Food trends from Expo West

expo-west-aisle

I have been dilatory in posting over the past few days and embarrassingly dilatory about approving comments.  I’m way, way behind, but I’ll get caught up ultimately.  So, if you have a comment doing time in comment Purgatory, don’t despair.  I will get to it.  Ultimately.

My excuse for not devoting my normal amount of attention to this blog is that I’ve been extremely busy as of late.  MD and I made a quick trip to Seattle to work on our world-changing project, then came back and spent a couple of days at the zoo that is Expo West (more about which momentarily), then the Seattle team came to us and we continued to work.  During all this, MD had a concert in which she had to perform Mozart’s Requiem and Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna (my favorite piece of choral music) along with a couple of lesser pieces.  And tomorrow we drive back to Tahoe.  So, we’ve been busy little beavers and this blog has suffered.

Expo West has got to be the world’s largest natural foods expo.  It takes place every year at about this time in Anaheim.  And every year at about this time we drag ourselves to it.  The photo at the top of this blog represents one tiny little portion of this gathering.  To see how huge it is, take a look at the photo below of the map of the thing.

expo-west-map

Find the red You-are-here arrow on the top middle left.  The picture at the top of this post is looking to the left from that spot on this map. And you can see only a short space down, kind of to where the aisle turns.  Imagine that view in each direction, then add a couple of floors made of several large multiple gymnasium-sized rooms, and you can kind of get the picture.  There are thousands of exhibitors and thousands of attendees.  It is one monster extravaganza of foods, supplements, beauty supplies, and anything else you might imagine having anything to do with diet, health, food and natural clothing.

I hate to go to the thing because I hate throngs of milling people and I hate the exhibitors always trying to sell you something.  But I also really enjoy it because I find new stuff and I learn a lot.  And there are the booth babes, to boot.  Although not so many this year.  Times are tough and booth babes are costly.

Each time I go to Expo West, I notice trends.  And this year was no different.  So, for what it’s worth, here are the trends I noticed after God only knows how many hours spent and miles walked traipsing through the giant Anaheim Convention Center.

Tea

There were a multitude of tea purveyors.  There was black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal teas of every description, and a dozen kinds of maté.  Way, way more tea than I’ve ever seen.  I guess the spate of recent studies that have appeared showing the purported health benefits of drinking some kind of tea has not been lost on tea vendors.  They were there in droves.  And all were babbling about studies demonstrating how tea cures this or that disease.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that all of the studies they were using were observational studies and not worth a flip for proving that tea helps anything.

Agave

Agave was the big new product this year.  Last year there were a few vendors; this year they were everywhere.  They were selling agave syrup, agave nectar, agave crystals, agave this and agave that.  An entire other group of vendors was promoting various products sweetened with agave.  For those of you who don’t know, agave is the latest entry into the caloric-sweetener sweepstakes.  It comes in a variety of forms – syrup, nectar, crystals –  from the agave plant, a succulent plant found mainly in Mexico.  The claim to fame of this sweetener, which was emblazoned on banners, literature, labels and just about everywhere, is that it is a low-glycemic sweetener.  And it is was being touted as a great food for diabetics and any others with glucose-intolerance problems.  And it is indeed low-glycemic because it is composed of about 90 percent fructose.  If you think high-fructose corn syrup is bad at 55 percent fructose, just imagine what Agave syrup can do for you.  Yet all these ignorant people are ga ga over it as if it were the second coming.  My advice is to avoid it like death.  But be prepared to be seeing it everywhere.

Xylitol

There were a lot of products made with xylitol on display.  Products that are probably pretty good, but that I would never have imagined.  Nose spray, for example.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is antibacterial, which is why it is in gums that dentists recommend.  It actually prevents tooth decay because of its antibacterial properties.  It does the same thing if sprayed into the nose, a place where a lot of bacteria live.  I saw a product made of xylitol that was to be dissovled in water and used in a Neti pot to irrigate sinuses, which, like the nose spray, makes sense.  There have been randomized control trials showing the benefit of xylitol for prevention of tooth decay and prevention of ear infections in kids.  I didn’t see any papers showing studies on the nose sprays or other products, but it’s a reasonable assumption that they probably work.  I certainly wouldn’t hesitate using them.  Based on the number of vendors I saw, expect to see a lot of xylitol-containing products in the days to come.

Sweeteners

There were a fair number of non-caloric sweeteners on display.  Most were made of combinations of RebA, the active ingredient in stevia, and other non-caloric sweeteners.  I saw a lot of erythritol and erythritol combinations as well.  If numbers of vendors are any indication, expect to see a bunch of non-caloric sweeteners hitting the shelves.

Coconut milk and oil

In what I view as an extremely positive trend, there were a zillion purveyors of coconut milk and products made from coconut milk.  In the past, there weren’t many, but this year they were everywhere.  There were a bunch of companies making ice creams and gelato made of coconut milk.  These aren’t low-carb by any stretch, but they are still more healthful (in my opinion) than regular ice cream because of all the great fats in coconut milk and oil.  I took one for the team and tried several of these, and I can tell you that they were delicious.  There were also outfits selling coconut milk that was like regular cow’s milk.  It didn’t taste quite the same, but it wasn’t far off the mark.  I thought it tasted better, but others might disagree.  The milk comes in cartons just like regular milk.  There were chocolates and any other product you could think of that would normally be made of milk or dairy made of coconut milk or oil.

Soy

In what I would consider another positive trend, there were way, way fewer companies selling soy products than ever before.  Since I’ve been attending Expo West soy has been everywhere and in everything.  All of a sudden, this year it’s kind of taken a powder.  There were a handful of people there selling soy-based products, but not anywhere near what has been there in past years.

