Yearly Archives: 2011

Around the Web; Happy Holidays Edition

We’ll have a light posting schedule through the holidays. A guest food post from Shilpi Mehta, on Bengali Fish Curry, is up next, as we go to the experts to learn about Indian cuisine. In the meantime, we hope these links will help you enjoy the holiday season!

[1] Music to Read By:

Via Tom Smith. And bonus music – a favorite carol, from the movie “John Harvard”:

[2] Interesting posts this week:

In our book we argue that animal diets are highly informative about the optimal human diet. So we’re happy that Sean at Prague Stepchild is investigating the hedgehog diet.

I’m afraid I disagree with John Durant.

Dennis Mangan comments on news that Finnish officials may seize the children of a low-carb family, because they think bacon and eggs breakfasts are insufficiently nourishing.

New books: (1) Melissa Joulwan has written a Paleo cookbook. (2) Ready to move on from solutions? Loren Cordain’s new book has answers.

CarbSane points out that fasting insulin is reduced by carb consumption. Elsewhere CarbSane has an interesting idea: Are the emulsifiers and stabilizers in industrial food distorting our food reward system?

Wired magazine: Fecal transplants work, regulations don’t.

Two people in Lousiana died from infections with the ‘brain-eating amoeba’ Naegleria fowleri as a result of irrigating their sinuses with netti pots. If you do use a netti pot, make sure it thoroughly dries between every use, and use distilled and boiled water or saline solution as the irrigant.

Emily Deans: It’s time to freak out about the effects of BPA. New evidence shows that BPA causes anxiety and depression, and significant amounts do enter the body from canned goods.

Chris Highcock reports that physical activity helps clear toxins from the body.

Barry Groves notes that you’re most likely to survive a stroke if your serum cholesterol is over 192 mg/dl.

Julianne Taylor notes that insulin-sensitive people lose more weight on high-carb diets, but insulin-resistant people lose more weight on low-carb diets.

Stan the Heretic notes that “starch” – really, wheat – is bad news for cancer patients.

Infections cause unattractive body odors.

Kristen Michaelis interviews Cate Shanahan.

How frequently should you work out to maximize muscle gain? Ned Kock has thoughts.

Paul Halliday gives us a “Baltic Bi Bim Bap Breakfast.”

Finally, Beth Mazur has reached a mini milestone:

[3] Cute animals: Via Je Suis JuBa:

[4] How is Cancer Survival Like the Velveteen Rabbit?  Love brings life.

Via Craig Newmark, a story of cancer remission:

Doctors told mother-of-two Laura Binder that her cancer had spread from her breast to her liver and that there was nothing that could be done to cure it.

But one person refused to give up: Mrs Binder’s nine-year-old daughter Linzi.

One read: ‘You are like the centre of a rose and you smell just like a beautiful red one. You can fight cancer. You can fight it. I love you!’

And fight it Mrs Binder did. In what one doctor called a ‘miracle’, her body is now completely free of cancer.

It’s one of the validated but still surprising aspects of cancer that desire to live, the experience of loving and being loved, optimism, and good cheer are all associated with cancer survival. It appears that when life is intensely valued and stress levels are low, the immune system acts against low-level threats (which it perceives cancer to be), but not otherwise.

[5] Astronomical Controversy: What was the Star of Bethlehem?

Chris Masterjohn points to a theory of the star of Bethlehem, proposed by astronomer Hollis Johnson of Indiana University: it was a rare coalescing of Jupiter (birth of kings) and Venus (fertility) as they neared Regulus (kings) in the constellation of Leo (the lion, associated with the Biblical “Lion of Judah”) that occurred on June 17, 2 BC.

An alternative theory was put forth in a book some years back by Michael Molnar, then a Rutgers University astronomer. On Molnar’s view, the astrologers of the time would have predicted the birth of a king of Judah from a lunar eclipse of Jupiter on April 17, 6 BC. Molnar believes ancient coinage from Antioch commemorated the event.

[6] Interesting comments this week:

Cherry found that stopping supplementation of toxic plants such as aloe vera stopped some odd pathologies:

Paul, I took your advice “do no harm” and stopped taking my supplements….and the prickly/needle sensations stop!

It does happen again if I ingest non-paleo/sugary foods but it’s disappeared dramatically. Thanks for your help!!!

