Monday, May 22, 2017

FRSP Week 7 #3 Ep 15 | Rocking that Heart Rate!





In episode 15 of the Full Range Strength Series, I reach 83% of my maximum heart rate after just 4 strength training exercise sets, and I evaluate this months straddle split progress.

Graecopithecus Casts Doubt on "Out of Africa" Story of Human Origins

As reported in PLOS | One today, a 7.2 million year old fossil named Graecopithecus, from late Miocene Europe, suggests that the human line may have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean (i.e. Europe), not Africa.  
"In this study, we propose based on root morphology a new possible candidate for the hominin clade, Graecopithecus freybergi from Europe. " [...]
"In contrast to the Ponginae, Graecopithecus shares derived characters with African apes (ventrally shallow roots, buccolingually broad molar roots; [32, 75]). Therefore, we consider four principle alternative interpretations of its phylogenetic position: Graecopithecus is a stem-hominine (last common ancestor of African apes and Homo), a gorillin, a panin, or a hominin." [...]
"Accordingly, the most parsimonious interpretation of the phylogenetic position of Graecopithecus is that it is a hominin, although we acknowledge that the known sample of fossil hominin root configurations is too small for definitive conclusions."[...]
"Taken at face value, the derived characters of Graecopithecus (p4 root morphology and possibly canine root length) may indicate the presence of a hominin in the Balkans at 7.2 Ma." [...]
"Therefore, we submit that the dental root attributes of Graecopithecus suggest hominin affinities, such that its hominin status cannot be excluded. If this status is confirmed by additional fossil evidence, Graecopithecus would be the oldest known hominin and the oldest known crown hominine, as the evidence for the gorillin status of Chororapithecus is much weaker than the hominin status of Graecopithecus [8]. More fossils are needed but at this point it seems likely that the Eastern Mediterranean needs to be considered as just as likely a place of hominine diversification and hominin origins as tropical Africa."
Phys.org provides more information on Graecopithecus: apparently the species inhabited a savannah habitat and remains were found with large grass-feeding herbivores.
"The phytolith record provides evidence of severe droughts, and the charcoal analysis indicates recurring vegetation fires," said Böhme. "In summary, we reconstruct a savannah, which fits with the giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, and rhinoceroses that were found together with Graecopithecus," Spassov added.
"The incipient formation of a desert in North Africa more than seven million years ago and the spread of savannahs in Southern Europe may have played a central role in the splitting of the human and chimpanzee lineages," said Böhme. She calls this hypothesis the North Side Story, recalling the thesis of Yves Coppens, known as East Side Story.
More information: Potential hominin affinities of Graecopithecus from the Late Miocene of Europe, PLOS ONE (2017). journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177127
Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe, PLOS ONE (2017). journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177347


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-scientists-million-year-old-pre-human-balkans.html#jCp
 The full text is "Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe" at PLOS | One.

This might support my suggestion that humans are descended not from a chimpanzee-like frugivore, but a savannah-dwelling largely or heavily insectivorous (i.e. carnivorous) ancestor .  As I wrote there:

....before there existed some putative pre-human (i.e. non-human) ancestors who ate plant-based diets, the ancestors of the primate line were insectivores, i.e. carnivores who specialized in eating insects.  From anthro.palomar.edu:
"Transitional primate-like creatures were evolving by the end of the Mesozoic Era (ca. 65.5 million years ago)....The few placental mammals that existed at that time mainly consisted of the insectivore ancestors of primates."
These carnivorous ancestors of primates continued until about 55 million years ago when some creatures resembling modern prosimians emerged.  But anthro.palomar.edu notes:
"Among the numerous Miocene primate species were the ancestors of all modern apes and humans.  By 14 million years ago, the group of apes that included our ancestors was apparently in the process of adapting to life on the edges of the expanding savannas in Southern Europe." 
[Graecopithecus was found in Southern Europe.]

The human line descends from those primates that specialized in living on the savannas, not those – like the ancestors of chimps – that specialized in the arboreal habitats.  On savannas, the predominant form of plant-life is grass, while fruits are relatively scarce, especially during Ice Ages.  Thus, an animal can thrive on a savanna only if it eats grass, or animals that eat grass.  Humans are obviously not grass-eaters – we don't have the multi-compartment guts adapted to fiber fermentation that is typical of grass-eating animals.  But an insectivore can find plenty of grass-eating insects, such as grasshoppers, caterpillars, moth larvae, grubs, crickets, and billbug larvae.  It can also find small grass-eating molluscs like snails.

