An Upbuilding Discourse

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Research on Being

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