Monday, July 30, 2012

Peer Reviewed Journal Article Supporting Paleo Diet

A diet of grain-free whole foods with carbohydrate from cellular tubers, leaves, and fruits may produce a gastrointestinal microbiota consistent with our evolutionary condition, potentially explaining the exceptional macronutrient-independent metabolic health of non-Westernized populations, and the apparent efficacy of the modern "Paleolithic" diet on satiety and metabolism.

Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: A novel hypothesis of obesity is suggested by consideration of diet-related inflammation and evolutionary medicine. The obese homeostatically guard their elevated weight. In rodent models of high-fat diet-induced obesity, leptin resistance is seen initially at vagal afferents, blunting the actions of satiety mediators, then centrally, with gastrointestinal bacterial-triggered SOCS3 signaling implicated. In humans, dietary fat and fructose elevate systemic lipopolysaccharide, while dietary glucose also strongly activates SOCS3 signaling. Crucially however, in humans, low-carbohydrate diets spontaneously decrease weight in a way that low-fat diets do not. Furthermore, nutrition transition patterns and the health of those still eating diverse ancestral diets with abundant food suggest that neither glycemic index, altered fat, nor carbohydrate intake can be intrinsic causes of obesity, and that human energy homeostasis functions well without Westernized foods containing flours, sugar, and refined fats. Due to being made up of cells, virtually all "ancestral foods" have markedly lower carbohydrate densities than flour- and sugar-containing foods, a property quite independent of glycemic index. Thus the "forgotten organ" of the gastrointestinal microbiota is a prime candidate to be influenced by evolutionarily unprecedented postprandial luminal carbohydrate concentrations. The present hypothesis suggests that in parallel with the bacterial effects of sugars on dental and periodontal health, acellular flours, sugars, and processed foods produce an inflammatory microbiota via the upper gastrointestinal tract, with fat able to effect a "double hit" by increasing systemic absorption of lipopolysaccharide. This model is consistent with a broad spectrum of reported dietary phenomena. A diet of grain-free whole foods with carbohydrate from cellular tubers, leaves, and fruits may produce a gastrointestinal microbiota consistent with our evolutionary condition, potentially explaining the exceptional macronutrient-independent metabolic health of non-Westernized populations, and the apparent efficacy of the modern "Paleolithic" diet on satiety and metabolism.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Paleo or Bypass Surgery.

Just over a year ago, I weighed 298 pounds. At 5’ 3” and 35 years old it was not a question of if, but when, I would develop type 2 diabetes and other weight-related problems. The media is riddled with gastric bypass success stories, and I began to think that was my only option. A piece of me wanted to try once more to lose the weight on my own. So, I made a deal with myself; lose a significant amount of weight in the next year or have the surgery.
I hired a personal trainer and he required me to read The Paleo Solution. Over the past thirteen months, I have followed the diet and exercised. It has been quite a journey, and there have been many learning opportunities along the way. In the beginning, it was difficult to give up grain, soy, and dairy. Paleo meant more time in the kitchen and increasing my food budget, but it did not take long to start reaping the rewards and that kept me going. I derailed many times but I never gave up. When I needed inspiration I referred back to the book or read other Paleo success stories.
Everything in my life over the past year has focused on one goal, losing the weight and, ultimately, saving my life. The Paleo Solution provided the information, but I had to provide the commitment, hard work, and time. During a particularly tough time I developed, what I call, the five S’s; Sustenance (food), Stress, Sleep, Strength (exercise), and Supplements. When I feel like my weight loss is stalling, I ask myself if I am paying enough attention to all five S’s. It was difficult to increase my food budget and start buying supplements, but I told myself that I could pay for those things now or the medical bills down the road when I started to have health issues.
Treating my workouts as an unbreakable appointment has also been helpful. Honoring those appointments in the same way I would honor a doctor’s appointment or school conference is important to me. This mindset keeps me from making excuses and missing workouts for reasons that are not important. Exercise not only burns fat and creates muscle, it also reminds me that I am a different person now, a person who values my health.
Happily, I am no longer considering gastric bypass surgery. All of my hard work has paid off with a 100 pound loss. In fact, based on my current health and body fat percentage, I no longer qualify for bypass surgery. In the future, I know that there will be obstacles, but I also know that I will continue to lose. The goal is to shed 60 more pounds. Losing 100 pounds has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done. Along the way, there have been celebrations and tears, but I’ve never regretted the cookie I didn’t eat.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Go Paleo!

