Kurt Harris MD

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« Comment Moderation | Main | “Cardio” Causes Heart Disease. »
Monday
Nov022009

I'm so bored with the Kitavans

Apologies to one of my favorite bands, THE CLASH

Kitavans eating yams and fish and smoking cigarettes and Tarahumara drinking beer and running on sandals made from old tires! Awesome!

Hell, there is some serious neo-rousseauism going on here. These noble savages have got it wired and all of our medical science about nutrition must always take account of those paragons of righteous living.

Lindeberg notwithstanding, we don't really know squat about the Kitavans. The runners in the study I just quoted had no clinical history whatsoever of clinically evident heart attacks. Instead, 12% had evidence of silent infacts on an MRI.

We have no idea how many of the Kitavans have coronary calcium or silent infarcts by MRI. No idea at all. They certainly seem to tolerate the carbs well with little fructose and no wheat and no linoleic acid. Great! Maybe they have zero coronary calcium and no one there has ever had an infarct. We just do not know. If Lindeberg wants to fly them all to my clinic in wisconsin I will do a calcium score on the first one thousand of them no charge. Seriously.

Show me the money. Show me proof they have less atherosclerosis and they have no silent ischemia. Prove they are not just ethnographic confirmation bias for those who think "paleo carbs" must be OK because we really, really want them to be.

The Kitavans tolerate a higher carb fraction than you might expect.

SO WHAT?

What does that tell us about whether we should eat non -fructose and wheat containing carbs intead of animal products. It tells us absolutely nothing at all about that choice. Zero.

Just like their apparant tolerance of smoking tells us absolutely nothing about whether it is good to smoke. It only confirms that smoking on the SAD is much worse. That is very interesting, but hardly an endorsement for smoking, is it?

This is just a giant, gaping blind spot in the paleo diet world - It is, philosophically, blind empricism. Perseverating on an observation without coherent interpretation.

Let's say that fructose, excess carbs in general, wheat and linoeic acid are all equally contributing to ill health. Wheat is probably the worst, or maybe corn oil, but lets just say...

Don't you suppose we could find any number of populations, that, lacking the negative synergy of having all of them in the diet, get away with having just one element?

I can think of many examples, but I'll let you do the exercise.

Fine is not better. Tolerated is not optimal.

If you have the choice, why choose corn or potatoes over meat?

I have the choice as I am not forced to live in a paleo neo-rousseauist fantasy world. I have central heat and can choose what I eat. Instead of letting it kill me, I choose to exploit our artifical late post-industrial food abundance to my advantage, even if stuffing myself with nothing but tasty animals was a privilege unavailable to some of my unlucky paleo anscestors who had to stoop to starchy plants.

Because we have evolved to tolerate getting some portion of our calories from sources that are nothing but fuel (a good thing in times of scarcity, I should say) does not oblige us to do so, does it?

I honestly believe with good nutrition, a moderate amount of tobacco and acohol is also tolerable.

Does that mean it is better to do it than not?

I will always put biomedical science before ethnography.

My reading of biomedical science tells me once you have enough protien, animal fat is healthier than any grain or potato. It definitely tastes better. If you prefer to practice a regime of artificial scarcity or save money, go ahead.

But this is an advocacy site. I do not advocate substitution of corn or yams for pastured butter unless you are short money or your child is hungry.

Between the Zero carbers and the Kitavan cult, I feel a bit squeezed.

Over and over I say that the 10- 30% range for carbs sounds reasonable for most people.

Prove to me that 60% is better than 30%. Or at least make the argument. I would do it for you if I could, but I cannot even imagine how it would be constructed. Otherwise please stop perseverating on the Kitavans until a study comes out with something new.

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Reader Comments (23)

Excellent post and great band! Keep it up Dr. Harris.

