Tag Archive - nutrition

Natto: Another fermented food I probably should be eating

http://www.jafra.gr.jp/eng/sumi.html

Natto
How appetizing is this? Creative Commons License photo credit: jasja dekker

Prior to Seth Roberts mentioning it on his blog (here), I had never heard of the Japanese dish called “Natto,” which is a fermented soybean product. Apparently, it contains a great deal of Vitamin K2, is anti-bad-bacterial, and effectively lyses human thrombus. If you’re like me, that last bit probably made no sense to you, so below are some definitions until I paste liberally from an interview on Natto held with a Japanese expert on the food, Professor Hiroyuki Sumi, who has been nicknamed “Dr. Natto.”

  • Nattō – “A high protein food consisting of sticky, fermented whole soybeans cooked in Bacillus natto.”
  • lyse – “To dissolve or destroy.”
  • thrombus – “A clot within the cardiovascular system. It may occlude (block) the vessel or may be attached to the wall of the vessel without blocking the blood flow.”
  • fibrinolytic – “Fibrinolysis is the process wherein a fibrin clot, the product of coagulation, is broken down.”

The K2 angle on Natto is particularly fascinating, particularly in light of how expensive it is to supplement K2 via products like butter oil. I’ve been wondering in reading more into fermentation from sources like Seth Roberts when I would see a tie-in to Vitamin K2, which is produced by our own gut bacteria as noted below.

In an experiment conducted out of sheer curiosity, I found that natto contained a strong enzyme that lyses thrombus.

I am Japanese and regularly eat natto, so one day I took some natto to my laboratory. That was in 1980. I usually prepared thrombus in a laboratory dish and measured its strength by adding urokinase to it, but that day, I added natto instead. I found that natto contained a strong fibrinolytic enzyme, judging from the large area lysed. After coming back to Japan, I repeated various experiments, and first presented the results of my research in 1986. NHK and various newspapers reported my discovery of the enzyme named ’nattokinase ’,and before I knew it, I had become Dr. Natto. Originally, I was interested in fermentation. After I graduated from the Department of Fermentation Technology at Yamanashi University, I entered the Department of Medicine because I wanted to continue my study of enzymes further. In the field of fermentation, Japanese technology is the most advanced in the world. I think this is the field in which we achieve our most original results.

I studied more than 200 foods from all over the world, but none surpassed natto in terms of fibrinolytic activity.

――What are the functions of nattokinase and Vitamin K2, which are contained in natto?

Dr. Sumi: It is said that natto became a popular food in the Edo period, and that the voice of natto sellers was constantly heard in the city of Edo.Regarding the effects of natto,there are many anecdotes concerning its efficacy for stomachache, and flu, and for helping women give a birth. This is because natto has a high nutritive value and is easy for the body to absorb. In addition, natto has an antibacterial effect. In the old days, food poisoning was very common, and people used natto in order to prevent cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

Natto is highly antibacterial, and also contains di-picolinic acid, which suppresses O-157.

In a food dictionary of the Edo period, it is written that natto neutralizes poisons and stimulates the appetite.Neutralize poisons refers to an antibacterial effect. Recently, it has been found that natto contains di-picolinic acid, which suppresses O-157, and that natto has an antibiotic effect. Natto suppresses the growth of harmful bacteria while encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus. The best-known component of natto is nattokinase, an enzyme that lyses thrombus. Recently, the Japanese diet has come to resemble the American one, and consequently, the incidence of thrombosis in Japan has increased. The incidence of thrombosis in the heart and brain is higher than that of cancer, if myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction are included in the total. Natto has attracted attention as a food that helps to prevent senile dementia, which is one type of thrombosis, because nattokinase lyses thrombus for a very long time when eaten directly instead of taken by injection.

Vitamin K2 in natto is essential for preventing osteoporosis.

Natto contains another useful component, named Vitamin K2. It is said that 60% of women over the age of 60 suffer from osteoporosis, which Vitamin K2 helps to prevent. In order to maintain healthy bones, a number of studies suggest that it is important to obtain Calcium and Vitamin D from milk. Recently, however, it was found that a protein named osteocalcin acts as a kind of glue that helps to incorporate Calcium into the bones, and that Vitamin K2 is necessary in order to produce this protein. Furthermore, according to the results of recent epidemiological research, the amount of Vitamin K2 in the body of people who suffer from osteoporosis is decreasing compared with that of healthy people.

Obtaining sufficient Vitamin K2 is not a problem for healthy people, because they have a colon bacillus that is constantly producing Vitamin K2 in the alimentary canal. However, when people become older, or take medicine containing antibiotics, this bacillus weakens and produces less Vitamin K2. It is becoming clear that Vitamin K2 produced by this bacterium is closely connected with the prevention of osteoporosis, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare has approved Vitamin K2 as a medicine for osteoporosis. Unlike natto, yeast, a lactobacillus, and Koji do not contain Vitamin K2 that comes from a bacterium. Bacillus natto is a unique bacterium throughout the world, and moreover people can ingest it in the raw. Therefore, natto is receiving considerable attention as the only food that contains Vitamin K2 from a bacterium.

Vitamin K2 has the chemical name menaquinone 7. At present, Vitamin K1, or menaquinone 4, is synthesized for use in the medicines approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. When the components of blood are analyzed, one vitamin that is found more often in healthy people than in osteoporotic people is menaquinone 7. A lack of menaquinone 7 causes osteoporosis. Because Bacillus natto produces menaquinone 7, eating natto helps to prevent osteoporosis. It is important to obtain the fundamental components of bones by consuming milk and Shiitake mushrooms, but Vitamin K2 is also necessary. Menaquinone 7 has only recently appeared in the analysis data of the Science and Technology agency, and samples are not on sale yet.

