How to Save Your Family’s Life: 30 Ways to Prevent Modern Disease

paleodiet

I just came across a website called Modern Paleo, put together by Diana Hsieh. It has a section called “modern paleo principles” with a list of 30 nutritional and lifestyle recommendations for staying healthy and avoiding disease.

If you’re looking for a good “blueprint” for health to follow, this is it. It’s one of the bests lists of this kind that I’ve seen. I agree with Diana on every point, with the exception of #30 (which is more about politics than nutrition). I also have some minor quibbles on #2/#6 (I think grains and legumes are okay in moderation when properly prepared/soaked, and I definitely think refined grains are worse than whole grains), #15 (although some nuts are high in omega-6, they are nutrient-dense whole foods with antioxidants to minimize oxidative damage), and #19 (I don’t recommend most commercial fish and cod liver oils, which are rancid, contain synthetic nutrients, or are not high enough in DHA/EPA to have a therapeutic effect).

I’m re-posting the first ten principles here with Diana’s permission. Visit this page on the Modern Paleo website to read the remaining 20 principles. Even better, Diana has included links to additional information for each principle that you can access by clicking on the “+/-” sign.

One last thing. As the saying goes, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Embrace the 80/20 rule with these principles. If you follow them 80% of the time, you’ll be on the fast track to vibrant health. An occasional ice cream or piece of bread isn’t going to kill you or reverse the positive effects of this approach. (Of course this isn’t true for those with true intolerances to dairy and gluten. In that case, 100% avoidance is the rule.)

Modern Paleo Principles: A Work-In-Progress

These principles are in a rough order of importance. If you’re overwhelmed by them, try working your way down the list slowly.

  1. Eat real foods, prepared well. Prepare your own food as much as you can. Beware the junk ubiquitous in convenience and restaurant foods.
  2. Don’t eat wheat, corn, rice, or other grains. If you choose to eat some grains, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, such as by sprouting and soaking. Wheat seems to be the worst of all the grains, while rice seems to be the most benign. Whole grains are not better than refined grains.
  3. Don’t eat sweets: avoid sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, and artificial sweeteners. If you must have some sweetener for a dish, you might try a bit of stevia. With time, your tastes will adjust: ordinary sweets will taste cloying, but formerly bland vegetables will seem delightfully sweet.
  4. Don’t eat modern oils derived from grains and seeds — such as canola oil, corn oil, or soy oil. Make your own mayonnaise and salad dressing. Don’t eat fried foods in restaurants: rancid vegetable oils are standard for frying. Avoid all hydrogenated fats; they contain damaging artificial transfats. Instead, use liberal amounts of animal fats — like butter, ghee, lard, and tallow — as well as unrefined coconut oil and olive oil. (Reserve your bacon grease: it’s delicious rendered lard!) Do not fear saturated fat: it’s healthy, including for your heart.
  5. Don’t eat soy. Some fermented soy might be okay, if tolerated. However, all soy is goitrogenic and contains estrogen-mimicking hormones.
  6. Don’t eat beans and other legumes. If you choose to eat some legumes, eat them sparingly and prepare them to minimize toxins, such as by soaking them.
  7. Watch your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, as well as your total omega-6 intake. Most people eat far too much omega-6, both absolutely and relatively. Today, the average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in Western diets is 17:1, but the ideal ratio looks to be between 2:1 and 1:4. To achieve that you’ll need to limit omega-6 intake by eliminating modern vegetable oils and eating high-omega-6 nuts sparingly. You’ll likely need to supplement with high omega-3 fish oil too.
  8. Eat plenty of high-quality meat, preferably from pastured animals. Grass-fed meats have a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fats than grain-fed meats. Avoid meats treated with antibiotics and hormones, if feasible: the animals are likely treated better, and they taste better. Enjoy plenty of red meat. Try uncured bacon and other breakfast meats. They might not be any healthier, but they taste so much better!
  9. Eat eggs, preferably from pastured chickens. Eggs enriched with omega-3s are a good option too. Prefer nutrient-dense egg yolks to nutrient-poor egg whites.
  10. Eat fish and shellfish periodically, preferably caught wild rather than farm-raised.

