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Old 04-02-2009, 09:40 PM   #31
Jim Brikman
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
Because most of the nutrition advice out there is pseudoscientific garbage promoted by people with a vested interest. Or it's oversimplified, often deliberately, to the point of uselessness. (Haven't had a chance to read Taubes or Cordain yet, so no comment on them specifically.)

When you look at healthy populations-- Okinawans, Abkhazians, Cretans -- macronutrient ratios don't seem to matter. The presence of absence of specific food items doesn't seem to matter. The constants that come up over and over again are:
* portion control
* minimally processed foods
* active lifestyles

The rest, IMO, is mostly just noise.

Katherine
Very well said. The more I read nutritional books and studies (including GCBC, Zone diet, Paleo diet, and so on), the more convinced I am that our understanding of a healthy human diet is incredibly, painfully and dangerously incomplete. This is one of the reasons I was a big fan of Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food (w/f/s) in which he makes the very simple recommendation: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." By "food", Pollan means means real/whole food and not the processed "food products" so many Americans eat today. And by not too much, he of course means portion control. Add some exercise into the mix, and your advice is spot on. BTW, the New York Times article Unhappy Meals (w/f/s) is like the "light" version of Pollan's book and worth a look.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:23 PM   #32
Jagtar Mukhtar
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jim Brikman View Post
By "food", Pollan means means real/whole food and not the processed "food products" so many Americans eat today. And by not too much, he of course means portion control. Add some exercise into the mix, and your advice is spot on. BTW, the New York Times article Unhappy Meals (w/f/s) is like the "light" version of Pollan's book and worth a look.
thanks for this post.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:33 AM   #33
Laura Kurth
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

Where I am from (Ireland) my entire family grew up eating a very high carbohydrate diet. White potatoes were and are a huge staple in my mothers house. She still goes though sacks of potatoes at an alarming rate.

We also ate a lot of bread. The bread in Ireland is different to here, it is just flour yeast and water (well it used to be)

Nobody in my family is fat.

Of course now that Ireland is pretty much like here, and everybody eats garbage on a daily basis, obesity rates have crept up.

The point is, that back in the ol days of subsisting on plenty of potatoes and bread and 'weetabix' or porridge for breakfast... we were not fat or unhealthy. Because we did not have a lot of money, we did not have an abundance of food. Barely any junk food. But plenty of bread & jam and that sort of thing. We were active. My days as a child were spent walking through fields, picking apples, and swimming in rivers. Not in front of a playstation.

I still eat moderate amounts of white potatoes & oatmeal, and when I return home I eat lots of lovely bread (don't care so much for the bread here). I went to the doctor recently and had excellent blood work results, I have low body fat and I feel great!
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:02 AM   #34
Jack Stetson
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Laura Kurth View Post

We also ate a lot of bread. The bread in Ireland is different to here, it is just flour yeast and water (well it used to be)
A somewhat ironic observation, since Ireland has one of the highest prevalences of Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance). Of course, that being said, Celiac disease is still relatively uncommon, even in Eire.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:10 AM   #35
Laura Kurth
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

does it? that's funny. I knew one girl in school who had that but I never met anybody else who had it!
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:06 AM   #36
Jason R O'Dell
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Scientists may disagree on what’s so good about plants — the antioxidants? Fiber? Omega-3s? — but they do agree that they’re probably really good for you and certainly can’t hurt. Also, by eating a plant-based diet, you’ll be consuming far fewer calories, since plant foods (except seeds) are typically less “energy dense” than the other things you might eat. Vegetarians are healthier than carnivores, but near vegetarians (“flexitarians”) are as healthy as vegetarians. Thomas Jefferson was on to something when he advised treating meat more as a flavoring than a food.
This is from the NY Times article. Isn't the health of vegetarians debated ad-nauseum on this board? He seems to be suggesting vegetarianism is a good alternative.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:20 AM   #37
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jason R O'Dell View Post
This is from the NY Times article. Isn't the health of vegetarians debated ad-nauseum on this board? He seems to be suggesting vegetarianism is a good alternative.
FWIW, the long-lived populations I mentioned above are generally not vegetarian, but do eat lots of vegetables. Vegetables are definitely good for you.

The problem with strict vegetarianism -- as opposed to a merely vegetable-heavy diet -- is the difficulty in getting adequate protein and meat-sourced micronutrients. As the position paper Jack Stetson posted notes, that's a particular concern for athletes. For the general population, though, the average diet is so awful that vegetarianism is usually an improvement.

Katherine
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:21 AM   #38
Jim Brikman
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Jason R O'Dell View Post
This is from the NY Times article. Isn't the health of vegetarians debated ad-nauseum on this board? He seems to be suggesting vegetarianism is a good alternative.
Advising people to eat more (unprocessed) plant foods is not the same as telling people they should be vegetarians. He's not saying that meat is bad, but rather that plant foods are almost unquestionably good. Since the typical "Western Diet" tends to be very low in (unprocessed) plant foods, simply eating more of them - and less of the processed crap - can go a long way towards a healthy diet.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:41 AM   #39
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

Asians tend to be more "carb tolerant" than the rest of the worlds population. With everyone else it tends to be a crapshoot.

It all depends on YOUR genetics so I don't see why people want to look at various populations for changing their diet UNLESS they are actually part of that population. Most of the time this is not the case, and thus a futile waste of time. Hell, there's even some asians I know that are not carb tolerant so going high carb is crap.

Do what works for you. Screw everyone else.


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* portion control
* minimally processed foods
* active lifestyles
Pretty much.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:44 AM   #40
Robert Callahan
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Re: Paleo prevents Western Diseases?

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Originally Posted by Katherine Derbyshire View Post
In the United States, meanwhile, three things happened at once:
* food got cheap, but the "clean your plate" ethic remained;
* "convenience" foods exploded as a share of the national diet; and
* the population shifted from active jobs to sedentary jobs.

Surprisingly enough, having abandoned all three key components of a healthy lifestyle, Americans got fat.
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".

There is a lot of evidence anecdotal and in scientific research that a) chronically elevated insulin plays a big role in a TON of disease and health problems, b) gut irritation also plays a potent role in most if not all autoimmune diseases as well as chronic inflammation, and c) grains, in particular wheat grains, cause gut irritation to varying degrees in human beings.

Does that mean we must eat low carb, paleo food to be healthy? No. But it means that maybe there is something to those diets and maybe instead of just writing things off we should try them out and see what the effects are on ourselves since that is the only thing that really matters.
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