Diet-F-ed: The Guide to Food

Diet-Fucked: The Diet-Fucked Guide to Food

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Diet-Fed Guide to Food

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about what certain nutrients and hormones do and what they're good for. Chloe and I are trying to work on a few different posts right now (soy, tribes and populations who ate a lot of natural sugar in good health, and now “essential” fatty acids,) but here’s a small one to hold you over until then. This is just a basic understanding of what these types of foods, fats/lipids, and electrolytes do, but I’m sure that we’ll analyze it in depth in the comments section. My next post will be on the hormones and their basic functions, plus ways to lower them or raise them.

Types of nutrients and their benefits/drawbacks:

SUGAR (Fruit, cane sugar, etc.)
Consuming ordinary table sugar (sucrose, which is a combination of fructose and glucose) will lessen the body’s tendency to store fat. This is because the fructose in regular sugar inhibits the stimulation of insulin from glucose. The oxidation of sugar is much more metabolically resourceful than starch is; it spares oxygen and increases carbon dioxide, which has many beneficial functions such as increasing the activity of the Krebs cycle and reducing toxic damage to proteins. A decrease in blood sugar leads to the formation of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which cause free fatty acids to be released into the bloodstream.

When there is not enough sugar in the diet, the body first relies on stored glycogen for glucose (which doesn’t last very long,) so then it has to use energy to break down proteins to provide sugar. When eating fruit, the natural sugars are accompanied by other nutrients such as potassium and magnesium, unlike processed starches which don’t contain any nutrients unless they are synthetically added in, such as ferrous sulfate (inorganic iron) in whole wheat pasta products. Sugar also protects against the toxic effects of polyunsaturated oils by reducing the level of free fatty acids in the body.

Regarding thyroid function and sugar, glucose is needed to convert T4 to T3. In diabetes, the cells are deprived of glucose (diabetes is actually a sugar wasting disease, instead of a case where there is too much sugar present in the blood like mainstream science leads us to believe.) Technically, this makes all diabetics hypothyroid to some degree, since they theoretically don’t have enough glucose to convert T4 to T3. Supplementing with T3 (the active thyroid hormone,) and sugar shifts the oxidation of fat back into the oxidation of sugar, which will provide much needed glucose.

Sweet fruits are anti-inflammatory and keep the liver functioning, which includes keeping cholesterol up, and estrogen and cortisol under control. Fruits, rather than vegetables, act to keep the hormones balanced. Drinking a quart of orange juice daily helps with cholesterol and blood sugar regulation. However, fruits such as bananas and apples can contribute to bowel inflammation and constipation because of how starchy they are.

If you're able to do it, try to consume fresh fruits and fruit juices every day. Orange juice is great because of it’s potassium and magnesium content. Tropical fruits and juices are excellent too. If you don’t have a juicer at home, you can buy pasteurized juices with no additives that say “not from concentrate” on the label. Juices that are from concentrate are made up of mostly added water that is flouridated. Grapefruit is the only fruit that you want to avoid, because it actually contains phytoestrogens like soy does.

Many, many people don’t eat enough protein and aren’t seeing the maximum benefits from having a “real food” diet. Sufficient amounts of protein are needed to manufacture and use thyroid hormones (animal protein is thyroid stimulating,) to convert T4 into its active form in the liver, and to produce and transport enough LDL cholesterol (cholesterol is carried by proteins in the blood) so that the sex hormones can be made. Both of those functions are extremely important, because the hormones that it helps produce affects many functions like your metabolic rate, libido, level of relaxation or anxiety, response to stress, ability to sleep, etc. Protein in the blood is used to form antibodies and strengthens the immune system. Ray Peat's recommendation for daily protein intake is between 80 and 100 grams for a mildly active person.
Not enough protein, or total avoidance of animal protein, leads to very low cholesterol, which leads to low sex hormones and a clusterfuck of health problems and all of the main degenerative diseases. Women are especially at risk, because low protein can decrease thyroid function which leads to estrogen dominance, and they can’t make adequate progesterone. That’s partly why women have a much higher risk for most diseases than men do. Both Ray Peat and Lita Lee have seen patients with milder forms of hypothyroidism, or mild health problems caused by hypothyroidism, be completely cured by just adding more protein into their diet.
Not all protein is great for you, though. Meats like ground beef, steak, liver, and pork chops are rich in cysteine, which “turns off” the thyroid gland as soon as your body uses up it’s glycogen and ideally shouldn't be your main source of protein. Muscle meats such as chicken/turkey breasts (and some in the above list) should be eaten with the gelatin it comes with, or supplemental gelatin, to balance out an anti-thyroid amino acid called tryptophan (which is also found in whey protein formulations). Traditionally, muscle meats are eaten with the fat, skin and the gelatin that they come with, so this is mostly an issue in first-world countries where we have protein powders and pure muscle meats readily available. Fatty fish like salmon and herring should be avoided because their fat content is mostly unsaturated; as a general rule, cold blooded animals like fish tend to produce unsaturated fats while warm blooded animals like cows and pigs tend to produce saturated and monounsaturated fats.