Don’t forget to click here to read the remaining 20 principles!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. heather says

    hi,
    i’m a former longtime vegetarian and even though i’ve been eating meat again for several years, i have trouble knowing the best/healthiest meats to choose from the store and am still unsure about cooking techniques, so will often go without unless i’m eating out at a restaurant.  no good, i know.  anyway, i’m curious what meats you recommend?  do you suggest eating meat daily?  what about red meat?
    thanks in advance. :)

    • admin says

      There’s certainly no reason not to eat meat every day, and if you’re following a low-carb or paleo diet then it would be hard not to. To learn more about how to prepare meat, I’d recommend the Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipe and the River Cottage Meat Book. Red meat is one of the most nutrient dense meats, rich in iron, B12 and other nutrients. I recommend eating it regularly.

  2. Geekoid says

    How can yo call yourself a skeptic when all you do is agree with someone who says something you like?
    I didn't see any links to any actual studies. This looks like nothing more then yet another opinion on how people would eat with no real science behind it. I didn't see any links to supporting science on Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) site either.

    Did I miss a reference?

    • Anonymous says

      Garrett,

      You might want to take a look around my blog before making accusations. All of my posts on nutrition, which support the ideas presented in Diana’s 30 Principles list, are extensively referenced with citations from peer-reviewed journals. The list is meant as an introduction to principles of healthy living, not as an exhaustive reference. Also, if you follow the links under each point on Diana’s site you’ll see that many of them are referenced and written by MDs or PhDs working in the field.

      If you want to see some of my articles with support for several of Diana’s points, start with 10 Steps to Preventing Heart Disease Naturally Follow each link and read the references.

      Once you’ve done that, then we can talk. If you have specific questions or objections to any of the studies, I’ll address them. There is a lot of solid science to back every claim I’ve made here.

    • says

      Do you have a background in molecular biology or biochemistry so you can make heads or tails out of any research offered up? Chris could bury you under research, but this is not a scientific paper, simply an attempt to help those who are smart enough to help themselves.

  3. Rhonda says

    I have to agree with you about her #30.  But, skimming her posts (from the blog’s start) you will see that she (they) are followers of Ayn Rand’s theories, and that libertarianism and capitalism and the American (USA American) way of life are the best things to have happened to mankind .  Unfortunately, her politics are all to common of many of the “paleo” bloggers out there.  Often, when reading those blogs, I hold my nose to the stench of their politics, to read the stuff about food/diet; sometimes, though, the smell is so bad, that I unsubscribe/never go back to them.

  4. admin says

    Geekoid,

    I responded earlier to your comment but it appears that was lost.  I’d advise you to have a look around this blog before making accusations.  You’ll see that I’ve written about several of the points made in the list, and have provided extensive references from peer-reviewed journals in each case.  Many of the articles Diane linked underneath each of her points are written by MDs and PhDs working in the field, and they are also well referenced.

    After you’ve read up on the science behind the claims made here and on Diana’s site, feel free to make specific objections or ask questions and I’ll be happy to address them.

    Chris

  5. admin says

    Rhonda,

    I did notice the objectivism / Ayn Rand philosophy.  I am about as far away from that as you can get, as I have a particular disdain for Ayn Rand’s work and her worldview.  But I linked to that list because I agree with nearly all of the nutritional and lifestyle suggestions.

    I’m happy to disagree with Diana about politics and agree with her about nutrition.  She’d probably say the same thing.

  6. Rhonda says

    From their March 23, 2010 post:  “Chris Kresser of The Healthy Skeptic of posted a selection of Modern Paleo’s 30 Principles (with my permission) in this post. He says, “If you’re looking for a good ‘blueprint’ for health to follow, this is it. It’s one of the bests lists of this kind that I’ve seen. I agree with Diana on every point, with perhaps a minor quibble on #30 (which is more about politics than nutrition).” Thanks, Chris… <b>and we’ll work on convincing you about the free market politics</b>!”
    Makes me wonder is  she’d agree with your take on their politics.

    • admin says

      As I said earlier in the comments, have a look around here and you’ll find plenty of science backing several of the points on Diana’s list. I’m not sure which links you followed, either, because their are references in most of them. In any event, it wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive listing of research studies. That has been done here and elsewhere. It’s a “blueprint” for good health.

  7. toolate says

    I checked through the links and found precious little science backing up the claims
    not saying they are wrong, just not much there

  8. Jake says

    Chris – 2 questions about #2.   Do you agree that rice is a better alternative to grains. I’ve been trying to avoid both grains and rice, but sometimes would be nice to have one.  Would you agree rice is the better choice?

