Tag Archives: The Paleo Diet

We were recently saddened to learn that our good friend, Eva Twardokens, was seriously injured in a small plane accident in Northern California.  “Eva T” is a former Olympic skier and incredible athlete who is passionate about The Paleo Diet and well known in the Paleo and Cross Fit communities.  Through coaching, speaking, and personal example, Eva has been an inspiration to all of us to work hard to reach our health, fitness and life goals. Our thoughts are with Eva as she begins the long road to recovery.





When it comes to humans, we’re all just victims of our own biochemistry. Our brains are controlled and ruled by chemicals – from what we eat; to how and when we sleep; even to who we choose as a life partner.[1] Biochemistry – or ‘biological chemistry’ – is concerned with all of the biochemical reactions which take place within our bodies and brains.[2] [3] This means that the simple act of eating a meal is actually composed of thousands of tiny reactions and interactions – on a biochemical level, at least.[4] [5]

Biochemistry is important because it helps us better understand how our bodies work. Biochemistry is most critical to understanding how and what foods to eat and remains a criminally overlooked component of both keeping weight off and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.[6] If we can better understand the reactions happening inside our body, we can better understand how to treat ourselves, overall.

 

The Biochemistry of our Morning Coffee

To better understand the biochemistry of our eating, it will help to look at how a few individual components of a diet affect our biochemistry. For many (if not all) of us, our day begins with the ingestion of a stimulant. Specifically, caffeine. From our morning cup of coffee onwards, many of us feel most energetic after our first dose of caffeine. This is simple to understand from a biochemical perspective – the caffeine is binding to our adenosine receptors, and simply removing our caffeine withdrawal.[7] [8]

Adenosine helps us stay calm and is even related to sleep.[9] Many do not know this, but caffeine binds to the receptors for adenosine. But this also means that it effectively blocks our body from functioning normally.[10] Our bodies love homeostasis, so if we consume large enough quantities of caffeine on a regular basis, they try to remain in balance by creating more and more adenosine receptors.[11] So – you guessed it – the more caffeine we consume, the more we need just to achieve the same mild ‘high’ we got when we first started drinking coffee.[12] Sadly, this is exactly how all drugs work and caffeine – though legal and widespread – is still a drug, biochemically speaking.[13]

 

The Enormous Impact of Sugar on our Biochemistry

Another huge element of the biochemistry of our food and drink is sugar. Sugar is definitely a drug. In fact, it’s probably the substance in our diet most obviously associated with drugs.[14] Scientific research has shown that sugar is addictive, it has no nutritional value, and it has hugely negative impacts on our health, especially when it’s consumed in excess.[15] To astute readers – or anyone who has been paying attention – this is not shocking news.

Sugar is fascinating from a biochemistry perspective because there is essentially no reason to consume it – especially in excess – or even in the amounts that we do in a typical western diet. Sugar consumption has gone up ten-fold, in the US and worldwide, since the invention of soda.[16] It is, quite literally, used solely by processed food manufacturers and surreptitiously added to everything (even bread) to make foods more addictive, to get us to crave their products, and buy more of them.[17]

While this sounds like a pretty stark reality, it is nonetheless reality. There is no need for sugar in almost any food. Sugar is only found in good ratios, in food that is organic and made by the earth naturally.[18] If you could only pick one thing to do to improve your healthy biochemistry, lowering or removing sugar from your diet should be it.

In John Yudkin’s classic book Pure, White, and Deadly, he goes over just how bad sugar’s effects are. And the miraculous thing is that he was saying this long before most of us had any concerns at all about too much sugar.[19] If there is one product or industry to blame for decreasing the quality of our diet and decreasing our nation’s health, it would be soda. There is literally no reason for soda to exist. And as Steve Jobs famously said; it’s just sugar water.

When we look at the biochemical makeup up of soda, that is quite literally almost all we find – water, and sugar. Disturbingly, soda is even worse than just this simple formula, as most of the sugar is in the form of fructose, which has been shown, in numerous studies, to have hugely negative impacts on both our liver and overall health.[20] From a biochemical standpoint, fructose is processed differently than glucose and has many disturbing parallels to alcohol in terms of how our bodies and brains are affected by it.[21]

In fact, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), caused by excess fructose is in many ways the exact same disease as alcoholism.[22] As its name implies, fatty liver disease is usually caused by excess alcohol. However, pediatric endocrinologists are seeing an epidemic in obese children – and they only get this way by excess sugar (specifically fructose) consumption.[23]

So, what does the biochemistry of healthy eating look like? In short, it’s filled with protein, healthy (anti-inflammatory) fats, and complex carbohydrates.[24] These food choices all provide favorable reactions, biochemically, with no real downsides. When we eat a diet like the Paleo Diet® – our bodies and brains remain happy, and function optimally.[25]

Many do not understand that the toll a poor diet takes on us is great. We can lose our ability to process thoughts as quickly, lose our hair, gain weight, develop disease, and even die.[26] And yet many of us still choose to not eat properly. This is truly self-sabotage. By following the Paleo Diet template – all the hard work is done for you. You do not have to think about food choices or worry about the biochemistry of what you are eating. A Paleo Diet is perfectly proportioned to optimize our health, and to keep us lean, healthy, and happy.

 

References

[1] Granado-lorencio F, Hernández-alvarez E. Functional Foods and Health Effects: A Nutritional Biochemistry Perspective. Curr Med Chem. 2016;23(26):2929-2957.

[2] Winblad B, Hardy J, Bäckman L, Nilsson LG. Memory function and brain biochemistry in normal aging and in senile dementia. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1985;444:255-68.

[3] Holden-dye LM, O’connor VM, Stephenson FA. Molecules of the mind: integrating synaptic biochemistry to understand brain function. Biochem Soc Trans. 2006;34(Pt 1):43-4.

[4] Mathes WF, Brownley KA, Mo X, Bulik CM. The biology of binge eating. Appetite. 2009;52(3):545-553.

[5] Imai S, Fukui M, Kajiyama S. Effect of eating vegetables before carbohydrates on glucose excursions in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2014;54(1):7-11.

[6] Sikaris KA. The clinical biochemistry of obesity. Clin Biochem Rev. 2004;25(3):165-81.

[7] Ammon HP. Biochemical mechanism of caffeine tolerance. Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 1991;324(5):261-7.

[8] Nehlig A, Daval JL, Debry G. Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1992;17(2):139-70.

[9] Shryock JC, Belardinelli L. Adenosine and adenosine receptors in the cardiovascular system: biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology. Am J Cardiol. 1997;79(12A):2-10.

[10] Ribeiro JA, Sebastião AM. Caffeine and adenosine. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S3-15.

[11] Urry E, Landolt HP. Adenosine, caffeine, and performance: from cognitive neuroscience of sleep to sleep pharmacogenetics. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;25:331-66.

[12] Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130.

[13] Pardo lozano R, Alvarez garcía Y, Barral tafalla D, Farré albaladejo M. [Caffeine: a nutrient, a drug or a drug of abuse]. Adicciones. 2007;19(3):225-38.

[14] Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39.

[15] Freeman CR, Zehra A, Ramirez V, Wiers CE, Volkow ND, Wang GJ. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2018;23:2255-2266.

[16] Anjum I, Jaffery SS, Fayyaz M, Wajid A, Ans AH. Sugar Beverages and Dietary Sodas Impact on Brain Health: A Mini Literature Review. Cureus. 2018;10(6):e2756.

[17] Rippe JM, Angelopoulos TJ. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. 2016;8(11)

[18] Martínez steele E, Baraldi LG, Louzada ML, Moubarac JC, Mozaffarian D, Monteiro CA. Ultra-processed foods and added sugars in the US diet: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2016;6(3):e009892.

[19] Yudkin J. Dietetic aspects of atherosclerosis. Angiology. 1966;17(2):127-33.

[20] Rizkalla SW. Health implications of fructose consumption: A review of recent data. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2010;7:82.

[21] Lustig RH. Fructose: it’s “alcohol without the buzz”. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):226-35.

[22] Byrne CD, Targher G. NAFLD: a multisystem disease. J Hepatol. 2015;62(1 Suppl):S47-64.

[23] Basaranoglu M, Basaranoglu G, Bugianesi E. Carbohydrate intake and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: fructose as a weapon of mass destruction. Hepatobiliary Surg Nutr. 2015;4(2):109-16.

[24] Sauberlich HE. Implications of nutritional status on human biochemistry, physiology, and health. Clin Biochem. 1984;17(2):132-42.

[25] Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35.

[26] Leslie W, Hankey C. Aging, Nutritional Status and Health. Healthcare (Basel). 2015;3(3):648-58.

What’s for breakfast? This is perhaps the number one question we get at The Paleo Diet® when a person is embarking on the Paleo lifestyle for the first time. For most, making the change from the typical breakfast fare of cereal, bread, pancakes, or granola is challenging and requires a significant change in one’s thinking.  The best advice we can offer is to focus on protein, greens and fruits. Time management in the morning can make getting a healthy breakfast on the table before running out the door to start your day, a daunting goal. We’ve found fast and easy success with this daily favorite. Making the dressing ahead of time, means 10 minutes from start to finish, including having the dishes washed, dried, and put away!

Ingredients

  • 2 organic free-range chicken eggs
  • 1 cup arugula greens
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper

Directions

For dressing,  combine all ingredients in small jar and shake until well combined.

Spread greens on small plate. Poach eggs until whites are firm and yolks are runny.  Place cooked eggs on top of salad greens. Drizzle with dressing. Gently break eggs with fork and mix into greens.  Serve with your favorite fresh seasonal fruit.

** Tip: For perfect poached eggs, we like the Cuisinart Egg Central, found at your local kitchen store.

 

For more recipes and a wealth of information about the Paleo Diet, including material from the Founder of the Paleo Diet Movement, Loren Cordain, PhD, please visit The Paleo Diet.

Let’s explore two statements that even the most novice athlete, who’s ever been sick, will not find profound in any way:

  • Exercise is productive and results in beneficial training adaptations.
  • Conversely, illness is inflammatory and can interfere with our ability to train.

What is profound is what’s hidden between the lines in those two statements. There’s a very important assumption that, consciously or unconsciously, many of us make – the immune system is independent from the processes in our body that produce training adaptations and inflammation interferes with those processes.

In truth, that assumption is misplaced. Fighting illness and the beneficial adaptations we get from training are in fact two sides of the same coin.

And that’s all because of evolution.

Evolution hates re-inventing the wheel. Whenever it discovers something beneficial, it has a way of hanging on to that new trick and using it anywhere it can. And when we’re talking about something as sophisticated and calorically expensive as our immune system, evolution has made sure to get its money’s worth.

Our immune systems do a lot more than just fight off harmful invaders. Their many functions include acting as a transport system, they manage cell apoptosis to ensure our bodies are healthy and functioning normally, they sample the foodstuff in our guts to help determine what should gain entry.

And when we exercise, our immune systems handle the repair that produces many of our major training adaptations.

In fact, the fundamental principle of exercise science – the Principle of Progressive Overload – depends on the immune system. The Principle states that training actually causes damage, and if that damage is big enough, our bodies hyper-compensate and rebuild stronger to avoid the same damage in the future.

Our immune systems are responsible for that repair work and hyper-compensation. In other words, the macrophages, T-Cells and cytokines like Il-6 and TNF-α that fight viral infections are also responsible for making us stronger and faster. Hence, fighting illness and producing training adaptations are in essence two sides of the same immunological coin.

This has several important implications:

  1. Training is inflammatory – after that hard interval session or big weight lifting routine, your muscles are damaged, and the body’s healthy response to that damage is inflammation around that damaged tissue.

 

  1. Training Can Suppress the Immune System – excess inflammation can lead to something called Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) which is dangerous. So, when there’s a lot of damage due to training, our bodies try to keep the inflammation localized to the damaged muscles by suppressing the immune system in the rest of the body.

 

  1. Excessive Training Can Cause the Immune System to “Malfunction” – when you are training hard, your immune system has to do double-duty repairing damage and fighting potential infections which can put a strain on it. If that load becomes too big (like when athletes over-train) the inflammation can become aberrant and lead to inappropriate responses.

Let’s explore each of these in more depth…

 

Training Is Inflammatory

You just completed a hard run causing minor muscle tearing in the muscle fibers of your legs. Your body’s immediate response is to release inflammatory cytokines like IL-6 and TNF-α to promote an inflammatory response. You experience this inflammation as swelling and muscle soreness. The activated immune cells then very effectively clear out damaged tissue and begin the repair work.

The whole process is generally completed within a few days which you’ll experience as a day or two of dragging your feet followed by fresh stronger legs.

This happens every time we train hard and do damage. It’s a natural and healthy reaction. But always remember that that inflammation is very similar to the inflammation you experience when you’re sick.

Which begs the question, why don’t we feel sick after every hard workout?

 

Training Can Suppress the Immune System

Excess body-wide (systemic) inflammation is dangerous. In fact, this condition known as Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS) is what can causes death in burn victims and people suffering from sepsis [1].

SIRS is generally only seen in the trauma ward, but there actually is evidence of this syndrome in over-trained athletes [1].

But that’s uncommon. Most of the time, our immune systems try to localize the productive inflammation to the damaged muscles and avoid inappropriate and excessive inflammation throughout the body. Anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10 and TGF-β are released into the bloodstream to suppress systemic inflammation. [2]

In essence, the immune system weakens itself.

So, after periods of heavy training, we are not as effective at fighting infections. Which means, the worst time to hang out at a coffee shop, use a public restroom or sit in an airport is soon after a three-hour race or hard training session.

And to add insult to injury, there’s an important balance in our bodies between two types of T-helper cells (the Generals of our immune systems.) Type 1 T-helper cells (Th1) direct viral responses while Th2 cells are responsible for allergic reaction. Unfortunately, as part of the immunosuppression described above, the balance is shifted towards Th2 which may be why many endurance athletes experience worsening allergy symptoms when they train hard. [2]

That doesn’t mean you should worry every time you go for a run or hit the weight room. Not all training suppresses your immune system. In fact, very light training helps the immune system by improving blood flow throughout the body. It’s only heavy and exhaustive training that leads to immunosuppression.

 

Excessive Training Can Cause the Immune System to “Malfunction”

Immunosuppression after heavy exercise is the reason we don’t feel sick after every workout. But it doesn’t always work. Sometimes hard exercise does make us think we’re sick.

When we’re truly fighting an illness, most of the symptoms of that illness (coughing, elevated body temperature, swelling and soreness) are caused by our immune systems and not the virus or bacterial infections themselves. In fact, if the virus had its way, you’d never notice it at all. Viruses would very happily hide out in your cells using those cells to replicate itself.

So, if our immune systems “malfunction” or becomes so activated that it can no longer suppress systemic inflammation, we can feel sick whether there is an actual infection or not. Excessive levels of training can cause this malfunction.

To make this point, a 2007 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise looked at upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in highly trained athletes. The study found that only 30% of the infections had an identifiable viral cause. Further, most of the reported cases of URTI were during heavy training periods.[3]

Undoubtedly, in some of those cases, the virus simply escaped detection. But the authors still made a strong case that at least some of the incidences were not an infection at all. They were the result of excess inflammation caused by over-training.

This is important because often athletes feel they are “tough” and can train through URTI. But what if that URTI isn’t an infection? What if instead its inappropriate inflammation due to over-training? Then “pushing through” is actually just making the problem worse. What the body needs is rest.