November 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanny

I think you are winning the fight Kurt

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Kurt,
I´ve read Good Calories, Bad Calories...so I wouldn´t trade that book , maybe you just read it at amazon.com or borrow it from the library...there is also a whole capital in it which proves scientifically that we are born to run.
And again, I don´t want to prove that running long distances is healthy or unhealthy, I´m just interested what you as a MD and a very intelligent person would say after reading that capital of the book. You see, I myself love to run (barefoot) and I don´t do that to realize any goal, I just enjoy it and in the warm seasons I run almost every second day like 1 or 2 hours, but never linear, always in fractals...I hate running with shoes, so I run hardly with cold weather...that´s it. I enjoy it so much that I even take the risk to die a few years earlier, although because of my EF style of eating and strength training etc I expect to live long and healthy anyway......

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I found by the way one of the studies the book born to run is based on:
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~skeleton/pdfs/2007c.pdf
from an article about the book:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27well.html?_r=1

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I really enjoyed this post Kurt because of the many people who say something like wheat or corn must be alright because they eat it and they're alright so therefore it must be alright. How do they do know they're alright ? I don't bother entering the dialogue anymore but I loved what you wrote.

Anne

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Dr. Harris,

This issue of paleo-pc-carbs has been a contentious point in the paleo eating community for awhile that people always seem to pussyfoot around as to not hurt anyone's feelings and you finally come along and give it the stiff chin-jab it deserves. I salute you. It will stimulate a much-needed discussion.

I know your focus is on nutrition, but I'd love to see a post focused on your thoughts on exercise - particularly your opinions on CrossFit, HIT and the concept of training till failure. Dr. Doug McGuff's "Body by Science" approach is intriguing to me as well. If you have an opinion on it I'd love to read it.

Nonetheless, even if that post never comes you're doing a great job here. Thank you for this gift of a blog.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKetoWarrior

Ketowarrior

Thank You for your support!

I think PaNu is already a pretty big tent with the parametric stance I take - diet is parametric because we are biologic systems. I refused to go Taliban on all plant matter to please the zero carbers - now I am requesting that if you are going to claim that it's a toss up whether you are getting 5% or 60% or your calories from starchy tubers, you give more than just the admittedly intriguing ethnographic evidence of the Kitavans.

Much more to come on exercise -there is almost as much religion in the exercise sphere as in the dietary one. Despite what I wrote about marathoners, the exercise religion is certainly not killing as many as our perverse dietary guidelines. So blogging about diet is more urgent, even if exercise is more fun.

I have read McGuff's book and I like it very much. I have some minor disagreements with it and some of the methods, but in general he is on the right track. May review it after I read it again.

George said:

"You see, I myself love to run (barefoot) and I don´t do that to realize any goal, I just enjoy it and in the warm seasons I run almost every second day like 1 or 2 hours, but never linear, always in fractals...I hate running with shoes, so I run hardly with cold weather...that´s it. I enjoy it so much that I even take the risk to die a few years earlier, although because of my EF style of eating and strength training etc I expect to live long and healthy anyway......"

George, relax! - I did not say you can't run, or dance, or play the guitar or whatever for JOY -i just said marathons and running 7 miles a day may not be so good. I run cross-country, remember. I really enjoy it. I only hate running indoors or on treadmills ( which is biomechanically not even running, actually)

Brent, All

Let me stipulate, to all those who have said, "not all cardio is bad" that I am using the word "cardio" to specifically indicate monotonous uninterrrupted steady-state activity fairly close to the anaerobic threshhold over hours. Mark Sisson would use the phrase "chronic cardio". I choose to use the word as a pejorative, as I agree with Doug MCGuff that claiming that you need this kind of exercise to make your HEART healthy is physiologically incoherent - you are not primarily training your heart, you are training your muscles.

Hence the mocking quotes .."cardio"

I totally agree that even long runs done "fractally" or hill walking, or persistence hunting, or low altitude non-brain damage mountaineering or runs less than 10K now and then, may all be different enough from steady-state marathons run on pavement to be fine. More research and theorizing to come.

For now, I am leaning toward the horrible inflammation- promoting background diet of the "cardio" crowd and another element that may be the icing on the cake for promoting atherosclerosis - lack of recovery.

I suspect running a marathon "off the couch" twice a year might not be as damaging as running 7 miles 5 or 6 days a week to "train" for it. The human body is fantastically resilient if you LET IT RECOVER. But who knows?

