Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ancestral Diet Dishonesty ~ AHS14 Edition ~ Derectumfying Paleoism ~ Part I

This post has been a long time in coming.  Bits and pieces have been in the draft since long before the Ancestral Health Symposium this past August even took place.  The abstracts and bios had been online for quite some time prior, so I had a pretty good idea of what was to transpire.  Indeed, I had intended to blog on this before AHS14 just to "compare notes" after all was said and done and had done quite a bit of research.

For an organization and event containing the words "ancestral health", the program in general seemed lacking in relevant material.  Paleo was a less often heard term this year, yet it was sadly not replaced by discussions of more recent and/or definable ancestral diets.  You know ... those that promoted health up until, in many cases, the 20th century and beyond?  

The nods to discussion of the lifestyles of ancestral cultures were clustered together on Day Two of the symposium, all of the shorter 20 minute variety, there along the right side of my screen shot at right. This was announced around the time I had been reviewing The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, wherein she misrepresented the traditional diets of just about everyone she discussed in her book.  But most prominently, were the diets of those indigenous to North America whom she described as subsisting practically entirely on buffalo meat from sea to shining sea.  I was also deep into researching the truth about Ancel Keys, prompted by the hatchet job done on him at the hands of Teicholz.  Thus, the second two presentations caught my eye.  They will be the focus of this post, but I'll include all four in summary, for reasons that should become clear.  (Each heading to follow links directly to the YouTube video, the abstracts and bios are from the preceding AHS14 program link.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Perfect Health Diet Evolving??

Note:  Some of the graphics I'm going to use in this post aren't great, but I don't think I need make much comment as to the changing picture of the so-called Perfect Health Diet.  

Paul Jaminet has called his diet the most scientifically sound version of the paleo diet (small caps).  In his tribute to Seth Roberts, Paul wrote:
The weaknesses of Seth’s approach to science show up best, I think, in how he ate. Although he considered ours the “sanest” diet book, he didn’t eat our diet. He prized his own experimental results above all else. If an experiment persuaded him that eating something would improve his health, he ate it.
To my mind, this led him on a somewhat fanciful peregrination through dietary parameter space. His approach risked two pitfalls:
  • ...
  • ...  most modern health problems take 60 years to develop. So there was no way for Seth to directly appraise whether his diet would generate good health or poor health; ...
It is because of these two problems that our book, Perfect Health Diet, rejected experimental approaches to dietary science, and relied upon novel approaches grounded in evolutionary biology, and molecular and cellular biology.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Second Law of Thermodynamics in Humans: For Heat's Sake!

On the urgings of a few commenters here on the blog, and even more recently, by Don't-Call-Him-John (Kiefer), I've found myself reading Biological Thermodynamics by Donald Haynie (2nd edition).  [It's #1 on this Amazon Search page, just for context that there are others out there.]

After reading large chunks of the book -- had a lot of time on my hands without internet access these past couple of weeks -- it has become even more clear as to where some of the biggest misconceptions about thermodynamics in this community come from.  It is not that Haynie is incorrect, however.  There are many statements in the book that read as "off", but on second or third pass through are technically accurate provided one is using his definitions in proper context*.  It is more that his book is so filled with examples that lack relevance to biological contexts as to cloud the picture.  What results is that although somewhere in the text all the relevant "prerequisites" are stated, the final statements almost beg to be taken out of context!!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Smash the Fat Calorie Debate!

Edited and Updated post recording ;-)

Well, we didn't get to chat as much about calories per se as I'd thought, but it was a nice discussion nonetheless, I believe.  

Sam is a good sport even though he knows I've been critical of his calorie experiments and even encouraged folks to come check out these posts:  That 5000 Calorie Jokesperiment and Low Carb Circus Acts, for example.    In some ways I'm frustrated a bit because Sam's schtick is objectively of the calories don't count variety.  Further, his first experiment was specifically about not gaining weight overeating a low carb diet, so there's a bit of evasive maneuvering going on IMO.  However he is not alone in this -- Exhibit A being Jonathan Bailor -- in dialing it back when discussing it with a critic.  So of course calories count, and I'm not sure how well I articulated it (note to self:  don't schedule morning interviews just in case you are on crap sleep!!) but I do think I made some inroads on the idea of the biochem being the same in all people.  

