Around the Web; Autumnal Equinox Edition

Shou-Ching and I would like to extend our thanks to Denny and Aimee Perrin, proprietors of Aimee’s Livin’ Magic, for inviting us to speak to the monthly Locavore Dinner last week. It was a delightful group of people, and Shou-Ching and I had a great time. It was also a lovely setting, looking out over an inlet from the Maine coast. If you ever find yourself passing through York Maine, check out their shop and art gallery at 254 Cider Hill Road (Maine Rte 91).

I’ll be speaking again next Sunday, October 2, to the Living Paleo in Boston group, on the topic “Common Pitfalls of Eating Paleo.” Thanks to Amit and Shilpi Mehta for hosting the event and suggesting the topic.

[1] Music to read by: Andy Williams tries to remember:

[2] Interesting posts this week: Brian Cormack Carr gave a very nice review of our book at Paleo Diet News.

Emily Deans discussed some papers which Jamie Scott found: evidence that gut dysbiosis may be a cause of autism, and proof that serotonin-depleted individuals are more prone to anger and irritability. This last is why anger and irritability are symptoms of brain infections: the immune response in the brain, driven by interferon-gamma and designed to deprive pathogens of tryptophan, dramatically reduces brain serotonin levels.

Speaking of Jamie, he has moved to a new site (, and this week discussed a paper I had been holding for a blog post: proof that plants can be toxic via RNA as well as protein. See Plant RNAs Found in Mammals in The Scientist. (PS: Jamie, you can import your old blog’s content into your new blog.)

Dr. William Davis’s new book Wheat Belly is doing well: it’s #78 on Amazon as I write this. Here is an interview in MacLean’s. I haven’t read the book yet, but Melissa McEwen has.

Some steps forward in the obesity discussion: Peter at Hyperlipid is following up on JS Stanton’s lead regarding mitochondrial dysfunction in obesity. CarbSane chips in with evidence for metabolic diversity among the obese. Stephan Guyenet discusses evidence that humans over-eat and gain weight on a junk food diet.

Dr. John Briffa joins the “Taubes v Guyenet” discussion. He thinks compliance will be a big issue for unrewarding diets. In another post, Dr Briffa makes one of our favorite points: in weight loss, the first key is to never be hungry.

We associate protozoal infections with the tropics, but some protozoal infections are significant health threats in the US, including Toxoplasmosis, Giardiasis, and Babesiosis. LymeMD discusses how Babesia establishes chronic infections.

Beth Mazur finds a great quote from Wendell Berry :

People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.

This reminds me of an observation made by Stan the Heretic: if medicine were about patient health, doctors would recommend chocolate rather than statins. Dennis Mangan is also on the chocolate bandwagon.

Yet another study has come out disputing the XMRV – chronic fatigue link.

Bruce Charlton likens the procedure of modern science to a “Texas Sharpshooter”: whatever it hits, is where the bull’s-eye gets painted. But unconventional approaches to science can sometimes prove highly productive. Recently, an advance was made by letting the public solve a puzzle as a communal game.

Kristen Michaelis of Food Renegade has a great rant about the loss of our freedom to produce and consume the food of our choice. Kristen gets a well-deserved Instalanche. Related: Richard Nikoley on how we’ve “advanced” from being socially powerful to socially powerless, and Andrew Badenoch of Evolvify explains that libertarianism – which I suppose could be called the institution of civilization – is non-Paleo; Paleo society did however benefit from the option to choose among competing bands.

Dr. Ron Rosedale discusses the influence of diet upon multiple sclerosis.

Finally, Dr Steve Parker asks, “Why did the cannibal eat the trapeze artist?

[3] Nice hat:

bird image

[4] Cool comments this week:

Daniel on the desirability of maintaining a high dietary choline: folate ratio.

Sweet Feather discussed the risks of high iron levels to those with the common genetic defect of hemochromatosis and how to adapt one’s diet to it.

Shelley’s comment on “ear rock” induced vertigo led me to this NPR video on how to cure vertigo with the “Epley maneuver”.

GeeBee posted photos of her food – quiche and pork pies. I especially liked the quiche.

[5] Saudi Arabians get the strangest diseases: Lemon tree growing in ear syndrome:

Saudi doctors successfully removed a lemon seed stuck inside a woman’s ear for nearly two months, ending fears that the seed could have sprouted, a newspaper in the Gulf kingdom reported on Thursday….

“The seed could have grown and generated branches but the wax in the woman’s ear has prevented fluids from reaching the seed.”

Via Rantburg. Of course, that doesn’t beat the Irishman who died of spontaneous combustion. No word if alcohol or cigarettes were involved.

[6] Shou-Ching’s Photo Art:

[7] Not the weekly video: For your amusement, Chinese bicycle acrobats:

[8] Heavenly bodies: This is the Milky Way above the Himalayas, photo by Anton Jankovoy:

From the Daily Mail via Barry Ritholtz.

[9] Weekly video: From the golden age of cinema, Robert Benchley explains “How to Eat“:

Leave a comment ?


  1. Paul, do you believe that serotonin supplements would be useful in a cases of anger and depression (not for myself) and if so, which ones would you recommend?

    Shou-Ching’s photo is charming and you don’t often see Willa Cather quoted. Her “My Antonia” is one of my favorite books.

  2. Hi erp,

    Serotonin doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier, and serotonin precursors like tryptophan or 5-HTP feed bacterial infections.

    The better way to raise serotonin may be SSRI drugs, but these have their own problems.

    So I would focus on curing the underlying problem, esp a brain infection if that is the cause. Ketogenic dieting would be my first recommendation.

    Willa Cather is great. My Antonia is excellent, but I liked Death Comes for the Archbishop best.

