An Upbuilding Discourse

Icon

Research on Being

Notes on Practicality and Environment

I have, of late, been in a situation that has limited my ability to experiment with my diet but shall soon be able to. Thinking about this again has led me towards a few lines of thought that are relevant to these sorts of endeavors.

1. Needs change with environment and we may need to reduce or increase certain types of pressure in order to allow a more consistent picture of needs to appear. That is to say that when I was exercising regularly I seemed to have a better sense of hunger and thirst and when these things were needed whereas now, when I am living in a sedentary way, I find myself much more confused in these respects. Also, stress is a major modulating factor. I discovered that my white tongue disappeared under low stress environments regardless of my diet.

2. I am also trying to find the most practical and convenient way of putting into practice certain dietary principles. I will be attempting once more a high simple sugar diet but the question of finding and storing ripe fruit is one I do not wish to deal with so instead I will be buying bulk frozen fruit and using that for smoothies in conjunction with orange juice, gelatin, and (perhaps) cream. This will be supplemented by milk, cheese, and ice cream; therapeutic vegetables (namely garlic and carrots); dates; coffee and tea; and other protein sources (salami, meat, seafood) on occasion. Vitamins A, D, and K will be supplemented.

Anecdotally, I have been highly satisfied recently by havarti cheese, salami, kombucha, and fruit smoothies.

Filed under: Frozen

Is Refined Sugar the Next White Rice?

The re-evaluation of sugar in the blogosphere continues as evidenced by the recent post by Stephan. All this is starting to remind me of the de-demonization of carbohydrates, in particular, white rice that occurred not so long ago under the guidance of the PHD. Why was white rice brought back into the sphere of acceptable foods? It was shown to be non-toxic and non-obesegenic as shown by both historical and epidemiological trends as well as an analysis of its chemical make-up. Is the same thing now happening to refined sugar?

What is the popular view of white rice nowadays? That it is more or less a pure carbohydrate that, because it is refined, should not form the basis of a diet due to nutritional lack, however, it is non-toxic and acceptable. White rice, being a polysaccharide will, of course, break down to glucose so the big difference between sucrose and white rice is that white rice breaks down to glucose whereas sugar breaks down to half glucose, half fructose.

There is general consensus as to the possible harm that fructose can inflict, however, it appears to be conditional upon PUFA consumption in my opinion. According to the PHD, the optimal breakdown for glycogen replenishment is  70% glucose, 30% fructose. This would make an all starch diet suboptimal at 100% glucose and a high sugar diet suboptimal at 50/50.

All these issues I think together point to the possibility that a diet with a relatively large amount of refined sugar could be just as healthy as a diet with the same amount of white rice with the possible qualification that because refined sugar is half fructose one would have to take care to limit PUFA as much as possible.

What do you think? Any experience with a very low PUFA, high refined sugar diet? Are there any populations out there who consume a high refined sugar, low PUFA diet or any diet experiments done with this diet composition? Do you think refined sugar is the new white rice?

Filed under: Diet, experiment, Nutrients, Obesity, Peat, rice, sugar, , , , ,

What About the Liver?

I’ve done quite a few dietary experiments, supplemental regimens, and herbal remedies. Some of them have worked somewhat, some have not but overall, I have to say results have generally been mixed. Looking at other people’s experiences can often have the effect of producing wonder at how so many others respond so well while I feel so mixed still. What could be the problem?

Diet is important. Exercise is important. Stress reduction is important. However, I believe perhaps I have forgotten the importance of specific organs in all of this and optimizing their function. In some cases, changing diet, stress, or exercise is how you optimize that organ’s function. With the liver this is not necessarily the case and considering that the liver is the master toxin removal system of the body, it seems that its malfunction could have pretty large ramifications.

Thyroid and Liver

A large component of Peat’s approach has to do with optimizing thyroid function as much as possible via diet and supplement if necessary (usually T3), however, problems with the thyroid may be related to problems with the liver considering that the liver metabolizes many of the thyroid hormones. If someone is doing a pro-thyroid diet and having problems, I hypothesize that the liver may be involved as a secondary factor.

