Below the butter: addendum

I’m very excited to type this post on my new full sized bilingual English/Russian keyboard, my tiny laptop was cramping my fingers, and because I’ve been learning Russian I need a keyboard with Cyrillic characters. My reason for learning Russian? I have always wanted to, I love the way it sounds, I love the way Cyrillic characters look, I love pronouncing it, I want to visit one day, and I want to be able to read some Russian science. Yeah Russian science, they do some cool shit over there when you can get a hold of the translations. Plus anything Russian including some of their traditional foods are cool.

I wanted to take a moment to clarify, in the case it was missed, the main point of the last post I wrote on bread. The post was about an experience and this blog will be moving towards more of a mixture of me sharing my experiences in life my expertise in my career field, blended with science, speculation, and sarcasm and “common sense”. There is so much that can be learned from each other by sharing experiences and the telling of stories. Any ultimately a lot more can be retained and learned from life which is in itself applied science (discovered or not) by weaving it into everyday experiences.

As such, let it be clear that the point of the last post was not to say that if we all slow fermented our bread the gluten problem would be solved. Instead, the post served to exercise two points: (1) my experience and (2) the fact that the gluten free fad is far from cut and dry. It’s more complicated than that. For instance, one of things I learned in my adventures in researching bread chemistry is that gluten and gliadin both are hydrolyzed and depolymerized during slow fermentation and also that the carbohydrate content drops. That’s kind of a big detail to explore. After all a lot of generations ate bread and seemed to do o.k. I mean we are still here right? Barely. Just kidding.

Humans aren’t stupid, the obesity epidemic is a modern problem, that’s not to say there weren’t obese people in the old days there were, but not on this scale, we need to move away from looking at the here and now context and explore the “human existence” pattern as best as we can with the caveat of being honest about what we can and can’t know i.e. rational thinking.

It’s been said there is no such thing as a dumb question, true to some extent, but there is such a thing when exploring a complex topic, of not asking the right questions that could have a big impact on whether or not a given data set holds any weight at all and whether or not it is applicable to anyone.

8 Comments Below the butter: addendum

  1. Zach

    You may have read them already but commenter Duck Dodgers did a great series on Freetheanimal about iron fortification being the key issue. It’s true that the French eat much more (non fortified) bread than Americans yet suffer little of the gut issues. Although they didn’t swap all their animal fats for plant fats either…

  2. Matt

    Iron fortification is probably less the problem, and moreso just indicative of the extent of our industrialized processing, which would also correlate with a shittier product in general. I worked in a flour mill one summer, and the idea that the finished product coming from this place would eventually end up in someone’s mouth is just fucking insane. It may as well have been a plastic mill.

    There were these top loaded boxes sitting on top of pipes, and they would be labeled “Niacin, Iron” etc. The flour would go through the refinement process [hulled, bleached, etc], then injected by the boxes as it went through processing. They also had giant chlorine tanks that they used to infuse flour being made specifically for baked goods, because chlorine puts a limit on expansion during baking. The giant, several story tall flour silos would frequently get clogged with damp flour, and we would have to top load flour bags into it by dumping them through the hatch.

    The final product is edible, but they obviously aren’t going about things with health or quality in mind. They just pump out flour to meet a quota, and the ignorant consumers who think they are eating food end up being the casualties.

  3. Matt

    One thing I’ve been thinking about is the impact that ambient temperature might have on energy utilization, and how that relates to the obesity epidemic. I eat at this Thai restaurant every now and then, and when I started getting my tea without sugar, the lady who owns the place gave me a weird look. I told her it was because I wanted to lose weight, and she said everyone in Thailand eats a shit-ton of sugar and none of them are fat. She said maybe they exercise more, but the biggest difference to her was that in Thailand it is always very hot, and that in some way contributed to people being skinnier. I’ve read some stuff on it, and it seems like a lot of people have done research. Quote from “Modulation of carbohydrate and fat utilization by diet, exercise and environment” []:

    “The environmental conditions can also alter substrate use; high ambient temperatures can increase glycogen breakdown as a result of increased body core temperature and increased circulating catecholamines. Low temperatures can also increase carbohydrate metabolism, especially when shivering.”

