Tag Archives: health

Weekly Round Up

7 May

All the whatever we tossed out in our optimized discussion group.

Paleo fast food wrap. Won’t tell you what’s in it or who ate it.

One of our members finds that high dose supplemental D3 helps tremendously to manage her asthma symptoms. Recently she added a supplement called astaxanthin at 4mg a day. Taking this dose she seems to be able to taper down her D3 whilst continuing to enjoy normal breathing! N=1.

The connection between sleeping and keeping slim. 

The price of obesity by the numbers.

Some claim fructose is the best liver energizer, while other say that it depletes cellular energy. 

The ethics of cheaply raised meat. 

Maybe cruises, especially ones claiming they are focused on diet and wellness, aren’t the best things for out waistlines. 

High levels of beta carotene in new news again. Very high levels may be dangerous. Too bad everything is fortified with it!

Julie’s chicken legs and kale. 

Dandelion is one powerful weed. 

A gorgeous sounding pate recipe!

Jenny’s pretty ferment.

More on lack of sleep and body mass: twin study.  

Interesting facts about flavour. 

Is jogging #chroniccardio? Science says it may prolong life.

If your bacon or cured meat “looks somewhat like those greenish glow on the back of the sh*t flies” maybe think twice before eating it. 

Making cocktails with kombucha may not be a great mix. 

Julie’s farmer’s market booty

Paleo can help you raise your kids to be remarkable? 

Perhaps soaking in ice water isn’t the only way to activate cold receptors.

Fructose and omega-6 packed foods may not all be the devil. 

GMO corn and obesity connection. 

More on bad Beta Carotene and its connection to leptin resistance. 

In France, eating is taught and palates are educated. 

Are humans still evolving like animals in the wild?

The protective effect of smoking?  

Congrats on the new house Julia! Nice celebratory bison ribs.

Weekly Round Up

30 Apr

Topics, links and comments from this week’s HBP discussions.

Jan's favorite fish.

Avocado oil may improve blood lipids.

The liver tells all and reveals much about fat.

How many calories to you burn using a standing desk? 

A Paleo food truck is in the works. Show your support people!

Russ's pho!

Fatty food’s link to marital stress?  Of course we’ve seen just the opposite here. 

A nice submission to the NY Times’ Ethical Meat Eating contest.

Helminths for allergic rhinitis.

Screwing up the environment is Paleo. Or at least we’ve been doing it for a very long time. 

Another rebuttal to the latest anti-meat arguments.

Interesting connection between niacin and obesity.  Paul Jaminet adds to the discussion here. 

Derrick's hardcore stew of beef bones, beef heart, assorted shellfish, bone stock and other thangs.

Men’s grooming products can be pretty uncomfortable. 

Fasting’s beneficial effects on cancer treatment.

Round 2 of HBP -Cook-off closes Friday, May 4th. The rules are as follows:  Protein: ground meat (does not have to be beef) 3 veggies: three different colors, starch is up to you if you choose to do one or not – also totally open, rice, potato – safe starches! 3 Spices only. More here.

Results of Biggest Loser regimen on participants’ metabolisms.

How vegetable oils replaced animal fats.

Julia's San Diego trip featured some tasty food.

The mental effects of supplementing with DHA alone.

Chocolate has many special benefits- science says so!

 Chris Kresser continues with his salt series. 

Get your Gluten Free Coconut Cake recipe here!

Mash's Saturday night spread.

Weekly Round Up

16 Apr

We got all discussy this past week. Here are some links and food photos to whet your appetites!

Jan's Finnish whitefish caviar with shitakes.

Higher levels of PCBs in organic milk when compared to conventional milk.

Underground Wellness featured Dr. Tery Wahls.

Shift work and it’s effects on diabetes risk. 

Coffee’s effects on adipokines, liver function, triglycerides and LDL.

Connection between blood levels of some of the phthalates and increased prevalence of diabetes, even after adjusting for obesity, blood lipids, smoking, and exercise habits.

Vitacost promotes “eating like a caveman” in their latest newsletter!

Jan wins "Mr. Paleo 2012".

Chris Kresser tackles salt in his latest series of blog posts.

Riiiiight. The obesity epidemic is a simple math problem!

Mel HGL serves up a post that covers the traditional use of cold therapy.

Perhaps the best weight loss article ever written?

Humans apparently evolved the ability to produce omega 3 and 6 fats to feed our brainz. But in today’s world this may serve as a mismatch and is prolly royally screwing us up!

Chronic dieting isn’t doing very much good for our waste lines.

Russ's colcannon with just a smidge too many leeks - but he thinks onions are gross anyway.

Paindatabase.com urges us to stop all the negative thinking!

Fecal transplants may sound downright horrid, but if you’ve got a case of C. diff you just may want to seek out a healthy poo donor.

The BBC covers the revival of fermenting foods.

Jarred baby food is pretty devoid of nutrients. 

