Monica Whaley

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Not Sold on Paleo

Posted on January 26, 2011 at 2:27 PM

I think they have the right idea, but it seems to be a little imbalanced still. The hard core paleos say that grain, dairy, legumes, beans, sugar, salt, and flour are off the table (hee hee), but I’m not convinced. If you look at current hunter-gatherer groups, they are a lot healthier than we are, and they DO eat some of those foods.


According to “Hunter-gatherer diets—a different perspective” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 3, 665-667, March 2000), hunter-gatherer groups got the majority of their food from the gathering, not the hunting (except in higher latitudes-due to lower vegetation growth). So the idea of too much meat doesn’t work either, and I don’t think that’s what paleos are saying. They just suggest more meat than mainstream diets do. It’s also important to remember that our meat, vegetables, and grains have changed dramatically since the Paleolithic age. The article shows that there are hunter-gatherer groups that use limited agriculture and are still VERY healthy.

Data on modern-day hunter-gatherers as well as hunter-gatherer-agriculturalists who consumed traditional diets indicate that such societies are largely free of diseases of civilization regardless of whether a high percentage of dietary energy is supplied by wild animal foods (eg, in Canadian Eskimos), wild plant foods (eg, in the !Kung), or domesticated plant foods taken primarily from a single cultivar (eg, in the Yanomamo)…In conclusion, it is likely that no hunter-gatherer society, regardless of the proportion of macronutrients consumed, suffered from diseases of civilization. Most wild foods lack high amounts of energy and this feature, in combination with the slow transit of food particles through the human digestive tract, would have served as a natural check to obesity and certain other diseases of civilization. Yet today, all non-Western populations appear to develop diseases of civilization if they consume Western foods and have sedentary lifestyles (24). Given these facts, in combination with the strongly plant-based diet of human ancestors, it seems prudent for modern-day humans to remember their long evolutionary heritage as anthropoid primates and heed current recommendations to increase the number and variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets rather than to increase their intakes of domesticated animal fat and protein.

One paleo site suggests the following:

1. Eat real food (meat, fowl, fish, natural fats from animals, coconuts & olives; veggies, fruits, & nuts) that you shop for and prepare yourself most of the time. Add a little dairy if you like it and can tolerate it. Find the range of balance that works best for you in terms of fat, protein & carbohydrate ratios. I say 'range' because I think you ought to mix things up; seasonally, or whatever method works for you. Especially: cut out grains, sugar and vegetable oils. Consider supplementing with omega-3 fats.

2. Allow yourself to go hungry every day, at least a little (first meal of the day is a good time -- don't eat until you're truly hungry). Every once in a while, go hungry for a whole day.

3. Get plenty of sunlight; and, probably supplement vitamin D.

4. Run very fast sometimes, play hard when you can, and push and lift heavy things around when you have the urge. Do it briefly and intensely; not too often and not too long. Once to twice per week for 20-30 minutes each is plenty. But always push yourself for that brief time. Always try to workout hungry, just like animals.

5. Get lots of sleep.

This doesn’t seem unreasonable, and he allows that not everyone is the same. I may try something like this, but include information from current hunter-gatherer-agriculturist groups.

Categories: physical health

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Reply monica
2:06 PM on January 28, 2011 
i'm leaning toward current hunter-gatherers, but i really am not sure yet.
Reply Matthias
11:44 AM on January 28, 2011 
What you want to do? do you want to duplicate the diet of current hunter-gatherers? or do you want to use the diet people supposedly used in Pale-lee-oh-ithagraph days? neither of these?