Nature points the way through the dietary morass
- Created on Friday, 15 October 2021 05:06
I sometimes listen to talks by people with whom I disagree, just to analyze their thinking. The other day I watched a lecture by an Australian orthopedic doctor who is a Keto advocate. It was at a conference called “low carb down under.” His talk was about fruit, and why he disparaged it, and he concluded by saying that he considers fruit “a confection that comes from a tree,” meaning that it’s no different than eating candy or pastry.
It should be obvious that that isn’t true. Fruits contain numerous vitamins and minerals, which confections do not. And fruits contain plant pigments, including the orange, red and yellow caratinoids which are so valuable and essential. Some fruits contain blue and red pigments known as anthocyanins, which are very protective against disease, such as blueberries and cherries. But, he made no mention of any of that.
He wasn’t opposed to non-starchy vegetables, and it’s true that one can get most of those things by eating vegetables. Yet, there are specific phytochemicals found only in fruits, such as the punicalagins in pomegranate. They’re very protective to your heart and arteries and you can’t get them from kale.
So, I think the man is completely and thoroughly deluded, but I imagine he impressed a lot of people at that conference, since they were already leaning that way, as evidenced by the fact that they were there. And the fact is that he looked good: strong, well built, well proportioned, and not the leasy bit sloppy. But, it would be a mistake to give that more weight than it deserves.
However, there were speakers there much more radical than him. They advocated the complete avoidance of all plant foods because of the lectins, phytic acid, oxalic acid, etc. Some of them advocated a diet of just meat and fish, although I should think they’d have to include eggs because otherwise, where would they get their lutein? What, are they just going to walk into blindness?
They had quite a few doctors, actually, some of whom were Americans, and what they all had in common was carbohydrate-bashing. One of them had a slogan: “Just eat fat.”
But, enough about those people. I want to talk about the great nutritional significance of the composition of mother’s milk. It’s the sweetest of all the milks. Over 7% sugar by weight. And, it is the exclusive article of diet of the infant for months. At least, it could be. I met a woman who breastfed her daughter exclusively for 2 years. And I got to see this 2 year old who had never tasted anything except her mother’s milk. And actually, I have to say that she did look rosy and healthy.
And think about it from a conditioning standoint. Every 3 hours that child is having her sugar taste buds stimulated, and remember why they were put there. They weren’t put there for us to commit suicide with. They were put there so that when we came upon a food that was sweet that we would be encouraged to eat it. Dogs and cats don’t have sugar sensers on their tongues. Humans have more of them than any other mammal.
But, what else does mother’s milk contain? It contains a lot of fat. Breast milk has more fat than cow’s milk. About 30% more than whole cow’s milk. But, the composition of the fat is different. Human milk is lower in saturated fat than cows milk (although it still contains a lot; human breast milk is NOT a low saturated fat food) but it is much higher in monousaturated fat, and also higher in polyunsaurated fat.
What about protein? Well, Nature apparently didn’t get the memo that high protein diets are good for humans because breast milk consists of about 1% protein. And that’s on a good day. In some analysies, the protein content has come in at .9% and even as low as .8%. Now, let’s remember that this is a period of very rapid growth. Typically, human babies double their birth weight in about 6 months. And what does that weight consist of? Muscles, bone, organs, skin. In other words: stuff that’s made from protein. So, somehow, the infant gets enough protein to do all that on an incredibly low protein diet.
Now, you and I, I presume, are not trying to double our weight in 6 months. I’ll assume that we’re not trying to add weight at all. And I’ll also presume that we’re not trying to grow our muscles either. I’m 70 years old, and I’m certainly not trying to grow my muscles. I’ll be happy if I can hold onto the muscles that I have. And if I do that, I’ll be doing better than 99% of people because most at this age are incurring muscle loss every year. So, I unlike, the baby, am only trying to maintain my muscles, and I don’t need to put on an ounce of weight. Therefore, how much protein should I need compared to the baby?
Well, it’s actually a moot question because it would be impossible to put together a diet of natural foods that was as low in protein as mother’s milk. So, I’m definitely going to get more than that, no matter what I eat. But, the amount that you need to just maintain, which is all I’m trying to do, isn’t much.
So, what would happen to my muscles if I ate a high-protein diet and kept my exercise constant? Nothing. My muscles aren’t going to grow just because I eat more protein. Most or all of that extra protein will just be broken down: deaminized; turned into carbohydrate or fat.
And that’s the irony of it because those carbo-phobes who load up on steak and whatnot to avoid sugar, they can’t possibly use all that protein either, and a large amount of it their body will convert into glucose.
I watched a video by a keto doctor who was female, and she tested her blood for glucose right duing the video, and it was 97. It was the daytime, although I don’t know the hour. And I don’t know what she ate that day but she described her meals, and it was meat of some kind, some vegetable, and then for calories, she ate fats in the form of avocado and cream cheese. Obviously, her carbohydrate consumption was neglible. So, where did that 97 mg per dl.of glucose in her blood come from? I have to assume that it came mostly, and I mean almost entirely, from gluconeogensis. So again, Nature didn’t get the “low carb good” memo.
But, I also want to look at this behaviorally. This baby is getting the satisfaction of enjoying the sensation of sweetness. It’s getting it over and over again, every few hours, day and night, and for a long time. So, it becomes very much conditioned to that. It comes to expect that. And after having months- or longer- of that, what kind of food is it naturally going to gravitate to and adapt to quickly? Probably some other sweet food. It’s hardly surprising that after having breast milk for a while that a baby very easily adapts to canteloupe, mashed banana, minced pear, and other sweet foods. The baby takes to it very well because it is already accostomed to a sweet taste.
But, let’s say instead you put the baby on a high protein diet. And it often happens unintentionally. Let’s say the mother doesn’t breast feed or gives up breastfeeding early. And let’s say she resorts to cow’s or goat’s milk instead and starts giving that to the baby every 3 hours. One of the things that often happens is that the baby starts getting diaper rash and diaper burns. It’s delicate skin gets burned by the high nitrogen content of its urine. That’s because the protein content of those animal milks is excessive. It is so much higher than breast milk, and just because it’s higher doesn’t mean that the baby’s body is going to use more protein. So, it’s going to do what I said and deaminate the protein, turning the nitrogen into ammonia and then urea. And then when the baby urinates, the urea comes out but it turns back into ammonia, and wahlah, the skin gets burned. You can’t fool Mother Nature.
The bottom line is that humans are brought into the world on a diet (in this case, a single food) that is high in sugar and high in fat, but very low in protein. This suggests to me that the low carb crowd are completely full of sh_t, but so are the low-fat crowd- the McDouglites etc. It suggests to me that natural unprocessed carbs and natural unprocessed fats are a normal part of the human diet, and assuming the diet consists of whole foods and is varied and sufficient in calories, that protein needs are going to be met automatically, and with a huge margin of safety. Getting enough protein should be the least of your worries.
And I’ll leave you with this: Even if that low-carb keto woman is nursing her baby while eating a high protein. no-carb diet, she is still going to produce a sweet milk that is low in protein. Again: you can’t fool Mother Nature.