Honey’s effect on human evolution.

FED features a comprehensive post about the merits of cooking in human evolution.  

Notes from Andrew,  our resident Bastyr Doctor of Naturopathic medicine student:

  •  Chamomile (matricaria recuita) is kind of amazing. It’s the most potent herbal nervine known. It contains matricine which get converted in the gut to chamazulene. Chamazulene powerfully stops the conversation of arachidonic acid (a major source of oxidation) and inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 (think low, low dose aspirin). Chamomile alo contains apigenin which reduces DNA oxidation, is chemoprotective, and induces apoptosis. Squiterpense give chamomile it’s bitter taste which stimulate cranial nerve 9 and 10 causing an increasing in stomach acid, salivation, and peristalsis. Many of these benefits are in the volatile oils of chamomile so teas must be covered as they steep otherwise the volatile oils will evaporate. If your chamomile isn’t slightly bitter, find a brand that hasn’t bred the medicinal qualities out of their chamomile.
  • Also, how to make the computer less addicting at night. control + option + command + 8 Try it out.

Jenny decided that Saturday nights are perfect for boning.

Weekly Round Up

8 Apr

What kind of krazy krap do we talk about in the HBP discussion group you ask? Here you go. You asked for it!

Amanda's amazing pork loin with spicy cranberry for $2.50 a serving!

Some beautiful food art for sale.

We all KNOW it’s an important topic, so here’s another piece about how maternal diet affects the health of babies.

Lustig was on 60 Minutes this week, and Alan Aragon responds!

Can mummies reveal the secrets to cure obesity?

Curious about what varying body fat levels actually look like? You may be surprised about what you find most attractive.

For the lacto-Paleos. Greek yogurt, strawberries.raspberries.blueberries., a bit o maple syrup.

Girls are cool and strong!

Researchers identify distinct metabolic responses to high & low GI carbohydrates in healthy, non-obese individual.

Superhuman Radio was a biggie for us this week with two Paleo interviews. Paul Jaminet gives another great interview and so does Robb Wolf .

Carly's cottage pie.

Is the U.S. obesity epidemic even greater than reported?

Julia's scallops!

Here’s a new and interesting egg recipe by The Domestic Man!

Saccharomyces boulardii is a beneficial strain of yeast, a probiotic, that appears to be medicinal.

An enzyme in saliva helps regulate blood glucose.

Amanda's crab cakes (ever need some Paleo catering? HBP cooks are amazing!)

“A secret of our industrial food system is that it pumps chickens with arsenic, caffeine, Benadryl and Tylenol — even illegal antibiotics.”

Robb Wolf has a great, tear jerking post on his blog.

Japan’s new love affair with wheat. 

J. Stanton posts a good read about nutritionism. 

Jan's Finnish herrings.

Monsanto threatens to sue Vermont?

Evidence that humans used fire 1 million years ago. 

Taurine is good. It prevents heart disease (in amounts you would get in your diet and not super dosing with pillz). A possible mechanism is that taurine inhibits non-enzymatic glycation and lipid peroxidation. 

Melissa McEwan’s part deux of her evolutionary biology series. 

Jan's Oxtail.

Antibiotics effect gut flora which screw up your vitamin producing bacteria, and more in this post by Dr. Ayers. 

Denise Minger’s adds a section to her blog just for vegans. Very helpful and interesting.

Interesting paper on the effects of saturated fats vs n-6 PUFA on liver fat. 

FED takes on Self Determination Theory.

Does Yerba Mate fix your funky leptin?

The Highbrow Paleo Guide To Binge Drinking: Addendum, Further Discoveries, And Thanks (I wuv U guys)

30 Mar

It has been a while since I wrote the Highbrow Paleo Guide To Binge Drinking and there has been an outpouring of positive reactions from many readers. People say that they have eliminated hangovers, that they feel well after a night of drinking when they might have otherwise had a rough day, and that they generally don’t see side effects from drinking like they used to. Others have had less success and this calls for some trouble-shooting. There have been general questions about what is essential and what is icing on the coconut flour paleo cake. Which are the core aspects of that enormous list of supplements and foods and which are redundant in combination with other supplements or foods? I will clarify my thoughts on the matter. I will also address some scientific tidbits and share new discoveries. This post will tie up some loose ends and right the ship for smooth sailing.

The core of the regimen is a handful (not literally, phew) of supplements and supplement types along with some foods and practices. Pantethine is hugely important for reducing the acetaldehyde accumulation from ethanol metabolism, and everyone except for those who will get significant facial flushing when drinking will benefit from it in this way.

