel schadenfreude) when they ignore it and get sick anyway.

Back to living.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Pumpkin Pie w/Gluten Free Crust That Almost Wasn't.

Once upon a time, Catherine fell in love with an overpriced drink from Starbucks, which she would buy as often as she could afford, but it was a seasonal flavor, and seasons end. This particular season was fall, and this particular flavor was Pumpkin Spice coffee, which you've probably already deduced, given its power of seduction over American females far and wide.
She missed her drink so much, she endeavored to recreated the flavor on her own, investing her limited free time, experimenting like a mad scientist with cans of pumpkin pie filling and exotic spices. There were disasters, and then breakthroughs, and many pots for the whole family to clean.
Eventually, the recipe was perfected, and for months she had but one complaint: it's too chunky. She used bigger words, but the end result was that the residue from the pumpkin settled in her coffee so that finishing a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee was never as good as starting it.
So she added a final step to her preparations: straining. After boiling her pumpkin pie filling with her secret blend of spices, she would strain the delicious goodness into a bottle, which when mixed in the coffee still created the desired flavor, but left no gritty mess at the bottom of her breakfast blend.
One day her husband walked through the kitchen during her process of straining and wondered aloud: "What do you do with the left overs?" He knew full well that she discarded the leftovers, since the refrigerator wasn't stuffed with tupperware brimmed with pumpkin pie filling, but he had a bit of thrifty hoarder in him, and it pained him to see perfectly good paid for product being discarded that might still have a use.
When he noticed later that week a bowl being filled with pumpkin pie filling, the sense of the coming season (Halloween!) enticed him to find some gluten free pie crusts on his next shopping stop. It had to be gluten free, of course, as her husband had been sucked into the current dietary fad with promises of curing the problems of non-celiac gluten sensitivity he never knew he had.  Though he was loathe to spend $5.00 on 2 measly pie crusts, he overcame his reluctance and made the purchase with visions of desert and Thanksgiving in his head.
So he mixed up the leftovers with some condensed milk, a little sugar, a pinch of salt, and baked it at 450 for 15 minutes, then at 350 for 45 minutes, and it came out perfect, especially with some whipped cream on top.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Faith Based Corruption and Compromise

Anyone remember George W. Bush's Faith Based Initiative Program?  In 2001, an executive order opened up the federal coffers, under a newly created branch of the executive office, to any and all organizations of faith involved in community services that overlapped with Federal programs.  The Catch 22, of course, was that in order to receive money, any organization's involvement with the Federal funding had to be contingent upon them not talking about, thinking about, or acting on their actual faith.

This was called: "compassionate conservatism".  Now, instead of relying on people's tithing and volunteerism, advertising their presence in the community and preaching the word of God as they engaged in his work, Churches could just apply for a grant, do the same thing, just quietly, and wear emblazoned t-shirts and have a sign hanging behind them and hope that was enough to get some sort of message through.  It was a true compromise of ethics; both of the government's role as protector of religious freedom by standing apart, and of any faith based organization willing to take on the burden of increased government oversight, control, and regulation of their activities.

While clearly of good intentions, it stirred up a number of fears, criticisms, and lawsuits during the Bush administration.  Many were concerned about pagans, satanists and other fringe "religions" getting their hands on government money and abusing the non-secular public-use clauses guarding the hen house.  Some were concerned radical Muslim groups posing as charities would funnel grant money to terrorist organizations. Only a few bothered to point out what should have been the most obvious concern: "Whenever you take the government shekels, sooner or later comes the government's shackles."

The threat was never an external one; it was the gall of any of these organizations to believe that their own faith is not corruptible.

When Obama was elected, one of the first things he did was to rename the faith based initiative office. It was previously called: "White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives", and in an executive order on Feb 5, 2009 (one of his first), officially renamed it to the: "White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships"

This is important, because this wording entirely changes the nature of the grant program by removing any veil that the government is simply awarding money to good causes.  It is no longer a "community initiative", now it's a partnership with the government.  Yes, annoying people may parse the sentence and interpret the words entirely differently just to be annoying, but the fact remains: the purpose of the funding is no longer to empower faith-based community initiatives, it is to partner with the government to receive funding for government goals under the guise of social services.  I would argue that it was always this.

Was there any media mention, let alone a months-long uproar with opinion pages splattering useless critical/complementary opinions, over this name-change?  Has there been any media coverage or mention of the Office of Faith-Based Partnerships since 2009?  I certainly don't recall it being on anyone's media radar since Bush left office.

