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Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers - The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers - The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.

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Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
porotic hyperostosis blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Porotic hyperostosis

cribra orbitalia blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

cribra orbitalia

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dental caries blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Dental caries

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The study we’re going to look at today is unusual in several respects.  First, there is a large amount of data, i.e., a lot of skeletons of both groups.  Second, it compares sedentary hunter-gatherers to sedentary agriculturalists.  And it compares peoples who probably had the same genetic heritage to one another.  Finally, it compares hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists living in the same general area.  The only real difference between the two groups of people is the time in which they lived and diet.
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he group of agriculturalists lived in an area called Hardin Village, which is a famous archeological site located in Kentucky on the bank of the Ohio River across from the current day city of Portsmouth, Ohio.  These people farmed the area from about 1500 AD to 1675 AD.  There is no indication in the archeological record of any European contact with these Hardin Villagers.

The hunter-gatherers lived in the same general area in an archeological site called Indian Knoll, which is a large midden (an ancient refuse heap) located on the Green River in western Kentucky.  Carbon-14 dating dates the age of habitation of these hunter-gatherers to about 5000 years ago.  Based on the excavation of the deep midden, these people lived at this site for a long period of time, i.e., they stayed in one spot instead of roving as most hunter-gatherers did.

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Writes Claire Cassidy, Ph.D., author of the study:

Available fauna and flora, water, and climate were so similar in the two areas that it may be assumed that whatever natural stresses existed at one site were probably existent at the other also, and therefore, in themselves, these should not affect the health and nutrition differently.

Population size and degree of sedentarism affect disease spread.  In the cases of the Hardin Village and Indian Knoll, since both are sedentary or semisedentary, this variable should be negligible in explaining differences in disease experience between the sites.

Archeological-reconstructable variability in material culture is also fairly small (though Indian Knollers used the spear-thrower and spear, while Hardin Villagers had pottery, permanent houses, and the bow and arrow).  Thus, in all probability the most significant difference between these two populations is in subsistence technique, with agriculture at the later site, and hunting-gathering at the earlier.

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Both groups had the same climate, weather, water, etc.  Neither group had contact with Europeans, so there is no contamination that way.  The groups are separated by only diet and time.  The hunter-gatherers lived in the area approximately 3500 years before the farmers did and had a substantially different diet.
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What did these folks eat?

At Hardin Village, primary dependence was on corn, beans, and squash.  Wild plants and animals (especially deer, elk, small mammals, wild turkey, box turtle) provided supplements to a largely agricultural diet.  It is probable that deer was not a quantitatively important food source…  At Hardin Village, remains of deer were sparse.

At Indian Knoll it is clear that very large quantities of river mussels and snails were consumed.  Other meat was provided by deer, small mammals, wild turkey, box turtle and fish; dog was sometimes eaten ceremonially.

There are several other dietary differences.  The Hardin Village diet was high in carbohydrates, while that at Indian Knoll was high in protein.  In terms of quality, [some] believe that primitive agriculturalists got plenty of protein from grain diets, most recent [researchers] emphasize that the proportion of essential amino-acids is the significant factor in determining protein-quality of the diet, rather than simply the number of grams of protein eaten.  It is much more difficult to achieve a good balance of amino-acids on a corn-beans diet than when protein is derived from meat or eggs.  The lack of protein at the Hardin Village signaled by the archaeological data should prepare us for the possibility of finding evidence of protein deficiency in the skeletal material.

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The Hardin Village site yielded 296 skeletons and the Indian Knoll site 285.
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Based on the ages of the people whose skeletons were found (anthropologists can easily tell age from skeletal remains), the life expectancies for people of both sexes and all ages were lower at Hardin Village as compared to Indian Knoll.  And infant mortality was higher at Hardin Village as well.
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Iron-deficiency anemia of sufficient duration to cause bone changes was present at Hardin Village but absent at Indian Knoll.  And half the cases of serious iron-deficiency anemia occurred in children at Hardin Village.
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Iron-deficiency anemia is a true deficiency disease, often an accompaniment of low-meat diets, long-term infection, or chronic disease.  It is also frequently found in cases of protein-energy malnutrition. The classic sign of iron-deficiency anemia presents as a couple of conditions seen in the skull called porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia.   8.2 percent of the Hardin Villagers had iron-deficiency anemia severe enough to cause one or both of these conditions.  These conditions are extremely painful and those afflicted had to have been miserable, especially the children, most of whom were under five years old.
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There were signs of malnutrition in both populations, but the signs differed between them.

There are a couple of ways anthropologists look for periods of malnutrition.  One is by examining the tibias (lower leg bones) with X-ray looking for a finding called Harris lines (or growth arrest lines).

harris lines blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Harris lines

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All these Harris lines indicate is that an episode of malnutrition occurred during childhood while the bones were developing, causing a period of growth arrest that lasted at least ten days or more.  But since these lines appear after the period of malnutrition, they can’t provide information as to the total duration of the lack of food.  The total number of lines found tells approximately how many episodes of dietary lack occurred that were serious enough to halt bone growth.
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To determine the severity of periods of malnutrition, anthropologists look for enamel hypoplasia.  Enamel hypoplasia derives from periods of ill-health or hunger lasting long enough to interrupt the deposition of enamel on the teeth.  These defects, like Harris lines, represent periods of growth arrest in childhood, but unlike Harris lines, enamel hypoplasia quantifies the severity of the period of malnutrition.  The worse the defect, the worse the malnutrition.

enamel hypoplasia2 blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Enamel hypoplasia

enamel hypoplasia3 blog Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Enamel hypoplasia

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Interestingly, there were more Harris lines found in the specimens from Indian Knoll, but these lines were regularly spaced, “indicating that malnutrition occurred at periodic intervals, perhaps as a “normal part of life.”  There were an equal number of jaws at both sites demonstrating teeth with enamel hypoplasia, “but the frequency of severe episodes of arrest was significantly higher at Hardin Village.”

The most parsimonious interpretation of this information is that mild food shortages occurred at regular intervals at Indian Knoll; perhaps late winter was a time of danger.  [Researchers] using growth arrest lines [Harris lines] and … archaeological data, have similarly concluded that in the hunter-gatherer populations they studied, food shortages occurred regularly, probably on a yearly basis.  At Hardin Village growth arrest was caused by illnesses or crop failure which resulted in long-lasting, but randomly-occurring episodes of growth arrest.

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Bones can also exhibit signs of certain types of infection.  Bone infections affected an equal number of people at both sites, but affected significantly more children at Hardin Village than at Indian Knoll.

A specific type of infectious disease showing up in skeletal remains and identified as the syndrome of periosteal inflammation was present at both sites, but was thirteen times more common at Hardin Village.  No one knows for sure what causes this disorder, but it is thought to be caused by a treponematosis, a disease caused by a similar but not identical agent as that that causes yaws, pinta or even syphilis.

The author of this study attributes the greatly increased incidence of this disease in the Hardin Villagers to “lack of resistance in the host because of poor diet and general health.”

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Teeth are often a window into the diet of ancient populations.  Based on the wear patterns and number of caries (dental cavities), teeth can provide much information on the quality of the diet.  Teeth ridden with decay are typically associated with poor quality diets, and the unhealthy teeth themselves can be a major factor in the overall poor health of an individual.

Tooth decay was rampant at Hardin Village, but uncommon at Indian Knoll.  Adult males at Hardin Village had an average of 6.74 carious teeth per mouth, while at Indian Knoll the corresponding frequency was 0.73 per mouth.  For women the rates were 8.52 and 0.91 per mouth respectively.  No Indian Knoll children under twelve years of age had caries, whereas some Hardin Village children already had developed caries in milk teeth in their second year of life.  Tooth decay is closely associated with sugar content and consistency of food, occurring with higher frequency in sweet or high carbohydrate diets which are soft and sticky.

