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Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43: Part III: Paleo Diet: What’s Wrong With Legumes?

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Mainely Tipping Points Essay 43:  November 16, 2012

Paleo Diet, Part III:  What’s Wrong With Legumes?

 

To recap from Parts I and II, Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were superbly healthy.

 But, what’s wrong with beans and peanuts, also known as legumes?

 Rob Wolf, in “The Paleo Solution,” puts it simply:  “dairy and legumes have problems similar to grains:  gut irritating proteins, antinutrients…protease inhibitors, and inflammation.”  Antinutrients, like phytates, bind to metal ions, like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and copper, which make them unavailable for absorption by our bodies.  Protease inhibitors prevent the breakdown of proteins which means your body cannot “effectively digest the protein in your meal” (98-99, 93).  In other words, antinutrients and protease inhibitors cause malabsorption and disease.    

 

Nora T. Gedgaudas, C.N.S., C.N.T., in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (“Well Being Journal,” May/June 2012), notes that “legumes typically contain 60 percent starch and only relatively small amounts of incomplete protein, and they also contain potent protease inhibitors, which can damage one’s ability to properly digest and use dietary protein and can also potentially damage the pancreas over time, when one is overly dependent on them as a source of calories.”  (Gedgaudas’ web site is http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com.) 

 William Davis, MD, in “Wheat Belly,” notes that the carbohydrate in legumes contains amylopectin C, which is the least digestible of the amylopectins—which leads to the chant “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat ‘em, the more you…”.  Yet, the reality of the indigestible matter is not so funny:  “undigested amylopectin makes its way to the colon, whereupon the symbiotic bacteria happily dwelling there feast on the undigested starches and generate gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen, making the sugars unavailable for you to digest” (33).

 Davis goes on to note that amylopectin B is “the form found in bananas and potatoes and, while more digestible than bean amylopectin C, still resists digestion to some degree.  Remember that wheat has amylopectin A, which is the most digestible form of the amlopectins and, thus, can raise blood sugars more than eating a sugar-sweetened soda or a sugary candy bar.  The lesson here is that “not all complex carbohydrates are created equal….”   And Davis cautions that as the carbohydrate load of legumes “can be excessive if consumed in large quantities,” it’s best to limit servings to about a ½ cup size (33, 213). 

 Wolf is less compromising when it comes to combining plant-based foods, like beans and rice, to obtain essential amino acids—which we must eat as we cannot make them on our own.  The eight essential amino acids are “plentiful in animal sources and lacking to various degrees in plant sources.”  Wolf notes that “many agricultural societies found that certain combinations (like beans and rice) can prevent protein malnutrition.”  But, relying on the work of anthropologists who have compared them, Wolf notes that “most vegetarian societies…are less healthy than hunter-gathers and pastoralists.”  That’s because “plant sources of protein, even when combined to provide all the essential amino acids, are far too heavy in carbohydrate, irritate the gut, and steal vitamins and minerals from the body via anti-nutrients.”  Wolfs’ final assessment:  “Beans and rice, nuts and seeds, are what I call “Third World proteins.’  They will keep you alive, they will not allow you to thrive” (208-209).

 Wolf cautions that unless you are lean and healthy, don’t eat fruit.  He adds, further, that “there is no nutrient in fruit that is not available in veggies, and fruit may have too many carbs for you” (214)

 Dr.  Natasha Campbell-McBride expanded on the 1950s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) of Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas and created the “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) diet.  (That history is in my Mainely Tipping Points Essay 31 on my blog:  https://louisaenright.wordpress.com.)  Haas recognized the connections between diet and disease, especially in the debilitating digestive disorders, and put patients on a diet that eliminated dairy, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables, like potatoes.  (Dairy is slowly added back after healing has started, beginning with cultured forms, like yogurt.  But, some patients are not able to tolerate dairy permanently.)  Haas’s SCD diet emphasized bone broths, meat stews that included animal fat, vegetables, and some fruits.  The results were, and are, amazing. 

 Dr. Campbell-McBride was one of many now, like Wolf and Davis, who made the further connection that too many starchy carbohydrates foment conditions in the gut that allow out-of-control yeasts to degrade the gut lining—which allows food particles to escape into the blood stream and trigger autoimmune reactions.  Campbell-McBride is one of the first to realize that these out-of-control yeast populations produce toxins that affect the brain and create problematic behavior.  Conditions like autism, for instance, might not really be autism, but effects of inappropriate diet and malfunctioning body systems. 

 Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G. Enig, Ph. D. of The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) hold a place in their 1999 “Nourishing Traditions,” for most legumes—if properly soaked and cooked so that phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are destroyed and difficult-to-digest complex sugars are made more digestible and if legumes are cooked and eaten with at least small amounts of animal protein and animal fat. 

 Morell and Enig write that soybeans, however, should only be eaten sparingly and only after fermentation into miso, tempeh, and natto because the chemical package in soy is so powerful and so dangerous (495-496).  A  commercial method has never been fully developed that renders soy completely safe.  But, more on soy in Mainely Tipping Points 44 .  (Note that tofu is not a fermented soy food.) 

 Morell and Enig are careful to caution that “vegetable protein alone cannot sustain healthy life because it does not contain enough of all of the amino acids that are essential.”  Indeed, “most all plants lack methionine, one of the essential amino acids” (495-496).  Further, both Morell and Enig have made clear repeatedly in the WAPF journal “Wise Traditions” that the current government support for plant-based diets is dangerous and unscientific.          

 In the end, what Paleo diet advocates are asking is why, in the first place eat foods with such high carbohydrate loads, inferior protein, and so many dangerous chemicals —especially when a diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds supplies nutrients in dense, safe, satisfying forms. 

 This Paleo question is especially good to contemplate if one is overweight and experiencing the attendant health issues that accompany that condition and are trying to make changes.  Or, if one has ongoing digestive disorders which really must be addressed. 

 

Mainely Tipping Points 42: What’s Wrong With Grains?

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Mainely Tipping Points 42:  May 9, 2012

Part II:  The Paleo Diet 

What’s Wrong With Grains?

 

Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were, as described in Part I of this series, superbly healthy.

What is it about grains that makes so many, varied researchers (see Part I) forbid us to consume grains or caution us to prepare them properly if we do?

First, we’re eating too many grains on a daily basis.  Luise Light, M.S., Ed.D, wrote WHAT TO EAT, in part, to make the case that Americans are eating way too many grains.  As detailed in Tipping Points 12, Light was hired by the USDA to produce the 1980 food guide.  Light’s team of scientists concurred that two (women/children) to three (men) daily servings of whole grains were optimal.  A serving is usually one piece of bread or one-half cup of grains.  When Light sent the new food guide to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture (a political appointee), it came back changed:   grain servings now numbered six to eleven.  Light was horrified, furious, and feared, especially, that the alteration would increase national risks of obesity and diabetes.    

William David, M.D., a preventive cardiologist who recently published WHEAT BELLY, a “New York Times” bestseller, describes how many feet grain products occupy in the average grocery store (pg. 13).  How much of your grocery store does the bread aisle, the cereal aisle, the pasta aisle, the cracker aisle, the cookie aisle, the chip aisle, the baking aisle, the wheat products in the fresh and frozen food cases, and the store bakery occupy?  How many servings of grains are you eating daily?

Secondly, grains are mostly carbohydrate.  Wheat, David writes, is “70 percent carbohydrate by weight, with protein and indigestible fiber each comprising 10 to 15 percent” and with a tiny bit of fat rounding out the package (32).  Today, a host of American nutritional “experts” promote eating whole-grain products as they are complex carbohydrates, unlike simple sugars. 

But, David writes that the carbohydrate in wheat is split between amylopectin A (75 percent) and amylose (25 percent).  Amylopectin A is “efficiently digested by amylase to glucose, while amylose is much less efficiently digested, some of it making its way to the colon undigested.”  Amylopectin A is the most digestible of the amylopectin forms found in plants, which means that wheat increases blood sugar more than other complex carbohydrates.  In effect, “eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.” (32).  Indeed, the glycemic index of whole grain bread (72) is higher than sucrose (59) or of a Mars bar (68) (pg. 32). 

Third, grains, like all plants, have developed powerful—and mostly underestimated– chemical properties in order to carry out their life agendas.  Rob Wolf, in THE PALEO SOLUTION, notes that if you eat a grain, “that’s it for the grain.”  But, grains don’t go down “without a fight” and  grains are “remarkably well equipped for chemical warfare” (88).

