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 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!

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9 thoughts on “Bye, Paleo

  1. Someone brought up a good point that I forgot to address: I am willing to bet that anyone that tries Paleo will at least see no negative impacts on their health, and almost all will see improvements. The main reason I would add some other non paleo foods into a diet is due to the social impacts of being strictly paleo, such as feeling unable to eat out with people or eat at friends’ and families’ houses. If the social structure was set up so that it wasn’t inconvenient to avoid oils, sugar, and grains, then I would bet there would be massive health improvements in the general population.

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  2. Of course, I forgot another key point that Paleo often dismisses: calories still add up! I’ve heard so many times that people think that they can eat however much of the Paleo approved foods and not gain ay weight. This is false and I’ve proven (sometimes accidentally) it to myself multiple times. I saw this a while back and she has a good point: http://www.thekitchn.com/when-it-comes-to-weight-michael-pollan-is-wrong-loving-food-while-losing-weight-214723

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  3. Hmm that is a very good read. I agree with the main purpose, trying to change food culture is important. Our food pyramid and dietary base was founded in economics rather than nutrition, which has caused some fundamental problems in human development and has even contributed to the obesity epidemic. I don’t think adding grains into the diet is bad, I think eating 100% paleo is by no means bad for you, but I agree that humans have evolved to handle dairy and yogurt, etc. And have managed to extract benefits rather than purely negative side effects. I think a paleo based diet is the most beneficial with some amendments like small allowances of coffee- proved to greatly eliminate Parkinson’s risk, yogurt- for probiotic value and digestive aid ( can possibly even begin to cure depression), etc.

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  4. Hey! I didnt know you had a blog! Very cool. I am on point with everything you have written in this post and agree 100%. I eat this way with my family as well. 🙂 Now, Im off to see if you have written more stuff..? Cant wait to read more!

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  5. I too have noticed that alcohol improves my dancing skills and I also enjoy eating cookies. I’ve never tried paleo cookies, but you never know! Uncle Tony

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