When eating a large amount of protein (such as 6 eggs) it's a good idea to eat it with a source of carbohydrates to prevent the surge of insulin and cortisol that comes from eating protein alone, which can cause low blood sugar attacks. Seeds and nuts are shitty sources of protein because they are very high in unsaturated fats, and raw nuts and seeds contain protease inhibitors (limits your ability to digest protein,) so they’d need to be soaked or roasted to destroy them. EVERYTHING containing soy is a “fuck no!” Soy contains 3 phytoestrogens (plant substances that act like estrogen within the body,) which are carcinogenic and toxic. Lita Lee writes:
“Soy milk has 100 times more aluminum than cow milk and giving an infant soy milk is equivalent to giving the infant five birth control pills daily.”
The best types of protein to consume are: Dairy products like milk and cheeses, potatoes (which have a protein content similar to milk,) eggs, gelatin, non-fatty fish, and occasional muscle meats.
Time to put the bullshit to rest. People, LDL cholesterol is not bad, in fact, it’s the type of cholesterol that you need the most of because it is what hormones are made of! If you have low cholesterol, your body will not be able to sufficiently produce pregnenolone, which then converts into progesterone and DHEA, which further converts into more hormones such as testosterone, estrogens, and cortisol. Low cholesterol can decrease your sex drive due to low sex hormones, and allow estrogen to circulate unopposed by any progesterone. Menstrual cycles can be lost and other hormonal problems such as hair loss can begin. According to Lita Lee, Ph.D, the optimal cholesterol level is between 200-230 mg/dl. Anything below 180 is abnormally low and usually due to stress in the diet like excess starchy foods, avoidance of animal protein, or not enough protein and sugar in general. You can get your cholesterol to increase by adding in more protein (80g minimum is what Ray Peat recommends) and fruits/sugars to balance out the starches in your diet.

But contrary to general belief, the dietary cholesterol that you consume has very little involvement with the amount of oxidized cholesterol on artery walls that contributes to heart disease. Only 15% of your serum cholesterol reflects what you eat. Your thyroid function (which acts like some sort of cholesterol metabolism) will determine if you can develop heart disease, and that is easily reversed with thyroid supplementation.
Salt increases cellular energy and the body’s metabolic rate. Sodium and vitamin K have a close tie with calcium metabolism, which means that salt can help people with calcium levels that are too low. When someone has a low functioning thyroid, they lose salt very easily, which is why they tend to get edema (water retention, making the body and face appear puffy and swollen.) Eating more salt will help make up for low thyroid function, low adrenal function, and low progesterone. Adequate salt acts as a diuretic. Eating soy inhibits mineral absorption from the nutrients you find in sea salt, which is the preferable form of salt to use. It contains 48 different minerals, while regular table salt only contains Sodium Chloride. It helps raise blood sugar to prevent hypoglycemia, especially when accompanied by fruit/fruit sugars, and keeps adrenaline down.
PROCESSED STARCH (bread, pasta, etc)
Eating starch (glucose, and especially “complex carbohydrates”) stimulates insulin more than fructose will. It causes a sharp decrease in blood sugar levels, which stimulates the appetite and causes unnecessary overeating. It also speeds up the nature of glucose which initiates it’s conversion from glycogen to fat, and the fat’s oxidation. Excess starch also lowers cholesterol by stimulating more insulin production, which leads to the synthesis of triglycerides instead of cholesterol. In his article, Glycemia, Starch, and Sugar in Context, Ray Peat writes:

