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Research on Being

Towards a Hierarchy of Pseudo-Grains and Pulses

This is something that I’ve been wondering about ever since I decided that pulses and pseudo-grains should come back into my life. When it comes to plant foods there is always a balance that must be made between toxins and the value of the food. In the end, a lot of this nutrition stuff is about finding the highest value, lowest toxin food. Animal foods are virtually all value and no toxin since they have no need of producing endogenous chemicals to discourage consumption of their flesh, however, when it comes to plants we have to consider toxicity as this is how plants protect themselves. There is the issue of phytic acid, saponins, PUFAs, and so on which must be taken into account in addition to how much enzyme activity is available to break down these toxins and if the value of the food is high enough to negate whatever toxicity remains. This need for high value, low toxin plant foods is what has lead me towards the reintroduction of pseudo-grains and pulses as these are some of the highest value plant foods you can get with toxicity levels that are low or average, however, among them there are ones that are better and ones that are worse and that is what I shall now discuss.

Pulses

Among pulses, we have the common bean which is split into many varieties. All members of the common bean, however, contain the phytohaemagluttinin lectin but with varying degrees. White kidney beans (Cannellini) and red kidney beans contain the highest amount of this lectin. In fact, there is so much that you can get food poisoning from eating a few raw beans and there have been cases of this happening for people after having consumed improperly prepared kidney beans. It is for these reasons that I recommend avoiding red and white kidney beans, however, all other members of the common bean should be fine if properly soaked before cooking (black beans, navy beans, haricot beans, pinto beans, anasazi beans to name a few). Soy is well known for its high toxicity and consequently should ideally be eliminated from the diet except in fermented form (miso, tempeh, natto, soy sauce). Fava beans also have some toxins that you may or may not be reactive to and peanuts are widely contaminated with aflatoxin. Many pulses fare much better than these as far as toxicity goes and these are the ones I recommend you make the bulk of your pulse consumption from. These pulses are lentils, adzuki beans, mung beans, black eyed peas (cowpeas), split peas, lima beans, chickpeas, and urad.

To summarize:

Avoid: Red kidney beans, white kidney beans (cannellini), fava beans, soybeans (except when fermented), peanuts

Prefer (from least to most PUFAs): Black eyed peas (cowpeas), adzuki beans, lima beans, mung beans, lentils, split peas, chickpeas (garbanzo)

Pseudo-Grains

Pseudo-grains are one of the few plant foods with a full amino acid complement making them very valuable. These foods have varying levels of toxicity, enzyme activity, and PUFA content. Unfortunately, there is also a lot less information on pseudo-grains than other foods so I could only come up with a ranking in terms of PUFA content. As far as toxicity is concerned, I know that millet is relatively low in phytic acid (but also in phytase) and that buckwheat is high in phytase. This makes buckwheat the best overall pseudo-grain due to high phytase content, high nutritional value, and low PUFA content.

From lowest to highest PUFA content:

Buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa

There are also some less common gluten free grains which may be viable as well.

From lowest to highest PUFA content these are:

Teff, sorghum, millet

Rice and Corn

Rice can also be eaten. If you want to eat brown rice, ensure that you soak it with something rich in phytase which means water from a buckwheat soak or ground buckwheat. White rice, though somewhat refined, is very low in toxicity thus making it allowable on the toxicity versus value spectrum. In general, white rice is preferred. Corn may be okay occasionally as long as it is properly prepared, however, much of the corn supply is also contaminated with aflatoxins and mycotoxins not to mention being of GM origin so corn is still best avoided.

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Filed under: Diet, phytic acid, pseudo-grains, PUFA, pulses

New Directions in Nutrition

It it high time for an update around here. I had been hesitant for a while mostly due to the fact that what I’ve been reading about recently (sexuality) does not seem to fit in thematically with this blog. However, I have recently also changed some of my views on optimal nutrition and am finally implementing some of these changes. Most of my changes in thinking come from my experience with the GAPS diet, the Perfect Health Diet, the Danny Roddy Blog, and 180 Degree Health.

