Around the Web; Home for the Holiday Edition

The last three weeks have been busy with traveling:

We’re delighted to be home.

A few events are upcoming. First, I’ll be recording a video interview with Dr. Mercola on Thursday; I don’t know when the video will go up on the web, but in my experience Dr Mercola doesn’t waste time. Second, Shou-Ching and I will give a casual talk, question-and-answer session, and book signing at Green Meadows Farm in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, on Sunday Dec 4. (We blogged about Diana and Andrew Rodgers and Green Meadows Farm on Oct 25; the farmstand is a great place to buy organic food.)

I have some obligations to fulfill this week to my business consulting clients and to the Ancestral Health Society, but once those are past I will catch up on the Q&A thread. My apologies to those who are waiting for answers; thank you for your patience.

[1] Faces therapy:

Via Govardhan Gerhard Ziegler on Facebook.

[2] Welcome to the blogosphere, Dr. Rosedale!: Dr. Ron Rosedale has added a blog to his site, and continues the “safe starches” debate with a long post, “Is the term ‘safe starches’ an oxymoron?” This was in response to my previous installment in the debate, “Safe Starches Symposium: Dr Ron Rosedale.”

Concerning the safety of glucose, I am going to let Ron have the last word, as it seems we are beginning to repeat ourselves and I am eager to move on to other topics. I don’t find Ron’s arguments persuasive, and I recommend reading Dr. Emily Deans who has boiled the issue down to essentials.

One issue Ron brought up, however, does deserve further discussion: the relation between carbohydrate intake, thyroid hormone levels, and longevity. I’ve touched on this before (Carbohydrates and the Thyroid, Aug 24, 2011; High LDL on Paleo Revisited: Low Carb & the Thyroid, Sep 1, 2011), but it is a fascinating topic, and a good way to begin the important topic of longevity. Ron’s discussion and a post by Ambimorph on PaleoHacks will make excellent starting points.

But that is for the future.

Ron and I were not the only ones having a conversation about carbs and obesity. Gary Taubes has posted a 5-part series on food reward, and Stephan Guyenet replied. The sentences that struck me most strongly were offered by Gary, in this comment:

[A]fter I first went very low carb I added back toasted pumpernickel and other low GI breads to my diet. My problem was postural hypotension and the added carbs took care of that immediately. My weight is stable also. But not with starches; with low GI wheat.

To me this illustrates both the health benefits of modest starch consumption, and how difficult it can be to make sense of arguments against starch.

[3] Music to read by:

[4] Interesting posts:

Russ Farris, author of The Potbelly Syndrome, and an excellent writer working along the same lines as us relating chronic diseases to chronic infections, is coming out with a new book, Falling Apart Syndrome. He has created a web site and is making some appendices available for download. Highly recommended.

Jamie Scott mines the literature on grains, and strikes gold. Jamie goes on to treat WGA.

Chris Masterjohn reports that the lard diet commonly used to indict “high-fat diets” is much higher in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats than previously thought. This is good for me; it makes the data fit my obesity theory better.

Melissa McEwen brainstorms about acid reflux. Emily Deans discusses how stress affects your gut.

Aetiology investigates an “Urgent Warning” from Men’s Health magazine: “Sex with Animals Causes Cancer.”

Richard Fernandez discusses the evolution of cutlery in the West.

Dr Briffa believes that the way to protect yourself against a deadly flu is to catch a mild flu.

Via Seth Roberts, the trouble with lab mice. “We’ve had thousands of mouse studies of tuberculosis, yet not one of them has ever been used to pick a new drug regimen that succeeded in clinical trials. ‘This isn’t just true for TB; it’s true for virtually every disease,’ he tells me.”

Beth Mazur employs Martin Berkhan’s “cheat day” strategies for the holidays.

GettingStronger.org offers the “Hypothalamic Hypothesis of Obesity.” Dan’s Plan notes that eating saturated fat helps weight loss and appetite control.