So, since 2001, the government has slowly been extending its grasp and control over Faith-Based programs in need of money for social services, until in 2009, these social services openly became "partnerships" with the government, and the grants evolved into a daily listing for social services on some Federal webpage, where anyone willing to sacrifice their religious freedoms in the name of their religion could apply and get money to do God's work without involving God, based on what the government wants to fund and how it wants to fund it, which may or may not overlap with what people of faith should be doing to serve God.

While I'm certain there are thousands of examples of abuse of this system prior, nothing exemplifies this perversion and corruption of the already compromising faith-based "partnership" than the current crisis of illegal immigrant children flooding across the U.S. borders.

The government started advertising for temporary housing for massive numbers of illegals even before they showed up, and they're still advertising now.  They advertised for security for their internment housing of illegals as they were caught coming in.  They advertised for shipping the illegals around the country.

What was once a slow burn of corruption and moral compromise through political funding has now turned into a waterfall.

How much money does it take for a Baptist to call himself a "Brown-Shirt"?  What good service in the name of God allows for the sort of compromise where you can justify hiding the truth from people, threatening health workers, and adopting a self-described moniker evocative one of the most vile and inhuman eras of history?

The Baptist Brown-Shirts.  Dwell on that for a minute, if you're wondering how deep and disturbing this corruption of faith in service of the government really is.

Of course it's spread much further than that; the uproar over illegal children being shipped around the country is raising hackles and opening a number of eyes to see that their own Churches may be dealing directly with DHS.

NY church backs out of federal plan to house illegal immigrant children - not because anyone cried foul - they just missed the application deadline.

A good bulk of information on Churches using government money to care for illegal immigrants can be found here: Refugee Resettlement Watch.  I'd link individual articles, but this site is pretty expansive, and I work for a living.  It's not just Baptists.  It's Catholics, Lutherans, Hebrews, A variety of evangelical groups... ironically, the only groups I've not seen signing up to house illegal children are Islamic groups, though it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are and even the loudmouthed conservatives are holding back reporting on it out of fear.

To anyone looking, the conclusion that the flood of illegal immigrant children is an "engineered" crisis is not difficult to reach.  It is clearly intentional, and was planned by the government, and enacted to be as detrimental, dehumanizing, demoralizing and divisive to the actual American citizenry as possible. Religious organizations that seek funding in order to assist these illegals are truly partnering with and enabling the government. 

Oh, certainly; these children do need help, and the churches should be involved - but on their own terms. To surrender your faith and freedoms in exchange for funding makes you even less than a partner; it makes you a parasite - because the government is not responding to a social problem; it's creating it. Churches involved in this are not being charitable - they're profiteering.  You can delude yourself that what good you're doing outweighs the ills you accept in order to do so, but this is a fool's argument: the ends never justify the means. Fouled actions taint all outcomes.

Find out if your Church or Organization is accepting government funding, any arena, and urge them out of it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why aren't there any Gluten-Free diet studies on Type-2 Diabetics? Oh Wait... There Are

Updated Below: Found Some Studies

After reading Wheat Belly, and Grain Brain, and doing a load of research myself, I find myself wondering why there have been no "official" studies of Type 2 Diabetics (T2D) on a Gluten-Free diet.  I've been keeping up, as best a layman can, with current research on the topic, but, really, there's very little out there beyond a couple of doctors selling theories and cookbooks, and some basic research into processes that are so technical and specific, it's difficult to ferret out the full implications or make any lifestyle decisions based on them without thoroughly digesting the material.  And for those not studied in medicine, it's not an easy task.

If I hadn't, almost out of despair for lack of improvement, decided to try going gluten-free, I'd surely be a heavy skeptic still.

I've been tracking my own progress very closely, and while a successful case study of one is fine, especially if you're me; it doesn't go much farther than that. 1 in 8 Americans have been diagnosed with T2D; about 25 million people. Another 7 million likely have it, and just don't know it, yet. A recent predictive study suggests that 40% (up from the current 8.5%) will develop T2D during their life time.

How many of these diabetics could find the road to health and freedom, like me, by simply removing one ingredient from their lives? One ingredient removed that allows the reintroduction of many other foods typically restricted from diabetics. I'm certainly not the first to try this; and I hope I'm not the last - but why aren't there any doctors actually compiling an "official" study?  Well, I'm hardly the one to ask about ongoing studies, so maybe there are indeed some in progress... but it's been years since these theories were introduced, and gluten-free has become such a big dietary "fad" that many people are trying it without any understanding of it, so much so that others are rebelling against it with obsolete facts and information, of which I've formed a fun collection of writings.