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Here is the summary of the findings of this analysis of skeletal data as tabulated by the author:

1.    Life expectancies for both sexes at all ages were lower at Hardin Village than at Indian Knoll.
2.    Infant mortality was higher at Hardin Village.
3.    Iron-deficiency anemia of sufficient duration to cause bone changes was absent at Indian Knoll, but present at Hardin Village, where 50 percent of cases occurred in children under age five.
4.    Growth arrest episodes at Indian Knoll were periodic and more often of short duration and were possibly due to food shortage in late winter; those at Hardin Village occurred randomly and were more often of long duration, probably indicative of disease as a causative agent.
5.    More children suffered infections at Hardin Village than at Indian Knoll.
6.    The syndrome of periosteal inflammation was more common at Hardin Village than at Indian Knoll.
7.    Tooth decay was rampant at Hardin Village and led to early abscessing and tooth loss; decay was unusual at Indian Knoll and abscessing occurred later in life because of severe wear to the teeth.  The differences in tooth wear and caries rate are very likely attributable to dietary differences between the two groups.

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Her analysis based on this data:

Overall, the agricultural Hardin Villagers were clearly less healthy than the Indian Knollers, who lived by hunting and gathering.

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Below is a chart from the paper showing the life expectancies by age of people living in Hardin Village and Indian Knoll.  Look at the enormous increase in mortality in the agricultural Hardin Villagers between the ages of two to four.

life expectancies chart Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter gatherers

Why this rapid increase in mortality in these young children.  The author tells us:

The health and nutrition situation at Hardin Village may profitably be compared with that in modern peasant villages.  In may of these, children are typically fairly healthy until weaned.  At this time they are introduced to a soft diet consisting largely of carbohydrates (in much of Africa and Central America, a pap is made of sugar, water, and maize flour: in Jamaica green bananas replace maize).  In many cases, within a few weeks or months these children develop diarrhea, lose weight, suffer multiple infections, and may eventually develop the form of protein-energy malnutrition called kwashiorkor.   In this disorder caloric intake is usually adequate, but protein and other nutrient intakes are extremely limited; without modern hospital care many victims die.

At Hardin Village the highest rate of death occurs between the second and fourth years of life.  This is typical for a population experiencing weaning problems.  Considering the softness of the adult diet and the high caries rate of both children and adults, it is not unlikely that the children were weaned onto a corn pap of some type.

The high prevalence of childhood infection, severity of growth arrest in the first few years of life, and the existence of iron-deficiency anemia all point to a situation at Hardin Village analogous to those in modern peasant villages.  In other words the evidence supports a hypothesis that malnutrition began with weaning at Hardin Village, sometimes resulted in kwashiorkor, and continued at low level – just enough to reduce the resistance of the population to infectious disease – throughout the life of the individual.

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Think about this the next time you hear a pediatrician recommend that babies who are being weaned start out on some sort of Pablum or other processed cereal for infants.  And they virtually all recommend it. 
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Dr. Cassidy, the author of this fascinating paper, speculates in the discussion section about why a society would abandon hunting and gathering for agriculture when the diet quality provided by an agricultural subsistence is so inferior.  She writes about the possibility of all the game being decimated by over hunting, and she mentions the possibility of inter tribal warfare reducing the male hunting population to the point that those remaining standing couldn’t provide enough food for all by hunting alone.
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Thus population expansion, inefficient hunting techniques, loss of game from the area by migration and overkill, and warfare, all may have contributed to force the Hardin Villagers to become more and more dependent on a small number of high-carbohydrate agricultural foods of limited quality, and this may have been so even were they aware of an increase in physical ill-health in the group.

Finally, we must also wonder if people didn’t ultimately begin to prefer corn and beans to meats?  There is some evidence that carbohydrates can become so palatable to humans that they eat them in preference to other foods; such a situation may have further limited the appeal of hunting.

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*Cassidy CM. Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers: a case study of two prehistoric populations. in Nutritional Anthropology. Eds Jerome NW et al. 1980 Redgrave Publishing Company, Pleasantville, NY pg 117-145
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Whole Health Source: Life Expectancy and Growth of Paleolithic vs. Neolithic Humans

Whole Health Source: Life Expectancy and Growth of Paleolithic vs. Neolithic Humans

wholehealthsource.blogspot.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
The most interesting part of the table is actually not the life expectancy data. It also contains numbers for average stature and pelvic inlet depth. These are both markers of nutritional status during development. Pelvic inlet depth is a measure of the size of the pelvic canal through which a baby would pass during birth. It can be measured in men and women, but obviously its implications for birth only apply to women.
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As you can see in the table, stature and pelvic inlet depth declined quite a bit with the adoption of agriculture, and still have not reached paleolithic levels to this day.
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wit
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The idea that a grain-based diet interferes with normal skeletal development isn't new. It's well-accepted in the field of archaeology that the adoption of grains coincided with a shortening of stature, thinner bones and crooked, cavity-ridden teeth. This fact is so well accepted that these sorts of skeletal changes are sometimes used as evidence that grains were adopted in a particular region historically. Weston Price saw similar changes in the populations he studied, as they transitioned from traditional diets to processed-food diets rich in white wheat flour, sweets and other processed foods.
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The change in pelvic inlet depth is also very telling. Modern childbirth is so difficult, it makes you wonder why our bodies have evolved to make it so drawn-out and lethal. Without the aid of modern medicine, many of the women who now get C-sections and other birth interventions would not make it. My feeling is that we didn't evolve to make childbirth so lethal. It's more difficult in modern times, at least partially because we have a narrower pelvic inlet than our ancestors. Another thing Weston Price commented on was the relative ease of childbirth in many of the traditional societies he visited.
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Here's an exerpt from Nutrition and Physical Degeneration:
A similar impressive comment was made to me by Dr. Romig, the superintendent of the government hospital for Eskimos and Indians at Anchorage, Alaska. He stated that in his thirty-six years among the Eskimos, he had never been able to arrive in time to see a normal birth by a primitive Eskimo woman. But conditions have changed materially with the new generation of Eskimo girls, born after their parents began to use foods of modern civilization. Many of them are carried to his hospital after they had been in labor for several days. One Eskimo woman who had married twice, her last husband being a white man, reported to Dr. Romig and myself that she had given birth to twenty-six children and that several of them had been born during the night and that she had not bothered to waken her husband, but had introduced him to the new baby in the morning.
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Longevity/Health in Ancient Paleolithic vs Neolithic Peoples

www.beyondveg.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
Special update as of April 1999: LATE-BREAKING ADVANCES IN PALEOPATHOLOGICAL AGE-ESTIMATION TECHNIQUES have suggested that studies based on earlier techniques (as in the paper discussed here) may underestimate the age at death of older individuals and overestimate that of younger individuals. It's possible the range of estimation errors involved could be substantial. Thus, the profile of age-distribution results in compilation studies like the one discussed below may be flattened or compressed with respect to

On the other hand, however, this consideration does not affect the "relative age," so to speak, of comparisons between age at death of different skeletal specimens, as summarized here, nor does it materially impact inferences about health status as indicated by skeletal data. Thus, for that reason, the results presented here still remain of considerable interest in the comparison of ages/health status of late Paleolithic peoples vs. the Neolithic agricultural peoples who followed them. At a later date, updated information may be provided to supplement this report concerning estimated age-at-death figures.

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Here we present a summary of a classic paper on the health and longevity of late Paleolithic (pre-agricultural) and Neolithic (early agricultural) people. [Source: Angel, (1984) "Health as a crucial factor in the changes from hunting to developed farming in the eastern Mediterranean." In: Cohen, Armelagos, (eds.) (1984) Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture (proceedings of a conference held in 1982). Orlando: Academic Press. (pp. 51-73)]

Note that these figures come from studies in the field of "paleopathology" (investigation of health, disease, and death from archaeological study of skeletons) of remains in the eastern Mediterranean (defined in Angel's paper to also include Greece and western Turkey), an area where a more continuous data sample is available from ancient times. Due to the unavoidable spottiness of the archaeological record in general, however, samples from the Balkans, the Ukraine, North Africa, and Israel were included for the earliest (Paleolithic and Mesolithic) periods. While the populations in the region were not always directly descended from one another, focusing the study within the eastern Mediterranean minimizes bias in the data due to genetic change over time.

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One can see from the above data that things are rarely as clear-cut as dietary purists would like them to be. For any period in time, there is good and there is bad.
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The main thing to note here about the short average lifespans compared to modern times is that the major causes are thought to have been "occupational hazards," i.e., accidents, trauma, etc., stresses of nomadism, and so forth. It is not always clear how strongly other conclusions can be drawn about the effect of diet from these figures, but all other things being equal--
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Median longevity decreased slightly during the first several millennia after the introduction of agricultural foods during which plant foods became a greater part of the diet, and meat a lesser part, than previously. This would seem to indicate that meat/protein consumption itself would not have been the factor responsible for decreased longevity (since less of it was being eaten after the late Paleolithic).
The sentence in parentheses is referring to the Mesolithic as apposed to the Neolithic and so forth. In other words meat/protein consumption itself could not have been the factor responsible decreased longevity in the sample mentioned.
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From some of the later time periods involved where civilizations were on the rise and fall, it appears that social factors have the biggest impact on longevity, particularly since longevity never rose above about age 45 for long, often falling below that figure for centuries at a time, until the 1900s, since which time it has almost doubled. Perhaps the most reliable conclusion to be drawn from the data here is that while diet is a significant influence on longevity, it is only part of the mix, and perhaps not as powerful a determinant as other factors.
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The table shows two differing breakdowns of health with subsequent advances. [Note: in the original table, there were additional data besides the above that indicated health status as based on skeletal indices.] First, there was a fairly sharp decline in growth and nutrition during the confusions and experiments of the transformation from hunting to farming, with its many inventions and increasing trade and disease between about 10,000 and 5,000 B.C. Partial recoveries and advances in health occurred during the Bronze Age rise of civilization; then real advance (e.g., a 7 to 11-year increase in longevity) occurred with the rise of Hellenic-Roman culture. Second, there was an increase in disease and crowding during the decline and religious metamorphosis of the Roman Empire, eventually leading to an irregular breakdown of general, but not nutritional, health under a complex disease load, from about A.D. 1300 to 1700.
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In prehistoric times (which would include Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods in the table above), human infant mortality was 20-30%. (For wild animals, the figure is 60-80%.)
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Mesolithic subsistence was characterized by four new practices and inventions: (1) The use of "composite" tools fashioned from multiple rather than simply single materials, including harpoons, arrows, and sickles; (2) the bow-and-arrow (which partially replaced spears and atlatls [an atlatl is a spear-throwing device]; (3) domestication of the dog for hunting (which also became pets); and (4) harvesting of wild grain (prior to actual cultivation later). A 100m rise in sea level at this time due to climatic warming led to encroachment of water further inland promoting a northward spread of malaria into populations not yet adapted. The rise in sea level tended to restrict migration; however, trading for obsidian (a type of volcanic stone/glass prized for sharp-edged tools) helped offset this, and promoted knowledge and spread of farming practices and also sailboats and fishing.
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During the Neolithic, population density increased from 10 to 50-fold over the Paleolithic, supported by the spread of grain-farming. Angel estimates meat consumption fell to 10-20% of the Paleolithic level with this transition in subsistence.
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Neolithic sites show an increasingly settled way of life as exemplified by evidence of food storage. However, farming was hard work, and skeletal evidence shows signs of the heavy effort needed, which--combined with a diet adequate in calories but barely or less than adequate in minerals from the depleting effects of phytate (phytates in grains bind minerals and inhibit absorption)--led to a state of low general health. The considerable decrease in stature at this time (roughly 4-6 inches, or 12-16 cm, shorter than in pre-agricultural times) is believed to have resulted from restricted blood calcium and/or vitamin D, plus insufficient essential amino acid levels, the latter resulting from the large fall in meat consumption at this time (as determined by strontium/calcium ratios in human bone remains).
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endemic infectious diseases
Definition:

endemic infectious diseases- an infection is in a steady state (endemic) within a population when it is transmited at usual rate or maintains its presence throughout through its various means. This is directly apposed to an epidemic that is characterized by rampant, exponential infections.
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Given this animal food source for critical skeletal-building minerals--which would normally also be reflected in good values for skull base height, pelvic inlet depth, and adult stature--the poor mineral status reflected in these measurements points to part of the explanation as the effect of continued phytate intake from grains, a substance which binds minerals preventing efficient absorption.
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We can conclude that farmers were less healthy than hunters, at least until Classical to Roman times. [Due to the difficulty in disentangling all relevant factors, as Angel explains a bit earlier] [w]e cannot state exactly how much less healthy they were, however, or exactly how or why.
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We can conclude that farmers were less healthy than hunters, at least until Classical to Roman times. [Due to the difficulty in disentangling all relevant factors, as Angel explains a bit earlier] [w]e cannot state exactly how much less healthy they were, however, or exactly how or why.
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Whole Health Source: Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture

Whole Health Source: Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture

wholehealthsource.blogspot.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
The level of skeletal (including cranial and pelvic) development Paleolithic groups exhibited has remained unmatched throughout the history of agriculture. There may be exceptions but the trend is clear.
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In April of 1982, archaeologists from around the globe converged on Plattsburgh, New York for a research symposium. Their goal:
...[to use] data from human skeletal analysis and paleopathology [the study of ancient diseases] to measure the impact on human health of the Neolithic Revolution and antecedent changes in prehistoric hunter-gatherer food economies.
The Neolithic Revolution can also be read as the Agricultural Revolution. It includes the transition of human societies to sedentary, hierarchical, and diversified living arrangements. These societies were also more populationaly dense and identified largely by their specialized crop cultivation and extensive alteration of their natural environments.
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There are some major limitations to studying human health by looking at bones. The most obvious is that any soft tissue pathology will have been erased by time. Nevertheless, you can learn a lot from a skeleton. Here are the main health indicators discussed in the book:
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Mortality. Archaeologists are able to judge a person's approximate age at death, and if the number of skeletons is large enough, they can paint a rough picture of the life expectancy and infant mortality of a population.
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General growth. Total height, bone thickness, dental crowding, and pelvic and skull shape are all indicators of relative nutrition and health. This is particularly true in a genetically stable population. Pelvic depth is sensitive to nutrition and determines the size of the birth canal in women.
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Episodic stress. Bones and teeth carry markers of temporary "stress", most often due to starvation or malnutrition. Enamel hypoplasia, horizontal bands of thinned enamel on the teeth, is probably the most reliable marker. Harris lines, bands of increased density in long bones that may be caused by temporary growth arrest, are another type.
Definitions:

hypoplasia- incomplete or arrested development of an organ or part.
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Porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia. These are both skull deformities that are caused by iron deficiency anemia, and are rather creepy to look at. They're typically caused by malnutrition, but can also result from parasites.
Porotic hyperostosis, also known as osteoporosis symmetrica, or Tara Grufferty syndrome is a disease that causes bone tissue to appear spongy and become soft. In the disease, the spongy marrow within the bones of the skull becomes overgrown.The overgrowth of the skull's marrow may cause the outer table of the bones to move and become thinner.

Cribra Orbitalia is characterized by the pores present in the bone surface of the orbital roofs.
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Periosteal reactions. These are bone lesions resulting from infections.
Definitions:

periosteal- around or surrounding the bone

lesions- any structural change in a bodily part resulting from injury or disease
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Physical trauma, such as fractures.
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Degenerative bone conditions, such as arthritis.
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Isotopes and trace elements. These can sometimes yield information about the nutritional status, diet composition and diet quality of populations.
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Dental pathology. My favorite! This category includes cavities, periodontal disease, missing teeth, abscesses, tooth wear, and excessive dental plaque.
An abscess, specifically of the teeth is a result of decay, trauma, or infection and includes openings in the tooth enamel which allow bacteria to infect the center of the tooth (the pulp). Infection may spread out from the root of the tooth and to the bones supporting the tooth. Infection results in a collection of pus (dead tissue, live and dead bacteria, white blood cells) and swelling of the tissues within the tooth.
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The term "Paleolithic" refers to the period from the invention of stone tools by hominids 2.5 million years ago, to the invention of agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago. The upper Paleolithic lasted from about 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.
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From page 59:
In Upper Paleolithic times nutritional health was excellent. The evidence consists of extremely tall stature from plentiful calories and protein (and some microevolutionary selection?); maximum skull base height from plentiful protein, vitamin D, and sunlight in early childhood; and very good teeth and large pelvic depth from adequate protein and vitamins in later childhood and adolescence...
Adult longevity, at 35 years for males and 30 years for females, implies fair to good general health...
There is no clear evidence for any endemic disease.
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Cranial capacity was 11% higher in the upper Paleolithic.
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As hunting and gathering economies evolve during the Mesolithic [period of transition between hunting/gathering and agriculture], subsistence is expanded by exploitation of increasing numbers of species and by increasingly heavy exploitation of the more abundant and productive plant species. The inclusion of significant amounts of plant food in prehistoric diets seems to correlate with increased use of food processing tools, apparently to improve their taste and digestibility. As [Dr. Mark Nathan] Cohen suggests, there is an increasing focus through time on a few starchy plants of high productivity and storability. This process of subsistence intensification occurs even in regions where native agriculture never developed. In California, for example, as hunting-gathering populations grew, subsistence changed from an early pattern of reliance on game and varied plant resources to to one with increasing emphasis on collection of a few species of starchy seeds and nuts.
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.As [Dr. Cohen] predicts, evolutionary change in prehistoric subsistence has moved in the direction of higher carrying capacity foods, not toward foods of higher-quality nutrition or greater reliability. Early nonagricultural diets appear to have been high in minerals, protein, vitamins, and trace nutrients, but relatively low in starch. In the development toward agriculture there is a growing emphasis on starchy, highly caloric food of high productivity and storability, changes that are not favorable to nutritional quality but that would have acted to increase carrying capacity, as Cohen's theory suggests.
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During the upper Paleolithic stage, subsistence seems focused on relatively easily available foods of high nutritional value, such as large herd animals and migratory fish. Some plant foods seem to have been eaten, but they appear not to have been quantitatively important in the diet. Storage of foods appears early in many sequences, even during the Paleolithic, apparently to save seasonal surpluses for consumption during seasons of low productivity.
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One of the interesting things I learned from the book is that Mesolithic populations, groups that were halfway between farming and hunting-gathering, were generally as healthy as hunter-gatherers:
...it seems clear that seasonal and periodic physiological stress regularly affected most prehistoric hunting-gathering populations, as evidenced by the presence of enamel hypoplasias and Harris lines. What also seems clear is that severe and chronic stress, with high frequency of hypoplasias, infectious disease lesions, pathologies related to iron-deficiency anemia, and high mortality rates, is not characteristic of these early populations. There is no evidence of frequent, severe malnutrition, so the diet must have been adequate in calories and other nutrients most of the time. During the Mesolithic, the proportion of starch in the diet rose, to judge from the increased occurrence of certain dental diseases [with exceptions to be noted later], but not enough to create an impoverished diet... There is a possible slight tendency for Paleolithic people to be healthier and taller than Mesolithic people, but there is no apparent trend toward increasing physiological stress during the mesolithic.
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Cultures that adopted intensive agriculture typically showed a marked decline in health indicators. This is particularly true of dental health, which usually became quite poor.
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Stress, however, does not seem to have become common and widespread until after the development of high degrees of sedentism, population density, and reliance on intensive agriculture. At this stage in all regions the incidence of physiological stress increases greatly, and average mortality rates increase appreciably. Most of these agricultural populations have high frequencies of porotic hyperostosis and cribra orbitalia, and there is a substantial increase in the number and severity of enamel hypoplasias and pathologies associated with infectious disease. Stature in many populations appears to have been considerably lower than would be expected if genetically-determined maxima had been reached, which suggests that the growth arrests documented by pathologies were causing stunting... Incidence of carbohydrate-related tooth disease increases, apparently because subsistence by this time is characterized by a heavy emphasis on a few starchy food crops.
Definition:

pathologies- the structural and functional manifestations of disease
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There are some apparent exceptions to the trend of declining health with the adoption of intensive agriculture. In my observation, they fall into two general categories. In the first, health improves upon the transition to agriculture because the hunter-gatherer population was unhealthy to begin with.
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This is due to living in a marginal environment or eating a diet with a high proportion of wild plant seeds. In the second category, the culture adopted rice. Rice is associated with less of a decline in health, and in some cases an increase in overall health, than other grains such as wheat and corn.
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In chapter 21 of the book Ancient Health: Bioarchaeological Interpretations of the Human Past, Drs. Michelle T Douglas and Michael Pietrusewsky state that "rice appears to be less cariogenic [cavity-promoting] than other grains such as maize [corn]."
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One pathology that seems to have decreased with the adoption of agriculture is arthritis. The authors speculate that it may have more to do with strenuous activity than other aspects of the lifestyle such as diet. Another interpretation is that the hunter-gatherers appeared to have a higher arthritis rate because of their longer lifespans:
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The arthritis data are also complicated by the fact that the hunter-gatherers discussed commonly displayed higher average ages at death than did the farming populations from the same region. The hunter-gatherers would therefore be expected to display more arthritis as a function of age even if their workloads were comparable [to farmers].
In any case, it appears arthritis is normal for human beings and not a modern degenerative disease.
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And the final word:
Taken as a whole, these indicators fairly clearly suggest an overall decline in the quality-- and probably in the length-- of human life associated with the adoption of agriculture.
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toddhargrove said...

I wonder if the HGs with arthritis had joint pain. One can have significant degenerative bone changes without pain. Especially if you have low inflammation. I assume that the woman Brock described rising from her wheelchair wasn't cured by reversal of the degenerative bone changes. I assume she lowered her inflammation level so that the bone changes were no longer causing pain

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sverlyn said...

There are two main types of arthritis- rheumotoid and osteoarthritis

Rheumotoid is mainly an autoimmune condition. Osteo is the " wear and tear" type of joint degeneration. Once you have joint degeneration, no matter what you eat, the asteoarthritis won't go away- it's basically a structural problem

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Books that Changed My Life

Books that Changed My Life

www.proteinpower.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago

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.

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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.
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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)
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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.

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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 .
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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.
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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 BreadDismantling 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.
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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.