I am pro-salt, and so is evolutionary selection, but the FDA wants it removed from foods. A new Cochrane review finds no clear benefit from reducing salt, and reports that no long-term studies on the effects of salt intake have yet been performed.

Speaking of governments, the European Union has outlawed claims that water relieves dehydration; this reminds Dr Briffa of an anecdote.

Michael A Smith takes high-intensity training outdoors.

Dennis Mangan argues for exercise as the fountain of youth.

Stargazey discusses mitochondrial dysfunction.

Lucas Tafur discusses how gut bacteria affect ketone production, and the relation between gut bacteria and obesity.

John Hawks reports that ApoE4, the ancestral allele of ApoE, raises Alzheimer’s risk in Europeans but not Africans. There must be a European-specific mutation in another gene which interacts badly with ApoE4.

Deacon Patrick, who we’ve mentioned here before, continues to recover from his brain injury.

FoodSnipps likes our diet: “I like … the Jaminets’ “Perfect Health Diet”. It is about the closest thing to a real paleo diet in my opinion. I have lost about 6 pounds and I feel more alert and rested. The addition of specific starches has ended my stall.” Joanne Nelson of Joanne’s Book Reviews liked our book. SCDKat named us her favorite talk at Wise Traditions. Brian Cormack Carr lists us among his Paleo diet heroes. Kamal Patel offers “The Paleo Guru Guide”.

The Primal Woman has a story of MS remission on Paleo.

[5] Cute animal photo:

From the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project via Gawker.

[6] Modern science: Scientists are supposed to be sophisticated thinkers, but overspecialization, lack of perspective, and the need to pursue funding often lead them astray.

The Scientist reports on a recent paper in Cell Metabolism – a high-impact journal – showing the mechanism by which neuronal starvation leads to food cravings. It turns out that autophagy – the process of “self eating” that cells utilize when resources are scarce – in hypothalamic neurons triggers hunger. When they blocked autophagy, mice ate less and were skinnier:

Kaushik and her colleagues then tested whether blocking autophagy in AgRP neurons would inhibit hunger. Mice lacking the autophagy gene atg7 in their hypothalamic neurons ate less food after fasting, and had higher levels of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC), another hypothalamic neuron, and the hormone alpha-melanocyte (alpha-MSH), both of which typically suppress hunger and stimulate physical exercise. As a result, the knockout mice were leaner than their wildtype counterparts.

This is important work. What disturbs me is what the authors see as the next step:

[S]aid co-author Rajat Singh of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine[:] “If therapeutic approaches were designed to control or decrease autophagy selectively in AgRP neurons, then these could potentially prevent obesity and diabetes.”

One cause of neuronal starvation is infection by bacteria that steal energy substrates. Autophagy is part of the innate immune defense, and suppressing it will make any neuronal infection worse. Dr. Singh’s proposed therapy might exacerbate the disease.

A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, will avert neuronal starvation without inhibiting autophagy or immunity. There is no sign, however, that the researchers considered testing a ketogenic diet against autophagy-mediated food cravings.

[7] Interesting comments:

  • Tuck, in response to my New York City talk, finds some links between impaired extracellular matrix integrity and disease.
  • Adam and Mario report that H. pylori infection can raise LDL.
  • George Henderson discusses the toxicity of vitamin A combined with alcohol. Don’t drink and cod liver oil!

[8] Vaccines and “The Greater Good”: Wise Traditions 2011 included a showing of the new documentary, “The Greater Good,” by Leslie Manookian. The Greater Good examines the issue of mandatory childhood vaccination, and makes a case against laws mandating early vaccination and in support of more thorough study of the risks and benefits of vaccination.

The movie has won many prizes at film festivals, and Shou-Ching and I watched it together last night. It is excellent.