While a conspiratorial skeptic might suggest that it's Big Pharm keeping us all down so they can drug us forever to profit off of a chronic condition; the truth of the matter is that there are too many competing, profitable interests for that to be the case.  Gluten-Free is now a big and growing market. If eating gluten-free truly reverses diabetes for more than one, it would be a much more powerful selling point if it had some scientific studies backing it, even if funded by a gluten-free manufacturer.  Especially if we expect people to spend $5 on a pack of 4 gluten-free hamburger buns.  It's worth it occasionally, if you're not paying for constant medication; but the more people who realize gluten is poisoning them, the greater the demand, the more they will sell, and competing companies will bring the cost down.

So where are the damned studies already?  I have a daily e-mail alert, so I know there are recent studies with Type 2 Diabetics eating almonds and tree nuts, whey protein, and lord knows what else - and while each of these discoveries are fantastic and great, none of them are claimed or shown to immediately reverse T2D dramatically, like removing gluten from my diet did for me.  If you doctors can afford to study the effects of eating a handful of nuts and spiking your dinner with muscle powder, why can't you study the effects of the biggest dietary movement since you bastards screwed up the world with the low-fat and low-cholesterol horseshit that's made everyone sick and fat since the 1980's?

Surely there's some doctor or research group out there willing to give it a go.  Hell, once a diabetic is diagnosed, they're taking their blood sugar at least once a day and getting their blood tested every three months no matter what their diet is - it's not like there's any additional big costs for such a study.  All that needs to be done is recruitment, and it's not like there's a lack of T2 diabetics.  Just shout out at any gathering of a dozen or more people and watch the hands go up.  I'll bet a busy doctor sees dozens of diabetics daily, regardless of their specialty - diabetics get sick more often.  Be a scientist, damnit - do a study.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this world, but it'd be nice to see it proven.

Update (7th September 2014):

It took me a while to find these because I was looking for "gluten-free" when Paleolithic is also gluten-free. I guess the word Paleolithic makes it more worthy of study, since it sounds all sciency, where gluten just sounds like you're clearing your throat, so these authors didn't bother tagging their studies as gluten-free.  I'm not eating Paleolithic, and it looks to me like I'm improving better than most in these studies with my cheese, milk, and GF grains/grasses, so I'm sticking with it for now.

Regardless, would still be nice to see confirmation studies on gluten-free as a sole restriction, lest some ignorant jackass Gibsonite claims it's all about the FODMAPs again.  If you're a Gibsonite, please read his 3rd study (Gluten may cause depression in subjects with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity), recognize that 75>32, and 5>1, understand that I never suffered from IBS so his 1st and 2nd study are completely irrelevant to me, and then go see how many fried gluten dumplings you can shove up your ass.

A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease.

Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gluten-Free, 3 Months, Lab Results

I just got my lab results back for 3 months gluten-free.

As a recap, just over 3 months ago I went from taking 2000 mg Metformin daily, along with an ace inhibitor for blood pressure, to no medication, when I changed to a gluten-free diet and eased major restrictions on sugar and fat intake.  My daily fbs has been between 100-120 (112, 3-month average).  I've been eating lots of cheeses, fatty meats (pulled pork, ribeye, etc.), and I allow myself to indulge in sweets daily, provided they're gluten-free.  I go to bed each night with a bowl of Corn Chex with a handful of blueberries thrown in. There are these chocolate covered fruits from Costco I love to snack on, and sometimes I'll stop at a gas station and get some Reeses Pieces or a Butterfinger.  I've tried a couple of gluten-free bread replacement thingies, but most of them are inedible, so none of them are a regular part of my diet, but Duncan Hines Betty Crocker makes a phenomenal GF devil's food chocolate cake mix, so that'll be a monthly treat, I suspect.

I describe all of this because I haven't allowed myself this sort of indulgence of my sweet tooth in years, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it without the same sort of consequences prior to eating GF (though there are still some consequences).  I still feel phenomenal, but I have not been exercising much for about 2 months, since my walking buddy, Hunter, a 10 year old Golden Retriever of great personality, got sick and passed.

So, when we look at my lab results, let's keep in mind that, for the past 3 months, I've been gorging on sweets and fat well beyond any traditional recommended diet for a diabetic, and the only restriction I'm placing on my food is that it be gluten-free and free of sodium nitrates/nitrites (which I've found gives me sciatic nerve pain, and blisters on my feet, while uncured meats don't).

