Remembering Kevin Moore

ATLCX (Episode 21): Are Starches Really Safe? | Nora Gedgaudas


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In Episode 21 of “Jimmy Moore Presents: Ask The Low-Carb Experts,” we address head one one of the most controversial issues in the Paleo/low-carb communities over the past year–the nutritional concept known as “safe starches” popularized by people like Paul Jaminet in his book Perfect Health Diet. When I first blogged about this topic in October 2011, I was simply curious about the seemingly bizarre idea that consuming starch could somehow be a part of a healthy nutritional plan in light of the predictable negative blood sugar impact of consuming these foods. The conversation that ensued between Paul Jaminet and low-carb physician Dr. Ron Rosedale in the months that followed literally defined some clear lines of distinction between those in the Paleo community who see starchy foods such as white rice, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains as harmless to health and those in the low-carb community who view starch as something to be avoided if you want to optimize your health.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? That’s what we attempted to answer in this podcast featuring Paleo nutrition expert Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond The Paleo Diet For Total Health And A Long Life. With a very prestigious panel of experts slated to tackle this important Paleo/low-carb health issue, including Jaminet, Dr. Rosedale, Dr. Cate Shanahan, Chris Kresser and moderated by me, coming up next month at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts in two weeks, this podcast was YOUR opportunity to ask the questions you think need to be out there regarding this topic. I was pleased to have my friend Nora Gedgaudas joining us on ATLCX to address the safe starches issue from her perspective in EPISODE 21 on July 26, 2012.

Listen to Nora Gedgaudas answer the question “Are Starches Really Safe”:

  • The term “safe starches” was coined by Paul Jaminet
  • He defined these as non-grain, non-legume foods
  • It’s basically white rice and white potatoes
  • He called them “safe” because they’re minimally antigenic
  • He claims we need a certain amount of starch for health
  • The reasoning is that breast milk has lactose (carbs) in it
  • Jaminet assumes babies need sugar for proper brain function
  • But we were born to rely on fat as our primary fuel source
  • Ketones are used by the brain as a natural fuel source
  • Human babies tend to be “uncharacteristically chubby”
  • Our glucose needs can be created by the body
  • Because carbs are addictive, people may be fooled by this
  • It doesn’t matter what someone chooses to do with their diet
  • We can function “optimally well” without consuming starch
  • Safe starches may be “tolerably harmful” but not essential
  • The initial shock she had about the “safe starches” concept
  • Her willingness to examine Jaminet’s work closely
  • Many of Jaminet’s views seem to be “misplaced”
  • My LLVLC Show interview with Paul Jaminet in Episode 453
  • We’re “born in a ketogenic state” and ancestors were ketotic
  • There is a “period of discomfort” for carb-adapted people
  • On the other side of that, there’s “freedom” in your health
  • You save money on food and “aggravation” once keto-adapted
  • Dr. Richard Veech’s work with ketones and Alzheimer’s
  • Autoimmunity is the #3 cause of morbidity and mortality
  • It’s the “most silent epidemic” in the history of health
  • By the time you’re diagnosed with autoimmune, damage is done
  • Eating ketogenic is “most natural” and “beneficial” state
  • The Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster in March 2011
  • Cancer levels are going to be going up from radiation
  • Cancers can’t make any use of ketones
  • Glucose THRIVES on cancer and feeds into it
  • Starch isn’t adding anything your body can’t manufacture
  • Even if sugar makes you feel better, doesn’t mean you need it
  • There’s no established dietary need for carbohydrate
  • There’ve been plenty of time periods we wouldn’t have carbs
  • Mark Sisson addresses ketosis in Episode 5 of ATLCX
  • Whether it is okay to eat fruit when it is out of season
  • If you want berries in February, lightning won’t strike you
  • She doesn’t personally eat a lot of fruit anyway
  • There’s no requirement for the sugar in the berries anytime
  • White potatoes are basically just a source of starch
  • Her appendicitis from consuming white potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes have a lot more nutrition, fiber than white
  • Unless you’re an elite athlete, you don’t need starch/sugar
  • Get The Art & Science Of Low Carbohydrate Performance
  • Our ancestors would laugh at what our Olympic athletes do
  • Dr. Steve Phinney says being keto-adapted optimizes performance
  • If kids are keto-adapted, it’s “a nice gift for them in life”
  • If we knew then what we knew now about nutrition…
  • It’s never too late to start eating correctly for health
  • The Paleo community is promoting starch for post-workout
  • My nutritional ketosis experiment that requires no starch
  • Whether safe starches should be used according to activity
  • “Free The Animal” blogger Richard Nikoley’s starch experiment
  • How do you measure whether eating starch is “working”
  • Neither white potatoes or white rice would exist in Paleo times
  • What Paleo people call “safe starches” aren’t very Paleo
  • Endurance is all about oxygen, not glucose from your diet
  • The optimal fuel for endurance is a “ketogenic state”
  • Her 10-mile hike twice weekly walking fast to work
  • She does this hike in a fasted state and takes two hours
  • She doesn’t eat any food until around noon and was “fine”
  • Despite not being athletic, she’s able to do this on low-carb
  • She started doing this because her job is too sedentary
  • People don’t just want evidence, carbs are addictive too
  • All starches become sugar once they hit the bloodstream
  • Our ancient ancestors wouldn’t have source to starch/sugar
  • Starch sources didn’t exist until about 50,000 years ago
  • We are not really adapted to cheap starches/sugars
  • Our starch/sugar-rich diet overwhelms our bodies/brains
  • People support “safe starches” because they “like these foods”
  • Many companies are making a lot of money off starchy foods
  • Pharmaceutical companies are profiting from the sickness
  • People think you’re “extreme” if you don’t eat starchy carbs
  • We can thank the Paleo community for vilifying grains
  • Whether consuming “safe starches” can stoke food cravings
  • Some people are genuinely addicted to sugar like drugs
  • It only takes a little bit to “start the whole cycle again”
  • If keto-adapted, then you’re better able to handle some
  • Starch doesn’t interest you anymore once you’re keto-adapted
  • Very few people can escape the metabolic damage that’s been done
  • FAVORITE QUOTE: “We’re not Kitavans folks”
  • Measure your blood sugar to see how foods are impacting you
  • I don’t know anybody who’s 100% healthy anymore
  • Urine ketone strips are nearly useless for measuring ketosis
  • You can’t look in the waste basket for what’s in refrigerator
  • The term “safe starches” is a bit of a oxymoron
  • People want to believe it’s true (but you don’t need ’em)
  • Nobody can eat a completely carbohydrate-free diet anyway
  • The glycogen stores in the meat and other sources of carbs
  • A healthful ketogenic state is between 1-3mm blood ketones
  • You have to keep carbs less than 50-60g carbs to reach this
  • Some people have “abnormally depressed cortisol levels”
  • Low blood sugar symptoms manifest themselves in these people
  • Cortisol is typically mitigated by the HTPA axis
  • The brain is responding to issues leading to depressed cortisol
  • This doesn’t mean you have a starch deficiency
  • You don’t have a glucose deficiency that requires feeding
  • It’s important to “dig a little deeper” to see what’s going on
  • People can “hit a wall” in getting into a state of ketosis
  • Go see a functional expert to look into this for you further
  • The popular meme in the Paleo community dissing low-carb
  • There are a lot of myths floating around about low-carb
  • It is “patently absurd” that low-carb damages thyroid health
  • You have to look at how someone’s feeling and functioning
  • 80% of all thyroid cases are related to autoimmunity
  • Modern medicine doesn’t have a solution to thyroid issues
  • People with autoimmune thyroid are “spiritually broken”
  • We now know more about this issue than ever before
  • There’s a lot you can do naturally to heal your thyroid
  • Anything that is antigenic in nature will only make it worse
  • You need to lose gluten/grains “yesterday” if you have this
  • A low-carb diet is naturally anti-antigenic and optimal
  • You are covering a lot of bases when you cut the carbs out
  • Dr. Terry Wahls on The LLVLC Show in Episode 533
  • If you’re lean and healthy, do you want to stay that way?
  • There’s a cumulative effect over time from consuming starch
  • You can be thin and diabetic, with cancer and autoimmune
  • When people are young, you think you are immortal
  • You think you have a better tolerance for starchy foods
  • Just because you eat them now doesn’t mean no consequences
  • The foods you can’t live without are ones you don’t need
  • If you can’t afford to be sick, eat as healthy as you can
  • The healthcare system is the #1 reason for bankruptcy
  • Your goal should be to avoid that at all costs
  • People are simply following what they’ve been taught on diet
  • We are fortunate to know the things we know and use it
  • The fewer carbs we eat from sugar/starch, the longer we’ll live
  • Low-carb is the “least expensive way to eat optimally well”
  • Moderating protein intake is a key to low-carbing well
  • It works out to be “incredibly inexpensive” with less protein
  • When you are keto-adapted, you only eat 1-2 times a day
  • Whether there is a seasonality to consuming starches too
  • There’s never a reason to eat starch for anyone anytime
  • We weren’t designed to “depend on safe starches” for fuel
  • Metabolically-compromised especially don’t need these
  • If you’re an athlete and want some sweet potatoes, go ahead
  • Triathlete Ben Greenfield on The LLVLC Show in Episode 457
  • Ben does a very limited number of carbohydrates in his diet
  • Whether time of day impacts effect of starch consumption
  • You’re more likely to store the fat if you eat with carbs
  • If you eat starch on an empty stomach the response is worse
  • Whether manioc in Brazil is a good source of carbohydrates
  • Source of starch is irrelevant because it spike blood sugar
  • If you’re compromised in any way, minimize sugar/starch
  • Nora has some new projects she’s working on right now
  • The “safe starches” panel taking place at #AHS12

    There are five ways you can listen to Episode 21:

    1. LISTEN LIVE ON THURSDAY NIGHTS AT 7PM ET by calling (712) 432-0900 or on Skype at “freeconferencing.7124320900”–whether you call or Skype, be sure to use the access code “848908.” You can listen and even participate on the topic discussion by asking your questions directly to the featured expert.

