Respectful Insolence

There are many fallacies that undergird alternative medicine, which evolved into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), and for which the preferred term among its advocates is now “integrative medicine,” meant to imply the “best of both worlds.” If I had to pick one fallacy that rules above all among proponents of CAM/IM, it would have to be either the naturalistic fallacy (i.e., that if it’s natural—whatever that means—it must be better) or the fallacy of antiquity (i.e., that if it’s really old, it must be better). Of course, the two fallacies are not unrelated. In the minds of CAM proponents, old is more likely to have been based on nature, and the naturalistic fallacy often correlates with the fallacy of antiquity. Basically, it’s a rejection of modernity, and from it flow the interest in herbalism, various religious practices rebranded as treatments (thousands of years ago, medicine was religion and religion was medicine—the two were more or less one and physicians were often priests as well), and the all-consuming fear of “toxins,” in which it is thought that the products of modernity are poisoning us.

Yes, there is a definite belief underlying much of CAM that technology and pharmaceuticals are automatically bad and that “natural” must be better. Flowing from that belief is the belief that people were happier and much healthier in the preindustrial, preagricultural past, that cardiovascular disease was rare or nonexistent, and that cancer was seldom heard of. Of course, it’s hard not to note that cancer and heart disease are primarily diseases of aging, and life expectancy was so much lower back in the day that a much smaller percentage of the population lived to advanced ages than is the case today. Even so, an implicit assumption among many CAM advocates is that cardiovascular disease is largely a disease of modern lifestyle and diet and that, if modern humans could somehow mimic preindustrial or, according to some, even preagricultural, lifestyles, that cardiovascular disease could be avoided. Not infrequently, evolutionary and genomic arguments are invoked, claiming that the estimated 10,000 years since the dawn of human agriculture is not a sufficiently long period of time for us to have evolved to handle diets rich in grains and meats and that we are “genetically wired” to exist on a diet like those of our paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors. For instance, in 2004, James H. O’Keefe Jr, MD and Loren Cordain, PhD wrote an article in the Mayo Proceedings entitled Cardiovascular Disease Resulting From a Diet and Lifestyle at Odds With Our Paleolithic Genome: How to Become a 21st-Century Hunter-Gatherer that asserted in essence, just that. Over the last decade, Cordain has become the most prominent promoter of the so-called “Paleo diet,” having written The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat and multiple other books advocating a paleolithic-mimetic diet as the cure for what ails modern humans. Meanwhile, diets thought to reflect what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, such as the Paleo Diet consisting largely of animal and fish that can be hunted and fruits and vegetables that can be foraged for in the wild, have been promoted as a near-panacea for the chronic diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

But how does one determine what the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was in the ancient past? Time and the decomposition it brings are brutal on the flimsy meat of which we are made, and it is uncommon to have access to anything other than bones, much less bodies intact enough to be examined for signs of atherosclerotic disease. Even so, however, there have been indications that the idea that ancient humans didn’t suffer from atherosclerosis is a comforting myth, the most recent of which is a study published a week ago online in The Lancet by Prof. Randall C. Thompson of Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute and an international team of investigators entitled Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations. Basically, it was a study of 137 different mummies from four different geographic locations spanning 4,000 years. The areas spanned included ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, the Ancestral Puebloans of southwest America, and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands.

The reason for the study is described in the introduction:

Human cultures residing in environments that are either very dry, hot, or cold have independently discovered how to mummify their dead. Thus, preindustrial or preagricultural cultures created the opportunity for a natural experiment—to study these ancient human beings with modern CT scanning to assess the extent of vascular calcifications in diverse environments and cultures. A common component of a mature atherosclerotic plaque, vascular calcification in modern day human beings is pathognomonic for atherosclerosis.4 Calcification consistent with atherosclerosis has been identified by CT scanning in the naturally mummified Iceman from present day Italy who lived around 3000 BCE (before common era).5 More than a century ago, Johann Nepomuk Czermak6 and Sir Marc Armand Ruffer7 gave serious evidence for atherosclerosis in several autopsies of Egyptian mummies from around 1000 BCE. Our recent studies confirmed these findings of atherosclerosis in 20 of 44 Egyptian mummies who lived during several dynasties between 1981 BCE and 364 CE (common era).8 and 9 However, ancient Egyptian culture and lifestyles might have had unique attributes relative to atherogenesis. Moreover, mummification in Egypt during the bulk of this time was primarily performed on elite Egyptians of high socioeconomic status.

So, although there was a fair amount of evidence from studies of Egyptian mummies that atherosclerosis was not uncommon, in Egypt it was mainly the wealthy and powerful who were mummified after their deaths. Conceivably, they could have lived a very different lifestyle and consumed a very different diet than the average Egyptian living around that time.

So the authors obtained whole-body CT scans of the 137 mummies, either pre-existing scans or scans prospectively done, and analyzed them for calcifications. The mummies to be included in the study were chosen primarily based on two factors, being in a good state of preservation with identifiable vascular tissue, and being adults. The authors obtained identifying information from an extensive search of museum and other databases by a team of archeologists and experts in mummy restoration, and sex was determined by either analysis of the genitals and reproductive organs when present and by pelvic morphology when they were not present. Age was estimated by standard analysis of architectural changes in the clavicle, femur, and humerus. Finally, multiple anthropological and archeological sources were used in an attempt to estimate likely risk factors for the mummies. Obviously, this last part involved a fair amount of inference and speculation, but that is to be expected in archeological studies.

Here are the findings:

Probable or definite atherosclerosis was noted in 47 (34%) of 137 mummies and in all four geographical populations: 29 (38%) of 76 ancient Egyptians, 13 (25%) of 51 ancient Peruvians, two (40%) of five Ancestral Puebloans, and three (60%) of five Unangan hunter gatherers (p=NS). Atherosclerosis was present in the aorta in 28 (20%) mummies, iliac or femoral arteries in 25 (18%), popliteal or tibial arteries in 25 (18%), carotid arteries in 17 (12%), and coronary arteries in six (4%). Of the five vascular beds examined, atherosclerosis was present in one to two beds in 34 (25%) mummies, in three to four beds in 11 (8%), and in all five vascular beds in two (1%). Age at time of death was positively correlated with atherosclerosis (mean age at death was 43 [SD 10] years for mummies with atherosclerosis vs 32 [15] years for those without; p<0·0001) and with the number of arterial beds involved (mean age was 32 [SD 15] years for mummies with no atherosclerosis, 42 [10] years for those with atherosclerosis in one or two beds, and 44 [8] years for those with atherosclerosis in three to five beds; p<0·0001).

Figure 2 summarizes the findings nicely:

athero-graph

There’s also this video featured in a Nature report on the study showing the reconstructed scan of one of the mummies with atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries.

As expected, more atherosclerosis correlates with advanced age, and the amount of atherosclerosis in the young and middle-aged (although the times in which the people who became these mummies after death lived age 50 was old) was less. Although the sample number was far too small to draw definitive conclusions (as is often the case in archeological research), the prevalence of atherosclerotic disease in these mummies did not appear to correlate with the cultures in which the mummies lived. As is noted in Thompson’s article, ancient Egyptians and Peruvians were agricultural cultures with farms and domesticated animals, Ancestral Puebloans were forager-farmers, and the Unangans were hunter-gatherers without agriculture. Indeed, the Peruvians and Ancestral Puebloans predated the written word and were thus prehistoric cultures. At least, there were not large differences to suggest that studying more mummies might yield a statistically significant difference. Certainly,this doesn’t rule out the possibility that there was a difference, but also certainly atherosclerosis was common even among hunter-gatherers.

One notes that no one, including the authors of this study, is saying that lifestyle and diet are not important factors for the development of atherosclerotic heart disease. What they are saying is that atherosclerosis appears to be associated with aging and that the claims that mimicking paleolithic diets (which, one notes, were definitely not vegan) are overblown. In other words, there is a certain inherent risk of atherosclerosis that is related to aging that is likely not possible to lower further, with the study concluding:

In conclusion, atherosclerosis was common in four preindustrial populations, including a preagricultural hunter-gatherer population, and across a wide span of human history. It remains prevalent in contemporary human beings. The presence of atherosclerosis in premodern human beings suggests that the disease is an inherent component of human ageing and not characteristic of any specific diet or lifestyle.

I actually think that the authors probably went too far with that last statement in that, while they might be correct that atherosclerosis is an inherent component of human aging, it is quite well established that this inherent component of aging can at least be worsened by sedentary lifestyle and probably certain diets. Professor Thompson provided a bit more nuance in a quote in an article for TIME Magazine:

We found that heart disease is a serial killer that has been stalking mankind for thousands of years. In the last century, atherosclerotic vascular disease has replaced infectious disease as the leading cause of death across the developed world. A common assumption is that the rise in levels of atherosclerosis is predominantly lifestyle-related, and that if modern humans could emulate pre-industrial or even pre-agricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis, or at least its clinical manifestations, would be avoided. Our findings seem to cast doubt on that assumption, and at the very least, we think they suggest that our understanding of the causes of atherosclerosis is incomplete, and that it might be somehow inherent to the process of human aging.