To answer WCC Paul’s question about the specifics of facial flushing in response to alcohol: some people have a polymorphism where they only have one normal copy of the ALDH2 gene which codes for the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (see the original post for the diagram), which metabolizes acetaldehyde to a safer molecule. One common copy and one mutated copy results in significantly impaired acetaldehyde dehydrogenase activity, whereas two common copies means better acetaldehyde metabolism (1). Since coenzyme A which is produced from pantethine must activate this enzyme to exert its effects on metabolism, it is like putting gas in a broken-down car to supply more coenzyme A from pantethine. No go. Pantethine has many benefits besides the aforementioned so this doesn’t mean that those who flush shouldn’t think about it anyway. Byron Richards has written a superb article about some of the benefits of supplementing with pantethine including better lipid metabolism, brain health and a reduction of fat accumulation in the liver(2).

It is estimated that this extreme facial flushing is mostly a phenomenon occurring in The Orient, to the tune of 50% of the population in some places.  That is a significant percentage of the world. It is a smaller percentage of the readers of this blog but I suspect that we have enough East Asian readers to make this relevant. You will know who you are.

This is your face on acetaldehyde

Along with pantethine it is imperative that you maintain a nutritious diet and get extra Vitamin B1, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C on the day of drinking. These will protect the body from the stress of acetaldehyde. I favor getting these from food but an acute supplemental dosage if you haven’t been paying close attention to your diet will probably help.

Embarrassingly I unintentionally omitted Astaxanthin from the original article. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid and is responsible for the pinkness of salmon, shrimp and flamingos. It is one of my favorite antioxidants and definitely protects rodents from alcohol-induced liver injury (3). Its benefits for humans are quite impressive, and in placebo-controlled trials it can radically reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in most areas of the body(4). It appears to be an ideal nutrient for dealing with acetaldehyde toxicity and one that I recommend highly.

Flamingos know how to party

About using rat studies: I mentioned in the original post that it was useful to hazard a guess as to whether or not what protects rats can in similar ways protect humans, and I stand by it. This isn’t a precise protocol to begin with, it has to do with experimentation because all of us are in a different state with regards to our health. In assessing how we feel in our everyday lives and getting blood tests we can make adjustments as needed.

Rat studies aren’t a great reflection of what happens in humans all of the time, but when it comes to the ability of nutrients to protect an organism I think that the inference from rat to human is a lot more tenable than guessing what might kill a human because it kills a rat, as thousands upon thousands of studies on obese rats with metabolic syndrome spectrum diseases and disorders have suggested. Routinely rat studies are used by the unknowing to justify the notion that a particular food causes harm, when the conditions that the rats are living in are unnatural and don’t apply to healthy humans in the real world. Just adding additional basic nutrients to the diet and making rats exercise can alleviate many of the problems that a so-called “high fat”, “high sugar” or “alcoholic” diet and lifestyle can cause the little critters. It is for this reason that whenever I see rodents getting a disease from something or other I have to ask “what could we add to save these furry little guys?” and oftentimes there is much that can be done.

“Help me Astaxanthin, you’re my only hope!”

But it is often correct to extrapolate to humans as long as we employ comparative anatomy, knowledge of the mechanisms and of the different possible contexts. Like I just suggested with Astaxanthin, when the mechanisms are the same in both humans and rats and when all reason points us to a conclusion, we should act on it. I suspect that increasing glutathione and other protective molecules in the liver will protect humans as it does rats, this is my experience, this is the experience of others, and I think I’m justified in believing it.

That being said, humans have to live for a very long time and rat studies often take place over the course of months. So we can’t infer that these things don’t cause great harm to humans in the long term because they don’t cause rodents to become diseased in the short term. Chronic toxicity can be mitigated for a time in some cases but over the long-term it can add up to a significant negative effect on the body. This is where I realize the limits of such a protocol but I still think that there is much merit in looking at damage reduction on the occasions we might over-indulge.

Back to the implementation of the protocol. Anti-inflammatory nutrients may be frivolous in some cases. If we are eating and living in a generally anti-inflammatory way we will be greatly protected from excessive systemic inflammation by default. However they can be a great boon for some people who are still fighting inflammation, and the nutrients that I selected are like an insurance policy, they protect rats quite well and the same mechanisms can be demonstrated to work in humans.

Combinations of anti-inflammatory nutrients may be synergistic or redundant. If you take curcumin you may not need ginger but some supplement companies feel that their supplements should contain both. If you take quercetin, you might not need resveratrol. I suspect that you only need one strong selective inhibitor of the COX enzymes prior to drinking. One of the options that I suggested in the original post will probably suffice. Save your money and buy the cutie at the bar a drink instead! Most of our anti-inflammatory potential should come from staying healthy with a good diet and lifestyle anyway.

