La paleo diet it is based on an idea that takes hold of the imaginative of the nutrition aficionado. I too have been there several years ago hypnotized from this idea of "returning to man's original - therefore healthier - nutritional conditions".
Today, having developed, elaborated and reworked this theory of paleo diet, some important errors of interpretation have emerged. These lead to believing in an idea deeply wrong and harmful ...
That is, it is healthy for human beings to behave like gods carnivores.
Let's go then to find out what's wrong with the paleo diet.
But before let us also recognize the merits...
- 1 PALEO DIETA: THE DARK SIDE
- 1.1 IMAGINATIVE EXPERIMENT TO UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE A TRUE CARNIVOROUS / OMNIVOROUS
- 1.2 FIRST PROBLEM: MAN HUNTER-PICKER OR COLLECTOR-HUNTER? AND EXPECTATION OF LIFE ...
- 1.3 SOME PECULIARITIES OF THE NEANDERTHAL MAN
- 1.4 TODAY LIFE IS MUCH LONGER (SO ...)
- 1.5 SECOND PROBLEM: THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD (CONSIDERED IN PALEO DIETA) IS ONLY A SHORT 10% OF THE WHOLE HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY ROUTE (MISSING ONE 90%!)
- 1.6 WHEN WAS THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BREED STARTED REALLY?
- 1.7 VITAMIN C: ANOTHER PROOF IN SUPPORT OF OUR VEGETARIAN NATURE
- 1.8 IN NATURE, ASSUMED 10 MORE TIMES MORE VITAMIN C COMPARED TO TODAY
- 1.9 (PROBABLY) THE MOST SOLID TRIAL OF THE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN NATURE OF HUMAN BEING
- 1.10 POSSIBILITY TO DIGEST IS DIFFERENT FROM HEALTH
- 1.11 TODAY'S RURAL POPULATIONS THAT STILL FEED AS MAN HAS ALWAYS DONE
- 1.12 HOW ARE SOME BENEFITS OF PALEO DIETA EXPLAINED?
- 1.13 PALEO DIETA VS. VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN DIET
- 1.14 ANOTHER PROBLEM CONCERNING THE PALEO DIETA APPLIED TODAY: THE MEAT OF THE PALEOLITHIC
- 1.15 ANOTHER PROBLEM THAT CONCERNS THE PALEO DIETA APPLIED TODAY: FASTING
- 1.16 TO CONCLUDE (IN SUMMARY)
PALEO DIETA: THE GOOD PART
The right ideas of the paleo diet are the following (supported not by my subjective opinion but by the most consolidated knowledge of healthy eating).
For example, it's a good idea to to avoid:
- Processed and industrialized foods
- Sugary drinks
- The refined foods
- Dairy products
It is also a good idea to include in your daily diet:
- Nuts and other oil seeds
These are the correct hints of paleo diet.
PALEO DIETA: THE DARK SIDE
The idea of the human being as cacciatore- binder makes the focus of the paleo diet enthusiast fall hopelessly on a diet meat and fish based carnivore.
After all, the fascination with paleo diet is largely associated with the fact that one can finally eat all the steaks who wants!
... and good heavens, what a liberation! we finally wanted a nutritional theory that gave free rein to the voracious carnivore that lurks inside us 🙂
But are we really sure of appreciating meat as a REAL carnivore would do?
IMAGINATIVE EXPERIMENT TO UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE A TRUE CARNIVOROUS / OMNIVOROUS
To understand if we really appreciate meat as a carnivore would do, just make a simple one imaginative experiment.
Try to imagine being in front of one zebra quartered with the innards coming out ...
The smell of warm body fluids emanates from the carcass, smells ranging from bile, urine, lymph, blood and so on.
What impression does this have on you?
Is your mouth watering? or does your stomach accidentally close?
It is precisely for this reason that Ace Ventura (below) produces the comical effect to disappear ...
But this is not the only support for the idea that we are not carnivores at all.
