ANTINUTRIENTS- YOUR KEY TO BAD HEALTH

June 22, 2008

ANTINUTRIENTS- YOUR KEY TO BAD HEALTH

You probably already know a lot about nutrients- macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytosterols etc). Now it’s time to meet the rest of the family……. We all know that foods contain a variety of nutrients. There is less awareness that many foods contain small amounts of potentially harmful substances. These are toxins, as they have toxic effects. They are normally called “antinutrients” by the scientific community as toxins sounds too alarmist. Antinutrients are very real and for over 100 years research has been done on them- but it is generally only appreciated by a small group of specialized scientists. Antinutrients have an incredible range of biological effects. As you have probably already guessed, the vast majority and highest levels of antinutrients are in Neolithic foods like grains, beans and potatoes. The Paleolithic diet has incredibly low levels of antinutrients compared to the usual modern diet. I believe that this is the number one advantage of the diet.

Textbooks on antinutrients read like books on what not to eat- Neolithic foods are the most prominent. Professor Irvin Liener published one of the most famous of these books in 1980. In the first chapter he points out that when we started cooking inedible plants, new toxins entered the diet for the first time. Ironically, he wasn’t trying to promote Paleolithic diets- his aim was to help agricultural scientists more safely feed the world on grains, beans and potatoes.

It’s a technical subject, and I’ll do my best to make it clear to you.

Consider our friend, the apple. When an animal eats an apple, it profits by getting a meal. It swallows the seeds and then deposits them in a pile of dung. With some luck a new apple tree might grow, and so the apple tree has also profited from the arrangement. In nature as in finance, it is good business when both parties make profit happily. Consider what would happen if the animal were greedy and decided to eat the few extra calories contained within the apple seeds- then there would be no new apple tree to continue on the good work. So, to stop this from happening, the apple seeds contain toxins that have multiple effects:

* firstly, they taste bad- discouraging the animal from chewing them

* secondly some toxins are enzyme blockers that bind up predators digestive enzymes- these also act as “preservatives” freezing the apple seed enzymes until sprouting- Upon sprouting of the seed, many of these enzyme blockers disappear.

* thirdly, they contain lectins- these are toxic proteins which have numerous effects. They act as natural pesticides and are also toxic to a range of other species including bacteria, insects, worms, rodents and other predators including humans .

Of course, the apple has other defenses- to start with it is high above the ground well out of reach of casual predators, and it also has the skin and flesh of the apple to be penetrated first. Above all though is the need to stop the seed from being eaten, so that new apple trees may grow.

Now, please consider the humble grain. Once again as a seed its duty is mission critical- it must perpetuate the life cycle of the plant. It is however much closer to the ground, on the tip of a grass stalk. It is within easy reach of any predator strolling by. It contains a good source of energy, like a booster rocket for the new plant as it grows. The grain is full of energy and in a vulnerable position. It was “expensive” for the plant to produce. It is an attractive meal. Its shell offers little protection. Therefore, it has been loaded with toxic proteins to discourage predators- grains are full of enzyme blockers and lectins. You may be surprised to learn that uncooked flour is very toxic- please don’t try eating it as you become very sick. And yes, I don’t recommend al dente pasta (if one must eat pasta at all).

Beans too are full of enzyme blockers and lectins. Potatoes contain enzyme blockers, lectins and another family of toxins called glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids (GA) unlike lectins and enzyme blockers aren’t destroyed by cooking, even deep-frying. GA are particularly high in green or injured potatoes, which must never be eaten even if trimmed heavily and well-cooked. Many people have told me that they eat small amounts of raw potato- this is a dangerous habit and it should be discouraged very strongly.

These toxins in foods are commonly referred to as antinutrients. Let’s learn some more about them:

Enzyme Blockers: These enzyme blockers are abundant in all seeds including grains and beans, and also in potatoes, serving to hold them in suspended animation and also acting as pesticides. Most commonly they block the enzymes that digest protein (proteases), and are called “protease inhibitors”. They can affect the stomach protease enzyme “pepsin”, and the small intestine protease enzymes “trypsin” and “chymotrypsin”. These small intestine enzymes are made by the pancreas (it does a lot of other important things besides making insulin). Some enzyme blockers affect the enzymes that digest starch (amylase) and are called “amylase inhibitors”.

When GBP are cooked, most of the enzyme blockers are destroyed, but some are not. In human volunteers and in animal experiments high levels of protease inhibitors lead to increased secretion of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. This is because the body can sense that the enzymes have been knocked out and orders to pancreas to make more. Even if the effect of GBP based foods is only a small increase in pancreatic enzyme secretion, over many years it all adds up to a lot of extra work.

They are effective poisons- rats cannot gain weight if they have substantial amounts of enzyme blockers in the diet. As far as their preservative action is concerned, I need only to remind you that the potted grains in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs were still viable and sprouted after thousands of years locked away.

Grain eating birds have evolved digestive enzymes that are resistant to grain protease inhibitors. Lectins (Haemagglutins)……………. Meet Hannibal

Lectins are natural proteins that have a large variety of roles. They are amongst the most fascinating and stimulating of all biological compounds, and I have no doubt that they play a major role in many “unexplained ” diseases. I think of them as “Hannibal Lectins” as they remind of the devious criminal mastermind in the shock horror movie “Silence of the Lambs.’ Lectins are like master code-breakers. The cells of our bodies are studded with receptors which are like code pads to ensure stimulation only under the correct circumstances. Lectins have the ability to crack these codes and stimulate the receptors causing a variety of responses- covering basically the full repertoire of the cell and even tricking the cell into doing things it normally cannot do.

