Safe Starches And Logical Consistency

My next two posts will be the Q & A with Paul Jaminet.  I asked him to pick whichever questions he found most relevant, and he apparently found them all relevant.  We’re talking about 17 pages of answers, so I decided to break it into two posts.

That whole safe-starch issue is obviously controversial among low-carbers — just read the comments on my last few posts – so I expect some readers will be inclined to resist what Jaminet has to say.  Hey, I’m all in favor of healthy skepticism, but I’m also in favor of being open-minded and logically consistent.  So before I post his answers, I want to engage in a little exercise in logical consistency.

We low-carb and paleo types have gotten pretty good at replying to all those “your diet is going to kill you!” challenges from friends, family members, doctors, nutritionists, government officials, and of course our good pals the vegan zealots.  They say this, we know to say that.  Cool.  We’re fully armed, locked and loaded.

But now let’s make sure we’re being logically consistent when we consider whether safe starches are good for us, bad for us, necessary for some people, not necessary for anyone, only necessary for “sick” people, etc.  Here are some of the challenges the “meat kills!” and “arterycloggingsaturatedfat!” crowds toss around and our usual replies — followed by how the logic of our replies might also apply to safe starches.

All that meat and saturated fat is bad for your health.  It’s going to kill you.

We don’t believe that because the evidence shows that humans have been eating meats, organs and animal fats for hundreds of thousands of years.  We evolved eating those foods.  It is, as John Yudkin pointed out during the McGovern Committee hearings, ludicrous to blame modern diseases on the foods we’ve been eating forever.  The foods we’ve been eating forever are the foods that are good for us.

The evidence also shows that humans have been eating tubers and other starchy plants for hundreds of thousands of years, as I learned when I read Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.  We evolved eating those foods – not as the dominant feature of the diet in most areas, but certainly as part of the diet.  So once again, it’s ludicrous to blame modern diseases on ancient foods.  Foods we’ve been eating forever are the foods that are good us.

Don’t eat egg yolks.  You should avoid cholesterol as much as possible.

We answer that by pointing out that cholesterol is so important for human health, our bodies will make the stuff even if we don’t consume any.  Our bodies aren’t stupid and wouldn’t have a backup system for producing a health hazard if we don’t consume the health hazard.  Cholesterol is necessary nutrient for our skin, our hormones, our sex hormones, and our brains.  So eating some of the stuff is fine and probably beneficial.

Glucose is likewise so important for human health, our bodies will make the stuff even if we don’t consume any.  Our bodies aren’t stupid and wouldn’t have a backup system for producing a health hazard if we don’t consume the health hazard.  Glucose is a necessary nutrient for our red blood cells, brains, tears, saliva, mucous and intestinal lining.  So eating some of the stuff is fine for most people and probably beneficial.

And yet what I keep seeing in comments is that since our bodies can make glucose, only a sick person would need to actually eat any of it.  Everybody everywhere ought to be able to produce sufficient glucose without eating any starches.  If they can’t, it means there’s something wrong with their metabolisms.

Okay … so what would you say if some vegan pointed out that our bodies can make cholesterol, and therefore nobody should ever have to eat any?  I think I can guess.  The answer would be something like:

But if you force your body to produce all the cholesterol it requires for basic biological functions, you could eventually end up becoming cholesterol deficient, and that would be bad for your health.  Better eat an egg now and then to be sure.

Right.  And if you force your body to produce all the glucose it requires for basic biological functions, you could eventually end up becoming glucose deficient, and that would be bad for your health.  Better eat a tuber now and then to be sure.

Humans are natural vegetarians.  Eating meat is just a bad habit we picked up.

I can guess the answer to that too:

If humans are natural vegetarians and aren’t meant to eat meat, why did people in almost every so-called primitive society hunt for meat and fish?  And why were they so healthy?

Well, guess what?  Humans in almost every so-called primitive society also sought out foods that would provide them with some dietary glucose.  In most of the world, paleo people gathered roots and tubers.  In the arctic regions, paleo people hunted animals and sea animals that contained glycogen in their meats, organs and fats.  And as I pointed out in comments, there’s a tuber known as the “Eskimo potato” that grows waaaay up north.

So if ancient diets are the template for what’s natural for us to eat, the template would include some starchy plants in addition to meats, organs, nuts, vegetables and fruits in season.

I haven’t eaten meat in five years and I’ve never felt better!

My usual reply:  Good for you.  I hope that continues working for you.  But most people who go on a vegan diet eventually quit, and the number one reason they cite for quitting is lousy health.  I’ve also known several vegetarians who ended up with health problems.  So clearly it’s not a healthy diet for everyone.

Lots of people feel great on a ketogenic diet that includes very few carbohydrates and no starchy foods at all.  I wish them well and hope it keeps working for them.  But some people end up feeling lousy on a very-low-carb diet – so clearly it’s not a healthy diet for everyone.  Insisting that the inability to thrive on a no-carb diet proves they’re sick or metabolically damaged sounds exactly like a vegan insisting that anyone who doesn’t thrive on an all-plant diet is metabolically damaged.

So let’s be logically consistent.  When people like Lierre Keith or John Nicholson (author of The Meat Fix) finally drop their dietary dogma and declare that a vegan diet was making them sick, we cheer them for coming to their senses and reclaiming their health by returning to the diet of their ancestors.  We laugh at the vegans who insist that Keith and Nicholson just didn’t do it right.  We’ve read their books.  We know they tried very hard to “do it right.”

So when someone like Paul Jaminet declares that a very-low-carb paleo diet was making him sick, we should cheer him for having the good sense to drop the dogma and return to the diet of his ancestors – who, since they didn’t live in the arctic, almost certainly ate some starchy plants along with their meats and seafood.

If you prefer to insist that Jaminet just didn’t “do it right” when he was on a VLC paleo diet, be my guest … but if you’re logically consistent, you should laugh at yourself immediately afterwards.


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145 thoughts on “Safe Starches And Logical Consistency

    1. Tom Naughton

      Flawless logic if I ever heard it. Almost as logical as “If God didn’t want us to eat cows, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.”

      Reply
  1. Cris

    I believe you are confusing logical consistency with rationalization. Also something that appears logically consistent may not necessarily be scientific, that is a higher standard, where in nutrition the actual evidence is often extremely hard to discover. I read Jaminet’s books some time ago and found them very useful and “reasonable”, but they contained very little actual science. Almost all the conclusions and recommendations were based on rationalizations and speculations – educated guesses if you prefer. But done well and very convincing and it seems likely that many are correct. Some caution is required here although the rule must be – it may or not work for everyone, a mantra that those of us who follow the debates understand well.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Heh-heh … that’s what the vegans say about our explanations for eating meat: we’re rationalizing.

      I’m just asking people to be consistent in their explanations. If “humans have been eating those foods forever” is evidence of what’s good for us, it has to apply equally to meats and tubers.

      Reply
    2. Alex

      I agree. I’m a little disturbed by how many online low-carb/paleo advocates are jumping on the ‘safe starch’/’resistant starch’ bandwagon of late!

      A logical inconsistency is evident in the statement that, because the body endogenously synthesises and metabolises glucose, we are able to – and therefore should – consume exogenous sources.

      We also endogenously produce small amounts of alcohol and have evolved a mechanism to metabolise such. Should therefore imbibe?

      Such rationalisations (not to mention post hoc justifications) overlook the fact that the chemical structure (if not the formula) of endogenously synthesise products often differ from exogenous sources. The more they are processed or ‘manufactured’ the greater the likelihood that their structure differers.

      In the case of glucose, it was hypothesised by at least one researcher that endogenous glucose had a different structure from that supplied by the digestion of exogenous starches and sugars. He dubbed this form ‘gamma glucose’, whereas endogenous sources are principally alpha and beta.

      It may be that ancestral humans that were forced to subsist on tubers and suchlike survived in spite of their consumption of these foods and not because of it.

      Until there is a lot more conclusively persuasive and consistent evidence of the benefit of these foods – I’m letting this bandwagon roll on by!

      Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        At what point will the evidence be conclusive enough for you to be satisfied? Why not conduct your own N=1 experiment and see if it works for you? If not, you can always stop and go back to what you were doing. Don’t sit around and wait for others to do that work for you!

        Reply
        1. Alex

          Been there done that got the t-shirt.

          No deficits keeping carbs to a minimum and no benefits in upping carbs – whether they are ‘safe starches’ or ‘resistant starches’ – in fact, mostly the opposite!

          N=1 is OK but it does not constitute scientific ‘proof’ because of placebo/nocebo considerations.

          Reply
    3. Bret

      Meh. Almost none of the beliefs popular among either LC or paleo folks are proven with hard data from rigorous science. Even the thesis of Good Calories, Bad Calories was largely hypothetical, as Gary Taubes himself acknowledged in the very text of the book.

      Don’t get me wrong–it is a worthy caution to posit. But in the interest of being consistent, if we are going to apply this skeptical scrutiny to safe and resistant starch, we have to apply the same logic to all of our tenets, because the latter are no more proven than the former.

      Until the U.S. government comes to its senses and agrees to fund studies that will test these ideas–and bear in mind they have to do so before the rest of the world loses faith in the American dollar (yeah, I’m not holding my breath either)–we are going to lack the corroborating (or disproving) data we are looking for, probably for our entire lives. So in the absence of such a luxury, we are going to have to settle for sound and consistent logic, backed up with n=1 experimentation, shared in cyberspace vis-a-vis the wisdom of crowds. I find this process to be quite a suitable, and more interesting to boot, substitute.

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton

        Very well said. Long-term dietary studies are expensive and somewhat iffy unless the dieters are being monitored to ensure full compliance. Clinical studies are usually short, and long-term studies are usually observational with all the usual problems inherent in observational studies.

        Interesting speculation: which will happen first, the USDA changes its dietary advice, or the rest of the world loses faith in the dollar and begins dumping it? Hmm…

        Reply
  2. Ash Simmonds

    I love Jaminet’s stuff, but his glucose and mucus deficiency etc assertions are just silly.

    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2010/11/dangers-of-zero-carb-diets-ii-mucus-deficiency-and-gastrointestinal-cancers/

    ——————————————-
    I ate a high-vegetable but extremely low-carb diet from December 2005 to January 2008. At the time I thought I was getting about 300 carb calories a day, but I now consider this to have been a zero-carb diet, since I don’t believe carb calories are available from most vegetables
    ——————————————-

    300 carb calories a day is about 75g of carbs (on his “zero carb” diet), that’s A LOT of non-starchy veggies – 1 pound of broccoli has about ~15g/60cal of net carbs, so we’re talking about eating 3-5lbs or more of the damn things. It’s like me saying I’m a tee-totaller because I only drink beer – not vodka.

    Now, forget calories and carbs, just think about all the stuff that can go down eating that much sheer food and indeed it being from veggies. Understand the anti-nutrients/biochemical toxins/etc in plant foods (which in small amounts are ok, but in those vast quantities…?) and it’s not a big stretch to find some compounds that can lead to various issues with stuff that hinders the uptake of various micronutrients and leads to deficiencies in mucus stuff and other such.

    However, according to Jaminet:
    ——————————————-
    Throughout my 2 years on this zero-carb diet, I had dry eyes and dry mouth.
    ——————————————-

    Eats a metric fckton of plants, but blames the lack of carbohydrates? Glucose deficiency? C’mon…

    Anyhoo, I’m more on Lucas Tafur’s side – protein issues:

    http://www.lucastafur.com/2011/03/ketomyths_08.html

    Consider for a second – Jaminet’s diet was a “high-vegetable” diet, it’s likely he was getting some pretty poor amounts of essential amino acids (threonine is likely in this case) if it wasn’t a high meat or legume diet.