Nuts

Every year there are people there selling nuts.  This year they wre all over the place.  I’ve never seen so many nuts on display.

Low-fat

Surprisingly there wasn’t a lot of emphasis on the low-fat nature of products.  Previously it was much more visible with banners and stickers on anything that could make the claim, but not so much this year.  Many more products were advertised as having no added sugar or sugar-free than were advertised as being low-fat.  I think the times they are a changing.

Low cholesterol

Strangely, there was more emphasis on low-cholesterol than I’ve noticed in the past few years.  More emphasis, in fact, than there was on low-fat. There were many products on display that proudly proclaimed their cholesterol-lowering properties.  The one that took the cake is pictured below.  The company makes tortilla chips that allegedly lower cholesterol.  Now you know what to do if your cholesterol is a little high: go face down in these chips.  Not!  Actually, they would probably do you less harm than taking a statin.

cholesterol-lowering-chips

Meat and eggs

Yet another positive trend was the large increase in the number of vendors selling both fresh and processed meats.  Way more vendors than in the past.  And a large number selling eggs.  I saw many booths that had packets containing two hard boiled eggs and a little salt and pepper.  A good kind of fast food, if you ask me.

Resveratrol

I was expecting there to be a zillion people selling resveratrol, but there weren’t many.  In fact, I couldn’t find anyone selling just the raw stuff.  The only vendors I found selling it were selling their own proprietary versions in which resveratrol was mixed with other compounds.  Given all the press lately about resveratrol I was really surprised at how little there was.

Krill oil

All the krill oil sellers were there, and I spent a good amount of time with them.  They all had large booths, so it was apparent that krill oil has been very, very good to them all.  I finally learned all the distinctions between all the oils available and will be doing a post on them as soon as I have a little time to go over all the papers I’ve pulled to make sure I am accurate.

Vegetarian products

It’s hard to say, but if I had to bet, I would bet that there were slightly fewer this year than last.  They were still there, and they were still obnoxious, but just not in the numbers as before.  At least it appeared that way.

One of the things that constantly amazes me about Expo West and all the other natural food and health food shows I go to is how typically American all the people look who are selling this stuff.  They truly are a mirror of American.  The vast majority are overweight and they don’t look like the picture of health, yet there they are pimping products that are supposed to make the purchasers of them healthy.  If I looked like most of these people, I would hire someone who at least look lean, trim and healthy to man my booth, but these people don’t.  Most are definately not walking advertisements for their products.

Here are a couple of photos to show you what I mean. These pictures give you an idea of what a typical booth at Expo West looks like and typical people working these booths.  I didn’t pick these just because they were hawking vegetarian products, I picked them because I happened to have my camera at hand and they were right across the aisles from one another.  They were not out of the ordinary.  They look like most of the vendors.

booth-1

booth-2

I plan to dragoon MD into doing most of the driving tomorrow so that I can catch up on my medical reading (as much as I can anyway while keeping a close eye on the road).  When we get home, I’ll get back on my normal schedule of posting.  Hang in there ’til then.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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55 thoughts on “Food trends from Expo West

  1. Those last two pictures made me laugh. The only people I see on treadmills are fat people – making me think that exercise does actually make us hungry. The only people I see scoffing low fat snacks and musli are fat people. Makes me think that perhaps we should stick to REAL food as well.

  2. Wow, a very cool post. I don’t know Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, I’ll have to look it up. I’ve sung the Mozart Requiem a number times and I do love it. I have my own spring choral concert coming up next weekend (Beethoven ‘Mass in C’, Mozart ‘Regina Coeli’ and Brahms ‘Schicksalslied’) and maybe with the 18 pounds I’ve lost since re-committing to a strict low carb, grain-free, sugar-free in 2009 I’ll be able to fit comfortably into my concert clothes! They may even be a bit roomy. :-)

    Of course I do still more closely resemble the female booth vendor you’ve shown in your photo! (though older, ) Alas, committing to a new and healthier lifestyle does not confer an instantly lean and trim look. I feel like I’m living a very healthy lifestyle now – but people seeing me in the supermarket still sees a “fat lady” loading her cart with butter and eggs and meat and cream and olive oil, and they shake their heads in pity for me. I’m sure all the veggies, and the lack of any processed Frankenfoods does not register with them at all.

    Interesting as this food expo looks to me, I would probably have had a panic attack from the size and the crowds, so thanks for writing it up. Very interesting trends. My company has a “healthy living” rebate where I can earn $150 by participating in some “healthy lifestyle changes” – which requires me to go the SparkPeople website. And all over that website I see people touting agave, and talking about it as a miracle for diabetics, talking about having to adhere to a strict low-fat diet because of being diabetic. It makes me want to scream – yet I believed a lot of the “hype” about agave myself until earlier this year when I began to read blogs like yours and others.

    I do love the coconut and coconut oil trends as they are faves of mine – though it sounds like most of the touted products contain sugar, which would make them “out” for me. But I like seeing them more widely available as long as they don’t degenerate into Frankenfoods themselves. For now I’ll stick to my plain coconut milk and coconut oil. :-)

    But I also like the additional meat and eggs, and the fewer soy vendors. I don’t even mind all the tea vendors. It may not be the cure-all that the vendors tout, but I like tea, especially iced tea in the summertime, and it’s nice to have a variety of choices.

  3. Hi Dr Eades,

    What do you think of xylitol as a sweetener ? I have it in tea….being a Brit I like sweet tea and I find it doesn’t seem to affect my blood glucose levels. My dh would like to use xylitol too as he thinks it tastes better than sugar but it’s too expensive. It’s supposed to be slightly beneficial for bones too !