They also have a knack for bypassing our defenses and “getting behind the lines”, and then they can travel all over the body causing harm. They can, for example:

–strip protective mucus off tissues,

–damage the cells lining the small intestine- disrupting the microscopic fingers called villi and microvilli,

–get swallowed whole by the small intestine cells (“pinocytosis”)

–bind to cells including blood cells causing a clot to form (hence they were initially called “haemagglutins”)

–make a cell act as if it has been stimulated by a hormone-

–stimulate a cell to secrete a hormone

–promote cell division at the wrong time

–cause gowth or shrinkage of lymphatic tissue (“outposts” of white blood cells)

–cause enlargement of the pancreas

–cause cells to present codes (HLA’s) that they normally should not use

–cause cell death (apoptosis)

Lectins break down the surface of the small intestine, stripping it of mucus and causing the cells to become irregular and leaky. Some lectins make cells act as if they have been stimulated by insulin. Others cause the pancreas to release insulin. Others cause immune cells to divide in the wrong way, causing growth of some white blood cells and breaking down the control of the immune system. Others cause cells to present the wrong codes (HLA’s) on their surface, tricking the immune system into thinking that intruders have been found and activating the immune system inappropriately- thus leading to “autoimmune disease” where the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system.

Autoimmune diseases are incredibly common and increase every year that a person gets older. A disordered immune system also has a much harder job recognizing and attacking the real intruders- invading germs and cancer cells (you may have heard that scientists think that most people generate many cancer cells in a life time but that the immune system cleans most of them up).

It is not known whether lectins can cause cancer- this is one of the most important questions in medicine today. They certainly affect colon cells in the test tube. I feel that they are likely candidates as they can stimulate abnormal cell growth and they also cause disorder in the immune system.

Lectins have many other roles besides defending seeds. For example in beans, lectins act like a glue to enable nitrogen-fixing bacteria to bind to the roots of the plant. Many important lectin families are found in animal tissues, but as we are carnivores, we have evolved to be able to deal with these- just as birds that live on grains have evolved to be resistant to grain lectins.

It is ironic that the lectins were discovered more than 100 years ago and yet so many questions remain unanswered- the same was true of the immune system until the 1980’s. I hope that there is more research done into lectins as they hold a whole world of disease mechanisms of which most of the medical community is blissfully unaware.

Exorphins:

Exorphins are food chemicals that have morphine-like activity. They are found in dairy products and wheat. Our body has its own natural morphine like substances that are called endorphins. Endorphins work by stimulating a type of nerve cell surface receptor called endorphin receptors. Endorphins are very important in controlling pain and addictive behaviour.

Exorphins also act on endorphin receptors and may stimulate them or block them. It is logical that exorphins may therefore affect chronic pain and also affect addictive behaviour.


Original introduction

June 22, 2008

INTRODUCTION TO THE PALEOLITHIC DIET

by Dr. Ben Balzer, family physician

There are races of people who are all slim, who are stronger and faster than us. They all have straight teeth and perfect eyesight. Arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, schizophrenia and cancer are absolute rarities for them. These people are the last 84 tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. They share a secret that is over 2 million years old. Their secret is their diet- a diet that has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, and their predecessors up to 7 million years ago. Theirs is the diet that man evolved on, the diet that is coded for in our genes. It has some major differences to the diet of “civilization”. You are in for a few big surprises.

The diet is usually referred to as the “Paleolithic Diet” referring to the Paleolithic or Stone Age era. It is also referred to as the “Stone Age Diet”, “Cave Man Diet” or the “Hunter-Gatherer Diet”. More romantic souls like to think of it as the diet that was eaten in the “Garden of Eden” and they are correct in thinking so.

The basic principles of the Paleolithic Diet are so simple that most high school students can understand them. Within 15 minutes from now you will grasp the major elements. At the technical level, Paleolithic Diet Theory has a depth and breadth that is unmatched by all other dietary theories. Paleolithic Diet Theory presents a fully integrated, holistic, comprehensive dietary theory combining the best features of all other dietary theories, eliminating the worst features and simplifying it all.

All major dietary components are covered- (i.e. vitamins, fats, protein, fats, carbohydrates, antioxidants and phytosterols etc). This is for the simple reason that it is the only diet that is coded for in our genes- it contains only those foods that were “on the table” during our long evolution, and discards those which were not. Have you ever wondered why almost everybody feels the need to take vitamin supplementsat times, or why so many people feel the need to “detoxify” their system? There are very real reasons for this that you will soon understand. Now, come with me, I’d like to share the secret with you…

Basics of the Paleolthic Diet

For millions of years, humans and their relatives have eaten meat, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. One big obstacle to getting more calories from the environment is the fact that many plants are inedible. Grains, beans and potatoes are full of energy but all are inedible in the raw state as they contain many toxins. There is no doubt about that- please don’t try to eat them raw, they can make you very sick.

Around 10,000 years ago, an enormous breakthrough was made- a breakthrough that was to change the course of history, and our diet, forever. This breakthrough was the discovery that cooking these foods made them edible- the heat destroyed enough toxins to render them edible. Grains include wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum, millet and oats. Grain based foods also include products such as flour, bread, noodles and pasta. These foods entered the menu of New Stone Age (Neolithic) man, and Paleolithic diet buffs often refer to them as Neolithic foods.

The cooking of grains, beans and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment. Other advantages were soon obvious with these foods:

· they could store for long periods (refrigeration of course being unavailable in those days)

· they were dense in calories- ie a small weight contains a lot of calories, enabling easy transport

· the food was also the seed of the plant- later allowing ready farming of the species

These advantages made it much easier to store and transport food. We could more easily store food for winter, and for nomads and travelers to carry supplies. Food storage also enabled surpluses to be stored, and this in turn made it possible to free some people from food gathering to become specialists in other activities, such as builders, warriors and rulers. This in turn set us on the course to modern day civilization. Despite these advantages, our genes were never developed with grains, beans and potatoes and were not in tune with them, and still are not. Man soon improved further on these advances- by farming plants and animals.

