Two things I’ve changed my mind about, part II: Phytic acid

Phytic acid is a substance found primarily in whole grains, beans, and nuts that reduces the absorption of specific minerals from food.  I previously wrote that minimizing phytic acid may be an important part of a healthy diet, but new evidence—and a reexamination of old evidence—has convinced me that it probably isn’t as important as I initially thought.  At least in the context of a diverse, omnivorous diet.

Phytic acid is a small molecule found in seeds like grains, beans, and nuts that binds (chelates) certain essential minerals—particularly calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc—and reduces their absorption from food.  What this means is that the nutritional value of these foods isn’t as high as you might expect if you looked them up in a nutritional database.  Many traditionally-living cultures with grain-heavy diets used techniques such as soaking, grinding, and fermentation that reduce phytic acid levels and increase mineral availability (1).  Let me explain why I think phytic acid is less of a nutritional concern than I used to.

The human gut adapts somewhat to phytic acid-rich food

The small intestine of certain animals produces phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid and releases the minerals it binds.  Humans are among these animals.  However, until recently it was thought that the production of phytase by the human small intestine is too low to have much effect (2).  A 2015 study suggests that in fact, our intestine can ramp up phytase production in response to a diet rich in phytic acid, and this eventually helps us absorb more minerals from seeds like whole grains (3). [update 5/30: commenter Carl pointed out that the mechanism isn’t necessarily an increase in phytase production.  Iron absorption increased over time, but the study didn’t directly demonstrate that phytase was responsible.]

That doesn’t mean phytic acid has no effect on mineral absorption in the long term—it still does (4).  But our intestines are able to adapt over time and mitigate this effect, meaning that phytic acid eventually becomes less important.

Most people have bigger problems than phytic acid

The more I learn about health, the more I tend to focus my attention on a few simple factors that I think account for most of the health benefits of diet and lifestyle.  Don’t smoke cigarettes or use alcohol excessively.  Get regular physical activity.  Eat whole foods.  Get restorative sleep.  Manage stress.  And don’t eat too many calories.  These guidelines may not be very exciting, but they deliver a lot more value than the details that often distract us.

The US diet, and the diets of most other affluent nations, are a nutritional disaster in some ways.  Although we’ve largely solved the problems of frank nutrient deficiency and starvation, we grow fat and undermine our health by eating calorie-dense processed and refined foods.  The number one source of calories in the diet of Americans of all ages is “grain-based desserts” like cake, cookies, donuts, and pastries (5).  Pizza, soda, and alcohol are also in the top six.  The diets of most other affluent nations aren’t much better– nearly all of them are high in refined starch, sugar, added fats, and convenience foods.

Considering this context, avoiding phytic acid is simply not high on my priority list anymore.  Replacing refined and processed foods with unrefined foods is more important, and if that means a higher intake of phytic acid, then so be it.

A diverse omnivorous diet is robust to modest changes in mineral availability

Diets that are overly reliant on whole grains can get people into nutritional trouble—and that is at least in part due to phytic acid.  Populations with a high intake of unfermented whole grains sometimes suffer from nutritional problems including deficiency of calcium and zinc leading to rickets, osteomalacia, and stunting (6, 7).  And this doesn’t just happen to poor rural farmers—it also happens to affluent people following the macrobiotic diet, which is an extreme type of vegan diet based largely on brown rice, vegetables, and soy (8).

But there’s a simple solution to this nutritional problem: eat a diverse diet.  Meat, eggs, vegetables, potatoes, and particularly dairy contain easily absorbed minerals that complement the shortcomings of whole grains.

We often think of food in terms of the essential nutrients it provides, and we tend to intuitively assume that more is better.  But despite a large volume of research, there is hardly any evidence that exceeding an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals is beneficial.  If it were, multivitamin pills would be the bee’s knees—but the evidence overall suggests that they add little or no value to the average affluent diet* (9).  Given these findings, I’m even more skeptical that they add value to a whole-food-based diet for most people.