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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 Stone Age Diet blog Books That Changed My Lifecomparative 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.
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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.

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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.

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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…

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Health-Bent | Crash Course on Sugar

Health-Bent | Crash Course on Sugar

www.health-bent.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
sugar, of any form, should be consumed in extreme moderation.
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Sucrose (white, table sugar), evaporated cane juice, beet, raw and date sugar, maple syrup, honey and even HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP contain roughly the same number of carbohydrates–4 grams per teaspoon. That equates to 12 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup.
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Glucose is your blood sugar. Fructose is bound to glucose in a 50/50 relationship to make sucrose and in a 55/45 relationship to make HIGH fructose corn syrup.
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The “sugar is sugar” axiom works to help us understand that any starch (though not sugar as we think of it when we eat it) will eventually be broken down into sugar in our bodies…and will raise our blood sugar (blood glucose).
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Starch is a chain of bound glucose that will become glucose in your bloodstream by digestion.
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Fructose is not metabolised in the same way as glucose (starches are chains of glucose). It’s metabolised almost solely by your liver. High levels of fructose consumption can put a real burden on your liver and lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Fructose molecules can also glycate (bind with other molecules) to produce free radicals and promote inflammation.
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The so called “low glycemic” sweeteners are such because they contain less glucose and more fructose. That’s how they raise your blood sugar less…but they’re even nastier.
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The minerals and vitamins found in honey, maple syrup and unrefined, raw sugars really aren’t beneficial enough in the small quantities we consume them in. Besides, a diet like ours, high in animal protein & fats, seafood, vegetables and natural sea salt will give you a much higher dose of all of these things.
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Raw Versus Cooked Carbs (Plant Foods)

Raw Versus Cooked Carbs (Plant Foods)

www.healingnaturallybybee.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
What raw foodists and Dr. Howell fail to realize is that enzymes in these foods, along with all of their nutrients, are located inside the cell walls of plants
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However all plant cell walls are made of cellulose fibers, and the human digestive system is incapable of breaking them down. Therefore, the cellulose cell walls of plants must be broken down before they are digestible, and in order for nutrients, including minerals, and any enzymes that may be present to be available for digestion.
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The fact is there isn't very much sugar needed to maintain blood sugar levels, with a maximum of 1 teaspoon is circulating throughout the body at any given time. Since 58% of protein and 10% of "good" fats are converted to glucose inside the body, all of the body's requirements for blood sugar levels are easily fulfilled by consuming meats, eggs and "good" fats
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Fructose is one of the worst sugars for humans because it does not stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin, which is needed to maintain blood sugar levels, so glucose is still needed for that purpose. Also it is converted very quickly by the liver into body fat, more so than other sugars/carbs.

Even healthy people should consume no more than 2 servings of fruit per day, which must be accompanied by plenty of "good" fats in order to slow the release of fructose into the system.

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All carbs change into glucose/sugar in the body which is one of two sources of energy the body can use; the other source is "good" fats. And glucose is not the best source of energy. "Good" fats like butter, unrefined coconut oil, lard, and other natural occurring fats from animals are the best source of energy. That is because "good" fats do not deplete or put a strain on the body's resources in order to digest and utilize them compared to digesting and utilizing carbs.
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These "good" fats do not require stomach acid, digestive enzymes nor bile in order to digest them. Most of these "good" fats go directly from the digestive system through the lymphatic system and into the bloodstream. These fats also do not make your body create fat like carbs and "bad" unnatural fats do, since any excess fat consumed is "thrown off" or "discarded" by the body.
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When you consume raw plant foods, called carbohydrates, which are any foods not classified as protein or fat, and they reach the large intestines, your body is forced to create bacteria in order to break them down. This changes the large colon into a fermentation chamber which creates a lot of gas, bloating, and many other digestive problems and diseases. Fermentation also makes the large intestines acidic, when it is needs to be alkaline so it can perform its many important functions.

Animals like cows and sheep, who are herbivores (consume only plant foods), have digestive systems that contain billions of bacteria and protozoa which begin the process of breaking down the cellulose cell walls into cellobiose to begin the process of releasing the nutrients inside. That's why herbivores produce lots of gas, and because they consume only carbs/sugars they are fat and bloated.

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In order to be healthy the entire small and large intestines must be alkaline. That's why the pancreas pours out large amounts of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) onto foods emptying out of the stomach, which neutralizes stomach acid, before it produces digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes only work in an alkaline environment. Also the liver, gall bladder, and the large and small intestines produce baking soda for the same reason. Bile is also alkaline.
Research:

'digestive enzymes and basic environments'
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It takes heat or fermentation, and time for the nutrients and enzymes (whatever they do contain) to be available from all carbs, particularly minerals. In fact freshly juiced fruits and vegetables contain no minerals or enzymes since juicing does not break down the cell walls.
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Breaking down cellulose cell walls of vegetables and fruits can be done by two different methods:

  1. Cooking them long enough for their "color" and "texture" to change, evidence that the cell walls have been broken.
    "Color change means they will get lighter in color. "Texture change" means they will become softer, which is more noticeable with root vegetables. Root vegetables should be soft enough to easily mash up with a fork.
  2. Fermenting them also breaks down their cell walls, i.e. kimchi, sauerkraut, etc. Fermenting foods actually pre-digests them the same as cooking does, if they are fermented long enough
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Dr. Weston Price -- On Acid -- Alkaline Balance

Dr. Weston Price -- On Acid -- Alkaline Balance

www.oralchelation.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
In this report we shall include a consideration of the acid-base balance of the foods for both these racial stocks and for groups with high immunity to dental caries and for those who have lost that high immunity
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The figures for acidity and base content are shown in Figure 2. We have in this chart the same groups in the same relationship as in Figure 1. The method of determining the acid and base content of a given food involved determining the quantity of each of the basic elements -- calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium -- and the acid elements -- phosphorus, chlorine and sulphur. These determinations have been made by using Sherman’s tables with special determinations of special foods. These are expressed in terms of cc. of normal acid and normal base, using the method suggested by Salter, Fulton and Angier in the Journal of Nutrition for May 1931. The excess of acid over base or base over acid is expressed as potential acidity or potential alkalinity. It is important to note that in four of these five groups of primitive racial stocks, living on entirely different native foods and in widely divergent climates and entirely different living habits, the immunity-producing diets were found to be higher in acid factors than in base factors.
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It is also important that, in changing, from high immunity to high susceptibility diets there was no increase in potential acidity with increased susceptibility to tooth decay.
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My data, accordingly, do not support the theory advocated by Dr. Jones.
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t is not my belief that this is related to potential acidity or potential alkalinity of the food but to the mineral and activator content of the nutrition during the developmental periods, namely, prenatal, postnatal and childhood growth.
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It is my belief that much harm has been done through the misconception that acidity and alkalinity were something apart from minerals and other elements. Many food faddists have undertaken to list foods on the basis of their acidity and alkalinity without the apparent understanding of the disturbances that are produced by, for example, condemning a food because it contains phosphoric acid, not appreciating that phosphorus can only be acid until it is neutralized by combining with a base.
Research:

