Sunday, November 06, 2011

Paleofantasies

A few interesting posts about the Paleo Diet from Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

Why Would Anyone Follow The ‘Paleo Diet’?

Yes, There’s Lots of Good In the Paleo Diet; I Still Think It’s Bunk

I don't know this author, but she makes a lot of sense.

I liked this bit from an author she referenced:
"We have what the anthropologist Leslie Aiello called “paleofantasies.” She was referring to stories about human evolution based on limited fossil evidence, but the term applies just as well to nostalgia for the very old days as a touchstone for the way life is supposed to be and why it sometimes feels so out of balance.

The notion that there was a time of perfect adaptation, from which we’ve now deviated, is a caricature of the way evolution works.

How much of the diet during our idyllic hunter-gatherer past was meat, and what kind of plants and animals were used, varied widely in time and space. Inuits had different diets from Australian aboriginals or Neotropical forest dwellers. ... The argument that we are “meant” to eat a certain proportion of meat, say, is highly questionable. Which of our human ancestors are we using as models?

Evolution lurches along. ... There is no one point when one can say, “Voilà! Finished."

- Marlene Zuk, Evolutionary Biologist, University of California, in The Evolutionary Search For Our Perfect Past, New York Times, 2009
Update, November 7: Yet another scientist, Barbara King, a biological anthropologist at the College of William and Mary, citing the concept of paleo-fantasy:

The Paleo-Diet: Not The Way To A Healthy Future, NPR, October 27, 2011
"In short, there was no single hunter-gatherer foraging strategy, and genes no more "designed" our eating behavior than they designed our language or our ways of relating between the genders."
________

7 comments:

Bix said...

Ms. Brown describes her diet as:

"... low in heavily-processed foods, refined carbs, sugar, eggs and dairy and high in vegetables, fish, raw nuts, whole grains, plus occasional meat. It’s not paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw or quantifiable by any other label, but it’s what makes the most sense to me, physically, ethically, and based on the nutrition research I read. ... And it seems to do just fine at keeping me thin, healthy and energetic."

Which sounds to me like a healthful diet.

If she switched her whole grains for meat (free-range, organic, local), it resembles a Paleo Diet, no?

Well, she'd have to also exclude coffee, beer and other alcoholic beverages, salt and most other spices and seasonings, dairy, beans and legumes, sweeteners, all added oils and fats, supplements, and just about any food that wasn't grown or raised locally.

Laurie Endicott Thomas said...

The Paleo Diet was NOT based on the findings of nutritional epidemiology: "Even small intakes of foods of animal origin are associated with significant increases in plasma cholesterol concentrations, which are associated, in turn, with significant increases in chronic degenerative disease mortality rates."
http://www.ajcn.org/content/59/5/1153S.long

Bix said...

Laurie, I understand Campbell's statement here as saying that there is no intake of animal food that does not lead to increased risk for cancers and vascular diseases. So, a vegan diet would be the healthiest choice? Is this what you were referring to when you said humans weren't true omnivores?

Dr. Mel said...

I was thrilled that one of my Intro to Art students said, "You know, you were right about what Paleolithics eat! I heard something about it on tv!" So I was validated, in her mind, as a teacher!

Bix said...

Oh boy, tv. Being validated by tv...

I see tv as one giant advertisement, which has been replaced by the internet. Back before the World Wide Web, the internet was devoid of advertising. I used to modem into university data bases and access pure content! Now, everywhere you go, someone is selling you a product or a lifestyle. Even if we buy nothing, advertising still leaves its mark on our psyche ... it sends a message of how life should be.

Dr. Mel said...

Hey,I'm happy she was paying attention, rather than sleeping or texting!

Dr. Mel said...

I agree w/ you re the internet though. Originally, it was purely scientific and military.