    Also – kind of confused by the line ‘Whole grains are not better than refined grains. ‘  That just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Thanks

    • admin says

      The protein in rice is generally less allergenic than the proteins in wheat and corn. So yes, I do agree that it’s generally a better alternative. If you eat rice, I’d recommend following this procedure for soaking and preparing it before hand to break down the phytic acid and improve nutrient absorption.

      I don’t agree that “whole grains are not better than refined grains”. They clearly are, when we’re talking about their effect on blood sugar and hormone levels. I think the point she was trying to make, somewhat hyperbolically, is that whole grains are still problematic when not prepared properly and can still cause numerous health problems.

  9. chris says

    You will find many zealous followers of a paleo diet/lifestyle on the web.  This is because so many people have improved their health fundamentally.  It feels like one’s been given a second chance at life.  And the amazing thing is that the “diet” is incredibly easy and satisfying.
    @ heather,
    Grass-fed ruminants and organic vegetables – that’s about 90% of what you need to know.  (Just bit the bullet and bought 80 lbs. of grass-fed beef!)
    @ admin
    http://www.paleonu.com/get-started/
    This dude, Dr. Harris really has one of the best sites out there.
     
     

  10. Elizabeth says

    The perfect diet? Perhaps. But, how many people could manage it? And, I don’t see the way our food is produced, addressed here. Plus, when it comes to research and testing, there are wide variables that can be always be refuted by someone. What nutritional research found to be true thirty years ago, even ten years, has since changed. And will be changed again ten years from now. I guess I’m the one that remains a sceptic.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Plenty of people could manage it. In fact, this was the diet we managed as humans for thousands and thousands of years. It’s the diet we evolved on and the one that best suits our physiology and genetics. Our ancestors who ate this diet were free of the modern diseases which plague us today, such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and heart disease.

      What has changed in the past few years is not what science says about food, but the quality of the science and how it is interpreted. Studies never showed that saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet cause heart disease. But since that’s what researchers and doctors wanted to believe, that’s what they “saw” in the studies they did – even when those studies showed nothing of the sort.

      I do understand the confusion that can arise with constantly changing recommendations in the mainstream media. That’s why it’s so important to look at the lifestyles and diets of traditional cultures that are free of modern disease.

  11. Elizabeth says

    I agree with much of what you say, most of your recommendations. What I’m trying to point out is that the quality of our available food is not what it used to be. Many, if not most, people either live in areas where good, safe, healthy food (and water) isn’t available. Others live in situations where they don’t have choices. I know you are making your recommendations to people who frequent your site, and who most likely have access to all you recommend, and that is good.

    I, for example, don’t have access to the food I would prefer. Most of my life, I was fortunate to have good food. People ask what’s the difference between so-called organic grown fruits and vegetables, since they assumably have the same nutrients. I say you can tell the difference by the taste, and I doubt they have the same nutrients. And then you have to take the pesticides into account.

    I can’t drink tap water, so I have a water purifier. I don’t know what is in the tap water that I’m sensitive to, and it’s the same with any tap water from other locations, not just locally. I do what I can to compensate for my lack of a fully healthy diet, and that includes some supplements. I am careful and do research to do the best I can in my choices.

    I read other sites that also try to encourage readers to eat as healthfully as possible. They make recommendations on how to do that. And, they take into account that not all readers have access to the best foods. I guess that’s my problem then, just that I like to see understanding, recognition that our food supply if not as healthy as it used to be, at least for most of us.

  12. Chris Kresser says

    Elizabeth,

    I do agree that there are systemic problems in our food supply and policy that affect us all.  And of course there are powerful socioeconomic factors that determine access to food and information about health and wellness.

    Nevertheless, I still think it’s possible to follow a relatively healthy diet regardless of your income level.  I while back one of my favorite bloggers, Don Matesz, wrote an article about how to follow a paleo diet on a shoestring budget.  He showed that with careful planning, one could eat a nutritious paleo diet on food stamps.

    These foods won’t be organic, but I think eliminating vegetable oils, refined carbs and sugar is more important than switching from non-organic to organic produce, and Don agrees.

    If one followed Don’s advice, they wouldn’t have much need for supplements at all beyond the one I mentioned in my article.