    Anne

    I think it’s fine as a sweetener. Just don’t overdo it our you may pay the price with some GI distress.

  4. Doc, thanks for the overview on the upcoming food trends. I very much look forward to the krill oil post, and especially any info regarding the alleged increase in bio-availability of krill oil over fish oil.

    I just noticed that the label on my favorite fish oil has changed to list “DHA/EPA, and other Omega 3” as one quantity instead of listing each separately – yet it appears to be the same product (the warehouse retailer brand). Should I be concerned that I’m not getting the same amount of DHA+EPA as before? Thanks.

    I can’t really tell you. I’m always suspect when labels change. It could be that more sensitive testing showed a difference in the omega-3 fatty acids than were shown on the previous label, and it was easier to change the label than to change the oil, in which case it would be the same product as before. But this is just a guess on my part.

  5. In my neck of the woods, walking into a health food market is like walking into a time warp, taking me back to my art school days in the 70s. Employees all look the same, not fat necessarily, but like young or former hippies… I keep expecting to see bongs on the shelves among all the hemp and soy products galore. With more and more organic products seen in markets and the decriminalization of marijuana just around the corner, I wonder if we may actually see health food stores slowly morphing into head shops sometime in the future.

    Dr. Mike, if you don’t mind an unrelated question… I went to an anti aging doctor to get bio-identical hormones and as a result got a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue/burnout. The treatment is basically stress reduction and possible supplements in the future if I can’t get it under control. Although this doctor is progressive in his thinking regarding many issues, he seems to be a fan of a low fat, moderate low carb diet. Do you think diet is related in any way to this condition? I couldn’t find any info re this topic on your site. Thanks in advance.

    Adrenal fatigue/burnout is a controversial subject. Many people swear they’ve been helped by treatments for it, while others don’t. In most cases it is treated with small doses of cortisol to replace that normally produced and to give the adrenals a rest. I’m in the camp that is kind of suspicious of the whole idea. I’m curious as to what supplements your doctor wants to put you on. Stress relief is always a good thing, so I certainly recommned that.

  6. “…world-changing project…” What’s that?

    I mentioned it in a couple of previous posts. Can’t talk about it yet, but will be able to do so in a couple of months at the latest.

  7. Thanks, Dr. Eades, for the info. No way would I have had the stamina to go through that Expo, so your efforts are greatly appreciated!

  8. Hi Doc — I’ve been waiting for you to put up a new post so that I can ask a question!

    I’ve been discussing respiration with my general biology class. In addition to talking about glycolysis and the catabolism of fats and proteins (and gluconeogenesis) it occurred to me to ask: If amino acids can simply be deaminated and fed straight into pyruvate oxidation (as pyruvate) or the Krebs cycle (as oxaloacetate, etc.), why does the body carry out the process of gluconeogenesis at all? Are there some amino acids that cannot be fed into the Krebs cycle as an intermediate and thus absolutely need to be reverted to glucose through gluconeogenesis to get energy out of them?

    So I went searching on your blog and you give some hint that certain cells absolutely need glucose. In a cancer post, you said that red blood cells and kidney cells need glucose.
    I was an environmental biology major, so I never studied animal physiology — so excuse my ignorance! I was wondering if you could shed any light on which human cells/tissues absolutely *need* to do glycolysis (as opposed to being able to survive simply by carrying on Kreb’s cycle and ETC, with some pyruvate oxidation — as some brain cells can, right?).

    This might be so in-depth as to make for a future post, so if you don’t have time to answer here or in a future post, I understand. If anyone can point me to resources where I can learn more about this, I’d love to know. (I suspect it might be as simple as being pointed to a basic physiology or biochemistry textbook.)

    In short, it’s completely amazing that the information contained in a simple biology textbook such as the ones my students use can make one start to think a little harder about the way our bodies process nutrients. It spurred some good class discussion about diet. We even talked about ketosis a bit. Since some of my students want to be registered dieticians, I also shared your “carbohydrates are addictive” post, and its link to the paper in Nutrition and Metabolism using Ketocal as a treatment for brain cancer. When we were done talking about respiration, one of the students said, “You should teach a nutrition course here that’s actually based in biochemistry.” Another student responded, “Yeah, but it would go against everything that’s in our nutrition textbook.”

    LOL! They “get it.”

  9. Is it terrible that I Laughed Out Loud when I got to the pictures of the (grain and veggie dog) vendors? It really is jarring to see overweight people selling you on health food. But also so obvious, when you understand what’s wrong with the high-carb low-fat message.

    BTW, I just came across a free copy of ‘Fathead” in my office and am going to watch it this weekend!

  10. Hehe, when I read

    “And there are the booth babes, to boot. Although not so many this year. Times are tough and booth babes are costly.”

    I immediately thought of the Texas Virgin, who is the girl who can outrun her brother. Booth Babes are the girls who can outrun their dieticians and probably a dying breed.

    Your photos kinda made the point for me . . .

  11. Great Post Dr.Mike! It really gives people a feel for the size and magnitude of this thing! Don’t forget your assistant who was part of that schlepping through the football fields of aisles and sea’s of people at ExpoWest! But I am ready for next year after recovering!

    I never forget my faithful assistant, KB. Without you we could never have gotten it all done. Now, quit surfing the web and get back to work. :-)

  12. Interesting post – I’m always excited to learn about up and coming food trends. So, thanks for sharing.

    I’m curious about krill oil…I want to learn more about it and look forward to future posts on this subject.

    As a food blogger, I can tell you that agave nectar IS everywhere and very much touted as a healthy sweetener. That being said, most of the people using it (myself included, I won’t lie) have no idea where it comes from or that it’s mostly fructose…but you can never have too much fruit, right? :)

    Thanks again for letting us tag along to the Expo with you.

