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Diseases of civilization: absence of enough nutrients or too much 'bad' foods?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 16, 2013 at 10:44 PM

I've been pondering this question, reading some of Gary Taubes' work, and Weston Price's work. What is causing the diseases of civilization, or in what order? There's no doubt, especially when looking at Price's work**, that going on empty calories like sugar & flour is a bad idea for your health. But what is the biggest factor that is the cause of those diseases: is it the absence of the nutrients, because the space the empty calories take? Or is the addition itself of those empty calories a factor itself?

Let's take it in an example. Let's take someone who has a very active lifestyle, and consumes 3500 to 4000 kcal's per day. If say 2500kcal come from a diversity of nutrient dense foods, can he eat 1000 to 1500kcal of empty foods (taken that they are not detrimental in itself, like trans fats) without being prone to those diseases?

Or is the addition of those foods itself already detremental to health, teeth health and being prone to diseases like diabetes, cancers etc?

**he was pretty 'pure' with his work, as in working on the edge of 'traditional diets' and the divergence to 'Westernized diets', without all the things like plastics, industry, pollution etc, that can be pretty much ruled out as (huge) factors.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 17, 2013
at 04:39 AM

Writers like Taubes tend to filter everything through an American perspective. This serves the purpose of selling books to the head-nodding local population. But if you travel or study the wider world you get a different perspective. Grains are not so evil if they're your daily sustenance. In much of the world frozen foods, grass-fed meat and out-of-season fresh produce are only available to the wealthiest classes.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 17, 2013
at 04:27 AM

There are better and worse calories to eat, but they're all fuel for metabolism. The quality is more important when you're growing, and prima facile evidence is the increase in stature of East Asian populations rich enough to eat a diet lower in carbs over the last 50 years.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on January 17, 2013
at 01:40 AM

I don't think it's ever been just the addition of empty calories. Empty calories have always displaced nutrient-dense calories. Eventually it has turned into overfeeding with malnutrition.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on January 17, 2013
at 01:30 AM

@thhq, but what do their bones look like? Small, and small stature. They are also susceptible to diseases of civilization.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 17, 2013
at 12:57 AM

East Asia runs on grain and they don't have an obesity epidemic.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:54 PM

Maybe it's not "either, or." Maybe they're both right, to a degree. Most things are not 100% black or white. Also, I'm sure there are other factors besides diet, like, a sedentary lifestyle for one.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:53 PM

Maybe it's not "either, or." Maybe they're both right, to a degree. Most things are not 100% black or white.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:52 PM

Maybe it's not "either, or." Ever think of that? Maybe their both right, to a degree. Most things are not 100% black or white.

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Medium avatar

(10663)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:52 PM

I agree with Colin. It's BOTH.

Consider:

-soils seriously depleted of magnesium and declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, vitamins B2, B6, E and C in fruits and vegetables due to modern agricultural methods (one study found that you would have to eat 8 grapefruits to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents got); one study found that a higher yield of crop (i.e. more crops grown in little space) produced less nutritious vegetables

-climate change/global warming that affect soil quality through loss of organic matter, erosion, reduction of soil fertility, etc.

-the wheat that was first introduced thousands of years ago is not the same as it is today through many modifications/hybridizations which is what is responsible for an increase in gluten sensitivity

-ungodly use of vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup, and the shitstorm of chemical preservatives and other artificial crap

-increased use of pesticides (have you seen studies on organic vs. non-organic strawberries? I love strawberries but will never touch a non-organic strawberry ever again)

-we live in a country that mass-produces food and the downside of that is it's so cheap to feed beef with that food--beef that are raised differently now than they used to: large numbers of them live together, making it easier for disease to spread faster. If a disease (say, E. coli O157) infects one animal, it will infect thousands of animals which provides a risk to the public for a food-borne outbreak. But sadly, I think the big industrialized food suppliers of this country are what most people need in order to have enough to eat.

2
Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 17, 2013
at 12:51 AM

Sedentism in my case. I am not incentivized to do physical labor. I get paid to sit. I slouched my way into obesity and diabetes by eating the same as when I was younger and more active.

I don't think that the macros have all that much to do with it. While I was reading Ned Kock's stat analysis of the China Study it struck me that the average study participant was much smaller than me, but ate as much or more food, mostly as carbs from grains.

2
7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2030)

on January 16, 2013
at 11:16 PM

Can I say both? In the case of fortified white flour there may be an ability in some to detoxify the synthetic iron, but not in others. Vegetable oils however I think would affect anyone given enough time as most of the fats we ingest get stored(I think). By vegetable oil I mean the rancid type with abnormally high o6 to o3 ratio like say 50-1+.

0
32be195157f00ad15a933b8bb333dcc4

(379)

on January 17, 2013
at 03:47 AM

What about daily multivitamins? It seems like most 'food' these days is pumped full of nutrients.

0
73aa3711682a3c95f3408e5326b77ace

on January 17, 2013
at 12:03 AM

The spread of disease by allograft through vaccinations, tissue/organ transplants, blood transfusions, saliva, sexual contact etc. Also we need to look at GMOs and chemicals in our environment.

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