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Theory about high carb and enhanced health and longevity

Commented on October 23, 2014
Created October 16, 2014 at 2:09 AM

It occurred to me tonight that the reason high carb diets tend work may be because it allows the body to synthesize the right fats. Pure and simple... If you have good gut flora and a healthy metabolism and good insulin response, your body/flora will synthesize the fats it needs from the carbs you eat. This could explain the conundrum with the okinawan diet and the frutarian fanatics, etc. Sometimes that stuff just seems to work, and really well, but why?

So, if you follow a moderate-carb, nutrient dense, paleo-style diet but get the right distribution of mono, poly, and saturated fats maybe you really can achieve the same results as a diet based on sweet potatoes and sea greens... or better yet because you skip the synthesis step and go right to absorbtion and utilization..

3397fca1a27372059c906ddb29ad3176

(-10)

on October 21, 2014
at 09:56 AM

A cow is a cow, a gorilla is a goririlla... what do they have to do with the human diet?

The reason why high carbs diets might 'work' for some people is because they don't show any symptoms. But it doesn't mean that they are as healthy as they can be. I was eating a fairly high carb diet for my entire life, and I was very lean in combination with minimal exercise. I was never sick.

My partner wanted to do Paleo, and I was curious about it so I tagged along. Tho I didn't really had any health problems before, I do feel much better than before.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on October 19, 2014
at 12:38 AM

Largely we don't do that but there appears to be a strong correlation between doing it more and being healthier.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 19, 2014
at 12:05 AM

Cows and gorillas have pretty significantly different digustive systems which convert carbohydrate to fat via microbal action, humans largely do not do this. 

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on October 16, 2014
at 09:12 PM

It works well for some because there are other variables that can't be isolated, which might have nothing to do with diet composition but still affect a person's health and quality of life. Medical care, genetics, exercise, clean water, sanitation, abstinence from smoking/drugs/alcohol, relaxed lifestyle, sleep, gender, appetite, emotional wellbeing, family, friends and financial status are all factos that affect people and yet have nothing to do with their diet. But they're healthy in spite of carbs, not because of them.

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 16, 2014
at 08:27 PM

Interesting how the responders seem to think I'm in favor of low-fat high-carb dieting. Did I somehow imply that? The thing is, people do really well on those diets. Considering I follow something completely different, I often wonder why it works so well for some.

Consider cows or gorillas. They eat almost no fat but most of their energy comes from... fat. And it's pretty much an optimal fat distribution too.

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6 Answers

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 16, 2014
at 04:38 PM

Our bodies only synthesize things they *need*, otherwise it's a waste of energy. There are things we need but cannot synthesize. 

So in terms of fats… we need omega-3 and omega-6 long chain fats, we cannot synthesize these, specifically requiring LA and ALA (not DHA/EPA as some think). Why don't we make these fats? Well, they're reactive and less stable than other fats. Excess doesn't do any good. It makes sense that human fat is mostly MUFA and saturates. 

Now, should we just let our bodies make the fat we need? I don't think that necessary follows from high carb diets and longevity.  And always worth pointing out: there is no optimal human diet. 

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 19, 2014
at 05:17 PM

@Outsider: I'd be happy to see something to back this up. From what I've been lead to believe, we require a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 because these play a part in essential signaling.

01114547678b001f3e52cc3a9d343fd1

(-23)

on October 17, 2014
at 01:07 AM

We actually don't need omega-3 or omega-6 fats. That's part of the propaganda started by the seed oil industry after WWII to reduce sales of coconut oil. That's what industry does when it has a product of inferior quality. This propaganda campaign however was so successful that they teach it as truth in medical universities.

