Art DeVany Uncensored: Part III

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Often referred to as the “grandfather” of the Paleo movement, Art DeVany is the author of “The New Evolution Diet” and also has his own website and blog He has appeared on PBS and NPR, The New York Times and other national media as an expert on the Paleo lifestyle. Most recently, he was seen towing his Land Rover SUV on an ABC Nightline program about “Paleo diets and caveman workouts.”

People are comfortable with the idea of competition at work, in sports, and even with themselves. However, the idea of competition within ones own body is rather startling and seems to explain why diseases, particularly auto-immune diseases like diabetes, occur. How did you come by the realization that our organs and even our very cells are competing with each other for available resources?

Darwinism is everywhere. In my book I do focus on the competition between the brain, lean body mass (muscle, bone, organs), and fat. I say the brain is “selfish”, meaning it must preserve its more or less continuous supply of glucose, offset to some extent by lactate and ketones. But, the (body’s) fat is “greedy”. As it becomes large relative to other organs it exerts a mass action effect and causes other tissues to become resistant to the action of insulin. Since fat is about the last tissue to become resistant, the result is that more of the energy you consume is sent to fat cells. Fat is “greedy” in this sense, stealing energy from other tissues and eventually invading their space. It creeps into the liver from the visceral adipose reservoir deep inside you gut, and does nothing but damage there---leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Internal competition is seen between the fetus and the mother; the fetus can induce insulin resistance in the mother to capture nutrients for itself; this is called maternal diabetes. The growth factors from the mother's genes and the father’s genes are in competition; the males genes want to use the mother's resources to produce a strong, large baby. The mother simply cannot afford that, so her genes dampen the father's growth axis. This may lead to autism in some cases where the father's growth and masculinization genetic axis overwhelms the mother's. If not autism, it can produce a kind of super male baby who may lack socialization skills. Sometimes I think I may be that way---happy as a loner to some extent and bent of math and geometry

Considering that you’re currently in your seventies, have a single digit body-fat percentage, and are in possession of a physique men less than half your age would be proud of, its safe to say that your own life is a New Evolution Diet success story. Is there any other person or persons that you’ve worked with over the years that stand out as a memorable success story?

First, my wife Carmela. She lost 5 dress sizes on The New Evolution Diet and created a kind of Mediterranean Caveman Cuisine. Her oldest son has lost 70 pounds and his blood pressure returned to normal. He can actually wear an XL shirt now, when he was in 3XL and more before. But, the most heartening successes are type-2 diabetics who have handed in their syringes, with their doctor's full approval. They have essentially cured their diabetes. It is not hard to do, though I always urge that they talk with their doctor rather than rely on my advice. I never give medical advice.

In your book, you describe your diet for a typical day as including half a ham steak and three hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, 9oz of smoked salmon for lunch, and a half rack of baby back ribs for dinner.  Many people, including a large portion of the medical community, consider this to be “too much” protein and claim that excessive protein intake damages the kidneys.  What would you say to someone who has this concern?

There is no evidence to support that concern for anyone with normal kidneys. I cite chapter and verse on that with references in The New Evolution Diet. Those who follow the New Evolution Diet consume so much vegetable, fruit and fat, that their protein intake relative to other macronutrients is moderate.

Consider another point. Marathoning and long-lasting exercise of many other forms damages muscle and the proteins released may over load the kidneys. This is called rhabdomyolsis and can be deadly.

Another commonly cited argument against the dietary recommendations that you make in “The New Evolution Diet” is T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study”. In it, the author advocates a low-fat, low-protein, high carbohydrate, plant-based diet that seems to be in direct contradiction to your suggestions that carbohydrates should be severely limited and that protein and fat should make up the bulk of one’s caloric intake. In a debate between T.Colin Campbell and Loren Cordain, Campbell was quoted as saying, "Diet-disease associations observed in contemporary times are far more meaningful than what might have occurred during evolutionary times—at least since the last 2.5 million years or so.” How do you respond to this assertion?

His study is an inscrutable Chinese statistical puzzle; 8000 cross-correlations can support any argument you want to make. It is the hard work and the semi-starvation that keeps the Chinese healthy, to the extent that they are “healthy” when living in a Chinese city or working in a Chinese factory is to be exposed to damaging levels of chemicals.

Now that more calories are becoming available to the Chinese, we find that their high carbohydrate diet is leading to an epidemic of type-2 diabetes. About two thirds of Chinese by the age of 60 become diabetic. It is even worse here in the US, where the Chinese population is seeing staggering levels of diabetes.

(This interview will be continued in part IV)

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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