For many years Arthur De Vany Ph.D. has been writing a book called Evolutionary Fitness on "What Evolution Teaches Us About How to Live and Stay Healthy." The diet he follows fits into my core diet definition. He may have been the first one to use the paleo diet to maximize fitness. His current site is Art's Blog on Fitness, Health, Aging, Nutrition and Exercise [archive.org].
Some randomized controlled trials have shown the Paleo diet to produce greater short-term benefits than diets based on national nutrition guidelines, including greater weight loss, reduced waist circumference, decreased blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved cholesterol. However these studies were of short duration (6 months or less) with a small number of participants (less than 40). [4-6]
And now we know that microbes, such as those in our gut, play a key role in our health, as well. The microbes we eat in foods like pickles may not take up a permanent home in our innards; rather, they seem to be more akin to transient visitors, says Pollan. Still, “fermented foods provide a lot of compounds that gut microbes like,” and he says he makes sure to eat some fermented vegetables every day.
The Paleo Diet saved my life. It can save yours too. How? People like myself are not adapted to digest grains. Eating them can cause chronic health conditions. Why? Grains contain anti-nutrients and are not easily absorbed by the gut. These anti-nutrients protect the grain and help it survive. This evolutionary strategy is great for a kernel of wheat, but not for your belly.
We believe that the Program is generally suitable for people with Gall Stones; however, fat intake may need to be lowered until liver and gall bladder functioning is improved. Despite the possible benefits of a Paleo based diet, we strongly recommend you seek the advice and support of a suitable health professional both before making any changes to your diet or physical routine as well as during the Program so that you liver and gall bladder function and overall digestion can be closely monitored during this time.
Knowing what to eat is part of it, but following this fairly restrictive lifestyle in a modern environment surrounded by cookies and candy and bagels and pasta is really difficult! Factor in the “carb flu” you might go through in the first few weeks (as your body gets weaned off of carbohydrate fuel and habits), and most people give up on the Paleo diet long before it creates lasting change!
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
Cynthia Graber is the co-host of Gastropod and is an award-winning radio and print journalist who covers science and technology, agriculture and food, distant lands, and any other stories that catch her fancy. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Slate, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, the BBC, and a variety of other magazines, radio shows, and podcasts.
We’re in a position to understand more of the benefits of the Paleo diet now that we have a basic understanding of which food sources are emphasized. One major benefit of the Paleo diet is an increased consumption of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals. Whole grains are not a good substitute for grass-produced or free-ranging meats, fruits, and veggies, as they contain no vitamin C, vitamin A, or vitamin B12. Many of the minerals and some of the B vitamins whole grains do contain are not absorbed efficiently by the body. The Paleo diet cuts out whole grains and replaces them with unprocessed, fresh foods.
The trouble with that view, however, is that what they’re eating is probably nothing like the diet of hunter-gatherers, says Michael Pollan, author of a number of best-selling books on food and agriculture, including Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. “I don’t think we really understand…well the proportions in the ancient diet,” argues Pollan on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast (stream below). “Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate—I think they’re kind of blowing smoke.”
While the diet as a whole hasn't been well studied, the benefits of cutting packaged foods from your diet could be huge. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, three quarters of the average American's sodium intake (which is almost double what it should be!) comes from commercially prepared foods. And, one Public Health Nutrition study found that people who cook at least five times a week are 47% more likely to be alive 10 years later compared to those who rely more on processed foods.
Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking in a Gluten-Free Kitchen by Julie Sullivan Mayfield and Charles Mayfield. Implementing paleo guidelines and principles in this book (no grains, no gluten, no legumes, no dairy), the Mayfields give you 100+ recipes and full color photos with entertaining stories throughout. The recipes in Paleo Comfort Foods can help individuals and families alike lose weight, eat healthy and achieve optimum fitness, making this way of eating sustainable, tasty and fun. The many reviews at Amazon are basically flawless. The sole complaint is over the lack of nutritional information. But there is no counting on the paleo diet and its inclusion would have been inappropriate. Published September 10, 2011.