You’ll want to read Part 1 first, and just trust me on this. Would it surprise you to learn that obligate carnivores like African cats, hyenas, pack hunting dogs, northern wolves and the like actually ingest quite a lot of carbohydrate‚ and I mean apart from wild wolves chowing down on wild berries. In other words, they get carbohydrate from the meat of their kills, because it’s fresh and raw. By the Time Charles Washington and the Zeroing Down in Ignorance folks stand in line at Costco, it’s zero carb.
My deep appreciation goes out to “Duck Dodgers,” a commenter who prefers to remain anonymous; but perhaps there’s a clue as to why, when you read the 6,500 words he’s assembled in these two posts.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF ROTTING ANIMALS
As Dr. Hui mentioned, in Part 1, the Eskimo practice of preserving a whole seal or bird carcass under an intact whole skin with a thick layer of blubber also permits some proteins to degrade into carbohydrates. Here’s how. When the Inuit prepared Igunaq or Kiviaq they take a seal and remove everything except the blubber. For example, in the case of Kiviaq:
From: Wikipedia — Kiviaq
Around 500 auks are put into the seal skin intact, including beaks, feet and feathers, before as much air as possible is removed from the seal skin, which is then sewn up and sealed with grease, with a large rock placed on top to keep the air content low. Over the course of seven months, the birds ferment, and are then eaten during the Greenlandic winter
But, this not really fermentation, it’s actually “rotting”—or more specifically, hydrolysis by anaerobic digestion that takes place, slowly, at very cold temperatures. That’s why they remove all the air from the carcass and seal it up. And what happens over the course of many months is that some of the many carbohydrates that are glycosylated to proteins and fats as glycans, including glycoconjugates, glycoproteins, glycolipids and proteoglycans in all those meats, beaks, feathers, collagens, mucins and blood—which most nutritionists just think of as simple proteins and fats—are degraded by anaerobic digesters into sugars, fatty acids and amino acids. Some of those are further broken down into carbonic acids, alcohols and gasses—which explains the awful rotting smell and foul taste.
The benefits of all this is that the final product contains some accessible carbohydrates, prebiotic glycans and pre-digested compounds (and awful smelling byproducts, of course). But, the pre-digested proteins are key here because protein takes the most energy to digest. 20-30% of total calories in protein eaten go to digesting it—compared to carbohydrates (5-10%) and then fats (0-3%). This is further improved by ingesting the raw enzymes that are still present in postmortem animals which spare the body from having to create those enzymes and aide in the breakdown of the food with much less effort for the Eskimos. Eskimos aren’t interested in burning unnecessary calories digesting food—they need to make their food as energy positive as possible, without denaturing its prebiotics that contribute to overall health and intestinal gluconeogenesis.
Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept By Edward Howell, 1985
Dr. Urquhart wrote: “…If a dog team is worked hard daily for two weeks and fed with fresh fish caught under the ice and frozen without opportunity to become [rotten], that team will lose weight and show definite signs of wear and tear. If the team is fed with [rotting] fish, they will be as good at the end of that time as at the start, and often will have put on a little weight. The explanation is that it is probably more of an autolysis than a bacterial decomposition, or, in other words, pre-digestion.”
You would think that this rotting meat would be full of pathogens. But, if prepared properly, rotting meat is eaten with no ill effects. Remember, from Part 1, that the raw prebiotic glycans—in this case, cleaved from the glycoconjugates in those rotting meats—exhibit “ligand mimicry,” acting as decoys for pathogens. And it shows.
From: Igunaq-Aged meat By Elijah Tigullaraq
Igunaq has been traditional medicine to keep the digestive system clean, as it flushes away anything in its way…igunaq is good for the digestive system as it cleans it completely of any foreign objects such as viruses and sickness a person may have. A person may experience a natural “high” if they have not eaten aged meat for a while. Men who grew up with igunaq are usually more physically muscular than those who have not.
This rotting “cached” meat is clearly a superfood that is crucial to the survival of the Inuit.
Nearly every aspect of the Inuits’ diet was engineered to maximize their intake of carbohydrates and increase the energy positive and prebiotic aspects of their food.
THE MASAI CONSUMED A WIDE VARIETY OF CARBS
The “Eskimos” weren’t the only meat-dependent indigenous people to eat raw meats. Traditionally, the Masai diet consisted of raw meat, raw milk and fresh raw blood tapped directly from cattle—to preserve the rapidly disappearing milk and blood glycogen and glycoconjugates.
However, few people seem to realize that raw honey was a major staple for the Masai.
Wild honey was abundant in the region. Fermented into a beer, it served as a drink for male elders or as a sacred component of religious rituals. Mixed with plant extracts, it was an important component of many medicines. Masai men and women of all ages would eat unmixed honey as a regular part of their diet.
The gift that a man would give to the parents of his bride when arranging a marriage included five pots of honey…
One of the most frequent themes of Masai ritual is the pairing of milk with honey beer.
…Masai women were coming into the village with caravans full of bananas, corn, and sweet potatoes every three to six days!
They cooked sweet potatoes (Ipomea batatas) in water with a little steppe salt, drained them, mashed them with a whisk, and stirred in fresh milk. They cooked unripe dried bananas (Musa paradisiaca) in water, drained them, and stirred in milk and butter. They cooked beans with salt, but corn without salt. They cooked yams (Discorea abyssinica) and taro in salted water, and cooked sorghum into a thick porridge and lightly salted it afterwards.
In addition to their strongly intoxicating home-brewed honey beer, the Masai also purchased much milder beers from the surrounding tribes made from bananas, millet, corn, or sorghum.
The Masai traded their animal-derived foods for carbohydrates from neighboring tribes. It should be more than clear by now that the Inuit and Masai made a significant effort to eat carbohydrates.
RAW FRESH ORGANS = MORE ANIMAL CARBS
From: Proceedings, Volume 13 By Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1886
“Kilma” is what seems to correspond to our idea of “soul” It is called “the power of the liver,” for, believing that the liver is the seat of the soul, it is considered that an increase of a man’s own soul may be obtained by partaking of an animal’s liver. Whenever an animal is killed its liver is taken out and eaten, but the people are most careful not to touch it with their hands, as it is considered sacred; it is cut up in small pieces and eaten raw, the bits being conveyed to the mouth on the point of a knife or the sharp point of a stick.
Even cannibals were known to consume the raw livers of their victims immediately after killing them.
From: Ethiopia: A View from Within By Michael B. Lentakis, 2005
Europeans up to this time cannot imagine human beings eating raw meat. Even during the Congolese civil wars in the period 1960 to 1964, cannibalism was performed in public, and the story of those unfortunate Italian Red Cross pilots who flew in a cargo of medicines and food, went for a promenade in the city, were seized, killed in public and eaten raw made headline news all over the world, shaking all civilised nations.
The mayor of a Congolese city that fell to the Balubas was tied up in the centre of the town and, although he was still alive, his liver was torn of of him and eaten by the rebel chief and then the man was torn to pieces and eaten raw by the rest of the rebels.
Eating raw the heart, the liver and the genitals of their enemies was based in the belief that all the powers of their previous enemy would now be passed to them.
What about Homo erectus? He ate a lot of meat, right?
From: Wikipedia: Homo erectus
There is no evidence that Homo erectus cooked their food…It is known, from the study of microwear on handaxes, that meat formed a major part of the erectus diet…Thus cooking cannot be presumed.
From: The Physical Processes of Digestion By Roger G. Lentle, Patrick W.M. Janssen
Like amylopectin, glycogen is a polymer of D-glucose but the ratio of branched α1-6 linkages to linear α1-4 linkages is twice that of amylopectin. Thus glycolgen is susceptible to hydrolysis by the same enzymes as the starch polymers. Studies suggest that purified animal glycogen is digested at a similar rate to that of purified short chain rice starches (Azad and Lebenthal 1990). However as in the case of plant starches, the rate of digestion may be lower when glycogen granules are contained in intact tissue owing to the physical effects of their structural organization.
Turns out that glycemic starch has a lot of alpha (α) bonds, or “alpha-glycosidic linkages,” that are digestible. Whereas resistant starch and fibers like cellulose have beta (β) glycosidic bonds that are very difficult to digest. Those beta-glycosidic bonds are typically found in dietary fibers.
So, if glycogen is primarily composed of α-glycosidic bonds, that means that it’s a glycemic starch. However, since the glycogen molecule is so densely packed, there are some instances where α-amylase-resistant regions exist in the glycogen molecule—at least from purified glycogen found in shellfish. (Fall seasonal cold-water oysters are rich in glycogen). If there are any resistant regions in animal starch, eating it raw would almost certainly be necessary to obtain any benefits.
Let’s dig even further.
Inclusions (Cytoplasmic) are non-living substances that may or may not be present in a cell, depending on the cell type. Inclusions are stored nutrients, secretory products, and pigment granules. Examples of inclusions are glycogen granules in the liver and muscle cells, lipid droplets in fat cells, pigment granules in certain cells of skin and hair, water containing vacuoles, and crystals of various types.
In addition to glycoconjugates, could raw whole animals have different kinds of “animal fiber” that is being ignored by Western diets?
