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Thread: Professor of Anthropology, Nathaniel Dominy speaks on diet page

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    Moochy's Avatar
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    Professor of Anthropology, Nathaniel Dominy speaks on diet

    I posted this video a while back but I still think about what he has to say as he represents of group of anthropologists who believe we are evolved to eat more starches than the paleo community believes. He believes starches were the major component of the last 2+ million years of human evolution.This video was shot last year at a presentation by vegan advocate John McDougall. Dominy says we are designed to be starch eaters and supports McDougall's heavy leaning to high carb intake. There has been quite a rift in the paleo/ancesteral health community the last couple of years also. At one end are low carb advocates like Rosedale, Shannahan, Moore etc. The other end of the spectrum advocating more carbs are Kresser, Jaminet ,Guyunet etc. Even Robb Wolf seems to have swung over to eat more carbs if I read him correctly.

    I still follow Mark's routine as it works for me...but I often wonder because even in the meat eating community (little or no grains/legumes) there are so many different opinions.

    Last edited by Moochy; 11-19-2012 at 10:41 PM.
    Primal/Paleo is not for everyone, it's for those who have committed to understand.
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    and yes, calories DO count my little piggies

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    when he said we don't have the adaptations in our teeth to eat meat I shut him off. We didn't need those adaptation since we cooked meat. If we aren't adapted to meat then where does he think we got our B12 from?
    Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott F View Post
    when he said we don't have the adaptations in our teeth to eat meat I shut him off. We didn't need those adaptation since we cooked meat. If we aren't adapted to meat then where does he think we got our B12 from?
    He said meat in diet has been part of homo evolution but I believe he was making the point that starch is the biggest factor. How much meat do you need to consume for adequate B12? I don't know. We cooked meat and starches I believe perhaps for as many as 2 million years. Not saying I agree with him, just saying
    Last edited by Moochy; 11-20-2012 at 12:37 AM.
    Primal/Paleo is not for everyone, it's for those who have committed to understand.
    READ THE BOOK! ...as Robb Wolf says: "Trying to convince people to save their own ass will burn you out."

    Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for -- the pure enjoyment of food. Anthony Bourdain

    and yes, calories DO count my little piggies

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    Bottom line we should be eating food that can be eaten raw or cooked..do what works. Grains cannot be eaten raw.
    Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
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    Don't forget to play!

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    I miss Dr Kurt Harris, a most reasonable man. Wish he had not disappeared.

    I also have come to see most starchy plant organs as perfectly legitimate fuel sources. Low-carb plans have helped people lose fat by reducing food reward from white flour and excess sugar and maybe linoleic acid. This is by accident as it happens that most of the “carbs” in our diet are coming in the form of manufactured and processed items that are simply not real food. Low-carb does not work for most people via effects on blood sugar or insulin “locking away” fat. Insulin is necessary to store fat, but is not the main hormone regulating fat storage. That would be leptin.

    My reading of the anthropology and ethnology literature, as well as my current understanding of biochemistry and metabolism, lead me to see the human metabolism as a multi-fuel stove, equally capable of burning either glucose or fatty acids at the cellular level depending on the organ, the task and the diet, and equally capable of depending on either animal fats or starches from plants as our dietary fuel source, depending on the biome (biological environment) we find ourselves born in or that we migrate to. We are a highly adaptable species. It is not plausible that carbohydrates as a class of macronutrient are toxic.

    Diabetics need to avoid high carbohydrate intake the same way those with gall bladder disease need to avoid fat, but carbohydrates do not cause obesity or diabetes and fat consumption does not cause gall bladder disease (in fact low fat diets may contribute to gallstone formation via stasis). My list of “safe starches” is white potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice and bananas. If more exotic fare like plantains and taro is available to you, that is fine, too. Except for white rice, these are all whole food starch sources with good mineral and micronutrient content that have been eaten in good health for thousands of years in many environments by genetically diverse populations.

