I just read this on Kimberly Snyders page...I love her and love this article...
Less meat and more plants - common people - it's not that difficult!
√ Why the “Paleo diet” is just another wolf in sheep’s clothing…
√ 3 dangerous myths proponents of the diet use to justify eating unhealthy amounts of animal protein.
√ The one most important (yet simple!) action you can take now to radically improve your health and beauty.
Here we go again…
Proponents of the Paleo Diet act like it’s this “hot” and “new” thing—while claiming it’s the way man REALLY ate many thousands of years ago before the so-called horrors of agriculture ruined everything.
In reality, Paleo is really just another high protein/low carb diet—not all that different from Atkins or others before it—which recommends around 65% of calories come from meat/animal protein. Haven’t we seen enough of these?
And high protein, low carbohydrate diets have been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, kidney damage, to name a few symptoms of accelerated aging.
In contrast, the countries in the world that consume the most whole plant foods (including grains—something Paleo considers “evil”) happen to be the most healthy, and lack the incredibly high rate of degenerative diseases that Western countries, which eat copious amounts of meat, indulge in daily.
A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides ample doses of fiber, vitamins and minerals—and has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
More of the Same Old High Protein, Low Carb Nonsense
The Paleo Diet has a sexy marketing story. It tries to stand about from its Zone and Atkin-esque kinsmen by making you believe that (overly simplistically, of course), you can eat like your distant ancestors the “cavemen” from a few million years ago. They claim that our ancestors hunted and ate a primarily a meat-based diet—and that modern diseases are the byproduct of getting away from our roots.
Agriculture, which began 10,000 years ago, is the story’s villain, supposedly leading people away from the hunt to an unnatural diet.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and professor at Colorado State, launched the Paleo Diet with his book of the same name. This restrictive eating plan forbids all grains, potatoes and legumes (peas, lentils, beans) as well as dairy and processed foods (including processed meats). You eat all you want of meat, fish and other flesh foods—and then vegetables and fruit as you feel the urge for them. Bone marrow, animal organs, and meat from wild animals are all on the menu.
Though fruit and vegetables are allowed on the Paleo Diet, in theory, it seems to be a very minor part of the diet in actual practice. In my observation, and many I’ve spoken to, eating copious amounts of meat—huge steaks, pork chops, chicken breast and so on—seems to be how they generally fill up and comprise the vast bulk of the diet.
Weight Loss Does NOT Always Equal Better Health
Remember, there are dozens of ways you can lose weight—and not all will make you healthier. Some people eat microwave-cooked food from Weight Watchers at every meal—and yes, some do lose weight—but it’s far from ideal.
The Paleo Diet does have the advantage of dropping processed and packaged foods—including all the chemicals, additives and other issues that come with them. Which is a big step forward for most people, and certainly more natural than microwaved meal plans.
However, eating a larger amount of meat, seafood and eggs will not make you healthier. Sure, eating a lump of muscle and fat may make you feel more full for a time… and you may lose a little weight. At least for a time.
But let me repeat- you will not be healthier. Not internally. The immense added pressure on your kidneys and liver, increased toxicity amassing in your system, and reduced circulation and the oxygen-carrying capacity of your blood, due to higher levels of foreign cholesterol and fat make aging faster on such a diet inevitable.
Look at some of the most ancient diets and healing traditions in the world—including Ayurveda (India), Macrobiotic (Japan), and others, and you’ll find the recommended diets to be high in plant foods (including grains)—with, at most, very small amounts of animal protein consumed.
Even the Hunza people—famed for their long, healthy lives—consume very little animal protein in their diet. Sometimes as little as once or twice a week. Far from the two or more huge meat meals many Paleo dieters consume. Same with those from Okinawa and countless other long-lived cultures.
Where Is The Real Evidence?
Amazingly to me, with all the long-term evidence on the excessive stressed and dangers that a highly-acidic, high animal-protein diet provide, Paleo claims that by following its tenets you can cure just about any chronic illness, from heart disease to cancer. All because eating this way matches the way your distant ancestors ate for over two million years.
You are also supposed to “eat all the meat you want” and lose weight fast–up to 75 pounds in six months.