    AND quote from “Ambient Temperature and Obesity” []:

    “With the widespread adoption of climate control, humans in modern society are buffered from temperature extremes and spend an increasing amount of time in a thermally comfortable state where energetic demands are minimized. This is hypothesized to contribute to the contemporary increase in obesity rates.”

    I’ve tried increasing the ambient temp where I work, as well as wearing jackets, etc., to get myself to feeling warm, right at the point of breaking a sweat, and it makes a MAJOR difference in how I feel after eating carbs.

  4. Edward

    Hi Zach, there was another post over there where Richard covered B vitamin fortification, I thought it was interesting food for thought and Elyse and I discussed it for a while, while it certainly doesn’t fit 100% I think it was an interesting idea. Anecdotally, I noticed that when I took B vitamins that I did gain some weight, but I was at the same time eating well, and certainly not more then usual or less quality, not sure what the mechanism would be for that but it was an intriguing idea and certainly something I want to explore more deeply.

  5. Edward

    Hi Matt, see the comment I left for Zach. I have seen that having low iron does to some extent correlate with satiation but haven’t explored it in any depth. I think it’s an interesting idea.

    The experience at the flour mill sounds both interesting and frightening at the same time.

  6. Edward

    Matt, thanks for sharing, I’m definitely going to read through this. I did a quick lookup on Wolfram Alpha (this actually is going to turn into a larger project) to look at worldwide sugar consumption by country and then looked at worldwide obesity rates by country, the data seems to be all over the place. It reminds me of Key’s 7 country study (the cherry picking). In some countries sugar does seem to correlate with obesity and in others it does not. At the end of the day I think sugar is a red herring (but to be honest I have had bad experiences with it in the past, of course that was with fruit). There is at least one rat study I can think of were rats with access to liquid sugar ate I think 15%-20% more calories then the controls but they did not gain fat mass which at least on the surface jibes with some of the things Dr. Peat says about sugar increasing metabolism.

    I constantly have the AC on about 64 degrees F. I always am running hot. At first when I would sleep I would have it on 68, but over time I’ve found that I have to keep lowering it in order to sleep well. Even plain milk, raises my peripheral and core temperature noticeably above ambient on warm days. I want to move to Siberia. I’m sure the effect is contextual as well as milk does not always have the same effect. For sure I’m slimmer in the summer, but have always attributed that to water loss in sweat, but maybe not.

    Around the time of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, I was experimenting with supplemental iodine, I remember it would make me extremely warm to the point of sweating and I could go outside in shorts in the dead of German winter and be perfectly comfortable. Peat has talked about too much iodine being a problem, but if you drink any substantial amount of milk and also consider other elements in the diet (like eggs or potatoes for example), 1 cup of milk has between 50-60mcgs of iodine, it is very easy to go beyond the levels he has mentioned. I’ve seen some papers cite higher levels in milk, but I’m sure the iodine contents are dependent on the processing of it and for other foods the cooking method.

    There was a book I read a long time ago called I think “Survival of the Sickest”. One of the chapters proposed that higher fasting blood sugar was protective in cold climates and that those more prone to diabetes in the past would have had a survival advantage but that in today’s setting the adaptation is maladaptive. Don’t really agree with that whole theory, but for sure sugar has some interesting structuring effects on water that make me think there is something protective about being able to maintain blood sugar levels in cold environments. My halpogroup hails from the coldest place in Siberia, and I do have the mutations for higher blood glucose, but I have never failed a glucose tolerance test, but it makes me wonder if that is why I have done so well on low carbohydrate diets when I was still doing that strictly. It just goes to show how personal experiences can jade even a careful thinkers ability to reason, which is why it is all important to look at exceptions, and to be very tolerant to individual variability.

    Anyway, starting to go off track, thanks for your comments Matt I always find your points very interesting and stimulating.

    Best wishes,

  7. Alexander

    Greetings from Minsk! Waiting new posts in russian).
    Can you already read in russian? I want to share with you some articles of the russian scientist. Interesting information about the history of grains consuption, bread and wine.

  8. Edward

    Hi Alexander, Доброе утро, I would love for you to send me those articles you mentioned, I can not read Russian quickly without doing a bit of translating but I would enjoy the exercise and since I care about the topic it would be good meaningful practice; please send them my way!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *