Art de Vany’s New Book and Video

Art de Vany’s long-awaited book, The New Evolution Diet, has finally been released.

For those who don’t know him, Art is an economist, former professional (minor league) baseball player, and early adopter of low-carb Paleo dieting, which he used to help address the diabetes of his first wife and son. He is also a fitness guru, and had one of the first popular Paleo sites. Now 73, he looks fantastic.

I discovered Art in 2005, thanks to a link from Newmark’s Door. At the time I had a chronic illness that had progressed steadily for 13 years and was becoming disabling. I had experimented that year with Chinese herbal medicines and found some dramatic effects, good and bad. This experience had persuaded me that what I ingested could have big effects on my health. I began to try to optimize my diet, and Art persuaded me to give low-carb Paleo a try.

Like the Chinese medicine, Art’s diet (or my implementation of it) had big effects, both good and bad. Our experience with it set my wife and I off on a search for the perfect diet for human health, and resulted 5 years later in our own book.

In the end, my health was repaired, but effecting a cure required significant refinements to the Cordain – de Vany style Paleo diet.  

I owe Art a great debt: without his work I would never have recovered my health. I’m pleased, therefore, to be able to link to his new book, which I intend to read soon. On his web site and DVD, Art has always had many excellent and interesting things to say, especially about fitness and lifestyle. I’ve implemented his “hierarchical sets” method of training in my own exercise routines; and he was the one who got me started on intermittent fasting. His idea that intermittency and variability are needed for optimal health is a seminal contribution which could prove important.

Melissa McEwen has a review with some quotes. Unfortunately, it seems that all of the major weaknesses of the diet which caused trouble for me 5 years ago are still present. Art advises, in my view, insufficient intake of two of the principal calorie sources of actual Paleolithic diets:

  • Safe starches. Starches have been a leading calorie source in the ancestral human diet for two million years; Richard Wrangham credits them with making us human. Yet Art restricts plant foods to vegetables and fruit – as if our ancestors were forest dwellers, like mountain gorillas and chimps, instead of the open woodland and shoreland dwellers they were.
  • Fat, especially saturated and monounsaturated animal fats. Cracked bones and skulls at Paleolithic sites testify to the hunger of our ancestors for marrow and brain. Yet Art advises eating lean muscle tissue.

Perhaps influenced by the lipid hypothesis, Art seems as positive toward industrial canola oil as toward animal fats and egg yolks.

Regarding the diet, I share Melissa’s feelings. It is a good, but flawed, diet. Our book is a much better source of diet advice. Yet I’m sure there will be much that can be learned from Art’s book.

I will always be grateful to Art for introducing me to Paleo eating. I encourage everyone to view Art’s promotional video; it’s a very impressive introduction to a remarkable man.

Leave a comment ?

26 Comments.

  1. I have read Art’s book and I subscribe to his web site.

    I follow Art’s fitness program and I am now in the best shape of my life even though I was a long distance runner for over 30 years. By following Art’s program, I have regained many hours a week I used to spend exercising plus I am so much stronger.

    Art does not come across as being low fat on his blog. Although he does think eggs were a seasonal food. I wonder if his publisher made him put low fat in to more mainstream the book.

    However, I think that Art hits the right note concerning carbs especially as most Americans over 50 have a damaged metabolic system from years of eating according to the disastrous government food pyramid. I know that if I go over 100 grams of carbs a day, I run into health problems. That may change in the future but it is my reality today.

    Plus I see that there are 8000 studies in pub med linking blood glucose with cancer. Then there is Cynthia Kenyon’s ground breaking research linking shortened lifespan with high insulin levels. Since I am 68, I am following Art’s lead concerning carbs.

    But all things considered, I still like your book the best.

  2. Hi Jake,

    I’ve always enjoyed Art’s writing, even when I disagree with some aspects.

    Re carbs, my view is that it’s excess glucose that is the problem. But once you get below 600 calories / 30% carbs, glucose isn’t really elevated. People with the lowest HbA1c levels tend to eat this much carbs. So very low carb actually increases average glucose levels.

    Similarly I don’t think average insulin levels are affected much by carbs in the 10% – 30% range. Higher carb consumption leads to greater insulin sensitivity which makes insulin levels remain low.

    So the observations about dangers of excess glucose and insulin are important, and we make them in our book, but it’s a leap to go from there to eliminating starches. Toxic foods like grains and malnutrition seem to be the big life shorteners.

