Saturday, November 8, 2014

Girls: Eat a Steak!

One study after another over the past few years has shown low-carb, high fat diets to be good for correcting weight and lipids. Other studies have found iron deficiency is very common in women. So why do so many young women in the paleo community advise limiting red meat (high in iron) and animal fat and eating lots of vegetables instead?

They remind me of the Intelligent Design crowd: people who recognize intellectually that the creation story in Genesis is a myth, but emotionally aren't ready to abandon it or make waves with friends and family who still believe. Some of the authors say (credibly) that they have or had an eating disorder; others seem to want to keep on being nice girls who don't eat too much or too richly and don't want to lead others astray. At least, that's how it comes off to me, someone from a blue collar family who grew up in the 80s when priss was an insult and a lot of girls went to McDonald's for lunch.

What no nice paleo girl would eat--even if it didn't have corn oil or milk.
But given how many women are iron deficient and have bad skin--just look around--advice to limit red meat isn't helpful. I know what it's like to have both: seeing nothing but blemishes when you look in the mirror, and being in the prime of your life with the energy of an old woman. The answer is to eat some red meat (among other things). If you want to pull out all the stops, have some liver or pate (dairy-free if you have acne--there's a great recipe in Freakin' Fabulous by Clinton Kelly). Click to enlarge the picture--it shows 120% of the percent daily value of Vitamin A--which is great for your skin and the basis of some acne medications--and 25% of iron in just two ounces. It's also chock full of other vitamins and minerals that you won't get from a salad.

Animal fat is cheaper than "good" vegetable fat, too. I last paid $2.99 a pound for pastured lard--and $10 a pound for coconut oil and a buck apiece for avocados.

Lard is healthy: the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania saw practically no heart disease back when lard was their go-to fat. (Authorities chalked up the Roseto "paradox" to their close-knit community. Never mind that close-knit communities don't seem to help Indian reservations, or that one person's close-knit community is another person's town full of gossips and busybodies.) ETA: This doesn't mean that lard is protective--but given all the "paradoxes" of groups of people who eat high-fat diets and have low rates of heart disease, the diet-heart hypothesis isn't the slam-dunk it's made out to be. In any case, young women are unlikely to have a heart attack. And as recent studies have shown, high fat diets that aren't high in carbs won't make you fat--they'll help correct weight.

The evidence about the benefits of vegetables is mixed. 

Plant-based diets are often touted as healthy, and yet many plants contain clever protective chemicals, carefully crafted by evolutionary forces over millennia, to serve the needs of the plant, rather than to nourish the human body. Many of these compounds are potentially toxic to animal cells, and include naturally-occurring pesticides, mineral chelators, and antibiotics.

See this video by Dr. Georgia Ede.

Little Shop of Horrors? The Risks and Benefits of Eating Plants — Georgia Ede, M.D. from Ancestral Health Society on Vimeo.

Mixing low-fat and vegetarian myths with paleolithic science seems to have created the Reformed Church of Vegetarianism. It may be better than the old beliefs, but given the lack of nutrients and false foundation, it ain't science and it ain't optimal.


Val said...

I appreciate all the budgeting tips but honestly, things aren't that bad (however I rarely miss an opportunity to bitch about my ex-husband, a tightwad w/everyone except his own precious self!)
I'm also checking out the Living Stingy blog, it's got LOADS of great stuff!
Today I couldn't resist, Costco had a bottle of generic "Hair Skin & Nails" formula gelcaps for $13.99 - roughly 13 cents/d... I'll be monitoring my poor brittle nails & thinning hair closely.

Lori Miller said...

I've had to save more money myself with all the expenses I've had lately--car repairs, new dryer, and plumbing repairs.

Glad you like Living Stingy. And the vitamins sound like a great deal.

horfilmania said...

I've noticed this time around doing the almost all meat, fish and eggs diet, that cooking with lard instead of coconut oil is producing amazing results. Don't know what's up with that(probably genetics as my ancestors come from a place that has never seen a coconut but is teeming with wild boar) but who cares. It's working.

Lori Miller said...

Besides being a non-ancestral food for most readers here, coconut oil is a natural antibiotic. As Dr. Ede says, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Wild boar country reminds me of a one-panel comic where two travelers are looking at a sign pointing one way to sunshine and beaches and the other way to snow and ice. One guy is looking towards the snowy direction and says, "Do I smell bacon?"

tess said...

did blogger eat my comment again? iIt's been doing that a lot lately.... :-P

It IS interesting as you say, the women seem particularly devoted to the plant-sourced end of the paleo spectrum. Do you think that bunch might be influenced by the constant tv/movie images of thin women who have it all eating nothing but SALADS? :-) That imagine leaped to mind while I was reading your post.