  13. philosopherdog says

    I found your site searching for K2 and thought your info sounded interesting. However after reading about your endorsement of the “Paleo” diet I see that you are not “skeptical”, but a follower of food fads in the worst way. So let’s see, our Paleo ancestors ate mostly meat and no grains/beans because we weren’t farmers yet? Therefore we should follow this as a diet? I guess this is roughly the idea. It’s probably the basic idea behind Rand’s philosophy. It’s a return to the caves in more ways than one, and makes many false assumptions such as the idea that meat was central to the diet and all Paleo people basically ate the same thing. I would love to see the science behind such sweeping claims such as that we shouldn’t eat whole grains, or unrefined beans! Wow. Simply breathtakingly unskeptical. I’d love to see the science that we shouldn’t eat fermented soy foods. That’s just another food fad spread from an atrociously and notoriously poorly researched paper by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Check out http://www.foodrevolution.org/what_about_soy.htm for something a bit more skeptical. There’s no skepticism about mercury toxicity in fish products or the high accumulation of toxics found in most meats for instance. Skeptical this is not! It’s silliness on stilts.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Before I bother to reply in detail, please let me know if you are actually interested in seeing the evidence that whole grains and legumes can damage the body if not properly prepared. There’s plenty of it. But in my experience over the years on this blog, people who leave comments like yours aren’t really interested in evidence that doesn’t support their views. Let me know if you’re ready to challenge your beliefs, and I’ll happily give you plenty of stuff to read.

  14. philosopherdog says

    Evidence that grains and beans will damage your health if not properly prepared? Come on. The same applies to any food type. Whole grain and beans are excellent foods. Obviously any food can be ill prepared and yield health concerns, including all of the foods on the Paleo diet. Low carb diets like the Paleo diet are probably a poor choice for most people who already get far too much protean from meat, cheese and eggs, and not enough from whole grains and beans. Reposting this stuff is pretty irresponsible IMO. Besides, we don’t live on an ethical island. Our food choices have serious impacts on the lives of other humans, animals and the planet. The Paleo diet is an ethically irresponsible diet. But I guess if you’re a Randian that wouldn’t much matter, since all that matters is your own ego.

    • Chris Kresser says

      I am not a Randian and I am not a fan of Rand’s writing or philosophy. I have no affiliation philosophically or politically with the author of the post I linked to on paleo dietary guidelines.

      Clearly you aren’t familiar with evolutionary biology, anthropological studies on historical food consumption or the modern scientific literature. You are just stating your opinions, which hold little weight without any support.

      If you were aware of evolutionary biology, you’d understand that certain plants (especially grains and legumes, but also nightshades) have ant-nutrients and toxins in them for a variety of reasons. Phytates, for example, block seeds from sprouting prematurely. Protease inhibitors, saponins, lectins and phytoestrogens harm insects, animals and other predators that would otherwise eat too many of them. If evolutionary theories are correct, wounded plants produce extra inhibitors and other anti-nutrients to save the plant species. The idea is to cause predators—including plant-eating humans—to experience slowed growth and diminished reproductive ability. This is all well-established in the scientific literature.

      Traditional cultures understood this very well, and they went to great lengths to de-activate the anti-nutrients and toxins. Grains and legumes were always soaked, sprouted and/or fermented before they were consumed. You would know this if you have studies traditional cultures and their diets.

      Finally, there is extensive modern evidence linking consumption of unfermented soy and improperly prepared legumes and whole grains with a wide range of health problems, including intestinal permeability and autoimmune disease. Phytic acid, protease inhibitors like trypsin, lectins, and WGA are particularly problematic. Researchers like Cordain, Lindeberg, Eaton an others have published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals establishing the toxicity of these anti-nutrients.

      Finally, your claim that eating animal products is bad for the environment only holds true for factory-farmed, commercially produced animal products – which I don’t recommend. Read The Vegetarian Myth for a thorough discussion of this.

      You’re entitled to your opinions, but don’t expect any of us to agree with them unless you can support them with evidence.

