Tag Archives: The Paleo Diet

October has arrived in all its glory at The Paleo Diet and we have been harvesting our organic garden to create fresh, nutritious dishes.  After tending faithfully to our plants, we are reaping the rewards and sharing them with friends and family.  Many have asked for ideas and recipes for garden ingredients.  This month, we’ll be sharing our Fall Harvest recipes with our Paleo Diet followers.  Enjoy!

Chimichurri Steak

Steak comes alive with the flavor of Paleo Chimichurri – a bright green Argentinian herb sauce. Pair it with a spicy cauliflower dish to make this a meal to remember!

Ingredients:
Makes 2 servings

  • 2 grass-fed beef top loin (strip) steaks, cut 1 inch thick
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinkly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 10-ounce package fresh cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup Chimichurri Sauce

Sprinkle both sides of steaks with black pepper.  Grill steaks, covered, over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes for medium rare (145°F) or 12 to 15 minutes for medium (160°F), turning once halfway through grilling.  (Or cook steaks on a stove-top grill pan over medium heat.)

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium high-heat.  Add onion and crushed red pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until onion softens and begins to brown. Add garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add cauliflower and the water; cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes or just until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until liquid has evaporated. Remove skillet from heat; stir in lemon juice.

Serve steaks with Chimichurri Sauce and cauliflower and a fresh green Paleo salad.

 

Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients
Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cups lightly packed cilantro
  • ½ cup lightly packed mint
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 dried unsulfured apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients.  Process until ingredients are finely chopped and combined, scraping sides as necessary.  Use immediately or freeze in desired portions up to 3 months in tightly covered containers. 

*From: Real Paleo Fast and Easy by Loren Cordain PhD.  Get more great recipes at The Paleo Diet Store

Salad Dressing

Salad Dressing

Mid-Season Sprucing Up

The Paleo Diet’s 2017 organic vegetable garden is growing and thriving, which means a little tidying up is in order to ensure that all of the plants are happy and healthy.  Our veggies are spreading out and filling in every space available with their stems, leaves, and flowers.  Along with this comes the crowding out of others, so we have trimmed and thinned to keep everything flourishing with plenty of space to grow.  Our cucumbers plants have gotten much too large for our garden trough and we made the decision to transplant them into large pots that can be put on the ground in just the right sunny spot.  We are hopeful that they will still yield  plenty of delicious cukes to add to our fresh salads and Paleo dishes.  Now that the cucumbers have moved out, our spinach and other leafy greens are much happier and beginning to spread out and thrive.  

Summer means a bounty of fresh, crisp salads to beat the heat and keep us healthy and happy.  It is nearly impossible to find store bought salad dressings that comply with The Paleo Diet.  We’ve experimented over the years, and have come up with these 2 easy-to-make dressings made with fresh ingredients straight from The Paleo Diet garden.  Enjoy!

 

Spice of Life Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree on medium speed until well combined.  Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

Spice of Life Creamy Dressing and Veggie Dip

We changed up just 2 ingredients in the dressing and have found this to be a delicious dip for fresh veggies, or a creamy salad dressing for any combination of leafy greens.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Paleo Walnut Mayo*
  • 1 Tablespoon each: Fresh basil, spinach, german thyme, cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Table Blend

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree on medium speed until well combined.  Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

* Paleo Walnut Mayo

from Real Paleo Fast and Easy p. 305

We go through a jar of this mayo per week in the Cordain kitchen, as it goes well with a variety of foods and spices. Our preference is to use walnut oil for a smooth, mellow taste.

Ingredients:
Makes about 3 ½ cups.

  • 1 large or extra-large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup walnut oil, at room temperature

Crack egg into a tall, narrow glass jar (a wide-mouth pint canning jar works well).  Add a touch of lemon juice and dry mustard.

Carefully pour in oil.  Let egg settle down to the bottom of the jar, under the oil.

Insert an immersion blender and push it all of the way to the bottom of the jar. Turn power on high and let it run for 20 seconds without moving it.  The mayonnaise will start to form and rise to the top of the jar.  Slowly raise the blender until it reaches the top of the jar.  Use mayonnaise immediately or store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.    

Check out more pure Paleo recipes at The Paleo Diet store.

There is one all-encompassing and inescapable reason to adopt a Paleo Diet lifestyle – improved health. Early critics of the diet said there were no studies to back those claims. But in recent years, a growing body of new research has appeared showing better health in people of different ages, sex, and race. The evidence is mounting.

This month, our writers addressed just a few items on the growing list of benefits of the Paleo Diet. A list that Jane Dizon at least partially summarized in her monthly infographic.

Our feature article is a continuation of Dr. Cordain’s extensive research on the negative health effects of high salt consumption. The Paleo Diet is a low sodium diet, and it’s a good thing too, as the recent evidence that Dr. Cordain has been collecting against high salt consumption continues to mount.

Along with our feature piece, Marc Bubbs addresses the health benefits of periodic fasting for diabetics, Trevor Connor addresses Bill Nye’s recent claims that The Paleo Diet is unhealthy, and Nell Stephenson pushes the boundaries of the diet a little bit, telling you how to have your bacon and eat it, too.

We hope our new articles help make it a little easier for you to stay Paleo for the rest of your summer. Enjoy!