Instead of being able to eat only a fraction of the animal and plant life in an area, farming allows us to fill a particular area with a large number of edible plants and animals. This in turn increases the number of calories that we can obtain from an area by some 10 to 100 fold or more. Then followed the harnessing of dairy products, which allow man to obtain far more calories from the animal over its lifetime than if it were simply slaughtered for meat. Dairy products are interesting as they combine a variety of components- some of which our genes were ready for and some not. Whist cows milk is ideal for calves, there are several very important differences between it and human milk. For example, the brain of a calf is only a tiny fraction of its body weight whereas humans have very big brains. Not surprisingly, cows milk is low in critical nutrients for brain development, particularly omeg 3 fats.

Paleolithic Diet buffs refer to the new foods as Neolithic foods and the old as Paleolithic Diet foods. In simple terms we see Neolithic as bad and Paleolithic as good. Since then, some other substances have entered the diet- particularly salt and sugar, and more recently a litany of chemicals including firstly caffeine then all other additives, colourings, preservatives, pesticides etc.

Grains, Beans and Potatoes (GBP) share the following important characteristics:

· They are all toxic when raw- there is no doubt about this- it is a fact that no competent source would dispute- they can be extremely dangerous and it is important never to eat them raw or undercooked. These toxins include enzyme blockers, lectins and other types. I will talk about them in detail later as they are very important.

· Cooking destroys most but not all of the toxins. Insufficient cooking can lead to sickness such as acute gastroenteritis.

· They are all rich sources of carbohydrate, and once cooked this is often rapidly digestible-giving a high glycemic index (sugar spike).

· They are extremely poor sources of vitamins (particularly vitamins A, B-group, folic acid and C), minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols.

Therefore diets high in grains beans and potatoes (GBP):

· Contain toxins in small amounts

· Have a high glycemic index (ie have a similar effect to raw sugar on blood glucose levels)

· Are low in many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols- ie they are the original “empty calories”

· Have problems caused by the GBP displacing other foods

As grains, beans and potatoes form such a large proportion of the modern diet, you can now understand why it is so common for people to feel they need supplements or that they need to detoxify (ie that they have toxins in their system)- indeed both feelings are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, we don’t necessarily realize which supplements we need, and ironically when people go on detoxification diets they unfortunately often consume even more Neolithic foods (eg soy beans) and therefore more toxins than usual (perhaps they sometimes benefit from a change in toxins). More detail on these issues follows in subsequent pages.

The essentials of the Paleolithic Diet are:

Eat none of the following:

· Grains- including bread, pasta, noodles

· Beans- including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas and peas

· Potatoes

· Dairy products

· Sugar

· Salt

Eat the following:

· Meat, chicken and fish

· Eggs

· Fruit

· Vegetables (especially root vegetables, but definitely not including potatoes or sweet potatoes)

· Nuts, eg. walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, almond. Do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)

· Berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.

Try to increase your intake of:

· Root vegetables- carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, Swedes

· Organ meats- liver and kidneys (I accept that many people find these unpalatable and won’t eat them)

Expect some minor tuning problems- don’t worry, you can deal with them:

· It will take some time for your body to adjust to the changes after all these years. There is a huge surge in your vitamin intake. There is a huge decrease in your toxin intake.

· Start with breakfast for few days, as this is the easiest place to start as most people eat it at home, and it tends to be the least Paleolithic meal of the standard 3. For weight loss you will eventually need to reduce your carbohydrate intake, but ignore this initially as most people have high carb intakes and this can continue for the first few days that you are on this diet. If you reduce too quickly then you may fell unwell. Then move on to lunch or dinner for a few days and then to all 3 meals. If you work, you will often find it easier to take your lunch to work.

· Keep reading more about the diet- and read it again. Remember, there are many dietary myths that will need to be unlearned. Particularly, please read the section on fats several times. Knowledge on fats has exploded over the last decade and there is a realization in mainstream nutrition that omega 3 fats are critical to good health. It is very important to ensure that you have an adequate intake of these. The low fat diet craze of the 90’s was well intentioned but many people “threw out the baby with the bath-water”- most people reduced omega 3 fat intake as well as other fats, and sometimes even increased omega 6 fats. There is now a realization that the low fat diet theory of the 90’s doesn’t often work (it has about a 6% success rate like most other diets) and that the vast majority of the Western population need to increase their omega 3 intake and decrease their omega 6 intake. Even if you don’t end up on a Paleolithic Diet, you will benefit from a better appreciation of fats.

Technical Aspects:

12,000 years ago the ice planet Earth thawed out as the last Ice Age came to an end. The great glaciers melted, carving enormous plains across the continents and the planet became green again. The seas rose some 400 feet (120 metres) (incidentally unfortunately drowning most of our archeological heritage). The plains flourished and savannah, prairie and forest sprang up. Grazing animals spread onto the plains, followed by hunting animals and amongst these last were the greatest hunters of all- humans. Humans, being omnivores, have the ability to eat both plant and animal foods. That is a major advantage as the number of creatures that can live in a particular habitat depends entirely on how much energy they can obtain. To make a crude example- imagine you are breeding monkeys on 100 acres of land and the only edible plant there is bananas. If you double the number of banana plants, then you can double the number of monkeys on the land.

You might instead introduce apple trees and have the same effect. The number of monkeys would depend entirely on how many calories they could obtain from the environment. The carrying capacity of the habitat for a species depends on how many calories the species can obtain. Humans are no different. They have a major advantage in being able to eat both plant and animals foods thereby harvesting enormous amounts of calories from the environment. Humans learnt to cook grains, beans and potatoes and increased further the number of plant food calories they can obtain from the environment- probably doubling it in most habitats, and even more on grasslands.

The reason why grains, beans and potatoes store so well is simply because of the toxins that they contain. The enzyme blockers put them into a deep freeze, stopping them from sprouting. The lectins and other toxins are natural pesticides and can attack bacteria, insects, worms, rodents and other pests (and humans too of course).

