Yet another person has written a poorly researched article against Paleo.
Kimberly Snyder’s article is entitled “The Ugly Truth About the Paleo Diet”.
She’s a celebrity nutritionist (that’s her in the pic) and has a lot of fans, and that’s why I’ve bothered writing up a retort to her post. It frustrates me to see so many people misinformed by authors they trust, as good as her intentions may have been.
Negativity in The Media
Her article, along with this video called “Does Science Back Up The Paleo Diet?” and this article called “Paleofantasy: Stone Age Delusions”, have left me flabbergasted by people’s unwillingness to do research before they write about a topic. Kimberly’s article was frustrating because it was so full of conventional “wisdom” that people refuse to let go of, despite the evidence and despite the rampant success of people living Primal/Paleo lifestyles.
She, as well as the authors of the other articles I mentioned, clearly got most of their information from Loren Cordain’s outdated book, The Paleo Diet, which was written in 2002. The tenets and philosophies of the Paleo and Primal diets have moved so far beyond his recommendations of tons of “lean” meat, very limited starchy veggies, very little fruit, and low saturated fat. Thanks to the work of people like Mark Sisson, Chris Kresser, Staffan Lindeberg, and many others, we understand now that our Paleo diets can be much more varied than what Cordain first suggested, and that many hunter gatherer people’s diets did not look quite like what he first described.
Please read her article, but if you don’t have time, here’s a summation.
Kimberly Snyder is a nutritionist, and has decided that Paleo is bad because of the following.
- It’s high in protein and protein causes health problems (here’s an old rebuttal of mine to that myth).
- All Paleo diets consist of mostly meat, and meat is bad for you (here’s an old rebuttal of mine to that myth).
- The China Study says protein is bad, so it is. (Read these in-depth analyses of how the China Study is a sham. The author of the China Study found that casein, a dairy protein, MIGHT contribute to cancer and then extrapolated that to all protein. Huh?).
- There’s no evidence to support Paleo (really? see below).
- Hunter gatherer people died young, so why would we want to emulate them?
- Grains have been found in the fossilized teeth of our ancestors, so we should continue to eat grains in large amounts.
Here is my response to her article.
This post was brought to my attention by one of your faithful readers, who was thoroughly disappointed by your “misinformed” article on Paleo. Could you please cite at least one piece of evidence for your claims?
There is actually plenty of published research pointing to Paleo’s efficacy in improving health. Here’s an article that contains 7 research papers on that topic. There are many more beyond those 7. I’d be happy to point you in their direction.
As for hunter gatherers’ lifespans being only 25-30 years, that is not actually an accurate assessment of how long people lived/live in those societies, as you admitted at the end of your article. Many children die due to complications at birth, as well as infectious diseases as toddlers. But many of those who live past the age of 15 live to be very old even by our standards (PDF). And none of the hunter gatherer societies ever studied have been found to commonly die of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or other diseases people die so commonly of today. I wrote an article on that here and the pdf cited above goes into it as well.
We have the best of both worlds in our present situation: we have medications to fight infectious diseases, and excellent medical practices to prevent deaths during childbirth and after injuries. AND we have the option of eating what these hunter gatherer societies are/were eating: veggies, tubers, fruits, properly raised meats, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, and some properly prepared grains for those who can tolerate them. Why not take advantage of the wisdom of our healthy ancestors (recent and ancient) while also taking advantage of our newfound medical advances? It’s a perfect environment for long, vibrant life.
Yes, there were definitely grains in people’s diets before the dawn of agriculture, but the point is that grains, sugar, and pasteurized dairy did not make up the majority of those healthier people’s diets, as they do ours now. And grains were processed properly, they were more varied, had less gluten in them, and were not made from GM crops, like they are now. A grain is not a grain is not a grain. You may think that everyone can tolerate gluten-free grains, and that they should be a part of everyone’s diet, but I, for one, can not tolerate any of them, and I talk to people every day who say the same. This is a real thing, and it’s unfair to dismiss people’s sensitivities to certain foods, whatever your opinion about those foods may be.
I think we can all agree that Paleo has a lot of desirable traits. It encourages people to eat real, whole foods that have as few toxins in and on them as possible. It discourages factory farming and GM consumption. It’s an easy way for people to decrease the amount of grains, sugar, and legumes they’re eating, all of which are commonly overeaten and contributing to obesity and diabetes.
There’s no one way of doing Paleo, as the hunter gatherer societies have shown: their diets were highly varied in macronutrient ratios as well as food sources, depending on where they lived. We all do it differently. I don’t eat just meat, and I don’t know any Paleo people who do. I eat all kinds of colorful, beautiful, well-raised foods, and my health is much better than it used to be pre-Paleo.
People eating Paleo/Primal are just trying to stay away from toxic foods. Isn’t that what you’re trying to do, too?
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