– The Paleo Diet Team


August’s Feature Article

Physiological Mechanisms: Underlying High Salt Diets and Cancer

By Loren Cordain, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Dr. Cordain continues his groundbreaking research into high-salt diets and their impact on our health. In this piece, responding to a reader’s question, Dr. Cordain addresses how salt consumption can contribute to cancer. This is not one to miss!


Other Articles for August

Fasting – Ancestral Cure for Diabetes?

By Marc Bubbs, ND, CISSN, CSCS
Is fasting the ancestral cure for diabetes? Read more from Marc Bubbs on this fascinating and exploding subject including whether fasting was a natural part of paleolithic lifestyles and recent evidence for its effects and potential benefits with diabetics.

Bill Nye – The Science Guy?

By Trevor Connor, M.S.
Does Bill Nye’s recent criticism of the Paleo Diet hold scientific weight? Read why the research doesn’t back up his claims about our ancestors and their diet. In this blog, Trevor Connor, M.S. addresses Bill Nye’s views on the Paleo Diet, as discussed in the Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.

Nell’s Corner: National Bacon Lover’s Day August 20th

By Nell Stephenson, B.S.
Just about everyone loves bacon. But is it part of an authentic Paleo approach? Nell Stephenson answers both this important question and gives some guidelines on how to both choose and cook your bacon.

The Ultimate Benefits of Going Paleo

By Jane Dizon
Some people are skeptical about the Paleo diet, but the outstanding benefits for the people who have tried it are evidence that there is more to it than just a mere change in one’s food choice. If you’re looking to try out this proven diet, here are the ultimate reasons why you should go Paleo now.

Paleo Recipe Contest Winner

By The Paleo Diet Team
We had a contest in July and August for the best recipe submission from our readers. Congratulations to Kriag Menard, our winner. Give his recipe a try!


September at The Paleo Diet: Lean, Robust, and Anti-Inflammatory

In September, our writers will continue to guide you in terms of foods that are and aren’t Paleo, including recipes focused on fresh fall produce (you can never get enough fresh vegetables) and why you should avoid olives and cheese.

Pulling it all together, we report on two recent studies showing the anti-inflammatory effects of The Paleo Diet. Nell Stephenson, as a high-level triathlete, gives advice on how to stay lean in the off-season.

As always, our team appreciates your support for The Paleo Diet. We look forward to and encourage your feedback on our website and Facebook!

Thanks!
The Paleo Diet Team

At The Paleo Diet, we look forward to August when our local farmer’s markets are stocked with a plentiful array of fresh-picked produce. We love visiting the various vendors to pick up a bounty of heirloom tomatoes, squash, onions, peppers, lettuce, spinach, peaches, strawberries, melons, and just about anything that grows in our neck of the woods. Right through October, there is little need to visit our local grocery chain, as you can’t beat the freshness of our locally sourced foods. Wherever you reside, give your local growers your support and stock up on some delicious Paleo Diet foods. Give this versatile seasonal favorite from The Paleo Diet kitchen a try. Serve with your favorite fresh greens and some sliced seasonal fruit for an easy, nutritionpacked meal! For more delicious recipes, visit us at: www.thepaleodiet.com

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large 2-3 in diameter squash of your choice, or 4 large peppers
  • 1-pound of ground grass fed beef
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ large bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of each: fresh thyme, basil, parsley, rosemary and cilantro, finely minced
  • ½ cup water

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds, leaving a 1-2 inch channel to fill later with the beef mixture. Set aside. Brown beef in fry pan on low heat, stirring to be sure the meat is cooked evenly. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a separate medium sized sauté pan, setting aside the rest. Add onion and garlic and sauté on medium heat about 3 minutes. Add the chopped pepper and continue to sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes. Season evenly with fresh herbs and mix throughout the veggies. Add cooked veggies to meat mixture and mix thoroughly. Evenly coat the inside floor of a 1 or 2-inch baking dish with the remaining olive oil. Stuff squash or peppers with the meat mixture and place in baking dish. Add ½ cup water to bottom of dish and cover with foil. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the squash or peppers are tender. Serves up to 4 people.

For more Paleo Diet recipes, visit our website today!

Salt and CancerWhen I was in the middle of my academic career during the mid to late 1990’s (I retired from Colorado State University in December 2013,) I had the great pleasure of corresponding with Birger Jansson, Ph.D. at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Jansson was a Professor in the Department of Biomathematics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and worked as a biomathematician for the National Large Bowel Cancer Project (NLBCP) between 1973 and 1983 when President Nixon launched his war against cancer in the early 1970s. Birger was known internationally for his brilliant mathematical modeling of all types of cancer, but today he is perhaps best known for his epidemiological and review publications demonstrating how a high salt (sodium) diet promotes all types of cancer, whereas a high potassium diet impedes cancer (1-8).

My correspondence with Dr. Jansson came about from my interest in the reported low incidence of all types of cancers in hunter-gatherers (9-17) who were essentially salt free populations. From animal and tissue experiments, I had long suspected that salt added to diet acted as a promoter of various cancers whereas a high potassium intake retarded cancer development. My correspondence with Birger further confirmed the evidence I had compiled.

Almost exactly 20 years ago in May of 1997 (see attached PDF file), Birger sent me his unpublished and unedited book entitled, Sodium: “NO!” Potassium: “Yes!” Sodium increases and potassium decreases cancer risks. This book represented Birger’s scientific work, from 1981 to 1997, documenting the relationship between dietary sodium and potassium (1-8). The data from his book includes hundreds of scientific references from 1) epidemiological studies, 2) animal studies, 3) tissue studies, and a limited number of 4) randomized controlled human trials with various disease endpoints and markers.

