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Surprising Undercurrent at AHS

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  • Surprising Undercurrent at AHS

    I've been watching a fair number of the videos posted on vimeo and I noticed a somewhat surprising trend in thinking from the MD/PhD crowd. Ok, I should probably clarify, by surprising trend I mean two people mentioned something about it.

    Plants are toxic. In particular, secondary plant chemicals aka phytochemicals are toxic. Even the ones labeled as health promoting are actually toxic to the body. Translation vegetables are toxic.

    This concept is mentioned in Christ Masterjohns presentation, linked here

    Skip to the 33:40 time mark for the relevant bit.

    And again in Staffan Lindeberg's talk, linked here

    Skip to the 6:00 mark for the relevant bit.

    Though Staffan's idea was centered around the defensive phytochemicals in soy, I believe he intended it as a commentary on the defensive mechanisms of all plants.

    Masterjohn makes the point that plant foods are, or at least appear to be, beneficial because they stimulate the bodies production of its own anti-oxidants to defend against the plant chemicals. However he does clarify, the human body did evolve to handle some of these toxins effectively. I'd love to see the all these flashy new anti-oxidant products on the market, and the ANDI scores you see at Whole Foods with an * and a tiny footnote "by the way, this stuff is toxic."

    This actually rings true with a lot of my academic work in the past. I wrote a paper regarding the latest research on phytochemicals while taking my biology classes. During that research, I found an article by Marion Nestle(unfortunately I don't have a link) in which she stated there was no scientific backing for increasing the amount of anti-oxidants in the diet and in fact too much may be harmful.

    And most of the studies and research I cited presumed phytochemicals were healthy if they stimulated the immune system. In most of their conclusions, it was assumed that the phytochemicals enhanced immune functioning, usually by some unknown mechanism, because pathogenic infections were usually hampered by the bolstered immune response. But could it be that these chemicals aren't enhancing immune function, just inciting a defensive response from the body, with viral and bacterial infections merely being caught in the crossfire?

    So the idea that we can use plant anti-oxidants for our own purposes is bunk. Watch out, your favorite veggies may be trying to kill you...or at least cause mild discomfort

    I think the question is now, at what point do toxic phytochemicals overwhelm the bodies natural response? Can you eat too much of your favorite veggies? Should we apply the anti-nutrient processing used on grains to all plants? This will certainly make the fermentation crowd happy.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Red Wire; 08-16-2011, 08:40 PM.
    "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

  • #2
    It might not be relevant, but I can't handle tomato unless it's cooked!

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    • #3
      vegetables suck!

      on a serious note, i always hear people mention how modern fruits are way different then what would have been around in groks time, however i never see any mention of how vegetables would have been different as well.
      Primal Chaos
      37yo 6'5"
      6-19-2011 393lbs 60" waist
      current 338lbs 49" waist
      goal 240lbs 35" waist

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      • #4
        Mmmmm...kimchi.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Mike Gager View Post
          vegetables suck!

          on a serious note, i always hear people mention how modern fruits are way different then what would have been around in groks time, however i never see any mention of how vegetables would have been different as well.
          True, domestication has selected for more favorable plant traits. But that doesn't mean there aren't toxins present. And the organic movement is pretty big on bringing back "hardier" strains of vegetables to reduce pesticide use. Hardier meaning less things want to eat them, which we might assume means more defensive phytochemicals.
          "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

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          • #6
            Where's Tarlach when you need him?
            Lifting Journal

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            • #7
              Oh great. Can't eat veggies because they're out to get me unless they're fermented. Can't eat them fermented because then there's excess histamines. Who's going to supply me with a 24/7 supply of steak???
              Newcomers: If you haven't read the book, at least read this thread ... and all the links!
              http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread17722.html

              F/49/5'4"
              Jan. 1, 2011: 186.6 lbs PBSW Mar. 1, 2011: 175.8 lbs
              CW: 146.8 lbs
              GW 140 lbs
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              • #8
                Originally posted by belinda View Post
                Oh great. Can't eat veggies because they're out to get me unless they're fermented. Can't eat them fermented because then there's excess histamines. Who's going to supply me with a 24/7 supply of steak???
                haha, don't forget, masterjohn made the point that you evolved to handle a moderate toxic load. My point was not that you shouldn't eat veggies, but could you eat too much of a good thing i.e. eat enough for the toxins to stop being beneficial and start being...toxic?
                "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Red Wire View Post
                  Masterjohn makes the point that plant foods are, or at least appear to be, beneficial because they stimulate the bodies production of its own anti-oxidants to defend against the plant chemicals. However he does clarify, the human body did evolve to handle some of these toxins effectively. I'd love to see the all these flashy new anti-oxidant products on the market, and the ANDI scores you see at Whole Foods with an * and a tiny footnote "by the way, this stuff is toxic."