Marilyn links to some interesting findings that challenge the autoimmune hypothesis of Multiple Sclerosis: inflammation in the grey matter (cortex) begins before autoimmunity in the white matter.

Brendan has made some key progress in sorting out his health problems. I noted in the LDL series that low serum cholesterol is often caused by infections with eukaryotic pathogens – protozoa or worms. In a comment of August 14, Brendan noted that his serum cholesterol was very low – below 125.  I replied “Low cholesterol is a very strong indicator of a protozoal or worm infection.” Well, now Brendan’s been tested and found to have “human whipworm, entamoeba species, and Campylobacter.” This is good news – now he knows how to treat his condition.

[7] Not the weekly video: Happy Feet comes to Asahiyama Zoo in Japan:

<a href=';vid=079cd314-c39a-451a-88de-697f7c5c4548&#038;from=en-us_fblike&#038;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Happiest Penguin Ever'>Video: Happiest Penguin Ever</a>

[8] Shou-Ching’s Photo Art:

[9] Video of the Week:  Jerusalem – a tour:

Jerusalem | Filmed in Imax 3D from JerusalemTheMovie on Vimeo.

Around the Web; ‘Tis the Season of Reward

I hope you’re all enjoying a festive holiday season!

I’d like to thank those who are buying the ebook edition. As I write this, our rank in the Kindle store is #4 in Nutrition and #7 in Diet.

[1] Israel the Birthplace of Humanity? Friend-of-the-blog Miki Ben-Dor has a new paper in PLoS ONE, “Man the Fat Hunter: The Demise of Homo erectus and the Emergence of a New Hominin Lineage in the Middle Pleistocene (ca. 400 kyr) Levant.”

The paper take notes of a few facts:

  • Elephants disappeared from the Levant c. 400,000 years ago.
  • This disappearance coincided with the appearance of a new cultural complex – the Acheulo-Yabrudian.
  • Teeth and other evidence from Qesem Cave in Israel suggests that the hominins of the Levantine Acheulo-Yabrudian more closely resembled the Homo sapiens who appeared in Africa c. 200,000 years ago than did the Africans of 400,000 years ago.

This is very interesting for several reasons, but one of them is that genetic evidence shows that the divergence time for Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans was close to or shortly before this time.

Disappearance of big-game species, such as elephants, often occurs during demographic expansions of humans utilizing new and more sophisticated technologies. Examples include the mass extinctions c. 45,000 years ago in Australia and 13,000 years ago in the Americas.

A plausible inference is that the Sapiens-Neanderthal-Denisovan common ancestor may have evolved in the Middle East c. 400 to 500 kya and initiated a demographic expansion which populated Eurasia with big game hunting Neanderthals and Denisovans and admixed with the large existing hominin population in Africa to create Homo sapiens.

The paper augments our understanding of Paleolithic diets with evidence that hunting of game for fat has been an important human activity for 1,800,000 years, with hunting skills adequate to eliminate major species by 400,000 years ago.

Congratulations, Miki!

[2] Music to Read By:

[3] Food Reward Hits Prime Time: 60 Minutes did a fascinating report, “The Flavorists,” on how the food company Givaudin makes industrial food enticing:

Some interesting aspects to me:

  • “The greatest flavorist of all: Mother Nature.” Flavorists go into orchards and fields, because natural flavors are the most pleasing.
  • Flavorists resemble nothing more than wine connoisseurs. They seek “a symphony of taste”: complexes of pleasant, interesting flavors. “Carrot on top of kumquat … really exciting.”
  • Flavorists find flavors in the oddest places. A commercial “natural flavoring” that tastes like raspberry and vanilla? Castoreum, which beavers secrete in urine to mark their territory.

As so often when looking at the modern world, I see corruption but the potential for good. These pleasing flavors are now being used to conceal toxic, malnourishing food. But the same techniques could be used to make healthful, nourishing food even more pleasurable.

Is there anything positive to say about “Gourmet Paleo” – delicious, complex flavors in Paleo foods? I think so. But don’t look for Castoreum in our cookbook!

[4] Interesting Posts This Week:

First, congratulations to Robb Wolf who’s in a new den and has a cub on the way!

Stephan Guyenet comments on the 60 Minutes piece: “hyperpalatable and hyper-rewarding products that drive our reward circuits beyond what they are adapted to constructively handle … contribute to obesity.” In the comments, Todd Hargrove declares “gourmet Paleo” a contradiction in terms; I disagree. Oddly enough, I wrote a comment on food reward this week.

FuelRestMotion ran a poll on Twitter, Mark’s Daily Apple, and other forums. 50% of respondents said their Paleo diet includes white rice. No word on what fraction include Castoreum.

Via Stabby, Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness interviews Morley Robbins. The interesting part runs from 18:30 to 21:30: Robbins recounts a dinner between Fred Kummerow, a researcher who identified trans-fats as a cause of disease, and Ancel Keys, the enemy of cholesterol and saturated fat. When Kummerow asked Keys why he chose to eat a large fatty steak, Keys gave a startling answer.

Dr. Kummerow has long been a friend of the Weston A Price Foundation, and I believe Chris Masterjohn may soon be following in Dr. Kummerow’s footsteps at the University of Illinois’s Burnsides Research Laboratory in food chemistry.

Norway has run out of butter. Hide the cows, !

Emily Deans is better than Freud at developing a grand unified theory of psychiatry. I hear she’s working on some blockbuster books: Food and Its Discontents. Five Lectures on Food-Analysis. The Interpretation of Food. And the one I’m looking forward to, Beyond the Food Reward Principle.

The Weston A Price Foundation has a set of beginner videos online.

At PaleoHacks, nominations are being taken for the “Paleo Academy Awards.” Voting will start Dec. 16.

Mark Sisson comes in at #26 and Robb Wolf at #35 in’s 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness. They beat out Rachel Ray (#38), Dr Sanjay Gupta (#52), Michelle Obama (#55), Gary Taubes (#56), Dean Ornish (#63), and the Dalai Lama (#87). Heading the list were Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, trainers on The Biggest Loser.

Dr Ralph Cinque comments on the safe starches debate. “And what about Dr. Kempner at the Rice House at Duke University? For decades, he put diabetics on a diet of rice and fruit to correct their diabetic condition, and he often got them off medication. How did that happen? Well, they dropped so much weight, and I mean fat-weight, that their insulin resistance went away, and so did their diabetes.”

Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive, interviews Mary Newport.

Robert Kurzban of the Evolutionary Psychology blog reports that when it comes to neonates, a few minutes can matter. Babies whose umbilical cords were severed 3 minutes after birth were healthier at age 4 months than babies whose umbilical cords were severed in the first ten seconds after birth.

Dr BG shared her interesting personal story with Jimmy Moore:

What helped me after multiple episodes of adrenal fatigue including one after moving to Shanghai, China was a high carb (150-200 g/day) non-paleo ‘adrenal reset’ modeled by Diana Schwarzbein MD in her book ‘The Schwarzbein Principle II’.

It worked….

Recently I returned to a stable LC (paleo) + rice + workouts (which worked for my initial 50 lbs fat loss; 50-100 grams carbs/day) and lost a few kilograms in the last month and half.

Lucas Tafur thinks we may be able to adjust the subcutaneous to visceral fat ratio with diet.

Chris Highcock reports that static stretching can create new fat cells.

Stephanie at Midlife Makeover Year finds the H.A.L.T approach for terminating an eating binge.

When you have the urge to binge, ask yourself if you are actually Hungry.  If the answer is no, check in to see if you are Anxious, Lonely, or Tired.  Any of those three can trigger the urge to fill up on food in a mindless binge, and any of those can be dealt with in more effective, healthy ways.  Awareness of what is triggering an impulse to binge might just head it off.

Popular Mechanics looks at Quantified Self tools.

If you’ve never seen the “Paleo Before and After” thread on PaleoHacks, it’s impressive.

John Hawks links to two reports on the fall of the (potentially fraudulent) hypothesis that XMRV causes chronic fatigue: John Timmer and Abbie Smith.

Jamie Scott, That Paleo Guy, looks up the official National Academy of Sciences recommendation for carbohydrate intake: 130 g/day, or 520 calories, right in the Perfect Health Diet safe zone and well below most people’s intake.

[5] Cute animal:

Via Yves Smith.

[6] Would you like arsenic with your rice?:   A PNAS study finds arsenic in rice, and Jimmy Moore takes it as a reason to avoid rice.

