Old Diets, New Knowledge: For Auld Lang Syne

As I said yesterday, Chris Masterjohn’s review has inspired me to wrap up the year with a look at the big picture. What is the current state of dietary knowledge, and where is it heading? What can we, the blog community, do to help people become healthier?

The State of Dietary Science

For decades it seems the dominant paradigm shaping official dietary recommendations has been the lipid hypothesis, which engendered hostility to dietary fat. But not all fats: in short term animal studies polyunsaturated fats sometimes lowered blood lipids. As a result, industrial seed oils, which are PUFA rich, were encouraged and natural animal and dairy fats, which are rich in saturated fats, were discouraged.

But evidence has piled up that low-carb Paleo diets high in animal foods are beneficial, and that the lipid hypothesis was mistaken about the dietary causes of bad blood lipids. It looks like the old paradigm is finally dying a well-deserved death.

But what would science be without a scapegoat, a witch for burning? Modern science needs villains, and if fat no longer serves another macronutrient will have to fill in. Many in the low-carb Paleo blogosphere took note of this comment by Dr. Walter Willett in the Dec. 20 Los Angeles Times story “A Reversal on Carbs”:

“Fat is not the problem,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

Of course this comment lumps safe starches like potatoes and rice with toxic carb sources like sugar and wheat. The scientists continue to overlook the overwhelming important issue of food toxins, and focus on the minor issue of macronutrient toxicity.

I was not quite sure how significant this story was until I remembered that the reason Chris Voigt started his all-potato diet was to protest the US government’s move to ban potatoes from school lunches and the WIC welfare program:

[T]he Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, recommended that the U.S. Department of Agriculture stop participants of the federal Women, Infants and Children program, known as WIC, from buying potatoes with federal dollars. The institute also called for the USDA-backed school lunch program to limit use of potatoes.

Under an interim rule, the USDA agreed to bar WIC participants from buying potatoes with their federal dollars. Potatoes are the only vegetable not allowed. Next year, the agency will roll out a final rule …

From a scientific perspective it’s puzzling that potatoes, one of the healthiest starch sources, would be singled out. I think this is yet more evidence that IoM and USDA dietary guidelines serve political rather than health goals, and that the strongest lobbying come from within the government itself. Potatoes are an important US crop, but they do not receive government subsidies. The major subsidized crops, wheat, corn, and soybeans, always seem to be the most highly recommended foods in IoM and USDA analyses. News reports suggest that a reason for the potato ban is the desire to get kids eating more whole grains.

Many Paleo bloggers took the new criticism of carbs as a positive sign. I’m not so sure it represents progress.

Prediction for 2011: Politics, not science, will continue to determine official dietary guidelines.

Popular Paleo Diet Books

If Dr. Willett is serious about eliminating starches and sugars, then his recommended diet will presumably look like the Cordain – Eades – Sisson – Wolf – de Vany low-carb Paleo diet: the recommended plant foods must be fruits and vegetables.

I think this illustrates the power that popular diet books have over scientists and doctors. Paleo diet books have been out for over 10 years now, and millions of people have experienced improved health on these diets. Powerful scientists are starting to surrender to this evidence. Peer review cliques can restrain the progress of science, but not so thoroughly that scientists trail more than a decade behind the general public!

This year saw Robb Wolf and Art de Vany come out with their Paleo books. I collected some diet books for Christmas, and have been perusing them. I am afraid I don’t see much progress from the books of Cordain and Eades a decade ago.

Robb Wolf’s book devotes 32 pages to a “Thirty-Day Meal Plan.” There isn’t a safe starch in the whole month!

I have a few objections:

These Diets Aren’t Paleo Diets: They are really hybrid diets pairing the animal foods of a savannah hunter with the plant foods of chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. But for at least 3 million years ancestral humans have flourished mainly in open woodland habitats near rivers, lakes, and seashores. The available plant foods were mainly the pith and underground storage organs of starch-containing plants. Archaeological evidence confirms that starches have been, with animal foods, the primary calorie sources of ancestral humans for millions of years.

