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Protein Quality, Not Genes, Determine Male Height

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    I posted a study on the height of Dutch men - a well studied phenomenon officially explained by genes, but recently recast as one possibly due to diet.
    Dutch People Gained 20cm Of Height In Just 150 Years

    Now this new study adds more evidence to the diet hypothesis as it found a population in my native Balkans that should be (and sometimes is) even taller than the Dutch, but the realization of that potential depends on protein quality. The mountain men whose diet consists mainly of dairy, eggs and meat, realized that potential and are on average taller than the Dutch and thus the tallest in the world. However, the people with the same genes living in the bigger cities and eating commercial crap that passes as food are actually on average some of the shortest in Europe.
    So, once again, diet (and maybe high CO2 from living in mountains) is elucidated as the main factor that drives height and possibly overall health. It would be interesting to also see longevity charts separated within the same population groups examined by the study. I bet the mountain men also live longer and have much lower incidence of chronic diseases.
    So, naturally the question is this - what is good quality protein vs. poor quality protein? Well, it's in the quotes below but basically animal protein rules and cereals/grains are crap. Tell that to the vicious vegan munching on a his heap of grass next to you in the cafeteria :)
    Finally, if people in B&H are expected to continue growing depending on their diet then we can chalk height - one of the holliest pillars of geneticism - off to diet and socioeconomis conditions. If height is not due to genes then I don't see much hope for the genetic theory of diseases. I suppose it also means we should all be focusing on animal protein to realize our genetic height potential, and Ray's assertions that he grew an inch and a half in his 40s due to using DHEA may be actually due to his insistence on consuming animal protein instead of plant one :)

    The mountains of giants: an anthropometric survey of male youths in Bosnia and Herzegovina | Open Science
    Move Over, Dutch Men. Herzegovinians May Be Tallest in World | American Council on Science and Health
    "...The Dutch are famous for windmills, impressive feats of geoengineering, and being tall and blonde. At a towering 183.8 cm (just over 6 feet tall), Dutch men are widely hailed as the tallest in the world. But new data suggests that men from regions within the Balkan country of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) are even taller. The inhabitants of B&H display a large variation in average height. This is due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, religion, and socioeconomics. B&H is a multiethnic country, so the genetic background of its citizens is varied. Religion influences a person's dietary choices (e.g., Muslims avoid pork), while socioeconomic status affects the nutritional value of the food that a person can obtain. Just over half the population of B&H is Muslim, and the country is one of the poorest in Europe."

    "...The tallest citizens of B&H lived in Herzegovina (the southern part of the country through which the Dinaric Alps cross), who measured on average 183.6 cm, a mere 0.2 cm shy of the Dutch. But in some regions of Herzegovina, the average man was 184 cm or taller2. In the Trebinje region at the southern tip of the country, the men were 184.5 cm, besting the Dutch by more than a quarter of an inch."

    "...But the average male Herzegovinian isn't that tall. Why? That's where the other factor, nutrition, comes into play. Average male height in a nation is also correlated with protein quality. Nations that consume more protein in the form of pork, dairy, eggs, and fish tend to be taller, while those that attain more protein from cereals tend to be shorter. (The graph on the right shows that the Dutch have a diet rich in high-quality protein, while Bosnians and Herzegovinians do not.)

    "...Because of the large Muslim population, many Herzegovinians don't eat pork. In an email to ACSH, Dr. Grasgruber says that the religious prohibition on pork may be largely to blame for the shorter average stature of Herzegovinians. Indeed, regions with a greater fraction of Muslims were shorter than regions with fewer Muslims. Additionally, poverty plays a role, as citizens of B&H were 1.9 cm taller if both of their parents went to university."

    "...Together, the data suggests that Herzegovinians have the genetic potential to be more than two inches taller than the Dutch, but many currently do not achieve that potential due to nutritional choices and poverty. Can we ever expect the Herzegovinians to surpass the Dutchmen? Yes, "give it 20-30 years," Dr. Grasgruber said. We'll check back on them in the year 2040."
     
  2. jaa

    jaa Member

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    @haidut I'm glad you posted this as I was going to use it in the other Diabetes thread you posted as proof genetics matter. Clearly the range of potential heights is determined by genetics and the manifestation within that range is a combo of genetics plus environment. I'll just repost my question in the other thread here:

    As someone who thinks genetics play a role in just about all things human, what position are you arguing against? The weak one (100% genetics 0% environment) or the strong one (genetics and environment play a role)? Most people subscribe to the latter view and anything else seems pretty unreasonable to me.
     
