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Thread: Are EFA's really essential? page

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    Are EFA's really essential?

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    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?

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    Fish can't synthesize water. Does that mean they don't need it?


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    Quote 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,...

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    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."

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    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.

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    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 at 07:48 PM.

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    Quote 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.


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    Quote 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
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    @ 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,

    Quote 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.

  10. #10
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    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    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

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