Tag Archives: healthy eating

Healthy Eating | The Paleo Diet

Anyone who follows the U.S. nutritional guidelines has almost certainly been frustrated at some point or another by the conflicting advice and sometimes hopelessly outdated marketing material – think the Food Pyramid that still graces the walls of many elementary school classrooms.

The frustration has reached the point that cries of government corruption and inappropriate influence of big food industry lobbyists are frequently heard. Case in point, the February 2015 draft of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines,1 published every five years, prompted over 29,000 public comments compared to a couple thousand in 2010. The outcry has been so strong it has led to a Congressional review to start in October.

And just last week journalist Nina Teicholz published a scathing review of the guidelines in the high impact factor journal BMJ.2

Teicholz accused the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) of not listing their conflicts of interest, of using reviews from industry influenced professional associations, and of overall “weak scientific standards.” Which is scary considering the importance of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines can’t be understated.

According to Teicholz, “the guidelines have a big influence on diet in the U.S., determining nutrition education, food labeling, government research priorities at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and public feeding programs.”

So what did the Committee recommend? The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meats; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

Certainly not a win for the Paleo community, but also not anything we haven’t heard from these agencies for a long time.

Dr Barbara Millen, the Chair of the Committee, published an immediate response in BMJ claiming that “the procedures used to develop the DGAC scientific report are expansive, transparent, and thoughtful, with multiple opportunities for public input.”1

Millen pointed out that the committee was nominated by their peers and rigorously reviewed. She even fired back at Teicholz saying that she was just one individual with a clear bias herself having written the book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.

The biggest point of contention, however, was the methods for selecting the research the recommendations were based on.

In 2010, the US Department of Agriculture established the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to help ensure the quality of nutritional recommendations by establishing standards for identifying and selecting research.3

Teicholz contends that the DGAC “did not use NEL reviews for more than 70 percent of the topics” and instead selected studies ad hoc often relying on reviews by external professional associations.

Millen defended the committee claiming that “you don’t simply answer these questions on the basis of the NEL. On topics where there were existing comprehensive guidelines, we didn’t do them.” Millen also contended that the bulk of their research came from the NIH and other federal agencies.

To her credit, the Guidelines detail four methods of research selection, most of which involved at the least consulting the NEL.

Ultimately, it is the recommendations themselves that will determine the integrity of the report and Teicholz had issues with several of them, all of which are highly relevant to those of us in the Paleo world:

THE CONTESTED RECOMMENDATIONS

Teicholz addressed the recommendation for lower dietary saturated fats first, pointing out that no NEL review of the research on saturated fat from the past five years was conducted. She claimed many conflicting studies were omitted, in particular a large controlled clinical trial known as the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). No benefits of a lower saturated fat diet were observed in a cohort of 49,000 women over seven years.4

Millen responded that the report states “dietary advice should put the emphasis on optimizing the types of dietary fat and not reducing total fat.”

Next, Teicholz addressed the report’s failure to endorse a low carbohydrate diet claiming critical research was left out including a meta-analysis and a critical review demonstrating a benefit of low carb diets for type 2 diabetes.5, 6 Millen simply replied that there is limited evidence of the long-term health effects.

One of the biggest shifts in the new guidelines was a stronger emphasis on plant-based diets with the recommendation to reduce meat particularly red meat. The draft 2015 Guidelines added for the first time a “Healthy Vegetarian Pattern” to their three recommended diets that also include a “Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern” and a “Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern.”

Teicholz contends that there has been no review by the NEL of the health effects of red meat. While an NEL review of a vegetarian diet does exist and states that the evidence is limited for its disease fighting power.7 Yet, Teicholz holds that the report arbitrarily upgraded the rating of the evidence. She also claimed that the Guidelines left out three contradictory NIH studies including one from the WHI that found no significant advantage of a diet high in fruit, vegetables and grains for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.8-11 Even the Guideline’s sole diagram addressing red meat, according to Teicholz, showed that diets high in red meat were equivocal with diets lower in red meat.

Millen did not address the question of red meat in her response, but the report stated that the three recommended dietary patterns reaffirmed the 2010 DGAC recommendations and aligned with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Health Association (AHA).1

A MORE MUNDANE EXPLANATION

A friend of mine, who by her own admission had a “cushy” well-paid job at a large government nutrition agency, once gave me her impression of government nutrition.

