A recent, and now Closed question sought to ask why certain Paleo foods (such as bacon) are so cherished that they have the power to induce a reality distortion field when it comes to being critiqued for their health benefits.
This leads me to pose a broader and more pivotal question before the PH community:
Does it follow that a food should have a certain threshold of health benefits in order for it to be considered for inclusion in a paleo dietary template?
If so, what should such criteria include?
It may help to have a definition of what health and dietary health means:
Health, according to the WHO, is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity
Dietary health, according to wikipedia, is mediated by a balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, calories to support energy need and micro nutrients to meet the needs for human nutrition without inducing toxicity or excessive weight gain from consuming excessive amounts.
I guess it would help if you did name the foods you are referring to and the nature of your perceived reality distortion.
Many foods that are embraced in Paleo don't sit comfortably in Conventional Wisdom (CW), anything to do with saturated fat and relatively high levels of red meat for example and of course grains and beans get a terrible rap in Paleo where unrefined carbs are a cornerstone of CW.
Well, you believe what you believe and lots of people who actually try Paleo say they feel better. Now of course the Paleosphere is a dangerous place because presumably people who don't feel better or don't lose weight or aren't successful in their goals tend to slope off after a while rather than getting into a fight about it and so you have survivor bias in the story-telling.
If you mean by cherished foods things like coconut oil, well that's an interesting one. I live in the UK where coconut oil is hardly what any sort of ancestor of mine would have consumed. I can easily live without it. Even a small quantity of it makes my body sort of fizz. So I'm not attracted to it.
But lots of people who are involved in healthy eating choices feel they want to put good stuff in their bodies and coconut oil is perceived as good stuff. In the end eating Paleo is quite simple, some people like to complicate things. No harm in that if that's your thing.
bacon is as good as it gets, its fat its protein and if you make your own it is low in sodium, matter of fact im gonna go make some bacon right now
I take issue with your premise that foods by default are forbidden and need to be proven healthy. That's an orthorexic view of food. I take issue with the idea that food need be optimal to be consumed. That's an orthorexic view of food.
Orthorexic paleo is the worst variety - worse than even dogmatic paleo or hypochondriac paleo.
Okay, well in response to the title of your question, Paleo doesn't always equal healthy, clearly- but it does mean that, at worst, its not more than very slightly bad for you. Legumes and nuts are the most unhealthy that it gets, really, within the field of genuinely Paleo foods.
I dunno..... questions that invoke a "reality distortion field"....sound more like Star Trek than any sincere effort to discover some form of truth. As to your questions....
"The question of does it follow that a food should have a certain threshold of health benefits in order for it to be considered for inclusion in a paleo dietary template? If so, what should such criteria include?"
Well who determines if a food has the aforementioned health benefits to include it in "a" dietary templete? If you are looking to an authority figure then you would just pick your particular group of recognized professionals and follow their guidelines. If you think the paleohack community is hashing it out well enough, follow the views here. If, like me, you don't really like either of those two options then you will just have to sort it out for yourself. Read the science and come to your own conclusions. Why do you feel compelled to define a paleo template anyhow? Is it so you can say with authority "this is not paleo!" or "that is paleo!".
The theory of eating in a paleo manner is that we are adapted better to certain foods than others. I don't think every food has to have a definitive health benefit based ONLY on its nutritional breakdown. The evolutionary theory of eating tends to help to fill in the gaps between our currently incomplete/incompetent nutritional analysis model and what we hope to know in the future.
From the responses so far it appears a consensus definition of paleo continues to elude - this of course is nothing new, in this vibrant and opinionated community.
However, there were novel findings from the PH community based on some of the answers and comments for this question:
paleo does not necessarily mean healthy (but a consensus on what healthy means could not be reached either).
for some people paleo is a means of self-expression and individualism (explaining the emotive responses when paleo food icons are challenged).
there is a culture of anti-establishmentarianism and mistrust in accepted medical and scientific findings.
Given such strongly held views it's unsurprising that an evidence based methodology is not commonly adopted when evaluating health benefits.
No consensus could be reached at this time on what constitutes "healthy" in food, and on how paleo foods can be measured against a health scale.
No. I think the goal is to emulate ancestral patterns of diet and activity. While this does not exclude coconut oil, grains, chickens, cow meat and bacon; it puts a low limit on their consumption. Seafood, leafy greens, squash, root vegetables and eggs are essentially unlimited.
Nutritional thresholds (however defined) may be outside the realm of Paleo, even though many Paleos use them. Your dietary choices are arguably a mash-up of multiple philosophies. Some of these philosophies are Paleo--avoiding grains, eating more meats, etc. Others may come from separate diet families or from common sense. I would try to maximize my micronutrient intake no matter what diet I'm using. I think we, as a community, have a tendency to ascribe any healthy behavior to Paleo, when Paleo is really just a component of the gestalt.
Grok wouldn't have worried about the ANDI of his lamb shank.
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