Gluten is bad news for your body and today we’ve got an expert in the subject who will explain exactly what the long-term effects of consuming gluten are. Trevor Connor, who you know as the host of Fast Talk, is also the CEO of The Paleo Diet.
We talk about keto and carnivore and veganism; we talk a lot about gluten and specifically the challenges that it brings. We get geeky and scientific in this episode but don’t worry, if you’re not a science person, you’re not going to get lost. Trevor does a great job of bringing it back to some relatable and understandable context.
Anit-Factory Farm Shopping Guide: http://www.trufkinathletics.com/books.html
Trevor’s series on wheat: https://thepaleodiet.com/the-wheat-series-part-1-wheat-and-the-immune-system
Paleo Diet page on nutrient density:
Metabolic Typing Diet: https://uprightmovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/The_Metabolic_Type_Self_Test.pdf
The Paleo Diet for Athletes: https://thepaleodiet.com/product/the-paleo-diet-for-athletes
Welcome to the Cycling in Alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport and right relationship to your life.
Colby Pearce 00:25
Hi there listeners! You have returned for another episode of Cycling in Alignment and today’s guest is none other than Trevor Connor. Trevor is the CEO of The Paleo Diet and he is here to talk to us about that elephant in the room. The thing that we all want to know about: wheat. Trevor studied under Dr. Loren Cordain, at Colorado State University, and Dr. Cordain wrote the book The Paleo Diet, and he also wrote the book at The Paleo Diet for Athletes. So Trevor’s got a lot to say on this topic.
Colby Pearce 01:00
His Master’s thesis is all about wheat and what it does to your digestive tract. And I’m going to give you the spoiler alert now: it’s like an eight or 10 headed Hydra that travels through there and eats stuff and punches holes in walls and activates immune system function when we don’t necessarily want it to be going. It’s like Godzilla and mothra and – what there’s like another evil eight headed Hydra thing in that movie, when all the monsters come from the nuclear era… It’s like that. It’s like all the monsters in your gut at once. Is that descriptive?
Colby Pearce 01:37
So you’re gonna like this episode. Trevor and I bounced around a little bit about dietary philosophy. We talked about keto and carnivore and veganism, we talk a lot about gluten and specifically the challenges that it brings, or wheat actually on the whole. And it gets a bit dense in about the second, third quarter of the episode. And if you wanted to work on that stuff, you’ll really enjoy what Trevor has to say, don’t worry, if you’re not a science person, you’re not going to get lost, Trevor does a great job of bringing it back to some relatable and understandable context.
Colby Pearce 02:11
Without further prognostication, please enjoy my discussion with Trevor.
Colby Pearce 02:22
Trevor! Trevor Connor. Welcome.
Trevor Connor 02:26
Thanks for having me on the show again. I’ve been looking forward to this.
Colby Pearce 02:29
Yeah, it’s been a little while. I think we’ve got several potential shows we could uncork in the future. But this is the first of that litany.
Trevor Connor 02:38
Well, we’re talking about something today that is a favorite topic of mine, looking forward to this.
Colby Pearce 02:45
And that topic is GLUTEN – that was my Seth Rogen voice. Because of some sort of weird internet law that I don’t understand, we can’t put the quote that I wanted to put in here to start off our podcast, but we are going to put a link in the show notes. So if you listen to this podcast, you’re required to click on that link and watch it because you will laugh. And the movie clip is from “This is the End” and it’s a scene where Seth Rogen is discussing what gluten is, and I won’t spoil it with my best Seth Rogen, we’ll just let you go find it, but it’s pretty funny.
Trevor Connor 03:18
Unfortunately, when I talk with people about gluten, it’s not too far off. It’s this big broad term that people associate with, well, this is something evil. They’re not sure what it is.
Colby Pearce 03:33
Exactly, yeah. And that’s what I want to unpack. And you’re the perfect guy to do that because you studied under Dr. Cordain at CSU in Fort Collins, and you wrote your master’s thesis on gluten and what it does to the gut.
Trevor Connor 03:46
So actually, my master’s thesis was about wheat. Gluten was one part of that.
Colby Pearce 03:50
Fair enough. There’s our first learning point.
Trevor Connor 03:53
I will tell you before I did my master’s, I did a whole lot of undergrad courses in nutrition. And I was one of those people who got all upset when people say, “Well, I’ve cut gluten out of my diet” and I’d go ‘there’s not a bit of research on this.’ Get all upset, ‘Why would you do that? You’re just following a fad.’ I kind of changed my tone because I have about 400 studies that I’ve read that show that wheat and gluten are not good for you. This whole notion that there is no research behind this just ain’t true.
Colby Pearce 04:37
Trevor Connor 04:40
So you can argue with the research, but there’s a whole lot.
How the digestive tract works
Colby Pearce 04:43
Okay. Cool. So, maybe we can zoom out and paint a bit of a picture for our audience on what’s going on? I like to describe the digestive tract as a giant tube, right?
Trevor Connor 04:55
Colby Pearce 04:56
And one end of your tube we’ve got your mouth, the other end of your tube, we’ve got your anus, we put food in that tube and our body’s job is to discern what the good stuff is and what the bad stuff is. That’s part of your that’s why you hear over and over again about how the immune system is connected to the gut. Well, we where do we encounter foreign bodies that might invade our system and cause illness, it can be through the air we breathe, through our lungs, our body has to have a protective mechanism there. On our skin, if you get a cut, or even just touch dirt, or touch, whatever, we don’t want things to pass through the layer of your skin and get into your bloodstream and cause you illness or have to detoxify too much stuff. It’s the same thing when you eat food, and it goes in your mouth, right? So as we pass food into our mouth, and through our stomachs, our body has a whole digestive process, and then a system of discernment, I’ll say very broadly, to help figure out the bad critters from the good critters and when the bad critters come in, or the things that just aren’t useful to our bodies and it gets passed through and out into our stool or feces, right?
Trevor Connor 05:58
So yeah, a couple really interesting facts, to think about when you’re talking about that tube, that digestive track: technically, your entire digestive system is external to your body. Even though it goes from your, as you said, from your mouth to the other part of your body, and you have this whole digestive tract inside your body, actually, inside of your digestive tract is still external, because any part of your body, so you have barriers to the external world, so your skin is an example. So it’s called this epithelial layer that has what are called tight junctions that makes it hard for anything to break through that barrier. Just like your skin, your whole digestive tract has this epithelial barrier that’s designed to block anything from entry. So your system is very good at selecting what comes in. A pretty gross but accurate analogy that I was given when I was learning about all this is kind of think of the your digestive tract like the pipes going from your toilet or your sink. They are filled with all sorts of nasty stuff, all sorts of bacteria, just like your your digestive tract is. And somehow your body is really good at reaching into that kind of disgusting mess, pulling out what you want, and leaving what you don’t want.
Colby Pearce 07:26
Right, if everything’s working properly.
Bacteria in your gut and cravings
Trevor Connor 07:29
If everything is working correctly. So yeah, you have a whole lot of bacteria in your digestive system that actually are good for you, as long as they stay in your digestive system. But there is a lot. There are more bacterial cells in your gut than there are cells in your body.
Colby Pearce 07:46
Right, which is a great point, I think that’s something that people have really recently started to realize is that we are made up of more bacteria than we are, you know, air quotes “us”.
Trevor Connor 07:57
I remember reading this one study where they – I can’t actually remember if it was a study or book – But the made the comment that really we evolved to become homes of bacteria. That bacteria rule the world, not us
Colby Pearce 08:11
Bacteria mobile homes. And there’s an old System of a Down song about how your parasite drives your behavior. But I mean, there are a lot of people in the forefront of this realm of study who have started to recognize that the bacteria actually do influence our food choices, they influence our behavior, right? And we might have this big egoic response to that, like, “No, when I eat a cookie dammit, it’s because I want a cookie, but – what do you think about that?
Trevor Connor 08:37
Well, bacteria have a huge effect on us. And yes, you’re right, in terms of our cravings, bacteria have an impact on that. So depending on what you eat, that’s going to influence the composition of the bacteria in your gut. And the composition of the bacteria in your gut can change very rapidly. But if you are eating a lot of sugars, you’re going to get one type of bacteria that thrive on sugar. And those bacteria can actually release chemicals that know how to spark your cravings and say, “Give me more sugar!”
Colby Pearce 09:12
They want to survive just like any other organism, right? They want to be fed. And the more of those there are in your system, the more they’re going to release those chemical signals that are going to make you crave sugar. This is a really important point because you hear people talk very superficially about diet like, “Oh, well, I just had a really big craving for that. So I’m going to listen to my body, my body knows best.” And I think that’s a reasonable line of thought, but it’s a bit misguided in this example because if you’ve been eating Twizzlers, your whole life, and there are a lot of Twizzle-eating bacteria in your gut and they’re going to be talking to you is that right?
Trevor Connor 09:42
Actually everything I have read and learned about nutrition and digestion, if you have a really big craving, it’s usually not working in your favor. So there is that; there’s the fact that the bacteria can actually influence your cravings.
Trevor Connor 10:00
Another really important thing to think about is we evolved in a time of caloric scarcity, so it was always a struggle to find food. If you found something that was rare that your body wanted or your body needed, your body would make you crave it – a lot – to kind of say when you encounter this, eat it. Don’t think twice about it. So it means anything that we have a strong craving for was actually very, very rare until recently.
Trevor Connor 10:35
So the two things that we have the strongest cravings for are simple sugars and salt. Both of which were hard to come by. So we should eat some, but we shouldn’t be feeding that craving all the time, because we are designed to actually eat it quite sparingly.
Trevor Connor 10:55
So yeah, that whole thing about “well, why is it that everything I crave is bad for me?” That’s kind of why! So in small quantities, no, it’s not bad for you. We just have an availability that never existed until the last few 100 years if that.
Colby Pearce 11:16
As you said, we evolved in a time of food scarcity, and particular things like sugar – I mean, where do you find sugar just roaming through a forest? Berries.
Trevor Connor 11:24
Colby Pearce 11:24
Honey. Yeah, but there aren’t many examples. There’s no Snickers bars in the forest.
Trevor Connor 11:29
You even talk about fruit, fruits got a fair amount of sugar in it. Not a ton, not as much as we think, but we have modified fruit to make it much sweeter. If you look at more natural fruits, they were much smaller, they weren’t as sweet, they were often quite bitter. So. no it was actually hard to come by simple sugars.
Colby Pearce 11:51
Yeah, so that’s a great point, I want to talk about the evolution of crops and specifically in the crop of wheat, and ancient grains and hybridization of crops and differentiate between GMO and that your comment about fruit plays into that perfectly.
Trevor Connor’s Master Thesis on wheat and gluten
Colby Pearce 12:06
Before we jump into that, maybe you can just tell us a little bit more specifically about your your studies and your master’s thesis on wheat and gluten.
Two categories of autoimmune disease
Trevor Connor 12:16
So my master’s thesis was looking at the effects of wheat on autoimmune illness. We had a little over 100 subjects who suffered from an autoimmune disease and had gone on a wheat free diet to look at the impacts. And it was actually quite extraordinary. Some of the benefits you saw. Certainly there were some conditions where people stopped consuming wheat and they just completely went into remission. Particularly a lot of the digestive disorders. Though I didn’t have anybody in the study with Crohn’s and Crohn’s they’ve said, you know shown, specifically that’s caused by wheat. But some of the other autoimmune diseases that were involved with the gut also saw quite dramatic changes. Removing wheat diabetes showed improvement.
Trevor Connor 13:06
There’s two categories of autoimmune disease. So there’s organ specific, then there is systemic autoimmune diseases. So diabetes would be an organ specific it attacks the beta cells of your pancreas. Lupus would be a systemic it attacks multiple tissues, multiple organs. There’s a lot of evidence that the systemic autoimmune diseases are genetic, that if you have the genes, you’re going to get it, unfortunately. So we saw a little improvement in the people who had systemic autoimmune disease, unfortunately. But the people who had an organ specific disease, yeah, we saw a lot of improvements getting off a wheat.
Colby Pearce 13:56
So is it generally conceded or thought right now that most – you said most systemic autoimmune diseases are considered genetic or epigenetic, is that not the case for most organ specific diseases?
Trevor Connor 14:07
Every disease has a genetic component,
Colby Pearce 14:09
Right, of course, but-
Trevor Connor 14:10
With both diseases, there’s both a genetic component and an environmental. So you need to have genetic susceptibility, but doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to end up with it. There has to be an environmental trigger. There are some diseases where that’s not the case you have the genetics, you’re going to get the illness and the systemic autoimmune diseases look more to be in that category.
Colby Pearce 14:46
So without maybe going too far down a wormhole, I just want to ask, you know, we’re basing the sort of models of causality of diseases whether they were sort of placing the blame or the causation more on environmental factors or more on genetic factors that’s sort of based on the assumption that we mapped and understand all the the genome and that’s an evolving science that’s in the last even five years is just the level of knowledge has just gone up exponentially correct? So do you think that – I mean, you did this this work a long time ago? Do you think that our evolution, our understanding of the genome has changed some of that landscape and our understanding of how humans – how much actually is epigenetic? Or what’s the nuance there in that field?
Trevor Connor 15:30
Well, so genetic or epigenetic?
Colby Pearce 15:32
Sorry, please explain the difference.
Genetic vs. epigenetic
Trevor Connor 15:35
So genetics are your actual decoding of your genes. We have these chromosomes, unless you’re male, they’re all x shaped – if you’re male, you have a y shaped chromosome. But basically, they are a particular sequence that define who you are as a person. So you see those pictures all the time of those little X’s lined up with one another, but the truth of the matter is they’re enormous. They’re a very, very big x. And the only time you ever see them in that x shape is right before they split for cellular reproduction. Most of the time, they’re bunched up into a little ball.
Trevor Connor 16:20
So epigenetics is about how that ball is folded up. Because if there is a particular gene code that’s in the middle of that ball, it’s not going to express, or very rarely expressed, because it’s just not exposed to your RNA and mRNA. Sorry, got that slightly wrong. But I’m not going to go into the details there. If a gene is on the surface of that ball it’s going to express a lot more often. So classic example of an epigenetic change is when you’re very young, the gene that codes for lactase which can break down the sugars and milk is on the surface. As we age, as you get into your teen years, there are epigenetic changes that basically take that gene, move it into the center of the ball, and you stop being able to produce lactase, or a lot of us stop losing our ability to produce lactase and we can’t really digest milk anymore. So there’s a lot of those changes. There has been some arguments that basically that’s how aging is programmed that just epigenetics changes the folding of our genes that cause some genes to be expressed more, some to be expressed less and that results in changes in how you look and how you age.
Trevor Connor 17:43
So some epigenetic changes or refolding is pre-programmed. Some of it allows us to adapt to things very quickly. So actual genetic changes, changes in the sequence in your chromosomes, those evolutionary changes take a long time. There has been no major change in human genetics in over 10,000 years. Epigenetics allow us to adapt a little bit quicker, because there now is evidence that trauma, various events, even your food choices can cause a refolding of those chromosomes to prioritize some genes over others, or re bunching up. And you can inherit those from your parents.
Colby Pearce 18:33
You can inherit them, when you’re concieved, at that moment, then you’re epigenetics have a certain orientation, architecture, you might say, is that accurate?
Trevor Connor 18:44
Yep. So that’s epigenetics. It is a little more responsive, it can not only be passed, change in one individual and be passed to another, but as I said, your epigenetics can change.
Trevor Connor 18:59
This is one of those arguments for exercise and good diet, there is evidence that exercise causes more favorable bunching up of your genes to keep you a little younger, a little healthier.
Colby Pearce 19:15
And what about emotion and how the experiences you’re having in life that can influence epigenetics, for sure, right?
Trevor Connor 19:21
Yes. Yep. So there is some evidence that traumatic events can cause some refolding. So this is a newer science that people are diving into, and it’s like gluten, it’s become this big term that people throw around. A lot of people don’t understand what it’s about. Look it gets more complex than this, but the simple way to think of it is your genes are actually quite long strings. And they can’t really fit well in your cell if they’re unfolded so they just have to literally wad up into a little ball and how they’re wadded up affects what your particular sequences express and which don’t interesting.
Trevor Connor 20:04
So remember the primary function of your genes, basically the sequences code for proteins. So your RNA comes in and basically reads a particular sequence. And there’s markers on your chromosome, say, here’s the start, here’s the finish. So it’ll come and take that section of code and use that to literally build a protein. So again, the RNA has to be able to access that particular sequence. If that sequence is folded up inside the ball, RNA can’t get to it and can’t, as a result, create that protein.
Colby Pearce 20:40
But it’s still in there so that it might come out in the future, depending on how you’re regulating your lifestyle and what environmental factors
Trevor Connor 20:46
Yes, as I said, particularly, with the little bit I’ve read about epigenetics and aging, there’s just some folding or rebunching that’s gonna happen that you can’t do anything about. But certainly there are some things you can do.
Colby Pearce 21:03
So it sounds like you just basically said we have little balls of yarn in all our cells.
Trevor Connor 21:07
Colby Pearce 21:07
We want to optimize the shape of the balls. Up regulate the good stuff, down regulate the bad stuff.
Trevor Connor 21:14
Kind of cool.
Colby Pearce 21:14
Trevor Connor 21:15
It’s kind of fun.
What happened when people with an autoimmune disease eliminated wheat from their diet?
Colby Pearce 21:16
Cool. All right. So then, back to your thesis for a moment. Um, you mentioned that your conclusion was that wheat intake definitely has an influence on different autoimmune diseases, whether they’re systemic or organ based, right?
Trevor Connor 21:37
Like I said, less on systemic more on organ base.
Colby Pearce 21:41
And was this a meta review, or these were studies that you and Dr. Cordain did, or a combination?
Trevor Connor 21:44
This was basically a giant case study. Originally, we were gonna do a review paper, and we decided to add the case study element, but the focus was the review paper. And like I said, we had about 120, originally 127 subjects. We ended up reporting on 80 of them, and yeah, we saw people that quite dramatic changes.
Trevor Connor 22:08
My favorite one was, there was a woman who had a organ specific autoimmune disease and she decided to make this change her diet and so she sent to us all of her doctor’s notes, records. And when she told her doctor about it, the doctor wrote in the notes, advised her strongly against this, this was a poor choice, basically he was saying “she’s gonna cause herself health issues, not eating wheat, yada, yada, yada.” And then the next report was like a year later and basically said, “Surprisingly, there’s been no activity. She’s still on this diet, I’ve recommended against the diet, I think this was just a quiet period, and it’s gonna get really bad again.” And then it just kept going like this. And finally, the last report we have from the doctor was about three years later and it was just a short note of “Patient remains in remission appears to correlate with change in diet.” That was it.
Colby Pearce 23:07
A very quiet way to say, okay, you won.
Trevor Connor 23:09
Exactly. So I love that. In the the long version of my paper, we put those quotes. And so yeah, we saw it was quite enjoyable reading all these reports from people where just eliminating this from their diet so improved their lives.
Law of the bell-shaped curve
Colby Pearce 23:26
Okay. So, all right, well, maybe we can expand the discussion a bit, because I can imagine some of our listeners are thinking, well, I don’t have an autoimmune disease so therefore, I can have as much pizza as I want. What are your thoughts on that line of thought?
Trevor Connor 23:39
So this is a conversation I have a lot. So as a matter of fact, I ended up writing a few articles summarizing my thesis in a little more lay terms. And I started with this. The argument I get all the time is, “well, I’ve always eaten and I’m fine.” My grandmother who lived at 97, when I was writing my thesis, she asked me what it was about and was like, “well, that’s ridiculous.” Shhe’s like, “wheats fine. I’ve been doing it my whole life.” Now she lived in 97, she didn’t live healthily to 97. So I have always made the argument that changes in her diet, she would have lived a healthier life.
Mortality vs morbidity
Trevor Connor 24:24
Sorry, this is probably another thing you’re going to ask about, so I just want to clarify, when you are talking about health sciences, there is mortality and there is morbidity. And it’s important to understand the difference. Mortality is how long you live. So age of death. And a lot of the research I’ve read on it says you can change it a bit, but that’s mostly genetically coded. You’re going to live as long as you’re going to live. Now you could shorten it, but you can’t extend it all that much
Colby Pearce 24:57
Is that age of death of natural causes, we’d say?
Trevor Connor 25:01
There’s just a certian age you’re not going to live past. So the goal here is not as much longevity. There’s a little you can do. You know, the longest a human has ever lived, and this is being contested right now, is 121.
Colby Pearce 25:14
So next guest, Dave Asprey. Right? Dave Asprey, the bulletproof guy. He said publicly many times his goal is to live, I think he’s up to 275 now. He is the guy who is all in on every biohacking technique you can possibly imagine and multiple ones you haven’t imagined. He is in on to live forever, to live as long as he possibly can. Maybe it’s 175? I’m probably misquoting him, but it’s something that is far and away above what even the most contested, longest living human is at this point.
Trevor Connor 25:46
So we’ll see…well we won’t see if he does it because I won’t be here – I don’t think. So yeah, age of mortality, there are some things you can do for the most part, it just kind of is what it is.
Trevor Connor 26:02
Morbidity is the age of the onset of chronic illness. So that we can have a big influence on and up until very recently, generally, what you saw was aging of morbidity was very close to age and mortality. You tended to live a pretty healthy life, chronic illness would set in and you would die a few years later. The issue that we’re having in modern society right now, is age of mortality has gone up a little bit, not a lot, it’s kind of a little bit, but age of morbidity is coming way down. And now you’re seeing decades, where people have chronic illness, and this is putting a huge stress on the healthcare system. More importantly, people are not living good lives.
Colby Pearce 26:48
And this is aside from COVID, right? Outside of that data, which obviously wil move the needle some to.
Trevor Connor 26:54
We’ve been too quick to accept all this. There’s just this belief, you hit your 40s you’re gonna start having heart conditions and all these other things. You’re gonna probably have cancer at some point in your life. All these things that we think are just part of natural aging. They’re not. They’re actually very recent.
Colby Pearce 27:14
Interesting. Well, I want to just rewind what, for a moment to that comment you made about your grandma, and how she said, “Oh, that paper is ridiculous. I’ve lived to 97. Or I’ve lived my whole life and eaten wheat.” And I think that’s a pretty important point to make. You hear this discussion all the time. What do people do? They read science, or they hear about science, and then they apply it to their own lives. They look around for data that either supports that scientific claim or refutes it. We all probably know someone who 10-15 years ago said, “Oh, smoking’s not bad for you. That’s ridiculous.” Or maybe it was 20 years ago, at this point. You know “My grandpa smoked a pack a day for his whole life. And he lived to be 94,” or whatever. And that’s a basic flaw in logic. And I’m sure most people are aware of this, but just have to point this out. This is an insubstantial generalization. You can’t take one single person who smoked a pack for 97 years of their life, and, whatever, chopped wood or ran up and down mountains, or whatever they did that was exceptional and say, that applies to everyone because humans are all individuals and we can always find one or two rule breakers; people who do everything wrong and still live to be a certain ripe old age.
Trevor Connor 28:25
Sciences of the law of the bell shaped curve. So the classic example is height. Most people are somewhere between say, I don’t actually know the exact numbers, but I’d say somewhere between about five foot five and six foot two. So that is the peak of the bell shaped curve. Does that mean that there are some people who are four feet tall? And some people who are over seven feet tall? Yes. Do you make decisions based on the one seven foot tall person you’ve met? No, you don’t.
Colby Pearce 28:58
Trevor Connor 29:00
So, this is why doorframes are I think they’re right around six foot three, six foot four, because most people can fit underneath. If you’re that seven foot tall person. You learn to duck a lot.
Colby Pearce 29:08
Yes, yeah. And so that four foot tall, tall person, you’ve learned how to negotiate chairs that aren’t made so that your feet can touch the ground.
Trevor Connor 29:16
So in terms of diet, yes, there are outliers. There is somebody out there who the healthiest diet they could eat would be go to McDonald’s every day. And they’re going to live a very long, healthy happy life. If you’re that one in 7 billion people person, lucky you, I wouldn’t count on it. And if you know that person, don’t think it applies to you.
Colby Pearce 29:36
Would you really say that would be the healthiest diet they could use or that they’re such high level compensators they can basically tolerate anything?
Trevor Connor 29:41
No, I’m actually gonna say I think there are a lot of people who can tolerate, there’s probably one person out there that this would be pretty healthy for them. Look, if we eat this food long enough, what genetics say is we will eventually evolve. Bread and McDonald’s and all this stuff will actually be helpful diet for us.
Colby Pearce 30:00
If we don’t die first, if the whole race doesn’t go from Ding-Dong consumption.
Trevor Connor 30:07
The problem is A) we’ve missed that boat to get to that point where this is a healthy diet for us. So this is probably under 100,000 years down the road. Doesn’t really apply to us. Lucky people in 100,000 years.
Colby Pearce 30:21
So it’s like a herd immunity argument “Well, I’m eating McDonald’s for my future, future future future…. whatever grandchildren, so they can enjoy McDonald’s. I’m paving the way for the human race. And I have my Soylent and my impossible burger
Trevor Connor 30:37
Good for you to make that sacrifice. So obviously, that’s kind of a non starter for us.
”Game Changers” and the spirit of true science
Trevor Connor 30:46
So going back to what you were asking, the argument is always I am fine. But we don’t really know what fine is. And actually, if you look at ethnographic data, what was fine, when we were eating something closer to a healthy diet versus what is fine now, I’m going to say we’re not fine. We’re just accepting not fine as just the way everybody is. Like I said, what we think of as natural aging, that’s a recent phenomenon. It is not the way people naturally aged.
Trevor Connor 31:22
So another example, I’d love to give is you look at Novak Djokovic, a tennis player had the most successful tennis season ever the year, he went gluten free. So he was a good tennis player before that, he was just a much better tennis player.
Colby Pearce 31:45
That was the magic bullet. But again, that’s an instinctual generalization. And I’m not saying your example is invalid at all. I think there are plenty of examples of that. But the downside of that logic is we have movies like the game changer, where there’s a massive amount of controversy about this film and there are a lot of criticism, heated debate on both sides everybody’s carrying their sword and got their shield and ready to go to battle on this one. So I don’t want to stir up that hornet’s nest. But what I’ll say is that, I think, there’s pretty clear arguments on both sides that the movie had, it appeared, ostensibly as something that looked for a fact finding and found those facts. But from my perspective, watching the movie, it was more about having an agenda to get across and clearly – And it’s a film I mean, there’s nothing wrong with this, no one at the start of it explicitly said we have a neutral viewpoint, but my point is, the movie was a big basically a giant commercial for veganism.
Trevor Connor 32:44
I love good scientific arguments, even when it’s counter to something I’ve been saying. I will always listen to a good scientific argument. As I said, I was one of those people that got angry whenever anybody said I go gluten free. It was a tough, forgive the pun, cookie for me to bite into, to do all this research and go well, actually, yeah, gluten is pretty bad for you, wheat is pretty bad for you. I never mind doing that when the science points that way. The one thing I will say about “Game Changers” was there was one point where they said and ‘there’s a lot of scientific research to back what we are saying’ and then they flashed on the screen three studies. Very quickly. So I sat there with the pause button. It took me a while to be able to pause on all three studies to read the titles, I went and read all three studies, all three studies said the exact opposite of what the movie said they said. So that bothered me. That they quoted three sides that this backs us and you go and read those sides and go, no, actually those studies don’t back you at all. They say the exact opposite. So you just flat out lied to people. That bothers me about the movie.
Colby Pearce 33:54
Paul Chek talks a lot about this and the difference between the spirit of true science, which is just as you mentioned, we’re gonna dig into an issue, we’re gonna see if we can sort things out clearly, we’re gonna have a hypothesis, if that hypothesis is either proven or not, a true scientist will eat some crow and look at it and go, ‘I was wrong about this. This is what the numbers show. This is what the data tells us.’ That’s the spirit of science. But in today’s era, it’s almost as if science has become a new church in some respects. You hear people say in internet forums all the time and on Twitter, Instagram, like well, show me the double blind study, you know. And there are a lot of things that we cannot double blind. There’s a lot of questions about the universe that are undouble blindable. I mean, show me a double blind study that shows that proves that I love my wife or doesn’t. You can’t do that, but I know it. I don’t need to study. So people have replaced a lot of their own intuition and understanding with this craving for science. I’m not saying science is useless at all. It teaches us a lot of valuable things. But the challenge comes when people who are air quotes, “scientists” are actually hired by companies and they’re more technicians who can do research that is precise, but then mold and craft the results and then produce a white paper, for example, or in some cases, even a study that is published in a journal, but it’s got a heavy bias. What do you think about that whole equation?
Trevor Connor 35:13
You always have to publish your bias. Good journals, though there’s a whole peer review process where other scientists are going to read this and if they detect the bias, they go, you can’t draw the conclusions you’re drawing, this has been biased – a good journals going to refuse it. So part of this is knowing the journals to trust and which not to trust. A really important thing to remember about science, this is one of the ways you can tell a good scientist, a good scientist is never going to tell you something that’s absolutely true. And politicians jump on this. So the whole is global warming real, is environmental change happening? You get all these politicians go, “We talked to all these scientists, and no scientists would would state that this is a fact.” That’s because they’re good scientists. There is no such thing as fact in science, there’s all the theory. Everything is a hypothesis. Everything is a theory, everything can be disproved.
Trevor Connor 35:21
We’re constantly testing those hypotheses. And always expanding our sphere of knowledge,
Trevor Connor 36:19
I always love to point out, we threw out gravity. Even that was disproved. So Newton had a theory of gravity that we used for hundreds of years and Einstein came along and went “oops, sorry, you got it wrong.” So everything is a hypothesis, and everything can be disproved. And a good scientist is always open to that either their theory can be improved, or it can potentially be thrown out. So yeah, you have to be open to that. And one of the ways I immediately know not to trust somebody is when they start pounding their fist and just go, “this is fact.” Again, that’s why I had my issues with the “Game Changer” movie, they were really pounding their fists going “This is fact. This is proved by science.” And I go, no, you obviously didn’t have good scientists that were helping you here because if this was a good analysis of the science, you’d be showing both sides, and there’s gray areas here and this is what we think is true, but it’s our theory.
Colby Pearce 37:26
What bothered me about it is how many people were talking about the movie and completely just hook line and sinker took it to be what it proclaimed to be, which was that truth. To me, it smelled the whole time of agenda. It smelled of that fist pounding that you’re talking about. But so many people I know, just were like, “Oh, yeah, I’m going meat free for a while because I watched this movie and it just completely shifted my paradigm.” I was like, wow, how did you not see this? It just speaks to the power of media and being, as you said, you have to know that journal that you’re getting your science from. It’s the same problem when we turn on the TV and we want to have some news. I’d like to have some objective news please, something that’s all neutral, not biased, not swayed towards one side or the other. We don’t have to go all Fox or all CNN or all whatever, you know, pick your channel. Ideally, I’d like just some news, please. But of course, it’s always filtered through human experience and to some degree human agenda.
Trevor Connor 37:27
Well, I guess we’re going a little bit down that wormhole. I’ll tell you the couple issues I had with it. So the big Oh, my god moment in that movie was when they had those three athletes and took blood samples from them and showed that some of their blood the plasma was murky, and the other guy was clear. So first issue with that, two guys admitted that they pretty much ate fast food, the other guy admitted he was a vegan and a quite healthy. That’s poor experimentation right there. You don’t have a study where you experiment with somebody’s diet where you have people who eat different diets. You would start with a group of people who are pretty homogenous in their diet, and then say, so this group we’re going to modify this way, this group we’re going to modify that way, this group we’re going to leave as kind of our base. We’re not going to modify. And then take a look at them. You don’t bring in somebody who’s you – Look, if you’re eating fast food all the time, I’m going to say yes, a vegan diet is much healthier. So you don’t bring in somebody like I’m really careful about my diet and I’m a vegan and start comparing them. You don’t bring in two guys that eat fast food, make one change of their diet and go look at the effects. Can’t make those conclusions.
Trevor Connor 39:42
Second of all, the one blood was clear for the guy that didn’t eat meat. And the other two samples of blood were murky. Whoever said clear plasma was what you want? It’s a transcript mechanism, it’s supposed to have stuff in it. What causes the murkiness is limpets. An out of control diabetic whose insulin is out of control, they’re not going to release any lipids into their blood, they’re gonna have very clear –
Colby Pearce 40:15
That doesn’t mean they’re healthy, right.
Trevor Connor 40:16
Actually out of control diabetes, you’re dying. But you got a very clear plasma.
Colby Pearce 40:21
So we have to interpret the context of that very carefully, right? Obviously their bloods flooded with lipids from Big Macs, that’s not ideal lipid, but I get your point.
Trevor Connor 40:30
So then they flashed them studies that they said backed this, and as I said, I looked at those studies, and one of those studies actually made that point about clear plasma being a sign of issues. So yeah, that was just an example of a really poorly designed study to have a wow impact on people. When it didn’t say anything. It certainly didn’t say what they were trying to say. And it was just poorly designed.
Colby Pearce 41:03
Okay. So, cool. Thanks for explaining that stuff.
Colby Pearce 41:11
I want to ask you another question about gluten and specifically gluten containing foods in endurance athletics, or, and we can maybe briefly outline, you know, wheat, and then other foods that contain gluten just so people have a clear understanding, because I think sometimes people don’t always get how much gluten there is in different foods. They think of a giant plate of pasta, and that’s it.
The history of wheat in our diet
Trevor Connor 41:31
It takes a long time. The last major human evolutionary change was about 12,000 years ago. So right around the same time that we just started introducing agriculture, and really, agriculture wasn’t extensive in humans until around 8000 years ago. So basically, the idea here is we evolved around a particular diet that is optimal for us and a lot of the foods that we eat now, about 70% of the foods that we eat now, were introduced since then. Now, there has been some arguments about when some of this stuff appeared, but the fact of the matter is a lot of these foods that are quite unhealthy for us were really only introduced in the last couple 100 years.
Colby Pearce 41:31
But that said, I want to paint just a brief picture of context and make sure people understand a little bit about where you’re coming from. You’ve given us a lot of info, but just so people know, Trevor is now the CEO of The Paleo Diet. He studied under Dr. Loren Cordain at CSU, who wrote the book, The Paleo Diet, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the sort of synopsis of the philosophy of this diet is simply that we have evolved in the modern era over the last 10,000 years, our ancestors, that’s about how long the genome takes to evolve to dietary change. Is that fair?
Colby Pearce 42:54
Right, we’re talking about hydrogenated oils, highly processed foods, pepperoni.
Trevor Connor 42:58
Right, daily processed foods, highly processed foods, simple sugars… Even when you talk about wheat, yes, they had crops, but it was actually very hard through most of history to grind down and make wheat edible. So it was actually a bit of a luxury item for a long time. Only the wealthy ate it. It wasn’t we came up with – what is it, the steel mill processing, I’m blanking on the exact term for it, but – the ability to mass produce flour didn’t really appear until the mid 1800s. So eating bread in the quantities that we do now is really a very modern thing.
Colby Pearce 43:40
So before the steel mill processing of wheat enabled us to get that crop out to more people and much more practical sense you were literally taking wheat putting it probably in a giant mortar and pestle on hand grinding it. Is that fair?
Trevor Connor 43:54
Stone grinding. So yeah, a lot of mills would do this, but yeah, it was hard to mass produce it.
Colby Pearce 44:02
So you could make a loaf for your family, or maybe a few loafs for your tribe, but there was no selling of bread at a market, impractical.
Trevor Connor 44:09
There was even evidence that they figured this out about 14,000 years ago. It was very laborious. And so it was just like something they would do once or twice per year for ceremonial purposes. But there was a small amount of eating of these sorts of crops, but that’s still even then most of our evolutionary changes had occurred by that point.
Trevor Connor 44:17
So what they introduced, I mean the interesting thing that was recently or not recently, but I’m trying to think of this study that had this thing come with this study, but they have done research on the stature of humans and you see right around the time that we introduced farming so crops, grain crops, you saw a significant drop in human stature. So we came about six inches shorter, on average.
Colby Pearce 45:04
Interesting. And what timeframe are we talking about?
Trevor Connor 45:09
So this is particularly looking at about 8000 years ago when they were really starting to ramp up agriculture.
Colby Pearce 45:22
And what types of crops are we talking about specifically?
Trevor Connor 45:24
So this is grains. Vareity of grain products.
Trevor Connor 45:26
No corn – So first of all, remember, it’s actually maize, it’s not corn. Corn is actually just a term for the primary staple crop. So corn, it actually refers to something different over in England is my understanding. So what we call corn is actually maize. And that was discovered in North America, or it appeared in North America. So in terms of anybody with a Western origins, corn wasn’t introduced to the diet until about four or 500 years ago. It’s a very recent addition. So they would have done things like wheat, barleys, some of what they call the “ancient grains”, I don’t refer to them as ancient grains, because they were all introduced to our diet in an evolutionary standpoint, in very recent years.
Trevor Connor 45:28
Colby Pearce 46:21
Well, it’s like this, my daughter studies a lot of art. She’s an art history major at Wellesley. I had this discussion with her not too long ago about how to me it’s like modern art, postmodern art, like who was the brainiac who named that period because modern art is now ancient to us or “old”. So what do we call it now? Postmodern art, more moderner art? The naming just doesn’t make any sense. It’s always assuming that we’re on the horizon of humanity, but there’s nothing in the future. I guess we’re making the same point with ancient grains, right? It depends on your timeframe. What does ancient mean? Does it mean 1000 years ago? Or does it mean 50,000 years ago, because you could use the adjective ancient to describe a dinosaur. Different to use ancient to describe dinosaur than it is to describe it an ancient grain of wheat, right?
Trevor Connor 47:10
Well, so there’s another thing people hear “Oh, ancient grain, it must be really healthy for you.” WHY?
Colby Pearce 47:15
Just like organic is healthy. Well, okay, let’s unpack that. I think that’s a great point. But before we do that, if we can rewind to our, our bullet points here.
Trevor Connor 47:25
Colby Pearce 47:27
Look at me staying on track, how unusual.
Macronutrients vs food
Colby Pearce 47:34
Okay, so we’re all athletes, we all like to go ride our bikes, or run up mountains or swim the oceans or swim the poles, we do the things, we lift the weights and in order to fuel that machine, of course, we need carbohydrates. Now I’m talking about the standard food pyramid line of thought here, and we can get into the keto not keto discussion, but before we get there, let’s talk about carbohydrates on the whole and how they are used in athletic performance for the moment, assuming that that is a air quotes, good thing, a good fuel source. And I’d love to hear your commentary on that. We have so many carbohydrate sources that do contain gluten and those that don’t. So maybe we can discern a little bit about where the gluten is hidden and so forth.
Trevor Connor 48:15
This is a question I get a lot of if you don’t eat bread, where do you get your carbohydrates? People seem to feel that bread and grain products are synonymous with carbohydrates. They’re not. Carbohydrates are a nutrient, they’re found in a lot of things. So if you want to, I don’t ever like doing this, but foods tend to get broken up into this is a protein, so when you talk about meats people go well this is a protein. When we talk about breads, breads are carbohydrate. Fruits and vegetables, if you want to simplify it that much, are also carbohydrates. And I think they are much better sources of carbohydrates.
