2

votes

Hack my evidence-based opinion

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM

I've been following the feud between vegans and paleo eaters for a while, yet my intuition naturally throws me into a median position. I would therefore like for someone to "hack" this simple evidence towards one or the other tip of the scale. In few words, prove me wrong, if possible.

Please avoid posting research extracts. I have read hundreds of them by now and it is obvious to me that nutrition science and biology can't predict precisely and comprehensively the relationship between nutrition and health just yet. The fact the lipid hypothesis is being attacked so vehemently and the very existence of this debate proves it.

------Undeniable Evidence (Facts): ---------------------------------
-Humans can generally digest diverse amounts of all macronutrients.
-Humans can thrive for the entirety of their life cycle on either a mostly carnivorous diet (eskimos) or a vegetarian diet (induists).
-Overall, the various forms of nutrition available to human beings haven't impeded the increase of the population and thus reproductive capability in a culturally appreciable manner. (We still have to use contraception regularly, after all, even when sexual disease is excluded.)
-No specific diet has proven the undeniable ability to erase or lower the overall disease rate. -Focusing on one macronutrient above all others leads to nutritional deficiencies. -Demonizing one macronutrient above all others leads, again, to tricky-to-circumvent deficiencies.

According to the undeniable evidence in my possession, my stance is therefore: The lack of processed foods in the diet coupled with appropriate calorie consumption and expenditure in relation to personal metabolic rate plausibly minimize the rates of obesity and affluence diseases, as long as varied dietary habits are maintained.

Now, without having to go all the way of cavemen, which is speculative at best, the simple denial of processed foods brings me basically to the Paleo diet, without the low carb-high fat flair that many seem to give it and argue upon. Fruits, berries, vegetables, tubers, meat (animal-insect-fish-shellfish), offal and bones, sprouted nuts and legumes in relative moderation (therefore no grains, because who'd eat raw wheat?).
A background of light to moderate physical activity completes this simple logic. A predominantly healthy individual (with no insulin/leptin resistance to start with) can eat all these foods without disrupting their health and figure, as long as their diet is always varied and energy balance is maintained. Finally, we can take note of pollution, soil depletion, lack of necessary nutrients in industrial meat and ease of consumption of various aliments to compensate accordingly (through integration or limiting quantities of single aliments).

I didn't need nutrition books, long scientific analysis or some weird food religion to come to this conclusion, therefore i don't see the point of debating something which we clearly can't prove reliably for many years to come, like the "ideal diet".

Many however use the Paleo and other diets for therapeutic or weight loss purposes. This difference should be noted. There is no logical reason to try to assert one specific diet culture or macronutrient ratio when no evidence subsists of its absolute value other than fragmentary research (i keep constantly seeing fringe or out of context research being quoted and argued on vehemently here).

In conclusion, while i personally enjoy both conflict and discussing research, i believe my point is superior as long as one is only concerned with general health and finding an "appropriate diet". Our body is adapted to consume various foods in various novel environments, after all.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:48 AM

Paleo or vegetarianism aren't good because of their specific macronutrient ratios, but because our body has the minimum to thrive on them. It then simply adapts around our habits. Therefore, my conclusions cannot be made more precise. We are omnivores, we dominate the food chain. Were our foods devoid of nutritional deficits from mass-production and were we free from SAD, concern over macronutrients would not exist in this world. A primitive man has no clue about macronutrients or diets, and thrives on all the foods nature provides.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:43 AM

Epigenetics ard Enterogenetics aren't static. Dietary pressures and probiotics can alterate them, which is a fundamental mechanism for humans to adapt to new environments. It takes weeks or months of discomfort, but eventually our bodies can adapt to any macronutrient ratio, as long as they start healthy. That is what my "question" is about. We sick SAD-struck people have to recover, but as long as children being born from today onwards stay away from processed foods and don't hole up in a limited macronutrient ratio, they will be optimally healthy.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:37 AM

You may switch to Paleo and get horrible constipation, adrenal insufficiency, while still failing to recover from your SAD issues, getting to believe Paleo isn't for you. The strong assertions online however push you to keep it up, and eventually you get better. Otherwise you can drop out and try vegetarianism, or even a high carb unprocessed diet (as Ray peat advocates), which may have softer transition curves than Paleo or low carbing for you. This doesn't mean you are made for those diets. Simply because it's not logically sound to say that, as i explained before.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:34 AM

