Monday, May 30, 2016
Heyyyy! How was your Memorial Day weekend? I hope it was a great one for you! And many thanks to the veterans who have served our country.
We had a nice long weekend over here. It was a mix of emotions at times, so I figured a High Low High post was the perfect way to recap it. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, I recap the high and low points of the weekend. It’s fun. Ok, here we go!
HIGH: Starting the weekend with a tough Saturday morning partner workout at CrossFit (fyi – reps were increased to 60 for all exercises), which included me doing 12 HSPUs. Whoa. Five of them were even linked. Hey now. Progress!
LOW: Stopping by CVS/pharmacy after CrossFit to pick up a prescription for Budesonide/Entocort since Entyvio isn’t really working for me. Ugghhh. My doctor assures me there’s still a chance that it might (some patients need 3-4 “maintenance” doses for it really to kick in), but I’m starting to lose hope. Budesonide will hopefully get me through the next few months. (It’s a steroid, so I’m on a 3-month taper). *sigh*
HIGH: Having an amazing time and celebrating our friends’ at their wedding in Meredith, New Hampshire! So fun!! Jen and Jon are such an awesome couple and it was so nice to spend time with them and the rest of our hometown friends. Annnnnnd Mal and I stayed overnight, kid-free. Yayyy!
LOW: In two years, it was the first time we had an overnight without Q-man. Obviously, we love our little guy, but we really need more adult-only overnight trips in our life!
HIGH: Trying Lila Wines Sauvignon Blanc (aka wine in a can). It was actually really tasty and so convenient! I will definitely keep it in mind for trips to the beach this summer. FYI: My dress is from Banana Republic, but I bought it 5+ years ago.
LOW: Not trying the other flavors of Lila. I’m so curious now!
HIGH: The “spirit animal” place card holders at the wedding. Such a fun idea, right?
LOW —> HIGH: My spirit animal was a squirrel. Ha! I was actually a bit confused by it until I read the symbolism behind the animal and it’s quite fitting now!
HIGH: Having a blast on the dance floor with Mal. At one point, he almost (aggressively) clotheslined me with his “dance moves,” but it was so funny I almost peed my pants laughing so hard!
LOW: Sneaking out of the reception a number of times to deal with not-so-fun UC symptoms. Blah.
HIGH: Party time with the L-town crew!! We’re seriously so lucky to have these people in our lives.
LOW: Only enjoying one donut from the wedding “cake.” OMGSOGOOD. I wish I took one to go!
HIGH: Sleeping in on Monday morning.
LOW: Mal waking me up at 7:20 AM. WHYYYYYY!?!?!
LOW: Needing to eat and run to avoid a Memorial Day parade and holiday traffic.
HIGH: Barely hitting any traffic on the way to my sister’s house to pick up Quinn and Murphy. Hooray!
LOW: Quinn napping in the car, but waking up the second we got home. Whomp whomp. (He actually did really well with just a 40-minute nap and never turn into a crank-monster.)
HIGH: Meal planning and then grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s with Q-Man. I have some tasty meals planned for the week and couple of them will be on CNC soon!
LOW: Murphy sitting in Quinn’s chair. Haha! (Video on Snapchat @carrotsncake.)
HIGH: Mal buying a new car!! He’s wanted one for awhile now and after someone (a lady in a white Toyota Sequoia – sadly, we weren’t able to get her license plate) dented his passenger side door when we were at Coffee Shack one Saturday morning, he was really itching to upgrade.
Questions of the Day
What’s your spirit animal?
Wine in a can? Yay or nay?
Ever been a victim of a hit and run? (What is wrong with people?! That lady = so much bad karma in her future!)
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Dear Mark: Are Probiotics Useless, Gluten-Free Diets Dangerous, and GMOs Completely and Utterly Safe?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from a single reader who just read an article from Vice. The article makes pretty bold assertions about topics that have already received a good deal of attention here on the blog. First, are probiotics actually useless? A new study cited in the article seems to suggest so. Next, is your gluten-free diet killing you? That’s what the author of the Vice article says. And finally, have GMO foods been conclusively proven to be safe and indistinguishable from non-GMO foods? Is the debate, more or less, conclusively over?
What are we to make of this article on Vice? It’s claiming that probiotics don’t do anything, gluten-free diets are potentially dangerous for people without celiac, and GMO foods have no downsides. Is it true?
The studies the article bases its arguments on are real, but the results aren’t as definitive or far-reaching as the Vice writer implies. Let’s take a look at each in turn.
“Probiotics are useless.”
That’s what the Vice writer said.
The paper was rather narrow, actually. Its goal was to assess the effect of probiotic supplementation on fecal microbiota composition in healthy subjects. That’s it. In the authors’ own words, “RCTs of solely probiotic supplementation and placebo in healthy adults that examined alteration in composition of overall fecal microbiota structure assessed by shotgun metagenomic sequencing, 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, or phylogenetic microarray methods were included.” They ended up with 7 eligible trials.
It wasn’t assessing the health effects of probiotics. It assessed whether or not healthy people taking probiotics can expect alterations to the bacteria living in their guts.
Probiotics do lots of other things, not always by altering the composition of the resident gut bacteria.
They can improve IBS symptoms and other GI issues. They can help the lactose intolerant tolerate it. They can improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections. They can increase gut barrier stability.
