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Old 04-03-2009, 11:15 AM   #41
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
We need but one legit counter example to disprove a hypothesis, and as for the "people are more sedentary and eat more so they are fat" attitude there are many counter examples. The one that comes to my mind is the Pima Indians. They had a culture with a vast abundance of resources and little demand for physical activity. As Americans advanced westward they befriended these people because of their great stores of food and wealth. As with most Native American cultures though these people were soon forced to leave their lands to live on reservations. Life on the reservation was FAR more physically active and the resources they were given by the government were far less than they had had before in terms of food supply. Despite being more physically active and eating fewer calories the Pima Indians began to grow obese and diabetic, diseases they had zero history of before. They are now the leading ethnic group for risk of diabetes and obesity, despite eating less and working more than they had in their past.
Do you have a source for those claims? Because that's not what I'm seeing in my research.

The traditional Pima diet, based around dry-climate agriculture, was more than 70% carbs. (Source: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi...tract/16/1/369 wfs) After their water supply was diverted, they subsisted on lard, sugar, and white flour rations supplied by the US military. Malnutrition was common. After WWII, reservation incomes more than doubled and the Pima diet came to resemble that of American society as a whole. Currently, more than 40% of the reservation diet is derived from fat. *That's* when obesity really took off. (Source: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pub...ty/obesity.htm wfs)

In other words, they went from a seasonally varied (portion control!) diet based on whole foods (minimally processed!) that they grew themselves (physically active!) to a diet based almost entirely on processed foods imported to the reservation (none of the above!). And they got fat.

I don't see how this disproves my hypothesis. If anything, it supports it.

Katherine

Last edited by Katherine Derbyshire : 04-03-2009 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:20 AM   #42
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
This leads me to believe that there is a lot more going on than people just "eating to much and leading sedentary lives". Is personal accountability an important part of health and nutrition? Yes. But educating people as to what a healthy diet is is MUCH more than just, "eat less and work out more".
Yes, it is. So why are you ignoring the second point in both my posts: eat whole foods, not processed junk.

Katherine
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:44 AM   #43
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
I think we have a lot of common ground as far as nutritional advice, but I think this mentality is just flat wrong and has lead to a lot of bad science.

The nutritional science in America the last ~50 years has added a lot of confusion and hearsay to what people should eat. That does not mean that it is advisable to abandon all logic and reason when looking at what a healthy diet is. It just means we have to be that much more critical and meticulous of evidence that is presented.

We need but one legit counter example to disprove a hypothesis, and as for the "people are more sedentary and eat more so they are fat" attitude there are many counter examples. The one that comes to my mind is the Pima Indians. They had a culture with a vast abundance of resources and little demand for physical activity. As Americans advanced westward they befriended these people because of their great stores of food and wealth. As with most Native American cultures though these people were soon forced to leave their lands to live on reservations. Life on the reservation was FAR more physically active and the resources they were given by the government were far less than they had had before in terms of food supply. Despite being more physically active and eating fewer calories the Pima Indians began to grow obese and diabetic, diseases they had zero history of before. They are now the leading ethnic group for risk of diabetes and obesity, despite eating less and working more than they had in their past.

This leads me to believe that there is a lot more going on than people just "eating to much and leading sedentary lives". Is personal accountability an important part of health and nutrition? Yes. But educating people as to what a healthy diet is is MUCH more than just, "eat less and work out more".



.
Actually the Pima engaged in lots of regular physical activity and only had an abundance of food for certain periods of the year. During the dry season they subsisted on much less. They also ate a diet very low in sugar, fats, and especially saturated fats. They eat many more calories now than they did then, and they eat substantialy more sugar and fat, and they get far less physical activity now than they used to get.
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Old 04-03-2009, 11:51 AM   #44
Jack Stetson
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post

eat whole foods, not processed junk.
Katherine --

:stir:

What makes processed food 'junk'? From a macronutrient perspective, the carbohydrates and proteins in Wonder bread are not any different than those in homemade wheat bread.

