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RomeoStevens comments on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity - Less Wrong

121 Post author: RomeoStevens 28 February 2014 06:28AM

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Comment author: RomeoStevens 28 February 2014 08:37:29PM *  2 points [-]

Two points that came up in my research:
1. whole milk and eggs are associated with significantly lower mortality for vegetarians, and somewhat lower mortality for the general populace.
2. fruit has twice the effect of vegetables on mortality risk per serving.

I am basically highly dubious of the proposition that we are supposed to munch on leaves all the time. Past and extant hunter gatherer groups eat tubers, fruit, and nuts as their plant material. We simply don't see these groups pursuing leafy greens as a significant calorie source.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 February 2014 08:46:18PM 2 points [-]
  1. fruit has twice the effect of vegetables on mortality risk per serving.

Huh?

I rather suspect fruit here is working a proxy for something else (maybe wealth).

Nutritionally, the major difference between fruits and vegetables is that fruits have MUCH more sugar. In particular, fructose which doesn't have a sterling reputation, to put it mildly.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 28 February 2014 08:52:29PM 3 points [-]

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/10/2588.short
http://www.neurology.org/content/65/8/1193.short

Yup. Surprised me a bit too when I first saw it. Fructose effects are not linear. The liver has some ability to process a certain amount of fructose every day, it is going well beyond this limit that is harmful. 5 servings of fruit is probably going to be 30-50g of fructose, which has been proposed as the approximate amount we can process.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 February 2014 09:01:37PM *  0 points [-]

Yup.

Yes, I understand there are studies. That doesn't make me trust their conclusion. I don't have time to dig into these papers right now, but I wonder how well they controlled for e.g. socioeconomic status and latitude.

Comment author: Nornagest 28 February 2014 09:18:06PM *  3 points [-]

Wealth doesn't look likely to me -- vegetables aren't a lot cheaper than fruit where I live, unless we're talking potatoes and such, and those usually aren't counted as vegetables in these analyses.

I would be interested in what fruits and vegetables are respectively displacing in the diet. If a lot of these people are eating fruit for dessert instead of e.g. cake, or for breakfast in place of Pop Tarts, then dramatic longevity effects wouldn't surprise me but also wouldn't be an unqualified endorsement of more fruit for everyone.

Comment author: Lumifer 28 February 2014 09:38:06PM 3 points [-]

vegetables aren't a lot cheaper than fruit where I live

Carrots, cabbage, onions, squash -- not cheaper than fruit?

But yes, I don't think it's purely a matter of money but may be a matter of culture as well.

I would be interested in what fruits and vegetables are respectively displacing in the diet.

Yep, a very good point.

Comment author: Nornagest 28 February 2014 10:10:14PM 2 points [-]

Carrots, cabbage, onions, squash -- not cheaper than fruit?

I just looked these up on Safeway's online store for my area, and found carrots at about 80 cents a pound, cabbage at a buck a pound, onions at about 56 cents and squash at about a dollar. (You can squeeze a bit more out of some of these if you're buying in 10-pound increments, but I consider that impractical for individuals or small families.) Compare to cheap apples at $1.09 a pound, grapefruit at $0.66, or bananas at about $0.85.

Fruit does go a lot higher -- if you're buying berries or tropical fruit, you can easily be spending five or six bucks a pound. But if you're mainly looking for frugality, you have plenty of options in each category. I expect this to be skewed a bit by season, too -- there aren't many cold-season fruits.

Comment author: CurtisSerVaas 16 January 2016 12:16:36AM 0 points [-]

The Perfect Health Diet people largely agree. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/01/is-it-good-to-eat-sugar/

Their recommendation is a max of 25g fructose or 15% of carbohydrates should be fructose.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 04 April 2014 09:38:59AM *  0 points [-]

I am basically highly dubious of the proposition that we are supposed to munch on leaves all the time. Past and extant hunter gatherer groups eat tubers, fruit, and nuts as their plant material. We simply don't see these groups pursuing leafy greens as a significant calorie source.

Do we have data on the eating habits of hunter gatherers to draw such detailed conclusions about the nutritional composition of their diets? Personally, I think we should rely primarily on prospective epidemiological studies about the health effects of various types of foods on different cohorts, rather than on speculative historical studies about our Pleistocene ancestors.

I don't think anyone is claiming that people should regard "leafy greens as a significant calorie source". Rather, the claim is that people should eat lots of vegetables (not just leafy greens, by the way), where "lots" is something like the NHS "five [portions] per day" recommendation--which only 10% of young Britons comply with. That's maybe 500 grams of vegetables per day. Even if you eat that many veggies, the calories derived from vegetables would only constitute 5-10% of your total daily calories.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 April 2014 03:32:07PM *  1 point [-]

Do we have data on the eating habits of hunter gatherers to draw such detailed conclusions about the nutritional composition of their diets?

The shape of the human teeth and the specifics of the human digestive tract are pretty good indicators of what we evolved to eat. It is rather obvious that humans did not evolve eating only plants.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 04 April 2014 05:48:30PM *  0 points [-]

Sure, but that is not what is being discussed here. I asked for historical evidence bearing on the question of whether we should eat lots of vegetables, which RomeoStevens seems to dispute on the basis of evolutionary considerations. The evidence you supplied is only relevant for challenging the claim that we should eat only vegetables--an entirely different claim, considering that vegetables would represent only 5-10% of total calories in a vegetable-rich diet.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 April 2014 05:55:10PM 1 point [-]

historical evidence bearing on the question of whether we should eat lots of vegetables

What is a "vegetable" pre-agriculture and pre-gardening?

we should eat things other than vegetables--a claim which no one, here or elsewhere, seems to have ever disputed.

Vegans certainly put out claims that we should eat only plants.

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 04 April 2014 06:15:21PM *  0 points [-]

Vegans certainly put out claims that we should eat only plants.

I have been a vegetarian for 14 years (and a vegan, intermittently, for a total of 3-4 years), and during all this time, which involved reading countless books and papers on human nutrition, and meeting vegetarians and vegans at talks and conferences in various countries, I haven't ever encountered the claim the we should only eat vegetables. It's possible that you are right and vegans do make such claims, but I would need a few references to accept a statement that contradicts my experience to such a degree.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 April 2014 06:26:55PM 1 point [-]

I am consistently using the word "plants" and you are consistently talking about "vegetables".

As I mentioned, I am not sure what counts as a vegetable in the pre-gardening world. Some tubers, probably, anything else?

Comment author: Pablo_Stafforini 04 April 2014 06:54:49PM 0 points [-]

In the context of nutrition, the terms 'vegetable' and 'plant' are used interchangeably. As the Wikipedia article on 'vegetable' reads: "In culinary terms, a vegetable is an edible plant or its part, intended for cooking or eating raw."

It seems that this exchange has served no useful purpose. I suggested that we should eat lots of vegetables, and everything that was said in reply to that claim was either irrelevant or relevant but not supported by evidence.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 April 2014 07:45:22PM 0 points [-]

In the context of nutrition, the terms 'vegetable' and 'plant' are used interchangeably.

Nonsense. Vegetables are parts of plants, just as, for example, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds (including grains) are. You are not calling walnuts vegetables, are you?

Comment author: Vaniver 04 April 2014 09:32:32PM -1 points [-]

As I mentioned, I am not sure what counts as a vegetable in the pre-gardening world.

According to Linnaeus...