Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Recent Papers by Matt Metzgar

This is just a quick post to highlight two recent papers by the economist and fellow health writer Matt Metzgar.

The first paper is titled "The Feasibility of a Paleolithic Diet for Low-income Consumers", and is co-authored by Dr. Todd C. Rideout, Maelan Fontes-Villalba, and Dr. Remko S. Kuipers (1).  They found that a Paleolithic-type diet that meets all micronutrient requirements except calcium (which probably has an unnecessarily high RDA) costs slightly more money than a non-Paleolithic diet that fulfills the same requirements, but both are possible on a tight budget. 

The second paper is titled "Externalities From Grain Consumption: a Survey", with Matt Metzgar as the sole author (2).  He reviews certain positive and negative externalities due to the effects of grain consumption on health.  The take-home message is that refined grains are unhealthy and therefore costly to society, whole grains are better, but grains in general have certain healthcare-related economic costs that are difficult to deny, such as celiac disease.

There are a lot of ideas floating around on the blogosphere, some good and others questionable.  Composing a manuscript and submitting it to a reputable scientific journal is a good way to demonstrate that your idea holds water, and it's also a good way to communicate it to the scientific community.  The peer review process isn't perfect but it does encourage scientific rigor.  I think Metzgar is a good example of someone who has successfully put his ideas through this process.  Pedro Bastos, who also spoke at the Ancestral Health Symposium, is another example (3).


Jeff Consiglio said...

In regards to the external costs of grains, such as celiac, I think it's important to keep in mind that many of the TOP allergenic foods are "paleo friendly" foods.

According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, the most allergenic foods are...

Tree Nuts
Egg - Paleo friendly sort of
Fish - Very paleo
Shellfish - Paleo

So it seems that eggs,, fish and shellfish would also have high relatively external costs.

Jeff Consiglio said...

Darn it! Please excuse my typos above. Trying to work this morning with a freakin chainsaw-crew on my street is mighty distracting.

Anonymous said...


Don't forget beef.

Allergy to bovine serum albumin is fairly common, especially in those with dairy allergies.

Don Wiss said...

"calcium (which probably has an unnecessarily high RDA)"

Everybody focuses on intake. The Neolithic diet (and habits) cause much more loss, and in the case of phytic acid, less absorbed.

Some of the ways calcium is lost are listed here:

MM said...

I thought tree nuts were paleo too. Oh well, the definition seems to keep changing and I can't keep up.

Don said...

Nuts are paleo in Metzgar's definition. I have never heard of anyone dying immediately from anaphylactic shock after eating wheat, but I have acquaintance with people who can't eat nuts or they will end up in the hospital.

I don't have access to the original paper, so I wonder if Matt calculated the cost of a 'paleo' diet using supermarket meats, or using 100% grass-finished meats? I assume he used supermarket meats. But are such meats really 'paleo'?

According to David Pimental of Cornell University, "If all the U.S. grain now fed to livestock were exported and if cattlemen switched to grass-fed production systems, less beef would be available and animal protein in the average American diet would drop from 75 grams to 29 grams per day. "

If Pimentel is correct, going with strict grass-feeding of animals, the U.S. could produce only ~4 ounces of animal flesh per person per day. With grass-fed meat providing only ~35 calories per ounce, this would provide only ~150 calories daily.

The 'paleo' diet based on supermarket meats is only affordable because we subsidize growing of corn and soy for animal feed with tax dollars, inflationary federal deficit spending, and cheap leases on federal grazing lands. Remove federal subsidies and meat prices would quickly rise to levels reflecting their true costs.

Galina L. said...

I noticed a very noticeable decrease of allergenic response to some foods when I went grain-free and LC. I had been having problem with eggs all my life, now I eat at least 2 a day, and nothing happens, still no asthma symptoms, eczema almost disappeared, I can eat salmon again. However, strawberries , oranges, perch are still problematic for me. Grains may affects reactions on other foods.

To Don Mates
Not a bad amount.It is how much of grass-fed beef I eat a day. It is not the only source of protein in paleo-type diet. There also eggs, fish, for many people - grass-fed milk products. I worry about the availability of organ meats in case if everybody will suddenly start to appreciate it. Nowadays I pay $3.99 for 1 lb of pastured liver, kidneys, tong and get beef fat for free. Probably, goats have some potential as well, how about pigs, rabbits, fowls? Four ounces of grass-fed beef is not bad at all.

Jeff Consiglio said...

Good point about grains and soy being subsidized. Huge processed food companies are in bed with the politicians and will work hard to keep those crops artificially "cheap" via taxpayer dollars, as these are the ingredients used to make refined foods.

Those are also the two most genetically modified crops I believe, which allows these companies (Like Monsanto) to actually hold patents on them, which in turn makes them even more eager to ensure their now patented products are funded by taxpayers. What a racket they got going!

I hope like heck their "terminator genes" never cross-breed with other crops, or we're all up a creek.

allison said...

When it comes to wheat and gluten grains, I see no external benefit. As for rice, I don't believe there is any scientific rational for choosing brown rice over white rice. I eat potatoes and white or brown rice in some form almost every day, along with pastured eggs, grass fed meats, fruit and vegetables and I remain in perfect health (I also adopted CrossFit as a religion several years ago).

I was HFLC after initially reading GCBC, but thanks to Stephan have made important modifications. I don't eat processed foods (especially sugar and flour) and focus on simple, nutritious meals instead.

If it weren't for rice and potatoes, I don't think I could afford to eat this way. I ordered a pastured turkey the other day and it was $100. There is a reason diabetes and obesity rates track income levels. Bad food is cheap.

Txomin said...

The peer review process is... what we are stuck with. Regarding its adequacy, it fails its own peer review.

FeelGoodEating said...


"Nuts are paleo in Metzgar's definition. I have never heard of anyone dying immediately from anaphylactic shock after eating wheat, but I have acquaintance with people who can't eat nuts or they will end up in the hospital."

From nuts? or peanuts? Two different things. I know several people who can eat nuts but can't eat peanuts (legume)

I'm not so sure that only 4 ounces of quality beef per day is a horrible thing...


TedHutchinson said...

Latitude, Sunlight, Vitamin D, and Childhood Food Allergy/Anaphylaxis

An update on epidemiology of anaphylaxis in children and adults. It could be the increased incidence of food-induced anaphylaxis is a consequence of vitamin D3 deficiency.

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Naxossa said...

A 9.3% increase in income is needed to consume a Paleolithic diet that meets all daily recommended intakes except for calcium.
A slight increase?? hmmm Almost 10% increase in income is needed. Call it what you want, that to me seems like a huge increase

Richard said...

To Jeff consiglio "Those are also the two most genetically modified crops I believe..."

No wheat on the planet has been genetically modified. Apparently there is no need to introduce foreign proteins as there is an incredible amount of genetic diversity in wheat for plant breeders to work with.

Wheat has been genetically modified.

Today’s wheat is the product of the painstaking process of crossing parents and
selecting offspring, a process called conventional breeding.

Wheat breeding has always involved crossing two or more parents followed by
selection for improved and recombined traits that improve yield, increase resistance to
diseases or improve baking characteristics. The wheat varieties that have been developed
through breeding have taken advantage of the natural variation that exists in wheat and wheat
ancestors and relatives. There are no commercially-available wheat varieties in the world
today that were genetically engineered with genes from unrelated species.

This is the source:

The source basically debunks some of the Wheat Belly myths (the source is about wheat improvement).