I started about a year ago with the diagnosis of diabetes with an A1c reading just over 10.  On a traditional diabetic diet (low carb, no sugar, low fat) along with exercise and doubling my daily intake of Metformin from 1000 mg to 2000 mg/day , I was able to bring it down to 7.1 just before switching to gluten free.

On the gluten-free diet, with minimal exercise, no medication, and no diet control except for removing gluten, I've continued to drop, albeit minimally, to an A1c of 6.9.  For reference, normal is considered 4.8-5.6.  I'm sure if I restrict the sugars again, I'll be able to get to "normal" easier - but damn it's nice to be able to eat sweets without having to take a nap, feel awful, get moody, or have a high blood sugar reading the next morning.  Same with mashed potatoes.

I also had my lipids tested.  In December of 2013, 3 months into a strict "diabetic" diet, my triglycerides were 318 (normal is 0-149).  This time, they were 113.  My HDLc was nearly the same; 34 prior, 35 this time (target is over 39), but the other big change was VLDL and LDLc.  My VLDL dropped from 64 (normal is 5-40) to 23, and my LDLc increased from 94 (normal of 0-99) to 142.  Now, according to traditional interpretation, a high LDL is of concern, but since they also took my VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and I see that it dropped dramatically, I'm not worried as VLDL carries the triglycerides and is what aggravates atherosclerosis, and likely other amyloid problems as well.

Pulled pork and grilled Ribeye - well, boy, there's fat in them there meat; it's what makes it taste good.

I suspect my body just needs more time to heal after a lifetime of gluten before things settle into "normal", whatever the hell that is. Autophagy, I understand, can be a slow process, but I suspect the LDL's will convert to HDL's as more of the amyloids eventually work out of my system.  More exercise will help; but going GF hasn't cured laziness, I fear.

Otherwise, going gluten-free and maintaining it has been relatively effortless, I'll add; certainly compared to starving myself, treating sugar as the devil, and feeling guilty when inevitably indulging, and trying to exercise when fighting fatigue and constant lack of energy.  Sure, I miss a couple of things, but with what I've been able to add back into my diet, it's not much of a loss, and eventually I'll figure out how to make a decent loaf of gluten free bread - hell, maybe even some French Bread for a po-boy.  If not, using a fork is good enough.

Do I still recommend trying GF to everyone else in the world?  Hell, yes!  Yet...  I'm no longer the evangelical convert.  I've found most people are happy with their ongoing, slowly worsening health problems, and they already know everything about it and how to deal with it so don't care to listen or read about new ideas, let alone believe any of it.  I suppose it's the same-but-opposite of the instant-expert syndrome I've been suffering from after going GF.  Not that I'm giving up on spreading the good word; it's just tiring, so I don't talk about it much unless asked.

I still maintain my research pages, however, so if you haven't checked them in a bit, take a peek.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What Happens if The Impossible Space Drive Works?

If you haven't heard; a supposedly "impossible" space drive has been proven to work. Unfortunately, it's not a warp engine, but it is something just as mind-bending and conventional physics defying: the EM Drive. The EM Drive is a propellant free, directed microwave engine.

It uses no propellant, and supposedly produces thrust by directing microwave photons, which, on the surface, appears to violate conservation of momentum. Your microwave oven doesn't wander around on your countertop every time you make popcorn, so how are the microwaves in this engine working differently? What are they pushing against? The answer appears to be nothing,.. or... everything. But if it works.. then from an engineering perspective, understanding why is only important in order to make it work better.

So let's assume, for the moment, that further testing will prove out the three positive test results so far, and enough understanding of the process is unraveled so that improvements in design and efficiency can happen. Just how good would it need to be to be a true game changer?

I'm not a rocket scientist, and I've spent my career working in imperial units under static conditions, so using metric is a flashback to college, and you'll forgive me if I make blazing simplifications, but I'll try to avoid glaring mistakes:

The EM Drive appears to produce thrust based on the electrical power provided. The current "best" results show 750 mN / 2.5 kW, or 300 mN / kW, assuming a linear expression of thrust/power. Since we're talking about an engine that creates thrust without using mass, the actual acceleration experienced will be dependent upon the mass of the craft itself, and the amount of electrical power it can output, so we should examine anything attached to the engine in terms of Wattage/Mass, or kW/kG.

In terms of current satellite technology, this drive is already a game changer. Current advanced satellites use ion drives, which consume 1-7 kW power to produce 20-50 mN thrust. Ion Drives use propellant, which eventually runs out. Put an EM Drive on a satellite, even it weighs more as an engine than an ion drive with it's standard propellant package, and your satellite is capable of staying in orbit as long as the power and drive is working, and even of shifting orbits without reducing its planned lifespan.  All this drive has to do to change satellite technology forever is to consistently repeat its current result.

