How to make sense of dietary advice

I am often perplexed at some of the dietary advice that I read about or that come from respected and/or well meaning people.  Even if you look at advice from the generally low carb advocates, you find a huge variation in what is recommended as “best for your health”.  I can well understand that readers just give up in the end and give in to the temptations of the dark side.

Firstly, I would make the point that removing the processed carbohydrate foods from your diet is the biggest and most important thing that you can do for your health and the arguments about whether you should be doing Paleo, Primal, Keto, Very Low Carb etc, are insignificant compared to just removing the processed carbs.

I am somewhat concerned over advice that people should greatly limit protein consumption.  The reason that some people promote this, is that protein triggers the mTOR pathway in cells which is associated with growth – and growth is not always good in full grown adults.  In fact, keeping mTOR low can be shown to increase overall health and longevity.  Sounds like something that we all want!  So should we eliminate most of the protein as well as most of the carbs and just eat mostly fat?  The Keto community would say yes.

Have a look at Mike Eades discussion on the Paleo diet on our Resources page as that might help you to decide what our ancestors ate and what one could argue that we are adapted to eat.

Millions of years of evolution are behind the immense complexity that is the human organism.  We hardly understand 1% of how it all works though we are slowly getting to know it better.  For that reason, I would always examine any dietary advice in the context of what Paleo man (pre-agriculture man) is likely to have eaten.

Do you think that Paleo man, who likely got the bulk of his nutrients from animal sources would have thought about limiting his protein intake as he was worried about his mTOR?  No, Paleo man would have eaten what was edible and as much as he could because (a) he doesn’t have a refrigerator, and (b) he knows that he may not be eating tomorrow, or the next day.

Yes, I agree that protein consumption does flip mTOR towards growth, but we also know that Fasting flips it back.  I believe that you are far better off eating like Paleo man  – eat your protein and also include regular fasting – than just greatly reducing protein intake.

I don’t think we know enough about the complexities of how amino acids (from protein) are used in the body to advise eating less of them than what our evolutionary evidence shows.

 

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