    So in the end he’s eating POUNDS of veggies a day with all the metabolic clusterfckry such a practice entails, gets dry mouth and sore eyes, but blames it unequivocally on his psuedo “zero carb” diet, then comes up with The Perfect Health diet where you require “safe starches” to offset a “glucose deficiency”…?

    Yeahhhhh, I’m not sold.

    Look, I admire the guy for the work he’s done and the amazing results people are getting, his diet is better than 99% of the guru prescriptions out there, and is a model of a good high fat low carb regime in the world and society we currently reside, and I have no other real issues with it.

    TL;DR – Jaminet was NOT on a zero carb diet when he developed his problems, there are tons of confounders, it’s most likely a protein uptake problem, however some people could be sensitive to VLC in this way somehow. Ketosis isn’t necessary for health, but I’m still not buying the glucose deficiency angle.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      So the true explanation is that he wasn’t doing it right?

      Again, I’ve read comments from lots of people who were experiencing the same health problems Jaminet describes, then saw those problems disappear after following his advice to add small servings of starch to their diets. So whether we buy the exact explanation for the improvements or not, it would be a bit silly to deny that consuming some starch led to the improvements.

      Reply
      1. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone

        No, the point was that there are other confounders and that the claims of “zero-carb” were greatly exaggerated. If someone had an near death experience and claimed they went to heaven, I wouldn’t call them liars. They’re honestly relaying what happened and it’s happened to many people, not just them. However, I also wouldn’t (necessarily) share their belief that those experiences are proof that heaven exists. There are alternate explanations that may (or may not) be more reasonable.

        Reply
      2. Martin Levac

        Since he suffered from what he did, it follows that he did it wrong. Else, he intended to suffer, then he did it right. But seriously, his intent must have been to get healthy and remain in good health. It didn’t work, therefore his actions were incorrect, did not produce the desired results, he did it wrong. The solution he applied produced the desired cure. From there, we could conclude that he was deficient in that substance, but we could also conclude the substance is therapeutic by virtue of an unrelated condition. I.e., we take ASA to relieve headaches, but headaches are unrelated to ASA. Starch may have relieved his symptoms, but his symptoms may have been due to an unrelated deficiency such as certain amino acids or even dietary fat for example, or even something entirely unrelated to his diet.

        We cannot question his experience, but we can certainly question his analysis, such as it is.

        Reply
  3. Firebird7478

    If God did not want us to eat meat or fish, He wouldn’t have created sporting goods stores.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Flawless logic if I ever heard it. Almost as logical as “If God didn’t want us to eat cows, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.”

      Reply
        1. Elenor

          {shudder} Eat vegans!? Made of touch, dry (probably ill) “meat” based on an animal that ate an inappropriate and insufficient diet?

          Thanks but no thanks! I’ll stick with eating healthy meat!

          Reply
      1. eddie watts

        if my wife and I were in that situation we would be doing *other things* before worrying about food too

        😉

        Reply
        1. Walter

          Ah, yes the classic “EF or FF” dilemma.

          But seriously now folks, asking people in modern civilization to subsist in the wild would be like taking hunter gatherers and transporting them to Manhattan. We had tools for hunting and digging tubers long before we were human and we co evolved with our tools.

          Reply
  4. Cris

    I believe you are confusing logical consistency with rationalization. Also something that appears logically consistent may not necessarily be scientific, that is a higher standard, where in nutrition the actual evidence is often extremely hard to discover. I read Jaminet’s books some time ago and found them very useful and “reasonable”, but they contained very little actual science. Almost all the conclusions and recommendations were based on rationalizations and speculations – educated guesses if you prefer. But done well and very convincing and it seems likely that many are correct. Some caution is required here although the rule must be – it may or not work for everyone, a mantra that those of us who follow the debates understand well.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Heh-heh … that’s what the vegans say about our explanations for eating meat: we’re rationalizing.

      I’m just asking people to be consistent in their explanations. If “humans have been eating those foods forever” is evidence of what’s good for us, it has to apply equally to meats and tubers.

      Reply
    2. Alex

      I agree. I’m a little disturbed by how many online low-carb/paleo advocates are jumping on the ‘safe starch’/’resistant starch’ bandwagon of late!

      A logical inconsistency is evident in the statement that, because the body endogenously synthesises and metabolises glucose, we are able to – and therefore should – consume exogenous sources.

      We also endogenously produce small amounts of alcohol and have evolved a mechanism to metabolise such. Should therefore imbibe?

      Such rationalisations (not to mention post hoc justifications) overlook the fact that the chemical structure (if not the formula) of endogenously synthesise products often differ from exogenous sources. The more they are processed or ‘manufactured’ the greater the likelihood that their structure differers.

      In the case of glucose, it was hypothesised by at least one researcher that endogenous glucose had a different structure from that supplied by the digestion of exogenous starches and sugars. He dubbed this form ‘gamma glucose’, whereas endogenous sources are principally alpha and beta.

      It may be that ancestral humans that were forced to subsist on tubers and suchlike survived in spite of their consumption of these foods and not because of it.

      Until there is a lot more conclusively persuasive and consistent evidence of the benefit of these foods – I’m letting this bandwagon roll on by!

      Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        At what point will the evidence be conclusive enough for you to be satisfied? Why not conduct your own N=1 experiment and see if it works for you? If not, you can always stop and go back to what you were doing. Don’t sit around and wait for others to do that work for you!

        Reply
        1. Alex

          Been there done that got the t-shirt.

          No deficits keeping carbs to a minimum and no benefits in upping carbs – whether they are ‘safe starches’ or ‘resistant starches’ – in fact, mostly the opposite!

          N=1 is OK but it does not constitute scientific ‘proof’ because of placebo/nocebo considerations.

          Reply
          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            I’m curious, then: when someone like Chris Kresser reports that many of his patients had problems (hair loss, slow thyroid, low body temperature, weight-loss stalls) that went away when they increased their carbs, do you figure that’s a coincidence?

            Reply
            1. Alex

              First of all, what constitutes ‘normal’ thyroid function is currently perceived through the lens of the prevailing dietary conditions within the modern western world (i.e., a carb dominant diet). Just because some measures of thyroid function appear to ‘reduce’ (for some) on a low carb diet cannot be construed as ‘abnormal’. For most any such changes do not result in any clinical symptoms.

              Secondly, it has been suggested that of those people that do display symptoms of impaired thyroid function may have already had sub-clinical or asymptomatic thyroid issues before embarking on a LC diet and because carbs artificially ‘rev up’ thyroid function, it seems to address the problem.

              Thirdly, it cannot be ruled out that the problems stem from some other nutritional shortfall besides carbohydrate that certain carbohydrate foods happen to supply but could also be supplied by non-carb foods if the person in question a) knew what they were, b) found them palatable and c) actually ate them!

              What disturbs me is that people are being advised to reintroduce carbs into a low carb diet on the basis of thyroid/mucous(?) deficiency ‘scaremongering’ when there may be no direct causative link and people may not actually have any clinically significant thyroid/mucous(?) issues.

              Finally, yes – if the person perceives that reintroducing carbs is going to improve their ‘condition’, especially by a clinician (whether mainstream or alternative), then the placebo effect may indeed kick in! Similarly, if people begin to believe there are inherent thyroid/mucous(?) issues involved with eating LC, then the nocebo effect may kick in and people may start to feel the cold more and lose hair. Just stressing about things is said to cause hair loss!

            2. Tom Naughton Post author

              For the nocebo effect to kick in, the person would have to believe the low-carb diet could cause those conditions. Kresser’s patients believed the no-carb diet was the correct diet and didn’t attribute hair loss, etc., to the diet until he informed them.

              In theory it could be that some perfect combination of non-carb foods would have solved the health problems, even though we’re talking about people consuming a paleo diet based on whole foods with lots of non-starchy vegetables. But why engage in a months-long search for that perfect combination when eating a potato solves the problem? What I’m sensing here among some of you is an almost religious attitude … eating a potato is a sin, so find some other way to solve those problems without eating the sinful food. It’s similar to what we hear from vegans … no, you don’t need that sinful meat. If you just find the perfect combination of plant foods and “do it right,” you won’t need the meat.

              If eating a steak solves your health issues, then eat the steak. And if eating a potato solves your health problems, then eat the potato.

            3. Alex

              I don’t think the nocebo effect has to necessarily rely on a fully conscious ‘belief’ that a certain agent or course of action will lead to a specific set of symptoms or result. It may be enough to have a subconscious ‘seed of doubt’ that is then manifested by the human desire to find a cause for an effect.

              Anyone that has done any casual reading around the subject of LC diets before or shortly after embarking on one would have been exposed to the myriad negative ‘beliefs’ surrounding the diet and long-term health. You will hear the same sort of things from friends and colleagues when they find out you are on a LC diet.

              A major change in any one lifestyle factor is often most readily attributed to any unexpected occurrence – good or bad – especially if these subconscious seeds have been sown. That’s just human nature but not necessarily a proven causal link.

              For me someone choosing to eat a potato or a pizza or a Krispy Kreme doughnut is not a sin – it is free choice and I am all for that.

              What doesn’t sit well for me is the undercurrent of post hoc justification for doing so appearing in the form of rationalisation that is then promoted as being logically consistent and then presented scientific fact!

            4. Tom Naughton Post author

              Well, let’s look at the two possible explanations:

              1. People who consciously believe a VLC diet is good for them develop subconscious fears that they might develop dry eyes, hair loss and a slower thyroid. Those subconscious fears produce a nocebo effect, and sure enough, they develop dry eyes, hair loss, a slower thyroid, etc. Then they add potatoes back into their diets based on Jaminet’s advice, and now a placebo effect kicks in and solves the dry eyes, hair loss and low thyroid function.

              2. People who consume almost no glucose end up with lower levels of glucose-dependent substances such as tears and saliva, and also end up with a slower thyroid, which even Dr. Rosedale admits will happen as a result of VLC. They add some glucose back to their diets and no longer experience a shortage of glucose-dependent substances.

              One of those explanations sounds a whole lot more likely to me than the other.

            5. Tom Naughton Post author

              I’ll quote from Paul Jaminet:

              Tears, saliva, and mucus of the sinuses, airways, and gastrointestinal tract are all comprised substantially of glycoproteins called mucins. Mucins are primarily composed of sugar; they typically have a number of large sugar chains bound to a protein backbone.

              For instance, the main mucin of the gastrointestinal tract, MUC2, is composed of a dimerized protein – each protein weighing 600,000 Daltons individually, so 1.2 million Daltons for the pair – plus about 4 million Daltons of sugar, for a total mass of 5 million Daltons. In the mucus, these large molecules become cross-linked to form “enormous net-like covalent polymers.”

              If, for whatever reason, mucin production were halted for lack of glucose, we would have no tears, no saliva and no gastrointestinal or airway mucus.

            6. PJ

              “One of those explanations sounds a whole lot more likely to me than the other.”