These Diets Aren’t Tasty. Menus like “tuna and cabbage salad,” “chicken apple hash,” “turkey over spinach,” “pork and roasted veggie salad,” “slow-cooked rosemary veggies and meat,” “flank steak, bacon and greens,” “lamb sausage with artichokes,” “chicken and cauliflower,” “tip steak and steamed vegetables,” and “rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli, side salad” (all taken from Robb’s meal plan) – in short, “lean meat with vegetables” – have never excited me. Such meals assist weight loss, I’m sure, but for most people such an overly restrictive diet unnecessarily removes some of the savor from life.

These Aren’t the Optimal Diets for Human Health: This is the really important issue. Now I am a fan of all of these writers: their diets are big improvements over the Standard American Diet, and they have improved the lives of millions. But their diets are not optimal for longevity or immune defense due to excessive protein and, in some cases, insufficient glucose.

Fortunately it appears that popular Paleo diets may soon evolve to include more starches. In October 2010 Mark Sisson, a bellwether, gave a partial endorsement to the potato:

Potatoes should be limited, or even outright eliminated, for this (large) subset of the population. For the lean and active, however, I don’t think a few red potatoes with dinner are anything to worry about.

A few potatoes – if they are red, and if you are an athlete. Grudging, perhaps, but a big step forward. Since the Harvard Department of Nutrition follows Mark Sisson after 10 years, we can expect potatoes to get off the government’s proscribed list by 2020.

Prediction for 2011: Paleo will become ever more popular. But it will flourish even more if “safe starches” are recognized as genuinely Paleo foods, and lean meats and protein are de-emphasized.

Food Toxins: Weston A Price Lives!

In his review, Chris called our discussion of food toxins “incredibly important.” As he points out, this very important but very complex topic could easily warrant a book (or several) in its own right:

I believe a more complete discussion of food toxicity would include the methods that humans have developed to detoxify these foods, variation in susceptibility to food toxins, the role of nutrition in preventing food intolerances, and a number of other food toxins that occur in foods …

I agree.

In framing the subject of nutrition and food toxicity, I think our “economic” analysis makes an important contribution. In this analysis, increasing doses of a nutrient provide first declining marginal benefits, then inconsequential effects throughout a “plateau range,” and finally increasing marginal toxicity.

A slight complexity is that some nutrients are complements for one another, so that (for instance) omega-6 and omega-3 fats or vitamins A and D need to be in balance.

I found that this method of analysis makes sense out of the many seeming paradoxes and contradictions in the literature. A nutrient can be “good” or “bad” depending on whether it is present in deficiency or in excess in the diet.

If this approach is correct, then the key to health is providing adequate amounts of nutrients and avoiding toxins. This way of thinking would require a big conceptual change on the part of many dietary scientists. The concepts of nutritional context and food toxicity would become unifying concepts in nutrition.

This way of thinking holds the potential to integrate distinct strands of dietary thought. An important line of dietary research studies traditional diets and their methods of food preparation. Weston A. Price and the Weston A. Price Foundation are exemplars of this approach. Stephan Guyenet of WholeHealthSource is a blogger who writes with great respect for traditional diets.

The congruence of Stephan’s approach to diet and ours is apparent in the fact that he is the most cited blogger in our book – mentioned 23 times.

Traditional cultures tended to eat a diversity of “safe” (i.e. low-toxicity) starches, and also had elaborate food preparation methods that tended to de-toxify foods. Soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and long cooking can often make toxic foods into safe foods, as Chris notes in his review.

Traditional cultures probably ate more authentic “Paleo” diets than the popular Paleo diets!  The diet of Kitava, for instance, has probably changed little in the last 40,000 years. We know that early “Out of Africa” settlers to that area around 45,000 BC were already clearing forests in order to plant yams; and were notable boaters and fishermen. Fish, coconuts, and yams remain the staples of the Kitavan diet.

There is no reason why the Paleo and traditional food communities should not reach a mutually pleasing synthesis:

  • The Paleo community should accept low-toxicity starchy plants as a healthy part of the human diet; recognize that Paleo cultures were willing to eat any food that was nourishing and low in toxins; and recognize traditional food preparation methods as genuine Paleolithic technologies for food de-toxification that enabled a broadening of the diet.
  • The traditional foods community should recognize that Neolithic foods like wheat are among the most toxic foods, and that in practical life it is not always feasible to detoxify highly toxic foods, so that it a “Paleo” style diet will most often be most healthful for most people.