This follows on the heels of other studies measuring arsenic levels in food and beverages. Recently, Dr Michael Greger did a video on Arsenic in Chicken, and The Dr. Oz Show and Consumer Reports reported on high levels of arsenic in fruit juices.

The PNAS study doesn’t finger only rice: in fact anything that contains water has arsenic, and study subjects got three times more arsenic from drinking water than from rice:

Arsenic exposure through tap water and rice consumption explained 12% and 4%, respectively, of the variability in total urinary arsenic.

Rice grown in the United States has more arsenic than rice grown in Thailand or India. The reason, according to a paper in Environmental Health Perspectives, is that 19th century cotton farmers used arsenic-based pesticides to control boll weevils, and the arsenic remains in land that now grows rice.

Dartmouth professor Tracy Punshon notes that “brown rice contains higher levels of arsenic than white rice, because arsenic concentrates in the outer layer of rice bran.” So stick to white rice.

Dr. Punshon doesn’t go as far as Jimmy:

“We don’t want to stop people from eating rice, because a rice-based, sort-of Asian diet is much better for your overall health than, say, eating McDonald’s and fries every day,” says Punshon, who has tested different varieties of rice for arsenic….

“We don’t want to scare people off rice,” Punshon says. “It’s still a healthy food.”

Of course, the toxicity of arsenic depends on the dose. Rice accounted for 4% of dietary arsenic in the New Hampshire subjects, and eating a low-carb diet with white rather than brown rice are two steps that will help keep arsenic intake down.

As always, it’s good to remember the rule “Eat Paleo, not toxic”: diversification of plant food sources will help keep toxin levels down. That’s true even for safe starches.

[7] Niko Tinbergen on Food Reward: For Herring gulls, it’s the red stripes that do it:

Scientist Niko Tinbergen discovered that Herring gull chicks habitually tap the red-striped beak of their mother to be fed. He further realized that the tapping response of the chicks could be triggered without any beak at all.

In place of the beak, the chicks responded to a yellow colored stick with a red strip painted on its side. Further, if the number of stripes were increased, from one strip to three stripes, the chick’s enthusiasm for tapping the stick and demanding food increased proportionally.

[8] Maimonides on Food Reward: From “Concerning the Diseases of the Soul” (hat tip: Herb):

To those who are physically sick, the bitter tastes sweet and the sweet bitter. Some of the sick even desire and crave that which is not fit to eat, such as earth and charcoal, and hate healthful foods, such as bread and meat – all depending on how serious the sickness is.

To me this is evidence for how sophisticated the food reward system is. Bitter foods are rich in antimicrobial compounds; charcoal and clay help clear toxins; sugars feed bacteria; fasting and ketosis can be therapeutic. Sickness might well lead us to seek bitter foods and avoid sweets, if our food reward system is working properly.

[9] Don’t frustrate your food reward system!: Deceiving it with sweet-tasting but calorie-less beverages might cause weight gain. Sort of a reverse Shangri-La Diet effect.

[10] Watch out, you may find this anti-migraine food hyper-rewarding: Reader Sharon McAllister wrote to tell us that our diet had helped her migraines:

Before the Perfect Health Diet, I was getting migraines almost every day.  I was on a low-fat, high fiber diet which is, necessarily a high carbohydrate diet.  I ate lots of legumes, lots of whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables.  I also ate low-fat and non-fat dairy.  As you can see, the only good thing in my diet was the vegetables.  I was on this diet for about 4 years.  My bowels were regular for the first time in my life, and it did feel good to not always be constipated.  I believed I was doing all the right things.  I now know that slowly over time toxins were building up in my system.  Eventually, I realized that immediately after eating a meal (a meal that I thought was superfood healthy), I got a migraine before I could even get up from the table.  I couldn’t understand it!  I began to research, and by the grace of God, I found your diet and immediately purchased your book.  I have many migraine triggers, so they are not completely gone, but the frequency and intensity have reduced substantially.  My doctor has put me on several different maintenance drugs over the years that were suppose to reduce the frequency and intensity of my migraines, but none of them worked at all.  Your diet has done far more than anything else I’ve tried.  I am still hoping that one day I will be migraine free, but with my hormone related migraines, it will probably not be until after menopause.  I’m 48 years old though, so maybe not too much longer to wait.  My adult niece has also been a migraine sufferer for years and she is now on your diet, and it is working great for her too.  We both owe you a great deal of thanks!