On the Question of Gut Dysbiosis

“Gut dysbiosis” has become a sort of trendy phrase these days and I do not doubt that it is a widespread problem in our society from the lack of fermented foods, overuse of antibiotics, pollution, chemical adulteration of food, and so on and so forth. How is one to deal with it? There are a lot of ideas about this. I basically bought wholesale into the idea that starch is impossible to digest and that simple sugars feed pathogens. This led me to do the GAPS diet which is pretty low in carbohydrate as a therapeutic diet for a while. The problem is that I had already been pretty low carb for a while at that point as my reaction to subjective feelings of gut dysbiosis has always been to go ZC or VLC as a way to starve the bad guys. I realize now that this path was mistaken since probiotics will not grow well without prebiotics and this was shown time and time again by constipation and reduced stool volume. At the time, I also didn’t realize that a VLC diet increases susceptibility to fungal infection in addition to the other problems postulated by the PHD. It is now my conviction that to treat gut dysbiosis it is important to eat a lot of prebiotics and probiotics along with gut healing foods and a low toxin load. This means foods that contain resistant starch or inulin as these seem to be the least problematic sorts of prebiotics and ones that are preferred by good bacteria. Reducing sugars is still important but going low carb can backfire by increasing susceptibility to fungi and also impairing immune function while not providing enough feedstock for probiotic colonies to flourish and do their work. For healing gut dysbiosis, I have thus changed my mind from the GAPS diet to instead a GAPS-style diet plus foods high in resistant starch and inulin including pseudo-grains, white rice, pulses, and starchy tubers. I would also eliminate nuts, seeds, and fruit. Each person will need to test these foods to see if they have reactivity to any of them and eliminate those that produce reactions. In general, however, I have changed the way in which I believe these sorts of problems need to be conceptualized. Instead of starving out the pathogen while also starving yourself of important foods, it’s better to eat enough of every major macro- and micro-nutrient category while simultaneously adding immune system and detoxification support otherwise you risk weakening yourself as you weaken your pathogen which may have more tricks up its sleeve to feed off of you. This does not mean your diet can be a free for all but you must not be totally carbophobic and take the food lists provided by the diet to be gospel. For instance, on the GAPS diet why are lentils and white beans okay but not adzuki beans or mung beans which are both supposed to be very low in toxins and easily digestible.

On Hypothyroidism

It has come to my attention by way of Matt Stone that it seems that part of the efficacy of low carbing is the fact that it pumps up your adrenals for a while and makes you hypothyroid. In the short term, this works out great but it backfires when one does this relentlessly. Low carbing would thus be most effective when combined with carb refeeds every so often to allow the adrenals to rest. Many low carbers have experienced a certain pattern of symptoms that comes after being low carb for a while, this includes oral thrush, dandruff, intolerance to cold, low body temperature, reduced libido, the return of some fat, and so on. I have experienced many of these at this point especially since returning to the GAPS diet for a few weeks thus providing another reason to increase my carbohydrate intake.

On Protein Consumption

By way of Danny Roddy I have become acquainted more and more with the detrimental effects of high tryptophan consumption on the body. These negative effects are largely the result of the increased circulating serotonin that eating a lot of tryptophan can produce. The tryptophan amino acid is, of course, especially rich in muscle meats. In addition, eating too much protein does not seem to be all that beneficial unless you are attempting to build muscle mass. High protein consumption is associated with hypothyroidism, decreased testosterone production, and a shorter lifespan. In addition, restricting protein can produce beneficial results from the autophagy that may be induced. All these considerations make me feel that protein can be anywhere from 5-15% of a diet and should come mainly from variety meats, seafood, gelatin, pulses, and pseudo-grains.

Other Stuff

A few other things to consider are that fructose and alcohol both appear to be treated similarly in the body and thus produce similar effects when consumed in excess (such as a fatty liver). A few studies, however, appear to show that many of these ill effects of overconsumption can be significantly reduced or eliminated when the consumption is done in the absence of polyunsaturated fats. It thus seems to me that in the hierarchy of evil things that supposedly destroy health, fructose and alcohol may, in fact, both be conditional toxins whose toxic dose depends on PUFA consumption. Reduction of PUFA to minimum levels (while also balancing n-3/n-6 ratio) appears to be the chief thing to do with reduction of fructose and alcohol being secondary. Another interesting thought is about stress. It seems that people who’ve grown on very nutritious foods in a traditional manner can tolerate way more dietary stress without having as many food allergies or problems. I am thus starting to wonder how much optimal adrenal and thyroid function have to do with susceptibility to food intolerances. Recently, I have either become lactose intolerant or only just realized that I am more lactose intolerant than I initially thought. After I finish this phase of carb refeeding, however, I plan to test dairy again to see if my tolerance has improved with improved thyroid and adrenal function but we shall see.

Summary

To summarize some of the conceptual changes:

-I believe a healthy gut depends on prebiotics as much as probitics especially resistant starch and inulin. Low carb programs for treating the gut can impair immunity (especially to fungi) while slowing down growth of probiotic colonies.

-I believe reducing protein (especially tryptophan-rich protein) can be beneficial which means that the optimal protein sources become seafood, variety meats, gelatin, pseudo-grains, and pulses and the optimal protein amount becomes 5-15% of calories.

-I believe a minimum level of carbohydrate must be maintained in all cases. For this minimum I’ll defer to the PHD who puts it at about 20% of calories, however, more may be beneficial depending on your circumstance. I no longer believe fat is a preferred fuel source. Either carbohydrate or fat can be good as long as a few guidelines are observed. Carbohydrate sources are low in toxins, fructose, and insoluble fiber. Fat sources are low in PUFAs. You have an open window of 85%-95% Fat/Carb calories though you will generally do best if you prefer one source and moderate the other one.

-Polyunsaturated fats are the master toxin that can activate fructose or alcohol to produce physiological problems in the body. As such, make sure to balance and minimize PUFAs. I’ll defer to Stephan for this and say that PUFAs should comprise no more than 4% of calories.

Filed under: Bacteria, Diet, Digestion, Fermentation, Health, Macronutrients, Nutrients, VLC