"In an old experiment, a rat was tube-fed ten grams of corn-starch paste, and then anesthetized. Ten minutes after the massive tube feeding, the professor told the students to find how far the starch had moved along the alimentary canal. No trace of the white paste could be found, demonstrating the speed with which starch can be digested and absorbed. The very rapid rise of blood sugar stimulates massive release of insulin, and rapidly converts much of the carbohydrate into fat."

Whole grain products (especially you, Cheerios, with that annoying ad campaign...better keep both eyes open while you sleep) are touted as “good for you” because they lower cholesterol, but customers don’t realize that the cholesterol is being lowered through the harmful mechanisms described above. If you truly have high cholesterol, then that means you are most likely hypothyroid and need to seek treatment with desiccated thyroid instead of eating excess starch, which will only stress your body and provide inferior nutrition.

However, natural starches found in the ground like roots and tubers (such as potatoes or yams) have a high quality protein content similar to milk and provide some trace minerals; they also don't contain toxic anti-metabolic substances like plants do. Potatoes are the best source of protein that a vegetarian can consume, because they don't have a high unsaturated fat content like nuts or seeds, or contain several phytoestrogens like soy products. An average potato contains about 620mg of potassium (more than an average sized banana) and Vitamin C, and includes trace amounts of minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorous, thiamin, and folate.
POLYUNSATURATED FATS (canola oil, soybean oil, flax, etc)
PUFAs are extremely unstable in the presence of oxygen; they oxidize quickly and become rancid in the cells, which lowers the metabolism. Their effects are so immunosuppressive that they are used intravenously in hospitals to prevent people’s bodies from rejecting skin grafts. PUFAs are also used in cow feed on industrial farms to make the cows fat and less hungry (less expense for feeding them, and their increased size will produce a little more beef.) When coconut oil (a highly saturated fat) was added into their diets, it made the cows lean and hungry, which was not financially efficient for farmers. Unsaturated fats reduce many bodily functions, mainly by inhibiting certain enzymes that are needed for the metabolic processes that protect our health and immune system.
Most notably, unsaturated fats inhibit thyroid hormone secretion, which will reduce other functions in many other areas of the body. For example, it can create a sluggish bowel or poor circulation (cold hands and feet). Low thyroid function also contributes to estrogen dominance and many other hormone imbalances, and is the MAIN CAUSE for high cholesterol (no, it’s not high because you eat too much butter.) Unsaturated oils are also linked to diabetes and promote the pigment that creates lipofucsin (or “age”) spots. Unsaturated fats are the essential foods of cancer tumors. They also block the Krebs cycle, which results in insulin resistance through constant stimulation of the pancreas.

