Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Fat, Sugar and Fry Ups

This article on EurekAlert suggests that diets high in fat and sugar are especially fattening:
  • a diet that is high in fat and in sugar actually switches on genes that ultimately cause our bodies to store too much fat. This means these foods hit you with a double-whammy as the already difficult task of converting high-fat and high-sugar foods to energy is made even harder because these foods also turn our bodies into "supersized fat-storing" machines.

The mice used in the experiment were fed a diet high in fat and sucrose. The article goes on:

  • In the research report, scientists show that foods high in fat and sugar stimulate a known opioid receptor, called the kappa opioid receptor, which plays a role in fat metabolism. When this receptor is stimulated, it causes our bodies to hold on to far more fat than our bodies would do otherwise.

For a HG tribe you can imagine that you'd be hunting your staple animal all year around - be it buffalo or bison, mammoth or woolly rhino. Big beasts contain higher levels of fat than smaller fauna (in addition to seasonal variation in fat levels).

In summer, you'd imagine the HG sweetening his/her diet with available fruits. Your body cannot store large amounts of carbohydrate, or rather the storage space is limited. But fat? Your body can store a lot of fat.

Summer provides the perfect macronutrients to optimise energy storage for the winter months ahead where moving from one place to another, hunting and/or simply sitting still and keeping warm would require more energy. The amount of carbohydrate available during the winter months would fall dramatically.

When you think about it, this means we store fat in summer when 'calories out' is likely to be much lower. No freezing temperatures to compete with (and no heavy animal skins to carry around to keep warm). No snow to plough through in pursuit of food or fuel for a fire.

Logical and simple eh? Nothing really that hard to follow and nothing truly revolutionary. Notice how our HG didn't have to restrict calories at any point? No animal 'leaves the table' hungry if it can help it.

The Fry Up

So now we come to the Fry-Up. A serial killer convicted over 40 years ago - it now turns out that he might actually be innocent!

The Telegraph reports today that "Bacon and eggs 'could help mothers-to-be boost the intelligence of unborn child'":

  • "MUMS-TO-BE should tuck in to regular fry-ups to boost their baby's brain, scientists have claimed.

    Researchers says a nutrient found in eggs, bacon and pork sausages helps brain development."

This is all to do with Choline. A water-soluble essential nutrient found in beef, chicken and eggs that plays a significant role in the central nervous system.

I am particularly fond of the journalistic (and arguably scientific), Pendulum of Crap which swings back and forth tick-tocking the between the message that 'food x is bad' and then 'erm....food x is good'.

Following the paleo model of 'eating close to the ground' with as much unprocessed food as possible, grass-fed meats and seasonal salad/fruit/vegetables, I am rather unmoved by such content. But it does raise a smile and remind me that diet and training research is right too often to be ignored and wrong too often to be relied upon.

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