The point is that unless your diet is based primarily on unfermented whole grains, if you eat a nutrient-dense diet you can probably get away with a lower absorption rate of certain minerals without any ill effects.  And few people in affluent nations eat a diet that’s based primarily on unfermented whole grains.

Phytic acid remains a nutritional concern among people whose diets are based primarily on unfermented whole grains and who eat little or no animal foods.  This includes people from parts of India or Pakistan who rely heavily on unleavened whole wheat chappatis, as well as people following a vegan diet, particularly a macrobiotic vegan diet.  This follows a general nutritional principle: the more restricted your diet, the more carefully you have to compose it to achieve adequate nutrition.

Conclusion

Phytic acid is a substantial nutritional concern in people with a high intake of whole grains and a low intake of animal foods, but it’s probably much less important in the context of a diverse, omnivorous diet.  In countries like the US, most of us have more pressing things to worry about than how much phytic acid we’re eating, and in my opinion, focusing on whole foods is a higher priority.  I now often eat regular rolled oats for breakfast, but I tend to eat it with plain yogurt to make up for its high content of phytic acid.  I don’t worry about the phytic acid in beans and nuts.

 

*There are a few exceptions.  Folic acid supplementation decreases the risk of neural tube defects in infants.  But these are fairly rare to begin with (less than 1 in 1,000 live births in the US; 10).  Vitamin D supplementation can prevent rickets and perhaps reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections (11).

35 Responses to Two things I’ve changed my mind about, part II: Phytic acid

  1. I’ve been chewing over your last post about butter and this was a surprising follow up. I guess what I’m wondering is, are you really writing to your audience here with these posts? I think I’m more from the Weston-Price camp of nutrition rather than the paleo audience which I suppose is also interested in a lot of your work. I think I followed you after you were referenced in some weston pricey blogs. I think a lot of people who follow the WP line of eating are probably nodding along with you. Most people here aren’t taking in the majority of their dairy through butter, but hand cultured raw fil mjolk, or what not. And saying “don’t eat butter” is just a put off. Are you just trying to reframe your work for a wider audience, or to refocus the take away of your work?

    And I think anyone who is dedicated to eating whole foods is eventually going to succumb to eating them prepared in “cheater” ways with the same conclusions as you have made. I don’t think one should throw the baby out with the bath water though! A lot of people I know are poor and so rely heavily on grains (I know, shocking, poor families who care about nutrition!),and benefit from improving the nutrition of them. I, for example, have six kids and we can’t afford to eat grass fed meat, or even dairy everyday. I’m thankful to know that I can do something relatively easy like soak my beans and help better nourish my kids that way.

    • Hi Cirelo,

      I write what I think is correct based on the evidence, regardless of how well it aligns with the beliefs of the WAPF and Paleo world.

      • Carrying on with the oats subject, would the relatively low phytase activity have a chance of being bolstered by a procedure similar to the one you outlined for brown rice (saving water from soaking for subsequent cycles)?

  2. I very much support Stephan’s position “The more I learn about health, the more I tend to focus my attention on a few simple factors that I think account for most of the health benefits of diet and lifestyle. Don’t smoke cigarettes or use alcohol excessively. Get regular physical activity. Eat whole foods. Get restorative sleep. Manage stress. And don’t eat too many calories. These guidelines may not be very exciting, but they deliver a lot more value than the details that often distract us.”

    I also profusely thank him for a huge number of fascinating and useful insights over the years.

    Many noncommunicable western conditions were relatively rare in those eating their traditional non-westernised diets, no matter what their diet was. Some were larger some smaller some developed earlier some later, but all of them ate from ‘nose to tail’ however much ‘meat’ they ate or did not eat, foods were nutrient rich unlike much of our modern foods, and carefully selected often with special foods pre and during pregnancy.

    Sir Edward Mellanby and his wife did seminal research on both Vitamin D and the effects of phytates in cereals. Their publications include ‘A story of Nutritional Research’ which is difficult to find but has been reprinted somewhere under the title “A story of nutritional tesearch 1950”

    Stephan previously highlighted a study by them in relation to dental decay and vitamin D. I have digitised both the paper and a related book chapter, on the McCarrison Society beta web site. http://mccarrison.alakmalak.org/resources/sidebar/dental-decay-and-diet-caries-rate-reduction-and-repair-knowledge-from-the-1920-and-30s/ (I am trying to revitalise the Society; it is 60 years old, and people like Sinclair, Burkitt and Trowell were associated with it in its heyday.)

    The book noted the addition of calcium and vitamin D to a phytate rich diet normalised bone density – that when phytate was added to white bread it resulted in net negative excretion of calcium e.g they were losing stored bone calcium! – that vitamin D helped but did not normalise mineral intake in the absence of additional calcium. – sodium phytate depressed magnesium uptake.

    Calcium in the form or limestone dust was added to the 80%+ extraction flour that was mandatory in the World War II in the UK. Cod liver oil was given to children. Sugar intake reduced somewhat. The percentage of carious teeth in London 5 year olds decreased between about 1940 and 1947 by about 30%

    The book ‘A story of Nutritional Research’ also includes various studies looking at the effect on fermentation, sprouting baking etc on phytate.

    Those historically eating unleavened fresh ground flour including the Sikh and Hunza included dairy products in their diet, a source of calcium and well presumably as small amounts of vit A D etc. It may have been the confluence of dairy and fermentation /sprouting that allowed humans to prosper on diets with phytate rich cereals as staples (eg the Scots). Many in India are now vitamin D insufficient – Vitamin D deficiency exacerbates the effect of phytates – see the Mellanby’s work.

    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your comment. I still think Mellanby’s research is important and phytic acid can antagonize dental health in some circumstances. I also agree that dairy and fermentation, as well as livestock meat, vegetables, and complementary foods like legumes, allowed humans to live better on grain-heavy diets. The first agriculturalists were extremely short and unhealthy compared to the hunter-gatherers that came before them, but stature and health rebounded over the millenia, I suspect because we developed complementary technologies/habits like the ones I listed.

      • > first agriculturalists were extremely short and unhealthy c

        You’ve spoken with some anthropologists – did anything ever come up on any way to pro-rate this between

        1. diet and

        2. higher frequency and intensity of communicable diseases that rise in with higher population?

        3. other things I’m not aware of … other suggestions?

      • maybe a way to figure out how much health was improved by sanitation technologies versus improved diet (I suspect both improved lockstep as the required technologies were developed) – sanitation may have lagged a long time as it may not have been an obvious need to most societies.

  3. Hi Stephan,

    I know all who read this will probably be burning for practical recommendations… 😉

    So, you mentioned cooking your oats without any special preparation. How about beans/lentils? Your method for soaking brown rice? (As an aside, are you concerned with arsenic in rice?)

    LOVED this 2-part series. Great work as always!

    • Hi Wade,

      I soak all beans and lentils for 12-24 hours prior to cooking. Soaking plus cooking breaks down 30-70% of the phytic acid in beans/lentils. Cooking without soaking breaks down much less of the phytic acid (Food Phytates. Reddy and Sathe. 2002).

      I don’t eat a lot of rice these days. When I do, it’s usually brown and I don’t usually soak it prior to cooking. I am concerned about the arsenic issue, so I buy Lundberg brown rice because they release arsenic test results and they are always in the safe range (although they’re on the upper end of safe). I also eat white rice sometimes. I tend to favor basmati rice because it takes a 2:1 ratio of water to rice and therefore has a lower calorie density.

      • Stephan

        What are your thoughts on eating sprouted grains, lentils, etc. with regard to the phytic acid levels?

      • Hi stephan. What about tinned beans? I usually buy mine already cooked in a tin where the only other ingredients are salt and water. Why would buying them raw and soaking them be preferable?