This study wasn’t about those other things, though. It was about healthy adults without any health conditions, particularly ones that probiotics have been shown to help. All the other hundreds of probiotics trials are useless or flawed. It just means that they didn’t satisfy their specific and narrow requirements for consideration.
If you’re healthy, with no digestive complaints, no immune problems, then probiotics won’t change your gut composition. That’s all this study says.
This actually makes me feel good about using and selling probiotics. It suggests to me that in healthy folks, probiotics don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. They don’t “assert” themselves on an otherwise intact and healthy gut. But in unhealthy people with conditions probiotics can help, they do alter the gut in a positive way. Probiotics are “smart.” As living things, perhaps they can fix what needs fixing and ignore what doesn’t.
The next claim was “gluten-free diets are dangerous.”
The Vice writer oversteps yet again. The actual paper in the Journal of Pediatrics was fairer and more balanced, suggesting that gluten-free diets as commonly practiced increased the risk of nutrient deficiencies. I agree with this.
For many people, wheat is the “best” source of many nutrients because it’s a huge part of their diet. Then they go gluten-free and remove wheat from their diet only to replace it with more nutrient-poor grains. They’re not eating any healthier; they’re actually just swapping out wheat for other refined grains. Gluten-free foods typically use nutrient-poor starches and flours. Whereas whole wheat is perfect for making baked goods by itself, gluten-free bakers must cobble together tons of isolated, refined flours, gums, and starches to approximate the original product. This removes gluten, sure, but it also removes a lot of nutrients. Whole wheat bread is more nutritious than rice flour bread. Wheat pancakes contain more micronutrients than tapioca starch pancakes. The former examples are whole foods. The latter examples are isolated, nutrient-poor starches.
What if you went “gluten-free” by replacing your grains with meat, vegetables, fruits, and tubers? I swear there’s a name for that…
“GMOs are safe.”
I’ve never taken a hard-line stance against GMO foods. I’m not particularly concerned with the act of gene insertion so much as what’s being inserted and what those insertions allow us to do. Many of you have given me a lot of flack for that nuanced position.
The study cited in the article discusses GMO-related reductions in “insecticide poisoning,” an acute condition affecting farm laborers who handle and come into direct contact with pesticides. The increase in GMOs engineered to produce their own endogenous insecticides has reduced the use of exogenous insecticides. Workers are applying and handling fewer insecticides, which presumably drives down cases of insecticide poisoning. This is a logical and positive development.
However, a 2012 study found that GMOs have led to a net increase in pesticide usage (herbicides and insecticides combined), primarily thanks to Roundup-Ready crops. A more recent paper found that insecticide use went down but herbicide use went up, again thanks to Roundup-ready crops incentivizing and encouraging Roundup use. More Roundup (an herbicide) is being applied than ever.
Is Roundup safe? Pro-industry skeptics always point to the relative safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. But surfactants, adjuvants, and other “inactive” ingredients make Roundup 25 times more toxic than plain old glyphosate. I’m not comfortable with it, personally.
So, to sum up, the Vice article doesn’t give the whole story. It’s a quick summary that probably took under an hour to write, but it’s very misleading.
What do you think, folks?
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Manning the grill at a summer party is a tough job: Flipping a bunch of burgers, shuffling space for veggies and (of course) running back to the kitchen because you forgot cheese can eat into your time with guests. To avoid this scenario, we suggest you take a page from Eddie Jackson’s grilling “playbook.” As a Food Network Star winner (not to mention former NFL player, food truck owner and personal trainer), Eddie aims to create recipes that are healthy and delicious — but he knows that ease is a key ingredient, too.
And Eddie’s grilling menu really is super-savvy. He chose a crowd-pleasing flank steak that can feed the whole party, roasted potatoes that don’t require much attention while they cook and a simple salad to round out the meal. Watch the entire thing come together in the video above, and you’ll instantly feel prepared to entertain friends all season long.
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Hi friends! Hope you’re enjoying a long, warm weekend as we remember those who have bravely served our country.
I spent Friday and Saturday celebrating Hillary and Andrew, who were married in a rustic celebration of looooove.
Friday night they had a cookout at Camp Holiday Trails with burgers, dogs, and s’mores!!
Plus these amazing spiraled potato chips made on the spot!
Saturday morning I went to the gym for a quick workout – a little soccer on the stairmaster!
My friend Jess is raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and jointly held a cornhole tourney with a homebrew tasting at Crozet Pizza on the Corner. I stopped in for a bit to eat pizza, taste beer and watch cornhole.
Mazen had his first taste of Nerds and adorably called them “Nerbs” all afternoon. It was so hilarious!!!
Shower beer? Shower seltzer!
I got all dressed up and headed out to the wedding!
Hillary looked simply stunning!!
The weather was perfect for an outdoor ceremony, and afterwards we gathered under the pavilion for appetizers, cocktails and a BBQ buffet.
Later in the evening we walked to the dining hall for dancing and cake!
They had four kinds of cake – S’mores, pistachio, strawberry champagne and vanilla almond, all from Pearls. I shared pieces with friends and tried them all – the strawberry was my favorite!
Sunday morning I went running:
And then picked Mazen up from Matt’s and made some deviled eggs for a picnic later that day!
Mazen and I went over to a friend’s house. Have you ever played Spike Ball? I don’t really like yard games all that much, but this one is really fun!! It’s like volleyball and ping pong with four players. Here’s a video! It’s ideal for a sandy beach, but grass works too.
Today we’re hanging out and going to another cookout this afternoon. I love cookout season!!
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