Health/diet Advice Binge

Ignoring the superstitious pseudo-evolutionary constellation of beliefs associated with it, I think “paleo” believers are doing a good job noticing severe flaws in conventional diet and health advice. The main dietary themes seem to me: plenty of protein is good, saturated animal fat is good, non-contaminated fish are good, colorful vegetables are good, high carbs (as far as it causes high insulin or appetite) is bad, fructose is bad (oddly, they usually recommend fruits anyway, especially berries), nuts+avocados are good, grains are bad (they’re divided on that; some people legitimately suffer from grains - tubers/squashes instead), full-fat and/or fermented dairy is better than low-fat (also divided; over half the world is lactose intolerant, so non-fermented dairy would be a bad idea for them), and, in terms of supplementation: plenty of DHA (fish oil) and vitamin D (sunlight or pills), otherwise RDA plus a little.

It’s very easy to induce obesity in both animals and humans: feed a malnourishing diet providing calories in the form of a combination of wheat, fructose, and polyunsaturated fats.

(presumably he means omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, and not EPA/DHA (omega-3))

An interesting paleo dissent (in favor of high-carb, low-fat, low-meat eating). Probably healthy enough but it won’t support intense physical activity.

Some smart folks have noticed that you have at least initial success with low-food-reward calorie consumption (basically: don’t combine a source of calories with something that’s fun to eat). e.g. Seth Roberts

This guy dissents:
  • I think the focus should be on recovering health by curing metabolic damage.
  • I think our evolved preference for tasty foods including starches, fat, salt, and other “high reward” flavors indicates they are healthy, and therefore that a diet rich in such foods is most likely to cure metabolic damage.
  • I think it is essential to stay away from toxic, malnourishing foods made from wheat, fructose sugars, omega-6 oils, and bioactive compounds like MSG; and instead to eat foods that accord with our evolutionary history.

By metabolic damage, he means one of many possible things that can go wrong, with fat cells, the brain, hormones, whatever (really yet to be completely discovered). He objects to focusing on food-reward because he thinks that the fact that low-reward diets’ initial effectiveness is almost never sustained. By the way, the concept of “metabolic damage” being responsible for obesity is controversial amongst the “fat people have no willpower” crowd, but clearly diabetes fits the description.

Don’t supplement with too much calcium. Not only does high calcium prevent bone turnover (which you want), but it prevents magnesium absorption (oddly enough, supplementing magnesium will also help calcium reach bones).
high calcium intake can reduce the enlargement of the appendicular bones that generally occurs with ageing as a mechanical compensation for a decline in bone mineral density. Furthermore, high calcium doses slow bone turnover and also reduce the number of active bone remodelling sites. This situation can lead to a delay of bone repair caused by fatigue, and thus increase the risk of fractures independent of bone mineral density.
The highest quintile of calcium intake did not further reduce the risk of fractures of any type, or of osteoporosis, but was associated with a higher rate of hip fracture, hazard ratio 1.19 (1.06 to 1.32).

20% higher risk! Huge. A U-shaped dose/response curve is common in most vitamins (except those that can be pissed out easily, mostly water soluble like Vit B)

 - Dietary calcium intake and risk of fracture and osteoporosis: prospective longitudinal cohort study.



Most people probably get insufficient amounts of dietary magnesium, but it’s one of the most important minerals for overall general health, including the stress response system. It’s nigh impossible to overdose (you’ll just have to hit the toilet), making it very safe to supplement – so do it! Take some magnesium if you aren’t eating leafy greens and nuts on a regular basis.
Excessive cortisol is the bad guy, obviously, and black tea has been shown to reduce stress, lower stress-induced cortisol, and increase relaxation when compared to placebo.
L-Theanine, which is present in green tea leaves, has anti-stress properties, most likely by inhibiting cortical neuron excitation. This goes for both psychosocial and physiological sources of stress. Take some L-Theanine in addition to the green tea.

(L-Theanine does the opposite of caffeine; but coffee is good for you overall). If you’re already too agitated, I guess it might help.

Take Phosphatidyl Serine

If there is one supplement I’d recommend for its stress mitigating effects this would be it. The body doesn’t make much of it and we don’t get much from our diets, but its particularly concentrated in and is vital to the healthy functioning of nerve cell membranes. And get this: stress depletes it. PS is one of those 21st century hacks I’m always on the lookout for. It works on both mental and physical stress; improving mood and blunting cortisol after physical exercise.

Looks like the evidence for memory/cognition improvement is extremely weak, but the evidence for athletic performance (better recovery and reduced stress in competition) is good.

PS can be found in meat, but is most abundant in the brain and in innards such as liver and kidney. Only small amounts of PS can be found in dairy products or in vegetables, with the exception of white beans.

Food PS Content in mg/100 g
Bovine brain 713
Atlantic mackerel 480
Chicken heart 414
Atlantic herring 360
Eel 335
Offal (average value) 305
Pig’s spleen 239
Pig’s kidney 218
Tuna 194
Chicken leg, with skin, without bone 134
Chicken liver 123
White beans 107
Soft-shell clam 87
Chicken breast, with skin 85
Mullet 76
Veal 72
Beef 69
Pork 57

fasting was also found to reduce other cardiac risk factors, such as triglycerides, weight, and blood sugar levels…


HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting.During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.

(HGH is abused by some bodybuilders and is of questionable benefit in actually growing huge muscles)

 - Routine Periodic Fasting Is Good for Your Health, and Your Heart, Study Suggests

Potentially crackpot (no research cited) claim for improving low testosterone via diet:
  • Restrict sugar
  • Eat foods that inhibit aromatase (to limit oestrogen conversion)

(mushrooms and vitamin C inhibit aromatase - again, no study cited)

  • Eradicate trans fats (via elimination of vegetable oils)
  • Eat more fat - well less PUFA and more SFA

Fine. Butter is good for you. But EPA and DHA (Omega-3 and thus PUFA) are necessary in the diet.

