4

votes

What is biologically normal?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 30, 2010 at 6:02 PM

In many body measurments like body mass, cholesterol and blood glucose level the "normal" value has been worked out using modern western populations. In some cases this differs from what appears to be normal in groups still living in more traditionally living groups and societies.

Using cholesterol as an example, most hunter-gatherer groups that have been tested have what is now considered low levels of total cholesterol (average 110-130 mg/dl). The traditional Maasai (average 168 mg/dl) people have lower cholesterol levels than the average westernized person.

Not counting whether you think cholesterol is good or bad, do you think there is any reason to recreate the probable levels of our ancestors? Also if your diet raises cholesterol levels above normal is it still recreating a paleolithic diet?

This applies to other things like the body mass index (some hunter-gatherers would be considered underweight in UK or USA), lower blood pressure etc.

Do you try to recreate the metabolic conditions of our hunter-gatherer ancestors?

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on May 08, 2010
at 04:12 PM

Thank you for your responses.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2010
at 11:42 PM

d3 can also be generated by a sperti lamp at sperti.com it is recommended by dr. holick.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 10:43 PM

About being slightly overweight: http://www.wiredprnews.com/2009/06/24/being-slightly-overweight-could-extend-life_200906244288.html http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/06/23/weight-lifespan.html

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 10:05 PM

Scott, for your ageing father, supplementation with ViT D3 is critical as most seniors are very deficient. And I know that Dr. Davis routinely tests his patients entering hospitals for procedures and finds almost all to be highly deficient. He immediately prescribes huge doses of D3 to quickly raise the level. It seems that those patients with adequate VitD3 serum recover much better and faster than the patients low in VitD3. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search?q=vitamin+d+hospital

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:51 PM

Scott, for your ageing father, supplementation with ViT D3 is critical as most seniors are very deficient. And I know that Dr. Davis routinely tests his patients entering hospitals for procedures and finds almost all to be highly deficient. He immediately prescribes huge doses of D3 to quickly raise the level. It seems that those patients with adequate VitD3 serum recover much better and faster than the patients low in VitD3.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:45 PM

Regarding slightly overweight: http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2009/07/07/does_being_overweight_lead_to_a_longer_life.php http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/seniors/Overweight+septuagenarians+live+longer+Study/2494792/story.html

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:30 PM

ScottMGS Here are some anti-statin ammo. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search?q=statins http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Statin%20drugs http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/08/diet-heart-hypothesis-oxidized-ldl-part.html http://www.paleonu.com/display/Search?searchQuery=statins&moduleId=4122155&moduleFilter=&categoryFilter=&startAt=10 Be sure to click on next page at bottom left in red. http://www.westonaprice.org/Cholesterol-High.html http://nephropal.blogspot.com/search?q=statins Click on Older posts for next pages.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2010
at 06:51 PM

I took a cholesterol test called i think 'NMR'. it broke down LDL into the large, good particle size and the small, bad particle size as well as a lot other slicing and dicing. based on those numbers i got an 'insulin sensitivity' score of 2. anything less than 45 was the goal. but my A1c score was 5. 5 or something. not great. i have anemia, which is supposed to maked the A1c score less reliable.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on May 01, 2010
at 06:39 PM

I hope you can find some references. As the son of an aging father I'd love to have some anti-statin ammunition.

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on May 01, 2010
at 01:38 PM

Yeah, I asked because I couldn't find a source myself, and the sources I could find are fairly modern, like the study I linked. The linked study was actually an attempt to compare traditional and westernized Inuit, and the numbers I cited come from the more traditional group, so I wasn't very sure about your 150mg/dl average.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 30, 2010
at 10:09 PM

True, it would be interesting to see what happens to peoples levels eating different variations of a paleodiet for a longer time.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 30, 2010
at 10:03 PM

Good points, BMI has its drawbacks.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 30, 2010
at 09:38 PM

pfw: Couldn't find the source right now so I taken it out. It seemed though that their levels mostly went up the more westernised they get. In the recent study you link about 25% of the Inuit were overweight or obese, I don't think they were eating a totally traditional diet anymore.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on April 30, 2010
at 07:03 PM

Great question!

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on April 30, 2010
at 06:27 PM

What are your sources on traditional cholesterol levels? According to this study: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/26/6/1182.pdf Inuit studied had cholesterol ranging from 150-220 mg/dl.

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6 Answers

4
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on April 30, 2010
at 10:32 PM

  1. Hunter-gatherer tribes often have isolated gene pools. Cholesterol levels are heavily influenced by genetics (as are other measurements such as BMI and blood pressure). So I would not expect differences in cholesterol levels between populations to solely reflect diet and lifestyle differences.

  2. For most of us, paleo is not a re-creation, it's a matter of being healthy, fit and happy. Unless and until lower cholesterol levels are demonstrated to further our goals, I see no reason to go out of our way to re-create someone else's cholesterol level.

  3. One interesting metric for cholesterol levels is heart diease mortality. For total cholesterol levels in modern populations, the "sweet spot" for lowest heart disease mortality is in the 200 to 220mg/dl range (see this Free the Animal thread: http://freetheanimal.com/2009/03/low-cholesterol-to-die-for.html ). Since I'm currently near the sweet spot, I'm not motivated to attempt to move at this time.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on July 08, 2011
at 10:40 AM

Paul Jaminet has just completed a series debunking the contention that HG's have low cholesterol.