One of the most exciting aspects of the current blogosphere is the emergence of bloggers who link these two communities and scientists. Stephan and Chris are two scientist-bloggers who are helping to synthesize the best threads in contemporary dietary thought.

Prediction for 2011: The dichotomy between low-carbers and traditional dieters will continue to narrow. More people will happily identify themselves as Paleo dieters and fans of traditional food cultures. In particular, increasing numbers of young scientists and doctors will be in our corner.

Integrating Medicine and Diet

The part of our book which may attract the least attention in the short run, but which we hope will have the most long-term impact, is Step Four. This part of the book stresses pathogens as the cause of most diseases, and diet as the essential therapy for chronic infectious diseases.

In his review, Chris states:

Rather than considering sanitation, hygiene, or vaccines to be the most important tools in the fight against infectious disease, the Jaminets provide a refreshing integration of the fields of immunology and nutrition. They discuss eleven dietary and lifestyle strategies one can enlist in this fight …

We’ll be discussing additional ways to strengthen immunity and heal disease in the New Year. Using diet to modulate immunity is really one of the most overlooked pathways to good health, and we have only begun to scratch the surface here.

Most doctors are unaware of the prevalence of chronic infections. New chronic pathogens are rapidly being discovered and linked to diseases. Just this year, a new human gamma retrovirus was linked to chronic fatigue, and several viruses were linked to cancers. Evidence continues to grow linking both viral and bacterial infections to neurological disorders.

Doctors are even less aware of the powerful influence of diet and dietary practices like fasting upon immune function. Patients have the ability to modulate their diet to optimize immune function and direct it specifically against the type of pathogen – intracellular or extracellular – that causes their disease.

In a recent comment, gunthergatherer introduced me to an e-book by Ron Mignery suggesting alternate-day protein elimination (a “protein cycling diet”) as an autophagy-promoting practice that should help prevent neurological disorders. This is a variation of our protein restriction, fasting, and ketogenic dieting techniques, all of which are designed to promote autophagy. Autophagy is the key intracellular immune mechanism that protects against bacterial and viral infections.

It is good to see that other people are developing the same ideas we are. Hopefully these ideas can spread beyond a few scientist-dieters into general practice.

Prediction for 2011: Evidence will continue to pile up linking bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi to chronic disease. New pathogens will be discovered to cause disease in humans. But diet and nutrition will continue to be overlooked as potential therapeutic steps. Meanwhile, bacterial resistance to antibiotics will continue to outpace the development of new antibiotics. Concern by doctors, scientists, and patients will continue to largely go unheeded by the FDA and funding agencies.

Conclusion

It’s been an exciting year for us:  we published our book and began this blog. In the new year, we hope to delve more deeply into the issues discussed in the book, and explore more thoroughly how dietary and nutritional practices can help heal disease. We are excited to see if our ideas will be as beneficial for others as they have been for us.

Of course, if we didn’t have a delightful community of readers, commenters, and fellow bloggers, this would neither be fun nor productive. Therefore, we thank you all very much, and wish you a very happy and healthy new year!

Leave a comment ?

79 Comments.

  1. Hi gunther,

    There’s evidence for good things from coffee, even at the epidemiological level – like lower rates for Alzheimer’s. Since I think I was infected with the pathogen that causes Alzheimer’s and had severe memory loss, that was what persuaded me to try it even though I don’t like the taste. If Shou-Ching weren’t allergic to it, I’d probably still be drinking it.

    Pubmed has nothing on “coffee autophagy,” but caffeine induces autophagy (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21081844) and so does any oxidative stress, so basically all zero-calorie antioxidant-free plants will induce autophagy (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20969478). It’s plausible to infer that coffee will induce autophagy but I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge effect except insofar as it suppresses appetite.

    So coffee is fine on autophagy days. For most people it’s probably fine every day!

    Hi Morris,

    Thanks for your story, that’s interesting. I’m a believer in intermittent fasting and that could have benefits independent of the reduced fiber.

