At a party a month ago, someone in my conversation rosette brought up a book she said had changed her life. I can’t now remember the book because I immediately began ruminating on books that had changed my own life. Over the next few weeks, I roamed through my own libraries – both physical and mental – seeking a core selection of books that radically altered my own world view.
As I am sure is true of most people, I have a multi-faceted life with many and varied interests. I remembered books that had a profound effect on my political and philosophical thinking. Others about business, technology, and relationships. And yet others about engineering and science, especially physics. But this blog is mainly about nutrition and medicine, so I decided to share the short list of books that provoked substantive shifts in my nutritional and medical paradigms. This won’t be a list of every book that influenced my thinking on these subjects – in fact, it is far from it – but it catalogs the books that steered me down specific pathways I follow to this day. Some of these books are not the best on the subject; they are simply the first ones I read, the ones that inspired my interest and drove me to dig deeper. For instance, I wouldn’t particularly recommend the book I’m writing about in this post because much more information has become available since. It’s not an earth-shattering book – it was simply the catalyst for me.
Napoleon’s Glands was the first book to really send me off down a rabbit hole of discovery. Via a single sentence, this book tripped me to a line of inquiry that threatened to take over the writing of Protein Power. Because of the momentous changes it caused, I’m going to devote this first post to this book alone.
A little history. In the late 1980s I wrote Thin So Fast, a book on how to do a Medifast/Optifast type diet at home. It’s hard to believe now, but at that time, people undertook these protein-sparing, modified fasts (PSMF) only under physician supervision. I was treating obese patients with low-carb diets, and many were clamoring to go on one of these fasting programs. I relented and ended up successfully treating countless patients with my own low-carb version of a PSMF program. After watching my first hundred or so patients closely, I realized that this program was one that dieters could easily do at home on their own, if they but had a way to do so.
In the late 1980s, there were almost no commercially available protein supplements. It’s difficult to imagine now when they are everywhere you look, but then protein powders were not common. There were a couple, but they were hard to find, usually sold only at health food stores (which, at that time, were also thin on the ground), tasted wretched, and were used mainly for supplementing other foods, not as a meal replacements. People then had no ready access to meal replacement protein powders – Medifast, Optifast and a handful of others were distributed only through physicians. I realized it was kind of a racket, so I decided to write a book explaining how a PSMF could be safely done at home.
The first problem, though, was in coming up with a recipe for a suitable protein shake that could put together from available ingredients. I had MD help me fiddle around with it until we (mainly she) came up with something palatable and effective. Thus, my first book.
In order to flesh out Thin So Fast, I wrote sections on all kinds of diet-related material. One of the chapters, The Insulin Connection, was about all the things insulin did besides drive sugar into the cells. I suspected insulin was a primary driver of obesity, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a host of other disorders, so I speculated on some of the mechanisms involved, most of which have since proven to be correct. A few years after the publication of Thin So Fast, I had read everything I could get my hands on about the effects of insulin and wanted to write about it, so I submitted a proposal for a new book called The Insulin Connection. The book publisher loved the idea but hated the title; he figured it would appeal only to people who were diabetic. They changed the title to Protein Power, which I hated at the time and am still not too crazy about, though it has grown on me.
Between the writing of Thin So Fast and Protein Power, I had been in discussion with the publisher about writing what he called a medical narrative. I have always been interested in the history of medicine and the impact of specific diseases on the course of history. Some authors had written such books, but no one I knew of had written a book describing the actual diseases in a way laymen could understand. Most people know about syphilis, tuberculosis, plague, malaria, yellow fever, rabies, etc., but they don’t really understand what happens physiologically and pathologically when one of these diseases sets in. I was going to write a book explaining it all for the layman. But Protein Power came along, and the medical narrative was back-burnered, where it still simmers to this day.
While doing the research for this medical narrative, I came across the book that would profoundly change my thinking. Napoleon’s Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory, by science writer Arno Karlen, is a series of essays on intriguing episodes in the history of medicine. Though hard at work on Protein Power, I continued my habit of omnivorous reading, and, still with the idea of the medical narrative in mind, decided to dip into Napoleon’s Glands at bedtime one night. At this point, Protein Power was going to be my argument as to why the untoward effects of excess insulin validated the low-carb diet as the preferred way of eating for most people. But then I came to the chapter in Napoleon’s Glands titled “Mummy Powder, Mummy Blood, Toward a Biohistory of Peoples.”
“Mummy Powder, Mummy Blood” was about early paleopathologists, who autopsied ancient Egyptian mummies, and about their modern counterparts who were continuing those studies with much more sophisticated equipment, including X-ray and CT studies and, believe it or not, even labwork. These mummy autopsies revealed that ancient Egyptians were crawling with parasites, had dental caries and even a fair amount of arthritis. In reading through the roll call of these disorders, the following sentence leaped out at me:
Blood-vessel disease was common, contrary to assumptions that it rises from urban stress and a modern high-fat diet.
As I recall, I was starting to get a little sleepy, but I bolted alert when I read then reread this sentence. I remembered reading somewhere that the ancient Egyptian diet was heavy in carbohydrates, and I started wondering…
Wide awake, I raced through the rest of the chapter and on to the next – “Dry Bones, the Unwritten Past” – about the diagnosis of ancient disease through skeletal remains. I was hooked. I flipped to the back of the book where, to my absolute delight, I discovered a bibliography listing a host of sources and journals that theretofore had been completely unknown to me. I was unable to sleep, so I got up, went down to our library and rummaged through all our books I could find on Ancient Egypt. There were a few, and all seemed to confirm that the early Egyptian people, the ones whose mummies I had just been reading about, did indeed subsist on a diet heavy in carbohydrate, primarily wheat.
I made a copy of the bibliographic pages in the book, took them to bed and began marking them up so that I could track them down more easily when I went to the medical library the next day. As I turned to those pages again today while preparing to write this post, just the memory of the excitement I felt when I first encountered them started to get me a little fired up. Not quite the Chris Matthews’ thrill up the leg, but almost. (I don’t have my original marked up biblio so I scanned these pages from my copy of the book and converted them to pdf. Here they are so you can see what kind of stuff really gets me worked up. Napoleon’s Glands Ch 4 & 5 Biblio I guess I need to get out more. Pretty pitiful.)
The next day, as soon as I had seen my last patient, I made my way to the medical library and began pulling all the references. Reminiscing about this makes me realize what huge strides have been made over the past 18 years in the ability to do this kind of research. Today I would sit down in front of my computer and start going to the journal websites and accessing the papers. Back then – which was in the early 1990s – I had to go to the medical library and start wandering through the stacks of bound journals. They were all stacked alphabetically, which was how I marked up my copies of the bibliography pages so that I could start at the As and go from there. I would remove the bound journals – which were often the size of large phone books – and stack them on a cart I pushed along with me. I roamed through the stacks, piling the journals on the cart, and ended up in the copy room. I would then have to copy each paper page by page. Today, in the same time it took me just to drive to the medical library, I can grab more papers from the web than I gathered all that afternoon. And they wouldn’t cost me ten cents per page to copy as they did then. Ain’t technology grand?!
As I read these papers at home in my study, I checked citations and gathered a list of yet more papers to get. It was off to the medical library the next day to get those papers. Then read them, made another list, and repeated. Until I had pretty much all the papers I could track down that had anything to do with paleopathology and diet.
Many of these references were books, so I had to track those down, too. A number of the references cited Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture. Because I couldn’t get my hands on it any other way, I ended up forking over $140 or so for this book (it’s now about $300), but it was well worth it, because through it I got on the track of Claire Cassidy, Ph.D., whom I wrote about in Protein Power, and who wrote the paper I wrote about here.
I joined the Paleopathology Association and immediately purchased all back issues of the Paleopathology Newsletter. I dragooned MD into going to Paleopathology Association meetings, which I loved, and which are still my favorite medical meetings. There we could converse, confab and otherwise hobnob with all the nabobs of academic paleopathology, all of whom have written books at some point, and all of whose books I now own.
After attending these meetings and poring over my ever-growing mountain of paleopathology and anthropology literature, it became more and more apparent to me that although the agricultural revolution was a good thing for mankind it was a bad thing for individual men. I learned that the health devolution that took place due to dietary changes incurred as a result of man’s turn to agriculture were so substantive that at a glance an anthropologist could identify skeletal remains as being those of a agriculturalist or a pre-agriculturalist. How? Because as compared to agriculturalists, pre-agriculturalists had greater stature, stronger bones, better teeth, fewer signs of infection, less evidence of malnutrition and/or vitamin deficiencies – all signs visible to the trained eye. And not only were the pre-agriculturalists more robust, studies on groups of their remains showed they even experienced greater longevity than their agricultural progeny.
Agriculturalists replaced their previous diet of primarily fat and protein with high-starch plant foods and paid for it with their health. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that modern man was treading the same path. And with the same results.
Problem was, that the nutritional ‘experts’ of the late 20th Century had deemed the diet man evolved over multiple millennia to thrive upon – one of primarily protein and fat – as extremely unhealthful. And to make matters worse, modern nutritional dogma glorified as optimal the self-same grain-based, meat-poor, low-fat diet that had cratered the health of our post-agricultural ancestors .
I was gearing up to write a book showing how low-carb dieting would treat not just excess body fat, but most of the diseases common to modern man. My plan was to develop the hypothesis that the insulin to glucagon ratio was the metabolic underpinning for both the development of – and thus the treatment of — obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, heart disease and hyperlipidemia (which at that time I still thought was a disease). I was going to marshal the evidence from all the studies I could find (there weren’t a lot at that time) to explain the results I was seeing in myself and in my patients.
And then, thanks to that one sentence about coronary artery disease being a common finding in Egyptian mummies, this mountain of paleopathological data I was unaware of dropped into my lap.
The realization that a major argument on behalf of the low-carb diet lurked in the literature of Paleolithic disease led me to the orgy of study mentioned above and threatened to take over the book I was writing. This anthropological material so fascinated me that I didn’t want to read anything else. I missed my deadline because I kept finding just one other thing to add, and, ultimately, my editor left (not because of my delay, but because she went to work for another publisher) leaving me with an orphaned book. My agent said I needed to find another publisher, so I went to New York to do yet another dog and pony show for a handful of book companies. An editor from Bantam Books finally decided to buy my contract from my former publisher. MD went with me to the presentations, and the Bantam group liked the idea of the two of us being co-authors, so that’s how our publishing collaboration began. I had written This So Fast by myself, and MD had by then written four or five books on her own. Since that time, we’ve co-written every book.
Our new editor indulged me in the chapter on anthropology and diet I called “Curse of the Mummies,” but, alas, when it came time for the paperback our editor had left Bantam (an occupational hazard of mainstream publishing), and the new editor assigned to us did not like the Paleo stuff, so she militated to have it removed. As you might imagine, I went berserk. It was my favorite part of the book and the one I felt most strongly argued the notion that we were genetically programmed to thrive on low-carb diets. She disagreed. She had her own ideas as to what a diet book should be, and a chapter on the anthropology of diet didn’t fit her script. Out of frustration, I let her browbeat me into moving the chapter to the back of the book. So, if you have a hardback of Protein Power, you’ll find “Curse of the Mummies” as Chapter Two, right up front where it belongs. If you have the paperback, it will be way in the back in an epilogue right in front of the appendix. And it will be titled “Overcoming the Curse of the Mummies.” It wasn’t until I just now went back to look at it in the paperback that I realized that not only had this editor moved the chapter to the back of the book, she changed the title as well. What a troll!
(Thanks to the success of Protein Power, we had vastly more pull with our next publisher, so we wrote The Protein Power LifePlan as a total evolutionary-based, Paleo kind of book. Maybe our former editor was right because the PPLP never sold as well as Protein Power.)
Another benefit of reading that one little sentence in Napoleon’s Glands and acting on it was a great and lasting friendship. Upon publication of Protein Power, Loren Cordain, whom I had never met, contacted me, introduced himself and asked me to speak at the Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. I accepted. Loren and I became friends, and when he wanted to write his book on the Paleo diet, I lent him my agent, who has been his agent since. Through Loren I met Rob Wolf, Staffan Lindeberg and a host of other writers and researchers the world over. Which would doubtless have never happened had we just written a typical diet book.
After receiving all the feedback on the Paleo stuff in our book, I began to think Protein Power was the first book for the layman using the Paleolithic diet to argue for low-carb eating.
I knew the Paleolithic Prescription was out there, but it was written in an attempt to shoehorn the real Paleo diet into a low-fat framework. Which was bizarre because the authors of the book wrote a groundbreaking paper on the Paleo diet in the New England Journal of Medicine that got them much notoriety along with a book contract. From what I’ve since heard, their editor strong-armed them into making their diet low-fat, because that was what ‘everyone’ believed in then.
I then remembered Neanderthin, a book that came out while Protein Power was going through the publication process. It originally was a little, self-published paperback I happened upon in a Borders (RIP) in Dallas. And it probably would have escaped my notice had I not been so attuned to dietary anthropology. I tracked down the main author, Ray Audette, who lived in Dallas. MD and I had dinner with him and his wife a time or two, and after his little paperback had sold enough copies, he got a mainstream contract, and I agreed to write the forward to his mainstream-published book.
I’ve since found two more books published before Protein Power that based their diets on Paleolithic principles.
(Actually four if you count books by Vihljalmur Stefansson and Wolfgang Lutz. Stefansson wrote Not By Bread Alone in 1946 and it’s expansion and sequel The Fat of the Land in 1956. These were not really diet books but were more descriptions of the diets followed by the early peoples who populated North America. Lutz wrote Dismantling a Myth: The Role of Fats and Carbohydrates in Our Diet, which was an actual textbook and a follow up to his book in German, Life Without Bread. Dismantling a Myth, published in 1987, contains a chapter titled “Evolution as an Argument,” which is his argument that anthropology shows man to be designed to consume a diet of primarily protein and fat. I wish I had had this book when I wrote the relevant material in Protein Power, but I didn’t know of it’s existence until the early 2000s. It is almost impossible to find — I was not able to get my own copy until just a few years ago.)
The two low-carb low-carb, Paleo diet books were written by two physicians on opposite sides of the country. In 1961, Blake F. Donaldson, M.D. wrote Strong Medicine, a book describing his methods of treating pretty much anything that ailed his patients. His book contains one of my all time favorite lines that I quote often.
During the millions of years that our ancestors lived by hunting, every weakling who could not maintain perfect health on fresh fat meat and water was bred out.
Dr. Donaldson was having trouble getting his overweight patients in his practice in New York to drop the pounds. He had heard of Stefansson’s experiment in which he and another explored went a year under supervision at Bellevue Hospital on a meat-only diet and emerged from the experience lighter and in better health. Donaldson invited Stefansson to dinner and picked his brain. As a result, Donaldson began treating his own obese patients on basically an all-meat diet. (His actual diet was a half pound of meat, one small boiled potato, and a half cup of black coffee or tea at each meal – and nothing else throughout the day.) He had such success that he began treating just about every health problem presenting to his clinic with his almost all-meat diet. Unlike with Dismantling a Myth, you can find copies of Donaldson’s Strong Medicine pretty easily. It makes an interesting read. But beware. It will show you how much times have changed since 1961. By today’s standards, it is sexist and racist to the max.
The Stone Age Diet, written in 1975 by Seattle gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, M.D., is the second book I’ve found using a Paleolithic rationale for the low-carb diet. Dr. Voegtlin was a GI doc and a comparative anatomist. He noticed the similarities in the GI tracts of carnivores and humans and concluded that the human GI tract was essentially that of a carnivore. He then reasoned that maybe a fair number of the GI problems he was seeing in his practice arose as a consequence of the high amount of carbohydrate in the typical diet, an amount no carnivore would eat. He tried treating some of his patients with GI disorders with all-meat diets and saw them experience dramatic improvement. He, like Donaldson, began treating most of his patients with such diets and found that not only did their GI symptoms improve, but they lost weight, too. Dr. Voegtlin couldn’t interest a publisher in his book, so he self published. Consequently, his book is almost impossible to find. I had to search for years before finding a copy and ended up dropping $200 for it. It’s a shame this book didn’t have wider distribution because it is elegantly written and a delight to read. Dr. Voegtlin must have spent a lot of time thinking about these dietary issues because his book is full of insights I’ve never read anywhere else. If enough people ask, via the comments, I’ll take the time to transcribe his chapter on the difference between the digestive tracts of carnivores and herbivores and make it available. It is illuminating.