One notes that, although the Paleo Diet is not, strictly speaking, always sold as CAM/IM, the ideas behind it are popular among CAM advocates, and the diet is frequently included as part of “integrative medicine,” for example, here at the University of Connecticut website, where it’s under integrative nutrition. Indeed, take a look at this video:

One wonders how some of the cavewomen in this video managed to have big hair and lipstick. several thousand years ago.

A related site is called CaveMenMeds. Although it features rather strong support for the theory of evolution, unfortunately, it also misuses evolution in much the same way that Cordain has done (as discussed in this very post) and in parallel make the same sorts of fallacious arguments about placebo effects that we’ve discussed many times before here. Basically, it couples myths about how paleolithic humans lived with a typical “integrating” of ideas that range from the sensible to the pseudoscientific to discuss disease. This is just the most direct link between CAM and paleofantasies that I came across in my web wanderings. There are many more less direct links to be found.

In particular, the appeal to ancient wisdom and ancient civilizations as yet untouched by the evil of modernity is the same sort of arguments that are made in favor of various CAM modalities ranging from herbalism to vegan diets rebranded as being somehow CAM to the appeal to “natural” cures. Indeed, the fetish for the “natural” in CAM is such that even a treatment like Stanislaw Burzynski’s antineoplaston therapy is represented as “natural” when in fact, if it were ever shown to work against cancer, it would be chemotherapy and has toxicities greater than that of some of our current chemotherapy drugs.

All of this brings us to another article from about a week ago about a book that I think I need to read that talks about “paleofantasy” and “Stone Age delusions.” The book is by Marlene Zuk and entitled Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Zuk is an evolutionary biologist, and in particular she points out how the evolutionary arguments favored by advocates of the Paleo diet don’t stand up to scrutiny. All I can say is that it’s a part of my paleo fantasy. It’s a part of my paleo dream. OK, OK, enough of the classic rock references.

The interview begins with Zuk confronting Cordain at a conference on evolution and diseases of modern environments. At his lecture, Cordain pronounced several foods to be the cause of fatal conditions in people carrying certain genes. These foods included, predictably, cultivated foods such as bread (made from grain), rice, and potatoes. Zuk couldn’t resist asking a question, namely why the inability to digest so many common foods would persist in the population, observing, “Surely it would have been selected out of the population.” Cordain’s response? That humans had not had time to adapt to these foods, to which Zuk retorted, “Plenty of time.” Apparently, in her book, Zuk produces numerous examples of evolution in humans occurring in a time frame of less than 10,000 years, including:

  • Blue eyes arose 6,000 to 10,000 years ago
  • Rapid selection for the CCR5-D gene variant that makes some people immune to HIV
  • Lactase persistence (production past the age of weening of the lactase enzyme that digests lactose in milk) probably dates back only around 7,500 to 10,000 years, around the time that cattle were domesticated

Zuk also points out, as Thompson did in the Lancet study of atherosclerosis in mummies, that there is no one diet or climate that predominated among our Paleolithic ancestors:

Zuk detects an unspoken, barely formed assumption that humanity essentially stopped evolving in the Stone Age and that our bodies are “stuck” in a state that was perfectly adapted to survive in the paleolithic environment. Sometimes you hear that the intervention of “culture” has halted the process of natural selection. This, “Paleofantasy” points out, flies in the face of facts. Living things are always and continuously in the process of adapting to the changing conditions of their environment, and the emergence of lactase persistence indicates that culture (in this case, the practice of keeping livestock for meat and hides) simply becomes another one of those conditions.

For this reason, generalizations about the typical hunter-gatherer lifestyle are spurious; it doesn’t exist. With respect to what people ate (especially how much meat), the only safe assumption was “whatever they could get,” something that to this day varies greatly depending on where they live. Recently, researchers discovered evidence that people in Europe were grinding and cooking grain (a paleo-diet bugaboo) as far back as 30,000 years ago, even if they weren’t actually cultivating it. “A strong body of evidence,” Zuk writes, “points to many changes in our genome since humans spread across the planet and developed agriculture, making it difficult at best to point to a single way of eating to which we were, and remain, best suited.”

Some advocates of “paleo” will claim that they are not at all advocating that humans should eat what their paleolithic ancestors ate but that we should use what they ate as a template to figure out what to eat today. That’s a distinction without a real difference because the assumptions upon which the Paleo Diet are based (e.g., that atherosclerosis didn’t exist in hunter-gatherers and that hunter-gatherers were “almost always healthy, lean, fit, disease-free, strong people” and that 10,000 years is too short a time period for humans to have evolved to accommodate a grain-based diet) are more the product of wishful thinking and the “noble savage” myth than anything else. At the very least, Thompson’s study suggests that this assumption is overblown and that there has long been a certain “baseline” level of atherosclerotic disease among humans that is an inevitable part of aging. Whether or not a “Paleo”-like diet can modulate that baseline risk factor downward or at least decrease the risk of people living in modern technological societies from what our current mosaic of genetics, lifestyle, diet, and environment produce is an open question, but we’re not off to a good start when the underlying premise is so questionable.

Oh, and, as Zuk tells us, paleolithic people got cancer, too.

Ever since the rise of science and industry, there has long been a significant proportion of the population who distrust, fear, and sometimes even loathe modernity. Science changes too fast; it is thought to endanger “spiritual matters”; it tramples on “traditional values.” People fantasize about and long for a (nonexistent) time long past, when humans supposedly lived in harmony with their environment, and view science, specifically for the purposes of this discussion modern biomedicine, has having participating in destroying that “ancient wisdom.” We see strains of this tendency not just in medicine and “integrative medicine” but in literature and many other areas as well. Films such as Avatar and Dances With Wolves, among many others, portray scientists and “Western” man as rapacious and ready to destroy a race of hunter-gatherers and early agrarian people who are portrayed as living in complete harmony with nature. CAM and the Paleo diet share this fear of modernity as an underlying assumption even as their advocates use and misuse evolution to “prove” their worth. This is nothing new, and the rationale behind the Paleo diet is nothing more than, as Zuk has put it, the evolutionary search for our perfect past. Unfortunately, fantasy is not reality, and we humans have long been known to abuse and despoil our environment, even back in those “paleo” days. Indeed, when I took a prehistoric archeology course, which was largely dedicated to the period of time of the hunter-gatherers, one thing I remember my professor pointing out, and that was that what he did was largely the study of prehistoric garbage and that humans have always produced a lot of it.

We still haven’t stopped, unfortunately.

Comments

  1. #1 Adam
    March 25, 2013

    Whenever I hear someone say paleo diet, I wonder which one. I’m pretty certain that one group of stone age dwellers would think nothing of eating pounded up caterpillars, while another would be climbing precarious cliffs to obtain seagull eggs to go with their seaweed and crabs. Another group might be having roast monkey with wild berries. Basically anything they could lay their hands on, that was edible and sustaining enough to justify the effort would be fair game.

    I very much doubt it bore even the slightest resemblance to what people call a “paleo diet” these days though. Nor should it be surprising that a diet which cuts out virtually all high carb items like sugar, potatoes, grain, rice and high fat items like oil, cheese and milk should cause people to lose weight. Doesn’t mean it’s healthy though or there is a legitimate rationale behind it other than just “cut the carbs”.

  2. #2 Andreas Johansson
    March 25, 2013

    paleolithic diets (which, one notes, were definitely not vegan)

    It takes a special kind of stupid to assume that hunter-gatherer diets were (or are) vegan. But happily the wootiful people are experts on stupid.

  3. #3 Ellie
    March 25, 2013

    So…overlooking the fact that honey should not be given to any child under the age of two….where did that “cavewoman” in a cold climate (furs on woman and child) get the lemon for that cold remedy?

  4. #4 Renate
    March 25, 2013

    @Ellie
    Probably she bought them in some store, just like the Flinstones.

  5. #5 Bronze Dog
    March 25, 2013

    I like to call the common woo attitude “the Disneyfication of nature.” I suspect a lot of it is born from being urbanized and distant from the wilderness. Sure, nature’s nice, sometimes. Other times, it’s red in tooth and claw. These days, storytellers prefer to ignore the latter.

    On evolution and what our bodies are built for, well, growing old isn’t something evolution regularly adapts species for. I suspect it’s much more common for age-triggered self-destruct mechanisms to evolve than comfortable old age. Once you live past your reproductive ability, you’re a competitor with the younger generation for resources, so genomes that include an old age self-destruct would have more prosperous offspring. Humans are a bit oddball, and probably have a natural component for longevity (now strongly augmented by modern medical science) because our elders can pass on helpful cultural knowledge to the younger generations to offset the resources they expend.

  6. #6 MI Dawn
    March 25, 2013

    Since I’m not a biologist, I have to ask, regarding BD’s comment: Is there any other mammal (or any animal, for that matter) who routinely survives beyond the reproductive age like humans do? Or are humans the only animal who lose the ability to reproduce as they age?