Primary factors that can hurt the liver appear to be iron overload, alcohol, and polyunsaturated fats over and above random toxins like pesticides and industrial chemicals. One component of the Peat protocol which I have neglected has been his recommendation to consume coffee to reduce iron absorption (mostly because I don’t like coffee and it makes me very jittery). However, the more I look into it, the more coffee appears as a liver protective compound. This mechanism may be through the inhibition of iron absorption. If this is the case then the most useful things one can do from a dietary perspective is manage iron intake and reduce PUFAs.

There is also the possibility of a doing a liver cleanse/gallbladder flush. Unfortunately, good data on the efficacy of doing this protocol is lacking though most people who do it (~75%) don’t regret having done so. This is why I am trying this out though not in its most extreme form. I’m implementing the gallbladder flush as described in John Pollard’s The Digestive Awareness Diet which consists of 3 days with 2 qts of apple juice a day (plus your regular diet) and then olive oil/grapefruit mixture on the 3rd night and 2 tablespoons of epsom salts the following day.

To put some of this in context, the white tongue that I have had at least since the GAPS diet has followed me through high starch, and now high simple sugars. Sometimes it retreats and sometimes it doesn’t. Some say that the white tongue is a marker of liver function so I shall put this to the test. Since I’ve started drinking the apple juice though, my tongue has been looking redder. We shall see. My working hypothesis is simply that with impaired liver function, the efficacy of supplements, herbs, and dietary changes will be impaired no matter what they are. Consequently, one must optimize liver function in order for everything else to take hold.

Filed under: Cleanse, Coffee, Health, Iron, Liver, Nutrients, phytic acid

An Evolutionary Hypothesis on Protein

As you may have guessed by now; I have been reassessing some of my ideas in light of the experience of the Peat-a-tarians. I set out my general evolutionary hypothesis for what I believe underlies the possible efficacy of a Ray Peat style diet in this post but I wanted to go into a little more detail in regards to protein.

The fact that gelatin has the most anti-inflammatory amino acid composition of any protein according to Peat implies a few interesting things about what we are best adapted to. The non-gelatin proteins that most closely resemble the amino acid composition of gelatin are (big surprise) the gelatinous seafood proteins, namely the bivalves followed by the cephalopods. Other proteins with a relatively balanced ratio include the rest of the shellfish (mostly anthropods) and, finally, dairy and eggs. If we accept that dairy is useful as a approximation of many conditions of our early diet (high calcium:phosphorus ratio, low iron, anti-inflammatory protein) then I think it becomes clear that humans most likely began to steal eggs and shuck bivalves as their first exposure to animal protein, moving up the chain to creatures harder to capture and eat thus anthropods come next followed by fish and then larger land mammals. This is also consistent with the idea that we evolved in coastal equatorial forests thus being near trees and water meant availability of seafood, eggs, and small mammals in addition to fruit and greens. The only remaining puzzle from this is why iron would be low. Many bivalves are pretty high in iron. The only answers I have come up with is that we just didn’t eat too much animal protein and hence didn’t intake too much iron and that, because of our green consumption, we probably had a whole lot of different phytochemicals in our body inhibiting iron absorption.

Filed under: Diet, Health, Peat, phytic acid, protein

Collard Milk

This is a note to self for a recipe that I want to try out. Basically, eating a high volume of greens is really difficult but that seems to be what’s necessary to get a good calcium: phosphorus ratio without milk so I’ve decided to try out an experimental drink that will approximate 1% milk (based on nutritiondata stats). I’m using collards because they are the highest calcium vegetable but you could use any others as long as you’re getting the right amount of calcium.

For 1/2 gallon:

3.5lbs cooked collard greens

8 tbp maple syrup or 5 tbp and 1 tsp rapadura/sucanat or 8 tbp and 2 tsp molasses or 5 tbp and 2 tsp raw honey [maple syrup or half maple syrup/half molasses is probably best]

5 tbp and 1 tsp gelatin powder

1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Enough water to make a half gallon

Blend all ingredients together and chill. This should have roughly the same macronutrient breakdown as 1% milk with a high calcium:phosphorus ratio and because you added gelatin as the main protein, it should be very anti-inflammatory (however, this may also mean that it will gel). I am thinking molasses would be a good sweetener to use because of its high mineral content and also because the high calcium:phosphorus content of this drink will inhibit absorption of the iron in the molasses. You may also want to add one egg yolk for extra vitamin A and cholesterol.

