6

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Could malnutrition be the root of the problem?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 18, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Recently I've been thinking that maybe most of the health problems experienced in industrialized societies can be summed up in one idea: malnutrition.

I know that some Paleos demonize grains, legumes, etc. But maybe the reason they seem to be doing so much "damage" is because of the lack of nutrient-dense foods.

Some circumstantial evidence:

  • This question discusses a more balanced view of so-called anti-nutrients like phytic acid.

  • Mark Sisson writes about a case study of malnourished moose

  • A study done on tooth decay indicates that decay must be enabled by certain factors inside the tooth (inflammation, oxidative stress). See the question here. If we're eating enough anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich foods, this probably would be much less of a problem.

Personally, I eat a few tablespoons of white rice (only at suppertime), and am craving wheat-based snacks less and less. I've also been inspired by Terry Wahls' emphasis on the 3 veggie groups and organ meats, and am trying to consciously eat more of them.

But could it be that we're being a bit over-zealous about the "evils" of so-called anti-nutrients? Maybe we should be focus on the positive. As long as a "non-Paleo" food is minimally processed and hasn't gone rancid, and we don't react badly to it, I don't think we need to treat it like the plague, we just have to remember that we're much better off eating the nutrient-dense foods (we can only eat so much, so there are tradeoffs).

Thoughts?

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 19, 2013
at 09:02 PM

@thhq I wouldn't necessarily disagree with glib on toxicity. While I would say that malnutrition isn't the same as toxicity, I think it is true that some kinds of processing or extraction may make a food harmful is some way. One example is PUFA rancidity. Your body has to use up antioxidants to clean up the mess.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 19, 2013
at 08:51 PM

Pointing fingers is the behavior of a victim. You construct a paleo lifestyle based on ancestral foods and behaviors, and live it out n=1. Deconstruction of other peoples non-paleo behavior is not all that helpful for fixing yourself. Show them what it does by example.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 19, 2013
at 08:11 PM

-1 for using the word toxic. Processed food may not be optimal but it isn't toxic. This kind of hyperbole makes paleo a laughingstock.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on June 19, 2013
at 12:20 PM

@kelvin find what works for you.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on June 19, 2013
at 12:20 PM

@RB, would you include the modern GMO gluten strains and dwarf wheat?

5cb72179fcddcee6a6b570dc80269a1a

(78)

on June 19, 2013
at 05:45 AM

I don't have a scientific background but I feel that it's in our nature to point a finger at something and say "Bad guy." We need to cast blame on things. In this case, I think that the elimination of modern food items like the abundance of seed oils, preservatives, sugar etc is will go a very long way to healing the body. I also believe that soft exercise and sunshine work wonders. I just feel that unless you're "Broken" the case with anti-nutrients and stuff is a little overstated and heavy handed, which isn't to say there isn't some merit. But a cooked potato IMO is not the enemy.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on June 18, 2013
at 05:23 PM

@CD I'm by no means an expert on this, but I feel that taking in possible anti-nutrients might be compared with eating a good amount of veggies, but leaving a little on the plate; should I worry that I didn't get enough? I want to avoid stressing out about things that probably have very little impact. It's like being afraid to sear a steak because it could oxidize some of the unsaturated fats. If I'm not currently trying to heal from something, and therefore am in "maintenance mode", I don't think I should be too concerned. The human body is amazingly resilient.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on June 18, 2013
at 05:20 PM

I'm by no means an expert on this, but I feel that taking in possible anti-nutrients might be compared with eating a good amount of veggies, but leaving a bit behind (out of laziness, for example). I want to avoid stressing out about things that probably have very little impact. It's like being afraid to sear a steak because it could oxidize some of the unsaturated fats. If I'm not currently trying to heal from something, and therefore am in "maintenance mode", I don't think we should be so concerned. The human body is amazingly resilient.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on June 18, 2013
at 05:11 PM

would not the anti-nutrients enhance the malnutrition/ malabsorbtion?

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2 Answers

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A7c1857ce53fb11a9351d05718c7070d

(283)

on July 18, 2013
at 11:00 PM

Malnutrition is probably at the root cause of many of our health problems. Also, it's presence I think is do to the modern processing of food, and also the selective breading and genetic modification of many plant species (basically making them less nutrient dense).

Our brain monitors our nutrient status (not just carbs, fat, and protein, but also vitamin and minerals) and tells us when to eat based on this status. Basically, you may have eaten a ton of food on any given day, but the nutrient status of that food was poor, and your body is still deficient in certain vitamins, so your brain says "eat more food". However, the problem is that the "more food" we eat in the SAD is once again not nutrient dense. Hence, the average person is nutrient poor, but over fed and still hungry. Weird right?

You should read "The Perfect Health Diet" this book actually does a fantastic job of explaining this exact thing in one of the chapters. By the way, so far this book is the best "paleo" book I have read. Here is there blog link: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/

Like you said though, if your food is "paleo" and you eat a decent variety of it, you really don't need to worry all that much, since that type of food is pretty nutrient dense. Oh, but make sure you get some quality eggs and liver in that diet.

-1
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on July 19, 2013
at 04:51 PM

Diseases of civilization and malnutrition are one and the same. Of course we are defining malnutrition to include also foods that, while nutrient dense, are also toxic, for example Haagen Dazs ice cream or whole wheat pasta. Eat natural, paleolithic, nutritious food, and you will get neither diabetes nor dandruff. All you need from the neolithic period is food combinations, food fermentation, and bone broth, all techniques that are really useful.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on July 19, 2013
at 08:11 PM

-1 for using the word toxic. Processed food may not be optimal but it isn't toxic. This kind of hyperbole makes paleo a laughingstock.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 19, 2013
at 09:02 PM

@thhq I wouldn't necessarily disagree with glib on toxicity. While I would say that malnutrition isn't the same as toxicity, I think it is true that some kinds of processing or extraction may make a food harmful is some way. One example is PUFA rancidity. Your body has to use up antioxidants to clean up the mess.

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