Pisgah forest hike recap

Monadnock and the forest floor from the Pisgah ridgeline

Monadnock and the forest floor from the Pisgah ridgeline

Susan and I had a great Saturday. We started the day by heading north to Brattleboro, VT, where we stopped for coffee and lunch fixings at the local coop. Then we headed East on route 9 to the Pisgah State Forest in NH, where we went on a ~7 mile hike along the Pisgah Mountain ridgeline. It was a beautiful day and the views from the ridgeline were great. By the time we hiked out we were exhausted. We headed further east to Keane, NH, where we stopped for coffee and watched the ‘Freedom Party’ crazies chatter a bit incoherently about their dissatisfaction at a small rally in the heart of Keane. After that we headed south to Greenfield, MA, and visited Greenfield Games. Last stop before home was dinner and drinks at The People’s Pint. I love that place!

All in all we had a fantastic day. The only downers were Soolin, who had to hike with her lead on because of her still-healing hotspot from last weekend, and my sore body which apparently wasn’t quite recovered from last week’s adventure. By the time we got to the car my ankle was super sore.

trail map and links to a gallery of pictures below. One note on the trail map – it’s slightly inaccurate because I had to manually edit the trailmap. If anything, the hike was a bit longer on the southern end of the trail than is represented below because the gps lost signal for a bit while we were in the deep forest towards the SW end of the trail.

Trail Map

http://www.trailguru.com/ui/embed/embedTrack.php?thid=435238&width=500&height=500

Image gallery

You can checkout the image gallery here. Below is a sample image to give you a sense of it:

Beautiful fall colors starting to peak through around a pond on the forest floor

Beautiful fall colors starting to peak through around a pond on the forest floor

Low carb diet means better blood sugar control

5 years ago when I first started experimenting with a low carb diet to control my blood sugars, it was a controversial idea. My doctor and my trainer at the ADA both argued against it, the ADA person quite vigorously. There’s a saying in diabetes management that you should learn to eat to your meter, and my meter was saying this was working great, so I ignored them. Ultimately I won over my physician – he could see how well this was working from my 3 month blood tests. The ADA rep never came around. Anyway I mention all this because the results of a Duke University study confirm what I already knew – this approach works best for controlling sugars.

Ironically, just as mainstream science seems to be catching up to where I was 5 years ago, it’s also starting to conclude that sugar management is not the highest priority, at least not later in life – cholesterol and blood pressure is where the focus should be. My reading of this is that for the medium term, I’m still good to go with my current strategy. I’ll confess though – I’m starting to think I need to cave in and begin taking a statin of some kind. My cholesterol numbers have never been good, despite trying a huge variety of things to balance them over the last 5 years. I’ve avoided statins because when they first put me on them I had huge pain issues, to the point where I was waking up in the middle of the night shouting in pain. Also statins have become like aspirin – physicians are prescribing them at the drop of the hat for a ever broadening definition of who needs them. This has left me feeling like big money pharma is what is pushing the statin use, not actual health issues. I don’t know where I’ll end up on this, my guess though is I’ll try some statin this year to see how things go.

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Low carb diet contributes to cognitive issues

Here’s a report on a the results of a study indicating that folks following a low carb diet perform poorly on memory-based tests. This is serious stuff to me as I definitely have short term memory issues. The good news is re-introducing the carbs solved the issue in the folks participating in the study. The bad news for me is, I can’t without inducing blood sugar/cholestoral/heart disease issues! Oh, the dilemma: die young but witty and on top of my game, or live long and a bit dimly. For now I’m sticking with the low carbs.

More melamine news

So now it’s turning up in infant formula, (90% of the major brands) and the FDA‘s response is to change it’s categorization of acceptable exposure to melamine, without any research to back it up. We’re the ones who are sneering at Chinese food safety issues? This epitomizes the Bush White House’s approach to governance folks, and man does it ever piss me off. It pays to be extra careful about dairy products – as I predicted a couple of months ago, this stuff is going to be showing up in lots of unexpected places.