              Well, #1 is unworkable with me. I loved VLC and thought it saved my life, and it probably did. I lost 170# on VLC. Dared to dream of stuff that 20 years of super morbid obesity had made impossible, had enough energy to actually function like a normal person for the first in eons, I took up weight lifting and landscaping and was all kinds of excited like a kid about it and what I might actually be able to do with my life, 20 years after I would have been living it, but for a massive sudden weight gain back then (related to lipedema it turns out, which I didn’t hear of for another 25 years to explain it). I thought VLC was like the second coming of food! I started a blog, I kept a forum journal, and I told everybody who’d listen how it had saved me and was The Answer(tm). Sort of embarrassing in retrospect…

              And then suddenly I couldn’t do it. As if my liver couldn’t make the ketones anymore, was my eventual conclusion, though just a guess of course. I had hallucinations of gas gauges and battery meters on empty and knew if I didn’t eat ‘energy food’ instantly I would be dead. If I tried to work out, and “pushed past” my body’s instant panic, my body would burst out bawling, as if without me or something. I did not have the energy for anything suddenly, and I was trying to willpower through that anomaly, but it just didn’t work.

              I LOVE lowcarb food. I am perfectly happy to eat almost nothing but meat, some nightshades and alliums, and cheese. Plus given my success on VLC at least with fat loss, it oughtta be clear that this stuff is not any kind of excuse just to eat something else. I don’t even like fruits/veg/legumes much and gluten makes me ill. Not tons of stuff left…

              My hair greatly fell out, still super thin now. I retreated into something worse than anyone I know with official “chronic-fatigue” suffers. I could barely walk 8 steps to the bathroom and put it off for too long, constantly, trying to “psych myself up” just to get across the hall. I couldn’t find the energy to go into the kitchen to get food, let alone make food, so I just went without most the time (never have any appetite, probably some leptin issue). Thank god I work from home on a laptop — my brain has always done well at having energy even when my body didn’t for various (usually massive overwork) reasons. That’s all I had energy for… my brain. Sort of. The situation was horrible.

              I spent a year collecting supplements, 1 single-mom paycheck at a time so I could take them all at once. Obscure chinese mushrooms and the like. ‘Cause I figured it must be something my body needed and since allegedly meat had everything I needed, I figured it was something obscure. It actually did help some — and was excellent aversion training for swallowing pills eventually — but not enough. So, back to the drawing board.

              I finally realized, after much more reading, that there were some really massive holes in my diet and that doesn’t even count vitamins and minerals; mainly that I’d probably been deficient or skewed in amino acids my whole life. (It’s weird to me few talk about aminos except once in awhile. Like, 2-3 of them relate to the urea cycle. How come talks on gout never mention them and the minerals they depend on? Weird, right?)

              Friends said to ‘fix thyroid.’ Bah. Nobody I see has EVER ‘fixed thyroid’ — they spend the rest of their life chasing doctors around trying to get the right tests or the right drugs or new amounts and it’s so obvious it’s a secondary, not primary, issue by the fact that playing whack-a-mole with it doesn’t work worth crap, that I haven’t seen that as a solution.

              After eons of reading research papers and abstracts and blogs and more, not long ago I started taking d-Ribose, IP-6 Gold, collagen aminos, a little whey aminos, and some TMG, ALCAR, R-ALA, and two raw eggs in a shake, 1-3 times a day. Humic-fulvic minerals, all vitamins (megadose) each a few times weekly, and daily a lot of DIY liposomal vitamin C (sunflower lecithin + ascorbic acid). It’s working, at least somewhat. I am gradually getting my life back, it seems. Slow but sure. If I can actually do three of my supplement shakes a day for 3 days, I’m literally a different person. It affects everything — psychology, not just physiology.

              The Liposomal C has gone a long way toward helping with the growing aching, stiffness, etc. I have other supps I take just ‘sometimes’. I’m still not well but I am at least mildly-almost-functional now… several years later. I’m still intolerant to gluten and get allergy symptoms from soft dairy (and still have no appetite, like ever, and my hair hasn’t come back). I fear that I may be becoming intolerant to other things too which is a nightmare, and I see this around me in forums I frequent, people gradually becoming intolerant to nearly everything, it’s insane.

              All the stuff about the gut biome is very exciting to me, mostly because to me it’s “the thing I haven’t tried” — and therefore, has enormous potential.

              I didn’t expect even subconsciously anything from VLC. I thought the problems was just me. I have assured everyone that ketogenic VLC is just fine and it’s merely that, due to my size (I am lipedemic, a genetially-associated medical condition which means fat in certain areas can massively increase fast without corroborating calories and will not go away not-EVER, not with exercise or starvation nothing, and apparently the cells live longer than twinkies, leading to eventual jabba-the-hut immobilization, a future I’d like to avoid though I’m not sure how), I probably had pre-existing issues. Well, sure I did, of course. Anyone probably does in today’s world especially if overweight or ill. Liver, if nothing else.

              But since then I’ve seen a ton of reports from other people (especially older women, but even younger people and men and people who weren’t even overweight or not much, to begin with) who did great on VLC, and then “crashed” utterly.

              Given how hard I worked at it, how great I did on it, how happy I was about it, what an evangelist I was about it (sigh), I don’t believe for a minute that I had any kind of subconscious expectation that VLC would cause any issues.

              Everyone I know who did VLC for awhile and ended up really trashed believed in it fully, loved it, and in most cases we had NO idea that there was any issue with it — I quit reading most LC stuff for a long time when my health crashed and I didn’t hear confirming stories until long after I’d admitted mine.

              Before the full crash, when I first told some people I was getting reactive hypoglycemia from egg/sausage breakfasts, nobody believed me! (I recall Eades actually insulting some commenter who’d insisted it was true for him. I kept my mouth shut.) Then Jimmy Moore started going on about it and I realized it wasn’t just me. But that was minor. I didn’t realize anything was wrong, that was just an anomaly.

              I spent most my life with lipedema and I thought that was just me, just my family, too, so it didn’t seem hard to believe that some other totally obscure, cosmically-unfair situation was in my life, even though all was dandy for everybody else I thought.

              But I have encountered SO many other people the last few years who loved VLC and lost weight on VLC, only to end up with major issues related to fatigue, hair loss, and more.

              I think it seems pretty evident that if not the eating plan, than at least “the way many people approach it” is a big risk for many (likely not all) people.

              I don’t know if the issue is the gut biome or lack of carbs or whatever. God only knows, really. I could “what if” forever, right? (“What if I’d eaten more liver and eaten more bone broth and supplemented like crazy and not eaten factory meat and the alignment of the stars had been better and…”)

              I only know that I worked damn hard on VLC, lost weight, felt great, and then nearly-freaking-died rather abruptly and have spent YEARS trying to dig myself out the very deep hole I seemed to fall into.

              If people carefully DO something, have a clear experiential result, and then communicate about it, that’s usually called N=1. If people were saying this about RS right now, we’d assume they had no particular reason to be deluded about it.

              But if they report N=1 about VLC in the negative, there must be some other “subconscious bias” reason? Gimme a break.

              This claim Alex is making that everyone’s dissing VLC, so people reporting issues after some time of it are possibly biased by expectation, even if a worthy argument, could only apply to ‘now.’

              Five years ago I’d heard none of that and, aside from a couple people I’d heard talk about the reactive hypo a bit earlier for me, I thought I was the only one who had run into such problems. I assumed it was unique to me. For years I’ve been insisting VLC is great and it was just something about me.

              It wasn’t until not long ago when I started reading blogs again (starting in part with yours Tom, because it always cracks me up), and others with their comments (FTA comments on RS combined are longer than the Wheel of Time book series I think), that I’ve started to realize, wow… gosh a lot of people are reporting the SAME things I experienced after the SAME dietary strategy!

              Proof it’s VLC? No, but as crowd-sourced N=1 obvious-correlations-at-least go, it seems pretty clear.

              PJ

    3. Bret

      Meh. Almost none of the beliefs popular among either LC or paleo folks are proven with hard data from rigorous science. Even the thesis of Good Calories, Bad Calories was largely hypothetical, as Gary Taubes himself acknowledged in the very text of the book.

      Don’t get me wrong–it is a worthy caution to posit. But in the interest of being consistent, if we are going to apply this skeptical scrutiny to safe and resistant starch, we have to apply the same logic to all of our tenets, because the latter are no more proven than the former.

      Until the U.S. government comes to its senses and agrees to fund studies that will test these ideas–and bear in mind they have to do so before the rest of the world loses faith in the American dollar (yeah, I’m not holding my breath either)–we are going to lack the corroborating (or disproving) data we are looking for, probably for our entire lives. So in the absence of such a luxury, we are going to have to settle for sound and consistent logic, backed up with n=1 experimentation, shared in cyberspace vis-a-vis the wisdom of crowds. I find this process to be quite a suitable, and more interesting to boot, substitute.

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        Very well said. Long-term dietary studies are expensive and somewhat iffy unless the dieters are being monitored to ensure full compliance. Clinical studies are usually short, and long-term studies are usually observational with all the usual problems inherent in observational studies.

        Interesting speculation: which will happen first, the USDA changes its dietary advice, or the rest of the world loses faith in the dollar and begins dumping it? Hmm…

        Reply
  5. Ash Simmonds

    I love Jaminet’s stuff, but his glucose and mucus deficiency etc assertions are just silly.

    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2010/11/dangers-of-zero-carb-diets-ii-mucus-deficiency-and-gastrointestinal-cancers/

    ——————————————-
    I ate a high-vegetable but extremely low-carb diet from December 2005 to January 2008. At the time I thought I was getting about 300 carb calories a day, but I now consider this to have been a zero-carb diet, since I don’t believe carb calories are available from most vegetables
    ——————————————-

    300 carb calories a day is about 75g of carbs (on his “zero carb” diet), that’s A LOT of non-starchy veggies – 1 pound of broccoli has about ~15g/60cal of net carbs, so we’re talking about eating 3-5lbs or more of the damn things. It’s like me saying I’m a tee-totaller because I only drink beer – not vodka.

    Now, forget calories and carbs, just think about all the stuff that can go down eating that much sheer food and indeed it being from veggies. Understand the anti-nutrients/biochemical toxins/etc in plant foods (which in small amounts are ok, but in those vast quantities…?) and it’s not a big stretch to find some compounds that can lead to various issues with stuff that hinders the uptake of various micronutrients and leads to deficiencies in mucus stuff and other such.

    However, according to Jaminet:
    ——————————————-
    Throughout my 2 years on this zero-carb diet, I had dry eyes and dry mouth.
    ——————————————-

    Eats a metric fckton of plants, but blames the lack of carbohydrates? Glucose deficiency? C’mon…

    Anyhoo, I’m more on Lucas Tafur’s side – protein issues:

    http://www.lucastafur.com/2011/03/ketomyths_08.html

    Consider for a second – Jaminet’s diet was a “high-vegetable” diet, it’s likely he was getting some pretty poor amounts of essential amino acids (threonine is likely in this case) if it wasn’t a high meat or legume diet.

    So in the end he’s eating POUNDS of veggies a day with all the metabolic clusterfckry such a practice entails, gets dry mouth and sore eyes, but blames it unequivocally on his psuedo “zero carb” diet, then comes up with The Perfect Health diet where you require “safe starches” to offset a “glucose deficiency”…?

    Yeahhhhh, I’m not sold.

    Look, I admire the guy for the work he’s done and the amazing results people are getting, his diet is better than 99% of the guru prescriptions out there, and is a model of a good high fat low carb regime in the world and society we currently reside, and I have no other real issues with it.

    TL;DR – Jaminet was NOT on a zero carb diet when he developed his problems, there are tons of confounders, it’s most likely a protein uptake problem, however some people could be sensitive to VLC in this way somehow. Ketosis isn’t necessary for health, but I’m still not buying the glucose deficiency angle.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      So the true explanation is that he wasn’t doing it right?

