Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"But, Don't the Easterners Eat Tons of Rice?"

How the Primal community loves the concept of a dietary paradox. How we eagerly point to its various manifestations as supportive evidence for our way of eating, living, and moving. You know the French Paradox and how it confounds the experts. To mention all those smug surrender monkeys with their brie and their butter and their duck confit and their Gauloises and their seeming imperviousness to heart attacks is to make Dean Ornish binge on bran and pull out tuft after tuft of frizzy hair. And then there’s the lesser-known Israeli Paradox, which attempts to answer why Israelis have skyrocketing rates of heart disease despite a skyrocketing intake of “healthy” omega-6 fatty acids. In its wake, Walter Willet might be found weeping into a mug of safflower oil. There’s even an American Paradox – those who ate the most saturated fat had the least coronary heart disease – that had the minds of researchers thoroughly boggled.
All those paradoxes work out in “our favor.” Saturated fat gets off pretty much scot-free and omega-6 vegetable oils get raked over the coals (and, presumably, oxidized). And if people were honest about things, they would see these paradoxes not as paradoxes, but as reasons to reevaluate previously-held beliefs about health and diet.
But what about the Asian Paradox? How can Asian countries consume so much white rice and so many noodles and remain so thin?
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Mark does a nice job of chasing this one down.

I think it makes sense to assume that populations have different levels of carbohydrate tolerance just as individuals do.  I you grew up in the Swiss mountain villages inspected by Weston Price, and you couldn't live on a diet of rye bread, butter, milk, and weekly servings of meat - you couldn't live at all.  Your genetics would vanish.  Those who did survive would, in general, leave a population of folks with reasonable tolerance for both grain and carbs.  It's not impossible for a population to adapt/evolve - but it's not pretty.

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