The guide is meant to be an adjunct to good health and good diet. The healthier we are when we drink, the less it will affect us negatively. It is not just that we have more life to destroy but that the toxic effects are actually lessened when we are in good health. Although I mentioned it in the disclaimer, it needs repeating. For those who are in the process of getting healthy but aren’t quite there yet, the effects of alcohol are more dire than  for the stunning examples of health that we see all around us in the health community. If you have intestinal dysbiosis, diabetes, are inflamed and have high levels of the most common clinical marker for chronic inflammation C-reactive protein (CRP, one of the most common markers for chronic inflammation) then alcohol is going to be more of a burden on your liver and body in general. The inability of the immune system to be controlled so that it heals and doesn’t hurt is vital to getting away with abusing one’s liver. A dysregulated immune response is what turns mild damage to hepatocytes into cirrhosis over the years. The level of CRP conducive to good health is generally recognized to be 1.0 mg/dl or lower. Many of us have a CRP level of 0.1 mg/dl and I doubt that anyone on the paleo diet or other healthy diets long term will have appreciable levels of chronic inflammation, but you should check to make sure.

You will want a liver enzymes test (measures liver health) and general metabolic panel if you are serious about boozing healthfully. It’s all up to the individual what they want to do, but I’m assuming  that we’re all interested in health. Subjective assessments of health upon waking up and drinking some water after a night of drinking are good measures of adaptability to alcohol, but you can never be too safe.

Now for some trouble-shooting and further answers to questions about how to implement the protocol effectively:

Exercise: You should exercise some time in the day before drinking. You don’t have to exercise during drinking. Running away from a police officer after urinating on his car DOES count over the course of the days that will follow, but I would discourage that. We are degenerates, not jerks.

Glutathione-supporting supplements:  Glutathione-generating nutrients are very useful but taking many of them might be redundant like with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Then again maybe not, I can’t give my definitive stance on that right now. N-acetylcysteine will directly generate it and is a top choice. Silymarin from milk thistle is a good choice for preserving glutathione status in the liver as well. Getting enough sulfur will allow you to synthesize more glutathione, and foods like whey, milk, and fruits and vegetables may be ideal for supplying or generating it (5). Green tea has also been shown to increase glutathione levels significantly(6). I can’t give any clear rules to follow here, but do look into ways to boost glutathione levels on a daily basis; it will help you greatly when you need it. Take the supplements days in advance of drinking. This is very important because we don’t want to  be glutathione-depleted when we are drinking and take a few pills on the same day, hoping to increase our antioxidant status all at once. Glutathione is like money in the biological bank, build it, maintain it, and spend it as you see fit, but don’t try to spend what you don’t have. It takes a while to build up to highly protective levels.

Milk thistle/silymarin: try it alone before trying it with alcohol or other supplements. It can produce what I assume to be a detox reaction in some people, and then they go and blame the protocol for not working, but they end up feeling better when omitting the milk thistle. If you get a good response or no response to milk thistle then take it two weeks at a time, two weeks off, as well as prior to drinking. I think that there is wisdom in rotating herbs, because they can potentially have adverse side effects if used for prolonged periods. I can’t say for sure if milk thistle has chronic toxicity but there are some reports of it eventually impairing the liver’s ability to function properly. However there is no reason to think that it is harmful when used in moderation and at opportune times,  indeed, the opposite is true.

New discoveries that weren’t included in the original article besides the ones already mentioned:

I mentioned in the original article that there were mechanisms by which alcohol harms the body other than  oxidative stress and acetaldehyde toxicity, but assumed that my protocol would cover the rest because rats are usually in good health after these interventions.  However alcohol can also lead to dysbiosis, an imbalance in populations of symbiotic and pernicious microorganisms in the gut. We disinfect wounds with it, marinade meat in it, and drinking it is like going nuclear on our gut flora. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, because experiments show that the effect can be reversed with probiotics and prebiotics (7).  Some lactobacillus strains and some fermentable fiber. Yeah yeah I know, more stuff to add to the pile of pills and foods, but this issue strikes me as uniquely important. Hopefully most people are getting a moderate amount of vegetable and fruit fiber and eating some probiotic-containing foods anyway and the point is moot. The researchers used prebiotic oats that feed gut bacteria, and lactobacillus GG to counteract the leaky gut from intestinal dysbiosis. Mmm! I’ll just add that to my rice flour, whey protein, high oleic sunflower oil and pile of pills. Oh wait, that’s not a joke I actually eat those things. Stabby is inadvertently on the lab rat diet, hold the Crisco!

Rat gut flora is different than human gut flora but I think the same principle probably applies. Maintain certain levels of certain beneficial bacteria. Stomach cramps and excessive flatulence in response to fibrous foods are  good subjective asessments of the state of one’s gut flora.

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that a little bit of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) helps to prevent a hangover. The mechanism is likely as Dr. Ray Peat suggests, carbon’s buffering of lactic acid buildup (8). Alcohol metabolism interferes with the breakdown of lactic acid, which can raise the pH of the cells and blood, causing inflammation and fibrosis as well as interfering with energy production. Having enough Co2 available to buffer it will help to offset this effect. It certainly helps athletes to perform better, however it might take a few weeks of taking it to see a benefit (9). Consider it! It can potentially impair the efficacy of stomach acid so be sure to take it during a non digestive period.

