A Journey of Food, Fitness, Freedom and Philosophy
A video made by vegans? No bias there, then! ;-DHere are some videos made by a vegan M.D.:- Dr Greger: 2003 - Optimum Vegetarian Nutrition - Omega 3 and B12It would appear that vegans need to take supplements to be optimally healthy.Can Multiple Sclerosis be significantly reversed by a vegan diet?
Nigel,Uh, if you watch the series, you will see that the data presented comes not from vegans but from journals of nutrition, medicine, and anthropology/archaeology, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, etc, etc. It speaks for itself, if you let it.What do you want, a critique from someone who eats nothing at all, so we can be sure they aren't biased toward either plants or animals and sustenance?No one needs omega-3 supplements to a vegan diet, there is plenty of n-3 in green leaves, walnuts, flax and hemp seeds, and soy products. Vitamin B-12 is produced by microbes, not fish, birds, or mammals.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042603It follows that we don't have to eat fish, birds, or mammals, but the relevant microbes, to get B-12. Previous to purification of water supplies, people got B-12 from their water, fermented foods, and other sources of microbes.We store 2 to 5 mg of B-12 and lose only small amounts daily (2 mcg or so), so we don't need B-12 every day.Supplemental B-12 also comes from microbes,so taking a supplement is going straight to the source, in a convenient package.Paleo is the later comer to dietary treatment of M.S. The longest and best study on reversal of M.S. was done by Roy Swank, M.D., who documented arrest of M.S. with a very low fat, very low animal product diet over the course of 30 years of medical practice. Swank found that avoiding excess dietary fat was the key.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Swank%20multiple%20sclerosishttp://www.swankmsdiet.org/http://www.drmcdougall.com/video/diet_ms.htmlhttp://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/jan/ms.htmhttp://www.drmcdougall.com/stars/050812tasic.html
Those body shapes obtained by the vegan body builders are in no way "naturally made". Show me the women with sub-twenty percent body fat as well as bulging muscles and men who can't even scratch the backs of their necks without hormonal tampering...especially while eating a vegan diet.I'm sorry, but this was just bad.
Hey Don,So just to clarify, are you saying that B12 doesnt come from meat but that it actually comes from the microbes inside of meat?
Hi Don,I see that you do not recommend fish anymore. What about your argument that humans who were able to get throuh the ocean to Australia must have been well adapted to sea, and thus its fruits (fish)?
It looks like the guy who made those videos is a great critical thinker on nutrition.He obviously made his choice not to eat meat after examining the evidence and drawing a conclusion.He said himself in one of the videos that one of the thing that really irks him is people who decide to become vegans purely for emotional reasons and never take into account the health aspect.He earns my respect for thinking logically and not just shouting out statements like "meat is murder!" again and again.You have my respect as well Don for changing your diet when it clearly wasn't working for you despite being financially invested in the paleo lifestyle.
So it's totally irrelevant that no known aboriginal culture ate a vegetarian diet?
I have to say that I'm completely unimpressed so far. The narrator has clearly misrepresented the ideas behind the paleo diet and lifestyle with use of very extreme examples within the paleo community. Also, he questions the credentials of the various people within the paleo community as if that invalidates their ideas. Of course he doesn't seem to hold himself to the standard. I'll bet the rest of this series will be "the studies I believe are better than the studies you believe" type of arguments. Unfortunate very few people have the background needed to judge the relative scientific value of most studies, or even understand that not all studies have equal merit. Given the narrator's unwillingness to share his credentials, I'm going to assume for now that his ability to tell the difference between good science and bad science is as limited as his understanding of paleo concepts.
Chase,The diets of aboriginals are minimally relevant to us because we aren't those aboriginal people and we don't inhabit their environment.Ken,Exactly where did he misrepresent paleo ideas. He merely quotes Cordain's own words. He did not say that Cordain's credentials invalidate his ideas, he only asks why anyone should accept the nutritional ideas of an exercise physiologist over those of a person (e.g. Jane Dwyer) who has an advanced degree in human nutritional science. Later he shows the very deep flaws in Cordain's understanding of human evolution, human ancestral diets, the ice age environment, compounds in plant foods, and nutritional management of disease, using published research.
Woly,All B-12 in nature is made by microbes, and all B-12 in animal products comes from microbes in the animals or microbes on the foods eaten by the animals. No fish, fowl, or mammal makes vitamin B-12 in its own cells.
What is so hard to understand about the paleo concept? Here it is in a nutshell: We should eat and exercise the same way our stone age ancestors ate and exercised because our genes are not significantly different from those stone age ancestors. Primitive Nutrition represented this perspective with accuracy.
I have yet to check out more of these videos. On my to watch list when I have time. I'll be honest, I'm going into them quite skeptical, as I went from vegan to paleo.Just a question though. You cite Roy Swank, who managed an arrest of MS...but that is all the diet seems to accomplish.Paleo is showing to reverse MS. That seems like an improvement over Swank, is it not?Also, aren't we genetically aboriginal though? Do you have more on this? I mean environment is one thing, but its the intersection of our environment and our genetics that makes us. Not just the environment, or not just the genetics.
Erik,Please direct me to clinical studies showing reversal of M.S. in multiple patients using paleo diet. (I'm looking for more than one person's claim of reversal.)While you're at it, point me to some clinical studies showing that paleo diet can reverse atherosclerosis at least as well as Esselstyn's low-fat vegan approach.No, we are not genetically aboriginal. The Primitive Nutrition videos 7 and 8 include many studies showing that we have evolved and continue to evolve genetically, and that known aboriginals, because of isolation, have considerable inbreeding and variation due to genetic drift. If anything, we are all genetically most basically African and primates.
"The diets of aboriginals are minimally relevant to us because we aren't those aboriginal people and we don't inhabit their environment."I think it logically follows from that position that, "Almost nothing in biology makes sense in light of evolution". I think I prefer Dobzhansky.
Ken,BTW, in parts 2 and 3 Primitive Nutrition clearly shows his ability to distinguish good from bad science....and Cordain's work falls in the latter category with numerous logical fallacies and misconceptions and ignorance of much of the literature on human evolution and nutrition.When someone publishes a paper on the estimated food intake of an African hunter-gatherer 100 K years ago, the whole thing is just an exercise in imagination, since almost nothing you say about this can be falsified, since we just don't have that awesome time machine that will take us back to that time so that we can check on Cordain's 'facts' about ancient diets. He just makes things up using tenuous evidence and speculation, then proceeds as if his fiction is fact. Sad to say, we just don't have any photos or diet records of humans from the stone age, just scraps from heaps that might have been their garbage piles. But I know this is a favorite device of the paleo crowd:If it disagrees with paleo, it is 'bad science' or 'biased' but if it agrees with paleo it is good science and unbiased.Nigel takes a similar approach. Since Cordain eats meat, he is considered unbiased, but if a person is a vegan, he is automatically dismissed as biased. Meat eating apparently makes you objective, and avoiding meat apparently makes you unreliable. All smoke and mirrors.
Chase,Your statement absolutely does not follow from mine. It is because of evolution that we are NOT like aboriginals (for example, most of us have more salivary amylase and codons for it than most aboriginals). Because they have long reproduced in isolation from agricultural populations, people with agricultural ancestors are not genetically identical to aboriginals.
What I still don't understand is why anyone thinks that epidemiological studies of the diet and diseases of any aboriginal population carries more scientific weight than epidemiological, clinical, and experimental evidence from studies of people in modern nations? Why should I care more about the diet of Inuit than about this study showing that Swedish women eating vegetarian and vegan diets are significantly less likely than omnivores to be overweight, and that "Among the 3 vegetarian groups, vegans had the lowest weight (b = –5.31; 95% CI: –7.82, –2.80; P < 0.005) compared with omnivores."http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/6/1267.fullTo me, studies of the diets of aboriginals are 'minimally relevant' in comparison to this type of study because aboriginals differ from Swedish women in many many respects, such as parasite load, food sources, habitat, central heating or lack thereof, etc, etc.
