As paleo people, probably, Art de Vany is the best yardstick to use, to say "look, this guy looks like this at 71, he eats like I do" (more or less). When I persisted with encouraging a friend to convert to paleo, she asked if I'd actually looked into non-paleo followers that looked as good at the same age. I hadn't really. Unfortunately the best example is my very own dad, she pointed out, who she says looks better than de Vany at 2 years younger.
But real answers, Clarence Bass is a good example.
From the vegan corner we have Mimi Kirk
Spencer Churchill? No idea what eats
Who else looks good in old age, regardless of diet?
Steve Holt is in picture one. He's 52 (so not that old, really) and has been vegetarian for 25 years, lifting weights naturally for the past 15 years. Susan Sarandon is in picture 2. She eats a balanced omnivorous diet and is 63 years old. Helen Mirren is in picture 3. She is 65, and eats an omniverous diet and tries not worry about specifics, and also includes Wii Fit in her exercise regimen.
A vegan ate a vegan diet for fifty years or more? I rather doubt it. It amazes me how many of these vegans only last a decade or two and were healthy when they began, else they could not have maintained it that long. So no, I'm not going to judge the healthfulness of a vegan diet by whether an elderly person is eating it. For all I know they adopted the diet five or ten years ago, hardly time for it to have affected how they've aged.
Sorry, but we're not five or six different species and I don't believe we all need such radically different diets. There is a wide range of what we can tolerate and there are slightly different dietary approaches depending on one's health status. But we are not a single species comprised of both insectivores-turned-nonobligate-carnivores and herbivores. It doesn't work that way.
Let 'em do what they like but I hardly feel the need to emulate them if I know the diet's wrong, on its face, for my physiology.
Not that I think there is any such thing as a THE Paleo Diet either. There are lots and lots of ways to be Paleo. Mind you, all of them involve animals in the diet. No way around it.
(edit) Actually, I tell you what, the way people change their dietary habits these days, sometimes every ten years or so, I wouldn't look to any elderly modern people to say this diet or that diet is the best. I would rather look to the indigenous with little to no industrial food in their diets because they have much more consistent dietary patterns. Look at some of the African tribes who haven't modernized yet, for instance. They might be wrinkly in the face from sun exposure but they're also wiry and strong. Look at how they've eaten. That's more what I would follow, at least in approximation of macronutrient intake and food types (ruminant, leafy vegetable, etc.).
I think looking at the extremes is totally pointless. Outliers are outliers. There are people who will look fantastic in old age regardless of what they eat or how they live. It is like saying, gee, what do I have to do to be as good at basketball as Kobe Bryant or Lebron James? You just can't. I mean that is an extreme example, but picking Devany and say Steve Holt above (who has a ridiculous body fat % for any age) is sort of the same thing.
How about we just compare the mean Paleo person to the mean SAD person at say age 50 or 60? That isn't terribly scientific since neither group has had a controlled diet, but, that said, on average, we know that the average American at age 50+ is obese, with various metabolic disorders, with various stages of heart disease and various stages of kidney, liver and other other assorted organ damage. They probably have a torn up, leaky gut, some autoimmune stuff going on, some degree of arthritic conditions setting in...basically a mess. But there are probably 300 million Americans on non-Paleo diets vs maybe (?) a million-ish Paleo folks. So among those 300 million, you're going to find 1% or 5% that are miraculously unscathed by their diets. Genetic variation is a beautiful thing.
So if someone can actually compile some sort of study on stats of Paleo dieters (say anyone who has kept to an agreed upon Paleo diet for say 75%+ of their calories for say >12 months) and then compare BMI (flawed though it is), blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids, and various other metrics, my guess is that the mean of the Paleo group will be better in each category than the SAD group. But genetics are still important. Bad genes and immaculate diet and you can still be a wreck at 50.
Room full of outliers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5om6gbDwA8&NR=1&feature=fvwp
I don't think Art de Vany looks good for 71 at all. I know lots of guys that age who look better eating anything at all. Is it 'cos A d V does TOO MUCH exercise for his age??!!
BUT - I still think paleo is the diet we are designed for.
Another vegetarian turned raw vegan, Annette Larkins, looks incredible. She has been vegetarian since the sixties and raw vegan for 27 years.
here is a video of mimi kirk (who says she doesn't exercise).
I'm not convinced that raw vegan is the way to go by looking at two raw vegan cougars, but it my mind seems to be adding this anecdotal evidence to my pro-organic argument.
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