What about deep space probes? We can almost do a direct comparison to the Deep Space Ion missions, as the solar powered generator created 2.5 kW, but the ion engines only produced 92 mN. Assuming an EM engine of this size weighs the same as the Ion Engine, the craft would have accelerated 7.8 times faster, and would have been propellant independent. Equipped with an atomic battery, like many of the deep space probes (Pioneer, Voyager, Cassini), and free from carrying propellant, you'd have a craft capable of accelerating for decades. Probes to the outer gas planets would take weeks or months, instead of years. A trip to Alpha Centauri might even be on the table, but the craft would have to stay alive for 100+ years.

So, that's where it stands now, assuming the current results are accurate. What happens if we give the engine some real power, instead of household appliance power?

Let's attach a small nuclear power plant to the EM engines. Something capable of producing about 20 MW of power. At 300mN/ kW, we'd get 6 kN of thrust. A nuclear reactor of this size weighs about 13 metric tons, assume the engines add another 2 metric tons, and we want a craft and payload of 5 metric tons for an even 20 metric tons.  So, our acceleration would be 0.3 m/s^2, about .03 G, so Earth to Mars in about 23 days; not bad timing.

Now, what happens if the thrust ratio can be improved with better design? Just for fun, let's up it to 1N/kW. Now our 20 metric ton craft has 20 kN of thrust, and an acceleration rate of 1 m/s^2, about .1 G, so Earth to Mars in about 12 days.

Now, let's assume Lockheed Martin's skunkworks Fusion project, or the Polywell Fusion project has a breakthrough, and for the same weight, we can produce 200MW, instead of 20. Now our 20 metric ton craft is accelerating at 10 m/s^2, about 1 G, so Earth to Mars in about 4 days.

Oh, lookie there, at 1 G acceleration, we've also created a craft that can float around on earth. Add just a couple of watts and you can move around, or launch directly from the surface, without chemical rockets, or jet engines. You've got the friggin' Millenium Falcon.

I like my assumptions. Maybe I'll get to retire on Mars.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Against the Grain - the Gluten-Free Backlash

I'm getting such a kick out of all the ill-informed, poorly researched, highly-opinionated articles against the gluten-free "movement", that I feel they deserve their own page of dedicated links.  Sure, sometimes, they get a rise out of me with their attitude; but mostly it's a sad display of Hanson's Razor: never attribute to malice what can more adequately be attributed to stupidity.

Or sloth, I'll add. Laziness is likely a better indicator of the nature of these articles than stupidity, though the two are often interchangeable.  "Oh, crap, what do I write about today?"  Oh, I read this opinion by so and so, I suppose I should throw in my 2 cents, too. Research it?  Screw that.  Try it and see?  What, are you on crack?

The general trend of these articles is the position that people are too stupid to understand changes in their body, they're too stupid to understand the science, they're too stupid to think for themselves and are just following the rich and famous, too stupid to eat a nutritional diet, and, furthermore, since the authors are too lazy to look at any research themselves beyond highly biased, misunderstood opinions of research someone else did and was chosen based on confirmation bias and not the contents of the actual research - well, then not only are non-celiac gluten intolerant stupid; they must also be wrong, especially if these doctors who didn't research it either say so.  Oh, and lack of evidence is also proof of absence, because you're stupid, and your example of self isn't "evidence."

And we hate how you cause a commotion at the restaurant asking about gluten in this and that, and cause traffic jams in the grocery store by looking at labels for a really long time.  And if you open your mouth one more damn time about how much better you feel and how you lost weight, I'm going to write a nasty, nasty opinion article!

Perhaps the worst thing about all of these articles (in totality) is the difficulty it's going to present in convincing people, even when science catches up with explaining the results people are having, that if they're suffering or at risk for the wide variety of diseases associated with gluten, that they, too, should try gluten-free.

I'm curious, though - will these writers eat crow when that happens?  I seriously doubt it.  Are you one of these authors?  I won't comment on what's specifically "wrong" in each article, unless you ask. I made the mistake of e-mailing one of these authors, and while he was polite enough, made no attempt at self-examination of falling trap to a logical fallacy, which he accused me of when I pointed a fact out that highlighted his. However, the result was my article on Peter Gibson.

Anyway, here's the Anti-Gluten-Free Wall of Opinion: