Friday, September 30, 2016

Neanderthal Diet & European Hunter-Gatherer Amylase Genes

Neanderthals were once depicted as strictly carnivorous, but now we have evidence that they collected starchy underground storage organs (roots and tubers), processed them with tools, and consumed them as early as 250,000 years before present:

"This evidence suggests that starchy USOs were a regular part of the Neanderthal diet at Payre from MIS 8/7 onwards. These results corroborate the recent evidence of starch grains in Neanderthal dental calculus at Spy and Shanidar [4] and demonstrate that Neanderthal consumption of plants was routine as early as MIS 8/7."  [1]  
This study also found evidence that Neanderthals captured fish and birds for food, not only large mammals.
"Functional analysis of stone tools at Payre further bolster the case that Neanderthals had a broad-based diet that included starchy plants, large animals, fish, and possibly birds. The acquisition of fast-moving small prey items such as fish and birds are often seen as exclusively the domain of modern humans and their capture is often linked to a presumed cognitive superiority of modern humans."[1]
Perhaps "modern humans" do not exhibit "cognitive superiority" to Neanderthals, who in fact on average sported brains larger than modern humans (1600 cubic cm for Neanderthals, 1400 for modern humans).

Consumption of starches would exert a selection for increased production of amylase, the salivary enzyme that digests starch.  We now have evidence that hunter-gatherers inhabiting the regions of Luxembourg and Sweden about 8000 years ago had "high numbers of amylase genes in their genomes":
"An international consortium led by researchers from the University of Tübingen and Harvard Medical School analyzed ancient human genomes from a ~7,000-year-old early farmer from the LBK culture from Stuttgart in Southern Germany, a ~8,000-year-old hunter-gatherer from the Loschbour rock shelter in Luxembourg, and seven ~8,000-year-old hunter-gatherers from Motala in Sweden. In order to compare the ancient humans to present-day people, the team also generated genome-wide data from about 2,400 humans from almost 200 diverse worldwide contemporary populations."

"Both the hunter-gatherers as well as the early farmers displayed high copy numbers of amylase genes in their genomes, suggesting that both populations had already adapted to a starch-rich diet. " [2]
 According to current ideas, the European hunter-gatherers of 8000 years ago were (like modern Europeans) descendants of Neanderthals who married H. sapiens when the latter entered Europe from Africa about 60,0000 years ago. [3]  It is estimated that between 1 and 4 percent of the DNA of modern Europeans and Asians is uniquely Neanderthal.[3

In combination these studies indicate that European hunter-gatherer ancestors had been gathering, processing, and eating starches in large enough quantities to select for higher numbers of amylase gene copies for a likely minimum of 9,680 generations before they encountered any farmers. 

Notes

1.  Hardy BL, Moncel M-H (2011) Neanderthal Use of Fish, Mammals, Birds, Starchy Plants and Wood 125-250,000 Years Ago. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23768. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023768
2.  Universitaet Tübingen. "Europeans descended from at least three, not two, groups of ancient humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2014. .
3.  National Geographic.  Why Am I Neanderthal? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

High Intensity Calisthenics Episode 6


Wim Hof, The Iceman Cometh | HUMAN Limits



What are the limits of human ability?  Wim Hof shows they are far beyond what we consider normal. 

I have been taking cold showers daily, first thing in the morning, for a month now.  I have gotten used to it, and I feel so alive afterwards. 


There exists a giant within you.  It is your task to take all the chains off of him (or her).  You can start breaking free with just 15 seconds of cold water daily!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

“12 times the vegan diet wasn’t good for you – or the planet” DEBUNKED

(Forenote:  I am very sorry for the formatting issues (large blank spaces) in this article.  I tried my best to get rid of them, but Blogger wasn't cooperating and kept putting them back in, and floating my text about as I was trying to pin it down.  I don't know what happened but I couldn't fix it.) 

Alex Orlov, the author of “12 times the vegan diet wasn’t good for you – or the planet” pretends to have good intentions.  She starts this essay off telling her audience exactly why they should be scared of a vegan diet:


Having read that, it should be clear why she thinks she has a civic duty to scare people away from eating a vegan diet.  She has to save her audience from avoiding heart disease! 

So what does she have to say? 

