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  • A Japanese paradox?

    Hello, I'm reading the book (Primal Blueprint) and enjoying it a lot. The "diet" is very doable to me since I am not too fond of bread, pasta, grains, etc. and I love meat and fresh vegetables. The science behind it is indeed very interesting and convincing.

    My only question, though, as someone who studies the eating habits of different cultures, especially those with a record of longevity, is:

    How come the Japanese, which are said to live longer and healthier than everyone else on Earth, can manage it with a diet rich in rice, noodles, and soy derivatives? May it be their genetic predisposition?

    I wonder if a little portion of rice or a slice of bread once in a while will spoil all the good food we put in with the PB. I'm just trying to avoid extremes, but I love the book and ideas anyway.

    W

  • #2
    Read GCBC. Also the debunking of the China Study.
    Because if you didn't know, of that is life made: only of moments; Don't lose the now.
    ~Borges

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    • #3
      A Japanese paradox?

      Thanks say-rahhh, but pardon my ignorance; what is GCBC?
      I heard about the China Study, but I believe the Japanese have different eating habits, depending on the region, of course.

      W

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      • #4
        GCBC = Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes - an in depth (VERY!) look at why carbohydrates, especially grains, are causing metabolic syndrome and other diseases of civilization. Great, but tough, read. If you want GCBC "Lite" read "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. There is a TON of great, interesting and informative stuff written on the subject.

        I don't know about the soy stuff, but rice isn't toxic the way other grains are... but it does cause the dreaded insulin spikes, etc.

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        • #5
          Hi there As far as i understand there are several possible reasons. 1 is that overall they eat lower calories than many other cultures (especially the USA).
          2. White rice is probably the least problematic grain, and it is very possible that Asians have developed a greater tolerance for the minor content of antinutrients specific to rice.
          I think the same question has been asked with regards to china, so a search on the forums may give a more detailed discussion. Mark has also touched on it in a blog post i think.

          Another thing, the traditional Okinawa's had the greatest life expectancy in Japan, and they ate far fewer grains than the general japanese, instead opting for starchy tubers (yam/sweet potato kind of gig which is accepted on a paleo diet)

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          • #6
            Thanks for clarifying lolov! I truly buy the idea of carbs and insulin spikes. I never really liked bread, pasta and other grains, I eat it sometimes due to "social pressure", but will definitely cut as much as possible.

            I'm not in any way trying to start an opposite view here, but still, I don't think we got a clear answer to why the Japanese excel in health and longevity with so much carb in their diet (because that is contrary to the PB premise)? May it be some type of genetic predisposition?

            W

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            • #7
              Good Calories, Bad Calories. I'm reading it now and I just read about Pete Ahrens, a top scientist in lipid metabolism in the 1950s. He believed that carb induced lipemia, or an abnormal milky concentration of fats in the blood, was much more often caused by eating carbohydrates and is rarely caused by eating fats. It is sometimes in people with certain genetic predispositions. But calorie restriction diets were effective in treating it either way. So he surmised that the Asian diets were low in total calories, which protected them from it. Fascinating book.

              Here is the China Study destruction:
              The China Study: Fact or Fallacy? « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet

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              • #8
                "it is very possible that Asians have developed a greater tolerance for the minor content of antinutrients specific to rice"

                Thanks Pandadude! I also lean towards that possibility - which may indicate that our genes (DNA) MAY adapt to some type of foods?

                W

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                • #9
                  That sounds reasonable yes, but tolerating a food doesn't necessarily mean thriving on it. I would also make the argument that humans aren't adapted to eating substantial quantities of grains (white rice being the possible exception to the rule), and even if some mutated person wasn't negatively affected by the antinutrients and phytates, it would at best be an empty source of calories containing very little vitamins, minerals, flavenoids etc.