Taken to the extreme, it’s shouldn’t be surprising that the symptoms of severe burnout are very similar to symptoms of illness and even autoimmune disease. Doctors frequently mistake burnout for mononucleosis.

 

Supporting our Immune Systems

To perform at our best, we shouldn’t look at inflammation as an unhappy road block threatening to derail our training. Instead we need to see effective training and a healthy immune system as two sides of the same coin. In fact, we can’t have one without the other.

And when we’re training hard, we’re asking our immune system to do double-duty keeping us both healthy and repairing muscle damage. So, it’s our job to do everything we can to support it.

Fortunately, the things we can do to keep our immune systems healthy and the things we can do to support our training are often one and the same. Both require greater focus on proper rest and proper nutrition. A few tips to do this include:

  • Always keep an effective balance between recovery and training – this is number one. Let it get out of balance and the immune system will stop functioning properly. And that means excess immunosuppression can allow a virus to take hold, or alternately, inappropriate systemic inflammation will cause you to get sick (no virus necessary.)
  • Get your easy rides and runs – there is a J-shaped curve relationship between exercise and the immune system.[4] Hard training can suppress the immune system, but easy training can support it. Recovery rides or easy walks are great for speeding training adaptions and fighting illness.
  • Avoid exposure – your immune system is compromised after hard training. This is the time to tap into your inner-hypochondriac. Stay home and keep your hands clean.
  • Support your immune system – when it is active, your immune system is producing millions of cells and cytokines. All of which require a steady supply of amino acids. So, when you are sick or training hard, make sure you are consuming lots of healthy protein to support that cell and cytokine production. Healthy omega-3 fats are also needed for cell wall formation and prostaglandin production (important soldiers of the immune system.)
  • Reduce simple sugars, especially when you think you may be sick – simple carbohydrates are inflammatory and can contribute to excess inappropriate inflammation.[5, 6] Worse, many viruses and bacterial infections are anaerobic. Meaning they can only survive on carbohydrates. Don’t feed them!
  • Take L-glutamine when training hard – the primary fuel of our immune system is l-glutamine. Normally our bodies produce enough for our needs. The problem is during exhaustive exercise, when we’re depleting our glycogen, our bodies start using l-glutamine to fuel our exercising muscles and we can become transiently depleted. So, when doing a lot of long hard endurance work such as a six-hour bike ride, it might be worth supplementing.
  • A few other supplements – while heavy supplement use is generally a bad idea, a few supplements can help when you’re sick. There is some evidence that vitamin D and zinc can support immune function and reduce the severity of illness.[7-10]

A healthy Paleo Diet® naturally addresses many of these tips. It provides the healthy proteins and omega-3 fatty acids needed to support your immune system. It’s also very low in simple sugars and supplies better, natural sources of zinc. That makes it a great way to provide your immune system the support it needs when doing double-duty.

 

References

  1. Fehrenbach, E. and M.E. Schneider, Trauma-induced systemic inflammatory response versus exercise-induced immunomodulatory effects. Sports Med, 2006. 36(5): p. 373-84.
  2. Suzuki, K., et al., Systemic inflammatory response to exhaustive exercise. Cytokine kinetics. Exerc Immunol Rev, 2002. 8: p. 6-48.
  3. Spence, L., et al., Incidence, etiology, and symptomatology of upper respiratory illness in elite athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2007. 39(4): p. 577-86.
  4. Gleeson, M., et al., Influence of training load on upper respiratory tract infection incidence and antigen-stimulated cytokine production. Scand J Med Sci Sports, 2013. 23(4): p. 451-7.
  5. Della Corte, K.W., et al., Effect of Dietary Sugar Intake on Biomarkers of Subclinical Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies. Nutrients, 2018. 10(5).
  6. Benetti, E., et al., High sugar intake and development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance and inflammation in mice: a protective role for PPAR- delta agonism. Mediators Inflamm, 2013. 2013: p. 509502.
  7. Das, R.R., Zinc and vitamin A for prevention of upper respiratory tract infection in children. Br J Nutr, 2012. 108(9): p. 1722.
  8. Veverka, D.V., et al., Use of zinc supplements to reduce upper respiratory infections in United States Air Force Academy cadets. Complement Ther Clin Pract, 2009. 15(2): p. 91-5.
  9. Jung, H.C., et al., Vitamin D(3) Supplementation Reduces the Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection during Winter Training in Vitamin D-Insufficient Taekwondo Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2018. 15(9).
  10. Dubnov-Raz, G., et al., Vitamin D supplementation and upper respiratory tract infections in adolescent swimmers: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Exerc Sci, 2015. 27(1): p. 113-9.

 

For years a debate has raged over whether a low-fat diet or a low-carbohydrate diet is better for health and weight loss. A few facts are already well established. For instance, eating too much saturated fat and trans fat can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease. Additionally, eating a diet high in refined carbs (sugars,) which can spike insulin in the body, should also be avoided.

Stanford Study Tackles Low-Fat vs. Low-Carb

A new study set out to settle the debate once and for all.

Led by Christopher D. Gardner, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, the research results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) earlier this year.

So which diet was determined to be the best?

Neither, it turns out. Or, to put a positive spin on it, both are right.

The well-funded study involved over 600 people and took place over a 12-month period. Every participants was either overweight or obese, but otherwise healthy. Everyone attended nutrition classes, and all were instructed to minimize their intake of sugar, refined flours, and trans fats. All participants were also told to eat lots of vegetables and nutrient-rich foods. There were no instructions regarding calorie intake, but all were encouraged to develop good eating habits, such as cooking their own food and eating  meals with family.

One group was told to restrict their fat intake and the other, their carbohydrates.

At the end of the 12 months, both groups had, on average, lost approximately the same amount of weight. Individuals had vastly different outcomes; one person lost 60 pounds while another gained 20, but overall a significant amount of weight was lost in total. The low-carb group lost an average of 13 pounds and the low-fat group lost 11.7 pounds. Both groups also reported improvements in waist size, body fat, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels.

The Case for Nutrient-Dense Foods

While the study did not end the low-fat vs. low-carb debate once and for all, it did support the concept that what actually matters the most is the quality of the food you eat. Study participants were encouraged to eat more whole and nutrient-rich foods without regard to portion size or number of calories.

While the study was targeted toward analyzing whether low-fat or low-carb diets were better, the study’s conclusion was in line with the principles of the Paleo diet. One of the fundamental tenets of following a Paleo-based diet is to focus on the type of fat you consume. Tracking the quantity of fat you consume in order to lower your cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of heart disease is not as effective.

Another key principle of the Paleo diet is that it focuses on nutrient-dense natural foods, rather than trying to adhere to macronutrient ratios. In other words, when following a Paleo lifestyle, there is no need to keep to certain percentages of protein, fats, and carbohydrates in your diet. Instead, by eating nutrient dense foods, you easily consume the nutrients you need while eliminating foods that are low in nutrient density.

How to Eat Healthful Fats

The key is to avoid trans fats and reduce omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Instead, consuming healthful monounsaturated and omega-3 fats will keep you in good cardiovascular health.

One of the benefits of eating enough fat is that it helps you feel satisfied after meals. Lean meat, seafood, and other animal products are excellent sources of healthy fat. The type of oil you use in cooking also matters. Here are some examples:

  • Fish and seafood, especially salmon, sardines, and mackerel: polyunsaturated omega-3s
  • Red meat, including beef, lamb, and pork: saturated and monounsaturated fats
  • Poultry, including chicken and turkey: saturated and monounsaturated fats
  • Eggs: mostly unsaturated and some saturated fat
  • Coconut oil, coconut milk: saturated fat
  • Olive oil: mostly monounsaturated fat
  • Avocados: mostly monounsaturated fat


Which Fats Should You Avoid?

A good rule of thumb is to try to limit omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. These can be found in many cooking oils, such as canola, corn, soybean, peanut, and most vegetable oils. Also, avoid margarine.

The bottom line is to aim to eat nutrient-dense, whole foods without over-focusing on your caloric intake within the guidelines of the Paleo diet. Doing so will help you lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.

Be sure to follow our blog for even more information about Paleo living, nutrition, and easy Paleo recipes!

 

This Year the Annual Diet Reviews Didn’t Have Their Usually Sharp Teeth Out for the Paleo Diet

It’s January. Which means another flurry of online diet rankings and reviews. At the Paleo Diet®, we await them with the rapt anticipation of a school boy sweating his double-dare challenge punishment. You don’t know what it’s going to be. You just know it’s going to hurt.

In a strange way, we came to wear our dead last ranking at US News & World Report as a badge of pride. Instead of discouraging paleo dieters, the ranking seemed to make them feel part of an idea that was not appreciated in its time. With a certain combination of self-awareness and a little self-delusion the rankings put paleo dieters on a shelf with figures like Socrates, Giordana Bruno, and Galileo. Just with better foods – hemlock isn’t part of any nutritious breakfast – and a lot less execution.

But this year, something felt different about the rankings.

In 2019, US News swapped our dead last for 33d out of 41 diets and even begrudgingly admitted “the Paleo Diet is relatively convenient these days.” Sure, they still didn’t recommend the diet and used lots of subtle qualifiers like “little” and “difficult,” but the sharp teeth of previous years simply weren’t there.

Another January review of diets on the UK’s largest health website, NHS, admitted some pretty strong positives such as “the diet is simple and doesn’t involved calorie counting.” Their final verdict was still mixed, but it didn’t have the dismissiveness we’re used to.

So why the change?

Honestly, we don’t know. One possibility is the fact that this year, the bulk of US News’ write up included a review of recent Paleo Diet studies. They still couldn’t resist pointing out “small” sample sizes and a study where the Mediterranean diet was comparable, but the fact was, the studies were favorable.

In the past, US News attacked the Paleo Diet based on a misconception that there was “no science behind it.” But now with a rapidly growing body of positive research (see the full list at the bottom of this article) and a recent review rigorously evaluating all of the diets listed in the US News report [1], the misconceived “no science” argument has simply lost its bite.

 

Now if We Could Just Address the Other Misconceptions

Ultimately you, as the reader, needs to draw your own conclusions about the Paleo Diet or any diet. Do your own review. Just base it on the science and the actual diet – not misconceptions.  Too often we read a criticism and think “that’s a good point… too bad they’re not talking about the Paleo Diet.”

The list of studies – positive and negative – on the website, will give you the science to draw your own conclusions. So, let’s address the misconceptions in the recent reviews that have been used to criticize the Paleo Diet. That way you can draw your conclusions based on the actual diet:

 

1. Excluding grains and dairy leads to nutrient deficiencies

“Most versions of the paleo diet exclude key food groups, raising the potential for nutritional deficiencies.” This claim in the NHS review is one of the most common critiques of the Paleo Diet. But this claim is based on the misconception that these foods are simply eliminated and not replaced or substituted by Paleo-friendly foods.

Dr Cordain addressed this misconception in an article titled Eliminating Non-Paleo Foods Improves Nutrient Density. The main point of the article was that grains and dairy are two of the most nutrient-poor categories of foods we can eat. So, replacing calories from these foods with calories from nutrient-rich foods like vegetables and fish actually improves the nutrient density of our diets.

To make this point, Dr Cordain used a peer-reviewed Mediterranean Diet meal plan which was already nutrient dense. He replaced the non-Paleo foods with isocaloric Paleo-friendly foods, and the nutrient density of the meal plan improved.

We’ll give the NHS review credit for stating that the nutrient deficiencies can be avoided with “careful substitution,” though we’d argue that a diet based on low-nutrient density grains is the one that needs careful substitutions.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that two of the critical nutrients that critics claim we lose by eliminating grains and dairy are folic acid and vitamin D. Grains and dairy are not naturally high in either nutrient – they are fortified. Vegetables, which replace grains in the Paleo Diet are naturally high in folate.

 

2. It’s an all-protein protein/meat-based diet

US News finished their 2019 review by saying “these diets contain more than the government’s recommendation that between 10 to 35 percent of daily calories come from protein.” Likewise, the NHS review claimed that “most versions of the diet encourage eating a lot of meat, which runs counter current health advice.”

The Paleo Diet does not recommend consuming more than 35 percent of our calories from protein. In fact, Dr Loren Cordain addressed this issue in both the original Paleo Diet book, and series of articles pointing out that eating more than about 35 percent of our calories from protein can lead to a fatal condition called rabbit starvation [2]. Hunter-gatherer diets ranged from 19-35 percent which is within the government recommendations [3, 4].

To take this a step further, meat is calorically dense. Meaning a small volume of meat packs in a lot of calories. With a typical western diet, the calories from meat are quickly overshadowed by high-carb processed foods which are calorically even denser. A six-ounce ribeye may pack 36 grams of protein (equal to about 150 kcal,) but it’s quickly dwarfed by that 600-calorie high-carb and -fat dessert or bag of Cheetos eaten after dinner.

The western diet, with its reliance on grains, makes it easy to keep protein around 10 to 15 percent of daily calories. But a Paleo Diet avoids these high-calorie processed foods. So, to keep protein at a healthy ratio, we must balance meat with vegetables and fruit which have a very low caloric density.

In other words, we have to eat a lot of plant food!

By volume, a typical Paleo Diet is less than 10 percent animal protein. Vegetables and fruit represent the bulk of what we eat.

 

3. “Caveman”

US News started their review by stating “if the caveman didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either.” This is a subtle, but important misconception. Many critics like to call it a “caveman” diet. That conjures up the image of a brutish man draped in furs who carries a club and eats nothing but meat. His life is short and brutish and not a life we would want to replicate. Notice that the focus is even on “man.” How many old Loony Toons cartoons showed cavemen bashing women over the head and dragging them by their hair. There is nothing positive about “caveman.”

However, it is easier to criticize a diet when it is associated with an inaccurate and negative stereotype. Case in point, in his critique of the Paleo Diet, Bill Nye used the stereotype to great effect, literally dressing an actor as a caveman:

(Figure 1: Taken from Bill Nye Saves the World)

I wrote an article for the Paleo Diet website addressing his critique. As a fan of Bill Nye, I had hoped for some good scientific arguments, but all I saw were inaccuracies and misconceptions. And at the center of all of them was the “caveman” concept.

The truth is that the Paleo Diet is based on hunter-gatherer societies that have existed throughout the world for most of history. Many of them lived in forested regions, in the great plains, and even in igloos. Few carried clubs or lived in caves. The authentic photo below is a much truer image of hunter-gatherers:

(Figure 2: photo of authentic hunter-gatherers)

If we’re going to use a stereotype, I would recommend watching the wonderful 1990 movie Dances with Wolves where Kevin Costner’s character was so enamored by the rich life of Native American hunter-gatherers, he gave up his western identity. In fact, a major portion of the movie focused on the purity of the buffalo hunt and subsequent feast. Their culture was rich with unique foods and dietary habits. One great example is their invention of pemmican which Dr Cordain covered thoroughly in a recent article.

The Paleo Diet is based on hunter-gatherer societies not “cavemen.” Any serious and unbiased review of the diet should not use the term.

 

4. We are guessing at what our Paleolithic ancestors ate

This is in fact true. We don’t know exactly what ancient hunter-gatherers ate and often our records of even recent hunter-gatherer diets are incomplete [4-7]. That’s not the misconception.

The misconception is that the Paleo Diet tries to perfectly recreate the exact diet of our Paleolithic ancestors [8, 9]. That is impossible for two reasons. First, many of the foods that existed then do not exist now. Second, there was no one diet. Hunter-gatherers living by the equator ate very differently from hunter-gatherers who lived in the plains, who again ate very differently from Inuit populations. If anything, the research on hunter-gatherer diets makes a strong argument for individualized nutrition [4].

The danger of this misconception is that critics use it to say that we can’t perfectly replicate paleolithic diets, so the Paleo Diet is a sham.

The truth is that the Paleo Diet uses ethnographic data to create a template for better human nutrition. Put another way, we know that the current Western Diet is unhealthy and leads to the diseases of civilization. So, what is better: starting with a diet that we know is unhealthy, or starting with a diet that is analogous to the diet we evolved around?

And while we don’t know exactly what our paleolithic ancestors ate, we do know what they didn’t eat – grain products, refined sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils, and dairy.

 

The Biggest Misconception That’s Lost Its Bite: It is Not Based on Science

This is the misconception that has given critics of the Paleo Diet their sharpest teeth and motivated US News to rank the Paleo Diet dead last for years.

It is also the argument that critics can no longer rely on.

For years, critics claimed that there were no peer-reviewed studies or meta-analyses demonstrating the efficacy of the Paleo Diet. At one time, this was in fact true. But the conclusion they then drew – that the diet wasn’t based on science – was a step too far that required a misconception of the scientific process itself.

As it was explained to me in grade school, the scientific process starts with a scientist or group of scientists reviewing the existing research on a subject. Next, these scientists develop a novel theory based on that research. Finally, studies are conducted to test the theory.

What’s important is that every theory (even the most groundbreaking) had a point where they were pure theory without any research to back them up. That does not mean there was no science behind them.

Take the example of one of the greatest scientists – Albert Einstein. Einstein essentially never conducted a research study in his life. His theories of special relativity (1905) and general relativity (1916) were based mostly on thought experiments and past research. Yet, within a few years, these theories had revolutionized Physics, despite the fact that the first experiment to validate special relativity – a fascinating study by Sir Arthur Eddington showing the bending of light – wasn’t conducted until 1919. Fourteen years later. But if that feels long, look at the theory of general relativity which was contingent upon the existence of gravitational waves. Their existence wasn’t proved until 2016 – exactly 100 years later. Yet no one ever claimed that relativity was “based on no science.”

The Paleo Diet is also a theory. It was the result of decades spent by researchers like Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Boyd Eaton, Ph.D., and Staffan Lindeberg, Ph.D. studying the existing science in the fields of nutrition, anthropology and evolutionary biology.

Just like all science – even relativity – paleolithic nutrition had a point where it was a theory and no studies had been conducted to validate it. But it was a misconception for critics to claim it was not based on science. It was based on decades of science. Its only crime was being at the theory stage of the scientific process.

Fortunately, that has changed. Since US News leveled their first review claiming “no science” over 40 studies have been conducted. And most of them have demonstrated favorable results in terms of weight loss, inflammation, and health.

Ironically, the lack of a proper scientific process in US News rankings may have motivated a 2017 review in Nutrients which applied a true systematic review process to the 38 diets in the US News rankings at the time. The review looked only at diets that didn’t require calorie restrictions or supplements which reduced the list to 20 diets.

Of those 20, only seven had high-quality scientific clinical trials evaluating their effectiveness in terms of weight loss. Those diets were the Atkins, DASH, Glycemic-Index, Mediterranean, Ornish, Zone, and of course the Paleo Diet. The review identified two clinical trials that demonstrated both short-term and long-term weight loss on the Paleo Diet. The authors stated “the findings of this review are not in line with current recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which state that diets with less than 45% of calories as carbohydrates are not more successful than other diets for long-term weight loss (12 months.) [1]

It can’t be over-emphasized that while, US News and World Report ranked the Paleo Diet at the bottom of the list based on the “lack of science,” a proper scientific review of all 38 diets, placed the Paleo Diet among the seven with actual scientific backing.

It’s no wonder the US News review is starting to lose its bite.

 

Current Paleo Diet Studies Up to 2019

2007

  1. Lindeberg, S., et al., A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia, 2007. 50(9): p. 1795-1807.

 

2008

  1. Osterdahl, M., et al., Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2008. 62(5): p. 682-5.

 

2009

  1. Frassetto, L.A., et al., Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2009. 63(8): p. 947-55.
  2. Jonsson, T., et al., Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol, 2009. 8: p. 35.
  3. Klonoff, D.C., The beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on type 2 diabetes and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. J Diabetes Sci Technol, 2009. 3(6): p. 1229-32.

 

2010

  1. Jonsson, T., et al., A paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2010. 7: p. 85.

 

2013

  1. Clemens, Z., et al., Childhood absence epilepsy successfully treated with the paleolithic ketogenic diet. Neurol Ther, 2013. 2(1-2): p. 71-6.
  2. Jonsson, T., et al., Subjective satiety and other experiences of a Paleolithic diet compared to a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutr J, 2013. 12: p. 105.
  3. Ryberg, M., et al., A Palaeolithic-type diet causes strong tissue-specific effects on ectopic fat deposition in obese postmenopausal women. J Intern Med, 2013. 274(1): p. 67-76.

 

2014

  1. Boers, I., et al., Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study. Lipids Health Dis, 2014. 13: p. 160.
  2. Carter, P., et al., A Mediterranean diet improves HbA1c but not fasting blood glucose compared to alternative dietary strategies: a network meta-analysis. J Hum Nutr Diet, 2014. 27(3): p. 280-97.
  3. Mellberg, C., et al., Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2014. 68(3): p. 350-7.
  4. Talreja, D., et al., Impact of a Paleolithic Diet on Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Journal of Clinical Lipidology, 2014. 8(3): p. 341.
  5. Tóth, C. and Z. Clemens, Type 1 diabetes mellitus successfully managed with the paleolithic ketogenic diet. Vol. 5. 2014.
  6. Whalen, K.A., et al., Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet pattern scores and risk of incident, sporadic colorectal adenomas. Am J Epidemiol, 2014. 180(11): p. 1088-97.

 

2015

  1. Bligh, H.F., et al., Plant-rich mixed meals based on Palaeolithic diet principles have a dramatic impact on incretin, peptide YY and satiety response, but show little effect on glucose and insulin homeostasis: an acute-effects randomised study. Br J Nutr, 2015. 113(4): p. 574-84.
  2. Frassetto, L.A., et al., Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2015. 69(12): p. 1376.
  3. Manheimer, E.W., et al., Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 102(4): p. 922-32.
  4. Masharani, U., et al., Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2015. 69(8): p. 944-8.
  5. Pastore, R.L., J.T. Brooks, and J.W. Carbone, Paleolithic nutrition improves plasma lipid concentrations of hypercholesterolemic adults to a greater extent than traditional heart-healthy dietary recommendations. Nutr Res, 2015. 35(6): p. 474-9.
  6. Stomby, A., et al., Diet-induced weight loss has chronic tissue-specific effects on glucocorticoid metabolism in overweight postmenopausal women. Int J Obes (Lond), 2015. 39(5): p. 814-9.
  7. Talreja, A., et al., CRT-601 The VA Beach Diet Study: An Investigation Of The Effects Of Plant-based, Mediterranean, Paleolithic, And Dash Diets On Cardiovascular Disease Risk. 2015. 8(2 Supplement): p. S41.