Of course, a vegan isn't respecting "varied dietary habits". A stoic low carber isn't as well. No wonder refeed days are becoming more and more popular in paleo, if not mandatory. Burning fatty acids permanently slows metabolism (especially in warm climates) and constant ketosis also has its problems, but insert a short periodic variation, and everything is tuned better. Of course, after the damage from the processed foods of the SAD, going back to any "natural" diet can be scary and difficult, just like drug recovery. Our bodies seem to tell us that natural foods aren't fit for us.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:25 AM

I cannot fully agree with your conclusion, while i agree with everything you wrote before. Because our bodies aren't designed for a specific diet, they are "designed" (by evolution) for adaptability. We are made to thrive and adapt to new, original food sources and differing macronutrient ratios. I could live and work on the SAD as well as vegetarian and Paleo diets. "Varied dietary habits" is purposefully vague, to leave it open for infinite variability, because frankly, even vegans can survive on their diet and i can spend a week eating only plant material without big health changes.

3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on July 01, 2012
at 05:46 PM

Your view of history is not wrong. However, our intestinal tract is not equipped to digest carbs very well. Protein digestion is much simpler and fat digestion is even simpler yet. Just because we were primarily plant eating at one point in our evolutionary history, does not mean that we still bear ANY resemblance to what we once were. Birds are the closest living descendants of the dinosaurs. I don't think many people would say that birds and dinosaurs have much in common.

0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on June 30, 2012
at 08:22 AM

I feel like "vegan" should perhaps be substituted with "vegetarian", for proper argument here. I don't want to get into the semantics of the definitions, but if one is including SOME sort of animal nutrients, beit bugs, eggs, whatever workarounds are morally permissible in one's mind... *surviving* should be totally possible, albeit likely in a state of carb-dependence (unless coconuts and olives happen to be in serious abundance), and likely not in an optimal state for the incredibly evolved beings that we are.

74b00bbfe9ba0f647bb154ed5f923cb4

(156)

on June 30, 2012
at 06:10 AM

That vegan's stance seems about as stupid as those employees who say that "because my religion frowns upon contraception, I should be able to withhold it from my non-believing staff (even though their usage of it does not affect me or my religious stance at all)" or those who say "because my religion frowns upon homosexuality, gays should not be allowed to marry (because their ability to marry has no influence on my life whatsoever)" I have a strong disdain for people who want to control others' lives because others' lifestyles do not mesh with their own.

74b00bbfe9ba0f647bb154ed5f923cb4

(156)

on June 30, 2012
at 06:04 AM

That seems odd, considering that our ancestors were first plant eaters, then later meat eaters. Unless my view of history is wrong, of course, but my understanding is that taking up meat-eating is what made us human... meaning that at some point, we weren't eating meat, i.e. we were eating plants.

6ba6dc54fccbb9e01a07595137cecfa2

(92)

on June 30, 2012
at 05:43 AM

Vegan is ethical not nutritional and this makes it extremely foolish.From a nutritional standpoint.Philly Cheesesteak is a culinary delight.

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 30, 2012
at 02:25 AM

Yeah just eat real food. Traditional food.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 30, 2012
at 02:07 AM

Ah yes, also works for seed collecting. Perhaps with everything getting squished into 6000 years, becoming higher apes and the advent of agriculture happen in the roughly the same moment.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:42 AM

I would also argue that anyone with a clear understanding of biochemistry and human physiology would simply not advocate a vegan diet. (Maybe for a week or 2 as a "cleanse" if someone *really* wanted to, but definitely not for a lifetime of robust physical and mental health.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:41 AM

...And we've read a ton of stories of women regaining their fertility through Paleo/WAPF diets, with emphasis specifically on quality animal fats. I haven't read a single one of fertility being restored by a return to lentils and seitan.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:40 AM

The fact that we can *survive* long enough to reproduce on any diet doesn't make all of those diets optimal, or even "good," for that matter. Maybe in the sense of continuing the human race, yes, but when the parents of little kids start getting diabetes, heart disease, and some pretty damn downright debilitating chronic conditions, I'd argue there won't be anyone left to *care* for those little human beings who need a lot more support and guidance than baby animals in the wild. Con't...

3975bae934a5ee8ea4af850e960f576a

(45)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:38 AM

In terms of religious allegory, I rather view the "garden of Eden" as the advent of agriculture, the resulting evils included.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:59 PM

I used to eat raw wheat as a kid. You just pick a few stalks, chew the kernels and the gluten makes a nifty little gum.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Bingo..........