'how acids and bases work'
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It is very unfortunate that medical and dental science has not looked to the primitive people earlier for standards of not only physical perfection but also of nutrition.
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It is of particular significance that when all of the foods of these various primitive groups are reduced to their chemical and activator content they are found to be relatively equivalent. This strongly indicates the direction in which the dental profession can profitably move in this matter of the prevention of tooth decay. Since many other degenerative processes are found to develop simultaneously, or nearly so, with the loss of immunity to dental caries, we have strong evidence that these physical afflictions are, like dental caries, symptoms rather than unit diseases.
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In every instance in my studies of these primitive racial stocks where I found that they had made contact with our modern civilization, with the result that they had lost their immunity to dental caries, that contact included displacing part of their native diet with imported white flour and sugar and sweetened goods. These foods are exceedingly low in Nature’s building material for growth and repair. Refined sugar has practically no minerals or activators, and white flour has had removed about four fifths of the minerals and nearly all of the germ with its contained activators
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In my clinical practice, in which I am endeavoring to put into practice the lessons I am learning from the primitive people, I do not require that the foods of the primitive races be adopted but that our modern foods be reinforced in body building materials to make them equivalent in mineral and activator content to the efficient foods of the primitive people. This usually is accomplished by displacing white-flour products with whole-wheat products, together with eliminating or reducing the high caloric foods such as sugars and other sweets, and adding foods that are good providers of the fat-soluble activators, such as the butter of milk as produced by cows that are eating liberally of fresh or cured rapidly growing green wheat or rye, together with the organs of animals and the use of sea foods such as these primitive people have used so successfully in providing not only high immunity to dental caries but excellent bodies, with high defense for the degenerative diseases.
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We are learning Nature’s methods and undertaking to utilize them. The chemical content of all of these primitive foods is comparably high in minerals and activators, especially the fat-soluble activators, while being relatively low in calories. In no instance have I found the change from a high immunity to dental caries to a high susceptibility among these primitive racial stocks to be associated with a change from a diet with a high potential alkalinity to a high potential acidity, as would seem to have been the case had the high alkalinity balance theory been the correct explanation. If the requisite is so simple as a potential alkalinity, why has not the addition of sodium bicarbonate to a deficient diet controlled dental caries?
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The Long Hollow Tube: A Primer on the Digestive System - Weston A Price Foundation

The Long Hollow Tube: A Primer on the Digestive System - Weston A Price Foundation

www.westonaprice.org
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
Mucous membranes are soft and velvety tissues, plentifully supplied with blood; their entire surface is coated over by the secretion of mucus, which serves to protect them from foreign substances with which they are brought into contact--in the case of the digestive tract, with the food we eat and our digestive secretions. Note also the word "musculo." The muscles that encase the digestive tract work autonomously, without our conscious involvement, in a series of peristaltic (wavelike) contractions to mix our food with digestive juices and move it along as digestion occurs.
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Saliva keeps the mouth moist and usually contains a starch-digesting enzyme, ptyalin, which breaks down starches into the simple sugar, glucose.
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Chewing is an important first step in the digestive process, especially for fruits and vegetables, as it breaks down membranes of cellulose (indigestible for humans) and liberates the nutrients they surround. Chewing also breaks food into small pieces, creating a large amount of surface area--digestive enzymes can only work on the surface of our food. When we wolf down our food, it takes much longer to digest.
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The stomach has two main functions--the storage of food until it can pass into the intestines and the mixing of food with digestive enzymes, a process that turns the bits and chunks of food that enter the stomach into a relatively smooth and thick fluid mixture called chyme.
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The mucous membrane of the stomach is densely packed with glands that secrete hydrochloric acid and pepsin, a protein-digesting enzyme. The role of hydrochloric acid is to create a sufficiently acid environment for pepsin to be activated. If we do not produce enough hydrochloric acid, then we cannot fully digest protein. The parietal cells that create hydrochloric acid also produce a large protein called the intrinsic factor, necessary for the assimilation of vitamin B12.
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While the environment in the stomach, especially the lower part of the stomach, is highly acidic, the environment in the small intestine is alkaline.
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At the end of the small intestine is the ileocecal valve. As with the connection between the stomach and the small intestine, various hormones and feedback mechanisms regulate the passage of chyme through the ileocecal valve into the large intestine.
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The small intestine actually meets the large intestine at a kind of T junction. To the left is the cecum, a kind of holding tank, and to the right the bowel. Attached to the cecum is the appendix, once considered a non-functioning or "vestigial" organ but now recognized as serving an important immunological function. The appendix contains a high concentration of lymphoid follicles that produce antibodies to help keep the bacteria of the colon from infecting other areas of the body, such as the small intestine and the bloodstream, particularly in early life.
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The purpose of the large intestine is threefold: storage of waste materials and undigested food from the small intestine--not just the breakdown products of what we take in but the residue of secretions, sloughed-off cells and dead bacteria that accumulate during the digestive process; the absorption of water and electrolytes from the food residue; and the further decomposition of solid materials by the action of millions of bacteria. Combined contractions of circular and lengthwise muscles surrounding the colon roll over the fecal materials to ensure that all of it is exposed to the intestinal wall, so that all the fluid can be absorbed. Special cells called goblet cells lining the large intestine secrete mucus that protects the walls of the intestine, helps maintain alkalinity and provides a medium to hold the fecal matter together.
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The final stage of this incredible journey is the movement of the now solid fecal matter from the transverse colon via strong contractions down the descending colon and into the rectum, a process that occurs only a few times each day--usually upon arising in the morning or immediately after breakfast. When these movements force a mass of fecal matter into the rectum, the desire to evacuate is felt.
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each of us literally has two brains--the familiar one encased in our skulls and a lesser-known but vitally important one found in the human gut. Like Siamese twins, the two brains are interconnected; when one gets upset, the other does, too." So writes science journalist Sandra Blakeslee for the New York Times. Indeed, the human digestive tract contains over one million nerve cells, about the same number found in the spinal cord. There are actually more nerve cells in the overall digestive system than in the peripheral nervous system. Furthermore, major neurotransmitters found in the brain--including serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide--occur plentifully in the gut as well. Enkephalins--described as the body’s natural opiates--also occur in the intestinal tract, as do benzodiazepines, psychoactive chemicals similar to mood-controlling drugs like Valium and Xanax.
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Jordan Rubin describes the "brain-gut" connection very well in his book The Maker’s Diet:

" Early in our embryogenesis, a collection of tissue called the ‘neural crest’ appears and divides during fetal development. One part turns into the central nervous system, and the other migrates to become the enteric nervous system. Both ‘thinking machines’ form simultaneously and independently of one another until a later stage of development.

"Then the two nervous systems link through a neural cable called the "vagus nerve," the longest of all cranial nerves. . . The vagus nerve "wanders" from the brain stem through the organs in the neck and thorax and finally terminates in the abdomen. This is your vital brain-gut connection."

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The gut produces the same pain-alleviating chemicals as those in antianxiety drugs. Says Rubin, "If you overeat because you feel anxious, your body may be trying to use the extra food to produce more benzodiazepines. We are not sure whether the gut synthesizes benzodiazepine from chemicals in our foods, from bacterial actions or from both. We do know that extreme pain appears to put the gut into overdrive in order to send benzodiazepine directly to the brain for immediate pain management."
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he digestive system is far more than a collection of pipes, wiring and membranes. It is actually an ecosystem, populated by billions of organisms that produce substances necessary for digestion to occur--enzymes, vitamins and beneficial acids (especially lactic acid).
Research:

'important body acids'

such as lactic, malic, and omega
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In the large intestine, fermentation processes produce butyric acid and other short-chain fatty acids that nourish the intestinal wall.

But fermentation is undesirable in the small intestine. When the intestinal ecosystem is healthy, beneficial bacteria keep yeasts and other fermentation microorganisms at bay in this part of the digestive tract. An imbalance of microorganisms, called dysbiosis, results in overgrowth of fungus and other pathogens, resulting in numerous digestive disorders.