Free unsaturated fatty acids are usually the main reason for glucose oxidation to be inhibited, which heavily contributes to conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes. Niacinamide (the amide of vitamin B-3) helps reduce the excessive fatty acids and the wasteful conversion from glucose into fat that results from the inhibited oxidation. It also inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown of fat stored in fat cells, where free fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and circulate around the body.) Sugar is also another substance that has some effect on reducing free fatty acids.
SATURATED FATS (butter, coconut oil)
Saturated fats are the victims of slander from the seed, vegetable, soy and fish oil industries who are trying to make $$$ by demonizing the type of fat that our ancestors and other animals have been eating in good health for thousands of years! They’ve been the victims of bullshit prejudiced science and “research” that dictates that saturated fat will automatically give you heart disease, or that it isn’t required in a healthy diet at all. Saturated fats are the BEST and HEALTHIEST fats available, no contest. They’re much, much more stable in the presence of oxygen and at high temperatures than PUFAs are. It is the heart and brain’s preferred fuel: more than half of the human brain is made of saturated fat and cholesterol. It also makes skin more resistant to the damage of sun exposure, which helps prevent sunburns, skin cancer and wrinkles. Skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in America now, which I think may have a strong correlation with the amount of unsaturated fats we consume. Adding saturated fat to the diet has been shown to protect the liver from the toxic effects of alcohol and some pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol.) Primate and human breast milk has been evolving for tens of thousands of years into the most nutritious substance it can possibly be so that infants can develop successfully; it’s no surprise to hear that it contains high amounts of both saturated fat and cholesterol.
Coconut oil in particular, which is the most concentrated source of saturated fat in the world, has a wide range of benefits. Coconut oil has a very stimulating effect on the thyroid gland, which keeps cholesterol levels under control if they are too high. It’s medium-chain fatty acids (found in breast milk too) have an antiseptic action that protects from viral/bacterial infections, plus pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, and fungi. Coconut oil also has anti-cancer effects. Lita Lee, Ph.D writes:
“In 1987, Lim-Sylianco published a 50-year literature review showing the anti-cancer effects of coconut oil. In chemically induced cancers of the colon and breast, coconut oil was by far more protective than unsaturated oils. For example 32% of corn oil eaters got colon cancer whereas only 3% of coconut oil eaters got the cancer. Animals fed unsaturated oils had more tumors. This shows the thyroid-suppressive and hence, immuno-suppressive effect of unsaturated oils. (Cohen et al. 1986).”
The best types of fats you can eat are coconut oil, butter, tallow, other animal fats and sometimes olive oil. Olive oil contains some polyunsaturated (but it's mostly omega-9 mono-unsaturated) fats and isn't the best fat to use frequently because of it's partially unsaturated nature.
ADDITIVES (guar gum, carageenan, aspartame, etc)
Additives like guar gum and carageenan, which are found in almost every commercial processed product, act like glue in our body and slows down the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Aspartame is known to be carcinogenic in both animals and humans, and artificial food colorings are suspected of this too. When nitrates and nitrites (found usually in deli meats and types of sausages,) combine with secondary amines in the body, it forms nitrosamines, which are extremely powerful cancer-causing chemicals.
In the words of Angie, “Vegetables carry baggage like PUFAs and phytates. They were the poor man's food b/c they're cheap. Somehow that translated into mainstream nutritional advice. Try to find a cookbook from the early 1900s with recipes for salad?” I couldn’t have said it better. Vegetables only became a staple in the human diet during times of poverty and scarcity when we desperately needed something to eat. Plants are nutritious to a degree and can sustain animal life; they’re eaten by herbivores and omnivores in large quantities with no health problems. Unlike cows, for example, we don't have four chambers in our stomach to completely digest plants; When humans try to live on plants alone or eat them for the majority of their diet they’ll start to develop diseases from malnutrition. Bowel inflammation in humans gets even more irritated by plants such as beans and raw leafy vegetables. The fiber in whole vegetables helps protect against the effects of the unsaturated fats they contain (in comparison to fruit), which means that juiced vegetables with none of the protective fiber will act as a thyroid inhibitor because of the concentrated PUFAs. There isn’t anything wrong with using vegetables as a smaller part of your diet (but does anyone really crave them that badly,) or as a garnish on foods, but salads and steamed vegetable dishes shouldn’t be the main part of anyone’s diet. Put spinach on my plate and I’ll shank you. Ray Peat, Ph.D. writes in article, Vegetables, etc. – Who Defines Food:
Our instincts give us a few clues about our nutritional needs, such as thirst, the hunger for salt, the pleasantness of sweet things, and the unpleasantness of certain odors or very acrid or bitter tastes. People who are constitutionally unable to taste certain bitter chemicals find certain vegetables less objectionable; their instinctive guidance has become less clear. But within the boundaries of cravings and disgust, habits and customs become the dominant forces in diet. "Professional dietitians" and other "experts" primarily function as enforcers of cultural prejudice.
The manufacturers of pureed vegetables for babies used to put large amounts of salt, sugar, and monosodium glutamate into their products, because the added chemicals served as instinctual signals that made the material somewhat acceptable to the babies. There was no scientific basis for providing these vegetables to babies in a form that they would accept, but it was a profitable practice that was compatible with the social pressure against prolonged breast feeding.”
….So that’s it for now. I’m going to go over the hormones, their functions, and ways to raise/lower them in my next post.