It is possible to obtain enough vitamin K2 from one packet (100 g) of natto.

One hundred grams of natto contains approximately 1,000μg of menaquinone 7. A normal person is supposed to consume 1μg per 1 kg of body weight each day, which means that a person of 60 kg should consume 60μg of menaquinone 7. Therefore, 10 g of natto supplies enough menaquinone for one day. If the colon bacillus is weakened, a packet of natto supplies a sufficient amount of menaquinone 7.

As a result of attempts to make natto more palatable, the amount of its effective components decreased.

Extremely undeveloped natto has been increasing as a result of attempts to make natto more palatable, especially for people in the Kansai area in Japan. Such natto has a weaker odor and is less sticky. When the US authorities occupied Japan in 1945, they prohibited the sale of natto because they thought that cholera and typhoid were often caused by such a rotten food. Since then, about three types of purely cultured bacillus have been used to make natto. As a result, natto became tastier and safer, but on the other hand, the amount of the anti-bacterial material, Vitamin K2, and nattokinase decreased. Comparing a 1936 report on the components of natto and its activity with current data, it is found that the anti-bacterial component has dramatically decreased.

Human Happiness, the Human Condition, and our Hunter-Gatherer Forebears

http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/psychhuman.html

Bruce Charlton has made his a final proof of his 1999 book Psychiatry and the Human Condition available online in its entirety. The book book is described as, “an optimistic vision of a superior alternative approach to psychiatric illness and its treatment, drawing upon modern neuroscience and evolutionary theory.” From the parts of the book I’ve managed to read so far, this book could well be worth reading in full.

The part I’d like to focus on here is Charlton’s discussion of hunter-gatherers and their relative happiness. The subject of happiness and the human condition from a psychiatry/psychology perspective is of keen interest to me right now as I am just finishing up Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness (Also see recent discussion on Is Technology Making us Miserable?).

Charlton’s take is that H-G societies were “leisured and egalitarian” and H-Gs experienced a “Golden Age for humans.” Though I’ve yet to read it all, Charlton says that the “scanty” evidence available to support this statement is “consistent and unambiguous.” I believe part of the evidence is the apparent diminished health of agrarian societies combined with the greater stratification of class and status systems brought about by division of labor. That agrarian societies would migrate voluntarily to cities to partake in the industrial-mercantile society just furthers the argument.

I intuit that the hyper-specialization and -isolation experienced by modern human beings doesn’t fit with our evolutionary programming, even as it provides us with amazing new technology and toys. Having said that, I see no reason a balance can’t be struck between the perks of modern existence (technology) and the biological programming of functional/fulfilling community (family) and a more generalist approach to productive activities.

More on this later. And I have more reading to do. In the meantime, read the two bits from Charlton’s book below, which discuss in detail relative degrees of happiness and whether or not the human condition (which Charlton argues hasn’t been designed to be happy) can be improved.

From Chapter 1, Psychiatry and the human condition

Degrees of happiness

The lifestyle of nomadic foragers involve little forward economic planning beyond the communal decisions over when and where to move camp, and the logistics of hunting and gathering. This means that most problems of life related to the social realm – especially around the question of competition for mates – and this lay behind the power struggles, disagreement, discussions and violence. And the primacy of social life in hunter gatherer societies is what has been the decisive force in human evolutionary history – the main focus for natural selection is within-species, human versus human competition.

In summary, the ancestral hunter gatherers experienced a way of life that was – in world historical terms – leisured and egalitarian, and enjoyed health and life expectancy at a high level. Of the three kinds of society as described by Gellner: hunter-gatherer, agrarian, and mercantile, it is probable that hunter-gatherers had the best life, overall. Hunter gatherer societies are the happiest and peasant societies are the most miserable – while industrial-mercantile societies such as our own lie somewhere in between.

That, at any rate, is the conclusion of anthropologist Jerome Barkow – and his opinion is widely confirmed by the reports of many independent anthropologists who have experienced the alternatives of foraging, agrarian and industrial society. The ‘naturalness’ of nomadic foraging is also shown by differences in the harshness of child rearing practices in different types of society. Child rearing involves varying elements of forcible training that are necessary to prepare children for their social role. Peasant societies typically employ extremely repressive forms of socialization, extreme discipline, restriction, and the use of child labour. Industrial mercantile societies (such as our own) are much less tough on children – but still require many unnatural behaviors (eg. sitting in classrooms or examination halls for long periods of time without speaking or moving). But nomadic foragers are able and willing to give their children even more freedom than the most liberal ‘modern parent’ – and such a relaxed upbringing of unstructured interaction with peers apparently prepares the child properly for the adult life to come.

Another line of evidence is patterns of voluntary migration. When industrial mercantile societies develop, they are popular with the miserable peasantry of agrarian societies who flee the land and crowd the cities, if given the chance. Not so the happier hunter gatherers who typically must be coerced into joining industrial life. My great grandparents left their lives as rural peasants and converged from hundreds of miles and several countries to work the coal mines of Northumberland. They swapped the open sky, fields and trees for a life underground and inhabiting dingy rows of colliery houses. Being a miner in the early twentieth century must have been grim, but apparently it was not so bad as being an agricultural laborer.