ANTINUTRIENTS- YOUR KEY TO BAD HEALTH

You probably already know a lot about nutrients- macronutrients (fats, protein and carbohydrates and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytosterols etc). Now it’s time to meet the rest of the family……. We all know that foods contain a variety of nutrients. There is less awareness that many foods contain small amounts of potentially harmful substances. These are toxins, as they have toxic effects. They are normally called “antinutrients” by the scientific community as toxins sounds too alarmist. Antinutrients are very real and for over 100 years research has been done on them- but it is generally only appreciated by a small group of specialized scientists. Antinutrients have an incredible range of biological effects. As you have probably already guessed, the vast majority and highest levels of antinutrients are in Neolithic foods like grains, beans and potatoes. The Paleolithic diet has incredibly low levels of antinutrients compared to the usual modern diet. I believe that this is the number one advantage of the diet.

Textbooks on antinutrients read like books on what not to eat- Neolithic foods are the most prominent. Professor Irvin Liener published one of the most famous of these books in 1980. In the first chapter he points out that when we started cooking inedible plants, new toxins entered the diet for the first time. Ironically, he wasn’t trying to promote Paleolithic diets- his aim was to help agricultural scientists more safely feed the world on grains, beans and potatoes.

It’s a technical subject, and I’ll do my best to make it clear to you.

Consider our friend, the apple. When an animal eats an apple, it profits by getting a meal. It swallows the seeds and then deposits them in a pile of dung. With some luck a new apple tree might grow, and so the apple tree has also profited from the arrangement. In nature as in finance, it is good business when both parties make profit happily. Consider what would happen if the animal were greedy and decided to eat the few extra calories contained within the apple seeds- then there would be no new apple tree to continue on the good work. So, to stop this from happening, the apple seeds contain toxins that have multiple effects:

* firstly, they taste bad- discouraging the animal from chewing them

* secondly some toxins are enzyme blockers that bind up predators digestive enzymes- these also act as “preservatives” freezing the apple seed enzymes until sprouting- Upon sprouting of the seed, many of these enzyme blockers disappear.

* thirdly, they contain lectins- these are toxic proteins which have numerous effects. They act as natural pesticides and are also toxic to a range of other species including bacteria, insects, worms, rodents and other predators including humans .

Of course, the apple has other defenses- to start with it is high above the ground well out of reach of casual predators, and it also has the skin and flesh of the apple to be penetrated first. Above all though is the need to stop the seed from being eaten, so that new apple trees may grow.

Now, please consider the humble grain. Once again as a seed its duty is mission critical- it must perpetuate the life cycle of the plant. It is however much closer to the ground, on the tip of a grass stalk. It is within easy reach of any predator strolling by. It contains a good source of energy, like a booster rocket for the new plant as it grows. The grain is full of energy and in a vulnerable position. It was “expensive” for the plant to produce. It is an attractive meal. Its shell offers little protection. Therefore, it has been loaded with toxic proteins to discourage predators- grains are full of enzyme blockers and lectins. You may be surprised to learn that uncooked flour is very toxic- please don’t try eating it as you become very sick. And yes, I don’t recommend al dente pasta (if one must eat pasta at all).

Beans too are full of enzyme blockers and lectins. Potatoes contain enzyme blockers, lectins and another family of toxins called glycoalkaloids. Glycoalkaloids (GA) unlike lectins and enzyme blockers aren’t destroyed by cooking, even deep-frying. GA are particularly high in green or injured potatoes, which must never be eaten even if trimmed heavily and well-cooked. Many people have told me that they eat small amounts of raw potato- this is a dangerous habit and it should be discouraged very strongly.

These toxins in foods are commonly referred to as antinutrients. Let’s learn some more about them:

Enzyme Blockers: These enzyme blockers are abundant in all seeds including grains and beans, and also in potatoes, serving to hold them in suspended animation and also acting as pesticides. Most commonly they block the enzymes that digest protein (proteases), and are called “protease inhibitors”. They can affect the stomach protease enzyme “pepsin”, and the small intestine protease enzymes “trypsin” and “chymotrypsin”. These small intestine enzymes are made by the pancreas (it does a lot of other important things besides making insulin). Some enzyme blockers affect the enzymes that digest starch (amylase) and are called “amylase inhibitors”.

When GBP are cooked, most of the enzyme blockers are destroyed, but some are not. In human volunteers and in animal experiments high levels of protease inhibitors lead to increased secretion of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. This is because the body can sense that the enzymes have been knocked out and orders to pancreas to make more. Even if the effect of GBP based foods is only a small increase in pancreatic enzyme secretion, over many years it all adds up to a lot of extra work.

They are effective poisons- rats cannot gain weight if they have substantial amounts of enzyme blockers in the diet. As far as their preservative action is concerned, I need only to remind you that the potted grains in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs were still viable and sprouted after thousands of years locked away.

Grain eating birds have evolved digestive enzymes that are resistant to grain protease inhibitors. Lectins (Haemagglutins)……………. Meet Hannibal

Lectins are natural proteins that have a large variety of roles. They are amongst the most fascinating and stimulating of all biological compounds, and I have no doubt that they play a major role in many “unexplained ” diseases. I think of them as “Hannibal Lectins” as they remind of the devious criminal mastermind in the shock horror movie “Silence of the Lambs.’ Lectins are like master code-breakers. The cells of our bodies are studded with receptors which are like code pads to ensure stimulation only under the correct circumstances. Lectins have the ability to crack these codes and stimulate the receptors causing a variety of responses- covering basically the full repertoire of the cell and even tricking the cell into doing things it normally cannot do.