Danny

I can play "Powderfinger" pretty decently now on my Tom Anderson Atom and my '58 les paul VOS.
Winter in Wisconsin is good for guitar practice, but not Vitamin D synthesis.

Chris

I am usually only that emphatic in person. Maybe I am beating a dead horse, but there you have it. Thanks!

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKurt G Harris MD

Kurt, it seems you are putting the burden of proof on the Kitavan promoters to prove they are 100% healthy. From Lindenburg's studies we do know they seem relatively free of degenerative diseases, even if they could onlly do EKG's of their hearts. If the amount of carbs they consume is truly unhealthy, we would expect some degenerative diseases, so I think it is reasonable to put a burden on low-carb advocates to explain why they think there is an absence of degenerative diseases. For example, believers in Taubes need to explain why there is no obesity.

Also, the Kitavans are certainly not the only seemingly healthy indigenous culture above your proposed limit of 30% carbs, although I don't know of others as well studied.

Is it not reasonable to propose that it may have less to do with good calorie, bad calorie, and more to do with good carb, bad carb? I don't know that (paleo) people are advocating 60% carbs as better. I think the argument is that it is not unnecessarily healthy. Maybe the burden of proof should be on you to prove that it is unhealthy.

Remeber what we are fighting against: dogmas that just ignore evidence that doesn't jive with their theory. Restricting carbs may be most prudent given the evidence, but maybe we can also admit that other theories are possible.

Also, I could be wrong but I think the Kitavans were eating yams and fruit containing sugar molecules that are half composed of fructose. It would be interesting to hear your detailed thoughts on fructose some time.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

George, thanks for the link, it was an interesting read. I don't think the persistence hunting theory is well accepted, though, and certainly would not call this proof of it.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Greg

"Kurt, it seems you are putting the burden of proof on the Kitavan promoters to prove they are 100% healthy."

No, I am requiring at least a theoretical reason that 60% carbs might be better than 10 %, before agreeing it is reasonable to advocate that level of consumption. Just like if the kitavan supporters claimed that cigarettes are OK because the Kitavans get way with smoking them, I would demand they explain this empirical observation that contradicts other lines of evidence and reasoning, not just point to it.

"From Lindenburg's studies we do know they seem relatively free of degenerative diseases, even if they could onlly do EKG's of their hearts."

I am not meaning to imply you need medical experience to understand this, but you do need to appreciate just how medically superficial the studies of the Kitavans to date have been. Doesn't 48 year old Salazar look the epitome of health in his picture?

" If the amount of carbs they consume is truly unhealthy, we would expect some degenerative diseases, so I think it is reasonable to put a burden on low-carb advocates to explain why they think there is an absence of degenerative diseases."

I just did explain it - if there are four neolithic factors of disease, they only have one. This does not mean zero would not be better.

IT'S THE SAME AS THE RESISTANCE TO SMOKING - I DON"T HAVE TO RE-PROVE THAT SMOKING IS BAD BECAUSE THE KITAVANS HAVE ELIMINATED ENOUGH NEGATIVE HEALTH FACTORS TO TOLERATE IT MORE THAN IF THEY ATE THE SAD

"For example, believers in Taubes need to explain why there is no obesity.'

I think you are seriously misreading and misquoting Taubes. I totally disagree.

"Is it not reasonable to propose that it may have less to do with good calorie, bad calorie, and more to do with good carb, bad carb?"

Yes, if you look at other than ethnographic evidence, it is not reasonable. Fructose and wheat are uniquely bad. Eliminating them gets you to under 20% carbs. Subsequent substitution of corn and potatoes for meat cannot possible be an improvement, even if tolerated. That is my position.

"I don't know that (paleo) people are advocating 60% carbs as better.'

Then why talk about it so much?

"I think the argument is that it is not unnecessarily healthy. Maybe the burden of proof should be on you to prove that it is unhealthy."