        Great work as always 🙂

    • Hi JLD,

      As you say, nicotine probably isn’t the component of cigarettes that mediates most of their negative health impacts (which is why e-cigs are probably far less unhealthy than regular cigarettes). Nicotine does increase blood pressure and heart rate but it seems like a pretty benign drug overall. It might even have specific health benefits but that’s not well established.

  4. My understanding (as a layman) is that there is a complex relationship between calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D and other factors including even sugar/fructose. And phytic acid plays into all of that. Meaning phytic acid can be beneficial or harmful depending on the situation.

    For example it is not uncommon today to obtain too much calcium as the result of an excess of dairy products, vitamin D and calcium supplements. In this case phytic acid can be beneficial by binding to calcium and preventing too much calcium from being absorbed.

    I suspect skin disorders may sometimes be the result of too much calcium. In regions with high levels of calcium in the drinking water, an increased incidence of eczema has been reported in children, and high intake of cow milk is thought to be a cause of acne and other skin problems. However very high dosage fat soluble vitamin A perhaps by being an antagonist to vitamin D, has been used to cure acne and other skin problems.

    Too much vitamin A when vitamin D and the calcium:phosphorus ratio is too low and the diet is rich in phytic acid rich foods, would prevent enough calcium from being absorbed and an excess of phosphorus from being excreted, and the result could be quite harmful, for example the phosphorus could accumulate in the body, the body taking calcium from the bones to deal with it, and the person develops coronary artery calcification and osteoporisis, and it could cause birth defects in children too.

    It is possible that the reason why the official recommendations now are so high in vitamin D (600 IU) and low in fat soluble A (2500 IU), has to do with the abovementioned problems, and the high level of phosphorus rich foods, including the phytic acid rich types like whole grains, nuts, legumes etc that is officially recommended.

    Interestingly, in human milk, the ratio of A:D is about 50:1 according to the analysis on nutritiondata.com (which I assume reflects the milk of the average American mother – Japanese milk is somewhat different), whereas the calcium:phosphorus ratio is very high at 2.3:1. This high Ca:P ratio may mean that vitamin D is «spared» for its other important functions, because there´s no need for it to be used up to balance calcium and phosphorus, hence the high A:D ratio is not a problem. In human milk the ratio of vitamin A to calcium is about 7 times higher than in unfortified whole cow milk. This low level of A in cow milk may further worsen the calcium issue and perhaps contribute to the mentioned skin disorders, especially as cow milk now is usually additionally fortified with vitamin D but not much A.

    Apparently fructose will also use up a fair amount of phosphorus when metabolized and so it will have a vitamin D like effect, perhaps a reason why people are so much taller now than a hundred years ago, even those with dark skin colour growing up in northern countries, due to higher intake of sugar, dairy and lower intake of whole grains, in practice causing a significantly higher calcium to phosphorus ratio. But along with it comes the skin disorders and other problems. Sugar also uses up magnesium and a lack of magnesium is also quite common today. Phytic acid rich foods are usually very rich in magnesium, which makes them desirable for many of these people.

    The fermentation of whole grains so as to break down the phytic acid would mean more calcium is absorbed, but phosphorus is also made much more bioavailable, so more phosphorus is also absorbed, which isn´t necessarily a good thing if the diet already has a lot of meat. I think these traditional population groups that ate much such type of soaked/fermented grains, had a very low meat intake. And for this reason the whole grains was beneficial as a source of phosphorus, protein and other nutrients. However the solution of just cooking/soaking phosphorus/phytic acid rich foods like corn, millet and legumes in some calcium rich solution/water, seems preferable, especially if dairy intake is low and meat is consumed. An example would be the Nicoya people in Costa Rica mentioned in the Blue Zone book obtaining approx 1000 mg calcium from 6 liter daily of their special water, much of it distributed in cooking of corn and legumes.

