What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet?
I came across an article at Raw Food Health titled, “What’s Wrong with the Primal Diet and Paleo Diet?” I don’t doubt that it was written with the best of intentions, yet it is clear it was written by someone lacking intimate knowledge of what is considered a Paleo Diet or Primal Diet, today.
They don’t grok Grok.
Can you imagine anyone who understands the Paleo / Primal approach saying this:
The primal diet, sometimes referred to as a raw meat diet, neolithic diet, paleo diet, or even as an extreme low-carb diet, stems from the correct belief that the processed, cooked foods modern humans rely on are harming us and causing disease, and that going back to the type of diet our ancestors lived on prior to the advent of civilization (which occurred only about 10,000 years ago, an eye blink in the history of the species) will relieve [sic] us of the diseases we suffer from.
First of all, there’s all kinds of meta-wrong with with saying the “primal diet [is] sometimes referred to as a neolithic diet.” Wtf? Also, the Paleo diet doesn’t advocate going back to a pre-civilization diet. No, get it straight, it’s a pre-agriculture diet. That might be splitting hairs, but I have no beef (so to speak) with civilization.
These errors, along with confusing Paleo / Primal as raw-food advocates make the article suspect. It goes on to say that the Paleo diet attempts to ape the fringe, meat-based diet of the Inuit. Then, after building its straw man, the article points out the following about the Inuit:
Old age sets in at fifty and its signs are strongly marked at sixty. In the years beyond sixty the Eskimo is aged and feeble. Comparatively few live beyond sixty and only a very few reach seventy. Those who live to such an age have spent a life of great activity, feeding on Eskimo foods and engaging in characteristically Eskimo pursuits.
– quoting Samel Hutton, based on his observations between 1902 & 1913
So, old age was setting in at 50 and strongly so at 60. That means the people he was observing were born around 1850. Let’s see what life expectancy in the U.S. was during that time period.
Year Born / Life Expectancy (according to InfoPlease)
1850 / 38.3 yrs
1890 / 42.5 yrs
1900 – 1902 / 48.2 yrs
1903 – 1911 /50.2 yrs
So, Hutton is referring to a group of people who were born at a time when the average life expectancy was only 38.3 years, and he is saying old age sets in at around age 50. And that’s supposed to be negative, how?
Lierre Keith’s Vegetarian MythAccording to the article, forget about the Inuit, let’s look at the much healthier Yanomamao of the Amazon, whose health and longevity “impressed” scientists. Their diet? Fruits, vegetables, tubers, and meat. So, essentially…a Paleo Diet. And this group is being used as counter-example of the Paleo Diet’s efficacy? OK.
I wasted my time with that article, so you don’t have to. But, if you insist on reading a very poor analysis of the Paleo Diet, here’s the link: http://www.raw-food-health.net/Primal-Diet.html
For a far superior analysis of the Vegetarian / Vegan approach, see Lierre Keith’s, The Vegetarian Myth. I purchased the book several months ago and plan to discuss various segments in upcoming posts — and there’s a good story behind why I purchased the book in the first place.
If you're new to the blog, have a look at what Humans Are Not Broken means. Then, you might want to take a look at The Plant Paleo Diet to see how I eat to maintain my body transformation and health. It's an omnivorous diet that is heavy on plant foods, based on scientific evidence and evolutionary clues (Part 1 and Part 2). If you're into podcasts, you'll probably really enjoy Latest in Paleo, which looks at the latest health news in an entertaining and thoughtful way.