From a psychiatric perspective, then, there are sharp differences between ancestral societies and modern societies. In terms of their general social situation modern humans are faced with a wide range of new problems – although we console ourselves that for the bulk of the population life is much better in an industrial mercantile society than in a warrior-dominated medieval peasantry. Nevertheless we now live in a mass society, full of strangers who there is no reason to trust since they are neither family nor friends. Although resources are vastly more abundant, resources are linked to status and there are massive inequalities in their distribution.

This means that there is a much higher proportion of intractably low status people in modern societies than in the societies in which humans evolved. Since status is the most important factor in determining a man’s sexual attractiveness, this is a major source of dissatisfaction. Men will devote enormous effort and take great risks in pursuit of the highest status, but for most people in delayed return economies the odds are stacked heavily against them succeeding.

Improving human happiness?

Even if, somehow, the impossible were achieved and humans returned to the kind of egalitarian, immediate return, foraging societies in which we spent much of our recent evolutionary history – then unhappiness would still be common and intractable. Humans did not evolve to be happy – natural selection rewards reproductive success, not happiness. Happiness is – from this perspective – merely the ‘carrot’ which compliments the ‘stick’ of pain – a lure to draw us onwards, to make us strive – but happiness is a reward that we can never permanently grasp nor enjoy at leisure.

So much for the bad news. Happiness drives us, it is not a permanent state. And this really is bad news because there is little we can do about it, short of changing human nature. The good news is that this might prove possible – at least to some extent. Just as human ingenuity has landed us in the predicament of a sub-optimal modern human life, so the same ingenuity has proved a range of technologies of gratification through which we can attain a variety of surrogate satisfactions. – something that will be discussed more towards the end of this book .

Essentially the broad shape of society and its possibilities for happiness are the way they are for reasons that are accidental, unplanned, and intractable. We inhabit a society that grants few satisfactions and offers limited possibilities of fulfillment. It is also a society in which psychiatric symptoms are endemic and a major cause of human misery. In our favour we have increasing knowledge of the causes of human misery, including the understanding of psychiatric illness, and increased power to alleviate that misery provided by the armamentarium of psychopharmacology. All this understanding and therapeutic potential has arisen within the past few decades, and we have hardly learned how to use it.

My point is that the human condition of Western man is intractable in its fundamentals, but amenable to improvement in important ways. Things are worse than they might be. One aim of this book is to explore some of these means of improvement, and to do this will require an evaluation of the extent and nature of psychiatric illness.

The purpose of this book is therefore to suggest how knowledge and technology might be deployed to ameliorate the human condition. We are not talking about utopia, but we are talking about the potential for significant and worthwhile improvements in well-being for substantial numbers of people. However, power can be used for many purposes. And potential agents for good are almost inevitably also potential agents for harm. The possibilities for benefit from psychopharmacology is, although not universal, nevertheless immense. Whether these benefits can be realized under prevailing social conditions is altogether a different matter.

(H/T Mangan’s via Patri)

Day in the Life of a Hunter-Gatherer

http://books.google.com/b…7GZycC&pg=PA180

I have not read much of Loren Cordain’s works, but I stumbled upon a passage from Rafe Kelley’s Natural Athletics blog (here) that appears to be quoted from Chapter 10 of Cordain’s book, The Paleo Diet for Athletics, which just landed a place on my ever-growing Amazon wish list.

The passage is quoted below, as quoted from Google Books and Kelley. It’s a fascinating insight to how some hunter-gatherers still forage for food in modern times. The bit about anthropologist Kim Hill’s experiences ducking beneath vines and branches all day reminds me of a sequence in Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat video (ELC MovNat links here) where Le Corre dashes through the woods weaving a path through the underbrush.

What I wonder (And expect a full-scale blog post on this soon) is how we can find a balance between our extremely specialized modern existence when foraging for food means driving to Kroger and hunting is playing corporate politics and pushing for a raise and our undeniable biological programming that expects us to be active, problem-solving generalists. As far as diet goes, it’s simple enough to suggest exercise should involve cross-training and wide variability. But what about fitness? A one-hour workout session makes for a nice compartmentalized way to look and feel in shape, but it makes exercise an end in and of itself rather than a means to secure our continued existence.

I don’t want to run eight hours a day, mind you: I just want to find a better, more fulfilling balance.

Chapter 10 — The Paleolithic Athlete: The Original Cross-Trainer

Ten thousand years sounds like a long, long time ago. but if you think about it in terms of how logn the human genus (Homo) has existed (2.5 million years), 10,000 years is a mere blink of the eye on an evolutionary time scale. Somewhere in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago, a tiny band of people threw in the towel and abandoned their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. These early renegades became the very first farmers. They forsook a mode of life that had sustained each and every individual within the human genus for the previous 100,000 generations. In contrast only a paltry 400 human generations have come and gone since the first seeds of agriculture were sown. what started off as a renegade way of making a living became a revolution that would guarantee the complete and absolute eradication of every remaining hunter-gatherer on the planet. At the dawn of the 21st century, we are at the bitter end. Except for perhaps a half dozen uncontacted tribes in South America and a few others on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, pure hunter-gatherers have vanished from the face of the earth. . . .

Very few modern people have ever experienced what it is like to “run with the hunt.” One of the notable exceptions is Kim Hill, PhD, an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico who has spent the last 30 years living with and studying the Ache hunter-gatherers of Paraguay and the Hiwi foragers of southwestern Venezuela. his description of these amazing hunts represents a rare glimpse into the activity patterns that would have been required of us all, were it not for the Agricultural Revolution.

