Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Woman Code De-Coded

I recently finished reading Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.  I was SUPER excited to read this book after listening to her on several interviews with Sean Croxton and a few other places; even Dr. Oz had her on his show.  Unfortunately I was incredibly disappointed.  Like so many self help books, the first 50 pages were spent discussing her life changing story, with some real information thrown in, and lots of stats on just how bad fertility is in the U.S.

Later on when she fianly starts discussing her diet recommendations I was again disappointed that the crux of the nutrition chapter was a measly 3 pages.  3 PAGES!!!  Here and there she throws in a little more, but it's not all in one place or chapter.  At the back of the book she does add another couple pages of nutrition tips for specific concerns such as fatigue, mood swings, or blood sugar problems.  However, they are extremely vague and at times contradictory.  Alisa gives the recommendation to decrease animal protein in one area, while encouraging "healthy proteins" in another.  Yet she never ever discussed what constitutes a healthy protein.  As the reader am I supposed to just guess?

Fatigue: Increase Healthy Protein
Irritability: Reduce Animal Protein (what if I irritable from low blood sugar?, see next line)
Mood Swings and Sugar Lows: Increase Healthy Protein
Low Libido: Increase beans (why, so I can feel bloated and gassy and super sexy?)

Where is she getting her information for these recommendations?

She also encourages consuming soy in the form of tofu for certain issues such as.  Apparently she has never read anything by Dr. Kaayla Daniel to learn that soy is not a food humans should be eating.  And instead of spending so much time on her 4 day detox (which includes almost no protein, and would leave me with major blood sugar issues), I would have like to see an actual discussion on why women need protein and fats to help make and balance all their hormones.  To some extent, I wonder if Alisa was worried about alienating certain sects of society (vegetarians, vegans, fat phobics) by encouraging more animal protein and animal fats specifically.  She recommends using hemp protein in smoothies, but never discusses why she chooses to not recommend whey or egg-white protein.

Alisa briefly discusses eliminating dairy and gluten to test for sensitivities, however the elimination period is a measly 4 days.  For many people, especially those with a delayed immune response (IgG antibody mediated) this is simply not long enough to determine if they do or do not have a sensitivity.  Skin reactions, brain fog, and sinus congestion can take weeks to clear up.  Same with intestinal problems depending upon severity.  Dr. Davis, author of "Wheat Bellies" does an excellent job of describing how some people take several weeks to fully detox gluten out of their system.  When I recommend a gluten free or dairy free diet, the minimum time off these foods should be 4-6 weeks.  This allows enough time for the body to begin detoxing and healing, allowing the person to actually see/feel the difference.

The last half of the book (50 pages) discusses self exploration with some other lifestyle & sex recommendations as well.  This is quite different from many other self-help books.  I had a bit of a hard time following all of it, but that's probably just my type A personality coming through.  Or I was still irritated at how little time was spent on providing good sound nutrition advice.

Areas I did find interesting and informative were:
Pg 64-discusses how different hormones interact with one another and other organ systems.  Makes one realize how no system is separate.  The body works as a whole and everything is cyclical.
Pg 114-overview of the menstrual cycle.  I was a little confused with how she starts the discussion mid follicular phase (day 7-13) instead of starting with day 1 of the menstrual phase.
Pg 116-list of foods to eat for each phase of the menstrual cycle.  This is intriguing, but I tend to eat eggs a lot, not just during my leuteal phase.  I also really really like avocados, and don't plan on limiting them to only one week per month.  It's a little concerning that Alisa does not give any references on why she created this list in this order.  Some of the foods make sense to me, but others I'm baffled by.
Pg 159-Alisa briefly describes carb cycling (eating different amounts of carbohydrate) during different phases of the menstrual cycle.  Women can also couple this with alternating between doing more cardio and yoga during their follicular and ovulation phases, compared to more HIIT during the leuteal phase.  Jade Teta from Metabolic Effect has several good articles on this practice. Molly G. from Girls Gone Strong also discusses carb cycling.  It's something I've considered playing around with, but haven't quite found my groove with.
Pg 181-there are several scenarios that often happen to people that get them off track.  The office Christmas party or a night on the town with the girls.  I liked that Alisa provided advice on how to handle and recover from a night/day of overindulging or poor blood sugar control.  HOWEVER.... her recommendation to bring sweet potatoes or a quinoa salad to your family function seems backwards to me.  Most women eat too many carbs, and are insulin resistant, and most parties focus on eating lots of carbs.  Why recommend bringing more?  Why not encourage women to make deviled eggs or mini meatballs for protein instead?

Overall her message is good and empowers women to take charge of their health.  She writes, "feed and move your body in ways that work with it's natural rhythms."  I just wish she would have spent more time on the diet/nutrition portion rather than spending so much of her book talking about herself.  If you already have a strong nutrition background and know what works for you, don't bother with this book.  If you want to learn more about hormones, particularly how hormones shift during the menstrual cycle then yes, this could be for you.  It's not that I want to be negative, I was just very disappointed in the book as a whole.

I was impressed with the fact that on her website (floliving.com), if you e-mail her/the company they actually answer you back!

Even more recently I also read through Dr. Kalish's book "Your Guide to Healthy Hormones."  While he too does a good job of giving an overview on how hormones affect different aspects of our lives (mostly female lives) he gives almost no information on how to fix hormone imbalances.  That's probably because he wants you to call him up for a consult so he can help you determine your metabolic type.  Towards the end he does encourage people to try going gluten free, and his food recommendations are spot on.  He just doesn't discuss how much of anything to eat.
Again, if you want information on hormones, give this a read.  It's easy to understand and very short (100 pages, but ginormous margins).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Down With Artificial Junk

I've written about artificial sweeteners in the past, not necessarily for or against, just giving people basic information.  However, in my personal life, and what I recommend for my clients, is to avoid them all except for the occasional stevia and xylitol.  But this is an e-mail I recently received and my response.

Dear Brenna,
As the creator of “Eating Simple” and a nutrition professional, you know that numerous government agencies as well as the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have all reviewed low- and no-calorie sweeteners and found them to be safe and effective. On Tuesday, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a complete risk assessment of aspartame and once again reaffirmed its safety for the general population, including pregnant women.  EFSA also concluded that, based on the evidence, aspartame does not cause cancer, harm the brain or nervous system or affect behavior or cognitive function of children or adults.
You can learn more about this opinion, which supports decades of scientific research as well as positions of regulatory agencies around the globe, including the FDA, at the EFSA website, the International Food Information Council (IFIC), the Calorie Control Council, Food Navigator as well as  Let’s Clear It Up. If you would like to talk with any experts, please let us know.
My Response:
Aspartame is a chemical, plain and simple. It is not a food. Our bodies are not deficient in it or other non-calorie sweeteners. I will NEVER EVER recommend that people consume it. My clients lose weight eating real foods, not fake foods created in a manufacturing facility.

If all these other professional organizations actually cared about people's health, and knew what good nutrition was, instead of being sheep and following the almighty dollar their patients might actually get healthy too.
So there you have it.  I do not support fake foods, artificial foods, or food additives.  In the words of Sean Croxton from underground wellness, 'Just Eat Real Foods.' 
JERF on.