Filed under: calcium, dairy, Diet, drink, experiment, Peat, , , , , , ,

Dairy Trouble: A Guide

For those of you who are having some trouble with dairy but are unsure as to what may be the cause, here are a few suggestions for ways to pinpoint what’s okay and what isn’t.

Most symptoms are likely to be caused by lactose or casein or both. Casein, however, comes in two forms and so you have to determine whether you react to both or just one of the forms of casein. You may also want to consider the raw versus pasteurized question as some report better tolerance of raw dairy products.

Casein

Casein can be either A1 or A2. It has been argued by some that the A1 casein that makes the bulk of the protein in cow’s milk is more allergenic via a weak bond that allows it to give off casomorphins. In any case, A1 is a new variant and A2 is an older variant that less people are reactive to. Most store bought cow’s milk is going to be A1 dominant, Jersey milk will be about half and half and Guernsey will be mostly A2. Other animals have only A2 protein in their milk (including humans). I suggest that to test casein tolerance you first try goat’s milk cheese which will only have A2 casein. If there is no reaction then move on to cow’s milk cheese to see if you have a reaction to A1 casein.

Lactose

Lactose is the milk sugar that many have difficulty digesting due to a lack of the lactase enzyme. Some allege that raw milk is more digestible since it contains more enzymes. I suggest that once you have dealt with the casein issue that you move on to trying raw goat or cow milk (depending on the results of your casein challenges) to see if you react to lactose.

Raw versus Pasteurized

With dairy products there may be a benefit of consuming raw over pasteurized in the sense that the nutrition will have undergone less denaturing and removal of probiotic bacteria and enzymes. In dairy challenges, I thus recommend trying the raw variant before the pasteurized variant.

High fat dairy (ghee, butter, cream, sour cream, cream cheese) will, in general, have very low levels of both casein and lactose so you may be able to use these without trouble, depending upon how sensitive you are, even if you fail the casein and lactose challenges. According to nutrition data these are the following percentages:

Butter: 1% protein

Heavy Whipping Cream: 3% protein, 3% carbohydrate

Sour cream: 5% protein, 5% carbohydrate

Cream cheese: 7% protein, 5% carbohydrate

As for yogurt, because it has been cultured it may digest more easily than other foods you are reactive to. You’ll just have to test it separately and find out. There are some yogurts and kefirs out there that have no lactose or extremely low lactose so you may seek those out if that is your problem. The average given by nutrition data for macronutrient breakdown is 29% carbohydrates and 24% protein so keep that in mind for more common yogurt products.

Sample Introduction Schedule:

Raw goat cheese

Pasteurized goat cheese

Raw cow cheese

Pasteurized cow cheese

Raw milk

Pasteurized milk

Yogurt

Filed under: casein, cheese, dairy, goat milk, guide, lactose, ,

Doing Ray Peat without Dairy: Some Suggestions

When I first started reading Ray Peat, I was somewhat incredulous at his recommendation to consume so much milk and cheese as well as at his belief that lactose intolerance problems are the result of various hormonal problems as opposed to simply the fact that most people in the world do not have genes for lactase persistence. In any case, even if Ray Peat is correct on all accounts, consuming high amounts of dairy on a healing program when you know it gives you issues sounds like a world of pain. I’ve come up with a few suggestions for those who still want to try Ray Peat’s dairy suggestions without actually consuming dairy.

Why Does Peat Recommend Dairy?

There appear to be three main reasons: dairy has an anti-inflammatory amino acid profile, dairy has pro-thyroid minerals, dairy has a high calcium/phosphorus ratio.

The Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio

There are lots of foods with a high calcium/phosphorus ratio but most of these are vegetables meaning that you’ll have to consume a relatively high volume of them in order to get enough (for 1g of calcium you need about 2-3lbs of collard greens or 19 oranges). You can also get a boost from molasses which has a great ratio and is high in many other minerals including magnesium (look for one low in iron).

