We were unable to load Disqus. If you are a moderator please see our troubleshooting guide.
Anyone who believes that our paleolithic ancestors ate mostly meat needs to do some studying. Meat is hard to catch and put into edible form, whereas plants are (were) available for the taking. They did far more gathering than hunting. Women did the gathering, men did the hunting. There is your bias.
I agree. I read the article called "Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians". I liked most of it, but find it a bit strange that the small amounts of meat caught so often is referred to as a "treat". Isn't this also some kind of a bias, I wonder? Considering how bad raw meat must taste compared to fruit and other plants it seems to me those occurences would have more to do with a necessity like during starvation, or possibly some social behavior of showing strengt and prowess.
True story. So I was at a business lunch when one of my clients sitting next to me took a look at my plate and said "Oh you must be a vegetarian." I said yes and we engaged in a short dialogue about eating healthy.
Then she goes on to tell me that she has always been healthy but after having a baby she wanted to get her healthy body back so she went on the Paleo diet. At her yearly checkup, she was surprised to learn that she all of a sudden had high cholesterol. In my mind I was saying, "Well of course you do!!" After reading Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman, and Dr. Greger, it is so obvious that eating a ton of meat is going to make your cholesterol jump and set her up to have other negative health outcomes.
I couldn't really cross the social norms that day, but I wanted to educate her so badly... especially since her ideas of health were dripping with irony- just like her lunch plate was dripping with animal fat!
Nigel: People who understand healthy eating have to bite their tongues so much, it is a wonder that we don't have an epidemic of otherwise healthy people experiencing severe "tongue holes". Serious problem as I understand it. ;-)
Can you please share any science that supports the idea that cholesterol is bad for you? It's widely accepted now that myth and the link between cholesterol and heart disease or other heart/ blood related issues are due to cholesterol. Without that, your point is just dripping with silly and factually inaccurate conventional wisdom
Bryan: First, I was hardly making grand points. I was commiserating with Nigel. It's odd that you felt a need to address your comment to me.
Second, to address your point: I'm quite comfortable that I have seen a ton of credible science that supports the link between added dietary cholesterol and heart disease. There's so much easily found support/science for this understanding, that I can only conclude that you consider the information a myth because you have decided to dismiss the science. I can't imagine that it would matter what I tried to present to you.
In other words, there isn't any more I can say to you than I could say to a climate-change denier or a person who thinks that American President Obama was born in Kenya. At some point, it's just not worth having that conversation. You can believe whatever you want to believe. Heck, you can find studies that show that smoking does *not* cause cancer. If that's what someone wants to believe, there's nothing I can do about it.
I'm sure you have heard stories like this: So and so who lived in so and so, smoked a pack of cigarettes every day until he died healthy at 100! I'm sure that some of those stories are even true. In that spirit, I wish you a long healthy life and fantastic luck with your diet.
Where's the evidence that cholesterol-containing foods can reverse heart disease? Disease-reversal has occurred when patients have followed a low-fat, plant-based diet (as per the works of Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish). These diets contained miniscule amounts of cholesterol.
I would like to see a study where patients have reversed arterial blockages by pursuing a high-cholesterol diet. Where is that study?
Here's a little mini-review to get you started. In addition to the studies outlined there, there are more studies published since concerned with cardiovascular risk factors, and there are also more documenting improvements in fasting glucose, insulin response, acne, gut flora, etc. It is, of course, underresearched compared to conventional highcarb/lowfat or highfat/lowcarb. Hopefully more studies are in the work.
And of course there are many studies of Paleolithic and older diets, which suggest that most humans were not in fact vegetarians and the increase of meat in our diet was very important in our divergence from other hominid and monkey species. Scientific American is infotainment.
Janet, the Jonsson Paleo/T2DM study was very small (13 people), and there was no indication that any of the Paleo/T2DM patients on oral medication were able to discontinue their medications. Dr. Neil Barnard and Dr. John McDougall, et al, have accomplished reversal of T2DM with a low-fat plant-based diet. Their patients were able to discontinue all oral medications.