      Again, I’ve read comments from lots of people who were experiencing the same health problems Jaminet describes, then saw those problems disappear after following his advice to add small servings of starch to their diets. So whether we buy the exact explanation for the improvements or not, it would be a bit silly to deny that consuming some starch led to the improvements.

      Reply
      1. Stipetic

        “…it would be a bit silly to deny that consuming some starch led to the improvements.”

        I’m not sure that’s what Ash is saying (I think he gives a plausible alternative that it has to do with lack of protein or specific amino acids, etc).

        Since the end result is not in doubt–carbs helped Paul–maybe it might be more useful to address this as: since increasing carbs led to improvements, does it necessarily mean it was a lack of carbs that caused the problem in the first place?

        Reply
        1. Dave L

          Here’s a possible explanation: carbohydrates can be protein sparing. If you eat very little digestible carbohydrate and not enough protein to compensate for gluconeogenesis, then you may be protein deficient and/or carb deficient. It’s just a guess….

          Reply
          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            Richard Nikoley made that point about the Inuit. The average intake for adult males was 240 grams of protein per day. But I’m not sure there’s any advantage to consuming extra protein for the purpose of converting it to glucose vs. just eating the 100 grams or so of glucose.

            Reply
            1. Stipetic

              The Inuit is a very diverse people; some tribes never see green; some are nomadic; they’ve had contact with the white man at different times. Each tribe’s diet has changed subsequent to these meetings. It’s quite difficult to make blanket statements about the Inuit diet or to analyse the data without a biased eye, IMO. It’s like saying Indians eat a lot of corn based on some SW tribe.

              Anyway, the difference between eating carbs and letting your liver produce it on demand is the following: any ingestion of carbs is similar to recieving a bolus of drugs (to use a pharmacokinetic analogy), whether its high or low glycemic–the difference is not really significant. You get that bolus, trigger large swings in hormones within the next couple hours and subsequently use or store this energy for later use (like energy needs in between meals).

              Letting your liver produce them on demand is like recieving a IV drip; small amounts released over a long period of time. No need for wild swings in hormones or storage issues. Much less noise.

            2. PHK

              i like your analogy. but which one is healthier (bolus vs. IV) ?

              i think making the liver all do the job may be burdensome in the long run.
              i think most should be able to handle 100 – 150 gm carb/day without BG going crazy.

              regards,

            3. cavenewt

              “i think making the liver all do the job may be burdensome in the long run.”

              People keep saying this. Is there any evidence that this may be so? What might the metabolic chemistry explanation be?

            4. Boundless

              > … not sure there’s any advantage to consuming extra
              > protein for the purpose of converting it to glucose
              > vs. just eating the 100 grams or so of glucose.

              Might avoid BG spikes and insulin resistance.

            5. Tom Naughton Post author

              If you were experiencing glucose spikes, that would be the reason. Consuming a few carbs seems to actually enhance insulin sensitivity — RS helps there too — but if you’re a type I diabetic, you’re not producing insulin so being more sensitive to the insulin you don’t produce doesn’t sound like much of an advantage.

              When I started adding small servings of safe starches back into my diet, I checked my glucose reaction.

      2. Carnivore

        I am on the second week of experimentation with “safe” starches and I think will be the last one. I am diabetic and I think my experience is not relevant to most people. However if there are diabetics reading this blog I just want to let them know my experience. I usually have twice a week 50g of dark chocolate – it will bring my glucose up to 6.5 – max 7.2, then I go out for a 15-30 min walk and glucose is back in the 5s.

        I ate half of a cold potatoe – glucose jumped to 7.5, went quickly outside for my walk and after 90 min walking I am back with a glucose of 8.2 – afraid that is continuing to rise I took double medications and I am back in 5s glucose after 2 hours. Repeated for a few days – and same results with very little variations in numbers. Fasting glucose next day is some days uncharacteristically low – 6.2-6-5 and other days too high in the 11-12 range. My usual fasting glucose, on a VLC carb, is 8 and I am maintaining a glucose of 5 to 6 during the day eating almost no carbs – carnivore diet.
        Same experiment with sweet potatoe – glucose jumped to 10 and need to double my meds to bring it down.
        Yesterday I tried rice – 3 rolls of sushi (cold rice with shrimp and avocado) and disaster followed with glucose going to 11. I know that you americans measure differently – I think that you just multiply these numbers by 18.

        So this is it. I do not think “safe” starches are for me and I am pretty sure I am the sick one.

        Reply
        1. Marc Bates

          You may want to try again with a few changes. First, I am T2 and I assume you are too (you mention medications). I might suggest starting with Bob’s Redmill Potato Starch, maybe 1 TBSP in water for a week or two first. You should get almost no glucose reaction to the potato starch since most of it is resistant starch. Keep this up for a week or two and slowly add more until you have taken up to 4 TBSP a day for several months. The problem with the cold potato, (you didn’t say how you cooked it) is that it is extremely low in RS–Potatoes – Boiled MIN .16 MAX 4.62 per 100g, while potato starch is Potato Starch MIN 66.7 MAX 79.3 per 100g. Frankly, if you ate a cold potato, you got VIRTUALLY NO RS and lots of carbs.

          As you mention, your body is broken and it takes time to rebuild your gut biome and retrain your cells to be insulin sensitive again. Two weeks is far too short for a test. Even most medications normally take 4-6 weeks before a doctor will consider it a valid test of how your body will react. For me RS has been very helpful, but it took a commitment of time and effort as I am still rebuilding years of metabolic abuse.

          Reply
      3. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone)

        No, the point was that there are other confounders and that the claims of “zero-carb” were greatly exaggerated. If someone had an near death experience and claimed they went to heaven, I wouldn’t call them liars. They’re honestly relaying what happened and it’s happened to many people, not just them. However, I also wouldn’t (necessarily) share their belief that those experiences are proof that heaven exists. There are alternate explanations that may (or may not) be more reasonable.

        Reply
      4. Martin Levac

        Since he suffered from what he did, it follows that he did it wrong. Else, he intended to suffer, then he did it right. But seriously, his intent must have been to get healthy and remain in good health. It didn’t work, therefore his actions were incorrect, did not produce the desired results, he did it wrong. The solution he applied produced the desired cure. From there, we could conclude that he was deficient in that substance, but we could also conclude the substance is therapeutic by virtue of an unrelated condition. I.e., we take ASA to relieve headaches, but headaches are unrelated to ASA. Starch may have relieved his symptoms, but his symptoms may have been due to an unrelated deficiency such as certain amino acids or even dietary fat for example, or even something entirely unrelated to his diet.

        We cannot question his experience, but we can certainly question his analysis, such as it is.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          If by “wrong” you mean he adopted a diet that didn’t work him, I’d agree. But most of the “he did it wrong” rationalizations revolve around some missing nutrient or food allergy — too much broccoli, etc. In other words, if he’d just eaten less of this or more that, he would have been fine and dandy on a very-low-carb diet for life.

          It could just be that since almost no human cultures lived on a diet totally devoid of starchy roots or tubers, some people aren’t genetically geared to live that way long-term. In that case they should stop fighting their biology and find what works — same advice I gave in my “Character vs. Chemistry” posts.

          Reply
        2. Lori Miller

          “We cannot question his experience, but we can certainly question his analysis, such as it is.”

          This reminds me of when I used to grade engineering homework. There was a problem where many of the students got the right answer even though they made a wrong assumption. I marked them down. Luck is great, but poor reasoning isn’t.

          I don’t hear anyone saying that a person ought to soldier on no matter how bad they feel on a diet once they’ve given it a period of adjustment and done some troubleshooting for any problems. I’m glad the Jaminets have a way of eating that works for them. But like some other readers, I see some problems with their assumptions and reasoning. And their advice, namely for diabetics to eat a diet of 30% carbohydrate. Before my mother went on a high dose of metformin, all that @#^Q#$ starch would have sent her blood sugar over 300.

          Reply
  6. more or less

    Humans have been eating saturated fat and cholesterol for a long long time. But we have only lived in a sanitised environments without parasitic infections for so long. The result is people have are not able to maintain the normal cholesterol

    Reply
  7. Lori Miller

    One more thing if we’re going to be logically consistent: there are vegan programs that improve people’s health. However, those programs also involve things like smoking cessation, junk food cessation, meditation, and supplements. Yet people credit the lack of meat for their health improvement. Similarly, the PHD involves eating certain starches. However, it also involves junk food cessation, avoiding grains, sugar, legumes, and vegetable oils, limiting dairy and alcohol, and eating highly nutritious foods like oily fish, homemade broth, organ meats and eggs. It also seems to involve eating quite a few calories. Yet some people credit the starches.

    Simply eating more calories will perk up someone who’s cold and lethargic from restricting them. I keep hearing “adding back starches,” not “replacing meat and eggs with starches.” Removing or limiting potential irritants like dairy, grains and alcohol will help others feel better; adding the nutrients from oily fish, eggs, organs (such as liver) and broth might help as well.

    The PHD might also help people conserve salt and other minerals by taking them off a LC diet. (The body doesn’t hang on to water and salt as much on a LC diet. Hence the common advice to use salt if you’re LC and add some Mg and K when you start.)

    Re: Ash Simmonds’ comment of eating enough “freebies” to not be LC. Low-carb veg, eaten in sufficient quantity, can raise blood sugar. Dr. Richard Bernstein calls it the Chinese Restaurant Effect. He explains, “The upper part of the small intestine contains cells that release hormones into the bloodstream when they are stretched, as after a meal. These hormones signal the pancreas to produce some insulin to prevent the blood sugar rise that might otherwise follow the digestion of a meal….the pancreas simultaneously produces…glucagon….If you’re diabetic and deficient in producing insulin, you might not be able to release insulin, but you’ll still release glucagon, which will cause gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis [breaking down glycogen to make glucose] and thereby raise your blood sugar.” As I read it, diabetic or not, stuffing yourself with fibrous veg doesn’t give your body a rest from gluconeogenesis or producing insulin.

    If there are people who feel better with more carbohydrate in the diet, that’s fine. Being hypoglycemic, I know first hand that not everyone makes enough glucose to feel well. That said, If some critics keep coming back to “they weren’t doing it right,” it’s because 1) given conventional wisdom about dieting, it’s easy to do a LC diet wrong, and 2) who knows what some less-informed LC dieters are doing? It’s common to think that LC diets are all meat, that natural sugars don’t count, that portion sizes don’t count, that calories count a lot, that fat and salt are bad, and you can eat unlimited fruits and vegetables.

    Reply
  8. JD

    I was bored and going through some of your old posts and found this little snippet – “Since working full-time, taking on side projects, blogging, hanging out with the family and writing a book doesn’t keep me busy enough, I thought maybe I’d start a new web site called ExLowCarbers.com. The idea would be to “out” any traitors to the cause…Then, of course, the angry visitors find the traitors in cyberspace and shame them. I’ll even add the first listing myself: my buddy Richard Nikoley in California”

    Felt relevant to the point you were making here.

    Reply
  9. Lisa

    In my experience, “One size fits all” generally doesn’t fit most people very well. I think this discussion is very interesting, and I look forward to seeing how folks fare with the resistant starches. For myself, at the present time, I feel great on my personal “no starch, no sugar” diet. I don’t miss the rice or potatoes, so I am not planning to make any changes in my diet.

