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ThePaleoDiet.com, A New Look with a New Mission

By Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer
May 5, 2016
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Very recently, Dr. Cordain reached out to me, his first Paleo graduate student, and Trevor Connor, his last Paleo graduate student, to help him launch a new vision and mission for his website; ThePaleoDiet.com. Today, we are excited to begin a new era, with a renewed vision and mission, that coincides with our recent new website launch.

We have over a thousand articles about Paleolithic nutrition at the website and now you can easily find a specific topic by searching 32 blog categories.

As time passes, new science can change previous held beliefs and; as has happened before, we will hold ourselves open to positions that may need to be altered; but, we will rigorously research and scrutinize any data that offers up new theories. So, our mission is to provide you, the reader, with a vast database of information about Paleolithic nutrition that you can rely on as accurate and scientifically supported.

When Dr. Cordain introduced me to the concept of Paleolithic nutrition back in the late 1980s, only a handful of academics and unique interested parties had even heard of the diet. Of course today it is the most widely Googled diet name and millions of people worldwide are not only aware of the diet; but have benefitted from implementing it.

However, along with popularity comes a challenge. The initial template of lean (I now prefer to use the word natural) animal protein, vegetables, fruits, and some nuts and seeds, put forth back in those early days, has remained pretty constant at thepaleodiet.com. But, in other areas of the “Paleosphere,” you can discover many different versions of what is being labeled a “Paleo diet.”

Proponents of these variations, in some cases, have started criticizing the initial template - supported by a significant body of research - as being too restrictive or even outdated. In turn, this argument is being used to promote other versions as perhaps more palatable and easier to follow. While I have no doubt that these different versions of a "Paleolithic" diet; particularly when compared to the current standard western diet, have provided, and will continue to provide, benefits to individuals with a wide variety of health issues, creating a version of a “Paleo” diet template that differs only slightly from the original Paleo template, is somewhat disingenuous.

Adding foods to the original template in moderate consumption, without negative consequences, is exactly what has been advocated from the early days of our research. Dr. Cordain clearly stated in his first book on the Paleo diet that an 85:15, paleo:non-paleo, compliance was all that was needed to reap the benefits for the vast majority of individuals. Consequently, many of these versions of the Paleo diet are simply a reiteration of Dr. Cordain’s initial work. And to criticize this original template as being too restrictive misses the reason of having a true Paleo template in the first place.

As a general rule, I have always recommended that foods on the Paleo diet template can be consumed ad libitum. Accordingly, if others in the Paleoshphere add foods into this template that we would consider non-Paleo, one has to ask are these additions ad libitum or restricted? If the additions are restricted, then their diets are really no different to our original template with an 85:15 compliance. If, however, the additions are unrestricted, it implies our template should be changed and we need to establish if there is merit to a new approach.

So, our new mission at thepaleodiet.com is to address these issues and alternatives through an open dialogue with those that are introducing them. Front and center in this debate will be, not only the scientific data; but, also clinical findings - whether by health care practitioners working with their patients and clients - or even individual self-experimentation.

An example of an issue that needs addressing is the negative impact of anti-nutrients in the diet. I have read within the Paleosphere that some believe Dr. Cordain was wrong about anti-nutrients because cooking destroys them. So did Dr. Cordain get it wrong or have individuals that have not had their arguments peer reviewed jumped the gun? Not having something peer-reviewed does not necessarily mean it is wrong. But what has not happened in the past and is needed, is to have these issues argued and counter-argued to help arrive at what is hopefully the right answer, at least with the current body of knowledge.

As we examine many of these questions, we are going to invite those that disagree with our point of view to an open forum at ThePaleoDiet.com to argue their position. We will then counter, with a potential back and forth, or perhaps we’ll simply stand corrected. Either way, we feel this approach will help you, the reader, find the best diet that works for you to achieve your optimal health and vitality.

Further, if there are questions that you want addressed, be sure to reach out to us via our social media platforms, all of which are available here at the website.

So, along with the launch of the new web site, we look forward to creating an environment that harnesses an open dialogue about nutrition with the single important goal of improving the health of people around world.

Mark J. Smith, Ph.D.

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