Some things I mentioned in the interview (I may add more and pin the comment to the top of the list rather than edit in as that seems to revert links to opening in the same window unless I manually change it.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kill the Guru Podcast

I'm way behind the ball with this announcement, as the airing of the podcast came at a bad time with my current family member situation.

I was on Kill The Guru (Lucky) Episode 13.  

We taped in late August and was "aired" last week.  Hope you enjoy!

The entire interview ended up being something like 150 minutes though we had a couple of interruptions.  Still, way too long for a usual podcast so there are some big chunks that were left on the cutting room floor.  As it is the podcast is around 80 min long!  We talked carbs/insulin/Taubes, ancestral diets, low carb rebound, sugar addiction, etc.  I've made a lot of friends in the UK training realm over the past year or so and the carbophobia is quite a bit more extensive there than here in the US (as we discuss).

James Kahan has been gracious enough to provide me with the uncut stuff with permission to share at will.  So I will likely do so as "out takes" as time goes by on my YouTube channel.  When that happens, I'll probably bump this post and add an announcement.

A note on the audio:  James' track was recorded off speakers so has me in it as well (and it's slightly off sync).  It's also not as loud as my track speaking into a headset mic.  A lot of his track was silenced except when he is actually speaking, so when he is my echo comes back too ;-)  Sorry about that!!  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Disqus and moderation

Just a quick note.  I switched to Disqus quite a long while ago now due to Blogger's utterly inadequate moderation options.  I do have link moderation on.  I also have moderation on for first time commenters.  I try and "whitelist" people rapidly, as a goal of switching to this comment platform was to keep the discussion going even if I wasn't around to participate.  I think this has worked well on the whole.

Danged if I know why some whitelisters still have posts with links held up and some don't.  This appears quite random on my end.  But there are quite a few who simply escaped my notice to be whitelisted, and to those I do apologize.  

If your comments do not seem to appear or seem to always go to moderation and you think this is an error, it probably is.  Let me know in comments or via email (carbsane at gmail dot com) so I can fix that!      


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mechanical Work, ATP, and Macronutrients (and Thermodynamics)

[Blogstress note:  this article is not similar to that in AARR recently mentioned here] 

In the background here I've been doing a lot of thinking and writing on thermodynamics and how the body uses food to produce internal energy to "do stuff".    In the end, we "burn" the macronutrient molecules in our food to release the chemical energy stored in those molecules, and ultimately we use that energy to do "work".  

I've said we can mostly ignore entropy in the context of the human body, but in chemical thermodynamics we have the concept of Gibbs free energy:  G.   Most importantly in chemistry, we are concerned with the change in free energy of reactions:

ΔGrxn  ΔHrxn  - TΔSrxn

ΔHrxn = change in enthalpy (energy)    ΔSrxn = change in entropy 
ΔGrxn = change in free energy

Free energy is the energy available to do work.  For example to move things such as the piston in an engine, an electron through a wire, or to move an ion from one side of a cell membrane to another.   In the human body, we are ultimately using energy derived from molecules in our food to support life by "powering" other chemical reactions (synthesis, etc.), and things like moving food through our digestive tract, generating nerve impulses, and moving our body parts to sit, stand, walk, run, etc.etc.  A sticking point for a lot of people with thermodynamics relates specifically to the context in which most first learn about entropy:  the combustion engine.   [You are invited to read some of my other posts on thermodynamics here: Of Thermodynamics, Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry,  Of Thermodynamics, Complexity, Closed Systems & Equilibrium and A Fein(man), Fine Mess of Thermodynamics.]   In the human body, most of the "work" done directly by the chemical energy is electrochemical in nature.  Still, eventually we do somehow translate that into physical movement, aka mechanical work.

Some analogies can be drawn between a combustion engine and our electrochemical "engine", but others cannot.  A major distinction is that in the combustion engine, all of the chemical potential energy is released as heat, which creates pressure due to the gasseous products wanting to expand.  This pressure (force) acting on the piston moves it, thereby performing mechanical work.   In the human engine, the macromolecules are broken down and mostly converge at the point of a molecule called acetyl-CoA after which point the rest of the chemical "workings" of the engine are the same regardless of the original fuel source.  

