Diet has been an important part of our evolution—as it is for every species—and we have inherited many adaptations from our Paleo predecessors. Understanding how we evolved could, in principle, help us make smarter dietary choices today. But the logic behind the Paleo diet fails in several ways: by making apotheosis of one particular slice of our evolutionary history; by insisting that we are biologically identical to stone age humans; and by denying the benefits of some of our more modern methods of eating.
Excluding foods. The exclusion of entire categories of commonly eaten foods like whole grains and dairy requires frequent label reading in the supermarket and in restaurants. It may also increase the risk of deficiencies such as calcium, vitamin D, and B vitamins, if these nutrients are not consistently eaten from the allowed foods or a vitamin supplement. For example, there are some nondairy calcium-rich foods that are absorbed well by the body such as collard and turnip greens or canned bone-in sardines and salmon, but you would have to eat five or more servings of these greens and fish bones daily to meet recommended calcium needs. (Note that some greens like spinach that are touted to be calcium-rich also contain oxalates and phytates that bind to calcium so very little is actually absorbed.) One small, short-term intervention study of healthy participants showed a 53% decrease from baseline in calcium intake after following a Paleo diet for three weeks.  Furthermore, the exclusion of whole grains can result in reduced consumption of beneficial nutrients such as fiber and thus may increase one’s risk for diabetes and heart disease.
As our dietary recommendations tend to eliminate many of the staples typically consumed on a Vegan or Vegetarian diet (such as grains, legumes, soy, most vegetable oils and/or conventional dairy) your protein choices may be significantly limited to strictly pastured sources of dairy products and eggs and you may likely require more supplementation to compensate for those food sources (including meat) which we eliminate in the program. Also, since a vegetarian diet is typically very rich in antigenic foods (endemic to a post-agricultural diet), sensitivities to some foods may unfortunately be more common. We strongly encourage openness to incorporating high quality, healthfully, humanely and sustainably raised animal source foods and seafood over time.
Paleo diets are based on a simple premise – if the cavemen didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. So long to refined sugar, dairy, legumes and grains (this is pre-agricultural revolution), and hello to meat, fish, poultry, fruits and veggies. The idea is that by eliminating modern-era foods like highly-processed carbs and dairy, you can avoid or control “diseases of civilization” like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and likely lose weight too. What you eat and how much depend on your goals or the specific program you’re on, if you choose to follow one. The high-protein diet is ranked poorly among U.S. News experts, who consider it too restrictive to be healthy or sustainable.
Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Macular Health is an article discussing antioxidents and protection against the oxidizing ultraviolet radiation of the sun. The best dietary sources of antioxidants in general, and carotenoids specifically, are fruits and vegetables and the more brightly colored, the better. Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow pigments found in high concentrations in yellow fruits and vegetables as well as in dark green, leafy vegetables. In particular, spinach, kale and collard greens contain high levels of these two carotenoids.
But now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite part for waking up to a warm breakfast bowl? Do you have fond memories of propping your chin against your hands while tapping your feet against the wood floor in tune with the music coming from the stereo that your kid version self is huddled close to as you dip your bowl in and out of your hot cereal?😜
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier. Recipes include: Roasted Leg of Lamb with Herbs and Garlic, Salmon Chowder with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes Stuffed with Ground Bison and Eggs, and Baked Chocolate Custard. Recipes are simple and have limited ingredients. Complaints are the book is stuffed with unnecessary photos and proofreading could have been better, e.g. oven temperatures were left out. And recipes are not truly paleo. Despite what is on the cover dairy is used in some recipes. The Amazon reviews average to 4+ stars.
Our ancestors didn't chase cows and chickens around in the wild. They hunted game, antelopes, buffalo, and probably some animals we've never heard of that are long extinct. Their meat was generally quite lean, and provided more healthy omega 3s than meats from modern day animals, even the grass-fed ones, according to Dr. Katz. Many of the plants that thrived back then are also extinct today, making it impossible to truly follow their meal plan, he says.
There is little argument over the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. They are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. The only caveat for paleo dieters is that some vegetables are starchy (e.g., potatoes) and some fruits are higher in sugar (e.g., bananas). So, if you are trying to lose weight or watch your blood sugar levels, eat these in moderation. In fact, potatoes are banned from some versions of the diet.
These researchers point out that there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the low-fat-is-good-health hypothesis has now effectively failed the test of time. In particular, that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic that started around the early 1980’s, and that this was coincident with the rise of the low-fat dogma. (Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, also rose significantly through this period.)
Nutrition & Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price's book puts to rest a lot of myths about diet, dental, physical, and emotional health, and presents the strongest case for a super-nutritious Native (or Paleo) Diet. His book outlines the conditions/causes for exceptional health. A classic that was first published in 1938. The Soil and Health Library has a Book Review by Steve Solomon. If you don't buy the book at least read the review. N.B. If you live in one of the countries where this book is now in the public domain, you can read it online. But not if you live in a country where it is still under copyright protection.