First of all, the most solid evidence comes from scientific research showing the extraordinary benefits from a mainly vegetarian diet compared to any other type of power supply (after we see them).
Furthermore, other scientific evidence (which we will see shortly) instead dismantle the theory at the base of the paleo diet, according to which the Paleolithic period (or stone age) is the evolutionary period that must be taken into consideration regarding the right diet to be adopted.
FIRST PROBLEM: MAN HUNTER-PICKER OR COLLECTOR-HUNTER? AND EXPECTATION OF LIFE ...
In the article "Sugar hurts"We have a little deeper in the reasons why the interpretation of one of our ancestors is more correct binder- hunter (ie more collector of plant species and much less hunter) than the interpretation of the hunter-gatherer.
But the considerations regarding the man of the stone do not stop here ...
Studies on the ancient Neanderthal man (lived in the middle Paleolithic between the 200.000 and the 40.000 years ago) show that it has gone more than all its other precursors towards a carnivorous diet.
But there are two things to note about Neanderthals ...
SOME PECULIARITIES OF THE NEANDERTHAL MAN
1) È lived only for a short distance of the entire human evolutionary history (160.000 years are a short segment of human evolution). After that it became extinct, perhaps precisely because of its excessive specialization in the choice of meat and fish as the main foods1.
2) It is estimated that his average life expectancy was around 25 years2. The environmental conditions, even extreme, towards which the Neanderthal man (intense cold and animal hunting) had gone, drastically reduced his life expectancy.
25 years are too few to allow a meat-based diet to produce chronic damage. Then the appearance of the survival won over that of longevity.
TODAY LIFE IS MUCH LONGER (SO ...)
But fortunately today we can choose longevity instead of being forced to survive in extreme conditions.
Today with an 75-85 life expectancy our body has plenty of time to develop the numerous chronic-degenerative diseases caused by a meat-based diet.
So we have to put all the attention into what we choose to eat and drink day after day.
SECOND PROBLEM: THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD (CONSIDERED IN PALEO DIETA) IS ONLY A SHORT 10% OF THE WHOLE HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY ROUTE (MISSING ONE 90%!)
Man started to live by agriculture starting from 15.000-10.000 years ago.
10.000-15.000 years are a very short time frame of the human evolutionary period. This is thought to be an insufficient period of time to determine substantial changes in our genetics.
Hence the proposal of paleo diet: let's all go back to feeding ourselves like our ancestors of the stone age did, who lived from about 2.000.000 from years ago.
Ok, but the problem with this reasoning is that even 2.000.000 years are a short time frame compared to the entire human evolutionary history.
WHEN WAS THE EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY OF THE HUMAN BREED STARTED REALLY?
According to evolutionary biology, the first hominids began to make their appearance at some point in the beginning of the Miocene3, about 20.000.000 from years ago!
We are talking about at least 20 millions of years ago.
While, the human evolutionary period taken into consideration by the paleo diet is only the 10% of the total (2.000.000 years on 20.000.000 of years).
... and the rest4 90% why is it not considered?
If we really want to get back to feeding ourselves like our ancestors did, then we need to look at a broader time frame, instead of narrowing our vision to a partial fragment.
What our primate ancestors ate during that large 90% of time lived on earth (within 18.000.000 of years)?
… For the 98% PLANTS!
For the 90% of our evolutionary development that starts from the primate ancestors we are there fed like monkeys do: 98% of plants (vegetables and their products) and only a meager 1-2% maximum of animals (mostly insects).
The human genetic makeup developed during 20-25.000.000 of years and probably was only minimally modified by the advent of the "short" hunter-gatherer period.
It is no coincidence that the return to one Vegetarian diet brings only enormous benefits also to today's human being (see next paragraph).
VITAMIN C: ANOTHER PROOF IN SUPPORT OF OUR VEGETARIAN NATURE
The human being is one of the few creatures (together with others - not surprisingly - strictly vegetarian) to have lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C.
What is the significance of the loss of the ability to self-produce one's own stores of vitamin C?
Well, in the first place it means that nature has found this biochemical mechanism expendable. Whenever he can save energy nature opts for savings.
But why was it possible to save energy by definitively eliminating this internal production of vitamin C?
Because obviously humans have always been able to supply themselves with this essential vitamin abundantly from plants and their fruits.
IN NATURE, ASSUMED 10 MORE TIMES MORE VITAMIN C COMPARED TO TODAY
It has been estimated that under natural conditions (if we fed like our ancestors) the intake of vitamin C would be 10 times higher than today's consumption.
Hence the sacrificability of the synthetic capacity of the vitamin5.
Why spend biochemical energy in the synthesis of this vitamin when we can always take in abundance from the outside?
This could be a further given support of our predominantly vegetarian nature.
The same can be said of other antioxidant systems of the organism ...
Great antioxidant protection has always come to our aid from the plant world. The fact of reducing the intake of vegetables reduces this desirable "external" protection and there exposes to diseases and aging that otherwise we could reduce considerably with their help.
(PROBABLY) THE MOST SOLID TRIAL OF THE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN NATURE OF HUMAN BEING
If we had only one data to orient ourselves in our nutrition, it would probably be this ...
Imagine a scale like this:
[ANIMAL PRODUCTS] - [VEGETABLE PRODUCTS]
On a plate of the scale you have the products of animal origin and on the other plate you have the products of vegetable origin.
The more you increase the intake of animal products and reduce the vegetable ones the more disease risk grows.
On the contrary, the more you increase the intake of plant products and reduce those animals the more the risk of disease is reduced and the body is able to activate certain mechanisms of self-healing.
POSSIBILITY TO DIGEST IS DIFFERENT FROM HEALTH
Of course we can also eat meat and dairy products, we can somehow feed them, but then in the long term it ends up we get sick because of them.
What happens instead when we choose to feed ourselves with our true natural food (made up of at least 95% of plants)?
In this case, our body puts processes in place self-healing...
- The occlusion of blood vessels regresses spontaneously6
- Some tumors regress spontaneously7
Thus, the best state of health in all organs is naturally re-established.
What kind of carnivore could ever benefit from the exclusion of food of animal origin? you understand that there is something that does not come back ...
Or have you ever heard of carnivores who have regained their health by correcting their diet in a vegetarian / vegan sense?
Newspaper headlines: "Leone becomes a vegetarian and regains health!"Mmmmh, do you think? 🙂
On the contrary, if you force a lion to feed on nuts, seeds and plants - assuming you can - this happens (see below):
TODAY'S RURAL POPULATIONS THAT STILL FEED AS MAN HAS ALWAYS DONE
some today's rural populations present above all in some areas of China and Africa still follow a diet very close to the habits of our most distant ancestors.
The diet of these peoples consists of plants (and their products), therefore many fibers and antioxidants.
These peoples seem "inexplicably" protected from all major diseases8,9 affecting modern man: cancer, heart attack, stroke, and other chronic degenerative diseases are virtually absent.
On the contrary, the same diseases in the industrialized countries take on epidemic proportions!
HOW ARE SOME BENEFITS OF PALEO DIETA EXPLAINED?
Some studies show benefits associated with paleo diet. How do you explain this?
It's all relative ...
If you switch from junk food to paleo diet you will get benefits.
Because a junk food diet (sugars, refined foods, trans fats, dairy products, preservatives, etc.) is worse than paleo diet.
The elimination of processed and industrialized foods, sugary drinks, refined foods, sugars and dairy products as suggested by paleo diet is excellent.
The fact of inserting nuts and other oil seeds, vegetables and nuts into your daily diet fruit it is just as correct.
Too bad that this mass of warmly recommended animal products dominates the "good side" of the paleo diet.
PALEO DIETA VS. VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN DIET
But if you put in comparing the paleo diet with a vegetarian diet or vegan, then wins the latter approach based on the total or near exclusion of foods of animal origin and oninclusion of lots of vegetables and fruit.
Furthermore, there is one thing that few people highlight, and it is this ...
