The Roundup - Edition 19

The Roundup


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Here is The Roundup, Edition 19, bringing you the best from around the web from the past two weeks!

Blast from the Past

In a recent article, Stephan Guyenet of Whole Health Source discussed the widespread belief that beans and lentils are not “allowed” on a Paleo diet and were not a component of our early ancestors’ diets. Stephan points out that “there is good evidence of widespread legume consumption by hunter-gatherers and archaic humans, and that beans and lentils are therefore an ancestral food that falls within the Paleo diet rubric.” He discusses a handful of hunter-gatherer populations and extinct archaic groups of humans who consumed legumes after the development of cooking as a technology. He lists The !Kung San, Southwest Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and Neanderthals as groups that included properly prepared legumes in their diets, and therefore argues that “beans and lentils appear to be Paleo.”

I appreciate that Stephan views Paleo as a framework rather than a prescription, and I’ve written before about the need to reframe Paleo as a template, not a diet, and that the word Paleo should not be taken literally when deciding what to eat. This is also the approach I take in my new upcoming book, Your Personal Paleo Code (published in paperback as The Paleo Cure in December 2014), because I understand the need for personalization and minimal restriction when it comes to figuring out your own optimal diet. While beans and legumes may not be on the menu for some Paleo devotees, I believe properly prepared legumes can be perfectly healthy if well tolerated and if not completely replacing animal proteins in the diet. I’m glad that Stephan has pointed out the fact that the statement “beans aren’t Paleo” is likely inaccurate, and not a helpful statement for individuals looking to optimize their own diets.

Research Report

  • This review examines the changes in gut microbiota of patients with chronic kidney disease that may contribute to the progression of the disease, and the targeted interventions to re-establish a beneficial symbiosis.
  • A clinical study finds that whole-grain consumption does not decrease body weight compared to non-whole grain diet in controls.
  • This study is the first to provide a molecular basis for the role of butyrate on the production of regulatory T lymphocytes in the gut.
  • This paper establishes a link between glyphosate (the active ingredient in herbicides like Roundup) and changes in the gut microbiome that contribute to numerous modern diseases including autism, IBD, depression, cancer and more. Yet another reason to eat organic whenever possible.

Worth a Look

  • An Op-Ed in The New York Times explains how statins will not benefit most patients under the new guidelines. Finally some common sense in the debate!
  • Another New York Times article describes how low testosterone is a real problem for some men, but it’s also over-diagnosed and based on unclear science.
  • A past president of American College of Cardiology calls for halt to the new cholesterol and statin guidelines.
  • Come see me at PaleoFx in 2014. Tickets are now on sale—and they’re doing a big giveaway with tons of great prizes.
  • Want to learn more about resistant starch after listening to my last podcast? Check out these articles from Free the Animal.
  • My staff nutritionist Laura of Ancestralize Me explains why Weston Price and Paleo may not survive without each other.

For the Foodies: Thanksgiving Edition

    • I too have heard critique of one of the paper’s authors (Seneff) and this publication. I would like to know if there is anyone actually researching in this area with a similar viewpoint on roundup. Thanks.

    What one can “tolerate” (not a scientific designation), and what one SHOULD eat (or not eat, as the case may be), are not the same thing… digestive science is finally making headway after a being relegated to “food science” and other nearly meaningless disciplines. If I told you, you could “tolerate” some amount of mercury, lead, or aluminum, does that mean you SHOULD consider consuming it ???

  2. Thanks for including my herb bread in your recipe roundup, and for a great collection of Thanksgiving recipes.

    RE legumes on a paleo diet — I agree that diet should be individualized and not justified or rationalized by what our ancestors supposedly ate. Personally, I found the Whole30 paleo diet to be very useful in identifying food intolerances I didn’t know I had. On reintroduction of legumes, I found I could tolerate them just fine, although I don’t eat them on a regular basis. I can also tolerate dairy. It seems to me that rather than adhering to a concept or philosophy of eating, it’s more logical for each individual to test what works by eliminating a food or category of foods for a time and then reintroducing.

  3. ” I believe properly prepared legumes can be perfectly healthy” and I did read many posts on proper soaking, thank you for your previous instructions on the “how to”.
    My question is – if a legume comes canned in water, eg. chick peas, kidney beans, is that enough soaking to degrade the phytates? Do they need further treatment/cooking, or can I consider canned chick peas (eg. used to make a hummus) easily digestible?

  4. [post continued]

    Further clarification of the point that plants can have a role other than directly diet-related…”Non-dietary factors that affect the build-up of calculus include chewing non-food plants, oral hygiene practices, and para-masticatory behaviour. Chewing increases saliva production, which may promote calculus growth, but chewed substances may also abrade the teeth and remove calculus (Lieverse, 1999). Overall, individual differences such as variation in immunological systems, or the shape and composition of teeth, may be more important than external factors such as diet (Arensburg, 1996)”

    They expand on the (apparently) more grounded theory that plant foods made there way into the diet via the animals stomach contents and not directly their mouths…”We suggest instead that plants of no nutritional value to hominins (and perhaps also those that needed processing to be rendered edible) could have been ingested indirectly via the consumption of the stomach contents of herbivorous prey (chyme). This is not the first time it has been suggested that Neanderthals may have consumed the stomachs of their prey (Speth, 2010, Speth, 2012 and Hockett, 2011), but to our knowledge, the possibility of this practice confounding dietary reconstructions has not been acknowledged. Moreover, it is known that phytoliths occur in the coprolites of carnivores with herbivorous prey due to the consumption of the digestive system of the herbivore (Bamford et al., 2010), which could confuse dietary analyses if this source of plant matter was not considered.”

