Paleo/Primal Diets
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04-08-2011, 11:24 AM
 
Paleo/Primal Diets
I'm just curious about this. It's something that I bought into a while ago, but it sets off too many red flags for me to be sure about it. There are two major claims that go against common sense: that saturated fat/cholesterol are perfectly healthy and don't cause cardiovascular disease and that any sort of grains are unhealthy and responsible for a number of health problems.

This is based on the idea that humans evolved with an omnivorous diet. Most animal fat is saturated fat, and humans would have consumed it regularly when they hunted other animals. If this is true, it seems ridiculous that our bodies would not be well adapted to consuming saturated fat, and that it would cause health problems. This makes sense to me, but it's based on the assumption that humans did consume animals for a big portion of their evolutionary history, long enough that saturated fat would not be harmful to us.

Now, where the red flags start appearing is when they start talking about research. The claim is that there is no link between saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. They do this by claiming that the first research that supposedly discovered this was poorly conducted, and that once the government endorsed it government funding of research created a strong bias. So, in other words, it starts to sound like a bit of a conspiracy once we get into why doctors, the government, etc. all tell us that saturated fat and cholesterol are unhealthy.

I think this webpage sums it up pretty well: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/saturated-fat-healthy/

There's also a popular strength training site that I like, which is where I first heard about this: http://stronglifts.com/cholesterol-satur...ggs-daily/

Now, I don't think this can be written off as a conspiracy theory for several reasons:
-The government is subject to pressure from interest groups, and it's certainly plausible that this has an impact on what nutritional advice they give.
-If a doctor gives a patient advice that doesn't follow the government's stance, they may risk being sued if the patient has any health problems.

But it still reeks of conspiracy logic, and I'm very suspicious of it. I'd really just like to know whether this particular macro-nutrient is incredibly healthy as some claim, or is likely to give me a heart attack once I'm older.

The grains are bad thing is pretty similar. They identify several compounds in grains and explain why they're bad for us, but I don't find this particularly convincing because most foods have chemicals that aren't good for us. That doesn't stop them from being beneficial in limited quantities. The other part seems to be that we've only been consuming grains for around 10,000 years or so, and that this isn't enough time for our bodies to adapt. I have no knowledge on how long it would take a species to adapt to a new type of food, so I can't really say how valid this is. I also don't know if the premise that we haven't been consuming them too long is accurate.

Anyway, I'm just looking for thoughts on this. I can be a bit of a health nut at times, and since I love grains and animal fat, I'd like to be relatively sure I know whether they're any good for me.
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04-08-2011, 12:41 PM (This post was last modified: 04-08-2011 01:42 PM by Observer.)
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
(04-08-2011 11:24 AM)Zach Wrote:  They do this by claiming that the first research that supposedly discovered this was poorly conducted, and that once the government endorsed it government funding of research created a strong bias.
I cant believe that governments (who benefit from taxes on the food industry) would go for only one study.

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Interesting site btw Zach. I'll dig into it.

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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04-08-2011, 12:55 PM
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
Early humans would have eaten very little meat. Ergo we would have consumed low amounts of saturated fat. Our bodies love saturated fat because they do not expect to get them often so they hold on to as much as they can for as long as they can. When we ate animals we ate more than just steak...we would have eaten the liver, eyes and other nutritious organs on top of the fruits and vegetables that would have been the staple of our diets. And most importantly? We lived outside without tv, internet and non-active lifestyles. So there is probably some validity to reproducing our ancestors diets, but that would mean very little meat, cuts of meat you don't want, more fruits and vegetables and more exercise.

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04-08-2011, 05:16 PM
 
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
(04-08-2011 12:41 PM)The_observer Wrote:  
(04-08-2011 11:24 AM)Zach Wrote:  They do this by claiming that the first research that supposedly discovered this was poorly conducted, and that once the government endorsed it government funding of research created a strong bias.
I cant believe that governments (who benefit from taxes on the food industry) would go for only one study.

[Image: pic.php?mode=large&pic_id=2080]

Didn't mean to imply that they were going on one study, and I don't remember all this very well. I think the one they like to harp on is the study that first introduced the "Lipid Hypothesis," as they call it.

(04-08-2011 12:55 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Early humans would have eaten very little meat. Ergo we would have consumed low amounts of saturated fat. Our bodies love saturated fat because they do not expect to get them often so they hold on to as much as they can for as long as they can. When we ate animals we ate more than just steak...we would have eaten the liver, eyes and other nutritious organs on top of the fruits and vegetables that would have been the staple of our diets. And most importantly? We lived outside without tv, internet and non-active lifestyles. So there is probably some validity to reproducing our ancestors diets, but that would mean very little meat, cuts of meat you don't want, more fruits and vegetables and more exercise.