Here’s part of her edgy intro:


You know you are dealing with a deep thinker when she uses the “veganism isn’t exactly the magic health bullet” line.  Knowledgeable people call that a straw man fallacy.  Start off by failing to define "the diet” you are criticizing, then pretend that someone somewhere is claiming it is a “magic health bullet,” then show that its not so. 

She follows that with what would be an outright lie.  “For starters, the diet doesn’t provide certain essential nutrients like calcium and iron.”  “The diet”?  What diet? 

Here she is pretending that there is only one possible possible vegan diet, a common mistake of people who don't think or don't want to deal with reality, but only with the straw man images they create in their imaginations.

If she is claiming that there are no plant foods or vegan diets that provide calcium and iron, she is wrong.  She could have taken a few minutes online to check her premises.  The American Dietetic Association has issued a position paper on vegetarian diets, in which you will find this:



I will deal with her iron and calcium claim in more detail below.


Next she writes:


First she implies that only “media outlets” consider tofu and tempeh health-promoting foods.  Perhaps she is unaware that these are traditional foods in Asian nations?  Do a search on PubMed and you will find a large body of research that has indicated their beneficial properties in prevention of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer if they – or for that matter, other legumes – are used as replacements for animal source foods as in Asia. 


Next she says that “fake meats” contain “iffy” – yes, that’s a technical, scientific term – filler ingredients, but provides only one example, “processed mold.”  She’s long on cranking emotion (“ew”) and short on facts.  Since she fails to identify any “iffy” ingredients other than “processed mold” I’ll assume she couldn’t find any others.

As for “processed mold” if she were scientifically literate she would know that mold is a type of fungus, and people eat fungi every day, in the form of yeasts, mushrooms, and, yes, molds naturally occurring on the surfaces of raw fruits.  She points to an article by CSPI which recommends that people avoid Quorn brand, mycoprotein-based meats, because “the percentage of consumers sensitive to Quorn is probably as great as, or greater than, the percentage sensitive to soy, milk, peanuts, and other common food allergens.” 

Fine.  This doesn’t damn any other plant-based meat product.  I find it interesting, however, that CSPI thinks no one should eat Quorn because some people are allergic to it, yet routinely advocates consumption of dairy products, to which many people are allergic as well.  Does CSPI also say that no one should eat peanuts for the same reason?  No.  CSPI is simply inconsistent here and I wonder if there is a conflict of interest.  CSPI is also a recommends using the Police State to manage people's food choices by imposing taxes on various foods it disapproves of.  As a freedom-lover I despise the idea of preventing or "solving" problems by putting a gun to someone's head and taking money from the pocket. 

But the most important point is that it is possible to eat a nutritionally adequate strictly plant-based diet without eating any “fake meats.”  So again Orlov is implying that these foods make “the diet” unhealthy, when they aren’t even a necessary part of a plant-based diet.  This comment applies equally to her next jab:


Ironically, she’s stabbing at the saturated fat in coconut, which can easily be avoided by people eating plant-based diets, while scaring people about plant-based meats and soy products, which are far lower in saturated fats than animal flesh and dairy products. 

Next she claims:


Where to start.  First of all, as with mycoprotein and coconut oil, one can eat a healthy plant-based diet without eating soy.  Secondly, if “the amount of soy used in many studies is much higher than the amount people consume in real life,” who are the people she is talking about?  The average American?  This isn’t showing that “the vegan diet wasn’t good for you” as claimed in her title, its suggesting that people don’t eat enough of soy foods to get their benefits.  How exactly is “the diet” to blame for that? 

Next, she cites Mark Hyman as the source for her second statement, but links to a letter sent by the American Heart Association to the FDA regarding the FDA’s allowance of a cardiovascular health claim for soy protein.  I don’t know if Hyman said any of this because she’s not linking to anything he is responsible for.  Not a good way to build your reputation, Orlov. 

The letter contains the following statements:

“The majority of research suggests that a very large amount of soy protein, more than half the daily protein intake, may lower LDL cholesterol by a few percentage points when it replaces dairy protein or a mixture of animal proteins.”
And


So they are acknowledging that “there may be cardiovascular benefits to using soy proteins to replace foods high in animal protein that contain saturated fat and cholesterol.” 

That’s exactly what some plant-based dieters do: replace animal proteins with soy products.  I routinely consume ~7 ounces of firm tofu daily, providing 28 g of soy protein – the amount the FDA had previously approved for the cardiovascular health claim.  By the way, when I eat this much tofu, it alone provides 92% of my calcium requirements (Reference Dietary Intake). 

