Paleo Diet? How did the Inuit Thrive

It was interesting in Sunday morning conversations about nutrition at the coffee shop, two different people asked me, “If the nine cups of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, for the paleo diet is so great, how did the northern native populations thrive.”  This is a really good question and shows how well the human body is capable of adapting as long as there are enough of critical nutrients available.  A different way to ask the question is, “If I don’t get the critical nutrients from plants, how can I survive on a meat only diet.”

The answer is relatively simple.  The Inuit survived the cold winters and lived long healthy lives by eating like the wolf.  That is they ate the entire animal including the organ meats.  This is true of all carnivorous animals and these carnivores are capable of surviving by eating only meats.  Don’t get me wrong, a diet too high in protein will kill you.  It is called protein poisoning or rabbit starvation or mal de caribou.  Caribou and rabbit in late winter are very low in fat.  If your diet is more than thirty five to forty percent protein then your liver and kidneys become overloaded.  This is more than 285 grams of protein for an eighty kilogram person.  To get enough calories the rest of your diet at high latitudes would need to be made up of fat and any available carbohydrates.  The primary source of fat for the northern natives is seal and whale.

Here are two articles that will give you a feel for how cold weather native’s diets work:  Discovery Magazine, 2004 – The Inuit Paradox and from Wikipedia – Inuit Diet.

In both of these articles you will notice there are the several nutrient requirements in which most of modern diets are deficient- vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin C.  The articles describe how each of these is obtained.  The one thing neither article mentions is the fact this diet has no grains and is very low in sugar.  Typically the only source of sugar is in the berries, a delight for children, which are picked in the summertime. The other three nutrients of deficiency suggested in my last post are magnesium, iodine, and sulfate.  This would not be a problem for populations living near a coast as sea live is rich in magnesium and iodine.  Being close to the coast also will guarantee a high incidence of sulfate in the water as well as food from animals in a high sulfate environment.

The human body is biologically robust and adaptive to whatever the environment has to offer as long as the biological necessities are met.  Eat paleo or eat like the wolf and the body will adapt and thrive as long as you are getting enough of the essential nutrients and there is low toxicity from things like too much sugar in your diet.  – Pandemic Survivor

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Understanding Vitamin D with other Nutrients

When the understanding that cod liver oil would help to prevent and heal rickets was made, there was no understanding as to the mechanisms of action of the components of cod liver oil.  All that was known was that if you used cod liver oil, rickets and some other diseases were prevented and cured.  When modern medical research began to decide mechanisms of action to predict the correct amount of vitamin D in combination with vitamin A, confusion has issued.  There is currently a battle about the correct amounts of vitamin D and vitamin A between the Vitamin D Council and the Weston Price Foundation.   Vitamin D Council on the ratio for vitamin D and A (please note the other articles in the left hand column on Vitamin A and CLO) Weston Price discussion;  and update

I believe that the confusion arises from trying to extrapolate useful information from a nutritional or medical study considering one or two nutrients that is being evaluated using analysis of the variance -ANOV.  Human biology is much more complicated as the interaction of many nutrients gives us health or disease.  After decades of making the same error, manufacturing has been able to overcome this confusion by using analysis of the means.  ANOM gives not only the outcome of the principle inputs but also the interaction of the various inputs.  Until better methods are adopted by medical/nutritional research, we are just left with the best guess interpretation of the ‘experts.’

So where does that leave us?  I believe it is about what gives you health or disease.  I have been supplementing with the nutrients in which we are deficient for eight years now.  The interaction and the amounts of daily intake of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, sulfate, iodine, and magnesium are critical.  When I have started to feel bad or had other less than desirable symptoms, I have found that I have to change the balance of one of these deficiencies.

After much trial and error this is where I am now in units per pound of body weight per day:

Vitamin D3    40 IU
Vitamin A from fish liver Oil             20 IU
Vitamin C       20mg
Sulfate             40mg
Magnesium      4.5 mg
Iodine                 0.05mg  (example 150 lb weight –  7.5mg)

This of course says nothing of the other nutrients from diet and supplementation that are essential to health.  However, the ones listed above are typically difficult if not impossible to get from the American diet.