 

2016

  1. Dolan C, C.A., Davies N, Markofski M. , Effects of an 8-week Paleo dietary intervention on inflammatory cytokines, in American Physiological Society Conference, Inflammation, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease. 2016: Westminster, CO. p. pp 40-41.
  2. Fontes-Villalba, M., et al., Palaeolithic diet decreases fasting plasma leptin concentrations more than a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised cross-over trial. Cardiovasc Diabetol, 2016. 15: p. 80.
  3. Talreja, D., et al., CRT-800.00 An Investigation of Plant-based, Mediterranean, Paleolithic, and Dash Diets. 2016. 9(4 Supplement): p. S61.
  4. Whalen, K.A., et al., Paleolithic and Mediterranean Diet Pattern Scores Are Inversely Associated with Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Balance in Adults. J Nutr, 2016. 146(6): p. 1217-26.

 

2017

  1. Afifi, L., et al., Dietary Behaviors in Psoriasis: Patient-Reported Outcomes from a U.S. National Survey. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb), 2017. 7(2): p. 227-242.
  2. Anton, S.D., et al., Effects of Popular Diets without Specific Calorie Targets on Weight Loss Outcomes: Systematic Review of Findings from Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 2017. 9(8).
  3. Blomquist, C., et al., Attenuated Low-Grade Inflammation Following Long-Term Dietary Intervention in Postmenopausal Women with Obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2017. 25(5): p. 892-900.
  4. Haskey, N. and D.L. Gibson, An Examination of Diet for the Maintenance of Remission in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Nutrients, 2017. 9(3): p. 259.
  5. Irish, A.K., et al., Randomized control trial evaluation of a modified Paleolithic dietary intervention in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a pilot study. Degener Neurol Neuromuscul Dis, 2017. 7: p. 1-18.
  6. Lee, J.E., et al., A Multimodal, Nonpharmacologic Intervention Improves Mood and Cognitive Function in People with Multiple Sclerosis. J Am Coll Nutr, 2017. 36(3): p. 150-168.
  7. Obert, J., et al., Popular Weight Loss Strategies: a Review of Four Weight Loss Techniques. Curr Gastroenterol Rep, 2017. 19(12): p. 61.
  8. Otten, J., et al., Benefits of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metab Res Rev, 2017. 33(1).
  9. Stomby, A., et al., A Paleolithic Diet with and without Combined Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Increases Functional Brain Responses and Hippocampal Volume in Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes. Front Aging Neurosci, 2017. 9: p. 391.

 

2018

  1. Blomquist, C., et al., Decreased lipogenesis-promoting factors in adipose tissue in postmenopausal women with overweight on a Paleolithic-type diet. Eur J Nutr, 2018. 57(8): p. 2877-2886.
  2. Cheng, E., et al., Associations of evolutionary-concordance diet, Mediterranean diet and evolutionary-concordance lifestyle pattern scores with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Br J Nutr, 2018: p. 1-10.
  3. Genoni, A., et al., A Paleolithic diet lowers resistant starch intake but does not affect serum trimethylamine-N-oxide concentrations in healthy women. Br J Nutr, 2018: p. 1-14.
  4. Haridass, V., et al., Diet Quality Scores Inversely Associated with Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk Are Not Associated with Premenopausal Breast Cancer Risk in the California Teachers Study. J Nutr, 2018. 148(11): p. 1830-1837.
  5. Manousou, S., et al., A Paleolithic-type diet results in iodine deficiency: a 2-year randomized trial in postmenopausal obese women. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2018. 72(1): p. 124-129.
  6. Otten, J., et al., A heterogeneous response of liver and skeletal muscle fat to the combination of a Paleolithic diet and exercise in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia, 2018. 61(7): p. 1548-1559.
  7. Popp, C.J., et al., The Effectiveness of MyPlate and Paleolithic-based Diet Recommendations, both with and without Exercise, on Aerobic Fitness, Muscular Strength and Anaerobic Power in Young Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Int J Exerc Sci, 2018. 11(2): p. 921-933.
  8. van Niekerk, G., et al., Nutrient excess and autophagic deficiency: explaining metabolic diseases in obesity. Metabolism, 2018. 82: p. 14-21.
  9. Wahls, T., et al., Dietary approaches to treat MS-related fatigue: comparing the modified Paleolithic (Wahls Elimination) and low saturated fat (Swank) diets on perceived fatigue in persons with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 2018. 19(1): p. 309.

 

References

  1. Anton, S.D., et al., Effects of Popular Diets without Specific Calorie Targets on Weight Loss Outcomes: Systematic Review of Findings from Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 2017. 9(8).
  2. Cordain, L., The Paleo diet : lose weight and get healthy by eating the food you were designed to eat. 2002, New York: J. Wiley. ix, 257 p.
  3. Cordain, L., et al., Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr, 2005. 81(2): p. 341-54.
  4. Cordain, L., et al., Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000. 71(3): p. 682-92.
  5. Cordain, L., et al., Macronutrient estimations in hunter-gatherer diets. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000. 72(6): p. 1589-92.
  6. Eaton, S.B. and M. Konner, Paleolithic nutrition. A consideration of its nature and current implications. N Engl J Med, 1985. 312(5): p. 283-9.
  7. Cordain, L., J. Miller, and N. Mann, Scant evidence of periodic starvation among hunter-gatherers. Diabetologia, 1999. 42(3): p. 383-4.
  8. Cordain, L., The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, 2002. 5(5): p. 15-24.
  9. Cordain, L., The Paleo diet : lose weight and get healthy by eating the foods you were designed to eat. Rev. ed. 2011, Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. xv, 266 p.

 

Russian researcher claims 122-year-old Jeanne Calment was actually a 99-year-old imposter.

Jeanne Louise Calment was a woman from Arles, France who has long been documented as the oldest human being.  Her longevity has not surprisingly attracted much interest in her lifestyle and eating habits, including those of us here at The Paleo Diet®.  She was born on February 21st, 1875 and died on August 4th, 1997, equating to a lifespan of 122 years and 164 days.  Or at least, that is what the current records show.

However, on December 19, 2018, Nikolay Zak, Ph.D. a Russian mathematician, published a research article at the online research-sharing website ResearchGate challenging the validity of her, up until this point, universally accepted record lifespan.

In his abstract he states “I suggest an explanation of these discrepancies based on the hypothesis that Jeanne’s daughter Yvonne acquired her mother’s identity after her death in order to avoid paying inheritance tax and that Jeanne Calment’s death was reported by her family as Yvonne’s death in 1934.”  It should be noted that the research paper is not peer reviewed. However, it is supported by respected gerontologist Valery Novoselov Ph.D. and has also received a positive review by another highly regarded gerontologist, Robert Young. Either way, to say that it has thrown the supercentenarian world into a bit of a spin might be an understatement!

Zak’s paper certainly grabs one’s attention.  In the paper, he lays photographs of Yvonne and Jeanne Louise over making a compelling case that both photographs are of the same person (see Fig 4.)  However, one could easily argue that many mothers and daughters look very similar and so it should not be that surprising. But then in the same figure, a possible fibroma on both women in the same location on their nose swings the pendulum back to suspicion.  Or, again, can this also simply be put down to inherited genetics. So the intrigue begins and the question “is this the greatest scam of all time” has been put forward.

Fig 4. from Nikolay Zak’s paper. A: Yvonne Calment; Yvonne Calment over the old Madame Calment; old Madame Calment. B: Possible fibroma on the nose of Yvonne (contrasted with Photoshop) and the old Madame Calment. С: Madame Calment at 117 used in the age estimation poll.

Jean-Marie Robine, the French gerontologist who helped validate Jeanne Calment’s extreme age in the 1990s, is well respected and known the world over for validating supercentenarians and has already dismissed the age-faking theory as nonsense.  Speaking to Le Parisien, he said, “All of this is incredibly shaky and rests on nothing.” While researching Jeanne Calment’s claim that she was born in 1875, Robine said, he and a colleague made sure to ask her questions that only she would know the answer to, such as the name of her mathematics teacher.  “Her daughter couldn’t have known that,” he said.