  • Eat foods that are rich in vitamins A+K (meat, butter, eggs, organs)
  • Boost vitamin D

I started to get a little body acne after supplementing with 4000 IU D daily (especially once I started getting an hour of sun daily). I figured that was due to excess D (it’s fat soluble and so a dose that was fine for a few weeks may be too much once you’re saturated) but perhaps it was just giving me steroid-like side effects :) In any case, I cut back on the D supplementation (you can’t get too much D from sun, fortunately - the body scales back when it’s not needed).

Don’t worry yet about high-Choline diet causing high markers for heart disease.

(could be motivated cognition causing him to conclude “keep eating eggs and liver”, but there is a lot of evidence that insufficient Choline makes you dumber)

Men tend to think women find bulkier men attractive than what women generally find attractive (Frederick et al. 2005)

(evolvify - overuse of evo-psych story-time thinking warning). Yep. Marketing and a desire for high status; confusing physical power for it (not really the case in modern civilizations).

Humans are also good at assessing strength based on the face alone … subjects were just as good at judging strength from the faces of men of other cultures as from their own
Overall, body attractiveness was a better predictor of self-reported mating success than facial attractiveness. In line with our main hypothesis, we found a positive relationship between a composite measure of men’s physical fitness (PF) and men’s body attractiveness. This was obtained not only for aggregated attractiveness ratings but also for all 27 female raters individually. This finding is remarkable because individual attractiveness judgments reflect a strong idiosyncratic component, at least for faces. Attractiveness judgments were made fast and effortless. The strength of the attractiveness-fitness relation- ship obtained here suggests that signalling physical fitness may be one of the key functions of male attractiveness.” (Honekopp et al. 2006)

fitness, not bodybuilder bulk.

Multiple studies have confirmed that women are overwhelmingly more likely to cheat on their partner during the two or three days of ovulation. During this time, hormones alter a woman’s behavior to the point thatotherwise rational and emotional arguments against cheating are fundamentally altered. Emotions, culture, and society may be telling her that cheating is bad, but her body is telling her to mate with the best man she can get. Here’s the rub: The idea of what constitutes “the best man” also changes during that time.

(high-fitness, more “manly” men are sexier when a woman is fertile; she wants those good genes)

Conventional wisdom aside, it’s generally thought that people universally prefer lighter skin and (lesser known) yellower skin, which is a sign of high carotenoids, which are a sign for (cause of, probably) a healthier immune system. So it would make sense that people instinctively prefer yellower skin. Perhaps the fake orange tan is more attractive than a real tan, mockery of Jersey Shore notwithstanding. Anyway, it turns out that the yellow-skin preference is much stronger than the light-skin preference. Perhaps vegans are attractive after all, in spite of their low-protein diet and thus low-muscle body.

However, we have to trust that the photoshop color adjustment of face photos is faithful to actual tanning and high-carotenoid skin responses.
a higher skin content of carotenoids may reduce both the tendency to burn and the need and production of melanin

(anecdotal evidence) (HT)


Left, sun tan; center, neutral; right, carotene-rich

People consuming diets rich in carotenoids from natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier and have lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses.[3] However, a recent meta-analysis of 68 reliable antioxidant supplementation experiments involving a total of 232,606 individuals concluded that consuming additional β-carotene from supplements is unlikely to be beneficial and may actually be harmful,[4] although this conclusion may be due to the inclusion of studies involving smokers.[5] With the notable exception of Vietnam Gacand crude palm oil, most carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables are low in lipids. Since dietary lipids have been hypothesized to be an important factor for carotenoid bioavailability, a 2005 study investigated whether addition of avocado fruit or oil, as lipid sources, would enhance carotenoid absorption in humans. The study found that the addition of both avocado fruit and oil significantly enhanced the subjects’ absorption of all carotenoids tested (α-carotene, β-carotene, lycopene, and lutein).[6]


Carotenoids (tetraterpenoids)
  • Carotenes - orange pigments
  • α-Carotene – to vitamin A, in carrots, pumpkins, maize, tangerine, orange.
  • β-Carotene – to vitamin A, in dark, leafy greens and red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
  • Lycopene – Vietnam Gac, tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, guava, apricots, carrots, autumn olive.
  • Phytofluene  star fruit, sweet potato, orange.
  • Phytoene – sweet potato, orange.
  • Xanthophylls - yellow pigments.
  • Canthaxanthin  paprika.
  • Cryptoxanthin – mango, tangerine, orange, papaya, peaches, avocado, pea, grapefruit, kiwi.
  • Zeaxanthin  wolfberry, spinach, kale, turnip greens, maize, eggs, red pepper, pumpkin, oranges.
  • Astaxanthin – microalge, yeast, krill, shrimp, salmon, lobsters, and some crabs
  • Lutein – spinach, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, eggs, red pepper, pumpkin, mango, papaya, oranges, kiwi, peaches, squash, legumes, brassicates, prunes, sweet potatoes, honeydew melon, rhubarb, plum, avocado, pear.
  • Rubixanthin  rose hips.
  • Basically, any colored fruit or vegetable (maybe clorophyll is so strong that you can’t really see the orange or yellow pigment - it just makes the result look “dark green”)

    Carotenoids are fat-soluble so we must consume fats with carotenoid-rich foods to optimize carotenoid absorption.

    I didn’t realize that fat-soluble meant you absorb it better when you have fatty acids from diet (in bloodstream? in digestive tract?). But I checked and it seems to be conventional wisdom. I thought fat-soluble only meant that you’d store it in your fat cells and thus release it when you burn fat for calories (that must be true).