Wolf does a really good job of explaining the adverse impact on humans of the chemicals in grains—information that is both widely available and, for the most part, ignored.  This subject is complicated:  I can only try to summarize the highlights.  Hopefully, you will investigate more deeply, especially if you are having digestive problems, arthritis, diabetes, neurological problems, or infertility.     

All grains, writes Wolf, contain a variety of proteins, called lectins.  These proteins cause more damage when derived from the gluten-containing grains—wheat, rye, barley, and oats.  Lectins are “not broken down in the normal digestive process,” which leaves “large, intact proteins in the gut.”  Grains also contain protease inhibitors, which “further block the digestion of dangerous lectins “ (85-99).

Serious problems occur when undigested proteins “are transported intact through the intestinal lining.”  For one thing “these large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites,” so the body begins to create antibodies to attack them.  In addition, the undigested lectins damage the intestinal lining during passage, which allows “other proteins to enter the system,” and the body creates antibodies for them.  These antibodies can attach themselves to organs and, even, your brain.  Attachment causes a “wholesale immune response” that destroys the tissue of that organ (85-99).

When the intestinal wall is damaged, writes Wolf, the “chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK) is not released—so the gall bladder and the pancreas malfunction, which results in nondigestion of the fats and proteins we have eaten.  Removing the gall bladder is the mainstream solution, but this procedure is akin to “killing the `canary in the coal mine.’ “  Wolf believes removing grains from the diet and allowing the gut to heal is a better solution.

Grains, notes Wolf, also contain antinutrients, like the phytates, which help prevent premature germination of the grain.  Phytic acid, in humans, binds to calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, which means your body can’t absorb these minerals.  Malabsorption is one reason ancient peoples who started settled agricultural lives “lost an average of six inches in height” (93-94). To partially mitigate the impact of phytic acid, the Weston A Price Foundation advocates grains be soaked, sprouted, or fermented.

Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT, in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (May/June 2012, “Well Being Journal”), notes that grains contain goitrogens, which are substances that inhibit the thyroid.  She also notes that “chronic carbohydrate consumption, in general, depletes serotonin stores and greatly depletes the B Vitamins required to convert amino acids into many needed neurotransmitters”—which may be a cause of today’s “rampant serotonin deficiencies, clinical depression, anxiety, and some forms of ADD/ADHD in our populations” (3). 

Fourth, grains are addictive.  Wolf says grains “contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain….the same receptors that work with heroine, morphine, and Vicodin” (96).  Gedgaudas says the morphine-like compounds in gluten-containing grains, called exorphins, are “quite addictive” and leave “many in frank denial of the havoc that gluten can wreak” (5).  She calls gluten a “cereal killer” (4).  Davis agrees and writes that grains can produce the same vicious circle of addiction and withdrawal that crack cocaine does (44-45).   

Fifth, and maybe the most important reason of all, as Davis explains in WHEAT BELLY, is how since the 1950s the wheat that humans have eaten for the past several centuries has been radically changed by industry to increase yield and to allow patents.  These changes have introduced gene changes that “are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of genes apart” from the pre-1950s wheat (22).  Wheat now contains a new “protein/enzyme smorgasbord” that has never been tested on humans (22). 

Davis warns that if you eliminate wheat for several weeks and try to eat it again, you will likely have extreme reactions.  In his clinical practice, however, eliminating wheat has consistently produced weight loss, the loss of the dangerous “wheat belly,” and the cessation of many chronic conditions. 

In Tipping Points 32, I discussed Konstantin Monastyrsky’s 2008 book, FIBER MENACE:  THE TRUTH ABOUT FIBER’S ROLE IN DIET FAILURE, CONSTIPATION, HEMORRHOIDS, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, ULCERATIVE COLITIS, CHROHN’S DISEASE, AND COLON CANCER.  Monastyrsky believes one should eliminate grains gradually as the body has to adjust, which is what I am doing—though I am having severe reactions when I eat wheat these days.  Swedish Bitters, a tonic made from greens, helps with any constipation that ensues with the cessation of eating a lot of grain fiber.       

 

Interesting Information: New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

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Interesting Information:  March 17, 2012

New Harvard Study on Red Meat and Cancer = Junk Science

I was quilting and listening to NPR news the other day when I heard a story about there being a “new” study that linked red meat and cancer.

Information about the type of study came late in the story, and I’d be willing to bet that what most people heard was “Harvard” and “red meat causes cancer.”

Before emoting on this blog, I poked around a bit and found out more information.  Here’s the press release from Harvard:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2012-releases/red-meat-cardiovascular-cancer-mortality.html

And, here’s a story from Business Week:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-12/a-hot-dog-a-day-raises-risk-of-dying-harvard-study-finds

***

Now, before you panic about your grass-fed red meat consumption, let’s do a bit of thinking together…

First of all, the study uses QUESTIONNAIRES to determine what people are eating.  This kind of methodology is famously inaccurate and, thus, unscientific.  You can poll 121,342 people, as this study did, and it’s still unscientific because it is always already inaccurate.  People lie for their own reasons or don’t remember exactly.

Second, CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION.  One famous example of this kind of thinking–leaping from a perceived association to hard fact–would be the very wrong connection between high cholesterol counts and heart attacks.  Do you know how many people have been seriously maimed by taking statins?  I don’t know, but I’ve written a Tipping Points essay on how they waste muscles in the body.  Since Big Pharma and our docs have made a fortune making statins and/or dispensing them, you can bet a LOT of people have been harmed.

Third, the so-called “killer” red meats here are PROCESSED red meats (hot dogs), bacon (not a red meat and made with nitrates), and FAST FOOD hamburgers (notoriously poor quality hamburger, which is probably full of pink slime).  This study is NOT covering high quality red meats, like grass-fed beef, which is free of disease and which is chock full of high-density nutrients.  The distinctions between types of red meat are NOT made in the study’s announcement.  Rather, all red meat is just lumped together and damned.

So, you can bet that if folks are eating a lot of hot dogs and fast food hamburgers, they are also drinking SODAS (full of sugar) and ordering FRENCH FRIES.  How many people eating a fast food hot dog or hamburger are going to order water with a slice of lemon???  Or, NOT order some french fries?

By the way, it’s not all that hard to find good quality–as in nitrate free–bacon and hot dogs.  And to find hot dogs not padded with soy.  And grass-fed beef is getting real traction in the market now.  Yes, it costs more.  It takes longer to bring the cow to market.  So, savor this beef  fully and cook with ALL the beef parts, not just the hamburger and the steaks.

Here’s a quote from the “Business Week” article, by Betsy Booren, the director of scientific affiars for the American Meat Institute Foundation:

All of these studies struggle to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat and admit that they can’t do it well enough to use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits….What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.

Fourth, don’t be fooled by slippery math.  I’m beginning to think of this kind of math exercise as “medical math.”  The study’s writers claim that their analysis showed that people who ate red meat–excuse me, who ate processed hot dogs, bacon, fast-food hamburgers, sodas, and french fries–had an increased risk of 16 percent risk of getting cancer.  Well, the study included 121,342 people, and 9464 people died from cancer.  That’s 8 % of the total.

Here’s more math.  That 16% is part of an unnamed total risk of cancer.  If that total risk is 8%, then you have to take 16% of the 8%, which increases the 8% by 1.28%, which makes the total 9.28%.  That’s a whole lot less that 16%.

Fifth, the study recommends eating more plant-based foods and other forms of protein.  Yet, plants are NOT nutrient dense.  And, they add in a lot of fiber and a lot of sugar (fruits, grains!) which we don’t handle well.  In short, we can’t digest cellulose.  We do not have the enzymes to process cellulose, and too much of it puts a lot of stress on our bodies.  As I’ve discussed in many of my essays now–see the essays on Gary Taubes’ WHY WE GET FAT, for instance–we can get every single nutrient we need, including all 8 essential fatty acids, from meat.  We could stop eating all carbohydrates and thrive.  That’s not junk science; that’s real science with MANY quantifiable test results behind it.

Are there micronutrients in vegetables and fruits that support health?  Probably.  Go slow with fruits, however.  They have a lot of sugar.  So, that’s why I really like the Paleo diet, as it mixes high-quality meat with veggies and fruits.  The Paleo diet drops grains, legumes (a poor source of protein and a problem to digest), and dairy.  I have access to high-quality raw dairy, and I do include it.  Do take a look at the Dr. Terry Wahls video posted earlier on this blog.

