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Nutrition Diet, supplements, weightloss, health & longevity

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Old 10-02-2003, 05:54 AM   #11
Chris Doughty
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Nice post, Robb!

While I was already a believer this thread got me worked up enough to go do some more research on the subject. I came across this article:

http://home.iprimus.com.au/rboon/PaleolithicDiet.htm

…which I think is the best overview of Paleo I’ve seen. It’s not nearly as dumbed down as the books are and presents a succinct but comprehensive overview of the ideas at a much better price.

While statistics can never “prove” anything there is a preponderance of evidence here to support the health benefits of a Paleo diet and the theory behind it. There will always be exceptions whether it is a person who lives to be 150 on scotch and cigarettes or the development of some “new” food which provides general nutrition and lacks the detrimental attributes of most modern staples. Nonetheless, a theory (this theory) that gives us a dietary model which can yield significant health benefits for the vast majority (entirety?) of the population is certainly worth embracing. However, it should not be accepted blindly and always be refined and adapted in light of compelling, new evidence. For example, if several studies (who knows where they’d get the test subject) suggested that the Paleolithic consumption of insect larvae had a significant contribution to longevity, then perhaps bugs should be considered as part of the dietary model.

I admit a lot of frustration with the frequently contradictory nutritional information out there. I guess it comes down to a process of optimization. Say diets were rated on a scale of 1 to 10, for health effects. You could put the average American diet at a 2 and then compare it to a high-starch, low-fat diet which, might be healthier, say a 4. Now there would be lots of people writing papers, selling books, and (unfortunately) making national health policy on the basis of a comparison that, while valid, is a diet nothing close to the ideal. If something else comes along, Atkins for instance, that is based on a completely different paradigm but has an overall health benefit of 6 (strictly hypothetical), there’s going to be a lot of turmoil because it’s completely opposite of what last month’s experts/research claims to be the best. The result is claims and counter claims where both are better than the average but neither are ideal.

I think Paleo provides a theoretical basis for discovering and optimizing that ideal diet. It allows process to take over and optimization to occur. We can say: this food is better than that because this is what we are designed to eat – instead of: this is better because people who eat it are 12.34% healthier than those who live on Big Macs and beer. It gives us the answer to the question beforehand so we don’t have to go groping blindly in the dark.
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Old 10-02-2003, 09:50 AM   #12
Robert Wolf
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Chris-

That is an incredible link which I was completely un-aware of. Thank you for finding it!
Robb
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Old 10-05-2003, 07:09 AM   #13
Barry Cooper
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Robb,

It seems to me the whole Paleolithic approach is based on epidemiological evidence: according to what we can determine, diseases that did not occur prior to agriculture began to appear after agriculture (i.e. we seem to be able to discern obvious differences between 15,000 year old fossils and 3,000 year old fossils), and to this day do not seem to appear in "modern" hunter-gatherer tribes.

This observation is further framed within the overall hypothesis that this observation, which we assume to be correct, makes sense when we consider that humans evolved over a long period of time, and to the extent we can determine at this distance in time, were hunter-gatherers, in general, and--although they ate a lot of different foods in different places--they shared some commonalities as far as the amount of animal protein they ate, and their reliance on primarily non-processed (i.e. cooked) food. Beans, for example, were not a part of their eating habits, and consequently we can safely infer that we have not evolved to eat them.

When people started eating wheat and rice and beans and millet and corn, etc. from the fossil record we have, they got shorter, fatter, and generally less fit. Ergo relying on our "evolutionary heritage" is the way to go.

My question is this: what would falsify this theory? As you know, scientific theories are never proven. What happens is that competing hypotheses are ruled out by experiment, or simpler, more comprehensive theories take over for overly complex theories. Ptolemaic astronomy works. They just had a slight problem with Mars. Overall, though, it was an excellent system. Copernicus has a better model, though, and its' the one we follow today.

I do think the Paleo Model is overly restrictive, because it eliminates a priori--for largely theoretical and not observational reasons--substances such as beans and wine. We cannot determine with certainty that evolution in fact selected man to live to be old and healthy. That is a simple fact. Evolution is about survival of the fittest. Survival is about procreating and protecting. Especially when you consider that evolution is random, your particular mutation just has to be better than the one of the guy (or monkey) next to you. It doesn't mean at all that we don't have tons of genes in us that are dysfunctional. We do. It also does not mean that the diet that was best for us when we had to fight cold, heat, starvation, and animals to survive is the best for us now.

I will readily agree that there are probably diseases like Celiac Disease (however it is spelled) that relate to "modern" foods. But I disagree with a model that says (for example) that you can't eat soy beans. Take the following quote (from the article referenced above):
"the soy industry has be pushing the benefits of soy with the result that most processed foods contain soy additives, lacing our food with possible toxins which at best will result in gastrointestinal problems and mineral deficiencies and at worst could induce an auto-immune response in biologically susceptible individuals."

AT BEST result in gastrointestinal problems? I eat a lot of soy, and have never had problem one. I eat a lot of beans and lentils. Same thing. I feel fine. More importantly, if you look at a country like Okinawa (you knew I would bring that up), you find actual, modern day epidemiology like that posited for the cavemen: little heart disease, and little any other disease. Almost 10% of the population lives to 100 or more. Here's a random link off of Google: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/pulse/s...nawan_diet.pdf .

You can't say soy is poisonous, and then reconcile that with the fact that the longest living part of the longest living country in the world, which is also the part that eats the most soy in a country where everyone eats soy, is somehow doing something wrong, or discordant with human evolutionary heritage.

Whose epidemiology can we rely on more: anthropologists digging up bones or living with tribes in the jungle, or that of an industrialized, modern nation?

The major problem with Americans, quite simply, is that we eat too much, and we don't exercise. We are comparable in size to hunter-gatherers (5'9" being the average, I believe, although that may be going up), but we get fat, and I will flat-out agree with you that evolution never intended us to be fat, or sedentary. That doesn't mean that we need to give up beans, or booze (in moderation I think you know it doesn't cause cirrhosis). It means we need to apply scientific scrutiny to what we eat, test it, and understand that in some cases we will get the result we expect to get, because our expectations determine to some extent our results.

The effects of sugar pill placeboes are beyond question. I did not say "The mind controls the body". If I cut off my hand, I can't make it stop bleeding. I don't believe you can stop any cancer just with the power of the mind, etc. I do, however, believe that if you exercise, keep the weight off, maintain a positive mental attitude which includes some sort of daily relaxation, and eat some protein, carbohydrates, and good fat daily in some sort of mix that works for you, you will have done about all you can do to ensure your health.
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Old 10-05-2003, 08:16 AM   #14
Brad Hirakawa
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I know the data go back and forth, however because there are readily available alternatives (that is, I'm lucky enough to live in a society with plenty of other foods)... I'll avoid the soybeans.

Grant G. Anti-nutritional effects of soyabean: a review Prog Food Nutr Sci. 1989;13(3-4):317-48.

do Prado VC, Antunes PL, Sgarbieri VC. Antinutrient occurrence and some physicochemical properties of the protein fractions of five Brazilian soybean varieties. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1980 Dec;30(4):551-63.

Novak WK, Haslberger AG . Substantial equivalence of antinutrients and inherent plant toxins in genetically modified novel foods Food Chem Toxicol. 2000 Jun;38(6):473-83

Liener IE. Effects of processing on antinutritional factors in legumes: the soybean case Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1996 Dec;44(4 Suppl 1):48S-54S

Odumodu CU. Antinutrients content of some locally available legumes and cereals in Nigeria : Trop Geogr Med. 1992 Jul;44(3):260-3

Vasconcelos IM, Maia AA, Siebra EA, Oliveira JT, Carvalho AF, Melo VM, Carlini CR, Castelar LI Nutritional study of two Brazilian soybean (Glycine max) cultivars differing in the contents of antinutritional and toxic proteins. J Nutr Biochem. 2001 Jan;12(1):55-62.

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Old 10-06-2003, 09:51 AM   #15
Barry Cooper
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Hell, man: I'll need to go to a college library to look that stuff up, and I'm way past college. I have in fact read a number of articles on things-Paleo. An example of one I can agree with is http://www.cast.uark.edu/local/icaes/conferences/wburg/posters/sboydeaton/eaton. htm

I especially like the terms hyperadiposity (lard ***) and sarconemia (pencil neck).

We'll just have to agree to disagree on soybeans and some other stuff. I bought The Soy Zone, I really like it, and dammit I'm not taking it back :happy:

In any event, the Zone and Paleo are pretty in sync with each other. I see the major contribution of the Paleo people as making it OK to eat animal proteins, after they took a lot of flack, by placing them in an overall context where it made sense.

I just think it's easier to pick and choose in the Zone. Wine and cheese is OK (up to a point, obviously). There's no macronutrient cycling, there's no ketosis, you're eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and you can look at the Okinawans and say: "hey, we can work that in.", like Barry Sears did in his book.
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:20 AM   #16
Mike Minium
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Barry,

First, this has been a great discussion--thanks for starting it. Even though I'm no fan of soy, either, I respect your tenacity and resourcefulness in supporting your "soy is good" viewpoint.

Second, I'd argue the Okinawans have great health in spite of their soy-based diet, not because of it. If you pay attention to that article you posted (and I'm sure you did!), you'll notice that the Okinawans get an extremely high amount of vegetables (and fruit) and fish. I think that's more of a key to their health and longevity than soy.

My "in spite of, not because of" line of reasoning should sound familiar to you, as a reader of Sears. I believe he pointed out, towards the beginning of his first book, Enter the Zone (the one that started it all), that elite athletes often succeed in spite of their diet, not because of it (he was answering a call from critics who look at the diet of elite athletes and argue that if they eat a high-carb, low-fat diet, then surely that kind of diet must be good for the general public as well). It's been many years since I read Enter the Zone (I don't even have my copy of the book anymore), but I'm pretty sure my recollection here is correct. And this gibes nicely with my point above.

Also, the Okinawans, for the most part (based on other articles I've read on them) don't lead sedentary lifestyles. I think this probably plays a large role in their longevity as well.

Basically, I think they do enough things well to compensate for any less-than-ideal foods they put in their bodies (similar to the French and their wine and cheese, etc.).


Mike
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:46 AM   #17
Brad Hirakawa
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I confess, sometimes I drink my roommates chocolate-soy milk... and I like it. :-)
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Old 10-06-2003, 01:14 PM   #18
Barry Cooper
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We all have our shortcomings, Brad. But I want you to know that you're good enough, you're smart enough, and--doggone it--people like you. (yes, that was my Stuart Smalley impression.)
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Old 10-07-2003, 09:41 AM   #19
Robert Wolf
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Barry-

You are right (except the soy beans :lame:) all of these approaches are getting down to essentially the same thing. I have to point out however Paleo does not nix cheese and wine, individuals do based upon situational choices which may be influenced by some of this philosophy. I know I decry many a food-stuff here but I really regard no food as off limits but i do have a cost/benefit scheme which I use to inform my choices.

speaking of choices this is why I take general paleo guidelines and have three different schemes in which to apply them. Zone-mixed meal, NHE-macronutrient cycling, Paleo-randomized seat-o-your pants eating. I personally find the NHE plan the easiest AND most effective but this is just me. again I have to emphasize that it is individual choices here which direct these options.

Regarding the okinawians: they have a 30% protein diet, loads of vegetable matter, low GI carbs, high activity levels and a good social support network. Damn good stuff! I personally throw my hat in with the Cretans however 40-50% fat, med climate!
Robb

Barry-
I missed your earlier post regarding evolution. It is true one of the basic tenants of evolution is survival of the fittest but an overly restrictive interpertation of this can cloud some important information. Procreation is ultimately the end goal BUT population geneticists are finding there are non-linear ways of this occuring. Genetic heritage of the group may be as important as any given individual and a prime way of ensuring group survival is by having an older, wiser sub population. This starts getting into the idea of Memes and other interesting things.

Personally I do not find the paleo view the least bit restrictive. It sounds like you do the same thing I do which is use a general framework and then take some items on a case by case basis.

Good stuff
Robb
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