  7. #7 Medel
    Taiwan
    March 25, 2013

    This made me remember the lecture by Prof Ajit Varki about the dangers of eating red meat because we are being exposed to N-glycolyl neuraminic acid (NeuGc), a sugar that is biosynthesized in other mammals except humans. According to him, the incorporation of NeuGc in the cell-surface glycan architecture increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, microbial infection and cancer.
    http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/health/11-08RedMeatCancer.asp
    http://cmm.ucsd.edu/varki/varkilab/Publications/B131.pdf

  8. #8 JGC
    March 25, 2013

    Whales and elephants go through menopause, and I believe some non-human primates (rhesus monkeys?)
    It would be curious if the list were limited to species that tended to live in social groups, where the availablity of adults who didn’t compete for reproduction but could contribute to the survival of the next generation would confer a fitness advantage.

  9. #9 Mike
    March 25, 2013

    You know, it just occurred to me that in another thousand years or so, we should be well adapted to the sedentary lifestyle. Our doctors in 3001 will be proscribing more cheeseburgers and fries to help keep our cholesterol levels up where they need to be. . . .

    Only “mostly” in jest here, actually.

  10. #10 Eric Lund
    March 25, 2013

    There is a reason agricultural diets took hold over whatever version of “paleo” diet one might care to name: you can support a much larger population with agriculture. True, that has its own problems, such as the heightened risk of famine when the crops fail (prolonged famines are correlated with what Chinese historians call “losing the mandate of heaven”). But we can’t possibly support more than a small fraction of the present world population on “paleo” diets.

    And ultimately, agriculture did not change the fact that a typical diet consisted of “whatever was available” (and still does, in most of the world); it only made certain staple crops more available. Modern transport has actually improved things in that regard: even though it’s the end of winter here, I can buy fresh fruits in my grocery store that, in my great-grandparents’ day, would only have been available (if ever) during a season only a few weeks long at most. At least one local delicacy, the fiddlehead fern, is still like that: you can only find it in stores during a short season in late April/early May.

  11. #11 Erik Olson
    United States
    March 25, 2013

    “Science changes too fast;”
    Some people are skeptical that new innovations are truly better. Remember when saturated fat was so bad for us and killing us all with heart disease? So we started taking it out of everything and replacing it with hydrogenated vegetable oils. What a fantastic innovation!

  12. #12 John Trowbridge MD
    Houston, Texas
    March 25, 2013

    As an acknowledged expert in Integrative Medicine for almost all of my almost 35 years in practice, I must offer this ….. all of the criticisms are well placed. I have long considered many “integrative” explanations to be WRONG, leading practitioners and devotees alike to wander down the wrong rabbit holes. Our “modern” society and medical practices fail to take into account the vast changes (almost all “bad”) in our environment over the past 100+ years, especially in the past 60 years. We no longer have clean air, clean water, clean food — we’re laden with toxic metals and chemicals at an ever-increasing pace, all the while our foodstuffs fail to provide the nutrition (and especially bioflavonoids and other detoxifiers) available to past generations who muddled along with “organic” farming as best they could rather than with chemical agribusiness sources today. Toxic metals and chemicals greatly amplify inflammation processes, and inflammation is the root of degenerative diseases ….. if not in their initiation then at least in their flagrant promotion. We have found how to poison ourselves, despite discovering technologies that help us to live longer so that we can better diagnose the evolution of diseases inside our bodies. No one is safe anymore. The article has it right: those who cling to a mythology of “a better past” are advising the rest of us based on their own biases. Linus Pauling had it right: anti-oxidants are the primary key to longer, healthier life. If only the present-time paleo diet provided them in sufficient supply ….. JPT MD

  13. #13 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 25, 2013

    I wonder how many Paleo Diet promoters are also spending their time outside, hunting and gathering their food. That was a full-time job, and the physical efforts are a confounding variable they need to account for.

    Before I got through the post in full, I anticipated advocates being able to dismiss the study, saying that the mummies, being from wealthier (and therefore, more sedentary) social classes was not representative of “true” paleo lifestyles (hints of No True Scotsman). “Real” paleo people would not have been able, due to class or cost, to be mummified. No mummies, no contradictory evidence.

  14. #14 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    March 25, 2013

    I have a friend who follows the paleo diet. He’s credited it with his weightloss of 60 pounds or so.

    It’s the diet; not the 3+ hours a day he spends in the gym, etc… it’s all the diet.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    March 25, 2013

    @ Andreas Johansson:

    ” a special kind of stupid”
    Yes, old, reliable Gary Null – a veritable arbiter of stupid- has already addressed paleo from a vegan perspective – it seems ( at least in his fevered imagination) that our paleolithic ancestors were actually gatherers – i.e. mostly vegan- only very infrequently ingesting animal proteins- obviously this life style explained their robust health and long life. IIRC, his prn site featured an article about paleolithic use of herbal medicines. The paleo *healthy* diet of course was based on fruit, seeds, nuts and green herbs- the very diet present-day vegan woo-meisters prescribe!

    Looking at a map of Europe, I seriously wonder how many of our ancestors managed to survive year round without animal products, starchy vegetables or grains because north of 50 degrees latitude, there is a rather short growing season and minimal sunlight for months.

    I’m sure you know all about this. You can’t blithly pick oranges, olives and berries when it snows nearly every day or if it’s foggy half the year. It’s not the Mediterranean, after all.

    A while back, a discussion @ RI about some Europeans’ lactase persistence led me to read about the relationship of a diet that includes milk products and its effect on height: countries with these traditions have taller people ( e.g. the Netherlands, Sweden etc).
    I’m sure that vegans will find something wrong with that observation. Perhaps being tall is a sign of ill health. Or of poor nutrition.

  16. #16 jane
    March 25, 2013

    Asymptomatic atherosclerosis is a risk factor, which perhaps many of us develop for unavoidable genetic reasons, but heart attacks and strokes are disease, and the *age-adjusted* incidence of these diseases has been shown to be lower not just in people in the past, but in modern-day peoples not living the Western lifestyle. That need not mean that our crummy diet is only to blame. Two of your commenters have made the valuable point that people in the past also got a lot more exercise [and thereby a lot more sun exposure] than modern Americans. And they may have had less psychological illness and certainly less exposure to industrial chemicals, some of which are shown in animal studies to have negative effects. But it is an interesting fact that people who adopt the Western diet reliably see their rates of chronic disease rise.

    By the way, assuming that whatever is newer is better, or that whatever is physician-controlled as opposed to patient-controlled is better, is also a Fallacy.

  17. #17 Strewth
    March 25, 2013

    I continue to be amazed at the things humans have figured out how to eat. “Oh, that plant is poisonous? Break it up, but the bits in a basket and leave it in a running river for six hours. It’ll be fine.”

    Really, that seems to be a big contributor to our success and geographic spread: If it has any nutritional value at all, humans will figure out how to eat it.

  18. #18 AdamG
    March 25, 2013

    the *age-adjusted* incidence of these diseases has been shown to be lower not just in people in the past, but in modern-day peoples not living the Western lifestyle.

    citation please, jane.

  19. #19 Denice Walter
    March 25, 2013

    @ AdamG:

    Be careful of what you wish :
    that citation just might be ‘The China Study’.

  20. #20 Eric Lund
    March 25, 2013

    Looking at a map of Europe, I seriously wonder how many of our ancestors managed to survive year round without animal products, starchy vegetables or grains because north of 50 degrees latitude, there is a rather short growing season and minimal sunlight for months.

    It’s not just central and northern Europe, either. Without an industrial infrastructure to provide vegetables out of season, there are only a few places in the world, all tropical or subtropical, where it is feasible to even attempt a vegan diet. Rarer still are cultures in these areas that approve of that way of life. You can be a vegan in India and Mexico. There may be some other places. But most cultures expect you to eat some meat or fish. In the extreme case, try surviving in Arctic Canada, as the Inuit did for centuries–you will eat animal products, because almost nothing else is available locally if you are north of the tree line, and even south of there the fruit and vegetable season is only a few weeks long at most.

  21. #21 Woefully Undereducated
    Ireland
    March 25, 2013

    I regularly mix with high level athletes or coaches as well as people starting out and trying to lose weight. The paleo diet has long been a mild irritation for me.
    On the one hand, of course someone following it is more likely to lose weight. It forbids so many common food types that eating excessive calories while on it would be uncomfortable and monotonous. i suspect this is mainly behind its success stories and its the reason Im reluctant to point out its dubious logic to people who are finally losing weight. They obviously find it easier to cut calories when they ‘cant’ eat certain things than if they know they shouldnt eat too much of it.
    Its the fallacious logic and air of superiority that accompanies fads like this (of which there are many in the marketing heavy world of weight loss and fitness coaching) that drives me nuts and has my tongue bleeding at this point.
    Aside from the annoying ignorance and scientific claims, can anyone find anything potentially harmful in the diet? As I said, it seems more defined by what it doesnt allow than what it proposes people should eat.

  22. #22 Woefully Undereducated
    Ireland
    March 25, 2013

    I regularly mix with high level athletes or coaches as well as people starting out and trying to lose weight. The paleo diet has long been a mild irritation for me.
    On the one hand, of course someone following it is more likely to lose weight. It forbids so many common food types that eating excessive calories while on it would be uncomfortable and monotonous. i suspect this is mainly behind its success stories and its the reason Im reluctant to point out its dubious logic to people who are finally losing weight. They obviously find it easier to cut calories when they ‘cant’ eat certain things than if they know they shouldnt eat too much of it.
    Its the fallacious logic and air of superiority that accompanies fads like this (of which there are many in the marketing heavy world of weight loss and fitness coaching) that drives me nuts and has my tongue bleeding at this point.
    Aside from the annoying ignorance and scientific claims, can anyone find anything potentially harmful in the diet? As I said, it seems more defined by what it doesnt allow than what it proposes people should eat.

  23. #23 Edith Prickly
    March 25, 2013

    Aside from the annoying ignorance and scientific claims, can anyone find anything potentially harmful in the diet?

    Disordered eating habits, possibly leading to a full-blown eating disorder in vulnerable people? Social isolation (harder to eat out or accept invitations to dinner when you’re on a restricted diet) . Nutritional deficiencies? Rebound weight gain if you go off the diet (or can’t stand the restrictions anymore)?

    I’m not a health professional, but I have a personal interest in diet/weight loss woo, so that’s where I’m coming from. I’ve lost (and regained) weight on high-protein/low carb diets, low fat/high carb diets, by doing intense physical training for several months then stopping, and after a pregnancy during which I only gained 10 pounds. That said, my anecdata is supported by scientific research – here’s a Canadian study that looked at various weight loss diets and concluded that there’s not a lot of difference between them and most people end up regaining the weight regardless of how they lost it: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3155441/

  24. #24 Spectator
    March 25, 2013

    @Denise Walker

    “Be careful of what you wish :
    that citation just might be ‘The China Study’.”

    What’s wrong with the ‘China Study’? My GP is a fan of it.

  25. #25 Darryl
    United States
    March 25, 2013

    @ Woefully
    The Paleo diet (as espoused by Cordain) is likely healthier than other low-carb diets like Atkins, as eliminating cured, fatty meats & dairy and encouraging fruit & vegetable intake all have heath benefits. That said the low-carb dietary pattern doesn’t have a strong record with respect to chronic disease or longevity. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989112/
    I think the Paleo folks are pulling together a lot of interesting data points but their central conceit is laden with fallacies. That said, one can (further) remove refined & dairy foods from a proven diet like Ornish or DASH and potentially improve them. I’m still not giving up my beans.

  26. #26 AdamG
    March 25, 2013
  27. #27 Jeff Read
    March 25, 2013

    I’m going to Australia soon and researched Australian culture. One thing which fascinated me was the discovery of “bush tucker”, the Australian paleo diet — basically anything the Aborigines ate, which boils down to anything that grows wild that’s safe and nourishing to eat. On the meat side that includes roo meat, crocodile, goanna (a monitor lizard), and witchetty grubs — fat, white larvae that live underground. Completely unpalatable to the sort of hipster who derives ego-satisfaction from “going paleo”, but plentiful and therefore widely eaten.

    After reading that I decided I was content with the evil Western diet. And no, I don’t plan on trying much bush tucker while in Australia.

  28. #28 dr2chase
    March 25, 2013

    @Woe.Under. – “They obviously find it easier to cut calories when they ‘cant’ eat certain things than if they know they shouldnt eat too much of it.” I don’t see anything wrong in any way with either this reasoning or approach. If it is easier to eat zero potato chips than it is to eat just one, then do what’s easy.

    @Jeff Read – re: bush tucker. This reminds me of some account of early European explorers in the American southeast, reporting that palmetto berries could be eaten, and were slightly better than starvation — http://www.eattheweeds.com/saw-palmetto-saga-3/

  29. #29 Ellen
    England
    March 25, 2013

    I was introduced to “paleo” last summer, and since cutting grains from my diet I have felt a million times healthier! All I can say is, lucky you if you can eat processed foods and wake up everyday feeling healthy. Before I cut out grains I had daily stomach aches and IBS, felt tired every single day, and skin problems to boot.
    Surely getting rid of those symptoms and improving my quality of life is worth sticking to grain free then I don’t know what is.
    Maybe that’s just me though…?

  30. #30 Old Rockin' Dave
    Where the mild things are.
    March 25, 2013

    Doctor Trowbridge tells us: “Our “modern” society and medical practices fail to take into account the vast changes (almost all “bad”) in our environment over the past 100+ years, especially in the past 60 years. We no longer have clean air, clean water, clean food”.
    For centuries people have used open fires for heating and cooking, and breathed in the smoke of burning wood, peat, or dung; in colder climates this was worse because every chink in the house was sealed up to save heat. My granduncle, an artist who lived in Belarus as a child, painted the interior of his childhood home, with rats tunneling under the walls, who, he said brought in the only fresh air all winter. No, no air pollution there.
    Food? For the people I suspect Dr. Trowbridge is thinking of, rodents and insects often got at their food, and at winter’s end and before much fresh food was available, stored food was often nearly inedible. Using nitrates or smoke to preserve food is certainly nothing new either.
    As for water, we can see the devastation of waterborne diseases even today, even far away from industrial civilization.
    I don’t know about you, Doctor, but I think I’m going to chuck in all this modernity and accept malaria, trachoma, and the occasional cholera outbreak as the price of avoiding all the diseases of urban industrial society.

  31. #31 knackeredhack
    http://knackeredhack.com
    March 25, 2013

    Orac, in light of this, I would welcome any thoughts you have as to whether the proposed effectiveness of ketogenic diets in the treatment of epilepsy and cancer have any evolutionary underpinning.

  32. #32 Krebiozen
    March 25, 2013

    John Trowbridge #12,

    Our “modern” society and medical practices fail to take into account the vast changes (almost all “bad”) in our environment over the past 100+ years, especially in the past 60 years. We no longer have clean air, clean water, clean food — we’re laden with toxic metals and chemicals at an ever-increasing pace, all the while our foodstuffs fail to provide the nutrition (and especially bioflavonoids and other detoxifiers) available to past generations who muddled along with “organic” farming as best they could rather than with chemical agribusiness sources today.

    These are common myths, but if you examine the facts you will find the opposite is true. Most places have cleaner air, water and food than at any time in the past 100 years. The pesticides and herbicides in use are much safer today, leaded gasoline is no longer used, environmental regulations are stricter and better enforced etc. etc.

    The idea that vegetables today have smaller amounts of nutrients than they did back in some Golden Age is also a popular myth; the nutritional value of the American diet, for example, has mostly improved over the past 100 years (PDF).

  33. #33 Khani
    March 25, 2013

    #16 Well, of course the risk of chronic disease is higher in “Westernized” societies. They’re preventing a lot of nonchronic diseases that kill you, so that people survive to have chronic diseases at all. Rather than being, instead, dead.

  34. #34 Magpie
    March 25, 2013

    @Jeff Read: not a lot of bush tucker is mainstream, apart from macadamia nuts (which are awesome) and kangaroo meat (most big supermarkets have it now – it’s good, very healthy, but maybe a bit gamey. Roos aren’t domesticated, of course). Croc meat is in some restaurants, mostly to scare tourists. The only element of bush tucker that seriously creeps me out is the local bogong moth. Eeeeyew. I would never be hungry enough to eat those hairy things. I’d rather eat the people who got fat off the moths!

    Thing about the Australian situation is that the people here didn’t get any food crop that was easily domesticable (give ‘em another ten thousand years and they probably would have got some useful crops start to emerge), and were way too isolated to get imported species. Harsh situation for people who, 50,000 years ago, were hands down the most technologically advanced people on earth, as far as anyone can tell. They got lumped with the most unfriendly bit of the planet (even the Inuit could trade – indigenous Australians had to wait for the Polynesians to show up).

    …but that’s what gets me about the whole paleo argument: you’ve got people right now who still live as hunter-gatherers, or remember when they did (New Guinea highlanders, indigenous Australians (particularly in the west and north), African Koi-San, etc). Just go and ask them what their diet was! They’ll tell you.

  35. #35 Narad
    March 25, 2013

    I don’t know about you, Doctor, but I think I’m going to chuck in all this modernity and accept malaria, trachoma, and the occasional cholera outbreak as the price of avoiding all the diseases of urban industrial society.

    But he offers an entry for a giveaway of silver with every chelation treatment! I dunno, man, sounds serious.

  36. #36 Yodelady
    March 25, 2013

    I’ve been hearing a lot from what I hope is a fringe group of people who take Paleo a long stride further to the Keto Diet. They say natural man was ketotic most of the time because of the feast-or-famine lifestyle. Therefore, keto is natural and healthy. By sticking to a Paleo diet and making sure your diet is 80% fat, 10% protein, and 10% carbohydrate, you go into ketosis. How long should you do this? Forever! And…. wait for it … it cures cancer!

    And all that business about cholesterol and saturated fats causing heart disease is an old wives’ tale, debunked long ago.

    I think a lot of the people who get into this are living in an alternate reality. And of course many are selling something.

  37. #37 Militant Agnostic
    March 25, 2013

    @MI Dawn

    Is there any other mammal (or any animal, for that matter) who routinely survives beyond the reproductive age like humans do? Or are humans the only animal who lose the ability to reproduce as they age?

    Yes, female Orcas live for about twice as long as they remain reproductive – their son’s do much better while they are alive. Later I can dig up an audio link for this.

