I was first introduced to the Paleo lifestyle by John Durant, www.hunter-gatherer.com, through an interview on the Colbert Report. It was very interesting to me, seemed difficult, but ultimately made sense. I stashed that knowledge away until last week, when I bought and read The Paleo Diet (revised edition) by Dr. Cordain. I read it within hours of getting my hands on it and am now reading The Paleo Diet for Athletes (though I don't currently do competition sports, I am working out 6-8 hours/week).
I've been reading quite a bit from several websites on Paleo/Primal nutrition but have yet to have it explained in basic terms, not just how they are different, but why?
Long story short, it seems, is that Primal allows for more saturated (animal) fat than Paleo. Cordain relaxes his stance on saturated fats in the revised edition, however his reasoning that our ancestors ate wild animals who were nothing like the domesticated, fat, grain-fed animals of today is something that makes sense to me.
Dairy is the other question -- Cordain argues that no wild animal could be milked in the hunter-gatherer days, and that it isn't part of the natural human diet. That said I'd like to believe that there are pros and/or cons to "doing dairy" though maybe this all goes back to the saturated fat argument? Cheese is delicious but clearly processed, and from my reading thus far (Cordain's book), it seems that anything processed=not natural=should not be eaten. That and humans are the only animal that eat dairy post-infant.
There also seems to be a difference in starchy plants (Tubers, Fruits, Roots) though I'm not sure why.
Here's a chart I found that explains the main differences: http://huntgatherlove.com/content/paleo-vs-primal-vs-atkins
I'm just looking to clear some of this up so i can make some sense of it. Part of me wants to kick dairy entirely, but the protein, cost, and convenience of things like cottage cheese is enough to at least make me ask why and/or how bad for one it might be.
Rather than focusing exclusively on what our ancestors ate or what extant HGs eat today, we should use it as a starting point and then flesh out the details based on whether something that wasn't available is nutritious and non-toxic and whether we as individuals are able to consume it without digestive upset etc. It helps to not simplify things into dietary monoliths such as Dairy, since the type of processing/fermentation can drastically change the composition of a particular food. For example, on the road from milk to hard cheese, the lactose content decreases down to almost nothing and is thus increasingly digestible, though some may have problems even with aged cheese. Let personal negative experience trump the anecdotes from others.
As far as tubers go, we have millions of years of history consuming tubers and the burden of proof is definitely on anyone claiming that we are not designed to consume them. If your goal is to lose fat or maintain your current fat stores, it's important that starch intake not exceed how much glucose you can store in liver and muscle glycogen. If you are depleting your glycogen stores heavily every day, then you can eat a lot of tubers and not gain any fat. If you are largely sedentary, then it doesn't take much to increase adiposity. I favor tuber consumption that changes widely from day to day depending on my level of activity and the type of activity I engage in. For resistance training and hiking up steep grades, I eat a lot of potato. For days when I just walk around, I eat none. Keep in mind that your brain and organs are tapping into liver glycogen on sedentary days as well.
I think of there being a dietary spectrum from what was actually eaten day to day by an anatomically modern human before agriculture all the way to the guy who eats only cheetos and Mt. Dew. The closer your point is plotted to the former rather than the latter, the better, but it's not clear that being all the way to the former is either personally sustainable or even optimal for health.
Cordain's reason to avoid fat on meat is because he just assumes that people will buy their meat from the supermarket which is usually grain fed. It's strange how he's so evasive on this; Jimmy Moore, in his podcast this week, challenged Cordain about this and Cordain neatly sidestepped the issue. Cordain may not be a lipophobe, but he sure is frightened by them. Anyway, the best I've been able to figure out from previous discussions on this is: if it's grain fed, cut the fat and get some extra omega 3 from somewhere (probably fish). If it's grass fed, eat the fat to your heart's content.
As for the starch, there are two paleo diets. One for healthy people wanting to stay that way, the other for obese/insulin resistant/metabolically deranged people. One group can eat starch without too many problems, the other better stay away from it.
ADDITION: Remember, too, that if you avoid Harris' three "Neolithic agents of disease" (gluten, excess fructose, excess linoleic acid), then you are most of the way there. Everything is toxic to some degree: that's why we have digestive systems in the first place. One day we may evolve to absorb nutrients by osmosis, but we're not there yet. So follow De Vany's advice and eat a range of foods, diversifying your toxins. So don't sweat the small stuff. Remember, we're not shooting for immortality here.
I would argue that PaNu is the most progressive/enlightened version of “Paleo” at the moment and that should be the starting point and baseline before trying to compare different rationalizations.
I would also argue that the inclusion of Atkins in the comparison is kind of pointless. Many people came to paleo via low-carbing and it has been hard to shake that culture, but low-carbing has nothing to do with true paleo.
The more progressive people talk about a preferred minimum amount of carbs (20% of calories or 100-150g per day) but there is nothing wrong with eating more (unless you are diabetic or pre-diabetic)
The reason for avoiding dairy shouldn't be because it's not paleo....but because it contains the addicting casomorphins(in casein) which is risky to eat. It's been linked to autoimmune disorders which can possibly cause many different conditions such as autism, depression, irritability/"fussyness", low energy, ADD, brain fog ect.
Even small amounts of casein can cause mild, moderate or severe conditions! Sure everyone reacts different and some people "seem" to do fine, but what about the silent damage?
Casein is similar to the addicting opiod chemical Gliadorphin which is found in gluten containing grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.
It's best to just avoid it IMO, get your saturated fats and protein elsewhere like cavemen did. Cow's milk is for cows. Goat's milk is for goats. Human milk is for human babies. All contain casein for a reason, to calm the baby and stop him/her from crawling away into danger. To shut the baby up too.
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