Last year I reviewed economist Art De Vany's New Evolution Diet book, which is a 5/5 with good thoughts on paleo, low-carb, and power law effort distribution, and has his choice quote, "bread is the ultimate poverty food – it exists only because grain is cheap, easy to grow and is less perishable than other foods."
Remember the key takeaway from De Vany was that early humans would have been exposed to practically no foods capable of triggering a massive insulin release, and each insulin spike puts wear on the body, and also lessens the insulin sensitivity of adipose tissue, which sets up an unpleasant positive feedback loop of metabolic syndrome.
Another excellent source for staying current on anti-aging/health/supplementation/diet research is P.D. Mangan (twitter/website), who also puts out short books from time to time like Stop the Clock.
Mangan is helpful because he is synthesizing all the latest research and results on this stuff. A couple examples: many men are suffering from excess iron, and the beneficial antioxidant hypothesis is giving way to a phytochemical hormesis hypothesis.
Here are some examples of Mangan's thinking on diet:
- Low carb: The better results on low-carb were likely due to two things, in my opinion. One is that insulin levels dropped. Insulin helps drive fat into cells, and lower insulin levels allow fat cells to release fat to be burned. The other reason is probably better compliance. This low-carbohydrate diet was unrestricted in calories, i.e. all-you-can-eat, therefore the participants on this diet were unlikely to get hungry and grab the nearest food available. The participants on the other, calorically restricted diets may have been much more likely to get hungry and cheat.
- Fasting: The first treatment that Dr. Jason Fung uses for his diabetic patients is fasting, and by all accounts quite successfully. The treatment described in the paper was not fasting, but at 600 calories a day, was pretty close. All of this shows clearly that diabetes is a disease of over-nutrition, caused by too many or the wrong kind of calories, when those calories are not burned by exercise.
- Protein leverage hypothesis: [H]umans and animals closely regulate the amount of protein in their diets, with the average human consumption of protein being around 15% of calories. The idea is that if available foods are low in protein, more food will be eaten until protein requirements are satisfied. If foods are relatively dilute in protein, containing, say, less than 15% protein overall, then more calories need to be consumed to make up for the lack of protein. If higher protein foods are eaten, then less calories are consumed and weight loss or maintenance follows.
- A theory of aging: "aging means a breaking down of capacity for renewal", caused by three main processes; an increase in oxidative stress, an increase in inflammation, and a decrease in autophagy.
- Exercise (weightlifting to build muscle, not "cardio") is important because muscle strength is inversely correlated with cancer. [study]
- Antioxidant supplementation may be harmful, blunting free radicals from exercise prevents beneficial adaptation from exercise. [study]
- The high carb, low fat government nutritional recommendations were immensely destructive. Saturated fat is good for you.
- The risks of obesity and adiposity to health have been underestimated. Flawed studies that use BMI at time of death instead of all time high BMI understate the risk. [study]
- Low carbohydrate diets can quickly reduce insulin and blood glucose levels [study]
- Coffee is an incredibly rich source of potentially beneficial phytochemicals.
5/5 for Mangan overall. I find it best to just follow him on Twitter and keep up with his blog that way. The books are good to buy and give away to friends or family who want to get healthier.