  5. I agree with you, and recently wrote an editorial on phytate and iron status for the Norwegian Journal of Nutrition (in Norwegian here: http://www.ntfe.no/i/2016/4/c-10). In my opinion, refering to phytate as just an “anti-nutrient” may be misleading, since phytate in itself may have beneficial effects. I also cited the Armah et al. paper, and some others.

    You write that “particularly dairy contain easily absorbed minerals that complement the shortcomings of whole grains.” On that note, a high intake of dairy/calcium may also inhibit iron absorption.

    • Hi Erik,

      Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed reading your editorial (Google translate is getting good).

    • And dairy fat forms soap-like saponins in gut, reducing mineral absorption. Interesting study in Holland, identical diet with or w/o milk consumption looked at fecal fat & mineral content, both higher with dairy intake

    • Is the negative effect of a high dairy intake on iron absorption an acute one? I.e. does it happen only when dairy is consumed alongside an iron source, within the same meal?

  6. Nevertheless, I’m still doing a light ferment of brown rice before cooking it. I actually like to throw 1.5 cups of brown rice into .75 liter filtered water with a teaspoon of salt in an anaerobic vessel (it has a gas trap) overnight. Nice and bubbly the next day.

    But I think Stephan’s point is that if you had to choose between white rice or brown rice without soaking, just do the brown rice without the soak. I recognize that it won’t work for most folks to put the effort I put in to soaking brown rice.

  7. It makes sense overall.
    Some paleophiles blame grains because of phytic acid when they eat plenty of nuts that have a high concentration as well.
    We have to examine a food in its complex.
    Aside from nutrient density, we have to consider carb acellularity, gluten, ATIs, lectins, mycotoxins, etc…
    Here you have a higher picture of a food.

  8. Interesting study/thoughts Stephen.

    I’m a bit weary to put too much stock in the study showing increased iron absorption with high phytic acid consumption. Without some end-point being measured, it’s tough to make any conclusions. It could have been that 8 weeks of high phytate caused a decrease in body-wide iron concentrations, thus triggering an increase in transferrin in the epithelial cells of the gut, therefore increasing the amount they absorbed. This mechanism of increased transferrin in the gut is well known. Conversely, perhaps the group decreasing their phytate consumption increased their body-wide stores and down-regulated transferrin as they just didn’t need the iron anymore. Without specific end points being studied, it’s tough to know.

    It doesn’t seem far fetched that increasing phytic acid by ~450mg/day could have exaggerated an already low-iron state. Phytic acid has a very strong affinity for iron in particular, it doesn’t take much to decrease it’s absorption (especially without lots of vitamin C and/or meat in the same meal). As little as 5-10 mg phytate phosphorus added to a wheat roll containing 3 mg iron inhibited iron absorption by 50 per cent[1]. Although, ascorbic acid as well as meat strongly counteracted this inhibition[1]. Furthermore, this was phytate, not phytic acid so it should be less obstructive compared to pure phytic acid. In the aforementioned study, the test meal contained only 10mg iron, but 350mg phytate.

    [1] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2820048

    • Hi Carl,

      Good points. I’m going to edit my post so that it doesn’t state that the mechanism was increased phytase expression. I made that assumption prematurely.

  9. I’m looking at my stack of books by men who lived long and healthy lives. Yudkin, Keys and Pauling. Their dietary approaches were dissimilar but ended with the same result. Some thoughts on just the dietary parts

    – Pauling may have improved on Yudkin’s reduced carb approach with his megadoses of vitamins. Particularly vitamin E to reduce platelet aggregation late in life. And probably vitamin C, too, on the basis old wive’s tales regarding cancer and colds.
    -None of them advocated eating much added sugar
    -None of them advocated eating excessive amounts of fat, though Yudkin and Pauling parted ways with Keys over saturated fat. Since Keys outlived the two of them by 10-20 years, his advocacy of olive oil as a preferred fat carries a lot of weight with me.
    -Keys stuck to the whole fresh foods approach the best. His emulation of the observed Italian low CVD diet and lifestyle for 40 years of his life is the best example of “walking the walk” among the three. Not that Pauling and Yudkin were short-lived, but they weren’t as methodical about it. Bacon and eggs daily didn’t kill them but there are better choices – if you have the willpower to eat them.