    Best, Paul

  3. Paul I haven’t read Art’s book yet, but I agree with you. My experience has come from taking a slightly different route to other people. My nutrition epiphany started with the zone diet (for which I am very grateful). I started with the strict 30:40:30 PCF,1000cals day got too hungry and found it too restrictive for real life. However it introduced me to moderate carbs and eating protein with my meals to control blood sugar and insulin. Also getting omega 6:3 ratio right. I lost about 10 lbs, lots of health, especially blood sugar improvements. So then I ate zone ad libitum (if there is any such thing!) and found I evolved to 20:25:55 (approx)1400cals day (1’m about 110lbs) So pretty close to what you found works. I wasn’t hungry, maintained my weight fairly well, but my health niggles came and went, like PMS, joint inflammation and menstrual pain. I read Cordains work about 18 months ago and cut the grains, legumes and dairy. I pretty much kept eating exactly the same ratios but found the food quality, and removing these toxic foods, especially for me gluten grains, was the missing link. My niggles went away and stayed away. I will always be grateful too for Cordains work that introduced me to the idea that grains and legumes are toxic.
    I’ve tried cutting carbs lower (no starch), but I never feel as good as I do with a bit of starch at meals. And I just can’t bring myself to limit sat fat – I just don’t see enough evidence of it’s badness.

    I know one anecdote does not make this the best way to eat, but I’ve had enough guinea pig clients try it out to leave me convinced (at least 30).

  4. “set my wife and I off”

    Please refer to this New Yorker cartoon

    (Submitted with the hope than HTML links can be put into comments…)

  5. @Steve,

    Great cartoon, thanks for sharing! Gotta send this one to my brother, the retired English teacher.

  6. thanks for this post. not knowing much about art except for the “he’s the grandfather of paleo”, i was indeed wondering what might be have changed or be different compared to “today’s” paleo.

    btw, may i ask what your opinion is about the requirements of vitamin A as retinol? are you more on the masterjohn side which is “carotenes alone can not guarantee vitamin A sufficiency and one needs about 10-20kIU retinol to be sure. also, retinol works synergistically with D, as long as D is not deficient.”, or more on the cannell (vitamindcouncil) side, which basically is like “your body makes as much retinol from carotene as needed. too much dietary retinol counteracts the benefits of vitamin D, period.”? thanks!

  7. Hi qualia,

    I’m inbetween Dr. Cannell and Chris.

    With our diet there’s a lot of vitamin A from food, so the big concern is limiting A from supplements, so I generally oppose cod liver oil with A, or multivitamins with a lot of A (either pre-formed or beta carotene, both are bad).

    I agree with Chris that A and D are synergistic, I don’t think of A as an “antagonist” to D like Cannell writes, but I think the two need to be in a proper ratio which is less than 3 IU A to 1 IU D. I think the ideal intake is something like 10,000 IU A/day and 4,000 IU D/day, with most of the A from mixed (food) carotenoids. Eggs, liver, colorful plants are good sources.

    I think some A can come from retinol, but it shouldn’t be the majority.

    Best, Paul

  8. Hi Steve,

    Thanks, I’ve never been corrected so pleasantly!

    Best, Paul

  9. @paul great, thanks for your input 🙂 btw, had to stop the iodine protocol a few month ago completely. the skin simply couldn’t handle it at any dose anymore. the “skin numbness” that i mentioned seems to have been caused by a low grad inflammation of the skin, which was actually visible after examining it closer. if i take just one drop of iosol or even a kelp tablet the inflammation returns. the only “positive” result i got from this experiment was that the iodine seems to have “uncovered” the actual chronic infection, which seems to be in my throat. i now constantly have “activated” lymph glans below the jaw bone and a rough, slightly inflamed throat. nothing seems to be able to kill it, although echinacea can slightly suppress it for a few days, then it comes back. that’s why i’m now experimenting with some A from fish liver. i’m currently douing a short loading phase, then lowering it to 10k:10k (A:D), and at the same time megadosing C, and then see what happens. fun stuff 🙂

  10. Hi qualia,

    Odd! Now that you have new information have you been to a doctor to see if you can get a diagnosis?

  11. not yet, but that would certainly make sense. probably one of the usual suspects for chronic infections. i’m gonna tinker around for a few more months, and if it stays, i go and see a doc. luckily, it doesn’t bother me too much for now. thanks again for your feedback.

  12. qualia,

    Are you sure that isn’t a goitor or your thyroid becoming inflammed?

  13. This whole journey started for me with that same link on Newmark’s door in 2005.

  14. Hi Tony –

    I think Craig reads this blog, I hope he knows he’s influential!

    Best, Paul

  15. Qualia: one drop Iosol has less than 2 mg of iodine, a dose I wouldn’t expect to cause problems. Could it be that you are very toxic in bromine and the iodine is causing a detox reaction? Skin problems are apparently a common bromine toxic reaction. Did you do the entire iodine protocol as recommended by Drs. Abraham, Brownstein, and Flechas, including the measures to combat bromine toxicity, such as salt loading? You could consider doing a 24 hour iodine loading test with bromine (e.g., from Hakala Labs) if you suspected this. Dr. Brownstein has written that a true allergy to iodine is extremely uncommon, but he has seen it, and a very small number of people do not seem to be able to tolerate iodine until that allergy is overcome. But bromine toxicity reactions are a far more common reason for reactions to iodine supplementation. Just a thought, since I’ve come to believe (partly from experience) in the great benefits of iodine supplementation for most people.

    If you’re interested, here’s one source of info:

    http://www.breastcancerchoices.org/bromidedetoxsymptomsandstrategies.html

    They mention that zinc can address skin symptoms from bromine toxicity.

  16. Qualia,

    Is that a direct quote from me? If so, could you please direct me to where you found it?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  17. By the way, Qualia and Paul, I’m quite happy to see that Dr. Cannell seems to have abandoned calling A and D antagonists and now calls them cofactors or similar terminology. I noticed this on his web site some time in the last year, and in his most recent audio interview with Mercola (just released) he says that because they work together, you can’t get too much of one or the other or you’ll induce a relative deficiency, and that is why we cannot use cod liver oil.

    While this leads to absolutely no change in his dietary recommendations whatsoever, I think this represents a very important close in a philosophical gap between us, and I think this indicates that as more evidence comes in, Dr. Cannell and I will eventually come to an agreement on the proper amount and ratio.

    Chris

  18. Perfect Health Diet » Two Art de Vany-Related Ideas - pingback on December 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm
  19. @chris no, this was not a direct quote, but rather what i remembered from reading one of your posts a few weeks ago. sorry if i misquoted you – but it did the job for asking the question i guess.. 😉

    @Bill nope, my thyroid is completely normal (also no elevated antibodies), except for a slightly elevated TSH of 2.5 – didn’t check if the iodine helped with the TSH yet, but will do so next time i test.
    and yes, i also got the typical bromide acne on higher iodine doses (say, above 6mg/day). in fact, i still have a tiny rash on my forehead even moths after stopping the protocol. almost looks like i’m still “soaked” with iodine, and therefore also the sensitivity that still persists. good thing it didn’t seriously damage anything i guess..

  20. My mom and I have been on your diet for a couple of months now and just 2 weeks ago my mom was told she had a fatty liver and needed to reduce her fat intake. Would she still be able to follow your diet with this condition? What are some options?

  21. Hi Judith,

    I would expect our diet to cure fatty liver.

    In addition to our “recommended supplements,” there are a few nutrients I would focus on. One key to fatty liver is getting enough choline to allow the fat to be exported. Your mom should try to eat 3 egg yolks a day and 1/4 lb liver per week; if not then she should supplement choline 500 mg/day. (She can do both too, there’s no danger in too much choline.) Also, vitamin B6 and B12, and sufficient protein, will help.

    Please let me know how things go. I would adjust the nutrition aspects and then get re-tested in a month or two. Do you know what the diagnosis was based on?

    Best, Paul

  22. I already posted on the high iodine topic.
    I also have the ‘activated’ lymph gland from iodine. (I suspect that iodine gave me a tinnitus that I’ve had ever since.)
    A throbbing around the jaw and a strange felling in the neck. When I took a very high dosage (50mg and higher) you could even see the throbbing in the mirror.
    My sister had chronic tonsillitis and they were taken out a couple of years ago. When she tried iodine, she had it, too. But no tinnitus/bad skin
    When I stopped the iodine for half a year everything just got even worse, so I started again with one drop of Lugol’s per day.
    It’s interesting that others seem to have the same symptom. (when you talk about ‘activation’, I assume it’s also a throbbing)

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