Best: Dark leafy greens (especially collard greens, kale), molasses, oranges

Anti-Inflammatory Proteins

I did a look on nutrition data in order to figure out how proteins compared to gelatin in terms of being high in proline, glycine, and alanine as well as which were low in methionine, cystine, and tryptophan. Here is some of what I found:

Low tryptophan: Milk, yogurt, oysters, clams, scallops, cuttlefish, squid

Low cysteine: Milk, yogurt, clams, oysters, snow crabs, cuttlefish

Low methionine: Milk, yogurt, clams, oysters, scallops

High glycine: Pork skin, pork ears, pastrami, crab, cuttlefish, lobster, veal liver, crawfish, scallop

High proline: Laver (seaweed), egg white, casein, beef spleen, tuna, pike, cod, haddock, whitefish, pastrami

High alanine: Ham, beef lungs, shrimp, beef round

Among these proteins, we have a few that are also high in cysteine, tryptophan, or methionine such as egg white (methionine, tryptophan, cystine), tuna (methionine, tryptophan), crustaceans (tryptophan), and dairy (cystine).

Being Pro-Thyroid

There are many pro-thyroid vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, selenium, zinc, copper, and iodine. Many of these are in dairy but they are also abundant in mollusks, crustaceans, liver, egg yolks, and seaweed.

What we can conclude from this is that, as a general rule, mollusks and crustaceans are your best source of protein in terms of amino acid profile and mineral content.

Best: Gelatin, oysters, clams, scallops, squid, octopus, crustaceans, liver, egg yolks, seaweed

To summarize, to get the right calcium/phophorus ratio you should consume dark leafy greens in high volume, oranges, and molasses. To get the right amino acid profile, vitamins, and minerals you should consume gelatin, mollusks, egg yolks, liver, crustaceans, and seaweed.

Update:

I forgot to mention the fact that Peat also likes dairy because of the fact that it inhibits iron absorption by its high calcium content. I would suggest that you eat your calcium rich foods together with your proteins for best results (and also with coffee, tea, or cocoa if you like as these also inhibit iron absorption). Egg whites are an interesting case in that they contain phosvitin which helps inhibit iron. It is also interesting to take note of the fact that many of the calcium rich greens (collards, spinach, chard, kale) contain oxalic acid which also inhibits iron absorption. You may also make a homemade calcium supplement by saving the eggshells from hard boiled eggs and grinding them into a fine powder; this powder will be calcium carbonate.

Filed under: calcium, dairy, Diet, Health, Peat, protein, Vitamin A

Ray Peat, Paleo, and 80-10-10: A Synthesis

Lately, things have been clicking like crazy. All the confusion and contradictory information from Ray Peat, Paleo, and 80-10-10 is finally congealing into a framework that I think makes a lot of sense and which resolves itself into a diet which is essentially the reverse Perfect Health Diet by which I mean that fat and carbohydrate ratios are reversed and the preferred carbohydrate source is fruit/simple sugars. Let me explain further.

 

Ray Peat

The main tenets of what I have read in relation to Ray Peat seem to resolve into reducing absolute PUFA levels as much as possible, maintaining a high calcium/phosphorus ratio, preference of sugar to starch as a fuel source, the importance of salt, and balancing your amino acids by limiting more common (and more inflammatory) amino acids such as tryptophan and preferring less common (anti-inflammatory) amino acids such as gelatin. These lead to several base recommendations of his such as high dairy consumption (especially milk), avoiding muscle meats, and eating a lot of fruit. I believe these explain a lot of the successes and difficulties of those following an 80-10-10 protocol as well as some of the problems of a Paleo diet as usually done.

 

Paleo

As you already no doubt know, Paleo is about getting rid of beans and grains and eating meat, vegetables, and fruit. The first iteration of Paleo was low carb while the second iteration was at least moderate carb. In both cases, the preferred fuel source has been saturated fat and the preferred carbohydrate source has been starch. Sugar has always been demonized within Paleo even in fruit which has generally led to very low sugar consumption among this demographic. I would like to suggest that the most common Paleo diet is really the diet that humans adapted to once we began moving to more northern climates and that this switch over was relatively easy due to the metabolic flexibility most humans have. However, I would also like to suggest that perhaps lingering issues on a Paleo diet are due to the fact that your main fuel sources (saturated fat and starch) are later adaptations that are more difficult for you to process due to metabolic damage sustained through multiple generations. I will get into this more in a second but first.

 

80-10-10

So how does Ray Peat explain the success and failure of 80-10-10? The extremely low fat levels in 80-10-10 will produce extremely low levels of absolute PUFA in the diet, the high consumption of greens mandated by the diet (half by volume) will produce a very good calcium/phosphorus ratio, and the very low protein consumption coupled by the lack of animal protein means pro-inflammatory proteins are basically eliminated. The dental problems (and probably also the skin problems) encountered on 80-10-10 are due to a lack of fat soluble vitamins and could be solved by adding eggs, butter, and liver to the diet. Low body temperature can be explained by the fact that the thyroid is likely being suppressed by any raw cruciferous vegetables being consumed and the fact that low protein (as Matt Stone has pointed out) depresses thyroid. Simply by eating more protein and not being vegan, this diet becomes a lot better and I think may potentially represent a truer picture of the Paleo diet.

 

A Hypothesis on the Evolution of the Human Diet

If we look at bonobos then we see that before our evolution into humans, we were likely frugivores with a small consumption of meat and vegetables. Higher consumption of meat is likely what forced our digestive tracts to change (shrink the colon, increase the size of the large intestine, etc) and with this came the capability of relying on more calorie dense foods. If we consider cooking to be an adaptation that comes some amount of time after eating meat then we see that humans likely ate very little starch until the advent of cooking at which point the caloric density of root vegetables became available. I am thus proposing that there is a hierarchy of foods we are best adapted to and that this hierarchy is as follows: fruit, meat, greens, starch. Considering that humans evolved in equatorial Africa, it makes perfect sense that the diet would be as such since there would be no need to suddenly stop eating fruit in a place where fruit is abundant year-round. I believe the move to starch as a main energy substrate for diet is likely the result of the fact that roots grow and store well in northern climates thus making them suitable for humans there and the fact that because roots are so much more calorie dense, they may be seen as a more efficient energy source than fruit. This is why I think most modern foragers rely on starch or fat for bulk calories rather than fruit. The first authentically human diet appears from this to be either high sugar with some meat and greens or high fat with some fruit and greens. However, seeing as we began as frugivores, there is no reason why we would suddenly switch to eating so much meat.

Because humans are built to be flexible and adaptive, the northern diet should present no challenges to the normal human and, indeed, this is why you see such a huge variance in diets among human cultures. You see the Inuit, the Masai, the Kitavans, and so on. Each group eats highly different ratios of food yet all are lean and healthy on their traditional diet.

 

Matt Stone has also pointed out that people coming from traditional cultures can often withstand much more stress than your average person including the stress of subpar and denatured foods while those from the industrial cultures suffer allergies and bad digestion rampantly. If we can suppose that most people in the industrial nations suffer many of their ills as a result of reduced ability to withstand stress from the buildup of multi-generational malnutrition and lifestyle then perhaps the metabolic flexibility that allowed humans to moved from a high sugar, meat, and greens diet to a high fat, starch, meat, and greens diet has been impaired also. These people, in particular, I believe may benefit from the tropical (or southern) paleo diet which may be viewed as a more relaxed, omnivorous 80-10-10 or a sugar fueled reverse Perfect Health Diet.

This is what I shall be experimenting with in the next few months to see how it all bears out. Has anyone eaten like this (besides Minger and Roddy)? What is your experience?

Filed under: 80-10-10, Diet, Health, Paleo, Peat, PUFA, TPD, Veganism, , ,

Coming Full Circle (recap of 2011)

This year has been an ever changing erratic mix of dietary experiments in food essentialism but I have learned a few things and, after everything, have come more or less full circle back to a sort of a Paleo diet but a very different sort which will be my first experiment for 2012.