If you don't find my arguments convincing, start eating 60% nutritionally empty potatoes and corn. Grow more bacteria in your colon, get less fat soluble vitamins. Stay as far away from the metabolic benefits of ketosis which was a frequent state in human evolution. Be sure to fast a lot as compensation!

"Remember what we are fighting against: dogmas that just ignore evidence that doesn't jive with their theory. Restricting carbs may be most prudent given the evidence, but maybe we can also admit that other theories are possible."

We are also fighting against dogmas that focus on ethnography and have no well-thought out biochemical framework. "Less bad" carbs, tolerable carbs, these are reasonable concepts. Good carbs? Please explaiin medically or biochemically what a "good" carb (not just a tolerable carb that prevents you from starving) would be.

November 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

good post!

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermallory

I think the problem a lot of us have with the paleo principle is that, like many hypothesis, it is based in assumptions about what happened in the past. I'm not saying they are necessarily wrong, we just have to be careful in assuming they are right.

Our knowledge of paleolithic lifestyle depends on interpreting the evidence of what they ate. That is where things get difficult: there is a lot of guessing. Sure, animal bones are easy to study, but we have no knowledge of what plant foods might have been eaten because plant remains do not survive as easily as animal remains. We don't know if meat was eaten fresh or cooked, nor what the nutritional content of the meat was.

There are a lot of mantras repeated in the paleo community that are treated as given:

"Modern fruit is bread to be sweeter" - maybe, but how do we know? If sweetness is an evolutionary advantage, wouldn't fruit naturally select to be sweeter?

"Paleoman only ate honey occasionally" - I have no idea how this could even be accurately determined

"Paleoman was frequently in ketosis" - again, depends on knowing what and how often they ate

"Wheat was a neolithic food" - agriculture certainly is neolithic, but most likely cereal grasses were being used long before the introduction of agriculture

etc...

It just seems to me that the healthy populations observed by Price, Cleave and McCarrison challenge the idea that humans need to eat what was eaten in paleolithic times for optimum health, assuming we even have a clear idea of what was eaten in paleolithic times.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDexter

Dexter

I am gong to call you WAPF man soon!

Actually, I agree with your general point that the paleo principle is fraught with epistimological diffculty. That is why I never apply it until I have evidence from modern biomedical science first.

Of all the things you call "mantras", however, I agree with their likely truth.

BTW, WAPF thinks wheat is fine and you can eat it again after you "recover" fom coeliac disease. They are wrong!

Thanks for your comments

November 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Kurt, we are very much in agreement that consuming more than half your calories from yams is not optimal. I don't think intelligent paleo thinkers are stating that it is. And I think most would agree that it is less healthy then the alternatives you are proposing. So I think to a certain extent you are putting up a straw man here.

The real question is: is there anything inherently bad about carbohydrates? Does this problem come out at 30% of the diet, or 60% of the diet?

To answer your question about a good carb: one that comes with nutrients and a minimial amount of anti-nutrients and toxins. This is basically WAPF thinking.

The reason Weston Price stated for turning to ethnography was to find an adequate control group. So the goal isn't actually to study different cultures, the goal is to study healthy cultures and learn from them. I don't know how it is possible to learn what is truly health by studying 250 million of the sickest people who have ever lived. I think we are mostly going to figure out how to be less sick, possibly to the point of being considered healthy by American standards. And it is naturally going to lead to the assumption that carbs are bad because all the carbs that Americans are eating (wheat and refined sugar) are of course bad.

So if we really want to state that carbs are bad (at any level) we need to look at other cultures (not necessarily pre-contact) that are not eating nutrient-deficient carbs. Otherwise we are going to have to rely solely on biochemical explanations, which are great, but given our ignorance of the human body, will always be at risk of being flawed.

And yes, the same does go for smoking. In order to state that *any* tobacco smoking is bad, you also need to study people who smoked tobacco that wasn't full of artificial chemicals and was smoked in well ventilated areas. Maybe that has already been done, I don't know.

So we basically have 2 theories-
1) carbs (at some concentration) cause disease
2) specific nutritional properties of certain carbs promote disease.

