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If You Believe in Science, Don't go Paleo

Posted by on Jun. 8, 2014 at 3:45 AM
  • 42 Replies
1 mom liked this

Eating plenty of fresh produce and lean meats and eliminating processed foods from your diet makes perfect sense—no wonder Paleos lose unwanted pounds, rack up a new personal best with each 10K, and generally feel reborn. But cutting out entire food groups such as whole grains, legumes, and dairy because our bodies stopped adapting 10,000 years ago? Is that how evolution works?

I turned to Professor Marlene Zuk, an actual evolutionary biologist who teaches at the University of Minnesota and is the author of the forthcoming Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Her answer was a resounding no. “My research has led me into exploring the rates of evolution,” Zuk said in a phone interview. “And although I applaud people who are trying to be more thoughtful about what they eat, I’m a scientist and have to look at the data. You cannot assume that it’s impossible for us to change. Sometimes evolution is slow, sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s in between.”

“The poster child for quick evolution in humans is dairy tolerance,” she added helpfully. What she had to say on that matter was absolutely fascinating. I’m going to save it for another column, so stay tuned.

Now, where were we? We can’t assume that the Paleolithic era was a time of perfect dietary adaptation, either, Zuk noted. For starters, how much meat early humans ate and the ratio of meat to wild plants varied widely, depending on when those small, migratory bands occupied a 55,000-year-long timeline and where they roamed. Those in Ice Age Europe would have had different choices than their counterparts in a neotropical forest or on the African savanna. What’s for dinner tonight, hon—woolly mammoth, tapir, or gazelle? Oh. Termitesagain? (Insects are a well-documented Paleolithic source of food that modern-day Paleos conveniently ignore.)

The diverse array of seasonal foods familiar to early humans would have included fibrous fruits, roots, bulbs, and tubers—one example being the cattail, a multi-use plant that Backwoods Home Magazine recognizes as the “super Wal-Mart of the swamp.”

As far as I’m concerned, the idea that there is essentially one Paleo Diet is up there with the equally ill-founded notion that there is one cuisine that defines India, say, or China. Proponents may put forth clear and logical—thus easy to understand—arguments, but that doesn’t necessarily make them correct.

Recently I spoke with Daphne Derven, an archaeologist and educator who enriches the food world on many different levels. “Among the Paleos, there seems to be a lack of appreciation of how intelligent and knowledgeable early humans were,” she said. “They were omnivores, which allowed them to adapt and thrive in ever-changing environments. They were bad-ass, taking down huge creatures. But they also knew that the seeds from a plant turned into the plant. They knew that tubers are more nutrient-dense than the plant itself. Other hominids [primates in the family Hominidae, which includes humans and their fossil ancestors] that had more specific niches in the ecology had less flexibility. They didn’t make it. The omnivores did. We are the ‘ready-for-anything’ species

Derven stressed that there is not a whole lot of evidence from the Paleolithic era, in large part because hunter-gatherers move around so much. But the archaeological record that exists has been studied very, very closely and with increasingly sophisticated methods. “Now we can look at teeth, bones, even seeds in the same context as tools,” she explained. “For instance, it turns out that the East African hominid species nicknamed ‘Nutcracker Man’ developed a powerful jaw and enormous molars not for cracking nuts, as was previously thought, but for chewing grasses, like a grazing animal. That was the main part of his diet.” Maybe the gazelle was just for special occasions.

One last thing: Let’s not forget to look at the big picture. If you view the Paleo Diet in a certain light, it can be construed as uncomfortably elitist. All that expensive meat—especially if you hew to the “only certified-organic and grass-fed” caveat—means that all of God’s children can’t come to the table. And, obviously, there are serious environmental consequences; in a recent Carnegie Mellon study, researchers found the start-to-finish process of raising and distributing red meat causes more greenhouse gas emission than any other food group. Termites, on the other hand... 





SOURCE 

by on Jun. 8, 2014 at 3:45 AM
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Replies (1-10):
acrogodess
by Silver Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 3:51 AM
Termites? No, thanks. Lol
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Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 4:22 AM

BUMP!

DivingDiva
by Gold Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 7:51 AM

Interesting. I wonder how many paleos have explored adding insects to their diet to substitute for some of that meat? Insects are a low-fat, environmentally friendly source of protein. Some companies are testing the market for "bug food" in the U.S.

stringtheory
by Gold Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 7:59 AM
1 mom liked this
I always thought paleo was a weird way to go. Why would you eat like someone who had a life expectancy of 30?
MonarchMom22
by Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM
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Most people I know who embrace the Paleo diet idea are interested in weight loss - the quicker the better.  They aren't as interested in whether or not the  science is correct, or long-term health implications.


Bookwormy
by Platinum Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 8:19 AM
1 mom liked this
What are the differences between Paleo diet & Atkins diet again?
catmommy22759
by New Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 8:22 AM
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I agree completely.  It is a silly and wasteful trend.  

lancet98
by Silver Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 9:05 AM
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There is no science behind paleo diets.   it's just another fad diet, and crops up every few years under a different name.

Their assumptions about prehistoric diets AND evolution are absurdly wrong.

Humans 'didn't stop adapting 10000 years ago' at all.   That's a completely nutty thing to claim.  

So is the idea that early humans ate so much meat.   ONLY IF IT WAS IN A SUPERMARKET, LOL, and we haven't found any 100,000 year old supermarkets, yet, LOL!   But we HAVE found some 50,000 year old granaries.  

Hunting consumes immense amounts of calories and isn't a good deal economically ('spending' calories to 'buy' calories from killing animals) for much of the year, and was out of the realm of possibility for much of the year in many early human environments.

If you look at the most primitive groups of people in the world today, they are omnivores and eat relatively small amounts of meat.  It's actually more of a treat than anything else.

A little protein goes a long way.   Humans also store a great many nutrients, sometimes for months or years, things such as vitamin B 12 for example.

It's also possible that humans in early times had a very different set of organisms in their gut.  Some of the vitamins we have to supplement today, their little rotifers and such may have made for them, much like many other animals today who don't need at all, the vitamins their owners insist on giving them.   And things like vitamin D, well if you're naked and out in the sun all day your make plenty of your own.

And no only some bugs are low fat - many primitive people eat larvae which ar actually quite high in fat.   But they're eating such small amounts of fat and walking so much and working so much in a given day that fat doesn't cause them any trouble.  As for protein a person doesn't have to eat meat to get it.   Many seeds, nuts and legumes provide it.

Humans actually have the ability to adapt their digestion very rapidly via transcriptase adaptations and they adapt to whatever is available where they are.   When people began agriculture they were able to utilize the grains they grew very very well, so much so that fewer people starved and populations increased.   When they domesticated animals, there's evidence that they weren't all eaten immediately, LOL.   Eggs, milk and fermented milk products were a big part of the human diet where available.

Further, when I took survival classes we were told - actually - not to bother hunting at all.   It's dangerous, exposes an individual to risk of injury from other predators and great expenditures of calories, 90 % of the time for nothing.  As our teachers told us, 'it's a good way to starve to death'.  Instead we were taught to make use of - yes, grubs and insects, but also, yes, wild grains and feral crops that exist in many areas.   We were assured that our bodies could go for many, many months without any meat.  

In fact, there's evidence that the recommended daily allowances for protein are AT LEAST DOUBLE what is actually required chemically by the body.   Why?   Meat producers have a great lobby.

At one point in fairly recent history there were only about 2000 -10,000 people in the entire world, and they ate whatever they could get.   

lancet98
by Silver Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 9:21 AM
2 moms liked this

Marketing.

Quoting Bookwormy: What are the differences between Paleo diet & Atkins diet again?


ReadWriteLuv
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Allright 2015, you heinous bitch. Bring it on!
Yesterday at 5:22 PM
by Silver Member on Jun. 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM
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Quoting AtiFreeFalls:


One last thing: Let’s not forget to look at the big picture. If you view the Paleo Diet in a certain light, it can be construed as uncomfortably elitist. All that expensive meat—especially if you hew to the “only certified-organic and grass-fed” caveat—means that all of God’s children can’t come to the table. And, obviously, there are serious environmental consequences; in a recent Carnegie Mellon study, researchers found the start-to-finish process of raising and distributing red meat causes more greenhouse gas emission than any other food group. Termites, on the other hand... SOURCE 

I'm Paleo, and have been for 2 years. It's not about weight loss, it's about eliminating chemicals, genetically modified, and processed foods from your diet. I feel wonderful about it both physically and mentally, and I assure you I believe in science.

Still, I was willing to read this article and I could understand the view points of the author until I got here. Here, you lost me. This is ridiculous. 

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