  3. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    I support the role of genes in features like height, hair and eye color, skin color, maybe even gross anatomical features. But I have seen absolutely no evidence for role of genes in the common pathologies of our age (cancer, CVD, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, etc). The theory of genes driving disease, besides a few provably genetic (and thus present at birth) conditions is long overdue for retirement. As far as I am concerned, it is the biggest fraud in the history of mankind.
    How can you argue for genes when the US population went from lean to over 30% obese over the course of less than 50 years?! Same with rates for CVD, cancer and a host of other conditions. And cancer death rates surpassing those of other conditions with (presumably) a strong genetic component.
    Cancer surpasses heart disease as the leading cause of death in California and 21 other states
    Cancer Now Leading Killer in 12 European Nations

    Even the recent study on colon cancer rates doubling in young people said openly that genes and even obesity cannot explain this development.
    Breaking News: Colorectal Cancer Rates In Young People Have Doubled

    I guess a proponent of genetics can always argue it is the lack of diagnosis in the past, but this argument fails in the case of obesity as it was easily tracked and "diagnosed" even 100 years ago. And btw, if it is the environment that determines the expression of genes then you raise a very pertinent question, which was also raised in the articles below (also posted in the other thread). Do genes matter at all if it is their expression that determines health, life and death?
    Genes do NOT matter (much)
     
  4. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Finally, the study actually is not arguing for genes, it is simply saying good diet and environment help reach genetic height potential and in the absence of the latter factors, genetic potential does not really matter (i.e. people stay short). A better test for/against geneticism would be to find people from the same population who have a gene for "shortness" or at least lacking the gene for tallness. Then split these people into two groups randomly and give one group the tall mountain population diet and lifestyle and the other one the diet and conditions of the "undergrown" tall people. If the people genetically "destined" to be short or at least lacking the tallness gene grow at least as high as the mountain men then the argument for genes being the primary factor in height is over, especially if the group given the poor diet grows at least as high as the "undergrown" tall people eating the poor diet.
    My guess is actually that the short gene group given the good diet will match in growth the mountain men and the group being given the poor diet will actually outgrow the undergrown tall men. The reason is that the gene(s) conferring height advantage under optimal conditions often have the opposite effects under suboptimal conditions. Mianstream geneticists explain this with increased cost of superior gene maintenance. There is even a technical term for it but I am not remembering it right now.
    But, we will not know for sure until this study is conducted. What we do know is that the genetically "gifted" people stayed just as short as the genetically not gifted ones when eating the same poor diet. So, in that case (and many others I have posted about) genes do not matter (much) - environment rules. I may start using this as an abbreviation going forward - GDNM(M).
     
  5. SneezeStar

    SneezeStar Member

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    The traditional masai men are known to be quite tall, and their diet consists mainly of meat and dairy as well.
     
  6. jaa

    jaa Member

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    Ok, thanks for explaining your position. I didn't realize you were referring to pathologies and not physical things like height, eye colour, athletic potential, etc.

    I think environment plays a role. Again, I'm not arguing the 100% genetic position. I don't think anyone but a small sliver of people do that. There is a level at which radiation exposure would cause every human being to get cancer and die. Genetics be damned. But it also seems likely a lower dose of radiation would effect people with different genetics differently. This is why alcohol, tobacoo, and everything else under the sun effects people differently, and those different effects can be correlated to gene clusters. There are many diseases which affect certain genetic populations (e.g. sickle cell amenia). To say that a disease like that is down to 100% environment seems obviously wrong to me.

    Right, the main reason for the increase seems like it's due to environment. That doesn't mean genetics plays no role in the risk and development of the disease and the study never claims that. One researcher claimed that the increase is more likely due to epigenetics than genetics.

    It's similar to the height thing. Genetics sets the range, epigenetics sets where you fall in that range.

    I don't have time to read that right now, but without reading it my answer would be a emphatic YES. Back to the height example, if I have the genetic potential to end up 5'0" to 5'8" and you have the genetic potential to end up 6'0" to 6'8" then yes, genes matter even if epigentics dictates the final expression of those genes. I think genetic health is analogous to this.

    Edit: This paper on what replication studies is my default until I come across better arguments. :)

    https://www.gwern.net/docs/genetics/2016-plomin.pdf
     
  7. Vinero

    Vinero Member

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    I am dutch and am 1.85 cm which is slightly above the average dutch height. My parents aren't particularly tall but I am. I always loved milk and milk products when I was growing up, and stil do. So maybe the high protein and calcium content has contributed to me being taller than my parents.
    Unfortunately there is a lot of anti-milk propaganda coming from vegans and paleo people here in the Netherlands.. I'm afraid the future generations won't get as tall as us!!

    Also the dutch consume a lot of coffee, I've read the dutch consume on average the most coffee per capita in the world! That could also have a favorable effects since it increases CO2.
     
  8. Tarmander

    Tarmander Member

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    I remember hearing an argument years ago that living longer and anti biotics exposed us to all these diseases that we would have suffered from in the past, but we just died too early. I suppose some of the stuff on cancer affecting younger generations strains that argument, but I am sure you have heard of it. "It is so good now that its actually worse." Kinda nuts now that I think about it.
     