Vaccines certainly deliver benefits. However, any immunogenic intervention is going to carry risks as well. Also, the benefits may not be as large as most believe. Historically, the great decline in infectious disease rates occurred before vaccines were in wide use.

If vaccination is mandatory, then we have no way of assessing the risks from vaccination. If vaccination is optional, we will have two populations of children – the vaccinated and unvaccinated – and will have the opportunity to carefully assess health outcomes.

Early studies doing just this do not clearly indicate that the benefits of most vaccines outweigh possible harms. A large German study recently found that vaccinated children have fewer of the illnesses that they were vaccinated against, but more of other illnesses, than unvaccinated children. (Source: Schmitz R et al. Vaccination status and health in children and adolescents: findings of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS). Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Feb;108(7):99-104. http://pmid.us/21412506.)

Here is the trailer:

[9] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art:

[10] Video of the week: Alexander Tsiaras of Yale Medical School takes us “From Conception to Birth”:

Leave a comment ?

23 Comments.

  1. Today’s picture is fabulous. Where does Shou-Ching get her photo ops?

  2. Hi erp,

    Art favors the prepared photographer.

    She just carries her camera everywhere. We like to commune with nature, and she has a watchful eye. As long as I don’t scare the wildlife away, she has a chance.

  3. Now I have nearly 10 links to read! Wahoo!

    That was a sweet move, using Gary Taubes’ anecdote to argue for moderate carb consumption and all. Slick.

    I remember when we were having that series with Anthony Colpo and we were walking about how long 50g of carbohydrate were needed to prevent the drop in T3, but then noted that this is only in the context of sedentary lifestyles, and in a clinical setting at that. Exercise consumes much glucose. Well I like to exercise, so I guess VLC is out of the question for me. I think that the benefit of exercise far outweighs any potential reactivity of glucose, in fact exercise mitigates it.

    Ambimorph’s post on paleohacks was good dialogue and Dr. Rosedale kept it up with the bit about the centenarians with good genes. But I can’t ignore Chris Masterjohn’s post about T3 preventing heart disease, and the radical drop in T3 on VLC diets, as with everything, there is probably a goldilocks zone, and near-starvation T3 is probably too low. I remember she made one about cortisol too, and I answered that demonizing cortisol all of the time didn’t make sense, after all it is a big part of high-vitality living, but that doesn’t mean that elevated cortisol can’t be pathological in some cases.

    Of course I’m sure you don’t need me to make the argument for you, I just thought I’d share my views.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Hi Stabby,

    Always glad to have the views of the smartest raccoon I know. I agree on all points. And I won’t even ask if the Men’s Health story was one of your ten links.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Heh, it sure was! Important public raccoon health issue for sure. This must explain why I haven’t been able to get a date recently.

  6. I keep seeing apoe4 pop up lately. What’s the deal? Most of what I read is highly alarmist, then other people say don’t worry.

    At any rate, your blog is such fun to read. Yours and Emily Deans’ are my go-to sources; excellent research and interesting commentary. Thank you! (And happy holidays.)

  7. Hi Alana,

    The ApoE4 allele is associated with some diseases, yet it’s the ancestral allele so one would expect it to be healthy, at least on a Paleo diet. If we could figure out the mechanism by which it raises disease risk it would help explain the cause of those diseases. So it’s an interesting puzzle.

  8. Dr. Mercola’s “Safe Starches” post went out again in todays Newsletter as the “#1 Most Shared” article of the week :).

  9. Speaking of regulating things necessary to life like salt, the DEA is now regulating iodine because it can apparently be used in the manufacture of meth. So a guy who sells camping water purifiers is driven out of business.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/saratoga/ci_19385037

    “In 2007, federal regulations were passed strictly regulating the chemical. Wallace said the new rules mandated that he had to pay a $1,200 regulatory fee, get federal and state permits, keep track of exactly who was buying his product and report anyone suspicious.”

