Podcast

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Robb Wolf: The Science Behind Healthy Diet & Fitness

And how good health takes less time than we think
Monday, August 31, 2015, 3:39 PM

Since Chris and I will be presenting live at the Grange in Sebastopol, CA this Wednesday night at 7pm with Robb Wolf, we thought a re-visitation of our earlier podcast with Robb was in order.

For those unfamiliar with Robb, he was involved with the development of two immensely successful movements: the Paleo diet and the CrossFit fitness regime. He's a true leading expert in the field of functional health and has been a long-time member of Peak Prosperity. We're thrilled he is making himself available to join us this Wednesday.

This podcast gives a good introduction to Robb's principal warning that the modern mainstream lifestyle has drifted concerningly far from the one our physiology evolved for. On average, we are too sedentary. Our diet is much too full of foods that we aren't designed to eat. The combination of these two factors is literally killing us.

But Robb's overall message is a positive one: there's a pretty clear path for those looking to pursue better health. Pretty much anyone can do it (Chris and I both did), and it doesn't cost a lot of money nor make you feel miserably deprived of life's joys. In fact, you'll look, feel, and actually be much better.

Tickets for the event can still be purchased, and those looking for details on how to do so can find them by clicking here.

We hope to see you this Wednesday!

Transcript: 

Adam Taggart: Hello, and welcome to the Resilient Life podcast. Resilient Life is part of PeakProsperity.com. It's where we focus on practical and actionable knowledge for building a better future. I'm your host, Adam Taggart.

Today's guest is Robb Wolf. A former research biochemist, Robb worked with Loren Cordain, creator of the best selling book, The Paleo Diet. Robb has since authored his own New York Times bestseller, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. He now focuses on educating people on how to achieve better health through nutrition and fitness. As many listeners know, my business partner, Chris Martenson, lost over 30 pounds a few years back following many of the practices Robb advocates. I should also mention that Chris has remained at this new weight ever since.

So as we look at the likely trends in store for the future, remaining fit and healthy will take on heightened importance, especially when we look at factors like Peak Cheap Energy, which will require humans to do more by hand. With a continued escalation in medical costs, health care will likely be less affordable and possibly less available in future decades.

I've invited Robb on the program to discuss the practical side of staying in good health. What are the specific practices we, as individuals and as communities, should be adopting in our daily lives?

Robb, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today.

Robb Wolf: Adam, it’s a huge honor to be on the show. This is the most excited I've ever been to be on any show, honestly. I absolutely love the work you guys do.

Adam Taggart: Wow! Well, thank you very much. It's an honor to hear that. I'll tell you, flattery will get you everywhere here.

Robb Wolf: Perfect.

Adam Taggart: For those who might not be that familiar with the paleo framework, could you just give a brief overview of the framework as you see it, and what you think that the average person should understand about it?

Robb Wolf: Sure. This paleo diet concept – I actually call it a paleo template, because it really goes beyond simply food – we're just taking this evolutionary biology perspective, looking at the way that human evolved as hunter-gatherers, and using that to inform some decisions about food, sleep, exercise, community, and trying to bring this all into a coherent way to make some informed decisions.

So there are all kinds of opinions about how we should eat, what type of exercise is beneficial for us, whether or not we actually need sound sleep, or how much sleep we need. I think that using this kind of evolutionary template provides some really great information in that regard.

From an exclusion standpoint, which is the easier way to explain it, in a paleo diet, we start with the assumption that some of these Neolithic foods – grains, legumes, and dairy – might be problematic because they're what we would call an ‘evolutionarily novel’ food. The fact that they newly arrived on the scene with regards to our genetics means that there might be some problems there.

Anything that's new doesn't necessarily mean that it's immediately problematic. If we see problems like obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, increased cancer rates – which we definitely see in our Westernized populations – then maybe looking at our dietary factors and some of the factors related to our diet might inform some things, both for more effective medicine and some basic lifestyle interventions, that we can do to improve our health.

Adam Taggart: Great. You mentioned a couple of new entrants there to the human diet. We've had a pretty active discussion on the site recently about – I guess “evil” probably isn't the right word to use, but – the evils of gluten and some of the grain-based diets in terms of irritation, inflammation, obviously raising your glycemic index, and storing more food as fat. Help me understand what legumes do, and also what the issues can be with dairy, too, besides just the regular lactose intolerance.

Robb Wolf: Most people are familiar at this point with this idea of gluten being problematic. There's an autoimmune condition called celiac disease, in which a protein in gluten causes an autoimmune reaction in the gut lining. That can lead to system inflammation. Inflammation is a process that’s kind of like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. We don't want too little; we don't want too much. We want just the right amount.

When we consume irritating foods – and I would also put in gut-irritating pharmaceuticals like acetaminophen and ibuprofen and some others – we don't want to overuse those. But when we create an inflammatory response in the gut, then that inflammation can then lead to what we call ‘systemic inflammation’ or problems throughout the whole body. I would put wheat, specifically, or gluten-containing items – wheat, rye, oats, barley – at the very far end of this problematic spectrum. I would put other grains like corn and rice as much less problematic, but depending on the individual's makeup, they may respond very negatively to them, or not so much. And then, grains I would put in that same kind of somewhat middle-ground category [are those from which] many people notice gastric reflux, GI irritation.

There is some interesting linkage with legume consumption in autoimmune disease. The dairy piece? I put dairy in what I would consider a ‘B Level’ food category. It's unrelated to the lactose intolerance. Folks are usually familiar with lactose intolerance being an issue for many, but there are actually proteins in dairy which are very similar structurally to proteins in gluten. If somebody is cross-reactant to gluten, and they end up with an inflammatory response to gluten, it's very common for them to have a cross-reactivity to at least cow dairy. But then many people find that they can consume some goat or other types of dairy, particularly the raw, unfermented varieties, which changes the protein a bit just from being a different species. And then, also, the fermentation process tends to make the proteins a little bit more accessible to our digestive tract.

Adam Taggart: All right. What, exactly? What kind of toll does too much inflammation exert? What type of damage does it do to the human body?

Robb Wolf: Gosh! That's a $1-million or $1-billion question right now. It appears that just about everything that we see from a Western degenerative-disease state appears to have an underpinning of systemic inflammation as a root cause – neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, cardiovascular disease, is a slam-dunk element in this regard. We really understand that the inflammatory response and the endothelial lining of the vasculature is a key step in the propagation of atherosclerosis, and also potentially having a stroke or a heart attack, various types of cancer, particularly breast, colon, and prostate cancers; glioblastomas. Astrocyte brain tumors appear to have a very tight linkage with both elevated insulin levels and systemic inflammatory response.

And then getting into autoimmune disease like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., there’s a clear linkage with inflammation. It's still unclear whether or not the inflammation is the cause or it's the effect of a disease state. But it's pretty clear that when we do things like get our vitamin D levels elevated, sleep better, remove gut-irritating foods, and we contract via blood work – like a reduction in C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of systemic inflammation – if we reduce those blood markers, then we tend to see an amelioration of the disease states. So it's still unclear whether the inflammation is the cause or exactly what's going on. Definitely fixing that problem seems to go a long ways towards helping people.

Adam Taggart: Okay. And it certainly sounds like that problem is correlated with a whole host of pretty scary diseases that we're aware of, that you just listed.

Robb Wolf: Yes.

Adam Taggart: What is it about wheat in particular that puts it so far out on the “bad” spectrum?

Robb Wolf: The type of protein that's in wheat, most grains and pseudo grains – if people think about this a little bit, in biology, everything has thorns or horns or teeth or venom or something. It's really not this benign Walt Disney kind of story out in ecology. Either things are being eaten, or they are doing the eating, and all critters or plants have some sort of an anti-predation strategy. Part of the anti-predation strategy that grains employ are anti-nutrients, which inhibit the digestive process of critters that eat them, and also some things that also cause direct inflammation to the organism that eat them.

And so wheat, in particular, has some just very-difficult-to-digest proteins. And there are some proteins which are what we would call immunogenic. They cause an immune response, whether it's the innate immune response, which causes systemic inflammation, or an autoimmune response, in the case of celiac disease.

It's also worth mentioning that the people who are particularly reactive to gluten, which tends to be Northern Europeans, there appears to have been an adaptation somewhere early in the transition from the hunter-gatherer life ways to the agriculture way of life. When people started living in close proximity both to each other and to animals, we started getting exposed to a very high bacterial and viral load. One of the adaptations that occurred in this time was that folks who now show the tendency towards celiac disease, these people – interestingly, one of the genetic adaptations that they have is that they tend to be more robust, more resilient with regards to gut pathogens. They tend to be more immunized against the effects of, say, food-borne illnesses. The tradeoff with that – there are always tradeoffs in biology and ecology and economy – and one of the tradeoffs for the people who have celiac disease is, even though they may be more resistant to gut pathogens, they are more highly reactive to gluten proteins.

And peanuts are another good example. Many people are familiar with how immunologically reactive peanuts are. When you look at the proteins that are in peanuts and these things called ‘lectins,’ which are part of the peanut makeup, when you look them on an electron micrograph, they're very complex structures. They're kind of pointy and pokey, and they really just irritate the immune system. Whereas if we were to look at the proteins that we find in rice, or the ability to break down proteins that we would find in, say, meat or chicken or fish, these things tend to be easier to digest, and they just tend to be less immunogenic.

Adam Taggart: Hmm. So basically, you're mentioning that during my teenage years, when I pretty much subsisted on peanut-butter sandwiches, I was probably doing about the worst thing for my digestive tract that I could have done.

Robb Wolf: It was Russian roulette, or hooker-and-cocaine games.

Adam Taggart: Oh, great!

Robb Wolf: It was a dangerous activity! Yes. [Laughter]

Adam Taggart: Wow! What an analogy. So when people go off wheat diets, or remove wheat from their diets, or more largely try to take gluten out of their diets, we have a lot of reports – and certainly amongst our own site readership – that people tend to lose weight pretty quickly once they've made that slight change. I say slight meaning they're just removing something from the diet. I know that going off of those foods once you're used to eating them in your diet is not necessarily an easy thing to do. But what is it about the body's biochemistry that results in that weight loss when you're removing gluten from your diet?

Robb Wolf: There are a couple of different factors there. Honestly, I don't think that we're at a point where we fully understand what the mechanisms are. We do understand on a base level that if the body is under a stressful situation – say, if the gut is irritated – we tend to elevate a hormone cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, we are just in kind of a “fight or flight” scenario, and the body really likes to hold onto calories during that time. Sleep deprivation, overactivity, and, actually, overtraining can cause this effect. This is where some people will do aerobics classes all day. Or they spend hours and hours and hours on their bicycle, but they still have a pretty good jelly-roll through the mid section. So that's a piece of the story.

Another piece of the story: There has been some really fascinating research where they look at the gut endobiome; the bacteria that lives symbiotically in our gut. There has been some fascinating research where they will take, say, a lean variety of mice and an obese variety of mice. They will remove some bacteria from both of the strains of mice and expose them to antibiotics, basically wiping out all of the gut flora in both strains. They'll take the skinny mice gut bacteria and put it into the fat mice; take the obese mice gut bacteria and put it into the skinny mice. We end up seeing a switch in the phenotype in the way that these two critters express their genetics. The skinny becomes overweight. The overweight becomes skinny. There appear to be some issues with certain foods causing a change in gut bacteria. There is another layer to the story, which is, I would say, maybe the last five years, we just had an explosion in misunderstanding. Honestly, it makes my head spin trying to figure out some of that stuff.

There's a really amazing project called the Human Gut Project where these anthropologists are going out and cataloging these intestinal bacterial content of humans all over the planet. They're in Africa right now studying the Hadza, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer groups, and looking at how they live, and the bacteria on their skin, the bacteria on their mouth, and the bacteria on their gut, and what that looks like. So I think that we could definitely be comfortable saying that there is an element of this related to gut bacteria. There's also an element of this related to systemic inflammation leading to hormonal changes that prime us for being prone to storing body fat.

Adam Taggart: Okay, and then by cessation of eating these foods that cause the inflammation and whatnot, we bring the cortisol levels down, and the body just stores fat at a lower level. That's why people are dropping weight?

Robb Wolf: Exactly, yes! That's another thing. There are lots of fascinating studies in sleep research where people will change nothing about their food intake, nothing about their activity level, but they simply sleep more or less. And the people who sleep more are more rested, have lower systemic inflammation, better hormonal profile, and they tend to store less body fat at a given caloric intake. Whereas, the people who are sleep deprived, they will actually gain more body fat at a given food intake. So this stress element becomes really important. We can get this stress vector coming from a variety of areas: overtraining, lack of sleep, cognitive, and then also food-borne stress via gut irritation.

Adam Taggart: Right. Interesting. So we've talked about diet, and related to diet, we've talked about the importance of your gut flora, which is probably something that the average person really doesn't give much thought to, but it sounds like it's something that's very important to become more mindful of. We've talked about getting more sleep. We've talked about the importance of managing stress; at least not letting stress levels get above a certain level where they're creating health issues. Now fitness is a whole other part of this that we haven't even touched on yet. Can you talk about how that plugs into the other suite of elements I just mentioned?

Robb Wolf: Yes. Humans. I really like that you guys talk about resiliency, and I love the resiliency concepts. I guess an extension of that is a guy who I follow a lot, Nassim Taleb, and he talks about anti-fragility, how living dynamic systems go beyond even resiliency but go into an anti-fragile state. His description of that, which really resonates with me, is that if we were exposed to a stress, but stress that's not overwhelming, something that we can adapt to, we become stronger in response to that. Humans are definitely – wired into our genetics is this expectation for us to be active, for us to move our bodies, to be challenged on occasion. It's interesting.

Our society, particularly Westernized cultures, seem to fall into two disparate camps. The one camp, we have folks who we literally need to douse with gasoline to get them off of the couch. The other group are a bunch of folks who want to emulate the life athletes – the Tour de France competitors and whatnot. And so we have some people who are doing far too little activity. We have another group of folks who are doing far too much activity.

For our ancestral norm, we should be walking, we should be lifting some weights, we should stretch. We should do as much novel activity outdoors with the sun shining on our skin as we can. It's not to say that if you want to become a competitive athlete, don't do that. But I think that many people assume that the level of activity necessary to become really legitimately competitive athlete, that they assume that that is going to be beneficial for them from a health and longevity standpoint. Our data on that clearly indicates that that's not the case.

Like, it's better to maybe be a middle-of-the-road athlete and focus a little bit on health and longevity, if you're really wanting to get the maximum return on investment from exercise. But exercise is just what's called a ‘hormetic stressor.’ Hormesis is this process where we're exposed to a stress, the body is given some time to adapt, and when it adapts it comes back stronger from that initial stress.

Adam Taggart: All right. Well, let's get practical here, then. Let's first talk fitness and activity, and then let's talk diet. Let's say that somebody is listening to this podcast. They're middle-aged. They're professional. Meaning they've got likely a desk job that they have to go to during the day. What type of activity should this person be looking to integrate into their life to be, in your definition, not exercising too little, but not exercising to much either.

Robb Wolf: I think a nice variety of activity – doing some walking, doing some circuit training; either with body-weight activities, or a mix of body-weight and weight-related activities; doing some stretching and yoga; if you like swimming, doing some swimming. I really like as broad of an activity base as we can get folks doing. This is great from an orthopedist’s standpoint! It's great because when we do new activities, it stimulates the brain. When we're learning new activities, it stimulates the release of a substance called ‘brain-derived neurotropic factor.’ And so we actually grow new neurons and new connections in the brain. So it's very helpful in that regard.

I guess that the main take-away is for folks to find something that they really like and they are going to stick to over the long haul. That’s really the most important piece to this. In my own idealistic situation, I would love to see people lift weights, either in a classic weight-lifting format, or in a circuit weight-training format a couple of days a week. I'd love to see people out walking daily and covering as much ground as is reasonable for them to cover in their busy lives. And then from there, just some more mellow open-ended activities – doing some yoga, doing some martial arts, or something like that, to just keep them stimulated and make the fitness-process fun.

Adam Taggart: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. It jives a bit with what Mark Sisson was talking with Chris about ,when Chris interview him about a year ago or so, sort of the importance of play in the activity, so making sure that you get some enjoyment that you're going to want to do it again. You've also mentioned some elements that sound somewhat familiar to me, too. The whole CrossFit mentality, which is trying to keep things mixed up so that your body is not just getting routinized by doing the same activity again and again and again. Would you say that both of those two elements are a part of what you recommend?

Robb Wolf: Yes. Absolutely! And Mark is actually a great friend of mine. We get to hang out a lot. I just got to speak at one of his conferences recently. I was actually one of the early, I guess, founders in the CrossFit scene. I helped to start the first and fourth CrossFit gyms in the world, really early on. I actually had a bit of a parting with those folks. I really liked the concept; early in the development of CrossFit, they had a very economic spaced view of fitness. They were trying to figure out what's the minimum investment I need to do to get the maximum return on my fitness? These brief body-weight and weight-implement circuits, sprint intervals, and stuff like that, I think that we understand the exercise physiology sufficiently to say that that really provides a remarkable return on investment. Like, it really beat long-low-steady cardio, pounding away on a treadmill or whatnot.

Where CrossFit has gone a little bit problematic for me is, it's become a sport, and so they call it the ‘sport of fitness.’ So now instead of trying to figure out what's the minimum that you can do to get the maximum return, now folks are trying to figure out, what's the maximum that I can do and not kill myself in this process? It's really a very cool sport, if that's what you want to do.

So I'm not running it down in that regard. But from this kind of performance-health-longevity standpoint, if people were to look at the early iterations of CrossFit, where you were trying to just think about what's the minimum effective dose that I can do to get what I need the base level of cardio and strength and mobility, and then that's enough. So it's trying to figure out, what's the absolute minimum you could do to affect the body-composition goals, to be able to allow you to do the work that you want to do? I think that that's the orientation to take on that.

Adam Taggart: All right. Well, let's help people understand that just a little bit better. So it sounds like you would say, look, rather than going out for a five-mile run, go out maybe for ten minutes of hill repeats or wind sprints or something like that. Or if you're lifting weights, maybe, a short, intense-burst workout would be better than an hour-long workout. How do you help people conceptualize what's enough time to get what they want to get out of it?

Robb Wolf: That's a great question. A nice way that you can break that stuff up – let's take that example of some hill sprints or something. So versus the long, five-mile run that may take 45 minutes, we could say, clearly, you warm up – and this is assuming people are orthopedically sound and ready to go with this – but they might do a brisk sprint up a hill. At the top of the hill, maybe they've rigged up a pull-up bar. Maybe they just do some pushups or some air squats or some sit-ups or something. They walk back down the hill at a pretty brisk pace, and they see how many rounds of that activity they can get done in 10 minutes or 15 minutes. And then the next day they do something quite different, or maybe the next day is their easy recovery day, where they just go on a walk.

If somebody just has access to, say, a 24-Hour Fitness or something like that, they might just cruise through the weight machines. Or if they're familiar with free weights, they might figure out a loading of weights where they could do, say, eight to ten reps pretty comfortably with a bench press or a lat pull down or something, and maybe some leg press. And they just create a circuit of that. And they try to get as many rounds of that as they can, anywhere from like 5 to 10 reps, and try to get a leg press, a lat pull down, a bench press, and they try to get as many rounds of five to ten reps as they can get again in five to ten minutes or ten to fifteen minutes, something along that line. You could really try to push hard and redline on those workouts occasionally. Or you can take about a 70% to 80% effort, where you just have a steady breathing pace, your heart rate is elevated, and you're breathing certainly above what you would be doing if you're just sitting down or even walking at a brisk pace.

So it's challenging, but you can really meter the dose in that way, and 10 to 15 minutes of that is remarkably effective on both a calorie-burning standpoint but also the hormonal response that we get from that. We release some growth hormone and some testosterone, and that’s good for both men and women. It's challenging, it's pretty fun, and it's short enough that you don't really lose focus and you're kind of like, oh, man; this is really becoming boring. And to the degree that you can round that out with some nice long walks or maybe an easy swim or a bike ride to cool down, I think that's a great way to break this stuff up!

Adam Taggart: Great! Well I think that that's really helpful directive guidance for folks. Hopefully this is good news in the sense that folks realize that even if they have busy lives and don't have a lot of time for hours of exercise, that they can actually pack most of what they need into a much shorter time frame.

Robb Wolf: Absolutely.

Adam Taggart: Robb, I'd love to have you back on again, because I have a whole bunch of questions here that we're just not going to have time to get to this time, but would certainly love to bring you back on in the future if there's interest on your end.

Since we're approaching the end of our time here, I do want to close with a topic that I believe is of interest to you, which is the integrity of our food-distribution systems. Can you tell us about your interest there and what changes you're working to effect in that area?

Robb Wolf: Oh, man, yes! That's possibly a whole show in and of itself. I'll try to be concise on that.

Adam Taggart: Maybe let's consider this a preview, and then we can really delve into in the future show.

Robb Wolf: Absolutely. Early in this whole story, I was a research biochemist, years ago. I actually got exposed to this Paleo diet concept in 1998. As an extension of some serious health problems that I had, I started researching this stuff, went and did a fellowship with Loren Cordain, and started working with people implementing this paleo diet concept.

But early in this story, I realized that the sustainability of our food, and our ability to access quality food, grass-fed meat, sustainably harvested fish, fruits, vegetables, and whatever it is that you're eating, a lot of this stuff was in danger of going away, and that we were going to become very dependent on a very fragile mono-crop system; a very fragile just-in-time delivery scenario with our fruit supply.

So I started working initially just out of our own gym in Chico, California, encouraging some of the local farmers and people who produce food in that area to produce grass-fed meat, and two start shifting more towards organic. It's been fascinating, the explosion of this process. In Chico, California we created this template for encouraging people to produce grass-fed meat; shifting from conventional to pastured meat and really developing a network of CSAs interacting with our gym. Because I've had access to just thousands of gyms around the world, I've been promulgating that message that people need to look towards a decentralized, more stable food-supply story.

Again, to keep this concise, we started doing some work with Allan Savory of The Savory Institute, who has been instrumental in developing a reversal of the desertification process using permaculture, using grass-eating undulates, and a rotation of these animals with other animals to reverse desert area in Africa.

We've been working with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who uses a very similar permaculture technique and water-management technique to invigorate his Polyface Farm and make it both very economically successful but also one of the most calorically and nutritionally successful farming stories on the planet. That's been the background story where I've really focused a ton of my effort.

Everybody wants to look good. They want their cardiovascular to be improved. They want to live a long, healthy life. All that is fantastic, but all of that is moot if we don't have a stable food supply. I think that, as you guys have talked about so much on your shows and your writing, the way that our energy story is playing out, the way that our environmental story is playing out, we really need to think about some kind of fallback measures or some alternate ways of approaching our food-distribution system so that we have some resiliency in store and we have some alternative if we have hiccups in the general food supply.

Adam Taggart: That's exactly true. I'm just so thrilled to hear that we've got minds and leaders like yourself out there continuing to help blaze that trail. As we mentioned, I'd love to have you back on again and really dive in more deeply into the actual solutions that you're trying to put in place there. But for now, I'll just say thank you for your focus on that really important issue.

And with that, I'll guess I'll end with one last question, which is, for people who are listening and interested in learning more about you and what you're up to and the programs that they're running, where can they go to learn more?

Robb Wolf: Robbwolf.com. We have everything that anybody would need to do a paleo template for free. You just go to the website, and there's a big giant red button that says, start here. It will walk you through shopping and food guides, 30-day meal plan, everything that you would ever need to know and to understand paleo and to be able to do it. That's on there. There's some workout information on the site as well. I have a podcast, also, called The Paleo Solution Podcast. We have three years of archived material on that. So if people have specific health concerns, there's a pretty good chance that I've covered it in that show. So you can just use the search engine on the site. If you have polycystic kidney disease, or Type II diabetes, or whatever, we've probably talked about it and then provided some theoretical strategies for how to tackle that.

Adam Taggart: Excellent! I know that the iTunes podcast that you mentioned is one of the more popular podcasts on iTunes. It really is an excellent production. So for folk who are interested in learning more, yes, definitely go check out Robb's site. But listen to the podcast as well.

With that, Robb, I'll thank you so much for joining us today.

Robb Wolf: Huge honor being on the show. Again, I just cannot thank you guys enough for the work that you're doing. Before I found you guys, I knew these topics that you're talking about – energy, the environment, and the economy – were so important. I had not found anybody who had provided the treatment and the integration that you guys have done. You're really doing amazing work.

Adam Taggart: Well, thank you. If that integration can involve integrating more of your content and knowledge into the experience, we certainly want to do that.

Robb Wolf: I would love to help in any way I can. It's just very exciting.

Adam Taggart: Great, Robb. Well, hey, thank you so much, and I look forward to having you on again.

Robb Wolf: Thanks, Adam. Take care.

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10 Comments

Helix's picture
Helix
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 76
Big Giant Red Button?

Followed the link to the website.  Signed up for newsletter.  Never found "big giant red button".  Have I suddenly gone color blind?

greendoc's picture
greendoc
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2008
Posts: 131
Thank you for mentioning Allen Savory

With climate change the pace of desertification is speeding up. The work of the Savory Institute is so vital.
You might also check out the work of wes jackson and perennial polyculture /carbon sequestration farming.
landinstitute.org

cowtown2011's picture
cowtown2011
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2011
Posts: 40
Paleo Diet - not good for long term health

For a website which prides itself on cutting through the hype and getting to the facts, they have really missed the mark on promoting the Paleo diet. This diet promotes the consumption of saturated fat which has been demonstrated to raise bad cholesterol and increase cardiovascular risk. Meat industry observational studies (low quality) do not demonstrate that saturated fat increases your risk for heart disease, this is contradictory to controlled studies. Although one may lose weight on a Paloe diet, no surprise given the avoidance of most carbs, it plants the seed for long term heart disease. See http://nutritionfacts.org for up to date information on the latest studies by an MD. The website is funded by non profits and cuts through the BS in main stream media on diet. I was paleo at one point, what is not to love about the diet but unfortunately much like the Atkins diet, it's not a long term healthy option. 

 

lambertad's picture
lambertad
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 31 2013
Posts: 169
Cowtown - you're wrong.

Cowtown, 

You lack a fundamental understanding about the Paleo diet. You are projecting your views of what you perceive the diet to be instead of reading the literature and listening to Robb Wolf. I probably sound like some crazed Paleo diet freak, but I assure you I am not. Here's where you are wrong:

1. The paleo diet is not a low carbohydrate diet. You can eat as many carbohydrates as you want provided they do not contain acellular carbohydrates.  Evidence shows that increased consumption of acellular carbohydrates increase inflammation, which, if you are familiar with medicine, is the basis for most chronic disease processes. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402009/.

2. The paleo diet limits your intake of grain-fed conventional meats. This doesnt get enough attention as you have shown. The problem with grain-fed meats is that they are exceptionally high in Omega-6 fatty acids and deficient in Omega-3s. Historically, the Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio was around 1:3. Nowadays, it's about 1:30 or higher. The problem with this again is that Omega-6s are proinflammatory fats and you want to limit your inflammation as much as possible to decrease the odds that you develop chronic disease. http://chriskresser.com/why-grass-fed-trumps-grain-fed/

3. The hyperpalatability of food plays a major role in obesity. Food engineers have their grubby little fingers into anything that you buy at the store that comes out of a box or out of a package. Ever see that potato chip commercial that says "bet you can't eat just one", exactly. They literally add sugar, fat, and salt in proper ratios to make the food addictive. But, all in moderation they say. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21999688

4. The nature of acellular carbohydrates in themselves promote an inflammatory environment in the gut. I know I said this in number one above, but it's an important distinction to make. There is evidence showing that gluten exposure can cause intestinal permeability, which, proceeds many autoimmune disorders. It works like this. You eat something that pokes holes in your gut lining and now bigger molecules can get through - animal proteins, etc. Your body sees these animal proteins as 'non-self' and develops antibodies to them. However, these animal proteins look a lot like your proteins, and you can get cross reactivity from those same antibodies with your proteins - joints, nerves, etc. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15844719

5. LDL-C by itself is a poor predictor of cardiovascular health. That's why we measure HDL, fractionated LDL particle size, LDL-P - your LDL particle number. We can do cardiac CT scans to look at your calcified plaque burden (BTW those only cost $69 at my local  hospital - talk about a deal if you want to know how much calcified plaque you have in your arteries), etc. 

6. As for your claim that consuming cholesterol raises your risk for heart disease, you'll be happy to know the government official retracted those guidelines in February of this year. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/10/feds-poised-to-withdraw-longstanding-warnings-about-dietary-cholesterol/

7. I wish you all the best in pursuit of long-term health and happiness, but you are completely off base with your critique of the Paleo Diet. I suggest you take some time to read a few books and educate yourself about the true nature of the diet and how it can improve your health. I will provide you a list of books if you are interested. 

Adam

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Wildlife Tracker
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If you are worried about

If you are worried about cholesterol, take some diatomaceous earth. I have never met a person taking DE without it lowering their cholesterol.

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Jim H
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Lambertad (Adam)

What a thoughtful, well referenced post.  Thank you for the mechanistic depth in your explanation about gluten, which I have avoided completely now for over two years, to the dramatic benefit of my joint health.  As outlined in the book, "wheat belly" there exist a constellation of autoimmune problems that folks can recover from by pulling wheat from their diets... and while wheat is not the answer for everyone.. it sure makes sense to try going wheat-free and paleo before taking the various medications modern pharma would have you take in order to cover up the symptoms.  Were there to be a TV commercial for going wheat free and paleo, the lawyers would not force a rapid recitation of the potential side effects that could befall the patient undergoing the regimen.   

Here's someone who is seeing (autoimmune) psoriasis get better through being wheat and mostly grain free;

  http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2015/11/beth-what-a-change/

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earthwise
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Grain fed meat?

Thanks, Lambertad, for that explanation.

I am of particular interest in the 'grain-fed meat' issue and thought you might have more to share on this.

This is important to me at this time as I am 'homesteading" in an effort to be more resilient as well as more healthy. I had some inkling that grain fed meat was an issue but wondered how serious.

We raise lambs, goats and rabbit for meat (all grass fed), but buy beef and chicken which are most likely completely grain fed. Also, our hogs are fed commercial feed which is all grain.

Do you have any reference material that can answer questions like:

Can the ill effects of grain fed meat be offset by the intake of Omega 3's? 

What percentage of grain intake makes an animal 'grain fed'? Even permaculturalist Joel Salatin, who advocates pastured poultry, must feed his chickens some grain.

I've heard that the spent grain from beer-making is not harmful as all the carbs and Omega 6 issues are concentrated in the beer, leaving the grain void of these things, which makes this by-product an excellent animal feed. Any thoughts? 

Thanks

 

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lambertad
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grass fed vs. grain fed

Earthwise,

For me, there are several big issues I have with grain-fed meat. First, they are raised in "concentrated animal feeding operations", basically devoid of grass, clean air, and pasture. I know not everyone can afford to pay the price of grass-fed meat, but I respect animals for the nutrition that they provide me and I would rather not eat meat than to subject animals to an inhumane life. Second, grain is not their natural diet. They pump them full of steroids and antibiotics to get them to market as quick as possible. If they didn't fatten them up and get them to market fast, they would literally die from the diet they are fed. Cows eat grass, hay, clover, etc. not corn, soybeans, oats, unless that's all they have. Third, about 60% of the antibiotics (ABX)used in this country are used for animals. This is an enormous problem on top of how the administer the ABX. When you go to the doctor for a bacterial illness (not viral like the common cold) and your doctor gives you ABX, he is giving you a dose and duration that is meant to kill the organism and then you stop taking them. When they give these ABX to animals, them give them prophylactically, meaning there is nothing wrong with the animal but they want to prevent disease. The doses are lower, and are put directly into the feed. This type of dosing is literally what you would want to do if you wanted to CAUSE antibiotic resistance to increase. It's freaking insanity. Lastly is the the nutrient profile - omega3 vs. omega6. Much closer to 1:1 is what we want, but 2:1, 3:1, 5:1 isn't that bad compared to conventional beef. 

There are a lot of reasons to get away from grainfed meat. I personally grew up on a beef cattle farm in Pennsylvania and will never eat grainfed meat. I currently live in salt lake city, UT and get my grass-fed beef from the farmer's market by the pound. Last year we ordered a 1/4 cow and just keep it in the deep freezer. We get all of our eggs locally from a free-range farm, but I'm sure they're supplemented with grain, there really isn't an option. Again, the thing for me is what kind of life did the animal have, and what was it's main source of food - grass, insects, bugs, and of course a little grain. 

As for what percentage of the diet must grass to make a difference in the nutrient profile of the meat, I'm not so sure. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/15/1/21.pdf. I found this article for you, but unfortunately I don't have time to read it (I've got an infectious disease final exam tomorrow). I will take a look at it after my exam so maybe I can respond again tomorrow. 

The question of the ill effects of grainfed meat being offset by taking Omega3s is an important one. I would first ask why you would want to do that and not just eat grassfed meat? Particularly, when you look at the DHA and EPA concentrations in most Omega3 supplements, they often contain a lot of filler. The more EPA and DHA the better. The problem is the good supplements - Carlson's fish oil, Nordic Naturals, etc. are pretty expensive. You're probably looking at $30-40/month to supplement with EPA and DHA to make up for the lack of Omega3s. I'm not up on the current recommendations by alternative providers like Robb Wolf, but I would not listen to what the mainstream dietetic community tells you as far as recommended Omega3 intake. If you search his website (www.robbwolf.com) and dig into his articles he has some pretty good articles on Omega3s and Omega6s. Another good resource is www.chriskresser.com. Actually, just in a brief search of his website he says increased omega3s isn't enough, you also need to cut down on omega6s (http://chriskresser.com/how-much-omega-3-is-enough-that-depends-on-omega-6/). 

I apologize if some of this is jumbled, I'm trying to write this quick so I can get back to studying. Anyway, there are 3 resources I use when looking at nutrition recommendations. First, www.Robbwolf.com. Second, Chris Kresser's website (www.chriskresser.com). Lastly, I like Dr. Peter Attia's website at www.eatingacademy.com. He literally has the best serious of blogs on cholesterol I have ever seen - (http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/the-straight-dope-on-cholesterol-part-i). I'm grad school now as a physician assistant, but some of Peter's blogs are a must read for the lay person and medical providers so that we don't get caught up in all the hoopla presented in the media. 

I'll try to take some more time and get some better answers for you tomorrow or by the end of next week, but keep up the search for some good grassfed sources of meat. Also, if you have a homestead (not sure the size), think about getting some calves and raising them yourself. If you're anywhere near Salt Lake City, I would consider buying 1/4 to a 1/2 a cow from you in the spring!

Adam

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cowtown2011
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I wish you the best with

I wish you the best with regards to your health as well.

I'm no doctor but I do follow several, some which have been practicing medicine for over 40 years. The guidance I've received regarding the optimal diet has changed my approach to health. I was working with a functional medicine practitioner (MD with additional certification) who had me following a version of the Paleo diet (I've also read Robb book on the subject) so I'm reasonably familiar with the diet.

I'm in total agreement with regards to points #1-#5 but the Paloe diet is not the only approach to dealing with those issues. Some individuals may see improvement in their health on the diet since it is a big improvement on the SAD (standard American diet) but recently I've questioned the long term benefit of the diet.

I recently spent 3 weeks at a clinic in California on an autoimmune issue that I've been working on for two years without improvement using various approaches including a very restrictive autoimmune paleo diet per based on my doctors approach. I finally made some progress this year after spending time at a clinic in September and it totally changed my approach towards health. The doctors at the clinic have over 40 years of experience practicing medicine and use observational studies to support their view. The scientific consensus appears to be that saturated fat does indeed promote heart disease but I'll leave you research that on your own. Also, I recently read a good book which studied the long lived pockets of populations in the world and their diets are very revealing as to what should be the basis of our diet.

A friend of mine is a former NASA scientist (Ray Cronise) and will be putting out a new book on the subject soon (yes, everyone is selling something), he's dug into the research going back to early 1800's, time and time the research pointed to the consumption of animal products as the basis of most disease.

I've been in your camp and have since changed 180 degrees. Good luck on your search for the optimal diet for you as it's not an easy road to find the truth these days.

 

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OpalTurman
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Thanks for explaining the

Thanks for explaining the science behind health, diet and fitness in a wonderful way.

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