    Hi Maggy,

    Yes, I do think gradual introduction is good. You need to acquire new bacteria to digest it.

    When I first added fruits to my zero-carb diet, my belly bloated up. I don’t recall what happened to weight, but I’m fairly confident based on later experiences the bloating was due to fungal overgrowth in the colon. I had lost a lot of bacteria for digesting fruit and the yeast went to town.

    You might want to include some fermented foods in your diet to help maintain a wide array of gut bacteria.

    I think putting the starches in your meal is a good idea. It should help you digest more and leave less for gut flora.

    Best, Paul

  2. Hi Albert,

    Yes, we approve of glucose sweetened foods. In fact we include dextrose and maltose on our supplements page, http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=1066, scroll down near the bottom.

    I’m going to blog about this when we get our ice cream recipe nailed down.

    Best, Paul

  3. gunther gatherer

    Yes, coffee for autophagy indeed. Art de Vany uses it when he’s fasting and/or working out. But since it’s high in antioxidants, I don’t know how much autophagy it actually induces. Prolly best in combination with other autophagy techniques.

    Peter at Hyperlipid seems to think almost all the antioxidants you eat in foods gets metabolized, so it doesn’t get into circulation. If this is true, it means the body is trying to defend OFF the exogenous antioxidants so it can use its own endogenous antioxidants, not use them for any autophagic benefits. When the body specifically makes an effort to eliminate something before hitting the bloodstream, it says a lot to me.

    So I agree that caffeine in coffee would probably be mildly autophagy-inducing when used along with carb or protein restriction or fasting or exercise OR even MCTs. If you don’t like the taste of coffee, you can sub with theophylline in black tea or theobromide in chocolate (though watch the protein there). Stimulants are stimulants for a reason, I think, and it seems a good one at that.

  4. It seems to me that one could fairly easily get all needed or desirable macro- and micro-nutrients in a single large meal. Getting enough calories is another matter. Even if that is feasible, many people find that eating once a day leaves them too hungry for large portions of the rest of the day.

    But…if one were to consume fat and little else, for “meals”/snacks during the rest of the day, I suppose one would maximize autophagy while minimizing insulin-related metabolic problems. Could this be the best way to do the PHD for weight loss?

  5. Speaking of weight reduction, I need to lose about 10 pounds before knee surgery.

    For the past three months, my diet has consisted of a slush of two or three lg tablespoons of plain yogurt, one small banana, a cup of frozen berries and a dash of heavy cream with half a cup of coffee for breakfast at about 8 AM.

    One meal of meat/fish/eggs, potato or rice, and veggies at 3/4 PM followed by 2 dark chocolate covered almonds for dessert.

    For a snack a of bit of Brie, half an apple, pear, orange, peach, etc. and six or eight nuts in the evening plus the supplements as suggested by Paul and am drinking at least six or seven glasses of water during the day.

    I’ve made my knee worse by trying to exercise, so I’m limited in what I can do work off calories.

    Can’t lose an ounce on this diet.

    Help!

  6. Hi Ubizmo,

    No, I don’t think that’s the best way to achieve weight loss. You still need 600 carb+protein calories for safety and therefore the calories that can most easily be restricted are the fat calories.

    For autophagy promotion, the strategy is sounder, but coconut oil would work a lot better than long-chain fats.

    Hi erp,

    For rapid weight loss, the goal is to cut down on the fat and restrict calories. You’ll draw upon your internal stored fat to replace the missing dietary fat. Keep carb+protein to our minimum of 600 calories — maybe 500 for a woman.

    Your diet sounds very good, but not calorie restricted for an immobile older person. How about this:

    Keep dinner as is — meat/fish/eggs, potato or rice, veggies, chocolate covered almonds. That’s a nutritious meal. 3/4 pm is a good time for it.

    Cut breakfast to just the coffee with dash of cream. This becomes more like intermittent fasting, with few calories until afternoon.

    Then for your lunch/snack have 3 egg yolks with some potato; maybe a banana as well if you are still hungry. Have this at noon. The egg yolks are to make sure you have enough choline, since choline deficiency causes weight gain.

    The evening snack could remain the same, but this would be the next place to cut if you find you want faster weight loss and can tolerate it fine.

