By Rob Archangel, 180DegreeHealth.com staff writer
Still listening to the Real Food Summit, and today caught two talks, Zoe Harcombe and Barry Groves. I wanted to bang my head against the wall for some of the wacky stuff I was hearing, especially from Groves. I won’t give a point by point breakdown, but some quick and dirty thoughts.
Groves repeatedly misrepresents facts to fit his preferred low or no-carb diet. ?He says traditional human diets were heavy on animal fat and featured few or no carbs, ignoring the many, many human cultures that did eat starch-heavy diets (probably in fact, the majority did). And even those groups which ate lots of fat valued plant foods. As Melissa McEwen points out, ?it’s a myth that Inuit ate zero carbs. (As an aside, even meat contains muscle glycogen and isn’t zero carb.) ?He creates a false dichotomy between a hard-line vegan diet and a carnivorous diet, as if these were the only two options for humans, and then, having built his strawman, rightly dismisses vegan diets and wrongly concludes that we shouldn’t eat carbs. ?At the end of his talk, he even equivocates on whether we’re omnivores, and says we don’t really need plant foods. Just because we can get by without them doesn’t make it optimal, and the fact that humans everywhere have eaten lots of carbs when they have the chance suggests to me that there are benefits. Coupled with our stress response when we go too low on carbs, my recommendation is to eat the food and don’t let highfalutin’ arguments incite extreme behavior.
Zoe Harcombe was a little more interesting; she pointed out the stark figure that anorexia has the highest death rate among all mental illness, which is yet one more danger to dieting and valorizing the long-term losers. ?The addictive personalities that keep weight off put themselves at much greater risk for eating disorders like anorexia. You don’t want that. She also rightly points out the flawed science demonizing saturated fats and animal foods, and emphasizes their value in our diet.
Still, she seemed caught up in carbohydrate hating too. ?Both she and Groves said that the government recommendations to eat less fat and more unrefined starch precipitated the boom in obesity, diabetes and related illness. Much as I don’t jive with his vegan conclusions, years ago Tim Robbins pointed out in The Food Revolution that Americans (and probably Brits too in Harcombe’s case) didn’t actually start eating this way when the government made its recommendations. More processed food, yeah, but a diet based around nutritious, mainly unrefined starchy foods? Hardly. That doesn’t a prove starch-based diet is best, but that it is just dumb to indict a diet that people by and large aren’t eating for the health problems they face.
That’s it for today. Catch you next time.
I think there is a similar phenomenon going on in real-food/paleo circles as is going on in conventional nutrition. A sort of critical mass like consensus gets built around science which appears convincing and everybody starts assuming something must be true. It’s actually a very common phenomenon. Yeah, there are parts of their arguments which are dumb but the same thing is true with conventional nutrition. It doesn’t stop them from mindlessly banging away at them.
Seems like we have to turn a *180* to the craziness coming from all sources, amiright? :-D
I for one have had much success with recovering from anorexia with a semi-paleo diet. I do eat a burger with the bun, but I do not eat fries, ben and jerry’s, muffins, potatoes, or anything too carby. I really DO believe that carbs cause cravings. I am sorry, but just my experience. I actually had my success story on Marksdailyapple. I tried a starchy diet, lost muscle and became depressed and continued to binge.
Glad you’re doing well on your current diet, and I hope you stay well. One thing I would offer is that carbs have a strong physiological stress-lowering effect on the body, and that’s often why we crave them. People coming out of starvation also have tremendous appetites, and eating as much as they like is important in helping the body restore.
Low-carb diets elevate stress hormones, and that causes trouble for many folks down the road. Lots of them end up here at 180. I would encourage you to keep an eye out for the sunset of the Catecholamine Honeymoon http://180degreehealth.com/2010/06/the-catecholamine-honeymoon , and be willing to make adjustments if a low carb approach stops working for you. Be aligned with your health and what works, not an ideology. Good luck!
yes, I agree and I do eat carbs. But I guess I just don’t “overload” so to speak. I am not considered low carb but I need to have meat/saturated fats in my diet. Thanks for the link..
