Thursday, 16 June 2011

A quick update and some thoughts

It has been a while, so an update is due. Yes, I am still alive and still going Paleo, whatever that means these days. But I have some new experiences and thoughts to share.

Last year I was so energised that I got too involved in my work and paid less attention to my diet and lifestyle. There was quite a bit of stress with deadlines and I had to drink quite a lot of coffee (which I normally do not drink and which has a very powerful, drug-like effect on my brain). Stress and coffee also meant seeking comfort/reward in eating. While previously my Paleo diet was mostly bland and relatively lower in fat, now I started to eat processed and fried meat with salt and AGEs. I was also eating twice, rather than once (IF) and to have a tub of ice-cream was not unusual. Still low-carb though. Exercise level was also down.
I considered all that temporary measures to help me live through the busy months. As a result, I put on about 30lbs of fat over half a year. Interestingly, this time the fat was distributed more evenly making me look like I had more muscles, but it was fat and I had to get a new suit.

About 2 months ago I decided to get back to my original Paleo with less fat, more leafy vegetables, no processed meat and no dairy (save for a bit of crème fresh or butter for flavour). I also went back to 4-6/24 IF. This helped me lose the fat, but my weight remained about 20lbs higher than a year ago: more muscle mass and more strength.

So, this seems to be working fine, but I do plan on increasing starchy vegetables and keeping fat at bay. I just feel much better after a bit more carbs, low carb rather than VLC.

I still believe that genetics and epigenetics are very important and that different people have different dietary sweet spots. I did the National Genographic test and now I know that my mitochondria (mtDNA J haplogroup) are probably used to higher amounts of fat and to generating heat through decoupling (those cold nights in the Paleo steppe?). But mtDNA J folks where the ones responsible for the Neolithic Revolution, weren’t they? So, my ancestors probably never experienced Ice Age with its (seasonal) abundance of mammoth fat.

But APOE is much more interesting, and I will probably get tested, considering my relatively high cholesterol last year. It has been claimed that APOE4 are the Paleo-Paleos, the simian ones, more used to plant based diet and that the mutation to APOE3, about 200K years ago, allowed our ancestors to eat more fat. I find it hard to believe that suddenly, 200K y.a. fat became more abundant. But interestingly APOE4 was decimated in the Fertile Crescent, but was it because of high fat diet? Or more likely because of high carb and glycation? APOE4 is more susceptible to glycation and oxidation, which might be a mechanism for its role in Alzheimer’s (with high cholesterol a compensatory mechanism to get more of it to the brain). What is even more interesting, other primates have APOE4, but theirs behaves like human APOE3, possibly making them more adapted to higher carb diet? But what was the adaptive advantage in our australopithecine ancestors to change from simian APOE4 to human APOE4 millions years ago? Was it less carb in the diet with added benefit of resistance to some viral infections?

There is no way to find the truth, whatever the truth means. Humans see patters where there are none, they come up with theories just to reduce uncertainty and cognitive dissonance, they need reassurance. Paleo world was all about uncertainty and insecurity, probably much more than our modern (post-)Neolithic world. Even religion was invented before the Neolithic (see: Gobekli Tepe, June issue of National Geographic)...