Unfortunately, my correspondence with Birger ceased shortly after he sent me his unpublished and unedited book manuscript on May 10, 1997. I only recently discovered that Birger died (May 23, 1998) about a year to the date after our last correspondence at age 77 as a Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

I am in a unique position, in that I probably have one of the few copies of Dr. Jansson’s unpublished book in existence. The book runs about 350 pages in length and is comprised of 10 chapters. My copy clearly was produced as a Xeroxed copy of Birger’s hand typed manuscript (one sided, double spaced pages) and spiral bound with plastic. From my correspondence with Birger (May 10, 1997), you can see that he was contemplating publication of his book in the popular literature, but unfortunately it never happened with his untimely death in 1998.

I have always felt a debt to this great scientist, and after consultation with my colleague Anthony Sebastian (M.D.) at the University of California, San Francisco, we concluded that Birger would have been happy to see that his unpublished book was finally made known to the scientific and world communities.

In this blog I have included a single chapter (Chapter II of Birger’s book), entitled “Human Diet Before Modern Times” that I thought would be of interest to the “Paleo Community” and to worldwide scientists as well. Enjoy!

 

References

1. Jansson B. Potassium, sodium, and cancer: a review. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1996;15(2-4):65-73

2. Jansson B. Dietary, total body, and intracellular potassium-to-sodium ratios and their influence on cancer. Cancer Detect Prev. 1990;14(5):563-5

3. Jansson B. Intracellular electrolytes and their role in cancer etiology. In Thompson JR, Brown BW, eds. Cancer modeling. New York: Marcel Dekker 1987:1-59.

4. Jansson B. Geographic cancer risk and intracellular potassium/sodium ratios. Cancer Detect Prev. 1986;9(3-4):171-94

5. Jansson B, Jankovic J. Low cancer rates among patients with Parkinson’s disease. Ann Neurol. 1985 May;17(5):505-9

6. Newmark HL, Wargovich MJ, Bruce VR, Boynton AL, Kleine LP, Whitfield JF. Jansson B, Cameron IL. Ions and neoplastic development. In: Mastromarino AJ, Brattain MG, eds. Large bowel cancer. Clinical and basic science research. Cancer Research Monographs, Vol 3, New York: Praeger Publisher 1985:102-129.

7. Jansson B. Geographic mappings of colorectal cancer rates: a retrospect of studies, 1974-1984. Cancer Detect Prev. 1985;8(3):341-8

8. Jansson B. Seneca County, New York: an area with low cancer mortality rates. Cancer. 1981 Dec 1;48(11):2542-6

9. Bulkley JL. Cancer among primitive tribes. Cancer 1927; 4:289-295.

10. Henson, WW. Cancer in Kafirs: suggested cause. Guy’s Hospital Gazette, March 26, 1904, 131-133

11. Hearsey H. The rarity of cancer among the aborigines of British Central Africa. Brit Med J, Dec 1, 1906, 1562-63.

12. Hildes JA, Schaefer O. The changing picture of neoplastic disease in the western and central Canadian Arctic (1950-1980). Can Med Assoc J 1984; 130:25-32.

13. Rabinowitch IM. Clinical and other observations on Canadian Eskimos in the Eastern Arctic. Can Med Assoc J 1936; 34:487-501.

14. Renner W. The spread of cancer among the descendants of the liberated Africans or Creoles of Sierre Leone. Brit Med J, Sept 3, 1910, 587-589.

15. Riveros M. First observation of cancer among the Pampidos (Chulupi) Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco. Int Surg 1970; 53:51-55.

16. Stefansson V. Cancer: Disease of Civilization? Hill and Wang, NY, 1960.

17. Urquhart JA. The most northerly practice in Canada. Can Med Assoc J. 1935;33:193-196.

Many people are skeptical whenever change is introduced. And the Paleo Diet, considered a disruptive diet by some, is no exemption. Many awful things have been said about this diet and it’s easy to get confused with what’s true and what’s not.

Contrary to these claims, The Paleo Diet has changed the lives of many people who were brave enough to try it out and discipline themselves to find the many great benefits of eating “caveman-style.”

Let’s debunk some of the common myths about The Paleo Diet. Who knows? One of the myths on this list may just be the very hurdle that’s been keeping you from leading a healthier lifestyle. So let’s get to the meat of it all, shall we?

Debunking the Biggest Myths About The Paleo Diet - infographic

In Part I of this series, we looked at the longstanding recommendations of many governmental health organizations to reduce dietary saturated fat and replace it with omega-6 fats. Doing so supposedly, these organizations claim, reduces cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. As we saw in Part I, however, there is considerable controversy within the nutrition science community concerning this claim. There’s a case to be made for decreased saturated fat, but there’s also a case for decreased omega-6. Since the current science is far less black-and-white than the recommendations would lead you to believe, with Part II of this series, we’ll be looking at the debate from a paleolithic perspective, with the hope of gaining a broader and more balanced perspective on optimal consumption levels of both saturated and polyunsaturated fats.

 

Paleo PUFA Consumption

Although conclusive scientific studies are lacking, we can gain valuable insight by examining the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors. How much of these nutrients did they consume? How do current PUFA recommendations compare to PUFA consumption by our Paleolithic ancestors?

To know how much saturated fat and PUFAs they ate, we first must estimate how much total fat they ate. As always, Paleolithic diets varied based on geography and access to certain foods, but in general, our ancestors ate relatively more fat, more protein, and less carbohydrate, compared to contemporary diets. In 2000, Dr. Cordain and his colleagues estimated the following macronutrient ratios for Paleolithic diets:[1]

  • Fat: 28-58% of calories
  • Protein: 19-35% of calories
  • Carbohydrates: 22-40% of calories

They arrived at these estimates, in part, by analyzing the diets of 229 hunter-gather societies, assessing their specific foods, and measuring their ratios of plant to animal food consumption. The vast majority (73%) of these societies derived more than 50% of their calories from animal foods [2].

Next, we need to estimate how macronutrients are distributed within the specific foods our ancestors ate. Figures 1 and 2 below compare the meat of wild animals with the meat of commercially raised animals. Figure 1 shows the percentage of calories from protein, fat, and carbohydrate (note that carbs are negligible in animal meat) whereas Figure 2 shows each type of fat as a percentage of total fat. We can assume, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that wild animals today are similar to those hunted and consumed by our ancestors, with respect to body composition.

Macronutrient Calories in Animal Foods

Figure 1. Percent of calories from macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrate) in wild and commercial animal foods.

Proportion of Fatty Acids in Animal Foods

Figure 2. Proportions of fatty acids in wild and commercial animal foods.

 

Examining these figures, two dominant trends emerge:

1. Wild meat is proportionally higher in protein and lower in fat compared to commercially raised meat.
2. The fat portion of wild meat is proportionally higher in PUFAs – both omega-6 and omega-3 – compared to commercial meat.

Additionally, we can say that grass-fed beef is closer to wild meat than grain-fed beef, but both grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef poorly approximate wild meat.

The above observations are based on data from the USDA Nutrient Database and are substantiated by numerous studies comparing wild and domesticated animals [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].

Additionally, scientists have recently extracted frozen, Paleolithic-era animal carcasses from the Siberian tundra. Tissue analyses of these carcasses further highlight the similarities between Paleolithic meat and modern wild meat, particularly with respect to n-6/n-3 ratios [8], [9].

 

The Ever-Important Omega Ratio

As we saw in part I, many RCTs, observational studies, and meta-analyses addressing omega-6 consumption fail to properly account for omega-3 consumption (and the n-6/n-3 ratio). For our Paleolithic ancestors, this ratio was approximately 1/1 (and probably no higher than 3/1) [10]. Today, however, the ratio approaches 20/1 for people consuming typical Western diets [11].

This disparity is critical to the entire debate about saturated fat and its replacement with omega-6. Recent studies show saturated fat isn’t a health menace, as previously believed [12][13][14][15]. On the other hand, our reliance on commercially raised meat has probably skewed our fat consumption by over-representing saturated fat and under-representing PUFAs. We’ve compensated by consuming large quantities of vegetable oils, which are rich in omega-6, but omega-3 consumption has fallen by the wayside.

The consequences of our dramatically elevated n-6/n-3 ratios include the following:[16]

  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased leptin and insulin resistance
  • Increased risk for diabetes
  • Increased weight gain and risk for obesity

 

Keeping it Real

Just as previous generations shunned saturated fat, we would be foolish to shun omega-6 completely. After all, omega-6 is an essential fatty acid (EFA), meaning our body requires it and can only obtain it from food. That being said, some sources of are better than others.

It’s easy to get good quality omega-6 from olive oil, avocados, nuts, and from certain animal foods. By following the Paleo Diet template, you’ll get a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3, plus a good distribution of SFAs, MUFAs, and PUFAs.

With respect to omega-6, our best advice would be to eliminate all vegetable and seed oils from your diet. These include, among others:

  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil

The problem with these oils is they contain very high amounts of omega-6. Consuming them increases your n-6/n-3 ratio, while also introduces potentially dangerous free radicals.

 

Unstable Seed Oils

The industrial processing of vegetable seed oils involves high-heat and the use of various chemical solvents – a guaranteed recipe for free radical oxidation and lipid peroxidation [17].

Cooking with PUFA-rich oils creates lipid oxidation products known as alkenals, some of which are toxic [18].

Olive oil, which contains some PUFAs, but is mostly comprised of MUFAs, has been shown to be more heat-stable and better for cooking compared to vegetable oils [19],[20]. It’s best to avoid high-heat cooking with any oils, but those containing higher amounts of SFAs and MUFAs are more stable than those with higher amounts of PUFAs.

 

Conclusion

Saturated fat isn’t unhealthy, but it needn’t be over represented in our diets. Many health authorities recommend replacing saturated fat with omega-6, and although some studies support this recommendation, most fail to differentiate between omega-6 and omega-3. Replacing some saturated fat with PUFAs could be beneficial, particularly if doing so lowered the n-6/n-3 ratio. For most people, this would mean eliminating all vegetable seed oils, while increasing oily fish (omega-3) consumption.

It’s also important to recognize that meat from game animals is better than commercially raised meat, but since obtaining wild meat is impractical for most people, pasture-raised meat (grass-fed, etc.) should always be favored.

Don’t over complicate things too much. You don’t need to meticulously track your fat consumption. By following The Paleo Diet template and listening to your body, you’ll get a healthy mix.

 

References

[1] Cordain L, et al. (2000). Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71(3). Retrieved from (link).