These are the only books I’m aware of that pre-date our own using paleopathology to argue for low-carb. If anyone knows of any other books published prior to Protein Power (1996) using the Paleo diet or an evolutionary/natural selection basis as the rationale for a low-carb diet, I would love to hear about them. I will seek them out to add to my collection and mention them in an addendum to this post.
I promise my next post/posts on books that changed my life will not be this lengthy. I will try to put them in a single post with a paragraph about each one and a brief description of why and how each affected me. I planned to do that with this one, but the change was so momentous that I decided to take it and run with it. I hope you enjoyed reading about the odyssey as much as I enjoyed reliving it.
ADDENDUM: A hat tip to commenter Ash Simmonds who posted a link to the complete version of The Stone Age Diet. If you want to read the parts about the comparative anatomy of carnivores, herbivores and humans take a look at chapters 4, 5 and 6.
And a hat tip to commenter Monkeyman, who found a full-text, online version of Stefansson’s The Fat of the Land. (Clicking the link will download the entire book in pdf.)
Very interesting post. Then again, that’s usually the case with this blog.
I very much would like to vote for more information on The Stone Age Diet. That stuff you mentioned about the difference between the digestive tracks of carnivores and herbivores.
Great read, thank you. I would like to see the chapter you mention from The Stone Age Diet. Thanks again.
Great article, again! I remember reading a long time ago that the ancient Egyptians were referred to as the Bread Eaters by their enemies and that their diet was very heavily based on bread and beer! So they ate a lot of grains then washed it all down with more grains. No wonder they were so unhealthy!
The Stone Age Diet book sounds fascinating. Are rights available to buy? It would be great to turn it into a kindle book! If you could reproduce any of it I’d be interested.
I only wish that all the vegans of the world would read this article (and possibly the history of the human race) and start realizing that their philosophy is killing people. I’d be curious to know how many vegans have lived to a ripe, old age.
This was not too long at all! I hope you do not shorten your further posts too much. The connections made and the detail make it interesting. Along with my irrational fondness of old books.
And add me to the list of people who would like to see the chapter from The Stone Age Diet.
We’ve both got the same disease: An irrational fondness for old books. It’s the ‘irrational’ that makes it a disease.
Ray Audette wrote to me about a book called “Stone Age Diet” by Leon Chaitow, published by Optima (London) in 1987. Ray said Loren Cordain turned him on to it.
Thanks. I’ll try to track it down. I love to take on book-hunting missions. I just can’t tell my wife – she’s already gone nuts over the number of books I have stacked around. About 8,000 at last count.
The Egyptians rulled Palestine during most of the Pharaohs period. The main export item from Palestine to Egypt at that time was olive oil which apparently could not be grown in Egypt. I believe control over olive oil was the reason for the Egyptian occupation of Palestine.
I’d love to see the chapter from The Stone Age Diet as well. I practiced as a Physician Assistant in Gastroenterology for over 2 and a half years and treated many patients with IBS by recommending at the very LEAST a FODMAPS or Paleo diet. I’m still convinced that dietary carbohydrates cause our gut flora to go whacky. It would be immensely reassuring to see that these thoughts were already being considered before I was even born! This post was so informative- when I first became interested in nutrition I listened to every podcast, read every article, and devoured the info in any manner I could!
One problem with mummy studies is that hoi polloi had different diets (lots of bread and onions and beer) than the upper classes, who ate more meat and sweets like dates.
But it was the upper class people who could afford to be mummified. So do we know what kind of diets the mummified ones actually had?
If you find out more about this, please let us know.
i find this subject fascinating, too! to hell with rodent studies — “the proper study of mankind is man”! 🙂
“Strong Medicine” changed MY life — made me unafraid of the ultra-low-carb eating style which makes my middle-aged body happier than any other!
You actually read Strong Medicine?!?! Wow. Other than the dietary recommendations, what did you think of it?
i found his period chauvinism amusing, because (as you said) it shows how recently “the little woman” started to be treated as a rational being. 😉 otherwise, he’s very readable.
his early experiences, before and during the Great War, were eye-opening. i suspect medical training is a whole different experience nowadays!
a lot of his discussions made sense of some of my experiences. as a hypothyroid, i found his insights on using thyroid hormone for weight loss were illuminating. i could go on and on, but in a nutshell, it holds a lot of wisdom.
Dr. Eades, thank you so much for this post! I so enjoy your writing.
“Strong Medicine” is definitely one of the books that changed my life. I found out Dr. Donaldson through Dr. Richard Mackarness’ book, “Eat Fat and Grow Slim”. I enjoy reading “Strong Medicine” regularly.
Dr. Donaldson’s book can be read online at Hathitrust:
Dr. Donaldson’s book gave me the courage to give up most vegetables and to really pay attention to allergy symptoms. When allergy challenges flare, his meat and water plan is my go-to food plan.
Also, his recommendation to eat one ounce of fat for each three ounces of protein, made a great difference in well being and satiety for me.
Dr. Richard Mackarness’ book, “Eat Fat and Grow Slim” was the first LC book I read. I just went on his diet, without any fruit or grains. It was very easy to do.
The 1958 edition of “Eat Fat and Grow Slim” can be read here:
Dr. Mackarness, in two of his later books, published parts of his interviews with Dr. Donaldson.
There is a lovely, if too short, interview of Dr. Mackarness, at the beginning of a newsreel on dieting, from 1958. He speaks of man’s original diet, before agriculture, being meat and fat.
Dr. Richard Bernstein’s, “The Diabetes Solution”, is the third, in my life-changing books on eating. His book gave me the courage to go VLC for life, and following his Law of Small Numbers gave me a steadiness and mental poise that mere LC or VLC had not yet accomplished.
Dr. Stefansson’s, “Fat of the Land” can be read online:
Dr. Benjamin Sandler’s, “Diet Prevents Polio” is another book, that really made clear to me how LC strengthens the immune system.
It can be read here:
Not a book, but the FailSafe diet blog helped me tremendously with eliminating foods which caused or triggered allergic reactions. Amines, salicylates, casein, etc., are addressed.
I, too, hope that you will publish the missing chapter.
And it would be grand to have an updated edition of the Protein Power Lifeplan! The first edition gave me the courage to go out in the sun, and to enjoy life more. Your way of explaining science and including all of life in the way one nourishes oneself is unique in the LC genre.
Thank you very, very much for books, and your blog. I find your writing refreshing, as well as substantial food for thought.
Thank you for the very nice testimonial. I truly appreciate it. And thanks very much for all the links to the books. I own all these books, so I never think to look for them online. I know the readers will appreciate it, too, since many of these books are either unavailable or are expensive to purchase. These books may be old, but they contain tons of value.
Calories don’t Count by Herman Teller MD published in 1961.
However, he promotes the use of vegetable fats instead of animal fats. But he states the importance of the pre agrarian hunter diet and the work of Pennington and Blakemore.
In the mean time Brian Peskin has an excellent article and a chart comparing carnivore vs. herbivore digestive tracts and diets here: http://goo.gl/BFdVw
Also Barry Groves Second-Opinions website has a 5 part article re “Comparison Between the Digestive Tracts of a Carnivore, a Herbivore and Man” which is taken from Walter Voegtlin’s ‘The Stone Age Diet’ which can be found here: http://goo.gl/8v3PS
Part 3: ‘The gut of a herbivore — The sheep’ cites from MacGregor R. Structure of the Meat Animals . The Technical Press Ltd. London, 1952,
and Part 5: ‘Conclusion’ cites from ‘The Great Apes. Yerkes R M. New Haven-Yale University Press,1929’.
I agree with the others, fascinating read and not too long, just can’t get enough Mike Eads. 😉
Many years ago I read and followed Fit For Life by Harvey Diamond (I continued to eat meat but not with starches – since they promoted “proper combining” of food). I actually did quite well following the recommendations but in hindsight realize I was not eating many carbs (minus the fruit in the am) so that was probably why. I’ve been low carb since Feb of this year and finally convinced my mom to join me (that was a tough one). She still talks about how Harvey Diamond compared our GI tract to that of an herbivore not a carnivore (my mother doesn’t love eating meat). She’s always reminding me that our GI tract is longer like an herbivore not shorter like a carnivore. Would love to hear how we’re more like a carnivore so I can “enlighten” her (and myself) 🙂
Interesting side note: while trying to convince my mom of low carb I tracked down Harvey and Marilyn Diamond on line. They both eat meat now (they were vegans for more than 25 years). Marilyn goes on in some detail how her meatless diet made her very ill. Her heart was “muscle wasting” and she couldn’t even pick up her grandkids. Sounds like she now follows a fairly low carb diet that includes animal protein. Something to be said for the pioneers of vegan diets and how they faired long term.
Yes; Richard Mackarness In 1958; and his “Not All in the Mind” from the 1970s is even more Paleo – oriented, in the context of food allergies.
This is a classic book and some of his ideas and references are still illumination.
Recently I reread a passage where he attributes genetic mutations of the sort that result in food sensitivities and allergies to the recombination of many different genes during reproduction, rather than flaws in individual genes.
I’m sure this “genome-wide” explanation is correct 99% of the time.
1961, 1975, 1987….Had no idea that these ideas have been around so long. Paleo popped up on my radar within the last three or four years. Man, I feel like I’ve come to the party kind of late.
Thanks for posting. This will save me a lot of typing.
BTW, your (needs work) parenthetical is still in there from the draft.
Thanks for the heads up. I removed it.
Hi Dr Mike
Someone already wrote up the digestive tract comparison here
Hi Dr. Eades,
Thank you, this was a beautifully written and riveting read! I just have one question about this diet. Do you recommend this for cyclists? I wonder whether the guys riding the Tour de France would succeed on a low carb diet?
I think they would do fine. Read this paper on low-carb diets and physical performance.
Also, Joe Friel, USA Triathalon and elite cycling coach (see his many books), recommends a Paleo type diet for athletes.
“If enough people ask, via the comments, I’ll take the time to transcribe his chapter on the difference between the digestive tracts of carnivores and herbivores and make it available. It is illuminating.”
I would love to see this, please do transcribe it.
One of your fellow commenters posted a link to the entire book, so you can read it immediately. Take a look at chapters 4, 5 and 6.
I would like to see it
Hi Dr. Eades. Thanks so much for the reviews. I will be sure to add all these books to my list. Funny, a doctor from Australia sent me STRONG MEDICINE a few months back and I provided a review of the book on Amazon in memorial to him. Although coffee was recommended in that book with every meal, I’ve learned since that coffee is mostly carbohydrate and raises my BG considerably.
Although not directly paleo, and not directly a diet book, NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL DEGENERATION (1939), a book which I’m quite confidant that you have read, could potentially be added to the list. Reading through it, one is presented with many “tribes” that do well on their natural diet. It’s hard not to come away with the suggestion that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Best wishes… – lc
Coffee contains zero carbohydrates. If it is consumed with sweetener or milk or even cream, it will contains some carbs, but black coffee contains none. Your blood sugar may have gone up after consuming coffee (I don’t know why), but it wouldn’t be because the coffee had carbs in it.
Sorry Dr. Eades, but coffee consists of many carbohydrates. Lots of good and bad sources on the web for this information, however, below is one of the more credible ones. The coffee I drink does not contain any added anything. ‘Tis black. BG goes up. Best wishes… – lc
Thanks for the link, but I think you’ve misunderstood what you’ve read. First, the link points out what happens to many of the sugars in coffee:
In other words, most of the sugars are lost in the roasting process, and some are converted to acids.
Plus, these are sugars in the coffee beans themselves. Unless you are eating raw coffee beans, you won’t get these sugars. Coffee is basically made by extracting the coffee oils and flavors by hot water. Not much – if any – sugar comes out. Check a cup of black coffee with a urine dipstick to see if there is sugar. I doubt you’ll find any.
Here is a link to the USDA database of food components. As you can see, in brewed coffee there is no carbohydrate.
As I said before, I’m not denying that your blood sugar went up when you drank coffee, I just don’t believe it was from carbs in the coffee if the coffee were black.
The caffeine in coffee stimulates the production of norepinephrine (adrenaline) which can raise BG.
I agree. It has different effects in different people. People adapted to a fair amount of daily coffee intake, such as yours truly, seem to suffer less from this than those who don’t drink much coffee.
As I mentioned before, I don’t disbelieve that your blood sugar went up when you drank coffee, I just don’t believe it was because of the carbs in the brewed coffee because there aren’t any.
T1DM (c-peptide = 0). I ordered a grande black coffee at STBX tonight. Starting BG was 98. After one hour, and only half a cup, are you ready? 172. I will test the coffee with urine stix another time. Going on a cruise from San Diego to Hawaii for 15 days. Thx. Dr. Eades & Paul451… – lc
There is no question that coffee runs your blood sugar up. Some other reason than carb content, though.
Have fun on your cruise. I’m insanely jealous. Nothing I like more than to kick back on a cruise and be waited on hand and foot.
Dr Eades, we met so long ago you may not remember but Protein Power was my first exposure to these concepts and inspiration for my personal and professional health explorations. If I never mentioned it previously, I’m very grateful that your book changed my life -Thank you.
Hope you and MD are well~ CJ
Hey CJ, we’re doing great. You? Fabulous job on the movie, BTW. Let me know next time it’s showing anywhere close, and we’ll post for it.
I’m Good and working hard to get the word out on the film.
Viewers love the information you share in your sequences, and on the fun side, your “Feedlot Pyramid” story always gets a big laugh at the special screenings.
Thanks so much for your offer to spread the word when it’s nearby Dr Mike.. I will certainly update you when that happens! (hopefully LA early 2013)
Give me enough advance notice so we can schedule around it. Would love to see you and catch up.
Dr. Eades, I enjoyed your journey. I share your obsession with the foundational material behind a variety of philosophies, history and thought.
I wondered as you presented the various authors if they benefited from a low carb/paleo lifestyle themselves. Did they follow their discoveries, become healthier and live longer lives? Did they practice what they preached?
Your journey was fascinating.
P.S. I enjoy your tweets.
Interesting question, and one I asked myself years ago.
Stefansson lived to be 82. (Obituary) Apparently he turned to his Paleo diet whenever he had health problems, but didn’t stay on it full time. Dr. Donaldson died of a heart attack in 1966 at age 73. (Obituary) He struck me as a man who was a real don’t-do-as-I-do-do-as-I-say kind of guy. Wolfgang Lutz diet at age 97. (Obituary) I tracked down Dr. Voegtlin’s son, who is a retired internist, who told me his dad live until his late 70s and died of prostate cancer. Don’t know whether he followed his own advice or not.
Amazing post. I love to see or read about people and how they show their passion in life. You are truely blessed to have found yours and sharing it with all of us makes it all the more special.
Please post the Stone Age Diet information regarding digestive tract differences between herbivores and carnivores.
The entire book is already posted. See chapters 4, 5 & 6.
I welcome as much as you can be persuaded to write on your books (non medical, please, as well). You and your books fascinate me!
Interesting that you brought up Egypt and neanderthal stuff. A while ago, I was thinking about the history of human based on nutrition like Paleo Diet so I started digging a little deeper into climate change, etc.
Few things that completely changed my views on human nutrition.
Great Sphinx that may be as old as 10,000 years old meaning the great pyramids may be that old. See Robert Schoch’s work. Göbekli Tepe in Turkey is dated even older. http://www.robertschoch.com/turkey.html Keep it in mind that it was at the end of Ice Age. Something happened that caused widespread destruction to human civilization that sent them into dark age or stone age or whatever. Sea level was 300-400 ft lower at that time. Made me wonder about Noah’s flooding… I think they were much more advanced at that time.
Another one regarding technology in the ancient days… see Giza Power – http://www.gizapower.com/LoTeAnArticle.htm – I did not realize that granite stone were very difficult to work with and that you’d need specialized tools to be able to do with such precise like that these days. It’s not the only place. There are others like that in Peru, Easter Island, Mexico, etc. It is mind boggling when you think about it. It is quite possible that these ancient Egyptians may have not built these great pyramids! This whole thing reminds me of Atlantis…
Neanderthal… it’s interesting subject for me as well. Someone wondered if neanderthal is bigfoot because of their thick bones compared to modern humans. Of course, we’d have to catch live bigfoot to do DNA testing. I came across interesting story about Zana which was supposedly a bigfoot in Russia or around there that were mated with several humans and produced offsprings. I started reading a bit about genetics to get better understanding of how mating between two different species were able to produce offspring and came across this interesting info – http://www.lloydpye.com/breakingnews_dnadeepthroat.htm
I know they are controversial and not generally accepted by mainstream academia but look at what they said about low carb diet, vitamin D and sun, and so on. I basically quit taking mainstream academia seriously long time ago and do all the research myself and make my own conclusion.
I GOT ONE!!!
“The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture,” by Mark Nathan Cohen (Yale University Press, 1977).
After getting my Bachelor’s degree in Humanities (long story!), I started taking graduate courses in Human Paleontology at the University of Michigan in the mid- to late-1970s. I started reading all kinds of books on the subject.
Somewhere along the line I came across this one. I thought it was interesting, but forgot about it after a while. In the late 1990s (after following Jean Brody’s high-carb lifestyle and gaining 20 pounds over one summer because of it), I found your “Protein Power” book, which changed MY life. After reading all the info in your book on the Egyptians and early humankind, I started putting 2 and 2 together and remembered the “Food Crisis in Prehistory” book.
The title of the first chapter is “The Problem of Agricultural Origins.” Granted, the book is mostly concerned with answering the question of why humans turned to agriculture when hunting-and-gathering was such a successful mode of adaption over such a long period of time. (His answer was overpopulation, among other things.) Still, there’s valuable information there.
The author doesn’t come out and say we were better off health-wise before agriculture entered the picture, but what he did was get me thinking.
He also talks about how people seemed to be reluctant to move to eating grains and other plant foods:
“The most probable explanation, however, is that grasses simply are not foods that most people prefer. The grasses, in fact, are particularly striking examples of the low priority most populations place on vegetable foods in general and on agricultural foods in particular. As Yudkin has pointed out, people worlwide eat meat and various fruits when they can (when they have enough food or enough wealth) and eat cereals and tubers only when they must. Moreover, the evidence from chemical analysis suggests tha these preferences are sensible. Cereals, although rich food sources compared to tubers, are not good food sources compared, for example, to meat or even to most nuts or wild leguminous plants also available to prehistoric Middle Eastern gatherers. Yudkin has suggested, moreover, that human beings are very poorly adapted to digest cereals, since allergies to the different varieties are fairly widespread even in modern populations and since all cereals contain phytate, which interferes with the proper assimilation of calcium by the body and is hence conducive to rickets.”
Maybe this isn’t what you’re looking for, but it sure helped me along with realizing that restricting carbohydrates in favor of meat and fat was the right thing to do.
I contemplated adding Cohen’s Food Crisis in Prehistory to my list, but thought it was more of an academic book than a popular one. There were a number of academic books and scores of papers on the subject of what is now commonly referred to as the Paleo diet published before Protein Power. In fact, I used many of them as source material to write the Paleo diet section of Protein Power. What I was looking for were books written for the layman using the same argument and published before Protein Power. I almost didn’t add the Lutz book because it is really a textbook, but it’s so well written and so accessible to the non-expert, that I went ahead and included it.
Interestingly, I did use the following quote from another of Cohen’s books, Health and the Rise of Civilization, in the “Introduction” of The Protein Power LifePlan:
I was going to leave a comment asking for the chapter on the difference between the digestive tracts of carnivores and herbivores in The Stone Age Diet and to my delight, I can read the entire book. Thank you so much for this.
I, like you, am intensely interested in the diet of our ancestors and spend my free time reading all I can find on the subject and various perspectives. I am particularly interested in the digestive aspect of diet and nutrition since I have severe Crohn’s disease, which has resulted in numerous surgeries including a colostomy and subsequent reversal. I am determined to find out if a diet, low carb or otherwise, will keep my disease in remission.
Thank you for taking the time to write about these books–I really appreciate it.
I hope you find some help in The Stone Age Diet. Since he was a gastroenterologist, I’m sure Crohn’s disease is one of the disorders Dr. Voegtlin treated regularly with his diet.
Lutz claimed in “Life Without Bread” that about 80% of his Crohn’s patients were symptom-free after about a year on his diet. There is a graph in the book.
Protein Power changed my life 🙂
This is an insanely awesome post, Dr. Eades.
I’m not a medical professional, and it’s my husband who’s interested in low carb theory, but your email had me completely riveted until the end. I kind of hope you *don’t* make subsequent posts a great deal shorter – this one is perfection.
As an email marketer, who is constantly trying to explain to my customers just what it is their readers want, I am gleeful to have so excellent an example to show them!
Dr Eades, I attempted Medifast more then a few times and after spending thousands of dollars and many failed attempts I realized it was simply too restrictive given my Gemini nature. I simply found that cheating even a bit, even with a low carb food become an obsession to be perfect. And if I deviated a bit from a plan it simply became all or nothing roller coaster. So I finally decided on adopting my own protein shake diet and so far it has been a wonderful experience. I drink 4 MRM shakes which now are made with low carb dried up fruits and taste awesome by the way, and I mix it with almond milk and ice in a Blnedteck and sprinkle some nuts and coconut oil on top. Blendteck makes it into sort of frozen yougurt consistency and at times I even make it with raspberries and sprinkle dark chocolate on top. So I make 3 shakes a day like that and eat one meal of usually salmon or grilled chicken with sautéed garlic, mushroom and broccoli or some other variation of veggies such as kale or spinach….
But every time I plug my numbers into the diet program it shows me very low potassium and other vitamins. I am losing weight steadily but still find lack of ketosis because I am sort of hungry even when I add another shake. I was thinking to start adding more fat because some in then low carb community believe low carb should be high fat, low carb and modest amount of protein.
Do you think that it is bettwr for obese person to adopt sort of medifat diet which low carb, low fat and high protein or do you think that eating high fat, low carb and acwrgae protein consumption is better for a person with insulin resistance like me? What’s your take on it?
The protein shake, low-carb diets work a bit faster since they are lower in calories, but they are obviously not something anyone would want to stay on for life. I prefer a whole-food kind of low-carb diet although I do use a shake or protein bar myself from time to time simply due to time or other constrains, with the main other constrain being that MD isn’t around to fix a meal for me. 🙂
I go for the higher fat, moderate protein approach rather than a higher-protein, lower-fat one.
I’m definitely asking. I cannot tell you how my digestion has changed due to elimination of all grains. Took my brain longer than my body to jump on board, but the difference is remarkable!
If enough people ask, via the comments, I’ll take the time to transcribe his chapter on the difference between the digestive tracts of carnivores and herbivores and make it available. It is illuminating.
Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health
Dr. D.C. Jarvis – 1958
I read the most fascinating book by Dr. D.C. Jarvis – Folk Medicine (written in 1958) that really opened my mind.
His book was mainly about treating animals (he was not a vet but a medical doctor) but the correlation was very clear (since we are just another animal). Farmed animals aren’t allowed to roam to follow instincts, they are passive recipients of what is given to them. He would take 2 herds – one healthy & robust, the other sickly & analyze the differences between the 2 herds & then adjust the nutrition on the sickly herd (mainly with raw vinegar, kelp & iodine) to bring it to a state or health. He did the same type of thing with mink, goats, dogs & horses. He would talk about raw honey & people would claim there is no nutritional value in honey, what lil nutritional value would be so microscopic that it would be negligible. He explains about the herd of goats that were dying. They were fed a goat chow that apparently was missing “something” They identified this something & only a microscopic bit was needed at the very least once every 5 years to maintain health without this the goats died in 5 years. So his presumption was that no matter how minute, our health like the goats was dependent on a multitude of factors but sometimes it just didn’t matter what you did get if you weren’t getting all you needed. Our diet, like the goats, cows & horses are dependent on what we are given. We don’t hunt & forage for our food as nature intended, we don’t follow our instincts.
Wonder what’s in this one – if it’s even obtainable:
Don’t know. Haven’t seen nor heard of it. But it can be had. I found a number of copies with prices ranging from $20 to $100.
The article was very interesting especially the effect of different diets & life styles on bone e.g the marks on lower leg bones. I wonder what would be found on skeletons of some modern people such as myself who was born just before WW2 & whose diet during the first 8 years of life was very restricted. In the UK our war time rations were devised by Sir Jack Drummond & the diet has been described as very healthy. There was very little sugar consumed in fact it was not until about 1953 when I was 17 that sweets (candy) became widely available. During the war years we had bread but it was in the form of the National Loaf made to a formula that incorporated fibre etc but tasted as if made from sawdust with added horse hair but it was all there was. I guess the wheat content was also low. Meat was not something we enjoyed very much, mainly the cuts that today people would reject. For those who were able to home grown vegetables helped to fill the very small plates.
I remember my lunch when I started school at age 5 was a slice of bread with a scrape of dripping if lucky or often just a scrape of margarine. But we survived.
In 1939 Jack Drummond & Ann Wilbraham wrote a book ‘The Englishman’s food; five centuries of English diet” I wonder of how this might add to the debate about low carb protein etc.
I actually have a copy of The Englishman’s Food, and I’ve learned a lot from it. One of the things I didn’t realize until reading that book was that margarine in it’s original formulation in the mid-1800s wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. Here is the process as reported on pages 304-305 of the book:
It wasn’t until about 1910 that margarine and cooking oils were made by partial hydrogenation. You can see one of the first partially-hydrogenated fat cookbooks here.
Great post. The weird thing is that I studied anthropology for years (Lucy was so exciting at that time) and was trained on how to recognize whether bones were from before or after the agricultural revolution. Some of my professors (not naming names) were and are still pretty big in the anthro world- but it was almost a leap of faith which one you believed. One of them is still a visiting professor at my old university. Didn’t use my brain until 2004. Why? I wonder how many other anthropologists were taken in by the food pyramid. Probably many. It was Atkins who planted the seed, but it was you and your bride who helped it grow. Thank you both!
That was my favorite chapter, but alas I only have the paperback. Oh I also loved the chapter on the native Americans in the midwest separated by many years but one group ate mostly gathered food while the other group grew plants. No cavities in the former, stronger bones, etc. Cant remember her name.
That’s the Claire Cassidy study. I linked to it in this blog post. Enjoy.
Yes that’s the one… Hardin Village and Indian Knoll, I’ll have to remember your mnemonic for it. Fascinating! Thanks.
Hello Dr. Eades,
I lost about 60 lbs over 7 years ago and have managed to keep that off and then a little bit more. I am a 47 year old female on Zero medications and in great health! I have already out lived my father by 5 years, as he died of a massive heart attack when he was 42. I have no heart issues, high blood pressure or diabetes!!!! Thank you God! I weigh 230 lbs and am probably the most active/fit 230 woman or (woman at any weight and same ages range for that matter) I know. Here’s my problem… The scale… has not moved for the last 6 years….. really hit or miss 5 or so pounds. I exercise high cardio- swimming laps 2500 yards, walk, ride bike 4-5 days a week and do group training kettle bell workouts 2-3 days a week at my kettle bell gym which is hard workout. Needless to say I can’t seem to get my nutrition right to sustain the load I am outputting on the low- carb Protein Power book/ eating plan. I actually quit doing it as I stated having horrible headaches, and started feeling really bad. Come to find out I was going into starvation mode because I wasn’t consuming enough calories to sustain my workouts. Since then I am still struggling with almost zero weight loss and am currently going back to low carb again as this is what my body responds to the best as far as loosing weight and feeling better (before I hit the starvation point) However- I do not want to end up in the same shape I was with the head aches(and these were not the headaches from the initial blast of getting carbs and sugars out of my diet) As you know meat, salad, and veggie meals do not have a lot of calories. When I consumed these types of meals I was completely satisfied but when I added the heavy workouts with kettle bells and continued the cardio I was doing I just could not “go” anymore. So this time I have decided to just add in a ton of veggies as I guess I missed that the last time. I ate good meat based and vegie meals but I guess I just did not eat enough and I know not enough good fats. One of my trainers said that “my body did not trust me” since every diet plan I have tried over the past 2 years put me in that starvation mode as I could not sustain my workouts. What do you suggest or how do you suggest I do the Protein Power meal plan to sustain my workouts. Sorry so long but I know this will work if I can just get it down to what my body needs. Thank you!
There is no limit to the number of calories you can eat on a Protein Power style diet. Just increase your intake of fatty meats. You could also drink some Bulletproof Coffee, which, surprisingly, is quite tasty, will add calories and the caffeine should help your workouts. You might also try throwing back a couple of teaspoons of D-ribose after your workout. And make sure you have plenty of magnesium and potassium aboard. Don’t forget the sodium, either, as a loss of sodium on a low-carb diet is the most common cause of bad headaches.
Take a look at these posts if you haven’t seen them. Part 1. Part 2.
Thank you Dr. Eades! I tried Bulletproof Coffee this morning it was awesome!!! and went back and reviewed Part1-2. I had forgotten about putting the salt in my water and coconut oil in my coffee! Your description of the horrible leg/foot cramps is spot on with what happens to me the night after a kettle bell workout where I am drenched with sweat….. thusly losing a ton of salt. I’m going to check out what our local health food store has to offer this weekend for the D-ribose. Thanks again!
I hope it works for you. Keep us posted.
My word, Kary — your message make you sound as if you’re *addicted* to working out (and way overdoing it)! I wouldn’t be surprised if your body is falling into starvation mode regularly, because (it sounds as if) your body thinks you’re struggling ALL the time just to stay alive! Please read Dr. Doug McGuff’s book: “Body by Science” and reconsider how much physical working out you’re doing. He’s got some great interviews around the web, and a LOT of YouTube vids on how to do his stuff. I just listened to the Bulletproof Exec’s interview with him: “Podcast #26: Body By Science with Dr. Doug McGuff, MD” and it’s SUPERB! (Google Doug McGuff and Bulletproof to get there). Super, super interview! And eye-opening.
Thanks Elenor! I will check it out. And yes I do sometimes feel like I am over doing it as my body is just tired sometimes and when I get tired I tend to eat the wrong foods>>>>>>>sabotaging the hard work my body just preformed and the “good” foods I have consumed for the week.
Your book, Protein Power Lifeplan, was our introduction to a Paleo/low carb diet and lifestyle. I first started looking at the strong connection between health and nutrition soon after my wife had a heart incident (blockage) in 2004. As others have said, that book changed our lives. It started me on a journey of discovery which I’m still pursuing.
This post was fascinating. Kudos to you for being such a diligent researcher, having an open mind (if only more people did!) and pursuing you passion for knowledge. We are all the beneficiaries and I want to thank you and MD for all of your excellent work!
Although your posts have become less frequent recently, I still look forward to them, whenever you do get around to posting.
I’m going to try to “get around to posting” more frequently.
Yay! More posts! Interesting stuff makes my brain feel good!!!
I loved this post – always interested in how people got interested in things anyway, and always enjoy a good source of information to track down. Quite apart from the fact I find this particular topic fascinating. Please don’t shorten your next blogs much – much better to have more detail.
Do you still think your maintenance diet from Thin So Fast is still “current”? Weight loss is never as hard as maintaining the loss!
It’s been so long since I wrote Thin So Fast, that I can’t even remember the maintenance diet in there. It was the same maintenance diet I used I successfully with patients, so I figure it’s still pretty good. MD and I wrote an entire book on maintenance called Staying Power. You might want to give that a look.
Enjoyed this post so much I managed to make the time to read it twice!
Protein Power changed my life. I immediately read PPLP afterwards. I think its the better book, but people do (even though I never read them) expect menus.
I found PROTEIN POWER LIFEPLAN to be the better book by far, but I like having the science info. I DON’T want menus or recipes. We pretty much eat two-course meals, meat/poultry/fish and a vegetable, or meat/poultry/fish and a big romaine salad. If we have anything “sweet” after meals it’s a square of 72% cocoa chocolate.
PPLP saved my life.
Hi Dr. Eades,
Have you heard about Owsley Stanley ( The Grateful Dead ) , I came across him in the obits, “Stanley believed that the natural human diet is a totally carnivorous one, thus making it a no-carbohydrate diet, and that all vegetables are toxic”. He came to that decision after reading many books in 1959, I wonder what the books where? He died in 2011 as a result of car accident.
I LOVE Owsley Stanley and have read and re-read everything he wrote, such a great character. On the odd occasion he was a little off base, but for the most part some of his insights were amazing.
It’s not technically public yet as I’m still compiling and organising it, but you can find some of his stuff here: http://highsteaks.com/?s=carnivore
His first awakening to the possibility that we can not only thrive on a carnivorous diet, but perhaps are meant to, was from the same source as mine – Vilhalmur Stefansson.
I’d love to see that transcript, Michael.
Thanks for being a continuous source of inspiration and for holding the flag.
Thanks so much for this post. I have an amatuer’s curiosity with anthropology and have taken some introductory courses in it. I was further spurred on my your chapter in Protein Power. I hace Cassidy’s & Steffenson Fat of the Land. This post points me to some futher reading along these lines. Thanks again
8,000 books!!!!???? and my wife is annoyed with my three or five grills and two surfboards…. jeeeshhh
six grills, actually.
I’d like to digress a little bit:
It frustrates me to no end that nearly all “diets” are heavily loaded toward weight loss. This to me confuses and often misleads the REAL benefits or harm of any particular food or food group.
I am an older healthy woman who has never had a weight problem in her life and am only interested to know if a food or food group is supporting or hurting my health – without this constant reference to weight loss or weight gain.
Dr. Eades, thanks for the new information which, as always, is informative and a joy to read.
Protein Power Life Plan is about low carb and health.
Wow, I just read some of Oswley Stanley’s posts (thanks for the links Ash – http://bit.ly/QJJCzV). Stanley ate no vegetables; just meat and fat. He thought vegetables were non-food. He said that there is no known evidence that paleolithic man ate vegetables. If this is true, I would welcome this news as I rather just eat meat and fat – so much less cooking to do. Dr. Eades, do you know if this might be the case?
I suspect that Paleo man ate whatever he could get his hands on. He could get his hands on a lot more calories via meat as opposed to plant foods.
I got started down the right path by a book called “Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine,” by Ron Schmid, N.D. There was a little health food store in town that stocked an endless supply of books, many at half price. I bought two or three every time I went there, read them, and sent most of them on their way. I kept the Schmid book for some time because I was fascinated by the Weston Price material he included. Ultimately, I bought the Weston Price book and gave the Schmid book to the library for their book sale. I’m not worried about raw versus cooked/pasteurized, but it was a only small step from Weston Price — via Atkins, Eades, Lutz/Allen, Groves — to my current/permanent low-carb, gluten-free, real food position.
Been looking for Stefansson’s Fat of the Land for a while. Finally found it online: http://www.owndoc.com/pdf/The-fat-of-the-land.pdf
Thanks very much for the link. I’ll go ahead and add it to the post.
Slightly off-topic but I know not how else to communicate with you….
I’m a long-time chocolate maker/explorer and have always felt that my chocolate at 25% sugar content must be quite healthful. Note that chocolate is an emulsion of (mainly) fat surrounding tiny particles of sugar. By weight, mine is 52% fat; 25% sugar; 5% protein. [Includes added coconut oil and cocoa fat; insignificant amounts of carbs, some fiber and a lot of magic stuff.]
I realize you are highly critical of Glycemic Index, which typically lists the GI of dark chocolate as 20. However, the concept that some foods are digested much more slowly is just a reality, no?
First question: Is my chocolate likely to be a fine low-carb food? At 50 0r 100 gram per day?
2nd question: Is my chocolate likely to be good for most diabetics?
3rd question: Would my chocolate be better for diabetics if it was sweetened with fructose instead of sucrose? Or would fructose make it just way too slow absorbing with too little insulin stimulated?
I’d send you a pound of our Xoco if you wanted, and gave me an address…..
1) At 100 gm per day, one would be getting 25 gm sugar, which, in my opinion, is a lot.
2) I don’t have any idea what would happen to a diabetic consuming your chocolate. I would suspect that due to the sugar content, it would create a blood sugar spike, but I don’t know for sure.
3) I would avoid the fructose. It may not increase the blood sugar levels, but it creates other problems.
If you’re interested in making it for diabetics or those on low-carb diets, I would suggest maybe sweetening it with a combination of polydextrose and Reb A (the molecule in stevia that trips the sweet receptors). The Reb A would provide the sweet while the polydextrose would provide the humectant and other qualities of sugar.
@ Jack Helper: Recommend you look at the nutrition label on a bar of Lindt 90% for a better sugar content target.
In this blog of yours, I found so many interesting themes and even if I did not yet responded to none, you to know that I read them with great interest. Success.
My two favorite chocolate bars are 11%-15% sugar, serving size is 40-45g. That’s too much, a quarter to a half of that is all I’ll eat, so 3g of sugar at the most. At 25% sugar by weight I’d look at the label in the store and pass it by, if magic is maltitol, I’d pass it by if it had 0g sugar.
Also the fat content in my chocolate bars are 73% and 88% and frankly if it doesn’t say at least 85% cocoa in big numbers on the front, I don’t even pick it up to read the nutrition label.
I always look forward to a blog post from you doc. I especially enjoyed the irony of you tipping your hat right at the end to one of the most (deliberately) offensive and unhealthy-looking men I know (small world eh?).
Oh hai Danae, is your bonnet big enough to contain that bee? You seem like an intelligent woman (I may be wrong) but that bitterness you carry surely isn’t healthy.
As for me being unhealthy looking, sorry I wouldn’t father another illegitemate child for you, but yesterday I did a 50km hike ( http://ashsimmonds.com/2012/10/06/50km-trailblazer-hike-in-the-adelaide-hills-fat-powered/ ) and feel pretty healthy, not to mention I am exceptionally handsome. Baffles me why people waste a perfectly good life bitching about other people.
OMG I’m wearing a BONNET? My child is ILLEGITIMATE!?!
My profound apologies Ash, I had no idea of your very advanced age. Of course you’re very handsome and fit *pats hand*.
I started eating the paleo way & I want to say that I am truly love what I am eating. I can also having great changes in my health.
Dr. Donaldsons’ “sexism” is undetectable next to Lierre Keiths’ vitriol. Times may have changed, but people haven’t, and by modern standards of detestation of people who are different, Donaldson was a saint.
A book that I found enlightening is The Saccharine Disease by T.L. Cleave (1974). Cleave was a ship’s surgeon in the British navy who noticed that native populations around the world rapidly developed diseases of the developed world when they abandoned native diets for western foods. He concluded that many modern diseases from heart disease to varicose veins to dental carries were subsets of a master “saccharine disease” caused by consumption of refined carbohydrates, primarily sugar and white flour. It’s an interesting read and can be found online. Here’s one link: http://www.cybernaut.com.au/optimal_nutrition/information/library/saccharine_disease.pdf
For me it was People of the Lake by Richard Leakey, because as an early adolescent, it was a profound eye-opener to see the relevance of paleoanthropology to the nature of human beings.
That kind of thinking sent me in a direction that made me gravitate toward more teleological Aristotelian notions of natural law, and how an understanding of “the good” most likely follows from a greater understanding of what we actually are.
Somehow or other I cannot get my comments posted even though there is usually nothing but praise. I am truly thankful for the blog. And even if this does not get published I would like you to know that especially your reference to Voegtlin has many people in The Netherlands excited since I posted the link on Het Paleo Perspectief by Melchior Meijer.
Sorry you’re having problems getting comments posted. Let’s hope this one makes it.
This is a terrific article. I’ve read it twice and will read it again. I now have a copy of NAPOLEAN’S GLANDS, and am looking for a respectably-priced used copy of NEANDERTHIN.
Read and tried THIN SO FAST. Learned that I’m not a shake type of eater; I like meat/cheese/eggs/butter too much to subsist on what’s basically water and nutrients.