  38. #38 ARD
    Long Island
    March 25, 2013

    #12:
    “We no longer have clean air, clean water, clean food ”

    That is just plain wrong. You want an example of the food, air, and water quality of a hundred years ago? Read something by Dickens, or Sinclair. Remember those good old days of Victorian Europe and America? Coal-fired stoves warming the homes, factories belching black smoke over the towns, locomotives doing the same, sausage made of meat just scraped off the floor, rivers filled with raw sewage? Farmers spending the winter in houses heated by open wood/coal fires? Sharing a house with livestock? Shoveling horse manure to bring about the next ‘organic’ crop?

    We’ve got it better now than any generation before us.

    Anyway, back to the post:

    Interesting study of atherosclerosis in mummies. I wonder if any similar studies have been done on other mummies–like the Tarim Basin ones, older examples of which would seem to represent a population of hunter-gatherer-fishers recently converted to pastoralism, with a higher meat and dairy consumption than I would expect from the other populations.

    Speaking of pastoralism, I wanted to add to the ‘plenty of time’ remark. Ancient people weren’t stupid. If a diet was harming them, they adapted. Studies of skeletons left behind by early pastoralist cultures in the Ukraine show that, for a century or so after the initial domestication of the horse and adoption of cattle herding, people had increased rates of bone problems resulting from changed patterns of calcium and phosphorus consumption as a result of their new diet. This persisted for about a century before the skeletons were ‘normal’ again–either selective pressures in favor of milk-drinkers were so strong that even a single century was plenty of time, or people changed their diet to avoid illness.

    If any of that last paragraph sounds wrong, I apologize. I’m speaking from memory of a book I read about a half-year ago. Please go easy on me; I’m new here. Long-time reader, first-time poster.

  39. #39 Denice Walter
    March 25, 2013

    @ Narad:

    Right. That plus the AAAAM.

  40. #40 Late Bloomer
    March 25, 2013

    Yodelady #34 – yes, I’ve noticed this too – my own brother is now giving people advice on FB talking up his 80% fat diet, most of it made of bacon and butter. High cholesterol is good for you… the higher, the better… It really pains me.

    What I’ve also noticed in common among many of the paleo lovers is a common hatred of government. Whatever advice it gives in the name of public good, they will choose to do the opposite. Wear sunscreen? How foolish of you! What climate change?!

    If you check out websites like Wheat Belly you’ll see posts on political topics as well as diet advice. I wonder if anyone has done a study to find out if the more libertarian one’s beliefs are, the more likely he may be to follow the woo just because of ideology.

  41. #41 Sami
    Perth, Western Australia
    March 25, 2013

    Idly: You know who else appealed to ancient wisdom and yearned for the idylls of ancient civilisations untouched by modernity?

    NAZIS.

    (Actually true.)

  42. #42 Sami
    Perth, Western Australia
    March 25, 2013

    @Yodelady: That’s very weird. I have a friend who adheres strictly to a ketosis-inducing diet for medical reasons, but those reasons are VERY different: ketosis does counter certain forms of epilepsy. She used to have grand mal seizures frequently despite a brain implant thing and all the meds available, but ketosis has given her several YEARS without a seizure, and over two years of completely clear EEGs. (Note: It doesn’t fix all epilepsy, not even close. Another epileptic friend of mine tried it and it did nothing for her.)

    My friend’s ketosis diet is, by the way, supervised by a dietician who specialises in keto patients.

    I wonder if some people have heard of ketosis-as-medical-benefit and decided it must be magic and ~obviously~ cures cancer.

  43. #43 Narad
    March 25, 2013

    Right. That plus the AAAAM.

    Given that he’s unlikely to return (and if he does, I’m prepared to dash off a note to the Texas AG regarding that advertising and section 164.3 of the Administrative Code, something that has landed him in trouble before), I see no reason not to have a bit of fun.

    So, don’t forget: “I am gratefully listed in over 4 dozen volumes of Who’s Who.” (This actually rises to five dozen in other bios, and brings us back around to Nancy Malik, who bizarrely touts herself as twice having been “nominated” for inclusion in Who’s Who, but I digress.)

    The various bios are just plain weird. This one (PDF) informs us that “he was privileged to address the House of Delegates of the American Podiatry Association in 1975, where he received their Special Commendation for sponsoring closer inter-professional relationships, complementing a similar award that year from the American Podiatry Students Association.” Naturally, he parlayed this into a (seemingly failed) urology internship.

    But wait! He’s also a financial expert! And a “knight” in a fanciful “order” of St. Kitts and Nevis whose platform states that “primary care is not achieved by medications and mere vaccines, but first choice by hygiene, dietary reform, natural remedies and education of our patients.”

    I wish I had the creative abilities to make stuff like this up.

  44. #44 Politicalguineapig
    land of frustration
    March 26, 2013

    http://www.alternet.org/food/popular-paleo-diet-bunch-baloney

    I stumbled on this today, by an odd coincidence.

  45. #45 Militant Agnostic
    Where it is always better with <strike>cows</strike> bison around
    March 26, 2013

    @MI Dawn

    Audio link on why Orcas live well past menopause.

    http://cbc.ca/quirks/media/2012-2013/qq-2012-09-15_01.mp3

    Wired Science article

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/09/killer-whale-families/

  46. #46 Militant Agnostic
    Where the deer and the antelope play
    March 26, 2013

    John Trowbridge, Morally Defficient

    we’re laden with toxic metals and chemicals at an ever-increasing pace.

    .

    Utterly hilarious since leaded gasoline disappeared years ago and there is now a credible hypothesis that reduced low level lead poisoning is a factor in decreasing crime rates. I remember seeing a pamphlet from another AAAM member a few years ago that mentioned car exhaust as a source of lead (which he could chelate out of course). This blatant ignorance of change is a classic trait of pseudoscience (the world moves on and they don’t).

  47. #47 Narad
    March 26, 2013

    Dr. Trowbridge was president of the NCR Research Institute, popularizing a treatment for puzzling neurological ailments, including migraine headaches.

    What might this be, you ask? Yes, it’s “neurocranial restructuring.” This bit of marketing copy (PDF), in which he implies that a man’s suicide could have been prevented with balloons up the nose, is jaw-droppingly rancid.

  48. #48 Narad
    March 26, 2013

    In 2005, LCH was named one of the leading Centers for Advanced Medicine, sponsored by the Advanced Medical Education & Services Physician Association (AMESPA).

    Ooh, that sounds impressive. Oh, wait. (“Educational partners” include Doctor’s Data.) I would really like to thank Dr. John Parks Trowbridge for stopping by.

    Oh, and he’s a tax cheat, too. Well played.

  49. #49 herr doktor bimler
    March 26, 2013

    Note: It doesn’t fix all epilepsy, not even close.

    I have come to suspect that “epilepsy” is a single disease in the same way that “cancer” is.

  50. #50 herr doktor bimler
    March 26, 2013

    I may have previously mentioned my Carrion Diet book — based on the theory that our hominid ancestors occupied a scavenger niche, competing with hyenas — promoting the virtues of roadkill cuisine.

  51. #51 Adam
    March 26, 2013

    @Ellen You might genuinely feel better but the paleo diet might be completely accidental to that. By eating less your gut might not be working so hard, you might have an underlying condition like coeliac disease which you didn’t know about, you might be intolerant to wheat (though this is a highly nebulous and contentious area without a proper diagnosis), or the weight loss might have improved your health etc. None of which might be attributable to paleo per se, but just a shift in what and how much you eat.

    If you do have coeliac or suspect it, you would be strongly advised to find out for sure. The premliminary test is a blood test. There are even home testing kits for it.

  52. #52 Krebiozen
    March 26, 2013

    HDB,

    I may have previously mentioned my Carrion Diet book — based on the theory that our hominid ancestors occupied a scavenger niche, competing with hyenas — promoting the virtues of roadkill cuisine.

    Sadly, there are those advocating much, much worse, such as literally rotten meat, euphemistically called “high-meat”.

    The benefits of the extra bacteria from “high-meat” include better digestion, and increased concentration, energy-levels and improvement in mood.

    Who knew?

  53. #53 Ellie
    March 26, 2013
  54. #54 Ellen
    England
    March 26, 2013

    @Adam
    I was tested for coeliac as well as many other things, all which came back negative.
    I have never been overweight in my life. I have also maintained my healthy weight since changing my diet. Doctors never came back with anything… I just had IBS… deal with it. You know?
    I’m so much happier and feel more vibrant and full of energy when I don’t eat grain… I would never go back.

  55. #55 Ellen
    March 26, 2013

    @Adam… I also eat MORE rather than LESS than I did before!

  56. #56 Edith Prickly
    March 26, 2013

    @Ellen – if you are feeling better on a grain-free diet that’s great, but you can’t assume what works for you will work for everybody. As previous commenters have noted, most of the claims made by the paleo crowd simply do not stand up to scrutiny.

    I also have an entirely subjective opinion that a lot of people feel “healthier” on wooish fad diets because they get a frisson of self-righteousness from believing that they are eating the “right” way and everyone else is too weak or lazy to follow their example. As I said, it’s just an opinion.

  57. #57 Bronze Dog
    March 26, 2013

    #40 Late Bloomer

    I wonder if anyone has done a study to find out if the more libertarian one’s beliefs are, the more likely he may be to follow the woo just because of ideology.

    Anecdotally, I’ve noticed a share of radical libertarian rhetoric from a lot of woos, particularly alties, but I suspect the causal connection may be the reverse: Quacks come up with radical libertarian rhetoric because they fear government interference with their fraud and wish to paint the government as the enemy. They indoctrinate their followers in that rhetoric to quell doubts, make excuses, and to “answer” criticism from skeptics. It becomes ingrained in altie culture as a result, and conformism takes hold from there.

  58. #58 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2013

    @ Narad:

    If JPT is giving financial advice he’s no different from the idiots I survey ( it’s a trend):
    Gary Null features trends forecaster, Gerald Celente who usually predicts economic catastrophe in the next year- for the past several years. Some of Mike Adams’ fearmongering tropes could have been lifted intact from Porter Stansberry.

    Both woo-meisters predict economic Ragnarok precipitated by a tsunami of debt/ currency failure/ China/ governmental spending – usually followed by food riots, gang takeovers, martial law,power grid failures and whatever else they think will frighten people most.

    They believe that their followers would be best off by migrating to farming areas, growing organic vegetables, forming small groups of like-minded, enlightened freethinkers and having a stash of weapons and precious metal** to rely upon in darker days.

    Following the events of 2008, I thought it natural that they would be upset and predict doom and gloom – as they saw how the recession impacted their own earning capacity- but seriously now, can’t they sense that governmental intervention has at least stabilised the situation for most people and that there is improvement – like it or not-
    but NO-
    they sound more shrieky than previously.
    It’s odd to tune into interent radio about natural health and witness endless tirades about the economy and police states. They manage to tie economic catastrope into their sales pitch for their products. ” Don’t trust the government or authorities: trust me!”
    We may be creative but they make us look like pikers.

    ** Adams recently touted intenet currency that was not connected to central banks. Null advises small silver coins for trading post-apocalypse.

  59. #59 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2013

    I have my own fad diet- whenever I want to lose 5 lbs so that my clothes hang better-
    it’s the feline diet**- for small carnivores- and you can’t get more paleo that that.
    I think ” What would a cat prefer?”
    Lean white meat, salmon, more lean meat, some leafy green vegetables ( I won’t go as far as grass), chicken et al.
    Alright, it’s perhaps more neolithic than paleo because everyone knows cats love yoghurt.
    Have you ever seen a cat or fox over-indulge with bread or pasta? I don’t think so.

    ** possibly also vulpine diet.

  60. #60 LW
    March 26, 2013

    “Adams recently touted intenet currency that was not connected to central banks.”

    I can see how well that will work after the collapse of services such as the electrical grid.

  61. #61 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2013

    @ LW:

    Oh I know!

    Here’s another interesting inconsistency on their part:
    they frighten people about a dire economic future- less jobs, less assistance from governmental agencies, low pay for the educated, a lack of essential goods ( or goods only available at a high cost)
    BUT
    they want you to ‘inves’t in their products so you can become outlandishly healthy and live to an astonishing age…
    so if pensions will fail, you can’t find a job, medical care will be only for the wealthy, inflation will run riot etc wouldn’t you want to save money and NOT purchase over-priced supplements and powdered vegetables/ fruits?

    Another glaring inconsistency:
    alt med preaches that stress may be implicated in the causation of most illness-
    yet these guys go on and on about the horrors to come that will soon overwhelm society and the destruction of civilisation as we know it.** Isn’t that somewhat stressful?

    I could go on but I have work.

    ** It’s the end of the world of the world, as we know it…”etc..

  62. #62 Adam
    March 26, 2013

    I’m coming up with a new diet called the Death Railway diet. It involves subsisting on fly blown meat, rice and vermin while slaving in a tropical jungle and being beaten with bamboo sticks. The pounds will just fall away! It must be healthy right?

  63. #63 Melissa G
    March 26, 2013

    “Have you ever seen a cat or fox over-indulge with bread or pasta?”

    Denice– OMG, sadly, yes I have! :D My best friend had a cat who would chew through plastic wrappers and paper bags to get at any bread left within cat’s reach and just PUT HIS FACE IN IT! Like a hog in a trough that cat was with bread.

    Obviously CORRUPTED by the terrible Western cat lifestyle!

    Adding to the list of animals who live past reproductive age and perform a valuable social function– and I cannot find a reference for this, so please take it for whatever it’s worth– it was taught in my university’s Ecology class that female white-tailed deer outlive the males by a long stretch and the old females act as scouts whenever the herd is on the move, thus contributing to the safety of their entire social group and family.

    In my search for a link, I found this interesting article expounding upon that whole Orca thing.
    http://www.frontiersinzoology.com/content/6/1/4

  64. #64 Edith Prickly
    March 26, 2013

    @DW re: alties and inconsistency — as you have often noted, their view of the world is mostly based on whimsy so they don’t need to be consistent. Consistency also limits the variety of sales pitches you can use to part the masses from their money. Appealing to vanity and fear of aging to get them to buy your supplements and take your diet advice, apocalyptic fearmongering to sell them survival equipment, along with the ego-boosting effects of making them believe they are privy to secret knowledge that all those people who think they’re so smart with their fancy degrees and scientfiic method are either unaware of or actively trying to hide.

    I like the “eat like a cat” diet, but then my cat was also very fond of ice cream and butter.

  65. #65 Captain Quirk
    Vulcan
    March 26, 2013

    @52, I can think of at least 1000 better ways to try to improve concentration and energy than eating rotten meat. I don’t know what all of them are, but I’m sure I could think of them quickly. Sometimes excluding foods can work (for instance, I stopped eating any potato chips or soda for about a year, then let myself have small portions with a strict limit, and soda and chips don’t add anything necessary unless you are low on calories or fat intake, which is rare for Americans), but you don’t want to exclude too many. It can make you neurotic and lacking important nutrients.

  66. #66 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 26, 2013

    @Denice Walter

    Re: the feline/vulpine diet

    Not to mention that cats and foxes are very cute and incredibly intelligent. It stands to reason (in alt-woo land) that if you eat like them, you’ll be very cute and incredibly intelligent, too!

    At the very least, you’ll have a shiny coat and nice fluffy tail.

  67. #67 Margaret the Student
    March 26, 2013

    yeah, especially with producing this garbage. i appreciate your efforts, as this is a long article, but to be frank, nobody is wishing to be like we were in the past. if people are so afraid of science, why don’t they consider this as a science and accept it. did you take physiological, pathophysiological, chemistry, microbiology classes, sir? I did. And I also took two nutrition classes, one about our modern food pyramid and one regarding the paleo ketogenic diet. I’ve done many studies on the ketogenic diet, and i think your defense on the “fad” aspect of it is deflecting off the fact that we need to start eating right somehow and get away from sugars, boxed foods, and CRAP.

    we need to stop straying from developing science, as you said, and start funding more research on this instead of the FAD cancers (breast and AIDS) that consumes our research funding. how about heart disease, diabetes, and the other LEADING causes of death in our country, hm?

  68. #68 Scottynuke
    March 26, 2013

    AIDS is a cancer? And a passing fad at that? Keep studyin’ kiddo… *shaking my head*

  69. #69 herr doktor bimler
    March 26, 2013

    ” What would a cat prefer?”

    So you spend the meal trying to steal food from someone else’s plate?

  70. #70 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 26, 2013

    @Margaret the Student

    Breast cancer is a fad (I’ll grant that Susan G. Komen has become rather gimmicky and fad-like, but that’s an organization, not the disease)? AIDS is a cancer (and a fad)? And do you really think that there’s not much funding for heart disease and diabetes research?

  71. #71 Mewens
    Them U.S.
    March 26, 2013

    My wife will sometimes dip her toe into the shallow end of the woo pool; a recent excursion was a paleo diet meal mailed to our doorstep. The food was of decent quality, and reminded me of the Mediterranean diet (sans grains of course), but I was amused that frozen strawberries were part of the package. Someone at headquarters clearly didn’t read up on the history of agricultural domestication. It’s a berry, so good ’nuff, right?

  72. #72 AdamG
    March 26, 2013

    how about heart disease, diabetes, and the other LEADING causes of death in our country, hm?

    Margaret, I’m afraid you’re misinformed. The NHLBI has a budget of around $3 billion to study exactly that.

    I’ve done many studies on the ketogenic diet, and i think your defense on the “fad” aspect of it is deflecting off the fact that we need to start eating right somehow and get away from sugars, boxed foods, and CRAP.

    I agree that we need to convince the public to eat better. However, I absolutely do not agree that the way to do this is through fad diets like keto and paleo, which mislead the public about the scientific basis of their claims.

  73. #73 Edith Prickly
    March 26, 2013

    I’ve done many studies on the ketogenic diet

    Really? Please let us know what peer-reviewed journal published them so we can evaluate your claims for ourselves. Links would be helpful.

  74. #74 Abby
    Dover
    March 26, 2013

    I found this write-up of the ancient mummies interesting: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2013/03/atherosclerosis-in-ancient-mummies.html

  75. #75 Fernando
    March 26, 2013

    Whenever I read “life expectancy” I wonder why there is always missing the age. I mean, “life expectancy” is for a given age.

    I wonder if “life expectancy” alone is sufficient, and if we should inform the age at which it was calculated. For instance, if you lower mortality at birth you will get a larger life expectancy for any given age.

    As far as I know, the big raise in “life expectancy” in the last 100 years is mainly a result of better sanitary measures and safe water.

    Which in time makes me wonder if portraying ancient societies as a club of youngsters is accurate enough.

    Regards

  76. #76 Fernando
    March 26, 2013

    Interesting that we are discussing diseases of affluent societies in the “somewhat inferior” ancient people. Eurocentrism anyone?

  77. #77 LW
    March 26, 2013

    “did you take physiological, pathophysiological, chemistry, microbiology classes, sir?”

    You might try clicking on the “Orac” link way up there at the top. You’ll find he’s done more than just take a class or two.  He’s actually more qualified than someone who’s read some posts on websites on the Internet! 

  78. #78 MI Dawn
    March 26, 2013

    Thanks to Militant Agnostic and the others for some answers. Very interesting.

    @LW: Geez! don’t you know by now doctors don’t learn that stuff. They just take classes on how to hide their Big Pharma money in off shore accounts. (/snark)

    There is actually a few hospitals around here that offer the ketogenic diet for intractable seizures (not necessarily epileptic ones). However, people placed on the diet are carefully monitored and the diet very difficult to stick to (or, in the case of 1 friend, feed to your child). The programs monitor response; not everyone responds but some do, with either a significant decrease or cessation of seizures. (Non-responders are taken off the diet). The responders are only on the diet for 2 years, however. The studies seem to have shown long term benefits that continue after that time.

  79. #79 Magpie
    March 26, 2013

    @Fernando: yeah, tha’ts a fair quibble, I reckon. I hear that sort of thing a lot: “average life expectancy was 37!” People assume that a 45 year old was a rare thing, but they’re not looking at the 50% infant mortality rate…

    What I find more interesting in this sort of conversation, especially concerning nutrition, cancer, heart disease, etc in different societies, is life expectancy at 5yo (with child- and childbirth-mortality stats for context).

  80. #80 Krebiozen
    March 26, 2013

    Magpie,

    People assume that a 45 year old was a rare thing, but they’re not looking at the 50% infant mortality rate…

    Looking at the figures in the OP, out of 130 mummies, 110 had died aged 50 or less, which suggests low life expectancy even taking infant mortality into account.

  81. #81 Denice Walter
    March 26, 2013

    I am starting to imagine the ad copy for the feline/ vulpine diet …
    ” If you want to look like a fox- eat like one”**

    But more seriously, animal dietary woo holds that our pets suffer chronic illness- especially IBD- because they ingest carbs ( and toxins and additives in commercial food) They’d say that a cat in the wild would typically eat mice and birds whole and raw- the only carbs would be the semi-digested food their prey ate! Thus raw meat diets/ recipes *sans* cereal appear all over the net. Curiously, the veterinarian’s advice for IBD cats is an rx dry food with chicken, rice and corn.

    ** photo of yours truly in LBD. No tail.

  82. #82 herr doktor bimler
    March 26, 2013

    I wonder if anyone has done a study to find out if the more libertarian one’s beliefs are, the more likely he may be to follow the woo just because of ideology.

    I can see a large Venn intersection between libertarians and the Life-Extension crowd, with the latter being completely riddled with woo. Then there is the colloidal-silver form of bullsh1t, which seems to be strongly identified with libertarians. Can we say that libertarianism is at least vulnerable to magical thinking, as long as the woo comes in the form of cargo-cult science / medicine rather than being blatantly anti-science? So that the temptation is to believe oneself *more knowledgeable* than mainstream scientists & doctors rather than *opposed* to them

    I’m thinking of John Campbell Jnr — libertarian and SF editor — as at least a notable anecdote. Dianetics, the Dean antigravity drive, radionics and the Hieronymus Machine… there was very little he would not take on board, but it had to *pretend* to be science.

  83. #83 Militant Agnostic
    Where the deer and the antelope play
    March 26, 2013

    I think the overlap of vegetarianism with environmentalism makes highly carnivorous diets appeal to glibertarians since the denial of externalities is necessary for libertarianism. HDB hits the nail on the head with this.

    So that the temptation is to believe oneself *more knowledgeable* than mainstream scientists & doctors rather than *opposed* to them

    As for vulnerability to magical thinking, libertarianism is pure magical thinking in it’s belief that the free market will automatically fix everything all the time – just listen to Micheal Shermer.

  84. #84 Krebiozen
    March 27, 2013

    Denice,

    I am starting to imagine the ad copy for the feline/ vulpine diet …
    ” If you want to look like a fox- eat like one”

    I like it – I vote for Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ as background music for the TV ad, with a fashionably unfeasibly slender woman snarling at the camera (perhaps turning to reveal she has a fox’s brush in the final shot). I wonder if we could somehow combine it with the Urban Fox Sky Burial Project* I have been working on.

    * Early experiments have run into some, er, teething problems, as related here previously.

  85. #85 Krebiozen
    March 27, 2013

    Militant Agnostic,

    libertarianism is pure magical thinking in it’s belief that the free market will automatically fix everything all the time

    Indeed – if ‘The Invisible Hand’ isn’t magical thinking I don’t know what is. The truth is there is never truly a free market, there are always rules of one sort or another that govern how commerce is conducted. What people generally mean by ‘a free market’ is a market free of regulations that would hinder them maximizing their profit at the expense of others.

  86. #86 Denice Walter
    March 27, 2013

    A few things:

    Krebiozen:
    We could make a ton of money if only we were a bit more larcenous by nature.
    About 10 years ago, an acquaintance who had a mail-order doctorate from some g-d-forsaken degree mill, wanted to get my ideas for a diet book she was writing:
    the premise was that low-carb would not only make you thin, it ‘d make you happy! A cure for depression.
    I passed on being a consultant.

    Militant Agnostic:
    I see that, more and more, political ideas and economic themes are becoming part of woo-topia.
    Here’s the funny thing-
    they try to appeal to both ends of tfhe spectrum simultaneously – can’t be losing anyone as a customer-
    so there is an appeal to the left-leaning with environmental topics et al ( including laws about labelling GMOs) while also screaming about governmental interference in health choices and the market. The Canary Party complains about vaccine mandates but also seeks governmental assistance from agencies.

    Recently, Natural News and PRN have become hate mongering lunatic bins concerning anything vaguely related to governments and banks.
    You have to read this rubbish because no second hand account- including mine- can really do it justice.

  87. #87 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 27, 2013

    Krebiozen, Militant Agnostic,

    I doubtless haven’t talked to the same libertarians you have, but it appears to me you’ve set up a straw man. I can’t recall any libertarian ever saying that the invisible hand of the free market will automatically fix everything all the time (at least as I understand your implication, that this is somehow a Utopian vision where no wrong will go unrighted and no injustice will be allowed to stand).

    I think, of course, that there is certainly a place for laws and regulations. Having health inspectors grade restaurants, for instance, is to the benefit of the public as well as to the restaurant industry. The great point of dispute, though, is determining which regulations are good, necessary, and in the best interest of all and which are used to stifle competition, reduce customer value, increase costs, and eliminate opportunities.

    Naturally, reasonable people may disagree on the specifics.

  88. #88 Denice Walter
    March 27, 2013

    Whenever someone extolls the virtues of a libertarian society- less rules, less central authority, low or no taxes etc- I also remind them ( or tell my cohorts who are arguing with them to remind them ) that there have been essentially libertarian societies that we can read about- e.g. mediaeval Iceland.

    About a thousand years ago, Scandinavians disgusted with their own homelands’ entrenched politics set up a new, free society in Iceland.
    Hard work and self-sufficiency would be rewarded- no ‘nanny state’ here. People would vote. And never be stifled by a surfeit of laws just as commerce would never be strangled by excessive regulation.

    For insight into how they lived and thought, read the Saga of Hrafnkel, Freyr’s Priest
    a/k/a How to succeed in Iceland without really trying.
    Hint: being ruthless, bullying weaker people and having an army of henchmen sure helps.

  89. #89 Krebiozen
    March 27, 2013

    M.O’B.

    I doubtless haven’t talked to the same libertarians you have, but it appears to me you’ve set up a straw man. I can’t recall any libertarian ever saying that the invisible hand of the free market will automatically fix everything all the time (at least as I understand your implication, that this is somehow a Utopian vision where no wrong will go unrighted and no injustice will be allowed to stand).

    My jibe was really at the utopian idea of a free market, rather than at libertarianism, specifically at the belief that “firms, in the pursuit of profits, are led, as if by an invisible hand, to do what is best for the world” as Joseph E. Stiglitz put it, and at the notion of ‘spontaneous order’ that Hayek believed in. I know this idea isn’t restricted to or uniformly adhered to by libertarians.

    It’s labeling particular ways and/or degrees of regulating commerce as ‘free’ when they are not that I think is deceptive. I do think the idea that this will somehow automatically benefit everyone is a form of magical thinking. For example I have seen it suggested that in the recent crash the banks should have been allowed to go bust, and not bailed out by governments, as that way things would have sorted themselves out for the good of all. Maybe that’s true, but it would have been a very scary experiment. I tend to think it was too little regulation of the banks that led to our current economic difficulties, rather than too much. There are few certainties in economics, which does seem to be more art than science, given its heavy dependence on human emotional behavior.

