This video by Dr. Paul Jaminet is very interesting. It is a bit long and he is not the best speaker but what he has to say is worth listening to. Basically he makes the case that the ideal human diet is about 30% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 55% fat. This obviously goes against the traditional idea that fat (especially the saturated variety) is unhealthy. He seems to have a lot of similar ideas to the Westin A Price Foundation which favors animal products and has no fear of saturated animal fats. His ideas are controversial but seem to make sense to me. However, I will let you decide since we all have to think for ourselves.
Here is a summary of part of what Dr Jaminet said, taken from Dr. Mercola.
Five Sources of Evolutionary Evidence Offer Compelling Clues to Optimal Diet
The Paleo diet is based on what our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic period. There were no supermarkets back then, so they hunted and gathered their food. This also tells us there was regional variability in people’s diets, as they could only eat that which grew and was available in their respective climate.
“Eskimos (Inuit) would eat almost a pure animal food diet… People in the tropics would tend to eat more carbohydrates. But typically, the amount of carbohydrates eaten would… be about 15 percent to 20 percent. We know that from hunter-gatherer tribes that were contacted in the 1800s. We have some good data from that period on what hunter-gatherer diets looked like.”
A second source of evidence is the composition of human breast milk, which we can assume must be, evolutionary speaking, a nutritionally ideal form of nourishment for human infants. And, while the nutritional needs of infants differ from adults, we can estimate how their nutrient needs differ, and adjust accordingly.
“One thing we see in infants is that they have very large brains relative to their body size. So they use a lot of glucose,” Dr. Jaminet says. “Roughly 50 percent of the calories that they use are glucose. Breast milk is about 40 percent carbs. So, the amount of carbs in the diet is just slightly below the amount that the infant will actually use.
If you translate that to adults, adults use about 30 percent of their calories as glucose. We would predict, based on the composition of breast milk, that maybe the optimal amount of carbs for an adult would be just below 30 percent, so maybe 20 percent to 30 percent. That’s another example.”
Third, we can look at diets of other mammals.
“[T]they bracket the optimal human diet, because animals are biologically similar to us but have smaller brains. So, just like infants are like adults, but have bigger brains [relative to body size], animals have smaller brains [overall], and most animals, when you look at the nutrition… is very low carb; often five or 10 percent carb.
People think animals eat very different diets because there are herbivores, carnivores, omnivores. They do eat different food, but the food gets transformed in their gut and in their liver. The thing that changes evolutionarily in different animals is not the body and its nutrient needs – it’s the nature of the gut and the liver. So, herbivores will often have gut organs (like ruminants) that transform carbohydrates into fats and volatile acids. A cow for instance gets almost no carbs in its diet. All the carbs are eaten by bacteria, and the bacteria release short-chain fats…
When you look at these animals, that gives us more evidence about what the optimal diet should look like. That, again, leads us (when we correct for brain size) toward more of a 20 percent carb diet for adult humans.”
Fourth, the evolutionary evidence includes the inherent ability to survive a long fast or famine during times of scarcity. The human body was designed to be able to effectively hunt or gather food even if you hadn’t eaten for awhile. This means the human body must be able to “cannibalize” itself.
“You have to live on a composition of the human body effectively. The optimal human diet can’t be that far away from the nutrient composition of the human body by itself,” Dr. Jaminet explains.
Last but not least, the fifth source of evolutionary evidence is the food reward system of the human brain.
“We like certain kinds of foods. We like to get a certain amount of protein each day. We like to get a certain amount of salt each day. Certain things taste good, certain things taste very bad. Those taste preferences and food preferences evolved in order to guide us to eating a healthy diet. We can infer from these innate preferences of the brain what a healthy diet is,” Dr. Jaminet says. “Those five sources of evidence are pretty much what we used to try to get a first thought of what the optimal diet is. And then once we had that starting point, then we went for the literature to look for evidence and drilled down to the level of individual nutrients and toxins to try and figure out how to implement that in terms of food and how to really optimize everything.”
An Optimal Diet Also Needs to Limit Food Toxins
Another important aspect is the element of toxins—not just man-made toxins and toxic contaminants, but the naturally-occurring toxins found in various foods. For example, unfermented soy is notorious for its toxic potential.
“One of the strengths of the Paleo diet is that it’s very low in toxicity,” Dr. Jaminet says. “That happens for several reasons. One is that the foods it generally recommends are low in toxicity.
One of my favorite papers was a finding that if you eat one gram of wheat bran, then the weight of your feces will go up by over 5 grams. What that is telling us is that there are bioactive proteins in wheat that sabotage digestive function. So, they not only prevent the wheat bran from getting digested, but also other things that you eat along with it. That’s why the feces weight goes up so much.
The trouble is that, if they can disrupt a bodily function like digestion, they can also disrupt other functions. These toxins can actually have a large health impact. There is growing evidence that the impact is very substantial.
[Another] really interesting study came out of Japan this summer. Children in Japan who eat wheat every day… are almost four IQ points lower than children who eat rice. The nice thing about rice (it’s the only grain that we recommend in our diet) is that the toxins are destroyed in cooking. Cooked white rice is very low in toxins. That gives us a measure of how much wheat may be impacting health. That’s interesting, because the IQ difference between Asians and Americans is about four points. It could be just the difference between eating wheat and rice.”
