las

Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Toxic Reproductive Organs?

I was listening to Doug McGuff's interview with David Duke (sorry, you'll have to go to the LLVLC blog for your link), and he mentions at one point why grains are so toxic.  You see the seed part is the reproductive organ that the plant wants to protect itself from being eaten.  

Fair enough.  But let's list other "reproductive organs"  humans eat:
  1. Seeds
  2. Nuts
  3. Tubers
  4. Rhizomes
  5. Legumes (pod seeds)
  6. Fruits (berries, melons, etc. included)
  7. Eggs
  8. The "whole" animal
Need I rinse and repeat?  Yes, all but two of those are vegetation, but I mean we could keep the gurus busy for a goodly long time asking just the difference between this "grain" or that "grain".  Even foliage distinctions aren't consistent as to equate corn with a grass like wheat is baseless.  The truth of the matter is, that unless one truly believes humans are/were obligate carnivores, our species has survived consuming the reproductive organs, especially of vegetation, because that is where the nutrition is!!

If you look at everything bad that can be said about grains, truth be told, you could say the same about, say, walnuts.  Lectins, phytates, omega six fats, ... the list goes on.   Peanuts/butter used to be an Atkins special ... until paleo came along and demonized the legume.  Soy was a staple too ... a few still eat some soy in secret corners.  Black soy beans are a low carbers dream to have "beans" ... I'd never heard of them before someone suggested them in, where else, a low carb forum.  Flax, a low carb staple, must be ground to even be digested such as it even can be.

This is but one of the seemingly arbitrary distinctions made regarding foods that puzzle me.  All of the above except 8 contain some sorts of protective "antinutrients", and yet ALL are sources of high quality nutrition.   That grains have been turned to dust, combined with sugar and or fat into highly processed crap, is no more a reflection on those grains themselves than spiked eggnog is a proper reflection on eggs.  

51 comments:

Evelyn Lee Barney said...

Well, my personal silver lining to the recent scandal is that I found this blog. Thanks so much Evelyn! I started low carbing a couple of months ago (RnY 12 years ago - text book results, lost good amount of weight but still obese, then 10 years out started a slow regain I wanted to S-T-O-P) In the process, my cousin told me she gave up gluten and her eczema went away. I started looking into it all, and did get into WB (as a tech writer I recognized a certain sloppiness but not the specifics)

My weight is dropping slowly. Winter is here and while i feel a vague stiffness in some joints I haven't needed pain medication (with the exception of one or two nights after rough days - and I used to take a LOT, daily, in the winter)

So, for me right now it's low carb, no (well, very little) grains and I admit higher fats than I ever imagined I'd eat, but so far so good. No hunger, weight dropping, pain relief. Am I one of Skinner's Pigeons? Possibly, but for now I've no intention of experimenting to find out. I'll leave that for when and if I become dissatisfied.

Meanwhile, this blog really helps keep me from reading too much too seriously, bashing my head against stone walls and screaming "WHAT THE %^*#!?"

Still struggling with the damned eczema though. ;)

Evelyn Lee Barney said...

OH! I should have said my diet isn't just low carb, it's also calorie restricted.

Diana said...

So it's the seeds? Can I eat figs? How about string beans?

Galina L. said...

Evelyn Lee Barney,
As a person having eczema and other allergies among aliments I manage with a life-style(the same is true for my husband and son), I must say it could be tricky even with avoiding gluten, however in my case LC made big difference, but I already was taking care about other things that may trigger flares.Fortunately I live in a sunny climate. Many people with eczema, psoriasis or other dermatitis have harder time during dark time of the year. Thous with allergies often are sensitive to foods like oranges, strawberries, spices, especially hot foods, chocolate,cocoa,smoked meat or fish. Alcohol is problematic, when I have to take any meds like antibiotics or painkillers,aspirin, whatever, usually eczema gets worse. You have to be careful not to wash with soap area of your skin prone to eczema. I am afraid it sounds overwhelming, but it is not necessary that all factors affect you, it is important to figure out own triggers. Alcohol makes matters worse almost for everyone with eczema. Vitamin D2 could be helpful, magnesium supplements are better not to be forgotten.

lian johnston said...

The 'anti nutrient' argument is so overblown. The "grains don't want to be eaten" argument is even more stupid.. You can nit-pick negatives with any foods and even support it by studies. All cooked meat meat will give you cancer from carcinogens, fish will give you mercury poisoning, cholesterol in eggs will clog your arteries, etc.
Certain "anti nutrients" have been found to be beneficial chelators of certain toxins and even protect against cancer. Legumes are consistently correlated with great health in studies. Same with oats, which have been a beneficial addition of my diet in the last few months after I ditched my phytic phobia.

lian johnston said...

