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Are EFA's really essential?

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  • Are EFA's really essential?

    So I've been reading Ray Peat. I know, I know, I lost many of you right there.

    But he raises a convincing argument about how unessential essential fatty acids actually are.
    I'd like to look at it from a paleo perspective on this thread.

    Has evolution failed? If not, how is it that after 10,000,000 years (or so) of human evolution there are essential nutrients, vital for survival and/or reproduction, that the body can't make for itself. Do we just need a 'little more time'?

    Yet, the body is quite capable of synthesizing numerous 'non-essential' nutrients from yet other 'non-essential' nutrients. How did that happen?

    Perhaps, just perhaps, ol' Ray Peat is right: if a nutrient is truly phsiologically 'essential' the body can synthesize it from other 'non-essential' nutrients and if can't synthesize it, it probably isn't essential after all.

    Thoughts?
    (1) I am 100% on-board with the primal exercise blue print. It reduces the problem of exercise down to its simplest form and provides a solution that can be used for a lifetime.

    (2) I'm not on-board with the primal diet blue print. In fact, I'm not on-board with any diet plan but a man can hope to find the right answer before it's too late.

  • #2
    Fish can't synthesize water. Does that mean they don't need it?
    Crohn's, doing SCD

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
      Fish can't synthesize water. Does that mean they don't need it?
      OK, Ok, the hair-splitting begins....

      I think the only definition that we really need to agree on to discuss the straw horse proposal above is:

      nutrient - any substance that can be metabolized by an animal to give energy and build tissue

      (google'able)

      Water does not qualify as a nutrient by this definition, nor would oxygen, CO2,...
      (1) I am 100% on-board with the primal exercise blue print. It reduces the problem of exercise down to its simplest form and provides a solution that can be used for a lifetime.

      (2) I'm not on-board with the primal diet blue print. In fact, I'm not on-board with any diet plan but a man can hope to find the right answer before it's too late.

      Comment


      • #4
        To prime the pump on this (so far) non-discussion, here's a surprisingly concise article from Ray that summarizes his position on the EFA's:

        Membranes, plasma membranes, and surfaces

        While most won't want to take the time to hear 'the other side' of the EFA debate, one good reason to read over it is to see just how much biochemistry has to be considered in a fact based analysis. He dives down all the way to question the possibly flawed assumptions regarding cell membranes and pumps.

        Some examples:
        "Cells can be treated with solvents to remove practically all fats, yet the cells can still show their characteristic membranes: Plasma membrane, mitochondrial membranes, even the myelin figures. The proteins that remain after the extraction of the fats appear to govern the structure of the cell."

        "But sometimes experiments seem to be designed as advertising, rather than science. Recent studies of the effects of fish oils on night vision or development of the retina, for example, seem to forget that fish oil contains vitamin A, and that vitamin A has the effects that are being ascribed to the unsaturated fatty acids."
        (1) I am 100% on-board with the primal exercise blue print. It reduces the problem of exercise down to its simplest form and provides a solution that can be used for a lifetime.

        (2) I'm not on-board with the primal diet blue print. In fact, I'm not on-board with any diet plan but a man can hope to find the right answer before it's too late.

        Comment


        • #5
          i will say that it can help to clear up the definition of "essential" in nutrition. it just means that your body can't make it. we cannot endogenously produce linoleic acid or alpha linolenic acid. how much we need is an entirely different story. you will get small amounts of both on almost any diet - it's nearly impossible to consume no PUFAs.

          Comment


          • #6
            Things that our body can't produce are usually of that sort BECAUSE we have evolved to procure them elsewhere. Vitamin C also comes to mind in this vein....Vitamin D from the sun.....so there is/goes that argument.

            Peat dives into a lot of stuff. Most of it is very old studies and those performed on mice (like 90% of references are over 40 years old!). We are not mice, and anybody can cherrypick to make a good case. Doesn't mean I would dismiss his views only on that, but take into account the EFA content of almost every animal we come across that is edible. Do you think wild animals have been blighted somehow?

            I have no problem with biochemistry IN CONTEXT. Which is to say you can't take what we know and try to hack the human system without taking our traditional growth and evolution into account. We simply don't know enough to work it without that angle.

            What you may be able to take away is that there is no need to go out of your way to get extra O3 from a fish oil as long as you are also avoiding the extra O6 from seed oils and other refined junk. In the end Primal does limit PUFA to an acceptable level. If you are trying to get to near zero PUFA as a body hack....good luck. Its not something that occurs in traditional society or in our evolutionary history .....least far as I know.
            Last edited by Neckhammer; 07-26-2012, 06:48 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PaleoLogicCheck View Post
              OK, Ok, the hair-splitting begins....