I always wonder what is considered moderate carb and still burning fat for fuel? Acc9rding to the carbcurve on MDA its around 100grams and staying between 150grams. However isnt that a bit too standard? I mean dont a lot of factors like gender,age,height,lifestyle etc. Play an effective role in that too? For instance I cant imagine a tiny woman and a tall man both get by fine on 100gr.of carbs all the same?
One thing is for sure though,being delved into the world of healthy eating is what actually gave me a food disorder. Though eating the things I used to and living that way caused me lots of health problems and even more now when I eat them….there are lots of times where I wish I’d never stumbled upon this health stuff,caried on in my (ocd)patterns and probably die at 30 of a heartattack due to chronic cardio. Though I had moodswings/depression and also the fear of getting fat again….in hinsight it feels like it nearly wasnt as bad as it has become when ‘meeting the whole foods world’ at least it seemed like I was living but especially loving some kind of life and aspiring things/goals.
Hey Dutchie- lots of folks have something like this experience. Getting (semi-)obsessed is sanctioned by most authorities, ’cause hey- it’s important to be healthy. But orthorexia, the extreme manifestation of this, is a legit disorder, and even subtler forms of it have the capacity to undermine our health in big ways.
Or it might just be that you have a yeast in your gut which likes the sugars and produces a chemical hit for your brain to encourage you to eat them. Try a course of gymnema, that will go away in about 3 days. That said, I still enjoy some starchy carbs. I tried very low carb and put on a lot of weight and had some nasty side effects (kidney infection and stones). I wouldn’t eat a commercial bun unless I had low blood sugar (I rarely get that anymore.) Its not really the style of the food, but rather the omega 6s that I avoid like the plague, primarily because they plump me. (Think one of those non-Foster Farms chickens in the adds.)
@Alisha What is gymnema? (I don’t live in the US)
According to my therapist the Lyme would be gone,though I’m gonna run an extra check on that,so that couldn’t be it anymore. However I do remember her mentioning a couple months back that I (still?) suffer from many molds (dunno if I’d translated that well cause I think that Dutch word could also be translated as yeast).
Hearing Matt today about dopamine brain chemistry was interesting…..maybe there’s really some permanently hardwired neurotransmitter problem in my brain……
I, too, am a recovered anorexic (10 years now) and I have also noticed that certain carbs increase cravings, but it’s mostly the processed stuff:) Diet soda does the same thing for me too; all of a sudden I find that I need pizza. I have also had success with a semi-Paleo approach but can’t even think about being too restrictive-warning flags pop up everywhere. My carb intake is around 150 grams a day and that seems to be optimum for me. I suspect I’m gluten sensitive so I stick to sweet potatoes, yams etc. and some brown rice. I eat fruit, cheese, dark chocolate (the healthy kind:) and fermented stuff. I also eat lots of meat and vegetables (there’s the semi-Paleo part:). Nothing is off-limits, although I don’t feel well after eating bread-type foods so I limit them. So gLad to hear you’re well on your way to recovery, being stuck in a eating disorder cycle is horrendous.
Yes, Barry Groves’ highfalutin? arguments incited extreme behavior in me. Live and learn…
Yup…the UW Real Food Summit had some cracker heads presenting…but they also had some good sessions including Matt’s presentation.
Barry Groves and spouting the research of others…to fit his own personal beliefs…and then referring to the Bible of all things….that’s where I hit the “get me out of here button”! The Weston A Price Foundation seems to collect too many cracker heads….like Barry Grove.
I’m all for Real Food….there’s too much REAL cracker head ideology slithering it’s way into this subject area…it’s as bad as the ideology with the Government Food Pyramid.