    Examples of the practice…”the Damara consume the stomach contents (and dung, which may also preserve plant fragments) of ostrich and kori bustard in the treatment of various ailments, including dehydration, malaria, and burns. These birds are perceived to have medicinal power drawn from their size and eating habits. Similarly, porcupine stomach is prized for its potency amongst KhoeSan because of the animal’s diet of medicinal plants”

    Reinforcing how common such a practice was…”These ethnographic accounts demonstrate how common the practice of consuming the stomach of prey has been in recent human history; this is not an unusual dietary item in terms of global food practices. Given the demonstrable benefits of consuming stomach contents, it seems likely that Neanderthals would have partaken, at least on occasion

    They conclude by saying…”We are not, of course, proposing that Neanderthals would not have eaten plant foods, nor are we discounting the possibility of Neanderthal self-medication. However we suggest that, given the evidence for widespread consumption of stomach contents in recent human groups, and the likely benefits of a rich source of vitamin C and carbohydrates (to say nothing of the possible cultural or social reasons for chyme consumption) this behaviour should be taken into account as a possible source of plant foods, including ‘medicinal’ ones, in the archaeological and fossil record.”

    Question Dr. Guyenet (or Chris Kresser in this instance):

    Do you think eating partially digested legumes (for example) from animal stomachs bring about similar food preparation results, such as the inactivation of phytic acid(s)?

    • A chap I know spent 6 weeks in the wilderness in New Zealand. He relished his daily diet of possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) stomach contents.

  5. Hi Chris, I wanted to say your “Roundup Edition” articles are a fantastic resource – thanks!

    I left a (rather long) comment/question on Dr. Guyenet’s most recent blog post (about beans being paleo/not paleo). I haven’t received an answer yet (I’m sure he is very busy). If you’d like to comment I’d greatly appreciate it.

    If you think I’m grasping at straws, feel free to let me know 🙂 “Having the stomach for it: a contribution to Neanderthal diets?” Laura T. Bucka, Chris B. Stringera

    “Isotope analysis from Neanderthal sites such as Saint-Césaire, (Bocherens et al., 2005), Vindija (Richards et al., 2000), Les Pradelles (Bocherens et al., 2005), Engis, and Spy (Bocherens et al., 2001) indicate a high protein, high trophic level diet, similar to or even exceeding that of a wolf or hyaena. This has been interpreted as evidence that Neanderthals were top predators, skilled at hunting large mammals (Richards et al., 2000, Bocherens et al., 2001, Bocherens et al., 2005 and Richards and Trinkaus, 2009).”

    They go on with the caveat…”Neanderthals in more temperate regions, or climatic phases, seem to have had different diets to those living in colder environments with a necessary focus on carnivory during severe winters”

    They are careful to contextualise the presence of plant food with Neanderthals so…”Non-dietary factors that affect the build-up of calculus include chewing non-food plants, oral hygiene practices, and paramasticatory behaviour”

    For example…”As discussed above, not all evidence found in the mouth should be considered to represent food. Hardy et al. (2012) also show evidence for oil shale or bitumen in the calculus, which they relate to tool hafting. People of all cultures opportunistically use their mouth as a tool, as anyone who has ever cut sellotape with their teeth can attest. Furthermore, even plant remains in calculus could result from oral (non-dietary) processing of vegetable matter, as acknowledged by Henry et al. (2011). […] oral processing may be employed to produce dye (Bond, 1996) or to soften fibres to make cord (Nash, 1991), whilst chewing vegetation for reasons of dental hygiene is also very widespread (Wu et al., 2001)”

    They further expand on the potential non-necessarily diet-related presence of plants in the life of Neanderthals…”The evidence for cooked plants preserved in calculus from smoke-related compounds, methylated lipids, and heat-cracked starch grains indicates a level of sophistication in the Neanderthal diet beyond what has often been considered possible (Henry et al., 2011 and Hardy et al., 2012). Henry et al. (2011) also point out that several of the plants they identified from the calculus would require relatively complex processing before consumption. Thus this new method provides support for planning and breadth in dietary practices, which runs counter to many ideas about Neanderthal diet and cognition. Perhaps most intriguing of all the results from calculus analyses to date, however, is the suggestion by Hardy et al. (2012) that the evidence from one individual from El Sidrón points to medicinal plant use. It is this finding that we particularly question and for which we suggest the alternative hypothesis of the consumption of prey stomach contents. This hypothesis is also relevant for some of the plants that the authors suggest would have required special processing.”

    [post continued]

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