Her job was to follow the current research and take her findings to the higher-ups. She was quickly frustrated by the all-too-common response. They would thank her for bringing it to their attention, then tell her they already knew about it and they weren’t going to do anything. Did she experience, first hand, government corruption or industry influence at play?

My friend had a much more mundane answer. In a government nutrition agency, she said, there’s one unforgivable sin – to make a recommendation contrary to the decades old accepted cannon and end up being wrong. So was something this mundane going on with the DGAC?

The Report starts by asserting it was motivated by the current state of public health in the United States, a lot of which was a result of poor dietary patterns. Half of U.S. adults have a chronic disease and two-thirds are obese. It goes on to say these patterns “adversely affected the health of the U.S. public for decades and raise the urgency for immediate attention and bold action.”1

Yet that “bold action” consists of recommendations that by their own admission are consistent with past DGAC reports.

The few new recommendations they offer – replacing refined grain products with whole grain products and the reduction of refined sugar and sodium in the diet – are neither novel nor in any way controversial within the nutrition community.

Even in the Paleo world, while we would say to bypass the grains altogether, if you’re going to eat them, we’re still generally going to recommend whole grain products over refined empty-calorie snacks.

Perhaps Teicholz’s most poignant criticism of the report was her pointing out “a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice.” She goes on to say that with the failure of existing intervention strategies, they should be welcoming new views.

Nowhere is the aging nature of the report potentially more obvious than in its handling of omega-3 fatty acids. As mentioned above, Millen responded to Teicholz by stating that the committee focused more on types of fats than absolute quantity. Which would imply that omega-3 fats were a focus.

Yet omega-3s are mentioned only three times in the 571-page report. Once in the context of wild vs farm raised fish. One paragraph under mental health where they briefly review the vast research showing the benefits of omega-3 for the brain and finally to point out the single study that found an association between nutrients in the diet and type 2 diabetes because it differentiated types of fats.12

The broad ranging health benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids, and the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet are some of the most heavily researched topics currently in nutrition.13 Yet the report made no recommendations about omega-3s. Instead it focused on a decades-old concept of “achieving better saturated fat to polyunsaturated fat ratios.”

IS MUNDANE ANY BETTER?

Teicholz herself concludes by admitting the mundane may be more at play than conflict of interest or industry pressure – “nearly all nutrition scientists accept funding from industry. Of far greater influence is likely to be bias in favor of institutionalized hypothesis.”

Nonetheless, does this really make the end result any better?

The report may very well answer that question itself. It has long been accepted that there is a big difference between refined sugar, refined grain products, and whole grain products despite all being grain-based. The report is careful and thorough in making this distinction and providing very different recommendations for each.

The report also admits to a difficulty in defining meat – “there was variability across the food groupings and this was particularly apparent in the meat group.” Red meats were clumped together with processed meat and chicken, fish was grouped with eggs and sausage.

Yet, after admitting to this issue, the report still stuck with traditional lines. Where it was careful to distinguish different categories of grains and plant foods it still ultimately lumped almost all meat together in its recommendation.

That is with the exception of a small footnote that ultimately contradicted its own recommendations:

As lean meats were not consistently defined or handled similarly between studies, they were not identified as a common characteristic across the reviews. However, as demonstrated in the food patterns modeling of the Healthy US-style and Healthy Mediterranean-style patterns, lean meats can be a part of a healthy dietary pattern.

Whether it was industry influence, conflict of interest, or simply mundane adherence to nutritional cannon, when it came to their final recommendations, they were unable to see the important implications of a distinction they themselves made.