    These starchy plant organs or vegetables are like night and day compared to most cereal grains, particularly wheat. One can eat more than half of calories from these safe starches without the risk of disease from phytates and mineral deficiencies one would have from relying on grains.

    White rice is kind of a special case. It lacks the nutrients of root vegetables and starchy fruits like plantain and banana, but is good in reasonable quantities as it is a very benign grain that is easy to digest and gluten-free. I think consumption of quality animal products is the sine qua non of a healthy diet. Once you have that, then eating starchy plants is actually more important than eating colorful leafy greens – the veggies that are high fiber and low starch. Primitive populations practicing horticulture or hunting and gathering do not eat big green salads with lots of variety, but they do eat healthy starchy plant organs with monotony on top of their foraged animal foods.

    I now view eating a very low-carb (VLC) diet for a period of time can be a good fat loss maneuver, acting via the effects of ketosis on appetite suppression. I also like to see people limit themselves to two or three meals a day with absolutely no snacking, and it may give benefits via hormesis for longer periods of fasting (24 hours or more) once in a while. But a long term VLC ketogenic diet is not a good idea. It does not mimic the ancestral diet in general, even if some populations have tolerated it when they had to.

    There is no need for most people to do it to lose fat, as food reward effects are more powerful. I would advocate long term ketosis in those with neurodegenerative brains diseases like Alzheimer dementia and Parkinson disease and a 10-day water fast followed by long term ketogenic diet is worth trying if you have cancer. But I would not recommend VLC ketosis as a long term way of life the way I would not recommend running a half marathon every day, or lifting weights to failure on a daily basis, or taking chemotherapy drugs when you don’t have cancer. Ketosis probably stresses the body and works via hormesis. The clean up and repair response cannot happen if there is no rest from it.

    My arguments are based more on ethnography and anthropology than some of Paul’s theorizing, but I arrive at pretty much the same place that he does. I personally eat around 30% carbohydrate now and have not gained an ounce from when I ate 10-15% (and I have eaten as high as 40% for over a year). If anything I think even wider ranges of carbohydrate intake are healthy. One can probably eat over 50% of calories from starchy plant organs as long as the animal foods you eat are of high quality and micronutrient content.

    Grass-fed ruminants, pastured butter, eggs and wild-caught cold water fish are the kernel of a healthy diet, but the fuel source can be larger than the kernel on a caloric basis if the kernel is high-quality and consistent. Interview
    Primal/Paleo is not for everyone, it's for those who have committed to understand.
    READ THE BOOK! ...as Robb Wolf says: "Trying to convince people to save their own ass will burn you out."

    Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for -- the pure enjoyment of food. Anthony Bourdain

    and yes, calories DO count my little piggies

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    Even Robb Wolf seems to have swung over to eat more carbs if I read him correctly.
    He'd have to with his activity level, wouldn't he?

    He wouldn't have to get them from starchy foods, of course. His own teacher, Prof. Cordain, doesn't like those because of their glycemic index. Cordain, nevertheless, talks of in the region of 22 to 40% of total calorific intake as carbs. a lot of this seems to be coming from fruit.

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    Hi Lewis, yes Wolf said he was bulletproof on low carbs for ten years and then found he needed to add more carbs to his diet...low carb stopped working for him.

    I am not so sure how much I value Cordain. He is a bit too proud of himself and views I think. He finally changed his view on saturated fats a few years ago. Mat Lalonde took Cordain to task when he discovered some of Cordain's research was bogus. Also, this is kinda trivial but Cordain uses a pic of himself from 25 years ago when he publishes and looking to be 20 lbs lighter...kinda vain...and I don't trust vain people. I once heard him comment that he basically started the paleo movement. Wonder what Boyd Eaton thinks about that?
    Last edited by Moochy; 11-20-2012 at 12:46 AM.
    Primal/Paleo is not for everyone, it's for those who have committed to understand.
    READ THE BOOK! ...as Robb Wolf says: "Trying to convince people to save their own ass will burn you out."

    Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for -- the pure enjoyment of food. Anthony Bourdain

    and yes, calories DO count my little piggies

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    I am not so sure how much I value Cordain. He is a bit too proud of himself and views I think.
    He does talk down to the reader in The Paleo Diet. The writing style in that may not be his own, however. There's an annoying verbal tic that appears even in the latest book, though. Anyone who's at a university anywhere he refers to as "my colleague". One tends to get the impression that he wants the reader to know that's he's an academic ... and while the reader may have opinions, he's at an institute of higher education and on the inside and has a bit more. This may, however, be partly defensive. From remarks he's dropped now and then I'd think he's aware of being criticised in print and doesn't like it. I gathered he also thinks most of that criticism is based on his books and not a reading of his academic papers.

    He finally changed his view on saturated fats a few years ago.
    Sure. He says he "follows the research" so that if the research changes he changes. I think there's a link to what you called his pride and I'm inclined to think of as his defensiveness here. I think he's thinking: "I don't just say stuff: I keep up with all the latest research in the sphere of diet and biochemistry." I'm sure he does. I should think he spends a few hours each day doing that and has for many years. I haven't followed the change in his views closely. My impression, right or wrong, is that he moved when the Harvard School of Public Health did. That's the research he's following. Like them, he seems now to be saying that some saturated fatty acids are OK; others are not. And, of course, he did an analysis of hunter-gatherer diets to see how much saturated fat was in them, relying on the Atlas of Ethnography and his own framework for using that data.

    I have this suspicion that when he says he follows the research he's not really aware of something that Gary Taubes -- who also seems to have a interest in, and knowledge of, the philosophy and sociology of science -- is very aware of. That's that communities of scientists are propelled by intellectual fashions just as everyone else is. Kuhn, IIRC, says this is necessarily so, and not a bad thing in itself. It's the normal state of science. However, when it goes too far ...

    It seems relevant to me that while Cordain has moved somewhat on saturated fat, he hasn't moved on salt. How securely is the consensus on that based in fact, though? Not very I've have thought. Predictably, it's again Gary who's shown that:

    http://garytaubes.com/wp-content/upl...ce-of-salt.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    ...and I don't trust vain people.
    Strange how much you seem to like Harris then...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott F View Post
    when he said we don't have the adaptations in our teeth to eat meat I shut him off. We didn't need those adaptation since we cooked meat. If we aren't adapted to meat then where does he think we got our B12 from?
    Yeah, his argument is definitely diminished with this sort of reasoning. Here is an interesting read on all of that Comparative Anatomy Updated. Humans--Omnivores or Vegetarians?

    I'm not actually as concerned with the B12 thing as I am about how far back to you wanna go? I'm actually not all that interested in going back a quarter of a million years to make assertions about what we should eat today. Sure we use to eat primarily plants....why don't you go all the way back to before we were even land animals then? Where does it end?

    To me his discussion on the variance of amylase is the only saving point of the talk. I much prefer looking to the late paleolithic and to HG tribes of the past few hundred years for indications of health. I know its been pointed out that the data Cordain used comes from the Ethnographic Atlas, but here is something from back in the day by Guyenete http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.co...erer-diet.html. So averaging 70% hunted animals leaves you with less than 30% carb load and I find that completely reasonable for following Primal. Heck I don't even agree with or follow much of Guyenete's assertions on food reward, but this was a good post. Just read your caveman doctor link and it seems to mach up pretty well. I much prefer http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/

    In the end high vs low carb depends on the individuals hormonal status/health and their lifestyle. More frequent glycolytic activity (5x/week crossfit) is probably going to do better on the former. For a middle aged guy (me) doing HIT 2x/week with plenty of low and slow....I'm doing quite well on the latter.
    Last edited by Neckhammer; 11-20-2012 at 06:06 PM.

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