5

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Paleolithic principles follow how nutrients react with our current biochemistry, but those pillars of understanding do not set what is optimal for us. Why do we believe paleo is optimal and not merely tolerated by our current biochemistry?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 24, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Biological laws limit the kinds of organisms that can survive, but don't determine what those organisms are. At one time the earth had megalodons in the sea and dinosaurs roaming the terrain. Now the planet has us to deal with. Laws of nuclear physics determine how subatomic particles interact, but don't tell what particles will in fact interact where. Laws of gravitation tell how astronomic bodies are constrained to move with respect to each other, but don't tell which bodies are to be found in which movement patterns where.

The point is that starting with any situation of complexity, lots of different things can happen in ways that conform with known scientific laws. So what Paleolithic man originally faced 100,000 years ago clearly is different than what currently do. So does it makes complete sense to do just as they did and expect the same result? I think the blogosphere and everyone can virtually agree on the point that what paleo man faced is radically different than what we face today. Most point to our biology being the same now as it was 100,000 years ago. I completely do not accept this "paleo" concept because to do so completely ignores the reality that is epigenetics. And it has been going on for the last 100000 I am scientifically sure. So, is it possible that what was then has been altered even just slightly so that maybe would throw off what the paleoblogosphere really believes? What say you paleo Hacks? If we really are what we eat, and we don't know what we are eating, then do we still know who we are?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 10:08 PM

LOL.....no offense taken. We treat totally different diseases and there is a bit of overlap but not as much as it used to be.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 08:51 PM

to clarify, that was not a snarky comment, i honestly did think neurosurgeons and neurologists were a bit like squares and rectangles, respectively. A bit embarrassing, but I never said I was smart, I should read more.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 06:26 PM

You'd think with a family member with traumatic brain injury I'd know the difference between neurologist and neurosurgeon. :) I just think it's an interesting question because it does seem to be an experience a surprising number of people, many of them quite intelligent, have tried and it's long term effects on subsequent generations are unknown. Depending on the chemicals ingested, lots of hugely negative effects are easily imaginable. Then again many claim deep insight from certain psychotropic drug experiences. Mind you, I am in no way advocating any sort of drug use.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:53 PM

"Most point to our biology being the same now as it was 100,000 years ago." No one who really groks Paleo eating believes this. We have changed a lot in the last 10k. Check out 10,000 Year Explosion if you haven't already. http://www.amazon.com/000-Year-Explosion-Civilization-Accelerated/dp/0465002218

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:36 PM

I dont.........at all. I think it is fine. I think this is where your perception trumps others reality.......At least mine.

25ed4acfb632d928507f8673bcb0923a

(650)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:33 PM

I completely understand Jack and Doc, but wouldn't these types of questions be best discussed on a discussion forum? As interested as I am in these questions, I find that the PaleoHacks format in particular makes it difficult to follow important threads of thought and contribute in a more natural/conversational manner.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18452)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:20 PM

bsunde - Doc and I ask questions in a pretty similar manner. Most often I find myself asking question that I think I could probably also answer, but I'm interested in 'hacking' into all of you to #1) get your take, to learn more and expand my knowledge and #2) to get you all to think, often times with a question that I write in a way that hopefully directs your thinking down a certain path. I find that Doc's questions usually take this same approach. I think it's healthy, and helpful. It breeds important discussion. Then just let people take from it what they will.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:11 PM

I am not a neurologist. I am a neurosurgeon and my path crosses very infrequently with drug use thankfully. When it does it is in acute trauma and the patient is not seen by me long. With that caveat I know alot about what drugs due to brain chmistry and nothing will make one evolve faster than the use of drugs. First your behavior and then your biology. The use of Crack is a perfect example. I think epigenetic effects are a lot faster than most people believe. That is why I am so intrigued by this lifestyle. Its also why I dont buy KGH views on paleo 2.0. Biology argues against it.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:08 PM

I dont believe the word believe conotes subjective, argumentative, or extended discussion. That is your perception. You also have the ability to pass on to the next question if this question does suit your sensibilities. That is the beauty of choice.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:04 PM

do you feel, as a neurologist, that a concurrent (concurrent with higher overall chemical exposures) rise in recreational drug use (and I personally feel there has been one, certainly in youth in technologically advanced societies) is significantly affecting our evolution?