REFERENCES

  1. United States. Department of Agriculture., Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report. v.
  1. Teicholz, N., The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? BMJ, 2015. 351: p. h4962.
  1. Library, N.E., Frequently Asked Questions. 2015.
  1. Howard, B.V., et al., Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. JAMA, 2006. 295(6): p. 655-66.
  1. Feinman, R.D., et al., Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: critical review and evidence base. Nutrition, 2015. 31(1): p. 1-13.
  1. Ajala, O., P. English, and J. Pinkney, Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr, 2013. 97(3): p. 505-16.
  1. Library, N.E., How do the health outcomes of a vegetarian diet compare to that of a diet which customarily includes animal products?
  1. Beresford, S.A., et al., Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of colorectal cancer: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. JAMA, 2006. 295(6): p. 643-54.
  1. Knopp, R.H., et al., Long-term cholesterol-lowering effects of 4 fat-restricted diets in hypercholesterolemic and combined hyperlipidemic men. The Dietary Alternatives Study. JAMA, 1997. 278(18): p. 1509-15.
  1. Prentice, R.L., et al., Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of invasive breast cancer: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. JAMA, 2006. 295(6): p. 629-42.
  1. Prentice, R.L., et al., Low-fat dietary pattern and cancer incidence in the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Randomized Controlled Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst, 2007. 99(20): p. 1534-43.
  1. Fung, T.T., et al., A prospective study of overall diet quality and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care, 2007. 30(7): p. 1753-7.
  1. Gomez-Candela, C., et al., The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Diets. J Am Coll Nutr, 2015. 34 Suppl 1: p. 42-7.

Pizza: A Slice of Obesity | The Paleo Diet

When we think of health food, we aren’t thinking of pizza. And yet, a recent study confirmed that pizza is the second leading source of calories for America’s children.1 Every day, 20% of children eat pizza. That’s 1 in 5. Every day. Since pizza is very low in nutrients, and very high in empty calories, it should come as no surprise that pizza is a big contributor to childhood obesity.2 The only higher source of calories in children comes from grain desserts (cookies and similar sweets).3

Pizza: A Slice of Obesity | The Paleo Diet

Han, Joan C., Debbie A. Lawlor, and Sue Y.S. Kimm. “Childhood Obesity – 2010: Progress and Challenges.” Lancet 375.9727 (2010): 1737–1748. PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Adults are often told to ‘lead by example’ when it comes to their children, so is it a safe bet that all of this pizza consumption is coming from adults? Well, 15% of men consume pizza on any given day, and 11% of women fall into the same trap.4 This is barely below the level of consumption for children. If we, as adults, make better choices, our kids are more likely to follow suit.5

Pizza: A Slice of Obesity | The Paleo Diet

Han, Joan C., Debbie A. Lawlor, and Sue Y.S. Kimm. “Childhood Obesity – 2010: Progress and Challenges.” Lancet 375.9727 (2010): 1737–1748. PMC. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

This sounds good on paper, but in reality I know many adults who are completely unhealthy – whether it’s with pizza, alcohol, or any number of other poor choices. The scientific literature backs this up as well.6 A poor diet is now killing more Americans than smoking.7 Think about that for a minute. High blood pressure alone kills almost half a million American per year.8 Having a high body mass index (BMI) kills over 300,000 people per year in the United States.9 Physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar account for another 600,000 deaths per year.10 Pretty astounding.

When it comes to childhood health, cutting out the pizza is a surefire bet for improving the situation, but replacing these empty calories with nutrient dense ones is just as important.11 12 Instead of feeding them pizza, teach your children the important health value of a salad. This could consist of organic chicken, spinach and kale, or any other number of healthy ingredients. Instead of having slice after slice of pizza yourself, have a nice piece of wild caught salmon and a sweet potato.

The thing about children is they like to follow what the adults are doing.13 If you are healthier and take better care of yourself, they will be much more likely to be interested in health as well.14 And, since what we learn when growing up will likely stick with us forever, there is no better time than now to teach your children healthy habits. As the studies indicate, if you have a weight problem, your child is much more likely to, as well.15 16

Pizza: A Slice of Obesity | The Paleo Diet

“Maternal and Child Undernutrition and Overweight in Low-income and Middle-income Countries.” The Lancet. N.p., 3 Aug. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

Other factors that have been scientifically studied to influence children’s weight include: sedentary activity, lots of junk food around the house, using food as a reward, and no structured meal times.17 18 These may seem like minor things, but think of just how much they may be influencing your child’s health – possibly in an irreversible manner.19 You wouldn’t give your child a beer – don’t give them pizza either.

Show them that fun regular meal times can be filled with taste and nutrition. Paleo meals consisting of shrimp, vegetables and healthy carbs and fats will make their taste buds happy – as well as their bodies. Or you can fix them a nice omelet for breakfast, with some organic blueberries. The options for great tasting Paleo Diet foods are limitless. With a little imagination and a little bit of effort, your child can be the healthiest kid on the block. This isn’t just hyperbole. Remember that a healthy child is much more likely to grow into a healthy adult.20

Pizza: A Slice of Obesity | The Paleo Diet

Scheen, Andre J. “Combating the Dual Burden: Therapeutic Targeting of Common Pathways in Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.” The Lancet. N.p., Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

So the next time you are out with your friends, and they decide to serve their children pizza, be strong, resist, and give your kids a healthy meal instead. Lead by example. You may be surprised at the positive results a healthy Paleo Diet can have on your children’s health – as well as your own.

REFERENCES

[1] Powell LM, Nguyen BT, Dietz WH. Energy and Nutrient Intake From Pizza in the United States. Pediatrics. 2015;

[2] Reedy J, Krebs-smith SM. Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(10):1477-84.

[3] Nicklas TA, Baranowski T, Cullen KW, Berenson G. Eating patterns, dietary quality and obesity. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001;20(6):599-608.

[4] Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400530/pdf/DBrief/11_consumption_of_pizza_0710. Accessed January 27, 2015.

[5] Available at: http://news.sciencemag.org/social-sciences/2010/05/kids-overimitate-adults-regardless-culture. Accessed January 27, 2015.

[6] Visscher TL, Rissanen A, Seidell JC, et al. Obesity and unhealthy life-years in adult Finns: an empirical approach. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(13):1413-20.

[7] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The State of US Health: Innovations, Insights, and Recommendations from the Global Burden of Disease Study. Seattle, WA: IHME, 2013.

[8] Gu Q, Burt VL, Paulose-ram R, Yoon S, Gillum RF. High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease mortality risk among U.S. adults: the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey mortality follow-up study. Ann Epidemiol. 2008;18(4):302-9.

[9] Whitlock G, Lewington S, Sherliker P, et al. Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900 000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies. Lancet. 2009;373(9669):1083-96.

[10] Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The State of US Health: Innovations, Insights, and Recommendations from the Global Burden of Disease Study. Seattle, WA: IHME, 2013.

[11] Bryan J, Osendarp S, Hughes D, Calvaresi E, Baghurst K, Van klinken JW. Nutrients for cognitive development in school-aged children. Nutr Rev. 2004;62(8):295-306.

[12] Nyaradi A, Li J, Hickling S, Foster J, Oddy WH. The role of nutrition in children’s neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013;7:97.

[13] Meltzoff AN, Moore MK. Newborn infants imitate adult facial gestures. Child Dev. 1983;54(3):702-9.

[14] Available at: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/feed.htm. Accessed January 27, 2015.

[15] Han JC, Lawlor DA, Kimm SY. Childhood obesity. Lancet. 2010;375(9727):1737-48.

[16] Walley AJ, Blakemore AI, Froguel P. Genetics of obesity and the prediction of risk for health. Hum Mol Genet. 2006;15 Spec No 2(suppl 2):R124-30.

[17] Chen JL, Kennedy C, Yeh CH, Kools S. Risk factors for childhood obesity in elementary school-age Taiwanese children. Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2005;20(3):96-103.

[18] Vos MB, Welsh J. Childhood obesity: update on predisposing factors and prevention strategies. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2010;12(4):280-7.

[19] Marabotti A, Facchiano A. When it comes to homology, bad habits die hard. Trends Biochem Sci. 2009;34(3):98-9.

[20] Available at: http://news.health.com/2015/01/14/child-medicaid-recipients-become-healthy-productive-adults-study/. Accessed January 27, 2015.

Get Rid of Bloating And Lose Weight | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I found your book, suggested to me by Dr. Valori Treloar (Dermatologist and co-author of The Clear Skin Diet), to help me with weight loss and lowering my insulin resistance (precursor to diabetes.) I have been following The Paleo Diet for about six months. It was suggested by Dr. Treloar during an appointment, to perhaps change some foods and eliminate others to improve my condition. I immediately purchased your book and found it to be extremely easy to read and to understand your suggestions on food choices and preparations. I was trying to become a vegetarian and introduced beans to replace meat dishes. Although tasty, I was very bloated and not losing pounds or inches. So, I followed your food lists, your recipes, your exercise suggestions and found myself feeling less bloated and more energetic. It is important to begin to feel better to then continue on an exercise routine. In my case, I ride the stationary bike because of knee issues and use the treadmill with caution.