Often in the paleo diet i vegetable, but this is a "error"From the point of view of the theory on which the paleo diet is based.
Legumes as well as cereals are forbidden in the paleo diet. But sometimes they are added instead. Just the (improper) use of the vegetable at least part of certain benefits of paleo diet can be attributed.
In fact, legumes alone have shown to reduce the mortality rate of 7-8% for each 20g added to the daily diet10.
ANOTHER PROBLEM CONCERNING THE PALEO DIETA APPLIED TODAY: THE MEAT OF THE PALEOLITHIC
We also put another element on the scale ...
The flesh of the wild animals of the stone age it was qualitatively superior compared to any today's breeding.
The flesh (for example) of a paleolithic bird was certainly not contaminated by lead like a modern-day chicken.
Take for example one of the most popular foods in the paleo diet: the chicken broth.
A research carried out on chicken broth11 highlighted the presence of lead in the broth.
Lead does not have a true "level of safety", it is to some degree toxic at all levels. Therefore it would be better to avoid any source of contamination, even if minimal.
But it was certainly one of those hens of traditional industries, right? ... eh, no, it was a beautiful one organic hen.
So the meat12 (also the organic one), as well as the fish13 does not ensure the absence of toxic contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic.
ANOTHER PROBLEM THAT CONCERNS THE PALEO DIETA APPLIED TODAY: FASTING
The follower of the paleo diet often eats meat and / or fish every day.
But Paleolithic humans certainly didn't have the opportunity to eat every single day in this way.
It is reasonable to think that instead they were forced to periods of calorie restriction and fasting more or less long depending on the availability of food resources. As you can imagine the food was difficult to obtain, especially during the cold months.
TO CONCLUDE (IN SUMMARY)
Some of the benefits of the paleo diet can easily be associated withelimination of junk foods and the inclusion of fruit and vegetables, certainly not the use of meat and other animal products.
N ° 1. For the 90% of our evolutionary development we fed like monkeys: 98% plants, fruit, seeds, and only a meager 1-2% maximum of animals (mostly insects)
N ° 2. We are fine and healthy again only when our food is made up mostly of plants (we mean vegetables and their products). In fact, the incidence of Chronic-degenerative diseases increase (sometimes drastically) when in our diet we reduce the proportion of plants and increase the share of food of animal origin (it does not matter if they come from organic farms).
So, if you want to go back to really nourishing yourself as our biological ancestors did 90% of the time, choose a diet based on vegetables, fruit, oil seeds and whole grains.
What do you think of paleo dieting? If you want to comment write at the bottom of the article in the space dedicated to comments. Thanks!
See you soon,
PS If you found the article useful, share it using the buttons at the bottom of the article. For you it's a small action but for me it means a lot!
MEDICAL AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER:
The information provided by the manuelcasadei.com website is not intended to diagnose, treat and prevent any discomfort or disease. The user of this website is always responsible for his health and Manuel Casadei encourages you to follow these advice with the approval and supervision of a trusted doctor and disclaims any responsibility for actions taken following what is written in these pages.
Images: Google Images.
2. Cohen 1989
3. Katharine Milton "Hunter-gatherer diets — a different perspective"The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
4. Eaton SB, Konner M. "Paleolithic nutrition. A consideration of its nature and current implications"The New England Journal of Medicine.
5. Benzie IF. "Evolution of dietary antioxidants"
6. Esselstyn CB Jr and coll. "A way to reverse CAD?"
7. Saxe GA. and coll. "Can you work with stress reduction in prostate cancer?"
8. Campbell TC et al. "Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China study"
9. AG Shaper and coll. "Serum-cholesterol, diet, and coronary heart-disease in Africans and Asians in Uganda"
10. 'Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities"by Darmadi-Blackberry I and coll.
11. Monro JA and coll. "The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets".
12. Sabine Andrée et al. "Chemical safety of meat and meat products".
13. Perelló G. and coll. "Effects of various cooking processes on the concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead in foods".