The Paleo Diet Debunked…Really?

Elise Sole’s piece in Healthy Living on April 8, 2013 about ‘The Paleo Diet, Debunked’ is an interesting attack on a rather healthy lifestyle.  In fact, I’m not convinced she even understands what ‘debunk’ means.  What is she debunking…what claims does she think those on the Paleo diet make?  It always seems that people on the outside of something find it easy to attack that which they truly do not understand.   By definition, ‘debunk’ means to expose the falseness or hollowness of a myth, idea, or belief.  Okay, uh, what is false or hollow about the Paleo diet’s insistence on eating naturally and avoiding processed foods?…

For the record, I am not on the Paleo diet.  I did try it religiously for about 4 weeks last year but missed some of the foods I was not allowed to eat…so, I aim for a mostly anti-inflammatory diet vs. calling my diet a specific type of plan.  I did lose several pounds while on the diet and did feel rather good…anyway…

Let’s inform everyone about what the Paleo diet is all about, instead of just interjecting one PhD’s thoughts about our ancestors.  The Paleo diet follows the premise that our ancestors did not eat the following and neither should we…

1.  Dairy
2. Grains
3. Beans

So, what does all this mean?  1.  We are the only species to drink another animal’s milk…uh, is this necessary?  2.  Is eating processed grains really that great of an idea?  3.  Beans…yeah, they’re high in calories and even when food-combined, are a lousy form of protein compared to meat of any kind, really.  Plus, mixing those beans and rice are quite inflammatory….who needs all those calories anyway?

I continue to find it hard to see what Ms. Sole is trying to debunk…that Paleo doesn’t include unnecessary and unhealthy foods and this is a bad thing?  Okay, so be it…everyone is entitled to their opinions, even if they don’t make too much sense.

Sole’s assertion, supported by Marlene Zuk, PhD, is that we really do not know what our ancestors ate, that they died at a far earlier age, and that we have ever changing genes and that has allowed us to consume dairy until adulthood and consume starches, etc…

Okay, let’s tackle these ‘facts.’  I agree that we do not entirely know what our ancestors ate, but I sure as heck know it wasn’t dairy and processed grains.  Prehistoric man was also not vegan…research shows that the vegan lineage of evolution died out…reason?  Without protein, the brain did not grow and our lineage likely wiped them out and certainly stopped socializing with them…plus, they got too many soft tissue injuries because they did not have enough quality protein to heal…okay, I threw that one in based on what I’ve seen in my clinical experience…sorry.  Anyway, why anyone wants to be vegan now is beyond me!  (just be a vegetarian…we are omnivores for Pete’s sake, not herbivores!)

Our ancestors died at a much earlier age and had diseases like we do…okay, fine.  Prove it…so you find a skeleton or two and make a broad-sweeping statement.  Have we studied hundreds of thousands of prehistoric skeletons to make a broad based assessment of things?  Uh, no…I’ll bet you that our ancestors did not have the stomach cancer, inflammatory issues, and other problems that our wonderful modern diet contributes to.  I’m not sure that eating fresh meat along with fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts is  such a bad idea.

So, our genes have changed to allow us to eat unhealthy food.  I absolutely agree.  But, let’s all get IgG4 tests to assess long-term food sensitivity and see how great our processed foods and unnatural dairy products are for our antibody counts…amazing!  I really fail to see how modern day acid-ash foods are beneficial to our health.  On top of that, all those carbohydrates have made our society lean and mean…what is the attempt here, to bring back that darn harmful pyramid again?

Ms. Sole’s take on things and is certainly short-sighted.  Sure, we might consume more starches and dairy nowadays, but this doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good for us.  This piece loses credibility when it discusses how dairy gives us strong bones.  Please, don’t get me going on this topic…I’ll let people who respond cover this topic!  Why don’t these dairy people talk about how we drink more milk than any nation in the world yet have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis….oh, this is due to the natural foods we eat, I guess….

Look, if you want to be a poster child for the failed food pyramid (which was revamped, what, like 3 times and still led America to become obese and otherwise unhealthy), then just come out and say so.  How you can attack a food plan that involves primarily different forms of meat, vegetables, nuts, and fruit is beyond me.  I guess Ms. Sole and her PhD friend do not consider sweet potatoes and potatoes to be valid starches….oh yeah, processed grains are healthier…argh!

It’s sad this piece misses the point of Paleo…going as far in the final paragraph to say that you need carbohydrates, salt, and of course dairy for those strong bones.  I guess Ms. Sole never realized that the Paleo diet DOES allow for carbohydrates and you do tend to get plenty of salt from meats and other natural foods…is she going to tell me that dark, leafy greens do not have calcium?  Perhaps if our diet wasn’t so acid-ash based, we wouldn’t be leaching so much calcium from our bones!

So, does Ms. Sole actually ‘debunk’ the Paleo Diet?  I don’t even see how this is possible?  It makes no sense to me…but neither do a lot of things these days!

I think I’ll go get a slice of bread and wash it down with a glass of milk!

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