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The Other Side Of The Paleo Coin: My Wife’s Perspective On Going Paleo

The Other Side Of The Paleo Coin: My Wife’s Perspective On Going Paleo

by macdaddy on April 4, 2011 · 27 comments

Post image for The Other Side Of The Paleo Coin: My Wife’s Perspective On Going Paleo

This is a guest post from my wife, Pam. Pam blogs about her life as an elite ultra-marathoner at The Turtlepath. After reading this, it will be obvious who the thinker in the family is. I didn’t change a word of what she wrote—mostly because I value my life!

Mac has always been super supportive of my rather eccentric athletic and fitness goals–like wanting to train for and race in 100 mile ultra marathons. As the main cook in the house, he has accommodated my vegetarian preferences despite his carnivorous tastes. So when Mac said he was planning to go Paleo for a month, I had no objections.

In fact, his decision served as an impetus for me to examine my own dietary practices and belief–and to learn about new options. I was really excited to join Mac in his quest to cut processed carbs, particularly refined grains and refined sugars. Like many, I have a lot of bad habits, and bad reasoning, in my diet. I would justify a lot of the junk I was eating with thoughts like: “I ran ten miles today so I deserve extra calories” or “I ate a lot of vegetables today, so it is okay to have dessert.” I still believe that a treat on special occasions is fine, but I was using these mental excuses a couple of times each day.

I was ready to change some of these behaviors both for general health purposes and to promote my goal of competing on a national level in ultra-running. Despite my readiness to change my diet, however, I just couldn’t swallow the Paleo Kool-aid (made from freshly gathered citrus and honey, of course).

Here are my reasons for NOT going completely Paleo with Mac this month:

Metabolic Syndrome

The Paleo diet is touted as preventing many so-called “Western diseases” such as Metabolic Syndrome. One problem: diet type has never been shown to contribute to this syndrome. In fact, the only two lifestyle factors that have been definitively correlated with Metabolic Syndrome are obesity and lack of exercise. Even obese people who exercise regularly can avoid many of the complications associated with Metabolic Syndrome. In fact most of the contestants on The Biggest Loserhave been taken off of their medications within the first 4-6 weeks of starting their weight loss journeys even though they still have 100+ pounds to lose. The exercising body is an amazing machine that can process almost anything very efficiently. ANY weight loss/exercise program (not just the paleo diet) will combat the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome. 

Lectins and Legumes

The Paleo diet makes a big deal about avoiding lectins, though I would guess the great majority paleo eaters don’t actually know what a lectin is. Lectins bind to glycoproteins and they can alter biological functioning. This is the major argument against beans, but also part of the grain argument. Lectins can be poisonous and cause illness in large amounts and they do probably increase inflammation. BUT:

  • The Paleo diet endorses nuts and seeds even though they have large quantities of lectins.
  • Almost all plants have some lectins.
  • Lectins can be degraded/deactivated by cooking (and I like my beans cooked!)
  • The Paleo diet disregards dosing in regards to toxins. For example many healthful substances become toxic when over consumed. Examples: fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K), salt, even water. A little bit may not be bad and in some cases, like vitamins, they may even be necessary.
  • There are many types of toxins in plants, not just lectins, but the doses are very small and the good properties of veggies outweigh the risk of the toxins. Similarly, I think the beneficial properties of beans (eaten in moderation) outweigh the harmful effects of lectins.
  • A small amount of inflammation may not be a bad thing. Inflammation is needed for tissue repair and to fight infection. And some lectins may help ward off infection. Example: Banana lectins have anti-viral properties against HIV.

Dairy

The Paleo diet is anti-dairy. They say no other animal drinks milk past infancy. Well, No other animal cooks its food or wears clothes. No other animal eats off a plate. Humans have different behaviors than other creatures; to compare their eating styles is to compare apples to, well, cavemen.

Other arguments against dairy parallel the lectin argument. In some people, dairy causes excessive inflammation and may disrupt normal immune system function. The literature against milk and dairy is actually a lot stronger than the scientific case against eating lectins. Because of this, I have significantly reduced my dairy intake: I now substitute water for milk at most of my meals and have drastically reduced my cheese intake. Still, dairy products are one of the best sources of calcium (especially important in women) and are also good sources of lean protein (especially important for vegetarians). For those reasons, I am reluctant to give up dairy entirely, particularly yogurt, which may actually boost immune system function. 

Ignoring Saturated Fat Intake

I have seen Paleo webs sites reference literature against Metabolic Syndrome, grains, lectins, etc. But there is plenty of literature showing the perils of meat consumption and high saturated fat intake. There are many different versions of the Paleo diet, and some stress lean proteins, but other versions do not. Many of the participants in the Paleo challenge in our area are eating a lot of bacon, steak, and other red meats with a concomitant high intake of saturated fat. As a medical doctor, I am not ready to condone high level consumption of saturated fat.

Unhealthy Cavemen

Who says cavemen were actually healthy?!? The life expectancy was something like 40 years. I have seen it written that the low life expectancy was because cavemen had an arduous life and died of accidents and infections, not “Western diseases.” Yeah, well maybe they needed a few more lectins for tissue repair and infection prevention! Or perhaps they just didn’t live long enough to get cancer, heart attacks and strokes!

The Tarahumara and Other Healthy Populations

Even before Christopher McDougall made the Tarahumara a household name with Born to Run, the Tarahumara were known to be one of the “healthiest” populations on earth. The Tarahumara live in the remote canyons of Mexico with little access to Western society. Their rates of cancer, high blood pressure, mental disorders, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, etc. are a fraction of ours. The Tarahumara don’t eat processed food, of course, but their diet staple is corn. Also, they run for fun, so they get lots of exercise.

Other current day examples of people avoiding “Western diseases” can be found amongst the tribes of Africa. These tribes subsist primarily on grains. Elite Kenyan runners, for example, get up to 80% of their calories from carbohydrates! To me, these examples show that grains (particularly whole grains) are not necessarily our enemy. I think the real problem is the abundance and over-consumption of highly processed, calorie dense carbohydrates with essentially no nutritional value, which is why I limited my “war on carbohydrates” to flours (particularly white flour) and sugar.

The “BS” Factor

Okay, I understand the idea of poetic license or allowing for a “fudge factor.” But the way the Paleo diet was presented to us takes things a bit too far. Things like oil, coffee, vinegar, cocoa powder, dried fruit, and processed meats are all considered Paleo in some versions of the diet. Those are all processed foods that a caveman would NOT have access to. Also, it is probable that fishing did not exist during the Paleolithic era, so all sea food would be out. I am not saying these things are unhealthy, but I don’t like being told caveman ate them.

The Cardio Crash

Specific to my running, a carbohydrate source is necessary to prevent “bonking.” Bonking occurs when the body has no readily available glycogen. Your muscles don’t shut down, but your activity is limited by the rate of conversion of fat (or protein) to glycogen. This means you exercise at a much slower pace than you could if glycogen was readily available. Therefore, during aerobic activities that last longer than 90 minutes–the time it takes for your body to become depleted of glycogen–it is essential to consume easily digestible carbohydrates. Even Mac has allowed carbs such as Gu and Gatorade during his long runs because of this.

I have absolutely loved the opportunity to examine my own dietary patterns and make positive changes. I am trying to think through my food choices and find what works for me and fits my beliefs. Despite my above reservations toward the Paleo diet, I have cut almost all grains out of my diet, with the exception of oatmeal, which I have before almost every morning run. To tell you the truth, I really don’t miss grains as the substitutions are just as satisfying to me, things like curry over spinach instead of rice, spaghetti squash instead of pasta, and hummus on cucumbers and tomatoes instead of pitas.

As mentioned, I have drastically cut my dairy intake. And my vegetable consumption has probably tripled (and I thought I did a good job of this before!) But I still eat almost no meat and I have a lot of non-Paleo diet items like tofu, yogurt, peanut butter, protein powder, and meat substitutes (Quorn and Morningstar farms products).

The hardest part for me has been cutting out sugar. Damn, that stuff is good! I am trying and I don’t crave it at all, but when somebody is waving a cookie under my face, it is still hard for me to say NO. But I am trying, and I am getting better. The good thing is that I feel GREAT and I am running really well on this kind of diet, so hopefully that is the positive reinforcement I need to keep this stuff out of my mouth!

I think the Paleo diet has many good points, and in the Venn diagram of eating, I have a lot of overlap. But I have no plans to immerse myself completely in the Paleo circle.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonathan Vaudreuil April 4, 2011 at 6:00 am

I’m somewhat disappointed in this post for a few reasons.

1) It’s clear the author did not stick with ONE defined diet. Paleo is not Primal is not Atkins, yet she jumps between them without mentioning that she is doing so. Strict Paleo doesn’t allow dairy, correct, but it also doesn’t allow long-distance running or most of the foods listed in the “BS Factor.”

2) Cavemen lived only 40 years. This sounds like a cocky brag, as in, “Oh, you CAN’T be right about this because of their lifespan!” If that’s true, can’t we say that American doctors are the world’s worst health professionals since the average American’s expected lifespan is DECREASING? Which would negate any opinions because she’s a doctor. I don’t like either of these ideas: science and research, which many sections of this post lack, are far better than cheap one-liners.

3) The Tarahumara. Yes, there are societies that have lifestyles way outside Paleo that live long, healthy lives. But what is the point of mentioning them? Why not mention that ever since the USA proclaimed carbs as the holiest of foods that we have TWICE as many people who are overweight (or obese) as we do who are a healthy weight? Why not mention that every part of the world that takes up the American diet has skyrocketing rates of diabetes, heart disease, and weight problems that they had never seen before? Why not mention that the Asian diet is actually largely devoid of rice and noodles, which might be why they have healthier weights than us? Again, it’s using one example to prove a point without looking at all the information available.

I would loved to have seen this post with a clear definition of Paleo and lots of well-thought out research. It is loaded with anecdotes instead of evidence, contradicting versions of the diet instead of a consistent voice, and mounds of opinions without solid research backing them.
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2 Peter houdson April 9, 2011 at 10:00 am

“Why not mention that the Asian diet is actually largely devoid of rice and noodles”

Devoid of rice and noodles? Are you sure? I’ve been in Japan, for example, and they are eating rice and noodles *all the time*, they eat rice in every meal.

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3 Sean @ Learn Fitness April 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

I’ve read a number of pieces about going Paleo and have actually almost taken the plunge myself. I’ve however had great success doing what I’m doing. Rather than do a complete shakeup of everything I eat and risk a failure I have to recover from I’ve instead decided to just make healthy adjustments to my food.

The funny part is a lot of them are just sensible things that align with what you’ve done. Simple things like more veggies (we can all afford to do this I think) and less processed refined foods. Am I Paleo, no … am I better for it, I certainly think so. And even better yet my kids will be as well since my wife and I make meals for the family and not special processed meals that our kids will eat.

Thanks for this posting, it’s refreshing to read well thought out rebuttles to many of these fitness fads like I feel like Paleo is. I’m not saying there isn’t something to it but as you said, bacon and massive amounts of fat sounds more Atkins and Paleo to me.
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4 Audrey April 4, 2011 at 6:42 am

LOVE this post. It may be the newest fad diet, but a lot of people are jumping on the band wagon without thinking of the health implications. (The only one that worries me more is the raw diet.) You brought up a lot of good points and a lot of things about the diet that don’t make sense given their philosophy of why the diet is great.

But, to each his own.