The year started out with me continuing on my Paleo diet heavily influenced at that time by Mark Sisson and Melissa McEwen with the goals of helping to improve my digestion. The tweaks I did to the diet towards this end had to be abandoned around April when I realized I was developing a cavity at which point I implemented the tooth remineralization protocol based on Ramiel Nagel’s book. This diet worked in reversing my tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums and also improved my digestion somewhat as far as I could tell but not entirely. This led me to try a zero carb Paleo diet with some raw animal products (liver, heart, eggs) with limited results. I started feeling worse and eventually introduced carbs again as it became clearer and clearer that they served an important purpose. At this point, I became more or less an adherent of the Perfect Health Diet for a while. A course of antibiotics shocked me back into digestive anxiety which led me to do zero carb again for a little while followed by a fruit and sugar free GAPS diet. After a few months on the GAPS diet and with some reading from Matt Stone I felt confident enough to reintroduce starch into my diet and heavily. The consumption of lentils when I was on the GAPS diet first began to corrupt my sense of their evilness and once I fully embraced starch I decided to allow a limited amount of legumes, grains, and pseudo-grains again. My diet basically became WAPF style. On the GAPS diet, however, I had noticed a coated white tongue indicative of candida. This has still not gone away entirely which leads me to my latest experiment based on Ray Peat, Danny Roddy, and Denise Minger and which, I realize now, is basically fully or nearly fully compliant with SCD, GAPS, PHD, and Paleo while at the same time being radically altered in ratios. This is what I like to call the “Tropical Paleo Diet” which is essentially the 80-10-10 diet plus seafood, red meat, eggs, and dairy (if well tolerated) which I will explain in more detail later.

Filed under: 80-10-10, Diet, Digestion, Health, Paleo, TPD, ,

The Diet Dilemma: Context, Time, and Mind

Recently, I’ve experienced a sort of shift in my perspective in relation to diet related to the method of approaching the dietary problem itself. This shift is really an expression of a greater problem that I feel I have become aware of in terms of the neurotic desire for control and subjugation of a heterogeneous reality into well organized abstract concepts.

Anyway, diet can be conceived of abstractly but when we do so it can only be conceived of in relation to an abstract person. This is why a perfect diet is never a perfect diet because even if it is perfect, it’s perfect in relation to a dietary actor whose state of being is assumed as being a certain way at all times. If we assume that many people who go on diets are unhealthy in heterogeneous ways, it seems problematic to suggest one diet as being the solution. We do not begin in the same place because of our past history (and also because of genetics) and this context must be understood.

The mind-body feedback mechanism is often overlooked or undermined in favor of the idea that everything can be understood and controlled on a separate material register. However, because the mind is the body and influences the body, the mind will always also be necessary as part of any health program as it is part of a complex feedback system that affects all bodily systems and produces new states of being.

As other bloggers have pointed out, many diets function because they provide a sort of sudden state change to the body and this sudden state change induces positive benefits which may last for up to several years, nevertheless, the positives of the state change are often short lived. The idea that a diet that works now will always work perfectly, especially if its mechanism of working is based on severe restriction of macronutrients, is faulty at best considering how things change through time. There must be a consideration of duration and change.

Once we understand context, time, and the mind then it becomes clear that one must first determine what state one is currently in before one may determine where one is to go and how one is to get there. The popular focus on losing weight and having chiseled bodies, however, leads people towards a hall of mirrors where health is undermined in favor of an aesthetic. Treating health symptomatically is never likely to produce lasting results and so it must be understood that aesthetics must be forgotten in favor of a more holistic view of health.

In summary, it is necessary to break down the ideal of a perfect diet and realize that the diet you need is contingent upon the state you find yourself in, you must first situate your being before you may change it and reconstruct it. Secondly, we must focus on the holistic interior as that which must be dealt with instead of attempting to find short-term band-aids to produce the bodily aesthetics we want, plans that are almost universally doomed to fail by their one-sided focus and we must be open to change and revision in our ideas as our responses and needs may change over time as the body goes through different state changes and remember that there is no dietary program that is not articulated within a comprehensive lifestyle and that the “perfect diet” in the context of an upset and anxiety prone lifestyle is not likely to succeed simply by virtue of its conceptual purity.

Filed under: Diet, Heavy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.