These amounts and the sources that you derive the nutrients from may be different for you as our bodies do not all process a given nutrient the same way.  This is due to the fact that we may be deficient or have an over abundance of other nutrients in our bodies to say nothing of our state of health.  Let’s examine an example and you can see what I mean.

Suppose you have low energy and feel cranky.  Knowing that magnesium is responsible for the action of over 300 enzymes you may decide that you need to increase magnesium.  However, there are several other things that may be the problem even if you are getting enough of the above nutrients.  It may be that you are not absorbing enough vitamin B12 because of your age.  Or, it could be that you are not getting enough of the correct types of fats and proteins.  Or, it may simply be that you are eating too much sugar and you blood sugar spikes are the issue, etc.

Eating a great diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and meats while supplementing with the nutrients in which you are deficient will give you optimum health.  It is only through your record keeping of how you feel, trial and error of amounts, and types of foods that are consumed can you reach this desire.  There is no magic formula.   There is magic for health when the balance of nutrients is correct     -Pandemic Survivor

Inorganic Sulfate and the Nervous System

We had established earlier that inorganic sulfate has many roles for health in this post:  Human Health – Sulfur and the Vitamin D Connection

We also found that the sodium-sulfate co-transporters are controlled by vitamin D.  “Critical role of vitamin D in sulfate homeostasis: regulation of the sodium-sulfate cotransporter by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 ” Bolt, et.al. Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, May 27, 2004. 

I would now like to consider what effects sulfate has on the central nervous system.  In the article found on the USDA website, “Sulfate” (pdf),  there is a list of many compounds that are critical to health that are formed out of the energy cycle ATP-ADP in combination with inorganic sulfate.  One of the listed compounds is cerebroside sulfate.  A variation of this compound (galactose) makes up two percent of grey matter and twelve percent of white matter.  The glucose variation is found in many organ cells, neurons, and skin where it acts to maintain water permeability.

The galactose variation is the major component of the myelin sheath that protects your nerves throughout the body.  The health of this sheath also dictates the speed and proper response of nerve signal transmission by maintaining a local reservoir of sodium and potassium.  I think that this is the major pathway of vitamin D that reduces pain all over the body.  Galactoslycerimides are not found in plants.  I guess since there is not a nervous system there is no need.

I may have related a story to you earlier by a pharmacist that had difficulty in controlling a patient’s pain without having the patient pass out from the meds.  At the insistence of a relative of the patient for a change in meds, the pharmacist decided to try adding a significant amount of vitamin D.  With the addition of the vitamin D3, the patient was able to have the meds reduced by half and remained lucid.  To me this is an amazing story that says generalized pain can be significantly reduced just by the addition of vitamin D3.

In the morning, I notice a significant clearing of the brain after drinking a mineral water that has a significant amount of sulfate added as magnesium sulfate.  I go many times without any coffee because it is not needed with the mineral water.

There are two things that we do as a society that really bothers me.  First, we spend huge amounts of money to take the hardness out of the water.  The hardness is normally caused by calcium and magnesium sulfate and/or chloride.  This water is not harmful to human health, but beneficial to human health.  It has been promoted as theory that the reason the low death rate for heart disease in both Greece and Japan are because of the high sulfate in the water.  This hardness is not a problem for water systems as long as carbonate is not introduced.  If carbonate is introduced or occurs naturally, then the calcium carbonate precipitates out of solution fouling the water system.  Our water supply systems should remove the carbonate and leave the rest of the minerals.  Of course, we would not get many suds formation when washing.  This could actually be a good thing in washing.

Second, when you have a blood test only three of the four major anions in the blood are measured routinely.  Phosphate, chloride, and bicarbonate are routinely measured and the levels used as markers or indicators for various biological functions.  However, the fourth, sulfate, is not measured.  To me this is an extremely necessary part of health and standards should be developed for serum sulfate levels.  It most likely could be used as a marker for various disease states like heart disease or the ability to cope with pain.

In whatever way you decide through diet, supplementation, or soaking in an Epsom salts bath; be sure that you are getting enough sulfates.  – Pandemic Survivor

Cooked Pork and the Flu

I had decided earlier the incidence of the flu would be low in the US this year.  I was wrong.  There has been an early spike in the incidence of the flu that occurred in the southeast starting in mid-October.  This is very unusual for the flu as most of the time the highest incidence starts in the northeast and northwest and spreads across the rest of the country.  The timing was odd as well as normally the spike occurs in January and February.  I was struggling for an explanation and then this interesting thought struck me.