Finally, don’t forget to hydrate properly; not too much or too little. Alcohol is a fluid but also a diuretic and can be dehydrating. “Oh dear, did he just tell us to drink enough water?! What’s next, get to bed at a reasonable time? Duh!” While it may be obvious, it can be easy to forget. We may also benefit from electrolytes which are depleted by drinking. Coconut water or various electrolyte supplements will help us feel our best and rehydrate. Verily this is an extension and additional detail of the overarching theme we have been discussing: be well-nourished if you wish to drink in excess. One can find all sorts of essential and non-essential nutrients that can protect the body against alcohol and they are invaluable. Some more that I didn’t mention already are selenium and magnesium (10). Those are pretty basic to any healthy diet, but this further illustrates the benefit of being well nourished when drinking.

And there you have it. Another segment of The Highbrow Paleo Guide To Binge Drinking: complete! As always, share your stories, your personal favorite remedies,  and share this article! This has truly been a team effort; I write these articles but can’t take all of the credit.

Cheers.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_flush_reaction

2. http://www.wellnessresources.com/tips/articles/pantethine_boost_your_brain_cardio_health_metabolism_and_detoxification/

3.http://eng.hi138.com/?i295354_Astaxanthin-on-acute-alcohol-liver-injury-in-rats

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20205737

5. http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/2010/09/11/the-biochemical-magic-of-raw-milk-and-other-raw-foods-glutathione/

6. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070810194923.htm

7. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01022.x/abstract;jsessionid=1EB236C6BADB218788B67B143698B488.d02t01

8.http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/co2.shtml

9. http://suppversity.blogspot.ca/2011/11/baking-soda-for-stressed-white-blood.html

10. http://het.sagepub.com/content/30/11/1811.abstract

Weekly Round Up

26 Mar

Here’s a sampling of just a few of the things we’ve discussed in the HBP group this week, oh yeah, plus some food porn:

Londoner Carly's lunch: Smoked bacon with homemade guacamole.

Matthew says, “I don’t have a problem with any of these foods and its great to make tasty gluten free stuff if people want it. It just doesn’t have anything much to do with how our ancestors ate and is probably quite capable of tripping out your food reward circuits,” in reference to this post.

Use your slow cooker to combat chronic pain!

Elizabeth shares the fact that 110 new fake meat products were introduced in 2010/11.

Matthew might be a student bachelor, but he sure doesn't eat like one!

Mash wants to start a barefoot running program. We gathered some great tips and fails: start slowly, consider minimalist runners instead of going fully bare and run on just grass or sand first.

The New York Times hosted an essay contest titled, “Tell Us Why it’s Ethical to eat Meat.” Our rants are just too long to post here, but rest assured, we tossed this one about.

Matthew shares this novel therapy, CLA for Crohn’s disease.

Mal shares this Suppversity article that delves into some of the possible mechanisms for why gastric bypass surgery has such powerful metabolic effects, and how you can perhaps mimic these results through diet, (hint…GLP-1).

Pat's fish head stock.

Lucas shares some interesting findings about the effects of music on the brain.

A new blog with but one post, but a good read: The Leptin Marketing Miracle.

The BBC aired a special titled “The Truth About Fat” for those not in the UK you can see it on YouTube.

Andrew has been planning this treat all week. He didn't get sick, but overall it was meh.

Our supplement fetishist club led by Stabby endorses Astaxanthin! Just 2mg are shown to have benefit.

Dr. BG talks about the effect that pesticides has on our mitochondria, which we should ALL know by now are those little energy producing organelles.

Giulia shares the four things you should never buy at Costco.  Bad news folks, shrimp tops the list.

Lamb shanks.

JuBa has a new web presence that she launched this week.

Russ composed a great post right here on this blog about the difference between “being” Paleo and eating Paleo.

Devika shares some good news regarding red meat and depression.

Russ's BBQ setup. Catching the goodness of drippings.

What? Popcorn has more polyphenols than fruits and vegetables?

This Friday, March 30th is our group’s deadline for submitting our first HBP Iron Chef Paleo Challenge. This round we must use egg, kale, mushrooms, onions and a tuber. No more than three unpowered kitchen gadgets and no more than three seasonings. Future rounds to be announced via our facebook page and here. Be on the lookout because we are looking for submissions from outside of the group!

Bree's eats up some birds (duck). She better be saving that rendered fat!

The Difference Between Eating Paleo and “Being Paleo”

23 Mar

As the Paleo FX Ancestral Momentum – Theory to Practice Symposium (so glad they didn’t go with the long version of the event’s name) wound down last week, it felt like the Paleo blogging world and its faithful audience (hereafter “Paleosphere”) had worked itself up into a frenzy. Over what, I’m not quite sure. It may have just been the gathering of like-minded individuals with strong online presences. What left a lasting impression was the tone of the Paleosphere during the event, and it just so happened that the timely coalescence of Paleo personalities and its ensuing social media onslaught brought everything to a head for me.