I am not saying #1 is wrong, I am just saying that the ethnography data seems to support #2 to the exclusion of #1, and we need to have an explanation for it instead of dismissing it.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Greg-

Your description of a healthy carb is "one that contains nutrients" (sic), a la Weston Price. That does not mean carbs are nutritious, it means nutrients are nutritious. As it stands, there is no evidence that carbs have a uniquely healthful contribution to a diet, as Taubes and others have argued. If I understand the former's position, he would argue that the absence of copious amounts of sugar, refined gluten grains or white rice (and fructose, probably) are the reasons the Kitavans are not disease-ridden, at least on the surface. This doesn't mean, however, that their diet is optimal or that those 60% carbs are beneficial -- ONLY that they are tolerated to the extent that they don't cause obesity.

Your two theories, to these eyes, appear to only say that perhaps only some carbs cause disease and the corollary point is that maybe some don't. This is merely a negative distinction: it has yet to be proven that carbs are needed at all in the diet and most anthropological and bio-chemical evidence suggests otherwise. The question is not WHETHER OR NOT a person can (superficially) tolerate more carbs under certain ethnographically-described scenarios, but whether that very scenario actually serves as reasonable scientific evidence that such a diet (or a similarly-constructed diet) be recommended to outsiders. There must be a scientific foundation for a claim that a particular diet is advantageous and as there is no strong evidence that the addition of 60% starchy carbs is in itself healthful and is, at best, likely a superfluity in an otherwise healthy lifestyle, the Kitavans example shouldn't serve as justification that the addition of said carbs for the rest of us will have a nutritional benefit.

Lastly, you claim that our knowledge of human body is flawed and, thus, all suppositions derived from biochemical analysis are in danger of being flawed. This argument is a canard, as no science-of-nutrition discoveries can take place in vacuum. It appears you are suggesting that the best alternative is to observe and emulate. M. Eades has rigorously argued that epidemiology/observation has no relevance to causality, so what dimensions of the "native" lifestyle are best emulated? The lack of sugar and flour? The increased amount of starchy tubers? Living in a jungle? As most of Price's evidence reveals that "diseases of civilization" are perpetuated exclusively by certain carb heavy foods in the diet, and this evidence correlates with a vast ocean of other scientific research, I'll take the negative stance that carbs are guilty until proven innocent (or necessary!).

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Hello Greg

"Kurt, we are very much in agreement that consuming more than half your calories from yams is not optimal.

If so then you are agreeing with me 100%. Not optimal. Could be better.

"The real question is: is there anything inherently bad about carbohydrates? Does this problem come out at 30% of the diet, or 60% of the diet?"

That is what is inherently bad. The carbohydrate rich foods are basically only fuel and to the degree they crowd out more nutrient-rich foods, they are inherently relatively bad, even if not at evil as wheat and fructose. I argue with the zero carbs folks that 25% is low enough to not be that harmful. I argue with Kitavophiles that 25% is probably healthier than 60%. It's parametric, not absolute. 0 to 30% is probably healthier, ceteris paribus, than 60%.

I also think, for mainly theoretical reasons, there is an advantage to being near or in ketosis more often than we are - I think this characterized the EM2 as I call it. This is easier to achieve on VLC, but can be achieved with IF and aided by fasting workouts. I have not elaborated on this much yet because I want to flesh it out more, and I think the nutritional emptiness of carb sources is the only reason I need to minimize them.

I know about Weston Price the man and respect his work. Much of the WAPF info I disagree with. WAPF argues that carbs are necessary. I totally disagree, even if they are not poison.

"And yes, the same does go for smoking. In order to state that *any* tobacco smoking is bad, you also need to study people who smoked tobacco that wasn't full of artificial chemicals and was smoked in well ventilated areas. Maybe that has already been done, I don't know."

I disagree that we need to do any such thing to know that smoking is not good, even if tolerated more when off the SAD. That is my medical opinion. Is the 'artificial chemicals" idea another WAPF nugget?

"So we basically have 2 theories-
1) carbs (at some concentration) cause disease
2) specific nutritional properties of certain carbs promote disease.