    2. Listen at the iTunes page for the podcast:

    3. Listen and comment about the show at the official web site for the podcast:

    4. Download the MP3 file of Episode 21 [77:30m]:

    5. Listen on the Stitcher app–NO DOWNLOADING!

    If you cannot join us LIVE on the podcast on Thursday nights at 7PM ET, then you can still ask your questions of the expert guests in two ways. First, you can visit AskTheLowCarbExperts.com and fill out the form along the right-hand side of the page under “Submit Your Question” to input your name, e-mail address, the name of the expert you want to ask, and your question for them. These questions will be asked LIVE on the show airing on Thursdays. Or, for your convenience we have set up a way for you to e-mail us your questions directly to AskTheLowCarbExperts@gmail.com. Be sure to include your name, the name of the expert you want to ask your question to in the subject line, and your question on the specific topic of discussion. This is a golden opportunity for you to tap directly into the wealth of knowledge and experience on all things related to healthy low-carb living featuring the best and brightest experts in the realm of health!

    Did you have feedback about what you heard from Nora Gedgaudas about “Are Starches Really Safe?” Share your thoughts about it in the show notes section of Episode 21. We will not have any brand new episodes for you in the next two weeks as I celebrate my 17th wedding anniversary next weekend and then the Ancestral Health Symposium the next week. We’ll be back with EPISODE 22 on August 16, 2012 with Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of the book The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food addressing “The Truth About Soy.” If you have any questions about whether consuming soy is a good idea as part of your low-carb lifestyle that you would like for me to ask Dr. Daniel, then e-mail them to AskTheLowCarbExperts@gmail.com no later than 3PM ET on the date the podcast airs. I look forward to expanding upon this issue of soy and encourage you to listen to my interview with Dr. Kaayla Daniel in Episode 386 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast to hear her thoughts about this subject.

    Here are the upcoming experts and topics we’ll be covering on #ATLCX:

    EPISODE 23: August 23, 2012 | Dr. Stephen Phinney | “Long-Term Stalls & Weight Gain Even On A Well-Formulated Low-Carb Diet”
    EPISODE 24: August 30, 2012 | Dr. Donald Layman | “All Things Protein (Protein 101)”
    EPISODE 25: September 6, 2012 | Fred Hahn | “All Things Slow Lifting (Slow Burn 101)”
    EPISODE 26: September 13, 2012 | Dr. Jonny Bowden | “All Things Vitamins (Supplements 101)”
    EPISODE 27: September 20, 2012 | Jenny Ruhl | “Overcoming The Problems With A Low-Carb Diet”
    EPISODE 28: September 27, 2012 | Jonathan Bailor | “The Truth About Low-Carb Research”
    EPISODE 29: October 4, 2012 | Dr. Thomas Dayspring |“Cholesterol Testing: What Matters Most?”

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    • Ian

      I skimmed through the show discussion points and immediately take two major issues: 
      1.) Stating our ancestors were ketotic. Yes, they would have had time periods in which they were ketotic, more a function of not having food and starving than of having minimal access to carbohydrate. I think before making blanket claims like that, actual (as opposed to armchair) anthropologists should be consulted.
      2.) Stating that because white potatoes and white rice would not have been consumed by our ancestors, they should not be consumed by modern humans. This is a massive logical fallacy. Arbitrarily trying to match our best guess at an ancestral diet without taking into note the actual biochemical affects of the food is nonsensical. Just because a food is evolutionarily novel does not automatically render it unfit for a particular species.  
      *Bonus*: “The fewer carbs we eat from sugar/starch, the longer we’ll live.” …yeah, because there’s anthropological evidence of that . . . or not. 

    • Mike deCock

      Having Nora Gedgaudas on to talk about “Safe Starches” is kind of baffling, IMO. It’s like asking Dean Ornish to come on to talk about “Safe Saturated Fats”. Of course she’s going to dismiss it as an oxymoron.

      • LLVLCBlog

        Jaminet has been on my LLVLC podcast twice previously and I’ve never had anyone on to discuss the alternative view. Now Nora has done that.