You see, I’ve been following a Paleo way of eating for about 18 months now, and it’s had a profound impact on the way I view the world, how I feel, and (obviously) how I eat. I replaced most grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars, and seed-derived oils with whole foods and many of my autoimmune symptoms went into remission. I can honestly say with conviction that I “eat Paleo”. However, I do not identify myself as “being Paleo”. I think there’s a distinction that needs to be made before we move on.

To me, “being Paleo” means that you are self-identifying with a group. It’s like calling yourself a musician or a video gamer (as opposed to simply writing music or playing video games). The problem with identification is that disidentification – the mentality of “us vs. them”, and a focus on what you are NOT – often emerges. Consider the in-group-out-group bias. This phenomenon can lead to aggression and prejudice, and some suggest that it leads to a lack of productivity, as identifiers take action while disidentifiers tend to just make a lot of talk. (And who is the “them” in this case? Just about everyone else – those pesky grain-eaters that make up the rest of the population, and those cursed Vegans that try and muck everything up!).

While the Paleosphere (thankfully) doesn’t focus too much on the “them” aspect of the diet, there’s definitely an overbearing “us” momentum that isn’t entirely healthy, either. I often see the Paleosphere as being on this slippery slope towards extremism.

As an ever-increasingly-large group of people that eat a similar diet and in many cases hold similar values, I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of the fact that extremists and ideologists often alienate themselves from the rest of society. How are we supposed to make an impact on the nutrition world if we work the Paleosphere up into a frenzied cult status? John George and Laird Wilcox, scholars of fringe movements, have identified the following characteristics of political extremists and ideological contrarians:

1. Absolute certainty they have the truth.
2. [The belief that] America is controlled to a greater or lesser extent by a conspiratorial group. In fact, they believe this evil group is very powerful and controls most nations.
3. Open hatred of opponents. Because these opponents (actually “enemies” in the extremists’ eyes) are seen as a part of or sympathizers with “The Conspiracy,” they deserve hatred and contempt.
4. Little faith in the democratic process. Mainly because most believe “The Conspiracy” has great influence in the U.S. government, and therefore extremists usually spurn compromise.
5. Willingness to deny basic civil liberties to certain fellow citizens, because enemies deserve no liberties.
6. Consistent indulgence in irresponsible accusations and character assassination.

Does that sound alarmingly familiar to you? Admittedly, the above characteristics have a major political slant, and the fact that big corporations have major influence on what ends up on our dinner plates may not lead to some of those characteristics (like the willingness to deny basic civil liberties part).

I can’t deny that a relatively extreme diet (side note: it’s sad that the Paleo diet is considered “extreme” in this age of processed/fast foods) will attract people that gravitate towards fringe thinking – as sociologist Daniel Bell put it, for those on the fringe, “the way you hold beliefs is more important than what you hold. If somebody’s been a rigid Communist, he becomes a rigid anti-Communist – the rigidity being constant.” How many ex-Vegans are in the Paleosphere? Lots. (As some would argue: not enough.) An extreme lifestyle will attract extremists, which simply isn’t preventable. My point is this: just because there are crazies in the Paleosphere, we don’t have to listen to them, and we need to keep ourselves in check to make sure we don’t become them. An easy way to prevent this is to continually challenge ourselves to question our dietary standards, and to avoid dogmatism.

So where do we start? How can we make sure that we promote this diet in the most open, pragmatic, unobtrusive, and inclusive way? Here are some quick suggestions:

1. Don’t tell people that you “are Paleo”. Hell, don’t even tell them that you eat “Paleo”, because the use of labels is in itself exclusionary. Just tell them what you eat, and maybe what you don’t eat. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. Look at the Weston A. Price dietary guidelines. It’s very similar to the modern interpretation of the Paleo diet, and they don’t tell you what to avoid, even once. Focus on the whole foods, not on yet-to-be-completely-proven-as-evil grains, legumes, etc.

2. Don’t use flawed ideas or gray areas to promote the diet, because it calls the Paleosphere’s credibility into question. Don’t worship bacon, which is likely not good for you, even if it is (was) somewhat fashionable to “baconize” stuff. It’s a useful ingredient in cooking, but it’s not our flagship food. Don’t celebrate “Paleo versions” of sweets like Paleo brownies because that’s not helping people overcome their underlying food issues and if anything it’s guiding them towards failure. The last thing we should do is to set people on shaky foundations. Personally, I’m all about Dr. Kurt Harris‘ incremental process, because it encourages folks to improve their health even when they’re not ready to dive into a full-blown Paleo eating orgy.

3. Avoid dogmatic thinking. Are potatoes evil? What about white rice? What about dairy? Aren’t we supposed to be eating low carb? Remember that human variance, health history, and gut flora are major factors in food tolerance, and macronutrient ratios are highly individualized. This diet is ever-changing (and it should be as scientific study helps enlighten our views on nutrition every day); be open to suggestion.