The nutritional profile of insects is quite similar to wild game:

Insects are wild game.  Therefore an insectivore is already a predator adapted to eating wild game.  Insectivores have simple, carnivore-type guts.   An insectivorous species would have to evolve new behaviors or gut features – hindgut fermentation vats – to become predominantly frugivorous and deal with the fiber abundant in plants, as has occurred in the great apes but not in humans. The great apes have enormous guts adapted to fermenting fiber to convert it into saturated fats, mostly butyrate; healthy humans do not:

We have strong evidence that early Pleistocene humans – definite members of our genus – were ambush predators 2 million years ago.   We know that all definitely human ancestors –  from Homo habilis 2 mya to present – were hunters and meat-eaters.  Dunn could justify his claim only by referring to the putative habits of ancient species who were not human and are only suspected human ancestors (e.g. Australpiths), while ignoring the heavy meat-eating habits of those species that we know were human.  Is that scientifically honest?

The truth is all known human ancestors of modern humans, i.e. Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and Denisovans were predators, not vegetarians.  Only non-human species that might have been part of the human lineage,  such as Austalopiths, were largely plant-eaters.  The hypothesis that human ancestors were nearly all vegetarians can't explain what we know about human evolution, and does not align with what we know about the Earth's climate, flora and fauna changes during the period of time when the human lineage evolved and moved out of Africa. 

An insectivore is a hunter, a predator.  Humans have been deliberate predators for at least 2 million years.  Which is the most likely evolutionary scenario: 


THEORY 1:

While the savannas are expanding and forests shrinking during the millions of predominantly Ice Age years, natural selection acts on an insectivorous savanna species to favor those that prefer to eat fruits and vegetables that don't exist on the savanna and are disappearing due to the cold and dry climate, ultimately converting that insectivore with a simple carnivore-type gut into a frugivorous, hindgut fermenter arboreal species; then natural selection changes course completely, starts favoring the savanna-dwelling meat-eaters among those fruit-eaters, progressively selects against the hindgut fermenters and eventually changes the members of this lineage back into a savanna-dwelling apex predator species with a relatively simple, reduced volume carnivore-type gut with gastric acidity greater than most carnivores and comparable to scavenger species (the human line starting at least 2 mya with Homo habilis).

Source:  Voegtlin, The Stone Age Diet, p. 44
Source:  Voegtlin, The Stone Age Diet, p. 45
THEORY 2:

While the savannas are expanding and forests shrinking (starting towards the end of the Miocene, up to ~ 6 mya), natural selection favors the reproduction of those members of an  insectivorous savanna species who capitalize on the increasing abundance of grass-eating insects, then favors those who can capture and eat the even more energy-dense grass-eating mammals (various rodents such as rabbits and gerbils), then among those favors the individuals who are able to capture larger and larger, more and more energy-dense, fat-rich game, ultimately transforming the originally puny predatory primate (the insectivore) into a mega-primate, the most predatory ape of all, the human, who hunted elephants for a living?

It seems to me that the second scenario is far more likely to be what happened.  In fact, due to the biological leaps and outright reversals (in dentition and intestinal form and function) required, I would venture that the probability of the first scenario is near zero.  If chimps and humans have a common ancestor, that ancestor was likely primarily an insectivore (chimps still are somewhat insectivorous).  The chimp line likely represents the descendants of that last common ancestor (LCA) who chose to specialize in an arboreal habitat.  The descendants of the LCA who specialized in a savanna habitat retained their dominant predatory way of life, and this line slowly graduated from insects and worms to snakes, amphibians and other small animals, then to larger and larger savanna animals until finally the highly carnivorous human emerged by 2 mya.

 

More information: Potential hominin affinities of Graecopithecus from the Late Miocene of Europe, PLOS ONE (2017). journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177127
Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe, PLOS ONE (2017). journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177347


Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-05-scientists-million-year-old-pre-human-balkans.html#j

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tooth decay bacteria evolved as diet changed › News in Science (ABC Science)

Tooth decay bacteria evolved as diet changed › News in Science (ABC Science)



"Mesolithic hunter-gatherers living on a meat-dominated, grain-free diet
had much healthier mouths that we have today, with almost no cavities
and gum disease-associated bacteria, a genetic study of ancient dental
plaque has revealed."
[...]



