Kurt G. Harris MD

PāNu means paleonutrition. The "paleo" here signifies "old" and not necessarily paleolithic. The PāNu approach to nutrition is grounded on clinical medicine and basic sciences disciplined by knowledge of evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology. The best evidence from multiple disciplines supports eating a pastoral (animal-based) diet rather than a grain-based agricultural one, while avoiding what I call the neolithic agents of disease - wheat, excess fructose and excess linoleic acid.

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Wednesday
Feb022011

How to Read This Blog

I like to think that this blog functions a bit like a photo album or personal journal. Each posting is a snapshot into what I was thinking at the time it was written.

I don't post a lot of music videos or any of my poetry. I also don't post much about many other deep interests I have like economics, investing, the brain and consciousness, general philosophy of science, etc.

But it's still pretty eclectic in types of posts.

Addressing a couple of comments and questions I've had recently:

Question -You mentioned that you have changed your views on x recently - are you going to go back and revise all of your of previous blog posts and 1000 or so comments to reflect that?

Answer - No. To use the photo album metaphor, this is like saying "I see you used to have more hair 3 years ago. I think you should go back and photoshop the older images so they look more like you now." Or, "Your poetry is so much better now than when you started. Why don't you re-write all your older pieces"? All the blogs I admire seem similar in this regard. You can read old posts of Peter's where he is taking 10,000 units a day of D3, but now he takes zero. Stephan initially entertained the idea that low total carbohydrate might be necessary for health. He no longer believes that, and although he has commented on that change of opinion, he has not gone back and deleted or modified old blogs posts, as far as I can tell.

So please do not use this blog as if it were a dietary on-line Harrison's Internal Medicine - continually updated for accuracy. Like every other blog of this type - a journal essentially - the most recent posts will be closest to my current thinking. The exception to this is "get started" which I strive to keep updated from time to time. So you can use the blog however you like, but if you are new you might first read "get started" and then read in reverse chronological order. That is what I do when I find a new blog I like. Going in reverse is good as you can immediately identify what is out of date as you encounter it in the older posts. I am trying to do this with John Hawks weblog right now, for instance. Learning a lot there!

Question: How come you don't provide more references?

Answer: The photo album is full of different photographs. Spontaneous action photos, artsy black and whites, panoramic wide angle landscapes, crappy snapshots...

There are some posts that are explications of peer reviewed articles that will obviously reference the article referred to. There are some in-depth posts that have a few supporting references where the reference is critical to what I am saying, or where the point is especially controversial. Some are short comments in response to a question. Maybe I have a preliminary opinion on something, but have not assembled all the references in one easy-to-access spot.

The main species of post is the essay. These are editorials. They are opinion pieces about dietary science that are informed by the reading and digestion of literally thousands of abstracts, perhaps 100 books and close to a thousand full text papers per year. When I write a series like "No such thing as a macronutrient" it represents about 10 hours of actual typing preceded by days of re-reading various references, and synthesis of ideas and knowledge gleaned over years. To add all the "references" that support every claim or opinion expressed would take days - and for the "macronutrient" essay there would easily be over 100 references.

To use the "macronutrient" example, you can do a lot of the fact checking yourself. It's really easy. Just go to pubmed or google scholar or google and type in "fructose" and "insulin resistance" or "fatty liver". 

Some day I will start the first of several books. I can write pretty fast, so most of the work will involve compiling references, fact-checking, getting professional editing, etc. I could do that level of detail for each essay-length blog post, I suppose, but then I am basically providing a free on-line book in installments, the blog will get even slower, and the book would either be redundant or never get written.

Think of it like this. Let's say you invited someone to coffee to talk about their field of expertise. Let's use John Hawks as example. That's a good example for me because I could learn a lot from John Hawks. He has spent his career researching and teaching paleoanthropology. If I asked him to coffee so I could pick his brain for an hour, I don't think I would be disappointed if he failed to bring his laptop loaded with PDFs of all the papers he's ever read. After asking his take on "Out of Africa" I would not stop him mid-sentence and demand to know which scholarly articles he can cite in support of his ideas.  I would just let him tell the story as a narrative and see what I could learn, and I would trust him to mention critical references if and when he chose to do so.

Now, I am not suggesting or demanding that you grant me that level of trust or authority. I am saying, though, that those are the rules. I am just publishing a journal of things I think about - opinions about scientific ideas and hypotheses, and you are free to heed or discount whatever I say as you see fit.

But it's really just a chat at the coffehouse or a browse through someone's photo album or a poetry journal.

It's not the New England Journal of Medicine.

Finally, I love writing blog posts and I enjoy reading papers and books. I despise spending extra precious time on the computer compiling references and creating links. That is just work, frankly, and if I was forced to a "review article" standard I would stop blogging altogether and just play my guitar and do more drawing and painting.

Question: You said you welcomed friendly emails. I have a special dietary issue. Can you give me advice?

I am very happy if you find my writings useful or entertaining. I have absolutely no time to do one-on-one dietary coaching. So I must clarify, "friendly" does not mean any email that contains a request that would need a response.