In All Roads Lead Through Krebs, I included the graphic at right from Marks' Basic Medical Biochemistry.   This is the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle or Krebs Cycle, and I've copied it here for reference.  Please refer to the post for other ways that some amino acids enter this cycle.  

Molecules often referred to as "reducing equivalents" (NADH, FADH2) are generated in this cycle, and these, along with reducing equivalents generated in fatty acid oxidation and glycolysis, are "fed into" what is called the Electron Transport Chain, or ETC.   Whatever chemical energy that is lost as heat along the way has already been lost at this point, so we are dealing with a predictable number of these reducing equivalents per acetyl-CoA entering the TCA/Krebs.  Unless you are a small animal such as a rodent, the ultimate outcome of the ETC is to use the electrochemical energy to power the phosphorylation of ADP to ATP.  In times when heat is needed, this process is diverted or "uncoupled" from ATP generation, but that is a topic for another day.

Moving Off the Grid ~ (analogy time again)

Let's say you want to move away from civilization and rely solely on energy you can harness on your property.  You find an ideal location with a strong running stream, frequent bursts of wind, and an open field.  Oh ... and you decide that rather than use powered exercise equipment you're going to harness the energy from those as well.  Only you hate cardio and learn that Tony Little has moved to the 100 acres next door, so you invite him to come over and use your Gazelle.

All of these are hooked up to a giant battery in your basement and everything in your home is run off of this Main Battery:  heat, light, appliances, etc.  [Note: this configuration is for the purposes of an analogy only.] So the water wheel basically charges the battery continually, the wind energy in short random intervals and the solar panel in cyclic daily fashion.  Tony, well, he just adds a little extra to make him feel good :-)    When you turn on your light bulb, it will illuminate if there is enough charge in your Main Battery.  Whatever wattage your bulb is will determine how much energy it drains from the battery over the time that it is used.  If you are using an inefficient old incandescent bulb to light your room, it drains more of the battery and gives off heat.  If you are using an energy efficient LED, it provides the same light while draining less energy and giving off virtually no heat.  
The light bulb draws energy from the Main Battery. It needs a certain amount to be illuminated.  Your light bulb doesn't care where the energy stored in the battery came from. 
The Main Battery provides energy based on the "load" that is placed on it.  Your battery doesn't care what it supplies energy for, or how efficiently that device uses the energy.

Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) ~ Your Main Battery

More than two thirds of all ATP generated is produced through the TCA/Krebs Cycle. The vast majority of cellular activities is powered directly by ATP. It would be fair to say that ATP is the equivalent of the "free energy available to do work".  It is also true that all ATP are alike regardless of where they came from. Therefore, from the point of ATP forward, all ATP-powered "work" and the thermodynamics, the energetics, whether or not entropy losses are involved, etc., all of it is the same. 

ATP is like the Main Battery in the previous example, only there is no central depot for this internal energy supply, but rather it is contained locally "on site" of every cell. I suppose an analogy could be made for our house that rather than a main battery, there would be some battery network at every socket or directly in the appliances and such. I don't think this is necessary to elaborate, however, in order to draw the following corollaries to the above arguments:
Walking requires ATP to do the mechanical work of muscle contraction. A certain amount of ATP is needed to produce the necessary muscle contractions, etc. The  muscle cells involved just use ATP and can't distinguish where it came from.
The amount of ATP required to perform a task is based on the "activity load" (speed, incline, etc.).   Each ATP provides the same amount of energy regardless of what activity it is fueling.  
So perhaps the water wheel is analogous to fatty acids continually cycling in your blood.  And perhaps the windmill is analogous to carbohydrates and the solar panel to amino acids.  Tony?  Why he's alcohol of course!  Pops by to add some energy during the week, perhaps he comes by more than once a day on the weekend.  :-)     

Dat Entropy ...

I recorded and put three short animations/tutorials available online here (Chapter 10) that shows how muscles contract and the role of ATP.  Direct link to my video.