Trevor Connor 48:56
You’re right I am a an athlete, I do a lot of training on the bike. I stopped eating grains and my performance improved and I never struggled with the “how are you getting enough carbohydrates?” So I am not a believer in a no or very low carbohydrate diets, like the keto. We’ve actually written against that. I think it’s too extreme. I’ll give you my short opinion, I am not into macronutrient ratios at all. I think we’ve gone off track trying to get into this is high carb or low carb better/good for you? Is high fat low fat good for you? Is high protein, low protein good for you? I look at that evolutionary perspective and hunter-gatherer societies varied; tend to eat higher fat and protein in the winter because there weren’t a lot of plants around tend to eat higher carbohydrate in the summer. If you live closer to the equator, you ate a lot of carbohydrates. If you lived in very northern regions, you tended to eat a lot of fat and protein. So there was a lot of variants, there was no one carbohydrate to protein to fat ratio. And I do think we need to vary it. So I’m much more into what foods are healthy. What foods are unhealthy?
Colby Pearce 50:11
Great. Yeah. I recently read a book by an author Joel Greene called “The Immunity Cod” and he makes a really good point in that book, which is that when people think about macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, they tend to talk in what he refers to as baby talk. Carbohydrates, right now -what’s demonized at the moment? Carbs are bad. But in the 80s, or in the 70s, and 80s, fat was bad, fat was the bad thing. And then protein became the bad thing, especially red meat. Red meat equals heart disease. We were told that over and over again in the 80s and 90s. Now, carbs are the bad thing. It’s like Stepbrothers, one of the brothers is like, I haven’t had a carbs since 2009 and then they throw in an ab model, and he shows his abs, they’re all ripped. And Brendan Huffin and I can’t remember John C. Reilly character, like, “whoa”
Trevor Connor 50:59
So that that again, gets to your n of one. I’ll make this claim. It’s not going to be fun at all. But I can get somebody down to a pretty skinny weight eating nothing but McDonald’s. It’s not healthy, but you can do it.
Colby Pearce 51:18
Right. Right. Right. Right. So skinnyness does not equal health and there are a lot of different ways to skin a cat.
Colby Pearce 51:25
The other thing about the macronutrient perspective that you shared, you said a lot of people look at, it’s a steak, it’s a protein, that’s way to 50,000 foot view, right? I mean, it’s just like metabolism. From the moment you ride out your driveway at 100 watts, you are burning, you are using glycolytic energy, just a very, very, very small amount of it. We don’t have hard lines in metabolism where you stop burning carbs and start burning fat or cross your anaerobic threshold and you’re 100% anaerobic from there on. It’s not the way the body works. It’s all blended together in scales. And it’s the same thing. You can find carbohydrates in a steak. You find fats and proteins in a steak. Now what we’re doing we call steak a protein is we’re vastly oversimplifying the macronutrient profile of that meat or that food. But we don’t eat carbohydrates. We eat food.
Trevor Connor 52:12
Yes, right. The fact of the matter is even there we call a steak a protein. Most of the steaks that you buy at the grocery store be better to call them with fat than a protein.
Colby Pearce 52:21
Right, depends on the cut you’re eating, but yeah.
Trevor Connor 52:25
So whenever you go to the grocery store, and you see that 85% lean, they are talking by weight. But if you do it by calories, very different. So an 85% steak the steak that’s 85% lean by calorie, I think it’s like 50 or so.
Colby Pearce 52:48
So just so people understand that when you include the water weight, water doesn’t have calories, but it influences the weight. So it changes the percentages. When they refer to that, in the meat case, you’re looking at 85% lean, so just understand what you’re buying.
Trevor Connor 53:03
Yeah, it’s also important to remember that fat is more calorically dense. So a gram of fats gonna have a lot more calories than a gram of protein.
Colby Pearce 53:14
Protein and carbs are about four calories per gram, right?
Trevor Connor 53:16
Yeah, where fat is nine.
Colby Pearce 53:19
Right, right, right. A great resource on this, if you want to navigate the desktop trenches of the grocery store with some success is a book, we’ll put a link to in the show notes, it’s by a Chek colleague of mine, his name is Eugene Trufkin, I think it says Evgeny on his on the book title. It’s called the “Anti-Factory Farm Shopping Guide” by Evgeny Trufkin. And this is a great super actionable way for you to not be overwhelmed in a grocery store, understand and decode some of the labels in particular, not just labels on box foods. But Eugene’s talking about labels on meat when you go to the counter, and it says grass fed. And it says level two, level three, level four protection on your renewal description. When you see eggs that say vegetarian fed versus cage free versus organic. Eugene decodes all these labels and talks about what they really mean. And spoiler alert: You might not end up shopping so much in a grocery store after you read this book because you realize how much liberty a lot of manufacturers are taking with these labels. He helps explain that but the guide is a very small book and it’s like a super easy reference. You can even take it with you in your pocket, or your purse or your man purse or whatever and break it out and decode what’s happening at the deli counter. And it’s a really powerful resource. He’s also got a lot of YouTube videos that link with that book. So anyway, just a good way for people to hack their way through the grocery store.
Metabolic Typing Diet
Colby Pearce 54:48
One more point I wanted to mention, Trevor is something you touched on. And this is a bit of a resource that Paul Chek uses to teach in his line of education, which is about, you mentioned, people who come from colder climates tend to eat less vegetables, fruits and vegetables, because they’re in older climate and you can’t grow a lot of that stuff in those climates, typically, unless you’re doing it in a greenhouse. And this gets back to the metabolic typing diet. And there’s a book about this. And I would imagine that The Paleo Diet philosophy and the metabolic typing diet philosophies are quite cohesive, but the concept is really that when you understand a bit about your genetic heritage or lineage, and you understand what part of the world your ancestors came from, it’s not rocket science to figure out at least in a very general sense, what foods are going to work for you. And in my experience, it’s been pretty insightful for people to take this test – I’ll put a link, there’s a free test online, you can take I think it’s 60 or 75 questions and it tries to get to in a very actionable way, how foods make you feel and bring you into awareness of how a food either impacts your body positively or maybe not so much. And then you can help figure out what your metabolic typing diet is.
Colby Pearce 56:04
And broadly speaking, really broadly, there are two categories: There’s a fast oxidizer and a slow oxidizer. The fast oxidizer is someone who is from a colder climate or what we refer to as a “polar type” and they would do better on higher fat meats, more amin rich meats, so that means you’re eating the dark flesh of the chicken and the skin usually and maybe some of the cartilage. And you’re doing better with things like avocados and nuts and fattier fishes would be your natural choice if you’re plugged into how this makes you feel. And then the opposite of that is someone from a warmer climate a tropical climate. And they’re going to be from a more hot weather environment. So they’re going to have more access to fruits and vegetables, they’re also going to do better with more, a slightly higher percentage of carbs in their diet. So they might be able to eat a mango and not have a sugar crash, they might be able to eat m starcher foods in, of course, moderation, always, but they won’t do as well with fattier foods. If they eat a fattier cut of fish, they’re going to feel like someone put a brick in their stomach and feel sluggish. And when people have this insight, if they’ve been eating kind of air quotes the wrong way or more sub optimally for their metabolic type their lineage, then when they have that insight, they can really open up a lot of channels to having less inflammation, better energy, you know, less afternoon crashes and naps and better sleep a host of other things, right.
Trevor Connor 57:24
Yeah, I mean, you’re getting into a really complex subject. And certainly these things can help. The things that complexify this is A) Remember, we’re all essentially mutts at this point.
Colby Pearce 57:35
You’re totally right.
Trevor Connor 57:36
I always find it funny that what do you think about dogs, you know, thoroughbred is really expensive, and you’re kind of insulted a mutt. But a thoroughbred is the equivalent of people that just breed with their brothers and sisters.
Colby Pearce 57:52
Their whole family lived in Germany, on both sides.
Trevor Connor 57:55
So actually, for a genetic standpoint, being a thoroughbred isn’t necessarily the best thing in the world. But yeah, we’re all at this point kind of mutts, we have lineage from everywhere. So it is a little bit hard to say, “Well, you know, my lineage is from here, my lineage is from there.” You can do some. I took a whole course on nutrigenetics, which is the study of genetics impact on diet. And basically, the sum total of that course was, this is so insanely complex, it’ll be 200 years before we understand this. So if you read anywhere, “send us a small blood sample, and we’ll tell you the optimal diet for your genetics” they don’t know. In that course, there were only three things that they could say definitively, we can do a genetic test until you should or shouldn’t eat this.
Colby Pearce 58:50
And what were those three things just out of curiosity,
Trevor Connor 58:52
I’m trying to remember now that was a long time ago, a few years ago. One of them was related to fat. So it was the particular aloe protein that you code for. So we talked about cholesterol, you’re actually talking about not cholesterol itself, but the carrier. So high density versus low density, it’s the carrier, which is a lipid. And we have identified the genetics in terms of propensity towards very low density, low density, high density. And if you have a particular variant, you got to be a little careful about what you eat. So that was one that I remember. I’ll try to remember the other two, they’ll come to me in in a bit. But I really just left that class going, tt would be great, this would be really valuable, but probably won’t be in my lifetime that we’ll figure this out.
Trevor Connor 59:45
So that’s why I’ve kind of tended towards, well, we’re all mutts. We can’t really do that genetic analysis. You have to experiment with yourself and have leaned – even though I’m always as a coach, I’m always “talk about the positives, don’t talk about the negatives.” Kind of take a negative approach to diet of we know the things that were recently introduced to our diet, which we haven’t genetically adapted to and we’re gonna be if we healthier if we just eliminate those.
Where do athletes get carbohydrates if they don’t eat grains?
Colby Pearce 1:00:14
Or minimize, you might say, right? Yeah. Okay.
Colby Pearce 1:00:19
So let’s discuss some alternatives. I mean, you said you’re an athlete, right? You consume carbohydrates. Can you give our audience some examples of the specific sources of carbohydrates you would include on a day where you know, you’re gonna do a bunch of hard intervals?
Trevor Connor 1:00:31
Yeah. So look, there’s also a performance versus health factor. And I will fully admit to you, I weigh that. I want it to be as healthy as possible, but there are certain points where I go, performance is more important.
Trevor Connor 1:00:46
Are we back on Swedish Fish then?
Trevor Connor 1:00:48
Back on Swedish Fish.
Simple sugars vs carbohydrates
Trevor Connor 1:00:49
Now, one of the most negative impacts you get from simple sugars is that they spike your insulin. If you’re constantly eating simple sugars, you become desensitized to insulin and that leads to diabetes and a whole host of other conditions. That insulin response doesn’t happen when you’re exercising hard.
Colby Pearce 1:01:06
It’s blunted in exercise, right. That’s a really common misconception. I think people are like “Oh, if you have that Coke, you’re gonna crash.” No, that’s not how it works. If you crashe it’s because you bonked and the coke ran out. It’s not because your body produced a big rush of insulin to consume. Why is that though? It’s because your body is consuming sugar at such a voracious rate because the engines running correct?
Trevor Connor 1:01:27
Yeah, well, your body’s actually really smart. So insulin is non selective, meaning, if you are sitting there on your couch, you eat some sugar, insulin gets spiked, and insulin’s basically telling all the cells in your body take up the sugar. Now, your brain always has the ability to just kind of take it up because your brain needs sugar. So even those people out there who are avid followers of the keto diet, go “No they don’t, your brain could live on ketones” sort of. Your brain can use ketones, but even if you are not eating carbohydrates and consuming a very fatty diet and consuming ketones, your liver actually converts a lot of those ketones to carbohydrates, because your brain just needs a certain amount of glucose.
Trevor Connor 1:02:13
But basically, when insulin spikes, it causes cells throughout your body to take up sugar. When you are exercising hard, your body goes well, the exercising muscles need it more. Basically, your brain and whatever muscles are exercising need more. Right now, digestive tract, some other parts of your body don’t really need it. So insulin isn’t the way to get cells to take up the glucose that you’re consuming, we want it to be more targeted. So muscle cells have this amazing ability that when they exercise, they can start to take up sugar independent of insulin. So I’m trying not to go too deep in the weeds, but there’s a transporter called a GLUT4 transporter that needs to be at the surface of the cells, it transports the sugar from the blood into a cell. The glute four transporters typically live inside the cell. So the cell can’t take up any sugar. The only two things that promote GLUT4 to go to the surface of the cell and start absorbing sugar are either insulin, or exercise. So when you’re exercising, the muscles that are doing the activity, get the priority for all that glucose. And so you want to shut down that insulin response because if the muscles are promoting GLUT4, and insulins, also promoting glute four to the surface, you get too much uptake of glucose and you get a condition called reactive hypoglycemia. You start going kind of foggy headed, lightheaded. And it’s because your brains not getting enough glucose and you’re in trouble.
Trevor Connor 1:03:51
So that’s why a lot of people tell you before a race, before an event, before intervals to be really careful about when you eat, because if you eat, say, about 45 minutes before an event, and let’s say you eat something really sugary, you’re gonna spike that insulin, that insulin takes time to clear so then if you start a race, even though the insulin response is still promoted, all that insulin is still in your system, now that muscle cells are because of their their activity or promoting glucose to the surface and you get reactive hypoglycemia.
Colby Pearce 1:04:31
I’m sure I’ve experienced that time at times where it’s happens to me on like long bike rides when we go for a coffee stop. And the coffee stops a little too long. I get back on the bike and sometimes for 10 or 15 minutes I’m super dizzy and out of it and spacey and I basically can’t go. Is that your explanation of what’s going on?
Trevor Connor 1:04:49
Yeah, that’s basically it. Yep. So these are the things to be aware of, experiment with and be careful of.
Trevor Connor 1:04:59
So me personally, I will get most of my carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. If I’m just doing a regular easy ride, I’m fine with that. If I’m getting ready for a race, if I’m doing intervals, that’s where Yes, during the activity, I’m gonna break out some candy. It’s horribly bad for me, but I love candy. And that’s where I go, well, I might favor performance here and eat those foods.
