Dr. Daphne Miller, Author of “The Jungle Effect”

“They can because they think they can.”

~ Vergil

NPR affiliate station KQED host Michael Krasny talks to Dr. Daphne Miller, author of The Jungle Effect, in this episode of The Forum. The forum, with its erudite host, Michael Krasy, is one of my favorite shows on NPR, and a big reason behind why I’m an NPR supporter. Oh my, I can already hear the hissing and gnashing of teeth from those on the right. Hey, every media outlet has a bias — though,curiously, I’ve yet to find a Libertarian-leaning, mainstream media outlet.  Maybe that should tell me something, huh?  Anyway, I take each outlet and its associated angle for what it’s worth. Lefty bias doesn’t stop me from listening to the BBC, or the CBC for that matter.  Maybe it helps that I’m a social lefty as opposed to a fiscal lefty.  Anyway, another subject for another time.  On to the subject at hand — Dr. Daphne Miller, and her new book, The Jungle Effect.

Now, Dr. Miller certainly isn’t anywhere near supporting and all-out Paleo diet, but she’s definitely on to something. And that “something”, the common thread throughout all of the indigenous diets she studies for her book, is the complete absence of refined carbohydrates.  And in a strange set of coincidences, there is very little disease of any kind to be found in those populations subsisting on their indigenous diet.  Introduce those same exact same groups to a western, highly refined carbohydrate-laden diet, and all manner of disease hell breaks loose.  Hmmmm.  Hello, USDA, are we picking up a trend here yet?

Of course, all of this this is nothing surprising to the TTP readership.  It is interesting, though, to view the mainstream’s nascent steps toward — and their initial reaction to — the understanding that refined carbohydrates are the root of the obesity epidemic.  Sadly, no talk here of the human genome’s predisposition toward a Paleo diet, evolution, or of the recent (anthropologically speaking) of the advent of agriculture.  Dr. Miller’s findings here, though, do correspond nicely to the TTP first step to better health — namely, shaking free of refined carbohydrates. That initial step is absolutely crucial, in my opinion, to any sibilance of decent health (weight issues aside).  As well, (and also in alignment with Dr. Miller’s findings) is the necessity of physical activity. Why is physical activity so important? Because it increases insulin sensitivity, that’s why. Couple an intelligently programmed exercise routine with an elimination of refined carbohydrates in the diet and you’re well on your way to being a much, much healthier you. As healthy as you can be? Well, in a word, no. For that, you’ll have to refine your workouts and commit to a full-on TTP/Paleo lifestyle.  I do believe though that it is feasible to implement at least these two things on a nation-wide basis.

I think the most telling instance in this interview supporting the fact that refined carbohydrates are the major problem in the obesity epidemic (and an example that is simple enough for the “everyman” to get), is the references made to the Pima Indians of the American southwest and their genetically similar Pima cousins in Mexico, to whom type 2 diabetes is virtually unknown.  Will we convince all people turn Paleo, even a decent percentage of the populace?  I’d like to think so, but let’s be honest — the general public still views anything out of the ordinary (ordinary as defined by their previous experience) as alien and unattainable.  Dumping refined carbohydrates, though, may be something that is more palatable (pardon the pun), and doable on a nation-wide basis.

But how could something like this be done?  How can a nation, as a whole, be influenced to give up the mighty, refined carb?  That’s something I’d like to explore in an upcoming post.  Anyone read the book, Nudge?  That’s the direction I intend to go.

In Health,

Keith