Heart disease being our number one killer, I would still like to find a study where reversal of atherosclerotic plaques has occured as a result of consuming a Paleo-type diet. This reversal has taken place because of a low-fat, plant-based diet.
There are many "ancient" cultures that have thrived on a whole-foods, predominantly plant-based diet (Abkasians, Vilcabamba, Hunza, Papua Highlanders, and the Tarahumara). These societies suffer vary rarely from the lifestyle diseases that plague most North Americans.
About sugar: http://www.plosone.org/arti...
Thanks for your reply, but what point are you trying to make?
I watched the Doc Oz episode you linked to with the two gents promoting their book, but most of us already know that cholesterol is essential. Our liver makes all we need, and there is no need to supplement with dietary-based sources.
I still would really like to see a study where a high dietary intake of cholesterol is shown to reverse heart disease.
I'm sorry, was having a bad day and didn't really think it through enough.
Yeah I would like to see a lot of well-done studies that probably never will get the fundings needed or be deemed not good enough, the ones done always fails (in my eyes) on some small parameters making them less useful in trying to prove anything.. =/
Found a really nice experiment today. What do you think about it?http://live.smashthefat.com...
Looks interesting. 40% protein seems way too high though—poor kidneys. Hope there is a before-and-after comparison of all the blood work.
Ye that was my first thoughts as well. I know muscle builders often recommend around 2g protein/kg but as you say 40% is way over that line, more like 4g/kg for this guy and I wouldn't eat it for longer periods of time. I hope that as well, it's a isolated case but one I hope to see some buzz around =)
I'd like to share a few scholarly articles on paleonutrition at odds with fad "paleo diet" advocates. Some hypotheses of the past, like Raymond Dart's idea from the 1950s that hunting and high meat diets made us human, have been challenged by newer data.
The tubers, bulbs, corms and rhizomes of plants, collectively known as underground storage organs (USOs), provide the most abundant and dependable source of food in the dry, seasonal savanna environment of our hominin ancestors, and remain important foodstuffs for modern hunter gatherers like the Hazda and Australian aborigines. Even our chimpanzee cousins make use of them:Hernandez-Aguilar et al. "Savanna chimpanzees use tools to harvest the underground storage organs of plants." PNAS (2007)
Putative hominin adaptations to eating USOs as seasonal fallback foods stretch back 4+ million years, and australopithecine fossils are commonly co-associated with those of mole rats, which eat little else:Laden & Wrangham. "The rise of the hominids as an adaptive shift in fallback foods: plant underground storage organs (USOs) and australopith origins." J Hum Evol (2005)
The selective uptake of trace minerals by plants leaves dietary clues in the bone and tooth enamel of their consumers. The high Sr/Ca and low Ba/Ca ratios in hominin tooth enamel resembles those seen in mole rat enamel from the same fossil assemblages, and differs markedly from ratios seen in carnivores, insectivores, or browsing/grazing herbivores.Sponheimer et al. "Sr/Ca and early hominin diets revisited: new data from modern and fossil tooth enamel." J Hum Evol (2005)
That study provoked another group to investigate stable isotope markers in fossil mole rats, which found them consistent with australopithicines. Hominin isotope markers indicative of a 30% C4 (tropical grass and grazing herbivore) diet had been a conundrum in paleoanthropology, as early hominins likely lacked effective hunting techniques. If mole rats achieve similar isotope levels eating abundant USOs from CAM plants, perhaps our ancestors did as well. Yeakel et al. "The isotopic ecology of African mole rats informs hypotheses on the evolution of human diet." Proc R Soc Lond [Biol] (2007)
Microscopic wear on some of the earliest stone tools are consistent with use to cut tubers and craft digging sticks.Gibbons "Of tools and tubers." Science (2009) (paywall, sorry)
Climate change isn't new, and distant glaciations brought dryer, more seasonal weather to our African cradle 1.9 million years ago, coincident with the emergence of Homo erectus. The leap to erectus brought markedly larger brains, larger bodies (especially for females), and a range that extended from South Africa to Spain and from Indonesia to China, but no further north than plants with USOs are found.
