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Research on Being

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.

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

Another Dietary Synthesis

This is just a note of a quick mash up of a few diets for different therapeutic purposes and some common themes I’ve been seeing among them.

First, I would like to say that the reason for this is that basically I find myself wanting to do several therapeutic things at once. For one, I want to improve my digestion and towards this end have looked at the SCD and the GAPS diet. Recently I’ve been diagnosed with a cavity so I am adhering to a tooth remineralization protocol in order to arrest the decay. Both these diets are relatively similar but seem to bias meat, dairy, and fermented vegetables the most thus placing them in the realm of VLC diets if you’re not careful but considering that the digestion protocols require severe restriction of starches, it seems somewhat problematic to get the carbohydrate values up to 20% of calories or so which would be optimal to prevent the problems of zero carb diets.

Here are a few summaries:

The tooth remineralization protocol that is based on Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel consists of organ meats especially liver, mollusks, fish/beef broth, raw dairy, and fermented cod liver oil/butter oil as the necessary therapeutic dietary elements. Nuts, grains, seeds are basically out and fruit and honey are limited. Other vegetables are allowed.

The SCD/GAPS diet basically restrict starches severely to predominantly monosaccharides. This means that all fibrous vegetables, some other vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, meat, and certain types of dairy are allowed. Because of the possibility of problems between lactose and casein, dairy is introduced slowly over time and fluid milk is never allowed. At best, you can consume ghee, butter, cream, sour cream, kefir, yogurt, clabber, and cheese but no fluid milk. The GAPS diet further emphasizes broths, a probiotic supplement, betaine hcl, and fermented cod liver oil.

The PHD diet attempts to reduce the complications of zero carb diets such as kidney stones and scurvy by ensuring that carbohydrate intake is 20% of calories mostly coming from safe starches like white rice and starchy tubers.

A few problems present themselves in that the remineralization protocol restricts the honey and fruit that the SCD/GAPS allow while the SCD/GAPS restrict many of the starches the PHD and remineralization protocol allow as well as the dairy component. I am attempting to come up with a reasonable synthesis and it seems that it would be the common elements between the SCD/GAPS and the remineralization protocol plus the restriction of fruit and honey and the restriction of fluid milk which is to be compensated by increased consumption of yogurt, kefir, or cheese and a mandatory consumption of squash, radish, rutabaga, celeriac, and (maybe) turnips. Between the allowed tubers and the dairy, I would hope the carbohydrate requirements could be met and between the lactose restriction, the digestion needs can be met while not shirking the needs of the teeth.

So here is my new dietary synthesis:

Protein and fat should come from seafood and red meat especially organ meats and mollusks. Mollusks and liver should be consumed every week as should fish and bone broths.

Carbohydrate should come from fibrous vegetables, fermented vegetables, dairy, and especially squash, radish, rutabagas, celeriac, and turnips.

Fruit should be restricted except for fatty fruit (olive, coconut, avocado)

Dairy should be restricted to raw fermented dairy such as raw yogurt, kefir, or cheese. Cream may also work since it is mostly fat but avoid fluid milk.

Take fermented cod liver oil/butter oil, a probiotic, and betaine hcl if necessary daily. You may also want to take some of the PHD recommendations especially selenium.

This is the next dietary iteration that I will attempt to implement. By the way, this is not meant as an ideal diet but a relatively safe and clean diet that may be helpful therapeutically. If you have none of these issues then you can probably go ahead with any tuber you like, white rice, some beans, pseudo-grains, fruit, honey, nuts, and raw fluid milk.

Filed under: Diet, Digestion, Fermentation, Hcl, Macronutrients, Nutrients, Raw milk, Supplements, Teeth, VLC

Some Notes on Food Preservation

This is just sort of a note to myself about what elements are necessary in order to preserve foodstuffs. From my explorations of fermentation and other processes, a few common points seem to crop up about how to decrease the likelihood of any pathogens forming. In any case, one never knows when a situation might arise in which refrigeration becomes impossible. It is prudent to at least be aware of certain different ways to preserve foods without it.

There are a few elements then that can be used in some combination in order to produce an environment that inhibits the growth of pathogens which are the following:

-High acidity

-Salt

-Sugar

-Dryness

-Coolness

-Nitrates/nitrites

-Aerobic exposure (in most cases, preservation will be occurring under anaerobic conditions for either the sake of preserving sterility or because the bacteria that is being encouraged, as in the case of lacto-fermentation, are anaerobic, however, in some cases aerobic decomposition may be beneficial or necessary. If one is to ferment meat without the benefit of any of the other preservation techniques than aerobic exposure will be necessary in order so that pathogens do not grow. Aerobic decomposition in and of itself does not appear to pose much of a health risk in my opinion since the most virulent pathogens are anaerobic. The bad facultative anaerobic (which are able to grow in aerobic environments) bacteria will likely just give you some food poisoning but will not likely be life-threatening unless you are immune compromised or have digestive problems. In any case, they are unlikely to get a foothold on a food’s surface unless it has been previously sterilized or comes from an unsanitary environment. Also, take note of the fact that putrefaction technically only refers to the anaerobic decomposition of something)