Research:

'fermentation during human digestion'
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Good health depends on the right mix of microorganisms in both the small and large intestine.
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Like all ecosystems, the delicate balance of the digestive tract can be altered by various toxins including antibiotics and other drugs, chemicals like chlorine and fluoride in our water, food additives and preservatives, stimulants like coffee, and an overabundance of difficult-to-digest foods like improperly prepared whole grains.
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Digestion of Carbohydrates

Digestion of sugars and starches begins in the mouth as amylases (starch-digesting enzymes) begin the breakdown of starches into simple sugars such as maltose, fructose and glucose. This process continues, but at a lesser rate, in the upper portion of the stomach where the enzymes provided by the saliva continue their work. Once the food moves into the lower portion of the stomach, which is highly acidic, carbohydrate digestion temporarily ceases.

In the small intestine, the breakdown of starches and sugars renews. Amylases produced by the pancreas split sugars and starches into disaccharides (such as lactose, sucrose and maltose) and enzymes from the cells lining the small intestine (called the brush border) reduce these into the monosaccharides galactose, glucose and fructose. About 80 percent of the final product of carbohydrate digestion is glucose. These various simple sugars are selectively absorbed through the intestinal membrane.

Why don't carbs digest in acid while proteins do ?
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Digestion of Protein

Digestion of proteins begins in the highly acidic medium of the lower stomach. Hydrochloric acid activates pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins into shorter strings of amino acids. These products then move into the alkaline environment of the small intestine where pancreatic enzymes break down these strings into individual amino acids. The proteolytic or breakdown enzymes are very specific for the amino-acid linkages--a specific enzyme is required for each type of amino-acid linkage. The proteins are then rapidly absorbed, usually as single amino acids but occasionally as combinations of two or three amino acids.

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Digestion of Fat

Digestion of fats is more complex than that of proteins or carbohydrates. Some digestion occurs in the mouth and the upper stomach due to the action of lipases (fat-digesting enzymes) on the surface of the fat globules. But most fat digestion takes place in the small intestine. For full digestion to occur, the fat globules must be broken down; the substance that accomplishes this process (called emulsification) is bile, which is a secretion of the liver. The soap-like action of bile on fat globules increases the surface area an estimated 10,000-fold, thus allowing the lipases to liberate the fatty acids. Stable compounds called micelles are formed, small spherical globules consisting of long chain fatty acids, monoglycerides (a glycerol molecule attached to a single fatty acid) and bile salts. The micelles are absorbed at the surface of the intestinal mucous membrane. Once in the intestinal mucosa the various fatty compounds are joined with small amounts of protein and formed into compounds called chylomicrons, which enter the lymph system and eventually the blood as lipoproteins--compounds with a lipid core and a protein coating that makes them soluble in water.

Bile is produced by the liver out of cholesterol and stored in the gall bladder. The gall bladder releases bile into the small intestine through the action of a hormone, cholecystokinin. When the meal contains sufficient amounts of fat, the gall bladder empties completely in about one hour. Then the gall bladder slowly fills up again, getting ready for the next meal.

Bile not only serves to break down fats but also carries a lot of waste products away from the liver and into the intestine so that they can be eliminated.

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The Role of the Liver

The liver performs a multitude of wide-ranging tasks. These include the destruction of old red blood cells, the manufacture of proteins and of blood-clotting agents, the manufacture of cholesterol, the storage of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, some storage of fats and proteins, the conversion of fats and proteins to carbohydrate, the transformation of galactose (milk sugar) into glucose, the extraction of ammonia from amino acids, the conversion of ammonia into urea, the production of bile salts, the storage of fat-soluble vitamins and the conversion of adipose fat into more combustible ketone bodies. The liver also neutralizes various drugs and poisons--everything from alcohol to bartitrurates.

Unlike other organs in the body, the liver can regenerate its tissues, a trait that has led to its title of "the immortal organ" and "the seat of life." It sorts, organizes and stores the simple breakdown products of digestion, sent to it from the small intestine via the portal vein, and then uses these basic components to construct the complex substances the body needs; it also deconstructs a wide range of toxins and sends them away for elimination.

Adipose fat and ketone bodies?
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The exquisite and finely tuned digestive system requires our utmost respect. From the first bite of food to the elimination of wastes, membranes, glands, muscles, hormones, secretions, enzymes, blood, nerves and microorganisms work in concert to extract nourishiment from our food and deliver it to our cells.

The wrong diet can disrupt this system in two ways--by failing to provide nourishment and by delivering food that is difficult to digest.

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While the medical profession turns to drugs as a solution to digestive problems, the basic remedy should be nutrient-dense foods, especially the animal foods that provide fat-soluble nutrients, combined with wise preparation methods.

Many modern foods, such as processed milk products, breads and soy foods, are extremely difficult to digest; but traditional preparation methods made food easy to digest and facilitated assimilation of nutrients. They include:

  • Preparation of grains by soaking and sour leavening to neutralize difficult-to-digest components and nutrient blockers.
  • Long soaking and cooking, or even fermentation, of legumes.
  • Fermentation of many types of tubers, such as casava.
  • Lacto-fermention of condiments and beverages to provide beneficial bacteria for the digestive tract.
  • Consumption of protein foods (meat, eggs, fish and milk products) with plenty of fat.
  • Use of gelatin-rich bone broths. Gelatin acts not only to bring food into contact with digestive juices, it also soothes the intestinal wall.
  • Cooking of most vegetables (and even some fruits) to neutralize toxins and break down cell walls.
  • Proper aging of meat to initiate the breakdown of protein. With proper aging and/or fermentation, meat is quite digestible either raw or carefully cooked at low temperature.
  • Soaking and/or roasting of nuts to remove irritants and toxins.
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The digestive system needs to alternate between periods of activty and rest, and that rhythm is best served by three meals per day, with nothing to eat in between. This allows the stomach to rest, the gall bladder to refill, the intestines to move at their proper pace.
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The contents of the stomach enter the small intestine at different rates--carbohydrates first, then proteins and then fats.
Explanation of the order of digestion:
carbs first, proteins second, and lastly fats ?
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The digestive tract is populated by about 10,000 different kinds of microbes, which manufacture enzymes, vitamins and other substances that aid the digestive process.

There are more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the peripheral nervous system.

The lining of the large intestine is as smooth as the inside of the mouth. Contrary to widely held belief, only in cases of severe illness, such as cancer, does fecal matter remain stuck to the wall of the bowel. Even in the elderly, the feces pass through the smooth wall of the bowel without sticking.

Except in very high fiber diets, the bulk of the feces is made up not of fiber but dead bacteria.

Immediately below are some natural remedies for digestive problems
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Anger and the Stomach

Credit for our understanding of how the stomach works goes to a French-Canadian named Alexis St. Martin who was shot in the stomach on June 6, 1822, leaving a hole that never healed. When he ate, the contents of his stomach spilled out unless he wore a special bandage. A US Army surgeon, William Beaumont, recognized the opportunity that St. Martin’s unfortunate accident presented and devised a number of experiments that would provide enlightenment on man’s inner workings. He weighed morsels of food, tied them with silk and observed what happened when the stomach did its work on them. He took specimens of gastric secretions and identified the major component as hydrochloric acid. He noted that a fasting stomach was empty and contracted. Most importantly, he observed that the stomach became flushed with blood when Mr. St. Martin was angry. It also moved about with anger.

Years later, a woman in St. Louis had a stomach that could also be inspected. When she was made angry, her stomach grew pale and motionless.

These two examples clearly show that emotions affect our digestions--perhaps in different ways but the effect is definitely physiological. The moral: never eat when you are angry!