They also have a knack for bypassing our defenses and “getting behind the lines”, and then they can travel all over the body causing harm. They can, for example:

–strip protective mucus off tissues,

–damage the cells lining the small intestine- disrupting the microscopic fingers called villi and microvilli,

–get swallowed whole by the small intestine cells (“pinocytosis”)

–bind to cells including blood cells causing a clot to form (hence they were initially called “haemagglutins”)

–make a cell act as if it has been stimulated by a hormone-

–stimulate a cell to secrete a hormone

–promote cell division at the wrong time

–cause gowth or shrinkage of lymphatic tissue (“outposts” of white blood cells)

–cause enlargement of the pancreas

–cause cells to present codes (HLA’s) that they normally should not use

–cause cell death (apoptosis)

Lectins break down the surface of the small intestine, stripping it of mucus and causing the cells to become irregular and leaky. Some lectins make cells act as if they have been stimulated by insulin. Others cause the pancreas to release insulin. Others cause immune cells to divide in the wrong way, causing growth of some white blood cells and breaking down the control of the immune system. Others cause cells to present the wrong codes (HLA’s) on their surface, tricking the immune system into thinking that intruders have been found and activating the immune system inappropriately- thus leading to “autoimmune disease” where the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system.

Autoimmune diseases are incredibly common and increase every year that a person gets older. A disordered immune system also has a much harder job recognizing and attacking the real intruders- invading germs and cancer cells (you may have heard that scientists think that most people generate many cancer cells in a life time but that the immune system cleans most of them up).

It is not known whether lectins can cause cancer- this is one of the most important questions in medicine today. They certainly affect colon cells in the test tube. I feel that they are likely candidates as they can stimulate abnormal cell growth and they also cause disorder in the immune system.

Lectins have many other roles besides defending seeds. For example in beans, lectins act like a glue to enable nitrogen-fixing bacteria to bind to the roots of the plant. Many important lectin families are found in animal tissues, but as we are carnivores, we have evolved to be able to deal with these- just as birds that live on grains have evolved to be resistant to grain lectins.

It is ironic that the lectins were discovered more than 100 years ago and yet so many questions remain unanswered- the same was true of the immune system until the 1980’s. I hope that there is more research done into lectins as they hold a whole world of disease mechanisms of which most of the medical community is blissfully unaware.

Exorphins:

Exorphins are food chemicals that have morphine-like activity. They are found in dairy products and wheat. Our body has its own natural morphine like substances that are called endorphins. Endorphins work by stimulating a type of nerve cell surface receptor called endorphin receptors. Endorphins are very important in controlling pain and addictive behaviour.

Exorphins also act on endorphin receptors and may stimulate them or block them. It is logical that exorphins may therefore affect chronic pain and also affect addictive behaviour.


Vitamin A deficiency- the agony of Xerophthalmia

June 1, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered how severe a vitamin deficiency can get, then this is a crystal clear illustration- one that affects millions of innocent children every year.

From Pages 279-280 NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL DEGENERATION. Weston Price 1939. (One of the Founding Fathers of Modern Nutrition)

Another illustration of the wisdom of the native Indians of that far north country came to me through two prospectors whom we rescued and brought out with us just before the fall freeze-up…..(who got stranded and had to abandon their provisions. BB)……. One of the men told me the following tragic story. While they were crossing the high plateau he nearly went blind with so violent a pain in his eyes that he feared he would go insane. It was not snow blindness, for they were equipped with glasses. It was xerophthalmia, due to lack of vitamin A. One day he almost ran into a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs. Fortunately, they did not attack him but moved off. He sat down on a stone and wept in despair of ever seeing his family again. As he sat there holding his throbbing head, he heard a voice and looked up. It was an old Indian who had been tracking that grizzly bear. He recognized this prospector’s plight and while neither could understand the language of the other, the Indian after making an examination of his eyes, took him by the hand and led him to a stream that was coursing its way down the mountain. Here as the prospector sat waiting the Indian built a trap of stones across the stream. He then went upstream and waded down splashing as he came and thus drove the trout into the trap. He threw the fish out on the bank and told the prospector to eat the flesh of the head and the tissues back of the eyes, including the eyes, with the result that in a few hours his pain had largely subsided. In one day his sight was rapidly returning, and in two days his eyes were nearly normal. He told me with profound emotion and gratitude that that Indian had certainly saved his life.

Now modern science knows that one of the richest sources of vitamin A in the entire animal body is that of the tissues back of the eyes including the retina of the eye.

(end of quotation).

See WHO http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/index.html

  • An estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient and it is likely that in vitamin A deficient areas a substantial proportion of pregnant women are vitamin A deficient.
  • An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.

Many charities donate vitamin A to poor communities to prevent eye disease and save lives, you can use Google to find them- here are 2 Australian charities:

http://www.hollows.org/Assets/Files/info_sheet_childhood_blindness.pdf

http://www.cbm.org.au/Content.aspx?id=56

Reference on Vitamin A deficiency:

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/314/7077/317

http://www.micronutrient.org/work2/childsurvival/supplement.asp


Calcium balance and paleolithic diet

May 14, 2008

Would you rather have a $50 pay rise or a $100 tax cut? I know which one I’d prefer. The same goes for calcium. It’s not how much calcium you get, it’s how much you get to keep that matters. What matters most is not your calcium intake (the amount you consume) but your calcium balance (the amount of calcium you consume minus what you excrete in the urine).

While we take in calcium into our diet we also can lose it by excreting it into the urine. After all, most kidney stones contain calcium in addition to other chemicals. Similarly some people eat a lot of calcium but still get osteoporosis as they pass most of it in the urine. Other people eat small amounts of calcium but pass very little into the urine and don’t get osteoporosis. And most of us fall between these extremes.

The main thing that determines how much calcium gets passed into the urine is the ACID LOAD of the diet. Dietary acid must be neutralised to keep our blood and cells pH neutral so that our enzymes can function properly. One of the quickest ways to neutralise acid is to dissolve a little bone. The skeleton has many metabolic roles and one of them is to be the major acid base buffer. Dissolving a little bone releases the alkali and calcium at the same time.

