Tag Archives: lifestyle

Weighing In on The Paleo Diet

Professor Syd, please weigh in some more.

A response to the BBC online Capital “Syd weighs in” article by @SydFinkelstein

If you have not yet read it, the BBC’s Capital, recently featured an article by Professor Sydney Finkelstein recommending against following the “fad” Paleo Diet. The original title, “Eat like a caveman.  Manage like one, too?” has since changed to “Mythbusting: Fads we’ve got all wrong.” However, regardless of the title change, like most articles critical of the Paleo Diet, it lacks substance and support.

I have previously rebutted a more detailed critique of the Paleo Diet without further dialogue with the author. This approach, however, may not be the most beneficial to the reader since confusion often occurs when one party says one thing and the other party simply disagrees without any debate ever occurring. Consequently, I thought this response might be an opportunity to ask Professor Finkelstein to “weigh in” some more by answering a few questions and provide any additional evidence that supports his position.

A quick review of Dr. Finkelstein‘s background clearly indicates he is an educated, intelligent man. So how can it be that he takes a position opposite to those of us that research, clinically work with, and advocate for the Paleo Diet? I can only surmise that Professor Finkelstein is simply unaware of the published research and the clinical results obtained by following a Paleolithic dietary template.

Before asking some questions, let me provide a little background on my experience with Paleolithic nutrition.  My doctorate is in cardiovascular disease, and so, I have an obvious interest in nutrition. Despite the assertion that the Paleo Diet is a fad diet, my exposure to this way of eating began in 1988 when I first met Professor Cordain, the Founder of the modern Paleo movement. Since that time, I have recommended to, and worked clinically with, thousands of clients adopting the Paleo way of eating. I have also lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals about adopting the Paleo Diet with their patients and clients, who, in turn, have successfully done so. In all these years, I have never had any client or healthcare professional say the diet did not provide health benefits and, in many cases, the results have been exceptional. I also closely followed the scientific publications on Paleolithic nutrition despite the assertion that “the “research” behind these recommendations is subject to considerable dispute”.

So my first question of Dr. Finkelstein would simply be, how much research has he conducted on Paleolithic nutrition?  While Professor Finkelstein’s curriculum vitae is impressive, the only connection to nutrition I can find is a reference to him being a “foodie” on his Twitter account, which, on its own, would not qualify someone to critique a well-researched field of nutritional science. Because of the Paleo Diet’s popularity, there are obviously going to be plenty of poor resources available for critique – something that Dr. Cordain has even done himself. It is not, however, appropriate to rely upon blogs, popular books, or magazines to formulate an argument against Paleolithic nutrition; rather, one should primarily rely on the scientific literature and; perhaps, secondarily, on the clinical findings of healthcare professionals.

There are now a number of published experimental studies that demonstrate the numerous health benefits of adopting a Paleolithic Diet1-10 and it is noteworthy that there are none showing a deleterious effect. In terms of other research that supports the Paleolithic dietary template (i.e., elimination of grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods), Dr. Cordain’s latest book, The Paleo Answer, has over 900 references to the scientific literature within its text – research that is published in journals such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the American Journal of Cardiology, to name just two. So, in this instance, I would have to ask, is the legitimacy of these journals being questioned with the use of “research” within the article? With the large body of literature explaining why it is beneficial to eliminate or at least reduce the consumption of grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods in one’s diet (leaving the consumption of lean animal protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds as the main sustenance; a.k.a., The Paleo Diet), I find it a useful exercise to ask those that critique this approach to provide the benefits of not doing so. In particular, argue the health benefits of consuming grains, dairy, and legumes, the foods that are not on the Paleo menu. So, for purposes of beginning a discussion, it would be very useful if Professor Finkelstein did just that.

The only argument actually made in the article against the Paleo Diet was with respect to the life expectancy of humans in the Paleolithic period. “Do we really want to eat like people who died when most of us are just finishing the first third of our lives nowadays?” This frequently used argument is incorrect as most followers of Paleolithic research are aware. While the average lifespan of Paleolithic humans may well have only been 25, we do not “know for sure that most cavemen died by age 25.” The average age of death is drastically different from the more pertinent number, the average age of the living population, as conceded by Professor Finkelstein’s own words “It’s true that high infant mortality was a dramatic contributor to this pattern.” In fact, until the late 18th century, in “civilized” nations, life expectancy seldom or never exceeded 25 years, and in London in 1667, it was only 18.11

Then, without any referenced support, Professor Finkelstein makes the statement “but the fact remains that few made it anywhere close to the modern day life expectancy of 75 to 80 in western countries.” However, published data does not support this position. The Kitava Study, conducted by Dr. Staffan Lindeberg, demonstrated that nearly 7% of the pre-agricultural population from Kitava, Papua New Guinea is between 60-96 years old and are virtually free of western disease.12,13,14 It has also been reported that a significant proportion of the Ache tribe in Paraguay reach 60 and 70 years of age15 and similar findings have been shown for the Hadza tribe of Tanzania.16  All of these findings are in spite of a major contributor to mortality that Dr. Finkelstein does not address in his article, that of the harsh living conditions and the predators modern humans essentially no longer face. Interestingly, the adoption of farming and settled living actually appears to have adversely affected longevity, precipitating a substantial decline to about 20 years.11 Notwithstanding that, regardless of what the expected lifespan actually was in the Paleolithic era, this popular argument would still not justify the dismissal of the evolutionary approach to preventive medicine.17

“The disconnect between recommendations and results is striking,” is the next unsubstantiated statement. There are now hundreds of thousands of physicians, naturopaths, nutritionists, chiropractors, conditioning coaches, and other healthcare professionals who advocate the Paleo Diet and rely on results for their businesses to be successful. As a consequence, millions of people have benefited from adopting this way of eating. There is no possible way this gigantic movement towards a Paleolithic nutritional template would have gained the traction it has if it didn’t produce successful outcomes.

With respect to the egg and saturated fat examples given, they are out of place in a criticism of the Paleo Diet. The same would be appropriate in a criticism of the typical high carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet recommended by the AHA and CDC that has provided the sad state of health in so many people. As for it being “easier to “eat like a caveman” than to carefully monitor their daily diet with what they have in the fridge already,” I would ask what clinical experience provides this opinion as it is the complete opposite of my experience and those of my colleagues?

So in sum, there is zero analysis in the article on any aspect of the Paleolithic diet that supports the position that it is a fad diet that does not work.  That being said, I hope that Professor Finkelstein takes the opportunity to defend his position further.

Dr. Mark J. Smith

Dr. Mark J. Smith | The Paleo DietDr. Mark J. Smith graduated from Loughborough University of Technology, England, with a Bachelor of Science in PE & Sports Science and then obtained his teaching certificate in PE & Mathematics. As a top-level rugby player, he then moved to the United States and played for the Boston Rugby Club while searching the American college system for an opportunity to commence his Master’s degree. That search led him to Colorado State University where Dr. Smith completed his Masters degree in Exercise and Sport Science, with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. He continued his studies in the Department of Physiology, where he obtained his Doctorate. His research focused on the prevention of atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque in arteries that leads to cardiovascular disease); in particular, using low-dose aspirin and antioxidant supplementation. Read more…


1. Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug; 63(8): 947-55.

2. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009 Jul; 8: 35.

3. Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Erlanson-Albertsson C, Ahren B, Lindeberg S. A Paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010 Nov; 7(1): 85.

4. Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007; 50(9): 1795-1807.

5. O’Dea K: Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes 1984, 33(6): 596-603.

6. Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5): 682-685.

7. Ryberg M, Sandberg S, Mellberg C, Stegle O, Lindahl B, Larsson C, Hauksson J, Olsson T. A Palaeolithic-type diet causes strong tissue-specific effects on ectopic fat deposition in obese postmenopausal women. J Intern Med. 2013 Jul; 274(1): 67-76

8. Frassetto LA, Shi L, Schloetter M, Sebastian A, Remer T. Established dietary estimates of net acid production do not predict measured net acid excretion in patients with Type 2 diabetes on Paleolithic-Hunter-Gatherer-type diets. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep; 67(9): 899-903.

9. Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Lindeberg S, Hallberg AC. Subjective satiety and other experiences of a Paleolithic diet compared to a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutr J. 2013 Jul 29; 12:105.

10. Mellberg, C., Sandberg, S., Ryberg, M., Eriksson, M., Brage, S., Larsson, C., et al. (2014). Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar; 68: 350-357.

11. Eaton SB, Strassman BI, Nesse RM, Neel JV, Ewald PW, Williams GC, Weder AB, Eaton SB 3rd, Lindeberg S, Konner MJ, Mysterud I, Cordain L. Evolutionary health promotion. Prev Med. 2002 Feb; 34(2): 109-18.

12. Lindeberg S, Lundh B. Apparent absence of stroke and ischaemic heart disease in a traditional Melanesian island: a clinical study in Kitava. J Intern Med 1993; 233: 269-75.


13. Lindeberg S, Nilsson-Ehle P. Terent A, Vessby B, Schersten B. Cardiovascular risk factors in a Melanesian population apparently free from stroke and ischaemic heart disease-the Kitava study. J Intern Med 1994; 236: 331-40.


14. Lindeberg S, Berntorp E, Carlsson R, Eliasson M, Marckmann P. Haemostatic variables in Pacific Islanders apparently free from stroke and ischaemic heart disease. Thromb Haemost 1997; 77: 94-8.


15. Libertini G. Evidence for aging theories from the study of a hunter-gatherer people (Ache of Paraguay). Biochemistry (Mosc). 2013 Sep; 78(9): 1023-32.


16. Sherry DS, Marlowe FW. Anthropometric data indicate nutritional homogeneity in Hazda foragers of Tanzania.  Am. J Hum Biol. 2007 Jan-Feb; 19(1): 107-18.


17. Eaton SB, Cordain L, Lindeberg S. Evolutionary Health Promotion: A Consideration of Common Counterarguments. Prev Med. 2002 Feb; 34(2): 119-23.

Empty Nesters | The Paleo Diet

One of the most profound moments in the parenting adventure is the day the last child moves out of the family home and into a life of new-found independence and adventure. So many emotions will be running through your minds and hearts as you and your partner fondly bid farewell and find yourselves with a brand new life as empty nesters. While this can be a difficult adjustment, it is also a time when you can rediscover your own independence and freedom from the responsibilities that were a part of your daily living for so many years while raising your family. One of the biggest benefits for many is the opportunity to take back complete control of the kitchen! During the teenage years, kids tend to bring in all kinds of non-Paleo snack foods. While our children were all still home, we welcomed their friends and the neighborhood kids to hang out at our house. Along with the kids came the occasional pizzas, chips, and cookies. Teenage boys especially seem to show up with appetites and can’t seem to socialize without simultaneously foraging for anything that appears to be edible. We rarely bought non-Paleo foods for our kids, but when the friends came over, often some mysterious food items would appear as well. During this busy and joyful period you may have found it difficult to stay true to your Paleo lifestyle and sometimes found yourself making some less than great food choices.

Good news! The kids are on their own now and you and your partner have regained complete control. Paleo eating has now become simple, with your cupboards and fridge stocked with only the freshest meats, fish, fruits and veggies. Every time you venture out to the grocery store, you will come back with only those life-giving foods that you have longed to make a part of your daily routine. Hopefully, you and your partner are committed to eating Paleo for the rest of your years. This is an especially important time of your life as we all know that the diseases of our modern civilization become more prevalent after the age of 50. Now is the time to focus on your health and fitness. Adopting a pure Paleo lifestyle is your key to longevity and will increase your odds for missing out on all the ailments that plague so many seniors in their later years.

Empty nesters make many adjustments once their children are on their own. If one of you has been responsible for all of the cooking, make plans to share the fun. Plan a night or two when both of you cook a delicious Paleo meal together. Try some new recipes that you didn’t have time for when your family life was so busy. Make extra and enjoy the leftovers the next day. Create a new way to prepare fruits or veggies. The possibilities are endless and you will find that the time together is well spent and the benefits of renewed energy and vitality essential to living your life to the fullest.

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Junk Food | The Paleo Diet

When it comes to raising school aged children, many health conscious parents are dismayed with the choices their older children make when it comes to snacks and eating out. Kids are bombarded on a daily basis with advertisements glamorizing fast food, junk food, cereals, and dairy products, to name just a few. We want our children to live active and healthy lives, participating in sports and social events on a regular basis.

Along with these life experiences comes healthy and not-so-healthy food adventures. When our boys were growing up they were very active with team sports. Every weekend we enjoyed cheering them on in soccer, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, cross country, swimming, and track. I will never forget our oldest son’s first soccer game when he was just 6 years old. Parents of the players were each assigned a game during the season to bring snacks for the boys after the game. After running up and down the soccer field and working up a healthy appetite, the kids were presented with a large box of sugary doughnuts for their post-game “treat.”

We were a bit taken aback that anyone would think that this was a good idea, but more astounded with the message to young children that this is an appropriate food to eat any time, let alone after exercising. When it was our turn to bring the post-game snacks, we brought fresh strawberries and grapes for the kids to enjoy. These healthy snacks were met with just as much enthusiasm and were devoured by the hungry athletes.

Before our children are able to drive themselves around, we had quite a bit of control over the foods we provide, both inside and outside of our home. The key to raising children to live healthy and active lives is not so much in controlling their food choices as it is in educating them about the importance of making their own positive lifestyle decisions. Throughout their growing up years, our sons were learning about the Paleo Diet and the importance of good nutrition. Children learn by example, so we educated them as to why were eating certain foods and why non-Paleo foods are detrimental to their health, consistently gave them the information they would need as teens and young adults when making personal choices.

It is important in all aspects of life to allow our kids to make choices and experience the consequences, good or bad. This is especially true with nutritional decisions. Now that two of our kids are living on their own, and our youngest is in high school, we are thrilled to see that they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle that includes eating mostly Paleo foods.

So, what can you do? Give your children the information and include Paleo meals on your menu. Teach your children to cook and prepare meals so that they will be able to care for their nutritional needs when they are no longer living under your roof. Bring your children to the grocery store and show them how to pick out organic produce and meats. Walk down the cereal aisle and let them read the ingredients, discussing the health implications for eating sugar, grains, and dairy. Model healthy attitudes, refraining from presenting food as a reward or punishment. Most importantly, allow them to make their own choices. There will be times when you will cringe at the foods they choose, but remember that you have established a strong foundation. Once your child experiences the after effects of downing a greasy hamburger, french fries, and soda, the probability of them returning to healthful habits is high.

Stay the course! Your mature, adult children will one day appreciate your efforts and pass them on to future generations.

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Eat Drink Repeat | The Paleo Diet

For most Paleo enthusiasts, managing meals while juggling our busy lives is key to our health and fitness. The Paleo Diet Team gives you the typical 24 hour dining experience from our family kitchen. From appetizers to dessert here’s a look at how to keep it real on a daily basis.

Eat. Drink. Repeat.

Let’s start with dinner, where the foundation of the cycle begins. Begin with an appetizer of fresh, organically grown veggies paired with wild, smoked salmon. Follow up with a Do-It-Yourself salad made with crisp, organic greens tossed with the toppings of your choice. By serving the toppings on the side, you can cover and save the leftovers in the fridge for your lunch the next day.

For the main meal, mix raw grass-fed beef or bison with rosemary, garlic and onions for barbecue ready patties.

The Paleo Diet

Slice up some organic carrots and beets, mix with salt-free veggie seasoning and stir fry on low heat with a little extra virgin olive oil.

The Paleo Diet

Finish your meal with a bowl of fresh, seasonal berries.

The Key: Prepare far more food than you and your family can possibly eat for dinner!

Cover and save in the fridge overnight.

Paleo Tip

For breakfast the following day, pull out the leftovers, reheat the patties, add the sides, and you have yourself a quick, healthy Paleo meal to launch your day. Pack the rest for lunch and you are off to work, ready to tackle your day. It’s that simple!

Eat. Drink. Repeat. | The Paleo Diet

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Newlyweds | The Paleo Diet

You’ve found the love of your life and have committed to spend the rest of your lives together. With all the excitement that comes with planning a special celebration to mark the day that launches you into the next stage of your life, your focus on healthy eating takes on added importance.

Ideally, as newlyweds you agree on the benefits that come from eating a diet consisting of meats, fruits and veggies and are able to design a home environment with Paleo as the central theme. Because we come from different upbringings, cultural experiences, life situations, and dietary histories, many of us find that one of the biggest challenges when first starting out together begins in the kitchen.

