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The Paleo Diet: Should We Eat Like Cavemen?

Just how far back in human history should we go to figure how to eat?

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PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf

Bio

March 2, 2013 - 9:00 am

Official description:

Release date: August 7, 2012

Our great-grandmothers didn’t need nutrition lessons—then again, they weren’t forced to wade through aisle after aisle of packaged foods touting outlandish health claims and confusing marketing jargon. Over the last few decades, we’ve forgotten what “real food” is—and we’re left desperately seeking foods that will truly nourish our bodies. We’re disillusioned with the “conventional wisdom” for good reason—it’s gotten us nowhere.Achieving optimal health without calorie-counting, diet foods, or feelings of deprivation has never been easier. Practical Paleoexplains why avoiding both processed foods and foods marketed as “healthy”—like grains, legumes, and pasteurized dairy—will improve how you look and feel and lead to lasting weight loss. Even better—you may reduce or completely eliminate symptoms associated with common health disorders!

Practical Paleo is jam-packed with over 120 easy recipes, all with special notes about common food allergens including nightshades and FODMAPs. Meal plans are also included, and are designed specifically to support:

immune health (autoimmune conditions)

blood sugar regulation (diabetes 1 & 2, hypoglycemia)

digestive health (leaky gut, IBS & IBD)

multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndromethyroid health (hypo and hyper – Hashimotos, Graves)

heart health (cholesterol & blood pressure)

neurological health (Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s)

cancer recovery

fat loss

athletic performance

a “squeaky-clean” Paleo approach

Practical Paleo is the resource you’ll reach for again and again, whether you’re looking for information on healthy living, delicious recipes, or easy-to-understand answers to your questions about how a Paleo lifestyle can benefit you, your family, and your friends.

Official description:

Do you want to lose fat and stay young, all while avoiding cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a host of other illnesses? The Paleo Solution incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. Written by Robb Wolf, a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world. With Robb’s unique perspective as both scientist and coach you will learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.

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A book recommendation often with excerpt(s), usually attempting to fit the daily theme. Family and Relationships on Monday, Practical and Technology on Tuesday, Laughter on Wednesday, Culture on Thursday, Intellect on Friday, Health and Fitness on Saturday, and Religion and Ethics on Sunday. Image courtesy shutterstock / robert_s

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Top Rated Comments   
With Obama's "economy,"we will go at least back to road kill and weeds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (21)
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I think that there is much to be said for the paleo diet(s) (yes, plural, because the diets varied by region). That said, a verdict on "optimum" diets cannot be rendered until there is 1) more information, and 2) the proponents of various diets avail themselves of a more complete and less simplistic understanding of both history, archaeology, and paleontology. Too many of these "historical" and "natural" diets proponents make sweeping assumptions about life at the times these diets were the norm for given populations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, when you die at 35 as a very old man, it isn't because your siblings who died as infants reduced the average lifespan of you, the guy the died a very old 35 year old.

The hunter-gatherer life was very hard on the people that lived it. Regardless of how much one wishes to romanticize the dietary habits of these folks, it was the advent of grain based agriculture that made settled human habitation possible and agriculture alone is the reason that humans thrived and grew in numbers to become the top predator (read omnivore).

One only has to look back, in this country, two centuries to see the paleo diet in action. The Plains Indians lived and died by it and even with horses, it was not a system for producing large populations. 50 was an ald, old man for them too. The bread eaters out-bred and ultimately destroyed the herds upon which these Indians subsisted, and so destroyed the fabric that was the basis for the Cheyenne, the Sioux, the Comanche, Arapaho, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, and the Crow. Only the Southwest farmers like the Navajo have anything like their on lives now.

Sweet potatos? Why not watermelons? The subliminal message I get from this paen to the diet of cavemen is that, like everything else hipster, it is one more religious doctrine from the Watermllons among us (green on the outside, red on the inside) who really want all of you unworthy gaia abusers to die..

A paleo diet won't save you. Neither will outlawing Big Gulps. "Fate wove the skein of your life long ago", wrote it into your genetic code, and you cannot escape it.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
While you make what seem to be "valid" points, you have kind of misplaced your chronologies. and food processing techniques. Early farmers had to experiment with ways to extract more nutrition from their grain-derived diets, for instance. Ancient bread was put through a fermentation process to make it more completely nutritious. With the exception of real sourdough, this is no longer the case. As a result, paleo enthusiasts insist that their diet ideas a "better" because of deficiencies in modern grain-based diets; they seem to think this was always the case, and it wasn't. You should consider making that point in arguing against the superiority of paleo diets.

Neolithic humans also tended to be shorter than their hunter-gatherer cousins (a tendency that was not uniform, to be accurate), apparently because of a chronic deficiency of animal protein; "advantage" hunter-gatherers. Early farmers were not healthier than the hunters were. But there is a good point in your argument if you make this case: humans settling down eventually created an environment conducive to greater populations and even greater overall health -- but it took millennia for the added benefits to come about.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens hunter-gatherers from the late paleolithic lived longer than 35, but not by much on average. Also, they were not, typically, "old" when they died, although the wear-and-tear and weathering of the ageing process was more pronounced than say -- a 45-t0-50 year old modern person. Still: one fact that is glossed over by the "paleo and neolithic nostalgic" is that we modern humans, despite our sedentary lives and "terrible" diets live much longer than our ancestors for a host of reasons that go well beyond "proper" diets.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The typical objections to the Paleo diet seem uninformed or not very well thought through.

"Cave men lived short lives". No kidding. A lack of modern medicine combined with hunting dangerous big game with primitive weapons, being hunted by even more dangerous big game and tribal warfare will do that. None of that says anything about the effects of the diet on health.