Are you eating right? That’s a question that many people ask themselves, and it’s a question that feeds many industries making billions of dollars every year. It’s a question that forces its way into your conscious and sub-conscious brain, day in and day out. News reports, medical studies, books, magazines, commercial advertising and word of mouth all creep their way into your information bank. There are countless claims as to what constitutes a “healthy” diet, and almost all of them conflict on some level, leaving the average guy with more confusion than enlightenment. So with such an itching, burning question just begging to be addressed, what is the official Hall of Manly Excellence take on the matter? The most reasonable one of course: The food you should be eating is the food that humans are designed to eat.
It’s so simple that it’s almost stupid, and yet it’s unfortunately something that needs to be said. Just like every other biological species on the planet, humans have a set of foods that are natural for consumption and another set (everything else) that isn’t. And guess what? The daily consumption of the average human is mostly getting drawn from that bad set.

You’re Eating Like a Cow

You’ve heard it many times in your life…in fact, you’ve heard it so many times by now it almost seems like you were born knowing it: a healthy diet is high in grains. The USDA puts it right in your face from the time you enter school: grains are not just edible and healthful in a human diet they say, but should literally be its foundation. Really? You wouldn’t think so if you were out in the wild, hungrily scanning the horizon for something to consume and spotted a patch of wheat sprouting towards the sky. Why not? Because it’s fucking grass! Some people might not have ever given this much thought, but as it turns out, humans can’t actually eat grass. Which brings up a couple of interesting questions: what exactly would a human being in a natural setting without the aid of modern industry actually be able to consume, and from that selection, couldn’t we call that set of foods the humans’ natural diet in the same way that we observe other species’ consumption and do likewise? Well, the hard work of answering those questions has already been done for us and its theory has a name: The Paleolithic Diet.

Stop Eating Like a Cow

Paleo DietSo the theory has a name, the Paleolithic Diet (AKA the Caveman Diet), but what does it mean? Its premise is very simple, elegant and straight to the point: human beings developed their digestive faculties for nutrition throughout the Paleolithic era, a period which covers 99% of our entire history of development as a species. The foods we ate then, are the foods we should be eating now because they’re native to our biology. The last 1% of our time on Earth has not only been an aberration in our nutritional intake, but has gone seriously beyond even the wide berth that our generalist, omnivorous nature provides.
Simply put, our ability as a technological species to extract digestible nutrition from grass has introduced an exceptionally unnatural food source into our gullets, and that very food source is making us fat, stupid and degenerate. How is it doing all that you ask? Grains contain chemicals in them that we call anti-nutrients, a name we give them because they are just that, against nutrition. These chemicals aren’t just in the grains for the hell of it, they’re there because they don’t want us to eat them! Within the bran casing which protects the germ from being digested, the grain stores phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of many key micro-nutrients including calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. Also contained in the grain are enzyme inhibitors, which are designed to directly stop the digestive tract from breaking down the product.
Once you get past the nasty chemicals and actually extract nutrients from the grain, it encounters hard to digest (for humans anyway) proteins which cause mild to severe allergies. These chemicals can only be neutralized partially during the extensive processing phases which prepare the grain for market and human consumption. The cumulative effect of digesting this unnatural and poisonous material over the course of a lifetime is, as you might imagine, not good. Almost none of the degenerative diseases found in the Western world are seen in people who still eat Hunter-Gatherer diets: osteoporosis, macular degeneration, diabetes, arthritis, tooth decay, Alzheimer’s. Modern indigenous people that have been recently had grains introduced into their diet have seen their incidence of diabetes go from practically zero to as high as 50% within just one or two generations.