The more dietary acid load, the more bone is dissolved and the more calcium goes into the urine.

Westerners eat a lot of dairy products and so take in a lot of calcium. But the cost of dairy products is that they are very acidic, so much of the calcium gets lost.

Other foods that have a high acid load include:
– cereals
– protein
– soft drink (phosphoric acid or citric acid are used as they hold more hydrogen and thus promote more fizz).
– salt. Through the magic of chloride and how it is metabolised by the kidneys. (ask a builder how good chloride is at causing concrete cancer, via salt spray or magnesite (magnesium chloride)).

Conversely, foods with a high alkali (base) load promote the retention of calcium.
– fruit
– vegetables
– strong mineral waters i.e. most European mineral waters such as Evian. But not Australian mineral waters which curiously have their minerals removed.

Asians and Africans traditionally eat low amounts of dairy products. There are no Paleolithic osteoporotic fractures other than some in Inuit who eat 95% animal calories. The dairy industry would have us believe they should all have problems.Marketing 101= if you repeat it often enough it becomes the truth.

If salt and soft drink were banned, the incidence of osteoporotic fractures would be 50 to 90% less. A 3% increase in bone density= a 20% drop in fracture rate.

And yes, acidic foods promote kidney stones! Acidic foods give us acidic urine which promotes stone formation and it is high in calcium which also promotes kidney stones. In contrast alkaline calcium supplements such as calcium carbonate tablets provide carbonate which is alkaline and helps the calcium to be retained. Also, carbonate is a component of bone which is helpful. I prefer calcium carbonate to calcium citrate as citrate is not a component of bone.

Also look at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12450898?ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Softdrink and osteoporosis
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/archives/2000-releases/press06142000.html

Garcia-Contreras, F. et al., Arch Med Res 2000; 31: 360-365
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11068076&dopt=Abstract
This is interesting as the rats didn’t get demineralised bones on water plus half rations (thus half calcium magnesium), whereas they did on cola plus half rations (all that they would eat on top of the cola).

You’ll be pleased to know that last week I went to an educational meeting on osteoporosis and had my bone density tested and it was fine!

<SNIP> I found this summary of the 2002 ASBMR meeting by Susan New on Medscape. (medscape is a professional medical site- free and worthwhile) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/443217 Interesting that the mineral water paper quoted focuses on bicarbonate. Mineral water was mentioned the Lisbon conference but the focus was on calcium sulfate (sic). http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/434330 .

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/420853 is an earlier article by New with a focus on acid base.

There is also info at www.betterbones.com under “Alkaline For Life”. This website focuses on the therapy of osteoporosis. Dr Susan Brown is a nutritionist with a PhD in bone nutrition.

Dietary alkali loading (within limits) is definitely anabolic and should improve muscle strength. There is data suggesting it may help the brain.

It is an interesting new field and most of the experts are renal physicians. eg Sebastian, Frassetto and Morris.

Ben Balzer


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Introduction to the Paleolithic Diet

April 21, 2008

BASICS OF THE PALEOLITHIC DIET-

Dr. Ben Balzer, general practitioner

Beverly Hills Medical Service

109 Morgan St

Beverly Hills NSW 2209

Tel 02 95023355 Fax 02 95024243

Ø The scientific study of nutrition from the perspective of the diet of the 2.4 million year history of humanity, including that of the modern surrogate- hunter-gathers.

Ø Particular reference to the implications of the dietary changes of the Agricultural Revolution of 5,000-12,000 years ago in Europe Africa Asia and America (“Neolithic Diet”)

Ø Part of a larger field known as evolutionary medicine.

Ø Based on the single assumption that the diet that we evolved with is the ideal diet. i.e. that we are genetically adapted to the diet that we evolved with.

Ø The primary tenet of evolutionary medicine is the discordance between our ancient genetically determined biology and the nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns of contemporary western populations, which leads to many of the so-called diseases of civilisation.

Ø The profound changes in the environment (e.g., in diet, activity and other lifestyle conditions), which began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry approximately 10,000 years ago, occurred too recently on an evolutionary timescale for natural selection to adjust the human genome.

Ø Builds on the work of many others including Weston Price 1939, Burkitt and Trowell’s 1962 fibre hypothesis and then of Eaton Eaton Konner 1988 Paleolithic Prescription- (Pritikin like and very different to the modern model).

Ø 30% of energy in the average modern diet derives from Paleolithic foods, and the other 70% come from Neolithic foods. This gives an approximate range of 10 to 50% of energy being Paleolithic for most people, and 50-90% Neolithic.

Ø All diets have multiple dimensions e.g. the mainstream 7
1) Glycaemic load GL= GI x serving size
2) Fatty acid composition
3) Macronutrient composition
4) Micronutrient density
5) Acid/base balance,
6) Sodium/potassium ratio
7) Fibre content

Ø All of these dimensions are important and variation in ANY of these dimensions beyond the evolutionary tolerance has implications for our health.

Ø In general it has been found that all 7 of these dimensions are at optimal levels in the paleolithic diet. Therefore paleolithic diet devotees see much nutritional “progress” as simply “reverse engineering” of the paleolithic diet.

Ø As this diet is high in iron, it is not suitable for people with haemochromatosis.

7 Classical Dimensions of Nutrition

1) Glycaemic load GL= GI x serving size

Most carbs are low GI, overall approx 35% energy as carbs gives a low GI

Reduced risk of hyperglycaemia/ insulin resistance, obesity esp in combination with exercise

2) Fatty acid composition

Hi in omega 3

Low in omega 6

Low in saturated fat

Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, glaucoma, depression arthritis asthma

3) Macronutrient composition

USA CHO (51.8%)(rec 55-60%)

fat (32.8%)(reco 30%)

protein (15.4%) (rec 15%)

Hunter gatherers CHO 22-40%, Protein 19-35%

Implications debated

4) Micronutrient density

3 to 10x increase in most vitamins and minerals

Vitamin and mineral deficiency unlikely

5) Acid/base balance,

Alkaline cf modern diet acidic

Osteoporosis, age-related muscle wasting calcium kidney stones, hypertension, and exercise-induced asthma and slow the progression

of age- and disease-related chronic renal insufficiency

6) Sodium/potassium ratio

Low sodium 1/5

Hi potassium 3X

Very low ratio

hypertension, stroke, kidney

stones, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal tract cancers, asthma,

exercise-induced asthma, insomnia, air sickness, high-altitude

sickness, and Meniere’s Disease

7) Fibre content

Very high eg 47g/day

Cf recommended level of 25-30g/day

Cf usual intake of 15g/day

constipation,

appendicitis, hemorrhoids, deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins,

diverticulitis, hiatal hernia, and gastroesophageal reflux

Beyond the mainstream 7 dimensions

Antioxidants

Very high quantity & variety. Vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants

Possible role in prevention of IHD, cancer, macular degeneration etc.

Phytosterols

High in quantity and variety, esp in roots

Possible role in sex hormone related illnesses.

Antinutrients-

lectins inc gluten

protease inhibitors

glycoalkaoids

Very low in PD

Major role in coeliac disease. Possible role in autoimmunity

Foreign proteins- uncoded antigens may cross react with our self antigens

Very low in PD.

Eg Wheat germ agglutinin may cross react.

Possible role in autoimmunity

Leaky gut- promoted by lectins, casein, lactose

Lectins break down brush border, casein & lactose inhibit proteolysis and promote pinocytosis

Possible role in autoimmunity

Bacterial overgrowth- promoted by lectins, low fibre,

Bacterial overgrowth promoted in animals

Possible role in autoimmunity

Exorphins- opioid proteins in milk and wheat

These can stimulate or inhibit endorphin receptors.

Has not been explored, but theoretically opioids are involved in pain and addiction.

Cooking, processing, additives

Cooking may produce toxins such as heterocyclic amines, etc. Additives, eg MSG, aspartame, cyclamate.

Some are carcinogens. Toxicity of others is debated.

Soil erosion- our soils are not the same as in the Paleolithic period

Deficiency in minerals eg iodine and selenium is encouraged by irrigation

Re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia

Alcohol

Significant proportion of diet in some people

Toxicity- brain, liver, heart, vitamin deficiency

Phenotype (i.e. states of health and disease) is related to a complex interaction between itself and genes diet exercise sunlight toxins social psychological and other factors.

For millions of years, humans and their relatives have eaten meat, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. One big obstacle to getting more calories from the environment is the fact that many plants are inedible. Grains, beans and potatoes are full of energy but all are inedible in the raw state as they contain many toxins. There is no doubt about that- please don’t try to eat them raw, they can make you very sick.

Around 10,000 years ago, an enormous breakthrough was made- a breakthrough that was to change the course of history, and our diet, forever. This breakthrough was the discovery that cooking these foods (grains, beans and potatoes) made them edible- the heat destroyed enough toxins to render them edible. Grains include wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum, millet and oats. Grain based foods also include products such as flour, bread, noodles and pasta. These foods entered the menu of New Stone Age (Neolithic) man, and Paleolithic diet buffs often refer to them as Neolithic foods.

The cooking of grains, beans and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment. Other advantages were soon obvious with these foods:

· they could store for long periods (refrigeration of course being unavailable in those days)

· they were dense in calories- ie a small weight contains a lot of calories, enabling easy transport

· the food was also the seed of the plant- later allowing ready farming of the species

These advantages made it much easier to store and transport food. We could more easily store food for winter, and for nomads and travelers to carry supplies. Food storage also enabled surpluses to be stored, and this in turn made it possible to free some people from food gathering to become specialists in other activities, such as builders, warriors and rulers. This in turn set us on the course to modern day civilization. Despite these advantages, our genes were never developed with grains, beans and potatoes and were not in tune with them, and still are not.

Then followed the harnessing of dairy products around 5,000 years ago, which allowed man to obtain far more calories from the animal over its lifetime than if it were simply slaughtered for meat. Dairy products are interesting as they combine a variety of components- some of which our genes were ready for and some not. Whilst cows milk is ideal for calves, there are several very important differences between it and human milk. For example, the brain of a calf is only a tiny fraction of its body weight whereas humans have very big brains. Not surprisingly, cows milk is low in critical nutrients for brain development, particularly omega 3 fats.

Paleolithic Diet buffs refer to the new foods as Neolithic foods and the old as Paleolithic Diet foods. In simple terms we see Neolithic as bad and Paleolithic as good.

Since then, some other substances have entered the diet- particularly salt and sugar, and more recently a litany of chemicals including firstly caffeine then all other additives, colourings, preservatives, pesticides etc.

Grains, Beans and Potatoes (GBP) share the following important characteristics:

· They are all toxic when raw- there is no doubt about this- it is a fact that no competent source would dispute- they can be extremely dangerous and it is important never to eat them raw or undercooked. These toxins include enzyme blockers, lectins and other types. I will talk about them in detail later as they are very important.

· Cooking destroys most but not all of the toxins. Insufficient cooking can lead to sickness such as acute gastroenteritis.

· They are all high in carbohydrate, and once cooked this is often rapidly digestible- giving a high glycemic index (sugar spike). They have greatly increased the amount of carbohydrate in the diet and therefore the demand for insulin and this creates a strain on the body with a strong tendency towards diabetes. Europeans are more used to these foods, yet 20% of Europeans will develop diabetes. Races who have more recently been introduced to these foods are much more prone to diabetes which may affect of 50% of some groups of Aborigines, Polynesians and Eskimo and American Indians.

· They are extremely poor sources of vitamins (particularly vitamins A, B-group, folic acid and C), minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols.

