9

votes

Will you still eat 'paleo' when diet becomes irrelevant to health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 09, 2011 at 3:35 AM

Promising biotechnologies currently in development will eventually make human aging obsolete and particular diet prettymuch irrelevant to health. Cellular and molecular damage will be easily and cheaply repairable. Once we can achieve longevity escape velocity, human beings can live youthful healthy lives indefinitely even on a delicious SAD.

A good pubmed summary of this prospect from de Grey et al. is here:

Aging is a three-stage process: metabolism, damage, and pathology. The biochemical processes that sustain life generate toxins as an intrinsic side effect. These toxins cause damage, of which a small proportion cannot be removed by any endogenous repair process and thus accumulates. This accumulating damage ultimately drives age-related degeneration. Interventions can be designed at all three stages. However, intervention in metabolism can only modestly postpone pathology, because production of toxins is so intrinsic a property of metabolic processes that greatly reducing that production would entail fundamental redesign of those processes. Similarly, intervention in pathology is a "losing battle" if the damage that drives it is accumulating unabated. By contrast, intervention to remove the accumulating damage would sever the link between metabolism and pathology, and so has the potential to postpone aging indefinitely. We survey the major categories of such damage and the ways in which, with current or foreseeable biotechnology, they could be reversed. Such ways exist in all cases, implying that indefinite postponement of aging--which we term "engineered negligible senescence"--may be within sight.

Optimistic forecasts have this technology being largely available in just a few decades. Some alive today may live 100s of years or more. Assuming this optimistic scenario obtains, would you continue to eat paleo (or "primal" or "archevore" or "realwholefoodstm" or whatever you call it) if you could easily remedy any biological damage from sugar, wheat, peanut butter, BBQ sauce, etc. etc. and do so continually for centuries while maintaining youthful health?

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:50 PM

I agree completely. I wish I could still eat my chips and salsa, pizza, and brownies. I am also a former vegetarian, and I could easily do without the meat.

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:49 PM

Actually, I just think that the people who are developing the medical breakthroughs that could extend human lifespan are doing so for two reasons: their own fear of death, and profit. Those are both excellent motivators. However, the people working on interplanetary travel or "skyscraper farms" may not be on the same timeline. I don't think the lifespan people are going to delay the release of their major breakthrough (and therefore delay profit) until other industries have time to deal with the consequences of overcrowding.

Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

(720)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:25 PM

ha, me too...or close to 70, so who cares? None of us will benefit from this if it ever happens.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on August 09, 2011
at 11:23 PM

Until overcrowding causes increased disease and violent death lolo... You really think that we'd get some sort of technological wonder like obliterating aging or achieving quasi-immortality, yet somehow not be able to expand the room we have to inhabit? We could always leave earth, you know. Or hell, we could start making gigantic skyscraper farms or something. That would increase the farming space!

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:21 PM

These are excellent insights, albeit painful ones.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:42 PM

Agreed. It's like telling a 98 year old with lung cancer to stop smoking. What's the point.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:00 PM

Actually I think a diet that ha maybe 100- 159g carbs would be optimal. Protein, ad particularly methionine, restriction seems to be important for longevity and so minimizing gluconeogenesis would be prudent. I think the optimal diet provably includes fasting or other times with significant ketones though.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on August 09, 2011
at 03:54 PM

De grey seems a little too optimistic to me given the current state of research. That being said, there is real potential for these technologies and I myself plan to work on them.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:56 AM

Nice, I'm definitely going to try meat-only once I get the time, and figure out some reliable offal sources and easy cooking methods.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:52 AM

Yep, ketogenic diet seems to have many of the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction without the suffering. de Grey is not a diet guy in general. He's not a promoter of caloric restriction either. He sees dietary intervention as extremely limited compared to the potential of biotechnology, so that's what he has been (quite effectively) promoting. Also, keto diets seem to be considered a bit kooky and he's really trying to get people to seriously look at the biogerontological science and SENS concepts.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:44 AM

Prettymuch how I feel too, though one of reasons I got interested in paleo/Taubes in the first place was because most of the foods I like and thought I had to restrict to stay fit (lamb kofta, steak, bacon, butter, eggs, egg nog, cream, etc.) were precisely what I could now consume to satisfaction. So it wouldn't change too much - mostly more Italian food and alcohol.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:53 AM

Crap- what about when our RRSP's run out?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:54 AM

It *is* funny. The only explanation I can think of is that the anti-fat epoch just continues to keep ketogenic diets off the radar to a huge contingent of people.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:44 AM

Funny, isn't it, how all these guys are looking at their own little chunk of the elephant. Michael Rose is an evolutionary biologist whose main interest these days is preventing aging, and although he prescribes a paleoish diet for lots of people, I don't think I've once heard him say the word "ketogenic," either.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 03:50 AM

I'm not sure how likely the extreme lifespans (1000+ years) are in any given timeframe, but even if it's just extending youthful life to 80 or something in some foreseeable future, that would be a revolutionary improvement, no? Seems exciting even if not likely anytime soon. You're certainly a more qualified forecaster of clinical development than me. Aubrey thinks its potentially soonish.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 03:40 AM

Aubrey also thinks we can live to be a thousand......bright guy but Im not a buyer.

