Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Falling Apart Syndrome: Are Infections the Cause of Most Diseases?

Anyone who has read my blog will know that I've made a lot of noise about how the Western diet and lifestyle can cause disease. From all the reading I've done, it's easy for me to believe that the new foods humans started to eat within the last 100-200 years (e.g., refined sweeteners, white flour, non-traditionally-processed soy, canned products, margarine, ready-made meals, high-omega-6 oils) are making us unhealthy.

But is it possible that this modern diet's constant supply of nutrient-devoid, toxin-laden, sugar-infused, overly-processed junk also chronically suppresses the immune system to such a degree that we have greater odds of developing diseases like heart disease, stroke, and/or obesity? Consider this:

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Food Deserts: The Problem isn't just McDonalds

The USDA believes that food deserts could be causing obesity and diet-related diseases. If you are unfamiliar with the term "food desert," it's any location where access to affordable healthy foods (which is defined by the USDA as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat milk) is limited. Specifically, there are no traditional supermarkets or grocery stores within 10 miles of a given location. (1)

If this lack of access to a grocery store wasn't bad enough, the USDA argues, corner stores and fast food restaurants like McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut encourage poorer individuals to eat less healthy foods just to save a buck. These food deserts, and the fast food joints that infest them, are exacerbating our current epidemic of obesity by preventing poor people from eating healthy foods, or so we are told.

The fact is that if you don't have a lot of money, you will tend to buy the cheapest food items. Generally, overly-processed foods are cheaper than healthy foods no matter where you get your food. (2)

As for the fast food restaurants, while these establishments are generally selling excessively processed, nutrient-devoid, taste enhanced, near-meat foods, the health problems associated with food deserts (e.g., obesity, diabetes, heart disease) go well beyond cheap chicken nuggets, Big Macs, bean burritos, pepperoni pizza, and giant cups of soda. If the USDA is going to poo-poo all over fast food restaurants, then they have to also be critical of the supposed oasis of healthy eating: The grocery store. While the outside of a grocery store is filled with the stuff generally recognized as healthy (produce, meat, dairy), the center aisles are completely full of junk (see the illustration below by Chris Masterjohn). These highly-processed convenience foods represent a food dessert too.

All convenience foods are a symptom of the modern Western diet and lifestyle, where preference is given to cost, speed, and taste instead of more slowly prepared, healthful, nutrient-dense foods.

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Like us on Our Facebook Page!

While I love writing blog posts about diet and exercise stuff, sometimes I come across cool articles that I don't necessarily want to blog about. So I created a Rapid PT Facebook page to let my readers know when I've found something interesting.

Please head over to the site and like us. (Thank you in advance!)
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Foodily: Great Meals are just a Click Away!

As you start to improve your diet, you're inevitably going to start making your own food. Personally, I have accumulated 20-30 cookbooks since I embraced the Paleo diet, but you don't have to. A website popped up called Foodily that searches recipes found on several different food sites (e.g., 101 Cookbooks, Epicurious, Williams-Sonoma, Food Network) and returns a single searchable list.

The genius of Foodily (other than the meta searching) is that you can search for a certain dish (like stew) and then enter the ingredients that you DON'T WANT. This web site will then search its entire database, returning only the recipes that conform to your specified criteria. And you can even sort this list so that the highest-rated recipes show first. Too easy!

Check out this sample search for a top-rated stew recipe that doesn't have clams!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The PT Test: Improving Your Pull-Ups

While the pull-up is not officially a part of the PT test, it is an exceptional strength/muscle builder. Done correctly, it will build your forearms, biceps, back, and core. If you do enough of them with good technique, you will be the object of awe!

Proper Technique
  • Your movement should be clean and still. There should be no swinging or kicking when executing a pull-up. Because kicking and swinging creates momentum, it is considered cheating, which takes work away from the muscles involved in the pull-up. (When trying to develop strength, you never want to take work away from the muscles you are exercising.)
  • Use full range of motion. That means starting in the full-hang position (where your body is fully lowered) and ending with your head at or above the bar (depending on the kind of pull-up you are doing).
  • Try to touch the bar with your chest, pulling your shoulder blades back as you move towards the bar.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Does the Western Diet and Lifestyle Cause Disease?

You may not be aware of this, but evidence is building that shows that the Western diet and lifestyle (which includes the American diet and lifestyle) causes disease. (1, 2) Today, industrialized (and developing) populations are currently plagued with modern diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity), which were very uncommon just 100 years ago. (1)

When you ask why we become diseased as we get older, you are normally told that these diseases are just the natural consequence of living longer; they are simply normal diseases of aging. (3) However, after you start doing some research, you'll quickly discover that humans have evolved the ability to experience incredible health and vitality well into their 70s and 80s, so long as they enjoy their traditional diet and lifestyle. (1) This means that the health problems that we now regard as inevitable are actually not normal at all: Our modern civilization has introduced foods and behaviors that create a dysfunctional human body. (1, 4)
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Welcome to the Rapid PT Blog!

Let me introduce myself (I'm not the guy pictured above). My name is Bryan and I'm excited to start the Rapid PT blog, which I created to help everyone in the USAF achieve at least an 80 on their PT test within 42 days (for those who don't know, this is the standard re-test period). Ideally, if the program is followed exactly, then 90s should be effortless.

At its core, my Rapid PT program is built upon sports nutrition, Paleo diet theory, and traditional human diets, as well as Paleo lifestyle theory. Fueled by my own curiosity, my personal diet and lifestyle philosophy have been influenced by several years of intense research, which has radically changed my understanding of how the human performs.

How the Rapid PT Program Got Started
Like many people in the military I struggled with my PT test. After the cycle test was replaced by the 1.5-mile run, I had to run for the first time since Basic. I worked out at the gym religiously (lifting weights), so I knew that my push-ups, sit-ups, and waist measurements would all be good. As for the run, I thought I could just show up without any preparation and blow the run out of the water. Of course, that’s not what happened: I labored to complete the 1.5-mile run in a blazing 13:59 (at the age of 27!).

This experience was so thoroughly unpleasant that I started to do some research into how I could improve my run times. I wasn’t prepared for what I uncovered (and am still uncovering). I thought that nutrition would be fairly straight-forward (it’s the 21st Century after all), but I quickly discovered that living underneath the simple official narrative of proper nutrition was a community of skeptical investigators all searching for a better explanation for the Diseases of Civilization (e.g., obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer). As I followed these investigators I came to understand more about obesity, metabolism, and fitness.

My curiosity was awakened as I started to understand how important nutrition was to human health. I devoured as much nutrition and fitness information as I could for about three years, reading more than 50 books that covered health, nutrition, and fitness related topics. And that doesn't even count the hundreds of articles I've read online. It took a while, but I started to see a pattern in the noise.

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