    Reply
  10. Peter W. Dunn

    I follow the diet devised by Richard K. Bernstein for diabetics because I see diabetes as essentially a disorder of carbohydrate intolerance. Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet would not work with Bernstein’s patients particularly those who have to inject insulin because of what Bernstein calls “the Law of Small Numbers”: he explains that to maintain glucose control one must maintain small numbers, since insulin has an unpredictable absorption rate and food labels are notoriously unreliable in indicating carbohydrate content: small amounts of insulin per injection and small amounts of carbohydrate in the diet–only then can one obtain a predictable glucose levels through insulin therapy.

    I don’t doubt that Jaminet needs a some carbohydrate. I have a friend who is hypoglycemic that says the same thing. This doesn’t mean that Jaminet’s prescriptions are right for everyone: how can there be a Perfect Health Diet? There are only diets that suit the health of individual people, and it takes years to perfect if, if indeed that can ever be achieved.

    For those of us in the world who have carbohydrate fatigue thanks to years on the Standard Western Diet, 100-150 gms of carbs is probably well in excess of what we can handle. Anyone who is both hypothyroidic and diabetic may have a difficult time balancing the need for carbohydrate and the intolerance thereof.

    Reply
  11. more or less

    Humans have been eating saturated fat and cholesterol for a long long time. But we have only lived in a sanitised environments without parasitic infections for so long. The result is people have are not able to maintain the normal cholesterol

    Reply
  12. Dave L

    Had me some beef fajitas, rice, and beans the other night at Chili’s. I think that the beans were an unsafe starch because the next day I was pretty “unsafe” to be around. 😉

    That was my only meal of the day (which also included a side of corn chips and guacamole), but my restored metabolism from following a low(er) carb diet for the past couple of years has made it easy to skip breakfast and lunch most of the time. Really, it’s just about finding what works for you and allowing some degree of flexibility and experimentation. Frankly, I was stuffed from dinner and had no problem turning down the offer of dessert.

    Thank you, Paul Jaminet, for taking the time to be interviewed by Tom. One small point that I would like to add: I’ve been looking into Orofacial Myology and the work of Mike Mew. It’s another factor that may have some bearing on overall health in that the carbohydrate sources in the ancestral diet were not only more nutritious than the highly processed forms we generally have access to, but they were also harder to chew. To be honest, I’m a bit on the fence with that line of reasoning since humans have been cooking for a very long time, and of course Weston A Price indicated the nutritional deficiencies have a strong effect on physical deformity. Perhaps the nutritional and physical properties of food form a feedback loop in this regard, and then the more degenerated out mouths become, the more we seek out highly processed foods.

    Reply
  13. Shannon

    Well, I have to say I’ve been adding resistant starches into my diet since you started this dialogue and I have seen major improvements. But I also know (from experience) that a few weeks is not soon enough to go around crowing about them. If I’m still maintaining these results in a few months I’ll chime in though 🙂

    But I also have to say that while I personally am feeling the starch thing, there’s a bit of skepticism in my head too, just because I’ve been around the block a few times 😉

    Sure, a lot of people feel great adding them in to their diet. Now. Like you said, how many people feel great the first few years vegan? Or the first few years low carb? Or whatever?

    I’m not saying we all need to run back to SAD since most of us (vegan, paleo, whatever) found that didn’t work for us in the first place, so that’s *why* we’re searching. But I do wonder if maybe, after a few years on safe starches, various people will be saying oh, that wasn’t it, now you have to do *this*.

    Dang, I wish this were Star Trek and you could just point a medical tricorder at people and find the correct diet for *them* instead of all this flailing around, lol!

    But anyway, thanks Tom for starting all this. Your movie is what led me to paleo in the first place, which gave me *much* better results healthwise than the gluten-free SAD diet I was trying to stick to. And now the safe starches and resistant starches seem to be doing good. I’m feeling very hopeful this past week 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I’m reminded of the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper.” When his character wakes up in the future, a doctor tells him (among other things) that smoking is good for your lungs.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          There was a scene in the BBC series “Sherlock” in which Holmes is wearing three nicotine patches. When Watson asks why, Holmes declares “Because this a three-patch problem.” Not suggesting anyone try that, of course.

          Reply
          1. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone

            Yes, but that’s more to do with Sherlock’s addictive personality. He was a heroin addict in the books. The Sherlock pilot alluded to him being a hard core drug addict, but they toned it down to a smoking addition when the series when into production.

            Reply
            1. Elenor

              No, Sherlock Holmes was not a heroine addict: he *occasionally* used what we call ‘hard’ drugs (cocaine mainly) — and it was mentioned in only nine stories (2 directly, 7 obliquely) — out of 56 short stories and four novels!

              (Holmes does not fulfill all the criteria addiction and therefore he is not a drug addict.)

              *I*, however, am most certainly completely (hopelessly and happily) addicted to the Moffat-Gatis Sherlock series!! Regular indulger in multiple ‘hits’ of the episodes and behind the scenes ‘accessories’ to keep my serum levels as high as possible!

  14. DebbieC.

    I can’t wait to read Paul’s answers when they get posted. I’m a T2 diabetic who used LC to bring down my blood glucose numbers dramatically, but lately they have begun to rise again. After recent reading here and elsewhere I decided to give the resistant starch thing a try. I found the Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch right in my local Publix supermarket. I started out with 1 Tbsp with no issues, upped it to 2, and at first had some major fartage! LOL, but it went away and I have now upped to 4 Tbsp – two in the morning and two at night. My BG has come down dramatically in the last week. I’ve also been sleeping much better. I’m not ready to declare victory on that one. I’ve been a tossing-and-turning insomniac since I was a pre-teen, some 50 years! So a few days of decent sleep doesn’t quite a cure make, not yet at least.

    But so far I’m pretty encouraged with the resistant starch. I’ve tried a little bit of potato with the retrograde starch, and so far so good. I didn’t even reheat them, just ate them cold with a little pat of butter and some salt- and might make some potato salad too. No bad impact on BG, but I only ate a small amount – about three tiny potatoes a bit smaller than ping-pong balls. I just mix my RS in a glass of water now and swig it down – much easier than the beginning where I was trying to concoct smoothies to have it in. I have a copy of PHD from when it first came out a few years ago, and may have to give it a re-read. At the time I was very wary of starches in any form. But I’m always ready to change my mind. Or at least I hope I am! If someone were able to somehow “prove” that a vegan diet was the optimal one for life and health I can’t imagine I would ever change my mind enough to embrace it. I love me my animal products far too much. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Lori Miller

    One more thing if we’re going to be logically consistent: there are vegan programs that improve people’s health. However, those programs also involve things like smoking cessation, junk food cessation, meditation, and supplements. Yet people credit the lack of meat for their health improvement. Similarly, the PHD involves eating certain starches. However, it also involves junk food cessation, avoiding grains, sugar, legumes, and vegetable oils, limiting dairy and alcohol, and eating highly nutritious foods like oily fish, homemade broth, organ meats and eggs. It also seems to involve eating quite a few calories. Yet some people credit the starches.

    Simply eating more calories will perk up someone who’s cold and lethargic from restricting them. I keep hearing “adding back starches,” not “replacing meat and eggs with starches.” Removing or limiting potential irritants like dairy, grains and alcohol will help others feel better; adding the nutrients from oily fish, eggs, organs (such as liver) and broth might help as well.

    The PHD might also help people conserve salt and other minerals by taking them off a LC diet. (The body doesn’t hang on to water and salt as much on a LC diet. Hence the common advice to use salt if you’re LC and add some Mg and K when you start.)

    Re: Ash Simmonds’ comment of eating enough “freebies” to not be LC. Low-carb veg, eaten in sufficient quantity, can raise blood sugar. Dr. Richard Bernstein calls it the Chinese Restaurant Effect. He explains, “The upper part of the small intestine contains cells that release hormones into the bloodstream when they are stretched, as after a meal. These hormones signal the pancreas to produce some insulin to prevent the blood sugar rise that might otherwise follow the digestion of a meal….the pancreas simultaneously produces…glucagon….If you’re diabetic and deficient in producing insulin, you might not be able to release insulin, but you’ll still release glucagon, which will cause gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis [breaking down glycogen to make glucose] and thereby raise your blood sugar.” As I read it, diabetic or not, stuffing yourself with fibrous veg doesn’t give your body a rest from gluconeogenesis or producing insulin.

    If there are people who feel better with more carbohydrate in the diet, that’s fine. Being hypoglycemic, I know first hand that not everyone makes enough glucose to feel well. That said, If some critics keep coming back to “they weren’t doing it right,” it’s because 1) given conventional wisdom about dieting, it’s easy to do a LC diet wrong, and 2) who knows what some less-informed LC dieters are doing? It’s common to think that LC diets are all meat, that natural sugars don’t count, that portion sizes don’t count, that calories count a lot, that fat and salt are bad, and you can eat unlimited fruits and vegetables.

    Reply
  16. JD

    I was bored and going through some of your old posts and found this little snippet – “Since working full-time, taking on side projects, blogging, hanging out with the family and writing a book doesn’t keep me busy enough, I thought maybe I’d start a new web site called ExLowCarbers.com. The idea would be to “out” any traitors to the cause…Then, of course, the angry visitors find the traitors in cyberspace and shame them. I’ll even add the first listing myself: my buddy Richard Nikoley in California”

    Felt relevant to the point you were making here.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Ha, forgot all about that one. Yes, I was poking fun at a site that “outs” ex-vegans.

      Reply
  17. Lisa

    In my experience, “One size fits all” generally doesn’t fit most people very well. I think this discussion is very interesting, and I look forward to seeing how folks fare with the resistant starches. For myself, at the present time, I feel great on my personal “no starch, no sugar” diet. I don’t miss the rice or potatoes, so I am not planning to make any changes in my diet.

    Reply
  18. Peter W. Dunn

    I follow the diet devised by Richard K. Bernstein for diabetics because I see diabetes as essentially a disorder of carbohydrate intolerance. Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet would not work with Bernstein’s patients particularly those who have to inject insulin because of what Bernstein calls “the Law of Small Numbers”: he explains that to maintain glucose control one must maintain small numbers, since insulin has an unpredictable absorption rate and food labels are notoriously unreliable in indicating carbohydrate content: small amounts of insulin per injection and small amounts of carbohydrate in the diet–only then can one obtain a predictable glucose levels through insulin therapy.

    I don’t doubt that Jaminet needs a some carbohydrate. I have a friend who is hypoglycemic that says the same thing. This doesn’t mean that Jaminet’s prescriptions are right for everyone: how can there be a Perfect Health Diet? There are only diets that suit the health of individual people, and it takes years to perfect if, if indeed that can ever be achieved.

    For those of us in the world who have carbohydrate fatigue thanks to years on the Standard Western Diet, 100-150 gms of carbs is probably well in excess of what we can handle. Anyone who is both hypothyroidic and diabetic may have a difficult time balancing the need for carbohydrate and the intolerance thereof.

    Reply
  19. Dave L

    Had me some beef fajitas, rice, and beans the other night at Chili’s. I think that the beans were an unsafe starch because the next day I was pretty “unsafe” to be around. 😉

    That was my only meal of the day (which also included a side of corn chips and guacamole), but my restored metabolism from following a low(er) carb diet for the past couple of years has made it easy to skip breakfast and lunch most of the time. Really, it’s just about finding what works for you and allowing some degree of flexibility and experimentation. Frankly, I was stuffed from dinner and had no problem turning down the offer of dessert.

