Author Topic: Eating brains for a healthy brain?  (Read 17191 times)

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Offline Paleo Donk

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Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« on: February 27, 2010, 05:59:28 am »
I just came across this excellent article from Cordain, "Fatty Acid Composition and Energy Density of Foods Available to African Hominids".

Heres the conclusion

AA is arachidonic acid and DHA is docosahexaenoic acid, both polyunsaturated (20:4w6 and 22:6w3) that are apparently very important in brain growth and development.

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Our analysis demonstrated that muscle tissue would have been a relatively good source of AA, but not of DHA or energy. Scavenged marrow would have likely been the most frequently obtainable concentrated energy (fat) source for early hominids, except that it would have been devoid of DHA and AA. Subcutaneous fat contained trace amounts of DHA and moderate amounts of AA, however, this fat was unlikely to have been frequently encountered and therefore would have provided little energy or FA needed for encephalization. The scavenged
brain tissue of ruminants would have provided a moderate energy source
for encephalization and a rich source of both DHA and AA. Fish would have provided a rich source of DHA and AA, but not energy, and the fossil evidence provides scant evidence for their consumption. Plant foods generally are of a low energetic density and contain little or no DHA and AA. Because early hominids were probably not successful in hunting large ruminants, the scavenged skulls(containing brain) likely provided the greatest DHA and AA sources, and long bones (containing marrow) likely provided the concentrated energy source necessary
for the evolution of a large, metabolically active brain in ancestral humans.

This all makes such perfect sense to me. The paper goes on to say that herbivores are essentially limited to a certain brain size because they cannot synthesize enough DHA and AA, the two predimoniant fats in all animal brain matter, with enough efficiency from their food sources for bigger brains. DHA and AA make up 22 and 16 percent of all polyunsaturated fats in the brain. It is metabolicaly expensive for the liver to desaturate and elongate an 18 carbon omega 6 (linoleic acid) fatty acid into AA and likewise the omega three version (alpha-linoleic-acid) into DHA.

Seeing that muscle meats and fats are pretty much devoid of DHA, the most important polyunsaturated building block for the brain, it seems that it would be vitally important for us to get this from diet. Why make the body work to produce it? Fish is a good source but brain seems like it would be optimal.

What ya'll think?

Offline kurite

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2010, 06:06:33 am »
Makes perfect sence to me. It also explains why in the last tens of thousands of years our cranium size has decreased because sad diets are very low in all sorts of healthy fats. Also explains why its impossible for humans to be vegans without probelms...
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Offline Paleo Donk

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2010, 06:36:57 am »
Now, where do I find them in the US? Slankers doesnt sell them. Maybe ethnic food stores?

Also forgot to mention that egg yolks are relatively high in DHA.

Offline wodgina

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2010, 07:07:39 am »
So would eating oysters and egg yolks be enough to not bother with brains? They are slimy and not very appealing and taste bland. I'm guessing ox liver contains DHA in small amounts.
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Offline RawZi

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2010, 05:39:09 pm »
... not bother with brains? They are slimy and not very appealing and taste bland. ...

    I don't like the toughish stringy lining, but otherwise I wish brain was easier to find. 

    I have tried brain as a child, so I assume my ancestors always ate it.  I would say yes that ethnic places are the best to look for it. 

    SADists/SUKDists are too scared of their own shadows.  You'll likely never find it in a regular store.  They'd rather their brains shrink.
"Genuine truth angers people in general because they don't know what to do with the energy generated by a glimpse of reality." Greg W. Goodwin

Offline yon yonson

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2010, 09:20:25 pm »
so you guys are fine with getting a non-grassfed brain at an ethnic shop? i'd think brain is one of the organs you would want to be sure was grass fed...

i can't find it locally, but i will keep trying. i would think i could probably find it at an ethnic market but im skeptical of grain fed brains. the only other option i have now is buying a live grassfed goat/sheep and slaughtering it myself or hunting for a deer. i really want to get some brains though. i've never had it before, but it sounds very tasty

Offline RawZi

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2010, 01:23:33 am »
... fine with getting a non-grassfed brain at an ethnic shop? i'd think brain is one of the organs you would want to be sure was grass fed...

i can't find it locally, but i will keep trying. i would think i could probably find it at an ethnic market but im skeptical of grain fed brains. the only other option i have now is buying a live grassfed goat/sheep and slaughtering it myself or hunting for a deer. ...