I also think that discouraging against the use of extremely cheap, sustainable and health promoting foods like pea's, lentils, beans and oats is idiotic.

anotherdeadletter said...


"The "grains don't want to be eaten" argument is even more stupid..."

It's without a doubt one of the dumbest rationales for not eating something there is. Nothing wants to be eaten except for parasites. Some plants have lectins (easily removed through soaking/cooking). Animals have teeth, horns, and claws and I'm fairly sure do not want to be killed and eaten either.

Scott said...

Seeds have adaptations that complicate digestion. I think this is the point Dr. McGuff was trying to make, although I'm just guessing because I haven't listened to the interview. It's easy to mix up some words in conversation.

Also, I doubt he meant "toxic".

Father Nature said...

I agree. Everything (with the exception of milk and fruit) evolved with some sort of predatory defense mechanism. The issue is whether any given individual has the genetic adaptations to consume that food despite the defense mechanisms and/or whether there are processes (cooking, fermentation, etc.) that deactivate/reduce those defenses such that it doesn’t cause a problem.

I think an error of mainstream Paleo is the idea that you can draw a bright line distinction between a list of approved “Paleo” foods and forbidden “Neolithic” foods. As Mat Lalonde frequently notes, foods exist on a spectrum and that spectrum may vary between and among populations and individuals.

I would encourage anyone to listen to this podcast and/or read the transcript. It is an interview between Chris Kresser and Mat Lalonde.

http://chriskresser.com/rhr-what-science-really-says-about-the-paleo-diet-with-mat-lalonde

I know some of the positions put forth by Mat are not what you see advocated on other “Paleo” websites. But I hope it is where “Paleo” is heading. At least, if Paleo wants to survive long term, I think it is where it needs to go.

To me the value of Paleo is not in trying to recreate what cave people ate. Rather, it is in understanding that our evolutionary history forms a framework within which we can more fully understand our diet. However, individual recommendations are going to depend on how any given food is prepared (e.g., fermented, processed, raw, cooked, etc.), who is eating that food (e.g., genetic adaptations, epigenetics, gut health, metabolic health, etc.), resources available (e.g., time, money) and an individual’s goals (athletic performance, weight loss, general health, longevity, etc.) . Again, I understand that may not be what the mainstream thinks of when they hear Paleo, but that doesn’t invalidate the premise that evolution can be a powerful tool in guiding some dietary choices. Actually, I don’t care whether that idea is called “Paleo,” “Evolutionary,” “Ancestral” or something else. I don’t make any money off of it. I’m just interested in seeing the general concept (as I’ve described) receive greater public acceptance and it would be a shame to see the ideas be discarded.

Stephen Ferguson said...

"Nothing wants to be eaten except for parasite"

Well some fruit does - so that the seeds are transported and distributed via an animal's feces. Apparently you get excellent tomatos at the sewage plant.

Diana said...

Yeah stuff with seeds is "meant" to be eaten and shat out. I don't think that's the case with wheat. Not that there's anything wrong with eating wheat, just saying.

I'll think of the sitting business the next time I eat a fig. I love them and think fig trees are beautiful, but I don't think that stuff like that is allowed in NYC.

In truth, I don't know what my food "thinks" about being eaten. This reminds me of Dan Matesz referring to animal insemination as rape, and calves as "children."

Diana said...

Is complication necessarily a bad thing?

Jane said...

The seed wants to protect itself from being eaten, does it. Groan. All the 'toxins' in grains have sensible functions in the seed and developing plant. Like, gluten stores amino acids, phytic acid stores metals and phosphorus, and lectins (at least in one case) bind and store plant hormones so they can be released when they're needed and not before.

Diana said...

Oh hilarious, I meant "shitting" not sitting. Freudian slip.

anotherdeadletter said...


Stupid comments not going through.

Also test.

anotherdeadletter said...


Evolutionary eating is a good thing, IMO. Thing is the original concept, particularly paleo, appears to have been abducted by agenda-driven hacks who pick and choose data to support their programs.

LeonRover said...

Hey y'all, McGuff is a Texan.

How come Rocky Mountain Oysters and/or Prairie Oysters never made the list?

Unknown said...

My theory is that drinking water is dangerous because the water does not want to be drunk and protects itself with anti-nutrients.

Evelyn Lee Barney said...

All I can say is, I'm glad the seeds in wild blueberries and blackberries don't 'want' to be eaten. Otherwise, those wild bushes near power lines and railroad tracks around here the birds 'plant' for us wouldn't exist. ;)

Galina L. said...

Substances in plants are not benign 100%, but it doesn't necessary make it into poisons. Probably in small doses it causes hermetic effect, like moderate stress keeps body in shape, but too much stress is unhealthy. It is normal to have some toxins consumed together with nutritional substances.