Towards the end of the video when the ATP is attached to the myosin head, is broken down to ADP+P and transfers energy to the myosin head, and the subsequent movement that would be mechanical work is the "equivalent" of the expanding gasses in a combustion engine.  How much heat is lost in this process I don't know, but that wouldn't be entropy.  Are there entropy considerations so that the full energy stored in the ADP-P bond is not available to do the mechanical work?  Probably.  Does it matter?  Probably not. Not as far as tracing it back to any difference between macronutrient sources.  It would be the same for each ATP used in each specific application.

In Summary:

The "Burning:
  • All macros are broken down and converge on acetyl-CoA.  (Some amino acids feed directly into Krebs at different points)
  • The difference along the way is in some direct ATP formation, and the formation of different amounts of different reducing equivalents (NADH, FADH2).  
  • From acetyl-CoA on down the energy production line through TCA/Krebs and the ETC, all reactions are the same in the production of ATP.

The "Work"
  • Once energy is stored in the ATP "batteries", no cell knows the macronutrient origin of that energy.  
  • All ATP does whatever work -- chemical, electrochemical -- it does through the same reactions and mechanisms.  
  • Energy use or any losses associated with converting ATP chemical potential energy to other forms is the same regardless of the source of that ATP.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Alan Aragon Research Review ~ Answering some questions about Thermodynamics

I'm once again honored to contribute to this month's edition of Alan Aragon's Research Review.  This time I was interviewed and answered the following questions:

This is premium subscription content, but AARR is always worth the price in my opinion!   Plus you'll get access to all archives (including past contributions from yours truly from the May-June issues of 2013 and 2014).

I missed getting to have my dedication in there, as I didn't think of it until after submission, but I wanted to dedicate the article to my grad school advisor Dr. Owen F. Devereux.   Dr. D died a couple years back or I would have been proud to send him my writings on thermodynamics.  He wrote a book called Topics in Metallurgical Thermodynamics that was his main area of research.  I called it the bane of my grad school existence, but really it wasn't.  Through applying the concepts of that book to my research I really learned and understood thermodynamics.  Folks often wonder what my seemingly irrelevant advanced degree has to do with any of this nutrition stuff.  Well, we applied the concepts to corrosion which is electrochemistry.   Biochemistry is living electrochemistry.  This means it involves enzymes and reaction coupling to get chemicals to do things they wouldn't otherwise do spontaneously.  But in the end the concepts are the same.  If you're a subscriber, I hope you'll enjoy!  If you're not, you might want to consider subscribing now ...

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Question Time Again ... Saturated Fats

I have a few questions, but will stick to two.  Feel free to chime in with anything even remotely related!

Also, let me preface this by stating that I haven't had the time to deeply digest the various studies that have come down the pike lately exonerating saturated fats.  Any summaries or links to summaries would be greatly appreciated in this regard.  That said ...

1.  Has there ever been an RCT -- or even an uncontrolled trial -- where saturated fat intake was increased on an absolute level (preferably on a weight stable diet) and improvements were seen in cardiometabolic risk factors (or other health measures)?

2.  It is my understanding that mostly the effect (or lack thereof) of saturated fats have been assessed mostly in that 30-to-40% total fat range of the typical Western diet which usually puts sat fat in the 10-15% range.  Would you say this is correct?  If not, are there studies comparing a true low saturated fat diet to a high saturated fat diet?  I'll take any context here though weight maintaining would be preferred for obvious reasons.  Oh ... and coconut oil as major source of sat fat doesn't count since over half the fat is MCT.  So basically I'm asking about if there are any 5% vs. 15% studies to be found.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cholesterol or Inflammation?

I wanted to share this study with my blog readers that I had found and shared a bit of on Twitter a little while ago.  This has been prompted by ongoing discussions there and elsewhere on social media regarding blood lipids.  By "cholesterol" I am of course using the general term that in today's terms refers mostly to the low density lipoproteins or LDL.

C-Reactive Protein

A Simple Test to Help Predict Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

This is not so much a study as a communication.  It is also on the "Cardiology Patient Page" of the journal Circulation, and as such quite readable.  I'd suggest any and all interested do so as I don't really have the time to go in depth into the entire thing.
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Where to now?

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