What constitutes 'processed food'? I think we could agree that Cocoa Puffs are a processed food, but what about butter? Or homemade wheat bread? Olive oil?

For that matter, if you put a squash in the oven for 45min before you eat it, haven't you processed it? Would you eat a raw squash? By grilling a steak, surface proteins are altered and carcinogens from the charcoal are added. Isn't that processed?

All of the above foods have been processed to a degree. The whole concept of processed food is very tricky in my mind. I think it's to easy to become judgemental. Why is processed food inferior? Thyroid goiter was a common problem is the US until the 1920's when iodine was added to salt. Goiter is still a problem in many under-developed countries. I'd say that's a case where processed food was of benefit.

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Old 04-03-2009, 12:02 PM   #45
Danni Coffman
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jack Stetson View Post
Katherine --

:stir:

What makes processed food 'junk'? From a macronutrient perspective, the carbohydrates and proteins in Wonder bread are not any different than those in homemade wheat bread.

What constitutes 'processed food'? I think we could agree that Cocoa Puffs are a processed food, but what about butter? Or homemade wheat bread? Olive oil?

For that matter, if you put a squash in the oven for 45min before you eat it, haven't you processed it? Would you eat a raw squash? By grilling a steak, surface proteins are altered and carcinogens from the charcoal are added. Isn't that processed?

All of the above foods have been processed to a degree. The whole concept of processed food is very tricky in my mind. I think it's to easy to become judgemental. Why is processed food inferior? Thyroid goiter was a common problem is the US until the 1920's when iodine was added to salt. Goiter is still a problem in many under-developed countries. I'd say that's a case where processed food was of benefit.

I think that it's assumed that if processed food comprises a significant part of one's diet, fruits/veggies/whole foods are getting short shrift. Also, I think most people are thinking of Fritos and Twinkies when referring to processed foods, not "cooked" food etc.
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:12 PM   #46
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jack Stetson View Post
Katherine --

:stir:

What makes processed food 'junk'? From a macronutrient perspective, the carbohydrates and proteins in Wonder bread are not any different than those in homemade wheat bread.
It's pretty well documented that highly refined grains -- white flour vs. wheat flour, white rice vs. brown rice, etc. -- have very different micronutrient profiles than their less processed counterparts.

Personally, I don't find the concept of "processed food" to be tricky at all. If the label reads like a recipe, fine. (Example: wheat flour, water, yeast, salt.)

If it reads like a chemistry text, not fine. (Example: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% of less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness).)

If the product is a standalone ingredient in its own right and has no label, that's also fine.

Katherine

Last edited by Katherine Derbyshire : 04-03-2009 at 12:15 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-03-2009, 12:33 PM   #47
Jeff Hendrix
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Robert Callahan View Post
We need but one legit counter example to disprove a hypothesis, and as for the "people are more sedentary and eat more so they are fat" attitude there are many counter examples.
Robert, I think this is pretty off (it's not just you, but this seemed like a good place to bring this up--I don't want you to get the impression that I'm singling you out). If we were discussing logical arguments you would be correct, but this does not hold for empirical data. A reasonable statistic to disprove these claims would have to be calculated, and that would be a miserable statistic to try and measure. Indeed, it is probably near impossible. The amount of variables you would have to control for would be astronomical.

The Pima's you mentioned could have had much more going on than diet and exercise, for instance. Do you think their mental health suffered during this time? Could that have effected the response of their bodies to various factors in their lives? In this case, any diet could have had the potential to correlate with health problems down the road for them if their mental health deteriorated enough.

In other words, you cannot disprove Katherine's point or prove your own with logic because this is not a strictly logical discussion. It is based off of severely incomplete empirical data, and this will always be the case.