The grandmothering hypothesis posits that amidst climate change, increased digging for USOs, especially by post-menopausal foragers, had far-reaching consequences for our life-histories, brain-size, and social structures. A welcome antidote to the chest-beating of would be Groks.Hawkes & O’Connell. "Grandmothering and the evolution of Homo erectus." J Hum Evol (1999)
Archaeological evidence for controlled fire from the early Pleistocene is sparse (though see this story), but cooking could account for many of the changes seen with Homo erectus, not least by dramatically increasing the digestibility of USOs.Wrangham et al. "The raw and the stolen: Cooking and the ecology of human origins." Curr Anthropol (1999)
Whether our ancestors survived through grandmothers foraging for USOs, or roasting USOs around campfires, or something else, all modern human populations, even those that have adhered to carnivorous diets since the late Pleistocene, carry genetic evidence of ancestral starch dependence:Perry et al. "Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation." Nat Genet (2007)
Once we get to the last 50,000 years, we can start looking at starch grains preserved in dental calculus:Henry et al. "Microfossils in calculus demonstrate consumption of plants and cooked foods in Neanderthal diets (Shanidar III, Iraq; Spy I and II, Belgium)." PNAS (2011)
This most recent dental calculus report is remarkable for using TC-GC-MS and Py-GC-MS to identify food chemical markers. The five 50,000 year old Neanderthals examined all ate a variety of starches, both tuber and grain, several inhaled wood smoke, one possibly ingested green vegetables, medicinal yarrow and camomile, and no protein or lipid markers indicative of meat ingestion were found.Hardy et al. "Neanderthal medics? Evidence for food, cooking, and medicinal plants entrapped in dental calculus." Naturwissenschaften (2012)
Starch grains show up on some very old kitchen implements as well:Revedin et al. "Thirty thousand-year-old evidence of plant food processing." PNAS (2010)
Modern humans emerged from Africa a short 100k years ago, with the majority living in productive environments. Some groups were forced into marginal habitats like the arctic tundra, lacking wild USOs and grains, and necessitating a meat heavy diet. These diets say little about our more numerous ancestors in more temperate zones, and health benefits attributed to carnivorous diets appear to rely on flawed data:Bjerregaard et al. "Low incidence of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit—what is the evidence?." Atherosclerosis (2003)
A picture of our lineage emerges, very different from spear wielding Grok. After tens of millions of years as mostly herbivorous primates, australopithecines relied on starchy bulbs, corms and tubers as fallback foods for several million years, and for the several million years of our genus Homo, USOs have been dietary mainstays, fueling our larger brains and bodies, as well as permitting the greater population densities that rewarded social intelligence.
These ancestors may have preferred fruit, seeds and meat, but fruits and seeds are seasonal, scavenging unreliable, and prior to late Pleistocene technologies of bows, domesticated dogs, stampeding over cliffs, and fishing nets & hooks, hunting often had poor returns. Successful hunts brought social status, but gathering USOs brought dependable daily provisions even in seasons of scarcity. In those times, especially, the ability to effectively utilize starchy USOs separated our ancestors from others who perished childless.
Paleo diet advocates believe we haven't adapted to the starches of the Neolithic agricultural diet. Nonsense - evidence suggests our ancestors have eaten starches for millions of years, often as the dietary staple. On the contrary, perhaps we've yet to adapt to the meat-heavy diets possible with late Pleistocene hunting and preservation technologies: we certainly haven't inherited defenses against the long term health consequences.
Wow. Awesome info Darryl! And so timely. Thanks for taking the time to share it!!
Interesting, except that people following Paleo are in it to be part of the "cool" fad. They only use "science" afterward to support their decision to be in the cool crowd.
I agree it's partly the exclusive "cool crowd" effect (especially in those crossfit circles), but I also think it's a case of people like to hear good things about their bad habits.
Across the internet we now have people singing the praises of "good fats" like lard and bacon and butter (oh, only grass-fed of course). Isn't that just the ultimate fantasy that anyone could have hoped to hear since evidence about diet and heart disease first came out forty years ago?