I am not saying #1 is wrong, I am just saying that the ethnography data seems to support #2 to the exclusion of #1, and we need to have an explanation for it instead of dismissing it."

I think they are not mutually exclusive. I know that is not the WAPF line. Carb rich food crowd out better ones if too many are eaten. Some of them, like wheat, are poison. Not mutually exclusive.

Thanks for your comments.

November 3, 2009 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

I'm a Zerocarber.

I think the evidence shows that 1) Excess carbs cause disease and 2) Dietary carbs are not required for survival. I don't really see any evidence that shows more than that. Of course this brings up the big question of what constitutes "excess carbs". I don't know. I don't know if it is actually knowable. But I'm pretty sure it is dependent on genetics and the amount of life long abuse the individual has accumulated. So it is most likely a pretty big range. The bulk of people probably fit into your 10-30 range. I say this without anything to back it up. But it seems to make sense. I most likely am in that range as well.

So why do I shove myself into the zero range? Simple really. Carb creep. For me 10 begets 20 which begets 30 and so on until I'm back on the nachos, pizza, and chili fries. Seems I can't be trusted.

It also makes meal planning just a whole lot easier. But that's another story. :)

-E

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErasmus

Erasmus

I am functionally ZC myself some days. Carb creep is an issue for many and great reason to go ZC if you need to.

November 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Kurt said, "BTW, WAPF thinks wheat is fine and you can eat it again after you "recover" fom coeliac disease. They are wrong!"

Agreed. And how in the world does someone "recover" from coeliac disease anyway?

It is my opinion that the WAPF focuses too much on grains and dairy, in light of what WAP found in his travels. Weston Price visited about 12 or so tribes in the 1930s. From my reading of his book, only one group ate a grain containing gluten, and that was the Swiss who ate rye bread. Only 2 or 3 tribes consumed any dairy on a regular basis.

KGH RESPONDS:

I think the rye bread eaten by the Swiss is like the 60% carbs eaten by the Kitavans (only worse). Breaking one rule is not as bad as breaking 4.

You know my stance on dairy. I eat it with knowledge of theoretical risk. The risk of Gluten grains is well past theory.

You are correct, you cannot recover from celiac disease, especially if you re-introduce gluten grains after you get better.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSatya

Dr. Harris thank you for taking the time with this blog.

In regards to the kitavans there is a component of their diet that I don't think you addressed : the sodium to potassium ratio, ie they average 8000mgs a day!

http://www.drpasswater.com/nutrition_library/potassium-sodium4.html

I have long thought that this upset ratio in most diets is one of the missing links in human health.


what do you think? perhaps we should add this to your list?

thanks,

James


KGH:

Hello James and Thank You.

I am big believer in the competency of our kidneys. So far, I don't see convincing evidence that electrolytes in the diet or acid/base imbalances are an important deviation from the EM2.

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterketojim

Doc-
Outstanding post. Stuff that I've been ruminating on, very timely.

KGH:

Thanks, Robb. I am enjoying your blog as well, esp. your anti-gluten stance.

November 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobb Wolf

Hi Kurt,

I just stumbled across this post, so I'm late in the discussion, but I wanted to chime in as a former low-carber who now eats a higher-carb diet (including plenty of yams). I echo what Greg said:

"The reason Weston Price stated for turning to ethnography was to find an adequate control group. So the goal isn't actually to study different cultures, the goal is to study healthy cultures and learn from them. I don't know how it is possible to learn what is truly health by studying 250 million of the sickest people who have ever lived. I think we are mostly going to figure out how to be less sick, possibly to the point of being considered healthy by American standards."

This, to me, is a very important point to make. The best of the best scientific studies use control groups to prove or disprove theories. In the world of human health and nutrition, where do we turn to find these control groups? I don't believe any modernized human being makes for a good control. When a study says, for example, that it used a control group of people -- let's say 10 "normal weight," "healthy" individuals -- to compare to a group of obese and diabetic folks, what parameters are being used to determine the controls' health status? Blood pressure? Body Mass Index? Cholesterol levels? Blood sugar levels? Numbers don't tell the whole story, in my opinion. True health evades the battery of tests that medical science promotes as determining factors in a person's well-being.