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Have you read "Mastering Leptin?"

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:12 PM

(meaning...is your question something like "why do we debate the ideal diet" or "is it wrong to be macronutrient agnostic" or "what is the role of scientific evidence in nutritional inquiry")

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:04 PM

Is this really a question?

  • Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

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9 Answers

9
F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3

(3804)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:31 PM

------Undeniable Evidence (Facts): --------------------------------- -Humans can generally digest diverse amounts of all macronutrients.

True, but trivial. The ability to digest a food, even preference for it, goes no way at all toward showing that it is beneficial, other than avoiding starvation.

-Humans can thrive for the entirety of their life cycle on either a mostly carnivorous diet (eskimos) or a vegetarian diet (induists).

Human beings can survive on a wide variety of diets. Whether or not they thrive on a wide variety of diets remains to be seen.

-Overall, the various forms of nutrition available to human beings haven't impeded the increase of the population and thus reproductive capability in a culturally appreciable manner. (We still have to use contraception regularly, after all, even when sexual disease is excluded.)

Reproductive success is one marker of health, but not the only one and probably not the most important.

-No specific diet has proven the undeniable ability to erase or lower the overall disease rate. -Focusing on one macronutrient above all others leads to nutritional deficiencies. -Demonizing one macronutrient above all others leads, again, to tricky-to-circumvent deficiencies.

Not true. Low-carb diets, for example, can prevent or treat Type 2 diabetes in many people. Also, it's not self-evident that focusing on or demonizing one macronutrient, in and of itself, leads to deficiencies. "Focus" and "demonize" aren't even objective terms. They mean different things to different people.

Finally, if we follow your argument to its logical conclusion, we can't recommend any specific diet, including Paleo, because there are populations who survive on diets consisting mostly of processed foods. So, we're not really left with "common sense" Paleo, we're left with nothing at all.

There are damn few things about which we can draw meaningful conclusions based on nothing more than logic and that which is "self-evident". Diet isn't one of them. We need science for that.

8
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 30, 2012
at 12:25 AM

I just realized none of us are really answering the vegan vs. paleo bit of this. There is no historical precedent for any culture surviving and thriving on a vegan diet, no matter how many whole foods were eaten. There may not have been what we would normally think of as meat, but there were always at least grubs, insects, vermin, or shellfish in the diet. Many have survived with very little in the way of animal nutrients, but none have shunned it entirely, so I'm confused about how you keep ending up in the middle as the end product of your thought experiment, thinking either could be equally plausible.

Modern veganism, is in my opinion essentially the fallout of the Edenic cults that have come and gone over the last 3-4 centuries (perhaps there were some before that, but those are the ones I've read about). We can't eat our way back into the garden of Eden, the whole "tree of knowledge" stuff was all an allegory to explain our evolution from large gut, small brain primates to large brain, small gut primates as we learned to use tools and get at bone marrow left behind by the kills of other predators. So perhaps it was less fruit, and more osso bucco that should have gotten Eve into hot water with the big imaginary man in the sky. The main moral of the story is, we can never go back, whether we believe in evolution or Genesis to the word, but that part seems to be largely lost on devout vegans.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 30, 2012
at 02:07 AM

Ah yes, also works for seed collecting. Perhaps with everything getting squished into 6000 years, becoming higher apes and the advent of agriculture happen in the roughly the same moment.

3975bae934a5ee8ea4af850e960f576a

(45)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:38 AM

In terms of religious allegory, I rather view the "garden of Eden" as the advent of agriculture, the resulting evils included.

7
0d0842381492a41b2173a04014aae810

(4875)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:30 PM

You'll see a lot of the "just eat real food" attitude around here. And to answer your question: yes, it does boil down to that in healthy individuals.

Adjustments may be required on an individual basis to both address genetic predispositions (celiacs, for example) and to heal disorders (leaky gut, for example.)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Bingo..........

8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

(1453)

on June 30, 2012
at 02:25 AM

Yeah just eat real food. Traditional food.

2
A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

on June 30, 2012
at 04:50 AM

So, what I've run into over and over again is vegan=politics, paleo=(more often) diet. Very few paleo-centric types argue over whether or not cured leather shoes are paleo, every (in my n=1 world) vegan condemns me for my meat-byproduct footwear.

