Archive for April, 2013

For those of you who have not seen this presentation by Dr. Warinner I encourage you to watch it in its entirety before you read on,  Also, Robb Wolf did a really great write-up on his site explaining the video here,

Now it is my turn, although it may not be a good idea because after all she went to Harvard.  I think Dr. Warinner brought up some interesting points regarding the evolution of wild foods and agriculture.  I do not argue that foods today are different then they were during the paleolithic times, but haven’t we evolved as well? 

She refers to the paleo diet as a fad diet.  I am only addressing this point because other members of my field will refer to it in the same manner.  Weston Price mentioned dietary cause of disease in his book in the 1930s, but my first read was Paleolithic Nutrition by Boyd Eaton and colleagues.  Here is the 25 year follow up,  With the explosion of Crossfit and paleo diet books geared to the general public, mass media took this concept and ran with it.

Nowhere in Cordain’s or Eaton’s work did I ever read anything about paleo cupcakes.  Evolutionary biology is a starting point of research, not an ending point.  As a population we were and still are getting fat and sick at an alarming rate.  Researchers then looked back to when these diseases were not a concern and compared the differences in lifestyle.  Here is a good read by Cordain,  Are other fad diets found in reputable journals?  Nowhere did I see the Cookie Diet mentioned in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Cordain shows in that study some specific differences and suggests some nutritional protocols that may limit chronic disease.  He basically recommends eating more “real” foods such as fruits, veggies, and animal meats and removing all processed foods.  What the flip is the issue with that?  How does removing processed foods from your diet constitute a fad diet?

Dr. Warinner then goes on to explain that we did not adapt to eat meat.  This could not be further from the truth.  Anthropologist, Dr. Aiello came up with the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis (ETH).  In her 1992 paper she argues that humans began to eat meat about 1.5 million years ago.  Animal meat was a source of high-calorie food.  Brain tissue requires much larger amounts of energy then the tissues of other organs.  Animal meat may have made the difference.

Humans now were able to take in enough calories to allow the brain to grow in size.  Animal meat is also more easily digested requiring smaller stomachs and intestinal tracts.  The ability to digest these foods more easily, allowing a decrease in size of GI organs may have been a secondary reason the brain size in humans grew.  Less energy was required for intestinal cells.  Apes eat mostly twigs and berries, is this where we separated from them in cognitive improvement? (  To think of it logically which diet would you thrive on more: twigs and berries, or twigs, berries, and meat?

Dr. Warinner then mentions that we ate grains and legumes at earlier times.  Whether this is true or not is not my main concern.  As many of you know I am not totally against grain consumption as long as you soak, ferment, and mill your own.  This is not the case with a single person I know.  We all run to the food markets and grab a bag of “whole-grain” bread.  That shit is processed!  It is not soaked, fermented and milled the way our ancestors did it.

Now let us get to some positive parts of her talk.  I really liked her piece on how our fruits and vegetables have been altered over time.  This may be why there is such a variety in the tolerance of fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds.  I found this part fascinating and I will definitely try to look into it more.  Perhaps the differences in chemical structure of these foods has led to an increase in allergies and perhaps explains the addictive properties of some nuts and seeds.

As a whole we need to take the information we have and do the best we can to get nutritional guidelines out to the masses.  Evolutionary biology is a starting point for this research.  From there we have great information on how food affects other areas of our well being.  I believe Dr. Warinner made some really good points in other parts of her talk and I do encourage everyone to listen to it because there is lots of valuable information contained throughout it.  Just keep in mind what I stated above.

I have fielded quite a few questions regarding this article that I shared yesterday, .  This article does a great job explaining the energy metabolism issues associated with long slow distance cardio.  I am going to further explain the issues in how too much cardio can negatively impact overall health.

When we perform steady state cardio we are in the citric acid energy system or Krebs Cycle.  This energy system requires oxygen to metabolize fats for energy.  This is the same energy system we are primarily in when we are sitting around watching hours of our favorite sitcoms.  Steady state cardio increases our need for energy, thus increasing the amount of oxygen needed.

