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Pablo_Stafforini comments on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity - Less Wrong

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

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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...