    Thank you, Paul Jaminet, for taking the time to be interviewed by Tom. One small point that I would like to add: I’ve been looking into Orofacial Myology and the work of Mike Mew. It’s another factor that may have some bearing on overall health in that the carbohydrate sources in the ancestral diet were not only more nutritious than the highly processed forms we generally have access to, but they were also harder to chew. To be honest, I’m a bit on the fence with that line of reasoning since humans have been cooking for a very long time, and of course Weston A Price indicated the nutritional deficiencies have a strong effect on physical deformity. Perhaps the nutritional and physical properties of food form a feedback loop in this regard, and then the more degenerated out mouths become, the more we seek out highly processed foods.

    Reply
  20. Shannon

    Well, I have to say I’ve been adding resistant starches into my diet since you started this dialogue and I have seen major improvements. But I also know (from experience) that a few weeks is not soon enough to go around crowing about them. If I’m still maintaining these results in a few months I’ll chime in though 🙂

    But I also have to say that while I personally am feeling the starch thing, there’s a bit of skepticism in my head too, just because I’ve been around the block a few times 😉

    Sure, a lot of people feel great adding them in to their diet. Now. Like you said, how many people feel great the first few years vegan? Or the first few years low carb? Or whatever?

    I’m not saying we all need to run back to SAD since most of us (vegan, paleo, whatever) found that didn’t work for us in the first place, so that’s *why* we’re searching. But I do wonder if maybe, after a few years on safe starches, various people will be saying oh, that wasn’t it, now you have to do *this*.

    Dang, I wish this were Star Trek and you could just point a medical tricorder at people and find the correct diet for *them* instead of all this flailing around, lol!

    But anyway, thanks Tom for starting all this. Your movie is what led me to paleo in the first place, which gave me *much* better results healthwise than the gluten-free SAD diet I was trying to stick to. And now the safe starches and resistant starches seem to be doing good. I’m feeling very hopeful this past week 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m reminded of the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper.” When his character wakes up in the future, a doctor tells him (among other things) that smoking is good for your lungs.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          There was a scene in the BBC series “Sherlock” in which Holmes is wearing three nicotine patches. When Watson asks why, Holmes declares “Because this a three-patch problem.” Not suggesting anyone try that, of course.

          Reply
          1. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone)

            Yes, but that’s more to do with Sherlock’s addictive personality. He was a heroin addict in the books. The Sherlock pilot alluded to him being a hard core drug addict, but they toned it down to a smoking addition when the series when into production.

            Reply
            1. Elenor

              No, Sherlock Holmes was not a heroine addict: he *occasionally* used what we call ‘hard’ drugs (cocaine mainly) — and it was mentioned in only nine stories (2 directly, 7 obliquely) — out of 56 short stories and four novels!

              (Holmes does not fulfill all the criteria addiction and therefore he is not a drug addict.)

              *I*, however, am most certainly completely (hopelessly and happily) addicted to the Moffat-Gatis Sherlock series!! Regular indulger in multiple ‘hits’ of the episodes and behind the scenes ‘accessories’ to keep my serum levels as high as possible!

  21. DebbieC.

    I can’t wait to read Paul’s answers when they get posted. I’m a T2 diabetic who used LC to bring down my blood glucose numbers dramatically, but lately they have begun to rise again. After recent reading here and elsewhere I decided to give the resistant starch thing a try. I found the Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch right in my local Publix supermarket. I started out with 1 Tbsp with no issues, upped it to 2, and at first had some major fartage! LOL, but it went away and I have now upped to 4 Tbsp – two in the morning and two at night. My BG has come down dramatically in the last week. I’ve also been sleeping much better. I’m not ready to declare victory on that one. I’ve been a tossing-and-turning insomniac since I was a pre-teen, some 50 years! So a few days of decent sleep doesn’t quite a cure make, not yet at least.

    But so far I’m pretty encouraged with the resistant starch. I’ve tried a little bit of potato with the retrograde starch, and so far so good. I didn’t even reheat them, just ate them cold with a little pat of butter and some salt- and might make some potato salad too. No bad impact on BG, but I only ate a small amount – about three tiny potatoes a bit smaller than ping-pong balls. I just mix my RS in a glass of water now and swig it down – much easier than the beginning where I was trying to concoct smoothies to have it in. I have a copy of PHD from when it first came out a few years ago, and may have to give it a re-read. At the time I was very wary of starches in any form. But I’m always ready to change my mind. Or at least I hope I am! If someone were able to somehow “prove” that a vegan diet was the optimal one for life and health I can’t imagine I would ever change my mind enough to embrace it. I love me my animal products far too much. 🙂

    Reply
  22. Pierre

    Tom,

    In the arctic regions, paleo people hunted animals and sea animals that contained glycogen in their meats, organs and fats.

    Are you sure that the glycogen survived long after death?

    Not sure why everyone is so religious about whatever diet they are following. It isn’t like we have this stuff figured out yet. We are early on the experimental stages of finding out what works. We know the grain based diet will kill us, and it is pretty obvious that sugar is no friend to our health…beyond that things get real hazy real quick. But so many people say this or that is THE way. Laughable.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I’m not absolutely sure, no, but I found this post by Richard Nikoley on the subject persuasive:

      http://freetheanimal.com/2014/04/indigenous-inhabiting-coldest.html

      Couple of key quotes:

      “Factory farms use electrical stimulation on beef carcasses to speed up this pre-rigor time period, because muscle that simply hangs in a slaughterhouse does not degrade its glycogen quickly enough for their chill rooms. The process of glycogen degradation is too slow for them. The truth is that glycogen depletion stops completely at -18ºC, which is hardly difficult to obtain in the arctic. Moreover, low temperatures in general slow the process over many days.”

      “Diving marine mammals have significant carbohydrate stores in their blubber, skin, organs, and to a lesser extent, their meat. Yep, most of the glycogen in diving marine mammals isn’t even found in their meat. It turns out that whales are particularly unique when it comes to their pre-rigor state and ability to preserve their glycogen.”

      Reply
  23. Pierre

    Tom,

    In the arctic regions, paleo people hunted animals and sea animals that contained glycogen in their meats, organs and fats.

    Are you sure that the glycogen survived long after death?

    Not sure why everyone is so religious about whatever diet they are following. It isn’t like we have this stuff figured out yet. We are early on the experimental stages of finding out what works. We know the grain based diet will kill us, and it is pretty obvious that sugar is no friend to our health…beyond that things get real hazy real quick. But so many people say this or that is THE way. Laughable.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m not absolutely sure, no, but I found this post by Richard Nikoley on the subject persuasive:

      http://freetheanimal.com/2014/04/indigenous-inhabiting-coldest.html

      Couple of key quotes:

      “Factory farms use electrical stimulation on beef carcasses to speed up this pre-rigor time period, because muscle that simply hangs in a slaughterhouse does not degrade its glycogen quickly enough for their chill rooms. The process of glycogen degradation is too slow for them. The truth is that glycogen depletion stops completely at -18ºC, which is hardly difficult to obtain in the arctic. Moreover, low temperatures in general slow the process over many days.”

      “Diving marine mammals have significant carbohydrate stores in their blubber, skin, organs, and to a lesser extent, their meat. Yep, most of the glycogen in diving marine mammals isn’t even found in their meat. It turns out that whales are particularly unique when it comes to their pre-rigor state and ability to preserve their glycogen.”

      Reply
  24. Scott

    I’ve always found it fascinating that we have a Gallbladder, which is a storage tank for Bile ( Bile emulsifies Fats ). The Liver makes Bile, so if someone has to have a Gallbladder removal, the body still produces Bile by the Liver. My thought is if we are not meant to eat Fat, then why have a ” storage tank ” meant to deal with it? If we were only meant to eat a limited amount then surely the Liver could handle it —Scott

    Reply
    1. Dave L

      In so far as I am aware, all mammals produce bile. In the true herbivores, however, there is no need for a concentrated release of bile, so the bile duct from the liver empties directly into the small intestine. In the true herbivore, digestion is generally a continuous process, whereas in carnivores, omnivores, and humans, digestion occurs sporadically. Yes, it is possible to live without a gall bladder, but it exists in modern humans because of natural selection.

      Reply
  25. Scott

    I’ve always found it fascinating that we have a Gallbladder, which is a storage tank for Bile ( Bile emulsifies Fats ). The Liver makes Bile, so if someone has to have a Gallbladder removal, the body still produces Bile by the Liver. My thought is if we are not meant to eat Fat, then why have a ” storage tank ” meant to deal with it? If we were only meant to eat a limited amount then surely the Liver could handle it —Scott

    Reply
    1. Dave L

      In so far as I am aware, all mammals produce bile. In the true herbivores, however, there is no need for a concentrated release of bile, so the bile duct from the liver empties directly into the small intestine. In the true herbivore, digestion is generally a continuous process, whereas in carnivores, omnivores, and humans, digestion occurs sporadically. Yes, it is possible to live without a gall bladder, but it exists in modern humans because of natural selection.

      Reply
  26. js290

    Observation vs Concept http://bit.ly/1lM3PFS

    Correct observation: vegetarians feel better after giving up meat.
    Incorrect concept: therefore meat is bad for you

    Perhaps the better abstraction is the correctly observed health benefits are due to protein moderation, not protein elimination.

    It may be useful to go through this type of exercise with other observations and concepts that’s currently being discussed.

    Reply
    1. more or less

      Possibly true , vegans give up most saturated fat and use whole plant foods that provide a good amount of resistant starch. Protein restriction isn’t going to do much for the messed up gut that the low carb can produce.

      Reply
      1. steve

        Saturated fat is not bad for health, it is good for health. Read the news from the recent few years, and avoid the old-school-AMA-Kellogg’s-governmental propoganda. Scientists, TIME magazine and other very mainstream respected publications, and a good number of highly respected MDs have all written about this truth – citing scientific studies proving it.

        Reply
  27. js290

    Observation vs Concept http://bit.ly/1lM3PFS

    Correct observation: vegetarians feel better after giving up meat.
    Incorrect concept: therefore meat is bad for you

    Perhaps the better abstraction is the correctly observed health benefits are due to protein moderation, not protein elimination.

    It may be useful to go through this type of exercise with other observations and concepts that’s currently being discussed.

    Reply
    1. more or less

      Possibly true , vegans give up most saturated fat and use whole plant foods that provide a good amount of resistant starch. Protein restriction isn’t going to do much for the messed up gut that the low carb can produce.

      Reply
      1. steve

        Saturated fat is not bad for health, it is good for health. Read the news from the recent few years, and avoid the old-school-AMA-Kellogg’s-governmental propoganda. Scientists, TIME magazine and other very mainstream respected publications, and a good number of highly respected MDs have all written about this truth – citing scientific studies proving it.

        Reply
  28. Troy Wynn

    We ate tubers and other plants along with meat and fat. Indeed, I believe we did. But do we know how much digestible carbohydrate was in the tubers and plant material? betcha it wasn’t much, not like today’s starches. Moreover, how was it prepared? Did preparation techniques change the digestible portion of the plant food?

    I think the Jaminet’s are on a good track, but need to get smart about how much digestible starch vs resistant starch our ancestor hunter’s ate.

    Are we more interested in supplying glucose or feeding gut bugs? We can make the glucose, but gut bugs need external food, so I seems to me we are more concerned about feeding the bugs.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      The Jaminets cite several methods by which the macronutrient content of ancient diets was determined, including examinations of the diets of surviving hunter-gatherer tribes and the isotope signatures of fossilized bones from Paleolithic-era skeltons.

      They’re interested in both supplying glucose and feeding gut bugs. In a hunter-gatherer diet, it wouldn’t have been an either/or by any means. They gathered roots and tubers and cooked them. Some of those roots and tubers cooled, providing both glucose and RS when eaten.