I've actually had a vegan file an HR complaint against me at work because I brought a (pre-paleo days) Philly Cheesesteak sandwich into the building and it was offensive to his "meat is murder" stance. It went nowhere, thankfully. But that has thoroughly placed veganism in my world view as an extremist religion.

74b00bbfe9ba0f647bb154ed5f923cb4

(156)

on June 30, 2012
at 06:10 AM

That vegan's stance seems about as stupid as those employees who say that "because my religion frowns upon contraception, I should be able to withhold it from my non-believing staff (even though their usage of it does not affect me or my religious stance at all)" or those who say "because my religion frowns upon homosexuality, gays should not be allowed to marry (because their ability to marry has no influence on my life whatsoever)" I have a strong disdain for people who want to control others' lives because others' lifestyles do not mesh with their own.

6ba6dc54fccbb9e01a07595137cecfa2

(92)

on June 30, 2012
at 05:43 AM

Vegan is ethical not nutritional and this makes it extremely foolish.From a nutritional standpoint.Philly Cheesesteak is a culinary delight.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 30, 2012
at 01:43 AM

In order to maintain health and optimal function, the body requires a specific amount of macronutrients and micronutrients. Anything outside this specificity threshold is addressed by homeostatic mechanisms, e.g. an excess of calories becomes transformed into adipose tissue. As another example, the detoxification of a substance may place other housekeeping processes on hold and increase utilisation rate of vital micronutrients.

Thus, whilst we have the ability to digest a diverse amount of foods, they each potentially take a toll on our system.

Macro/micronutrients act as energy and structural substrates, and as essential components in catalysis reactions. Importantly, they also act as ligands for many receptors that have downstream communication with the genome.

The genome, which has evolved according to long term environmental exposures, and - in certain genes - may be significantly different amongst individuals, who may respond differently to the same food type. This is the principle of nutrigenomics.

The genome, having developed a mechanism for rapid, short-term adaptation in anticipation of a particular environment may also choose to activate or deactivate specific gene expression pathways. This is the principle of epigenetics.

Given that our primary interface to the environment - the gastrointestinal tract - is colonised by bacteria, it's reasonable to state that our environment is perceived through the prism of our bacterial populations.

It has been recently established that the collective bacterial species that inhabit the gut can be classified according to three types (enterotypes) based on the predominating species. Each enterotype has a different effect on metabolism, particularly in macronutrient conversion (e.g. fibre into short chain fatty acids). Depending on ones enterotype one may be more suited to a vegan rather than an omni diet.

The modern bacterial genome, which is subject to rapid evolution is very likely to be quite different to the paleo bacterial genome.

In summary we have genetics, epigenetics and enterogenetics all playing significant roles in shaping out response to diet. Couple these factors with changes due to ageing, which impacts gene expression further and the relationship becomes more complex.

Therefore to say that "lack of processed foods in the diet coupled with appropriate calorie consumption and expenditure in relation to personal metabolic rate plausibly minimize the rates of obesity and affluence diseases, as long as varied dietary habits are maintained", is risking ineptness. Specifically, it is not sufficient to state "varied dietary habits".

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:48 AM

Paleo or vegetarianism aren't good because of their specific macronutrient ratios, but because our body has the minimum to thrive on them. It then simply adapts around our habits. Therefore, my conclusions cannot be made more precise. We are omnivores, we dominate the food chain. Were our foods devoid of nutritional deficits from mass-production and were we free from SAD, concern over macronutrients would not exist in this world. A primitive man has no clue about macronutrients or diets, and thrives on all the foods nature provides.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:34 AM

Of course, a vegan isn't respecting "varied dietary habits". A stoic low carber isn't as well. No wonder refeed days are becoming more and more popular in paleo, if not mandatory. Burning fatty acids permanently slows metabolism (especially in warm climates) and constant ketosis also has its problems, but insert a short periodic variation, and everything is tuned better. Of course, after the damage from the processed foods of the SAD, going back to any "natural" diet can be scary and difficult, just like drug recovery. Our bodies seem to tell us that natural foods aren't fit for us.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:25 AM

I cannot fully agree with your conclusion, while i agree with everything you wrote before. Because our bodies aren't designed for a specific diet, they are "designed" (by evolution) for adaptability. We are made to thrive and adapt to new, original food sources and differing macronutrient ratios. I could live and work on the SAD as well as vegetarian and Paleo diets. "Varied dietary habits" is purposefully vague, to leave it open for infinite variability, because frankly, even vegans can survive on their diet and i can spend a week eating only plant material without big health changes.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:37 AM