  13. Dr. Eades, forget about medicine-you’d be the greatest tour guide in history. I felt as if I were at that Expo. I always hesitate to recommend any product because it might make me appear as a huckster, but here goes. I “caught” rhinitis having daily contact with a patient and I couldn’t breathe, so I bought Xlear (pronounced clear). It’s a xylitol nasal wash spray. I hate it. I had to buy it three-bottles at a time and I gave them away. I swear that it irritated my nose. Everyone else loves it.

    Then, I found NeilMed. It’s one of the best products I’ve used. Costco is now carrying it (sporadically). It’s simply a plastic bottle with a tubed insert and foil packages of salt/baking soda. It’s inexpensive, faster and easier to use than a neti (which I do like) and it’s doing the job. End of spiel.

    Being a singer and a music obsessive, I sing something and then I cannot get it out of my brain for days or weeks. This month, it’s the Laudate Dominum (Mozart) and if you want to have a piece of heaven on earth, listen to Lucia Popp sing it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U380J_NHqs

    Marly

    Thanks for the recommendation and the YouTube.

  14. I would like to see someone come out with a coconut oil based margarine. I think coconut oil is slowly coming off the black list.
    Not a lot of difference between coconut oil’s profile and butter’s; both contain a lot of short chain fatty acids. And both are healthful.

  15. That’s very handy info on agave, being 90% fructose.

    We’ve got to stamp that sweetener out or risk losing our tequila supply!

    I hadn’t thought of that. We need to start a movement.

  16. Your quote regarding adrenal burnout: “I’m curious as to what supplements your doctor wants to put you on.”

    My doctor said it would depend on whether or not I was stressed and tired or stressed and wired. I replied stressed and wired. He recommended Serenagen and or Adrenagen which does contain adrenal extract. The following is probably more information than you care to know but I included in case you were interested.

    Serenagen:

    Serenagen is a classic, comprehensive herbal stress management formula targeting individuals who are “stressed and wired””. It has been used throughout China since the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 A.D.). According to traditional Chinese herbology, living a demanding, hectic lifestyle deeply influences mood, mental function, cognitive processes, the cardiovascular system, the liver, and tolerance to change.

    * Expertly designed to help maintain equilibrium between body systems and promote a sense of inner calm. * Provides herbal support for those who may be overworked, sleep too little, have exhausted physical reserves, and/or have difficulty resting.

    TWO TABLETS SUPPLY:
    A 4:1 proprietary extract of: 1,000 mg
    Rehmannia Root (Rehmannia glutinosa)
    Schisandra Fruit (Schisandra chinensis)
    Jujube Fruit (Zizyphus spinosa)
    Dong Quai Root (Angelica sinensis)
    Chinese Asparagus Root (Asparagus cochinchinensis)
    Ophiopogon Root (Ophiopogon japonicus)
    Scrophularia Root (Scrophularia ningpoensis)
    Asian Ginseng Root (Panax ginseng)
    Chinese Salvia Root (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
    Poria Fungus (Wolfiporia cocos)
    Polygala Root (Polygala tenuifolia)
    Platycodon Root (Platycodon grandiflorum)

    Adrenagen:

    EACH TABLET SUPPLIES:
    Riboflavin 10 mg
    Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine HCl) 25 mg
    Pantothenic Acid (as D-calcium pantothenate) 50 mg
    Raw Adrenal Concentrate (bovine†) 80 mg
    para-Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) 25 mg

    Thanks for the info. Let me know how it works.

  17. If I try to read and watch the road I get nauseous!

    As a current Booth Babe, I have to say it Depends on whether they are expensive. I’m a Technical Booth Babe, I talk to artists and engineers about microphones, dress conservatively, get put up at a nice hotel and get taken out to dinner at nice restaurants and believe in my product. I don’t get paid $$ to do it. (I’m not Skinny but I’m not too bad off here: http://tinyurl.com/alfs9v )

    The thing I hate about being a booth babe is that by halfway through the day my feet and knees are killing me. But it’s fun and I get to talk to some really interesting people. I also, half the time, do not know I’ve done so unless someone else tells me, because most of the really cool ones won’t tell you they are Celebrity X’s sound engineer…

  18. Dr. Mike, I really enjoyed your take on the current nutritional (and anti-nutritional trends).

    It’s disappointing that there is no proof that tea is good for you, but hey, it’s still got to be better than soda, right? (Well, unsweetened brewed tea. I’m sure some of the bottled tea drinks are the nutritional equivalent of soda.)

    I guess I’ll go back to chewing sugarless gum, just as soon as I find one that doesn’t have aspartame as well as xylitol.

    I’m currently experimenting with culturing my own coconut yogurt, since the only stuff I can find in the stores is full of way too much sugar and other undesirable additives. Why is it that as soon as something healthy catches on, there is a rush to make it unhealthy?

    Uh, was your reference to “nuts on display” aimed at the exhibits or the exhibitors?

    Speaking of which, I understand the difference between anecdotal evidence and reliable research….but given a choice between the photos of the spelt purveyors and vegetarian vendors, and those of yourself and your lovely lady – I know whom I would rather resemble!

    I look forward to reading your post on krill oil. I hope the post on intermittent fasting is still in the works, as soon as you get a round tuit. And what is this world-changing project in Seattle?

    Keep up the good work!

    The “nuts on display” could have applied to exhibits, exhibitors and/or attendees.

    The world-changing project has to stay under wraps for about 40 more days, then I’ll let everyone in on it.