“The Ache hunted every day of the year if it didn’t rain…GPS data I collected … suggests that about 10 km per day is probably closer to their average distance covered during search. They might cover another 1-2 km per day in very rapid pursuit. Sometimes pursuits can be extremely strenuous and last more than an hour. Ache hunters often take an easy day after any particularly difficult day, and rainfall forces them to take a day or two a week with only an hour or two of exercise. Basically they do moderate days most of the time, and sometimes really hard days usually followed by a very easy day. The difficulty of the terrain is really what killed me (ducking under low branches and vines about once every 20 seconds all day long, and climbing over fallen trees, moving through tangled thorns etc.) I was often drenched in sweat within an hour of leaving camp, and usually didn’t return for 7-9 hours wi th not more than 30 minutes rest during the day.”

“The Hiwi on the other hand only hunted about 2-3 days a week and often told me they wouldn’t go out on a particular day because they were ‘tired’. They would stay home and work on tools, etc. Their travel was not as strenuous as among the Ache (they often canoed to the hunt site), and their pursuits were usually shorter. But the Hiwi sometimes did amazing long distance walks that would have really hurt the Ache. They would walk to visit another village maybe 80-100 km away and then stay for only an hour or two before returning. This often included walking all night long as well as during the day. When I hunted with Machiguenga, Yora, Yanomamo Indians in the 1980s, my focal man days were much, much easier than with the Ache. And virtually all these groups take an easy day after a particularly difficult one.”

“While hunter gatherers are generally in good physical condition if they haven’t yet been exposed to modern diseases and diets that come soon after permanent outside contact, I would not want to exaggerate their abilities. They are what you would expect if you took a genetic cross section of humans and put them in lifetime physical training at moderate to hard levels. Most hunting is search time not pursuit, thus a good deal of aerobic long distance travel is often involved (over rough terrain and carrying loads if the hunt is successful). I used to train for marathons as a grad student and could run at a 6:00 per mile pace for 10 miles, but the Ache would run me into the ground following peccary tracks through dense bush for a couple of hours. I did the 100 yd in 10.2 in high school (I was a fast pass catcher on my football team), and some Ache men can sprint as fast as me.”

“But hunter-gatherers do not generally compare to world class athletes, who are probably genetically very gifted and then undergo even more rigorous and specialized training than any forager. So the bottom lines is foragers are often in good shape and they look it. They sprint, jog, climb, carry, jump, etc all day long but are not specialists and do not compare to Olympic athletes in modern societies.”

The blockquoted material within the blockquote is from Rafe Kelley’s Natural Athletics.

Erwan Le Corre, MovNat, Methode Naturelle, Georges Hebert Link Repository

I’ve been knee-deep in reading everything I can find on Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat, which is an extension and expansion of Georges Hebert’s Methode Naturalle.

In a fantastic example of how the Internet makes our worlds smaller and builds community across large geographic boundaries (See The Power of Blogging), I’ve been able to dialogue with Erwan over email. I can’t attest to his physical fitness (though plenty of others have!), but I can attest to his genuineness of purpose as a philosopher who seeks to understand and express our true nature as human beings. I think I’d say I’m seeking the same thing.

  • More Insight on Erwan Le Corre and the Methode Naturalle — Saved material from a blogger who trained with Le Corre and has a background in parkour (and also CrossFit). Interesting reflection on the core idea, which is natural movement and being a athletic generalist.
  • Reverting to “Le Corre” of Things, Our Nature — A fantastic interview with Erwan Le Corre by Conditioning Research; here, we get some background on Le Corre’s training, the “zoo human” concept, his thoughts on evolutionary fitness, and the social aspect of his philosophy, which is the importance of cooperation (as opposed to isolating/insulating oneself from others). Erwan makes the point that humans didn’t compete with each other in a “survival of the fittest” sense — we existed cooperatively in tribes. De Vany has made this point, as well, which is that in a band of humans, each person had their important role to play as part of the group. It’s interesting to imagine that sort of purpose and compare it to our Corporate-leaning cog-like modern existence.
  • MensHealth covers Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat — Perhaps the article that has spurred the greatest interest in Le Corre and MovNat in recent days, the Men’s Health article titled A Wild Workout for the Real World discusses the concepts behind Le Corre’s MovNat and is told from the perspective of someone who traveled to Brazil and trained with Le Corre.
  • Wikipedia entry on Georges Hebert and Methode Naturelle — As usual, wikipedia offers a nice primer on Methode Naturelle which was a movement started by Georges Hebert, a French navy officer, back in the early 20th century. This covers the basics and is a pretty useful overview of the precursor to Le Corre’s own advancement of the ideas he calls MovNat. Of note, the motto of Methode Naturelle is “Être fort pour être utile”—”Being strong to be useful.”
  • The MovNat website — Obviously, this is the hub of Le Corre’s public MovNat presence. It’s a nice website and I look forward to when Erwan gets a blog up and running!
  • The MovNat video on YouTube — be sure to hit the “HD” button to watch the video in high quality. Anyone want to go to Brazil?!

Related Link on Human Nature and our Hunter-Gatherer, Non-Specialist Evolutionary Roots

I’ll be sure to update this repository if I find anything else.

Update: I’ve been informed that Kevin, a fan of Erwan Le Corre and MovNat, has created a site dedicated to Hebert’s Methode Naturelle. Check it out!