    All this applies to women, too, but since men are at a longevity disadvantage there’s more room for improvement. Right now I’m a month into a Pauling Institute voluntary study on hazelnut health benefits. Women outnumber men by 2 to 1, which is saying something along those lines….

    • Hi thhq,

      It´s worth considering that low carb vegetables typically contain many beneficial substances (known and unknown) that can counteract the potential harmful effect of sugar/fructose (and other refined foods).

      An example is a study where one group of rats were given a hypercholesterolemic-high fructose diet, and the other the same but along with fat reduced avocado paste, concluding that:

      «Supplementation with reduced-calorie avocado paste showed a significant (P ≤ 0.05) decrease in total cholesterol (43.1%), low-density lipoprotein (45.4%), and triglycerides (32.8%) in plasma as well as elevated insulin sensitivity compared to the HHF group. Additionally, the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase decreased significantly in the HHF-P group (39.8 and 35.1%, respectively). These results are likely due to biocompounds present in the reduced-calorie avocado paste, such as polyphenols, carotenoids, chlorophylls, and dietary fibre, which are capable of reducing oxidative stress. Therefore, reduced-calorie avocado paste attenuates the effects of a hypercholesterolemic-high fructose diet in rats.» https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24249159

      https://justpaste.it/longlifediet gives some information (although quite limited and unscientific) on the diet of the 100+ longest living persons on record. It seems they were eating plenty of refined foods like ice cream, cakes, sweets, bacon and liquors. On average they may have been eating almost as much refined foods as the general population. However vegetable intake was probably higher («vegatables» (in a positive way) was the food word most frequently mentioned among these centenarians). Fruits, potatoes, milk, chicken, eggs, chocolate and coffee was also mentioned many times, but not red meat, nuts, cheese or yogurt.

      Such centenarians are rarely overweight, and it is possible their longevity has as much to do with disipline/restraint in relation to food intake, as the diet itself (leaving aside other factors like activity level and genetics).

      Fred Kummerow was another long living – and brilliant – researcher you may want to add to your list. Sadly he died just recently, but at age 102. He didn´t use any medications (at least not when interviewed a few years ago) and continued doing research until the end. He was one of the few researchers who was concerned about even moderate intakes of vitamin D, and did some great work on this. His diet recommendations can be seen here: http://wphna.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/WN-2015-06-01-02-72-78-Idea-Fred-Kummerow-My-diet.pdf Apparently he was drinking 3 glasses of wholk milk every day, also an egg fried in butter for breakfast plus lots of fruits. Other things on his menu included some whole grains, potatoes, vegetables, olive oil and the occasional cherry pie or ice cream.

      I liked his recommendation of weighing yourself weekly and if you´ve gained weight, just eat less the 3-4 days, if you have lost weight, add some dessert foods like ice cream or cherry pie.

  10. Funny you should post this now, Stephan, as I’ve only recently learned that phytic acid (IP6) can actually help prevent the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Based on this – and the fact that, as you say, “a diverse omnivorous diet is robust to modest changes in mineral availability” -, I’ve stopped worrying about soaking and fermenting beans and lentils before cooking them. (I still think it’s prudent to boil them for at least 10 minutes before allowing them to simmer, but that has to do with lectins and not phytates.)

  11. Hi Stephan, do you have any updated views on vegetable oil? I remember a while ago you seemed to be softening on this as well.

  12. Hi,
    I ‘ve found two interesting studies on Don Matesz blog:
    http://donmatesz.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/phytate-facts.html

    If I understand correctly, Abstracts/summary of these studies suggest that people can degrade 70-80% of phytate and this ability improves with age.

    Links:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Fecal%20Phytate%20Excretion%20Varies%20with%20Dietary%20Phytate%20and%20Age%20in%20Women

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19267950

    @Stephan:
    I’ve also recently read your blog post about idlis. Do you still prepare them?

    Regards

  13. I’ve really enjoyed reading this post, as it leans toward sanity and less into the realm of religious dietary dogma (phew). I absolutely appreciate the “updates” you do, as I feel the field of nutrition has so many cracks simply because people find the groundwork for their theories and god forbid they discover questionable factors/evidence that may contradict their original theories…

    Of course, some things are still unanswered but in life that’s where we have to take a leap of faith and figure out what is working for us (I know, sucks, but this is where we have to use our brains and common sense). How do we feel on the day to day, mind/body/spirit, etc.
    Do we have energy? How is our focus? Sleep quality? Mood? Etc.
    Deduction always seems to work well.

    We know moving our bodies does wonders, we know sitting is not good.
    Music is therapy.
    We know processing foods in whatever form (whether that be pasteurizing-homogenizing hormone-added grain-fed raw milk may be detrimental, hydrolyzing and overheating ANY foodstuff destroys beneficial nutrients/vitamins, taking cane and turning into refined sugar, barbecuing the crap out of your meat seems to be a no-go, etc.)
    We know vegans recommend “for optimal health” to supplement with vitamins/minerals (vitamins d3, B12, omega-3’s, iron, etc.) “to cover your bases”.
    We also know many ‘cancer preventative diets’ recommended/follow something closer to a fresh/raw Whole Foods vitamin/antioxidant rich diet, so it may be that diets of excess (of any food group) could be the culprit. The evidence on ‘intermittent fasting’, regardless of the validity of the practice or not, suggests giving our bodies a break from digestion allows for other restorative bodily functions. A similar line of reasoning can be applied to the benefits of ‘keto’ diets for brain conditions.
    This is something I think about when I hear about juicing diets, is it really the juice or the fact that people are fasting? Which has more weight in terms of overall benefits. I also think about this when I hear professionals cite the lower rates of obesity and smaller frames of certain communities that are more ‘plant-based’. Are they thinner because they work for longer hours (to compensate for the lower wages) and also in more labor-intensive jobs? And perhaps they can only afford foods of lesser nutritional value/density (i.e. white rice, provides glucose as a macro but no real micronutrients, as far as I am aware*). Also, simply because they are slimmer, some things to consider: are they healthy, what is the bone density, how is brain development and function, fertility rates, thyroid, etc., etc?

    We also know paleo presents benefits, and even low carb, but we see different resistant starch supplements recommended to this community to increase not only quantity of prebiotic matter but also the different kinds, and thus the diversity of the intestinal flora.
    We also see that many people on paleo/low carb “cannot function” without caffeine/coffee, regardless of the benefits of coffee, as a reasonable person I *question* caffeine as a meal replacement.
    Additionally, many have questioned the effects of low carb diets on athletic performance, and also there are some mechanisms in our body that without the presence of carbohydrates we can turn concentrated protein into glucose…soooooo? I personally do not assume, “oh okay so give me the protein, awesome”, but perhaps glucose is essential and perhaps the inefficient and costly bodily conversion process is not particularly optimal? Still not sure.
    Additionally I have come to notice women, in particular, present some hormonal imbalance issues on too low fat diets, or too low carb diets. Absence of menstruation, low levels of hormones in general (except for cortisol and what not), etc.

    I have many questions about saturated fats and cholesterol. If anyone has some reasonable research or information on the topics I would love to hear recommendations. Specifically: In the absence of dietary cholesterol, I have read our body produces cholesterol in excess. Is this true? Also, by adding dietary cholesterol (undamaged of course) do our bodies benefit? (Brain and body)
    On saturated fats, how necessary are they? I have also read our bodies can produce them but is this a costly process and are their benefits to adding saturated fats to the diet?

    This is my unprofessional rant and thoughts on some of my own personal research, and always appreciate dedicated people who question dogma.
    The more I know the less I know.
    Thank you to any one who even reads a smidgeon of this, haha!
    #avocadosrule

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