Complex versus simple carbs
Colby Pearce 1:05:25
So okay, just to break that apart. Two points, I would like to discern on that; One is that you talked about fruits and vegetables and this is a really simple way that Paul teaches people to discern a bit on that. And tell me if you agree with this, but it’s pretty easy. below ground vegetables, anything that grows in the earth is going to be very starchy, and a better source of carbs. So we’re talking about tubers, we’re talking about yams, sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, carrots. Anything that grows above ground is going to be more fibrous, more leafy and it’s still primarily in terms of macronutrient breakdown, in most cases, or maybe all, I can’t think of any other examples is going to be carbohydrates, but it’s going to have a lower caloric density.
Trevor Connor 1:06:09
It’s gonna have a lower caloric density, it’s also more complex carbohydrates. So remember, when you’re talking about carbohydrates, they all break down to glucose, fructose, and galactose. And the primary one is glucose. So we talked about simple carbohydrates versus complex carbohydrates. The difference is a simple carbohydrate might have one or two sugar molecules in it, a complex carbohydrate can have dozens or hundreds of sugar molecules in it, they still get broken down, but the difference is a complex carbohydrate, takes your body much longer to break it down. So if you eat candy, which has all just straight sugar in it, you get this giant glucose hit and your body goes, ‘Oh, wow, I gotta do something about this,’ and releases a ton of insulin – if you’re on the couch. If you eat a complex carbohydrate, that glucose has been released very slowly so you never have that big glucose hit to your system, and you never get the insulin spike. But both end up as the same thing, they end up as glucose in your system or fructose or galactose.
Colby Pearce 1:07:15
And to further refine that point on complex carbohydrates, and please tell me if you agree with this or not, you know, there are some forms of those carbohydrates that we can make them more of a resistant starch. And one way to do that, for example, is you cook a baked potato, you let it cool for 10 minutes. Also, you don’t overcook it to death, when you cook a sweet potato or purple potato or yam and you really cook it to death you’re increasing the sugar content, right? So when we let our potatoes or our tubers in general cool a bit, we cook them less, let them cool before we eat them. And then we also add some fat, the fat will help offset the glycemic load of carbohydrates. So the point being is if you want to refuel after your hard ride, and you want to fuel the next day, and you haven’t been riding for four hours, you don’t really want a dinner that contains a lot of sugar. So when you eat a piping hot potato that’s been baked to death and you sprinkle brown sugar on top of it, you’re up regulating the sugar impact or the potential glycemic load and thus insulin response at that food. Is that accurate?
Saponin’s and why to avoid them
Trevor Connor 1:08:19
Yeah, I actually can’t speak to all that, I’m not certain on part of that, that’s because -here’s my Paleo Diet perspective, I think white potatoes are, so sweet potatoes actually aren’t a potato, but potatoes are one the most unhealthy things you can eat.
Colby Pearce 1:08:35
You’re talking about like a Russet.
Trevor Connor 1:08:37
Yeah, I think. So basically, I just avoid them. So I don’t know a ton about them.
Trevor Connor 1:08:42
Why are they so unhealthy? Because the glycemic load is too high?
Trevor Connor 1:08:45
Yeah, so when you talk about the glycemic index, and I’m glad you said glycemic load, I’m more on the glycemic load, but we’ll just go to the glycemic index here. Basically, it’s a measure of how much it spikes your blood sugar. The benchmark is just straight glucose and everything’s compared to straight glucose. Potatoes are one of the few that is on par with straight glucose. Bread is actually a little above staight glucose, so it really spikes your blood sugar.
Colby Pearce 1:09:23
Are we talking about like Wonder Bread or does it really matter?
Trevor Connor 1:09:25
White breads? You know, I think your-
Colby Pearce 1:09:30
bagels, things like that?
Trevor Connor 1:09:31
Yes, those sorts of things. Your simpler white breads. I think some of your other breads aren’t quite as high but they’re still very high. There’s also a lot of compounds in potatoes that are just unhealthy for your. Potatoes are very high in saponin which you just don’t want to be consuming much of.
Colby Pearce 1:09:47
What’s a saponin?
Trevor Connor 1:09:48
A saponin is, quite literally, it’s the Latin word for soap. And they are soaps.
Colby Pearce 1:09:55
But I like to be clean, why don’t I want to eat soap?
Trevor Connor 1:09:57
So what does soap do? It breaks down lipids, fats on your skin. So when you soap on your skin, you’re basically just breaking down all these lipids and getting them off of your body because water and lipids don’t like one another. So just trying to run water on you, it’s not going to get anything that’s lippid based off of your your body. So that’s where soaps come in, they break down the lipids and the the water can wash it off.
Trevor Connor 1:10:27
Your whole digestive track, the outer layer is what’s called the glyco calex. And there’s this lipid by layer on top of all of it that is highly protective of your gut. Because most bacteria viruses, molecules can’t get through that lipid barrier. So the problem is, when you eat saponins, they do exactly what soap does on your skin, they break down that barrier, punch holes in it, and allow things that you don’t want to have access to your epithelial cells, have access to your epithelial cells.
Colby Pearce 1:11:02
We’re making holes in the tight junction. Is that fair?
Trevor Connor 1:11:05
Not holes in the tight junctions, but holes in the lipid barrier above that allow things to get access, okay, due to the tight junctions to the epithelial cells. So it’s it’s not a good thing. No saponins actually do have some anti-cancer properties. But I still wouldn’t recommend consuming a lot. Potatoes are high in saponins. The food that is the highest that we know of in saponins is quinoa. I would not touch that stuff with a 10 foot pole.
Colby Pearce 1:11:36
And quinoa is a grass though, isn’t it?
Trevor Connor 1:11:39
It’s a grain. One of the “ancient” grains.
Colby Pearce 1:11:40
It’s a grain, okay. So what I’m thinking of when I think of this intestinal epithelium, or sorry, what was the other term used?
Trevor Connor 1:11:51
So there’s a glyco calex.
Colby Pearce 1:11:52
That’s above the epithelium?
Trevor Connor 1:11:54
Well, so it’s hard to do this without showing pictures, but basically think of it as the cells in your digestive track, they’re not smooth. If you do a microscopic image of them, they actually have all these little fingers, which increases the surface area that’s exposed to the gut. So that’s you’re glycocalex, but it is surrounded by this lipid layer that is very important. That’s very protective.
Colby Pearce 1:12:27
So I’m visualizing the scene in the first Guardians of the Galaxy when Ronan’s descending upon the planet, I can’t read the name of it, to kill everybody and the ships all come together and lock and form a blockade. Right? And then of course, Ronan’s evil and he uses the purple stone,
Trevor Connor 1:12:44
Blows them all up – so there’s a saponin for you.
Colby Pearce 1:12:46
Ronan is a saponin. Saponin is a Ronan to your gut. So there’s your visual people.
Trevor Connor 1:12:52
So I could show this to you. This is a visual of it, simplified. There’s those little fingers or your glycocalyx. And then this is that liquid bio layer that protects from a lot of nasty things getting access to the epithelial cells.
Colby Pearce 1:13:07
Okay. We’ll drop that in the show notes.
Trevor Connor 1:13:10
You don’t want to punch holes in that basically.
Fueling for sports vs fueling for the couch
Colby Pearce 1:13:12
Right. Right. Right, right. Okay. Okay, cool. So that’s one example of where we’re at with some of your foods that you consume when you’re getting ready for hard training day. And then on the bike you said, you like candy. Whenever we eat on the bike, we want to be motivated, consume a lot of calories, especially if you’re training hard. So part of that equation is finding foods that you like to eat. I mean, you could make an argument, saponins aside ,that because potatos spike blood glucose so well – I have seen old school guys running around with a baked potato in their back pocket, maybe not the worst food in the world, from a caloric standpoint to have in your back pocket. Again, saponins aside. Point being is when you’re training really hard, you’re doing a big old giant ride with a bunch of climbing and whatever, gut issues aside, it there’s almost a rule that when the engines running hot enough, the furnace is really cranked, you can throw almost anything in there and it’ll get converted to what it needs. Now, you got to take that statement with some – that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to eat a pepperoni pizza necessarily.
Trevor Connor 1:14:15
You don’t I’ve had a bad experience. Other thing to remember. So now now we’re getting really into the sports science. We talked about how your body when you’re exercising is going to prioritize the muscles so it’s going to better prioritize fuel to the muscles. It’s also going to prioritize blood to the muscles. So going back to looking at this from an evolutionary perspective, we did not evolve around sports. We evolved, in terms of our fitness, really evolved around hunting and running away from animals trying to eat us.
Colby Pearce 1:14:50
Or perhaps other tribes.
Trevor Connor 1:14:51
So generally when we are going really hard and hurting our bodies are not thinking “Boy, I’m winning this bike race or whatever it happens to be” your body’s thinking, “Man, that is a really big lion chasing me right now.”
Colby Pearce 1:15:08
It’s an event of significant sympathetic stress.
Trevor Connor 1:15:12
So your body is going to prioritize everything possible to make sure you can get away from that lion. So all the resources are going to go to those working muscles. And your body’s response is at this particular moment, worrying about digestion is not my top priority, right? Because I’m trying to not get eaten. I don’t care about eating right now. So blood is shunted away from the gut, a lot of fuels are shut away from the gut, and the gut can’t shut down. If go really hard, it’s going to shut down completely, but when you are in a big race, it’s not going to function as well. So putting something in your gut that’s really hard to digest, isn’t going to go very well. So that’s again, why when you’re in a sport or an event, I’m going to say even though I’d say when you’re sitting on the couch, donate simple sugars, right? When you’re in the middle of a race, that’s probably about all you’re going to be able to deal with.
Colby Pearce 1:16:06
And the harder the race, right?
Trevor Connor 1:16:08
Colby Pearce 1:16:08
Do you think there’s a relationship between how riders process their sympathetic and parasympathetic load on the bike? Meaning I think this is this is core to a lot of issues like, okay, what makes a world level cyclocross racer, be able to ride at maximal effort, but still gracefully, descend, super muddy, nasty, technical rutted, slope, and then jump off the bike, and hurdle barriers and then jump back on without tripping, falling to pieces crashing multiple times, etc. Their engine and their nervous system are refined to the point where they can handle that load and that technical aspect of the sport simultaneously like that teeter totter. But when we’re beginning the sport, this is why we suck at it, we go over the crest of a climb in a cross country race, and we’re so gassed, that then we hit the first rock and double flat or fall over, right? So it’s a negotiation of that stress. Do you think there’s a relationship between, and maybe you have some science to back this up, maybe this is just conjecture, but do you think there’s a relationship between how an athlete manages the balance of parasympathetic sympathetic load at even race pace, and their ability to digest certain foods?
Trevor Connor 1:17:18
In terms of the managing the parasympathetic versus sympathetic, yeah, they’re always in conflict and people who are new to racing deal with those situations, the sympathetic alarm bells are going to go absolutely insane versus somebody who’s very experienced are never really going to have that. They’re going to have sympathetic activation. So, I actually read a whole book on this about there’s this optimal point where you are going to perform at your best. If you don’t activate enough, you’re not going to perform very well because you’re not alert, you’re not willing to go really hard, but if you over activate, it’s too much.
Colby Pearce 1:17:57
What’s the name of that, there’s a curve that someone coined that term and studied that I can’t remember.
Trevor Connor 1:18:02
Actually, I have the book somewhere, but it was a whole book on this. Absolutely fascinating book. And yeah, there is a term and I’m blanking on it right now because I read that book like 10 years ago.
Colby Pearce 1:18:15
If you get a chance to find it, I’ll draft an email and send it to you as a reminder.
Trevor Connor 1:18:20
The book that I read is actually no longer in print, it’s hard to find.
Colby Pearce 1:18:25
We were talking about the types of carbohydrates you consume, either off the bike to prepare for a race or on the bike, you’ve said, you’re a fan of simple sugars and that’s all part of allowing your gut to do what it’s going to do when blood is being shunted towards the muscles or prioritized to transport O2 and CO2 and deal with all the metabolic demands of exercise.
Trevor Connor 1:18:46
I would say it’s a necessity. I never quite want to use the term a fan of. I’ve got a love for my Swedish Fish. It’s like all these things. It’s not good for you, but when you’re performing in a race you got to make some sacrifices and say, let’s focus a little more on performance.
Colby Pearce 1:19:06
It’s part of our task that we’ve undertaken as endurance athletes to try to go fast on the bike and we accept they’re gonna be certain consequences for that. If we’re adults and we accept the the full impact of those choices, then we offset those choices with other healthy behaviors that help us not go down a tube of adult onset diabetes, right? So this is a problem, I think, for bike racers who are race under heavy load for many years, then they stop and they kind of eat the same way. They have a sugar addiction because they’ve been eating it. So that’s the thing I’ve seen.
Trevor Connor 1:19:36
This is the issue: continuing that diet when you’re sitting on the couch. Yeah. So what I hated to see was all these people were athletes, and been kind of sold on all this stuff and you’d see them just sitting there on the couch or hanging out, working, drinking a Gatorade going “Well this is healthy for me because it’s designed for sports.” It’s designed to maximize your intake of sugars when you’re in the middle of an activity, off the bike, no, this is not healthy for you at all.
A keto diet and nutrient deficiencies
Colby Pearce 1:20:04
Yep, yeah. Agreed.
