I have just listened to a lecture by Dr. Daphne Miller and now I am starting to doubt Paleo. No, not the whole foods approach. I do not doubt that it is healthy. I doubt the fact that Paleo diet is healthier than other diets. Of course, it is a healthier alternative to SAD, but it is still far from being perfect.
Why? Because Paleo's approach to food is too narrow. Dr. Miller pointed out that there are many components of traditional diets:
She views "diet" as a holistic term that is a part of culture rather than a list of foods that you need to eat and the way to choose them.
Also, after listening to her lecture, I have finally understood the answer to my questions (that Paleohackers were not able to answer) - why Japanese, Italian and French used to be healthy (before McDonalds and Dunkin Donats arrived) despite all the carbs in their diets.
Here is the link if you are interested:
My a-ha moment happened around 1:15.
I also am skeptical about the Paleo gurus now. If there are so many healthy ways to eat, why demonize some foods? All those so-called Paleo gurus - I am sure that they believe in what they preach - but... they are making money out of it too. Is it a new cash cow now? And to claim that Paleo is the ONLY healthy diet is (to say the least) misleading.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against Paleo. I just don't think this is the only way to be healthy. I know I am going to get a lot of heat for this question. But I really do not care. I am not here for the money. I am just searching for answers.
In case if my question is not obvious:
Am I the only one who thinks that traditional diets (the way people used to eat before the food industry was developed) are way healthier and tastier than Paleo?
So basically you need to figure out where your genetic ancestry lies and go live there and eat the foods they ate before modern foods were introduced. You do understand you can't just apply those principles to where you live and the foods available there now and poof bingo create the perfect diet right? The whole point of her talk is that people adapted to what they had available and the climate and terrain they lived in to create a food culture that kept them as healthy as possible. No such thing exists here in America for a transplanted European, Asian or African. It's lovely anthropology but you can't convert it to a modern diet.
First off, I'm a huge fan of 'traditional' diets. Sally Fallon's 'Nourishing Traditions' has pride of place on my bookshelf. I believe you can draw on both Paleo and 'traditional' sources to create a 'tasty' and 'healthy' diet, and kudos to you for investigating traditional foods.
I think you're trying to say that diet is so much more than food (and that Paleo can be a bit of a 'clinical' approach to food, right?). However, I think your question, as it stands, is impossible to answer for various reasons (so what follows are my ramblings on the subject, rather than a proper answer - apologies!).
Disclaimer: I'm using a work computer so sadly haven't been able to watch the video you linked to.
First off, the two things you're comparing are hopelessly broad and poorly defined. It's already been pointed out that 'Paleo' encompasses a huge range of diets and ideas (Cordain, Jaminet, Weston A. Price to name but a few). Similarly, there's a huge range of diets and foods out there which might be described as 'traditional' (Weston A. Price -again!, anything from the tropics to the Swiss Alps and many things in between). How do you even begin to compare these?
Secondly, you're setting up a false dichotomy between 'traditional' and 'Paleo'. There's a huge overlap between the two (Weston A. Price anyone?) and don't think it does any good to try to pit the two against each other. Paleo draws upon many aspects of traditional diets to find a way of eating that is healthy and also compatible with everyday modern life. It is a modern reinterpretation of what our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten.
However, I also believe that the same is true of the 'traditional' diet movement. The social structures and even some of the technologies, crops and foodstuffs which supported traditional diets even a few decades ago are largely gone due to the forces of technology, globalisation and social change. In most places, attempting to eat a 'traditional' diet in a modern setting is as much an act of reconstruction and re-imagining as eating a 'Paleo' diet.
Also, it's worth bearing in mind that although 'traditional' diets are a million times better than the diets spawned by modern industry and agriculture, in many cases they were not as nourishing as the hunter-gatherer diets which preceded them. Yes, these diets can be healthy, but they're not a panacea (promoters of traditional diets can be just as guilty of this as Paleo supporters).
For example, evidence from skeletal remains shows that humans eating a true Paleolithic diet were better nourished than those who came afterwards and ate what you might describe as a 'traditional' diet. This is evidenced by their being taller than their Neolithic descendents. Even after millenia of traditional diets, neolithic humans didn't catch up to their Paleolithic ancestors until the 20th Century:
The ancestors of modern Europeans arrived in Europe at least 40,000 years before present. Pre-glacial maximum Upper Palaeolithic males (before 16,000 BC) were tall and slim (mean height 179 cm, estimated average body weight 67 kg), while the females were comparably small and robust (mean height 158 cm, estimated average body weight 54 kg). Late Upper Palaeolithic males (8000-6600 BC) were of medium stature and robusticity (mean height 166 cm, estimated average body weight 62 kg). Stature further decreased to below 165 cm with estimated average body weight of 64 kg in Neolithic males of the Linear Band Pottery Culture, and to 150 cm with estimated average body weight of 49 kg in Neolithic females. The body stature of European males remained within the range of 165 to 170 cm up to the end of the 19th century. Hormones (Athens). 2003 Jul-Sep;2(3):175-8.