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                  • #10
                    Also, until recently, they weren't eating as much unfermented soy like tofu and edamame as we think they were. Modern prosperity has allowed those foods to become everyday items and the Japanese are seeing the effects of that in their rising cancer rates.
                    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!

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                    • #11
                      I read somewhere (can't recall the source off the top of my head) that rice allergies are far more prevalent in Japan and China than in the US because they eat so much more of it. The idea was that the more we eat of one thing, the more likely we are over generations to develop more severe intolerance of that substance. I wonder if it's the same with fish, though. Maybe the idea should be "the more we eat of a specific grain, the more likely we will become intolerant of it." Fish allergies don't seem as prevalent in Asia, as far as I know.
                      Type 1 Diabetic. Controlling blood sugar through primal life.

                      2012 Goals:
                      Maintain A1c of 6.0 or lower
                      More dietary fat, less carbs, moderate protein
                      LHT and sprint as per PB fitness
                      Play more!

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                      • #12
                        I never really liked bread, pasta and other grains, I eat it sometimes due to "social pressure", but will definitely cut as much as possible.
                        and I just read about Pete Ahrens, a top scientist in lipid metabolism in the 1950s. He believed that carb induced lipemia, or an abnormal milky concentration of fats in the blood, was much more often caused by eating carbohydrates and is rarely caused by eating fats.
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                        • #13
                          The Japanese use soy more as a condiment than a main protein source traditionally--they don't consume nearly as much as the average tofu-eating North American. Also, have you seen the relative portions of rice that many Asian people eat? My Chinese former stepmother would put a small amount of rice in her bowl, maybe half a cup, and then put her food on top of it and eat that. At the end of the meal, she'd finish up the rice in the bottom of the bowl, which had soaked up the sauces from the other dishes.

                          This was also the norm when I was travelling in Korea. Even the Buddhist monks at the monastery I stayed in did not eat like North American vegetarians--their diet includes very little tofu as compared to the vegetarians I know here. Most Asians don't eat their grains and soy the way we do, even the way those items are served in Asian restaurants in North America.
                          “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                          Owly's Journal

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lolov View Post
                            GCBC = Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes - an in depth (VERY!) look at why carbohydrates, especially grains, are causing metabolic syndrome and other diseases of civilization. Great, but tough, read. If you want GCBC "Lite" read "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. There is a TON of great, interesting and informative stuff written on the subject.

                            I don't know about the soy stuff, but rice isn't toxic the way other grains are... but it does cause the dreaded insulin spikes, etc.
                            I think Taubes also mentioned in his second book, WWFG, that Japanese immigrants to the west get "Western" diseases like type 2 diabetes just like anyone else, which would point away from the genetic explanation.

                            The answer is probably not just one thing. They eat a lot of fish, and possibly less processed food as well, but I wouldn't know for sure.

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                            • #15
                              Compare the standard european descendant to the standard asian descendant. Overall the Asians eat less calories than us, with rare exceptions, (to mind comes the Sumo Fighters, not a way I want to look), and overall the asians have less frame and are smaller than most of us.
                              I have always wonder if that have something to do with the excesive rice intake during generations, affecting the absortions of nutrients and the bone density and making a genes adaptation.
                              Asians use rice like a staple and are smaller. While in most colder european countries fat and meat are staples and they are also taller.

                              Just crazy thoughts and guessing. Wonder if a study could be done before junk food reach all the population on the globe.
                              Just see how chinese people are now facing the same degenerative diseases as us, as they get more income and more access to crap food and fast-food chains.
                              At this pace, globalization of junk food, U.S FDA's (un)nutritional-pyramid and the conventional wisdom will reach soon to all the world.

                              We in this community are often seen like crazies by mainstream, because we don't follow any of that misguiding advice.
                              We are too advanced to this and swimming against the global tide and that is the reason why we are healthier overall.
                              Rephrasing the famous Socrates quote: "All I know is that I know nothing" and about that fact, I am still not so sure.

                              Greetings! from Jorge from Venezuela.

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