That may very well be the case. After all, wild carnivores have to ferment SCFAs out of something. And unless you’re doing your own hunting and eating most of the animal raw—including the liver, intestines, colon, testes, placentas, blood immediately after the animal dies—you’re not ingesting much “animal fiber.” And, of course, if you’re not eating enough fibers, you’re not fermenting Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs).
Depauw S, Hesta M, Whitehouse-Tedd K, Vanhaecke L, Verbrugghe A, Janssens GP.
Abstract: As wild felids are obligate carnivores, it is likely that poorly enzymatically digestible animal tissues determine hindgut fermentation, instead of plant fibre. Therefore, faecal concentrations of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA, including branched-chain fatty acids, BCFA), indole and phenol were evaluated in 14 captive cheetahs, fed two different diets differing in proportion of poorly enzymatically digestible animal tissue. Using a cross-over design, the cheetahs were fed exclusively whole rabbit or supplemented beef for 1 month each. Feeding whole rabbit decreased faecal propionic (p < 0.001) and butyric (p = 0.013) acid concentrations, yet total SCFA was unaltered (p = 0.146). Also, a remarkably higher acetic acid to propionic acid ratio (p = 0.013) was present when fed whole rabbit. Total BCFA (p = 0.011) and putrefactive indole (p = 0.004) and phenol (p = 0.002) were lower when fed whole rabbit. Additionally, serum indoxyl sulphate, a toxic metabolite of indole, was analysed and showed a quadratic decrease (p = 0.050) when fed whole rabbit. The divergent SCFA ratios and the decrease in putrefaction when fed whole rabbit could be caused by the presence of undigested tissue, such as skin, bone and cartilage, that might have fibre-like functions. The concept of animal fibre is an unexplored area of interest relevant to gastrointestinal health of captive cheetahs and likely other felids.
The raw cartilage, collagen, and to a lesser extent hair, skin and other various animal-derived fibers have properties that are resistant to digestion and are fermented by carnivores into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). In other words, it seems there are different kinds of animal fibers—that are typically absent from modern diets. And of course, the Eskimos were ingesting lots of raw meats, raw skins, raw blubber and raw organs, which means they would have been seeded their guts with a plethora of animal-fiber-digesting bacteria that could assist in the breakdown of ingested animal fibers.
Traditionally, as far as we know, humans hydrolysed (rotted) the stiffest animal-fibers or made cooked “bone broths” to assimilate their components. Due the nature of hydrolysis, the Inuit should have been obtaining hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin from their rotting kiviaq. Collagen hydrolysate, available in health food stores, contains some glycans that—for all we know—might have prebiotics properties. However, most people agree that the main benefits from bone broths and collagen hydrolysate are due to the assimilation of key amino acids, such as glycine and proline.
So, let’s think about this for a minute. If you’re an Inuit, or Hadza, or Masai tribesman, are you getting your animal food from a carcass that’s been chilled for many days, trimmed of various “animal fibers” and cooked to oblivion? Or are you eating your kills like this:
Jeff Leach: Please Pass the Microbes:
On our way back to camp, we came across another Hadza that had moments before killed an adult Impala. After helping hoist the deceased into a low hanging tree — to hang by its head for field dressing—I then witnessed something that up until that point I had not fully appreciated the significance of in the co-evolution of humans and our microbes and its potentially profound implications for our health in the so-called modern world…Once they had cleaned out—by hand—the contents of the stomach (“cleaned” is a generous word), they carved pieces of the stomach into bite-sized chunks and consumed it sushi-style. By which I mean they didn’t cook it or attempt to kill or eliminate the microbes from the gut of the Impala in any way…they then turned their attention to the colon of the Impala.
After removing the poo pellets…they tossed the tubular colon onto a hastily built fire. However, it only sat on the fire for a minute at best and clearly not long enough to terminate the menagerie of invisible microbes clinging to the inside wall of the colon. They proceeded to cut the colon into chunks and to eat more or less raw…
The Hadza explained that this is what they always do, and have always done.
“Low carb Paleo” is nothing like the diets of the cultures that it was supposedly modeled after. Those indigenous peoples ate animal fibers and went to great lengths to obtain and preserve glycans and carbohydrates in animals. In fact, we can now say that every indigenous culture that’s ever walked the face of the Earth ate raw fibers, glycans and starches wherever they could find them. “Low carb Paleo” has virtually no animal starch, no plant starch, and is usually devoid of raw glycans and animal fibers.