You may switch to Paleo and get horrible constipation, adrenal insufficiency, while still failing to recover from your SAD issues, getting to believe Paleo isn't for you. The strong assertions online however push you to keep it up, and eventually you get better. Otherwise you can drop out and try vegetarianism, or even a high carb unprocessed diet (as Ray peat advocates), which may have softer transition curves than Paleo or low carbing for you. This doesn't mean you are made for those diets. Simply because it's not logically sound to say that, as i explained before.

Db83c2c5ea492d6716c28a0b561ee174

(161)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:43 AM

Epigenetics ard Enterogenetics aren't static. Dietary pressures and probiotics can alterate them, which is a fundamental mechanism for humans to adapt to new environments. It takes weeks or months of discomfort, but eventually our bodies can adapt to any macronutrient ratio, as long as they start healthy. That is what my "question" is about. We sick SAD-struck people have to recover, but as long as children being born from today onwards stay away from processed foods and don't hole up in a limited macronutrient ratio, they will be optimally healthy.

2
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:50 PM

We do it because we don't have all the answers, and because it is fun. Nutritional science is in its absolute infancy, studying evolutionary nutrition is only a small subset of what is being discussed. 16,000+ questions and still going with no end in sight, is a good start. You've read hundreds of articles, as have I, and that has only stoked my desire to learn more. There is a natural mellowing of dogma that happens with increased research, and that might feel like it all boils down to just eat real food. In a perfect world with only naturally occurring foodstuffs this could be true.

However, we have a lot of ill people who have been sufficiently damaged by the industrial food complex and chemical-filled food like substances, not to mention pharmaceuticals or bacterial, fungal, or viral infections who are going to need to find a specific therapeutic diet that works for them to return to a normal enough existence where they can just eat real food.

The changes we've made to the collective human and animal microbiomes via antibiotics, cleaning chemicals, and cesarean birth makes us very different beings than even our parents and grandparents were. Just one example, if someone is unlucky enough to have wiped out their supply of oxalobacter formigenes because they were given antibiotics for repeat ear infections as a child they aren't going be able to break down calcium oxalate, and telling them to just go ahead and eat leafy greens because they are whole foods could get them into trouble with kidney stones.

I think when applying at least a few brain cells to this debate people can tell the difference between the healing diets and the healthy "cruising altitude" ones. Same thing with crazy fringe notions versus actually science. I agree with much of what you have written in regards to healthy people with a healthy digestive tract, but me thinks you are perhaps overestimating your own knowledge and underestimating that of the people who enjoy discussing and researching this stuff.

1
6ba6dc54fccbb9e01a07595137cecfa2

on June 30, 2012
at 12:03 AM

Humans can survive very easily on most foods.

Thriving into old age and keeping the effects of degeneration to a minimum is the holy grail of Nutritional Genomics..

This in and of itself goes far beyond the Paleo template.Which truly is a fad diet based on a lot of assumptions.

1
3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on June 29, 2012
at 10:40 PM

-Humans can generally digest diverse amounts of all macronutrients.amounts of all macronutrients.

Not if you have any sort of digestive issues. A lot of people have digestive issues. Carbohydrates are by far the MOST DIFFICULT macronutrient to digest. What is a vegetarian diet rich in? Carbs.

74b00bbfe9ba0f647bb154ed5f923cb4

(156)

on June 30, 2012
at 06:04 AM

That seems odd, considering that our ancestors were first plant eaters, then later meat eaters. Unless my view of history is wrong, of course, but my understanding is that taking up meat-eating is what made us human... meaning that at some point, we weren't eating meat, i.e. we were eating plants.

3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on July 01, 2012
at 05:46 PM

Your view of history is not wrong. However, our intestinal tract is not equipped to digest carbs very well. Protein digestion is much simpler and fat digestion is even simpler yet. Just because we were primarily plant eating at one point in our evolutionary history, does not mean that we still bear ANY resemblance to what we once were. Birds are the closest living descendants of the dinosaurs. I don't think many people would say that birds and dinosaurs have much in common.

-2
7caec21ad66b572d9afcb1e24f7297aa

on June 30, 2012
at 02:25 AM

TL;DR. . . . . . . . . .

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