Eatin' corn and taters
He's hungry every minute of the day
Gnawin' on a biscuit
As long as he can chew it it's okay
He can eat an apple pie
And never even bat an eye
He likes anything from soup to hay
Daddy's little fatty
I bet he's gonna be a man someday"
In 1950 fat people didn't get the respect they do today...everybody knew it was simply a matter of eating too much pie. Fat kids were lazy and ate too much candy--a day hoeing the field would put an end that!
Flash forward 50 years, we've come to realize it's not Roly Poly's fault, sugar is the problem. And not just sugar--all carbohydrates make us fat. Every Paleo blogger will challenge you: Do you want to be a sugar-burner or a FAT BURNING BEAST???? The answer is obvious. We don't want to be Roly-Poly, we want to be Grok.
So, we give up sugar and most carbs, cutting out the easy ones first...grain, bread, potatoes, rice, beans, yams, and most sugary fruit. We lose weight, become FAT BURNING BEASTS and live our life swinging through the treetops in top physical form. Or so it would seem.
Sometimes our outward appearance doesn't match what's going on inside. We may lose weight and improve many health markers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, but what is happening in our guts?
More and more attention is being given to the trillions of microbes living in our large intestine. Advanced methods have been devised to identify the different species and families of microbes that make up our gut flora. A healthy gut flora is an amazing thing. The gut flora's main contribution is it's ability to ferment undigested carbohydrates and turn them into short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which are used by cells which line the colon (colonocytes), the liver, and muscle tissue. This fermentation of undigested carbohydrates also results in the production of vitamin B and K as well as some important brain chemicals, like serotonin. There is hardly a single facet of our metabolism and biochemistry that isn't effected by our gut microbes.
Reports come out regularly that meat consumption is harmful to the health of humans.
In 2009, it was Meat Intake and Mortality which concluded, ""Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality."
In 2012, it was Red Meat Consumption and Mortality, which warned us, "we found that greater consumption of unprocessed and processed red meats is associated with higher mortality risk. Compared with red meat, other dietary components, such as fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, were associated with lower risk."
And just recently in 2013, Intestinal Microbiota Metabolism of l-carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis, "Our studies reveal a new pathway potentially linking dietary red meat ingestion with atherosclerosis pathogenesis."
So, it would seem settled that red meat is bad for us, leading to heart disease and early death. All of the major media outlets were all over these studies--proof that maybe we should all be vegans! Then these stories hit the paleosphere; every blog and forum joined forces to tear these studies apart...'may cause...' 'potentially leads to...' 'modest increases in...'. Maybe it's not settled. Even our own Dr BG joined forces with the low carb elite, saying in 2009:
"Low carb, high sat fat...Is it really that easy?
--lower dense small LDL
--shift to Pattern A from BBBBAD
--feel more energetic, vibrant, younger with maximum vitality"
Meat's not bad...carbs are bad.
But back to those funny critters residing in our guts, the ones that comprise 90% of our total cells. The ones that do so much for us...what do they want to eat? Carbs! And not just any carbs, in fact they don't like sugar and refined grains like white bread, it causes them to grow out-of-control in the most awkward places. No, they like the carbs that nature intended for them to get. Carbs from starchy tubers and fruits, tough plant cell walls, seeds, nuts, and even those found in honey. Non-starch polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, resistant starch, arabinogalactin, or whatever the form--we need it. Human Breast Milk contains over 100 different forms of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (David E Mills 'A Milk-Oriented Microbiota (MOM) in Infants—How Babies Find their MOMs'; photo credit from slide 11). Babies who get none of these prebiotic substances fail to thrive. All formula for non breastfed babies will contain some form of prebiotic, usually a galacto-oligosachharide.
Lack of a suitable fermentable substrate is bad for babies, but why should an adult care? Especially an adult FAT BURNING BEAST? If you don't eat sugar (or many carbs) why should you care if you have microbes who ferment them?
A recent paper examined this question:
Colorectal Carcinogenesis: A Cellular Response to Sustained Risk Environment
Luckily, the words Red and Meat didn't appear in the title, otherwise it would have already been spread across the airwaves and summarily dismissed by the low carb warriors. This paper looks specifically at what happens at the gut level in people who willfully, or otherwise, disregard the feeding of their gut flora.
Guess what happens? We become SUGAR BURNING BEASTS! You read that right--the cells which line our intestines, the ones that prefer to burn indigestible carbohydrates, must now burn sugar. Roly Poly, daddy's little fatties! Bet they're gonna be a man some day.
"In normal healthy large intestine, butyrate is a preferred energy source. However, in the shortage of butyrate, attributed partly by "Western diet", glucose is substituted as the energy source for survival of these colonocytes. As they evolve to adapt to the new conditions, genetic manipulations are initiated with subsequent loss of function of critical genes and eventual loss of ability to undergo programmed cell death."
"Digestion of the major nutrients in the human small intestine is incomplete, especially that of complex carbohydrates. Humans possess only one intrinsic polysaccharidase, α-amylase, which can hydrolyse only one polysaccharide (starch). Dietary fibre consists principally of NSP which resists small intestinal enzymatic hydrolysis completely such that they pass into the large bowel quantitatively. There is also strong evidence that the ileal digestibility of starch is less than 100% and a fraction, depending on the nature of the food and an individual's characteristics, pass into the large bowel. This fraction is termed RS. The importance of NSP to colonic function is recognised. However, it is becoming apparent that RS may be as (or even more) important."
"Diets that are high in fermentable fibre, in particular RS, and low in fat and protein lead to an environment in the colon which is considered low risk for the development of CRC. Experimental studies in humans and animals have shown that this gives a colonic environment which is relatively high in SCFA and of low pH, leading to a low level of free ammonia and other basic cytotoxins. The mucosa itself is well perfused, giving high oxygenation, while the availability of SCFA spares glucose utilisation. There is strong evidence that O2 supply is critical for hepatic metabolism, especially glucose homoeostasis, and there is evidence also that the entero-pancreatic axis may be involved in CRC risk with high insulin and insulin-like growth factors being implicated. Animal and human studies suggest that fermentable carbohydrates improve blood glucose control so that it is possible that insulin may also be low in this scenario. Populations with a low risk of colonic cancer have been shown to have lower faecal pH than in higher risk groups"
'Hold on!', you say, 'We've been eating fiber for years! My Protein Bar alone has 15 grams of fiber!'
This is where we need to re-think our views on fiber. The term 'dietary fiber' is actually meaningless as far as our gut flora is concerned. What we need to be concerned with is prebiotic fiber. It doesn't take much for a manufacturer of health food to get a 'high in fiber' rating for it's processed crap-in-a-bag.
The following terms describe products that can help increase fiber intake:
- High fiber: 5 g or more per serving
- Good source of fiber: 2.5 g to 4.9 g per serving
- More or added fiber: At least 2.5 g more per serving than the reference food
According to this, 'high fiber' is only 5g in a serving. That's pitiful. A small green banana has 15-30g of resistant starch. A cup of cooked and cooled rice has 10g. It's very important we eat a variety of whole foods, as Dr BG says:
--feed with fiber (resistant starches, heirloom and native tubers, organic whole non-gluten grains, lentils, chana dal, legumes)
I'm glad she's come around, aren't you?