    I've gotten it at two ethnic shops.  They told me it was grassfed.  I can't guarantee they really were.  One of the shops was highly recommended to me for grassfed.
"Genuine truth angers people in general because they don't know what to do with the energy generated by a glimpse of reality." Greg W. Goodwin

William

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2010, 05:02:35 am »
While brains are certainly paleo, their use as food is doubtful both because of the carbohydrate content and paleoman's need for clothing.
See here:http://www.rawpaleoforum.com/off-topic/brains/

Offline Nation

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2010, 05:17:41 am »
William, how would paleoman know of the carb contain of food?

When you're desperate for food, you eat anything you can get your hands on.

I can understand your anti vegetal food crusade but anti carbs? That's pretty strange since we all know there are carbs in everything. Why do you focus on carb content instead of plant vs animal food which would make more sense.

Offline yon yonson

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2010, 09:09:13 am »
so, right after i made my last post, i searched for some local ethnic meat markets. bingo! i found a halal meat market! i read some reviews and apparently their goat is from local ranchers and organic! i can't be sure it's 100% grass fed (probably not) but it's safe to say it's at least partially pastured as evidenced by what most goat ranchers do around here. so, i went to the market and they had goat brain, tripe, and lots of other organs (i wasn't even sure what they were actually, ha). anyways, i bought 6 brains (they're pretty small)! im really excited about them. but i won't be eating them for a few days because i've already got a lot of stuff that's thawed out. i will definitely give you guys a rundown when i try them though. maybe some pics too!

on a related note, i picked up some free grass fed suet at whole foods and when i got home i found that they had accidentally included half a pancreas! pretty good luck i guess. anyways, that's part of the reason im not gonna thaw the brains tonight, gotta finish that pancreas.

anyways, i recommend that if you want brains, check to see if there's a halal meat market nearby. apparently they almost always have organic and most likely local animals. good luck. i'll keep yall posted

William

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2010, 10:30:05 am »
William, how would paleoman know of the carb contain of food?

By eating it.

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When you're desperate for food, you eat anything you can get your hands on.

A mere 15 million people in a planet crawling with food cannot be considered to be desperate. Unless you believe Tyler's proposition that our large-brained ancestors were too stupid to be competent hunters, and starved in the midst of plenty.

Quote
I can understand your anti vegetal food crusade but anti carbs?

It is a truth crusade.
If you actually try eating paleo fruit & veg, you will find that they all taste like medicine. Almost certainly they were used as medicine; not as food.


Quote
Why do you focus on carb content instead of plant vs animal food which would make more sense.

It is not I who obsesses about plant food, and there isn't any vs, as I don't do combat.
BTW do you know what the essential nutrients are?

Offline yon yonson

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2010, 10:49:06 am »
While brains are certainly paleo, their use as food is doubtful both because of the carbohydrate content and paleoman's need for clothing.
See here:http://www.rawpaleoforum.com/off-topic/brains/

while it is true that brains were occasionally used to tan hides, it's ridiculous to state that "their use as food is doubtful." leather lasts a very long time. after everyone in the group (maybe 30-40 people?) had clothing and shelter, they wouldn't keep tanning every single deer or buffalo hide. also, scavenged brains from carcasses were probably not used for tanning as the hides would have been unusable. there are also many other ways to tan hides with tannins (from bark, acorns, etc). this method renders the hides waterproof if you oil it which makes it a preferable method in many cases. brain tanning makes leather like cotton and is not waterproof at all. here's a very good description of bark tanning: http://goingferal.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/bark-tan-leather-primitive-waterproof-technology/

also, to condemn brains, liver, or any other animal food for containing carbs is really pretty silly and i think you know it. you are aware that all obligate carnivores eat liver first right? and if they could get to the brain, i would damn well bet they'd eat that too.

William

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2010, 11:00:49 am »
you are aware that all obligate carnivores eat liver first right? and if they could get to the brain, i would damn well bet they'd eat that too.

Have you noticed that those of us doing RZC are obligate fativores? And what does a fativore eat when he can't get enough fat? Well, liver and/or brain. If not those, then plant carbs are necessary.


Insults are not appreciated.

Offline yon yonson

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2010, 11:05:38 am »
wasn't trying to be insulting. but following your logic of them eating liver or brain when they can't get fat: why do they go for liver first when they could eat the fat? is it because they're addicted to carbs? (haha, okay, that was meant to be a jab at you, but we're all friends, right?)

Offline van

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2010, 03:46:20 pm »
William I too think it's bad logic and then silly to believe they'd leave the brain behind because of carbs, as well as berries or honey or any easy picking.  I've eaten brains, there's little carb rush at all.  Same for liver.  The brain has the highest concentration of Dha fats.  Their instinct would guide them to eat them just like mine does and with liver.  Different parts of animals bodies nourish different parts of ours.  None of us really know what we need to live a long life on zc or close to it.  Keep it flexible, that is,  our opinions

William

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2010, 04:06:41 pm »
William I too think it's bad logic and then silly to believe they'd leave the brain behind because of carbs, as well as berries or honey or any easy picking.  I've eaten brains, there's little carb rush at all.  Same for liver.  The brain has the highest concentration of Dha fats.  Their instinct would guide them to eat them just like mine does and with liver.  Different parts of animals bodies nourish different parts of ours.  None of us really know what we need to live a long life on zc or close to it.  Keep it flexible, that is,  our opinions

My point is that they would never leave brains behind. They probably needed them for making clothing.
As to how often they ate them, that's not known.
Necessary for a healthy brain? Our brain-eating farming ancestors as of three or four generations ago don't seem to have been much different than us.

Offline Paleo Donk

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2010, 09:01:52 pm »
And how long ago did we invent clothing? (answer this please) Before clothing, there would be no argument for brains as tanning.

If you read the paper, the author believes we would have been poor hunters for most of the time we evolved in the last 2 million years and so scavenging would have been our best option. Scavengers are mainly left with bones and so we figured a way to get to the marrow and the brains. Eating these brains high in DHA and AA were a likely reason we developed big brains. There seems to be a bottleneck for brainsize when animals limit their intake of DHA and AA. One of the reasons carnivores generally have bigger brains than herbivores is that there are trace amounts of DHA and AA in the flesh and the fats they do eat are easier for the body to process into DHA and AA. Fish is high in DHA and AA - could this explain why whales have such big brains? Similarly sized carnivorous dinosaurs had very small brains - perhaps because of a lack of DHA, AA.The inuit also reportedly have bigger brains and also ate the most marine life, high in these essential fatty acids. Brain size shrunk around 10% I believe in the last 25-10k years. All of this makes me think that consuming foods rich in DHA and AA would be a smart thing to do.

Since the body can manufacture its own DHA and AA from poor sources like linoleic acid found in plants, its still possible to have a very healthy functioning brain even as a vegan. The body might make sure the brain fatty acids are produced first before anything else. But, then again vegans brains do shrink over time according to some posts I've seen here.

Also from the USDA nutrient database cow brains are 1% carb by weight. For pig and lamb they actually list 0, so your carb argument seems to not hold any weght. It would be nice to see you retract it. You eat lots of raw egg yolk which is 3.6% carb by weight.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 09:07:54 pm by Paleo Donk »

William

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2010, 09:45:58 pm »
And how long ago did we invent clothing? (answer this please) Before clothing, there would be no argument for brains as tanning.


I leave the fiction to Tyler.

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If you read the paper, the author believes

The author is an idiot. Another word for belief based on nothing.




Quote
Also from the USDA nutrient database cow brains are 1% carb by weight. For pig and lamb they actually list 0, so your carb argument seems to not hold any weght. It would be nice to see you retract it. You eat lots of raw egg yolk which is 3.6% carb by weight.

/my bad. Fooled by a carb addict.

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2010, 07:22:10 am »


There seems to be a bottleneck for brainsize when animals limit their intake of DHA and AA. One of the reasons carnivores generally have bigger brains than herbivores is that there are trace amounts of DHA and AA in the flesh and the fats they do eat are easier for the body to process into DHA and AA.

I'm no ZCer like William, or at least not consistently so, but I've got to call b*llshit.  Gorillas and chimps are not carnivores, nor anywhere close, but they have the largest brain-to-body-size ratio of any land-dwelling animals except humans. They have a bigger brain-to-body ratio than lions, tigers, etc.

Offline Paleo Donk

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2010, 08:10:00 am »
Did you not see the word generally? I feel a bit disapointed when you globally label a statement as bullshit instead of see it for what it is.