It was the Saturday before Christmas and we had gathered at my youngest daughter’s house to celebrate.  My daughter had just had a baby two weeks earlier and was stuck at home for Christmas because of the premature birth.  My other daughter and her husband and two children joined us as well.  What a great time.  My son-in-law decided to have pork tenderloin; roasted on his shinny new grill.  I love pork tenderloin.

As he started to cook he stated that it would not be long as the pork only needed to get to 145­­ 0F.  Having grown up on a farm where we slaughtered hogs every year I was alarmed.  Surely he understood the warnings in the Old Testament about eating pork to say nothing of the billions of Muslims that also have a prohibition against eating pork.  The reason, I believe, pork has historically caused disease when not being properly prepared.  He also had not been inside of the large slaughter houses that I have seen in Smithfield, VA and Tarheel, NC.  I inquired and was informed that the Government said that 145 degrees was high enough temperature for cooked pork.  I was tense.  It was his house and I did not want to insult him as he seemed very trusting of Government and it bastions of institutions and the scientist.

In came the pork and it was blessed and my mouth was watering as I will say it again, there is no better tasting meat than pork tenderloin.  I cut into the pork and there were the pink centers and that smell of pork that says, “I have not been properly cooked.”  I ate the side dishes, feigned swooning over a grandchild, and left the pork on my plate.  I love pork tenderloin.  As I rocked the baby boy to sleep, I whipped out my smart phone and sure enough in May, 2012 the USDA had changed the cooked temperature to 145.  It stated that expert chefs had always insisted that 145 was the ideal temperature for pork.  You know, I am one of those expert chefs when it comes to cooking pork and I like mine well done.  However, if pork is slow cooked on a grill or smoker, I am just fine with the temperature at 145.  But slow cooking means that the meat is held at that temperature for four to six hours which allows the proteins and fats to convert to that extremely pleasing flavor.  I have gotten up many mornings at four am to fire the hickory down to embers and start cooking the pork shoulders for consumption in the evening.  It usually takes at least eight hours by this method to allow the pork to develop to a proper delightful taste.  Pork roasted on a grill at 300 or above should not be eaten until the pork internal temperature reaches 170.  You have to be careful when using this fast cooking method as it is easy to dry the pork out.

I was struggling yesterday with why the flu outbreak had started in the southeast when that ‘light’ went off in my head.  A quick look at the temperature required to kill the flu virus and I found that most viruses die instantly at a temperature between 163 to 170 0F.  One source said that most flu virus could withstand a 145 degree temperature for thirty minutes or more.  A quick review of the USDA websites and the CDC shows that most bacteria die off at under 140 but for poultry, it is necessary to be sure that poultry reaches 165 so that viral contamination is properly controlled.  WHAT?  All other meats except poultry are required to reach a temperature of 160 according to the USDA.  How could the USDA come to the conclusion that 145 is okay for pork, but poultry must reach the temperature of 165 to make sure all the viruses have died.  Control against the bird flu but not against the swine flu?  Has our GOVERNMENT made the same mistake it made in scaring us out the sun for fifty years?  Swine have long been known to carry many types of viruses that can be easily transferred to people.

Nobody loves their pork better than people from the southeast.  If restaurants are now cooking pork quickly at higher temperatures, then eating pork at a restaurant may be like playing roulette with you health – some is virus free and other may not be.   The USDA and CDC say there is no danger of getting the flu from eating properly prepared pork or poultry.  Could twenty degrees difference in final cooked temperature be the cause of the flu outbreak this year in the Southeast?

Vitamin D will protect you from the flu.  However, when your exposure to virus is extreme, then your increased immunity can still be compromised.  Thank you son-in-law; informing me of the cooked temperature change by the USDA is the best Christmas present ever.  I am wondering now when I went for seven days without vitamin D and contracted a severe cold if eating pork twice that week had anything to do with it. You can bet I will not be eating any pork until the USDA changes the temperature for pork back to at least 160 like the rest of meat.  I will still be enjoying pork, but only pork that I know has been properly prepared.  – Pandemic Survivor