  3. Thanks Paul, but fasting, counseling and/or SSRI’s aren’t options in this case.

  4. I always enjoy your weekend “Around the Web”–so many interesting links, videos and art.

  5. and Andrew Badenoch of Evolvify explains that libertarianism – which I suppose could be called the institution of civilization – is non-Paleo; Paleo society did however benefit from the option to choose among competing bands.

    I read Evolvivy’s essay and as a minarchist libertarian myself I disagree with it. He hasn’t given his view on what the ideal society for humanity is but I’m fairly certain its going to be an anarchist version. But what I dislike about Badenoch’s argument is that he views Classical Liberalism/Minarcism (my terms, he doesn’t use them because I don’t think he is that well read in the subject) as flawed because it is an outgrowth of agrarianism. So to him, politics must be based on our hunter-gatherer experience. Why?

    My guess is he would argue our psychologies are not optomized living under nation states. That to me is specious and a misuse of evolutionary theory. We evolved self-awareness and cognitive self regulation; ie “free will” (and I know free will hasn’t been reconciled with physics yet which is a big issue in philosophy of mind stuff; hopefully one day it will be.). This is the fundamental reason why libertarianism and natural rights theory applies to humans as they are now. Agriculture was inevitable given the human intellect.

    My conclusion regarding Badenoch’s essay is that it is yet another anti-neolithic rant and more fetish-izing of paleolithic man – which is the worst element of the Paleo movement.

  6. Hi Jack,

    If that’s indeed where he’s going with it, then it would indeed by a step backward – toward a social structure that could only support a human population in the millions.

    I’ll wait and see. I think he’s already gone wrong a bit in an over-simple framing of libertarianism. But we’ll see.

  7. The miRNA article is fascinating. I don’t like the proprietary slant it takes against our old friend LDL. It makes total sense that the body is in constant communication with it’s physical environment. Also, what may this “adaptation” serve for decreasing LDL uptake in the liver? Perhaps plant foods have always been a threat to health and varying plant foods “tend” to upregulate immune defenses better than others. This goes back to your discussions about the dual-role lipoproteins have in the body!
    I also would like a clarification of why serotonin conversion in the “body” (non-brain) is bad and how it differs between serotonin levels in the brain. Ray Peat harps on this same issue and I just do not understand it very well.

  8. SSRIs are a classic antidote to rage in psychiatry – and their buddies the SNRIs a classic way to induce it in susceptible individuals – we have a long way to go before we understand it all. I don’t like peripheral serotonin supplements like extra tryptophan or 5-htp for various reasons, partially because similar pharmaceuticals like the combination phen-fen and meridia led to cardiovascular complications. Thanks for the linkage!

  9. Thanks, Emily, agreed on the tryptophan and 5-HTP. Worse than the SSRIs.

  10. Again, I loved Shou Ching’s contribution. Thanks! (Isn’t amazing how that bird can remain gleaming white in the midst of all that grit and debris?)

  11. Why is tryptophan and 5HTP worse than SSRIs?
    What do you think about St John’s Wort instead?

  12. Hi Sue,

    Tryptophan and 5-HTP are food for bacteria and viruses. The immune response to bacteria and viruses therefore removes tryptophan along a pathway called the kynurenine pathway, which is associated with depression and other problems. You don’t want an excess of these.

    I don’t know much about St John’s Wort. Emily might know more.

  13. I didn’t see the references to my post until today.

    Jack, it’s clear that you have an emotional objection to my article, but your comment plays much better rhetorically than scientifically/logically/rationally. Other than assumptions backed up by assertions, I’m having a hard time finding an argument in what you’ve written.

    Calling a case I haven’t yet laid out ‘specious’ comes across as ideology, not analysis. Usually people erect strawmen for the sake of knocking them down, but your “free will” argument falls on its own mis(understanding/representation) of evolution. If you’re more sincere than your comment indicates, you might review Foundations in Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience with regard to that point.

    Agriculture was inevitable given the human intellect.

    There’s considerable research on this question. I don’t see much point in debating my hypothetical future arguments (as you see them) now, but when I do present my case, it would be interesting to see what research you’re using to make this claim.

    Paul, I’m somewhat disappointed that you’d criticize my definition of libertarianism as oversimplified considering my explicit framing of the context. Shermer’s piece claimed that libertarianism is scientifically aligned with human nature.

    There are almost as many conceptions of libertarianism as there are libertarians. Because it seems to represent the popular conception of libertarianism, this is the basic framework I’ll be referring to in this piece:”

    I then literally copied and pasted Shermer’s definition. I didn’t see any libertarians complaining about the definition while they thought his piece supported his/their narrative.

  14. huh, I missed this theory about rice miRNA increasing LDL …

    “The researchers hypothesized that MIR168a could be taken up by the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, packaged into microvesicles, and secreted into the blood stream, where they can make their way to target organs. Once in the liver, MIR168a binds to LDLRAP1 mRNA, reducing the protein levels and ultimately impairing the removal of LDL from the blood.

    To test this hypothesis in vitro, the researchers transfected synthetic MIR168a into a human epithelial cell line and collected the secreted microvesicles. When they added these microvesicles to a liver cell line called HepG2, they found that while it did not change the levels of LDLRAP1 mRNA, it did decrease the levels of the actual LDLRAP1 protein.

    Likewise, the LDLRAP1 protein level decreased in the livers of live mice 3 to 7 days after eating fresh rice or being injected with synthetic MIR168a—significantly increasing LDL in the blood. When the researchers injected the mice with an RNA sequence that bound to and neutralized MIR168a, the protein and LDL levels returned to normal.”


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