Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Sous Vide Review #001

By Unknown

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Modern Paleo's second blog carnival, The Sous Vide Review!

The Sous Vide Review is a monthly blog carnival featuring the best blog posts on sous vide cooking from members of Modern Paleo's SousVide e-mail list. What is "sous vide"? As Wikipedia explains:

Sous-vide (pronounced /su ˈvid/), French for "under vacuum", is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (usually around 60°C or 140°F).
I was introduced to sous vide cooking by the Drs. Eades; I use their Sous Vide Supreme daily. Other sous vide cooks use different set-ups, some bought and some built.

Sous vide is an up-and-coming cooking method; it's still very new for us home cooks. The Sous Vide Review aims to expand our horizons. It highlights the best blogging on this this emerging culinary art every month. It's starting small, but I expect it to grow in coming months and years.

Now, without further ado, I present The Sous Vide Review:
Ramona Denton presents SousVide Supreme at Sur La Table posted at Lovin' It Low Carb.

Extreme Cook presents Peking Duck Sous Vide with Crispy Skin on Mandarin Pancakes posted at Extreme Cooking Blog.

David presents Build Your Own Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator: Electric Company posted at Maison Marcel.

Jason Logsdon presents Apple Cider Sous Vide Pork Chops posted at Cooking Sous Vide.

Diana Hsieh presents A Week of Sous Vide posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "After my first week of cooking with my Sous Vide Supreme, I posted a lengthy report with lots of pictures. I've learned much since then... and I still have much to learn!"
Many thanks to the members of SousVide who submitted to this inaugural edition of the The Sous Vide Review!

As I mentioned, I hope to see The Sous Vide Review grow in the future. I would like to see the carnival inspiring more people to try sous vide cooking -- and to blog on their adventures. If you blog on sous vide cooking and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the SousVide e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find the blogs of the SousVide bloggers on this continuously-updated list:



Sprints: An Inductive, Integrated Approach

By Michael Gold

As Galileo said — following the lead and philosophy of Aristotle, who said to appeal to first principles and to the evidence of the senses — “do the experiment:” try changing aspects of your sprint technique to see how each technique feels and affects your speed. Use Mill’s Methods (see also OpenCourseWare) in your trials and investigations. Maybe time yourself under the different techniques, or make some other relevant measurements (impulse, power, force, etc.).

The NLAAF has a good discussion of sprint form, of to-do’s and not-to-do’s. Watch the demonstration of good form and bad form at the end of the video, then try the good and bad for yourself. I watched the video on Tuesday evening, then tried some of the techniques (at a run, not a sprint), good and bad, on Wednesday. Interesting. On Thursday, I tried to maintain and think about good form in some all-out sprints; it seems to help. I’ll need to practice more. After doing eight sprints and taking a rest, I tried various combinations of technique at a jog: leaning forward; leaning back; striking the ground with heels out forward of the body; striking with the balls of the feet under the body; bringing feet high to hit that figure-4 shape; keeping feet low; pumping the arms high; swinging arms low. Again: interesting.

The NLAAF, on their YouTube site, also has a set of related videos set up to be watched in an automatic cycle. I have not seen these yet. They also have a video of some (pro, I think) sprinters in a race, with some commentary.

Another interesting sprint video (also here) is a HPCSport.com video featuring Mike Young.

I’ll have to watch these videos a few more times to assimilate all the information and implications. Good stuff.

But why do sprints?

They are a good form of exercise, and they benefit your mind and mental health, as well as your body, brain and physical health. You can feel and see the benefits in body composition — and science proves that the benefits are there. Sprints take less time than long-distance running, and (seem to) make you concentrate more than long-distance running. There is less wear on your joints in sprinting than distance running. Doing sprints makes sense when you induce exercise principles from general animal and mammal behavior and movement, and from human evolution. We were designed — in hunting or gathering, in flight or fight — to walk or sprint, not to run long distances.

And thinking about how they work, what good form is, how they benefit us over and above what long-distance running does, what principles of physics and biomechanics are involved is a good exercise in reasoning!! There’s so much you could think about and integrate; you could write a book about it all.

Be like Galileo and the ancient Greeks: ask how and why; analyze and synthesize; look for cause-effect relationships; look for good connections/integrations with other things you know: biology, physics, sports, and more.

Visit Mark’s Daily Apple for a blog post about sprints in general and Tabata sprints in particular. Read the articles that come up in a search on his site for “sprints.” Go to RunTex.com to read “Sprints Can Have an Endurance Effect” (12/30/2005) by Brom Hoban. Read the articles about sprinting on BodyBuilding.com. Read the posts that Matt Metzgar has about sprints. Find whatever else you can find.

So what kind of thinking could we do regarding sprints? Well, how might sprinting be related to other sports or activities? What could we learn from that?

Sprinting helps, for one thing, to develop and strengthen our fast-twitch type muscles. In this respect, it has some things in common with martial arts and boxing. They train you to be quick and powerful, and they keep you lean.

Applying this idea to weight lifting, you could conclude that you should use thrusts, or explosions, in the positive part of the motion (”positives” are the lifting part of the motion, “negatives” are the lowering part). Just don’t do too much weight and hurt yourself! Start easy and work your way up. Art DeVany has lots of good ideas (and cautions) on this topic.

In the HPCSport.com video above, Mr. Mike Young talks about using the hip, and about using the elasticity of the body. Well, those same ideas come up in dance. Many motions are driven by the hips (and shoulders) in dance. But those same ideas come up in martial arts and boxing, too.

In the best sprinters, the foot is supposed to be in contact with the ground for only about 1/10th of a second (according to Mike Young; see videos above). Same idea applies to horses: their smooth running motion comes from a series of pulses, a series of jumps. So riding them at a run is very different than you might think by watching them — you have to ride with a thrust-relax motion to stay with their thrust-prepare action; you cannot smoothly and constantly move back and forth like a pendulum.

I’ve found that years of training myself to lift weights and do sit-ups slowly affected my horseback riding!! (Well, that and not getting enough sleep.) In the way I had exercised, I had inadvertently trained myself to move slowly. Unintended consequences. But I’ve changed that.

Of course, we could go on and on and on elaborating and adding detail, making connections and integrations of sprinting to other things we know. Logic is practical and worthwhile.

[First published on the MGTutoring Blog under the title "Sprints: Do the Experiment" on 6-19-2009.]

Sprinting and other forms of intense interval training have been found to be very effective compared to low intensity "cardio" for improving anaerobic capacity and VO2max. In this study 4 minutes of daily high intensity interval cycling was found to have a greater effect than 60 minutes per day of traditional "cardio". /Christian


Monday, March 29, 2010

Dealing with Carb Cravings

By Rick Kiessig

Like many people who move from a grain-based diet to Paleo, I too had trouble with carb cravings at first.

My solution was two-fold. First, I had tried a number of times in the past to ease my way into a low-carb diet, and ended up failing every time. This time, I decided to go cold-turkey. Although the first two or three weeks were very difficult, it got easier after that. The other thing I did was to find something that I liked as well as carbs, that was an acceptable Paleo food, but that had also been considered relatively taboo previously. In my case, that ended up being cream, in several different forms (plain, mixed with a little milk, mixed with baking cocoa, whipped, etc). If I had a carb craving, I trained myself to have a cup of cream instead. Rather than just drinking it, I eat it with a spoon to make it last. At the end of the cup, I found that the carb craving was almost always gone. If it wasn't, I would drink a large glass of water, and that usually did the trick.