Therefore diets high in grains beans and potatoes (GBP):

· Contain toxins in small amounts

· Have a high glycemic index (ie have a similar effect to raw sugar on blood glucose levels)

· Are low in many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols- ie they are the original “empty calories”

· Have problems caused by them displacing other foods

As grains, beans and potatoes form such a large proportion of the modern diet, you can now understand why it is so common for people to feel they need supplements or that they need to detoxify (ie that they have toxins in their system)- indeed both feelings are absolutely correct.

The essentials of the Paleolithic Diet are:

Eat none of the following:

· Grains– including bread, pasta, noodles

· Beans– including string beans, kidney beans, lentils, peanuts, snow-peas and peas

· Potatoes

· Dairy products

· Sugar

· Salt

· Processed factory manufactured foods

Eat the following:

· Meat, chicken and fish

· Fruit

· Vegetables (especially leafy greens and root vegetables, but definitely not including potatoes)

· Eggs – preferably omega 3 enriched types.

· Nuts –eg walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, almond. Do not eat peanuts (a bean) or cashews (a family of their own)

· Berries- strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.

Try to increase your intake of:

· Root vegetables- carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, Swedes

· Organ meats- liver and kidneys (I accept that many people find these unpalatable and won’t eat them)

1. Fat- medium amount. Excellent omega 3 and omega 6 amounts and ratio. Low in saturated fat. No trans-fat.

2. Protein- high levels of top quality protein from fish, meat/offal, nuts, eggs.

3. Carbohydrate- low to medium. Low Glycemic Index.

4. Fibre- 47g very high

5. Micronutrients:

Minerals:

Iron=5.82x current (2)

Zinc= 2.74x current(2) .

Calcium=1.67x current(2)

Sodium= 768mg/day =0.136x current(2) BUT difficult to obtain this low level in Western supermarket foods.

Potassium= 10,500 mg/day =2.97x current(2)

Na/K= .073 excellent (2) BUT difficult to obtain this low level in Western supermarket foods

Vitamins:

Vitamin A & beta-carotene= very high (liver, kidney, root vegetables). 2.71x current (2)

Vitamins B= vitamin B1would be 4.6 mg or 417% the RDA, for B2, 281% theRDA, for B3 374% the RDA, for B6 369% the RDA, for B12 513% the RDA, for biotin 174% the RDA, for folate 506% the RDA, for pantothenic acid 209% the RDA (1)

Vitamin C= ~600mg excellent 8.38x current (2)

Vitamin E= excellent 3.11x current(2)

Antioxidants:

High in quantity and variety

Phytosterols:

High in variety. High levels in root vegetables. Although these levels aren’t as high as in soy products, it is not yet known which phytosterols are most important, particularly after bioconversion. Root vegetables also have lower antinutrient levels than soy products.

Antinutrients:

Enzyme inhibitors (protease/amylase inhibitors)= very low compared to

Standard Western Diet

Lectins= very low compared to Standard Western Diet.

Allergenic substances= generally low in Paleolithic foods.(3).

Undiscovered micronutrients and antinutrients:

Anyone who hasn’t changed their diet in the past 10 years on the basis of discoveries in antioxidants and phytosterols need not read this. If asked to guess which diet will have optimal levels of these, one can only resort to logical tools such as Occam’s Razor (“that the proposition with the least number of assumptions is most likely to be correct” is one common interpretation). As the Paleolithic diet is based on only one or two assumptions (eg ” the oldest diet is the best” or “the most natural diet is the best” or “The ideal diet for any animal is that which it eats in the wild. Humans are no exception.”). It then follow that it is the diet most likely to have optimal levels of undiscovered factors.

Associated illnesses:

Hunter-gatherer tribes eating a paleolithic style diet exhibit extremely low levels of the following illnesses that are major Western health problems:

Heart disease and stroke

Hypertension

Diabetes mellitus

Overweight and obesity

Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Depression

Cancer

Paleolithic Diet References:

www.paleodiet.com has many links and email groups

The Paleo Diet book by Prof Loren Cordain www.thepaleodiet.com has many references.

Eaton SB, Eaton SB III, Konner MJ Paleolithic Nutrition Revisited:A 12Year Retrospective on its Nature and Implications. European J. Clinical Nutrition (1997)61,207-216

Shahidi, Fereidoon ed Antinutrients and Phytochemicals in Food 1997,Culinary and Hospitality Industry Publications CHIPS

Cordain L, Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword.

Evolutionary Aspects of Nutrition and Health. Diet, Exercise, Genetics and Chronic Disease World Review of Nutrition & Dietetics, 1999;84:19-73 www.thepaleodiet.com

Cordain L. Implications of Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Diets for Modern Humans. In: Early Hominin Diets: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable. Ungar, P (Ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp 363-83 www.thepaleodiet.com

Loren Cordain, S. Boyd Eaton, Anthony Sebastian, Neil Mann, Staffan Lindeberg, Bruce A. Watkins, James H. O’Keefe, Janette Brand Miller. Origins and evolution of the western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341-54 www.thepaleodiet.com

Freed, D. BMJ 1999;318:1023-1024 ( 17 April )Do dietary lectins cause disease? (editorial) http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/318/7190/1023

Simopoulos, Artemis and Robinson, Jo The Omega Diet. Harper Perennial 1999 The Omega Plan (Australian Edition) www.eatwild.com


Eat Right and Take a Multivitamin

April 20, 2008

http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Eat_Right_and_Take_a_Multivitamin.shtml

The New England Journal of Medicine — April 9, 1998 — Vol. 338, No. 15

This editorial by Godfrey P. Oakley, Jr., M.D. of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the roles of folate and folic acid supplementation.

Paleo diets have far more folate than standard western diets. The low level in the SWD explains why supplements help the average person. Furthermore, 20% of the population carry mutations (C677T) in folate enzymes that increase their requirements for folate/folic acid.