Robine also pointed out that it would be incredibly difficult to keep a lie of that magnitude secret for more than 80 years.  “Do you have any idea how many people would have needed to lie?” Robine said. “One day Fernand Calment starts passing off his daughter as his wife and everyone keeps quiet about it?  It’s preposterous.”

Further support of how difficult it would have been to keep this lie a secret  is the fact that Calment was part of a prominent family in Arles, a relatively small city in the south of France. In fact a large commercial building, “Maison Calment”, owned by the family, stood in the center of the city.  By the late 1980s, Jeanne Calment had risen to international prominence, and had become the city’s most famous inhabitant due to her description of having once met Vincent Van Gogh. Despite this fame, never did a fellow Arlesian come forward with evidence that the real Jeanne Calment was buried under her daughter’s headstone.

We know that “Jeanne Calment” (Jeanne Calment herself or her daughter) had certain lifestyle choices that are of interest to us here at The Paleo Diet.  These choices are of greater significance if “Jeanne Calment” is actually Jeanne Calment, a lady who supposedly lived into her 13th decade.  It appears the French government has only one choice to clarify this debate.  As Nicolas Brouard, a research director at France’s national institute for demographic studies, stated, the question can only be truly resolved via an exhumation of Jeanne and Yvonne Calment.  Only time will tell if this happens, but we at THe Paleo Diet hope that this controversy can be clarified very soon for the betterment of science and the pursuit of answers to optimal human health and longevity.

After a day spent enjoying your active Paleo lifestyle, this soup has everything you need to relax and recharge.  Protein, veggies, and spices in perfect harmony, make this a favorite in our kitchen.

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon each freshly ground pepper, dried sage, and dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free tomato paste
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (28-ounce) can salt-free diced tomatoes or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 quart salt-free Chicken Broth
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced or sliced, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

 

Instructions:

In medium sized bowl, thoroughly combine pork, pepper, sage, and rosemary and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic, three-quarters of the seasoned pork, tomato paste, smoked paprika, and coriander. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until very fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, heat the remaining teaspoon of avocado oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the remaining seasoned pork and cook for 5 minutes, or until crispy. Set aside to drain on paper towels. Taste the soup and add additional smoked paprika, and coriander to reach desired taste.  Add the shrimp and simmer until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the minced cilantro, and serve topped with the crispy pork, avocado, and chopped cilantro.

Serves 4.

This spring, Dr Cordain did an interview answering ten questions about the basics of The Paleo Diet®. To start your New Years out right, we wanted to share his answers with you. We hope you enjoy!
– The Paleo Diet Team

1. The Paleo diet can be traced to a 1975 book by Walter Voegtlin, but, correct me if I’m wrong, you are responsible for bringing this diet to popularity in your 2002 book “The Paleo Diet.” Can you me about your research journey as a professor and what lead you to writing this book?

I have written a blog post at my website (www.thepaleodiet.com) outlining the beginnings of the contemporary Paleo Diet movement and my involvement in it at the early stages before the concept became commonly known.

Although the 1975 book by Walter Voegtlin is frequently claimed by many in the Paleo community to be the seminal book that was the birth of the Paleo Diet idea, a number of important, and more relevant books were written earlier and later to which the Paleo Diet movement can be traced, including:

Books:

  1. Price WA. Nutrition and physical degeneration; a comparison of primitive and modern diets and their effects. P.B. Hoeber, Inc., New York, 1939.
  2. DeVries, A. Primitive Man and His Food. Chicago, Chandler Book Company, 1952.
  3. Eaton SB, Shostak M, Konner M. The Paleolithic Prescription. New York, Harper & Row, 1988.

Additionally, a number of key early scientific papers were responsible for today’s Paleo Diet notoriety, including:

Scientific papers:

  1. Shatin R. The transition from food-gathering to food-production in evolution and disease. Vitalstoffe Zivilisationskrankheitein 1967;12:104-107.
  2. Yudkin, J.  Archaeology and the nutritionist. In: The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals, PJ Ucko, GW Dimbleby (Eds.), Chicago, Aldine Publishing Co, 1969, pp. 547-552.
  3. Truswell AS. Human Nutritional Problems at Four Stages of Technical Development. Reprint. Queen Elizabeth College (University of London), Inaugural Lecture, May, 1972.
  4. Abrams, HL.  The relevance of Paleolithic diet in determining contemporary nutritional needs. J Applied Nutr 1979;31: 43-59.
  5. Eaton SB, Konner M. Paleolithic nutrition. A consideration of its nature and current implications. N Engl J Med 1985;312:283-9.

My book “The Paleo Diet” was published in 2002, and I may have coined the term “Paleo Diet”.  However, the concept is certainly not mine, but rather came as a result of numerous scientific writers before me.

2. How would you describe the Paleo Diet to a beginner?

The essence of the idea is to emulate the nutritional characteristics of our hunter gatherer ancestors with contemporary foods and food groups generally found in supermarkets, Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.

3. For those unfamiliar with the Paleo Diet, where is the best place to begin?

I suggest visiting my website and read many of the beginner articles, including What To Eat on a Paleo Diet.

4. Some say the Paleo Diet as an ‘extreme’ high-protein, low-carb, fad diet. I know how I would respond to these people. But, I’d like to know how you would respond to these people?

My colleague Boyd Eaton, who generally is considered to be the father of the contemporary Paleo Diet movement, once said, “If this is a fad diet, then it is humanity’s oldest fad diet, because it is about 2 million years old.”

It is true that The Paleo Diet is a high protein diet compared to the standard American diet, but this is not a bad thing, as higher protein diets have been clinically shown to suppress hunger, increase metabolism and be more effective in reducing body weight than low fat, high carb diets. Additionally in randomized controlled human trials, higher protein improves blood lipids, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk for the metabolic syndrome.

5. There are several ‘versions’ of the Paleo Diet. This can be confusing. Which version of the Paleo Diet is the ‘right’ version?

Any contemporary version of The Paleo Diet which discourages salt consumption is probably pretty close to being accurate.  As far as I know, none of the charismatic bloggers or popular Paleo Diet Recipe book authors prohibit added salt. Many advocate regular consumption of honey, dairy, and legumes.  These “versions” of the Paleo Diet drift quite far from the original scientists who analyzed the nutritional characteristics of hunter gatherers and determined the range of foods that they consumed, and those in contemporary societies which mimic these foods.

6. What are the most significant health benefits that may occur with the Paleo Diet?

Improved health in almost every regard.  One of the first parameters people accustomed to eating the typical U.S. diet is improved energy levels throughout the day.  Improved blood lipids can occur with days to a week. Sleep is better, particularly when salt and alcohol are reduced. Over the long haul, weight is normalized, and many illness and disease symptoms are ameliorated or improved.

7. A lot of social media followers wanted me to ask you your thoughts on the ketogenic diet. I know this is a diet that has skyrocketed in popularity. As a research professor who I admire and respect, what are your thoughts on the Ketogenic Diet and the differences between the Paleo Diet and the Ketogenic Diet.

The ketogenic diet has been with us in one form or another since Dr. Atkins first wrote about it in 1972.  For most people to enter a ketogenic metabolic state, they must consistently eat 50 grams of carbohydrate a day.  This diet may be helpful in the short term for losing weight or for certain people with epilepsy. By restricting healthful fruits and vegetables, the primary source of carbohydrates in The Paleo Diet, your diet will become net acid producing, rather than net alkaline producing which promotes bone loss and osteoporosis over extended periods.

8. How can the Paleo diet affect your skin?

For people with acne, diets similar to the Paleo Diet (high protein, low glycemic load, free of dairy) have been clinically proven to improve symptoms.