4. Try not to alienate others by flaunting an overbearing self-identification of “being Paleo.” You’re not a caveman, and you’re certainly not living like one, so why label yourself as one? If anything, I suggest embracing what we do have in common with our ancestors – the fact that we’re all on this planet. Go take a walk/hike. Watch a sunset. Spend a few days camping. That’s certainly closer to being a caveman than eating a pound of lean red meat straight out of a slow cooker after a hard day at the office and then blogging about it.

5. Bear in mind that everyone has their own burden. I’m pretty sure that most people simply cannot afford to eat fresh organic vegetables and grass-fed meats all the time. My family can’t afford it, despite the fact that a huge chunk of our income goes towards our groceries – nearly twice as much as before we switched our diet. Additionally, many people don’t have the resources to find out whether or not they have access to affordable grass-fed meats anyway – online resources are often outdated, and I’ll wager that many excellent farmers are out working and not updating their farm’s webpage and social networking fan pages. Many don’t have access to local, affordable health food markets. This is no reason to make people feel bad for having to make sacrifices to make ends meat meet; instead celebrate the steps that people are willing to take for their health that are within their means.

6. Avoid the fringe, and consider the power of prudence. What is the point of wearing t-shirts that say “Meat is awesome” or “Vegans suck”? Before shouting from the rooftops about how stuff like cold thermogenesis and eating butter straight out of the container is awesome, take a step back and think about how crazy that sounds to the average person. I’m not saying that any of those extreme elements are bad, but they might not be helping the Paleo movement along when that’s the stuff we get identified with. When it comes down to it, who better to police the Paleosphere than ourselves?

Lastly, please don’t take this as an insult to anyone that’s exhibited these behaviors. Dramatically improving your health through simple changes in diet is awesome, and exciting. I don’t fault you for telling people that “you’re Paleo”. My only purpose in writing this article is to help consider the fact that we need to do what we can to impact those that aren’t lucky enough to know much about sensible eating yet. As much as it may be fun to be part of a cool, elite club of Paleo dieters that share cool pictures and sayings amongst themselves, isn’t our energy better spent on refining the diet itself through scientific study and attracting people that haven’t been exposed to the diet yet?

Weekly Round Up

12 Mar

In between ice baths and 9 egg omelette breakfasts, we managed to talk about the following this week in …HIGHBROW PALEO.

Patty pesto peas plantains piquant... primal

Marissa wrote a great blog post about epigenetics and urban planning.

Stabby says, “Otzi ate a lot of grains. Otzi suffered from a lot of infections. Otzi is one confounded mfer. I wouldn’t use Otzi to say anything about anything, even grains or infections because it could be all the grains or all the infections.  Invalid inference!!!!!!!! Mainstream media Y U so suck?” in reference to this article.

Speaking of Stabby, that raccoon has one hell of a crush on Byron Richards, from wellnessresources.com. Here’s his take on the supplement pantethine. It’s great for mellowing out acne (especially the hormonal kind), raises BDNF which is like youth serum for da brainz, and enhanes GI tract healing.

Apparently this piece of awkward weirdness was making the rounds on the interwebs.

Roasted curry chicken drumsticks, served with an arugula salad.

Rose shares this neat bit of information that goes into how food reward varies in obese and non obese people. Rose says, “It looks like this is saying that obese people responded differently to both hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic conditions than non-obese people with regard to (drum roll) FOOD REWARD. Non-obese subjects (in my reading) showed satiety and noninterest in food when blood sugar is high, while obese people did not have that prefront restraint system activation. And obese subjects reacted more to hypoglycemia as well, although I can’t tell exactly what those brain functions indicate about that reaction.”

Mallory shares this link which covers how omega -3 fish oil benefits thyroid function.

We listened to Jimmy Moore’s interview with Loren Cordain. Overall (sorry Paleo gods) we were a little “meh” about it. Andrew summed it up nicely for us when he commented: “Paleo logic for avoiding all foods #1: A subset of the population is intolerant to a food so nobody should eat it.”

Yahoo deems Paleo a celeb diet to avoid!  Tony give them the FED treatment.

Y'all HAVE to visit Tony's site. So good! (click the piture please).

Dudes – Stabby wants you to know that your high protein diet must ALSO be high FAT. Here’s why.

The list of presenters for the 2012 Ancestral Health Symposium is up! Get ready people. It’s going to be on like Donkey….nevermind.

Kent's new love - Japanese sweets. #worklunch

Russ shares that smoothies are totally PALEO! Yay! (Since the coffee news from last week was so devastating).

Andrew comments that Matt Stone may be on to something with this whole “don’t drink the water” stuff. He was interviewed on UG Wellness recently here.

Ned Kock shares more in his series about gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.

Mary shares this study which covers the important link between insulin resistance and depression among teens.