  15. philosopherdog says

    Some pretty lofty claims here, apparently all established by nothing less than “the scientific literature” and “evolutionary biology”, or which I am apparently wholly ignorant. Some pretty amorphous and heavy hitting supports indeed; I guess an objector risks being guilty of gross superstition.
    I’m not entirely sure what it is you’re claiming. But notice, the fact that most plants produce chemical protections against insects doesn’t establish your position that grains/legumes are toxic to human health, since we’re not insects after all, last I checked, and we rarely eat them right from the plant without processing them in some way by cooking, soaking, fermenting, grinding, etc. So, I’m not sure what the worry is here. These foods are perfectly healthful eaten as part of an otherwise balanced diet.
    I don’t mean to imply that we are not sensitive to some of these chemical protections too. Green Tea, for instance, has a number of chemicals that ward off insects, such as caffeine, but does this mean we shouldn’t use it? Obviously not. But at sufficient quantities it would be harmful to us, and to certain people with serious sensitivities it might even be harmful in small quantities. To say that we shouldn’t eat grain or legumes as a result of this observation is altogether too sweeping and frankly quite stunning, or beans, or soy for that matter.
    Anyhow, notice the double standard in your argument. You never seem to consider any of the problems of eating meat, dairy, fish, etc. over vegetarian alternatives. The high concentrations of toxins in such foods a more significant problem, not to mention their high saturated fat content. So if we’re to consider the best diet, from just a health point of view, then we need to consider the pros and cons of each food, and then, if we want to get serious, we can also talk about its costs to the planet, other human lives, and other living beings (ahimsa, non-violence).
    Anyhow evolutionary theory gives us next to no information about what foods are healthful for humans to eat despite your claims above. It seems quite astounding to say that all grains and legumes were consumed as fermented foods. Of course fermented or sprouted foods would have been important, as they still are, but your claims is very sweeping indeed. Moreover, even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that your claim is true, it doesn’t follow that traditional cultures did this because they understood very well how toxic grain and beans were when not fermented. There’s a faulty assumption here that traditional cultures know best and that we’ve fallen from this knowledge, and, presumably that that’s the source of increases in ill health. Increases in ill health, especially in the West, can be accounted for by lots of other factors, including diets high in meat products and saturated fat, a lack of exercise, and stress due to status anxiety, for instance. Anyhow, please, let’s see your evidence of the wide health problems people have as a result of consuming too many whole grains and legumes that aren’t fermented or sprouted. Let’s see these studies done on actual people, eating real food. I doubt you have any such evidence. It’s all rats in labs being fed anomalous things nobody would really eat. Also, let’s see who sponsors these studies. Even the “studies” done on unfermented soy are all extrapolations from lab rats stuffed with soy and nothing but. People have been eating unfermented soy for a long time and most of the cultures that do eat it, like Japan, have far less ill health than Westerners who don’t. Anyhow, let’s look at the mountain of evidence that links high consumption of meat, dairy, eggs with major health issues. The evidence is overwhelming on this one, but your evidence against the lowly soy bean is scant and questionable at best. I’m not talking about processed soy derivatives here BTW. I’m talking about real food.
    Consuming animal products is also far worse for the environment and not just from factory-farmed animal products than consuming a vegetarian diet, except in very special and anomalous circumstances. The oceans, for instance, have been nearly totally decimated by the fishing industry to the point where wild fish are a luxury only available to the well off; I’m sure you can search for the evidence for that (not too difficult). The consumption of animals for food uses far more of the planets resources calorie for calorie than a vegetarian diet in almost all conceivable scenarios, this includes water, fossil fuels, toxic run off, decimation of land, deforestation, climate change, species lost, etc.; on any measure it is far worse. So please let’s not assume by citing a nightstand book on the “vegetarian myth” that this will suffice as some sort of proof against the overwhelming facts. I’ve been studying these issues for more than a few years and studying them in depth. Perhaps you are just meaning well by providing readers with information on health, but the result is that I believe you are misinforming people about significant issues that have real consequences. Hence I feel the need to speak up about these issues so that people can look for themselves at the arguments and use their own minds to reason these thoughts through. Anyhow, I appreciate you publishing my comments.

  16. Chris Kresser says

    Every argument you’ve made has been explicitly disputed here on this blog and elsewhere in the paleo blogosphere at length, and supported by extensive evidence.  Read my special report on heart disease and then tell me about the so-called “evidence” linking saturated fat and animal products to health problems.

    You ask for the evidence?  It’s all over my blog.  Have a look around.  But my guess is you aren’t interested in the evidence, you’re interested in advancing your agenda.

    You haven’t provided a single reference to a single study supporting your view.  I have hundreds in my articles here.  Your entire comment contains nothing but myths, unsubstantiated claims, generalizations and misconceptions.

    Feel free to “speak up” about these issues, but don’t expect anyone to listen unless you can actually provide some good evidence to support your claims.