If we consider a few of the methods used for food preservation we will see that these elements are found in them. For instance, in lacto-fermentation, the environment is salted initially and quickly becomes highly acidic. Furthermore, considering that vegetables are often the ones being fermented in this way, endogenous nitrates/nitrites may be present. In the case of sausage making you have all the ingredients for the development of pathogens since the environment is moist and anaerobic. To hedge against this, salt and nitrate/nitrites are used in order to stop the growth of pathogens. Jerky is traditionally salted and then dried thus also being exposed to air. The preservation of foods in vinegar obviously works through the highly acidic environment. The preparation of high meat chiefly functions through aerobic exposure and (often) cool conditions and refrigeration functions by cooling the environment. Also, salt and sugar can be seen as being analogous to drying as what occurs by adding them is the drawing out of fluid from whatever it is you wish to preserve.

This still leaves, however, the preservation of foods via oil of which I am less certain of as to how it works. The canning process functions by sterilizing everything and then sealing it so that nothing grows thus providing a golden opportunity for obligate anaerobes if anything is done incorrectly in the process. It would seem that oils like olive oil have some antimicrobial properties so that anything you put in them are to be preserved due to the antimicrobial properties of the oil coupled with the anaerobic environment produced by this submersion in fluid. It thus functions through sterility.

We can outline some of the general preservation strategies taken as so:

-Slow down enzymatic and bacterial activity (freezing, drying)

-Destroy bacterial activity and place in a sterile environment (canning, vinegar, oil)

-Allow bacterial activity to flourish under controlled conditions (fermentation)

It would seem to me that taking such guidelines into consideration, one should be able to experiment in many different ways to preserve food besides just the most obvious or common ones.

References:

http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-salt-and-sugar-preserve-food.htm

Filed under: Bacteria, Canning, Fermentation, Fermented meat, Food preservation, High meat

Fermented Meat?

I cannot help but be drawn to the idea of high or fermented meat. The anecdotal accounts of its benefits can be quite hard to believe and I cannot help but be curious. Obviously, there is a lot of anxiety about this from cultural conditioning even from those within the raw paleo community itself and a lack of knowledge about how this process works.

When people talk about vegetable fermentation and the fermentation of meats in the form of bacon, pepperoni, and sausage they are usually referring to an anaerobic process using lactobacillus. This culture must dominate and overtake the environment in order to make it so that pathogenic anaerobic bacteria are not able to establish themselves. This is why in the production of bacon and other cured meats, nitrates/nitrites are used (or celery juice which has nitrates/nitrites). These cured meats are being fermented in an anerobic environment where botulinum can thrive and it has been shown that nitrates/nitrites can inhibit the spread of such pathogenic bacteria.

When people discuss high meat, however, they are usually referring to meat that has gone through a process of aerobic decomposition. This is why in every recipe I have seen it is necessary to air out the meat frequently so that the air is exchanged and the environment is not allowed to become anaerobic. This exposure to oxygen will make it so that botulinum, among other things, cannot gain a foothold on the surface since most pathogenic bacteria are obligate or facultative anaerobes. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find much information on what bacteria in particular are decomposing the meat in the process of producing high meat and what role, if any, facultative anaerobes have in this process.

In any case, this produces an interesting paradigm shift in the way I look at meat and its relation to bacterial pathogens. It seems that, besides buying meat from a clean source, it is important to ensure that the meat is kept in an environment that inhibits the growth of anaerobic bacteria and if this is done then, assuming your digestive health is in order, you should be able to consume raw or high meat. Whether your digestive health is in order is the big question that seems to crop up over and over again. On the raw paleo forums you often hear people suggest to others that they should not eat fermented meat to help with digestion (some suggest the opposite) and that they should not eat it if they have not been doing a raw paleo diet for anywhere from a few months to a year. The idea is that if your digestion or immune system is compromised then you are more likely to get food poisoning from high meat that might not otherwise have given someone food poisoning. This leads me to wonder whether it would be wise for someone to eat high meat who is not on a raw paleo diet but it seems that this is somewhat inconsistent and is like telling someone not to eat sauerkraut unless they’ve been eating raw cabbage for a while. Right now I am not sure how to take such warnings. However, the link with digestive health makes sense considering that a lot of pathogenic bacteria we ingest on a daily basis is destroyed by our digestive juices. If you have bad digestion and eat a fermented meat product with bacteria you’ve never encountered before and your stomach acid is low then there lies the possibility for food poisoning. At the same time, however, eating fermented foods is supposed to help with digestion by acting as a probiotic agent. Right now I cannot tell whether it would have a net positive or negative effect on someone who is not in the self selected group of raw paleo forum commenters; someone like me who is more interested in a mixed raw and cooked paleo diet who still has some digestive annoyances.

 

Filed under: Bacteria, Diet, Digestion, Fermentation, Fermented meat, High meat