But give it another couple decades and (unfortunately for all the paleo followers) we'll have the epidemiological data to put the nail in the paleo coffin. Though even then will they listen? Or will they just keep coming up with more and more question-based rebuttals (they never rebut with information, always with questions about an infinite number of variables that should have been tested) to keep eating their bacon? We will see.
Yep, I would think that the hucksters would be doing CIMT scans to try and demonstrate safety, but they don't. There is a blog http://carbsanity.blogspot.... that discusses evidence based rebuttals to the Paleos and to LC opportunists like Taubes.
Excellent review, thank you very much!
This should really be the basis for a whole separate nutritionfacts blog post!
Great info! Thanks for taking the time to write it all up. I'll be referring back to this post to read up on the sources you provided. Thanks!
I like this article! Coming from a vegetarian perspective (with Anth and Bio college minors), I have two 'beefs' on this topic that just keep coming back.
First, even if the Paleo Diet people were 100% right about our ancestors, given the proofs we have today that a low-fat vegetarian diet (or the richer Mediterranean Diet) rich in vegetal variety is the key to good health, why stick with their diet? And why do they ignore muscle attachment, tooth wear, and spectrographic enamel studies? Just scientifically illiterate? But health aside, there are tons of *other* reasons, from environmental, to resource use and waste, to human hunger to go veg.
Second, given the coprolite studies that prove what paleolithic people ate, BECAUSE IT WAS STUDYING THEIR *ACTUAL* POOP, how is it that there is still so much debate? I can only conclude it's because people don't like changes. People like their foods, and fear that vegetarian or vegan choices will be less mouth-watering. They picture meat substitutes as cardboard-like or tasteless, like unflavoured tofu. Once people start thinking about it, their opinions become concrete, so if anyone wants to change anything, better start with the hide-bound rule-followers we call grade-schoolers. Too bad they quit publishing National Scholastic, because that would be a good place for an article like the above, written for children's grasp.
Oops, forgot my third 'beef', that phrase about eating lower or higher on "the food chain." It's not a chain, but a web, thus there is no "higher". The idea of considering primary consumers (i.e., cows and other animals likely to be hunted) to be "lower" than carnivores is actually backwards. We need to eat "closer to the sun," which is, in fact, "higher" than carnivores. Higher, lower, it's all psychological bullshit wrapped around dietary choices that people don't want futzed with.
" Too bad they quit publishing National Scholastic, because that would be a good place for an article like the above, written for children's grasp."
Amen to that!
When saturated fat and cholesterol increase in a person's diet, the body will try to compensate by producing more HDL cholesterol. If a person improves the quality of their diet, they will often see a decrease in HDL, since there's less of the bad cholesterol that needs to be processed and excreted. Some people are better at producing more HDL when it becomes necessary, so you must be one of them.
You must have been eating a pretty poor diet to make yourself so sick during your vegan days.
Peter, the only way to be sick as a vegan due to the diet itself is due to a lack of a seriously nutritious diet (unless you have a metabolic disorder). I once knew a vegan who tried to live on peanut butter and lettuce. That's vegan, but it will also kill you. Did you study the amounts of protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins in foods before or during your stint as a vegan? Because missing just one important nutrient can really mess you up. While one does not need to become a food scholar, when moving form one's family diet to a new tradition within which one was not raised, one *must* learn about it. My cousin also tried going vegan, and had muscle wasting because she was not getting enough protein. Well, duh, if one does not eat enough protein-rich foods, one will be deficient. I just wonder if your situation was similar, where you just missed something important. Since there are around a billion vegans, doing relatively well, while those eating the Standard American Diet are having dietary cancers and heart disease, the choice becomes obvious. There are other things that affect metabolism, including your viral burden (chronic viruses like those in the herpes family and HIV cause cholesterol and related hormonal issues). There are also other reasons to go back to eating meat, including the psychological one of not being able to handle all of the social pressures of others telling one that one is not manly, or even family turning on one, as if one had turned on the family first.