  17. philosopherdog says

    Out of the hundreds of articles here please provide us with a single credible piece of evidence that what you say is true about the issue on this page that we have been debating, namely that grains and legumes are unhealthy foods unless fermented or sprouted; please do that instead of dismissing my challenge. Provide us with evidence on real people eating real food please. You’re the one making these surprising and controversial claims. The onus is on you to back them up. BTW, much of the evidence for my claims above is readily available to anyone with a web browser and functioning fingers; they are not particularly controversial. Search, for instance, for “environment impacts meat consumption”, or “health impacts meat consumption” and you will find zillions of peer reviewed pieces that support much of what I’m saying above. The blogsphere is full of counter claims like yours on any topic, but notice that dispute is not the same as providing persuasive evidence or argumentation, since surely you’re not implying that merely disputing something suffices to prove that point. Anyhow, I don’t see any argumentation against my post above; it’s just dismissal free of reasoned argumentation. I’m perfectly willing to admit that there are numerous reasonably healthy types of diets out there, but let’s not pretend that they are all equally ethical, and let’s not pretend that a well balanced vegetarian diet is not perfectly healthy, indeed among the healthiest. Also, let’s not pretend that just because the blogsphere is full of people who think so, that the Paleo diet or Atkins type diets are healthy. There’s a mountain of evidence to anyone with a web browser that this is far from reasonable. I don’t expect your audience of converts and cranks to believe what I say, but for those visiting your page who might think you sound reasonable I’m providing a counter-point. Better to go vegetarian and live a healthy life of non-violence (ahimsa), social, environmental and ethical responsibility. It’s the higher path. Check out http://www.foodrevolution.org/what_about_soy.htm .

    • Chris Kresser says

      You asked for it:

      Diet & Reinfarction Trial: people who increased their grain fiber intake had more heart attacks than people who didn’t.

      Dietary lectins (found in grains) increase leptin resistance, a major cause of obesity.

      Phytic acid found in legumes and grains decreases mineral absorption.

      This paper shows that genistein in soy activates the estrogen receptor and shrinks the prostate, at levels of intake similar to what you’d get in one soy-based meal.

      Dietary lectins (found in grains) bind to intestinal tissue and cause disease.

      A good summary of the evidence suggesting consumption of grains and legumes can cause disease in humans, especially when not fermented, sprouted/soaked.

      And yes, I am making the claim that almost all traditional cultures that have been studied soak, sprout or ferment grains and legumes before consuming them.

      That’s just a tiny sampling of studies.

      But as the saying goes, “you can’t fight faith with facts.”

      Here’s a good website debunking vegetarian myths.

      Looks like we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  18. philosopherdog says

    Interesting. Let’s look at some of the studies that you claim prove that unfermented/sprouted grain/legumes cause ill health.
     
    1) “Diet & Reinfarction Trial: people who increased their grain fiber intake had more heart attacks than people who didn’t.”
     
    This is a follow up study done using bran supplements and whole wheat, and fish  on folks who have already had heart attacks.
    This group of people were given eating advice on increasing fish and fibre from wheat in particular. The conclusion of the study says: “In this follow-up of a trial of intensive dietary advice following myocardial infarction we did not observe any substantial long-term survival benefit. Further trials of fish and fibre advice are feasible and necessary to clarify the role of these foods in coronary disease.”
     
    Chris, please help your readers out. How from this single follow up study done in 2002 using diet advice, given to men who had suffered heart attack, you conclude that eating unfermented grains is generally unhealthy! I don’t see the connection. This is a very small statistical blip on an anomalous group. It’s interesting, but hardly justifies the view you are arguing for.
     
    2) Dietary lectins (found in grains) increase leptin resistance, a major cause of obesity. They write: “Our lab conducted a study on 24 domestic pigs in which a cereal-free hunter-gatherer diet promoted significantly higher insulin sensitivity, lower diastolic blood pressure and lower C-reactive protein as compared to a cereal-based swine feed.”
     
    But Chris, I specifically asked for studies of people. PEOPLE! And 24?
     
    Ok. I’m not going to go through all of these odd studies that seem to persuade you and some others that eating fatty meats is a great lifestyle choice. I’m not entirely sure you’re amenable to clear thinking about this. After all, you’re very invested in the Blogsphere world as an advocate of this Paleo diet.
     
