Tag Archives: q&a

Fountain of Youth | The Paleo Diet

LX Magazine Interview

1. Do you feel proper diet can be a fountain of youth? Why or why not?

All human physiological functions decline with aging, and we all die. Proper diet can slow, but not prevent the decline in our body’s function with aging.

2. What are some foods that help people stay young?

It’s not so much the foods that we eat, but rather the foods that we don’t eat which slow the aging process. In the typical western diet refined cereal grains, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils and dairy products comprise 70% of our total daily calories. By eliminating these foods and replacing them with fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, grass produced meats and poultry, and nuts we can reduce the known elements in our diet that promote inflammation, disease and in turn slow the aging process.

3. What makes these foods so powerful?

Fresh fruits, veggies, fish, seafood, grass produced meats and nuts emulate the nutritional characteristics of our hunter gatherer ancestors. These dietary characteristics shaped our present day genome, and wehn we make our contemporary diet consistent for which our genes have evolved, we can reach our genetic potential including age span.

4. What are some staple items people can incorporate into nearly every meal?

The Paleo Diet as it has become to be known is simplicity itself. Limit your purchases at the supermarket to the outside aisles (produce, seafood, meat) and you are about 85% of the way there. Stay away from the middle aisles in which cereal grains, processed, canned and packaged foods run rampant.

By eating “real living foods” (fresh veggies, fruits, fish, grass produced meats) at nearly every meal, you will increase the nutrient (vitamin, mineral and phytochemical) density of your diet as you abandon nutrient poor cereal grains, refined sugars, refined oils and processed foods.

5. Is it difficult to eat this way? Why or why not?

People who are seriously addicted to candies, sugars, bread and cereals and ice cream may have withdrawal symptoms upon their first week or two of “Paleo,” but after eating real food for a few weeks, going back to processed food and junk typically makes most people feel so bad, that they “get it.”


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

I work in a Pastry Shop | The Paleo Diet

Hi Loren,

I bought all your books, and I love them! I just had some questions. I was making shakes and I was wondering if Pea Protein is really bad for you and if so what can I put in my shake that has protein. I also put flax meal in my shake. I’ve been eating 85% chocolate for some caffeine during the day, is that okay? Is Xylitol bad or good? I work in a pastry shop and try to make my own low GI goods, so I won’t eat the pastries.



Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Usha,

Thanks for the kind words about my books.  Let me answer your questions:

1. I dont recommend pea protein in shakes because it is a legume based product, and legumes generally contain high concentrations of a variety of antinutrients with the potential to interact with and disrupt normal physiological function.  Peas (Pisum sativum) contain lower and less toxic levels of most antinutrients compared to other legumes, but still are a significant source of phytate, saponins and pea lectin (PSL).   PSL is much less toxic that the lectin (PHA) found in kidney beans and has a low affinity to gut tissue (1) but still may interfere with normal gut nutrient absorption (2) along with saponins which have the potential to disrupt intestinal barrier function, provided they are consumed in significant quantities.  Further, pea protein is a poor protein source because it contains low concentrations of the essential, sulfur containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine.  In contrast egg white protein maintains high concentrations of all of the essential amino acids, contains significantly more protein, and few antinutrients that are bothersome to most people — although egg white allergy affects a small percentage of the population.

2. Milk chocolate typically contains high amounts of sugar and milk solids and has a high glycemic index.  Because of these characteristics I suggest that it should be a “treat” consumed infrequently and in small amounts.  Although coffee and tea arent strictly Paleo, I dont put restrictions on them (except for excessive coffee consumption).  Green tea has a number of therapeutic health effects.

3. Working in a pastry shop certainly could be a challenge for Paleo Dieters.  I dont recommend consuming any products with artificial sweeteners (see my most recent book, The Paleo Answer, John Wiley & Sons, 2012, pp 33-36)


1. Koninkx JF, Hendriks HG, van Rossum JM, van den Ingh TS, Mouwen JM. Interaction of legume lectins with the cellular metabolism of differentiated Caco-2 cells. Gastroenterology. 1992 May;102(5):1516-23.

2. Utal AK, Verma K, Soni GL, Singh R. Effect of pea and lentil lectins on in vitro absorption of nutrients. Indian J Exp Biol. 1990 Jan;28(1):93-5.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

The Future of The Paleo Diet | The Paleo Diet

Professor Cordain,

I’m a graduate student from American University (in DC) doing a paper on food policy, in particular alternative diets such as Paleo. As someone who has watched the Paleo movement closely, I think you’d have some good insights. In particular, I’d like to ask you some questions about the direction and developments of Paleo dieting, where it’s headed and what that might mean for future food politics.

To that end, would you consider answering a few short questions?




Please feel free to answer as briefly or as in depth as you feel is appropriate:

1. Paleo dieting has seen a rise in popularity in recent years. What, in your opinion, are the things that make this new trend strongest (ex. its arguments, its appeal, its staying power, etc.)?

On the other hand, what are its greatest challenges, or weaknesses?

Dr. Cordain:

From a philosophical basis (assuming that evolution via natural selection is the primary process that life evolved on earth), then no alternative theory can explain why organisms, including humans have specific nutrient requirements. Further by slowly rewinding human evolution from the present to the past, it becomes apparent that contemporary food staples in the typical western diet rapidly fall by the wayside because they simply did not exist, even as recently as two hundred years ago. All Neolithic foods disappear by 10,000 years ago. Our genome has not changed little since the advent of agriculture, hence our species is best adapted to those foods which conditioned our genome over the millenia prior to the agricultural revolution.


Q 2. Where do you see this movement going in the future? Do you see it gaining steam or reaching a plateau?


I see the concept increasingly becoming mainstream as it becomes tested more and more by randomized controlled dietary trials. To date 7 trials of this mode of eating have been empirically tested, and to date all trials demonstrate therapeutic effects, frequently superior to diabetic dies, the Medditterean Diet and the USDA My Plate Diet.


Q 3. If Paleo dieting were to continue to gain popularity, what might the effects be on United States food politics and food policy (ex. effects on grain consumption or subsidization)?

Dr. Cordain:

This question really is out of my comfort zone and area of expertise. Nevertheless governmental subsidies of corn and other grains has far reaching health effects including the cheap production of high fructose corn syrup, feed lot produced beef and cheap high glycemic load junk food — all of which adversely affect human health.


4. Were Paleo to become a more mainstream diet, what are some potential solutions to the issues that come with increased meat consumption such as a rise in CAFOs, grain for cattle feed, and environmental impact?

Dr. Cordain:

Again, this quesion really is outside of my realm of expertise. I suggest you read some of Gary Taubes more recent books.


Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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