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5 Carly April 4, 2011 at 9:23 am

It’s not a fad diet, and it evolves (excuse the pun) with the latest and most comprehansive research, We are lucky to havevery intelligent people at the forefront of this way of eating and if you actually knew anything worth knowing about the Paleo way of eating you wouldn’t have posted this comment. I wish people (the article writer included) would research properly before posting such flippant statements and anecdotal evidence. I like to take my health advice off people who look healthy too. You catch my drift ;D

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6 Michael April 4, 2011 at 6:44 am

Good post Pam. You and Mac might enjoy the Paleo diet for Athletes book. First off because it’s mostly aimed at endurance athletes (I think you both do marathons) and secondly, it makes it very clear that some of the points you bring out are important.

Specifically, Bacon and fatty meats are to be avoided. I’m not sure how Bacon became the unofficial mascot for the paleo diet, but Dr. Cordain specifically says to avoid it.

A lot of your other points I’ve read all over. Life expectancy is an average that includes higher infant fatalities. Higher death of mother’s in child birth. Etc

Some inflammation is definitely a good thing. You’ll get enough from your exercise that you don’t need a pro-inflammatory diet.

SOME lectins can be cooked out and SOME can’t. Knowing which lectins exist where and when is important.

I know this has turned into a long comment, but my main point is that while the community can be very supportive of getting someone started on a paleo diet, there are A LOT of misinformations that have become accepted as absolute truths.

As I said at the very beginning, I’d recommend The Palet Diet for Athletes

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7 anna April 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

This is an excellent post – thank you for it! As a scientist but not a medical doctor, a lot of the paleo diet information made sense on some axes, but seemed a bit strong on others, as you mention.
This discoursive, reasoned viewpoint has made me nod appreciatively several time.

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8 Kristy OT April 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

This is exactly the kind of post about the paleo diet I’ve been looking for. Thank you for posting.

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9 essbee April 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for the post, Pam. In spite of the reactionary flames in the comments, you’ve done an excellent job articulating why many people have difficulty swallowing (sorry!) the paleo premise.

Part of the issue is also confusion…paleo, primal, Atkins, low-carb, no-carb, blah, blah, blah. One person’s definition of paleo is different from another’s. The premise of paleo – eat only minimally processed foods – is a fantastic one. But it’s wound up in a bunch of pseudo science (humans didn’t eat grains 10,000 years ago!) that isn’t, or isn’t entirely, supported by real research.

My CF affiliate is doing a Paleo Challenge but allows (some) oils, coffee, green tea, bacon, sausage, and other items that are highly processed. Some of those allowances are exceedingly self-serving (*cough* bacon! *cough*). I’m doing the challenge – and I’m probably being stricter than almost anyone else participating – but only as a mental and nutritional austerity test. There’s no way I’d eat “paleo” for life, for pretty much all of the reasons you note. Plus, my husband is even more of a doubter than you or I…his latest salvo: “Wow, it’s amazing how cavepeople managed to eat all these out of season fruits and vegetables!”

So far, I still like Mark Bittman’s synopsis best: Eat Food. Not Very Much. Mostly Plants.

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10 J July 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

In your last sentence, you’re referring to Michael Pollan, not Bittman.

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11 Johnny Palmer April 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Forgive me for being old fashioned but I get perfectly awesome results for eating a clean diet of vegetables, meat and not much else! Interesting reading different results for different styles of eating though, and Paleo is no exception. Thanks for clearing up a few points for me too Mac
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12 Ian April 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I like your very thorough analysis of the paleo diet, and I am all for your non-carnivorous ways. However, I suggest you look into some adequate resources of calcium and other components of dairy products: sesame seeds and greens are great sources of dietary calcium. Also, the levels of components in milk are not very tightly regulated, in fact, studies show that more than a third of milk varieties sporting high Vitamin D content actually contain less than 5% of their claimed value! Also, many hormones found in milk (naturally) are very similar to their human analogues and could present issues with normal metabolic functioning if consumed in excess. Again, awesome, thoughtful post :) and I look forward to reading more of the blog!

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13 Kris April 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

A nice look at the Paleo diet from someone who is not 100% on board, thank you for that!