Dr. Jaminet explains that rice, which is a starch, is comprised of long chains of glucose, and has virtually no fructose, which is good. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid as much fructose as possible—especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup, found in virtually all processed foods and beverages. When consumed in excessive amounts, fructose becomes quite toxic, and excessive fructose consumption is a major driving force behind our skyrocketing obesity- and chronic disease rates.
“Get your fructose only from fruits, berries, and vegetables,” Dr. Jaminet says. “There are some sugary vegetables that are good, like squashes, carrots, onions, and beets. In general, fruits and berries are good. Those will give you some fructose, but they don’t have huge amounts.”
Dr. Jaminet’s Take on “Glucose Deficiency” and Extreme Low-Carb Diets
When Dr. Jaminet initially embarked on the Paleo diet in an effort to resolve his health problems, he adhered to an extremely low-carb diet, where he tried to get all his carbs from vegetables.
“I ate probably two or three pounds of vegetables a day,” he says, “but what I didn’t realize was that vegetables are not a very good source of glucose. And your body does need some glucose. A typical vegetable has maybe 80 calories per pound of carbs. They are half-glucose, half-fructose. Your digestive tract will consume maybe 40 calories of glucose per pound digesting it. You’ll absorb maybe 40 calories of glucose from the vegetables. But then, as you digest the plant matter, your body will burn those calories in the process of digestion, and so you won’t get any net glucose contribution to your body.
The fructose can be converted to glucose, but often we don’t absorb fructose very well. It can also be intercepted by gut bacteria and they use it. That makes them more active, and our immune system have to use some glucose to fight them. So really, vegetables make a very limited contribution to the body’s glucose balance.”
Dr. Jaminet asserts that a lack of dietary glucose could have a detrimental effect on your immune activity, because your immune system utilizes glucose to kill pathogens. With the help of his wife, Dr. Jaminet began calculating the estimated “ideal” amount of carbs a human being might need, based on the evolutionary evidence.
“It became clear that I was just eating too few carbohydrates,” “[M]ucus, tears, and saliva all need sugars. The key components in mucus are made of glucose bonded to protein. They are about 80 percent glucose, 20 percent protein. If you don’t have enough glucose, you won’t make a lot of mucus and you’ll get dry eyes. That makes you vulnerable to infections. Also not having much glucose for the immune system makes you vulnerable to infections.
I had certain chronic infections flare up while I was on very low-carb Paleo. I didn’t want to believe that we needed carbs, but gradually I learned that we did. And I found that when I added more carbs, it would get better; when I took them out, it would get worse. Some of the symptoms were very clear, like the dry eyes. I gradually started to understand the reasons for that – how glucose works, the many things it’s used for in the body, and how much we needed.”
Glucose—What’s it Good for?
This is certainly controversial, as evidenced by the lively internet debate between Dr. Jaminet and Dr. Rosedale that recently erupted, which I covered in two previous articles (collectively, their back-and-forth conversation now consists of well over 100 pages of detailed information). Both certainly supply compelling evidence for their individual approaches.
Dr. Rosedale’s approach is that you can’t have too little glucose because it’s always going to cause some adverse metabolic consequence. It’s just a matter of degree. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dr. Rosedale, who has been one of my mentors in helping me fully appreciate the importance of insulin and leptin over 15 years ago, and his approach is not only based on years of research but also the successful treatment of patients suffering with chronic health problems.
Dr. Jaminet, on the other hand, believes that once you get below a certain threshold of glucose in your diet, you can start experiencing certain health challenges.
His perspective has slowly won me over, simply because I have personally experienced some of the health challenges he brings up as being linked to glucose deficiency. I noticed that when I restricted my carbs to vegetables only (cutting out all grains and non-fiber starches), it paradoxically raised my triglycerides. I would also get extremely fatigued when working out, and it worsened my kidney function, too. So, I believe I’ve proved to myself you can go too low on glucose.
“People need to realize that glucose has a lot of functions in the body,” Dr. Jaminet says. “People think of macronutrients as things you burn for energy, but really that’s not their primary function… [W]e’re meant to survive famines by cannibalizing our own bodies. Really, what your food should do is nourish and build up your body. And then as your cells need energy, they can cannibalize themselves.
… [T]hink of your body as modular elements, [and] that your food should be used to build up your body, construct your body, and then your body should cannibalize itself in order to get energy. Food shouldn’t be considered a source of energy. It should be considered a source of building up your body.
Calorie-wise, fat is almost half of the macronutrients of most cells by weight, but it’s more than them in calories because it’s calorie-dense. That’s why it’s good to eat a high-fat diet. You get the majority of calories from fat and less from carbs. But carbs are still an important structural element of the body.
Over half the proteins in your body need to be bonded with sugars in order to function. Almost all of the proteins that are in the membranes of cells are glycosylated. They are bonded with carbohydrate. This is essential. The proteins get joined to these sugars in these parts of the cell near the nucleus, called the endoplasmic reticulum and golgi bodies. If they are not properly bonded (with the glucose) they’ll be tagged for destruction and destroyed. So really, our proteins are protein-carbohydrate compounds. They are not pure protein.”