Eat Like a Caveman

raquel welch cavemanSo we have a theory: eat what a human is supposed to eat. We also have a name: the Paleolithic Diet. So what is the substance of the theory? We know some of the foods we didn’t eat, but how can we know what we did eat in the Paleolithic era if we weren’t there? Well, without getting into the arcane world of archaeological anthropology (which really is telling but we don’t have time for that now), we have a much simpler and more powerful method of determining what our bodies have been adapted to consume: if you can eat it raw, then you can eat it. That doesn’t mean that you have to eat food raw, it only means you have to be ABLE to eat it raw. If you have the ability to pick a handful of wheat grass and munch away happily then congratulations, grains are natural to your diet. If that’s you, then I’m certain I’m wasting my time writing this because in all likelihood you’re a multi-stomach possessing cud chewing ruminant and aren’t on the internet.
So what kinds of things can a human eat in their raw state? Contrary to misconception, meat is extremely edible and digestible for humans in the raw state. In fact, our digestive efficiency for meat is similar to a wolf, the absolute poster-animal of carnivory. Nearly all of the potential danger from raw meat comes from industrial contamination, but in nature, meat is the ultimate food source.
Other foods that are on the menu are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries. The list is long, so there is no shortage of flavors and food combinations that can be enjoyed. Paleo isn’t low carb by default, so you don’t need to worry about how much you eat from each category. Some people feel better on a high protein diet high fat diet, and some people feel more energetic when they get more carbs. As long as you’re meeting your nutritional needs and eating natural human foods like fruits and vegetables, carbs are not going to plague you like they do when they come from dense grains and corn syrup. Eat what you want within the parameters of the the diet, and you’ll be on track.

Where Does Dairy Fit into the Picture?

There is some controversy about dairy and how natural it is for human consumption. Technically it’s only been on the menu for adults for as long as we’ve been herding animals (which is certainly longer than we’ve been cultivating grain), but on the other hand it’s been on the menu for babies for as long as we’ve been mammals, so we can’t say it isn’t natural on the whole, only that perhaps it isn’t natural for adult humans. The original versions of the diet were strict about not eating dairy products. This makes especially good sense for most people on Earth, who are lactose intolerant. But a certain percentage of people, especially in northwestern Europe, have a fortuitous genetic mutation that produces lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, into adulthood. The proteins in milk are certainly not foreign to our digestive system, so if you don’t have a problem with lactose, then by all means, eat dairy.

Oh My God, Where am I Going to Get All My Fiber?

As a side note, quite a lot of people I’ve talked to have come to associate whole grains with the magical substance we all refer to as fiber, but one that could also be accurately described as “that indigestible non-food stuff”. It’s not like the wheat grows long strands of cellulose so as to ease the digestion of its consumer. It’s just “stuff” that you can’t digest. If humans were inefficient at digesting animal tissue, meat would serve as source of fiber too. In any case, humans don’t need fiber to be able to take a crap because we have a fully functioning digestive tract and could gloriously and healthfully survive on an 100% carnivorous diet (just like those pesky carnivorous Inuit that have been fucking up vegetarians’ theories for decades). That being said, if you’re still concerned about getting fiber into your diet, don’t be. Pound for pound and calorie for calorie, no fiber source is as rich as the foods that really ARE on the natural menu for humans: fresh fruits and vegetables. Just one large apple has about 100 calories and 5.4 grams of fiber. You would only get about 3 grams of fiber from the same calories worth of whole wheat. And veggies? A hundred calories worth of spinach would yield about 10 grams of fiber! Leave grains behind and fiber is definitely not going to be one of your problems.