9. How do you feel about elimination diets such as the Whole30?

I was not familiar with this diet until you mentioned it.  From a brief on-line search, I see that it looks remarkably similar to The Paleo Diet, so my initial response would be to be supportive.

10. More and more research is showing the negative effects of sugar. Some argue that sugar derived from fruit, ‘natural sugar,’ is processed by our bodies and affects us differently than refined sugar. Is this true? I feel that there is a lot of misinformation out there on this topic.

At my website, I have an area showing the sugar concentration of fresh fruits compared to refined sugar products.  As you can see, fresh fruits contain considerably less sugar than sweet, processed foods. Additionally, the glycemic (blood glucose) response to most fruits is generally quite low.   Very obese or diabetic subjects should reduce consumption of high sugar fruits but shouldn’t restrict low sugar fruits.

 

The weight loss and short-term health gains experienced by many Paleo devotees can obscure the diet’s longer-term positive health benefits.

The greatest rewards for dedicated Paleo adherents may come well after the initial excitement wanes. As they head into their 80s and 90s (and beyond), devotees have every reason to expect abnormally healthy “platinum years.”

Sadly, they may watch their non-Paleo friends and family succumb over time to common “normal” (and supposedly age-related) illnesses like:

  1. Obesity and metabolic syndrome
  2. Cancer
  3. Diabetes
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke
  6. MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease
  7. Alzheimer’s and dementia

 

Lengthy periods of morbidity and disability often precede death with these conditions. The unwary may spend years unable to care for themselves, incurring huge expenses in assisted living, nursing facilities, or even at home.

Data from the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance show that the longest active long-term care insurance claim is 20 years, 9 months as of 12/31/17, with paid benefits at $2.6 million.

Extended long-term care episodes sharply diminish life quality, dignity, independence, and family coherence — even as each passing year becomes irreplaceable. 

Alzheimer’s and other dementias often require the longest and costliest care  — including memory care at specialized facilities. 

Even worse, the strong cultural message remains: there is no way out.

 

Rejecting a Disease-Centric Mindset

Most American and European seniors are groomed from infancy to accept chronic, debilitating disease as a fact of life. 

Central to this acculturation is the idea that they are helpless in the face of encroaching disease — and that “no one really knows” why, or when, health will suddenly fail.

When it does, they resign themselves to invasive, demeaning, or largely palliative interventions, becoming perpetual patients. Their diseases — and treatments — define the remaining years of their lives.

The Alzheimer’s diagnosis weighs heaviest in this illness-centric mindset. The bleak prospect of an irreversible, incurable, unstoppable and ultimately fatal disease — with uncertain years of increasing mental absence — crushes most families.

A parallel tragedy is the almost complete lack of public awareness that it may not have to be this way, that Alzheimer’s etiology is increasingly well-understood, and that dietary and lifestyle changes can actually arrest or reverse dementia symptoms.

 

The Paleo Diet® Connection to Diabetes Type 3 (Alzheimer’s)

Paleo dieters initially lose weight, gain energy, and boost health due to:

  1. Reduced or resolved intestinal permeability
  2. Decreased systemic inflammation
  3. Normalized insulin sensitivity

 

Their new lifestyle free of grains, legumes, refined carbohydrates, sugars, industrially processed seed oils, and other unhealthy additives quickly relieves chronically stressed digestive and endocrine systems.

Nutrient-dense lean meats, sufficient healthy fats, micronutrient-rich vegetables, and fruit then help the body repair (and literally rebuild) itself according to its original genetic design.

Dieters can make surprising and dramatic progress — resolving or abating serious health problems, including autoimmune and metabolic disorders. Many Type 2 diabetics report improvement, and this same success may now extend to dementia and Alzheimer’s (known to researchers — if not family physicians — as Type 3 diabetes for years).

A growing body of knowledge shows that insulin resistance, the main driver of diabetes, may also contribute to cognitive impairment.

 

Carbohydrates as Cognitive Culprits

In 2012, the study Relative Intake of Macronutrients Impacts Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Dementia linked high-carbohydrate diets and MCI. It also states that diets high in fat and protein may protect against this condition. The study shows how high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diets create advanced glycation end products (AGEs), increase oxidative stress, and contribute to amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. (These accumulated plaques are strongly associated with Alzheimer’s).

See also this current Washington Times article by cardiologist Eric Thorn, entitled Carbohydrates Are Killing Us. Dr. Thorn clearly and succinctly discusses the carbohydrate/diabetes connection, and real-world success with his own patients.

 

More Recent Looks at Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

In 2016, Unraveling Alzheimer’s: Making Sense of the Relationship Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease, examined several theories including the idea that insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), which regulates plasma insulin levels and reduces amyloid plaques in the brain, is made unavailable by sub-optimal blood glucose management, contributing to the gradual onset of Alzheimer’s (not necessarily concurrently with diabetes).

The 2018 study, HbA1c, Diabetes and Cognitive Decline: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, examined how blood glucose issues and insulin resistance pathology relate to cognitive problems.

Though a dense read for non-scientists, this study concludes:

“…our study provides evidence to support the association of diabetes with subsequent cognitive decline. Moreover, our findings show a linear correlation between circulating Hba1c levels and cognitive decline, regardless of diabetic status.” (Emphasis added.)

Note that both studies imply that elevated blood sugar, over time, can lead directly to Alzheimer’s without manifesting first as Type 2 diabetes.

If Alzheimer’s can actually be viewed, and treated, as diet-induced insulin- resistance within the brain, what would treatment look like?

 

A Unique (and Effective) Diet-and-Lifestyle therapy

The 2014 UCLA study, Reversal of Cognitive Decline: A Novel Therapeutic Program, is still mostly unknown outside the research and ancestral diet communities. Though small in scope, and not a traditional double-blind clinical trial, the actual results of each included case study are clear enough to demand replication. Dr. Loren Cordain gives an excellent overview of this pivotal study here. The broad outlines of the therapies studied are very congruent with the paleo diet and lifestyle. Results were impressive, with 90 percent of participants showing improvement. The study itself is relatively easy for non-scientists to read through, due in part to its use of diet and life strategies as primary curatives. The first change on the list of therapies:

“Patients [are] given [a] choice of several low glycemic, low inflammatory, low grain diets,” in order to “minimize inflammation, minimize insulin resistance.”

Other modalities used include stress reduction, sleep improvement, exercise, intermittent fasting, and extensive dietary supplementation to optimize brain function. Diet changes included increasing fruits and vegetables, and avoiding farmed fish. Participants tailored their own diets, including grass-fed beef and organic chicken.

Discussing results, the study says, “Results from the 10 patients reported here suggest that memory loss in patients with subjective cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment, and at least the early phases of Alzheimer’s disease, may be reversed, and improvement sustained, with the therapeutic program described here.”

Only one test subject with late-stage Alzheimer’s did not respond to therapy.

90 percent success, even given the small number of subjects, simply cannot be ignored. This study cries out for for large-scale, double blind replication.

The 10 percent failure rate tells its own story: reversing advanced Alzheimer’s may not be within reach.

Better not to let it get that far.

 

Seniors Considering the Paleo Diet Should Not Hesitate

It’s clear that the modern Western diet, sugar-heavy and high in processed carbohydrates, wreaks havoc on blood glucose levels. The resulting insulin resistance has many pernicious effects on our health.

Seniors have been set up for health failure by a lifetime of unconsidered eating and questionable mainstream dietary advice. They will feel the consequences sooner than most.

Alzheimer’s and other lingering, purportedly “incurable” or “irreversible” conditions can empty their pocketbooks and reduce their lives to the four walls of a nursing home suite if they don’t take quick action.

First and foremost, they should revert to the Paleo diet enjoyed by their pre-agrarian ancestors. The worst that can happen is losing a few pounds and improving overall health.

 

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