Colby Pearce 1:20:08
So, what about keto, though? You[ve mentioned this a bit, but what happens when someone decides they’re going to go keto, and they’re racing? Are there different racing disciplines that you might say keto might be good for or do you just think keto is a total crap? What’s the deal?
Trevor Connor 1:20:24
I do not think keto is a healthy diet. I do think there’s some benefits to short term ketosis, and there’s different ways you can do it without having to be so extreme. There are some health benefits for certain diseases. Certainly, if somebody who’s diagnosed with cancer, I’m going to tell them experiment with a ketogenic diet, if somebody is showing early onset Alzheimer’s, gonna tell them to experiment with a keto diet. Some of that’s probably because those people probably were eating a lot of simple carbohydrates, and it would be good to get them away from that. But at some point, hopefully they’ve overcome that and you’re going to push them towards something that’s a little more balanced, less simple sugars.
Trevor Connor 1:21:07
But a keto diet, in the long term, has a whole lot of nutritional deficiencies. So if you rank foods in terms of their nutritional density, top of the list are vegetables, fish, fruit.
Colby Pearce 1:21:25
You’re talking about the ANDI score, right?
Trevor Connor 1:21:26
Actually, we created one ourselves. So Dr. Cordain, and I actually took the most common foods in all the categories and then did a nutrient analysis on them and ranked the different categories of food density.
Colby Pearce 1:21:43
Is that published on thepaleodiet.com?
Trevor Connor 1:21:44
That’s on our website. There’s a whole article on nutrient density. The issue is, with a keto diet, you’re essentially eliminating two of your most nutrient dense food groups. And when you do that, it is impossible to get all the nutrients that you need. So you’re going to be seriously deficient in potassium, calcium, zinc was one… Dr. Cordain wrote a whole article on this, which we have. Magnesium was one. A lot of people don’t know this, but some of the most important ratios in your body are your sodium to potassium ratio. Your magnesium to calcium ratio. And your omega three to omega six fatty acid ratio. Keto diet, you can do fine on the the omega three, omega six, but you are killing your magnesium to calcium ratio, you’re also killing your potassium to sodium ratio.
Colby Pearce 1:22:43
Which has to do with the regulation of water in and out of the cells, right?
Trevor Connor 1:22:46
So yeah, that’s one part of that there are many ways in which the sodium potassium ratio has a huge impact on our body. Sodium – so this goes down a whole nother wormhole, but read a ton of research on this and the evidence is excess sodium has a whole bunch of health consequences. We need to keep our sodium low. Potassium can really help to offset a lot of the negative consequences of sodium.
Trevor Connor 1:23:13
So typical hunter-gatherers – doing this off the top my head, I never get to do these numbers off the top of my head – but their diet was about 10 to one potassium to sodium. Typical Western diet is two to one sodium to potassium.
Colby Pearce 1:23:30
Similar ratio changes in the omega three to omega six?
Trevor Connor 1:23:33
Colby Pearce 1:23:35
Except Some are actually worse. When you look at the breakdown of trans fatty acids or fatty acids in nuts and common fatty foods. The omega sixes are off the chart, right? And then you add processed foods and hydrogenated oils into the equation and a lot of meat and the ratios just get skewed way out of whack.
Trevor Connor 1:23:56
Most of your common vegetable oil is very high in Omega six. So the sodium to potassium, I get really worried about with people on a keto diet. Another interesting this is that that has a much bigger impact on bone health then calcium consumption. This is again another wormhole, but I have yet to find a study showing significant benefits of people who have osteoporosis taking calcium. Little bits, but minor effects, often no effect. Now, there are multiple studies now showing that you take osteoporotic women take them off a calcium supplement, put them on a potassium supplement, they start regrowing bone because sodium is acidic. So if you’re eating a lot of sodium, you’re acidifying your blood. What’s best source of bass in your body?
Colby Pearce 1:24:49
Trevor Connor 1:24:50
Right, calcium in your bones. Your body starts leaching calcium from the bones to deal with the acidity. So potassium is the better way to balance this out. I won’t go into the whole mechanisms, a fairly complex mechanism… So yeah, multiple studies now showing you increase potassium in your diet and you improve bone health far more than calcium.
Colby Pearce 1:25:15
I know, I don’t want to go down the carnivore rabbit hole, but I know you guys have interviewed Saladino. He made a comment recently that made me think about that. I think it’s related to that potassium, calcium, sodium relationship. And he was talking about how so many people are supplementing with zinc right now, because of COVID. And how zinc levels can throw off, I think, he said it was your potassium levels can be really low. Is there a relationship there that you know of?
Trevor Connor 1:25:37
That I haven’t heard, I’d have to look into that. So I’d have to see that.
Trevor Connor 1:25:41
He actually, I don’t agree with him on everything, we certainly had a pretty healthy debate on his show, but he certainly does his research. I’ll give him credit for that. You know, there’s a few places where I would say he’s misinterpreted the research and that’s what our conversation was about. But there’s a lot of things he said, where I go, yeah, that you’ve got a lot of good back in that, there’s some good science.
A carnivore diet and if vegetables good for you?
Colby Pearce 1:26:07
And so just so people have the frame on that, Paul Saladino is a proponent of the carnivore diet, which is basically like, liver, animals, and now he’s eating a little bit of honey and some figs. And that’s it. That’s literally it. He’s got a whole thing about how vegetables basically don’t have teeth and claws, so they have no way to run away from you or defend themselves, so they produce chemicals that are toxic to the body. I know, you and Dr. Cordain feel differently about that philosophy on the whole. Do you wanna just comment briefly on that, if vegetables are good for you or not.
Trevor Connor 1:26:43
So he is using an argument that is a valid argument. That’s one of the main arguments we use against grains, which is, yeah, plants can’t run away, they can’t fight, they have to have a way to protect themselves. They don’t want you eating their reproductive materials. So they do this by having a lot of toxic chemicals that’ll make you think twice about eating it again. And if you don’t believe me, go and eat a piece of raw wheat. You’ll be very sick.
Colby Pearce 1:27:13
Or raw bean. Kidney bean.
Trevor Connor 1:27:17
So the argument is, where’s the line? The other side of this, you look at fruits, fruits evolved very differently. The plants that grow fruit basically said we’re going to create something that’s very tasty, that’s going to be appealing to you, but our seed is going to be indigestible. So we want you to eat the fruit, because then you are going to go somewhere else, plant that seed, plant it with a whole bunch of fertilizer. So that’s another solution. So that’s one of the reasons we’ve been big proponents of fruit. We had that discussion with Dr. Saladino and he since then has been saying, “Yeah, fruits in the diet are okay.”
Trevor Connor 1:28:00
The question is vegetables. And his argument is vegetables have some of these toxic chemicals to because, again, you’re eating the reproductive material and they don’t want you to do that because it’s killing them. There is probably some valid arguments of that. And I don’t quite know where where the line is. You know, I used to be very much really focused on vegetables, eat fruit sparingly. With the research I’ve read in that conversation with him, I’ve been kind of leaning towards a little more fruit. It is an interesting conversation. The chemicals we have focused on are really your lectins and your saponins. That’s the category of chemicals that, particularly grains use to make you sick.
How wheat’s chemical content’s have a negative affect on the gut and your health
Trevor Connor 1:28:55
Now, here’s a really interesting thing for you. When I was doing my thesis, we had an immunologist on my thesis committee to make sure I was getting my immunology right. And we were having this conversation with him. And he was of the “well, this is crazy, grains are good for you, why would you ever say this?” And Dr. Cordain, started naming off say, “You’re an immunologist, I bet you know a few of these chemicals” and started naming off a few lectins, but the chemical names. And immunologists on my committee went, “Oh yeah, now I’ve got those on my shelf. Because those eggs are really powerful.”
Trevor Connor 1:29:33
So we talked about back in the 90s, they discovered that lectins are really good carriers for medicine. So you have this issue of getting past that gut barrier, this is why they often have to give you injections because most things you consume it can’t get past the gut barrier. Lectins are amazingly effective at getting by all the barrier defenses and getting into so circulation, and they can carry things with them. So in the 90s, they started studying lectins as carriers for medicine. And there’s a ton of research and then it all shut down. And we were looking into this and finally found it, so Dr. cordain discovered this, it was shut down, because basically the FDA said, this stuff is so powerful, we can’t approve it for human consumption. So the immunology of my committee was talking about that and then Dr. Cordain goes, “do you know where those lectins I just mentioned came from?” That was a peanut lectin. That was a wheat lectin. These were all lectins that exist in plants. And you just saw his jaw drop. He’s like, I never thought about that. Like, wow. And here, the FDA was saying we can’t approve these chemicals, because they have too powerful impact on our immune system.
Trevor Connor 1:30:59
So, my research on wheat, it’s anti-nutrient, it’s lectin and other chemical content is just at a level that I haven’t seen in any other plant. So its ability to get around our digestive barrier, and inflame the immune system is extraordinary.
Colby Pearce 1:31:26
So in your opinion, true or false, are all humans ultimately, gluten sensitive? In a deleterious ways? Is that a blanket statement you can make? Everyone it’s just sort of a question of how much?
Trevor Connor 1:31:41
So here’s the statement I’ll make that I’ll get attacked for but I’m going to say it this strongly if wheat had never existed, and then it was introduced as a food right now, and they did the research on it knowing everything we know about immunology and these anti nutrients, I don’t think it would get approved for human consumption.
Colby Pearce 1:32:05
That’s a pretty good statement. I like that.
Trevor Connor 1:32:07
It’s a bold statement. Nobody is arguing that if you ate wheat raw, it would make you extraordinarily sick, right? That’s known.. So the counter argument that we get a lot and I think it iss a good counter argument, but there’s been research on this now is in the cooking process and the preparation process, we remove all these anti nutrients, they’re basically destroyed.
Colby Pearce 1:32:37
The same discussion you have about about cooking beans.
Trevor Connor 1:32:40
Right, same thing about beans. Unfortunately, they have done that research and shown yes, most of it is destroyed, but not all of it and the small amount that is left is still shown to have very significant immunological effects. Particularly one of the compounds in wheat is something called wheat germ agglutinin, WGA. It is a heterodimer lectin, it has 10 binding spots. So it could basically bind molecules in your gut. So think of it as having 10 arms, it’ll grab things in your gut, bind to them, it can get past that lipid bio layer, it can get access to the glycocalex, and actually go right through epithelial cells and get into circulation – bypass the entire digestive immune system, and then bind to what’s called the basal lateral side of the epithelium cells. So the side of the epithelial cells that faces internally, then it can basically activate the immune system and promote an immune response and takes very little WGA to activate a very strong immune response. And then plus it bound all these particles in your gut that you don’t want to get into circulation has now brought them into circulation.
Colby Pearce 1:34:04
Right. So I want to spell that out for people, so they understand. I mean, what you’re talking about is leaky gut. This is leaky gut?
Trevor Connor 1:34:09
This is not leaky gut.
Colby Pearce 1:34:10
Trevor Connor 1:34:11
But wheat does have a whole way of promoting leaky gut that I can tell you about as well. This is independent.
Trevor Connor 1:34:17
So wheat, like I said, it’s absolutely amazing. It has all these different ways of really messing with your immune system that it doesn’t pick just one way it does it a whole bunch of ways. So WGA, nothing to do with leaky gut, you can maintain all the tight barriers. Instead of trying to go between the barriers of the epithelial cells WGA goes right through the epithelial cell. Now there’s a – I don’t want to go too deep in the weeds, I’m probably going to go into some of this – all these epithelial cells have a smaller immune cell called dendritic cells. Dendritic cells have long arms so dendritic cells will sit inside the epithelial cell bound to the side of the cell that faces the gut. And these little arms will poke through the epithelium cell, reach into your gut and start sampling things in there. So grab this, grab that.
Colby Pearce 1:35:19
Literally filling out what’s in there to fill it out if it’s good or bad?
Trevor Connor 1:35:22
And then report… so it literally has an on off switch. And just it’ll keep reporting back to the immune system. That’s food. That’s normal bacteria, don’t worry about it. When it identifies something that makes it go, “Uh oh, this is trouble”, the on switch goes and it starts to activate an immune response. Yeah, WGA can interact with dendritic cells and flip that switch. And tell them get the immune system going.
Colby Pearce 1:35:55
So this is the upregulation, of cascade of immune response where this system is over active?
Trevor Connor 1:36:02
This is one way, right. So basically gives the dendritic cells a false alarm. The immune system has a way of identifying things. These are called antigens, it’s fancy term, all it just means is a part of anything. So basically, you have antigen presenting cells, dendritic cells are one macrophages or another, they go just start sampling everything, and they’re indiscriminate, they will sample your own cells, they will sample bacteria, they’ll sample food, kind of chew up a bit of it, and then take a small portion of it, which is called the antigen and present that antigen to your T cells, which are the intelligent part of your immune system. And then the T cells have an ability to identify it. And most of the time, they’ll just go “Yep, food, self, don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it.” Even actually, when they identify something as foreign, there’s what’s called a second signal. So there needs to be something else saying there’s enough of this antigen. Or this is really bad to produce the second signal that the T cells go, “damn, we got an issue, mobilize, we got to go fight this.” So WGA, basically gets the dendritic cells to activate that alarm. So basically, kind of to simplify all this but to give that kind of second signal.
Colby Pearce 1:37:39
To falsely activate that signal.