    But let me note a couple of interesting facts about your posts, besides the fact that you mostly seem to dismiss me without offer any plausible reasons, you have in general failed to address the majority of the points I’ve raised in any reasonable way shape or form. In particular you have entirely ignored the whole issue of ethics. I have taught environmental ethics at the university level and have seen all of the “myths of vegetarian arguments” that you can shake a stick at. These arguments are all well known and have been refuted beyond a reasonable doubt for anyone who cares to open their minds to rational persuasion.
     
    So, let me end by saying that we should be clear about this: it is you that remains impervious to reasoned debate. So far you have offered no persuasive reasons that I can see, if your other references are anything like the first two I’ve briefly  looked at, to conclude the basic fact that unfermented and unsprouted grains and legumes are bad for your health when eaten as a well balanced diet by normal PEOPLE. I think this is misinformation you are spreading, and more generally I think the Paleo diet is a diet based on misinformation, not unlike its core followers the Randian cranks. It reminds me a lot of the conspiracy theories around 9/11. The word “skepticism” seems to be a term used to mean you’re going to deny anything that doesn’t fit with your forgone conclusion. This is an abuse of the term but fair play in the Blogsphere it seems.

  19. Dana says

    Dude, if you don’t want to soak your grains and beans, just don’t. Nobody is trying to force you. It’s not necessary to go onto blogs like this one and give the writers ten tons of crap. Just don’t soak your grains and beans. And be sure to come back in 10-20 years and let us know how you turned out.

    As for myself, I had a serious downturn in my health status in 2005 that, oddly, seems to have coincided with an increase in both untreated grain and soy consumption. Very oddly. Strange coincidence. And all that. And I was on a health kick at the time.

  20. philosopherdog says

    Dana,
    Your reasoning like the reasoning on this blog has a bit to be desired. You’ve got a bit of a false cause argument and a hasty generalization going there. Don’t feel bad the author of this blog is fond of false extrapolations from cherry picked studies.

  21. philosopherdog says

    Rather I should have said that the author of this blog is fond of drawing sweeping conclusions from anomalous and suspect studies. Since we’re talking about people’s health, and the consequences for the planet this is no trivial matter.

  22. Margot says

    Wow, the diet recommended here is shockingly BAD. The only ones that horrify me more than the person who write this is the people who believe it. Scary!

  23. says

    Philosopherdog,

    Have you read the 1938 book ‘The Wheel of Health’, about the Hunza? Their diet was high in whole, unfermented wheat and other whole grains, and in (sprouted) legumes. To my mind their extraordinary health, as documented in the 1920s by McCarrison, proves beyond any doubt that unfermented whole wheat is a good food for humans.

    The antinutrients shouldn’t be a problem, because whole grains contain enough vitamins and minerals to activate the enzymes that break them down. Whole grains might not cause coeliac disease, for instance, because the proteases and peptidases that break down gluten may require metal cofactors. Look up ‘The activation of intestinal peptidases by manganese’. When wheat is refined, nearly all the manganese is removed.

    The same thing applies to lectins. As for phytate, it’s something that people eating a lot of meat should be careful to include in their diet, because it has the potential to correct the mineral imbalances meat can cause. Here is a paper showing that beef has enormous quantities of iron and zinc (and this is highly-available iron and zinc), and hardly any manganese or copper.

    ‘Selenium, copper, zinc, iron and manganese content of seven meat cuts from Hereford and Braford steers fed pasture in Uruguay’, Cabrera et al 2010, Meat Science 84:518

    Phytate binds zinc better than copper, and according to Leslie Klevay can prevent copper deficiency, which his work has implicated as a major cause of heart disease. He has found that saturated fat does not cause heart disease in rats if they are given extra copper.

    Phytate has also been shown to prevent colon cancer, by binding iron, and to be beneficial in diabetes, which in rats can be caused by manganese deficiency. Iron overload is implicated in several other important diseases, including Alzheimer’s, and it causes the oxidative stress many people think is caused by copper or manganese, which in fact protect against oxidative stress. In Alzheimer’s, the iron overload has recently been found to be caused by excess zinc.

    http://www.alzforum.org/new/detail.asp?id=2562

    Iron is very difficult to excrete, which is why meat-eaters should be careful to avoid absorbing too much. At the very least, they should eat a lot of high-manganese foods, which include whole grains and legumes.