      Reply
  29. Troy Wynn

    We ate tubers and other plants along with meat and fat. Indeed, I believe we did. But do we know how much digestible carbohydrate was in the tubers and plant material? betcha it wasn’t much, not like today’s starches. Moreover, how was it prepared? Did preparation techniques change the digestible portion of the plant food?

    I think the Jaminet’s are on a good track, but need to get smart about how much digestible starch vs resistant starch our ancestor hunter’s ate.

    Are we more interested in supplying glucose or feeding gut bugs? We can make the glucose, but gut bugs need external food, so I seems to me we are more concerned about feeding the bugs.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The Jaminets cite several methods by which the macronutrient content of ancient diets was determined, including examinations of the diets of surviving hunter-gatherer tribes and the isotope signatures of fossilized bones from Paleolithic-era skeltons.

      They’re interested in both supplying glucose and feeding gut bugs. In a hunter-gatherer diet, it wouldn’t have been an either/or by any means. They gathered roots and tubers and cooked them. Some of those roots and tubers cooled, providing both glucose and RS when eaten.

      Reply
  30. Patti

    These conversations are very (underline, bold) helpful as I travel through different my dietary experiments. As I recall my dietary history it includes my very first diet with Weight Watchers. Then I moved into low carb, then vegetarian, vegan, back to low carb, then back to eat whatever I wanted. Recently it was low carb to keto, and now after a year and 1/2 of low carb to keto, the sight and smell of meat and fat makes me want to… so I am back to vegetarian waiting until my aversion to meat/fat subsides.

    What this is revealing to me (personally) is possibly my body naturally wants to cycle between micronutrients, and I should just get out my way and allow it to happen. Or, just stop with the diet rules and move on to just living until we actually thoroughly understand nutrition so I can stop feeling guilty about what I eat or don’t eat.

    Thanks for yet another insightful post.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      You actually sound like a walking example of what Jaminet describes in the book: people go on extreme diets that provide some nutrients they were previously missing, but eventually lead to deficiencies in other nutrients. So they end up feeling great on a new diet, then not so so great, and move on to yet another diet. PHD is designed to avoid that — I can’t swear that it works, but you may want to pick up the book and give it a try.

      Reply
  31. Patti

    These conversations are very (underline, bold) helpful as I travel through different my dietary experiments. As I recall my dietary history it includes my very first diet with Weight Watchers. Then I moved into low carb, then vegetarian, vegan, back to low carb, then back to eat whatever I wanted. Recently it was low carb to keto, and now after a year and 1/2 of low carb to keto, the sight and smell of meat and fat makes me want to… so I am back to vegetarian waiting until my aversion to meat/fat subsides.

    What this is revealing to me (personally) is possibly my body naturally wants to cycle between micronutrients, and I should just get out my way and allow it to happen. Or, just stop with the diet rules and move on to just living until we actually thoroughly understand nutrition so I can stop feeling guilty about what I eat or don’t eat.

    Thanks for yet another insightful post.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      You actually sound like a walking example of what Jaminet describes in the book: people go on extreme diets that provide some nutrients they were previously missing, but eventually lead to deficiencies in other nutrients. So they end up feeling great on a new diet, then not so so great, and move on to yet another diet. PHD is designed to avoid that — I can’t swear that it works, but you may want to pick up the book and give it a try.

      Reply
  32. Alex

    “– plus about 4 million Daltons of sugar…”

    This is why I cannot take any of this that seriously. Even 4 million Daltons of sugar (glucose) equates to such a fractional number in absolute mass (6.6421608e-18g). That’s 6.64215568692e-9 nanograms or 0.00000664215568692 picograms.

    Is he really saying that of all the endogenous glucose the body is able to make (especially when long-term LC and/or keto-adapted) there is not enough to spare to provide these tiny amounts?

    And as of August 18, 2012 Dr Rosedale actually said:
    “The ‘safe starch’ debate boils down to whether it is better to eat the requisite glucose, or let the body make it when necessary. I believe strongly in the latter. We can never know exactly how much and when we will need extra glucose depending on environmental circumstances.

    Furthermore, when you eat the glucose, there are different effects than if your liver made it, namely it circulates for hours and leads to a spike in insulin and leptin, that circulates for hours, that over time will contribute to insulin and leptin resistance…that ultimately contributes to metabolic chaos and resulting chronic diseases of aging including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, cancer, and others.

    I have long summarized health by the ability to burn fat… or not.

    Eating glucose i.e. “safe starches” will spike insulin and will, at least temporarily, prevent one from burning fat…anyone.. a worm, a mouse or any human. It will raise leptin and will remove one from the healthy calorie restriction phenotype.”

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      That’s all fine in theory and may even be true for most people. But again, when people who remove all glucose from their diets experience health problems that go away when they start consuming glucose again — as has been reported by waaaay too many people to be a mass nocebo hallucination — then the conclusion is that those people are better off eating a potato instead of spending months or years trying to figure out which magic amino acid is missing.

      See PJ’s comment. That’s not an isolated example. Chris Kresser reported similar effects among his patients.

      If Rosedale is concerned about glucose circulating for hours, then it ought to concern him that some people on VLC wake up with glucose levels of 130. I checked my glucose reaction to a potato with dinner. I peaked at 126 and was at 90 an hour later. So what’s the problem there? That doesn’t sound like a case of glucose circulating for hours and doing all kinds of damage in the process.

      Each protein weighing 600,000 Daltons individually, so 1.2 million Daltons for the pair – plus about 4 million Daltons of sugar, for a total mass of 5 million Daltons.

      Sounds to me as if he’s citing the figures for a pair of proteins, not the entire digestive system. Nor is he saying mucous in the digestive system accounts for the sum total of our glucose requirements. If we only needed a miniscule amount of glucose each day, our bodies wouldn’t raid our muscles for protein to convert to glucose if we’re fasting or not consuming enough protein/glucose combined.

      Given that we do have a daily glucose requirement, this really comes down to one simple question: Are you convinced that absolutely everyone on a VLC diet can produce enough glucose via gluconeogenesis to provide the required glucose in perpetuity? Are you convinced that nobody — absolutely nobody — will end up deficient in glucose and would therefore be better off eating that potato?

      Sounds to me as if that’s what you want to believe.

      Reply
  33. Alex

    “– plus about 4 million Daltons of sugar…”

    This is why I cannot take any of this that seriously. Even 4 million Daltons of sugar (glucose) equates to such a fractional number in absolute mass (6.6421608e-18g). That’s 6.64215568692e-9 nanograms or 0.00000664215568692 picograms.

    Is he really saying that of all the endogenous glucose the body is able to make (especially when long-term LC and/or keto-adapted) there is not enough to spare to provide these tiny amounts?

    And as of August 18, 2012 Dr Rosedale actually said:
    “The ‘safe starch’ debate boils down to whether it is better to eat the requisite glucose, or let the body make it when necessary. I believe strongly in the latter. We can never know exactly how much and when we will need extra glucose depending on environmental circumstances.

    Furthermore, when you eat the glucose, there are different effects than if your liver made it, namely it circulates for hours and leads to a spike in insulin and leptin, that circulates for hours, that over time will contribute to insulin and leptin resistance…that ultimately contributes to metabolic chaos and resulting chronic diseases of aging including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, cancer, and others.

    I have long summarized health by the ability to burn fat… or not.

    Eating glucose i.e. “safe starches” will spike insulin and will, at least temporarily, prevent one from burning fat…anyone.. a worm, a mouse or any human. It will raise leptin and will remove one from the healthy calorie restriction phenotype.”

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s all fine in theory and may even be true for most people. But again, when people who remove all glucose from their diets experience health problems that go away when they start consuming glucose again — as has been reported by waaaay too many people to be a mass nocebo hallucination — then the conclusion is that those people are better off eating a potato instead of spending months or years trying to figure out which magic amino acid is missing.

      See PJ’s comment. That’s not an isolated example. Chris Kresser reported similar effects among his patients.

      If Rosedale is concerned about glucose circulating for hours, then it ought to concern him that some people on VLC wake up with glucose levels of 130. I checked my glucose reaction to a potato with dinner. I peaked at 126 and was at 90 an hour later. So what’s the problem there? That doesn’t sound like a case of glucose circulating for hours and doing all kinds of damage in the process.

      Each protein weighing 600,000 Daltons individually, so 1.2 million Daltons for the pair – plus about 4 million Daltons of sugar, for a total mass of 5 million Daltons.

      Sounds to me as if he’s citing the figures for a pair of proteins, not the entire digestive system. Nor is he saying mucous in the digestive system accounts for the sum total of our glucose requirements. If we only needed a miniscule amount of glucose each day, our bodies wouldn’t raid our muscles for protein to convert to glucose if we’re fasting or not consuming enough protein/glucose combined.

      Given that we do have a daily glucose requirement, this really comes down to one simple question: Are you convinced that absolutely everyone on a VLC diet can produce enough glucose via gluconeogenesis to provide the required glucose in perpetuity? Are you convinced that nobody — absolutely nobody — will end up deficient in glucose and would therefore be better off eating that potato?

      Sounds to me as if that’s what you want to believe.

      Reply
      1. Alex

        Belief has nothing to do with it.

        The only people who probably would not produce enough glucose via gluconeogenesis are those who have a genetic fault that inhibits the function of that particular metabolic pathway. In which case, it is not the diet that is at fault but the genes. For them a LC/VLC/ketogenic diet may not be the best choice.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          So the answer to my question is yes, you believe absolutely everyone ought to be able to produce enough glucose in perpetuity without ever consuming any. Those who can’t have a metabolic defect. Since almost no human cultures subsisted on a diet that didn’t include some starchy plants, I wouldn’t consider that a defect. I would consider it the result of evolution. There was no need to adapt genetically to a lifelong diet that none of your ancestors lived on for their entire lives. Few of us are descended from Inuits.

          Reply
          1. Alex

            Well, until I see some convincing evidence to the contrary, I would consider that a scientific axiom (in the classical, not modern, sense!):

            “As classically conceived, an axiom is a premise so evident as to be accepted as true without controversy. The word comes from the Greek ἀξίωμα (āxīoma) ‘that which is thought worthy or fit’ or ‘that which commends itself as evident.'”

            Going back to Jaminet’s argument about the glycoproteins lining the gut…even if his 4 million Daltons figure is for one pair and not the entire digestive tract, you would need to multiply the absolute mass figure of 0.00000664215568692 picograms by a factor of 150,554 to get one picogram and there are a trillion picograms in a single gram. So just one gram of endogenously produced glucose could furnish the sugar for 150,554 trillion pairs of mucin proteins! Does Jaminet actually specify how many pairs of these glycoproteins are present in the entire gut of the average human?

            Without that information it is impossible to make a fair and accurate assessment of the applicability of importance of his finding!

            Reply
            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              Once again, he isn’t saying the gut accounts for our entire biological need for glucose. Classical or modern axiom, it’s self-evident that our bodies require some glucose for basic biological functions, which is why they’ll produce glucose even if we don’t consume any. Jaminet’s belief is that not everyone is capable of producing sufficient glucose in perpetuity on a VLC diet.

            2. Alex

              Well it doesn’t surprise me if he cannot quote exact figures. My own quick online researches seems to indicate that no one knows precisely how much mucous we secrete per day and it can vary widely from individual to individual and depend on other factors such as health etc. (if you are fighting off an infection or have a allergy you might produce more mucous than usual).

