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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?

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

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, , , , , , ,

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, , ,