Reverting to “Le Corre” of Things, Our Nature

http://conditioningresear…n-le-corre.html

For all things Erwan Le Corre, MovNat, Methode Naturelle, Georges Hebert that I’ve been tracking, be sure to see this Link Repository

Conditioning Research had a fantastic interview with MovNat’s creator Erwan Le Corre, who has recently been in the fitness and health limelight thanks to an article in Mens Health. In this interview Le Corre comes off as more a philosopher than a modern-day Tarzan. Le Corre’s philosophy drives not so much at being able to speed through a jungle but as to our biological, evolutionarily-endowed “true nature,” which he sums up simply as: “to be strong, healthy, happy and free.”

So much of what Le Corre speaks about resonates within me that I need to dedicate my thoughts to their own post. For now, I’m going to link down heavily from the interview because it is excellent and worth further review, particularly since there is an obvious scarcity of material on Erwan Le Corre, Georges Hebert (Methode Naturalle), and MovNat.

Just two last notes. I find it oddly refreshing that Le Corre’s MovNat philosophy essentially skips on including bromides about morality. Why does reversion to nature need to bring with it a clearcut moral code anyway? Does our DNA (life) know any morality other than survival? Perhaps understanding the morality that flows from nature is less a matter of reflection and prescription as it is a matter of practice and action first. I don’t know.

The zoo analogy is fantastic. It is incredibly evocative of The Matrix and is much more palatable than “human domestication,” which is what we’re really talking about. Fitness should be about function. It should be playful and fun or productive hard work — both of these purposes are both means and ends, an ideal marriage. I can’t help but read Le Corre’s words and think about gyms as the wheels on which hamsters run. Is the fact that we all willingly enter such droll rigidity a testament to the state of our minds? Our lives?

Le Corre:

1 Who is Erwan Le Corre? Can you give us some idea of your background in sports / fitness

I practiced a training and philosophy called “Combat Vital” for 7 years in Paris, which had many similarities with the Methode Naturelle. That’s when I started training barefoot. We would train most of the time at night so as not to be seen, climbing bridges, balancing on the top of scaffoldings, kicking walls to toughen our bare feet, moving on all fours, swimming in the river even in the freezing cold of the winter…some kind of “Fight Club” of natural movement if you will! They are unbelievable memories: quite a conventional-wisdom-defying kind of philosophy and practice. …

2 How did this background bring you to your current philosophy and approach to exercise?

The more I was thought about [Methode Naturalle], the more I thought that while the core of the 100 years old method was excellent, an update of the pedagogy and methodology of Methode Naturelle was needed; it also became clearer that my personal approach couldn’t and wouldn’t avoid addressing the zoo human predicament and the many issues modern humans have to deal with regarding their body and mind’s health and quality of life. …

So despite the core practice being natural movement skills, MovNat is not only an approach of exercise but also a more holistic education system. Not a guideline, certainly not a set of morals, but both an experiential and conceptual knowledge: an array of solutions and alternatives people can learn and apply to an extent that is entirely up to them.

3 Your website talks about us being “zoo humans” – far from our natural habitat and lifestyle. How do we start to escape from the zoo – what might be the first steps in this approach?

The first step is a change of perception. It is becoming aware of this predicament, because you can never change something you deny or for which you take no personal responsibility. Understanding what our true nature is from a biological and evolutionary perspective and understanding the workings of the zoo is the first step.

The zoo is not just an environment, it is a phenomenon, a process, which is designed to keep you a captive of both external and internal cages. It is something that conditions many of your behaviours: clearly it is to me a domestication system, no less. The zoo impairs our ability to experience our true nature which is to be strong, healthy, happy and free.

We’re not born to be weak, sick, depressed and enslaved and, more than that, we should never accept this becoming the norm or a “fatality” (our fate). So the first step is a reaction and a form of resistance, it is a life-affirming reawakening. Once your perception is changed and that which is commonly regarded as “normal” is not acceptable to you anymore, it is time to look for rational alternatives, to find ways to apply them in order improve your own experience of life.

It requires critical thinking, knowledge, time, commitment and – depending on individuals – a tremendous courage.

So first step? I would say that being ready to defy conventional wisdom is a fundamental start.

4 “Evolutionary Fitness” has gained some popularity recently, but somehow the prescription often leads us back into the gym, lifting weights, using machines or sprinting to fixed intervals. This seems a long way from nature. Should we abandon the gym and go to the playground?

So it is not the gym per se that is a problem to me, but what you’re going to perform in a gym. Bringing a leg extension machine into the woods won’t make your training more natural, but crawl on the floor of a gym and there you’ll start to unleash your inner animal. Ideally of course, you want to be in touch with nature, breath good air, expose your skin to natural light, capture the energies of the vegetation around, well, spend as much time outdoors as you can. Thing is, it would be really difficult to recreate natural conditions in a gym, such as mud, wet surfaces, unpredictable dangers etc…which are also essential parameters that require specific adaptation.

That’s the difference between capability and adaptability. The more your movement skills are adaptive, the more you’ll expand your comfort zone in dealing with a variety of real-world circumstances. So the more varied is the environment where you train, the more you’ll increase your movement adaptability. …

I see this split coming: a so-called “upstream” but in fact downstream, super zoo approach of fitness going on on the one hand, then the come back of an upstream, though so far too often seen as backward, wilder and healthier fitness orientation on the second hand, that will produce new generations of amazing natural athletes or if you will of strong, healthy, happy and free individuals. No doubt. To me, the revolutionary is now in the evolutionary. …
5 I’ve seen your ideas presented as an updating of the “Methode Naturelle” of Georges Hébert. From what I’ve read, his philosophy is holistic – much broader than exercise. Can you indicate some of the wider consequences of the motto – – Être fort pour être utile”–“Being strong to be useful.”