BUILDING AND MAINTAIN THE EMENSE GLYCOME
From: Wikipedia — Glycome
The glycome is the entire complement of sugars, whether free or present in more complex molecules, of an organism. An alternative definition is the entirety of carbohydrates in a cell. The glycome may in fact be one of the most complex entities in nature. “Glycomics, analogous to genomics and proteomics, is the systematic study of all glycan structures of a given cell type or organism” and is a subset of glycobiology…
…The glycome exceeds the complexity of the proteome as a result of the even greater diversity of the glycome’s constituent carbohydrates and is further complicated by the sheer multiplicity of possibilities in the combination and interaction of the carbohydrates with each other and with proteins. “The spectrum of all glycan structures — the glycome — is immense. In humans, its size is orders of magnitude greater than the number of proteins that are encoded by the genome, one percent of which encodes proteins that make, modify, localize or bind sugar chains, which are known as glycans.”
It’s fair to say that many low carb doctors and nutritionists are unaware of the role of carbohydrates for maintaining this vast and complex glycome, for the simple reason that so little is still known about it. If they were focussed on it, they might realize that many of the obvious symptoms experienced on low carb diets, such as dry eyes and sinuses, is due to only a handful of those 2,000,000 glycans. In fact, in the vast majority of people the most glucose utilization in the body is used in the construction and maintenance of the human glycome. Since the mucins—found in mucus and tears—are required to protect our orifices from pathogens and keep the integrity of our intestinal mucosa intact, it’s not difficult to see that our health depends on us maintaining our glycomes. One can imagine how hard it would be for an Eskimo with chronically dry sinuses and dry eyes to maintain their health in the Arctic when Winter temperatures fall to lows of -94°F (-70°C).
We saw, above, how the Inuit were able increase the energy positive qualities of their cached meats by assimilating raw enzymes and pre-digesting their meats. So, it would also seem that the Inuit were able to further increase the energy-sparing properties of their cached meats by assimilating hydrolyzed compounds, such as amino acids and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), that would otherwise need to be created internally. These energy-saving qualities of their rotted, hydrolyzed meats would explain why their cached food made them feel so warm.
ARE GLYCANS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG?
We can see that indigenous cultures have made tremendous efforts to consume all sorts of indigestible compounds, such as those found in seal flippers, walrus flippers, shark fins, rhinoceros horns, rectums, placentas and testicals. Even fat has indigestible compounds, such as phospholipids. Liposomes which are phospholipids that are often constructed to deliver liposomal glutathione or liposomal vitamin C safely past the stomach and into the small intestine where they can be absorbed directly into cells. Collagens, gelatins and other animal parts, that are often overlooked in Western societies these days, are full of glycans, including glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and other indigestibles that may offer a wide range of health benefits. Given that few nutritionists seem to even notice that prebiotics tend to come from undenatured glycans, one can likely expect that many beneficial indigestible compounds have yet to be discovered.
TO COOK OR NOT TO COOK
It’s easy to read all this and conclude that cooking is harmful or undesirable. After all, cooking denatures all of the prebiotics and compounds we’ve been discussing here, not to mention enzymes often required for digestion. Cooking is also believed to contribute to the formation of advanced glycation end-product (AGEs). On the other hand, there is evidence that cooking enabled humans to obtain more calories and support our bigger primate brains. In other words, cooking makes us human.
It should also be mentioned that denaturing glycoproteins and other compounds can sometimes be a good thing as well. Various inhibitors, like phytates, can be found in seeds and embryos, since they tend to be useful in delaying germination until conditions are ideal.
For instance, avidin is a glycoprotein that contains the carbohydrate-rich β-ovomucin trypsin inhibitor found in egg whites, which binds to biotin. And if you ate avidin every day for several months, it can cause a biotin deficiency. Finally, cooking kills pathogens and can help reduce plant toxins. So, cooking has its purpose when excess fibers and starches are easy to obtain. It also explains why highly carnivorous cultures continued to eat raw meat after the invention of cooking — they needed to preserve crucial animal fibers, and animal starches to keep themselves in good health.
MISGUIDED LOW CARB CONCLUSIONS
When one glances at the diet of the Inuit, it’s easy to be fooled into believing that their diets were devoid of starches, sugars and prebiotics. Arctic explorers would arrive, see people eating lots of animals and then climb back on their dog sleds without understanding the intricacies of the plants, glycogen, prebiotics and hydrolysed glycoconjugates in their diets.
And researchers who travelled abroad to observe the dietary habits of the Masai either conveniently or carelessly omitted the fact that they were consuming significant quantities of milk and honey, while trading their animal products for carbohydrates from neighboring tribes.
However, we can now see that nearly every drop and nearly every morsel the Masai and Inuit consumed was engineered to maximize their intake of carbohydrates and prebiotics in one way or another.
Meanwhile, low carb promoters were too eager to believe the imprecise cultural observations of these tribes to support their hypotheses for a ketogenic lifestyle. But, they were misled. We all were misled into believing that populations could survive without prebiotics or carbohydrates.
Today that ends.
(Hat tip to Dr. S and Tim Steele for their help with this series of posts).
How lucky am I?