Great article. Thanks. Glad you’re bloging a lot again.
I’ve got to tell you, reading through The Stone Age Diet is eye opening for me. The detailed explanation of the digestion process of fats vs. carbohydrates, and carnivore vs herbivore is absolutely fascinating.
Yes it is.
Don’t apologize for your enthusiasm. I enjoyed reading this post. I downloaded the Stone Age Diet and am reading it now. Since I started eating a more stone age diet a year ago, I’ve gone this way and that on eating more plants, less, more starches, less. I always come back to wanting to eat a lot of fish and meat and feeling best when I do.
Please transcribe Walter Voegtlin’s chapter on the difference between the digestive tracts of carnivores and herbivores. I am very curious- Thanks.
I put the link for Dr. Voegtlin’s book at the bottom of the post. Thankfully, you can read it now without my having to transcribe.
thank you thank you
I found a paperback in my mom’s recipe box written in July 1965 titled Drink, Eat and Be Thin by Joseph Alsop. Charming and sooo ahead of the paleo curve. He credits the surgeon general of the Air Force with putting together the relationship between restricting carbs, balancing fats and proteins all with great success. Importantly, he also calls it the Martini Diet which is one of the great aspects of all of these plans.
Thank you for this post. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on. $200 was worth it. Thank you for putting this out here. So sweet of you for the link. The more “Paleo” I become, the healthier I am. I will be 58 this week and I feel so much better than when I was 30., Your post was not too lengthy. It has taken me so long to connect the dots with the insulin thing. I just did not get it for a long time. Please keep making it very clear to people…Now I call insulin the “MONSTER” and I strive daily to ….”Don’t wake the Monster.” I wish I would have read your Protein Power book much more carefully when I bought it years ago. After reading Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain, I went back and reread Protein power ( I have all your books…some I had to buy twice cause I lent them out and they were not returned) Next we need an blood insulin meter.
I’d add two other books to this list. They aren’t geared toward losing weight, but toward understanding the negative health impacts of certain diets:
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, D.D.S.
Refined Carbohydrate Foods and Disease by Burkitt and Trowell.
The first is the story of how Dr. Price would spend each summer visiting remote civilizations that had limited contact with the modern world, observing the negative changes to health as “foods of modern commerce” were introduced. The scary thing that he discovered is that some of these negative impacts were passed on to subsequent generations…
The second is the story of a classicly trained British doctors who gets sent to the bush. When he gets there, he finds that nobody has any of the diseases that he’s been taught to treat – they are virtually non-existent outside the modern world. He forms a network of doctors in similar circumstances who are scattered throughout the British Commonwealth. He then compiles, analyzes and interprets the results, implicating a lack of dietary fiber as a root cause of many diseases. In my mind, he convinced me that appendicitis is a disease of chronic constipation, but I don’t believe he actually came out and made that specific claim.
After reading those two books, and with a VERY open mind, try reading this book:
Toxemia Explained by J. H. Tilden
I’ll warn you up front that when you first start reading this the guy will sound like a total nut job, but give him a chance. He posits that there is a single cause to virtually all disease, which he calls Toxemia: Disease is simply a crisis precipitated by your body’s inability to eliminate toxins. I won’t say any more, but if you think about it, he’s hit it squarely on the head. And the good news is that most of these toxins come from our environment, and many of them from our diets. So eat a better diet and have vastly improved health. A side effect will be that you will no longer struggle with being overweight…
If you look hard enough I think you’ll find the first and third books are available online as PDFs (the Price book is a tome, easily a few inches think in print). You’ll also find a review of the Burkitt and Trowel book, but it seems it is still in copyright.
Thanks for the info. I’ll try to take a look at the Tilden book. I own the other two.
Wow. Thanks for the link to the copy of Voegtlin’s book. I’ve started reading it and, you’re right, it really is unique and well-written.
Thanks for this interesting and informative article, i am interested in wild (pre agriculturally grown )food and it’s relationship to health and by the same token processed food and it’s relation to ill health, i was very interested to read about your discovery about pre-egyptian/ pre-agricultural peoples being healthy and not eating a wheat diet. i am vegan by choice and gluten free by intolerance(migraines).
Fascinating! And please don’t apologize for a long post. It’s all good.
I read Neanderthin as a teenager. Unfortunately, it didn’t have much of an impact on me at the time, due to the avalanche of low-fat vegetarian books I also read. There was another one kind of like it that advocated eating wild game as a weight-loss strategy. Or, maybe that was Neanderthin itself.
I would be interested in reading the chapter on human and carnivore digestive systems if you can possibly find time to transcribe it. Or hire someone to do it. I’m available… Thanks!
Glad you enjoyed the post.
There is a link at the bottom of the post for the entire book.
I read Protein Power around 1997 and there are a number of things from it that have stuck with me. Or in the case of the 25 pounds I lost, have remained absent!
But by far the most powerful and memorable bit was that about comparing the remains of agriculturalists to hunter-gatherers (when I was reading it, i couldn’t understand why it was placed in the BACK of the book; it should have been Chapter 1!). Your editor: what a broken world we live in.
In a cocktail party setting, I strike a pose and paraphrase / summarize it thusly:
“When human remains of unknown association are discovered, it is accepted for anthropologists to classify them as agriculturists or hunter gatherers based solely on their condition: good -> hunter-gatherer; bad -> agriculturists.”
Sometimes I worry that I may be overstating the case a bit. I should go back and re-read it, but I can’t stand the chance of ruining such a powerful statement. Maybe I’m as bad as the other side.
Don’t worry, you’ve pretty much summarized it correctly.
My question is: what about the ones who had to go on a strict vegan diet because they had leukemia and the vegan diet cured it? Actual case is Christina Pirello of Christina Cooks fame. She cured herself by going vegan, Macrobiotic vegan, and is thriving many years later.
There is no way of knowing whether the vegan diet cured her leukemia or not. Cancers sometimes spontaneously go into remission. If that happens to anyone, the person to whom it happens tends to attribute it to whatever he/she did at the time, which often has nothing to do with it.
I once read an article by a cancer surgeon who said that he had seen a handful of cases of spontaneous remission in his patient population. He estimated them at a fraction of 1 percent. He went on to say that he had treated about 20,000 cancer patients in his career and maybe 10 had undergone spontaneous remission. He then pointed out that many faith healers would fill giant football stadiums with people night after night. Each of these stadiums held 3-5 times the number of patients he had seen in his entire career, so that each night an enormous number of people were ministered to by a faith healer. So in a weeks run at one of these places, a faith healer would reach probably twenty times the number of people with cancer this doc had seen in his entire 25 years of practice. Since he had seen about ten cases of spontaneous remission, he figured there could be as many as 200 cases of spontaneous remissions in the cancer-ridden folks attending these services. Which is why faith healers can trot out the medical records of people who definitely had cancer before they got ‘healed’ and definitely did not have cancer after. They don’t mention the tens of thousands of others who attended the services yet whose cancers continued on their relentless way.
The point is that you can’t look at one person who changed his/her lifestyle and ‘cured’ cancer. You’ve got to look at the overall stats and the mechanisms involved.
Isn’t that sort of what they did with pigeons? They dropped corn into the cages at random, and the pigeons would do whatever they happened to be doing when the corn fell. By the end some pigeons were doing incredibly intricate dances.
Thank you Dr. Eades. Fascinating. I always felt that the mind can cure the body..given enough faith and your sitation of Faith Healers on 200 spontaneous remissions is evidence of that happening.
Faith is a beautiful thing.
I have heard that in many autopsy cancerous? tumors that have been and gone without the host ever knowing about them, are found. It seems also that cancer is cured in many ways, faith i believe must be one if our thoughts have any power at all and i find the Gerson approach interesting, which apparently has a good success rate. But the point i am getting to for your consideration, is that i have just read and learned about inflammation; long term and therefore chronic, and how it is responsible for just about all disease, including diabetes and cancer , inflammation is a reaction to anything that puts enough strain onto you physical body to cause your immune system to react to it. It appears to be the link between all the damaging substances we put into our system i.e. wheat or toxins = intolerances and immune systems reaction to it =chronic inflammation=disease