It's both surprising and embarrassing that humans, with our big brains, are the only animals that don't seem to know what they ought to eat. How did we get here—and, most importantly, what can we do about it?
Great review JS! I'm half-way through my advanced copy and agree that it will be the first book I recommend, and will share far and wide. In terms of criticisms, you nailed the two I had. I tend to perform and feel better on a low-carb version of PHD. My head is clearer, energy levels are higher, and gas/bloating are held at a minimum. This is where I started when taking on Primal as espoused by Mark Sisson, have played with the safe starch thing over the past year, and feel worse. So I'm dialing it back. My wife and kids, on the other hand, appear to thrive on the higher amounts of safe starches in their diet. Individuality is an important issue that, hopefully, they'll expand upon in the next revision (along with adding end notes).
i'm getting tired of my wish lists being lists of new books.
that said this will have to be added!
reading chaos and pains blog, only recently found it, and in a few posts he mentions your own experiments with dextrose in the form of sweets and his own predator apex diet and that you mention it on your blog.
where are those posts as i've been unable to find them?
I would like to see protein requirements addressed somewhere more than just a broad target range and an assurance that it's so easy to get all the protein we need that even vegans who aren't paying attention to what they eat are getting far more than they need. Sometimes it feels like everyone who writes those is either mathematically innumerate or thinks that we are.
I've looked everywhere and read nothing useful, and I've struggled to make sure I'm getting enough to keep up with my moderate activity level.
Considering my age (57), I don't eat all that many calories, which makes it hard to get enough protein for me to feel recovered and have good workouts. Losing weight means my calories are down, in addition.
I've had problems maintaining my protein levels in the past, and I suspect that especially when I wasn't paying attention I wasn't getting enough. Decades of craving and eating massive amounts of cheese…
I'd be willing to stipulate that I'm an outlier. But still, I'm tired of lousy advice.
Fascinating! Modern nutritional science rarely acknowledges the possibility of "unknown unknowns". Humans in every age seem susceptible to the prejudice that we've recently learned all there is to know.
Antinutrients in particular seem to be a near totally unexplored field of study.
JS, I wonder if you derived any major practical insights from your reading of this new edition? Or was it mostly a confirmation of what you already knew or suspected?
J's got a great turn of phrase (to paraphrase): "we're only on page one of a huge book called 'Human Nutrition'" … basically, we know absolutely knack all about it.
This is the beauty of a paleo diet – eat real, natural, local and seasonal foods and let nature look after the rest. We are not special flowers … we are animals within our environment. Eat what we have and thrive. If we get it wrong, we won't … and we're doing that in droves.
The daft thing is, we're not regressing. We really and genuinely do live in an insane time.
All that said, we do know some thing about some things … and this is where the Jaminets come in with the science. It's not a scientific book, if you were scared; they're very down to earth, but give all the links, citations and references for you to follow.
I found their first edition a revelation, practical and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to this version.
But yes, the unknown about the unknown is such fun.
I have an uneasy feeling about needing supplements. How did human beings evolve to where we are without them? Why don't we just eat what we evolved to eat (isn't this the basis of the paleo diet?), and if we do that, why would we need supplements?
Regarding David's post, the point of supplements is pretty clear: we live in an imperfect world from an evolutionary standpoint, and so some nutrients are supplemented because they're hard to get enough of in a modern world.
Absolutely. Though some of the material is indeed familiar, it really does feel like a new book that incorporates parts of the old version, rather than a revision.
Like you, I don't wish to distract from the fact that the new PHD is a masterwork, and my first recommendation to others.
Jamie and I have exchanged emails about my experiments, but I've never written an article about them. Basically what I've found is that the slightly modified Predator Diet strips fat off me very efficiently…but of late I've been going for mass gain, not cutting.
Note to readers: Chaos and Pain is good information and great fun, but the "explicit content" warning is absolutely sincere. If you don't like gore, profanity, animated porn GIFs, and a bad attitude, it's best to stay away.
If you're eating meat, fish, and eggs, your body's needs for protein will generally be taken care of by your appetite. Lean protein becomes extremely unappetizing once your body has all it needs! (The PHD does a reasonably good job of explaining the target range.)
Note that cheese cravings are generally a combination of needs for protein and for saturated fat — two substances in which most Americans are deficient. My cheese cravings basically disappeared after a few months on the non-fat-phobic version of Paleo: I still enjoy it, but only as a rare treat. Apparently fatty meats, eggs, coconut oil, and butter are sufficient.
And no, vegans don't get all the complete protein they need without a great deal of careful attention to the matter (and, usually, a boatload of xenoestrogens from soy). The official government recommendation of 0.8 g/kg/day is below even the low end of the PHD recommendations!
The new PHD hasn't caused me to change my diet…but I did learn quite a bit about why certain dietary habits are healthful. The explanations are science-based, but remarkably easy to understand.
To choose one example, magnesium (and other minerals) are found in natural water sources…but water treatment plants strip out the minerals, so that soap and detergent will foam better and mineral deposits won't build up in plumbing. (Otherwise known as "This water's too hard.") Therefore, most of us, unless we're drinking unfiltered well water, are deficient in magnesium.
There is also the effect of soil depletion due to decades, or centuries, of intensive agriculture. Many people just won't ever eat liver. And sometimes we don't know exactly why people are deficient — but we can measure that they are.
Mostly…but see above.
Not Porter, E Craig:
Exactly. Occasionally, in certain specific circumstances, our health can benefit from greater-than-natural nutrient levels.
When Paul discusses the dangers of VLC or keto diets he tends to delve into the realm of pseudoscience and selectivity (great to have Rosedale keep him on his toes), but his suggestions are generally spot on. Heck, my kids and wife are PHD compliant. As well, when I lend out my books on the subject, it's always PHD and/or The Primal Blueprint (after all, PHD is fundamentally the maintenance phase of The Primal Blueprint with different marketing). I'm in a happier place on the keto version myself.
Anyway, awesome review and keep up the hard work (and great comments on other blogs, which might not get much feedback where they are but I feel are widely appreciated, IMO).
We who are sensitive to any starch should indeed look at the healthy person's version of starch requirements or tolerances, and make modifications. I'd like to see some real-life to the point recommendations for and discussion about this very topic; I was hoping it was in the book, but seems, based on your very good review, it is not. Anyway, I just got my copy today!
Something interesting I've been reading over at Chris Kresser's site was around lactose intolerance and how to potentially cure it. Chris maintains that many lactose intolerant people actually have poor guts and it is down to the gut that they appear to have intolerance.
Maybe this is the same for starches? Perhaps a strong course of probiotic foods worked into a daily routine (and possibly supplements, initially) might develop similar result for starch intolerance.
Paul Jaminet strikes me as one of those fellows for whom research is a real thrill. I wouldn't mind hazarding a wager that Paul would be interesting in what you have to say Paula. He's an accessible fellow, so drop him an e-mail or a note in one of his blog posts.
I haven't finished Perfect Health Diet yet, but IBS and other digestive disorders are given some discussion in the ketogenic chapter of the book. I also got the impression from the carbohydrates chapter that starch/carbohydrate consumption *should* be rather individualized, depending on your goals, lifestyle and individual body wonk.
Paul: It wouldn't surprise me if Chris Kresser was correct *to a degree*. I think the problem is that those who don't tolerate casein get lumped under the heading 'lactose intolerant'. The same interventions probably don't work for both cases . Additionally, if you're A/Bing, it's tough to separate the genetic from the food/environmental caused damage.
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