There are aspects of the Paleo diet that appeal to me, and I may give it a 10 day trial (I’m currently doing a 10 day vegetarian trial, and don’t miss meat much at all). As a runner, my concern is the perceived lack of carbs, although I’d do thorough research before beginning to ensure I was getting proper nutrition.

I think the key to ANY successful eating plan, though, is cutting out the junk – refined, processed foods, full of sugar and altered far beyond what they were meant to be. I’m currently reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and it makes a lot of sense to me.

Good running, Pam, and thanks for the perspective!
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14 Joe April 5, 2011 at 8:18 am

I did the paleo / primal for about 3 months. Losing some weight at first that I described as lbs I didn’t know I needed to lose. There was one very big problem, I couldn’t get enough carbs to keep my running up. Not anywhere close. If I tried I would poop like a pet raccoon. I’m off it now, and as much of a paleo fan as I was it is, like most other diets, just the newest thing. But it can work very well for weight loss.
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15 Brandon April 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I had a similar experience to Joe with the paleo diet. I followed it pretty strictly for several months, and while it did wonders for my weight loss and general energy levels, my running definitely suffered. I remember going on a 15 mile run during that time where I bonked HARD, and just about felt like I was going to die. Supposedly the theory is that over time, you will train your body to burn fat as opposed to carbs, but I think that’s a pretty slow, gradual process.

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16 Erin April 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

*sigh*

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17 macdaddy April 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Maybe you should actually comment?

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18 essbee April 6, 2011 at 10:15 am

Er, make that Michael Pollan, not Mark Bittman. Duh.

I’ve been thinking about this post since I read it and it has inspired me to craft a thoughtful “Why Not Paleo” response to the “Why Paleo” promotion of the diet from the nutritionist at my CF affiliate. It will probably not make me popular there, but whatever. I know I’m not the only one with doubts, and I think it’s important that those who have them decide for themselves based on evidence.

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19 Drew April 8, 2011 at 7:15 am

Thanks for a very interesting analysis. Some things about this post, though, really made me wonder if you really thought about what you were writing. As they appear in the article:

Metabolic syndrome. So there are other ways to combat metabolic syndrome. So what? That doesn’t diminish the paleo diet. And as an elite ultramarathoner, you are the last person to be at risk for this. So it seems that preventing metabolic syndrome should have nothing to do with your diet choices.

Lectins and legumes. The science is definitely still out on lectins. So I agree with you there. Part of the paleo idea is that beans in their raw form are poisonous to man, and THAT I think is the real reason paleos don’t eat them.

Dairy. I basically agree with you. But your statement that creating some inflammation in your body may be good for you makes no sense to me. As a doctor you know that many illnesses are created or exacerbated by inflammatory processes, and that more links are found every year between inflammation and an even bigger pool of ailments. Outside of protection after an acute injury, why would you ever want inflammation?

Saturated fat. As a doctor you know that the science on saturated fat intake leading to disease is inconclusive at best. And if there are different versions of paleo, why can’t you follow a version you agree with instead of using this variety to dismiss all versions of paleo?

The Tarahumara. As a former Copper Canyon guide who employed and worked with the Tarahumara, I can tell you they are more subsistence farmers than cavemen. However, if you want a great food for ultramarathoning try pinole, a Tarahumara staple!

BS factor.I agree that coffee, etc, should not be part of the paleo diet. But just because paleo has varying interpretations doesn’t mean you dismiss the entire concept!

Cardio crash. Honestly, this is the only one of your critiques that really made sense to me. As an ultramarathoner you need more carbs than the average person.

And last but not least, you are a vegetarian, right? It is basically impossible to go paleo and stay a vegetarian. Why wasn’t that mentioned anywhere in this article?

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20 Don Wiss April 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

There are a lot of inaccuracies in this post. I can’t possibly address them all. Especially as pointed out by others you have combined a bunch of diets into your paleo description.

(A) “there is plenty of literature showing the perils of meat consumption and high saturated fat intake”

No there is not. I don’t know what you are referring to for meat perils, but I’ll assume you are referring to colon cancer. The studies correlating meat and colon cancer are all over the place. Only the Politically Correct ones get the publicity. The problem with most of the studies is they do not control for fresh meat and processed meat. When this is controlled for one finds that only processed meat correlates with colon cancer. Processed meat, e.g. bacon, is NOT paleo.

There is no evidence that high saturated fat intake is harmful. It has never been proven that high intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol are detrimental to our health. The American Heart Association bases their “low-fat” prescription off of five studies:

(1) The first one was Ancel Keys study done in the 70′s that generated “The Lipid Hypothesis” which argues that eating saturated fat and cholesterol give you high cholesterol, and high cholesterol gives you heart disease… totally bogus, and debunked numerous times. The debunking is best explained in Gary Taubes’s “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” [Basically he had data from 21 more countries, but he cherry picked the seven countries that showed what he wanted to show.]

(2) The Los Angeles VA Hospital Study (1969): Researchers didn’t collect data regarding smoking habits for some men, and stated later that half the participants strayed from the prescribed diet.

(3) The Oslo Diet-Heart Study (1970); basically proved nothing regarding deaths from heart disease and a low fat diet.

(4) The Finnish Mental Hospital Study (1979): almost half of the participants either left or joined half way through the 12 year study.

(5) The St. Thomas’ Atherosclerosis Regression Study (1992): 74 men showed a reduction in heart disease by those who ate diets low in saturated fat… but they were also required to eat less sugar. Since the message needed to be “saturated fat bad” that little detail is often left out.

Let me sum it up: Cholesterol doesn’t lead to heart problems. Cholesterol is absolutely essential to good health. A major factor is the small dense LDL particles that cause problems.

(B) “Cavemen lived only 40 years.”

No such evidence exists. All we know about their life expectancy is looking at their bones they look like bones of a 40 year old today. This does not mean they were 40! They did not have the degenerative diseases that now plague us. So no reason to expect their bones to degenerate like ours do today.

Based on menopause being nature’s way to keep from wasting effort on raising a kid and dying before they were self-sufficient, one can assume that they lived to about age 70. Female elephants also go through menopause at around 50. It takes about 20 years for an elephant to be on their own. And you will find that their life expectancy is 70 years.

(C) Coffee is NOT paleo. Coffee is a seed inside a fruit and is not edible raw. Fruit seeds are not supposed to be digested, but to pass through and still be viable. They would never have been a food. What you see is people addicted to coffee, so they force it into their paleo diet.

(D) The effort to collect most seeds would not be as optimal as collecting other foods, unless collected as a condiment for the seed’s taste. Some meaty seeds, like sunflower, may have been a food. One can then assume that seeds were a small part of the diet.

(E) You mention something about beneficial properties of beans. There is nothing in beans that can’t be better gotten from other foods.

(F) “it is probable that fishing did not exist during the Paleolithic era”

Huh? A totally bogus statement. Clams can easily be collected. Fish can be splashed out of streams. Fish can be speared. And then some people believe in the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis. The theory argues that humans evolved along the water’s edge, but such evidence is now covered by the oceans.

I could go on and on. But this is enough to start.

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21 LIZ April 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I’m a vegetarian that toes the line of vegan, not that it should really have an impact on my comment, but I’ll just put it out there.

My thought is that different diets work for different people; there are healthy and unhealthy paleo people, vegetarians, vegans, raw dieters, etc etc. People’s bodies are unique.

I think the most important thing for everyone is to think about the source of their food and the impact that has; if you eat meat, buy meat that is raised sustainably (better for you, the animal and mostly, the environment); if you eat dairy, buy dairy that’s sustainable (same reasons as listed above); if you eat soy, think about the high carbon impact of soy processing and buy from smaller, local producers. Buy local fruit and vegetables, etc etc.

I think eating whole, unprocessed food that is sustainably, and hopefully locally, grown is the most important thing people should strive for – whether it’s meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, oils, coffee, tea, or anything else.
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22 Lauren April 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

I like the Venn diagram idea as I feel we can all borrow from different regimes. It depends on goals (weight loss or running or cardiovascular health). I think there are loopholes in any plan and you bring up some good points. I’m curious, since you’ve put so much thought into this, why the processed meat substitutes (Morningstar) remain in your diet.