Your point that gorillas and chimps have bigger ratios further validates the ideas I have presented here. They have likely, for whatever reason, evolved relatively big brains for their body size. Perhaps they are at a bottleneck themselves because of the lack of available DHA and AA. Humans broke away from the smartest of the animals and thus more easily were able to become intelligent.




Offline RawZi

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2010, 08:23:45 am »
... Perhaps they are at a bottleneck themselves because of the lack of available DHA and AA. Humans broke away from the smartest of the animals and thus more easily were able to become intelligent.

    Interesting thought.
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2010, 10:16:24 am »
Did you not see the word generally? I feel a bit disapointed when you globally label a statement as bullshit instead of see it for what it is.

Your point that gorillas and chimps have bigger ratios further validates the ideas I have presented here. They have likely, for whatever reason, evolved relatively big brains for their body size. Perhaps they are at a bottleneck themselves because of the lack of available DHA and AA. Humans broke away from the smartest of the animals and thus more easily were able to become intelligent.





I still don't think you've supported your point thoroughly.  I'm not saying that carnivory doesn't help support increases in brain size...I still think it might. However, I think it's only a smaller part of a much bigger picture.  Much bigger picture.  Else, why didn't intelligent tool-using carnivorous dinosaurs develop? Why no intelligent tool-using canids or felines?

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2010, 07:04:44 pm »


I leave the fiction to Tyler.

Given your previous, entirely fictional justifications of Creationism etc., that is simple pure hypocrisy,as usual. Don't mind him folks, William is just our resident troll.

As for other claims, Cherimoya does have a good point.
. If meat_eating was the sole reason for gaining greater intelligence, one would have expected creatures like polar bears to be close to human in IQ.

As for remarks re extinction of megafauna in the Palaeolithic, these are primarily attributed to human predation on such creatures. Citing endless fictional Velikovskian events such as earthquakes/planetary collisions as the primary cause would be ridiculous.

"What is the point of growing up If you can't be childish sometimes..." - Tom Baker as Dr Who.

Offline Paleo Donk

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2010, 09:00:37 pm »
I still don't think you've supported your point thoroughly.  I'm not saying that carnivory doesn't help support increases in brain size...I still think it might. However, I think it's only a smaller part of a much bigger picture.  Much bigger picture.  Else, why didn't intelligent tool-using carnivorous dinosaurs develop? Why no intelligent tool-using canids or felines?

Like I stated previously, it is the DHA and AA (these are highest pecentage make-up of polyunsaturated fats found in all mamalian brain tissue) which are believed to be important for big brains, not  muscle meat or non-brain fats. I'll say it again - DHA is found only in trace amounts in non-brain tissue and not in vegetation. AA is available I think in organ meats but not in muscle meat or in plants.

 Since DHA is only found in brains, a food hominids exploited during their scavenging days, this is the reason the paper is pointing to increased brain encephelization. So, this points to there being a bottleneck for all mammals consuming limited amounts of DHA and AA. Land  carnivores get very limited amonts of DHA, just trace amounts more than herbivores, so all their meat eating would not lead to bigger brains.

Dinosaurs are reptiles, a completely different type of organism than mammals and evolved with very small brains, for whatever reason. They do however possess other abilities not associated with brain size that do help them seem more intelligent.  Other highly developed sensory mechanisms elsewhere in the reptile body evolved other than the brain that were not in mammals. Brain size is not all there is for a large creature being successful.

Fish do contain good amounts of DHA and AA, another possible reason why whales (carnivorous mammals), grow such large brains. For whatever reason, mammals might have the ability to grow large brains while reptiles do not. At the same time, mammals might not ever be able to evolve to develop those sensory mechanisms that dinosaurs possessed. Dinosaurs ruled the earth for much longer than mammals, so whatever they had going for them worked pretty well.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 09:06:05 pm by Paleo Donk »

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: Eating brains for a healthy brain?
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2010, 12:43:32 am »
Whales are a poor example as, not being limited by gravity due to living in the ocean, then can grow any body-part to huge sizes with few or no consequences.

As for the issue of DHA in marrow and brains, do bear in mind that birds like vultures can easily get at the stuff inside the bones as they routinely drop the bones/skulls from very great heights. Yet they aren't as intelligent as humans by any means.
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