For having seen Barry Groves, he is convincing but he is a typical case of “that worked for me so it should more for the rest of humanity”. Like many others, he forget that a very diverse of macro nutrient can work in an omnivorous diet depending of body type, genetics and epigenetics. Funny how all carbs are always demonized by these guys, while they make the difference between type of fats and type of proteins…Talk about biased. Furthermore his diet is unpalatable and very high in Omega 6 (he advises on using almond flour) so you are treading the supposedly evil of the carbs for a very high ratio of the wrong essential fatty acids. Good luck with that…
Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. Subtle nuanced distinctions about fats are commonplace among the pro-fat crowd, just as subtle, nuanced distinctions about carbs are common in the pro-carb crowd, yet generally neither seems adept at the others’ fort
Ok I’m still trying to decipher how I feel or how my body feels about carbs. I’ve been fairly low Carb for years. Not denying myself carbs but just having them only once in a while
Almost never buying carby stuff to keep at home. Then I started eating more paleo style last year and while I didn’t really loose weight ( stayed about the same) but I felt a bit better
Now since finding this website several months ago I actually decided to begin to quit wittingly about what I ate and started eating rice, pasta, bread and starchy veggies. Ive been trying yo just eat & not worry. But since I’ve been doing this I’ve experienced severe bloating and weight gain. Most days I look like I’m 6 months pregnant because of the bloating, I don’t feel good and I’m already over 60 pounds overweight so gaining weight doesn’t help. Iwish I knew how to stop the bloating and I’m tempted to go back to paleo but I’m Aldo ro dick of having to obsess over what I can & can’t eat! Any advice??
You may also wish to get checked for Celiac. After putting up with bloating (pregnant looking), being uncomfortable and heartburn often, tired all the time,(anemia since highschool) I did an elimination test (write it all down including how you are feeling) where I was off gluten for 2 weeks- then reintroduce one good size gluten food- which I definitely reacted to. In those 2 weeks I was not needing naps (a whole 12 days without one after needing one daily), no more bloating or being uncomfortable, or heartburn. (unfortunately I stayed off for several months and am now back eating gluten to be tested in the fall- back to bloating, etc) My youngest has the gene (but is not active) for Celiac so it was the place I started looking.
To be tested, you do need to have gluten in your system to show up (so don’t go off generally if you are looking to be tested).
Oops my auto correct did me wrong! Meant to say im so sick (not dick ha!) About obsessing over food!
Haha- no worries.
Lots of people who start eating the food, trusting their bodies and following their intuition and cravings have some trouble initially, including weight gain and bloating. Sticking with it, and giving the body a chance to practice eating big mixed meals is usually effective. Sometimes we feel really awesome when we’re doing things that are ultimately undermining our health (like ingesting stimulants), and sometimes we feel lousy as we’re getting better (think, that achey, groggy feeling you get when you “slept too much”). I know it sucks but returning to old restrictive patterns, especially when they’re experienced as restrictive, will probably not help in the long run.
That Zoe person hates the shit out of fruit: http://www.zoeharcombe.com/the-knowledge/fruit-is-fuelling-the-obesity-epidemic/
I call douchebaggery of the highest order.
Love it, Deb!
She did repeatedly mention Gary Taubes and Marks Sisson and Jimmy Moore and Tom Naughton admiringly as folks in possession of the secrets to effective weight loss, so no surprise that she’s talking smack about fruit.
Wow, I honestly don’t understand that. Most fat people I see are not eating fruit. Every anorexic person eats fruit. ALL OF THEM. They are skinny as hell obviously. 801010 people are skinny as hell too. I don’t believe that fruit is causing the obesity epidemic, I also don’t believe that any insulin spike causes fat storage. If that is the only proof that she has of fruit causing weight gain, then it is completely irrelevant.
Word- insulin resistance is not the same as insulin surges, spiking does not cause resistance, and avoiding spiking it might medicate the problem, but not resolve it.
So does this mean that for a healthy person, constantly elevated insulin from eating foods (ie not from insulin-resistance already in situ) does not play a role in obesity at all- i.e. I know that it’s about a person’s individual insulin sensitivity and not the sugar that is necessarily the problem, but if someone is snacking all day then doesn’t that prevent fat-burning? I’m sure Chief Rok agreed with that somewhere.