  9. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    How does it matter that a person has potential for 6'8'' if they live in an environment that does not allow for this potential to be realized? I mean we saw that regardless of potential, environment seems to override the growth potential of the genetically "blessed". To me that shows that genes are simply a memory of past environments that favored our ancestors, but if the current environment can completely override that "memory" then what difference does it make? Also, we are yet to see a test in which people with a genetic "handicap" are placed in a favorable/unfavorable environment and see how they fare compared to the genetically "blessed". As I mentioned, there is some evidence that at least in the case of the "blessed" cases placing them in an unfavorable environment may make them fare worse off then the "handicapped" ones due to that theory of increased vulnerability due to higher adaptability cost for the "blessed" to an unfavorable environment. So, the only thing that remains to be proven is if the "handicapped" ones can match the performance of the "blessed" ones in a favorable environment. If the answer is yes, then I really do not see what role genes have other than simply being a memory of some sorts that serves as nothing but blueprint in making a new human being during conception.
    Btw, the post from @Vinero above serves as anecdotal evidence confirming the ability of a favorable environment to override a genetic "handicap" for height. I know, he has not done a genetic profile but so far the evidence is not looking very strong for genes.
    Please do not get me wrong. If genes worked it would have been the easiest solution for everybody since we would know for sure (almost as with a mathematical proof) that every condition and everything we are is driven by one or more genes and once we find out what each gene is for we can in theory conquer all bad (and good) features of human nature. But judging from the results of the Human Genome Project, which is getting defunded, even the most hardcore geneticists in the government do not believe in it any more.
    Anyways, time will tell. I do enjoy such discussions :):
     
  10. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    I think that argument has validity and I am not against it - i.e. living to older age does increase chance of chronic conditions. But the explanation of genes as cause or predisposition has absolutely no backing so far, at least for the chronic conditions. And the increased incidence of disease in ages 20-50 is serious evidence against the theory that it's due to living longer (like you said). Also, there is some evidence that people in antiquity who lived to ripe old age of 70-80 were not dying of chronic conditions like CVD or cancer but from infections. The age group of over 40 has been present in society for the last 1000 years and as far as we can see from the records they have higher mortality from chronic conditions now than in the past. Of course, the argument is that they were simply not diagnosed properly in the past but this is not true for the last say 70-80 years as record keeping and diagnoses for most serious conditions has not changed much in that time period. So, if a person had cancer in the 1950s they would have been diagnosed just as reliably as today. Even if they weren't the true cause of death would have been caught at autopsy. So, it cannot be just because we are living longer. It's hard to argue that the 20-50 age group representing the bulk of the new diagnoses of chronic conditions is the age group of the very old. Neurodegenerative conditions have also been increasing in the young. That is also hard to explain with living longer theory. Studies with identical twins from underdeveloped nations have found that if one twin moves to a developed country within a decade they acquire the risk of the host country for pretty much all chronic conditions while the other twin stays with the disease risk of the original country. So, it is the environment that dictates disease somehow, not genes. I know the twin studies have their issues, but on the topic of future risk of chronic disease they are pretty solid.
    Anyways, all I am saying is that as simple and attractive the genetic theory of disease may be so far it has produced nothing in terms of results and it is not due to a lack of funding. Some people say more time is needed but remember that this has been the dominant idea in medicine since the 1950s. How much more time (and funding) is needed before the "evil gene" is discovered?? I think it was Einstein who said that if a theory has not produced anything tangible in a period of 50 years it needs to be scrapped or at least seriously revised.
    Just my 2c.
     
  11. jaa

    jaa Member

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    @haidut

    Are you denying that different people have a different range of potential heights? Or are you saying that they do, but it's not genetic and all epigenetic memory or something? I've got a feeling it's the latter, but could you confirm and clarify your position a little?

    As far as @Vinero 's comments go, that seems plausible to me and I don't think it's difficult to fit that in a genetic framework.

    The reason I subscribe to the idea that genetics also plays a role is that it's the scientific consensus. Geneticists can show that such and such clusters of genes account for so much height or BMI or whatever trait they're attempting to measure. They put their work out in journals and there is incentive for people to prove otherwise (I know, I know, there's more incentive to toe the line, but evidence tends to speak for itself). Until I see evidence to the contrary (or more specifically, the scientific community does and sways in that direction) I've got to give weight to the following types of papers:

    https://www.gwern.net/docs/genetics/2015-yang.pdf

    and throwing out genetics completely requires being able to show something like this is the methodological equivalent of p-hacking, as well as mounting enough evidence in favour of the theory to convince enough people in and around the field.