You're right - it doesn't follow... if you assert that the primary the evolutionary determinants of our genome are in the past few thousand years. That seems not only falsifiable, but quite false based on what I know, at least. We are now discovering that there is more and more rapid evolution of the genome occurring in modern times... but I believe that influence is demonstrably tiny compared to the genetic impacts from the distant past. I think it is fairly well established that evolution actually requires vast time scales, and as such it cannot possibly accurately reflect modern changes.
Don, I should have combined this with my last comment but I didn't see your second. "To me, studies of the diets of aboriginals are 'minimally relevant' in comparison to this type of study because aboriginals differ from Swedish women in many many respects, such as parasite load, food sources, habitat, central heating or lack thereof, etc, etc. "Paleo eating seeks to make the modern environment closer to the evolutionary environment. Your argument seems to be that the evolutionary context is 'minimally' relevant because the modern environment is wholly different, however making the modern environment more like the ancestral environment is invalid due to above argument. How is that not circular?
Erik,“Please direct me to clinical studies showing reversal of M.S. in multiple patients using paleo diet. (I'm looking for more than one person's claim of reversal.)”That is a fair point I suppose. But that’s also like asking to see a clinical study for a yet to be discovered drug. (Not that I particularly like the drug approach, just seemed like a good metaphor.) Just because it hasn’t been tested yet doesn’t mean it won’t work.And Dr. Terry Wahls is performing a clinical trial, so we will have to wait to see what comes out of that. http://www.sfn.org/am2011/pdf/prelim/SUN_Poster_PM_v2.pdf(Search wahls in here)“Preliminary results indicate beneficial effects of this combined intervention on fatigue and gait in subjects with a progressive disease who are not expected to show improvement.”So far it seems good, I suppose we’ll have to wait for peer review though. (Though that system isn’t necessarily perfect either.)“While you're at it, point me to some clinical studies showing that paleo diet can reverse atherosclerosis at least as well as Esselstyn's low-fat vegan approach.”It hasn’t been tested because no one has thought to test it yet.Doesn’t Esselstyn use statins in his trials though? And from what I understand his approach is not only dietary. (Not saying it should be.) But we can’t attribute the reversal only to the diet when he also encourages smoking cessation, meditation, exercise, drugs, etc. I’m not really saying paleo would be any better here, since you’re right, it hasn’t been tested. But it at least makes sense in theory when considering a paleo diet would encourage the complex of vitamin k2, d, and a which love to regulate some calcification.And from what I know, I can't see an explanation why the dietary interventions in Esselstyn would actually work. But I also don't believe in the low-fat stuff, so maybe I'm biased here.I guess it matters whether you would like to go on theory or what has been shown to work. It’s a personal choice that I would rather not have to go on statins and deal with those side effects to get the same effects as Esselstyn.“No, we are not genetically aboriginal. The Primitive Nutrition videos 7 and 8 include many studies showing that we have evolved and continue to evolve genetically, and that known aboriginals, because of isolation, have considerable inbreeding and variation due to genetic drift.”Interesting, did not know that. “If anything, we are all genetically most basically African and primates.”Don’t primates eat essentially a high-fat diet though, by the nature of their colon fermentation? Mainly short chain fatty acids I thought. I’m not really educated on this.Not that a paleo diet has to be high-fat. In fact I eat a much more moderate approach and feel better with more appropriately timed carbohydrate.But I also feel and look much better than when I was vegan.“Why should I care more about the diet of Inuit than about this study showing that Swedish women eating vegetarian and vegan diets are significantly less likely than omnivores to be overweight, and that "Among the 3 vegetarian groups, vegans had the lowest weight (b = –5.31; 95% CI: –7.82, –2.80; P < 0.005) compared with omnivores."”This study seems rather uninteresting to me, mainly for this last sentence in which they admit, “Additional studies focusing on single nutrients are needed to elucidate the precise dietary mechanisms responsible for this association, and prospective or intervention studies that adjust for physical activity and other confounders are also needed.”We know vegetarians are more health conscious. So that study doesn’t mean much I don’t think.
Erik,Does "paleo" rely only on diet? If so, why all the fuss about Crossfit, etc?Esselstyn uses statins only when diet alone does not get cholesterol under 150 mg/dL and LDL under 100 mg/dL, which is not often. Many of his patients do not take statins. He does not require anything else (meditation or exercise) from his patients. You confuse him with Ornish.Why would a low fat diet work? The mechanisms are quite clear. Mainly, you reduce the inflammation and lipid levels, reversing the process that underlies plaque formation. But even if we didn't know how it worked, it clearly works.No primates don't 'eat' a high fat diet. They eat fruits and vegetables low in fat and high in fiber. It is really beyond ridiculous to say that a chimp is on a high fat diet because the microbe in his gut produce some SCFA. But this is also a smoke screen. The key feature of primate diets is low in animal products, regardless of fat intake. You can't use colonic fermentation in gorillas as a rationale for drinking cream or eating meat. Beneficial effects on fatigue and gait are far from 'reversal' of M.S. Swanks studies showed not only stopping progression of M.S. but also reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer among patients who followed his diet. He clearly elucidated the mechanisms by which a low fat intake protects the nervous system from M.S. plaques.Are you saying that a report of what Inuit ate in 1885 is more relevant to nutrition science than this study showing that Swedish vegan women are leaner than omnivores? Those researchers make the classic reductionistic mistake. They want to find the 'single nutrients' responsible for the effect seen. What if its not any single nutrient, but a whole class of foods, composed of multiple interacting nutrients, that is responsible for the effects.There are good and bad vegan diets. This is a large problem in conversations about diet. "I tried a vegan diet and felt and looked bad." Vegan simply means, no animal products. It doesn't mean automatically healthy. If I ate only white rice, I would be on a vegan diet, but unlikely I would be healthy.
Erik,I forgot to mention, you didn't answer my question regarding that study. I asked why I should value studies of aboriginals above studies like that one of Swedish women? I didn't assert that it showed anything conclusive about diet. But I want to know why this study, which suggests a positive effect of a vegan diet on humans living in a modern circumstance, is less valuable than a study of the diet of Australian Aborigines living in the Outback, for informing modern nutrition science and guiding further research? Paleo gurus want me to believe that somehow studies of Inuit subsistence patterns and speculation about ancient stone age human diets tell me more about optimal human nutrition than studies of people living in modern Sweden. I don't understand the rationale for this. Its like saying I can learn more about domesticated cats by studying the bones of extinct saber-tooth tigers and isolated snow leopards of the Himalayas than by directly studying modern domestic cats.
@Erik Istre"We know vegetarians are more health conscious. So that study doesn’t mean much I don’t think".What makes you think of this? A single study from Poland? Hundreds of American vegans were studied, and out of all groups the vegan group exercised the least. Nevertheless, the vegans were still in much less risk for type 2 diabetes despite the weight as a factor was controlled. Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabeteshttp://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/5/791.short
"I’m not really saying paleo would be any better here, since you’re right, it hasn’t been tested"It would most likely end up like this: one bad diet beating marginally another bad diet. Video number 52-53 covers all about this
Which paleo gurus have this view? Having some familiarity with Wolf, Sisson and DeVany (all of whom were mentioned in the video), I don't think that describes their stances accurately at all. For example, Robb Wolf frequently describes the what the video refers to as the Naturalistic fallacy... as far as I know, all three of these guys have expressed that the paleo concept is a useful tool for generating hypotheses, and a as a heuristic for how to approach unfamiliar situations. As far as I know, all three would agree that scientific evidence should supersede any theory of primal living. It is interesting that you mention cats in this light. Are you familiar with Pottenger's cats? He essentially used evolutionary thinking to generate a hypothesis (cats which eat raw meat instead of whatever the hell is in modern cat food, which is relatively more vegetarian, will be healthier) which he then approached as a scientific test. Now, humans are not cats. But certainly in the case of cats, eating the ancestral diet is far healthier, regardless of the fact that a modern Swedish cat is living a quite different life than a jungle cat 4000 years ago. The modern cat is, largely, just a remix of _very_ old genes.This thread seems to contain arguments to the effect that (a)our ancestors didn't really eat as Paleo advises, and (b)even if they kinda did, it's not relevant to modern times. Perhaps these threads have been taken up by different individuals, but when I see the arguments put together it reminds me how global warming skeptics will argue (a)the temperature isn't rising, but (b)even if it is, it isn't anthropogenic. Now arguing from scenarios that contradict each other does not invalidate the premise, but it does make me wonder your exact position, and whether you think (a) or (b) as I have stated above is a significantly stronger argument.The study you mention does not actually look at any version Paleo diet?