              However, where any figures are quoted, it seems total mucous production (that is as tears, saliva, or from gut and other mucous membranes throughout the body) can be anywhere from 0.75 to 1.5 litres per day. Of this anywhere between 0.5% and 5% will comprise glycoproteins, depending on whether it is from tears, saliva or other forms of mucous.

              So, being generous, 5% of 1.5 litres is 75 millilitres and in grams (just taking the water into consideration for the conversion), that is 75g of glycoproteins (wet weight!). If less than half of those glycoproteins are sugar (as per Jaminet’s example), then that is less than 37.5g of sugar needed for all daily mucus production.

              As I said I was being generous in those calculations and conversions. I am willing to bet it would be quite a bit less than that!

              The problem I have with the way Jaminet has presented the ‘evidence’ for his assertions is that it is misleading and disingenuous to cite ‘Daltons’ in much the same way as vegetarians will cite calories when comparing the nutrient density of plant-based versus animal-based foods. For example, they will often say that 200 kcals of spinach has more of nutrients x,y and z than 200 kcals of beef steak but conveniently forget that animal foods tend to be both nutritionally and calorically dense whereas plant foods are largely water and non-nutritive fibre. When you work it out based weight, they are comparing a few grams of meat to kilograms of salad! No one is going to sit down to several bowlfuls of spinach when they could get the equivalent dose of nutrients (and more) from a few ounces of beef steak!

              In the case of Daltons, they are the SI unit of measurement for molecular weight and one Dalton is equivalent to one twelfth of an atom of carbon 12 at rest. And as we have seen this, in terms most people understand, is a fractionally tiny percentage of one gram.

            3. Tom Naughton Post author

              So to sum up, you are still absolutely, positively convinced (with math to bolster your case) that nobody on a VLC diet would ever suffer from a glucose deficiency, and therefore nobody would ever become healthier by adding some small servings of starch back into to the diet. Correct? Because unless I’m misinterpreting, that’s the point you keep trying to argue.

            4. Alex

              Yes, sorry. Unless there is a genetic flaw that interferes with the optimum function of the ‘gluconeogenetic’ metabolic pathway, then the majority of people should produce sufficient endogenous glucose to meet all basic metabolic needs.

              Plenty of studies presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals have shown that even those not consuming LC or ketogenic diets can synthesise around 120g of glucose per day (this usually being the amount needed principally by the brain).

              People who have adapted to a LC, VLC or ketogenic diet probably synthesise more. The latter will have at least 75% of their brain’s need for glucose replaced by ketones. This leaves at least 30g spare for other needs, such as glycoprotein production. As demonstrated in my last reply, this is probably more than enough considering I erred on the high side in my calculations.

              Also bear in mind that even on a ketogenic diet, most people will be eating a minimum 20g, VLCers around 30g and LCers up to around 50g of dietary carbs per day.

              In most cases that will be what I call ‘tag along’ carbs in foods not usually associated with being carby foods (like potatoes or rice), especially if you consume dairy. It is almost impossible to eat a perpetual zero carb diet.

            5. Tom Naughton Post author

              No apology required. Just wanted you to clarify what you believe. But you specified that a majority of people ought to be able to produce enough glucose in perpetuity through gluceoneogenesis, not all people. So could we interpret that to mean you also accept that some people can’t and would therefore be better off with something like PHD?

            6. Alex Thorn

              In that PHD seeks to eliminate modern, highly processed ‘junk foods’ from the diet, it is going to be an improvement on almost any standard western diet but I do not believe that is because it allows ‘safe starches’.

              If we are being logically consistent, then we also have to entertain the possibility that the notion that long-term LC diets uniquely cause thyroid issues is akin to the notion that familial hypercholesterolaemia carries with it a greater risk of developing CVD: they are both ‘self-selecting’ samples.

              There may be many FH ‘sufferers’ who are oblivious to this fact of their genetics (because they have never had a serum cholesterol test) and have lived long lives without developing CVD. On the other hand, people may present with symptoms of CVD and discover their FH status following the tests they receive.

              Automatically, anyone with a medical diagnosis of FH will seem to have a greater risk of CVD.

              I think this is what we are seeing with the whole LC/thyroid issue: the people who have been on an LC diet and suffered what they perceive (or has been diagnosed as a thyroid issue) are making the most noise. There may be many more long-term LCers (such as myself) who have not experienced any of these symptoms including dry eyes and hair loss who don’t make so much ‘noise’ on internet forums and thus give a misleading impression of ’cause and effect’ let alone a strong ‘association’!

              Lastly, consider this: How many people, in the world at large, suffer these same issues (thyroid dysfunction, dry eyes, digestive issues, thinning hair/Hair loss, etc.) and do not eat a low carb diet?

              If their typical diet includes things like rice, potatoes and all the other safe and resistant starches Jaminet and others keep banging on about, what cause these symptoms in them?

              It can’t be a lack of glucose due to the absence of safe starches in their diet!

            7. Tom Naughton Post author

              No one is suggesting long-term VLC is the only cause of thyroid issues, but it clearly can be a cause. Even Dr. Rosedale acknowledges the change in thyroid function — the difference is that he insists it’s a healthy adaptation. In her “Death by Food Pyramid” book, Denise Minger also points out that far-northern tribes with little access to starchy foods made a point to feast on the thyroid glands of the large animals they killed, and that this was considered especially important among women who wanted to become pregnant. In other words, they were giving themselves thyroid treatments.

              Chris Kresser noted that he’s seen people who were otherwise healthy but went on VLC diets because they’d become convinced all carbs are bad end up with thyroid problems that went away when they started consuming a bit of starch. So you can keep searching for complicated reasons it simply MUST be something other than a lack of glucose in the diet, but I think the simple explanation is correct. People whose ancestors never lived on a lifelong VLC diet may not be genetically equipped to do so. So they stop eating glucose and end up with a glucose deficiency when chronic gluconeogenesis isn’t up to the task month in and month out.

            8. Alex

              I’ll bow out of this by saying I agree with Dr Rosedale: any adaptation of thyroid function on a low carb diet is a healthy one and no doubt reflects the ‘evolutionary default’.

              My only concern and argument is that ‘safe starches’ are being promoted as a healthful necessity backed by scaremongering rather than a simple (and truthful/factual) admission that some people cannot enjoy their food unless it contains spuds and rice!

            9. Tom Naughton Post author

              We’ll agree to disagree. I don’t see why the evolutionary default would be a diet that none of your ancestors ever lived on for their entire lives. I also doubt the people who felt cold and were losing their hair on a VLC diet would consider that a healthy adaptation.

              I’m not saying everyone needs a bit of starch in the diet to be healthy. Some people will be better off consuming safe starches, some will be worse off, and some won’t see any difference. There simply is no diet that’s ideal for everyone.

            10. PJ (RightNOW)

              I don’t see why glucose deficiency is the only option though. I mean with all the hype about the gut biome lately, and how (for some more than others) keto lowcarb tends to wipe out most starch/fiber, and given it’s said the gut actually creates vitamins, hormones, and more, couldn’t the thyroid results of some people on keto diets come from changes in the gut, and not necessarily from glucose deficiency?

              I might add (as a sort of devil’s argument with myself) that when VLC quit working for me, given the various symptoms, I actually believed (no science evidence) that my body “simply couldn’t make enough ketones to support my bodyweight anymore.” That is truly what it seemed like. And I guess “when chronic gluconeogenesis isn’t up to the task” sounds exactly like that.

              Still, it seems like that’s only one option, possibly of many, for the ‘crash’ results people like me got from VLC.

              And I suspect long-term malnutrition going in didn’t help. That may be the reality for most people, and so a fair issue with VLC in our culture, but still that’s an issue with something that isn’t technically the VLC part.

  34. bill

    Keep in mind some think that damage might
    be caused by too much circulating insulin.

    Do we have a way to directly measure insulin in the blood, as
    we do glucose? Maybe resistant starch causes an
    increase in insulin without the concomitant rise in
    blood glucose. After all, insulin can be spiked by
    many things including just thinking about food.

    It seems unreasonable to have to be so fastidious
    about preparing the items to be mostly resistant
    starch and not just regular starch. If you do it
    wrong you get dangerous increases in blood
    glucose and the proponents of RS say, “see,
    you’re doing it wrong.”

    Seems there’s not much science on the RS front yet.

    Reply
  35. bill

    Keep in mind some think that damage might
    be caused by too much circulating insulin.

    Do we have a way to directly measure insulin in the blood, as
    we do glucose? Maybe resistant starch causes an
    increase in insulin without the concomitant rise in
    blood glucose. After all, insulin can be spiked by
    many things including just thinking about food.

    It seems unreasonable to have to be so fastidious
    about preparing the items to be mostly resistant
    starch and not just regular starch. If you do it
    wrong you get dangerous increases in blood
    glucose and the proponents of RS say, “see,
    you’re doing it wrong.”

    Seems there’s not much science on the RS front yet.

    Reply
  36. John Talley

    After reading several articles on RS, I took the plunge.

    I am pre-diabetic and have been very successful controlling my blood sugar and HA1c through carb restrictive eating. I started consuming 2 tbs. of unmodified potato starch mixed with cold water at breakfast and dinner each day. Immediately my readings began to jump and with each passing day they became more and more volatile. Over seven days my average reading was up 23 points and I saw spikes that I have never seen. Readings in the 160s and I had never been over 140 two hours post meal before trying RS. I also saw my waking reading go from an average of 123 to over 150.

    I have no idea if my BG would have come down and stabilized if I had continued the experiment but after seeing my results following seven days, I pulled the plug. It took almost another full week for my numbers to return to normal and re-stabilize.

    I may be one of those who genetically cannot handle RS or it may be a theory that needs a lot more investigation before risking one’s health on it.

    Just my two cents.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I’d stop taking it if my BG jumped like that too. At some point after you’ve stabilized, you might try supplementing with probiotics and giving it another shot, just in case you’re having those reactions because you don’t have the gut bacteria to digest the RS.

      Reply
  37. John Talley

    After reading several articles on RS, I took the plunge.

    I am pre-diabetic and have been very successful controlling my blood sugar and HA1c through carb restrictive eating. I started consuming 2 tbs. of unmodified potato starch mixed with cold water at breakfast and dinner each day. Immediately my readings began to jump and with each passing day they became more and more volatile. Over seven days my average reading was up 23 points and I saw spikes that I have never seen. Readings in the 160s and I had never been over 140 two hours post meal before trying RS. I also saw my waking reading go from an average of 123 to over 150.

    I have no idea if my BG would have come down and stabilized if I had continued the experiment but after seeing my results following seven days, I pulled the plug. It took almost another full week for my numbers to return to normal and re-stabilize.

    I may be one of those who genetically cannot handle RS or it may be a theory that needs a lot more investigation before risking one’s health on it.

    Just my two cents.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’d stop taking it if my BG jumped like that too. At some point after you’ve stabilized, you might try supplementing with probiotics and giving it another shot, just in case you’re having those reactions because you don’t have the gut bacteria to digest the RS.

      Reply
  38. Stefan

    Hi Tom,
    By accident I just saw this one in the egg yolk section:

    “But if your force your body to produce all the cholesterol…”

    .. And since you’ve been hot on spelling lately… 🙂

    Cheers
    Stefan

    Reply
  39. Stefan

    Hi Tom,
    By accident I just saw this one in the egg yolk section:

    “But if your force your body to produce all the cholesterol…”

    .. And since you’ve been hot on spelling lately… 🙂

    Cheers
    Stefan

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Thanks, it’s fixed now. I’m an excellent speller, but often a fat-fingered typist.

      Reply

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