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23 Elisha April 13, 2011 at 8:53 am

At this point I’m skeptical of pretty much everything. It seems everything I read these days says, “this science we’ve believed for so long has no evidence,” or, “this has recently been disproved or incorrect,” so it’s hard to know what to believe.

I think the best thing to do, not related to a specific diet at all, is to experiment and see what works best for your body. Different bodies will respond differently, because of our lifestyles, activity levels, genetics, whatever.
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24 Richard Stooker April 15, 2011 at 5:20 am

Some inflammation is a good thing? Yes, when and where it’s doing what it was designed to do – fight off an infection. How is it a good thing if your body is not fighting a specific infection?

I think there are aspects to paleolithic life that we just don’t know. Some believe that cave people often after animals for many miles, driving them to death by exhaustion. Yet others say that would have been a waste of resources, risky so much effort for possibly nothing. And another writer has made the point that before modern times, the world was full of game. (See descriptions of North America even late into the nineteenth century. Once upon a time much of the entire world supported such abundant life.) This would have made long distance running unnecessary.

Although we tend to think of cave people in Europe during the ice age, we spent a lot of time in Africa, meaning that many vegetables and fruits would have been available throughout the year.

Mark Sisson of Primal Blueprint, former elite marathon runner, stated at one point that many of his long distance runner friends are developing heart problems. Agreed, this is anecdotal. I wish somebody would do a serious study of the impact of exercise on overall health and longevity — including evaluating whether the exercise is primarily aerobic or short term, intense. Cave people probably walked a lot, and ran only for short sprints to catch — or escape from — an animal.

For some of us, the goal is a long, healthy life and not running 100 miles at a time — unless that contributes to Goal #1.

Also, while the Tarahumara don’t eat a Western diet, they don’t live a paleolithic lifestyle either.

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25 Ronda Rivers December 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I’m doing the challenge – and I’m probably being stricter than almost anyone else participating – but only as a mental and nutritional austerity test. I’m off it now, and as much of a paleo fan as I was it is, like most other diets, just the newest thing.
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26 Renate February 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

Hi there
Well, I just want to add that I am an archaeologist, my specialist area is prehistory and our palaeolithic forebears most definitely DID eat fish; set traps, gathered shellfish, used spears for ocean fishing and made nets; all through ‘prehistory’ from earliest times.
As an additional, the original palaeo-diet did NOT include dairy, or processed pork products, it included gathered and foraged nuts, berries, fruit, some wild cereals, no legumes ,birds, eggs and savannah (veldt) species, woodland species and water bird species.
An observation, Recently I’ve been looking at a number of ‘fad’ diets that are rife on the internet (with or without blood group typing), and my conclusion as a researcher is that many are not supported by actual evidence or gathered data, and also, an interesting situation developed whereby I was looking at some of these diets and somehow things didn’t gel with regards to for instance, fish, seafood and shellfish in our diet, and nuts, soya, wheat protein and equivalents, fruits and vegetables that on some sites we are told that yes, they are excellent for our health and yet on other websites, contradictory/potentially dangerous information is given, so then I decided to go right back to grass-roots level and start the research from another perspective – our western diet and then go back into our ancestral/forebear diets through successive stages from agarian-farming-domestication to hunter-gatherer-fisher forager and beyond to the ‘origin’ of our humanity and our quest for survival. Also I’m taking into account lectins and the affect of them on our health, probiotics etc., etc. The intention is to develop a comprehensive and systematic study over a period of time.

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27 Renate February 27, 2012 at 7:33 am

And to take into account as many possible variations as I can.
In my philosophy and thinking from within an archaeological and scientific perspective there is a huge amount of information ‘out there’ but no real continuity of evidence that has been put together to truly enable an unbiased and non-judgemental opinion.

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