"Paleo doesn't provide enough carbs". Paleo does not prescribe a specific amount of carbs. It only prescribes the source - vegetables and fruit, as opposed to grains. If you're an endurance athlete, eat more sweet potatoes. It's not that complicated.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One point that is made for paleo is that FAT plays the role that CARBS do in a "non-paleo" diet -- that is -- where animal protein sources were abundant and other food sources scarce. Also: paleo diets varied by geographical region, environment, and climate. Some paleo diets were more carb-heavy than others. Fruits, seeds and nuts provided a large portion of both overall diets as well as being the major sources of carbohydrates for paleo humans in some regions. The most fortunate paleo humans were thos who lived in temperate regions with a great variety of food sources. Root vegetables were also eaten. Roots are the precursors to the likes of potatoes, yams, onions, carrots, turnips, etc., and there is no way that paleo-humans would have rejected such food sources when they were available.

The single most important point about "paleo" that is missed by ALL sides in thse discussions is this: Paleo was about VARIETY more than anything else. The greatest irony about the transition to early farming is that these "farmers" were simply paleo-humans broadening their variety even further. No one ate more adventurously than our paleo ancestors.

As to longevity? A 60-year-old Kostenki man (Homo Sapiens Sapiens living in what is now Ukraine) was dug up from a prepared grave.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Testing new PJ media profile.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem with this diet is that there aren't enough carbs for anyone who's remotely athletic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I understand your skepticism on that. Here's an example of an athlete who is paleo. Take a look at him and his programs. He seems to get by just fine without the carbs. http://www.youtube.com/user/thermaxgym
He recently released a free guide on paleo nutrition at his site. Take a look. http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good points, and I'm sure the paleo diet works well for some althletes. I guess I was referring to several distance runners who were losing too much weight. Maybe 'remotely athletic' was the wrong way to describe distance runners. My mistake!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As I pointed out above, FAT becomes a substitute for carbs when carbs are either proscribed, or are simply not available in sufficent abundance. The human body is very adaptable (we are omnivores by nature), and any number of diets work as well as others. Keep in mind that entire cultures have thrived with low-carb diets and have had abundant stamina. Nobody outruns the Masai or the Kikuyu for distance, even though their typical diet consists of dairy products. Their other Kenyan and Tanzanian cousins live almost entirely on corn (maize) and sorghum, and are, as an aggregate, the greatest distance runners in the world. Two very different dietary choices in the same general part of the world, but with the same physical/work capacity results.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Only problem is: the Paleos didn't live very long. Those who survived to the ripe
old age of 50(?) probably because they had regular workouts galloping away from charging saber tooth tigers, and chasing antelopes for food.

From NOVA: the Iceman would probably die of a heart attack if he had not been murdered by his kinsman. He had signs of diseases attributed to modern human's unhealthy life style.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem is, the 'Iceman' didn't follow the paleo diet. He was Neolithic, and ate grains and assorted other carbs.

http://news.discovery.com/history/archaeology/oetzi-iceman-bad-teeth-110615.htm
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you. As a matter of fact "Otzi" was "only" 5,000 years old. He lived at the dawn of history. He was Neolithic. He was also a hunter, by the way, as well as being a farmer. After all, most neolithic cultures also supplemented their diets with game and other wild foods. The notion that there was this stark shift from one lifestyle to another was exaggerated.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not necessarily- there is evidence- which is explored in "Paleo Solution" that the hunter-gathers were actually substantially healthier than agriculturalists in many areas. (Yes, I know you're scoffing right now.)
Consider the following statement: "It takes a physical anthropologist about two seconds to look at a skeleton unearthed from an archeological site to tell if the owner of that skeleton was a hunter-gatherer or an agriculturist."

Read the following link, it goes into a comparison (apples to apples as possible) between an hunter-gatherer population and a agriculturalist population. http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/low-carb-diets/nutrition-and-health-in-agriculturalists-and-hunter-gatherers/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Correct. The early paleo-Neolithic boundary saw a significant drop in certain aspects of physical vitality among the earliest farmers compared to their still "paleo" cousins. They sacrificed some health in return for greater food security. It was a dramatic and gutsy shift, and like all first steps to progress, it had drawbacks that were eventually overcome. But these early farmers were not "sickly." After all, farming was hard work.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just want to give you a ditto. We live to 80. They lived to 35.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How much of that is infant mortality? You've filed for your green card in Jenny McCarthy-land if you claim diet prevents rubella, diphtheria or pneumonia.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The truth has an annoying habit of being somewhere between two opposing arguments. You are correct in assuming that infant and child mortality skews the statistics for these early longevity assumptions. Still, paleo humans -- and we must emphasize early MODERN humans (not Neanderthals or Erectus), could live longer than this purported "35" once they've survived childhood. But how much longer? 60 was pretty old back then but it was achievable. Bill's point is well taken, IF you take all the other factors besides "optimum" diets into account. We do live much longer than any past humans overall, whether paleo, neolithic, medieval, whatever. Thre are many factors built into that reality, and one, ironically, is better overall nutrition compared to all our ancestors in the aggregate. But we suffer diseases related to certain nutritional choices, and paleo menus can help alleviate those and make our later years more vigorous.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We live to 80 despite several less-than-optimal lifestyle choices. I think average over 100 is very achievable once a person adopts the paleo diet. (Not to mention other factors- what will happen to the average age once the population dies off of which the majority used to smoke?)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With Obama's "economy,"we will go at least back to road kill and weeds.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Which makes me want to ask: when does it stop being "Bush's" economy and finally become "Obama's?" :-)
The "It's Bush's fault" meme seems to have a longer shelf life than Army MREs :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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