Also regarding bingeing on starchy foods- I can tell you from firsthand experience that it doesn’t have to be about anorexia or starvation or even switching off stress hormones, gut health plays a massive part. If you’ve got bad gut flora overgrowth, then these foods ARE a problem. I’m not saying go on something like GAPs but it wasn’t till I took out wheat and other complex grains for instance (this is many years ago now) that I could feel normal around food and not feel as though I was going to eat my way through half a loaf of bread and an entire cake tray of Mr Kipling’s apple pies…
I think I can take a shot at this. Your points are well made and to all of them I can say this best answer is whole food sources of starch. Many moons ago Matt boasted about his ability to maintain freakishly low glucose levels even an hour after eating two boiled potatoes. As Matt has pointed out, and many of us (including myself) have verified through experience, starchy whole foods (and possibly fruits) heal your insulin sensitivity. That doesn’t mean you won’t have chronically elevated insulin and glucose while your glucose metabolism heals itself (one to three weeks). I used to be low-carb with moderately high fasting levels. When I started really digging into the carbs again, my hunger became ravenous. My glucose would spike to 190. It would stay above 150 for hours. It took a couple of weeks or so to finally correct and bring fasting to high 70s low 80s.
I don’t think anyone is supposed to be snacking all day long. I agree with that. I think Matt generally recommends it if your trying to come out of a diet/fasted state. I.e. your digestion is slow, your adrenals are sluggish, your thyroid is low, etc. In that case, it’s better to eat more frequently until things start picking up. But in general I agree with Chief that it’s better to have bigger meals less frequently. At least that’s my natural tendency when I don’t try to follow any rules.
Digestion took me a while longer to figure out. I think eating larger amounts helps to get things moving. That’s one factor. But I’ve finally figured out how to have clean #2s pretty much all the time. As long as there’s enough potatoes/rice/fruit in my diet, it’ll come out clean. It doesn’t even have to be 50%. If there’s too much bread/sugar/cookies/chocolate, then things start getting messy. So I figure that’s all a factor of the gut bacteria.
So all around… starchy whole foods are the way to go I think. There’s maybe different tolerances depending on how much healing you need. Maybe some need to avoid bread/whatever, but I think you should be able to include it soon enough.
And also, Rob A, you rock!
It’s so rare to have people point out that the move to low fat, high carb diets coincided with the onslaught of processed food and that perhaps this gunk-often including random vitamins and minerals thrown in in a way that misses the point of nature’s intricate balance-is more responsible for the health problems faced by modern societies than delicious unrefined carbohydrates (I absolutely agree Melissa that refined carbohydrates can be highly addictive)
I’ve only just started adding starches and higher amounts of carbs back (rice, maple syrup, fruit etc etc) and seem to be a bit achy…. Is it possible to experience a sort of healing crisis when rrarfing and adding more variety back into the diet?
My temps are definitely improving; started at about 96, now sometimes around 97 first thing in the morning. My cold hands warm up every time I eat, so must be doing something right.
Hey Corey- eating big mixed meals is often hard in the short term for folks. The RRARF recommendation is to give it a full 30 days to see how things go. Warming of the hands is a good sign. The aim is to have the sort of response to food that a healthy, metabolically robust person does, which doesn’t typically include aches when we eat carbs. What we don’t want to to cater to our weak areas and keep ourselves boxed in forever, or worse yet, see the box getting smaller and tighter around us.
Yeah, right on with that. Low carb was definitely a shrinking box for me. I regulated it with a glucose meter so I generally knew how many carbs I “could have”. It was pretty lenient at first but that box just kept shrinking. Now I love the hell out of carbs and glucose regulation is better than before I started low carb.
Good to hear that Aaron! Carbs are very very awesome.
Totally out of subject..
Gelatine works.. I am taking some everyday and my
cellulite is melting.. isnt that merveillious?
The fruit lady.. boggus theories and
disgusting taste in cinema( check biography).
Plus for someone who says that doesn’t watch TV,
she’s got a impressive reality shows knowledge..