Methode Naturelle was not only a physical but a moral education based on altruism, hence the motto “to be strong to be useful”. But I personally have a problem with morals or ethics when it comes to deciding what is good or what is not good for me, what is done and what’s not, what I should do or what society expects me to do or would like to impose to me as some form of duty.

After all, a tool is useful, a cog in the machine is useful right? I accept no institutional duty. Free will is the most precious thing in my eyes. If I choose to be helpful to others, which I in fact often do because I tend to like others, it is because I decide so and not because I have to. The problem is, many people often think of altruism as sacrificing oneself or one’s resources unconditionally for others, even for those that are total strangers to you or even if it’s going to be seriously detrimental to yourself. I prefer to impose no moral code in MovNat and leave it up to each individual to decide for themselves what is best when it comes to investing their energy or risking their physical integrity for others, because each situation is different. MovNat training will greatly increase your preparedness so that, in time of need, you have the ability to respond efficiently to practical challenges. Now if your goal is to save lives it’s best to consider becoming a firefighter for instance. These guys save lots of lives!

MovNat stands for a different motto which is “Explore your true nature”. First, people undergoing the zoo syndrome shouldn’t think of helping others first but make sure they’re recovering their own strength and vitality before anything. They want to rehabilitate themselves and get stronger and healthier before anything and this should be their absolute priority. They need a training and education that is liberating and empowering.

Again, I am convinced that our true nature is not only to be strong but also healthy, happy and free. If you become such an individual, then there’s many ways you can help others, if such is your intention. It’s entirely up to you. …
6 What implications does your particular philosophy have in terms of diet? Sleep? Posture?

[Le Corre advocates a fairly typical paleo / hunter-gatherer lifestyle approach of natural, pre-agriculture foods (no dairy), plenty of sleep, and an activity pattern that is active]

That’s a few insights, though in my opinion no personal lifestyle should ever become an obsessive application of overly strict rules. It’s all a matter of paying attention, of awareness, and when for some reason you know you’re not really respecting the needs of your true biological nature, make sure you’ll re-establish balance very soon.

7 One of the movement patterns that you recommend is “defence” – grappling / boxing etc. I’ve recently begun to train in Krav Maga and am really enjoying it for the coordinated /useful movements. But the social side is great too – supporting and helping each other in class. Is there a social side to movement that we also need to recover?

Obviously yes.

I believe the self-obsessed, cosmetics-driven fitness practitioner is missing an important point among others, which is a healthy, cooperative interaction with others. The result in thinking isolation is that in addition to isolating your muscles, you tend to isolate yourself. Is there any fitness machine designed for two people to work out cooperatively and coordinate their movements? Now imagine yourself as part of a small tribe 100,000 years ago, would you spend your time figuring out the most efficient strategy to build big guns fast? Or the latest scientific discovery that will allow you to get six-pack abs in no time?

No, you would rather find ways to work cooperatively with other members of the tribe and would expect all tribe members to do so!

It would be a matter of survival at individual and collective level. A lack of cooperation could have you banned from the band …….and an isolated individual would have been so much more vulnerable. Not the smartest type of behaviour.

Thank you Chris for doing this interview. Fantastic, thought-provoking stuff.

Related Link on Human Nature and our Hunter-Gatherer, Non-Specialist Evolutionary Roots

Are we consuming too much Vitamin C?

http://mangans.blogspot.c…ce-traning.html

Via a Google Reader shared item from Patri Friedman titled Vitamin C Abolishes Endurance Training Effects. The post is just a synopsis of a study that demonstrated that Vitamin C has a negative impact on training for endurance. That we should be training for endurance at all is a topic often derided by various paleo gurus, but the somewhat tangential snippet below is what really caught my eye. It immediately makes me wonder, how much Vitamin C should we be consuming in our diets? Fruits and vegetables are frequently touted as the end-all be-all of nutrition, but most all of those foods have a lot of Vitamin C, which is an antioxident we arguably don’t need much of.

A mere cup of chopped broccoli has 135% of the daily recommendation, which is 90 mg, so 120 mg (Vit C rec. info). And who eats just a cup of broccoli? Further, what about all the other sources we’d get C from in a day?

Who would have thought maybe the colorful fruits and veggies are actually harming our health? Maybe Peter at Hyperlipid has it right. It’s worth further investigation.

Here’s the bit from the Mangans blog:

As noted before on this blog, glutathione is by far the most important antioxidant, and it’s made internally from amino acids. Other antioxidants, as can be seen here, can hamper its production.

Our paleolithic ancestors would probably have been ingesting only small amounts of vitamin C, so any dose larger than say, 100 mg, must be considered quite unnatural. That is not to say that megadoses of vitamin C may not be useful in certain medical conditions, but overall it seems best to avoid that. Many holistic practitioners recommend doses of several grams a day, which could be positively harmful to health. At the least, we can say that athletes should take small doses if any.

Kombucha Tea (Fermented Food)

http://www.blog.sethrober…#comment-275794

More from Seth Roberts in the self-experimentation with fermented foods (And satisfaction of umami/flavor cravings) comes discussion of using Kombucha Tea (a fermented tea) to test effects on overall health.

I’ve never had Kombucha tea, but apparently you can make it at home.

Anyone know how? As homemade fermented foods go, this sounds much more appealing to me than homemade yogurt.

4. My idea that we like umami tastes, sour tastes, and complex flavors so that we will eat more bacteria-laden food (which nowadays would be fermented food) is saying that we need plenty of these foods. Why else would evolution have tried so hard to make us eat them? The implication is they should be part of every diet, like Vitamin C. When someone deficient in any vitamin begins eating that vitamin, the deficiency symptoms go away very quickly, within a few weeks, usually. The changes are easy to notice. So the details of what Tucker observed – the speed and size of the improvements — support my general idea that there is a widespread deficiency here that can be easily fixed.

Delorean: Symptoms of Fat Loss (parts 1&2)

http://avidityfitness.net…ms-of-fat-loss/

There was a time a few weeks back where I started experiencing a bit of insomnia. I immediately associated my sleeplessness with dieting and quickly determined to back off the dieting. It just made zero sense to me that I should be losing sleep because I was trying to lose weight — it just seemed downright extreme and unhealthy, so I quickly backed off a bit on dieting as a result.

Enter in Leigh Peele’s recent blogpost on “symptoms” of fat loss where I learn that insomnia can result from dieting. So it’s not just me, which is reassuring, even though I haven’t had any insomnia problems in two or three weeks (though I also haven’t been losing any more fat!).

So food for thought:

NOW, imagine your body if that flashlight. As time goes on your batteries are running low. How are you going to feel?

  • Less lucid, foggy
  • easily emotional
  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • harder to wake up in the morning
  • muscle soreness
  • sadness
  • insomia

These are not symptoms of overtraining. These are symptoms of fat loss.

Think about it folks – you are removing a physical substance from your body. It was once there but you are trying to take it away. You might say, “well, I put it on easily. Taking it away can’t be that hard. ”

When is the last time you glued something? How easy was that to get on? How much of a pain in the ass was it to get off?

Just fat loss alone doesn’t feel good, it shouldn’t feel good. Anyone that tells you that either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want you to know. That doesn’t mean fat loss can’t be good for you in the long run. It just means what you have to endure while getting there is a real task to be undertaken.

Superfluous Fluids: Don’t Drink Calories (But milk may be ok)

http://www.bodyrecomposit…rch-review.html

Lyle McDonald of bodyrecomposition.com consistently puts out in-depth, even-keeled analysis on exercise and nutrition. I don’t always buy his conclusions, but he clearly knows his stuff and shares a great deal of knowledge freely on his site. His frank take can be funny, too.

Lyle has previously gone into great detail on milk as a sports drink. Milk has protein, fat and carbohydrates, which makes it more of a liquid food than a drink. Mother nature concocted the mix, so it has that going for it as far as the biological “benefit of the doubt.” Whether humans are evolutionarily designed to drink cow milk is another question. Suffice to say that it’s a hotly debated topic amongst the Paleo crowd.

I still enjoy cheese and (occasionally) ice cream.

In this particular article, Lyle discusses a paper that examined the impact on the human body of consuming “milk, beer, wine, tea, coffee, distilled alcoholic beverages, juice and soft drinks.” The big takeaway is simple: Don’t drink your calories except maybe milk.

Why? Apparently our bodies aren’t good at accounting/adjusting for the energy. This failure causes two problems: not only do our bodies fail to adjust overall caloric intake to account for the consumption of a Coke or Snapple, drinking these “empty calories” may result in overconsuming other foods! Talk about a double-whammy to your waistline!

Even though Lyle often goes middle-of-the-road where others end up more extreme (I.e. low-fat, or low-carb diets), this is one of the few times where he actually more or less makes an outright nutrition rule, which is that sugary drinks have no place in the human diet. He couples this thought with the tangential point that the demonization of HFCS is a distraction: raw sugar (i.e. diluted in water), no matter the form (glucose, sucrose, whatever), is the problem.

And honestly, how is this conclusion not obvious? Don’t drink sugar!

Other thoughts outside of Lyle’s take: I’m reminded of Seth Roberts of Shangri-La diet fame. Shangri-La asserts that the stronger the flavor/calorie association by our bodies, the more weight we will put on. I wonder if this is coming into play here in that sugary beverages typically are drank in concert with a meal. This results in more flavor and more energy density, heightening the Pavlovian association and raising “set point” (this is all based on my rudimentary understanding of Shangri-La). On the other hand, it makes it harder to explain how flavorless sugar water can cause appetite suppression if our bodies generally fail to register the calories. My hunch is that there is a more complex relationship here.

And one other thought: Lyle notes that for most of human existence the only liquids known to man were breast milk and water. Makes sense. Only one problem: human beings drank what, for lack of a better term, I’m going to call “wild water.” I have no idea what wild water was composed of as far as bacteria, nutrients, and minerals. However, I’m confident that it was not like the water we get from the tap or the filtered Brita stuff.

So maybe Coca-Cola should look into a new bottled water market — and yes, if they call it “wild water” I will seek royalties!

Looking globally, drink patterns have shown massive growth with soda products being consumed at a rate in excess of one billion drinks per day (makes you wish you’d bought stock, huh?). Beer consumption has shown the greatest increase with tea showing a slight increase. Wine and milk consumption have fallen globally, presumably due to the introduction of all the drinks that have made America rich, proud and very fat (my comment, not theirs).