  19. Is there any chance that the coconut milk in cartons is any lower in carbs than cow’s milk, or is it simply free of lactose and casein?
    My instinct is that the unsweetened version is maybe a little lower, but to tell you the God’s truth, I don’t honestly recall the carb count listed. We picked up some info on it, but currently am hurtling down the highway and don’t have it with me. We’ll be on the road for a couple of weeks, so if you would, pose the question again after March 22 and I’ll look it up then.

  20. I’ve been buying canned coconut milk. It is delicious, but my gut can’t take too much.

    I’ve been trying to find “coconut cream” that is purportedly sold in Indian and Asian markets. It’s not canned, but fresh. Anyone know where to find it in the New York City area? Maybe Manhattan, Queens, or New Jersey?

    Thanks.

  21. Latest medical treatment is Axona, a medical food (http://www.accerapharma.com/). It works by supplying ketone bodies to the brain. What a breakthrough….except I heard another approach already does this and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    Eating a low carbohydrate diet.

    Maybe this will convince more doctors than low carb eating is the way to go.

    Then again…

    The ‘drug’ isn’t really a drug at all, it’s a medium chain triglyceride that the body can easily convert to a ketone. And you’re right, it’s a whole lot easier and cheaper to just eat a low carb diet.

  22. Good trends! Things must be getting better.
    Still have not aquired the Lux Aeterna, but this week have had the good fortune to reaquaint myself with a work I haven’t heard in 40 years: the short chamber opera Savitri by Gustav Holst. It’s fabulous! I originally had it on vinyl conducted by the composer’s daughter Imogen with Dame Granit* in the title role. Mezzo, Tenor & Bass with chamber orch and offstage women’s chorus a la The Planets. The current recording is on Chandos conducted by the late Richard Hickox. Holst is of an earlier generation, so less tonal ambiguity than Lux (from what I’ve heard of the sample tracks).

    Michael Richards

    * Her nickname

    If you’re going to spring for the Lux, get the LA Master Chorale version conducted by Paul Salumanovich. Lauridsen wrote it for that conductor and that choir and it’s fabulous.

  23. I thought the price of soy was high this year; it had an impact on the biodiesel mix, I wonder if it impacted health food development as well.

    I tried one of the coconut milk yogurts that have appeared recently, and it didn’t agree with me (tasted fine, though). I’ve been reluctant to try coconut-based “ice cream” lest I experience a repeat performance. It’s odd, though, I can eat coconut-based ethnic foods without any issues so I assume there’s an additive at fault for my distress. Maybe too much invert sugar (I don’t tolerate fructose well).

    Speaking of fructose…can we please just use the agave for tequila as nature intended? Sheesh. If I remember correctly, at least the less-refined forms of agave extract primarily contain inulin, which also sounds like GI distress waiting to happen. If you’re in the market for a sweetener that gives you the trots, I’m not sure why agave would be preferable to the sugar alcohols.

    Some people have some trouble at first with short and medium chain fatty acids, so you might want to start slow and work your way up. Or as you suggest, it could have been an additive or something else.

  24. I actually feel a tinge of sadness for the pictured folks, being a recovering vegetarian my ownself! There’s a lady here in Toronto who had a permanent booth at a downtown market who sold organic tofu products. Not only was she overweight, she had an obvious goitre! I almost felt compelled by some human, hypocratic oath to go warn her to stop before it was too late when I overheard her defending the ‘wonders’ of soy to someone who had walked up to do just that, assuring them that her thyroid was being helped by her blessed conversion to veganism….. oh well, can’t save ’em all, I guess.

  25. I have used Xlear for several years and have never had a problem with it. I also use Saltairesinusrelief. This is a pump action bottle that delivers a stream of distilled water, kosher salt and baking soda. It is similar to the Neti pot but is easier to use. It is great for singers (I have only had 1 cold in the last 4 years since I started using it.)

    The Saltaire is available on line or at pharmacies such as Rite-Aid. I have the formula for making your own solution if any one is interested……

  26. i’ve been to expo west and it’s like a train wreck…horrible to see but you just can’t take your eyes away…i’ve seen endless variations of sugar free sugar, meat free meat, alcohol free alcohol…unbeliveable amounts of expensive food free foods…simply amazing.

    a friend recently gave me a pie from a nyc bakery that sells agave sweetened baked goods…all i can say is that it tasted metalic and terribly sweet and within 5 minutes of eating less than half a small slice i was covered in bright red welts and hives! i’ll stick to my usual practice of once or twice a year eating a real hunk of deep dish blueberry pie…sugar and all!

  27. Hey, Doc-

    Do you know anything about gugulipids lowering cholesterol? My brother is a 74 year old Type 2 diabetic, following a low carb regimen, with his blood sugar under good control. I think he said his last A1c was 5.4. He gets away with more cheating than I do, especially his Guinness Stout!

    Anyway, his doc had him on statins. He started taking gugulipids about 6 months ago, and his cholesterol numbers were wonderful at his last checkup. The doctor actually told him he didn’t need ANY meds!

    Of course, I know low carbing can lower cholesterol readings, but he’s been following that regimen for several years, and is convinced that the gugulipids made the recent difference.

    Now, if he would just stop smoking that damn pipe!

    When is your new book coming out? I’ve had computer problems for some time; am now back on the grid- and immediately confronted by your beautiful bear skull. Where on earth did you aquire it? Weren’t you anticipating a new book on controlling belly fat, to be released maybe this month, or am I hallucinating? Might be the Guinness Stout!

