Lindsey, a writer from the health publication Body and More recently conducted an interview with Dr. Cordain.
Here are the questions I’ve come up with in regards to the Paleo diet for my piece.
1. From what I gather, you developed the Paleo diet yourself based. How did you come up with the key concept and why?
Dr. Cordain: I didn’t develop this diet, rather together with scientists, anthropologists, and physicians worldwide we uncovered the pre-existing, native human diet to which our species is genetically adapted. Theodosius Dobzhansky, the noted Russian geneticist said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except under the light of evolution”. This quote could be slightly altered to, “Nothing in nutrition makes sense except under the light of evolution”. Hence what I have done together with colleagues from around the world is to apply the evolutionary template to human nutrition.
2. How did you determine which foods were best to include and not include in the diet?
Dr. Cordain: We studied the diets of 229 hunter gatherer societies from around the globe and mimicked the food categories they consumed with common foods available in the supermarket.
3. What are the proven health benefits of the Paleo diet?
Dr. Cordain: Five human dietary studies have shown the Paleo Diet to improve health and disease symptoms to a greater degree than the Mediterranean diet or diet commonly prescribed to diabetic patients. It is also more effective in causing weight loss than these diets and is more nutritionally dense (eg. More vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) than the USDA Food Pyramid (now called My Plate) diet.
4. How has the diet benefited you on a personal level?
Dr. Cordain: Pretty much in the same manner that it benefits virtually all people. It is really not a diet per se, but rather a lifetime program of eating to maximize health and well being. If you go to the various blogs and websites (including mine) you can read thousands of anecdotal success stories.
5. How many people use the Paleo diet (that you know of)? Has it grown in popularity in recent years?
Dr. Cordain: If you visit Google Trends http://www.google.com/trends/ and type in Paleo Diet, you can see the numbers for yourself. Worldwide, there are hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of people who have adopted this liftetime program of eating.
6. Is there anyone who SHOULDN’T go on the Paleo diet?
Dr. Cordain: If you read my book, The Paleo Answer, I show how and why pregnant women and children should slightly lower their protein intake.
7. This diet forgoes whole grains, which are often said to be very beneficial to overall health. What are your thoughts on this?
Dr. Cordain: I have written a 50 page scientific paper called “Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword” which is available at my website: www.thepaleodiet.com as a free PDF download. The paper contains more than 300 references outlining the nutritional shortcomings of cereal grains, both whole and refined. For starters, a significant portion of the U.S. population (~10-15 million people) either have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant. Compared to fresh meat, seafood, fruits and veggies, whole grains are virtual lightweights when it comes to nutrient density (vitamins & minerals). Whole grains are implicated in a variety of autoimmune diseases other than celiac disease, and when consumed excessively promote vitamin deficiency diseases, such as pellagra, beri beri, iron and zinc deficiencies.
8. Can a person on the Paleo diet expect to lose weight?
Dr. Cordain: If they are overweight (of which 2/3 of the entire US adult population is).
9. Anything else you think I’ve neglected asking that would be important for someone new to the diet to understand?
Dr. Cordain: If you want the easy shortcut to making this diet work, purchase The Paleo Diet Cookbook, available at my website: www.thepaleodiet.com.
Thanks so much for your time!