1
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 06:10 PM

Although I cannot point to a source since I read a myriad of blogs, I do recall that as we age, and get into our senior years, being just slightly overweight and having a total cholesterol around 275mg/dl with an LDL of around 100 with the majority being large fluffy will lead to a longer lifespan with better quality of life. Mainly because the brain is composed of a majority of cholesterol and being slight overweight gives the body reserves to withstand any disease attacks.

I will look for the references.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:45 PM

Regarding slightly overweight: http://www.diet-blog.com/archives/2009/07/07/does_being_overweight_lead_to_a_longer_life.php http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/seniors/Overweight+septuagenarians+live+longer+Study/2494792/story.html

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2010
at 11:42 PM

d3 can also be generated by a sperti lamp at sperti.com it is recommended by dr. holick.

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on May 01, 2010
at 06:39 PM

I hope you can find some references. As the son of an aging father I'd love to have some anti-statin ammunition.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 10:05 PM

Scott, for your ageing father, supplementation with ViT D3 is critical as most seniors are very deficient. And I know that Dr. Davis routinely tests his patients entering hospitals for procedures and finds almost all to be highly deficient. He immediately prescribes huge doses of D3 to quickly raise the level. It seems that those patients with adequate VitD3 serum recover much better and faster than the patients low in VitD3. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search?q=vitamin+d+hospital

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 10:43 PM

About being slightly overweight: http://www.wiredprnews.com/2009/06/24/being-slightly-overweight-could-extend-life_200906244288.html http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/06/23/weight-lifespan.html

5841391284e7af8c495c54bd90d3a795

(2764)

on May 08, 2010
at 04:12 PM

Thank you for your responses.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:30 PM

ScottMGS Here are some anti-statin ammo. http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search?q=statins http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Statin%20drugs http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/08/diet-heart-hypothesis-oxidized-ldl-part.html http://www.paleonu.com/display/Search?searchQuery=statins&moduleId=4122155&moduleFilter=&categoryFilter=&startAt=10 Be sure to click on next page at bottom left in red. http://www.westonaprice.org/Cholesterol-High.html http://nephropal.blogspot.com/search?q=statins Click on Older posts for next pages.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 01, 2010
at 09:51 PM

Scott, for your ageing father, supplementation with ViT D3 is critical as most seniors are very deficient. And I know that Dr. Davis routinely tests his patients entering hospitals for procedures and finds almost all to be highly deficient. He immediately prescribes huge doses of D3 to quickly raise the level. It seems that those patients with adequate VitD3 serum recover much better and faster than the patients low in VitD3.

1
703331bec3d551d21d2178f60c9963c1

on April 30, 2010
at 09:30 PM

I think total cholesterol is just too variable from person to person (whether they are 'healthy' or not) that you can't compare yourself to any type of average. Taubes I believe talked about a meta analysis of subjects who had zero signs of a heart condition with a very wide range of cholesterol levels.

BMI just seems useless because it doesn't account for lean mass. You could be skinny fat on the SAD and be in normal range or be a Paleo NFL wide receiver who is considered overweight on BMI at 10% bodyfat.

To me, the best markers to measure are your body fat % and your A1c (average blood glucose). This will give you good measurements of your lean mass as well as your insulin sensitivity, which I believe along with leptin sensitivity and leanness are the keys to remaining healthy. Also some kind of test of vitamin/mineral deficiency (if they have one) to see how your gut flora and digestion is working. For 100% paleo folks, all of these measures would be stellar I would think.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 30, 2010
at 10:03 PM

Good points, BMI has its drawbacks.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 01, 2010
at 06:51 PM

I took a cholesterol test called i think 'NMR'. it broke down LDL into the large, good particle size and the small, bad particle size as well as a lot other slicing and dicing. based on those numbers i got an 'insulin sensitivity' score of 2. anything less than 45 was the goal. but my A1c score was 5. 5 or something. not great. i have anemia, which is supposed to maked the A1c score less reliable.

1
A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

on April 30, 2010
at 08:14 PM

High cholesterol in my mind is a repairing mechanism.

When you come off the SAD, it strikes me that there would be a lot of damage to repair. This could take years of high cholesterol.

1
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on April 30, 2010
at 07:48 PM

I think the best way of thinking about it by far is to recognise cholesterol as a marker, not a cause. Cholesterol levels should be expected to vary quite highly depending on what the body needs to do with cholesterol, so trying to recreate certain levels would be essentially arbitrary. If HG's are varying between 110-168mg/dl then we've got quite a range of good health to work within. My suspicion is that if cholesterol levels are higher in neolithic populations then it's just because more carbohydrate and other physiological stressors are forcing our body to have to react to it. Trying to reduce cholesterol directly would be a rather bad idea in that case; while we might worry that something must be wrong if we have far higher cholesterol, reducing our body's natural response would only be a bad thing (as per overdosing on fish oil to blunt our inflammatory response).

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on April 30, 2010
at 10:09 PM

True, it would be interesting to see what happens to peoples levels eating different variations of a paleodiet for a longer time.

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