Herne Webber, I know your comments are well-meaning, but reading between the lines, I see "Dog-gone it, Peter the Average! If you only you had found THE MISSING VEGAN NUTRIENT during your 10 years of veganism, you would have been a HEALTHY VEGAN. Geez, why did you give up? Oh, how I wish you had been smart enough or determined enough to figure it out. ARGH!!!"
Is that right? I know you didn't say anything like that in your message, but that's the feeling I get from reading your response. :)
My thought is, if Peter the Average was vegan for 10 years, he certainly did try. Whatever he was missing, obviously it wasn't something easy, because if it was, he would have done it, sometime during those 10 years. Apparently eating "a bit of healthy animal proteins and fats" was Peter the Average's fastest and most effective path to feeling healthy again. So I agree with what "Peter the Average" says, with regards to how each individual needs to eat what they need to feel good.
I've been vegan for 8 years now ... and I feel fine. I don't feel "healthier than I ever did" ... my "healthiest" feeling years were when I was about 20-21 and about 26-27 ... and I didn't go vegan until I was 30. But I've doing well on a vegan diet, and I'm happy with it.
Meanwhile, for people who have TRIED a vegan diet but couldn't thrive on it, for whatever reason ... well, I don't want to fault them for eating meat, if that's what it took to make them feel better. Being in charge of our personal health is one of the most important things we can do as human beings.
Yes, it's true, the animal cruelty involved with the production of meat and eggs is absolutely awful. But if you had to choose between your own health vs. some animals that you'll never ever see, being tortured and killed somewhere "out there," well, probably you'd choose your own health. I know, folks would say "But you don't have to choose! A vegan diet is healthy!"
Well, yes, so far it's been healthy for me, and lots of other people, too, but it didn't work out for Peter the Average. If he was vegan for 10 years, I'm sure he is very well informed and compassionate and knows all about the benefits of plant-based diets (especially with regards to the suffering of the animals). So ... I think there is some level of acceptance and understanding that needs to go into this reality and the real decision that someone like Peter the Average has to make.
1 billion vegans ? Could you please post sources as the ones I have mention around only 0.5% of world population...May be you mean vegetarians, but still, it is a high number.
Anecdotes are interesting, but studies with statistical significance are what matters most. For example, consider
Cancer incidence in British vegetarians
"In conclusion, this study suggests that the incidence of all malignant neoplasms combined may be lower among both fish eaters and vegetarians than among meat eaters. The most striking finding was the relatively low risk for cancers of the lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues among vegetarians."
I don't know about you, but the circle jerk I'd like to be in is the one that science favours.
Yes, be he's saying that he was vegan for 10 years, and it didn't work for him. So he tried. Someone who is vegan for 10 years is likely very knowledgeable about all the reasons for a plant-based diet ... therefore, for him to go back to eating meat, surely required a lot of soul searching on his part. Clearly he knows about all of the suffering that goes into animal products, but he had decided that he feels better eating animal products, and his health is more important than the suffering of those animals. Decisions about one's own health are very personal, don't you think? We can't very well make the decision for him. Also: if Peter the Average felt better eating meat, after 10 years on a vegan diet, all the statistical studies in the world don't amount to a hill of beans. His only reality is his own experience.
You've made a lot of assumptions about Peter's "soul searching" and such.
His health and his feelings aren't necessarily related. Of course if you want to eat meat, nothing will stop you, and anyone's own reality is their own, but does one have the science to prove that you NEED to eat meat to thrive? The science right now points in the direction that it's a lot more social and psychological than physiological.
Peter's comments would have been more acceptable and credible if he didn't come in all hostile. That's a flag for bias and with an agenda.
However, I agree with everything you said starting from "Decisions".
We accept your conclusions; we were upset not by his choice of diet, nor his choice to come here to talk about it, but rather, about his choice to describe those of use conversing politely as performing a mutual sexual act. He is not respectfully accepting of *our* choices (even though he claims to still have vegan friends), thus we feel no reason to treat his comment with respect.
The way you begin your statement is offensive and clearly hostile, and throws doubt upon the already questionable and entirely anecdotal story that follows. There is more to the story than cholesterol. Homocysteine is another problem, just for example, only one more among many.
Michael Greger does meta-analyses of all the nutritional research, and cites his references in his materials. If you want more authoritative material I suggest you start there. What happened to you or somebody's neice's cousin's best friend's roomate just has no place in a discussion of the larger trends in research. `:-)
Nobody asked you anything, including for you to stop eating meat. This is here to educate people to make their own choices.Since you were next door, why did you have to come all the way here and type your rubbish ? Hurry...hurry, you still have a lot of vegan sites waiting to publish your idiotic comments...
I agree with your post (I follow a vegan diet) different diets work for different people, genetics and environmental factors probably come into the equation as to whether someone will become sick or improve on whatever diet they follow.
This. A thousand times this.
What would you say to someone who counters every bit of evidence for a plant-based diet with the argument that grass-fed, hormone-free, etc. animal foods are beneficial to our health? Are there legitimate studies that shed light on this?
Most of the videos on nutritionfacts.org have to do with inherent compounds found in animal products that are separate from the organic vs conventional issue. Endotoxins and increased IGF-1 levels being two examples.
It seems that Dr. Greger has posted many, many videos/blog entries about the harmful effects of animal protein on our bodies and health already. And all based on evidence in studies.
Many studies are out there but the most profound I have found is T. Colin Campbell's The China Study. Any animal protein above 5% turns on genes that promote cancer and above 10% (the amount needed for normal body growth) becomes nearly exponential in your risk of disease. It's kinda like smoking--if you smoke one cigarette once a week, although not good for you, probably won't cause any statistically significant increased rates in disease (eg. cancer, COPD, etc--I know someone will pull up a study to show I'm wrong and that's OK) but when you start smoking that cigarette everyday you will definitely increase your risk of disease (aka Morbidity and mortality). Imaging when you get to 3 packs of cigs a day (60 cigs), just walking becomes a chore. Just like having large amounts of animal proteins daily you will get sick (and will have a hard time taking a crap --defecating) regardless of whether its Grass fed, Massaged and Beer fed (Kobe beef), or Crossfed (grass and corn). Dean Ornish, MD has shown that not eating meat turned off genes that promote cancer and the patients have better outcomes. So if you want to eat your meat, sure eat hormone free, grass fed beef that was killed humanely (oxymoron there) but do it rarely.
I am living with three guys who say the same thing. We have two refrigerators; mine contains no animal products, and theirs contains almost no plants. Evan says it's good for his digestion (including his ulcerative colitis). Brian and Chris are pretty slim. I wonder what it will do for/to them in the long term.
It will probably give them colon cancer and/or heart disease. I would have thought that having colitis, possibly caused by a gluten allergy, that the one guy would have had a doctor make better recommendations, but our docs come from the same culture we all do.
Dee, first, who is that "someone"?
http://www.youtube.com/watc...My "why Paleo stinks video....
Thanks for the video. People need to know the science vs. the fads.
Its not about what to eat or what not. Its about maintaining a balance. Not only in nutrition, but in everything really. You talk of a health epidemic while the average life span of humans especially in developed counries is rising. 50 years ago a person in their mid50's -60's was considered old, and now he/she doesn't even get pension by that age. That brings the question of who long & how much will be enough? Would you like to live for ever? How many years is enough? How long before our bodies start to decay and die? well the answer is that even if we could live for a 1000 years that probably wouldn't be enough. Humanity is greedy. Nothing will ever be enough unless we change our problematic perception of death. If one spends their entire life trying to live, what's the point? Life will be over before we know it. Death is part of life, the last act and no matter how far we try to run from it we can't escape it.
Personally I'm sceptical about passionate people, as their passion often blinds the logic and analytical thinking. From my subjected point of view (and perception) you don't look healthy Randy, neither does the little girl next to you. You are both too thin. Can you donate blood? probably not. While it is an undeniable fact that we have been disinformed in the worst way about our nutrition (based solely on standards of consumerism and capitalism which are completely irrelevant either with health or nutrition) how sure are you that this is not yet another hype? As sure as our parents were when they fed us "junk"? Is it a sign of healthto be well in a sick society? probably not..
Oh, look...a personal opinion. How helpful.