Nigel, I find comments like this absolutely thoughtless and ridiculous: "It would appear that vegans need to take supplements to be optimally healthy." No. They need to take B12 after about three years of vegan diet. One supplement. Omega 3 can be completely met by food. But that's not what makes your comment thoughtless. What makes it thoughtless is that you take it as a big deal that vegans have to take one supplement--one. But non-vegans, aside from being just as likely to be B12-deficient but less likely to know it, really need to remove a lot from their diets and simply cannot if they're going to insist on being non-vegans. It would appear that omnivores need to remove cholesterol, saturated fat, excess fat, excessive protein, and more from their diets. Can you do that with a cheap little tablet that you can buy at any grocery or drug store?Bummer. I have to take one supplement. Oh, well. At least I don't have to attempt the impossible task of removing massive amounts of cholesterol, fat and protein from my diet while eating foods whose primary constituents are fat and protein and which are the only foods with cholesterol, which I literally do not need to consume at all.
Thanks for posting the link to this video series. Plant Positive is performing a great service, in my opinion. 71 mini, analytical lectures--that's a staggering amount of work. I wish I had seen this before I embarked on my 8-month infatuation with a paleo diet (which I recall with embarrassment).
Vegan simply means, no animal products. It doesn't mean automatically healthy. If I ate only white rice, I would be on a vegan diet, but unlikely I would be healthy.I understand your point and I realize are using the "white rice only diet" as an example. But are you by chance familiar at all with Dr. Walter Kempner's "Rice Diet?" It consisted of mostly white rice and fruit. I am not saying that Kempner's Rice Diet is optimal, even for people with chronic kidney disease. And brown rice seems nutritionally superior to white rice. But it is interesting.....These are direct quotes and excerpts from the newly-published book, Walter Kempner and the Rice Diet, by Barbara Newborg, MD with Florence Nash, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC, copyright 2011."Kempner found that, in his experimental animals, he could produce very low blood sugar through fasting, in the absence of insulin and without causing convulsions. Relevant to the future development of the rice diet, he also found he could raise blood sugar levels with injections of adrenaline. Because the adrenal gland responds to sodium, its activity is decreased by the removal of sodium. These observations on sodium later bore fruit when they helped lead Dr. Kempner to the idea that sodium might play a role in both diabetes and hypertension via the adrenal glands and, more important, that maximum restriction of sodium could contribute to the treatment of these and other symptoms." (p. 44)"As Dr. Kempner had pointed out to the medical students, his research had strongly indicated that a radical reduction of sodium, protein, and fat could halt or at least slow the disease process in patients with damaged kidneys. He had not imagined that, also in hypertensive patients with no evidence of kidney disease, the rice diet could actually reduce blood pressure, reverse heart failure, heal retinopathy, and, most astonishingly, significantly shrink disease-enlarged hearts." (p. 129)
if you actually look up Kemper's work, it is a low calorie diet. if i remember correctly, something like 2 days at 800 cals, 2 at 1200.... basically a starvation diet, so yea, diabetes/fat problems are obviously going to improve... not applicable argument.
Wow I can't believe your blog is still on my reader! Or at least, it should be moved out of my nutrition folder into the Quack section. Harris got you good. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Jaguarjordan,I am ashamed of myself for having fallen for paleo logic.