I think the rather mundane truth of the matter is that one or two or three diets isn't going to work for everyone. The genetic differences between people seems rather vast nutritionally and it is extremely difficult to gauge these differences. The case of the "Asian" diet which seems to effect some Asians more negatively than others proves this point again. As does the "American" diet and how it effects us. My roommate barely exercises at all and can eat anything he wants (I'm not speaking in terms of portion control) and his health seems quite good. He eats more dairy and grains than I care to think about these days (and he doesn't like bacon!). I, on the other hand, when not eating any dairy or grains still have some difficulties with asthma and other things that I won't discuss here.

It's still helpful to find out what "type" of human being one is and to find out what type of diets work best for those populations, but ultimately, you still have to figure it out for yourself. These templates, if I may, are just helpful starting points.

All that was really just to repeat what Steven said, though, viz., "Do what works for you. Screw everyone else." And it looks like you agree with this point mostly. You just seem to get there in kind of a weird way to me I guess.
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:18 PM   #48
Jack Stetson
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

Mighty K --

So if I read you correctly, you have concerns about three different nutritional foci: 1) macronutrient composition of the diet, 2) micronutrient sufficiency, and 3) additives.

I don't think, from a macronutrient point of view, there is significant difference between the protein bioavailablity of Spam as compared to Pork roast--given an isocaloric equivalence in terms of protein. The carbohydrates in Wonder bread are just as energetic as those found in Whole wheat bread, although the glycemic load may be higher in the case of Wonder. Is there a macronutrient difference between isocalorically equivalent servings of Spam on Wonder vs. Pork Roast on Whole Wheat with olive oil? (I mean, I know which I'd rather eat, but still...)

With respect to micronutrients, there are some foods where processing actually increases the micronutrient availability: salt as per above or maize (corn) in which niacin is not readily available unless the corn is processed with alkalai (lyme typically).

"Rice" sounds like a whole food from your definition, right? But of course polished rice is deficient in B-1. Brown wins the day.

Many processed food have micronutrients added, Vit D for instance. Pop-tarts are purported to be "vitamin enriched."

So from a micronutrient point of view neither processed nor whole foods could be said to be definitively superior as a group, despite individual cases to the contrary.

But I didn't get the impression you were arguing that micronutrient deficiencies were the cause of obesity. So I challenge you again, to define why whole foods are superior to 'processed foods' in terms of obesity and Western disease prevention.

(I won't touch the additives issue as there just doesn't seem to be a lot of room for argument about this stuff. )
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:50 PM   #49
Jim Brikman
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jack Stetson View Post
Mighty K --

So if I read you correctly, you have concerns about three different nutritional foci: 1) macronutrient composition of the diet, 2) micronutrient sufficiency, and 3) additives.

I don't think, from a macronutrient point of view, there is significant difference between the protein bioavailablity of Spam as compared to Pork roast--given an isocaloric equivalence in terms of protein. The carbohydrates in Wonder bread are just as energetic as those found in Whole wheat bread, although the glycemic load may be higher in the case of Wonder. Is there a macronutrient difference between isocalorically equivalent servings of Spam on Wonder vs. Pork Roast on Whole Wheat with olive oil? (I mean, I know which I'd rather eat, but still...)

With respect to micronutrients, there are some foods where processing actually increases the micronutrient availability: salt as per above or maize (corn) in which niacin is not readily available unless the corn is processed with alkalai (lyme typically).

"Rice" sounds like a whole food from your definition, right? But of course polished rice is deficient in B-1. Brown wins the day.

Many processed food have micronutrients added, Vit D for instance. Pop-tarts are purported to be "vitamin enriched."

So from a micronutrient point of view neither processed nor whole foods could be said to be definitively superior as a group, despite individual cases to the contrary.

But I didn't get the impression you were arguing that micronutrient deficiencies were the cause of obesity. So I challenge you again, to define why whole foods are superior to 'processed foods' in terms of obesity and Western disease prevention.

(I won't touch the additives issue as there just doesn't seem to be a lot of room for argument about this stuff. )
This is one place where Michael Pollan makes an interesting point in "In Defense of Food" that's worth repeating here: for the most part, human beings managed to live for millions of years on a HUGE variety of diets without the numerous "syndrome X" diseases (obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and so on). It didn't seem to matter much if the diet was high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, purely vegetarian, purely carnivorous, or what have you: the vast majority of those "diseases of civilization" were just not present. Just about the only diet that made all of those diseases appear was the "Western Diet". It's worth reading Pollan's book for a definition of exactly what the "Western Diet" is, but very roughly speaking, it distinguishes itself from other diets through the inclusion of tons of highly processed "food products" (white flour, white rice, cereal, pasta, etc), lots of added fat and added sugar, and relatively few fruits and veggies. Everyone argues about why this makes us unhealthy - too many carbs, too much fat, not enough fiber, not enough vitamins and so on - but no one disputes that it does.

Unfortunately, our scientific understanding of nutrition is currently inadequate to figure out a definite explanation. However, for the average person, that really shouldn't matter: stop eating the Western Diet and all of those problems go away. Get rid of all the processed junk that characterizes the "Western Diet" and your health is almost guaranteed to improve, even if we don't yet understand why. Of course, just how far back from the "Western Diet" you have to go is a bit up in the air. The paleo diet is probably the most extreme solution, eliminating virtually all food products that appeared since the invention of agriculture some ~11,000 years ago. Pollan explains some hints/tips for a more moderate approach to this, describing a series of rules that can help us avoid "Western Diet" foods. Not too surprisingly, either set of rules will lead you to a diet consisting almost entirely of "whole foods". Exactly why these are so superior to "processed foods" may not be clear, but I don't think there is any question that they are, and that's good enough for me.
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Old 04-03-2009, 02:27 PM   #50
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jack Stetson View Post
But I didn't get the impression you were arguing that micronutrient deficiencies were the cause of obesity. So I challenge you again, to define why whole foods are superior to 'processed foods' in terms of obesity and Western disease prevention.
Actually, what I'm saying is that lots of empirical evidence suggests that populations with diets based on whole foods are healthier than populations with diets based on processed foods. Which isn't quite the same argument.

Put another way, all traditional diets are provably healthy, in that they didn't kill the people who ate them. The modern Western diet is provably unhealthy: people who eat it are less healthy than genetically similar people who don't. Reliance on whole foods is one element that all traditional diets have in common, and the heavy presence of processed foods is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the modern Western diet.

I can think of lots of reasons why diets based on whole foods might be healthier, some or all of which might be true in any given example:

* Many people on these boards have observed that it's really hard to get to their full Zone-prescribed quantities when eating Paleo foods. Because whole foods are less calorie-dense, people may actually consume fewer calories.
* Similarly, the higher glycemic load of processed grains would tend to cause more extreme fluctuations in blood sugar than the slower absorption of whole grains. There are a variety of ways in which that might be biologically bad, ranging from insulin resistance to the simple perception of low blood sugar as hunger, leading to more calorie consumption.
* It's pretty universally agreed that fresh vegetables are good for you. They've got lots of fiber, lots of anti-oxidants, lots of vitamins, all of which appear to improve health. Fresh vegetables are a whole food.
* While micronutrients may not cause obesity, they are strongly implicated in many other diseases. Micronutrients are extremely poorly understood. Any living organism -- animal or plant -- will necessarily have evolved with an optimal micronutrient balance. By eating whole foods, you get that balance for free, but we don't understand micronutrients well enough to replicate it in processed foods.
* Traditional diets represent the accumulated food wisdom of centuries. Processed foods represent the accumulated food wisdom of marketing departments.

I could go on, but that will do for now.

Katherine

Last edited by Katherine Derbyshire : 04-03-2009 at 02:29 PM. Reason: clarity
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