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Have you seen - Debunking the Paleo Diet: Christina Warinner at TEDxOU ?

by (5356)
Updated October 18, 2014 at 3:57 AM
Created March 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOjVYgYaG8

Hmmm...well I guess it's back to eating SAD, she's got a bullet proof arguement here...it's been fun Phackers!

This is an 80/20 post, 80% actual quetion and 20% - Truthiness.

Truth.

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2626 · May 21, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Almost everyone I meet outside the paleo community still believes that Paleo is about re-enactment (either that, or it's a pseudoscientific offshoot of Atkins where people are looking for a better excuse to eat nothing but bacon). The way I try to explain it is that *thinking* about the paleolithic environment is valuable because it helps explain why food paradigms that have been universal and utterly accepted for thousands of years may still not be optimal.

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15400 · March 11, 2013 at 1:38 AM

Matt - high on estrogen today?

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15400 · March 11, 2013 at 1:34 AM

Too much testosterone, Matt?

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1925 · March 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM

it's their survival instinct kicking in there guys. thought process = "don't know how to respond... panic... argh! Downvote, downvote, downvote..."

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2030 · March 10, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Ya, I agree she wasn't debunking the diet.

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11682 · March 10, 2013 at 7:31 PM

For me, that's what it is, because I came to Paleo for its health benefits, not for its weight loss. The original goal of Paleo (before it exploded in popularity and marketing started), it was all about health, not necessarily weight loss.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

That rat/GMO/cancer study was so mismanaged and poorly designed you can't say anything about the results. But even considering non-GMO grains... our modern varieties today are more nutritious, more calories, more digistible...

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

VB, I'm pretty sure you've simply lost it, darlin'.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

@matt, lol? Like the gmos that cause cancer in rats?

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584 · March 10, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Outgrown the name is true. But we'd just outgrow another. I think it'd be better to just accept the name is just a googlable tag. So sorry for her profession that we're running away with a term that means something very specific to her, but it's ours now, we'll just have to think of it as a new homonym in the English language.

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584 · March 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM

I see the good in it, too, it's just offensive when it's our name being painted on her strawman.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I don't know Eugenia, is your interpretation of paleo (low-inflammation diet) anymore valid than hers (reenactment diet)? I'm not sure I'd sum up paleo as low-inflammation, simply.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:28 PM

I've always been anti-reenactment paleo myself, for me, paleo is all about the biochemistry and evolutionary biology.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:27 PM

I know, right, grains today are much less toxic and more digestible than what cavemen were eating!

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726 · March 10, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Great answer, Eugenia, but whether a paleo diet can be reduced to the phenomenon of inflammation, might depend on your particular interpretation of paleo, or your ideas about the causes of inflammation. Some diets that claim to be anti-inflammatory seem pretty neolithic and inflammation-provoking to me. From a quick google search for 'anti inflammatory diet', we learn that Andrew "Eat more whole grains" Weil wants us to ingest more canola oil and less saturated fat. WebMD does not disagree, and adds some red meat hate for good measure. dummies.com wants us to eat more peanuts and soy.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 4:12 PM

They'll down-vote it anyways

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Lol I up voted you earlier too. IMO vegans don't have the building blocks essential for proper brain function, so even if what you say makes perfect sense and is well rounded (like your answer), because they can't think straight they'll it anyways.

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM

They downvoted me, too, and I felt I gave a pretty even assessment (even praising her defining what a paleo diet would look like at the end). I gave you an upvote back. :-)

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 4:01 PM

... okay, if you downvote, at least explain *why*? I thought I gave a pretty fair, if short, critique here.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:57 PM

I've watched a lot of Ted talks, but this one starts off by saying she's going to debunk the paleo diet, but then she says eat locally, seasonally, less processed foods and more diversity. Not even anti meat. I just feel like she could've titled it 'Proving the paleo diet', given the almost exact same speech with the same slides and it wouldve been more convincing. So really I just don't think she understands what exactly the paleo diet is to most people. Many paleos have the ancestral diet approach which accounts for diversity and season.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM

You can get great stories like Terry Wahls, or stuff like Kruse...