              I think the only definition that we really need to agree on to discuss the straw horse proposal above is:

              nutrient - any substance that can be metabolized by an animal to give energy and build tissue

              (google'able)

              Water does not qualify as a nutrient by this definition, nor would oxygen, CO2,...
              How about sodium then?

              "Sodium is a mineral, an essential nutrient. It helps to maintain blood volume, regulate the balance of water in the cells, and keep nerves functioning. The kidneys control sodium balance by increasing or decreasing sodium in the urine"
              Yep, necessary for you to live.

              And any other of a rather large number of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids...
              Vitamin C? You can't synthesize it, but you definitely need it. *See scurvy. Arrrgh Matey!
              Choline? You can't synthesize it... "common signs of choline deficiencies are fatty liver and hemorrhagic kidney necrosis... Choline low diets can also cause infertility, growth impairment, bone abnormalities, and hypertension. Choline deficiency is considered to both initiate and promote cancer activities."
              Thiamine? You can't synthesize it... "Thiamine deficiency commonly presents subacutely and can lead to metabolic coma and death."

              And on and on and on...

              That said... Essential Fatty Acids...
              You are probably getting plenty by eating primal foods.
              If you want more ALA, the "hard" one to get...
              Walnut oil makes a fabulous vinaigrette.
              I actually really like Chia seeds. *shrug*
              Eat some fruit... those kiwi seeds have ALA!
              I also eat purslane (aka that decorative Portulaca plant they sell at the garden center) in my salads, it's a little flowering plant, it's cute, fleshy succulent leaves, tasty too. And has ALA.
              I also grow and eat Shiso (aka Perilla)... I had no idea it was a good source of ALA until today. Awesome.
              This shit is not hard to get at all.
              “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
              ~Friedrich Nietzsche
              And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cori93437 View Post
                ...And any other of a rather large number of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids...
                Vitamin C? You can't synthesize it, but you definitely need it. *See scurvy. Arrrgh Matey!
                Choline? You can't synthesize it... "common signs of choline deficiencies are fatty liver and hemorrhagic kidney necrosis... Choline low diets can also cause infertility, growth impairment, bone abnormalities, and hypertension. Choline deficiency is considered to both initiate and promote cancer activities."
                Thiamine? You can't synthesize it... "Thiamine deficiency commonly presents subacutely and can lead to metabolic coma and death."

                And on and on and on...

                That said... Essential Fatty Acids...
                You are probably getting plenty by eating primal foods.
                If you want more ALA, the "hard" one to get...
                Walnut oil makes a fabulous vinaigrette.
                I actually really like Chia seeds. *shrug*
                Eat some fruit... those kiwi seeds have ALA!

                I also eat purslane (aka that decorative Portulaca plant they sell at the garden center) in my salads, it's a little flowering plant, it's cute, fleshy succulent leaves, tasty too. And has ALA.
                I also grow and eat Shiso (aka Perilla)... I had no idea it was a good source of ALA until today. Awesome.

                This shit is not hard to get at all.
                THANK YOU! i intuitively grok'd that kiwi seeds had ALA in them, years & years ago while I was foraging my way around the Big Island of Hawaii'. Passion fruit seeds & kiwi seeds!

                Purslane & shiso are nice. Korean grocers have big ol shiso leaves in stacks for sale, they are lil powerhouses of nutrition...
                "Science is not belief but the will to find out." ~ Anonymous
                "Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart." ~ Gandhi
                "The flogging will continue until morale improves." ~ Unknown

                Comment


                • #9
                  @ jakey,

                  Yeah, that really is the definition of 'essential'. But then that's one of Ray's points, it's being used to market supplements in a dishonest way. No surprise there.



                  @ neckhammer,

                  Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                  What you may be able to take away is that there is no need to go out of your way to get extra O3 from a fish oil as long as you are also avoiding the extra O6 from seed oils and other refined junk. In the end Primal does limit PUFA to an acceptable level. If you are trying to get to near zero PUFA as a body hack....good luck. Its not something that occurs in traditional society or in our evolutionary history .....least far as I know.
                  ^^100% agree with this^^



                  @ cori93437

                  Good points, but I feel the need for...splitting some hairs. The way I see it there are 2 kinds of biologically 'essential' nutrients: those that can by synthesized and those that can't. But by 'can't' I don't mean 'aren't', I mean not physically possible. Those would include things like sodium, oxygen and water (as suggested by Knifegill). They can't be synthesized because they're elements, or simple combinations of them. The only way elements can be synthesized is through nuclear reactions, which still require yet other elements. So, 'synthesis' generally refers to chemical reactions that transform one type of organic molecule into another in the body.

                  Example: carbohydrates can be converted to fat. Thus, we say the body can 'synthesize' fat (from carbohydrate).