Also, traditional agricultural diets promoted the spread of infectious diseases, as noted by this article in Nature:
The mystery of the origins of many [infectious] diseases has been solved by molecular biological studies of recent decades, demonstrating that they evolved from similar epidemic diseases of our herd domestic animals with which we began to come into close contact 10,000 years ago. Thus, the evolution of these diseases depended on two separate roles of domestication: in creating much denser human populations, and in permitting much more frequent transmission of animal diseases from our domesticates than from hunted wild animals. Nature, 418, 700-707 (8 August 2002)
The switch to traditional agricultral diets also had a negative impact on dental health:
(a)dental caries are much more frequent and severe in agricultural than in non-agricultural groups (Leigh 1925; Steggerda and Hill 1936; Gersohn 1947; Clement 1958; Swanson 1976); (b) caries increase in frequency from lowest among hunting peoples, to intermediate among gathering/collecting and hunting to highest among agriculturalists - fairly proportional to amounts of carbohydrate utilisation (Driak 1950; Klatsky and Klatell 1943); (c) experimental studies show caries to be strongly associated with sticky foodstuffs, especially laboratory preparations rich in cornmeal (Carr 19540; (d) studies of American Indians and Aleut-Eskimos consistently show caries to be common when agricultural products are a major nutritional resource (Leigh 1928; Rosebury and Waugh 1939; Waugh and Waugh 1940; Mayhall 1970). American Antiquity 43 4, 1978
Plus, there are many people with pre-existing health problems (myself included) who struggle even with Paleo (and traditional diets). There's no one perfect diet for everyone.
As to the 'way tastier' part - I'll leave that up to you to decide!
To sum up, I would say eat a diet based on whole foods according to what makes you most healthy and don't get to hung up on definitions and labels ('Paleo', 'traditional', whatever).
Paleo and traditional diets have so much in common and are so much healthier than most other modern diets. We should be challening SAD and the conventional dietary wisdom, not having 'angels on a pinhead' arguments about which is marginally better for health.
Good health to you - whatever you end up eating!
It seems that your grudge is with the types that are making money from paleo. Is this statement not a bit ironic when comparing it against "the way people used to eat before the FOOD INDU$TRY was DEVELOPED"
I agree with you. For me, paleo is to eat unprocessed food, no refined oils, no junk food, no flour and sugar. currently i don't consume grains and legumes, but i eat pretty high carb diet from white rice and starchy vegetable and eat good fats (milk fat, olive oil) and moderate amount of animal product (meat, egg, milk) . i think traditional diet are great, and modern diets/foods are bad for us.
Paleo diet's value is based on scientific evidence. As you mentioned there are other healthy diets, in particular some of the traditional diets. We will need many years of data on humans following paleo, and a clear definition of what is paleo diet, in order to sort out whether or not it is better or worse than say traditional Mediterranean or Japanese diets. In the meantime, researchers can gather scientific evidence...We discussed something similar a while ago: http://paleohacks.com/questions/16264/paleo-diet-masai-diet-cretan-and-okinawa-diets#axzz2ABR0mtS0
The Italian, French and Spanish are genetically similar group which is typically thinner during youth, but, when overconsuming grain, BALLOONS once over 40 (unless they periodically "diet"). This is something I've witnessed first-hand and you would see too, if you went to these countries: skinny teens, fat over-40s. Asian cultures eat a lot more vegetables, drink more fluid and (rice being a "safe" grain) this works well for them. When you take a Japanese family and swap rice for pasta, they get bigger too!
I also sometimes doubt the paleo diet as the one perfect diet. For me, it's a starting point, a template to start with, before customizing around each individual's body and ancestry.
I am not in it to lose weight, I'm just looking for a healthy mind and body.
It sounds as if your definition of "Paleo" might be a little narrow ... everything from Cordain's Paleo Diet to Sisson's Primal Solution to Jaminets' Perfect Health Diet to Nate Miyaki's Samurai Diet to Weston A. Price's Ancestral Health falls under the "Paleo" umbrella ...
The lesson is "What can we learn from our ancestors?" What do the Inuit and Kitavans have in common? What traits do the Masai and pre-agricultural societies share?
The strictest you could get would be:
1. Eat Real Food
2. Avoid Processed Crap
If you need more definition to your life:
3. Sleep More
4. Don't Stress
I like the points you've made VB.
'Paleo' for me can be very reductionist in terms of prescrbing food/(supplements!) as a cure all. There is some focus on sleep issues etc but many seem to prosecute an exlcusionary eating pattern. I'd be interested as to know how many of the people with binging issues on here had them pre- 'paleo'- I'm not saying 'paleo' is a cause but the retriction that's a big part of it can have a negative/excarbating effect for many.
More broadly, and fundamentally to the focus of the question (sorry for the tangetential first paragraph...) what've you written for me accords with what I've been thinking about how nebulous 'paleo' is. If it is not re-enacting the practices of ancesotrs through diet and more, then what is its defining factor? At the moment paleo seems to be an empty signifier that amounts to an ideology and source of identity expression, of which the boundaries are so blurred that the the 'paleo diet' seems to bevery similar to approaches to life like that which you posted in the question...
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