The first couple of days eating the Paleo way, I Iost fluids and as well as my bloated feeling. This felt good. I have so many food choices, I never go hungry. I found vegetarian fed chicken and beef easily in the markets. My quarter cup of walnuts came in handy either on diced apple with cinnamon for breakfast as an alternative to egg white, veggie omelets or a couple of hard boiled eggs (Egglands Best, of course with extra omega-3.) Fruit is a favorite for me, so no problem having a serving with each meal or snack. Veggies are so easy to use in meal planning. I just make sure to buy lots of them at the market in winter and now at farm stands in summer here in the Northeast.

So now for the results: several doctors have confirmed my weight loss which has been gradual. About eighteen pounds in six months, (on Paleo Diet) but actually twenty-five in one year, struggling with the traditional food pyramid. Definitely the Paleo Diet is better for me dealing with the inflammation I had in my body, the fluid retention and lack of energy. I do not weigh myself daily, but I feel my clothes fitting better and actually some are too big for me. I began to see changes in my face becoming thinner, my neck thinner, my upper back thinner, my waist slimming and changes in my legs – less fluid around the knees and ankles.

One very interesting fact appeared about a month into eating the Paleo way. While exercising on my stationary bike, I had a burst of energy and stayed on it for a longer time. It felt good. I now split time on my stationary bike and the treadmill (no inclines because of my knee issues). I am able to walk longer distances outside as long as I avoid hills. It feels great to be able to enjoy being outdoors again. I also found doing tasks around my home taking less effort and my mental attitude is more positive. I am willing to take on a task and complete it. This motivates me to accomplish more during a daily routine. I work from home and my mental attitude is improved.

I will continue eating the Paleo way and suggest your book to others who find themselves unmotivated to lose weight. I enjoy the flexibility of this eating style and know when I eat foods not on the list, I feel bloated and sluggish. There are times when I do crave grains, but definitely I am in control and stay within Paleo guidelines most of the time. I do not deny myself from cravings and when not eating the Paleo way 100% each week, I find it very easy to get back on track. The slimmer me and good, healthy feeling I have, is the motivation to stay with this nutrition plan.

Thank you so much for making your book easy to understand and helpful with food lists. Your menu selections are helpful to get started and I now create my own dishes. By the way, my husband eats the Paleo way since I do the cooking most of the time. He lost ten pounds without extra exercise. We both feel much better eating the Paleo way.

Linda

Attain Leanness with The Paleo Diet | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I wanted to write to thank you for writing The Paleo Diet. Since I have been on the diet, I have attained a degree of leanness at age 43 that I have never achieved at any age. Whereas before I had to consciously regulate my food intake to maintain a reasonable weight, now I can eat pretty much as much as I want (I did find it important to limit my nut and dried fruit intake as the book indicated).

Thanks again for your fine book. It is not strong enough praise to say it has changed my life.

Tom

Lose Stubborn Fat | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I was a poster child for the FDA food pyramid…the queen of whole grains. I have a strong family history on both sides of Type II diabetes so I have been very vigilant about diet and exercise. I was bewildered because the more I followed the whole grain, low fat diet, the fatter and fatter I got. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but treatment didn’t generate weight loss. I did have niggling reservations about whole grains; after all, that’s how we fattened our livestock on the farm I was raised on. I dismissed my reservations (because the experts told me to) and applied myself ever more diligently…and my weight crept up to 188 pounds.

As a 50-year-old female at 5’5, this is not so attractive. Worse, the weight was impacting my activities. I regularly participate in long distance hiking and biking (4 – 6 hours nonstop at least once a week). I have ridden metric centuries and routinely bike 40 miles in a weekend. I kayak, boogie board, horseback ride, ski, and snowshoe. I spent my 49th birthday snowshoeing at treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park. I SHOULD NOT BE FAT.

Every diet I tried gave me minimal results at best or introduced ways of eating or foods that I found to be unhealthy and unsustainable. But when I would cut calories too much, I would bonk and be unable to participate in my activities of choice. I was really suffering. I was grinding out hikes and gritting my teeth through bike rides. I began experiencing debilitating headaches, hip pain, and tingling in my feet. I was lethargic, depressed, puffy, and irritable. Anti-depressants came next and let me feeling groggy and drugged. And the headaches just got worse. I was in a downward spiral mentally and physically. I had tried a litany of vitamins and supplements and never felt measurably different no matter how many I took.

I came across the Paleo Diet when I was researching ways to deal with side effects of anti-depressants. I searched the term and clicked on the link to a new life. In my gut, I immediately recognized the logic of Paleo eating. I don’t know if this diet is right for everyone. What I do know is that is indisputably the right one for my body type.