But this is only one possible health benefit of soy.  Others include cancer and diabetes prevention.  Orlov hasn’t shown that soy is without benefits, only that "people" – meaning average Americans – don't eat enough of it to get the benefits.  Isn't it ironic that in her attempt to dismiss soy's benefits, she cites a source that says we could get those benefits by eating more of it?

Next she demonizes almonds and avocados as water-wasters:


Typical scare-mongering without context provided.  Almonds are turning California into a desert sink hole?  Give me a break. 

A typical one-ounce serving of almonds or almond butter represents about 25 almonds.  At 1.1 gallon of water per almond, that costs 28 gallons of water.  According to this article in Huffington Post providing data from the Water Footprint Network, here are the water costs of one ounce of each of the following animal products: cheese 24 gal, eggs 25 gal, butter 42 gal, chicken 32 gal, pork 45 gal, sheep 78 gal, and beef 115 gal.  Hence ounce for ounce almonds consume about the same amount of water as either cheese or eggs, and significantly less than chicken, butter, pork, sheep, and beef. 

However, few people only eat one ounce of any of these animal products as a serving.  One egg weighs 2.5 ounces ("Waiter, I'll have half an egg, sunny side up"?), and typical servings of animal flesh range from 4 - 8 ounces.  Production of just one egg consumes more than twice as much water as production of one ounce of almonds, and typical 4-ounce servings of chicken, pork, sheep, and beef consume 128, 180, 312, and 460 gallons of water, or 5, 6, 11, and 16 times as much water as the typical 1-ounce serving of almonds.  The fact that Orlov and Mother Jones are blaming almonds for California’s water crisis suggests they don’t know how to find or compare data or do math, or they’re just lying to protect animal food industry. 

All of these remarks apply to the attempt made by Orlov and Mother Jones to demonize avocados.


One whole medium avocado weighs about 5 ounces, and a standard serving is one-fifth of an avocado.  Therefore, production of a whole avocado consumes only 23 gallons of water, and a standard serving of avocado consumes only about 5 gallons of water, about the same as a pound of lettuce and much less than any of the animal foods listed above on an ounce basis.  If you consider on an actual typical serving basis, production of animal products consumes far more water than production of avocados. 

But if you’re really worried that eating almonds or avocados is causing the water crisis, simply stop eating them.  These aren’t required elements in a vegan diet.  Once again, "the diet" is not responsible for the evils.

Next she takes on soy again, trying a one-two punch:



If Orlov had any integrity at all she would have tried to find out what fraction of soybeans grown in South America or GMO soybeans are used for direct human consumption, or for animal fodder.  It took me only about 30 seconds via Google.  According to www.soyatech.com,


Ironically she links to World Wide Fund for Nature – aka World Wildlife Fund (not "Foundation") which actually refutes her suggestion that rainforests are being destroyed to produce soy in order to supply vegans with tofu and tempeh:



And:

Get that Alex?  You might want to read through your sources before you put your foot in your mouth again.  

As for GMOs, I purchase soy products every week, all either organic or GMO-free.  All you need to do is read labels, Alex. 

She's already completely destroyed her own credibility as a nutrition journalist, and her article doesn't get any better as she moves on to nutrients.



Although it is unfortunately true that many vegans fail to get adequate B-12, B-12 insufficiency is not a problem unique to vegans.  Allen reports:
And:
And finally:
Thus, due to the fact that the B-12 in animal flesh is bound up in the food complex, it is not the best source of B-12; and eggs and milk provide relatively little B-12.  This article discusses the fact that many people have difficulty extracting B-12 from animal foods, particularly with advancing age.  It is not clear whether omnivores have higher levels due to consuming animal foods, or due to greater intake of fortified foods and supplements, but the Framingham Offspring Study suggested that omnivores who do not consume fortified foods and supplements are more highly prone to low B-12 status, casting doubt on the idea that animal foods are the ideal sources.  The Framingham study indicates that the most effective way to maintain adequate B-12 levels is the vegan way: use fortified foods or supplements.  It is unfortunate that a large proportion of vegans do not do this, but this is not a fault of “the diet” it is a fault of the people.

Next Orlov trots out the old, long debunked trope about calcium again:
She relies on a article by a poorly informed paleo-diet advocate for her “information” about calcium, and doesn't check that "information" against other sources.  The ADA position stand on vegetarian diets states:
Thus, as a matter of fact, the calcium in dark leafy greens is more bioavailable than that from dairy products.  This tends to indicate that humans are best adapted to acquiring calcium from plants.

The paleo-diet idea that we can’t get adequate calcium from plant foods without drinking milk or eating bones or bone broth, neither of which is done by our close primate ancestors or could have been done by our paleolithic ancestors is ridiculous.  Like our primate ancestors, we are adapted to obtaining adequate calcium from green leafy vegetables and other plant foods.

Paleolithic people didn’t use animal milk, they didn’t have a hunting technology that would have enabled them to regularly consume animal flesh,  bones themselves are indigestible to humans, they didn’t have pots for making bone broth, and finally, the paleo-diet advocates are always pointing to the animal bones associated with human remains in the fossil record as “evidence” that our ancestors were eating meat...but if the bones are left to dig up then ispso facto the people didn’t eat them. 

The idea that phytate in plant foods impairs calcium absorption sufficiently to cause calcium deficiency in humans has been disproved by experts on the substance.  In fact, we have pretty good evidence that phytate is an essential nutrient for bone health; higher phytate intakes associate with greater bone mass and phytate has been shown to reduce activity of bone cells that break down bone tissue.  This makes sense because humans have relied on phytate-rich foods throughout their evolution.

Nor do vegans require unusual amounts of calcium. Research shows that vegans who exceed just 525 mg calcium daily – that's about half the Reference Daily Intake – have the same resistance to bone fracture as nonvegans.  The fact that some vegans fail to eat adequate amounts of foods rich in calcium is again not a failure of “the diet” it is a failure of vegans who all are picky eaters, poorly informed, or stupidly unconcerned about their own health.  Just like the 97% of omnivores who fail to consume adequate potassium which is abundant in plant foods.

This article from the Vegetarian Resource Group shows how easy it is to get more than adequate calcium on a plant-based diet.

Next Orlov takes on iron and zinc:
The bioavailability of a nutrient is only part of the story.   The other important factor is the amount of the nutrient in the food. If the mean absorption of iron from plant foods is 10% compared to 20% from animal foods, but 2000 kcal of whole plant foods provides on average twice as much iron as a 2000 kcal omnivore diet, in the end the absolute amount of iron absorbed is the same.

 From an evolutionary perspective, since iron and zinc can be toxic, if a species subsists on foods that have very high levels of these minerals, the species will adapt by absorbing less of these minerals from those foods in order to prevent toxicity.  Tracy and I have posted many examples of our daily meals on our YouTube channel showing that our whole foods plant-based diets easily deliver iron in amounts twice the Reference Daily intakes.  As I showed in Powered by Plants (page 111), a quantity of wild plant foods sufficient to provide just 80% of energy requirements for an adult woman will provide 8 times the RDI for iron – 210 mg – and 4 times the RDI for zinc (56 mg).  If wild plants were to provide 100% of energy, the iron intake would be 262 mg and zinc would be 70 mg, respectively 10 and 5 times requirements; thus it would be necessary for the body to absorb only 10% of the iron and 20% of the zinc.  Isn't it amazing how that fits exactly with the known rates of human assimilation of these minerals from plants?  Which very well supports my thesis that humans are exquisitely adapted to a whole foods plant-based diet.  

Considering the fact that consumption of heme iron from animal products or excess iron absorption is linked to significantly increased risk for colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes (and again), endometrial cancer, and other degenerative diseases, it seems most rational to conclude that humans are not adapted to obtaining iron from animal products.

The ADA position paper on vegetarian diets reports that vitamin C and other organic acids in fruits and vegetables can substantially enhance non-heme iron absorption, counteract phytate, and improve iron status.  Cooking and fermentation of plant foods also reduce phytate activity.   Most importantly, there is no evidence that well-fed vegetarians suffer from iron-deficiency anemia at a higher rate than nonvegetarians.
 Although the recommended iron intakes for vegetarians are 1.8 times those of nonvegetarians, a whole foods plant-based diet easily supplies that and more, as Tracy and I have shown repeatedly with nutritional analyses of our meals posted on our YouTube channel.

As for zinc, the ADA states:

In other words, as with iron, just eating fruits and vegetables with your legumes and grains counterbalances the already minor effects of phytate and enhances zinc absorption.

Finally, Orlov thinks being vegan causes vitamin D deficiency:

This is not even a food issue.  Humans are adapted to obtain vitamin D from sunshine, not foods.  A study comparing D levels in British nonvegans to vegans found no more than 8% of either group had low plasma D concentrations in winter and spring months.   That means at least 92% of British vegans had adequate plasma vitamin D levels even in the months of lowest sun exposure, in a northern, cloudy nation.  Those vegans who had low levels were simply failing to get adequate sun exposure. 

In fact, the Vitamin D Council  states that there is no natural food source of vitamin D that provides a sufficient regular intake to meet human requirements.
And
And
So, that’s 12 times Alex Orlov showed she is not yet competent to write articles about nutrition, particularly plant-based nutrition.  Hopefully she will think twice and get better sources before she embarrasses herself again.

















Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Rules and Regulations, More Thieves and Robbers

President Obama has enacted 20,642 regulations since taking office in 2009.  He of course is not the first president to pass tens of
thousands of regulations, and unlikely he is the last. "Law-makers" gonna make "laws."



Add on top of these federal rules, those
enacted at the state and local levels. There are so many "laws" on the
books today that one (liberal) critic estimates that the average individual unwittingly commits three felonies a day.  



Reminds me of a section of Bastiat's The Law:



"But, unfortunately,
law by no means confines itself to its proper functions.
And when it has exceeded its proper functions,
it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters.
The law has gone further than this;
it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose.
The law has been used to destroy its own objective:
It has been applied to annihilating the justice
that it was supposed to maintain;
to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect.
The law has placed the collective force
at the disposal of the unscrupulous
who wish, without risk, to exploit
the person, liberty, and property of others.
It has converted plunder into a right,
in order to protect plunder.
And it has converted lawful defense into a crime,
in order to punish lawful defense."
  And chapter 57 of the Tao Te Ching:

"The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers. "

Friday, August 5, 2016

Venezuela: From Democratic Socialism to Forced Labor


Venezuela has progressed to the ultimate result of socialism: forced labor. When people do not have incentives to work (for PROFITS), then you have to put a gun to their head to get the work done. It reminds me again of Chapter 38 of the Tao Te Ching:

When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone.
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done.
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds,
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order.
Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.
Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao.
It is the beginning of folly.
Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real and not what is on the surface,
On the fruit and not the flower.
Therefore accept the one and reject the other.


Someone told me that Venezuela is not socialist, but communist.  Is that so?

Socialism is defined as "a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole." Under socialism, the State owns or heavily regulates all schools, farms, factories, markets, etc., eliminating private ownership.

 

Communism is defined as "a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs." All property means all schools, farms, factories, markets, etc., eliminating private ownership.

  
"Owned or regulated by the community as a whole" is the virtual equivalent of "publicly owned" because if the State regulates the means of production, then it controls the means of production, so any "private" ownership is in name only...because if I don't have control of my property then I don't really own it. Ownership means having control and responsibility; without that one doesn't have ownership.

Karl Marx identified socialism as a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism, which he claimed would be the "dictatorship of the workers." 


 Hence, since both socialism and communism eliminate private ownership/control of the means of production, they are essentially indistinguishable economic systems. This is why the former communist Soviet Union was officially named the Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics.

Many people confuse welfare state with socialism. Many European nations claimed to be "socialist" are not so, because these States do not abolish private property or own all means of production. They are capitalist welfare states providing their citizens with social safety nets, wherein many schools and all or virtually all of the means of production, farms, factories, etc. are privately owned. In fact, some of the European nations claimed to be "socialist" rank high on the economic freedom/private enterprise index. Switzerland ranks #4 (compared to #11 for the USA, and has no minimum wage!   Another darling of the left, Canada ranks #6.  The Nordic nations aren't socialist or even predominantly left-leaning either:


BY KEVIN WILLIAMSON.  CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE IN THE NATIONAL REVIEW


Hugo Chavez was democratically elected to presidency of Venezuela.  Venezuela got into its current situation through democratic socialism. The State/ collective took ownership of the means of production, and this is where they ended up: poverty, starvation and forced labor, which is not news for socialism. The same thing happened in the USSR.  


Socialism is immoral because it is based on theft: taking private property from the rightful owners.  Theft of property inexorably leads to theft of liberty.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.