25ed4acfb632d928507f8673bcb0923a

(650)

on April 24, 2011
at 04:59 PM

Forgive me if I am totally wrong about this, but I was under the impression that discussion/subjective questions (see the word "believe" in the question) like these are not encouraged in PaleoHacks. From the FAQ: "What kind of questions should I not ask here? Avoid asking questions that are overly subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board nor a blog, this is a place for questions that can be answered!"

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 04:54 PM

This is a great example of precisely what I am trying to get too. Foxes become dog like in ten generations because we selected for good tempered personalities......IE low cortisol levels. The unintended consequence that no one realized was that cortisol and Melanin share the same POMC origins......so their coats change. FYI same thing happens in adrenal insufficiency in humans. Great bridge analogy +1

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 24, 2011
at 04:02 PM

I totally agree, tartare, especially about the petri dish. Even the people in Kazakhstan are bombarded with chemicals (polar bears have PCBs and other junk in their blood) and we don't know what a lot of this does, and what we're learning about some of it is that the effects are very bad. What most would call "progress" may end up being the death of us.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 04:01 PM

sorry for the doom and gloom kids :) happy Easter everyone!

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:52 PM

its amazing to me the level of acceptance people have to the notion that these crazy concoctions like say Little Debbie snack cakes and Hazelnut Cremorama or whatever are actual food, instead of recent inventions. Molecular Gastronomy, avant garde? please. It's a glorified twinkie. Humanity is throwing ourselves headlong into the petri dish and stirring.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:46 PM

yeah it would seem "true paleo food" is pretty much actually *unavailable* now, unless you want to go to Kazakhstan to go find an original apple and only eat heritage breed animals etc.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 24, 2011
at 03:46 PM

I think it really depends on how one defines paleo as to how strict it is. To some, it's meat only, which is very strict, and probably not how any of our ancestors lived. If it works for them, that's great, but a good balance of veggies (all kinds) and meats and fish, all minimally processed are the things I find healthy, and this gives me lots and lots of choices and variety.

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4 Answers

2
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 24, 2011
at 03:43 PM

Epigenetic studies are going to teach us a lot of things that we'll find surprising. The current paradigm in evolution is that change is gradual, and it's the organism that survives the environment only, not that the environment changes the organism, but epigenetic studies are showing otherwise. This was the first study I read about which blew my mind on this topic, and to me, was a missing piece in the discussion of evolution: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090412081315.htm that clearly, the environment could alter a population.

I also agree that we have continued to evolve over the last 100,000 years, but I still think that mimicking the perceived diet is probably a good thing. I summed it up in another post, but basically, to me, that means minimally processed and my carbs come from veggies and occasional fruit. I've seen people at the grocery store with a cart full of bread, pop, Little Debbie cakes, highly processed low quality meats, stuff fried in seed oils and coated with fake stuff and dyes, and they actually believe this is food. Then they wonder why they are overweight, irritable, depressed, etc.

For me, whether or not it's paleo, optimal diet is minimally processed meats, fish and veggies. It's what makes me feel good and energetic and clear-headed, and that's what matters most to me.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 24, 2011
at 04:02 PM

I totally agree, tartare, especially about the petri dish. Even the people in Kazakhstan are bombarded with chemicals (polar bears have PCBs and other junk in their blood) and we don't know what a lot of this does, and what we're learning about some of it is that the effects are very bad. What most would call "progress" may end up being the death of us.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:46 PM

yeah it would seem "true paleo food" is pretty much actually *unavailable* now, unless you want to go to Kazakhstan to go find an original apple and only eat heritage breed animals etc.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 04:01 PM

sorry for the doom and gloom kids :) happy Easter everyone!

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:52 PM

its amazing to me the level of acceptance people have to the notion that these crazy concoctions like say Little Debbie snack cakes and Hazelnut Cremorama or whatever are actual food, instead of recent inventions. Molecular Gastronomy, avant garde? please. It's a glorified twinkie. Humanity is throwing ourselves headlong into the petri dish and stirring.

1
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:33 PM

When I first heard about Dmitry Belaev's fox experiment it was such an eye opener. The implications were that given a predominating influence, significant evolution (measurable and even visible physical changes) can happen in just a few generations as opposed to thousands or tens of thousands of years.

I certainly think we may be in such a moment in human evolution. The amount of foreign chemicals omnipresent today and other factors such as increased exposure to radioactivity and genetically modified/selectively bred food have never been a factor for humans as much as they are now. The world has changed very rapidly in the last 200 years and I imagine it's definitely affecting us.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 10:08 PM

LOL.....no offense taken. We treat totally different diseases and there is a bit of overlap but not as much as it used to be.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:11 PM

I am not a neurologist. I am a neurosurgeon and my path crosses very infrequently with drug use thankfully. When it does it is in acute trauma and the patient is not seen by me long. With that caveat I know alot about what drugs due to brain chmistry and nothing will make one evolve faster than the use of drugs. First your behavior and then your biology. The use of Crack is a perfect example. I think epigenetic effects are a lot faster than most people believe. That is why I am so intrigued by this lifestyle. Its also why I dont buy KGH views on paleo 2.0. Biology argues against it.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 05:04 PM

do you feel, as a neurologist, that a concurrent (concurrent with higher overall chemical exposures) rise in recreational drug use (and I personally feel there has been one, certainly in youth in technologically advanced societies) is significantly affecting our evolution?

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on April 24, 2011
at 04:54 PM

This is a great example of precisely what I am trying to get too. Foxes become dog like in ten generations because we selected for good tempered personalities......IE low cortisol levels. The unintended consequence that no one realized was that cortisol and Melanin share the same POMC origins......so their coats change. FYI same thing happens in adrenal insufficiency in humans. Great bridge analogy +1

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 06:26 PM

You'd think with a family member with traumatic brain injury I'd know the difference between neurologist and neurosurgeon. :) I just think it's an interesting question because it does seem to be an experience a surprising number of people, many of them quite intelligent, have tried and it's long term effects on subsequent generations are unknown. Depending on the chemicals ingested, lots of hugely negative effects are easily imaginable. Then again many claim deep insight from certain psychotropic drug experiences. Mind you, I am in no way advocating any sort of drug use.

Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 24, 2011
at 08:51 PM

to clarify, that was not a snarky comment, i honestly did think neurosurgeons and neurologists were a bit like squares and rectangles, respectively. A bit embarrassing, but I never said I was smart, I should read more.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 29, 2012
at 03:28 AM

There is a variety of information encoded in our biology, each with its own mode of transmission (inheritance) and plasticity (ability to adapt), for example:

  1. Genetic - eg single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy number variations (CNVs), etc
  2. Epigenetic - eg cytosine methylation, histone modification, etc
  3. Bacterial - the bacteria in our gut that influence our interaction with food

Genetic changes can take thousands of years to manifest but epigenetic changes can occur within a lifetime in the same individual and be transmitted parentally and grand-parentally. Gut bacterial enterotypes are largely determined during birth as a result of delivery type and weaning. Bacterial genetics are also subject to extremely rapid mutation.

Our current implementation of paleo only takes into account the dissonance between genetics and environment but does not account for epigenetics and bacterial genetics.

An ideal diet would take into account genetics, epigenetics and bacterial genetics.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 24, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Yes, this is a good point. We do not know all of the variables. I think we should eat as widely as possible to increase our chances of getting what we need. Obviously that range of food does not include processed foods, however, it is much larger than what strict Paleo offers. We can always find something negative about any food and if one factor determines that we should not eat it, then we would all starve. Paleo is too strict in my opinion.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on April 24, 2011
at 03:46 PM

I think it really depends on how one defines paleo as to how strict it is. To some, it's meat only, which is very strict, and probably not how any of our ancestors lived. If it works for them, that's great, but a good balance of veggies (all kinds) and meats and fish, all minimally processed are the things I find healthy, and this gives me lots and lots of choices and variety.

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