We’ve spent most of our time adapting to the food we ate before the Agricultural Revolution: animal foods, wild vegetables, fruits in season, along with limited amounts of nuts & seeds. Our bodies are built to consume these foods, but this is not what our diets look like today. Paleo is based on the idea that this mismatch between our bodies and our diet might be the reason for modern health problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Just like any other animal, humans suffer when we stray from our natural diet, but when we return to it, everything changes. Food stops making us sick, and starts making us strong, energetic, and vibrant with health. More than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle!
The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program by Kathleen DesMaisons. While this isn't really a paleo book, it does point out issues with the foods we aren't eating. The books claims the excessive processed sugar consumed is responsible for "mood swings, depression, fatigue, fuzzy thinking, PMS, impulsivity ... [and] unpredictable temper." She says her research shows indulging in sugar highs should be treated much more seriously, akin to heroin or alcohol dependency, because sugar causes spikes in the neurotransmitters serotonin and beta-dopamine just like those drugs.
Ideally one should eat a wide variety of proteins from as many animal sources as possible. One need not and should not avoid fatty cuts of meat, particularly if consuming pastured sources. An often overlooked piece of the paleo diet in popular culture is an over-reliance on standard cuts of meat, at the expense of organ meats, bone broth and other collagen sources. For more information on the historical and practical aspects of consuming a more balanced protein intake, check out the Weston A. Price Foundation. If weight-loss is a goal, protein makes you feel satisfied between meals.
According to the model from the evolutionary discordance hypothesis, "[M]any chronic diseases and degenerative conditions evident in modern Western populations have arisen because of a mismatch between Stone Age genes and modern lifestyles." Advocates of the modern Paleo diet have formed their dietary recommendations based on this hypothesis. They argue that modern humans should follow a diet that is nutritionally closer to that of their Paleolithic ancestors.
Some randomized controlled trials have shown the Paleo diet to produce greater short-term benefits than diets based on national nutrition guidelines, including greater weight loss, reduced waist circumference, decreased blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved cholesterol. However these studies were of short duration (6 months or less) with a small number of participants (less than 40). [4-6]
Our hefty cousins, the apes, spend half their waking hours gnawing on raw sustenance, about six hours per day. In contrast, we spend only one hour. “So in a sense, cooking opens up this space for other activities,” says Pollan. “It’s very hard to have culture, it’s very hard to have science, it’s very hard to have all the things we count as important parts of civilization if you’re spending half of all your waking hours chewing.” Cooked food: It gave us civilization.
The Hiwi are not particularly healthy. Compared to the Ache, a hunter–gatherer tribe in Paraguay, the Hiwi are shorter, thinner, more lethargic and less well nourished. Hiwi men and women of all ages constantly complain of hunger. Many Hiwi are heavily infected with parasitic hookworms, which burrow into the small intestine and feed on blood. And only 50 percent of Hiwi children survive beyond the age of 15.
In making the case for meat, Cordain presents anecdotal evidence of Eskimos who lived their full life without a heart attack. The Eskimo diet consists of 97% meat, which he concedes causes all Eskimos to develop atherosclerosis—a common precursor to heart disease. But Cordain says Eskimos never die of heart disease. He discusses one Eskimo who lived 45 years and another who lived 53 years, both without heart disease! He then jumps to the conclusion that because these Eskimos didn’t get heart attacks, even with severe atherosclerosis, meat must have protected them from heart disease. So Cordain’s best case for lots of meat is that you can live to the ripe age of 45 or even 53 without a heart attack. But do people—even unhealthy smokers or the obese—generally get heart attacks before age 53?
But critics argue that the unlimited amount of red meat the paleo diet allows may have an adverse effect on heart health in people with diabetes, as research links eating red meat in excess to poor heart health. (11) If you have diabetes and don’t moderate your red-meat intake, this could be a big problem, as people with diabetes are 2 times as likely to die of heart disease as people who do not have diabetes. (12)
Bring the flavor of fall to a creamy morning treat with a porridge made from pumpkin puree, almond milk, coconut flour, egg, and cinnamon. Any fruit and nut combo makes a great sweet porridge, plus this can easily morph into a savory offering my skipping the maple, adding some chopped chipotle, and topping with a sprinkle of cilantro and pumpkin seeds.
However, as I already mentioned, the Paleo template simply gives us a starting point from which to decide how to feed ourselves in the modern world. I make my own choices by weighing the health consequences of the foods I eat—and I also consider the gustatory pleasure of the experiences, too. Over the past few years, my attitude toward food has evolved. When I first adopted a Paleo lifestyle, I strictly followed the rigid dictates of the Paleo diet because this new way of eating made me feel so much better. I didn’t even think to question why it worked. But with time, I’ve learned that it’s more important to stay curious about the science behind the approach, and to be fully conscious of my food choices. I learned that I don’t need to strive for “Paleo perfection” as long as I’m mindful of what I’m choosing to put into my mouth, and why.
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan has recipes for food that you can eat every day, along with easy tips to make sure it takes as little time as possible to prepare. All recipes are made with zero grains, legumes, soy, sugar, dairy, or alcohol. Calorie-dense ingredients like dried fruit and nuts show up as flavoring, instead of primary ingredients. It will also show you how to how to mix and match basic ingredients with spices and seasonings that take your taste buds on a world tour. With 115+ original recipes and variations. The author is a popular blogger at The Clothes Make The Girl. All Amazon reviews are positive. Published December 12, 2011.
The Dietitian's Guide to Eating Bugs by Daniel Calder is a comprehensive guide to the nutritional content of insects. He believes insect breeding and consumption are important elements sustainable living, particularly when it comes to complementing foraged plant material with meat products. Numerous insects contain nutrients similar to those found in more conventional livestock, except the feed to conversion ratio is much higher and they're much cheaper to breed. You can find the book at scribd. Also available in e-book format for $35.
It may be difficult to healthfully adopt this program as The Paleo Way does incorporate a fair amount of animal protein. We do not have designated Vegan or Vegetarian options, but if you're open to creativity and able to consciously swap out certain ingredients that you wish to avoid, such as the animal proteins, then you may very well be able to pick up some new recipes and enjoy the Program.
Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection: we have bred cows, chickens and goats to provide as much meat, milk and eggs as possible and have sown seeds only from plants with the most desirable traits—with the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh and fewest natural toxins. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are all different cultivars of a single species, Brassica oleracea; generation by generation, we reshaped this one plant's leaves, stems and flowers into wildly different arrangements, the same way we bred Welsh corgis, pugs, dachshunds, Saint Bernards and greyhounds out of a single wolf species. Corn was once a straggly grass known as teosinte and tomatoes were once much smaller berries. And the wild ancestors of bananas were rife with seeds.
Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean, and Feel Fabulous With the Diet You Were Born to Eat by Nell Stephenson. Paleoista is not only a how-to book, it is also a glimpse into the life of a woman who gives advice on how to eat this way, and lives the life, day in and day out. The author's websites: NellStephenson.com Nutrition & Fitness and Paleoista.com. To be published May 1, 2012.
A number of randomized clinical trials have compared the paleo diet to other eating plans, such as the Mediterranean Diet or the Diabetes Diet. Overall, these trials suggest that a paleo diet may provide some benefits when compared with diets of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy products. These benefits may include:
Cordain explains that high intake of fruits and vegetables is one of best ways to reduce chances of cancer and heart disease. He notes that protein has twice the calorie burning effect of fat and carbs and is more satiating than both. He explains that starch, fats, sugars, and salts together cause us to keep eating. So if we limit our diet to fruits and vegetables and/or meat, we’ll stop eating when we’re full. And if you stop eating when you’re full, you’ll lose weight and won’t get fat. And as you lose weight, your cholesterol will improve (regardless of what you eat). This all makes sense and can’t really be disputed. If you want to lose weight, the Paleo diet will get you there and probably quickly. But Cordain’s hypothesis applied to long-term health falls short.
Pizza for breakfast? Don't mind if you do. Keep it simple with a pre-made paleo pizza crust, then go nuts with whatever toppings you're feeling. This version from The Big Man's World suggests an egg, pesto, and tomato combo, but he also offers up a barbecue pizza version if that's more your speed. Keep this recipe on hand for breakfast or dinner — or both.
The etiology of most eating disorders can be exceedingly complex, but nearly always involves significant key nutrient deficiencies. You may well benefit from the quality nutrition you will receive through this dietary approach. However we strongly advise that you seek help and support from a knowledgeable healthcare professional familiar with your personal circumstances before you embark upon this program, and also to have that professional closely monitor your progress throughout the program.
In William Calvin's The Ascent of Mind, Chapter 8 he discusses why he thinks that the Acheulian hand-ax (the oldest of the fancy stone tools of Homo erectus) was really a "killer frisbee." He argues that natural selection for throwing accuracy, which requires brain machinery, is the evolutionary scenario for bootstrapping higher intellectual functions. There are many more articles about evolution and human development throughout William's extensive site, though much of it these days is on climate change.
Like other fad diets, the Paleo diet is promoted as a way of improving health. There is some evidence that following this diet may lead to improvements in terms of body composition and metabolic effects compared with the typical Western diet or compared with diets recommended by national nutritional guidelines. There is no good evidence, however, that the diet helps with weight loss, other than through the normal mechanisms of calorie restriction. Following the Paleo diet can lead to an inadequate calcium intake, and side effects can include weakness, diarrhea, and headaches.
I wrote a book called The Paleo Solution which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This book incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. I am a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world. With my unique perspective as both scientist and coach you will learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.