According to http://www.paleolifestyle.com:
1. Eliminating Entire Food Groups – I am generally not a fan of diets that eliminate entire food groups. Paleo recommends that you do not eat any: dairy, grains, vegetable oil, legumes, and ‘excess’ sugar. The premise is that these products were not available to the paleolithic man and so our genetic makeup does not properly accept them as a food source. All of these products have been shown to provide essential nutrition. Dairy is a great source of probiotics (yogurt), calcium, and protein. Whole grains are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber. Olive oil and legumes are excellent sources of essential fatty acids. I’m not sure what ‘excess’ sugar means…
2. Evolution – In doing research for “Are Starchy Foods Making You Fat?” – I found that research has shown that we have, in fact, evolved. Just because the paleolithic man (supposedly) did not have these foods available to him does not mean that he would not have benefited from them. Neither does not mean that he would not have been able to process them. Even if paleolithic man could not process these foods – it does not mean that WE can’t.
3. Availability of Foods – I find it highly doubtful that paleolithic man did not have access to legumes (peas, beans, lentils and soy are pretty easy to find…) No access to dairy products? Really? If they were eating goats I’m pretty sure they knew that it produced milk… The paleo diet also promotes eating eggs… ummm… that would qualify as a ‘cultivated’ food by farming… probably not commonly eaten by hunter-gatherers. Grains are also pretty difficult to avoid – have you seen the rice fields in asia?
4. Health – So, yes, we know that “Syndrome X/ Metabolic Syndrome” that encompasses Obesity, Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, Hypercholesterolemia, Cardiovascular disease etc. has been increasing over the past 100 years. Does this mean that the paleolithic man had a longer lifespan? Was he healthier? Have you ever met one? Exactly how are we supposed to know that these ancient people didn’t die at 35 due to a heart attack from atherosclerosis? Perhaps they all died from wars with neighbors, being eaten by giant tigers or other accidents before they died of heart attacks. In other words, how much do we actually KNOW about the health of ancient people? Last I heard we didn’t have any of their electronic medical records…
With all that said, yes, I do take issue with the premise of the diet. I don’t think it is founded on solid scientific evidence. Just because our ancestors believed in tree spirits doesn’t mean it was right or that it was better for the human race… And, just because they ate certain things then doesn’t mean that it is the right way for us to eat NOW.
HOWEVER: I do agree that the way we CURRENTLY eat is seriously flawed. The scientific community is trying to determine exactly what we are doing wrong. What makes sense? We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. Lean meats and whole grains. Antioxidants and Probiotics. Reasonable portion sizes and regular exercise. (Yes, those are fragments – just making a point.)
But, I don’t think it is a BAD diet… I think you could get all of your nutrition within the limitations of this diet provided that you ate the right balance of foods. Moderate portion sizes and regular exercise would still be essential. Animal fat DOES increase cholesterol and is high in calories. I don’t think it is better, nutritionally than other ‘healthy’ diet. I don’t think it is the answer to all of your health conditions or to magical weight loss. But, if you wanted to try it I wouldn’t try to talk you out of it. I would just encourage you to visit your MD on a regular basis to get your cholesterol checked. 🙂
What are your thoughts?