Simon Carter said...

Mat Lalonde makes some great points in this interview. He is also very critical of Loren Cordain.

lian johnston said...

"Some plants have lectins (easily removed through soaking/cooking)"

Then the argument gets even dumber when they reply with "If something has to be cooked or soaked to make it safe then it probably should not be eaten by humans" (you'd be surprised how many times I've actually heard this argument against legumes and grains, probably from someone sitting in front of their computer with a filtered coffee with coconut oil).

Jane said...

Galina, it isn't hermetic, it's hormetic. I know you're Russian and English spelling is difficult. But do you always have to call Gunther Gatherer 'Ganther'? It sometimes sounds as if you're trying to insult him.

Galina L. said...

Thank you, Jane, for your corrections, indeed I do mistakes.Sorry about it.

Diana said...

The following invalid inference: "Our Paleolithic ancestors ate Pale this way and they were free of disease" -- is inadequately addressed. Too much chat, not enough data. Coupla guy sitting around bullshitting. Get to the point, dudes.

My problem with the inference is, we have no idea whether they were free of disease. Most of our Paleo ancestors likely never lived past age 35. How could they have developed cancer? And how would we know of any Paleo babies died of childhood cancers?

C'mon.

anotherdeadletter said...

"My problem with the inference is, we have no idea whether they were free of disease. "

Nor can we say definitively what they ate or didn't eat and in what proportions.

lian johnston said...

"The following invalid inference: "Our Paleolithic ancestors ate Pale this way and they were free of disease" -- is inadequately addressed. Too much chat, not enough data."

There's so much of that around. A few bloggers repeat something a few times and it's just considered fact without further investigation.

"The inuit were free from disease"
"grains made us fat and short"
"We only evoled eating berries a few months a year to fatten up for the winter"
"The only reason people think saturated fat is bad is because of keyes and his cherry picked 7 country study"
"Large fluffly ldl is non athrogenic"
"Canola oil cause heart disease"
"traditional okinawans ate a lot of fat and pork"
"low cholesterol kills"
"the governments low fat advice made us fat and sick"
etc

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Yep lian, and hear it enough times and you think this has to be substantiated somewhere!

I remember when I first found the LC community back in 2009 people used to say -- somewhat misquoting Taubes -- that insulin was required to put fat into fat cells. This did not jibe with what I had learned in college so I did several searches trying to find out if I had missed something or this was new information since last I'd studied the topic. I came up with many hits at the time ... all eventually tracing back to Gary Taubes' statements that you couldn't store body fat without insulin.

It's a combination of the first statement made w/o substantiation (he cherrypicks Cahill) and circle-jerk referencing.

anotherdeadletter said...

It's a Truther mentality. If you offer an alternative truth to reality and it's something they want to hear, they'll take it no matter what and no matter how strong your argument is or what facts you have.

LC is just an alternative to the hyper low-fat crowd from the 90s who thought eating what was basically raw table sugar was fine just as long as it didn't have fat in it.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

As someone who has lived through, seen, and tried virtually "it all", I have to object to your last paragraph. The very first thing I did when I went on a diet was use alternative sweeteners. First, ironically, it was fructose -- then marketed to diabetics. Because it was sweeter (nominally IMO) than sugar, the theory was that you used a bit less as well. If anyone is going AHA! That's what started her problems! I would caution them to realize that we are talking 1 packet per day. Most of the maligned WW frozen desserts are not only LF but use AS as well. And AS is the cornerstone of LC sweets.

Check out Pritikin, Eat for Life, pretty much any LF plan. Raw table sugar is not on the menu.

anotherdeadletter said...

"Raw table sugar is not on the menu."

Oh, of course not. That was a bit of sarcastic hyperbole on my part.

Taking out the sarcasm, what I meant was there was a stage where it went from a sensible plan to a dogma. Highly-processed Snackwell's, flours ground so fine they might as well be sugar and everything containing extreme amounts of refined carbs and AS were fine juuuust as long as they're "low/no fat". I remember eating a ton of Angel Food Cake topped with FF Coolwhip. If I bake my donuts instead of deep-frying, sure they're better! That sort of thing.

LC was probably well-intentioned when it started just as LF was; targeting the bad stuff but eventually expanding to the entire macro-nutrient.

Galina L. said...

Often our ancestrals and their superior capacities are mention without any reference to their diet . Here is just one example http://news.bioscholar.com/2011/06/modern-humans-have-smaller-brains-than-their-hunter-gatherer-forebears.html
"A scientist has revealed that the brain size of modern humans has decreased." It is not an attempt to put down modern humans.

"Lahr thinks part of the answer must lie in the sheer outlay of energy required to maintain large brains — in humans it accounts for about a quarter of all the energy used by the body.