As we all know, physical nourishment is a basic human need that begins before we are even born and continues until the day we exit the planet. When you were a baby and young child, your parents made every decision for your food choices. As a young adult, out on your own for the first time, you began to explore your options and develop an understanding that the optimal human diet is the one we were designed to eat. Your partner has gone through similar experiences and has come to their own conclusions, which may differ significantly or slightly from your own.

Hopefully, you are finding that you agree on the concepts of healthy living by eating a Paleo Diet and can continue your commitment to following a Paleo lifestyle by following these basic guidelines:

Equip Your Kitchen

As you move in to your new home, put the majority of your efforts into designing and equipping your kitchen with the essential tools to make healthy cooking a pleasure. Check out The Paleo Diet Cookbook for a helpful list of essential items to include in your kitchen cabinets and pantry.

Stock Up on Paleo Staples

Spices, oils, and healthy condiments should be available at all times to make preparing meals simple and easy. Having to run to the store to buy an ingredient needed to make a Paleo snack or recipe can sabotage your diet. If your partner has a stockpile of non-Paleo foods available, you may be tempted to indulge for convenience sake. Stack the odds in your favor by keeping the Paleo staples on hand at all times.

To Love and To Cherish

You and your partner will face many important decisions as you begin your life together. From how you manage meal time, to who cooks, who washes the dishes, and what to eat. The list is endless. But, whatever your food choice perspective, there is no sincerer love than the love of food, as the old adage goes. Show your love by preparing and cooking delicious Paleo meals and snacks. Before you know it, both of you will be on the road to a long and healthy life together. Congratulations and may your life be filled with many blessings!

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Fly the Nest | The Paleo Diet

Beginning with the day we arrive on the planet and ending when we make our final exit, our lives evolve in stages. Our first years can be characterized by a complete dependency on other human beings, without whom we could not survive. As we grow and develop from childhood through most of our teens, we are constantly discovering the world around us, making decisions about who we are and finding our unique identity in our families, communities, and the world in which we live.

During these years of adolescence we are developing food choices as well. It is inspirational to hear from teenagers who have adopted a Paleo Diet and become passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Once high school years are behind us, most of us move away from our family homes for the first time.

Along with the excitement of becoming independent, comes the many challenges of taking care of our personal needs. Nutrition choices play an important part in this process. A few tips from our team may be helpful as you begin this exciting stage of your life.

The first thing to keep in mind is you are now in total control of the food you eat. If you grew up in a household following a Standard American Diet (SAD), from this point forward, no one will be telling you to clean your plate, drink your milk, or eat your cereal.

This new found freedom is filled with possibilities and culinary adventures. As you journey out for your foraging experiences, remember that the vast majority of Paleo Diet friendly foods can be found around the inside perimeter of most grocery stores.

Start in the produce aisle, followed by the meat and seafood section. Because you’re only cooking for one, be sure to avoid buying too much. It’s better to visit your grocery store a little more frequently during the week to ensure you are getting the freshest foods. Most people starting out on their own are working with a limited financial budget and having to throw away food is like throwing away your hard earned money.

When cooking your meals consider your needs and plan ahead. If time is of concern and your days are busy, prepare extra today so that you can feast on the leftovers tomorrow. This takes some practice, but is a great approach to having prepared food ready when needed. Taking a salad for your work day lunch break prepared with last night’s salmon and some fresh greens and veggies is much better than having to swing by a local restaurant or grocery store for a pre-made version and will save you money in the long run.

The best part of being single is that when you control the food that comes into your home, you will be developing lifelong eating habits that will ensure a long and healthy life. The world awaits you. Fly the nest, you are the master of your own destiny!

All the Best,

Lorrie Cordain, M.Ed., Co-Author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook

Get Leaner with The Paleo Diet | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I’ve been on the Paleo Diet since May, and I’m down 30 lbs (most of it lost in the first two months) and have never been leaner in my life. I can’t stop talking about (it) when I’m with my friends and family when they ask how good I look. I’ve been evangelizing my Wall Street buddies every time we enjoy a steak house dinner. My acid reflux, IBS, allergies, attitude, and complexion have never been better, and I never go into food coma any more. I wish your book was around in the 80s when I was a teen.

Rudy T.

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