Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pottenger's Cats: 'Ancestral' Ancestral Fitness

My current self-experiment ('n=1'): Awhile ago--Sunday, July 12th, to be exact--in response to one of Dr. William Davis' exemplary essays, I entered Fructose Detox, displacing my already-limited fruit intake with heightened hyperlipidity (particularly saturated lipids).

[Note: I now refuse to refer to lipids inappropriately as 'fats'. Mislabeling overweight people as 'fat' and then associating obesity with dietary 'fat' molecules (lipids) is one of the most far-reaching, problematic errors in linguistic anthropology that plagues us precipitously each and every day. The resulting cognitive dissonance is insurmountable for many folks, unfortunately. We need Ancestral Fitness architects to re-build our 'choice architecture' in modern day.]

Now, back in the summer, I knew intuitively (by "listening to my body"), even as a Paleo-practitioner for quite some time, that my body did not react well with many fruits--bananas, most notably--due to their elevated fructose contents. My body's natural reactions to these foods seemed to falsify, not justify, their inclusion in my energy fueling habits. That was all I needed to justify tinkering; inertia was hardly an issue this time around. So, I started a simple experiment, just to see what happens. That's all. The downside risk is clipped--I really have nothing to lose in the short-term--but the potential for upside gain exists. It's a free, 'cheap health option'. In essence, I went bowling for a positive Black Swan 'strike'.

(Above: Venture capital for my 'n=1' clinical trials in personal mythology.)

Here is my latest 'bowling' update ...

The Qualitative Self: This morning, I rode my bike to the gym, went for a swim, and basked in the California sun. The other day, on Thursday, I emerged from 10 days of down/recovery time in an effort to further integrate the spirit of Body by Science kurtosis into my energy expenditure pattern. During this relaxation time, I found that intermittent fasting, sleep, and reflection helped me 'lower the floor' in the physiological headroom equation. This is kurtosis in the 'least-you-can-do' direction. After this prolonged period of rest (there were two low-grade bike rides during this time off), I worked out intensely and enjoyably over the past few days, pushing myself and 'raising the roof' in the 'most-you-can-do' direction. This dynamic combination produced bidirectional expansion of my personal physiological headroom calculation--there is now greater bandwidth between the least I can do and the most I can do, which has effectively increased the degrees of freedom that I can 'tap into'/access when I move to interact with the world around me, my local ecology.

Which brings me to Pottenger's Cats: A Study in Nutrition. My ancestor, Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD, conducted an important series of experiments awhile ago. Here are the notes that I composed while laying out by the pool this morning (I used the 'Notes' application on my iPhone): It was a beautifully simple experiment. Take some cats; randomly assign them different diets; then, observe what happens over the course of several generations. Here's what happened: cats fed raw milk diets thrived; those fed pasteurized diets survived; and, those 'poisoned' with sugar-supplemented pasteurized milk products took drastic dives. In short, cats' diets materialized directly as physiological health: those that took 'dives' exhibited physical maladies of all sorts and compromised immune systems as well, while those that 'thrived' displayed the same vibrant, healthy characteristics that Dr. Weston Price, DDS, observed in humans during his global studies of groups of people who consumed ancestral diets. Pasteurization denatures enzymes in milk that aid digestion and confer positive health benefits. Raw dairy retains these proteins, along with the 'good' bacteria.

Now, I know that raw dairy--or Total FAGE Greek Yogurt, for that matter--is not strictly Paleo or Primal, but in light of Pottenger's research, perhaps raw cheese or raw milk are 'fruitful' compromises. Based on my own 'ancestral' Ancestral Fitness experiments, I suspect they are for certain groups of people. To start, raw milk cheese has no sugar--'good' bacteria fermented it away, producing lots of healthy byproducts in the process that support immune function and bone density. Plus, raw cheese, raw milk, and FAGE are all high in saturated lipids, our key ancestral friends. In our current state of healthcare affairs, we must find ways to incorporate 'good' bacteria into our diets to support digestive health and to stimulate our immune systems as proactive, preventive probiotic protection against pathogens like Clostridium Difficile and MRSA that our antibiotic culture in modern medicine created. Raw cheese/dairy and FAGE represent possible modalities to serve this probiotic nutritional bricolage purpose, but it will take your own individualized self-experiment to know for sure. Test some 'good' bacteria foods out; just to see what happens--'probiotic', after all, means, "for life."

To good health,



  1. Hey Brent,

    Went out for FAGE to start my new probiotic self experiment but found only the 0 percent fat version. No thanks. I will keep looking.


    PS funny and apt that the word verification is "intestr"!

  2. Good move, Jeff.

    Boycott that 0% stuff; hold out for the real deal.

    That is quite apt, lol.

    Keep me posted on your search.



  3. This is critical to the Qualitative Self and self-experimentation:

    "In point of fact, no conclusive disproof of a theory can ever be produced; for it is always possible to say that the experimental results are not reliable, or that the discrepancies which are asserted to exist between the experimental results and the theory are only apparent and that they will disappear with the advance of our understanding. (In the struggle against Einstein, both these arguments were often used in support of Newtonian mechanics, and similar arguments abound in the field of the social sciences.) If you insist on strict proof (or strict disproof) in the empirical sciences, you will never benefit from experience, and never learn from it how wrong you are."

    Note added to English translation. "I have now here added in brackets the words 'or strict disproof' to the text (a) because they are clearly implied by what is said immediately before ('no conclusive disproof of a theory can ever be produced'), and (b) because I have been constantly misinterpreted as upholding a criterion (and moreover one of meaning rather than of demarcation) based upon a doctrine of 'complete' or 'conclusive' falsifiability."

    (Hat tip to Dave Lull)