This thread seems to contain arguments to the effect that (a)our ancestors didn't really eat as Paleo advises, and (b)even if they kinda did, it's not relevant to modern times. Perhaps these threads have been taken up by different individuals, but when I see the arguments put together it reminds me how global warming skeptics will argue (a)the temperature isn't rising, but (b)even if it is, it isn't anthropogenic. Now arguing from scenarios that contradict each other does not invalidate the premise, but it does make me wonder your exact position, and whether you think (a) or (b) as I have stated above is a significantly stronger argument.I'm not sure why you consider (a) and (b) contradictory. Could you elaborate?
Don, It is good that you challenge the Paleo proponents. Taubes says in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” That a scientist should try to prove his theories wrong and that he should let his ideas and conclusions be open to criticism Now I agree that the paleo life style is more of a philosophy than a science. But nevertheless I was overweight and my blood work was bad. I had tried to follow a vegan diet and also a diet in line with the teaching of Dean Ornish. I was always hungry. I could not stay slim. Then I read Gary Taubes work. So I cut out sugar and wheat. I began to loose weight.. Later I read the Primal Blue Print. When I read it, I concluded that it was not a very scientific book, but the diet it taught it seemed to be a good way to cut out refined carbs and sugars. I stopped eating flower and sugar and ate mostly vegetables and meats. I feel and look better. I lost 35 pounds and am down to 16% body fat. My blood work improved. I understand your criticism of the Paleo movement since it is more of a Philosophy and can’t be an exact science. So why waste your time there. But what do you think of Gary Taube’s Work? I mean he is the one that questions the science of a low fat diet for health. He defends a high fat diet. Should not your guns be targeted him. I want to see the debate so I can learn-- Thanks
bpatocchi, how could you have been truly hungry, while simultaneously not losing weight? Do you mean cravings? And why were you eating sugar in the first place?
JordanMy real question is to see how Don handles Taube"s work. Now concerning my experience which of course is subjective, The low carb diet worked for me, while the vegan diet did not. I did cut out refined carbs and sugars when I tried Vegan. But I felt hungry. Maybe the hunger was graving. But it was all the same to me. I lost weight while I tried vegan but did not feel good. This is all subjective. Maybe I should not of shared my person experience. What I really want is for Don to take on Taubes so I can learn. Thanks
Unknown,Several people have "taken on" Taubes. Here's a recent one:http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.htmlAlso, video 37 of this series goes into great detail about one of Taubes's central claims, and shows that not only did Ancel Keys not throw out data as Dr. Harris has alleged in other comments on this blog, but also that the original 22-country data set Taubes and others say Keys ignored actually supports much of Keys' work and lends no support at all to Taubes.
bpatocchi/ Unknown, Oh, so you did lose weight. Okay. Personally, I don't mind some mild hunger when I'm trying to lose weight, because it lets me know I'm on the right track. If I never feel hungry, I know I'm eating too much. I tried low carb several years ago. I lost weight, plateaued, regained. Last year I tried portion control. I lost weight, plateaued, regained. So there's no panacea. I'd like to try a relatively low fat, semi-vegetarian, whole foods diet, since that's the one thing I haven't tried yet. But I know there's no silver bullet.
Jordan,Thanks for your remarks. I have cut out grains and sugars from my diet. This has raised the fat in my diet and my diet is low carb. This seems to work for me. I have been training hard for masters swimming. I been doing weights running and swimming. I am do HIIT and speed work along with low intensity long swims and run/walk hikes. But because of the high fat content of my diet I sometimes wory about sudden cardiac death. I mean if Taubes is wrong about saturated fat I realy want to know. swimmins
When you are discussing the nutrient content of various foods, it is not enough to say that there's Omega 3 in such and such plant food, or such & such an amount of B-12 in a supplement pill, etc.We have to look at all the possible antagonists to these nutrients. In other words, you have to look at the whole picture. I honestly don't think that you can be healthy by just looking at nutrient lists, designing your diet and then thinking you are "safe".
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