Food as Medicine: Day 4

Sorry – I missed a couple of days. I work half time and my days are usually pretty consumed when I am working.

I did say that I was going to continue to talk about the conventional guidelines for CardioMetabolic eating.

Just as an aside, when I am done explaining the conventional side, I will go into more detail about the functional medicine recommendations on these things.

Also, after I post all of my menus for the week I will go into the breakdown of the nutrients in these different menus and how it matches up with the functional medicine recommendations.

But I am procrastinating about my next topic:

Saturated Fats.

This has been a hot topic and an area for contentious debate since the early recommendations. There has long been a concern about fats in the diet and this has generated a multi-billion dollar industry of lab testing, high cholesterol medications, nutritional labeling among other things.

What I am about to write here is my own personal observations and theories about fats in the diet. Then later I will go into the functional medicine rational and recommendations.

When I graduated from Nursing school in 1978, a normal cholesterol level was up to 300!!!

Over time, recommendations have brought that to lower than 200, once I saw 160, and now it is back to <200. So if I have a cholesterol level of 198 I’m OK?

But it is more complicated than that. There are different types of cholesterol and some cholesterol is actually good for you. So HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is good for you and should be above a certain level, and LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) is bad for you and should be below a certain level. Then there are all of the other “Densities” of cholesterol: Very Low Density Lipoproteins, Intermediate Density Lipoproteins, Chylomicrons and probably a host of others that have not been discovered yet. Then there are apolipoproteins: B100, C1, E as well as triglycerides, Cholesterol Esters, Apolipoprotein CII, lipoprotein Lipase, Cholesterolester transfer protein…. BLAH, BLAH, BLAH

All of these factors are working together to create a fine balance of necessary cholesterol in the body. Can you see why it is not so easy to just say – “let’s give you a statin and get your cholesterol down?”

Here’s where my theory starts. I remember from nursing school that we need cholesterol because it is what vitamins are made of. So once I started hearing about lowering cholesterol and worse yet – giving a man made chemical with its own risks and side effects, I thought – WAIT!!! What are we doing?!

I also remember about the same time, we started hearing recommendations from the Dermatologists that we should slather our bodies with sunscreen and stay out of the sun. So all this reminded me that we get Vitamin D from sunshine. The sunshine converts the cholesterol in our skin to Vitamin D. I theorized that there could be a relationship between increasing Cholesterol levels and decreasing Vitamin D levels. Although the increasing Cholesterol is actually more related to the change in what is considered a normal level. But we definitely have a hypovitamin-D-emia in this country. So now we have created a multi-billion dollar business for Vitamin D supplements.

And it goes on and on.

Now I am not saying that a person should go out in the sun and get fried to a crisp – as I can attest to my lily white skin getting scorched many times when I was a youngster and even now in my old age. I am still careful to not get exposed in the heat of the day, but I think the current recommendations may be that you can get about 20 minutes of sunshine during the early morning or evening when the sun is not the hottest. Vitamin D supplements are good if you cannot get sunshine, but it is well known, that we do not absorb vitamins from supplements as well as from food sources. Thus – Food as Medicine.

But I was talking about Fat wasn’t I. See how I avoid this topic? It’s because I do not believe the current concepts that we should eliminate fat from our diet. We need fat. Kids really need fat for brain development. We need fat for vitamin production. Some people eat keto diets which are mostly fat. I am not sure if that is necessarily the way to go, but it works for some people and some conditions.

The theory behind low cholesterol recommendations is based on the fact that people have heart blockages that lead to heart attacks. These blockages are caused by plaques and the plaques are made up of – you guessed it – CHOLESTEROL!!

Here is my opinion. Just because it is made up of cholesterol doesn’t mean that lowering your blood cholesterol will prevent the production of these plaques. In fact studies have shown that dietary cholesterol doesn’t really add as much to circulating cholesterol and our bodies have the capabilities of making cholesterol. And eating a lot of sugars will store as fat. There are many more theories and I think even some proofs that the plaques are caused from inflammation. When there is an area of inflammation or tissue damage the bodies defense system tries to repair it. It sends many chemicals and molecules to the site and cholesterol is one of those substances that gets caught up in the mix. So cholesterol isn’t the culprit, it may actually be part of the solution. As I mentioned above – it’s complicated.