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Local TED talks definitely don't have quality control as do the original TED series does.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Oh I'm sorry I must have offended the downvoting vegan troll who peruses these boards?

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:43 PM

I'd give durriander a 2.7 of sound argumentative abilities in his videos, I'd give ger a 3.4. To get a 10 you only have to make a sound argument whose sole premise isn't a falacy, in this case , a straw man falacy.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I don't think she understands what the paleo diet is either. Listening to her talk was like, okay cool, and you're going to debunk the paleo diet when exactly? Also, it's called agricultural revolution because 10k years ago is when we really started farming, did paleo man ever snack on some grass seeds? Possibly, but they weren't significant parts of our diet until more recently and she knows that.

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 1:24 PM

... oh, and don't even get me started about modern paleo-ers not eating organ meats and bones.

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

How about a species-specific diet?

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

I know, when she mentioned liver and bone broth (the whole animal) I wanted to ask her if she even opened the books she actually displayed on her Powerpoint.

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11682 · March 10, 2013 at 9:20 AM

I see. Well, I think it would have been best for the OP to have written the post a bit more clearly.

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Eugenia, he is not trolling, he is sharing. Great video (although very sad).

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16 Answers

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11682 · March 10, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Yes, I have, and I emailed her that she was playing with semantics. No one in his right mind among our group is claiming that our Paleo diet was THE Paleolithic diet. That was her sole argument, and that's not what Paleo is about, at all.

Paleo is simply a low-inflammation diet, using the Paleolithic principles as a blueprint, new research as a guide, and geared around realistic options today. For example, if we can't find an antelope, we buy beef. If we can't find wild greens, we buy broccoli -- as long as these are not inflammatory, based on research info. That's Paleo today, in the modern world. Nobody claimed around here that we're doing an exact Paleolithic diet. Her whole argument was semantics and driving the argument away from "what's best for us based on paleolithic info and modern nutrient research", and more towards "broccoli is new invention, you're not Paleo". Sure it is a new invention, but if it's more good for you than bad, then we'll eat it. Her misconceptions have no ending.

She even mentions that Paleolithic people were eating animals nose to tail. And what does she think that we do? True Paleo lifestylers (rather than the ones who join temporarily for the weight loss benefits), do eat nose to tail. And a lot of other things too.

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2626 · May 21, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Almost everyone I meet outside the paleo community still believes that Paleo is about re-enactment (either that, or it's a pseudoscientific offshoot of Atkins where people are looking for a better excuse to eat nothing but bacon). The way I try to explain it is that *thinking* about the paleolithic environment is valuable because it helps explain why food paradigms that have been universal and utterly accepted for thousands of years may still not be optimal.

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11682 · March 10, 2013 at 7:31 PM

For me, that's what it is, because I came to Paleo for its health benefits, not for its weight loss. The original goal of Paleo (before it exploded in popularity and marketing started), it was all about health, not necessarily weight loss.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I don't know Eugenia, is your interpretation of paleo (low-inflammation diet) anymore valid than hers (reenactment diet)? I'm not sure I'd sum up paleo as low-inflammation, simply.

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726 · March 10, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Great answer, Eugenia, but whether a paleo diet can be reduced to the phenomenon of inflammation, might depend on your particular interpretation of paleo, or your ideas about the causes of inflammation. Some diets that claim to be anti-inflammatory seem pretty neolithic and inflammation-provoking to me. From a quick google search for 'anti inflammatory diet', we learn that Andrew "Eat more whole grains" Weil wants us to ingest more canola oil and less saturated fat. WebMD does not disagree, and adds some red meat hate for good measure. dummies.com wants us to eat more peanuts and soy.

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 9:32 AM

I know, when she mentioned liver and bone broth (the whole animal) I wanted to ask her if she even opened the books she actually displayed on her Powerpoint.

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11682 · March 10, 2013 at 9:20 AM

I see. Well, I think it would have been best for the OP to have written the post a bit more clearly.

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Eugenia, he is not trolling, he is sharing. Great video (although very sad).

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Well, she knocked that straw-man right down. ;-)

First, "Mostly meat"? I don't know anyone following a non-low-carb paleo diet that doesn't eat mostly plants. She's debunking a version of the paleo diet that media or she made up.

Second, "paleolithic humans ate some grains and legumes" does not equal the US recommendations of 5-10 servings a day.

Third? Olive oil is not the only plant oil we can refine by pressing. There is of course coconut oil and even avocado oil, though rarer.

Fourth, modern broccoli and most brassica are one of the most common FODMAP rich foods. While we joke about broccoli being so good, but no one likes it, broccoli really hurts some people, just like milk and dairy can for some people.

Then she actually started to argue for a paleolithic inspired diet!

First, there is not one Paleo diet. No one in the paleo diet world is going to argue that -- they will agree!

Second, can we take lessons from Paleolithic? Yes --

1) Diversity of diet, and avoid processed foods and monoculture.

2) Eat fresh food and in-season foods, and don't eat preservatives as it hurts the gut microbiome.

3) Eat whole foods, don't eat for calories or macros. (The sugarcane v. soda example was great!)

Again, she is arguing for a modern paleo diet, not against it.

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2030 · March 10, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Ya, I agree she wasn't debunking the diet.

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 4:01 PM

... okay, if you downvote, at least explain *why*? I thought I gave a pretty fair, if short, critique here.

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 1:24 PM

... oh, and don't even get me started about modern paleo-ers not eating organ meats and bones.

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5201 · March 10, 2013 at 9:44 AM

It appeared to me that all of her anti-paleo arguments have been seen before and discussed in depth in this forum. I think very few people here are in to reenactment. However, all of her conclusions were sound: diets vary by region, foods today contain less diversity, whole foods in season are best, we eat too much sugar.

I didn't learn anything new here or find anything against this way of eating, except think that the term 'Paleo' is a really poor way to describe our diet. I rate this talk "meh."

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Neanderthals weren't our ancestors... Cro magnons were, if a Neanderthal had some grass seed in his tooth plaque 40k years ago that doesn't mean much of Anything whatsoever. The agricultural revolution was 10500 years ago, she admits to that, nobody. Is saying that we didn't ever before then have any grass seeds in out diet, that's a bogus argument.

The whole time she seems to be arguing against something, but it's not the paleo diet. If anything at the end I felt like a paleo/ancestral diet was supported by her talk. I feel like she titled it debunking the paleo diet just so she would be given a chance to speak. One of the less thought out Ted talks I've seen in my day, and I watch quite a lot of them. Guess they're just letting anyone talk now...

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1925 · March 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM

it's their survival instinct kicking in there guys. thought process = "don't know how to respond... panic... argh! Downvote, downvote, downvote..."

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 4:12 PM

They'll down-vote it anyways

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Lol I up voted you earlier too. IMO vegans don't have the building blocks essential for proper brain function, so even if what you say makes perfect sense and is well rounded (like your answer), because they can't think straight they'll it anyways.

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19120 · March 10, 2013 at 4:02 PM

They downvoted me, too, and I felt I gave a pretty even assessment (even praising her defining what a paleo diet would look like at the end). I gave you an upvote back. :-)

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:57 PM

I've watched a lot of Ted talks, but this one starts off by saying she's going to debunk the paleo diet, but then she says eat locally, seasonally, less processed foods and more diversity. Not even anti meat. I just feel like she could've titled it 'Proving the paleo diet', given the almost exact same speech with the same slides and it wouldve been more convincing. So really I just don't think she understands what exactly the paleo diet is to most people. Many paleos have the ancestral diet approach which accounts for diversity and season.