Trevor Connor 1:37:40
Now remember, WGA has brought in a bunch of particles with it, basically antigens with it, because it has the 10 binding sites. So it’s got the dendritic cells to go: alarm bells, here’s the second signal. Now, here’s all these antigens that have been inappropriately brought into your body that T cells can now identify. And you are going to get this immune response when the one is not needed. Yeah, that’s one way.
Trevor Connor 1:38:09
Another way wheat does this is there’s something we called amylase trypsin inhibitors, which has nothing to do with gluten. They’re independent to gluten. Unfortunately, we have raised wheat to have much more, so it’s called the amylase trypsin inhibitors, but just ATI for short, to have much more ATI content in it because ATI is actually a great pesticide, natural pesticide. So 60-70 years ago, before we understood anything about the immune system went, oh look great, it’s got this natural pesticide in it, let’s breed it to have more not knowing it also really messes with our immune system. ATI’s also bind to dendritic cells and flip the switch.
Trevor Connor 1:38:54
In terms of the leaky gut syndrome, so as you pointed out, all these epithelial cells, they bind very close to one another. So it’s called tight junctions. Nothing can get between those cells that allows the whole system be very selective, keep reaching out and going, “Okay, this is good, this is good.” And let just the the food particles, the things you want to get in, get in. So remember, there’s a whole bunch of bacteria in your gut is healthy for you as if it stays in your gut. Very unhealthy if it gets into the system. As a matter of fact, I read multiple studies from well known immunologist saying, we think of our immune system as its primary function is fighting viruses, but 75% of our immune cells live around the gut. And there is this belief that actually, most of our immune system evolved around the bacteria in our gut to keep it under control. To keep it in the gut.
Colby Pearce 1:40:03
So that when you eat a piece of dog hair or a fly lands on your sandwich and poops on it or whatever, it’s not a deal breaker.
Trevor Connor 1:40:11
Like I said, all that good bacteria is good as long as it’s in your gut, it’s bad if it gets into the system. And look, bacteria is getting from your gut into your system 1000s of times per day. So your immune system of the gut is very good at going, “No, I’m going to stop you, stop you,” if it’s functioning properly. And wheat is amazingly effective at preventing that.
Trevor Connor 1:40:33
I actually in my thesis identified three ways to cause the digestive immune system to stop functioning well; one is to break down the tight junctions, the second one is to cause that inappropriate inflammation So it causes the alarm bells to go when there is nothing to be alarmed about. And the third one is antigen exposure. So I’ve just explained to you a couple ways that it causes antigen exposure, just explained to a couple ways that it causes the alarm bells to go off inappropriately.
Trevor Connor 1:41:15
Another way, so there’s good and bad bacteria. Bad bacteria, Gram negative bacteria, has as a tell. It has something on it called lipopolysaccharide, LPS. Our bodies, our immune system has a quite robust system for identifying LPS because we look for that, as soon as we see that we go “bad bacteria is in the system, do something about this.” So it’s always looking for LPS.
Colby Pearce 1:41:47
There’s another interpretation of the LPS abbreviation as well, little pieces of -.
Trevor Connor 1:41:54
Actually quite literally. I never thought about that.
Trevor Connor 1:41:59
We have a quite evolved system for identifying LPS. There’s two identifiers on immune cells, one is called TLR4 and the other one is called CD14. So whatever those are activated, immune system goes, “Okay, bad bacteria, we got to do something about this.” Wheat has a molecule that’s called WLPs. It actually mimics LPS. It’s not quite as strong as real LPS but if that can get into the system, our bodies still identifies it as LPS.
Colby Pearce 1:42:35
Man, it sounds like wheat is just this Hydra of things that just messes with all the gut balance and chemicals.
Trevor Connor 1:42:40
Wheat also has this remarkable ability, so this is where I’m going to get into a whole bunch of terms, through AL15, or CD15, but wheat actually has a way of activating – where I don’t want to go into the details, it’s been a little bit since I’ve read all that research again – but wheat can activate TLR4, and CD14 without LPS. So it has that way of setting off those Gram negative bacteria, bad bacteria is here, do something without actually having that LPS. So that’s the whole setting off the alarm bells, bad antigens.
Trevor Connor 1:43:29
The final way that you can disrupt the immune system is leaky gut. So there’s a chemical called zonulin that our bodies can release that breaks down the tight junctions. So we actually cause ourselves to open up the tight junctions. There is a reason for this, it is an emergency reaction where if we get a bacterial overload, that has gotten past the barriers, where our bodies go, I’ve got to do something about this or I’m going to die, you get a very dramatic release of zonulin and the idea is that all these fluids are flushed into the gut and out your system. So they say you’re gonna get diarrhea, you’re gonna feel awful, but hopefully all that bacteria is basically flushed out. The opening of those tight junctions by zonulin isn’t to let things in to get everything out.
Colby Pearce 1:44:22
Trevor Connor 1:44:25
So obviously, that bacterial overload, causes a release of zonula we know only one other thing that causes a release zonulin and that’s gliadin which is found in gluten. And this happens in everybody. This is not just celiacs. It’s more pronounced that celiacs, seen some science that it’s more pronounced with people with diabetes, but it happens in everybody. So a little bit you’re going to be okay with but if you get a ton of exposure to gliadin it’s going to cause that release of zonulin and you’re going to get those opening of the tight junctions. And that’s what we mean by leaky gut. And unfortunately, in this case, what’s going to happen is all sorts of things in your gut, including gliadin, WGA, and some of these things from wheat are then going to get into your system and get into circulation and start really messing with your immune system.
Colby Pearce 1:45:17
That’s a big list.
Trevor Connor 1:45:19
It is a big list.
Trevor Connor 1:45:20
So the final component to this, that’s important to understand, I talked about T cells, which direct your immune system, there’s two very important types of T cells. One was only identified in 2006. So that’s called TH17 cells, which we’ll get to in a second. More important one is called t-regulatory cells. So you always think of the immune system as responding to things. T-regulatory cells do the exact opposite. Their job is to identify things and then tell the immune system “relax”. So the T-regulatory cells actually identify self. So when an antigen is presented that is self T-regulatory cells go “That’s me, don’t worry.” Most T-cells only identify foreign antigen, t-regs are the only ones that actually identify self antigens.
Trevor Connor 1:46:13
They have a variety of functions. So there’s a whole lot of T-regulatory cells at the gut. Most of the time, they dominate and just say relax. So even if a little bit of bacteria gets in, they’re the ones who are going to say it’s a little bit macrophages can deal with this, some of our other innate immune cells can deal with this, don’t worry about it, we don’t need to set off a systemic response.
Trevor Connor 1:46:40
TH17 are remarkably damaging cells. So when they were first identified, there was a bit of a question of why in the world, do we have these? Like they just mess with us. I am not an expert on them, but some of the interesting research that I’ve read, by the way is that there seems to be an indicator that the T-regulatory cells are quite malleable. One of the beliefs that I read about is that T-regulatory cells can actually convert into TH17 cells and then convert back. Which is quite fascinating. So what they believe TH17 exist for, is they were designed specifically to deal with an excess flow of bacteria getting past the digestive barrier, getting into the system.
Colby Pearce 1:47:33
This is SIBO, right?
Trevor Connor 1:47:35
Colby Pearce 1:47:35
Is this SIBO or is this different than SIBO?
Trevor Connor 1:47:38
Colby Pearce 1:47:38
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Trevor Connor 1:47:40
Yeah, yeah. Sorry, I’m horrible with acronyms. So if you have that kind of overgrowth.
Trevor Connor 1:47:46
So like I said, bacteria gets in all the time. Most of the time the body goes, one or two bacteria, that’s fine. No big deal. We can deal with that. When it gets excessive, that’s when TH17 cells come in and go, my job, I’m going to deal with these. And they’re very damaging, but our bodies basically go got to deal with this bacterial overgrowth. So we’re going to damage ourselves, but in short term, take care of the bacterial infection. And then we’ll shut down the TH17 cells, that’s the way it should function.
Trevor Connor 1:48:23
So one way that things can not function well is if TH17 are constantly active. So that’s that chronic inflammation that we talked about. You get this particular type of TH17 cell that becomes very damaging. And unfortunately, that TH17 cell will then migrate from the gut and go into circulation and do all sorts of harm in our body. And since we’ve identified TH17 cells, they’ve now shown that inappropriate TH17 based inflammation precedes cancer, precedes every single autoimmune disease, precedes heart disease. Like almost every chronic disease we know about there is now research showing that Yep, it’s preceded by inappropriate TH17 inflammation. And all those things I was just telling you about with wheat, ultimately promote TH17 and keep it constantly active. So those dendritic cells flip that alarm switch, they’re the ones that say TH17 get to work, right. So that is one of the reasons I say nobody should be eating wheat because, little bits here and there, fine, but if you’re eating a lot of wheat, you’re keeping that chronic inflammation, you’re keeping TH17 activated.
Trevor Connor 1:49:49
This is thing, it doesn’t happen right away, and this is why people go “Well I eat it, I’m fine.” But then when you’re in your mid 40s, you start having heart disease or you get cancer and you go well that had nothing do with it, I’ve been eating wheat for years. It’s a cumulative effect.
Colby Pearce 1:50:05
This is the hardest thing for humans to see is the long term effects. We always want to go to intervals and see our FTP go up the next day. It’s not how it works, right?
Trevor Connor 1:50:14
Symptoms of wheat and how to make dietary changes in your life
Colby Pearce 1:50:15
So, okay, cool. Thanks for walking us through all that stuff. That’s fascinating. Maybe we can make this a little more practical in terms of how people can understand this. What are some of the symptoms? If someone’s eating wheat, and they’re giving you the “Trevor, I’m fine. I had ding dongs yesterday after my ride. And this morning, I got up and had two pieces of toast. And every morning I get up and I have my toast and I have my pizza for lunch, or my Jimmy John’s or whatever and I’m fine. I have no issues,” what are the symptoms that they’re missing? What do all these cascade of all these biochemical effects in our gut have that actually show up in daily life?
Trevor Connor 1:51:00
That’s where it gets tough. Beacuse if you’ve been eatingyour whole life, that again, I feel fine. Well, you might have been experiencing the symptoms the whole time.
Colby Pearce 1:51:08
Because your baseline isn’t fine, but you think it is.
Trevor Connor 1:51:10
Yes, that’s all you know. And again, if you think getting heart disease and cancer and autoimmune disease, and all these things, when you’re in your 40s is normal, then you are fine. You know, this is probably exaggeration, a lot of people eat this and truly are fine, they can handle it better. What I tell people is eliminate it from your diet for six months. See how you feel. And the response I get all the time is I can’t believe how much better my energy is. I can’t believe how much better I’m sleeping. So that’s where I go, now you’re feeling fine. You’ve just never actually had that experience.
Colby Pearce 1:51:48
That baseline. And then do you encourage people to test that after they’ve not had wheat for six months just to make sure they can rebound
Trevor Connor 1:51:55
Oh yes. No, I’m very big on – elimination diets can be very effective to find what affects you, but you can’t just eliminate it and go well, here’s the evidence, you then have to reintroduce it and see if it cause the negative effects again. So if you get off a wheat and you’re feeling really good, then try eating it again. And if you start feeling lousy, now, you know. Now you know what true fine is.
Colby Pearce 1:52:21
And what’s our minimum amount of time you would say you would recommend people eliminate wheat?
Trevor Connor 1:52:25
Colby Pearce 1:52:26
Six months is the minimum?
Trevor Connor 1:52:27
Yep. Look, I’ll give you my very short version. I’ve told this story a bunch of times, but I stopped racing at the pro level because I was getting sick all the time. And I again, I was in my late 30s and went, it’s age. I took Dr. Cordain’s class, and I actually was furious with this class. I thought everything he said was full of it, and tried to prove him wrong and in the process of trying to prove him wrong just kept going, “Well, that makes sense. And that makes sense.” I ended up going on The Paleo Diet and I stopped eating wheat. I was 39 at the time, I was a full time student, had a coaching business, I started training better and healthier than I had in years and I stopped being sick all the time and had one of my best years at the age of 40. I was top 20 in America at the age of 40 and that was entirely the diet. So that’s where I like to and go that’s my fine. I’d never known what fine was before.
Colby Pearce 1:53:24
Interesting. Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s so pervasive in our diet. And just to be clear, that elimination diet you’re speaking of is specifically talking about wheat. Do you think is a confounding variable potentially if people, they get rid of wheat, but then they’re desperately searching for those muffin like substances? So what do you think about gluten free items? You know, baked goods? Obviously, that not in the spirit of The Paleo Diet where refined foods are not really part of our ancestral diet. Right?
Trevor Connor 1:53:51
This is the question we get all the time and debate it. People go well how do I make my muffins? How do I make my pancakes? This is where I feel like I have to be a bit of a jerk, but I go, look, if you want to eat healthy, if you want to be truly Paleo, no, there is no substitute. You don’t eat those things. Unfortunately, there were some deceptive studies that came out against the gluten free movement. The titles of these studies that were things like “Gluten free foods are less healthy than gluten containing foods”. And that was because they were comparing gluten free cake versus gluten containing cake and I will agree the gluten free cakes, when you look at how they’re made, they’re going for taste. They’re not healthy.
Colby Pearce 1:54:33
Taste and mouthfeel and texture and all these weird so they end up having like 18 flours and all these gums.”