The suggested protein alternatives each have problems.  Fish is full of mercury in, increasingly, levels that are not healthy.  We’ve cut our fish consumption down considerably.  It’s now a real treat.  Commercial chicken, besides being utterly tasteless, is full of arsenic and has been fed a lot of GMO soy and corn.  We avoid commercial poultry and buy organic if we’re forced to buy commercial chicken.  We’re lucky here in Maine to have access to pastured chickens for meat.  But, if you find your local farmers and ask, you can probably find some free-range meat chickens.  As for nuts–give me a break.  Nuts are NOT protein dense.

Sixth, here’s another scientific fact for you:  only red meat contains sufficient quantities of vitamin B12 in forms your body can use.  If you lack B12, or no longer can process it from your foods, you’ll get dementia.

So, I agree with Rob Wolf, THE PALEO SOLUTION, about this kind of “science.”  It’s junk.  It’s a waste of time, money, and energy.  It has no core principles at its heart.  It’s why people are so confused about what to eat.

Shame on you, Frank Wu!!!

Damn junk food for the problem it is, yes.  But don’t participate in the correlation in place of causation problem.  And don’t lump grass-fed beef into this study and say so clearly.  Grass-fed red meat is totally different from commercial pink-slimed meat produced in CAFO lots.  Don’t confuse people like this.

And, shame on NPR for even reporting on this story.  It amounts to advertising “facts” that anything but.

Written by louisaenright

March 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Mainely Tipping Points 41: Part I, The Paleo Diet

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Mainely Tipping Points 41

The Paleo Diet, Part I

 

Loren Cordain, THE PALEO DIET COOKBOOK, is a professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department at Colorado State University.   Cordain focuses on the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health, and well being in modern humans.  Cordain is generally acknowledged to be the world’s leading expert on the Paleolithic diet.  He has analyzed 229 hunter-gatherer societies and published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. 

 Robb Wolf, THE PALEO SOLUTION:  THE ORIGINAL HUMAN DIET, is Cordain’s student.  Wolf is a former research biochemist who now co-owns the NorCal Strength & Conditioning gym, ranked by Men’s Health as one of the top 30 gyms in America.  Wolf explains why grains are so hard for humans to digest and how they foster a “leaky gut” condition which, in turn, leads to an array of chronic diseases, including neurological diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

 

 Dr. Terry Wahls, MINDING MY MITOCHONDRIA:  HOW I OVERCAME SECONDARY PROGRESSIVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) AND GOT OUT OF MY WHEELCHAIR, is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine.  In 2003 she was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and soon became wheel-chair bound.  When mainstream medicine could not slow her disease, she started to research how nutrition could help the mitochondria in her brain.  Within eight months of starting a hunter-gatherer diet, she could walk again with a cane.  Today, she rides her bike, rides horses, and lectures worldwide on what she has learned.  Take a look at her short, informative lecture at a November 2011 TED (The Technology Entertainment and Design) conference, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

Those promoting the Paleo Diet argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy. 

“Hunter-gathers, pastoralists, and agriculturalists have been extensively studied since the mid-1800’s,” notes Wolf.  Archeological evidence, he explains, demonstrates clearly that Paleo people were superbly healthy.  Their bones, explains Wolf, “looked like those of high-level athletes” (148).

Paleo peoples “were as tall or taller than modern Americans and Europeans, which is a sign they ate a very nutritious diet.  They were virtually free of cavities and bone malformations that are common with malnutrition.  Despite a lack of medical care, they had remarkably low infant mortality rates, yet had better than 10 percent of their population live into their sixties” (39).  (Remember Paleo peoples lived in very dangerous times.)  The Paleo peoples were “virtually free of degenerative disease such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.  They also showed virtually no near-sightedness or acne” (39). 

With the shift to agriculture, humans “lost an average of six inches in height” (93).  These early Neolithic farmers had about seven cavities on average per person.  Infant mortality rates increased:  “the most significant difference was between the ages of two and four when malnutrition is particularly damaging to children.”  These farmers had bone malformations typical of infectious diseases and did not live as long.  Deficiencies in iron, calcium, and protein were common (40-41).   

Wolf notes that if the timeline of human history is compared to a 100-yard football field, the first 99.5 yards comprises all of human history except for the last 5,000 years.  In the last 10,000 years most humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the settled agricultural lifestyle of the last 5,000 years.  Television, the Internet, and refined vegetable oils, notes Wolf, only take up the “last few inches” of this timeline (38-39).  Surely the last quarter-inch would include today’s fake, franken foods.