                  This actually rings true with a lot of my academic work in the past. I wrote a paper regarding the latest research on phytochemicals while taking my biology classes. During that research, I found an article by Marion Nestle(unfortunately I don't have a link) in which she stated there was no scientific backing for increasing the amount of anti-oxidants in the diet and in fact too much may be harmful.

                  And most of the studies and research I cited presumed phytochemicals were healthy if they stimulated the immune system. In most of their conclusions, it was assumed that the phytochemicals enhanced immune functioning, usually by some unknown mechanism, because pathogenic infections were usually hampered by the bolstered immune response. But could it be that these chemicals aren't enhancing immune function, just inciting a defensive response from the body, with viral and bacterial infections merely being caught in the crossfire?

                  So the idea that we can use plant anti-oxidants for our own purposes is bunk. Watch out, your favorite veggies may be trying to kill you...or at least cause mild discomfort

                  I think the question is now, at what point do toxic phytochemicals overwhelm the bodies natural response? Can you eat too much of your favorite veggies? Should we apply the anti-nutrient processing used on grains to all plants? This will certainly make the fermentation crowd happy.

                  Any thoughts?
                  I think there's an important point in recognizing the stimulus response of the body to these defensive mechanisms. If the reason eating plants helps us stay healthy is that they create this reaction in the body, that does not change the underlying reality that plants are helpful foods. However, this may support the evidence that there's an ideal amount of plant material in the diet, beyond which we no longer see the benefits. Like many things in the human diet, deficiency might be problematic but an overload might also be toxic (much like the need for some PUFAs for specific functions contrasted with the detrimental inflammatory effects of too much).

                  I think we tend to simplify foods into BAD! and GOOD! far too readily. Some of them are actively harmful and should be avoided, but other things are needed in moderate quantities.
                  “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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                  • #11
                    While many have mentioned chemicals in food, they have also mentioned at times (not sure if in all the -casts here) that whole foods are not chemicals. Many believe that the foods eaten all together as foods are different them individual chemicals tested in a lab. Lustig is one for example, like fructose in fruit isn't the devil because it is with the whole fruit, including the fiber. (Many people disagree with him on the fiber issue.) I know for me, that I can't eat too much meat without my veggies, so bring on the poisons!!!

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                    • #12
                      I'm not sure how logical this argument is.

                      If naturally occurring plants were toxic, hunter gatherers had more than enough time to either adapt or learn to avoid them.

                      Besides, coffee comes from a plant, and we all know we can't live without coffee!

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                      • #13
                        I have noticed that since cutting back on vegetables (I used to eat about 12 "servings" per day now about 3) I feel a lot better. Of course, I make that up with more meat.
                        People too weak to follow their own dreams will always try to discourage others.

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                        • #14
                          There are vegetables, particularly leafy greens, that make me sick every time I eat them. Also, lots of vegetables make me sick when I eat them raw but eating them cooked is no problem.

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                          • #15
                            Originally posted by DFH View Post
                            I'm not sure how logical this argument is.

                            If naturally occurring plants were toxic, hunter gatherers had more than enough time to either adapt or learn to avoid them.

                            Besides, coffee comes from a plant, and we all know we can't live without coffee!
                            Masterjohn covered the adaptation part of your point, we can handle moderate loads of these toxins. As far as avoiding them, I'd agree the hunter gatherers probably knew which plants to stay the hell away from. But how much of that knowledge has survived? Maybe ancient hunter gatherers hated brussel sprouts or broccoli or asparagus! In any case, its an argument I wish I'd had when I was younger and stubbornly refusing my plate of bitter veggies.

                            "One can only be a perfect physician for oneself alone. " ~ Luigi Cornaro

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