Two things I found to cause big problems in the craving area were the taste of something sweet (even toothpaste), and the smells of some carb-rich food cooking, such as bread or pizza (often coming from other family members who don't eat like I do). The problem is that those tastes and smells can cause insulin to be released, which will lower blood sugar, and make you hungry. My solution was to eliminate anything sweet tasting from my diet for the first three months or so, and to replace the carb-rich smells with fat-rich ones, such as bacon. At the end of the three months, I found that sweets tasted much sweeter than before, and that I actually preferred slightly bitter foods (unsweetened baking cocoa is an example).

After being on Paleo for about 6 or 8 months (and losing 35+ pounds in the process), I fell off of the diet for about a week. I didn’t go back to my old ways, but “just” had one carb-rich item a day (rationalizations are a dangerous thing). However, by that time, my body had adjusted to low-carb, and as a result, I felt really terrible: fatigue, new aches and pains, and even bloating. Plus, I gained about a pound a day. After that brief experience which tied the theoretical to the concrete, it was easy to see how bad the carbs were for me, which also made them very easy to avoid. I never want to feel like that again.

Everyone is different, YMMV, but that's what worked for me.

For more reading on the subject of how to overcome carb cravings, I recommend Nora Gedgaudas blog post, "Taming The Carb Craving Monster". /Christian


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Open Thread #002

By Unknown

(Photo courtesy of 7326810@N08)

This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.


Damned If You Do...

By Paul Hsieh

As a result of ObamaCare, multiple corporations have recently issued statements about the harmful effects the new law will have on their bottom lines.

According to "The ObamaCare Writedowns" in the March 27, 2010 Wall Street Journal:

Yesterday AT&T announced that it will be forced to make a $1 billion writedown due solely to the health bill, in what has become a wave of such corporate losses.

...On top of AT&T's $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.
Several Washington politicians are mad, making threatening statements against these companies:
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke took to the White House blog to write that while ObamaCare is great for business, "In the last few days, though, we have seen a couple of companies imply that reform will raise costs for them." In a Thursday interview on CNBC, Mr. Locke said "for them to come out, I think is premature and irresponsible."

Meanwhile, Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."
But as the WSJ notes, these companies are required by federal law to do exactly what they are doing -- namely, to accurately report their financial situation according to their best judgment:
Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don't like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.
(Read the full text of "The ObamaCare Writedowns".)

Hence, the government is placing these companies in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position.

If they truthfully report how much ObamaCare will cost them, they're being "irresponsible" for not agreeing with the politicians' party line about how ObamaCare will save money -- and they could face Congressional hearings.

If they ignore reality and instead report falsehoods to suit the politicians' wishful thinking, then they could face legal punishment for violating SEC rules.

I can think of no worse perversion of the rule of law than for the government to force honest men into this kind of impossible situation.

[Crossposted from the FIRM blog.]


Another Silent Casualty of Health Care Reform

By Paul Hsieh

One of my PajamasMedia readers recently sent me a moving letter written by his high-school age niece who is thinking of becoming a doctor but who is not so sure after ObamaCare. For now, she wishes to be identified as "Alyssa Z". Her letter is entitled, "Do I Surrender My Rights?"

She was also going to send it to her Congressman. She has also given me permission to circulate it as widely as possible, so please feel free to blog about it, forward to friends, etc.:

"Do I Surrender My Rights?"

Dear Society,

I am writing you today to express my deep concern. I am but one of the many silent casualties of healthcare reform. Currently I am a high school junior who is considering my future. One path I am pondering is becoming a doctor. I am an honor student, active in sports, and am taking advanced placement college classes. The fact that I enjoy biology, chemistry, and helping others made me consider the long, arduous journey towards a medical degree.

Recently though, I heard a new phrase in the healthcare debate that gave me cause for concern, "healthcare is a right". My understanding of a right has always been that we were born with it, and it can never come at the expense of others' rights. How can you now lay claim to my hard work and future talents? I now feel that if I choose the medical profession I would become a second class citizen.

My dear American friend, after eight years of intense study, many more years of internship and residency, not to mention the hundreds of thousands in debt, I feel the price I am being asked to pay not just in dollars, but in my freedom is more than I can bear. I ask how many more silent voices in classrooms, from my fellow students with an equal passion for healing the sick, will never be heard in clinics and hospitals across this great country?

Alyssa Z
All Americans should be asking themselves these questions...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Unknown

The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly carnival for Objectivist bloggers. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Kelly Elmore hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup on her blog, Reepicheep's Coracle. Go mosey on over and check it out!

(You might recall that Kelly is the author of that most excellent Modern Paleo blog post, My Paleo Kid.)


A Few Tidbits on Justice

By Unknown

Yesterday, I was pretty well enraged by Matt Stone's attack on Jimmy Moore in Poor Poor Jimmy Moore. I've been disgusted with Matt Stone before -- particularly for his penchant for absurd diagnoses via blogs and even tweets -- but this post was utterly beyond the pale. Happily, I knew that Richard Nikoley was writing a response -- and that he did that so very well in Poor Poor Matt Stone. I was delighted to see justice done -- not just by his spanking Matt Stone, but also by his defense of Jimmy Moore and others.

Yet in this case, mere words are not enough. Matt Stone isn't an honorable critic of paleo diets. His behavior over the past few weeks has been utterly uncivilized, presumptuous, and even belligerent. For that, he deserves to be shunned by all decent people, particularly people in the paleosphere. Neither Matt Stone, nor anyone else, should be permitted to so unfairly abuse some of our most awesome paleo and paleo-friendly peopleguys -- most notably Mark Sisson, Dr. Kurt Harris, Jimmy Moore, and Richard Nikoley -- with impunity. These people have been extremely generous with their time and energy, mostly for free. They deserve our gratitude -- not just in word, but in deed too. You don't shake the hand of the man who spits in the face of your benefactors and heroes.

In light of that, a post on the Objectivist virtue of justice seems fitting today.

Justice, as Leonard Peikoff's explains in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, is "the virtue of judging men's character and conduct objectively and of acting accordingly, granting to each man that which he deserves." I have a lengthy essay on justice from NoodleFood that I want to rework a bit, then post to Modern Paleo. However, for that to make sense to MP readers, I'll need lay some ethical groundwork. So for today, I thought I'd just post a few choice quotes on justice from Ayn Rand.

First, from her epic novel Atlas Shrugged:

Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification--that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero--that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions--that to withhold your contempt from men's vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement--that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit--and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.
Second, a fabulous dissection of the concept in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology:
What fact of reality gave rise to the concept "justice"? The fact that man must draw conclusions about the things, people and events around him, i.e., must judge and evaluate them. Is his judgment automatically right? No. What causes his judgment to be wrong? The lack of sufficient evidence, or his evasion of the evidence, or his inclusion of considerations other than the facts of the case. How, then, is he to arrive at the right judgment? By basing it exclusively on the factual evidence and by considering all the relevant evidence available. But isn't this a description of "objectivity"? Yes, "objective judgment" is one of the wider categories to which the concept "justice" belongs. What distinguishes "justice" from other instances of objective judgment? When one evaluates the nature or actions of inanimate objects, the criterion of judgment is determined by the particular purpose for which one evaluates them. But how does one determine a criterion for evaluating the character and actions of men, in view of the fact that men possess the faculty of volition? What science can provide an objective criterion of evaluation in regard to volitional matters? Ethics. Now, do I need a concept to designate the act of judging a man's character and/or actions exclusively on the basis of all the factual evidence available, and of evaluating it by means of an objective moral criterion? Yes. That concept is "justice."
And third, a warning from the essay "How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society" in The Virtue of Selfishness.
It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men's virtues and from condemning men's vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you--whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?
Chew on that for a spell, dear readers!