"What we found was that the early [hunter-gatherer] groups really had
a lot lower frequencies of any of the disease-associated bacteria
compared to what you see today [and] that the number of species per
person's mouth, or the diversity, was much higher in the past," says
Adler.
"If they've got more [bacterial] diversity that means that those
people's mouths were more resilient to stresses, and probably less
likely to develop disease."

"Gum disease and heart health

"However, while the researchers noted that bacteria associated with dental cavities such as S. mutans
became dominant around the time of the Industrial Revolution, the
frequency of bacteria associated with periodontal diseases such as
gingivitis has not changed much since farming began.
"This may have implications for the notion that gum disease and
associated bacteria are a significant contributor to the recent increase
in conditions such as cardiovascular disease and atherosclerotic
plaques, says co-author Professor Alan Cooper, director of the
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.
"It has been suggested that the presence of this permanent
inflammation state along the gums was promoting an immune inflammatory
response, which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease," says Cooper.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Policy Does Not Equal Science: Development of U.S. Dietary Guidelines, A...





Very interesting lecture.  It covers:



  • Historical changes in the U.S. diet
  • The impact of the U.S.D.A.'s dietary guidelines on the weight and health of the U.S. population and the viability of family farms.
  • The science (or lack of science) behind the dietary guidelines.
  • The interesting but unintended alignment of those who promote plant-based diets with the goals of food corporation.
Mrs. Hite's discussion of data will certainly raise questions about the rational basis for the U.S.D.A.'s progressive promotion of more and more plant-based diets. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Cost of Carbohydrates Versus Fats: Not What It Seems?

When we went shopping at the Scottsdale farmers' market a couple of weeks ago, Tracy wanted to get some spring mix from McClendon farms to make a salad for our wedding anniversary dinner.  While getting the greens, we noticed that McClendon Farms also had some artisnal butter that they were selling for 6.99 for a half pound.

We didn't get any of the butter, but Tracy got a small bag, about a quart, of spring mix.  When we got to the check out, the cashier announced that we were to pay $8 for the quart of spring mix.

The moment I heard that, I thought that we could be getting the half pound of butter for $7 and we'd get a lot more calories for our money.

A quart of spring mix supplies about 52 calories.  At $8 per quart, that works out to $0.15 per calorie.

A half-pound of butter supplies about 1626 calories, 31 times the calories found in a quart of spring mix.  At $7 per half-pound, that works out to $0.004 per calorie.

Hence, on a per calorie basis, spring mix is 38 times more expensive than butter.

I wanted to trade in the spring mix for the much tastier butter!

That got me curious about the cost of commonly consumed plant foods on a per calorie basis.

After the market, we went to Trader Joe's to get some supplies, and on the way I decided I would do some cost-per-calorie comparison shopping.

TJ's organic carrot juice costs $3.99 for a quart.


The whole quart supplies 320 calories:


That works out to $0.012 per calorie for the carrot juice.

TJ's pint of organic heavy whipping cream also costs $3.99.


The pint supplies 1600 calories:


That works out to $0.0025 per calorie for the organic cream.

Per calorie, the organic carrot juice is 4.8 times more expensive than the organic heavy cream.

TJ's has conventional cream from animals not treated with r-BST for $3.29 per pint:


Of course it supplies the same number of calories per pint as the organic cream:


The cost per calorie from this cream is $0.0021.

If you're on a budget, trying to meet your energy needs, cream is a far better value than carrot juice, or for that matter, any fruit or vegetable.

TJ's regular butter costs only $3.19 per pound, which supplies 3252 calories, about what a physically active young man needs for an entire day.  That works out to about $0.001 per calorie.


Let's postulate that a young man gets 50% of his energy from butter and cream daily.  One stick of TJ's butter is going to provide him 813 calories for about $0.78 per day, and 8 ounces of heavy cream will provide another 800 calories for $1.65, for a total of 1613 calories at a cost of $2.43.

Now let's have him eat 3 eggs and 300 g of ground beef daily.

Three large (50 g) eggs supplies 233 calories, and 300 g of 80% lean ground beef.  He could once a week replace 100 g of that ground beef with pork or beef liver.  Three eggs and 300 g of beef will provide him with a generous 92 g of protein.