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14 Answers

best answer

14
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 09, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Definitely not. I eat the way I do because I want to be healthy. If I could eat the same old stuff I used to eat and still be healthy, I would do it in a heartbeat.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:44 AM

Prettymuch how I feel too, though one of reasons I got interested in paleo/Taubes in the first place was because most of the foods I like and thought I had to restrict to stay fit (lamb kofta, steak, bacon, butter, eggs, egg nog, cream, etc.) were precisely what I could now consume to satisfaction. So it wouldn't change too much - mostly more Italian food and alcohol.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:42 PM

Agreed. It's like telling a 98 year old with lung cancer to stop smoking. What's the point.

18
Medium avatar

on August 09, 2011
at 04:14 AM

If they can't make a prescription medicine for itchy hands that doesn't cause cancer of the anus, what makes you think that any of this will ever come to fruition?

I can see the ads now..."Immortabex, your ticket to endless life! [Side effects may include: Anal cancer, chemical castration and death.] Ask your doctor about Immortabex today!"

4
0e2772604bdb3627525b42d77340538b

on August 09, 2011
at 02:08 PM

No. I don't have the confidence there will be enough knowledge about unintended consequences, which quick fixes usually have. There are too many biochemical unknowns.

Besides, wtf wants to live to be 1000? I don't think the human psyche is built to handle that.

3
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 09, 2011
at 05:20 AM

I will continue to eat Paleo. Crash and then repair does not seem like too much fun.

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:36 AM

I have often found it amazing that someone as concerned with ageing and metabolic damage as de Grey hasn't yet noticed that ketogenic diets address all the points he works on better than anything else we know of. I think it will be a long time before we can replicate that artificially, and I'd be pretty leery of any claims that it has been done.

However, if I became convinced of it, and if it were somehow also affordable, I would probably at least test it out at some point just for the pleasure of eating some food that is currently off-limits to me. Like Rose, though, I'm actually surprisingly content with my lot as a carnivore. The idea was daunting before I tried it, but it feels good and sustains itself.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:54 AM

It *is* funny. The only explanation I can think of is that the anti-fat epoch just continues to keep ketogenic diets off the radar to a huge contingent of people.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:52 AM

Yep, ketogenic diet seems to have many of the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction without the suffering. de Grey is not a diet guy in general. He's not a promoter of caloric restriction either. He sees dietary intervention as extremely limited compared to the potential of biotechnology, so that's what he has been (quite effectively) promoting. Also, keto diets seem to be considered a bit kooky and he's really trying to get people to seriously look at the biogerontological science and SENS concepts.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:44 AM

Funny, isn't it, how all these guys are looking at their own little chunk of the elephant. Michael Rose is an evolutionary biologist whose main interest these days is preventing aging, and although he prescribes a paleoish diet for lots of people, I don't think I've once heard him say the word "ketogenic," either.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:00 PM

Actually I think a diet that ha maybe 100- 159g carbs would be optimal. Protein, ad particularly methionine, restriction seems to be important for longevity and so minimizing gluconeogenesis would be prudent. I think the optimal diet provably includes fasting or other times with significant ketones though.

3
6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on August 09, 2011
at 04:20 AM

No. When diet becomes irrelevant to health, I'll stop eating completely.

Seriously though, I can't see how this would work. Would this thing really prevent EVERY facet of damage: from heart disease, to slower recovery from exercise, to diminished coordination, to emotional corruption, to skin dryness, etc?

There's just such a ridiculously long list of what our diet affects. I can't imagine some sort of procedure that would simply prevent eating the SAD from messing up my emotional structure, drying out my skin, chapping my lips, putting me in a mental fog, and so on. Seriously. Just imagine how incredibly complicated and insane that procedure would have to be.

Do I just not understand what this thing is getting at? It seems pretty crazy to even CONSIDER the idea that some sort of procedure any time in the near future could completely (or even mostly) negate the health differences between the SAD and something reasonable such as paleo or whatever, but of course I could be missing something important.

P.S. Checked your blog. Always nice to see somebody familiar with anti-statism of the Austrian School variety.

3
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 04:02 AM

Now this is what I call a question. Dayum.

When I was eating the SAD, my answer would have been clear: Hell, no, I wouldn't restrict my food choices if I could pop a pill (or whatever) and fix the damage. But then, my only food-related thoughts during those decades were that I must be eating too much, since I was fat. It hadn't occurred to me yet that I was eating the wrong foods, in any amount.

When I was eating VLC (Atkins, then Eades, then a desperate carousel of other LC dietary approaches), I think my answer would still have been clear: Hell, no, again. I wanted to go back to the "full banquet," to eat the food everyone else around me ate and not have to pay attention, count, restrict, whatnot. I was still mainly concerned with weight, and a bit more with health beyond obesity. Low-carbing was hard -- not impossible, obviously, but a strain on my willpower (I still had cravings, for instance), and on my social self-consciousness (I was tired of being lectured at by lipophobic friends and so on).

But now, eating meat-only, I think my answer would be yes, I'd keep eating this way. Taking the health benefits off the table -- all of them, including the loss of the last bunch of body fat -- and looking only at the act of eating itself, I can honestly say I enjoy my food now more than I ever did when I was eating more broadly. It was one of the biggest surprises of undertaking this way of eating (when I started ZC, it was, as always, strictly about getting the weight off). I realized a few months in that my food tasted better to me, and furthermore, I was waaaay less worried about food on just about every front imaginable.

And maybe it's my inner laziness (in fact, I'm sure that's most of it), but not having to plan meals has freed up an enormous chunk of time and energy for me. I used to spend half the damn day thinking about shopping for food and cooking -- and eating -- and I wasn't even aware I was doing that. Now I can go all day without thinking once about dinner, either its preparation or its consumption. This lets me devote more attention to things that I've always put on the back burner, like making art. I don't want to go back to planning meals every night, lol.

But I'm still looking forward to whatever technological miracles Aubrey de Grey and his colleagues (and competitors) come up with. Especially if they can tack an extra century or more onto the average life span.

0c939bdddc3d8f8ef923ba8a72aeda71

on August 09, 2011
at 07:56 AM

Nice, I'm definitely going to try meat-only once I get the time, and figure out some reliable offal sources and easy cooking methods.

3
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on August 09, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Awesome, in 30 years I'll be 70 and then - Immortality!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:53 AM

Crap- what about when our RRSP's run out?

Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

(720)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:25 PM

ha, me too...or close to 70, so who cares? None of us will benefit from this if it ever happens.

2
949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

on August 09, 2011
at 10:22 PM

I don't think any of us would have a choice as to whether we could continue eating a truly Paleo diet. If humans live to extreme old ages (really, if they live even 20 years longer on average), we will quickly run out of space to pasture cows and chickens. If human lifespan increases by 20%, the world population will also increase by that much (at least in the short term, until overcrowding causes increased disease and violent death). Given that world population is already predicted to be at 9 billion by 2050, that would be a lot of extra people. Feedlots and industrial farms would be the only method of providing meat to such a large population - in fact, we may be forced to rely on grains and artificially produced "food products" just to be able to afford enough calories to live.

I'm not trying to be alarmist, but there are downsides to unlimited lifespan.

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on August 09, 2011
at 11:23 PM

Until overcrowding causes increased disease and violent death lolo... You really think that we'd get some sort of technological wonder like obliterating aging or achieving quasi-immortality, yet somehow not be able to expand the room we have to inhabit? We could always leave earth, you know. Or hell, we could start making gigantic skyscraper farms or something. That would increase the farming space!

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:21 PM

These are excellent insights, albeit painful ones.

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:49 PM

Actually, I just think that the people who are developing the medical breakthroughs that could extend human lifespan are doing so for two reasons: their own fear of death, and profit. Those are both excellent motivators. However, the people working on interplanetary travel or "skyscraper farms" may not be on the same timeline. I don't think the lifespan people are going to delay the release of their major breakthrough (and therefore delay profit) until other industries have time to deal with the consequences of overcrowding.

2
F52b51135f2c47eb46c986fdc9760b9b

on August 09, 2011
at 05:25 PM

Well, if health stopped being an issue, I'd switch from choosing my foods for health reasons to choosing my foods for moral/ethical reasons. If I found that the paleo diet was the most ethical one, then I'd continue to eat paleo.

1
Da681d976130df15aac3984013aaad6d

on August 09, 2011
at 11:24 PM

I'd probably go back to being a vegetarian. Unlike a lot of Paleo-ers, I actually don't like meat all that much, sadly. If health weren't an issue I'd eat pizza and drink wine a lot.

949d4d02ea7d1abd714cc3347c2c6854

(1021)

on August 10, 2011
at 07:50 PM

I agree completely. I wish I could still eat my chips and salsa, pizza, and brownies. I am also a former vegetarian, and I could easily do without the meat.

1
F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on August 09, 2011
at 05:20 PM

If paleo ever leads me to being healthy I will probably stick very closely with it. But I will go back to eating my favorite donuts on special occasions. I am telling you they are worth it!! My greatest dream is to get a half dozen or so and a quart of milk and have a giant pig out. Wait my husband does this at least once a month!

0
B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on January 30, 2012
at 05:33 PM

I would stop being strict, but I'd keep doing paleo. Simply because it's so tasty (I love nuts, fruits, meat and potatoes!).

0
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on January 30, 2012
at 05:20 PM

No, I wouldn't. mainly for two reasons. One, I don't trust the established corporate medical field. A lot of the things I've been told over the years by doctors have not been helpful, much less a lot of the various treatments and equipments they've demanded I use. Why would I risk something like my health again?

Two, ultimately the individual answers to himself. I feel best on paleo. It is a part of how I live, and I'm glad to be separate from others who do not choose this path. Evolutionarily, paleo is sound. Nothing of human achievement, especially in light of NADs, makes me think that I ought to go back to other ways of eating, on the vague promise of immortality.

Seems a little like Brave New World-esque to me.

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