It seems like the most important thing is not eating more than the body needs. I'm inclined to think that grains and saturated fat aren't very harmful if at all to the average person who gets enough exercise and burns all/most of the food they consume.

Are there any free sources for peer reviewed research in this particular field? I'd still like to find out more about this. I've got a few other questions that I'd like to ask, but I'm going to resist the urge to be lazy and look them up myself first before wasting more of your time Tongue
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05-08-2011, 11:11 AM
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
I am very much into fitness and the paleo diet is very popular among body builders. Here are a few comments about it:
- Saturated fat. That it's bad for you has been a mantra repeated for decades, which has led to the low fat and non fat craze. What has this done to Americans? They are now more obese than ever. Then the Atkins diet came along, and everybody expected its followers to drop dead with a massive heart attack in droves. In fact, studies have shown that Atkins dieters were healthy and in fact their LDL cholesterol levels improve with the diet.
- Grains. Sure gluten intolerance seems to be the latest thing to have. And while there are things like essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals, there are no essential carbohydrates. Human beings can survive on a diet completely devoid of carbs and sugars. So while I won't say grains are bad for you, they are superfluous.
- Eating patterns. The cavemen on which the paleo diet is based had very different eating patterns from us. The men would go away for days chasing down some animal, either fasting or foraging while on the go. The women and older people would survive on plant food and maybe whatever small animal they could get hold of. When the men killed the big animal, everybody would gorge on meat. Since they couldn't preserve the meat, they'd try to eat as much of it as possible in as little time as possible. Then they would fast or eat plants until the next hunting expedition. This is very different from our 3 meals a day plus snacks. That's why a growing number of body builders is adding to the paleo diet what is called intermittent fasting.

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06-08-2011, 09:14 AM
 
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
Well, here's the study I was talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Countries_Study

The major criticism of this from the paleo community is that he initially had around 20 countries, but threw out the data from over half of them in order to get a correlation between fat/cholesterol and heart disease. There are also various communities mentioned, often hunter-gatherer tribes, that have diets very high in saturated fat and suffer no heart attacks. I think examples are given in the Mark's Daily Apple article in my first post.

The Atkins diet is an interesting one that I forgot about. I don't know what data there is on that, but I've heard that people were perfectly healthy on it. Without reliable statistics though, that's not very strong evidence. Shouldn't be hard for me to look that up.

Another question would be heart disease throughout the last few centuries, or even before that. Rates of heart attacks and information about typical diets around those times would be useful. Paleo advocates blame the increase in heart disease, diabetes, etc. during the past 50-100 years on several things:
-Abundance of white flour and sugar in food
-Abundance of certain oils and fats, high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids, in processed foods(canola oil, for example). They claim that humans are adapted to a diet where they get equal amounts of both, and that a diet high in omega 6 causes inflammation(which in turn causes damage to blood vessels, and blood clots form from repeated attempts to repair this damage). There's also trans fat.
-Lack of physical activity and increase in available food. We eat too much and don't exercise enough, I think everyone acknowledges this though.

Another claim that I recall hearing (but I really don't know if this is true) is that when we consume our stored body fat, which is mostly saturated fat, it's effectively the same as metabolizing saturated fat that we eat.

They also say that the liver produces large amounts of cholesterol, much more than we would consume in our diets, and that it can adjust its production based on how much cholesterol we eat. So, if this is actually true, dietary cholesterol isn't related to the levels in our blood.

I think most of this information can be verified with some research. It seems pretty clear that the lack of exercise and excessive consumption of food is partially responsible for the health problems in question. But I don't know how significant grains, saturated fat, omega-3 vs omega-6, etc. are when it comes to aforementioned diseases.

-------------------------------------------------------

@TheBeardedDude - Just two questions about your post. Doesn't organ meat contain very high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol compared to muscle tissue? And do you know of good sources for information on early human diets?

@sy2502 - Carbohydrates still perform important functions, just as fat does. I've heard of ketogenic diets, but I would think humans function best when they consume some minimal amount of carbs. Same goes for fat, we need to consume a certain amount. After meeting the minimum that the body needs for specific functions, I would think that the rest is either used as fuel or saved for later as body-fat. You can get energy just as easily from carbohydrates and fat.
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06-08-2011, 02:09 PM
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
An interesting movie to watch that's directly related to this is Fat Head.
Seek it out. Well worth the watch, whether you agree with it or not.