The control group participants of any given study could have crooked teeth, underdeveloped jaws, pinched nostrils, and the gamut of suboptimal health markers determined by Weston Price, for example. They could have regular visits to the doctor because of flus or colds, ingest copious amounts of antibiotics, take advil every day for pain, exhibit tension and stress in their bodies, and have frequent mood swings or low-grade depression. Yet, any mainstream medical doctor out there would consider these things normal and deem such people "healthy."

I believe there needs to be a benchmark for health before we can go around saying this diet or that diet is healthful. Our current medical benchmark leaves a lot to be desired, and, first things first, any person with suboptimal physical development should be considered to be below the bar. This is where the studies of indigenous, traditionally living peoples come into play and what you call "neo-rousseauism." These groups provide a picture of what true health is, and that's why a study of them is so important -- to determine some sense of what a truly healthy human being looks like, as well as how he/she functions in life.

Any control group of human beings that science uses as control groups should have optimal physical development. After all, paleo human beings had straight teeth, wide square jaws, wide flaring nostrils, and prominent cheek bones. If this is how human beings were meant to look, then any person who shows signs of lacking physical development are suboptimal -- and not a good example of health. I am one of these people, and I'd wager a guess that, along with the author, most (if not all) readers of this blog are also.

Also, it is my opinion that some of the most important qualities a healthy human being exhibits cannot easily be measured by science, and that includes their breathing style, alertness, ability to cope with stress, physical prowess, and other hard-to-quantify factors.

So, in a nutshell, what I'm saying is what Greg stated above with some added thoughts. By measuring the health of already sick people we are lowering the bar. The bar needs to be raised, and that's what studying isolated traditional peoples is all about.

Re: Wheat

Where does the WAPF state that wheat is okay to eat after recovering from celiac? I'm a member of the foundation, and have never heard them make such a bold statement. The closest thing I've read is anecdotal accounts of celiac patients eating sourdough bread without it harming them. Doesn't sourdough break down gliadin and gluten though bacterial fermentation?


KGH:

Here is the url for deadly advice on "recovering" from celiac disease.

www.westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/healing-celiac-disease.html

This link doesn't work now but used to go to an essay describing re-introduction of gluten grains after "recovery" from celiac disease. Of course, there is no such thing medically as recovery from celiac disease so this advice is essentially malpractice. Maybe someone was smart enough to remove it.

I have great respect for Weston Price the man but not WAPF.

As far as gliadin proteins - soaking and cooking do nothing to remove them. The only way to avoid gliadin and glutenins is to avoid eating gluten grains, period. Soaking only takes care of the phytates and may mitigate the WGA to some extent. It will not eliminate the innate or adaptive immune responses to gluten proteins.

I think you have missed the point of the essay. I said nothing about not studying existing humans, only that we should not assume they are optimally healthy, and more to the point that the ones we cannot observe that no longer exist may not be either. If they are healthier than us, fine. But we cannot assume pure empiricism with no information from current medical science is the superior route to knowledge - this is what irks me about WAPF - willful ignorance of current medical knowledge and the assumption that foodways that are only a few thousand years old must be the best we can do. So wheat is OK because someone else ate it, modern knowledge of celiac disease spectrum be damned.

You have also confused the meaning of "control" - in the scientific sense, one population cannot be the control group with respect to another - we can compare them, but in an intervention, the control group is only supposed to differ from the test group by the variable under study. In the case of the Kitavans, they differ in so many ways we can only speculate on which are the important ones. My argument, given modern medical knowledge, is that they are healthy despite their high carbohydrate consumption, not because of it. If you ignore the modern medical science that allows such a conclusion, you are left to just ape their diet and then guess why it's better. That may be the approach you prefer, but I like a more scientific and less religious route.

interesting take on sodium/potassium ratios

http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2009/12/hypertension-and-metabolic-syndrome.html


James

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterketojim
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