[2] Cordain L, et al. (2000). Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71(3). Retrieved from (link).

[3] Davidson B, et al. (Mar-Apr 2011). Meat lipid profiles: a comparison of meat from domesticated and wild Southern African animals. In Vivo, 25(2). Retrieved from (link).

[4] Rule DC, et al. (2002). Comparison of muscle fatty acid profiles and cholesterol concentrations of bison, beef cattle, elk, and chicken. J Anim Sci., 80(5). Retreived from (link).

[5] Cordain, et al. (Mar 2002). Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease. Nature, 56(3). Retrieved from (link).

[6] Cordain, et al. (2001). Fatty acid composition and energy density of foods available to African hominids. Evolutionary implications for human brain development. World Rev Nutr Diet., 90. Retrieved from (link).

[7] Fine LB, et al. (2008). Comparison of lipid and fatty acid profiles of commercially raised pigs with laboratory pigs and wild-ranging warthogs. South African Journal of Science, 104. Retrieved from (link).

[8] Guil-Guerrero JL, et al. (2014). The Fat from Frozen Mammals Reveals Sources of Essential Fatty Acids Suitable for Palaeolithic and Neolithic Humans. PLoS One., 9(1). Retrieved from (link).

[9] Guil-Guerrero JL, et al. (2015). The PUFA-Enriched Fatty Acid Profiles of some Frozen Bison from the Early Holocene found in the Siberian Permafrost. Scientific Reports, 5. Retrieved from (link).

[10] Eaton SB, et al. (1998). Dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during the paleolithic. World Rev Nutr Diet., 83. Retrieved from (link).

[11] Simopoulos AP. (2016). An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients, 8(3). Retrieved from (link).

[12] Ruiz-Nunez, B., D.A.J. Dijck-Brouwer, and F.A.J. Muskiet, The relation of saturated fatty acids with low-grade inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2016. 36: p. 1-20.

[13] Chowdhury, R., et al., Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014. 160(6): p. 398-+.

[14] Astrup, A., et al., The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. 93(4): p. 684-688.

[15] Hoenselaar, R., Saturated fat and cardiovascular disease: The discrepancy between the scientific literature and dietary advice. Nutrition, 2012. 28(2): p. 118-123.

[16] Simopoulos AP. (2016). An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients, 8(3). Retrieved from (link).

[17] Kanner J, et al. (2007). Dietary advanced lipid oxidation endproducts are risk factors to human health. Mol Nutr Food Res., 51(9). Retrieved from (link).

[18] Halvorsen BL, et al. (2011). Determination of lipid oxidation products in vegetable oils and marine omega-3 supplements. Food Nutr Res., 55. Retrieved from (link).

[19] Halvorsen BL, et al. (2011). Determination of lipid oxidation products in vegetable oils and marine omega-3 supplements. Food Nutr Res., 55. Retrieved from (link).

[20] Silva L, et al. (2010). Oxidative stability of olive oil after food processing and comparison with other vegetable oils. Food Chemistry, 121(4). Retrieved from (link).

Vitamin D: One of the Few Supplements Paleo Dieters May RequireOne of the most persuasive aspects of contemporary Paleo Diets is that you will not have to waste your hard earned dollars on supplements (1, 2).  Once you get going on this lifetime program of eating, except for Vitamin D and possibly fish oil, you will achieve all of the DRI’s recommended by governmental agencies from just the food you eat (1, 2).  Previously, I have extensively covered the calcium issue in a number of scientific publications (2-4), so in this blog, I want to re-emphasize the importance of vitamin D supplementation for health and well being.  As we come out of wintertime and into early Spring, the possibility exists that many of us may be vitamin D compromised or even Vitamin D deficient (5-11).

Why is this?  When we eat the foods that mother nature intended, why should we be deficient in any nutritional element?  Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, but rather is a hormone naturally formed in our skins when we expose ourselves to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun.  In North America and in Europe, we receive scant little sunshine in the dead of winter, and consequently our body stores of this essential hormone become depleted as we go from Fall to Winter to early Spring (5-11).

Table 1 below lists the content of the 40 most concentrated sources of vitamin D in real, non-fortified foods.  Careful examination of this Table makes it clear that, except for salmon or fresh tuna (12), it is difficult or even impossible to achieve recommended vitamin D intakes (600 I.U. or greater per day) (10, 11) with real, non-fortified foods.

Table 1.  The 40 most concentrated sources of Vitamin D in real, non-fortified foods in the western diet.