    I am 69 (70 in June) and was in a serious mv accident last July 22. I had 4 fractured ribs (2 on each side) and three bones fractured in my right wrist. And my dear Chrysler van, like a precious child to me, was totaled. I had my first, and please God only, episode of shingles as a result of the accident stress (she’s actually coming through the stop sign!) They were more painful than the ribs!; a bout of pneumonia, some sort of mild internal bleeding, the source of which has never been ascertained, and an allergic reaction to Vicodin. Other than that, it was a breeze. My granddaughter Sarah was with me, and thankfully was unhurt.

    The point I will soon make (bear with me!) is that, in spite of age, etc. I healed and recovered from it all very quickly, and my orthopedic surgeon told me I “healed like a teenager”. I think I’m a walking advertisement for a low carb way of life! And vitamins, and selected herbal supplements. Also, my bones are actually in pretty good shape, so the XRays and CTscans say, in spite of the fact that I haven’t consumed a glass of milk since 1976. Truly! No yogurt, either!

    I am happy for you and your family that music, rather than bread, is the staff of life to you! And as we approach St. Patrick’s Day, let me say- Up the Republic!

    (Sorry, but only my husband is Dutch- my maiden name is Develin!)

    It’s not the stout! The publisher moved the pub date of the book out to September for a variety of reasons, mostly concerning the fine economic/financial climate that prevails this month. We fought hard against it, but were out voted. The cave bear skull is from Russia. We got it from a guy who specializes in fossils and other artifacts. This St. Paddy’s, this boy of Irish descent will be drinking his fill of Jameson, a good Catholic whiskey, which I’m not. Catholic, that is.

  28. @Debbie.
    So you’re doing the Schicksalslied! I was knocked over by this piece when it arrived in the post from John Eliot Gardiner’s label a few months ago. Am now patiently awaiting the next volume of Bach’s cantatas, which has already been deducted from my VISA card, but which I don’t have in my hot little hands.
    Do check out the Holst above, and the newer recording I recon is better and I don’t miss Dame Granite Baker at all!
    Don’t worry about not looking fabulous right away. It took me 4 years. It probably took you years to get to where you were before LC and it’ll take a few years to get to look like the Gods of the Song of Destiny. But now, with characteristic Aussie Male Vanity, I now look in the mirror and just thank my lucky stars on having got things right. You will too, have no fear. Then you will really be able to snigger at the others’ shopping trolleys. Believe me, it’s great sport!
    Michael Richards

  29. Regarding distress from the canned coconut milk and the coconut yogurt. It is probably the gums that they add. Usually guar gum. Some people are very sensitive to it. Also, it seems that if it is below a certain amount it doesn’t need to be on the label.

    Thanks for the info.

  30. Re: your “world-changing project”– perhaps another chapter will be added to How the Irish Saved Civilization:-)

    I think pushing agave syrup at diabetics, esp., is criminal. A good critique is at Judy Barnes Bakers’ blog, a post from last year, http://carbwars.blogspot.com/search?q=agave.

    Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that post.

  31. I hope one day you will share more of your thoughts about adrenal fatigue.

    Do you just think it is not a separate condition unto itself?

    Do you think that if you can resolve all your insulin resistance it will also resolve the adrenal fatigue?

    I have a confession to make. I don’t know all that much about adrenal fatigue and haven’t really delved into it all that much. The reason is that the four or five doctors whom I know personally who are big proponents of the idea of adrenal fatigue are total whackos. I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to any of them. Their bizarreness has more or less colored my view of the subject. Unlike low-carb diets, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and all of the other ideas I believe in, the medical literature is sparse on papers on adrenal fatigue. A search on PubMed doesn’t reveal a single paper I could find on adrenal fatigue. Since I get so many questions on it, I really need to study it. I have the main book that most adrenal fatigurers believe is the gospel, but I haven’t read it yet.

  32. Great post. You hit the nail on the head about how those natural food purveyors tend to look like — allow me to apply your same observation to health care providers:

    One of the things that constantly amazes me about modern medicine and health care is how typically American all the people look who are providing us with health care. They truly are a mirror of American. The vast majority are overweight and they don’t look like the picture of health, yet there they are recommending approaches that are supposed to make the us all healthier.

  33. How wonderful that there was such a decrease in the low-fat emphasis!

    I was talking to a health food store owner the other day about the benefits of fat, and she mentioned the whole arachidonic acid objection. I remember The Life Extension Foundation always makes a big deal about animal/saturated fat and arachidonic acid, and so does Dr. Perricone, who is fairly widely read. I am just not up on the current science in regards to this issue, and am not sure where to look for answers. What is the verdict on saturated fats, AA, the inflammatory cascade? Could you point me to some resources, or maybe this would be a good topic for a post in the near future! This seems to be the last remaining objection to saturated fat that has any seeming possibility of merit in many people’s minds, so it would be fantastic to have it addressed. Thanks.

    I should post on it because the fear of arachidonic acid is, in my opinion, truly overblown. I’ve tried to track back where it came from, and to the best that I’ve been able to figure, a guy named Dennis Jones, who is/was a research scientist for a bar and shake manufacturer in Montreal got the ball rolling. He made the bars that Barry Sears sold earlier in his career, and I think Dennis influenced Barry. Barry then really spread the word in his various Zone books (and influenced me, who didn’t know as much about fats then as I do now). There are a couple of great papers – one in particular – by researchers I really trust showing that low-carb diets more or less negate the inflammatory effects of arachidonic acid. So, the short verdict is, don’t worry about arachidonic acid.

  34. I just love food fadism. Just this weekend I started noticing a new ad for SunChips. Whole grains chips made with solar power so – of course – they are “healthy” and “green”!!! Who could ask for anything more?