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Protein is necessary for the maintenance of the mucous membrane in the stomach, particularly the amino acids cystine, lysine and arginine. Deficiency leads to muscular weakness and many other problems. Bone broths are an excellent source of arginine, and cystine and lysine occur in meat, milk and eggs.
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holesterol plays a role in intestinal health. The cells lining the digestive tract are particularly rich in cholesterol. Cholesterol is also the precursor to bile. It is provided only by animal foods.
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When Things Go Wrong
Immediately below are common problems involving the digestional tract
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Fiber is a catchall term defined as that portion of the diet that is not enzymatically digested by our digestive enzymes and thus does not directly serve as a source of nourishment. (Fiber is broken down by a process of bacterial fermentation in the digestive tracts of animals, and to a much lesser extent in the human colon.)
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The word is misleading because dietary fiber is not fibrous nor long and stringy, and can even be soluble in water. In general, the various types of fiber are polysaccharides; that is, complex chains of sugars. The definition includes cellulose and hemicellulose from plant walls, pectins (part of the "ground" substance of fruits) and mucilages and gums, which are non-structural components of plant cells (especially abundant in apples and the white portions of citrus). Cellulose is composed of glucose molecules joined in a chain-like structure (as opposed to starch where the glucose molecules are more loosely joined and can be broken by enzymatic action); hemicellulose, a component of many vegetables, is composed of sugar units; pectin, a polysaccharide made mainly of chains of galacturonic acid (a derivative of galactose) units, forms a gel in the presence of sugar and acid, hence its use in making jams and jellies; and gums and mucilages have a variety of structures and uses, mainly as food additives like guar gum, agar and carrageenan.
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Humans do not eat alfalfa, but they commonly eat lots of pectin from fresh fruit and cellulose in whole grains. This study raises a red flag, especially for those with digestive difficulties. Common whole grain foods and even fresh fruit may have a real downside. The rat study findings point to the wisdom of traditional food preparation methods. Throughout the world, indigenous groups took great care with the preparation of grains, by soaking or sour leavening them for a long period of time. In Africa, grains are made into a sour porridge or a fermented beverage called sorghum beer, processes that take several days and in which cellulose is partially broken down. They also prepare tubers like casava by throwing them in a hole to ferment.

As for fresh fruit, perhaps we should take a cue from Asian cultures who typically cook high-pectin fruits like apples, pears, peaches and plums. Stewed fruit is an old-fashioned dish--who makes stewed fruit anymore? Here is another traditional foodway that should be resurrected.

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Coconut Oil for Digestion

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids that provide unique benefits for the digestive process. They have anti-microbial properties; that is, they fight against pathogenic viruses, yeasts, bacteria and parasites in the gut. These special fats are also the preferred food for beneficial bacteria in the colon.

For those who have gall bladder problems and difficulty in digesting fats, coconut oil can be very useful because the medium-chain fatty acids do not need to be acted on by the bile salts. And for those who have trouble digesting milk and cream, coconut milk and coconut cream can serve as substitutes.

Best of all, the body uses the medium-chain fatty acids for energy and rarely stores them as fat. Coconut oil aids digestion and boosts metabolism--wonderful benefits that come in a delicious package.

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Sugars, Sugar Substitutes & Artificial Sweeteners

Sugars, Sugar Substitutes & Artificial Sweeteners

www.healingnaturallybybee.com
Tyler Hughes Tyler Hughes
4 years ago
sugar is poisonous to the body
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  • Sugar can suppress the immune system and it contributes to the reduction in the body's defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases). Scientists have proven that too much sugar is the death of the immune system.
  • Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body. It also interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar produces a low oxygen environment = cancer and candida (fungal) growth environment.
  • Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function.
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  • Sugar can impair the structure of DNA (genes).
  • Sugar is the #1 enemy of the bowel movement
  • Examine these examples from a "how" perspective.

    For example:

    How does sugar impair the structure of DNA?
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    .
    Examine these examples from a "how" perspective.

    For example:

    How does sugar impair the structure of DNA?
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    The fact that sugar greatly depresses the immune system has been known for many years, mainly because of Linus Pauling. He is the only person ever to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes — for Chemistry (1954) and for Peace (1962).
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    The fact that sugar greatly depresses the immune system has been known for many years, mainly because of Linus Pauling. He is the only person ever to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes — for Chemistry (1954) and for Peace (1962).
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    Did you know that vitamin C and sugar have similar chemical structures so that means they compete with one another for entry into the cells? New research confirms Dr. John Ely's 30-year theory that sugar (glucose) competes with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) for insulin-mediated uptake into cells.
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    Did you know that vitamin C and sugar have similar chemical structures so that means they compete with one another for entry into the cells? New research confirms Dr. John Ely's 30-year theory that sugar (glucose) competes with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) for insulin-mediated uptake into cells.
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    If there is more sugar around less vitamin C is allowed into the cell, and vice versa. It is interesting that taking vitamin C also helps curb cravings for sugar, alcohol and carbohydrates. Since our bodies cannot make vitamin C on its own, it must be obtained from foods or supplements on a daily basis.
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    If there is more sugar around less vitamin C is allowed into the cell, and vice versa. It is interesting that taking vitamin C also helps curb cravings for sugar, alcohol and carbohydrates. Since our bodies cannot make vitamin C on its own, it must be obtained from foods or supplements on a daily basis.
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    In his book Sugar Blues, Bill Dufty points out numerous examples of physical diseases and psychological disorders that can be traced back to diets that are deficient in whole unprocessed foods, and dominated by highly processed fats and sugars.
    Research:

    'sugar and Vitamin c'
    'Linus Pauling'
    'Dr. John Ely; sugar and Vitamin C'
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    Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic flavors, aromas, and spices, with many different kinds used in a single flavoring, such as for cherry soda pop. Their use indicates that the "real thing" has been left out and substituted with chemical flavoring.
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    In his book Sugar Blues, Bill Dufty points out numerous examples of physical diseases and psychological disorders that can be traced back to diets that are deficient in whole unprocessed foods, and dominated by highly processed fats and sugars.
    Research:

    'sugar and Vitamin c'
    'Linus Pauling'
    'Dr. John Ely; sugar and Vitamin C'
    Cancel
    Not all sugar substitutes directly feeds Candida, but all of them damage the immune system, and most are neurotoxic (causing damage and disturbances to the brain and nervous system). Stevia is the only sweetener that is allowed for candida sufferers, but it should only be consumed in very small amounts, because like all sugar it will increase cravings for sugar and high carbohydrate foods. The best stevia product to buy is dried or powdered leaf, and unprocessed.
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    Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic flavors, aromas, and spices, with many different kinds used in a single flavoring, such as for cherry soda pop. Their use indicates that the "real thing" has been left out and substituted with chemical flavoring.
    Cancel
    Not all sugar substitutes directly feeds Candida, but all of them damage the immune system, and most are neurotoxic (causing damage and disturbances to the brain and nervous system).
    Cancel
    Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic flavors, aromas, and spices, with many different kinds used in a single flavoring, such as for cherry soda pop. Their use indicates that the "real thing" has been left out and substituted with chemical flavoring.
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    Natural favorings label may also include substances like MSG, carrageenan, HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein), monosodium glutamate, and many others. Such chemicals are neurotoxic (causing damage to nerve and brain cells) that fall under the category RTNC, which stands for Reaction–Triggering Neurotoxic Chemicals.
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    The term used is "natural," which is far from natural and very toxic and damaging to the body.

    Natural favorings label may also include substances like MSG, carrageenan, HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein), monosodium glutamate, and many others. Such chemicals are neurotoxic (causing damage to nerve and brain cells) that fall under the category RTNC, which stands for Reaction–Triggering Neurotoxic Chemicals.

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