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Research on Being

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.

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

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