    Speaking of fraud – do not miss this news – it’s just plain chilling (and off topic – sorry).

    http://www.anesthesiologynews.com/index.asp?section_id=3&show=dept&ses=ogst&issue_id=486&article_id=12634

    It is chilling. And it happens more frequently than you might imagine. Just not in this high-profile a way.

  35. @Ellen: Guar (or xanthan, I can’t remember) is on the coconut yogurt label. I thought it might be the issue.

    @Dr. Mike: And all those chubby doctors and RNs are looking down their noses at their fat patients for not controlling their weight…funny how somehow they expect ordinary people to do something they apparently can’t.

  36. Long time, but sporadic, reader and first time poster…. Each time I rediscover your blog, I am amazed at how much personal attention you give to each post and how unguarded your responses are.

    Your comment on health care providers, “The vast majority are overweight and they don’t look like the picture of health…,” prompts me to ask for advice with an issue I have been wrestling with lately.

    I lost very good health insurance coverage due to a divorce. COBRA is prohibitively expensive at over $800 per month (just for me) and I have been turned down for new insurance by two companies, mainly due to a history of high cholesterol and asthma. My only other option for insurance now, it seems, is a policy from the state (Oregon) “high risk” insurance pool at about $550 per month for very basic coverage.

    I just turned 61 and so have 4 years until Medicare kicks in. I am seriously tempted to forgo insurance altogether and become, in effect, self-insured. $500 a month adds up pretty quickly, but still would be a paltry amount in case of a heart attack or serious injury.

    Any thoughts? Thanks in advance for any help.

    Well, this is a first. I’ve never been asked to advise someone on an insurance program. $500 per month does indeed add up pretty quickly, but it’s only a drop in the bucket should something catastrophic happen. You could get catastrophic coverage, which is much less expensive than all the policies with all the bells and whistles, then self-insure for the minor stuff. That would be my recommendation, at any rate.

  37. Very pleased to see you spreading the word about agave, though it’s dismaying to hear it’s the hot “new” thing.

    My own case study: in late 2006 I began using the nectar exclusively as a sweetener for tea. As I’m Type 2 diabetic it was a great discovery: very low GI, fine flavor, and a completely natural product – almost pure fructose! What could be better?

    Alas. In 2007 I read “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” Harsh truths: fructose was low GI because it goes straight to your liver and jacks up your triglycerides. Oddly enough, my triglycerides had gone from 106 to 171 during the previous year and I couldn’t see a good reason why that happened.

    I dumped the nectar and switched to xylitol – I’d been using it as as backup when I traveled anyway. My next two triglyceride tests were 112 and 88. I ain’t going back.

    So it’s a fine result, but only thanks to a few ornery consensus-wrecking cart-tippers like Gary Taubes and you and the missus. Don’t know where we’d all be without you, but I’m guessing not a happy place.

  38. Dr Perricone? Did you know he was a dermatologist whose first book is called The Wrinkle Cure? He was my dermatologist in fact before he retired his practice. I thought he was a good doctor although didn’t find the couple of books I read of his to have much substance. One thing he (more likely his marketing team) seems to be genius at is segueing his field of expertise into every hot trend of the moment and knowing how to capitalize on it – how to cure wrinkles, how to prevent aging, how to look younger and live longer, how to loose weight and the secrets to beauty, health and longevity… yeah right. Who wouldn’t read his books with these false promises… that’s why he is widely read.

  39. dr. eades,

    enjoy your blog, had a quick question, you said the following in your post:

    “I didn’t have the heart to tell them that all of the studies they were using were observational studies and not worth a flip for proving that tea helps anything.”

    there is currently a green tea extract for sale on your products page:

    http://www.proteinpower.com/products.php?cat=28

    is green tea and/or extract the exception to this observation?

    Nope. And if you notice the text describing the product, you will see that it is filled with weasel words. MD and I like green tea from time to time, and these extracts are easy ways to get it without going through the hassle of tea bags or steeping or all that. We figured others may like it that way, too, so we added it to our list of products. We don’t have anything listed in our product section that we don’t use ourselves or haven’t used at some point.

  40. You said:

    The reason is that the four or five doctors whom I know personally who are big proponents of the idea of adrenal fatigue are total whackos. I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to any of them. Their bizarreness has more or less colored my view of the subject.

    I laughed and laughed! Thanks for the admission. So refreshing.

    Looking forward to your thoughts after you delve.

    I myself have had some partial, temporary success with two separate treatments. One was taking the cortisol the other was Dr. Wilson’s Future Formulations. I had more success with the latter, but I was also eating lower carb then and had been doing IF for the previous 6 months.

  41. P.S. I watched “Fat Head” last night and it was pretty great. I have such a hard time getting through to my friends and family about this stuff (including my mother who took/takes statins because her doctor tells her to) and I think this film does a great job of summing it up. I wish everyone would watch it. I’m planning to buy a copy for every one of my family members and to make sure they watch it!

  42. @Dr Eades

    Due to fructose’s effects on the liver-ergo-triglycerides – would you recommend staying away from fruit?

    Reason I ask, I eat Paleo as does my wife, but she really loves sweet stuff and really goes all out on fruit, in lieu of chocolate etc etc

    Actually, a little fructose – maybe 3-4 gm per day – helps the body deal better with glucose. The problem comes from eating way, way more than those 3-4 gm/day. A little fruit, with emphasis on the little, is probably a good thing. But overconsuming fruit can result in the consumption of a lot of fructose. If your wife is thin and healthy, then eating all the fruit she eats is obviously not causing her problems. If, on the other hand, your wife has a weight problem and/or other metabolic disorder, she might want to cut back on the fruits. Fruits were a part of the Paleolithic diet, but fruits then were consumed when they were in season, not all year. And the fruits then were not the giant, sugar-filled things they are today.