Trevor Connor 1:54:40
It’s just like that, what’s that burger that tastes like a burger but –
Colby Pearce 1:54:44
The Impossible burger.
Trevor Connor 1:54:45
The Impossible burger. I looked at that that is a horrifyingly unhealthy thing.
Colby Pearce 1:54:50
Trevor Connor 1:54:51
I go look, yeah, there there is some evidence against red meat. I’m not gonna argue with that. You don’t want to eat red meat, don’t go this way. Just Don’t eat red meat.
Colby Pearce 1:55:01
Or eat a lot less of it perhaps.
Trevor Connor 1:55:03
Don’t have your burger. This is the same thing. Unfortunately, if you want to eat healthy, you got to change your diet. I eat a very simple diet. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I eat my fruits plain, my vegetables, most just saute them a bit. I don’t eat a lot of cookies and cakes and these other things that go well, “They’re gluten free. They’re good for me.” No, they’re not.
Colby Pearce 1:55:26
Agreed. You’re just replacing one food, which has wheat, which we’ve just unpacked extensively with another highly highly processed food that’s trying to be something very artificial.
Trevor Connor 1:55:36
Colby Pearce 1:55:37
It’s not a good trade off. Yep, agreed. And I think it’s really important that, look, you know, if you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re horrified, or you’ve got a sinking feeling in your stomach, because you’re super bummed out, I get it. My wife’s an incredible baker, she made an amazing almond cake last night that doesn’t have a ton of wheat in it, but it does have like half a cup of a whole cake. But it’s got wheat in it. And I’m not thrilled about the idea of giving up wheat for the rest of my life. I have experimented myself going wheat free at times and had very good results also.
Colby Pearce 1:56:10
Just to share a really quick story on that since the dawn of time, I’ve had my right toe, my right big toe, the joint is pretty much always sore and achy. And I went gluten free for a few months and lo and behold, it’s exactly what you just described Trevor in that I never knew what my fine was. I’ve been living with a sore toe. Every time I get out of bed in the morning, it just makes creaky noises and hurts a little bit. It’s not a big deal. But you get used to it. Especially when you’ve been alive for 45 years. For the first time in my life, I had no pain or soreness in this joint. And I went, “Wow, that’s really telling it just moves better.”
Colby Pearce 1:56:45
So if you’re hearing this podcast, you’re thinking, holy crap, my life is over, I can never have pizza again. Look, there’s a balance in all things. And you have to decide what the path is for you. If you’re eating gluten or wheat, say four times a day or two times a day, and that’s been your life for the last several decades, we’re not saying no one’s suggesting that you drop it cold turkey and completely reinvent your dietary life. Food is about more than just selecting macronutrients or food categories for optimal health. That said, strive for improvement. Make better choices. We don’t have to have everyone be an orthorexic monk, and drop gluten or wheat forever for the rest of their eternal existence. And we’re not saying you can never have pizza again. But we’re saying consider the evidence. Consider what Trevor has taught us today and take it to heart and make decisions. You know, maybe you don’t need to eat as many ding dongs.
Trevor Connor 1:57:40
We are, so on The Paleo Diet side, very big and what we call the 85/15 principle. Your body can tolerate a surplus. All that stuff I was explaining to you about wheat, it’s not like you eat one piece of bread and that whole cascade that I just explained to you goes haywire.
Colby Pearce 1:57:56
And you’ve got cancer and heart disease.
Trevor Connor 1:57:57
Really, this is again why it’s hard to associate because it takes time, it takes constant repetition. So if you are reducing, if you are eating less, there is a certain amount where your body can say, look, I can deal with this. This isn’t great stuff, but I can handle it just fine. We built this whole digestive immune system to handle things that we don’t want. So it takes a more chronic load. So I’m big on the 85/15. Look, I love pizza. There’s pizza place underneath our office, I go down there every once in a while. But it’s once every three weeks. It’s not every lunch.
Colby Pearce 1:58:34
Good. That’s great to hear. I think that’ll help people a lot.
Trevor Connor 1:58:38
Yeah, let me tell you, I enjoy that pizza.
Colby Pearce 1:58:40
I do too. We actually had Pizzeria Locale just earlier this week. And we do that about three or four times a year tops. But every once in a while you got to enjoy it.
Trevor Connor 1:58:52
Yep. I’ll tell you, every once in a while I go down there, and they don’t have my favorite slice of pizza and I just walk out. I go, if I’m only do this every three weeks, I’m waiting till I get exactly what I want.
Colby Pearce 1:59:02
That’s a great example. And then it’s your treat, right? If you’re gonna take that hit make it count.
Finding your forever diet
Trevor Connor 1:59:08
Colby Pearce 1:59:08
Agreed. All right. Um, well, Trevor, I just wanted to quickly go over one last concept with you. And I think this is an interesting idea. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on it. I think there’s a phenomenon now, you know, social media, everybody’s talking about all the things they do. And you hear stories about how people went vegan, and their energy level skyrocketed, and they felt amazing, right? Or they went carnivore and their energy level skyrocketed and they felt amazing. Or they went keto. And what I’ve noticed, and I’ve got a hypothesis going in my head ,and this is the part I’d like you to comment on, is that people I think sometimes aren’t really clearly considering the context of their lives when they make these changes. And they also tend to think in terms of BFF like forever, Z’s.
Colby Pearce 1:59:52
Meaning someone’s on a standard American diet. They’re eating basically crappy food. They’re eating Taco Bell. They’re eating Apple Bees. They’re eating, you know, Olive Garden whatever. Chipotle – and not all these foods are good or bad per se, but they’re not, that diet on the whole is not amazing for you. And they decide they feel like crap. So they go vegan. Well, what are they doing, fundamentally? They’re simplifying their diet, assuming they’re eating, we’ll say a good vegan diet, which means a lot more fruits and vegetables. They’re cleansing their body of all this toxic crap that they’ve been digesting in their Taco Bell. Yeah, your energy levels are gonna go up in context of that, but overall long term, I think you would agree with me that a long enough timeline, most not all, but most vegan or vegetarian, people will start to have a decline in energy, and they will be missing some nutrients, some critical nutrients from animal foods.
Colby Pearce 2:00:46
I think the same thing could be said about people, especially endurance athletes, what do we live in, we live in the world of carbohydrates and simple sugars, like we talked about, you’re Swedish Fish on the bike and that’s a habit, or we get off the bike and we’re just used to shoveling massive amounts of carbs in our system to replenish your glycogen tanks before we go, do the next day of our stage race or whatever. And that system. When athletes are not discerning enough about the simple sugars on the bike versus off the bike they basically prep the grounds for some low level symptoms of diabetes, adult onset diabetes, and then they stop racing. And that trend continues, things can really escalate very quickly.
Colby Pearce 2:01:26
What’s a simple solution to that? Go keto. Why? Because you’re gonna feel amazing, because when you go from pancakes and pasta to avocados, and fatty fish, your blood sugar is going to equalize, it’s going to level that doesn’t mean it’s a good long term solution for you, right? But it’s a it’s a common pathway, in my experience, a modern pathway for endurance athletes, recovering endurance athletes will say, to gravitate towards keto, because they had so many years of blood sugar swings all the time now, what they’re doing is they’re finding a diet instinctively, it’s not a bad instinct that will help level that playing field. But that doesn’t mean that keto, is there forever Z’s solution. That’s ideal, would you How do you feel about that whole thought process?
Arguments for a Paleo Diet
Trevor Connor 2:02:07
Well, I’ll start by saying, it is actually really hard to come up with a diet that is worse for us than a Western diet. So whenever I see somebody take any sort of intention in their diet to improve it, I’m generally supportive, because it’s probably better.
Colby Pearce 2:02:25
It’s a step forward.
Trevor Connor 2:02:27
Yeah. Vegan diet done, right, is is dramatically better than the Western diet. So this is, again, all the research, you have to be careful where they go, “We took people on a Western diet, we put them on x diet, they improved, therefore, this is the healthiest diet.” No, it’s better than the Western diet. One of the things I like about The Paleo Diet concept is, and look the criticism of The Paleo Diet concept, which I fully agree with is a lot of those foods that we ate, during evolutionary times, don’t exist anymore. We actually can’t eat a real Paleo Diet.
Colby Pearce 2:03:01
And their modern incarnation is arguably less nutrient dense, etc. Right?
Trevor Connor 2:03:04
Yep. So. But what I like about the concept is instead of starting with a diet that is, we know, incredibly unhealthy for us. Why not start with something close to what we evolved around, which we know is going to be healthy? And people argue with us. But anybody who’s a cat or dog owner, they’re always trying to figure out well, what did a cats and dogs naturally eat in the wild? That’s what I emulate. Why wouldn’t we do the same with ourselves?
Colby Pearce 2:03:30
Because we’re not cats or dogs.
Trevor Connor 2:03:32
But feed ourselves something that we know is closer to what we evolved around and then modify from there makes more sense to me, thand let’s see what little tweaks we can make to a diet that’s causing chronic diseases, diabetes, and all the issues that we know is horrible for us.
Colby Pearce 2:03:49
That’s wildly off.
Trevor Connor 2:03:50
Yeah, but going for that perspective, yeah, somebody’s eating typical Western diet and they go, I’m going to go vegan, I’m going to fully support that.
Trevor Connor 2:04:00
My issue with the vegan diet and keto diet and going with those approaches, is I just always get concerned about diets that don’t focus necessarily on what foods are healthy for you.
Colby Pearce 2:04:16
It’s more of a process of elimination rather than –
Trevor Connor 2:04:19
Yeah, look Paleo gets accused of that, but I always say the focus of Paleo is what foods are healthy for us and eat those and eat them in more natural raw forms. Keto diet, in particular, because it’s just about eliminating carbohydrates, I get frustrated having these conversations with people who sit there go, I eat really healthy. I eat a stick of butter every morning and I don’t touch fruit or vegetables. And I go, “In what world is that healthy?” Listen to yourself. And I know a lot of keto people who go “That is healthy.” No, sorry. Just think about what you learned in kindergarten. So, yes, we eliminate on the Paleo diet, but here’s The Paleo Diet: vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish nuts. That is what you learned in kindergarten.
Colby Pearce 2:05:09
Dangers of a vegan diet
Trevor Connor 2:05:12
Vegan diet, people who do it right – and look I really admire people who do it for ethical reasons. I do at some point want to come up with a variation on The Paleo Diet for people who don’t want to eat animal food.
Colby Pearce 2:05:29
If we have more time. I’d love that.
Trevor Connor 2:05:31
I’m going to have to do a ton of research. I will never say it is as healthy as an omnivore diet. And at no point ever during our evolution did any of our ancestors, at least homo ancestors, did they eat a entirely carnivore diet or an entirely vegan diet.
Trevor Connor 2:05:46
Right. We have both molars and canines. Yep. And we’re not ruminants. We’re not all stomachs.
Trevor Connor 2:05:51
Right. We are designed to be omnivores. So unfortunately, like I fully get the ethical argument, I’ll always support somebody on that, but the argument that getting rid of animal food completely is healthier for us, I just don’t buy that. So A) doing a vegan diet is very difficult. B) it has some inherent dangers. One of them that people don’t talk a lot about here’s something in our bodies called homocysteine, we’re always worried about cholesterol, there’s a lot more research showing that homocysteine correlates with heart disease far more than cholesterol levels. We produce homocysteine when we have insufficient what’s called the folic acid cycle. It relies on folate, which you can get from from vegetable sources. Vitamin B six and B 12. You can only get B12. from animal sources, right? B6, there is vegetable sources, but most of that form, the plant based form of B6 has pyridine ring attached to it, which makes it – we can’t use it with that pyridine ring not. We can’t remove that ring. So most of the B6 we get from plant sources we can’t use.
Trevor Connor 2:07:09
So here’s a question for where are the highest rates of heart disease in the world? It’s not the U.S.
Colby Pearce 2:07:14
Not the middle America, that would be my guess?
Trevor Connor 2:07:17
Colby Pearce 2:07:18
Trevor Connor 2:07:19
Do you know why?
Colby Pearce 2:07:20
Because there’s so many vegetarians?
Trevor Connor 2:07:22
Veganism and vegetarianism is part of their culture.
Colby Pearce 2:07:26
I definitely did not know that. I wouldn’t have picked that for sure.
Trevor Connor 2:07:29
You can look this research up. There’s plenty of research showing correlations of low quality vegan diet to all the heart disease in India.
Trevor Connor 2:07:37
Now people who do the research and are vegan and are careful and making sure they’re supplementing with B12 can be fine. But to do a vegan diet, right is really hard, because it’s not quite how we were designed.
Colby Pearce 2:07:49
To do any of these extreme diets is hard. I mean, carnivore, you’re eating only liver and animal products or vegan or keto to do any of them is a challenge, right?
Colby Pearce 2:08:01
Okay, Trevor, thank you so much for all your insight and wisdom and understanding and knowledge on this quite nuanced and detailed topic. I really appreciate it. Hopefully, our listeners got a lot of good stuff out of your thoughts on that. We’ll definitely put a link to your paper in the show notes. If that’s okay. People can go check that out if they want. I encourage people to check out thepaleodiet.com for lots of resources on The Paleo Diet and their philosophy and all the things that they talk about there.
Trevor Connor 2:08:30
Appreciate that, but always fun talking with you Colby.
Colby Pearce 2:08:33
Thank you. Thanks a lot. We’ll do this again in the future I hope.
Colby Pearce 2:08:37
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