The next section of the paper got into what is arguably the most important issue of the paper: the simple fact that for all but the last 11,000 years, the predominant fluids consumed by humans were water and breast milk and nothing else. Now, they go out of their way to point out that milk is a complete beverage containing protein, carbohydrate, fat and water. Water is, of course water which provides no calories. This is important because numerous studies have shown that humans show poor compensation for fluid calories.

Let me explain that a bit. Compensation means that the body will adjust caloric intake at other times of the day (or days later) for a given caloric load. So say you eat a bunch of candy earlier in the day and it provides 450 calories. What you might see is that, later in the day, folks eat a few hundred calories less than they’d normally eat. The body ‘compensates’ for the food you ate earlier. The problem is that most liquid calories aren’t compensated for well and figuring out why is of some interest to researchers.

This is also a big part of why all of the furor over HFCS is mis-placed in my opinion: the problem isn’t with the HFCS per se, it’s the form that people are getting it which is liquid calories. Which the body doesn’t compensate for well. But the body wouldn’t compensate any better for a sucrose containing drink, a glucose containing drink or any other caloric drink. Get it?

It’s got nothing to do with the HFCS content, it’s got to do with how the human bodyhandles non-milk caloric fluids. . . .

Of some interest (especially to me since I like jelly beans) one study compared the intake of 450 kcal or jelly beans to 450 kcal of a soft drink. the jelly bean consumers actually reduced their food intake by slightly more than the 450 calories in the jelly beans (Coming soon: the Jelly Bean Diet) later in the day.

The carb containing soft drink group not only failed to compensate for the drink but also increased their intake of other foods slightly. That is, not only did they get the added calories from the soft-drink, they ate more food as well; a double whammy in terms of weight gain. . . .

The sight and smell of foods also affects hormonal response, there is something called the cephalic insulin response for example, insulin can go up when people smell or taste sweet foods, long before it hits the bloodstream. Someone in the comments of one of my articles asked about sugar free drinks and it’s relevant here as they can stimulate insulin response in some folks; I’ll have to do a full feature on this at a later date [JNO: See Artificial Sweeteners and Energy Disregulation for a little more]. . . .

Carbohydrates alone stimulate the least number of appetite blunting factors, protein and fat stimulate the release of more. So you’d expect much less of a compensatory response to a drink containing protein and fat (think lowfat milk) as compared to one containing only carbohydrate (think fruit juice or a high sugar soda). Which is exactly what the studies have shown. Milk shows a nice normal compensation to intake; it’s effectively a liquid ‘food’. Sugar sweetened soft drinks show no compensation.

So folks living on sugary drinks are causing themselves major problems. Not only do the drinks themselves have scads of calories, the body doesn’t compensate for their intake. So all of those calories essentially end up being ‘added’ to the normal food intake (which is just as often awful in folks who drink lots of soda). In some people, the sweet taste seems to drive intake of other sugary foods so it’s a double whammy.

Dietary Fiber and Mineral Availability – Whole Health Source

http://wholehealthsource….ailability.html

A common nutrition meme is that fiber is fantastic for you and you should eat large quantities of it. However, that widespread belief may very well be false. It would seem that not only is it difficult for our bodies to extract the abundant nutrients within fibrous and mineral-dense whole grain foods, but these foods frequently have anti-nutrients that may make you even worse off by hurting absorption of nutrients in the other foods you are eating.

The study cited below doesn’t quite damn fiber; however, it does indicate that it’s not the panacea its claimed to be and individuals probably don’t need to up their fiber intakes.

Even though its a sidenote in his post, Stephan’s comments about polyphenols are worthy of follow-up research.

Finally, Stephan expounds upon fermentation as a means to up nutrient absorption. It seems to me that fermentation is the oldest food processing technique in human history — even as food rots a hungry hunter gatherer is still going to eat it!

Mainstream health authorities are constantly telling us to eat more fiber for health, particularly whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Yet the only clinical trial that has ever isolated the effect of eating a high-fiber diet on overall risk of death, the Diet and Reinfarction Trial, came up with this graph:

Oops! How embarrassing. At two years, the group that doubled its fiber intake had a 27% greater chance of dying and a 23% greater chance of having a heart attack. The extra fiber was coming from whole grains. I should say, out of fairness, that the result wasn’t quite statistically significant (p less than 0.05) at two years. But at the very least, this doesn’t support the idea that increasing fiber will extend your life. . . .

Chief among these is phytic acid, with smaller contributions from tannins (polyphenols) and oxalates. The paper makes a strong case that phytic acid is the main reason fiber prevents mineral absorption, rather than the insoluble fiber fraction. This notion was confirmed here.

As a little side note, polyphenols are those wonderful plant antioxidants that are one of the main justifications for the supposed health benefits of vegetables, tea, chocolate, fruits and antioxidant supplements. The problem is, they’re actually toxins. They reduce mineral absorption, and the antioxidant effect seen in human plasma after eating them is due largely to our own bodies secreting uric acid into the blood (a defense mechanism?), rather than the polyphenols themselves. The main antioxidants in blood are uric acid, vitamin C and vitamin E, with almost no direct contribution from polyphenols. I’m open to the idea that some polyphenols could be beneficial if someone can show me convincing data, but in any case they are not the panacea they’re made out to be. Thanks to Peter for cluing me in on this. . . .

A more effective method is to grind grains and soak them before cooking, which helps the phytase function more effectively, especially in gluten grains and buckwheat. The most effective method by far, and the method of choice among healthy traditional cultures around the world, is to soak, grind and ferment whole grains. This breaks down nearly all the phytic acid, making whole grains a good source of both minerals and vitamins.

Page 1 of 212»