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM

You can get great stories like Terry Wahls, or stuff like Kruse...

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Local TED talks definitely don't have quality control as do the original TED series does.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Oh I'm sorry I must have offended the downvoting vegan troll who peruses these boards?

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 9:08 AM

I don't think this girl understands what Paleo is about. It is not about eating the same foods people used to eat during Paleolithic times. I wish we could eat those foods, but, clearly, we won't be able to.

Paleo is a species specific diet.

She claims people ate legumes and grains during Paleo times. I believe her. My questions is - how did they cook those grains? Most likely, they were sprouted / fermented.

I find her presentation misleading, to say the least. Paleo IS about eating seasonal foods. Paleo IS about eating local. Paleo IS about eating the whole animal - liver and bones and all. So much for what Paleo stands for.

However, and I give it to her, at least she did not order to kill 4,000 elephants.

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15400 · March 11, 2013 at 1:38 AM

Matt - high on estrogen today?

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15400 · March 11, 2013 at 1:34 AM

Too much testosterone, Matt?

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 6:24 PM

VB, I'm pretty sure you've simply lost it, darlin'.

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I don't think she understands what the paleo diet is either. Listening to her talk was like, okay cool, and you're going to debunk the paleo diet when exactly? Also, it's called agricultural revolution because 10k years ago is when we really started farming, did paleo man ever snack on some grass seeds? Possibly, but they weren't significant parts of our diet until more recently and she knows that.

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39841 · March 10, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Well, I mean...what she ultimately recommends is exactly what I would recommend: diverse diet consisting of whole foods where the full animal is eaten.

Aside from the issues already mentioned, I will say that the sugar cane example is a bit disingenuous since she surely knows full well that they consumed as much honey as they could get their hands on. Her 1-liter of soda example contains 108 grams of sugar, equivalent to 6.75 tablespoons of honey. Not something you get every day, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility. I don't know how much we've changed domestic bees' honey-producing capabilities, but I imagine that one wild hive could easily yield that.

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1436 · March 10, 2013 at 3:42 PM

I think it's spot on.

Yes, she focuses a on reenactment, but there are plenty of "paleo diet" practitioners who do the same so it is a fair criticism.

In her summary she provides 3 main lessons from the actual paleo diet: There is no one correct diet but dietary diversity is key, we need to eat fresh foods when possible, foods eaten should be whole foods. What's your argument with that?

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:28 PM

I've always been anti-reenactment paleo myself, for me, paleo is all about the biochemistry and evolutionary biology.

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170 · March 10, 2013 at 12:47 PM

That's a very narrow interpretation of the paleo diet that she is 'debunking' there. To me Paleo reflects exactly those conclusions she comes to at the end, i.e. eat whole foods, eat local, seasonal, and diverse foods. That includes animal products of all kinds, though certainly not in excessive quantities, I like to think of plant foods as the main ingredient in my meals. Smothering everything in butter to me seems as non-sensical as covering everything in sugar. So I would say she makes some common sense points but they seem to rely on her own strawman version of the Paleo diet. Nothing new here.

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10 · May 21, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Dr. Mark J Smith, who worked closely with Dr. Loren Cordain, created an in-depth rebuttal on Dr. Christina Warinner's presentation. He provided his professional view of the inaccuracies in the presentation and included his interview with Dr. Michael Richards, a world leading archeological scientist, about some of Dr. Warinner's claims made in the presentation.

CHRISTINA WARINNER???S ???DEBUNKING THE PALEO DIET???, OBSCURANTISM AT ITS VERY BEST.

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158 · April 04, 2013 at 3:15 AM

Those who listened to the end need a pat on the back. I am much more impatient these days and when something doesn't immediately do what it says on the label I move on.

Her argument was misplaced from the very beginning so I didn't need to hear the rest. Then I came here to see see how the discussion was evolving and to see if I needed to listen to the end. Cheers you lot.