Lori Miller said...

I think it's definitely cultural and not anything based on science or self-experimentation. In the media, only poor people are shown eating fast food, women who've been dumped have their heads in a bucket of ice cream, magazine articles still tell women to eat whole grains and lean protein and plant fat. There was an episode from Designing Women (a show from the 80s featuring professional women) where a young, thin, successful woman ordered a salami sandwich. That would never happen on TV now. Add to that, most young women haven't grown up helping butcher animals or seeing carcasses hanging in the butcher shop, but have probably seen conditions in factory farms, and that's all. And women are more easily yucked out than men. They've grown up with fairy tales about the dangers of red meat, and even now some people say that saturated fat and red meat haven't been shown to be safe--but few people raise concerns about vegetarian diets. Loren Cordain is one of them, and he's changed his position on fat, yet the warnings from nice paleo girls persist.

Galina L. said...

Yes, Lori is right - it is very lady-like nowadays to be yucked out , it is what is socially expected from a high-ranked female and others who want to be the one, similar to not to walking around with hairy legs, burping, smelling of anything but a perfume. Richard could tell the whole world that he skipped some personal hygiene practices in consistence with being more "paleo" person ,for a female it would be the straight road to being a ridiculous social outcast, but not for a guy. While I am not a proponent of a sloppy appearance or a burping, but it is sad for me to see that eating hearty foods and not pretending to be an appetite-free creature is THE things which guys do. Girls are expected have the perfect control over most of human body body functions - smell, appetite, anger, tendency for hairs to grow in undesirable places, aging.

Lori Miller said...

Yup. Through the ages, women from wealthy families were cultivated to be pretty and useless and expensive. And easily grossed out, probably. If a woman is so delicate that she can't even touch a piece of raw meat, she kind of fits that mold--or at least aspires to.

I'll let RN and his ilk win the race to the hygienic bottom. Was it really a paleolithic practice to deliberately offend members of one's tribe?

Lori Miller said...

Same thing again today on the Paleo Diet blog: a female writer blogging about plant fats. The article is fine as far as it goes, but what about lard and tallow?

Galina L. said...

I forgot to mention I enjoyed the talk about vegetables. I got tired of reading that green things are the source of health, even though I enjoy my salads, soups and vegetable side dishes.
Today post on Old foodie blog features cucumber. Long time ago it was used at the beginning of a dinner to sharpen appetites. Many people could consume more food accompanied with spicy and vinegary condiments and vegetables.It is the ultimate flavor enhancer. It is my case, but I use the excuse that vegetables are low in carbs in my defense and continue to indulge.

Lori Miller said...

No need to make excuses if you're happy with your diet. I like to eat vegetables, too--I'd get bored eating just meat and eggs.

Glad you enjoyed the video.

Galina L. said...

More about my vegetable video reaction. I remember thinking about making a mustard souse out of ground mustard seeds. The ground seeds powder is just slightly bitterish, but after adding water to it the seeds the resulting paste gets intensely hot, much hotter than a mustard from a jar in a store because it is fresh and unpasteurized. I can't imagine how tortures it could be for an animal who ate it.

Lori Miller said...

I've come to realize that poisonous and non-poisonous plants aren't two distinct categories.

Galina L. said...

People without doubt crave plants which create heat sensation inside one's mouth and spices other animals hate. Squirrels in my garden definitely think that citronella is a poison and pests stay away from a Rosemary plant, but we humans like both flavors , chicken flavored with lemon and Rosemary is a popular recipe. I think it is possible that our drive to spices is the part of an ancient behavior aimed at controlling intestinal parasites.

Probably, it is better not to chop your broccoli in small pieces before cooking.

When I make a sauerkraut, it is ready to eat only in couple months , earlier it is too bitter.

Lori Miller said...

Ha! I'm sitting here drinking my first Candy Cane Lane tea of the season. It's mostly mint and vanilla. Ingredients here.

Galina L. said...

Mint is also ignored by pests in my garden. I don't know about cinnamon and vanilla, but I guess tropical tries synthesize such flavors for a good reason - nature is not wasteful. Humans are resilient creatures, no wonder arsenic was used in tonics for centuries and our Western civilization grew despite drinking water was supplied through lead pipes.
However, flavors are not only tolerated by humans, but strongly desired. There is more in it than just resilience and ability to tolerate small dose of a potential poison. I guess, one of desirable qualities - exposure to flavors makes immune system more active. It could be bad or good depending on a personal situation.

Lori Miller said...

Adding herbs might have also been to make bland, starchy meals taste better. Roots and beans are generally bland and dry on their own.