Regarding the scientific side of the argument, it was a neat trick. Reducing consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 accelerates metabolism. So they accelerated the metabolism by reducing these fats, but without giving them additional nutrients to satisfy their additional requirements due to a faster metabolism, which provoked disease and death. But it's healthier to have none of these fats, with a diet higher in nutrients.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 17, 2014
at 01:48 AM

Somebody's been reading Ray Peat's nonsense. :)

01114547678b001f3e52cc3a9d343fd1

(-23)

on October 19, 2014
at 05:35 PM

I have a low PUFA diet just because I noticed many benefits after changing just that aspect. I'm trying to avoid vegetable oils and other sources of PUFAs, but I still get PUFA from eggs, small amounts from fruits and dairy. So I doubt it's possible to actually induce a 'deficiency' with natural foods. I'll keep trying, if I succeed, I'll post my labs. If a person is healthy with a PUFA 'deficiency', I think that's good evidence. It's been 2.5 years with very little vegetable oils or high-PUFA meat, but that's not yet enough.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on October 19, 2014
at 07:19 PM

Low PUFA is not no PUFA. 

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on October 20, 2014
at 12:52 PM

"Part of the propaganda started by the seed oil industry....to reduce sales of coconut oil"

Don't forget to put some coconut oil on that tinfoil hat so it won't rust...

 

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on October 23, 2014
at 02:52 AM

 "Low PUFA is not no PUFA"

spot on

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19483)

on October 16, 2014
at 10:25 PM

Lot of this relates to how many copies of the AMY1 gene you have. Those who have more can consume more carbs and not get obese.  Those who don't get obese quickly when they eat carbs.  But remember, excess carbs aren't all that great, they force larger chronic levels of insulin stressing your pancreas, they can cause trouble for your mitochondria by generating tons of ROS, which you wouldn't get with beta oxidation, crosslink with proteins to cause AGE damage, etc.

1
Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on October 16, 2014
at 12:12 PM

The whole Frutarian/Okinawan thing is just a correlation, which does not imply causation in any way. So that can't really be used as a scientific explanation for longevity, it's just a hypothesis. Until tested, all population observations are hypotheses. What we do know is that carbs do cause insulin elevations which actually have been scientifically demonstrated to shorten lifespan in every species on which it has been studied, and in excess, can lead to obesity and fatty liver disease. If you want the palmitic acid or oleic acid you could just eat some butter or olive oil. 

Oh and the human body doesn't synthesize certain omega 6 and omega 3 fats so they have to be eaten (essential fatty acids).

Medium avatar

(624)

on October 16, 2014
at 08:22 PM

Yeah of course, most vegetarians eat walnuts...

The point is that there's evidence that people CAN live long and exceptionally healthy lives while eating loads of carbs. The hypothesis we tend to favor is that you can do a little better on a low-carb, nutrient-dense diet.

Be157308a0438e382b88d9db4c12ab30

on October 16, 2014
at 08:58 PM

Well, there's evidence that you can live an exceptionally long life smoking, but doesn't mean it's healthy. Same thing with carbs, you might live long eating them, but it doesn't mean it's healthy, actually you could probably have lived longer without them.

Jeanne Calment lived to 122 (oldest person to ever live) and she was a smoker, reference: Jeanne Calment.

You might live long eating carbs just like you might live long smoking, but you would live even longer without them.

0
Medium avatar

(10601)

on October 16, 2014
at 12:35 PM

I don't think we have a lot of choice on whether our bodies skip a synthesis step. But as a general rule we don't synthesize nutrients if they are presented in a food. If you avoid fats your body has to make do with carbs; if you avoid carbs you make do with fats. Both digest and metabolize easily.

NIH studies of macronutrient ratio and longevity are heavy on fruit fly and mouse studies. In the ones I saw, the focus is on lowering protein/carb ratio. How that applies to humans is anybody's guess.

-1
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on October 16, 2014
at 10:56 PM

Another significant question is: what does high carb mean? In virtually all practical situations, it means high short chain fatty acids produced in the gut. High fat and high protein do not match that production. I am convinced we should think of four macronutrients, with SCFA being the fourth.

-1
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on October 16, 2014
at 06:55 PM

I think high carb diets properly mineralize the human body, and also add vitamins and other enzymes. High Fat does not and high protein diets have an inferior micronutrient spectrum. Correlation does not imply causation.

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