    You can also improve the composition of your snack by cutting fructose and omega-6. A banana might be better than the higher-fructose apple or pear. Also the nuts should be low in omega-6. Macadamia, pistachio, and pecan are fairly good nuts. Avoiding dairy protein is a second reason to cut the yogurt.

    Lengthening the overnight fast should help suppress appetite and enhance weight loss. You might treat the evening snack as a dessert and try to finish it by sunset.

    Taking the supplements with your meals might be best — especially D should be taken during the day time. Sun exposure during the day is good. Drinking lots of water is very good. Be sure to get a bit of salt each day.

    If standing is OK, that would be helpful. So if you read books or magazines, the best way to do it would be standing outdoors, maybe leaning on something, with some bare skin exposed on arms or legs.

    Hope this helps. I think you should be well adapted to the diet so hopefully there will be no hunger on this.

    Best, Paul

  7. @Ubizmo, Kurt Harris at PaleoNu (my other favorite source aside from PHD) recommends something similar to you for weight loss: one meal a day surrounded by, effectively, the fast Paul tends to recommend: coffee with cream. (No mention of coconut oil but I think that’s due to underexposure on Kurt’s part.)

    http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/27/how-to-lose-weight.html

    Ideologically I find Kurt to be similarly inclined to PHD, and he was motivated by his reading of “Good Calories, Bad Calories” — two things that are strong votes of confidence for me.

    Paul, though, I take your point re: required carbs. When I have done one-meal-a-day, I’ve found planning that one meal takes some thought: but it’s viable to get close to 600 calories protein/carb with some eggs and meat. I wonder if for a short cycle if dropping beneath the 600 is tolerable, or at least getting the majority from protein.

    (I did this for a few days last week in an attack on 30-year-old belly fat, but gave up due to holiday pressures — i.e., desire to not sit around a family dinner table “eating” coffee — and confusion over whether or not I was doing my weight training a disservice.)

  8. Hi John,

    Yes, Kurt’s perspective is very similar to ours.

    Of course one can fast and go below 600 carb+protein calories for a while – Rob Sacks just did it for 30 days – but it’s not a sustainable long-term approach. And weight loss is a long term process, so I would tend to favor regular intermittent fasting with an appropriate amount of carbs and protein during the feeding window.

    Best, Paul

  9. My idea wasn’t to disregard calories. As I see it, 600 calories of protein+carb from micronutrient-rich foods is possible in a single meal. But if I were to try to live on 600 calories a day, I’d be extremely hungry most of the time. Assuming that for weight loss purposes, I need another 1,000 calories for fuel and to stave off hunger, without interrupting autophagy or raising insulin (and I believe there’s evidence that elevated insulin itself interferes with autophagy), the most reasonable choice would be for those calories to come from fat. The question is then whether to eat all 1,600 calories at one meal or to space the fat consumption out during the rest of the day. My hunch is that the latter would be more sustainable, but I’ll need to experiment.

    Of course, my 600 calories of protein+carb will have some fat anyway, so that meal may be more like 900 or 1,000 calories, leaving 600 or 700 to be spread out during the rest of the day. It would be easy enough to use coconut oil and butter to get short and medium chain fats to promote ketone production.

    It’s rather like “intermittent fat fasting” (IFF?)

  10. Hi Ubizmo,

    You’ve hit on essentially the strategy we recommend in the book – eating a good long-term diet in the ratios you want to maintain for life, thus high-fat, and eating 1500-2000 calories for slow but steady weight loss.

    I think a good strategy would be to squeeze all calories, except those from medium chain triglycerides / coconut oil, into an 8-hour window. This could be 2 meals. A single huge meal might be even better for weight loss, but is less practical – it would be a very long meal, a large amount of food to prepare, and wouldn’t mesh as well with the way other people eat.

    As ketogenic fats MCTs help promote autophagy and can improve the therapeutic benefits of the fast, that’s why I would recommend those as the sole calories during the fasting period. You could also include some calorie-free vegetables/fiber, e.g. spinach or seaweed.

    Best, Paul

  11. Paul, confession. I’m too lazy to count calories, so everything is guestimated. I love pistachios, so will gladly substitute them for the almonds, cashews and walnuts, etc.