  24. Elizabeth says

    I’m finding this discussion very interesting. I’m not sold either way, for or against whole grains. I’ve read some of the research and there is much disagreement between people interpreting research results. It would seem we can have healthy diets either way, if well balanced. I can see that refined grains products eaten in excess can cause health problems. I personally prefer to avoid them totally.

    There are so many things to be considered besides nutrition when it comes to good health. Yes, good nutrition is primary, but when I see the research, the tests given, I can’t help but wonder what other factors were involved. The small number of people used in tests, or the short time the tests are necessarily used, or all the other unknown factors in people’s lives and diets, may make the research useful, but don’t prove anything. Studies done on diets of groups of people, over time, seem more useful. Much is said about how healthy the Meditteranian diet is, and then I wonder how much variation there may be that. Surely not all people involved eat exactly the same thing, the same way.

    I think each person has to decide for him/herself which diet suits them best. Read the advice, filter through it as best you can, take seriously some of better researched recommendations, and realize diet isn’t the only factor involved in good health.

  25. says

    This is very similar to The Maker’s Diet, which my husband and I have followed and can say from personal experience, it works. What I mean by that is, our blood results improved in nearly every category (LDL lipids, CRP, homocystine, glucose, etc.) and we shed excess weight – 22lbs for him/13lbs for me – now 6′/160 and 5’6″/135 respectively.

    Of course, each individual must test and prove what works best for them. Unfortunately, that takes considerable focus and effort due to the abundance of information one must wade through.

    I believe the greatest obstacle to nutritional health is convenience. Modern men and women don’t know how to cook, which is not the same thing as following a recipe, relying on pre-packed, processed foods. We live in an instant society with little resolve for sacrifice–there’s the mentality of “I want it now, without any inconvenience.”

  26. says

    Holy crap, “philosopherdog” totally destroyed the site owner. I hate seeing stuff like this, like with Colin Campbell got taken apart. The site owner just basically went into the fetal position when challenged and “philosopherdog” showed a full willingness to stay around and discuss the issues.

    All I know is that I’ve lived as a vegan and I’ve lived on a “paleo” diet, and I feel much, much better when I’m eating in accordance with the “paleo” diet.

    • says

      I doubt Chris has curled up into a fetal position in retraction to some troll’s comments on his blog. It’s more likely that he chose to avoid the stress of an argument with someone who doesn’t fully understand the subject matter and is opting to spend more time healing patients and enjoying life in general. Just a guess…

      • philosopherdog says

        “some troll”. You are too kind. I am not some troll. I offered arguments throughout this thread that still stand unchallenged by the blog’s author and by anyone else who has replied, you included. Did you even read the whole thread? I doubt it. Let’s hear your reply to the arguments and never mind the name calling and the insults because that doesn’t have anything to do with the truth.

  27. says

    Oh, and “philosopherdog,” if you’re so inclined, go by Robb Wolf’s site and read his stuff. He’s absolutely unafraid to address the issues you’ve brought up and he’ll do so unflinchingly. His site address is his name jammed together plus a dot com.

  28. Vivian says

    Hi Chris-
    What’s wrong with non-stick pans? How to make an omelet? Any brand names for cookware you’d recommend?
    Thanks,
    Vivian

  29. Michaela says

    Hi Chris

    I am new in comment but I have read your blog for last 3-4months cause I want to get pregnant and want to have healthy baby. I am former vegan, but I have lost my period when I was vegan so after 9 months without period I incorporate animals products back( I was vegan 1,5 years) . I have 3 years old girl but we want second baby so I really would like to eat healthy. I still drink green juice in the morning but than have raw homemade kefir from sheep milk( I have read that it is even nutritious than goat one and we have good sources both of them) than I have meat organic or organic salmon with big salad and dinner mainly 3-4 eggs steamed veggies with lots of raw butter and raw goat or sheep cheese. I do eat FCLO buuter oil daily.I do not eat grains legumes. With fruits some berries wild or from our garden not from store, and sometimes sweet potato. What I would like to ask is your opinion on hemp and hemp protein powder. I used to eat lots of hemp and hemp protein powders when I was vegan, but I have read that plants proteins are toxic in very little amount. Please can you answer me to clarify it. Many thanks Sorry about my english I am from Vienna Austria

  30. Mary says

    I’m new to your blog and am a little confused by the pyramid graphic you used to illustrate this article. It indicates that one should eat berries more sparingly than other fruit. I’ve always read that berries are the preferred fruit of the paleo community.

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