I’ve recently found myself engaged in a debate regarding the validity of the claims of the Paleo diet a lot. For some reason people assume that I am a strict, die-hard, spear throwing, grain rejecting Paleo caveman and that they need to tell me why everything I am doing is stupid without realizing that they have essentially no idea what I actually eat or do during the large page of time between our interactions.
So, I’d like to officially denounce my brief (and actually ending some time in April 2012) Paleo citizenship. Sorry all my Paleo buddies. I hope we can still be friends or at least catch some wild animals together sometime.
There are some extremely beneficial life tips that came out of the Paleo diet principles, including:
- The realization that we have been inundated with biased information that has wrongful demonized fat (http://thebigfatsurprise.com)
- We could all use a reduction in sugar intake (http://wellnessmama.com/15/harmful-effects-of-sugars/)
- There are problems associated with consumption of industrial oils (canola, soybean, corn, rice bran…) (https://www.facebook.com/notes/daniel-kirsner/a-mingers-dozen-13-questions-with-denise-minger/521937504527843)
- The advice from officials for massive grain consumption is not based on science and can cause problems for people (http://authoritynutrition.com/modern-nutrition-policy-lies-bad-science/)
- Higher intake of vegetables (http://thepaleodiet.com/eat-your-vegetables/)
- Partially hydrogenated oils should be outlawed (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114)
- Artificial sweeteners probably aren’t worth consuming (http://paleoleap.com/whats-happening-artificial-sweeteners-gut/)
The critiques that I have, which are often shouted at me in anger without provocation are:
- People did not stop evolving 10,000 years ago when agriculture was adopted and some people are now able to tolerate grains, dairy, soy, legumes without any negative consequences (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/grains-and-human-evolution.html). I get it. Hate on grains until they aren’t touted as the required base of everyone’s diets, as the Food Pyramid suggests. The paleo community is pushing the zero grain message to balance out the misinformation given to people for the past decades from officials pushing their political agendas to help special interests in industrial agriculture. I don’t like the idea of telling people an exaggeration to balance out another lie because how different is that, really? One could argue it isn’t as bad because the intent isn’t to take advantage of people for the purpose of a fatter wallet, as it seems the reason for the grain push was. Now though, people are actually making money on products by scaring people away from grains completely.
- Even if we didn’t adapt from the change in diet, grains were eaten in paleolithic era by the Natufians (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/406083/Natufian-culture)
- Nuts, while given the green light, can have more phytates and lectins than grains or legumes (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid)
- Dairy has clinically demonstrated to provide many health benefits to people that tolerate it (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-intolerance/#axzz3ZfZaFqmG)
- Legume benefits > negatives if someone doesn’t have an acute intolerance (http://www.precisionnutrition.com/bean-me-up-scotty)
- Soy can be ok for most people and the thyroid and phytoestrogenic activity seems to be exaggerated (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/soy-myths_n_5571272.html)
- Some people are genetically predisposed to be less sensitive to carbs and would do better on a higher carb, low fat diet. I’m tired of people saying that everyone needs to be a “fat-burning beast” and eat less than 50g of carbs if they want to be happy with anything in their lives. From what I’ve seen, there isn’t any proof that a higher carb diet can’t work very well for people, while I know people can thrive on a very high carb diet, like the Kitavans (http://www.healwithfood.org/diet/kitavan-diet-foods.php)
- Alcohol intake can have benefits for some people and can raise HDL as well as dancing skills (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/102/19/2347.full)
- Stop shaming everyone for eating “Paleo food products!” There is no evidence that there are negative repercussions because something is pulverized into a powder, combined with other smashed foods, and subjected to heat. Some people have no issues eating some or even large amounts of paleo cookies. These are great transitional foods at the very least. Also, some people prefer the convenience of these products now being offered on the market. Just because some people can’t stop eating after one cookie or meat-veggie conglomerate bar does’t mean all people can’t. Plus they usually taste incredible!
- The O-6:O-3 ratio theory doesn’t seem to hold up. It looks like what is more important is the fact that the O-6 oils are often consumed after being subjected to heat. This usually happens from processing, but becomes even more pronounced after heating in the pan or fryer. (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-the-omega-3omega-6-ratio-may-not-matter-after-all/#axzz3ZfZaFqmG)
These points are why I am ok with a minimal amount of whole grains in my diet and have no issues with consuming alcohol, soy, dairy, or legumes. I still completely avoid anything partially hydrogenated and artificial sweeteners and only consume industrial oils, processed grains, or refined sugar socially or within other contexts (post workout, bed time…).
Let me know if you have any others I missed!