Hey, that’s a really good potential explanation for cellulite: not enough gelatine in the diet. I suppose normally we should be getting more homemade bone broths and cartilage, but that may be difficult for a lot of people. It makes sense though; cartilage forms because the body isn’t getting enough of what it needs to build up those areas.
How much are you taking each day? I am having a couple TBS/day and don’t notice anything different, other than a MUCH reduced desire for meat, to the point that meat smells disgusting most of the time. I would love to be losing some cellulite :) How long have you been taking it?
I thought you may like these 2 links from Lani Muelrath website although she is advocating a vegan approach this is a pretty interesting explanation on how, as humans, we have always eaten a strach based diet. Especially the second link with video of professor Nathaniel Dominy..have fun!
Thanks Brigitte. There’s lots of good stuff that McDougall and other starch-advocates have to say. I don’t necessarily agree with a whole scale vegan conclusion, but there are definitely upsides to starch and in many cases to displacing more fat with starch. Taters- yum!
That first link didn’t really contain any scientific argument but the second link is a fascinating find.
Was it Barry Groves that was also talking about the increases in brain size? It’s hard to remember because some of these guys drone on and I start to tune out. Like I said in a previous comment, I think Barry Groves got it wrong on how much animal products our evolutionary ancestors would have been eating.
My money is on starchy tubers as well. Eating those probably coincided with cooking (and the discovery of fire). Who knows though. It would take some Denise Minger style investigative research to sort it all out. I’m pretty sure early humans and the hominids that came before us were eating tubers and they were a good readily available energy source. That would also coincide with a lot of traditional cultures eating a high starch diet.
On the topic of starches, I want to ask about whole grains vs refined grains, especially as 180 isn’t afraid of challenging established viewpoints. Of course I’ve read all the arguments of why whole grains are superior to refined ones, but I’m wondering if there’s any evidence that traditional groups actually consumed unrefined grains. While I haven’t done any extensive research, most of what I’ve found so far seems to point toward the opposite being true. A hand sifter doesn’t remove 100% of germ and bran, but it comes pretty close, so these people seem to have enjoyed good/excellent health despite robbing their grains of most minerals and fiber (while obivously ‘making up’ for it with other foods).
Would love to hear what others have to say about it.
Yup, almost all traditional cultures refined and processed their grains in some form.
The poorest of the poor Asian populations still pound the bran off their rice. In ancient times, the Japanese considered brown rice pauper food. Even those paupers knew to soak and sprout their brown.
South American tribes nixtamilzed their corn, making the B-vitamins bio-available. The Spanish brought corn back to Europe and people started getting pellagra.
In Central America, they would ferment beans for days to make a porridge called chugo.
Native Americans would fement their corn for two weeks before making it into flat bread.
One way or another, these people knew what they were doing.
Yeah I always wondered about the Italians and their pizza&pasta and the French with their croissants&baguettes….
Heard about some of this, and it makes sense to me as well. I think casava was pounded down and made into a starchy paste/powder too.
We humans seem to really like our starch straight.
Yeah, that’s what I gathered. Why go through soo much trouble if whole grains promote health. I think that if one pays attention to how bran feels and tastes in the mouth, there’s no doubt as to what it may do once swallowed. And no matter how properly prepared a whole grain is, the bran remains little affected by even the thoroughest of chewing. Sometimes after eating my sprouted wheat cookies, I’d spit out the mass of bran afterwards!
Although I couldn’t find an exact number, nixtamalization appears to remove a large part of the corn bran.
And even in Nourishing Traditions, there is a recipe for Ogi that calls for sifting to remove the bran.
According to Rami Nagel, the rye flour used by the Swiss Alpine group featured in Price’s book, showed no marked difference in mineral content compared to commercial, refined flour.
I did come across an article http://www.angelfire.com/journal/millbuilder/boulting.html on the history of grain milling in Europe and apparently people of certain parts of England (Peak District) and Germany (Cologne) consumed whole meal bread, or ‘brown bread’. Their stones were too soft to produce a flour with different sized particles, so the bran wasn’t as easily sifted out. It would be interesting to know if there are any observational studies of the health of these people.