However I do agree that the term "paleo" doesn't do justice to the beast that is paleo. But to those that will look below the surface it doesn't really matter anyway.

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26 · March 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM

With respect, the core rationale of the Paleo Diet is "The most healthy food for us is that which we have evolved to live on. We should eat what people ate in the Paleolithic era."

She has indeed debunked this claim, demonstrating (with brand new science) that Paleo Man ate cereals etc - thing which are known to be anti-nutritious.

I think the Paleo movement has outgrown its name and its original theory has been shown to be inaccurate, having assumed that the human species has evolved in such a way that the diet it has followed for most of its history is perfectly suited to its nutritional needs. It is more likely that we have evolved to be able to survive - not necessarily with ideal nutrition - on a number of varied food sources. As long as we survive to reproductive age, the species persists.

How about a new name and a new philosophy ? The Human Diet - a diet that takes all the nutritional information available and excludes things which are bad for us and includes those which are good, in doses and concentrations that we are evolutionarily adapted to.

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584 · March 10, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Outgrown the name is true. But we'd just outgrow another. I think it'd be better to just accept the name is just a googlable tag. So sorry for her profession that we're running away with a term that means something very specific to her, but it's ours now, we'll just have to think of it as a new homonym in the English language.

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15400 · March 10, 2013 at 1:11 PM

How about a species-specific diet?

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271 · March 10, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I actually really liked this talk. I feel she is not debunking a paleo lifestyle, only the notion that it's the same as what hunter gatherers ate many years ago. This is something I already realized, and just as me she doesn't seem to think this is an argument to not eat healthy (see the end of the talk).

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584 · March 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM

I see the good in it, too, it's just offensive when it's our name being painted on her strawman.

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10 · March 10, 2013 at 11:05 PM

I have to say that what she said doesn't conflict with my impression of a paleo diet. Even then, some proportions can come out. In calories alone, you can see which foods in a paleo centric diet brought the most calories. Today, you can tell which cause the highest spikes in blood sugars and inflammation.

I've never thought it was strictly about eating like a caveman, other than the marketing materials. If you look at even atkins for example, it's not all meat, it's also plant greens and fiber. I can't help but think a lot of the protest is more about going vegetarian than it vs a more balanced diet where roughly 1/3-1/2 your calories comes from animals (fish, game, and even farmed meat).

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1040 · March 10, 2013 at 9:16 PM

I don't like how she started the talk. It sounded more like she wanted to slam a 'fad diet'. But it had moments. I liked the old carrots vs new carrots. I did like the sugar cane vs mountain dew. 8.5 feet of sugar cane for a 34oz mountain dew. My jaw is tired just thinking about it.

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2030 · March 10, 2013 at 9:12 PM

A lot of what she said I agree with and I think her talk was a bit of a "lets not jump to conclusions" and I'm cool with that, the world is full of starch/grain/dairy eating populations that are perfectly healthy.

I don't think a meat heavy diet during the Paleolithic is out of the question though. Our guts and teeth are pretty small compared with other primates. Evidence of regular fire use we have to date puts it at 400-300k years ago, so there's the possibility that tubers were a more recent development. We suffered from anemia 1.5m years ago as well.

http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/anthropology/article00631.html

I'm not saying that a more plant centric diet isn't better for our health, I'm just sayin' I guess.

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289 · March 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM

it's funny how she talk about foods that changed over thousand of years. But she didn't talk about how grains have changed over that time as well. Would have found the talk way more insight full if she would have talk about that issue to. O well.....

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 6:26 PM

That rat/GMO/cancer study was so mismanaged and poorly designed you can't say anything about the results. But even considering non-GMO grains... our modern varieties today are more nutritious, more calories, more digistible...

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10994 · March 10, 2013 at 5:49 PM

@matt, lol? Like the gmos that cause cancer in rats?

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41422 · March 10, 2013 at 5:27 PM

I know, right, grains today are much less toxic and more digestible than what cavemen were eating!

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