The Paleo Diet – Part 1

Paleo Diet – Part 1
Paleo Diet – Part 2
Paleo Diet – Part 3
Paleo Diet – Part 4
Paleo Diet – Part 5
Paleo Diet – Part 6

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In the 1930's a Cleveland dentist named Weston Price traveled the globe in search of healthy groups of people on what he termed “pre-industrial diets.” He and his wife traveled through North and South America, isolated regions in Europe, Africa, Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia.

He found people in extraordinary health, free from disease, all had wide dental arches with beautiful teeth, free from cavities. They had exceptional vision and hearing, were intelligent and creative. These people on primitive diets were physically robust, resistant to infection and degenerative disease.

Some of these extraordinary healthy peoples were the Maori in New Zealand, Australian aborigines, the Masai in Africa and the Inuit people in Alaska and Northern Canada. Their diets varied tremendously from region to region. What they all had in common were they were all hunter-fisher-gatherers who practiced little or no agriculture. Most of their calories were from animal foods.

Price searched intentionally for vegetarian groups, and to his disappointment, found none In fact people most prized the fattiest animal foods, high in cholesterol, also rich in fat soluble vitamins and nutrients. The nearest to vegetarian were the Kikuyu, in Africa. While they ate insects and some small game animals, they mostly ate plant foods. They were healthier than Americans, but had 540 times the cavities of the Maori.

Price also witnessed how in one generation of western foods this health would vanish. The offspring of parents who had adopted western foods had narrow dental arches, crowded, crooked teeth and cavities. He documented his research in a book published in 1939 called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Still in print, it remains one of the best books on nutrition.

If you compressed all of human history into one year, we've only been eating grains and beans in the last year. Vegetable seed oils only the last ten minutes. 99.99% of our genes were formed before agriculture. Our DNA is unchanged in 40,000 years. Our anatomy and physiology is unchanged.

Also unchanged are our nutritional requirements.

Price found that the healthy groups he studied had 10 times the fat soluble vitamins than Americans consume. There was no need to supplement vitamins D, A, E or K2. Or calcium or magnesium. There was no need for dentists, doctors or psychiatrists.

From anthropological studies we know that when humans switched to farming we became:

Our current interest in the paleodiet give recognition to this knowledge that Price and others have revealed. There are varying definitions of the paleodiet, and different proponents include foods others shun.

Human's Natural Diet

Our current understanding of human nutrition is:

Humans have had, and can now have, optimum health with no plant foods. The Inuit and Masai that Weston Price observed mostly disdained plant foods. The American arctic explorer, Vilhjalmar Stephansson, who lived for years with the Inuit, did a one year, all meat diet while under medical supervision and emerged in better health than when he started.

I'm not recommending an all meat diet, but more of a high produce diet. With the contamination of the food, water and air in our homes and workplaces, we need plenty of green leafy vegetables to help us deal with our toxic environment. We also need to take supplements, not only to detoxify, but to make up for generations of diet deficiencies and wrong foods. I'm also not recommending a high protein diet, except for children, men and women who wish to conceive a baby, and pregnant and nursing women.

In fact there are good reasons to limit protein. Excess protein can be converted to sugar, then body fat for storage. In addition, lots of protein gives us a metabolic signal “the hunting is good, time for reproduction.” This moves us toward a state of increased cell proliferation. This is one aspect of possible increased cancer risk. When we are eating just adequate protein, the message to our metabolism is the hunting is just okay, not a good time to reproduce” but it is a good time to do cellular repairs and healing to prepare for when the reproduction might be better. Having adequate protein, but no more, puts us in healing mode. This is not much protein, only 8-12 ounces in a day, which is right in line with the RDA for protein – 45-50 grams daily, with a max of about 25 grams at one meal, or no more than 3-4 ounces, about half of a normal restaurant serving.

Along with the paleodiet concept it is important to consider the terms ketogenic diet, or fat-adapted diet. A ketogenic diet is a therapeutic diet very beneficial for seizure disorders and other neurological conditions. It is very low in carbohydrates, high in fats, often using MCT oil causing the body to use ketones, which are energy units made from fat, for energy. A fat-adapted diet would be ketogenic lite – less fat, but still keeping metabolism in a mode that can easily mobilize both dietary and body fat for fuel. Our paleolithic ancestors were probably in a mild state of ketosis most of the time.

The benefits of being a fat-burner:

Why Paleo Diet?
People typically try the paleo diet for the following reasons:

Nature made carbohydrates scarce, humans made them plentiful.

U.S. Experts Diet
Paleo Diet

60% carbs
20% protein
20% fats

10-20% carbs
15-25% protein
60-75% fats

We have the hormone insulin to amplify the effects of the small amount of carbs found in nature. Now, with abundant carbohydrates, insulin still amplifies the effects of sugars and starches causing insulin resistance and the various symptoms and diseases associated with it.

Symptoms and Diseases of Insulin Resistance

Just as a high carbohydrate diet causes insulin resistance, a low carbohydrate diet corrects it, lowering the risk of all the above diseases and conditions.

Other conditions associated with insulin resistance:

Paleo Diet – Part 2: Problems with grains, beans, pseudo-grains, seeds and nuts.