I can only speculate that I was very insulin resistant and the initial shock of the Paleo Diet was a real challenge for me. While I was never hungry, for the first month, I struggled almost daily with cravings and feeling rather weak and puny at times. I was committed, however, and I continued with my activities level. I bought and read Paleo for Athletes and the guidance in there, particularly allowing sports drinks, helped me significantly during endurance activities. Then I had a breakthrough. I experienced, for the first time in my life, the “runner’s high.” Instead of feeling simply wrung out, hot, and sweaty after biking a steep trail, I felt jazzed. I was actually riding with the big boys! I now routinely get energized by exercise instead of worn out by it. My husband had no idea how much trudging I had been doing over the years. I’m amazed I stuck with it!

It’s been just three months eating the Paleo way. I am losing, on average, a pound a week and the weight loss pace is now picking up. I used to have to preload with Ibuprofen before big events to stave off soreness. I am now using no NSAIDS and experience little or no lasting soreness. Ski season just kicked off and I am skiing without stiffness or aches. I look and feel 10 years younger. I can breathe freely as my nasal allergies have magically disappeared. The few deviations I have made from the Paleo diet always have consequences enough to remind me that this is the way I have to eat if I want to have a healthy, full, active life. THANK YOU!

Christi

Lose 15 lbs in Sixteen Days | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

Thank you more than words can ever say for doing this research and for making it public. Over the past 25 years, I have gained 100 lbs and have asked every single doctor that I had been to for help. No one had advice that worked, if they bothered to give any at all. I have been doing the Paleo Diet for 16 days now and have lost already 15 lbs, 1.5″ on my waist and 1.5″ on my hips. I have come to believe that I have had celiac disease since I was a small child and have been for years, and borderline, and now definitely, lactose intolerant. You have saved my life! Thank you SOOOOOOOOOO very much,

Marian

The Science Behind Avoiding Dairy | The Paleo Diet

I can’t seem to find a scientific answer with research to support why you do not recommend saturated fat and dairy in the diet. Can you please explain the mechanism by which saturated fat clogs arteries? And can you explain why you do not recommend dairy with biochemical explanations?

Maelán Fontes’ Response:

Saturated fatty acid intake and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a topic with a lot of controversy. In recent years a wide body of research has suggested that increased consumption of certain saturated fatty acids (Lauric acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid) down-regulate LDL receptor and thereby increase LDL plasma levels, which has been associated to increased risk of CVD. On the other hand, stearic acid (a 18 carbon saturated fatty acid) has been shown to decrease LDL plasma levels. However, this view is too simplistic as there are several other factors contributing to CVD, such as smoking, exercise, trans-fatty acids, increased omega-6/omega-3 ratio, free-radicals, nutrient deficiency, homocysteine, alcohol intake and low-grade chronic inflammation among others.

Moreover, some studies have suggested that there’s not enough scientific data to support the view that increased total or LDL cholesterol is an independent risk factor for CVD, but rather oxidized LDL. Plaque production is mediated by oxidized LDL, not LDL. Oxidized LDL can produce shedding of the inner layer of the artery namely glycocalix. Oxidized LDL then infiltrates the intima of the artery. Oxidized LDL is eaten by macrophages, a process known as phagocytosis, causing macrophages to be transformed into foam cells which produce the fibrous cap.

Once the fibrous cap has been produced we need to break it down in order to produce an ischemic event. Lectins and low-grade chronic inflammation are involved in the activation of matrix metalloproteinases which break down the fibrous cap.

In summary, high total cholesterol or LDL levels do not increase CVD risk–rather oxidized LDL increases risk of CVD. To produce oxidized LDL requires the factors mentioned above. Hence, consumption of saturated fatty acids is not an issue if we control several other factors such as those mentioned.

Dr. Cordain wrote a book chapter and published a paper (with our team member Pedro Bastos) where he shows that saturated fat consumption in ancient hunter-gatherer populations were usually 10-15% above the recommended 10% of energy from saturated fats, yet they were non-atherogenic.

The bottom line is that we do not recommend cutting down saturated fatty acid intake, but decreasing high-glycemic load foods, vegetable oils, refined sugars, grains, legumes and dairy.

I hope this helps.

Maelán Fontes MS Ph.D. candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden

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