However, I’ve yet to see any real long-term studies or evidence around the Paleo Diet, especially how modern experts espouse it. Atkins has been proven to be unhealthy—with much of the “weight” lost during the acidic process of ketosis… often gained back as the diet is too restrictive and far from our natural needs (fiber, for one!), and again, creates so much internal and external aging (an acidic body tends to age faster) it is the source for what I call the “Old Skinny” look in many.
Yet Paleo proponents love to cite the fact that Dr. Weston Price traveled the world and found that “primitive” people had better dental formations and bone structure than “modern” people—however, couldn’t that be more about the lack of processed food in their diet, versus eating copious amounts of meat?
I certainly think so. And to date, all the evidence—whether through studies or observing longest-lived cultures, shows that diets high in fruit, vegetables and whole, non-processed grains (excluding modern wheat, white rice and other offenders)—is ideal.
Remember, just like grains, Paleolithic people also didn’t have access to electricity. Does that mean it is “bad” to use something today that there wasn’t the technology to support millions of years ago? There’s a reason we learned how to “grow” food, even if that power has been abused in some aspects by modern man.
There were also grain found in the teeth of some ancient fossils from part of the Paleolithic era, disproving the idea that these are relatively modern foods. But more on that below.
To dive deeper into all this, let’s look at some of the myths surrounding the Paleo Diet…and all high-protein, low-carb diets in general:
Myth #1: Human genetics has been basically the same for the last 2.5 million years, with the ideal diet unchanged during that time.
Reality: You and all humans alive today belong to a species called Homo sapiens. Our species did not come into being until about 200,000 years ago. So through over 90% of the Paleolithic Era, the human ancestors that existed (and there were many) were by definition genetically different from us because they were entirely different species!
According to the Smithsonian Institute, most scientists currently recognize some 15 to 20 different species of early humans.
Homo habilis were an early human who thrived during part of the Paleolithic era, and is clearly different genetically than humans are today. This species had thick teeth and strong jaws, ideal for chewing hard plant foods. Scientists think this species made stone tools, but are not certain. Leading researchers don’t agree on critical questions in human evolution. It’s misleading for Professor Cordain to represent he has all these answers, or on the exact ideal diet.
Also, there is strong evidence that prior to the Paleo Era, humans were predominantly vegetarian and were equally free of the diseases of civilization which tends to defeat the rationale for the Paleo diet altogether.
Even if you believed in and wanted to follow the basic premise of the diet, you could not.
At least not in an authentic way. The meat the cavemen ate was wild game, it was nothing like the factory farmed meat (or even “grass fed” meat) that people would have to eat today, if they were to follow the diet. A small amount of (wealthy) people might be able to source wild game meat, but it would be unlikely that they could stick to that all the time.
Also, let me mention that the world was completely different for a caveman that it is today. There was not the bombardment of radiation, thousands of pollutants, chronic stress, low activity levels (being stuck in offices all day), driving half a quarter of a mile to go to the drugstore. To combat all these entities, which create myriad free radicals in your system, you need to increase antioxidants and cleansing fiber…all of which come from plant foods! You do not need an increase in acidity, which comes from eating a high animal protein diet.
Sure, the Paleo Diet allows fruit and vegetables, but it tends to be a minor part of their plate and calorically—an insignificant part of their diet. In practice, it’s almost all about the meat—multiple times each day—and the mirror opposite of cultures like the Hunzas who consume fruits, vegetables and grains, with animal foods eaten just a couple times a week.
Myth #2: Grains are unnatural and dangerous foods for humans, who did not eat cereals until agriculture corrupted their diets.
Reality: Thousands of studies of whole grains prove they are beneficial for health, and grain has been found in the teeth of ancient fossils. Cultivation of seeds came from plants our ancestors were already eating. Whole grains have been shown in hundreds of studies to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers. If you hear people accuse whole grains of being unhealthy, ask for their source of information.
And remember, the biggest problem with grains comes from those like wheat—which has been over-cultivated, stripped of its fiber and minerals, and is no longer what it once was. Wheat also contains gluten, which is its protein that is very difficult to digest. Strains are hybridized to become more hearty against insects and producing more product, and such strains may contain more gluten. In certain places in India or the Himalayas, where wheat is more like it was originally, the effect is not damaging like we experience here in the modern world.
Also remember that whole grains are seeds, usually of certain grasses. Much of human evolution took place on the savannahs of Africa, which are vast grasslands.
This rice field illustrates that grains are the seeds of certain grasses. Pseudograins, such as quinoa, are also seeds, but of different kinds of plants. Nutritionally, grains and pseudograins are very similar.
Many of our ancestors had much thicker teeth than we do today. They could chew through tree bark, let alone grass seed. Our ancestors were not crazy enough to start cultivating seeds of plants they had never eaten before.
Human saliva is rich in starch-digestive enzyme amylase. If we weren’t designed to eat starches, why does our body naturally produce the means to break it down? Again, look to nature for the real answers.
Starchy vegetables and whole grains are a wonderful and important low-fat, energy sources in your diet. One could argue that grains have some acid-forming qualities, but if you stick to gluten-free grains like quinoa and millet they have so many mineral, amino acids, vitamins and positive qualities as well. Soaking grains overnight and rinsing or sprouting them, as I’ve always advised, makes them less acidic. Animal protein is extremely acid-forming, and by consuming the protein, even with lean cuts of meat you are inevitably increasing your fat intake.
Also, in other fossils of Neanderthals, starch grains have been found in the teeth, negating the thought that eating grains was only a more recent addition in the last few thousand years.#
Furthermore, grinding tools at archeological sites dating back to the Paleolithic period in Europe and Russia suggest that grains were being ground for consumption.
Myth #3: Humans need to eat a diet dense with animal protein to be healthy and thin.
Reality: High levels of animal protein have been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and kidney stones. This protein is acidic, and can be inflammatory, and pave the basis for just about any chronic disease.
Read The China Study for a gripping account of the health damage from higher intakes of animal protein.
Studies of Seventh Day Adventists, a denomination that avoids meat for spiritual reasons, consistently show the same outcome. Animal-based diets lead to much poorer health outcomes than plant-based diets do.
We are certainly omnivores in that we can consume animal and plant based foods, but we have many more herbivore than carnivore traits. Just because we can consume meat doesn’t mean we should or need to. And we definitely should not be consuming large amounts of it, several times a day, every day. If humans were healthy eating a vegetarian diet prior to the Paleo era, then there is no evidence that meat is of any dietary value to us now and even worse, people are risking their health if they consume a diet of 65% meat from commercial farms feeding animals antibiotics, steroids, chemicals and other toxins- and in the modern, pollution and free radical-filled world.
Furthermore, eating that much meat means consuming a mountain of saturated fat, putting you in the high risk category for heart and cardiovascular disease, which is fine by the way if you aim to die before your 50th birthday, but not cool if your goal is to match the age of the healthiest civilizations.
The populations around the world with the highest consumption of whole grains and vegetables (rice, potatoes, etc.) are actually the most trim and fit.# They have extremely low rates of diabetes, arthritis, gall bladder disease, constipation (the root case of most all diseases, in my opinion), heart disease, and cancers of the breast prostate and colon.
The only thing that I agree with in the Paleo diet is that it restricts dairy and processed foods. So if you meet someone that has lost weight on the Paleo Diet, ask what they were eating before…it may have been even worse. However, like I said earlier, just because you are on any given diet and losing weight doesn’t mean it is making you healthier; you could be aging your organs and your overall body at an accelerated rate.
Current average age of life expectancy: 78.5 years
Average age of caveman: 25 years*
* Yes there was higher rates of infant mortality that brings this number down, but either way—taking modern medicine out of the equation—people live longer without the stress of having to “hunt” for food, and the abundance of fruits and vegetables that agriculture provides.
Controversy Surrounding Paleo
The theory behind the contemporary Paleo diet is not bullet-proof. Far from it!
There is debate about the diet of Paleolithic humans since skeletal remains from that era have been found with grains in their teeth. Furthermore, even if the non-grain diet theory is accurate, Paleolithic humans only lived to 25-30 years on average, so they weren’t likely to live long enough to contract the diseases of civilization.
Ultimately, the Atkins diet has proven to be an unhealthy fad—and the Paleo diet is really just a slightly improved version of Atkins.
There is absolutely no evidence that it leads to a healthier body, greater beauty, or a longer life.
On the contrary, apart from the positive removal of processed food—which is the most important thing you can ever do for your health, there is little reason to even discuss the Paleo Diet… that is, if health is your ultimate priority.