    Egg yolks and potatoes obviously need to be cooked, but how? Mash them up and fry them in butter?

    I’ll try revising my diet and reading standing up. I’ve actually rigged up my old laptop to the treadmill and although I can’t walk on it right now, I guess I can stand on it and read from the Kindle.

    Ah vanity, all is vanity.

    BTW – I’m taking 4000 mgs of vit. D — half in the morning and half before bed. Should I move that up to late afternoon instead?

  12. Hi erp,

    Guesstimating is fine! If you’re really having trouble with weight loss then it can help to count for one day, in order to see where your calories are coming from.

    Almonds and cashews are OK, but avoid the walnuts. Remember also that calories from nuts can add up quickly.

    Eating potatoes and egg yolks:
    1) One way is to boil potatoes occasionally, making extra, and then heat the leftovers in the microwave. If you dice them up and spread the egg yolks over them, then microwaving works fine. Maybe add seaweed or spinach to complete the lunch.
    2) Another way is to make a bone broth like the one in this weekend’s post (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=1704), put the potatoes and egg yolks in the broth and microwave it or heat it on the stovetop.

    For weight loss you’re trying to cut down fats a bit, so frying in butter would be excellent normally but might hinder your weight loss diet.

    Vitamin D – If you get sunshine on bare skin you probably can cut the D down to 2,000 IU. Have you had 25OHD tested? But whatever you take, I think it should all be taken in the daytime. You can take it at once, no need to spread it into two doses.

    Great picture! Don’t tell me erp has a blog?

    Best, Paul

  13. Paul,
    I believe pecans are actually quite high in n-6. See the chart here:
    http://healthcorrelator.blogspot.com/2010/12/nuts-by-numbers-should-you-eat-them-and.html
    Macadamias, cashews, and hazelnuts seem to be the best. Coconut chips also make a good snack.

  14. You’re right, Abby, thank you.

    I should know by now never to trust my memory. Once upon a time it was reliable.

  15. My blog is just a convenient place to store the hodge podge of things that interest me at a particular moment in time.

    Sunshine lately is a very sometime thing here in the Sunshine state, but we’re hoping for some sign of it in the days to come.

  16. Perfect Health Diet » Experiences, Good and Bad, On the Diet - pingback on January 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm
  17. Hi Paul

    Really appreciate your assistance here. All makes sense however I’m now somewhat confused after reading this: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0911373107.short

    I fear this is now getting complex for us (it is for me!), but I’m concerned about these comments:

    – “…Further analysis indicates that autophagy enhances HBV (hepatitis b) DNA replication…”
    – “…Our studies thus demonstrate that a DNA virus can use autophagy to enhance its own replication…”

    I wonder now if deliberately promoting autophagy in my case is not a good idea (as it seems to promote viral replication, which is something I want to avoid!), and that I should maybe eat enough protein to stay out of autophagy, but not too much that it may be detrimental.

    Interested in your thoughts on this…

    Regards
    David

  18. Hi David,

    Good find!

    Looking quickly at the papers, it appears that hepatitis B and C need a lot of “raw materials” around in order to reproduce. Therefore, under nutrient deficient conditions they can’t reproduce.

    When nutrients get scarce they induce a specific human gene, beclin, that promotes autophagy. By recycling cellular components, this increases the raw material supply for DNA transcription, which enables them to reproduce.

    However, the viruses may also be suppressing the virus-digesting part of autophagy.

    The fact that they can stimulate parts of the autophagy pathway themselves doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stimulate the whole thing too, and systematically.

    First of all, the autophagy will digest some viruses and help prevent them from spreading to new cells.

    Second, perhaps your strategy should be to create a state of nutrient deficiency in the cell so they can’t reproduce. If you run autophagy long enough to clear the cell of junk material, then autophagy won’t produce many raw materials anymore and nutrient restriction (say, a protein restricted diet) will hinder viral activity.

    If it’s all about raw material provision to the viruses, then it’s not clear that CONSISTENT, long-lasting dietary strategies to induce autophagy would advance the disease. The viruses are already getting all the benefit they can by inducing autophagy themselves. Dietary restriction would help deprive the virus of nutrients, and any induced autophagy would reduce the future nutrient supply in the cell, rendering the virus’s autophagy strategy less useful in the future.

