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Should paleo diet composition be age or gender related?

by (3428) Updated March 07, 2011 at 4:03 AM Created March 07, 2011 at 1:28 AM

I wonder if the nutritional needs of a teenage paleo follower might differ from the ones of a thirty year old who is perhaps, trying to achieve optimal athletic performance, or whether the requirements of both of them may not be different from the ones of a seventy year old person. Different ages will often imply different requirements (even if the people has no specific needs related to a health problem) so perhaps the recommended inputs of carbs, proteins, fats and other nutrients might change across the population ages. I wonder if the same applies to men-women differences. What do you think?

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25197 · March 07, 2011 at 3:28 AM

The short answer from me is yes. All foods cause hormonal changes in our body and can effect gene transcription. Men and women handle foods differently and the diseases they get have commonalities but there are striking differences as well. My belief is it all based upon the difference in how we partion energy hormonally and it starts with leptin. Women genetically have higher levels of leptin for child bearing and where they store it and and the type of fat in their buttock and hips differs dramatically from men. Moreover, that is the reason why our hip to waist ratio's differ dramatically and why men are drawn to female with 0.7 H/W ration regardless of era. Infact that vision is enough to raise a man's testosterone level. It is inborn to our genetics because evolution has told men that women with 0.7 H/W ratio have higher DHA and EPA and make babies with big and better brains.

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3576 · March 07, 2011 at 1:51 AM

It makes sense that people in different life situations are going to have different nutritional needs, but the understanding of this on the research level really is in its infancy, as far as I can tell, and of course "Paleo" cultures didn't sit around trying to figure out the RDI for micronutrients for every age group in their tribe. I think that when they figured out what foods worked best for them, they somehow hit upon dietary habits that had a large margin for error. Not on purpose, mind you, as they weren't technologically equipped to figure out what they were doing on a micronutrient level, but in practice since malnutrition must have been the exception rather than the rule, otherwise none of us would be here now.

In practice that probably means that most of the time they got way more nutrients than they actually needed, giving them that margin of error. Clearly, getting "just enough" would mean they'd have to constantly reassess their intake, an activity for which they were not technologically equipped. "Not enough" would have meant death eventually, and gradual deterioration of physical development through the generations. (You know, kind of like we are seeing in industrial culture now.) So the other option was "way more than enough." Lots of wiggle room.

And that's one of many, many reasons you don't find indigenous vegan people. (I don't consider long-term traditional cultures based on the teachings of a holy book to be "indigenous," strictly speaking, anymore. So Jains are right out.) The sheer amount of food you would have to prepare and eat throughout the day to get more than enough nutrition would just be ridiculous. Animal foods are the ultimate shortcut to good nutrition, and our indigenous ancestors chose accordingly--going by results, of course, not by laboratory tests.

In the end results were all they had to go by. Go thou and do likewise. If your teeth are in good shape, and I mean just about no decay whatsoever, and your labs look OK and you feel good and you have what you gauge to be a normal amount of energy, sex drive, mental function, etc., you're probably eating OK.

If you've recently transitioned over to Paleo from SAD, mind you, you may have some trouble sussing out what "feeling good" feels like. Give it time. If you eat clean for long enough you'll figure out what "feeling bad" feels like if you veer off course later, and that'll give you a better frame of reference.

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