                  But it is interesting that the body can't synthesize Vitamin C (an organic molecule). It can be synthesized by primates and a location in the human genome has been identified where the protein for Vit C synthesis used to exist.

                  So, I ask again, but this time with respect to Vitamin C, did evolution fail us?
                  (1) I am 100% on-board with the primal exercise blue print. It reduces the problem of exercise down to its simplest form and provides a solution that can be used for a lifetime.

                  (2) I'm not on-board with the primal diet blue print. In fact, I'm not on-board with any diet plan but a man can hope to find the right answer before it's too late.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Vitamin C is readily available from plants and animals. There is no need for humans to synthesise it while plants and animals oblige
                    Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

                    Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by peril View Post
                      Vitamin C is readily available from plants and animals. There is no need for humans to synthesise it while plants and animals oblige
                      Same goes fro all the other essential nutrients that we cannot synthesize... including EFAs.

                      If it as a case of evolutionary "fail" we wouldn't be sitting here IMO.
                      “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
                      ~Friedrich Nietzsche
                      And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cori93437 View Post
                        Same goes fro all the other essential nutrients that we cannot synthesize... including EFAs.
                        Not exactly (more hair splitting). Vitamin C is unique in all of the these 'essential' nutrients in that it's now known it once was a nutrient humans could synthesize. Evolution, apparently, dropped it. Hello scurvy. No worries though, you can still have kids. It's just a quality of life issue. Nothing to worry about, move along.

                        Originally posted by cori93437 View Post
                        If it as a case of evolutionary "fail" we wouldn't be sitting here IMO.
                        We're all sitting HERE (@ Marks forum), trying to figure out how to improve our quality of life, which as I just pointed out, isn't of much interest to evolution.
                        (1) I am 100% on-board with the primal exercise blue print. It reduces the problem of exercise down to its simplest form and provides a solution that can be used for a lifetime.

                        (2) I'm not on-board with the primal diet blue print. In fact, I'm not on-board with any diet plan but a man can hope to find the right answer before it's too late.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I wish I had more knowledge to contribute properly but I do find this topic interesting. Personally I like to take supplements becasue even if they are topping up my body only the 10% it may be missing from the foods I am eating then I'd rather be running on 100% of those vitamins/minerals etc than on only 90% (example only).

                          I also wanted to throw out there that I have the understanding that a pregnant woman's body produces vitamin C. Perhaps evolution hasn't completely left us for dead. If our bodies feel they need something our bodies will produce it?

                          Back on the EFA topic, I LOVE them! I have eczema (which I hope going primal will fix) but taking EFA makes a massive difference to my skin.
                          "You can either spend your time & money on being sick, or you can spend your time & money on being healthy"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Relevance?
                            We cannot synthesize a whole boat load of nutrients that are absolutely necessary for our survival and health.
                            We must get them from foods.
                            We cannot change evolution.
                            It is what it is.

                            If we had lost the ability to synthesize a nutrient and we were unable to get that nutrient from foods that would have been an evolutionary fail.
                            The more primally we eat,the more essential nutrients we get from natural sources.
                            The whole thing seems pretty moot.
                            By fail I mean we would not exist, we would be extinct...

                            Thus I disagree with an assessment that the lack of synthesis of any of the necessary nutrients that one can quite easily obtain through a natural diet is an "evolutionary fail" in any way.
                            To assert so is a bit ridiculous IMO.

                            Unless... what? Do you think we should be genetically modified to begin synthesizing these nutrients, C in particular?
                            Ummm... No.

                            Lack of vitamin C synthesis is actually a VERY common primate trait.
                            You've completely missed the boat on that one.
                            And I'm not sure why you've decided to make a special case of it...
                            " Notably, not only all humans, but also gorillas, chimps, orangutans, and some monkeys have this inborn genetic flaw..."
                            As well as some fishes, birds, and other mammals.
                            Vitamin C biosynthesis | Learn Science at Scitable
                            I will concede that Vitamin was once a nutrient that ancient human ancestors could synthesize... homo sapiens as a species has never been capable of synthesizing vitamin C. As a matter of fact the split where our branch developed the 'broken' gene occurred something like 60mil years ago(give or take)... How does that equal "once was a nutrient humans could synthesize"?

                            Also missing the boat... scurvy can be deadly, not just unhealthy and inconvenient... seriously.
                            Where are you getting your info?
                            Last edited by cori93437; 07-26-2012, 11:51 PM.
                            “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
                            ~Friedrich Nietzsche
                            And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Part of our evolution is efficiency. It allows for further development of other things (like a big brain perhaps). We are omnivores and able to "delegate" things we can't make to the plants and animals that we eat. Hey LOOK AT ME! TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN MOM!

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