Fairly high quality eggs are going for about $3.00-$4.00 per dozen, or about $0.30 per egg.  Grass-fed ground beef is going for $6.99 per pound (454 g) at our local Sprouts store, so 300 g cost $4.62.

So this hypothetical young man can meet his calorie and nutrient needs on a high fat, animal-based diet, using eggs rich in omega-3 fats and beef from grass-fed animals, for about $7.95 per day.

Add  $1.05 for a teaspoon of nutritional yeast, a medium (131 g) orange ($0.35), a large (150 g) onion (0.31) and third of a bunch of spinach and he's good to go for $9.00 per day.

Source:  Numbeo

According to Numbeo, this is only $0.44 more than the average cost of food for an individual eating a standard Western diet in Phoenix:


If he's on a tighter budget he could choose conventional eggs and beef.   This week, Fry's Market in Scottsdale advertised ground beef for $2.99 per pound and pork loin roast or turkey breast for $1.49 per pound.



As noted above, the average cost for eggs in the Phoenix area is $2.26 per dozen, or just $0.19 per egg.  If he ate 150 g of ground beef ($0.99), 150 g of pork loin or turkey breast ($0.49), and 3 conventional eggs, the meat and egg portion of his low carbohydrate diet would cost  $2.05, and the butter and cream portion $2.43, for a total of $4.48.  Now he should substitute ~100 g of liver for one of the other meats once or twice weekly, and he can (if he wants) spend $1.52 daily for fruit, vegetables, and little nutritional yeast, and he is eating very well for $6.00 per day, $2.50 LESS than expected average costs (only $180 per month). 

If you do the cost per calorie calculation for any fruit or vegetable compared to the above deals for ground beef, turkey breast or pork loin, you will find the animal products are cheaper.

Here's another ad from Fry's:




Strawberries, at $2.00 and only 145 calories per pound, cost $0.014 per calorie.

Grapes, at $1.99 and 313 calories per pound, cost $0.0064 per calorie, half that of strawberries. 

Grass-fed ground beef, at $6.99 and 898 calories per pound, costs $0.008 per calorie, almost half the cost of strawberries and only 25 percent more than the grapes.

Conventional ground beef, at $2.99 and 898 calories per pound, costs $0.0033 per calorie, one-quarter the cost of strawberries and one-half the cost of grapes, and more nutrient dense as well.

Pork loin roast, at $1.49 and 1143 calories per pound (if you eat all visible fat), costs only $0.0013 per calorie, ONE-TENTH the cost of strawberries and one-fifth the cost of the grapes.

In summary, a meat- and fat- based diet is not necessarily more expensive than a carbohydrate-based diet in the short-term, and it may be less expensive in the long-term by saving you lots of costs in dental work (carbohydrates promote tooth decay and periodontal disease, protein and fat do not) as well as diabetes and other modern, sugar-related diseases.

Humphrey et al. "present evidence linking a high prevalence of caries to reliance on highly cariogenic wild plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from North Africa, predating other high caries populations and the first signs of food production by several thousand years. Archaeological deposits at Grotte des Pigeons in Morocco document extensive evidence for human occupation during the Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age (Iberomaurusian), and incorporate numerous human burials representing the earliest known cemetery in the Maghreb. Macrobotanical remains from occupational deposits dated between 15,000 and 13,700 cal B.P. provide evidence for systematic harvesting and processing of edible wild plants, including acorns and pine nuts. Analysis of oral pathology reveals an exceptionally high prevalence of caries (51.2% of teeth in adult dentitions), comparable to modern industrialized populations with a diet high in refined sugars and processed cereals. We infer that increased reliance on wild plants rich in fermentable carbohydrates and changes in food processing caused an early shift toward a disease-associated oral microbiota in this population."  [Italics added.]

Thus, even wild foods high in unrefined carbohydrate causes a high incidence of dental pathology.

Since a mammal can not survive without teeth, it seems impossible that natural selection could have favored reproduction of individuals whose internal organs demanded consumption of a high carbohydrate diet that progressively destroyed the individual's teeth from a very early age. 

Hamasaki et al. report:  "Multivariate analysis revealed that the percentage of calories from fat was a nutrient factor associated with periodontal disease, with the percentage of calories from fat being significantly lower in the group with advanced periodontal disease."   In other words, for modern humans, high carbohydrate diets promote – and high fat diets prevent – periodontal disease.  That's because carbohydrate feeds the growth of pathogenic oral bacteria, which can't metabolize fats for energy.

