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Nutrition Diet, supplements, weightloss, health & longevity

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Old 09-29-2003, 08:31 AM   #1
Barry Cooper
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I've been thinking: if--as Andrew Weil or someone showed--you can create an upper effect in people who are actually taking downers by telling them they are taking uppers, why would it not be the case that diet can likewise create the effect that people believe it will create?

I saw a revised copy of The Pritikin Principle in the bookstore the other day. People still do that stuff. How can we be sure that they are not also accruing health benefits, simply because they believe they are?

There was a Recon Marine who was in my dorm in college one summer, and he had Captain Crunch every morning for breakfast. MRE's seem like they are calculated to create diabetes, but we just won a war pretty handily, and presumably the creator of MRE's think they are doing something good.

I'm a big fan of Jack Schwarz, who used to do a thing where he would stick a large needle through his bicep. As measured by an electroencephagraph, there was no unusual brainwave activity when he did it, other than a lot of Alpha. He could make it bleed if he wanted to, and make it stop, all of which is well documented. He wrote a book called: "It's not what you eat: It's what eats you.". I agree with that sentiment.

Clearly, some diets are better than others, but I think the most important things are exercise and what's going on between your ears. I see people agonizing endlessly over this detail or that detail, and--to my mind--missing the big picture.

As of this moment, there do seem to be better directions than others, but there has been no definitive study done anywhere (that I know of)that says absolutely, categorically, no-question-this-is-it, that one way is radically better than another. Until those studies are done, we're all making educated guesses, and I think that point needs to be remembered.

I follow an insulin control diet, because I believe it works. I honestly wonder, though, how much of my physical response is a result of what I'm expecting.
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Old 09-29-2003, 05:47 PM   #2
Robert Wolf
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Barry-
I honestly do not know how much "benefit" is derived from ones belief in a dietary protocol. I REALLY believed that a low fat diet was the ticket. I had colitis, high blood pressure deranged blood lipids...my intentionality had absolutely no bearing on my health outcomes.

The best experiment I can think of is the 3 million year history of our human and prehuman ancestors. Evolution via natural selection.

I know it is hard to believe but when you look at the health of hunter gatherers it is better than anything we have seen. It is such a simple answer it seems repellant.
Robb
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:23 PM   #3
Barry Cooper
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Robb,

When you had all those problems, what types of exercise were you doing, and what types of life stresses did you have? What stage of life were you in?
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:24 PM   #4
Kevin Roddy
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"As of this moment, there do seem to be better directions than others, but there has been no definitive study done anywhere (that I know of)that says absolutely, categorically, no-question-this-is-it, that one way is radically better than another. Until those studies are done, we're all making educated guesses, and I think that point needs to be remembered. "




TOO true. Man, I'm still confused. There's SO many studies saying this is better than this, and this is better than this, that it's hard for me to pick just one DEFINITIVE way of doing things. I mean, the Paleo way is a great way to do it, but no one can be absolutely sure it's the best way.

Also, a question: How long did hunter-gatherers live, anyways?
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Old 09-30-2003, 09:39 AM   #5
Jay Edvardz
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Kevin, in regard to lifespan of our ancestors - to me this is a moot point. They had to deal with a plethora of things that we, as modern humans, do not have to deal with. None of us have to worried about getting attacked by a large animal while "hunting," for our meat at the local grocer. Furthermore, in modern hunter-gatherer tribes, those who are not killed, usually live into their 60s-70s-80s totally free of the degenerative diseases that plague industrialized man. For more info on this subject please check out: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A. Price. Also: www.westonaprice.org

-Jay
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Old 09-30-2003, 06:18 PM   #6
Kevin Roddy
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Thanks, Jay! Wow... 60's to 80's is pretty impressive, considering their conditions! Thanks a lot!
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Old 09-30-2003, 08:14 PM   #7
Jay Edvardz
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Kevin - No problem. The age thing was an amazement to me as well. It was reading through Dr. Price's work, while looking at pictures of the individuals whom he photographed during his journeys; I really started to take nutrition all the more seruous. He took pictures of the facial and dental development of those still following a native type diet and those following an industrialized "white man" type diet. The differences were nothing short of amazing. If you ever get the chance - please read the book. If you live outside of the US, I have a link for an online Australian library with a digital copy of the book. Copyright laws prohibit those in America from viewing the book. Unfortunate. Glad I could be of some assistance! :-)

-Jay
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Old 10-01-2003, 05:05 AM   #8
David Heyer
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Barry,
I agree, the power of the mind in awesome. The mind controls the body! This is probably why some non-exercising, junk food eating, cigarette smoking people can live to be in their 90's, while others who take care of themselves die young.
I also agree with Robb that the Paleo diet makes most sence. If you truely believe in something, it is so.
Dave
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Old 10-01-2003, 05:45 AM   #9
Barry Cooper
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I think diet affects us to some extent regardless of our mental attitude, but I also believe our minds affect our bodies regardless of our diet.

My personal opinion is that part of the so-called French Paradox is that they eat meals they enjoy, they take their time, and they eat with people whose company they find congenial. I think it likely that there is a correlation between social isolation, and a lack of some type of unifying faith and a variety of diseases, which I think explains the studies finding decreased mortality rates among church-goers, some quite dramatic.

If you think of the Paleo Diet as eating adequate, complete protein, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of good quality fats, and none of the junk that surrounds us now, like Twinkies and Potato Chips, what's not to like? Of course it's better than what most people eat.

The problem I have with it is that is uses what I think is an inadequate and overly limiting paradigm. If you want to see a modern version of the so-called shift between paleo and neolithic man, look at Mexicans that have just managed to get themselves across the border somehow, and the children of those same people several generations later. They're the same size as us. That, in my opinion, is because the Mexican mexicans grew up eating largely corn, beans, rice, peppers, tomatoes, squash, and very little meat or cheese. Maybe they roasted a pig every once in a while, but overall probably did not get close to enough protein to support large frames, even if they were otherwise somehow predisposed to it.

If you read the book "Guns, Germs & Steel", he talks about how almost everywhere but a few select regions, there was a paucity of domesticatable animals, with the results that agricultural civilizations almost always were lacking in complete proteins. Even in those with adequate protein, it seems unlikely that the meat was spread evenly. Compared to these people, the Hunter-Gatherers quite simply had much better diets and living conditions.

The author of that book also makes the point that many of the diseases that have plagued mankind jumped from animals to men when animals were domesticated. That would also affect overall mortality, and even now there are those who theorize that some sort of bacteria may be responsible for at least some atherosclerosis.

If evolution (itself an unproven, albeit useful, hypothesis) is a full explanation for how our diet should be formed, how do we explain the apparent health benefits of chocolate, soy beans, tea, and alcohol? They would not have been a part of our diets during the evolutionary process, but are apparently good for us. If this is just a random thing, why not throw the whole paleo thing out and simply treat individual foods on a case by case basis?

Again, I think people who follow a Paleo vs. trad. American Diet will be healthier. It's just that there seems to be a point where it crosses from scientificaly defensible theory to a generalized quasi-religious belief.

Because diet in a very fundamental way affects our mortality, it is understandable that there are strong beliefs with respect to diet. Many religions are characterized in part by specific dietary beliefs.
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Old 10-02-2003, 12:44 AM   #10
Robert Wolf
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Barry-

Virtually all of your examples above support the notion that HG's enjoyed better health than is generally understood. I have mentioned several of these points myself on this topic in other threads.

Honestly I fail to see how the totality of human history and the developmental procces involved with this history as being in any way limiting or inadequate unless one is being overly strictured in their interpertation. The lifeways of our ancestors were quite different from ours (not just food consumption, socialization, sleep, rights of passage etc.). I think many of our modern diseases which have confounded people are fairly easily solved when viewed through the lense of evolutionary biology/anthropology/biochemistry.

Loren Cordain has published papers on topics ranging from acne to myopia to autoimmunity in some of the most prestegious journals in the world. This is UNHEARD of for an individual to cover such diverse topics. When immunologists realize they are talking to an exercise physiologist when they are requesting reprints they practicly faint. Why is he able to publish in all of these areas? When I asked him this question he had quite an answer for me. He said "I already know the answer". "I take a current disease state, look at what variables were not present in our history (other than very recently) and I am able to retroengineer the answer to the question." Evolution is far more than a useful hypothesis.

I have to say I seriously take issue with the notion that embracing "non-paleo" items means we should dump the whole theory and what it can teach us. Olive oil is a prime example of this. Of the items you mention: Soy is linked with type 1 diabetes due to molecular mimicry and consequently autoimmunity, alcohol causes ciroses....virtually all of the beneficial effects of alcohol is attributable to the antioxidant phenolics...not ethanol. Chocolate to be an effective antioxidant must be consumed in large doses and if it is consumed with sugar much of this effect is lost.

The power of the paleo approach is that it DOES NOT take each food individually as you suggest. This is the current state of nutritional science...these people can not find their asses, I know, I am a graduate student in the field and it is appauling because these people flounder around with no cohesive theory. You are faced with literally unlimited variables. The scientific method is worthless for discerning much of anything unless you have a theory in which to couch your observations. This reductionism and the parts and pieces approach has little to offer a dynamic environment.

Just to make this rant complete I have to say I completely disagree with the notion that the "mind directs the body". There is no seperation between the two except in the western, reductionist model which does not represent reality. Readiing the current literatlure on psychoneuroimmunology indicates mind, information processing...lots of stuff formerly attributable to the brain are decentralized throughout our body. Decentralization is the model which describes all dynamic living systems. The top down, soviet style approach does not work in reality as an ineffective model. The work of Art Devany on decentralization as well as other top economists indicate all of this.

I have to ask if you have read all of Loren Cordains papers? Some of the books I have recomended such as Lights Out and African Exodus? Modern economic/game/theory? If not instead of having a debate I am spending a huge amount of time covering foundational material which answers the question for itself. Do you have to agree with me after reading this stuff? No, of course not but at least we have common refrence points.

I get your point about the whole quasi religious tone these topics can take on and I freely admit that if Evolution Via Natural Selection gets tossed out in the future my whole sctick is a pile of crap but baring that NOTHING comes remotely close to finding hints of how to optimize health than looking to our past. Keeping an eye open to modern developments simply keeps with the quote I have in my profile. It weakens the importance of the understanding of our origins not a whit.

What I have seen occur here is I have laid out a theoretical framework (evolution etc.) and in a mere sentance you say it is unproven which implies all which rests upon it is invalid. If that is the case then we are left with the reductionist parts and pieces model. Not appealing.

You said:

" Again, I think people who follow a Paleo vs. trad. American Diet will be healthier. It's just that there seems to be a point where it crosses from scientificaly defensible theory to a generalized quasi-religious belief."


And:

"Because diet in a very fundamental way affects our mortality, it is understandable that there are strong beliefs with respect to diet. Many religions are characterized in part by specific dietary beliefs."

I guess this IS my religion and my gods are the Chi-square, ANOVA and linear regression.

Show me ONE group of people who enjoyed better health than did our pre-agrarian ancestors and I will adopt the parts and pieces approach or whatevr you like as a framework for understanding health. In order to do this you have to REALLY understand what HG health was to make an honest comparison. Once you have that...I think this whole topic will become pointless.
Robb



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