In essence, explains Wolf, humans “moved from a nutrient-dense, protein-rich diet that was varied and changed with location and seasons to a diet dependent upon a few starchy crops.  These starchy crops provide a fraction of the vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  These ‘new foods’ create a host of other health problems ranging from cancer to autoimmunity to infertility” (41). 

Our health researchers, Wolf argues, lack a scientific framework from which to study and assess information on what we should eat, so their answers “change in response to politics, lobbying, and the media.”  I would add two other factors:  individual economic self-interest (paycheck scientists and those who personally benefit from promoting certain diets) and the presence of a personal belief system not grounded in science, such as “salt is bad.”  As a result, Wolf argues, “our `health maintenance system’ [is] more parasitic than symbiotic….After all, it’s hard as hell to make money off healthy people….” (34).  Now, writes Wolf, with regard to our health, “common” is being mistaken for “normal” (11). 

With some small exceptions, the following diets are closely related to the Paleo Diet:  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet;  Gary Taubes’ WHY WE GET FAT, which advocates the diet used by the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at the Duke University Medical Clinic; Konstantin Monastyrsky’s FIBER MENANCE, which promotes a low-fiber diet; and Dr. Joseph Mercola’s NO GRAIN DIET.  (Except for Mercola’s NO-GRAIN DIET, these books have been discussed in earlier Tipping Points essays.) 

The above diets agree that grains are a problem.  Where diversity emerges is over whether or not to eat legumes and dairy and, if so, which legumes and what kinds of dairy. 

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which I really like because they are practicing good science, recommends raw/real dairy.  WAPF allows, cautions about, or discards legumes based on how hard it is to mitigate their anti-nutrient chemical packages.  Thus, soy is not recommended.  And whole grains are allowed if they are properly soaked or sprouted to mitigate their anti-nutrient chemical properties. 

For myself, I avoid grains, especially refined grains.  I pretty much avoid legumes, too, mostly because it’s clear my body does not like them and because they are an inferior protein source.  Dairy I love, especially fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir, and piima.  There are many peoples still present today who thrive on real milk.  The Laplanders (reindeer), the Masai (cows), and the grasslanders from inner Mongolia (sheep) spring immediately to my mind.  Granted, some of this milk is consumed in a fermented form, but we’re still talking healthy people who consume dairy products.

Whenever we attempt to adopt food ways from other eras or other regions, we inevitably bring our own belief systems into the mix.  Cordain is no different.  His emphasis on lean, grass-fed meat betrays the anti-saturated fat campaign that has permeated our culture since the 1970s.  Of course early people used animal fat; it was the only fat they had unless they lived near coconut trees or the sea.  Eskimos lived mostly on fat and were supremely healthy.  And, pemmican was made from a 1:1 ratio of fat and meat, with some dried fruit pounded in.  (Somewhere I read that some pemmican was found in a grave that was thousands of years old and that it was still good—which speaks to the power of saturated fats as a preservative.)  

Cordain’s anti-salt stance also betrays the presence of belief system, not science.  Healthy salt is essential for humans and for preserving food, as was discussed in Tipping Points 40. 

Cordain recommends using dried egg whites in smoothies as a protein source.  But, the scientists at the WAPF argue that powdered protein powders of all kinds have broken chemical structures and are dangerous.  Also, egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion.  We need the egg yolk to digest the egg white, and for the body to obtain optimal levels of nutrition, the egg white needs to be cooked. 

Cordain gets into trouble with his “non Paleo” diet list.  He allows olive, coconut, walnut, macadamia, and flaxseed oils.  Yet, most nut/seed oils are highly refined and dangerous.  One needs to buy unrefined oils, and finding unrefined olive and coconut oils is fairly easy.  I did find some unrefined grapeseed oil in Portland recently; that’s a rare commodity.  

Cordain uses lemons and limes to season salad greens, but vinegar is not allowed.  Yet, wine is.  Vinegar and wine are the same thing essentially. 

Diet sodas, which are toxic chemical brews, are allowed.  Mercy!

Still, in general, I do believe the essence of the Paleo diet—grass-fed, free-range meats; wild fish; wild seafood; vegetables; fruits; nuts; and seeds—to be healthy.  Medically, this way of eating can heal and support the body. 

Just ask Dr. Terry Wahls.