Food 100 grams food Vit D I.U. kcal Vit D IU/kcal Vit D IU/100 kcal
Cod liver oil 100 10,000 902 11.09 1109
Catfish, Channel, Wild, Dry Heat 100 568 105 5.41 541
Tuna (bluefin), Fresh, wild, baked/broiled 100 920 184 5.00 500
Salmon, Coho (Silver), Wild,  Baked/Broiled 100 676 139 4.86 486
Salmon, Chinook (King), Wild, Baked 100 904 231 3.91 391
Fish eggs (roe), mixed species 100 484 143 3.38 338
Salmon, Sockeye, Wild Cooked Dry Heat 100 526 169 3.11 311
Oysters, Pacific, Steamed 100 320 163 1.96 196
Salmon, Atlantic Wild Baked 100 328 182 1.80 180
Halibut, Atlantic/Paciific, Baked 100 192 140 1.37 137
Salmon, Atlantic Farmed Baked 100 272 206 1.32 132
Mushrooms, Oyster raw 100 36 33 1.09 109
Herring 100 216 203 1.06 106
Tuna, (yellow fin/albacore), baked/broiled 100 140 139 1.01 101
Sardines in oil 100 193 208 0.93 93
Tuna, Canned in water 100 80 128 0.63 63
Mushrooms, Potabella raw 100 12 22 0.55 55
Mushrooms, Shiitake raw 100 18 34 0.53 53
egg yolks 100 187 351 0.53 53
Cod, Atlantic, Cooking dry heat 100 46 105 0.44 44
Beef, Kidney 100 68 159 0.43 43
Mackerel 100 104 262 0.40 40
Pork liver 100 52 134 0.39 39
Mushrooms, white 100 7 22 0.32 32
Beef liver 100 49 175 0.28 28
Cod, Pacific,  Cooking dry heat 100 24 85 0.28 28
Turkey liver 100 72 273 0.26 26
Salmon oil 100 177 902 0.20 20
Beef, Filet Mignon 100 36 211 0.17 17
Chicken liver 100 16 119 0.13 13
Pork loin 100 34 273 0.12 12
Lamb liver 100 16 139 0.12 12
Lamb, rib roast lean 100 24 232 0.10 10
Mushrooms, Enoki raw 100 4 44 0.09 9
Bacon 100 42 541 0.08 8
Catfish, Channel, Farmed, Dry Heat 100 10 144 0.07 7
Mussels 100 11.2 172 0.07 7
Pork kidney 100 8 151 0.05 5

 

At the top of the list for natural foods is cod liver oil, which at first appears to be a great source of vitamin D.  It is, but unfortunately it also contains high levels of vitamin A which competes with our bodies’ metabolism for vitamin D and may impair vitamin D metabolism (13).   A better choice is fish oil from the body of fish, rather than the liver.  It also contains vitamin D and the healthful long chain omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) without the higher concentrations of vitamin A which may impair vitamin D metabolism (13).  

But from an evolutionary perspective, fish oil whether derived from cod liver oil or only the body of fish, was known to have been consumed by the Vikings (circa 700s to 1100 AD) but was not commercially manufactured until relatively recent (200 – 300 years) times.

Accordingly, the Paleo Diet paradigm suggests that (as a species) if we consumed vitamin D from food, it must have come from other sources.  Table1 indicates that salmon is a concentrated source of vitamin D, and if we consume roughly ¼ pound of salmon or more per day (12), we may be able to achieve low level vitamin D balance.  But who do you know who eats a quarter pound or more of salmon a day (day in and day out) in the 21st century?

As you move on down the list of foods in Table 1 from salmon, it becomes increasingly obvious that with our modern tastes and diets, few people could achieve vitamin D balance on any normal diets before modern, fortified foods (milk, margarine and processed foods) were introduced in about the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Organ meats won’t do it, eggs won’t do it, shellfish won’t do it and meat won’t do it.  The obvious implications of Table 1 is that food never was or never could have been the primary source of the hormone, vitamin D, which is essential for optimal human health.  Before I leave this topic, let’s examine milk and dairy products.

 

Are Dairy Foods Good Sources of Vitamin D?

To even suggest that milk is a good source of vitamin D is a total stretch of the facts.  The Institute of Medicine Daily’s recommended intake for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for most people (14).  Although this advice represents a substantial increase from previous estimates, it still falls far short of human experimental evidence showing that at least 2,000 IU per day is required to keep blood levels of vitamin D at the ideal concentration of 30 ng/ml (6, 7, 10).  See Table 2 below.

 

Table 2.  Vitamin D Classifications in Blood.

Blood levels of vitamin D Category
less than 20 ng/ml Deficiency
21 to 29 ng/ml Insufficiency
greater than 30 ng/ml Sufficiency
60 ng/ml Maximal with sunlight exposure

An eight oz glass of raw milk (280 calories) straight from the cow without fortification gives you a paltry 3.6 IU of vitamin D.  At this rate, you’d have to drink a ridiculous 167 eight oz glasses of milk just to achieve the 600 IU daily recommendation.  Because most of the milk we drink is fortified with vitamin D, then an 8 oz glass typically yields 100 IU of this nutrient.   However, even with fortification, you would have to drink six 8 oz glasses (1,680 calories or ~ 75 % of your daily caloric intake) of milk to meet the daily requirement for vitamin D.  If you wanted to reach the 2,000 IU level as suggested by the world’s best vitamin D researchers, you would have to drink 20 eight oz glasses of fortified milk amounting to 5,600 calories.   No one in their right mind would drink 20 glasses of milk a day, even if they could.  

As you can see from these simple calculations, whether fortified or raw, milk is an abysmal source of vitamin D.   The best way to get your vitamin D is not by drinking milk, but rather by getting a little daily sun exposure as nature intended.

 

Sunlight Exposure

Lifeguards and other outdoor workers can achieve blood concentrations that top out at about 60 ng/ml.  But you really don’t need values this high. Most experts agree that values higher than 30 ng/ml will significantly reduce your risk for cancer and all of the other diseases associated with low vitamin D status (15-21).   The good news is that daily sunlight exposure in the summertime for short periods 15-30 minutes will rapidly boost your blood levels of vitamin D above 30 ng/ml.  Something that cannot be achieved with diet alone because almost all real foods, except salmon (12), that we commonly eat contain little or no vitamin D (Table 1).  