    Looking at the effect of autophagy-inducing strategies in Hep-B infected mice, there’s this paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643774/?tool=pubmed. This suggests that fasting is harmful and helps the virus reproduce. They regard gluconeogenesis as the trigger, but autophagy induction could have a role.

    Based on these papers, it looks like you want (a) to eat enough safe starches / glucose to avoid gluconeogenesis, (b) to keep vitamin A down a bit and vitamin D up because the retinoid-X-receptor promotes viral replication, and (c) might want to avoid fasting, but (d) may want to restrict dietary protein to help deprive the virus of nutrients. This would lead to a diet of >600 glucose calories, low fructose, <200 protein calories, remainder from fats, with little fasting.

    It is complicated and without actual clinical trials of dietary strategies, we're speculating. My literature review here is far from thorough.

    Best, Paul

  19. Paul, are you familiar with the research of Ajit Varki on the sialic acid Neu5Gc, which is present in red meat, goat’s milk, and to a lesser extent cow’s milk and salmon? Somewhat like the anti-nutrients in grains, Nue5Gc appears to provoke an immune response and inflammation. Vark’s research suggests this could be the mechanism that largely explains the association between red meat consumption and cancer. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030930055440.htm

  20. Hi Paul,

    Many thanks, and appreciate you spending some of your valuable time on this. I’ve ordered your book and waiting for it to arrive. Many things to think about, but I think you have clarified lots for me.

    Thanks again!
    David

  21. Hi Donna,

    I did read that when it came out but I hadn’t noticed the cancer angle before.

    Neu5Gc is something a lot of pathogens bind onto and can also carry endotoxins into the body. It is why E Coli poisoning usually comes from beef (red meat). Evolutionarily, we lost it apparently to avoid infectious diseases.

    The “association” between red meat and cancer seems to be present only for processed/cured meats, absent for natural red meats, so it’s not clear there’s anything to explain. But if there is an association between Neu5Gc and cancer, it may be that pathogens cause cancer and Neu5Gc assists infection.

    Thanks for the link!

    Best, Paul

  22. Perfect Health Diet » Around the Web; and the Corpus Clock - pingback on February 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm
  23. Hi Paul,

    I found this one about autophagy:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21460631

    “Our results suggest that autophagy not only promotes the replication of EMCV in host cells, but it also provides a topological mechanism for releasing cytoplasmic viruses in a non-lytic manner. Noticeably, the autophagic pharmaceuticals we used had no significant effect on virus entry or cell viability, both of which may affect viral replication. To our knowledge, ours is the first strong group of evidence indicating that autophagy is involved in EMCV infection in host cells”

    Maybe autophagy is good for some viruses and bad for others?

  24. Hi snaider,

    Thank you! I’ll read that paper. It’s definitely an important topic.

    Many viruses induce autophagy to help themselves replicate. However, that doesn’t mean that diet-induced autophagy is not therapeutic. First, there are different autophagic pathways, and the diet-induced pathways will destroy viruses. Second, by clearing the cell of junk, diet-induced autophagy removes the raw materials which viruses are acquiring through their own autophagy promotion.

    In other words, autophagy is going to occur one way or another, and it’s better to induce it your way through diet than to let the virus induce it its preferred way.

  25. I have been reading all your posts and the comments chronologically and I am finally entering 2011 🙂 I have finally ordered the book and several supplements through your amazon link and am excited.

    My question regards the timing of the meals. If you have coffee with 1 oz of heavy cream at 8, lunch at 12, dinner at 4 and nothing else until the next da where you exactly repeat the processy, is this a 16 hour fast (4pm to 8 am) or a 20 hour fast (4pm to noon).

    Can you have more coffee with cream after dinner say just before sunset does this count as breaking the fast?. Can you have coconut anytime you want?

    Thanks

  26. If anyone needs more of an incentive to take care of their health, take a look at this article from the NY Times on healthcare in America.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/health/colonoscopies-explain-why-us-leads-the-world-in-health-expenditures.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

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