“We may have smaller brains than early humans but that does not mean we are less intelligent,” she added."

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Gotcha adl ... Though I think the Snackwells abuse is overused. While Eades has encouraged his disciples to wallow in lard to reach the promised land of LC sveltitude, I can't think of a single LF advocate who would advise anything more than a measured use of Snackwells as a treat.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Interesting -- low carbers are repeating what caused LF diets to fail them ....

Sanjeev said...

> A few bloggers repeat something a few times and it's just considered fact without further investigation.

IMHO this is a mis-attribution: what's going on is a SHARED preference for easy answers and low quality proof.

There's nothing wrong with many of those statements as IDEAS. Whether the ideas come out of folk understanding of darwinism, or drop out of a drug trip or a random number generator hooked up to a number-to-character translator or reductionist considerations - Where the proponents and fans go wrong is NOT DEMANDING HIGH QUALITY PROOF FOR THE IDEA.

The ideas have a patina of sciencey scientismal scientification and skepticism without doing the ONE CRUCIAL STEP that differentiates science and skepticism as intellectual endeavours: TEST YOUR IDEAS.

Sanjeev said...

eh ... sorry, now that I read your comment again, my comment is in line with what you wrote, so no mis-attribution there. I just grokked it better in my own words ; )

anotherdeadletter said...


"low carbers are repeating what caused LF diets to fail them ...."

Yup. Only thing that has changed is the Big Bad Macronutrient. First it was fat, now it's carbs, and I'm guessing the next in line is protein if ol' Moore is any indicator.

Diana said...

@Adl - Yeah, and the way things are going, I see a huge split in the LC community about which is the eeeevil macronutrient. I wrote about this on another post, I forget which. This is all so weird.

@Sanjeev, when I saw the word "scientismal" I thought of this: "sciendismal."

@lian, "We only evoled eating berries a few months a year to fatten up for the winter" -- one of my all time faves. Denise Minger did a hugely entertaining smackdown of this. She unearthed gobs of evidence about huge, humongous wild fruits:

http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/05/31/wild-and-ancient-fruit/

Not to mention that Paleo peeps undoubtedly were smart enough to dry fruits. Yummy & sweet!

Galina L. said...

It looks like the process of civilization made us as a group stronger, but relieved the pressure survival put on an individual human being.Other qualities became more important, inventions often had a down-side like a fire provided a source of heat for cooking and keeping people warm, but it also became the source of air pollution in human shelters and caused soot deposit in lungs. We don't need to be perfectly healthy and strong to succeed. I recently read a book about the Medici family. They all were unusually unhealthy compare to other people around them, however very successful, didn't live long (who was not killed),experienced too much autoimmune deceases, debilitating joints problems, but sickness of older members of the family pushed younger ones into actions that required maturity from amazingly early age.
Now individuals try to figure out how to live life enjoying better health and avoiding illnesses associated with downside of our civilization. Many of us want too much like completely unnecessarily look of a bodybuilder at any age, or middle-aged females aiming for "sexy ripped" look.

Jane said...

That's OK Galina, I've been finding out on Hyperlipid that you did mean to insult him. He meant to insult you too, no doubt. I wonder who started it. No matter, it's been very entertaining.

blogblog said...

The birds only eat the fruit. The seeds pass through the bird without being digested.

blogblog said...

@Lian,

EVERY one of those claims is backed by research published in major peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Perhaps you prefer the "independent" advice of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition (formerly the American Dietetics Association)? They are funded almost entirely by the processed foods industry including: Kellog's, Coca Cola, Hershey, Pepsico, General Mills and the national Dairy Council.
http://www.eatright.org/corporatesponsors/

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Every single one? Peer reviewed? How about one.

blogblog said...

@Evelyn,
try reading the bibliography of any paleo nutrition paper published by Brand-Miller, Cordain, O'Dea, Eaton, etc. You will get all the references you want.

For someone who spends so much effort denigrating others you are amazingly ignorant of the scientific literature.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Let's start with an easy one: "Canola oil causes heart disease." I await the plethora of scientific literature I'm amazingly ignorant of.

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Not paleo ;-)

Diana said...

Is there something insulting about "ganther"? I don't understand this. I do find Galina's English funny, but then I suppose she'd find my Russian side-splitting. (I did study it for a semester in college, the cases killed me, but my pronunciation was pretty good.)

Jane said...

Actually Galina uses her bad English and awful spelling as a weapon. It's like an anti-nutrient. She doesn't want to be eaten.

Galina L. said...

Thank you, Jane,
It is the most hilarious thing said about me. It made me feel like I am a fragrant herb or a colorful plant. I don't try to repel people on purpose, but may be I do it on a subconscious level because it is my true nature. Sometimes others observe things a person is unable to observe himself/herself.

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