 

Vitamin D Supplementation

For most of us, regular sunlight exposure is a luxury that is difficult or impossible to come by on a year round basis.  Obviously, our hunter gatherer ancestors, living at low to moderate latitudes did not have this problem.  Consequently, you will need to supplement your diet with vitamin D3 capsules.  If we look at the official governmental recommendation for vitamin D intake (between 400 and 600 IU), it is woefully inadequate.  This policy represents a complete failure in public health policy.  The most recent human experiments show that blood levels of 30 ng/ml could never be achieved with vitamin intakes between 400 and 600 IU (6, 7, 10, 11). 400 IU does not help improve insufficient blood concentrations of vitamin D one iota. In fact, a recent series of articles and reviews published in Nutrients demonstrated that the 600 IU recommendation was based on a misinterpretation of the data and was an order of magnitude too low. A meta-analysis of existing studies conservatively estimated daily needs of 1885, 2802 and 6235 IU for normal weight, overweight, and obese individuals respectively (22-24).

The majority of men, women and children in the U.S. maintain blood levels of vitamin D which are either deficient or insufficient (6-11).  Hence, one of the best strategies you can take with adopting The Paleo Diet is to supplement daily with vitamin D3 if you are unable to get sunshine on a regular basis. Most vitamin D experts agree that daily supplementation of at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily is necessary to achieve healthful blood levels of 30 ng/ml or greater.  

References:

[1] Cordain L. The Paleo Answer. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 2012.

[2] Cordain L. The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. J Am Neutraceut Assoc 2002; 5:15-24.

[3] Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341-54.

[4] O’Keefe JH, Bergman N, Carrera-Basto P, Fontes-Villalba M, DiNicolantonio JJ, Cordain L. Nutritional strategies for skeletal and cardiovascular health: hard bones, soft arteries, rather than vice versa.  Open Heart 2016;3: e000325. doi:10.1136/ openhrt-2015-000325 (in press).

[5] Binkley N, Novotny R, Krueger D, Kawahara T, Daida YG, Lensmeyer G, Hollis BW, Drezner MK. Low vitamin D status despite abundant sun exposure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2130-5.

[6] Holick MF, Chen TC: Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1080S-6S.

[7] Hollis BW. Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels indicative of vitamin D sufficiency: implications for establishing a new effective dietary intake recommendation for vitamin D. J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):317-22.

[8] Kumar J, Muntner P, Kaskel FJ, Hailpern SM, Melamed ML. Prevalence and associations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency in US children: NHANES 2001-2004. Pediatrics. 2009 Sep;124(3):e362-70.

[9] Melamed ML, Kumar J. Low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the pediatric populations: prevalence and clinical outcomes. Ped Health. 2010 Feb;4(1):89-97.

[10] Vieth R. Why the optimal requirement for vitamin D3 is probably much higher than what is officially recommended for adults. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2004; 89-90:575-9.

[11] Bischoff-Ferrari HA. Optimal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels for multiple health outcomes. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;624:55-71

[12] Lu Z, Chen TC, Zhang A, Persons KS, Kohn N, Berkowitz R, Martinello S, Holick MF. An evaluation of the vitamin D3 content in fish: Is the vitamin D content adequate to satisfy the dietary requirement for vitamin D? J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):642-4. Epub 2007 Jan 30.

[13] Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Willett W, Zasloff M, Hathcock JN, White JH, Tanumihardjo SA, Larson-Meyer DE, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Lamberg-Allardt CJ, Lappe JM, Norman AW, Zittermann A, Whiting SJ, Grant WB, Hollis BW, Giovannucci E.  Cod liver oil, vitamin A toxicity, frequent respiratory infections, and the vitamin D deficiency epidemic. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2008 Nov;117(11):864-70.

[14] https://iom.nationalacademies.org/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D.aspx

[15] Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, Renner W, Seelhorst U, Wellnitz B, Kinkeldei J, Boehm BO, Weihrauch G, Maerz W. Independent association of low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin d levels with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 23;168(12):1340-9.

[16] Field S, Newton-Bishop JA. Melanoma and vitamin D. Mol Oncol. 2011 Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print]

[17] Forouhi NG, Luan J, Cooper A, Boucher BJ, Wareham NJ. Baseline serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D is predictive of future glycaemic status and insulin resistance: The MRC Ely prospective study 1990-2000. Diabetes. 2008 Oct;57(10):2619-25.

[18] Holick MF. Vitamin D and sunlight: strategies for cancer prevention and other health benefits. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008;3:1548-54.

[19] Holick MF. Optimal vitamin d status for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Drugs Aging. 2007; 24(12):1017-29.

[20] Plum LA, DeLuca HF. Vitamin D, disease and therapeutic opportunities. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2010 Dec;9(12):941-55

[21] Sharief S, Jariwala S, Kumar J, Muntner P, Melamed ML. Vitamin D levels and food and environmental allergies in the United States: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Feb 15.

[22] Heaney, R., et al., Letter to Veugelers, P.J. and Ekwaru, J.P., A Statistical Error in the Estimation of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin D. Nutrients 2014, 6, 4472-4475; doi:10.3390/nu6104472. Nutrients, 2015. 7(3): p. 1688-1690.

[23] Veugelers, P.J. and J.P. Ekwaru, A Statistical Error in the Estimation of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin D. Nutrients, 2014. 6(10): p. 4472-4475.