Sharon also found that something called Choffy helped, and is now a distributor of Choffy. Choffy is cocoa beans roasted like coffee beans and then ground and brewed like coffee, to make a chocolate drink with a hint of roasted bean.

Sharon sent us a sample. I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned on 60 Minutes, the Flavorists would love it.

For more see Sharon’s blog:

[11] Comment of the Week:

Christian rebuts the “Lipid Hypothesis of the mollusk world”: it is, in fact, OK to eat mussels that don’t open during cooking.

[12] Not the Weekly Video:

Aetiology advises that it’s risky to castrate lambs – with your teeth. She has video demonstrating what NOT to do:

[13] Shou-Ching’s Photo Art:

[14] Weekly Video: Dr. Michael Evans explains what health step has the biggest return on investment:

Via Chris Highcock and Todd Hargrove.

Around the Web; Revisiting Green Meadows Farm

A few months ago we toured Green Meadows Farm; I wrote about it here. Tomorrow, Shou-Ching and I will be there at 3 pm for a casual talk, Q&A session, and book signing. We’ll discuss what evolution tells us about the optimal diet, and the PHD food plate; but mostly we’ll just be chatting with whoever shows up. Green Meadows Farm also has a great farmstand where you can buy organic food of all kinds.

Green Meadows Farm is located at 656 Asbury Street, South Hamilton, MA. Directions are available on their web site.

Also, Jimmy Moore has just informed me that I was voted #4 guest of the year by Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb readers and will be back for “Encore Week” in January. Thanks, LLVLC fans! I’m excited to talk to Jimmy again, this will be a fun interview.

Sometime this month we’re also going to put together a 7-day meal plan for anyone who wants to try our diet for weight loss. But Jay Wright beat us to the punch, sharing the meals that helped him lose 80 pounds in less than eight months.

[1] Music to read by: From Enya:

[2] Interesting posts this week:

Pal Jabekk explores what happens when you can’t utilize glycogen.

The possibility that XMRV, a new human retrovirus, might cause chronic fatigue syndrome has degenerated into a fiasco. Judy Miskovitz, the principal investigator, has been dismissed from the Whittemore Peterson Institute and arrested on charges of stealing her research notes, which WPI claims belong to them. Dr. Jamie Deckoff-Jones, a chronic fatigue sufferer herself, offers her view of the affair.

Emily Deans discusses mitochondrial dysfunction and depression.

NPR notes that the innate food reward system drives kids to eat more carbs than adults. No surprise there: breast milk is 40% carbs, and we know that’s optimal for infants; the optimum for adults is probably significantly lower.

Stephan Guyenet summarizes some new review papers on the food reward theory of obesity. Dr. Srdjan Ostric comments on the role of food reward in obesity.

Jamie Scott, That Paleo Guy, comments on the circadian variability of sun damage risk. What’s the best time of day to go to the beach?

Canadian political philosopher Colin Farrelly quotes Leonard Hayflick in Nature writing that “Prehistoric human remains have never revealed individuals older than about 50 years of age.” Can this be true? Can bones reveal the age of death so precisely?

The New York Times reports that exercise improves memory.

Seth Roberts reports on a rat who favors pate, salmon sashimi, and scrambled eggs. What a lucky rat!

Japan Times reports on Japanese research indicating that beef and pork consumption is associated with colon cancer risk.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause skin lesions.

Dienekes points out that African-Americans are losing the genes that give Africans resistance to malaria.

Dr Briffa reports that low-carb diets look good for cancer patients.

Barry Sears discusses how contestants on “The Biggest Loser” eat.

Wired asks if the obesity epidemic could be due in part to over-use of antibiotics.

Cheeseslave reports that intermittent fasting gave her insomnia and belly fat, perhaps because fasting led her to drink alcohol, and alcohol can induce zinc and magnesium deficiencies.

Steph at Midlife Makeover Year found that eliminating fructose, even from fruit, eliminated her eczema.

Dr David Brownstein argues that the optimal sodium intake is 4 to 6 g/day (1.8 to 2.7 tsp salt).

USA Today reports benefits from a ketogenic diet for Parkinson’s patients.

More pregnancies, more health? Reason at FightAging! reports that fetal stem cells can repair the mother during pregnancy.

[3] Cute animals: Odd couple:

Via Yves Smith.

[4] Me and the GAPS Diet at Wise Traditions: Foot in mouth disease?

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, originator of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, has done a tremendous job refining the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and helping a number of people recover from gut dysbiosis. She is also one of the most popular speakers at the Weston A Price Foundation Wise Traditions conferences – deservedly so, from what I was able to see of her talk.

There was a lot of interest among the Wise Traditions attendees in what I thought of GAPS. Many people came up to me to ask about it, and the first question posed in the question and answer session asked what I thought of GAPS. I tried to make the point that there are many pathogens that can afflict the gut and, while GAPS is great for many gut disorders, no single dietary prescription is going to be perfect for all of them. The GAPS prescription of eschewing starches and obtaining carbs from sugary sources like honey is one of those prescriptions: often beneficial in gut disorders, but not always.

A few PHD readers, whose cases are listed on our “Results” page (see Angie and Bella), had trouble on GAPS and were able to fix their problems by adding starches. I suspect their diets had been ketogenic without starches and the ketones were feeding eukaryotic infections; adding starches eliminated the ketone production and helped them overcome the infections.

Apparently I gave the impression – no doubt I mis-spoke in some fashion – that I thought GAPS was a ketogenic diet. Dr. Tom Cowan spoke to me about it soon afterward. Dr. Judy Tsafrir, who uses the GAPS diet in her psychiatry practice, heard about the episode and wrote about it. I wrote a comment on Judy’s post clarifying my perspective.

I’d like to reprint that comment here, so that my attitude toward GAPS can be placed more prominently into the public record. I have the utmost respect for GAPS; with lore derived both from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and from years of clinical experience by Dr. Campbell-McBride herself and other nutritionists, it is arguably the leading methodology available today for dealing with gut dysbiosis.

Here is my comment from Judy’s site:

Hi Judy,

A few clarifications. It is not starches per se that are protective of the gut, but glucose; this is needed for mucus production, for preservation of the intestinal barrier, and for immune function. It is possible in very low-carb diets, especially if protein intake is limited, to significantly reduce mucus production and impair the integrity of the gut mucosa and barrier.

Both starches and sugars (such as are found in honey, squash, and carrots) are possible sources of glucose. In cases of gut dysbiosis, one wants to avoid foods that feed pathogens. Both starches and sugars can do this.

Some pathogens benefit from fructose, and fructose malabsorption is very common in bowel diseases.

Many pathogens can also benefit from resistant starch, or the branched structures in starch that humans cannot digest. Starchy foods tend to be fiber rich. As such, they are often problematic in bowel disorders.

I often recommend dextrose or rice syrup, which is readily digestible to glucose only, for bowel disorders. This seems to be the safest glucose source.

There is such a diversity of pathogens in bowel diseases, that no single dietary prescription is universally safe. Zero-carb diets are potentially problematic due to glucose deficiency or ketosis that favors certain pathogens; and for any given carb source, there is a pathogen that can flourish on it.

GAPS came up in my talk in response to a question someone asked. I had recently had two people on GAPS diets report that when they added starches, in line with our recommendations, their health improved and they were able to clear lingering gut problems, including fungal infections. Of course I have no idea how faithfully they were following Dr Campbell-McBride’s recommendations; but I think their cases illustrate the points you make in your final two paragraphs. Every pathology is unique, and diets have to be tailored to individual needs.

I am not quite sure what I said, since this was extemporaneous and I haven’t watched the video, but the symptoms those two readers had were ones that tend to develop on ketogenic diets. If they were excluding fructose because it gave them gut symptoms, then their diet could easily have become ketogenic. I do not think that GAPS is ketogenic in general, but in at least those two cases its attempted application seems to have been so.

I have the utmost respect for Dr Campbell-McBride and I am well aware of the many people her diet has helped. I hope no one thinks that I was in any way denigrating her diet or her very valuable work. I was able to attend part of her talk at Wise Traditions and thought it was the most valuable talk I saw at the conference.

Best, Paul

[5] Interesting comments this week:

[6] Not the Weekly Video: Samsung introduces a new sport: “Extreme Shepherding”

[7] Shou-Ching’s Photo-Art:

[8] Weekly Video: Dr Terry Wahls treats her multiple sclerosis effectively with a high-vegetable Paleo-type diet:

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. 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.

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”: