Killing Some Sacred Cows of the Paleo Diet

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s article on the winding path of paleo, I thought it would be worth posting this fascinating discussion between Harvard University’s Matt Lalonde and Steve from Evolution: This View Of Life.

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It’s of particular interest, because - as you’ll see - Lalonde

takes a scientific approach to evolutionary nutrition that amounts to nothing less than killing some sacred cows of the paleo diet.

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The discussion includes:

  • Why the “evolutionary theory” of paleo can never be true in absolute terms;
  • Why the fact that our genes are identical to our hunter-gatherer ancestors doesn’t mean we should consume the same diet as them;
  • Why grains, legumes and dairy may not be the antithesis of the paleo diet we’ve been led to believe;
  • Why humans can adapt to new (neolithic) sources of food;
  • Why self-experimentation is the only way to be sure of what suits us;
  • Why grains and legumes aren’t optimal - but are also not the anti-nutrient time-bombs we’re often told;
  • The fallacy of a single “best” ratio of macronutrients;
  • Why intense agriculture is ruining the planet’s fertility;
  • What the perfect scientific study of the paleo diet would look like;
  • The best foods to eat as a baseline for good nutrition;
  • Why dairy is OK for some people;
  • How it’s possible to be a healthy vegetarian.

Interesting stuff.  What do you think?  Has this discussion amounted to killing some sacred cows of the paleo diet - or do you have a different perspective to add?


Brian Cormack Carr is a freelance writer and coach whose mission in life is to help YOU do what you were designed for.
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2 Responses to Killing Some Sacred Cows of the Paleo Diet

  1. Nance February 11, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I enjoyed the discussion. I appreciate the even-handedness of Matt’s thoughts. While I have unfortunately confirmed that I have a very serious problem with wheat-and I feel some anger 50 years of medical consultation that failed to even mention that for consideration-I agree that doesn’t mean everyone will have the same problem. As far as I know, I have no problem at all with corn GMO or not. So go figure.

    I hope to see more discussions like this in the future so we can all exercise our brains and open-mindedness as new information comes to light.

  2. William L February 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Wow. Good to see these issues addressed so well. I cannot stand dogma in any form, so I’m glad someone can clear up some of the issues I’ve been having with the ‘Paleo’ way of thinking, especially in such concise manner.

    I do feel that when talking to people about the diet, using anecdotal but scientifically based evidence is conducive to both their understanding and your credibility. But you should never pass it off as proof – just subjective truth. Like for me, I have so many issues with Gluten it’s not funny. But I can eat corn and rice with no issues at all. My issues with corn consumption are based on moral decisions not to support an industry that is so drastically altering our food sources and environment. Rice just makes me fat round the middle, so I only eat it moderately =) So when talking to others about the changes I’ve made, I’ll tell them the what and why for, but encourage them to experiment with their own eating based on non-dogmatic thinking.

    Where I think the paleo/primal diet and thinking is beneficial is in it’s ability to distil the essence of eating a non-irritating diet combined with easy and effective exercise in a small byte of information. It’s instantly recognizable due to the whole romantic back-to-basics caveman ideal prevalent in society. It’s when we grasp this concept and begin to move beyond it that the real exciting things begin. We just have to be willing to let go of our primitive water-wings!