Friday, March 26, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #001

By Unknown

Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere. So, dear readers, take a look at the posts in this week's edition; you'll likely find some bloggers that you'll want to read regularly!

Now, without further ado, I present The Paleo Rodeo for your reading pleasure:
Jeff Pickett presents We're Not "Those Guys" posted at Primal Chat, saying, "This post describes the pure community that the Paleo/Primal world is all about. Its non-exclusive in nature and seeks to educate as many as will listen about how to have a more fulfilling lifestyle."

Nell Stephenson presents Congratulations! You've finished the marathon - have a bagel (?)! posted at TrainWithNellie.

Lucky Martinez presents Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Prairie posted at Paleo Princess.

Marc presents Links & Must Read posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "The links are familiar to all... but I wanted to share my experiences."

Richard Nikoley presents Paleo Overview posted at Free The Animal, saying, "Since this is the first addition of the Rodeo I picked one of the most viewed posts on the blog. And since Modern Paleo is new, with new readers this offers a number of resources for those also new to Paleo."

Chris Highcock presents Interview with Ray Audette - Author of Neanderthin posted at Conditioning Research.

Jeff Pickett presents Free E-book for Primal Ponderers posted at Primal Chat.

Laurie Donaldson presents Hooray for Leftovers! - Baked Eggs Florentine posted at Food for Primal Thought.

Patrik presents How did Grok self-obsess? posted at How did Grok self-obsess? - PaleoHacks.com, saying, "I think we should keep Paleo in perspective."

Michael Miles presents What To Eat In A Crisis posted at Nutrition and Physical Regeneration.

jumpow presents Shoe Review posted at Dad Rewrite (programming).
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this inaugural edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! (You might have noticed that this edition didn't include any posts from the Modern Paleo Blog. Doh! I was so focused on gathering submissions from other paleo blogs that I simply forgot to ask our own bloggers to submit their posts, or submit one myself.)

I hope to see The Paleo Rodeo grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:



Thursday, March 25, 2010

My New Exercise Routine: Body By Science

By Hoyt Chang

OEvolve member Hoyt Chang reports on his rationale for starting intense resistance training, and particularly training according to the "Body By Science"-protocol, and also how a typical exercise feels. Brief and infrequent episodes of particularly intense exercise are integral to achieving the full benefits of a paleo diet. /Christian

Recently I read Body By Science by Doug McGuff and John Little. It was so amazing that I went to http://www.bodybyscience.net/ and watched all of their videos, read High Intensity Training by Mike Mentzer and John Little, and now I'm re-reading BBS.

BBS blasts away many of the fallacies of conventional wisdom regarding health, fitness, and exercise. Reading it, I re-discovered the pleasure of specialized and applied science that I had forgotten since graduate school. I believe that McGuff provides a revolutionary, scientific framework for studying exercise, a field largely filled with misconceptions. BBS provides the ideal high intensity training routine: a brief once-a-week workout, and the scientifically proven benefits are tremendous: muscle gain, better fat loss, control of cholesterol levels, superior workout of the cardiovascular system, improved bone mineral density, etc. The list just goes on and on. A reversal of the aging process was even cited. I was motivated to run down to the gym: there was no way I could let myself not test it out first hand.

Now, I have been sedentary since high school, when I played soccer and tennis. I currently weigh 104 lbs. I'm all skin and bones. For the first two weeks of working out, I pretty much didn't know what I was doing. I had to get familiar with the exercise machines as well as my own body. But now I think I'm getting the hang of BBS' high intensity training.

It works like this. Say I'm setting in a chest press machine. I'm using weights slightly heavier than my previous training session. I complete one rep. Nice and slow, everything is smooth. I've expended a lot of effort and I'm starting to feel it. I complete another rep and another. Now I'm getting really tired. I wish I'm not sitting in this machine. I wish I was doing easy, low intensity exercise like jogging or biking. But I think about the benefits that are waiting for me. I focus on the challenge in front of me and on keeping the motion smooth as I complete another rep and another. At this point my legs are shaking, my heart is racing, and I'm panting as though I just ran five miles. I try the impossible: I try to do another rep. I push and every inch of my body is screaming at me to stop. The weights go halfway up, and I push and I push, but the weights are stopped. This is positive muscle failure. I keep pushing, in an effort to keep the weights still, but they start to drop. This is holding muscle failure. The weights keep dropping, and they are dropping faster, despite all my efforts to hold it. This is negative muscle failure. The weights hit the bottom and it's over.

In fact, today I fasted and did four such high intensity exercises: squats, standing calf raises, bicep pull-downs, and chest presses. (Training to failure is much easier on machines than free weights.) The whole thing took about 20 minutes, but my whole body is extremely exhausted and I'm extremely hungry. My legs were shaking uncontrollably. This was very annoying, and hopefully after a few more sessions the shaking will go away. Afterward, I ate a delicious Paleo meal consisting of rib-eye steak, scrambled eggs, spinach, and whole milk with cream.

Training to muscular failure is necessary to provide a sufficiently high stimulus to trigger a positive adaptive response. As a mechanical engineer, I don't like the term “failure” because it suggests something is broken, but everyone uses it so I guess I will too. BBS calls training to failure a “serious 'threat' to your body” and a “profound metabolic experience” without which there would be little or no adaptive response. My DNA doesn't know I was in a gym moving weights up and down. For all it knew, from an evolutionary standpoint, I was fighting for my life against a mountain lion, and having survived this trauma, it will overcompensate in case it happens again.

[Christian's comment: There is some debate about the benefits of "training to failure" (for instance, Art De Vany doesn't train to failure), but the point is that the body needs a serious enough stimulus to maximise its adaptive response.]

Now, some people people don't do high intensity training because of this “pain.” But I don't call it pain. I call it effort, severe discomfort, total exhaustion, or “the combination of holy sacrament, Indian torture, and sexual ecstasy” to quote The Fountainhead. If that wording is too much for you, then “effort” should suffice. As with everything else in life, it's “no effort, no gain” not “no pain, no gain.”

With such an intense stimulus, a recovery period of about one week is necessary. Next week I will fight a bigger mountain lion, and an even bigger one the week after that.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Paleo Kid

By Kelly Elmore

There has been some talk on OEvolve about how to help kids transition to a paleo diet with their parents, and the suggestions have been really helpful. But, I thought it might be useful to hear about how paleo works when you do it from the beginning, or at least how it worked for us. As a disclaimer, we are not 100%. We eat tons of things in our family that are not good for us, but we try to minimize those things and we know what things are bad when we eat them. :)

Livy (who is six) started her paleo journey in the womb. While I was pregnant with Livy, I ate meat, veggies, raw dairy including loads of butter, bone broths, some raw liver in smoothies, and cod liver and butter oil. I also ate some crap, but I did pretty well over all. Livy was breastfed for the first 3 years and several months of her life, and she was exclusively breastfed for about 10 months. While nursing her, I kept up that same kind of fatty and nutrient-dense diet.

I waited until Livy was actually interested in solid foods (in eating them, not just playing) before offering her any. At about 10 months, she started to try to get things off of our plates, so I would give her a big chunk of steak or a large carrot to chew - basically, real food, but nothing chokeable. She would suck every bit of juice out of the steak until it was grey. Steak has been her favorite food for all 6 years of her life. She didn't really ingest much solid food until she was over a year old and finally had some teeth. At that time, I would chew up things on my plate and then give them to her to eat or cut food up into tiny pieces. We did delayed the big allergens, but most of them aren't healthy foods anyways. She never had baby food, and she ate (and still eats) a wide variety of foods. She loves egg drop soup, any Thai food, beef and pork, chicken wings, grape tomatoes, salad (as long as it is covered in balsamic vinegar), salmon, and anything heated up in a bowl of homemade stock. But, as she has gotten older, she also likes pizza, cake, candy, soda, and innumerable other kinds of junk. I did not give her unhealthy foods when she was too little to want them; no need to give ice cream to babies before they actually want it. :) We did not give her cereals. It's just awful how little babies start their lives out with crappy grains, when they could be eating meat and broth.

Our policies about food are these:

1. Eat whatever you want whenever you want. I usually do not buy crap and bring it home, so her choices are pretty good. Sometimes I do buy things like popsicles and marshmallows, but not very often. She goes to the fridge, gets snacks or meals, heats them up, and eats when she is hungry. I like that this policy keeps her in touch with her body's needs and gives her independence. If I feel that she is eating too much junk, I look to myself first. Am I buying too much junk? Am I not preparing healthy foods that she likes? Usually, if I clean up my shopping or cook more, the problem is solved. Once I had to mention to her that I noticed she was eating a lot of sugar, and we talked about ways to cut down and still be satisfied. She was willing to work with me.

2. I don't prevent her from enjoying cake at parties, having chocolate milk at a restaurant, or eating candy on Halloween. She eats a healthy diet most of the time, and the rest of the time I try not to worry. She is usually very good about self-monitoring (much better that I am) and rarely overeats candy or cake. I want her to enjoy herself and not feel resentful about our diet.

3. We eat out a pretty good amount, so I guide her into making better choices when we are out. If she really, really wants macaroni and cheese, I let her have it, but I try to explain why steak or chicken wings or a cup of soup would be a better choice. She almost always chooses meat or soup because this is what she is used to.

4. We do not do "kids' food." I hate children's menus, and I hate the idea that kids will only eat pizza, mac and cheese, and hamburgers. Livy has always eaten adult food, and we rarely order off the children's menu. Instead we find smaller portions of regular food, like soups, appetizers, and small portions of meats. I do not cook more than one thing. If you don't like what I cook, find something else in the fridge for yourself. I do not leave out spices (though I am sensitive to her palate, just as I am to Aaron's). My idea is that Livy is a human person, and she can eat like one from the beginning of solid foods. Often, she and I split an entree, and that way, she tries many different delicious foods.

5. Exercise is optional. I do not force her to join a sport or anything like that. But, I try to make exercise fun. We have a trampoline; we go to the park; we ride bikes or scooters. She chooses to play soccer. I think, as in the case of diet, modeling is the best way for kids to make good choices. She sees me and her dad (particularly her dad) being active, so it seems like the way people should be. She can do pistol squats on either leg (for you Crossfitters), so I guess she is doing okay!

6. I do not encourage a small child to fast (obvious, I hope), but I don't make a big deal out of missing or delaying a meal. I see so many parents encouraging, bribing, forcing, or guilting kids to eat at regular meal times. I think this is silly. They aren't stupid; when they get hungry, they will eat. Today, Livy chose to skip lunch. No big. The human race has faced times when kids missed more than one lunch, and we all survived.

7. I teach about nutrition more than I legislate. Those of you who know me and my parenting are probably not surprised that I do not force Livy to eat or not eat according to my wishes. Instead, I have been teaching her about healthy eating since she was a baby, and I encourage her to eat well by my example, by my use of my money for healthy stuff instead of crap, and by putting the work into making things that she likes that I like for her to eat. I am not willing to make food a battle (partly because I don't want her to rebel and eat 2 tons of candy later and partly because food battling leads to the kind of disordered relationship with food that I have struggled with my whole life).

Now that I have rambled on and on about my principles, let me give you some specifics about what Livy eats. These are the foods she eats most often (some of these are obviously used by me in the preparation) and the supplements she takes: beef, chicken, pork, turkey, bacon, sausage, shrimp, and fish (all kinds of cuts and all kinds of preparation), stock (bone broths made from all kinds of animals), chili, meat stews, meaty soups, oranges, berries, apples, raw milk, butter, lard, coconut oil, bacon grease, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for salad dressing, salad greens, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, potatoes, eggs, cod liver oil, vitamin D, and a multivitamin. I even went to the kitchen to see what else might be added to this list and couldn't find much. Sometimes she eats Campbell's Soup (cause she loves it), and sometimes she eats popsicles, but I think that is about it. She will eat ANYTHING that we grow in our own garden or get from our beloved farmer.

For breakfast (when she chooses to eat it), she usually has leftovers from the night before. Lunch is more of grazing kind of meal - milk, fruit, lunch meats, etc - unless I cook. For cooked lunch or for dinner, I make meat and a veggie or a stew. When we eat out, she eats pretty much the same kinds of things (meat, veggies, soups), but I know (and she knows) that the fats and broth and meat are not the healthy farm and homemade kind. We like to eat ethnic food, and sometimes we can find restaurants (Thai especially) that use healthy ingredients.

I'll be happy to discuss any of the above with folks who want to ask questions, make comments, or criticize to kingdom come. :) Pictures follow.

Fat, healthy, breastfed baby

Livy, Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and fan of chicken wings

Livy eating turkey leg

Inevitable build of paleo child :)

Livy's actual body type - long and lean and muscular. Amazing how wrong all the people were who told me that breastfeeding, meat, fat, etc would make her fat. Just so everyone knows, I don't think this is the only natural body type, just hers. I suspect she inherited it from her dad.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Link Love Roundup #001

By Unknown

I'm thrilled beyond my wildest hopes with the launch of Modern Paleo. In just over a week, we've gotten over 11,000 hits and 25,000 page views! The Modern Paleo Blog has churned out a great series of posts, with more to come. The three Modern Paleo e-mail lists are growing steadily. As of this morning, PaleoBloggers has 29 members, SousVide has 52 members, and PaleoThyroid has 53 members. The blog carnivals of PaleoBloggers and SousVide will be posted on March 26th and March 30th, respectively. (You must be on the relevant list to submit to the carnival, and if you're on the list, you'll get notices about how to submit.)

I want to particularly thank the people who have linked to Modern Paleo since it's launch. I thought that the best way of doing that would be give them a bit of link love in return.

  • Richard Nikoley of Free The Animal got the ball rolling with this wonderful post announcing Modern Paleo.

  • Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple linked to us in his Weekend Link Love. (That was huge!)

  • Chris Kresser of The Healthy Skeptic of posted a selection of Modern Paleo's 30 Principles (with my permission) in this post. He says, "If you're looking for a good 'blueprint' for health to follow, this is it. It's one of the bests lists of this kind that I've seen. I agree with Diana on every point, with perhaps a minor quibble on #30 (which is more about politics than nutrition)." Thanks, Chris... and we'll work on convincing you about the free market politics!

  • The Paleo Garden wrote up a good post, with a nice mention of Modern Paleo at the start. He discusses Ayn Rand's quote -- "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit." -- in the context of food, relating it to the poison peddled under the banner of those supposedly "HealthyWholeGrains."

  • Keith Norris of Theory to Practice gave us a plug at the bottom of this post, saying "You'll notice that I've added Diana Hsieh Modern Paleo blog to the TTP blogroll. Objectivist-leaning, Paleo lifestyle -- Ayn Rand meets the hunter-gatherer. Bring your A-intellect to this one, folks -- Objectivists don't suffer fools easily; I for one can appreciate that sentiment. I'll be spending quite a bit of time here, to be sure." Awesome!

  • Crossfit Valdosta and Crossfit NYC linked to Christian's post Why the Paleolithic? (See Crossfit Valdosta's post for awesome before-and-after paleo pictures.) Crossfit NYC also linked to us in this post with this succinct line: "Ayn Rand + paleo = OEvolve (& Modern Paleo)." Yup, that sums it up nicely!

  • OEvolve member Benpercent recommended us, as did the Catholic blog The New Beginning. (!) My husband Paul Hsieh posted about Modern Paleo to his offbeat tech news blog Geekpress over the weekend. Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings just posted about us too. And The Paleo Diet added us to their blogroll.
Whew! That was a pretty long list. Thank you, thank you!

If you've posted about Modern Paleo but I've missed you -- or if you do so -- please drop me e-mail. I'll add you to the next "Link Love Roundup"!

Oh, and while I'm here, I'll add one more link: The Denver Post published a favorable article on Loren Cordain's "The Paleo Diet": Their secret: Work out hard, and eat like a cave man. I don't agree with all of Dr. Cordain's recommendations, but I'm glad to see friendly attention to a paleo-type approach to diet and fitness from my own local paper.


Muscle Mass for Health and Longevity

By Christian Wernstedt

A new study fresh off the press as of March 4, 2010:

"The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease" by Robert R Wolfe.

This is a good scientific overview in regard to the utmost importance of maintaining muscle mass for health and well being, particularly as we age.

Some points made in this study are not particularly revolutionary for paleo folks, but I think that it is an important step forward that this type of material is entering the scientific mainstream, especially since it also ties into the debate about diets. Eating according to the USDA's pyramid is almost as "catabolic" (muscle atrophying) as a diet can get, whereas a paleo diet combined with high intensity resistance training can help even skinny nerds (like myself) to put on muscle.

Here are some key points from the article according to my reading. (My own conjectures are between parentheses) :

- The availability of muscle protein (and its amino acid constituents) is the number one limiting factor in whole-body metabolism and maintenance. Essentially: When one has lost enough muscle mass, vital processes in the body cannot be maintained. For this reason, muscle mass is strongly positively correlated with survival of severe trauma and disease, and the recovery after such events.

- Muscle mass is strongly correlated with bone strength and bone mass. (The implication being that loading the bones through muscle contractions of sufficient intensity will strengthen the bones.)

- Sarcopenia, that is loss of muscle mass in old age, has a devastating effect on survival and quality of life - a quite obvious point. Further, it is much more difficult to adequately recover lost muscle mass in old age than it is to mitigate the harm through acquiring muscle mass while still young - a less obvious, but IMPORTANT point. ("Muscle is metabolic currency, so go to the gym and make a deposit today!’" as Carl Lanore, host of "Superhuman Radio", puts it succinctly.)

- Muscle, even when idle, helps to burn fat and excess calories. (Also, intense exercise has been shown to facilitate the body's adaptation to fat burning. Of course, this doesn't work well in the presence of insulin elevated by a high carbohydrate diet.)

- One's dietary intake of protein must be adequate to fuel muscle repair and growth. (Duh! But tell this to the whole grains crowd. Fortunately, the article's author goes on to criticize current dietary dogmas that recommend against foods, such as meat, that are particularly good sources of complete protein.)

In addition to these points, the article also provides a somewhat difficult discusion of how impaired metabolic function in muscle tissue is an important factor in type 2 diabetes, and it hints that such metabolic impairments may be due to lack of physical activity. A paleo-ish macro perspective on this is that, of course, physical activity of a certain intensity and frequency is what our genes "expect" in order to express the healthy bodies that our genetic blueprints were designed to deliver. I'm expecting tons of research to come out that will confirm this. (This important paper provides an intellectual framework for this revolution.)

In summary, we can add Robert R Wolfe's article to the growing pile of compelling arguments submitted by Doug McGuff, Arthur De Vany and others in regard to the importance of acquiring and maintaining muscle mass for overall health and longevity.

[Editor's note: Yes, this info applies to women too. Women need to get off the tread mill (a proven tool for becoming skinny-fat and a metabolic basket case by 40, especially if combined with a grain laden diet), and add to their 24/7 fat-burning reserves of muscle. A bit of definition on a woman in an evening gown looks good too.]


Monday, March 22, 2010

Modern Paleo Journey

By Jeff

First a bit of personal info. I just turned 40. Married with 2 young children. I work as a Mechanical/Software Engineer for a large company. My family and I are relocating to Greenville, SC this summer from upstate NY. I have been a lifelong athlete, mostly in golf (single digit handicap when I play) and tennis (4.0ish). I played college Rugby as a wimpy but speedy back (wing and outside center).

Before diving into Modern Paleo living I was never much overweight, but suffered from Diseases of Civilization. Myopia, numerous cavities, cancer (bladder) to name a few. I got sick 3-4 times per year. I got especially grouchy around meal times where I couldn't control my anger at times.

After getting to 203# (at 6' 1") I decided I was not going to be the 200#+ guy and starting making some changes. I started jogging 3 times per week and added one day of upper body lifting and hated every minute of it. I began eating less and with less dietary fat as well. After 2 years or so I dropped to 188# and was around 16 percent body fat but lacking muscle tone.

I stumbled across Art Devany's Evolutionary Fitness essay in Feb 2008 and was so convinced I changed my eating and fitness patterns immediately. I was at a point where I was ready to mix things up from my boring workout routine anyway and his material is extremely compelling. I began reading Art's older blog posts, Mark's Daily Apple, Whole Health Source, Free The Animal, Conditioning Research, Healthcare Epistemocrat, PaNu and many others, implementing or experimenting with many of the ideas contained in their postings.

Many of the annoying parts of my life disappeared within 2 weeks, particularly the grouchiness. I lost 10# in the first 5 weeks and got down to 174# and 9% body fat within 6 months. 6 months after that I was 182# with 8 percent body fat, where I finally started having some muscles. I fasted 3 times per week including 2 dinner to dinner fasts. I never believed I could fast due to my previous grouchiness, but once you are ketoadapted it is quite easy. I used to get the random pimple around my wife's time of the month (anyone know why?), but that stopped. I have not been sick in over 2 years. I never get grouchy anymore. I feel and look better than when I was 18. My sleep has also improved. I never experienced any of the negative effects mentioned by other Paleo bloggers. The only bad thing was 3-4 weeks of random leg cramps.

My wife had equally positive results after griping about the lack of pasta for 5 weeks. Since I am the family cook she was left with little choice about what was for dinner. When her size 6 clothes stopped fitting she realized I might be on to something. She is now somewhere between a size 0 and 2 and weighs what she did when she was on the college tennis and crew teams, but she is now more muscular (but not bulky).

Here are some details & thoughts:
  • Food: For food we eat primarily meats (fish, pork and chicken included) and vegetables. We have evolved to eat more and more meats bought outside the grocery store. We are lucky to have good grass fed/finished beef, pastured eggs, and naturally raised local pork and chicken at farms and farmers markets. I also get raw milk from a local farm for our kids. Eating Paleo with properly raised animal is more expensive but I think it is worth it.

  • Supplements/Augmentations: For supplements I take cod liver oil on days when I can't eat the clean food I make myself. I take vitamin D on days I can't get out in the sun. I also supplement with Iodine since I can't get good marine food often enough. I don't take the supplements for super health, but rather to replace in my diet that which I can't get access to readily.

  • Exercise: For exercise I have evolved to a Body By Science (BBS) style of lifting. I started doing Devany pyramid sets(15/8/4) 3-4 times per week. I changed to do plyometric and explosive training for a while. I read Body By Science after injuring myself doing overhead presses and dead lifts explosively. I was VERY skeptical about a slow motion, infrequent, one set to failure workout since I bought into the functional training idea and the thought of lifting slow sounded the opposite of functional. The book explains why functional training as an idea is faulty and I had personal experience with some of the examples in the book(road jogging after a winter of treadmill jogging). Others totally disagree, but for me I am not sure it matters. I am not going to ever be a pro athelete. My current thought is functional training is essentially inefficient. I tried BBS on a whim and understood it immediately. Slower was way harded than anything I had done before and it took me 3 days to feel back to baseline. Since then I have done weekly workouts with Jeet Kune Do, sprinting or other brief, not to failure lifting in between on occasion. I have gotten stronger each week for 10 months. I struggled a bit early on with training in the high intensity style too often, but other than that it has gone extremely well. As a bonus, while moving to SC I get to do my workouts with a trainer at Ultimate Exercise, McGuff's facility. BBS style training with a trainer is even tougher than BBS on my own with my wife.

  • Barefooting: I am avid about barefooting. I have 4 pairs of Vibram FiveFingers but go completely barefoot whenever I am able. The new Trek model is tame enough to wear to work, but I still get a lot of stares. I also walk at lunch without a shirt (for sunshine/vitamin D), drawing some strange looks from time to time. All my working out is done either barefoot or in my FiveFingers. I get bugged so often that I had the company send me cards to hand out.

  • Experiments in Mass Gain: Since reading some body building books last summer I decided I would try to gain 10# more muscle. I added raw milk and overate quite a bit on purpose, particularly using eggs and meat. This was a mistake. I am now on my way back down to the 182# that I am comfortable with after going as high as 190# and 12 body fat. Overeating in my case doesn't work to add mass other than fat, or at least in combination with my training current training methods. I am now happy at 185ish and below 10 body fat. I simply stopped overating and dropped most of the dairy. Based on a recent post from Dr. Davis I may be dropping most of the other dairy I have left.

  • Blogging: I consider myself a 4th (5th?) tier blogger and mostly use my blog as a way to capture my thoughts and document my workouts for the dozen or so that are interested. I do some level of coaching, guidance, and promoting of Paleo like ideas, but from a humble, epistemocratic perspective.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Open Thread #001

By Unknown

(Photo courtesy of jamiedfw)

This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.


Welcome, MDA Readers!

By Unknown

I'm so thrilled that Mark Sisson gave us a bit of weekend link love. Thanks, Mark!

For people new to Modern Paleo, I want to post a quick introduction to the site. In essence, Modern Paleo offers writings by Objectivists on the principles and practice of nutrition, fitness, and health most conducive to human flourishing. We seek the best that modern life has to offer, informed by a broadly paleo approach.

Here are the highlights:

I hope that you find the web site of value. I'm proud of what we've done so far, and we have plans to roll out a slew of useful paleo-related resources in the future.

If you have any comments or questions or suggestions, please feel free to e-mail me, Diana Hsieh, at diana@dianahsieh.com.


Introduction to FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine

By Paul Hsieh

Hi -- I'm Paul Hsieh, Diana's husband. Diana asked me to write a short introduction to FIRM, which stands for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

FIRM was a project started by our friend Lin Zinser back in January 2007 to help promote free-market health care reform and to oppose a plan to impose government-run "universal health care" in Colorado.

Our mission statement is as follows:

We stand for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

America was founded on the principles of freedom and individual rights. Applied to medicine, the law must respect the individual rights of doctors and other providers, allowing them the freedom to practice medicine. This includes the right to choose their patients, to determine the best treatment for their patients, and to bill their patients accordingly. In the same manner, the law must respect the individual rights of patients, allowing them the freedom to seek out the best doctors and treatment they can afford.

Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM) promotes the philosophy of individual rights, personal responsibility, and free market economics in health care. FIRM holds that the only moral and practical way to obtain medical care is that of individuals choosing and paying for their own medical care in a capitalist free market. Federal and state regulations and entitlements, we maintain, are the two most important factors in driving up medical costs. They have created the crisis we face today.
During 2007 and 2008, FIRM (along with many others in Colorado) helped defeat the state-level plan for government-run health care. Starting in 2008, supporters of FIRM began speaking out and writing to promote free-market health care reform solutions at the national level.

After Lin Zinser left Colorado in late 2008 to take a position as Vice President of Public Outreach for the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington DC, I became the primary contact person for FIRM.

For more information about FIRM, please see our website:

Our blog is updated regularly at:

FIRM supporters have also written numerous articles and OpEds on free market health care reform. Our pieces have appeared in publications including The Objective Standard, PajamasMedia, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Examiner, and the Denver Post.

The full list can be found at:

Some of our major articles include:
Some of our recent OpEds include:
On a personal note, I am a physician practicing in the south Denver metro area. My specialty is diagnostic radiology, with subspecialty interests in trauma and orthopedic imaging.

(Disclaimer: I speak only for myself in my writings with FIRM or here on Modern Paleo. None of what I say should be construed as being an official position of my medical group or any of my practice partners.)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Brief Introduction to Objectivism

By Unknown

Given that today is Modern Paleo's first day of Saturday blogging on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, I wanted to introduce that philosophy. Since it's already past 11 pm, I'll be doing so briefly -- and mostly though Ayn Rand's own words.

In a short column entitled "Introducing Objectivism," Ayn Rand described her philosophy while "standing on one foot" as follows:

1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
2. Epistemology: Reason
3. Ethics: Self-interest
4. Politics: Capitalism
She then described those four points in slightly more detail.
1. Reality exists as an objective absolute--facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man--every man--is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man's rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
As stated, these principles seem quite simple. Yet to really understand them -- to see why they're true and how they impact our lives -- requires some serious study and reflection. That can be fun -- and hugely rewarding -- but it's not a snap.

So what if you'd like to dig into Objectivism a bit deeper? I recommend that you start by reading Ayn Rand's novels, particularly The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
Then move to her philosophical essays, collected in various anthologies. (I'd recommend something like this order... but mostly, you should read on topics that most interest you.)
After that, you can check out the resources listed on MP's Objectivism Page. That should keep you busy for a while!

Finally, I want to reiterate what I wrote about the relationship between Objectivism Objectivism and the paleo approach to health on the home page of Modern Paleo. I wrote:
As a philosophy, Objectivism is silent on scientific questions about nutrition, fitness, and health. On the distinction between philosophy and science, Ayn Rand wrote:
Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible. (Philosophy: Who Needs It, 2)
We [meaning the contributors to MP] regard Objectivism as compatible with a paleo approach to nutrition, fitness, and health. Yet we recognize that most Objectivists do not eat a paleo diet, just as most paleo diet advocates are not Objectivists. We're happy to forge our own path to secure our life, health, and happiness. That's what it means to be human.
And now... my own self-interest demands that I go to bed!


The Weekend Schedule

By Unknown

Christian W. and I decided break up the blogging schedule for the Modern Paleo Blog somewhat. The weekends will be a slight change in pace from the usual blogging on "the principles and practice of nutrition, fitness, and health most conducive to human flourishing." How so?

On Saturdays, the Modern Paleo Blog will publish posts on Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Frustratingly, that philosophy is usually poorly understood by its critics -- and by some admirers too. Ayn Rand's principles are often far more radical and complex than people realize. Yet they're also so darn simple and easy -- because they make sense in theory and work in practice.

I suspect that many of Modern Paleo's readers have already devoured Ayn Rand's epic novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. (If not, I envy you: you have the unrepeatable experience of reading them for the first time ahead of you!) However, as with so many subjects, digging a bit deeper into Ayn Rand's works reveals hidden gems.

So we -- meaning the various Objectivist bloggers of Modern Paleo -- will be posting on topics such as:

  • Why aren't Objectivists libertarians?
  • What is moral judgment? Why is it crucial for human life?
  • What does it mean to live by reason? Does that mean ignoring emotions?
  • What are the legitimate functions of government? Why is government necessary?
  • What does it mean to be "selfish"? Are people who cheat or use others truly selfish?
  • Why does Objectivism reject all claims to the supernatural, including God?
  • What do the Objectivist virtues require in practice?
In these posts, we'll not attempt to break new philosophic ground. Instead, the goal will simply be to explain the Objectivist position and arguments as clearly as possible, then identify relevant sources for further study.

In addition, I'll post a link to the weekly Objectivist blog carnival, "The Objectivist Roundup," on Saturdays. The posts in the Roundup aren't necessarily on Objectivism, but they're all written by Objectivists, mostly by people on my OBloggers e-mail list. You can find this week's Objectivist Roundup on Amy Mossoff's blog, The Little Things.

On Sundays, Modern Paleo will publish posts on free market politics -- particularly as that applies to issues of concern to paleo-eaters, such as in medicine, agriculture, pollution, and the like. I expect that we'll post quite a bit of material from my husband, Dr. Paul Hsieh, as he has been writing and blogging for Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM) for three years. I hope to see some material from Dr. Monica Hughes of FA/RM (Free Agriculture - Restore Markets) and others too.

I'll also post an "open comment thread" on Sundays in the late afternoon. Modern Paleo readers are welcome to any random questions or remarks -- on any topic -- in the comments of those posts. (Please stick somewhat to the topic of the blog post in commenting on other posts.) However, as with all the comments, personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted from those open threads.

Notably, readers of Modern Paleo who can't stand to read the weekend posts are welcome to ... (drumroll please) ... just not read those posts. However, I expect that most of you will be curious enough -- and honest enough -- to consider what we have to say on philosophy and politics. Whether you agree or disagree with us ultimately, you should find some good food for thought.

We look forward to your questions and comments on these weekend posts, as those will provide us with great material for future posts!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why the Paleolithic? (Or "Why Can't We Just Eat Like the First Cell?")

By Christian Wernstedt

Ari on the OEvolve list asked:

Paleo people themselves had ancestors. If our goal is to eat like the Paleos ate, should Paleos have eaten as their ancestors ate (for optimal health)? Moreover, how do we know that any particular food that a Paleo person ate was optimal for that person's biology? Maybe the Paleo diet was partly or largely non-optimal.

Let's pose the question in an even broader way: How do we know that the Paleolithic era (roughly 2.5 Ma to 100 ka) should be the template for our diet when our ancestors have evolved for 3.8 billion years since the first life on earth? Why can't we just eat like the first cell?

I think that the general answer to this is that it was during the Paleolithic era that Homo Sapiens' most significant distinguishing traits (large brain + consciousness + upright posture) evolved. It was during the Paleolithic era (2.5 Ma to, say, 100 ka) that Man became Man (as different from an ape) in the sense that the environment in which our ancestors lived then (Africa) provided the bulk of the environmental selection pressures that molded our species' specific characteristics.

The challenge of calorically supporting the energy requirements of a uniquely large brain in a highly mobile animal's body (a lot of muscle combined with a relatively down-sized digestive system) required specific alterations to our herbivorous ancestors' metabolisms and feeding patterns; in particular it required the utilization of the particularly dense sources of nutrients that were the large animals of the Paleolithic eco-system in Africa.

Now, neither our Homo Sapiens body, nor its dietary requirements appeared in one sudden transformation. Our earliest 100% herbivorous genetic ancestor is an African gorilla-type primate from around 7 million years ago. The evolution of such a gorilla into Homo Sapiens took about 250000 to 300000 generations of small incremental modifications to the gorilla-specific physiology, metabolism, and behavior.

Each step on this evolutionary path slightly altered what one could at any given time call "the optimal gorilla/hominid diet". With glacial speed the physiologically optimal dietary ranges for macro- and micro nutrients changed in accordance with corresponding changes in the genome, which in turn changed through selection pressures. Thus an early hominid's "evolutionary correct" diet from 2.5 Ma would differ from both the original gorilla diet (7 Ma) and what would become Homo Sapiens' diet (100 ka).

The characteristics of our physiology and metabolism can thus be viewed as the result of a series of more or less significant modifications on top of our gorilla ancestor's "architecture", and many (if not most) gorilla traits are retained (such as the ability to digest relatively starchy vegetables) as are a broad range of important traits that we share with other organisms ranging from higher animals to single cells.

To summarize a few conclusions that I think follow from (or at least are implied by) this discussion:

1.) It is an understatement to say that pre-paleolithic evolution matters enormously to who we are (for example, we breathe oxygen, and we can digest some plant matter), but a granular look at our distinctive features compared to other animals, including our immediate genetic ancestors (such as gorillas), must particularly examine the Paleolithic era and environment. This is because our species simply did not exist before the Paleolithic era.

2.) Man's genetic evolution did not suddenly stop around 100K years ago, and our species' ancestral lineages that proliferated geographically (or in terms of ways of life) since Paleolithic times have undergone further genetic evolution. For one thing, the differentiation in skin color between individuals is an apparent sign of this, as is perhaps the variations in regard to such things as toleration of dairy or alcohol.

3.) However, genetic evolution is a stupendously slow process, and the dietary requirements for a given species thus evolve in an equally slow manner. The design of our bodies has evolved over millions of years prior to the last 100K years, and thus recent selection pressures account for relatively little when it comes to what our diet should be. This is especially true when making a distinction between what we can tolerate vs. what is optimal. What a "paleo diet" attempts to address is our species' unique capacity to volitionally frontrun genetic evolution by consuming foods that our bodies may not (yet) be adapted to handle optimally.

[Editor's note: The above point should be read over, and over, and over again by people who argue that the paleo diet is wrong because evolution obviously continued beyond the introduction of agriculture.]

Even with all of the above said, I don't want to imply that a look at our Paleolithic ancestors' existence and diet is the final word about how our diets should be. Knowledge about our ancestors (as far as such knowledge can be reliably obtained) must be integrated into a total picture verified by appropriate observations and experimentation.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rational Standards of Health

By Michael Gold

Protagoras said: man is the measure of all things.

True -- in context of an objective metaphysics and epistemology. Which then allow you to properly use the Protagorean principle in the science of health.

And you should want to, to be egoistic and selfish...which this blog [viz., Ego] is about. But we must keep in mind, it is only on an objective metaphysical and epistemological basis that you'll get egoism right.

Ayn Rand pointed out:
The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life—and, therefore, is applicable only in the context of a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest. It is not a license “to do as he pleases” and it is not applicable to the altruists’ image of a “selfish” brute nor to any man motivated by irrational emotions, feelings, urges, wishes or whims.

This is said as a warning against the kind of “Nietzschean egoists” who, in fact, are a product of the altruist morality and represent the other side of the altruist coin: the men who believe that any action, regardless of its nature, is good if it is intended for one’s own benefit. Just as the satisfaction of the irrational desires of others is not a criterion of moral value, neither is the satisfaction of one’s own irrational desires. Morality is not a contest of whims . . . (“Introduction,” The Virtue of Selfishness, ix.)
But how to apply the Protagorean principle to health, so you can egoistically live your own life to its fullest and best? How to apply it, so you can better raise children? How to apply it, so you can provide rational principles of health to friends, so their lives can be better, too?

We have to appeal to the special sciences and evolution, as Dr. Michael Eades does in his blog post "Hard Wired to the Past."

After discussing in his post some quotes from a Scientific American article on cats and a poem about cats by J.R.R. Tolkien, Dr. Eades says:
We, ourselves, like cats, walked “in thought unbowed, proud, where loud roared and fought [our] kin, lean and slim, or deep in den in the East [and] feasted on beasts” in a time long past. And just like fat cats on mats everywhere, we remember, too, those “fierce and free” primal days, if not in our conscious brains, at least in our DNA. We are hardwired to gobble meat with “huge ruthless tooth in gory jaw.” If you don’t believe me, take a look at this YouTube of chimps, our nearest genetic ancestor hunting and eating meat.
We’ve developed our large brains and our social instincts as a consequence of meat eating. I’m planning a post on this subject in the near future, so you can see how our very humanness arose because we developed a taste for meat. We are carnivores to our very cores – were we not, we would still be roaming the savannas with brains the size of grapefruits.
We are not, by nature, grain eaters. We were not conditioned and have not evolved to eat grains, table sugar, lots of salt, etc. -- those are practices and recommendations based on desperation (early societies needing to feed lots of people, or die) and a mismeasure of man. We learn this, not by arbitrarily attacking agriculture, capitalism, and human pleasure, but by applying the rigorous, objective methods of science to study man's health and well-being.

We should also be careful to not follow false arguments or premises like 'if it's healthy, it will be harsh and rigidly disciplined' or 'if I eat healthy, I'll be missing out on a lot of things I like.' Eating right -- it may surprise us only if we suffer under false, unchecked premises -- is easy, enjoyable, and pleasant.

You should at least cut back, way back, on your pizza, bread, hamburgers, and candy. True, you give them up, and you are missing them and the pleasure they give. But turn that around. Since you can only eat so much, since we are finite and limited, when you eat candy and pizza and all, you are missing out on eating more beef tenderloin, lobster, goat cheese, cantaloupe, nuts, strawberries, blueberries...none of which attack your body as do candy and flour, which are long-term self-destructive. What's more, pleasure as such is not a value; it needs to be put in context, it needs to be evaluated in terms of human life and cause and effect. Some pleasures are rational, some are not.

If we are to have man -- man qua rational animal, considered across the whole of his life span -- as the standard of value in our lives, we should then eat not as whim dictates, but as our nature dictates. Following our nature, after all, is what makes us successful in life. And it feels good. And it makes us happy.

Note: This post was originally posted on the blog Ego on 7/13/2009.


Healthy Weight

By Adam Reed

If one were to ask someone who is not familiar with the history of "Public Health" about the meaning of "ideal" ("acceptable," "normal," "healthy") human weight, she would probably guess, that it is the weight range at which the risk of death is, other things being equal, at minimum. What, then, is one to make of these statements in the abstract of a recently published study (Orpana HM, Berthelot JM, Kaplan MS, Feeny DH, McFarland B, Ross NA. 2010: BMI and mortality: results from a national longitudinal study of Canadian adults:)

A significant increased risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up was observed for underweight (BMI 18.5-35; RR = 1.36, P l.t. 0.05) and obesity class II+ (BMI to 35; RR = 1.36, P l.t. 0.05). Overweight (BMI 25 to 30) was associated with a significantly decreased risk of death (RR = 0.83, P l.t. 0.05). The RR was close to one for obesity class I (BMI 30-35; RR = 0.95, P l.t. 0.05). Our results are similar to those from other recent studies, confirming that underweight and obesity class II+ are clear risk factors for mortality, and showing that when compared to the acceptable BMI category, overweight appears to be protective against mortality.
"Overweight appears to be protective against mortality." Then why is it called "overweight?"

"Public health," like "public education," was imported to America from Prussia. The Prussian state was founded by a military order of armed monks, who imposed on the people they conquered an order of Christian discipline similar to their own. Their ideal subject was a man optimally suited for military service. Their ideal soldier was a dragoon, that is, a mounted infantryman: Dragons could be used either as highly mobile infantry or as light cavalry. This meant that the ideal soldier, and therefore the ideal Prussian subject, had to be light enough to ride all day without exhausting the horse. The acceptable weight for conscripting a Prussian dragoon is still with us as the range of "acceptable weight" used in public health studies. Adapted to America's greater variation of human height by substituting height-adjusted BMI for weight, the old Prussian standard of "acceptable weight" remains in world-wide "public health" use to this day.

An objective science of human health would set ideal weight to the weight at which the likelihoods of disease and death from disease are minimized. The corresponding measurement is the relative risk of death: the ideal weight is the weight at which the long term (say 12 year) risk of death is at its local minimum. In other words, the real, objective ideal weight has nothing to do with the desiderata of the Prussian General Staff. It ought to be set by measuring the facts of reality. And, from the facts measured to date, it is clear that the objectively optimal weight is nothing like the "acceptable weight" found in "public health" directives. It is almost certainly somewhere in the range that "public health" professionals call "overweight:" BMI between 25.1 and 29.9.

From the perspective of objective scientific methodology there is much wrong with BMI as the independent variable in health research. Optimal weight should be measured by plotting long-term (e.g. 12-year) mortality versus actual weight in the context of sex/gender, age and height. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the raw data that I would need to set an objective target range for my own weight. In the absence of such data, I use a target of BMI 27.5, the midpoint of the BMI range with the lowest observed mortality risk in nearly all quantitative studies to date.

The continuing use of the Prussian "acceptable weight" ranges, objectively known to be sub-optimal for human life and health, should be an epistemic scandal. It is a public folly with political uses. It permits "public health" authoritarians to claim that individual choice must be restricted to save us from the supposed epidemic of fat. Because if one accepts the Prussian pseudo-standard, 68% of Americans are overweight or obese. And this Prussian pseudo-standard is seldom challenged, because Americans "educated" in Prussian-standard public schools are so concept-deprived that they will believe anything, as long as it comes with a number and a percent sign somewhere - and will submit to the authority of the hoax.


Back to TOP