OK – I guess I will post some scientific evidence:

I am also talking about common sense. If you put one pat of butter on your corn even just once a day – is that going to give you a heart attack? I doubt it. But if you use an artificial fat or margarine (which finally has been called out for it’s hazards) or take a foreign toxic chemical like a statin to lower your cholesterol can this possibly be better for you, than just using butter sparingly? Olive oil is the best fat, but remember you can use other fats if you use them sparingly and not feel guilty .

So the take home is balance and moderation. Small amounts of rich foods, large amounts of light weight foods. Rich foods would include Red meats (high in fats), animal fats, processed grains. Lightweight foods are vegetables, fruits (also rich because of the sugar), lean proteins, vegetable proteins, whole wheat grains.

And Exercise – but that is another topic.

Day 4 Menu

  • Breakfast
    • Vegetable Egg Scramble
    • Blueberries
  • Snack
    • Kefir
  • Lunch
    • LO Thai Barley and Veggie Stir Fry with Edamame*
    • Mixed Greens
    • Olive Oil Vinaigrette
  • Snack
    • Orange and Yellow Pepper and Celery Strips
    • Guacamole
  • Dinner
    • Grilled Flank Steak
    • Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
    • Fruity Spinach Salad

Vegetable Egg Scramble.

Probably much more vegetable than egg, but this is a good thing!

And Blueberries. We had a late breakfast so my husband had the Kefir with his blueberries for an early snack. I however cannot eat yogurt or Kefir anymore because I get GERD. Someone recently told me that this might be a sign of SIBO. Dang! But speaking of which, since I have been on this diet, I have not had GERD, so this is a good thing. Maybe I can turn this thing around.

I found my Fitbit! It was in my lab coat pocket that I brought home to wash. 🤷‍♀️

Wish I would have had it the first day I was cooking. I am sure I put in 20,000 steps!

For lunch, if you remember, I planned to have the Poached Fish from Day 3 instead of the leftovers.

Poached Fish with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce.

I couldn’t find Fire Roasted tomatoes, but I think I may have been looking in the wrong section. I was looking in the sun dried section, but I found out these come in a can like regular tomatoes, so next time I am at the store, I will check it out.

I ended up using sun dried tomatoes we had in a jar. The expiration date was a long time ago – and I am talking about years – but these were still good and did not smell. It just goes to show you the preservative power of natural ingredients like olive oil, so we do not need all of these artificial preservatives.

This was a very delicious meal, except the fish was a little tough. Maybe I cooked too long, because it was supposed to be poached.

The other part of the meal that I did not cook from yesterday was Purple Cabbage Salad.

Just a little vinegar, with additional pink grapefruit and avocados. Very nice.

One thing I keep forgetting to mention is how much color you can see in these different meals. That is one of the foundational principles of these meal plans. Eat the rainbow. I will go into that in a later blog.

We apparently did not have a snack this day – and I am not sure why. Likely because we are still not on a good schedule for eating and often end up eating lunch at 2 and dinner between 7-8. Never made the guacamole.

For dinner we were supposed to have Flank steak – but I realized that I forgot to look ahead to marinate to meat. I should have known, because I know that flank steak is a very tough cut of meat. So I plan to do that for the next day and we jumped to Day 6 meal. I skipped over day 5 meal because it called for canned salmon which was not on the shopping list and I did not have any in my cabinet.

Coconut Chicken with Purple Rice.

Another winner! I have not heard of purple rice, but I have heard of black rice. It actually looks kind of dark purple, so I think that is what they are talking about. I love black rice, and I cooked it in my rice cooker, but I used the volumes suggested in the recipe, and should have used the typical volumes used for the cooker. I think it uses less water because it is a sealed system and the water does not evaporate out. So the rice was mushy. I usually love this rice for its nutty flavor and al dente consistency, so next time I will cook the right way.

Otherwise, the coconut chicken was delicious. I should have added the entire volume of the curry – I was afraid it would have been too hot. But it actually wasn’t spicy enough.

Did I mention that I am tired of cutting up garlic? Next time I will get a bottle of minced garlic. Although I do love fresh.

Stay tuned for Day 5 – And I will talk about maintaining a healthy weight and waist size.

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