Nutrition science continues to reveal new findings-Paleo Diet

11/03/2012 5:45:00 PM by Dean Medler – Long day Onion Breeder

Dean MedlerUh oh, another diet. Following are excerpts from an article on the website WebMD, written by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, who is director of nutrition for WebMD



Nutrition science continues to reveal new findings — almost daily — about healthy eating. But some experts say all we need to do is eat like our Stone Age ancestors to be healthy.

The Caveman Diet, also called the Paleolithic (or Paleo), Stone Age, and Warrior diets, is a plan based on eating plants and wild animals similar to what cavemen are presumed to have eaten around 10,000 years ago.

The premise is that our bodies are genetically programmed to eat like our Paleolithic ancestors. Proponents claim it’s the biologically appropriate diet that suits us best, with the proper balance of nutrients to promote health and reduce the incidence of chronic diseases.

Loren Cordain, PhD, Colorado State University professor and author of The Paleo Diet says, “Clinical trials have shown that the Paleo Diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance.” Supporters of this nutritional approach argue that today’s typical Western diet is responsible for the epidemic levels of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more. And even though grains and dairy seem healthful, Cordain says our “genome has not really adapted to these foods, which can cause inflammation at the cellular level and promote disease.”

However, some nutrition experts assert that humans have adapted to a broader diet including whole grains, dairy, and legumes. Others question the evidence for the diet’s evolutionary logic.

The diet is based on the foods that could be hunted, fished, and gathered during the Paleolithic era — meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruits, and berries.

But a true Paleo diet is impossible to mimic because wild game is not readily available (except in Joel’s case with his wild skunks and opossums in and around the cages), most modern plant food is cultivated rather than wild, and meats are domesticated.

At best, you can eat a modified version of the original diet that’s gluten-free and includes lean meat, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. It’s a wide variety of foods. Also you’d skip salt and any drinks other than water, coconut water, or organic green tea.

Supporters suggest eating organic plant foods, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed meats because they’re closer to the nutritional quality of the foods of our ancestors.

The plan encourages people to be physically active on a regular basis. After all, hunter-gathers had active daily lives seeking food, water, and shelter. Though you don’t need to do that, you do need to move.

Experts’ Views

Nutrition experts have been clamoring for years for a cleaner diet based on whole foods, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and less sugar, sodium, and processed foods.

But they also typically include low-fat dairy, legumes, and whole grains based on the wealth of research that supports the role of these foods in a healthy, well-balanced diet.

“People who eat diets high in whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy tend to be healthier because these foods are nutrient-rich and there are mountains of research about the health benefits of diets that include, not exclude, these foods,” says Keith Ayoob, EDd, RD, an assistant professor at New York’s Albert Einstien School of Medicine.

David Katz, MD, the author of Way to Eat, tells WebMD by email that “eating more foods direct from nature is far better than the typical American diet, but how the Paleo-type diet compares in terms of long-term outcomes to an Asian, Mediterranean, vegan, or other optimized diet, we just don’t know.”

Food for Thought

A diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods is the basis of most all healthy diet recommendations. So are whole grains, low-fat dairy, and legumes. You can satisfy dietary requirements without these foods, but that requires careful planning and supplementation.

If the Paleo or Caveman diet appeals to you, be sure to supplement the plan with calcium and vitamin D.

Ok, if you’ve read this far, then here goes. I do stick to, while at home, to above 95% of this diet (according to Cordain, eating like our ancestors 80% of the time offers health benefits). Away from home it is more like 80%.

I assumed before undertaking this diet that deleting grain products from my diet would be the toughest part. And it is/was. But there are substitutes out there. No, I don’t eat raw or wild meat. We do however have a friend that raises steers on grass, and we do eat, if not organic, the “closest” to it. And very little processed food (not sure bacon counts).

How’s it working? Good news certain vital stats are improving, and I lost 10 pounds.