    Even though I don't give much weight to the idea that genetics has no effect, these kind of posts make me weight the environmental factors a bit more and I'm glad that if genetics ever does get overturned I'll see that tide changing from posts made on this board first.
     
  12. yerrag

    yerrag Member

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    Speaking of protein quality, what is it with animal protein that makes it superior to plant protein? Is it the amino acid profile? And if so, what particular amino acids are these?

    I really like the idea that it's not the genes that determine height as much as quality protein consumption. The Philippines is a basketball-mad country. But it doesn't having standing in international basketball tournaments, and the lack of height is one major reason. It is so bad that we even resort to naturalize US players just to allow us to catch up on height.

    There is plenty of pork and chicken, beef is a bit more expensive. Milk and cheese expensive as well. But we have plenty of tropical fruits. Fish is abundant and affordable. And we have plenty of coconuts from which coconut oil and coco nectar is derived. For sure people are getting taller due to availability of better food. Still, we're just not tall enough.

    Is it because the richer people, who can afford high quality protein, who are mostly urban-based, fall for the propaganda similar to the USDA food pyramid, and do not eat the right kind of protein?

    But I'm also thinking that while protein quality plays an important role, I also believe in the law of limiting factors. Haidut, you mention the very tall people come from mountainous areas in H&G. They also have access to clean, mineral-rich waters I suppose? Perhaps the combination of good quality protein and good mineral supplementation from natural sources produced those results. I think about Singapore. They have a very high standard of living and could afford very good high quality protein. Yet they are generally short and their built is not very good. Their water is imported from Malaysia and a portion of the water they use is recycled.

    I don't know about the Netherlands and the quality of water. Perhaps the fact that they drink plenty of milk ensures that calcium at least is sufficient, and if calcium is a limiting factor in height development, it, together with protein quality, would ensure reaching the height potential.
     
  13. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Yes, it's the latter. I am not that crazy :):
    But the question still remains. If nature intended for genes to matter that much and be shaped over billions of years of evolution with so much "cost", why allow something as simple as protein quality over a single lifespan completely negate the potential of genes (acquired over billions of years) for something as genetically-driven as height? If environment drives even such heavily genetically-driven features as height then the argument for disease-specific genes is much more difficult to defend.
     
  14. zztr

    zztr Member

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    I thought one of the biggest factor in height was infection burden. During your childhood the longer you spend busy fighting off parasites and germs the less growing you do. A lot of the increase in height is attributed to sanitation and antibiotics.
     
  15. milk_lover

    milk_lover Member

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    I can attest to that. My whole tribe in this generation are short and I may be the tallest one because of my crazy milk drinking habit since childhood (I am only 182 cm) but my grandfathers were taller than me.. All they ate are lamb, Arabic coffee, dates and camel/goat milk. Even my nephews and nieces are encouraged by their families to drink milk to grow tall like milk_lover's real name lol and I am serious!
     
  16. yerrag

    yerrag Member

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    That has a profound effect as well imho. One hobby of mine is to raise koi. My koi grow long and develop well at the same time, in terms of color and body shape. I raised a koi from 15cm as a koi in its first year to a current size of 81 cm as a koi in its fifth year. And I haven't been raising koi for a long time, only five years. When one can grow a particular kind of koi (called gosankes) more than 80 cm, he's already doing a good job growth-wise. For me, it's just as important to keep the water clean as much as it is to feed the koi well. Most of the time, it's the former that gets neglected, and the koi has to endure the stress of fighting off pathogens. This year, the koi I was talking about, a sanke (which is a koi with white, red, and black colors - no black on head, and black being sparse) won an award in a local koi show called a Jumbo Award (koi exceeding 80 cm). It wasn't only about length, but about nice skin and even lustrous coloration, and having a good body shape).

    Being as free from stress allows the energy to be concentrated on growth and what's left after that shows up as beauty.
     
  17. Squatrat

    Squatrat Member

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    @haidut
    I thought it was always obvious that more protein = more size. Look at what happenend to the chinese after they started adding more protein to their diet after the failure of Maoism: they got bigger.
     
  18. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Well, living in mountains certainly adds more than just protein quality as I mentioned in my post. CO2 is one big factor. But the Dutch live in one of the countries with the lowest elevation above sea level. In fact, some parts of the country are below sea level. So, apparently, elevation does not play that big of a role, at least for them.
    Not sure what else is at play, I would like to see more studies like this try to isolate variable. The study on B&H claims to control for many factors and they are pretty confident it is the protein quality that controls genetic expression of height.
     
  19. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Well, it may be obvious to some people but the mainstream medical opinion is still heavily focused on genes. Hence, studies like this.
     
  20. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Nice, how much milk do you think you consume on a daily basis? Is it mostly camel/goat milk or cow milk as well? Do you buy it in the store or get it from desert shepherds?
     
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