[24] Veugelers, P.J., T.M. Pham, and J.P. Ekwaru, Optimal Vitamin D Supplementation Doses that Minimize the Risk for Both Low and High Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations in the General Population. Nutrients, 2015. 7(12): p. 10189-10208.

Embracing Your Inner Paleo Chef | The Paleo Diet
It’s often said that meat made us human. Meat allowed for larger brains and greater intelligence, not to mention more time for pursuits other than chewing. So how did a species that ate relatively little meat 2.6 million years ago evolve into one that depended on meat and was radically transformed by its consumption?

Do we owe this success to fire and our learned ability to cook? Or does a more rudimental form of “cooking” deserve the credit? As every chef knows, you don’t just toss whole vegetables and large slabs of meat into the casserole. You have to slice and dice before turning on the fire. This sequence of processing food with tools before applying fire, which happens every time we cook, epitomizes the entire evolution of cooking.

Today’s chefs use knives, blenders, and other modern “processing tools,” but the “old-old school” chefs, to whom the entire human enterprise owes its existence, used crude stone tools to process meat, making it easier to chew and digest. This was and still is the beginning of cooking.

 

Chef Erectus

Around 1.8 million years ago, Homo erectus emerged on the Paleolithic scene. Homo erectus differed in many ways from earlier hominins, including his larger brain, shorter digestive tract, smaller jaws and teeth, reduced chewing muscles, and weaker bite force.

Between 2 and 3 million years ago, Africa was undergoing a dramatic drying trend, which resulted in new grassland habitats. Consequently, Homo erectus had larger foraging areas than his jungle-dwelling arboreal predecessors. In the words of University of Colorado paleoanthropologist Thomas Wynn, “Erectus has gone completely terrestrial — not climbing trees very much at all.”1

Homo erectus needed calories and plenty of them. Bigger brains require more calories as do the demands of travelling long distances searching for food. The modern human brain consumes 20 percent of the body’s at-rest energy, more than twice that of other primates.2 Less evolved primates, on the other hand, expend the bulk of their energy digesting low-calorie plant food. “You can’t have a large brain and big guts at the same time,” explains Leslie Aiello, an anthropologist and director of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York City.3

Homo erectus evolved because he ate meat, but what made this possible? Have you ever tried chewing raw meat? It’s extremely tedious and wholly unlike chewing cooked meat. Had Homo erectus already mastered the use of fire for cooking? Or was this technology still more than a million years from being discovered? If the latter, how was Homo erectus able to chew raw meat with such decidedly disadvantaged teeth?

The Homo Erectus School of Cooking

In his 2009 book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham hypothesized that Homo erectus was already cooking with fire by 1.8 million years ago. Convincing evidence notwithstanding, most archaeologists, paleontologists and anthropologists think Wrangham was wrong. A more reasonable estimate for the beginning of fire-based cooking is 400,000 years ago.4

One thing is certain though. Before man learned to cook with fire, he learned to process meat with tools. On the difficulty of chewing raw meat, even Wrangham acknowledges, “It probably wouldn’t take [early man] long to realize you could pound the meat. To pound the meat they would have gotten more energy out of it.”5

But just how much energy did such tool processing save? This question was put to the test for a study recently published in Nature6. Harvard scientists Daniel Lieberman and Katherine Zink attached electrodes to volunteers’ faces to measure muscle activity while using force transducers between their molars to measure chewing force. They tested meat and root vegetables, including cooked samples, unprocessed samples, and sliced/pounded samples.

They found that slicing and pounding meat and vegetables results in 17% less chewing, equating to 2.5 million less chews per year. Lieberman and Zink concluded that tool processing, which is an early form of “cooking,” enabled Homo erectus to reap the benefits of meat. “If you are using less force and using fewer chews, you are, of course spending less time eating,” Zink explained. “And if you no longer need to maintain the big jaws and big teeth, it allows natural selection to choose for other performance benefits that improve fitness and survival.”7

We can say that Wrangham, Lieberman, and Zink are all correct. Cooking made us human because cooking enabled us to eat meat. And although Homo erectus probably didn’t cook with fire, he certainly used stone tools to slice and pound meat, making it easier to chew and digest. This is how the technology of cooking began, just as every cooked meal today begins with chopping, slicing, and dicing. So go ahead and embrace your inner Paleo chef. For if cooking truly made us human, then at our cores we are all chefs.

References

[1]  Choi, CQ. (November 11, 2009). Human Evolution: The Origin of Tool Use. LiveScience. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/7968-human-evolution-origin-tool.html

[2] Raichle, ME, et al. (August 6, 2002). Appraising the brain’s energy budget. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, 99(16). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/99/16/10237.full

[3] Joyce, C. (August 2, 2010). Food For Thought: Meat-Based Diet Made Us Smarter. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2010/08/02/128849908/food-for-thought-meat-based-diet-made-us-smarter

[4] Roebroeks, W., et al. (2011). On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(13). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/108/13/5209.full

[5] Gorman, RM. (2007). Evolving Bigger Brains through Cooking: A Q&A with Richard Wrangham. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/evolving-bigger-brains-th/

[6] Zink, KD and Lieberman, DE. (2016). Impact of meat and Lower Palaeolithic food processing techniques on chewing in humans. Nature. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature16990.html

[7] Netburn, D. (March 9, 2016). How raw meat — and our ancestors’ inability to chew it — changed the course of human evolution. LA Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-raw-meat-stone-tools-evolution-20160309-story.html

 

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