Is there anything broccoli can’t do?

Broccoli is a superfood. Almost every week there’s another study pointing out some healthful benefit of eating it. I’ve been linking over to them fairly often. Today’s example is a study presented at a recent American Association for Cancer Research conference indicating broccoli may lower the cancer risk for current and former smokers.The lesson remains the same – eat your broccoli, raw or steamed (but don’t overcook it!), it’s fantastic for you.

ware the halloween candy

No, I’m not talking about the razor blade in the apple type stuff. A reminder to folks as your kids wander about harvesting candy tonight: when companies make announcements like this (halloween candy from a particular manufacturer has no melamine problems in the US – it’s only the Canadian candy you have to watch out for) you should really watch out. I have no idea how pervasive the melamine poisoning really is, but it’s clear it’s in some and possibly many products that made it into North America. I remain concerned and if I had kids they wouldn’t be eating chocolate from anywhere I was remotely unsure of.

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Delicious food tip: celeriac

frameless
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Susan’s a member of a local CSA farm, and she often picks up celeriac, which I’d never had until a month or so ago. Celeriac is the root of a particular kind of celery plant. It looks like a very large gnurled potato, but it has almost no starch content so it’s perfect for diabetics. You can prepare it much like you would prepare mashed potatoes, or you can dice it and steam, boil. or stirfry it and serve it as a side vegetable with your dinner. It’s great! It has a very mild celery taste, it’s versatile, and when you can find it it’s dirt cheap. Definitely worth trying if you’re looking to add some healthy variety to your diet.

Incidence of type 2 diabetes doubled in the last decade

That title pretty much sums up what recent statements by US federal health officials revealed, reported on here on US News & World Report’s website. I don’t have too much to add to this, just getting the word out. They don’t go into much detail in terms of causes of type 2 diabetes beyond the typical ‘sedentary lifestyle, obesity = higher incidence of the disease.’ The one aspect of it that I don’t think I’ve noted here before is how incidence rates are much higher in the poorer southern states than in the northern states. Education is a critical component of the disease that folks don’t seem to focus on as much – new drugs and approaches to treatment are great, but making sure kids are taught from a young age that fried twinkies + 2 quarts of soda + 6 hours of videogame daily = you’re going to be fat and get diabetes seems to be as big if not the biggest piece of the puzzle.

Are we also facing a food crisis?

Lost in all the noise about the economic crisis we’re facing is that we may also be facing a crisis in our food supply. The same rationale of deregulating the financial markets appears to be impacting the oversite of our food supply as well, the chinese milk melamine tainting scandal being only the latest issue to crop up. This stuff is creeping out in the global food supply and it’s making me increasingly leery of processed foods. From numerous ground beef issues over the past couple of years, spinache, lettuce, tomatoes, and more, there’s a constant stream of news about tainted food, and with the global connectedness it’s really hard to track where this stuff turns up. What set me off about this today was news that Cadbury had to pull some of its chocolate off the market because they detected melamine in some batches of it and another vendor of creamer for coffee had to do the same. None of this particular scandal’s food has been detected in the US food supply as of yet but I’m not going to be surprised if it does, and increasingly I feel like folks are best advised to steer clear of processed foods. That frozen pizza won’t seem as convenient if it turns out the cheese was made with melamine, and that bag salad will stop seeming like a time saver if you end up ingesting ecoli because it had cow poop on it.

I should note I’m not really sure what to make of all of this. I read an analysis in the last couple of months that suggested the food supply has actually never been safer, it’s just that regional threats like ecoli outbreaks get more widely reported than in the past. At the same time though there’s overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration systematically went after regulatory systems, and it’s not clear to me what impact that had at the FDA and other government inspection and regulatory bodies that oversee the food supply. It seems better to be prudent than sick is what I guess it boils down to.

Fortunately Susan and I eat pretty danged healthy and we don’t eat all that much processed food, so here’s hoping our exposure to risk is as minimal as it seems.