Thus it is clear that natural selection has not yet produced a human species that in the absence of modern dentistry can remain free of dental disease while eating a high carbohydrate diet.  In fact the practice of dentistry prevents such adaptation from taking place.  In nature the loss of teeth through decay would lead to malnutrition and an unattractive appearance that would prevent reproduction and cause early death. 

Can a diet that causes progressive dental disease (in the absence of modern prophylactic and remedial dentistry) really be good for the gut or the rest of the body?

Dr. Philippe P. Hujoel, professor of dental public health sciences at the University of Washington  School of Dentistry reviewed the relationships between diet, dental disease, and chronic systemic illness in a report published July 1, 2009 in The Journal of Dental Research.  As reported by Leila Gray of the University of Washington

"He weighed two contradictory viewpoints on the role of dietary carbohydrates in health and disease. The debate surrounds fermentable carbohydates: foods that turn into simple sugars in the mouth. Fermentable carbohydrates are not just sweets like cookies, doughnuts, cake and candy. They also include bananas and several tropical fruits, sticky fruits like raisins and other dried fruits, and starchy foods like potatoes, refined wheat flour, yams, rice, pasta, pretzels, bread, and corn.....
"Hujoel observed that the dental harms of fermentable carbohydrates have been recognized by what looks like every major health organization. Even those fermentable carbohydrates assumed to be good for systemic health break down into simple sugars in the mouth and promote tooth decay. All fermentable carbohydrates have the potential to induce dental decay, Hujoel notes.

"But what if fermentable carbohydrates are also bad for systemic health? Hujoel asks. What if dietary guidelines would start incorporating the slew of clinical trial results suggesting that a diet low in fermentable carbohydrates improves cardiovascular markers of disease and decreases body fat? Such a change in perspective on fermentable carbohydrates, and by extension, on people’s diets, could have a significant impact on the dental profession, as a diet higher in fat and protein does not cause dental diseases, he notes. Dentists would no longer be pressed to recommend to patients diets that are bad for teeth or remain mum when it comes to dietary advice. Dentists often have been reluctant, Hujoel says, to challenge the prevailing thinking on nutrition. Advising patients to reduce the amount or frequency of fermentable carbohydrate consumption is difficult when official guidelines suggested the opposite.

"The close correlation between the biological mechanisms that cause dental decay and the factors responsible for high average levels of glucose in the blood is intriguing. Hujoel explains that eating sugar or fermentable carbohydrates drops the acidity levels of dental plaque and is considered an initiating cause of dental decay.

“Eating these same foods, he says, is also associated with spikes in blood sugar levels. There is fascinating evidence that suggests that the higher the glycemic level of a food, the more it will drop the acidity of dental plaque, and the higher it will raise blood sugar. So, possibly, dental decay may really be a marker for the chronic high-glycemic diets that lead to both dental decay and chronic systemic diseases. This puts a whole new light on studies that have linked dental diseases to such diverse illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease and pancreatic cancer.

"The correlations between dental diseases and systemic disease, he adds, provide indirect support for those researchers who have suggested that Alzheimer’s disease and pancreatic cancer are due to an abnormal blood glucose metabolism.

"The hypotheses on dental diseases as a marker for the diseases of civilization were postulated back in the mid-20th century by two physicians: Thomas Cleave and John Yudkin. Tragically, their work, although supported by epidemiological evidence, became largely forgotten, Hujoel notes. This is unfortunate, he adds, because dental diseases really may be the most noticeable and rapid warning sign to an individual that something is going awry with his or her diet.

“'Dental problems from poor dietary habits appear in a few weeks to a few years,' Hujoel explains. 'Dental improvement can be rapid when habits are corrected. For example, reducing sugar intake can often improve gingivitis scores (a measurement of gum disease) in a couple of weeks. Dental disease reveals very early on that eating habits are putting a person at risk for systemic disease. Since chronic medical disease takes decades to become severe enough to be detected in screening tests, dental diseases may provide plenty of lead-time to change harmful eating habits and thereby decrease the risk of developing the other diseases of civilization.'

"In planning a daily or weekly menu, Hujoel suggests: 'What’s good for your oral health looks increasingly likely to also benefit your overall health.'"  [Bold and italics added.]
And what's good for your oral health?  Hujoel said it:  "a diet higher in fat and protein does not cause dental diseases."