  43. to @Michael,
    Thanks, I had seen your comments about the Holst and filed it away. I am a Holst fan so certainly interested. You’re right that I have to take the long view. I didn’t get the way I am overnight. And in the meantime I can still have harmless fun sniggering over others’ shopping carts. Just not as much as I’ll be able to have when I’m trim and fit! I went to the supermarket last night to pick up a couple items. But I did something I have not done in a *long* time.

    I actually went slowly up and down every food aisle, looking at all the products for sale. Wow, it was actually sort of scary. I felt like I was in a foreign country almost. Row after row of Frankenfoods. When you walked in the door the first thing they had at the door was a huge display of “goodies” for St. Patrick’s day – all BAKED goods – cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and all virulently green with food dye. Yuck.

    Me? I’m going out with friends to a local pub for the annual “all you can eat” corned beef and cabbage dinner. A perfect low carb meal as long as I avoid the potatoes and the Irish soda bread – as well as the *green* beer, LOL. Luckily avoiding those things is so easy to do.

  44. @Debbie (again),
    Have nothing special arranged for St Pat’s day, despite the fact (as mentioned in another post somewhere or other) that my (Italian) wife’s uncle and my own Rabbi were members of the St Pats Committee in times gone by. And as much as I like Guinness (from the keg), my own fav Irish stout is no longer available here: Beamish Black from County Cork (again, from the keg). Hmmmmmmmmm.
    Michael Richards
    And the latest Bach cantatas set arrived this morning! Only 7 more volumes to go (not counting Advent, which apparently have to be re-recorded).

  45. “When you walked in the door the first thing they had at the door was a huge display of “goodies” for St. Patrick’s day – all BAKED goods – cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and all virulently green with food dye.”

    The firm I work for has bagels delivered every Monday morning as “treats.” Yesterday’s batch included several that are dyed bright green and rather repulsive looking. As of yet, no one has touched them.

    I had to laugh at the two pictures of the vendors at the vegetarian booths. There are Vitamin Cottage ads on tv touting the healthy foods they sell and the people in them are the reverse, drawn-faced and bordering on emaciated. I’m not sure which is worse. Even hubby, who rarely pays attention to such things, commented to me that you’d think they’d find some healthier looking people to put in their ads.

  46. Also, forgot to add that I’ve seen jugs of Agave syrup in many a shopping cart lately while at the store. I think I tried a drink that was sweetened with it a while back and it was horrid.

  47. This is for David who did a post on this date: 14. March 2009, 13:34

    There is a nice article on the prostaglandin pathway, and the good role of arachidonic acid in this article “Tripping lightly down the prostaglandin pathway” from westonaprice.org

  48. Dr Mike,
    this may not be for publishing right now, but are you aware that Uffe Ranskov’s book in English translation is out? “Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You” – search Amazon for “Ravnskov”.

    To me (having read the original Swedish version), it is a good bit more substantial than M Kendrick’s Cholesterol con book (as for Colpo’s, I haven’t read it) – I have of course no business interest in it (and Uffe doesn’t exactly expect it to make him rich quick – he isn’t too happy about his publisher’s pricing policy but… At $29, it is at least cheaper than his older book, offered for the round sum of $232.96 😉 )

    Regards,

    Nils Olof Carlin

    I have Dr. Ravnskov’s new book. I can’t believe his old one is selling for over $200.

  49. RE: Krill oil
    I anxiously await your findings on Krill Oil. As per your suggestion, I only use NKO Krill, but now am hearing there are other types (Supurba, who is claiming superiority over NKO, I understand.

    And – how long can a person safely stay on induction. I’ve done 20-15 net carbs for 16 weeks now. Feel very good, not missing any foods, have lost 21 lbs., but am hearing I should being to up my carbs.

    (By the way, I’m the post menopausal woman who was convinced the eating plan would not work for me!!! Am “eating crow” now (0 carbs, I’m sure)

    Corky

  50. Dr. Mike-

    Wondering if you have heard of or have come across information on the new SweetTree organic Palm Sugar…It is 100% produced from the flower nectar of coconut palms in Indonesia. It is low glycemic though not super low (35) and also it packs quite a nutrient punch (although thats relatively speaking in comparison with other sweeteners…this is not after all a bowl of veggies!). It is about 75% sucrose and remainder fructose/glucose. Would love to know what your thoughts are on this sweetener since it is going national with Whole Foods and is starting to be used by many manufacturers who are starting to question the perfection of Agave.
    Best,
    Ben Ripple

    This product is basically the same as table sugar with a few vitamins and minerals thrown in. Table sugar is sucrose, which is half glucose and half fructose. This product contains half glucose and fructose, so it will work metabolically the same as table sugar. In my opinion, it should be avoided just a table sugar should be avoided.

  51. Dr. Mike,
    I came across your blog while looking up info on Krill oil, and I’m glad to see a medical professional thinking the way you do.

    I was interested in your comments on Agave syrup. I’ve been using it as a replacement for sucrose, I have maybe a TBS a day at most. I’ve checked the University of Sydney’s test results for it, in their Glycemic testing (GI is 10 ~ 19). I’ve been using it for several month’s, and my last fasting blood test showed that my A1c has dropped. It could also be because I’m consuming less sugar over all…….

    Thanks!
    Brian

    • Update:

      Okay, I admit, I spoke too soon. I checked a previous fasting lab test, and found that indeed, my A1c had dropped by 5% during the use of Agave Nectar, but my Triglycerides INCREASED 15%!

      So, I’ve now switched to xylitol as my sweetener of choice. We’ll see how that works out with a future blood test.