    But since we now know water doesn’t cure dehydration, it’s probably not a big deal 😉

  10. FWIW – Dr. B. G. blogged at Animal Pharm in June and July about the ApoE4 allele. I believe her punchline was that carriers of the allele were well-adapted to paleo-lithic life but particularly ill-adapted to modern life.

  11. Nice catch the GT quote!
    But otherwise he (GT) makes good points in his latest part (IIe), maybe not for zero carb but against SG’s pet-bland food study!

  12. Hi Franco,

    I haven’t managed to read all the GT posts yet. I’ll look forward to that part.

  13. Russell Farris did a podcast in July with Sean Croxton on Sean’s Underground Wellness show. So far it’s a good listen. Russell says a lot of the same things about chronic infections that Paul says.

  14. I’m reading The Potbelly Syndrome, and admit to being surprised at his characterization of caffeine as ‘bug poison’ which ‘floods your body with stress hormones’. Especially cortisol, which he argues as the cause of potbellies.

    When you get around to writing your post about weight loss, I would appreciate it if you would address this issue. Over the past two years I have seen many references to the benefits of caffeine, until finally I gratefully removed that option from my ‘to try’ list. (Also because I wasn’t looking forward to four days of headaches and craving.) Thanks.

  15. Hi KirkC,

    of course n=1 but I probably drink more coffee then is good for me and don’t have and never had a potbelly. Quite to the contrary.
    And is a potbelly not simply a high ratio of visceral(very unhealthy) to subcutaneous(maybe not unhealthy at all) fat? PUFA+wheat seem to be a better explanation for that.

  16. Hi Paul!

    You should do so. Good read.
    Btw, that Nestle Nutrament ingredients list on SG’s blog looks like the most awful “fitness”/protein shake I ever saw in my life! But bland???
    There are countless people who drink too many protein shakes per day just because they “taste so good” on top of their “normal” diet in an attempt to gain muscle fast and end up fatter(“bulking”)! These shakes ar indeed very palable, some might even say hyperpalable not unlike other modern liquid forms of calories (soda, chocolate milk, frappuccino etc.).

  17. Hi Paul

    I have a friend with Pneumothorax. It’s very serious. The doctors say there’s nothing they can do because if they try to extract the air from the lungs all the “air bubbles” might burst. The left lung is very fragile and because of additional effort she has heart failure so she has to be very careful.

    I wonder if there’s any possibility of helping her since the doctors say there’s nothing they can do.

    Thanks

    Best wishes

  18. Hi Goncalo,

    I’m afraid I don’t know anything about that. This is the type of condition that doctors are usually good at. I’m puzzled by the idea that they can’t bleed the air out. I might suggest going to other doctors.

  19. Thanks Paul

    Sorry for the two comments. It was a mistake

  20. Paul, I see you mentioned the toxicity of cod liver oil with alcohol.

    Do you think cod liver oil is a problem if you consume it in the morning and then have alcohol later in the day. Is toxicity reduced with time between consumption?

    I think people also forget that polyunsaturates are also potentially a problem when consumed with alcohol.

  21. Hi Aaron,

    Yes, toxicity is reduced with time between consumption. I would think that 6 hours would be sufficient to metabolize either fats or alcohol.

  22. Yeah, Paul regarding safe starches…UNCLE. My eyeballs hurt.

    Now, how’s this: You an Stephan versus Gary and Rosedale in a steel cage WWF match. The winner must eat the other’s diet for one year!

    You know I think your ideas are excellent, and that safe starches is a good if not great concept, but the white potato thing just doesn’t work for most diabetics.

    Maybe in the second edition you could use the term nice starches that are not looking for a fight!

    Take it easy. Thanks again for your work!

  23. Hi Srdjan,

    What we already have is similar enough to a WWF match for my taste!

    “Nice starch, nice starch” sounds like something we would say to a bulldog we’re hoping won’t bite. I don’t think that’s the connotation I want!

    Best, Paul

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