I can be pretty opinionated about this type of topic, and I think I'll stay out of this one for the most part. I will say, however, that those who said early man only ate meat when it was available are correct. You must keep in mind though, that they also ate every single morsel of fat on the carcass. If fact, that was probably the first part to get eaten. Factor that in, and early man probably ate as much or more animal fat than we do, just on a different schedule. (For the record, I weigh 190lbs, am very fit, and eat LOTS of animal fat, cook with lard instead of butter, NEVER touch things like margarine, and avoid most veggie oils. My cholesterol is spot on, and all that jazz. I also excercise LOTS! Without that part, it doesn't matter what your diet is like, you're not going to be healthy.)

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07-08-2011, 02:45 AM
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
I live in a place where people have record lifespans (okinawa) and their diet is mainly seaweed fish and rice, with some fruit and veggies thrown in.

Seriously, this is the average meal for the typical Okinawa

Breakfast- a peice of fruit, maybe some rice or fish
lunch- vinigered rice (sushi rice) fish, some vegtables or salad.
dinner- rice vegatables and either fish or small cuts (very small) of any other meat.

Most dishes here call for seaweed of some sort, along with native veggies like goya. Some of the things I find the most in recipes are goya, ginger, rice, noodles, fish, and various veggies.

Things like steak and Western style dishes are a delicacy.

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07-08-2011, 09:42 AM
 
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
(06-08-2011 02:09 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  An interesting movie to watch that's directly related to this is Fat Head.
Seek it out. Well worth the watch, whether you agree with it or not.

I can be pretty opinionated about this type of topic, and I think I'll stay out of this one for the most part. I will say, however, that those who said early man only ate meat when it was available are correct. You must keep in mind though, that they also ate every single morsel of fat on the carcass. If fact, that was probably the first part to get eaten. Factor that in, and early man probably ate as much or more animal fat than we do, just on a different schedule. (For the record, I weigh 190lbs, am very fit, and eat LOTS of animal fat, cook with lard instead of butter, NEVER touch things like margarine, and avoid most veggie oils. My cholesterol is spot on, and all that jazz. I also excercise LOTS! Without that part, it doesn't matter what your diet is like, you're not going to be healthy.)

I've actually watched it, and found it very convincing when I first saw it. I think it's a fantastic documentary, but there's one thing that bothers me now. Energy consumed vs energy burned should be an accurate way to predict a person's weight increase. I'm pretty sure the problem is that we can't accurately measure our metabolisms and all the factors involved in how much we burn. I don't like how he dismisses that and asserts that it's insulin causing us to store fat that makes people fat. That doesn't stop that energy from being burned instead of remaining on the body. It would make much more sense to conclude that measurements of "calories out" are inaccurate, and that consuming simple carbohydrates tends to make people get hungry again shortly after they finish eating. A meal high in vegetables, fat, and protein will be much more filling.

I'd still love your input, Stark. I've been very opinionated about this for a while, but I want to make sure that I'm actually right. Any facts that you can help establish would be very helpful, and I think it would be useful for anyone else looking into the matter.

I'm ignorant of the various studies that tell us what we know about saturated fat and heart disease. I'd like to figure out where the mainstream opinion is coming from, how well this has been investigated by actual scientists, and how much of the government-endorsed information is coming from political/pseudoscience bullshit versus valid research.

As you said, without exercise you're fucked. It seems like that's by far the biggest factor. People do well on all sorts of diets, as long as they're active and don't eat more than their bodies need.

(07-08-2011 02:45 AM)monkeyshine89 Wrote:  I live in a place where people have record lifespans (okinawa) and their diet is mainly seaweed fish and rice, with some fruit and veggies thrown in.

Seriously, this is the average meal for the typical Okinawa

Breakfast- a peice of fruit, maybe some rice or fish
lunch- vinigered rice (sushi rice) fish, some vegtables or salad.
dinner- rice vegatables and either fish or small cuts (very small) of any other meat.

Most dishes here call for seaweed of some sort, along with native veggies like goya. Some of the things I find the most in recipes are goya, ginger, rice, noodles, fish, and various veggies.

Things like steak and Western style dishes are a delicacy.

How active to people tend to be in Okinawa? And, just out of curiosity, what kind of rice is that?

All the fish in that diet would provide high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. I don't think people who eat like that are at much risk for any kind of heart disease. The diet also sounds very moderate, unlike what someone in the US would consume. It seems like some meals I see in restaurants are enough to feed two or three people.
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07-08-2011, 10:42 AM
RE: Paleo/Primal Diets
They eat short grain steamed or vinigered white rice. Each serving is about a cup of cooked rice, they eat between 2-3 cups of rice a day.

Okinawa is a small island so most people get around by bicycle. Swimming and surfing are very popular here, as well as SCUBA. Sports (like dance or baseball) are usually mandatory for children up to the age of 18. Most adults tend to get around be walking or biking. So I suppose everyone gets moderate exercise and nearly everyone participates in sports.

Though I think a big contributer to the long life span is the worry free lifestyle that comes with the tropics.

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