The Breakdown

If you’ve made it this far and think this all makes sense, you might want to give it a shot. Even though the tenets of the diet are simple, some people like it REALLY simple, so here is a list of things to eat and things to avoid eating:

Do Eat:

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables/greens. Don’t eat: wheat, corn, rice, potatoes, beans/legumes, peanuts and cashews (these are not nuts, they’re legumes), refined sugars (our bodies are not equipped to handle pure sugar in a refined state, an advent of the Neolithic era along with grains).

One Last Lingering Issue:

It might have occurred to you during the reading of this article that it’s not manly to have a “diet”, that the manly thing to do is to simply eat whatever the fuck you want and give everyone, including me, the finger. Well my answer to that is 1) the term “diet” is not all that good, but it’s entrenched already in the discourse on the subject, so I’m sort of stuck with it…I prefer “nutrition plan”, 2) you could dress up in a skirt and apply lipstick and give me the finger too, and it wouldn’t be manly. And neither is eating a big plate of pasta with a loaf of bread on the side. When I speak of health I don’t mean longevity, I mean vigor, which is the cornerstone of manliness…the Caveman diet will give that to you, but it will also give you the longevity as a bonus.

What is it like for a Doctor to Prescribe a High Fat Diet

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Registered Dietitician's Letter to the ADA

After all this research, I have come to the conclusion that both proponents and adversaries of the lipid hypothesis have blind spots. Proponents have recognized the role oxidized LDL plays in atherogenesis and the role the LDL receptor gene plays in getting cholesterol into the cells, but still insist that we should control cholesterol production to reduce the amount in the blood. They still insist on lowering LDL even though studies show it is not the amount of LDL but the amount of oxidized LDL that is the problem. They insist on a low saturated fat and cholesterol diet even though they admit that diet does not play a role in the lipid hypothesis. Adversaries of the lipid hypothesis insist that cholesterol does not play a role in heart disease, despite evidence that oxidized LDL promotes atherosclerosis.
It appears to me that we may be doing more harm than good in recommending a diet high in vegetable oils and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. After all, we developed heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity while decreasing saturated fat intake and increasing vegetable oil intake. It seems ridiculous to blame a fat that has been around for thousands of years for diseases that have only been around for the past 100 years. Vegetable oils have also only been used in the past 100 years. The currently accepted low-fat, food-guide-pyramid diet may be causing the very disease we are prescribing the diet to prevent. Based on the evidence, I cannot with a clear conscious recommend a diet high in vegetable oils and low in saturated fat. There is just no good science to support that recommendation and a good deal of science that would contradict that recommendation. I believe it is more important to be scientifically correct than politically correct. And politics has played a more significant role than science in our dietary recommendations whether we choose to believe that or not.
Dietitians are promoted as “the nutrition expert.” How can we possibly make that claim if we do not abide by what the science actually says? How can we claim to be science-based when we ignore every piece of science that contradicts the view we want to take? Our view should be based on the actual science, not the politics behind the science. The science that has come out in the last twenty to thirty years clearly contradicts the diet-heart hypothesis and the lipid hypothesis in its present form. So, trying to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is a waste of time because it does nothing to prevent LDL from becoming oxidized and, therefore, is not helpful in preventing atherosclerosis.

Based on all the evidence so far, I believe the following:

  1. There is no scientific support for the diet-heart hypothesis, the belief that saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet cause atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  2. The lipid hypothesis is not true in its present form. It is not the amount of cholesterol in the blood that matters, but the amount of oxidized LDL, so I would support the oxidized lipid hypothesis.
  3. I support diet recommendations that prevent the oxidation of LDL.
    1. Reduction of PUFA intake
    2. Increase in cholesterol and saturated fat intake
    3. Increase in antioxidant intake
  4. I support looking into ways to increase LDL receptor function. A recent study shows that curcurmin may be beneficial here (97) and thyroid hormone and iodine may play a role as well.

Great Steve Cotter Kettlebell Videos