Anthony Colpo has written about this. He states that were grains are concerned traditional groups and cuisine use refined grains, not unrefined, and he states the science is on their side. He probably has a few articles on the subject but here’s one for some interesting reading:
Thanks! Yes, some interesting reading there for sure:).
I think a little balance is needed here. It’s one thing for those on a traditional Asian diet to eat white rice ALONG with a lot of vegetables, some fish/seaweed, fruit, etc. In other words, white rice plus a lot of whole foods.
It’s quite different to defend a SAD diet filled with white flour pastries, pasta, donuts, Twinkies, etc. along with good ol’ white bread (nutritionless white flour + gypsum/plaster of Paris and a laundry list of substances you’ve never heard of). Sorry, I’ll stick with homemade whole wheat bread (grind the grains yourself if possible) and take a chance with allegedly evil “anti-nutrients” (that’s another can of worms, but suffice it to say, Colpo et al aren’t necessarily right about that issue).
Also, comparing fermented beans or corn in a traditional diet to modern refined products is quite apples and oranges…
Hi, that is a great00 possible description with regard to cellulitis: insufficient gelatines within the diet plan. I guess usually you should be getting home made bone tissue broths as well as collagenous cartilage, however which may be hard for a number of individuals. It seems sensible although; collagenous cartilage types since the entire body is not obtaining sufficient associated with actually must build-up all those places.
HI matt, very unique blog well done. my question is : what types of grain do you consume? what is your typical breakfast lunch and dinner? i recovered from anorexia that i suffered from for 11 years by eating the aforementioned ?paleo? way, namely because it helped me tackle gaining weight a healthy way,the ?best? way. anyway, i haven’t eaten wheat, grains for two years (my recovery time) I’m 25 years old and while ?paleo? makes me feel ok its now trapped me into feeling i can’t eat sprouted bread, sourdough rye, or looking at my carb intake. i try sporadically to introduce sprouted buckwheat groats or white rice occasionally (sprouted buckwheat and organic yoghurt today has sent me into a panic), but end up feeling so guilty and struck with hoards of the knowledge about not being able to eat even buckwheat afterwards, that i vow need to eat it again. i would like to start consuming legumes and beans again, i used to love them, and i miss sprouted bread but I’m too scared after reading so much about wheat and legumes etc.. by the way when i say paleo its not really true as i eat yoghurt, occasionally raw cheese, but I’m trying to figure out how to eat because I’m still not functioning as a woman- so technically my body can not reproduce (have ammenhorrea)- so I’m starting to question the diet? also my skin is peeling a lot and really sore, and i have bouts of depression- probably not dietary related maybe but more to do with feeling bound to the ?paleo/primal? way of eating in a world of beans and rice or pea bread ! I’ve read the akea life blue zones with david buettner (amongst the other vast quantities of nutrition literature/ weston price/ tribes and so on!!0 and i see that all cultures stick to their locally grown foods and the foods that come natural to them. I’ve noticed sadinians have their pane carasou bread and fava beans, the bama have their millet and corn and so on? I’m just searching for an answer really. i live in england..i seem to be the only 25 year old paleo type eater with no periods, skin peeling and depression and questionable mental concentration- i feel like until i find an answer i can’t really carry on freely. i used to love legumes like chickpeas with no issue- the hummus made with extra virgin olive il, the bread sprouted or sourdough rye, and i look at the french, the monks in mount athos? sardinians, loma linda, okinawans etc eat rice, buckwheat, some of them eat wheat- mount ethos monks who are know for their longevity- etc etc- i just question- is it more about local ingredients, home cooking and how your body digests them? because we can be eating the best types of food or paleo accepted and if our bodies aren’t happy they will digest them wrong or not utilise them effectively… I’m just confused, namely because so many studies basically point to this : eat everything, and not too much of anything, eat organically and eat what is natural to your community and culture- it seems actually culture and community have a lot to do with it? what are your thoughts?