Finally, this satirical post pokes fun at the nutrional cult that is Paleo.  So funny!

Hello. I'm a nice snack. Sheep's-milk yogurt, maple syrup, berries, edible pansies.

Weekly Round Up

26 Feb

Fights, brawls, gossip, discussion and food ideas shared among members of the Highbrow Paleo Group.

The Paleo Summit by Sean Croxton started today. We listened to Mark Sisson and pretty much all agree that he was a stellar pick to kick off the presentations. So balanced. So open. So sane. I wonder if any of the other presenters will be his equal. We’ll see.

Here’s a nice Paleo Barbecue Sauce recipe from the Domestic Man (fingers crossed that this guy puts out a cookbook at some point).

Russ's Barbecue Sauce.

Pat from the Nutritionator blog shared this great new post listing tons of Paleo meal ideas with links to recipes. 

Mal was afraid that dropping her coffee habit for green tea would bugger her high iron levels. But Matthew saves the day with this piece about green tea polyphenols performing the same chelating function as coffee.

Matthew wonders if it’s true that modern women are going grey faster these days. If so, what could be some of the reasons?

Yay! A new experimental weight loss pill! Andrew says, “Obesity pills will never work for the US current condition because we are in a state of deficiency rather than a state of excess. Purgative therapies are easy but upper regulating metabolism on people who are deficient is going to be a disaster every single time.”

Julia and Adam share their love of the brine. Jules’ plain chicken breast went from blah to awesomeballs with a mere soak.

Adam's Chicken Brining Bucket

Is the “rule” about getting 8 hours of sleep a myth we’ve just all bought into?

Andrew shares Dr. Bryan Walsh’s short video on adrenal stress.

Rose shares a very interesting piece that goes a bit further in linking inflammation to metabolic syndrome.

Eeek! Sean links us to an article about dangerous levels of arsenic in rice and rice products, especially rice syrup!

‎”Did you know the USDA standards for organic beef only requires “grassfed” beef to be 30% grassfed?” No, no I did not. That’s messed up. Thank you Elizabeth for sharing this info!

Amanda has been testing Negronis from a previous Highbrow blog post by WCC Paul, "Cocktailing for the non-sugar-addled". Try it with a pinch of sea salt! *hic*

In an effort to consume more kale, Julie is going to drink hers – margarita style! 

Thanks to Stabby we know a little more about the benefits of Vitamin D.  It regulates LPS-induced inflammation, getting better until about 50ng/dl. So, it seems we can feel good about emphasizing D for inflammatory conditions.

Kamal shares the fact that medicare covers the Ornish Program. Yoga, meditation and plants are great, but there’s just too much PUFA and grains to make this a biologically sound (B.S.) plan. On a side note, AHS can book Dr. Ornish to speak for $40K.

A new book is out! A former vegan ditches the veggie plan and goes for his Granny’s old fashioned recipes – and LOVES it. It’s just nice to see support for traditional foods.

Jen's Kombucha is brewing!

Weekly Round Up

5 Feb

Here’s a condensed version of the goings on in the Highbrow Paleo discussion group. Links, topics, pictures, you name it:

Matthew's coconut Banana Cakes

Andrew is cutting out coffee for the month of February, and here is what we learned: Cutting coffee cold turkey can be difficult but not impossible, Jan, our Finnish friend hails from the country with the highest coffee intake, and Greatist shared why coffee and tea are good for you in this infographic.

We LOVE Tony’s virtual paleo cookbook. Amanda loves the eggplant fries.

Matthew started a new blog and shared this recipe for coconut banana cakes. Julie runs with her bad self and tweaks the recipe to come up with coconut banana chocolate chip cookies. If we’re nice maybe she’ll copy down the recipe for the Eats section.

Julie's cookie version of Matthew's coconut cakes.

Crazy ass featherless chickens that do not need to be plucked are NOT paleo!

The Fuck?

Matt Metzgar posted about the effect eating in front of the computer has on overeating later in the day. It looks like many of us are guilty of this, however those who plan their meals and control their portions don’t see this as a problem for them. Maybe the planning is a form of front end mindfulness.

We talked about Paul Jaminet’s post on Carbohydrate levels. In the end a few of us continue to be macronutrient agnostic, while doing our best to avoid NADs and be nutrient replete.

Amanda shared this nifty NY Times blog post about the effects exercise has on autophagy.

Russ wonders what we feed our pets? Are they Paleo too? Russ buys Blue Wilderness, Fazila has a herd of cats and she likes Origen, Taste of the Wild, and Feline Caviar. Some do feed their animals a raw diet of bones, offal and meat. Some are happy getting the best kibble they can get while supplementing it with eggs and meat from time to time.

If you could go on a long vacation (4 months) to top off your vitamin D reserves, where would you go? We recommend: Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Thailand, Indonesia, East Malaysia or Belize.

Thailand ::dreams::

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