The increase in oxygen levels leads to an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS).  ROS have been linked to numerous diseases such as neurodegeneration and the deterioration of tissues and organs ( ).  To combat this oxidative damage we elicit the help of glutathione, our body’s strongest antioxidant.

 If we throw poor diet on top of it we may be leaving ourselves deficient in the nutrients required to produce glutathione and other important antioxidants ).  This decreases our abilities to fight the oxidative damage.  Also, nutritional deficiencies are a stressor!  Let us throw the typical poor sleep habits of most individuals into this mix.

If you are not getting 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a blacked out room this is you.  Our circadian clocks also fight oxidation through melatonin.  Melatonin should be converted from serotonin when the sun goes down.  However, from increased artificial light, stress, diet, and other lifestyle factors this does not always happen.  This leaves more oxidative stress left unchecked ( ).

Long term oxidative stress is what ages us and causes us to die.  Creating excessive amounts of it from prolonged steady state cardio is a quick, and if you ask me not so fun, way to decrease quality of life and lifespan and in fact may make you legit nuts ( ).  Mix it up a bit.  One steady state day mixed in with some intervals, sprints, and weight training will work.  Get the rest of your life in check too!  You can’t run away from bad diet and poor sleep!

I wanted to share some valuable data from the bloodwork of one of my recent clients.  For the sake of privacy we will call him John Doe.  John Doe came to me with concerns of his cholesterol levels.  Total cholesterol was at 309, LDL was at 237, and HDL was at 50.  John was placed on a paleo diet.  He was also placed on HCL for low stomach acid, L-tyrosine for low dopamine, 5-HTP for low serotonin, a total amino solution for additional amino acid support, and 2g EPA/DHA per day.  Lastly, for cholesterol John took pantethine which in studies has been shown to reduce total cholesterol by 10%-20% while increasing HDL by 10% to 38%.  ASfter 3 months John’s total cholesterol was 231 (a drop of 78 points), LDL was 148 (a drop of 89 points), and HDL was 67 (an increase of 17 points).  John’s total cholesterol to HDL ratio dropped from 6.18 to 3.44.  It was almost cut in half!  Less then 5 is minimal risk for heart disease and less then 3 is considered optimal.  John went from high risk to almost optimal in 3 months.  Some other things to note are that John was overtraining, stressed out, and eating low carb which may have led to some abnormal thyroid symptoms.  The combination of the pantethine and the thyroid regulation may have been responsible for this large drop and decrease in associated risk.

Calcium plays an important role in mitochondrial function.  In previous articles I discussed the mitochondria’s role in Huntington’s Disease.  There was a study published in the journal Nature that suggested that the early symptoms of HD were the result of a decrease in number, size, and distribution of the mitochondria (Song, 2011). 

The mitochondria change according to the demands of the brain.  One of the changes the mitochondria undergo are the act of splitting, or fission.  In patients with HD this  process is enhanced and leads to the mitochondria being incomplete, or as the study calls it being fragmented.  The degree of fragmentation also correlated with the severity of symptoms (  This has led some researchers to theorize that the Huntington gene may also regulate the mitochondria.

Calcium plays a critical role in the health status of the mitochondria.  Calcium helps form Ca2+ (calmodulin-dependent protein kinases II).  Impaired uptake of Ca2+ downregulates mitochondrial metabolism.  Under oxidative stress mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake overload can lead to cell death (  In a previous article I explained how there is a decrease in intracellular glutathione and in increase in oxidative stress in HD.

Many researchers are looking at Ca2+ uptake and mitochondrial stress as the main culprits to the onset of symptoms in the disease (  Important things to keep in mind are one, healthy mitochondria rely on stable blood sugar levels.  This means it is critical to be good at burning fat for energy.  Magnesium is also important as well as our copper:zinc ratio (explained in last post), manganese, carnosine, vitamin A, vitamin C, ALA, CoQ10, and resveratol.  I will get to all of these pieces in future entries.