    BTW there was a recent BBC series called ‘Master of Money’ that looked at Keynes, Hayek’s and Mark’s economic theories, that is well worth tracking down if you are interested in this stuff.

  90. #90 Krebiozen
    March 27, 2013

    Marx’s, not Mark’s.

  91. #91 herr doktor bimler
    March 27, 2013

    Hint: being ruthless, bullying weaker people and having an army of henchmen sure helps.

    And in the end, the most powerful of those Icelandic gangsters free men sold out the whole “liberty & independence” thing and returned Iceland to the Norwegian monarchy, because that provided the greatest benefit for themselves.

    Excuse the lack of spoiler alerts.

  92. #92 AlisonM
    March 27, 2013

    The feline diet would definitely lead to weight loss – I buy Drontal in the big bottles to kill the roundworms and tapeworms my cats are always getting infested with.

  93. #93 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 27, 2013

    herr doktor bimler – well, now I see no need to visit Iceland anymore. Thanks.

    Krebiozen – That’s good clarification, thanks. I think there’s certainly quite a bit of evidence that people acting in their own perceived best interests can, without necessarily intending to, act to the good of all (or at least a great many) and that central planning with the goal of acting to the good of all may well not. A completely unfettered free market may well in the long run expose and ruin those who act unscrupulously – but they may well have died of a ripe old age in great wealth by the time it happens.

  94. #94 Melissa G
    March 27, 2013

    It’s my understanding that in Adam Smith’s original thought experiment of a perfect free market also required the consumer to have access to perfect information, and the more skewed the information the consumer has access to, the more skewed the market becomes.

  95. #95 Lena
    March 28, 2013

    @Denice Walter
    That’s actually a pretty good argument you ridicule. Think about it. Cats are obligate carnivores not corn farmers (or even corn scavengers) by nature. Of course there may not be proof that kitties + carbs = disease. But there may evidence. Did you rule that out? Do you have strong evidence that your vet’s rx is the healthiest option other than that it’s the “standard of care.” Standard of care is always subject to change and has often historically been drastically wrong (trans fats, cigarettes, thalidomide etc.) I get that you’re making a joke, but I think the humor here depends on a prejudice.

    A lot of these comments are like this. Satire based on high-minded (ironically kind of reactionary) prejudices in the name of science (though some is based in reality and really is lolz funny/insightful, kudos to those guys). There’s very little real discussion here. It’s easy to speak up when everyone agrees with you.

    There are some ridiculous, woo, and borderline eating-disordered attitudes in the so-called “paleo-sphere” to be sure, but I will say that one of the important things that “movement” calls attention to is the challenging of the lipid hypothesis- that all dietary saturated fat and cholesterol directly contribute to heart disease. This isn’t simply a woo woo altie or regressive nostalgia thing. It seems to me that most people who still fear sat. fat haven’t looked very rigorously at empirical questioning of the hypothesis and the evidence. It doesn’t make “real world” sense to believe in something unless you’ve doggedly tried to debunk it yourself and failed ( @Yodelady and others ). It’s also true that many people find relief from chronic illness from avoiding grains esp. wheat (often when this is the only observable variable).

    I don’t mean to sound like a humorless harpie- I agree that most of alternative medicine is questionable and laughable. But I think this is a serious subject, and I’m annoyed because many of these comments have the bouquet of groupthinky knee-jerk backlash. Probably why few have tried engaging in reasoned dialogue here.

  96. #96 Scottynuke
    March 28, 2013

    @Lena: So lay out your evidence already and the reasoned crowd here can have a dialogue.

    I’m a simple (mostly) lurker not terribly widely read in the medical literature. Even so, I know that your characterization of “the lipid hypothesis” flies in the face of the ongoing discussion of the various positive and negative effects of HDL and LDL. I’ll be interested in seeing if you can bring any actual evidence to the discussion.

  97. #97 Krebiozen
    March 28, 2013

    Lena,

    There are some ridiculous, woo, and borderline eating-disordered attitudes in the so-called “paleo-sphere” to be sure, but I will say that one of the important things that “movement” calls attention to is the challenging of the lipid hypothesis- that all dietary saturated fat and cholesterol directly contribute to heart disease. This isn’t simply a woo woo altie or regressive nostalgia thing. It seems to me that most people who still fear sat. fat haven’t looked very rigorously at empirical questioning of the hypothesis and the evidence.

    I have to disagree with you. There is a great deal of nonsense written about lipids, some of which has been tackled by Harriet Hall, for example here on the Science Based Medicine blog. I find claims I have often seen from ‘cholesterol skeptics’ that the association between low serum cholesterol and ill health means that low cholesterol causes ill health particularly idiotic. People who are malnourished and/or suffering from chronic illnesses often have low serum cholesterol levels, for the same reason they have low serum albumin levels. Low cholesterol is a symptom of ill health, not a cause. If you are malnourished enough to have a very low cholesterol, that is the least of your problems. It’s true that dietary measures are not very good at lowering cholesterol, but it is also true that lowering cholesterol reduces cardiovascular disease; that’s why statins were developed.

    I suggest you read the last part of Steinberg’s ‘Thematic review series: The Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis. An interpretive history of the cholesterol controversy, part V: The discovery of the statins and the end of the controversy’ and preferably the previous 4 parts, which go into great detail about the lipid hypothesis and why it is now consensus science.

  98. #98 Denice Walter
    March 28, 2013

    -btw-
    I would note that veterinarians are also practitioners of SBM, i.e. they rely upon research to guide their recommendations. So far, none of the carb-free diets I’ve run into are based on research that involves anything other than observation of ones’ pets or a very small sample.

    Interestingly many SB vets now have reduced the vaccination schedule- not because of vaccine-phobia but because it appears immunity lasts longer than previously believed. Pet foods for speciifc conditions ( IBD, kidney failure, overweight etc) are developed by veterinarians.

    There’s a great deal of pet food woo on the internet. Anyone can write anything or market anything.**
    Doesn’t make it true.

    ** Enter this marketplace of ideas at your own risk- don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  99. #99 APC
    March 28, 2013

    The Horus Study is a very small and shaky study that can not be used to accurately extrapolate conclusions about diet.

    Zuk is apparently an evolutionary biologist that doesn’t understand natural selection. According to her, there should be no lactose intolerance, casein intolerance, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. Morons in every profession, it seems.

    Are there woowoo quacks that espouse Paleo ideas? Sure. But I’m willing to bet for every Paleo quack there’s ten more Vegans practicing energy healing and homeopathy.

    Unfortunately all the critiques of the Paleo Diet I’ve come across are based on either a misunderstanding of the premise, ignorance, straw men arguments or bad science. Paleo is not low carb. It is not high carb. It is not low fat. It is not high fat. And Cordain is not the Emperor of Paleo. Paleo is simply a rough set of foundational ideas – the starting point from which one advances their own diet and lifestyle choices based on their own individual responses.

  100. #100 AdamG
    March 28, 2013

    Zuk is apparently an evolutionary biologist that doesn’t understand natural selection. According to her, there should be no lactose intolerance, casein intolerance, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease.

    Please, do go on. What problem exactly do you have with Zuk’s argument? As an evolutionary biologist myself, I suspect that you may misunderstand both her argument and the theory.

    Paleo is simply a rough set of foundational ideas – the starting point from which one advances their own diet and lifestyle choices based on their own individual responses.

    Seriously? Do you have any sources to back this up? Every paleo reference I’ve ever come across defines ‘Paleo’ similar to Zuk’s description, not yours. Have any counterexamples?

  101. #101 JGC
    March 28, 2013

    Paleo is not low carb. It is not high carb. It is not low fat. It is not high fat.

    Beginning to sound as if it’s not a diet…

  102. #102 herr doktor bimler
    March 28, 2013

    According to her, there should be no lactose intolerance, casein intolerance, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. Morons in every profession, it seems.

    This is a promising line of argument but I believe it can be extended:
    “According to evolutionary biologists, the body should be perfect with no disease.”

  103. #103 herr doktor bimler
    March 28, 2013

    Paleo is not low carb. It is not high carb. It is not low fat. It is not high fat. And Cordain is not the Emperor of Paleo.

    So basically it’s the True Scotsman Diet.

  104. #104 elburto
    March 28, 2013

    @Lena

    many people find relief from chronic illness from avoiding grains esp. wheat

    [citation needed]

    Oh, and I don’t mean IBD or Coeliac disease.

    Y’see, I hear this rubbish all the time. “Cut out X” or “Have you tried the $fad diet?”. Hysterically enough most of my issues are congenital and inherited. My two main problems stem from an anatomical defect and an incurable condition that cannot be changed, no matter what I ingest. No magical diet or supplement can replace what’s missing, no matter what the tWoo believers tell me.

    Also, sorry to break this to you but what you define as “groupthink” is simply the fact that science is not subjective.

    Science doesn’t care if you believe it or not, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but anecdata and books by woo merchants are not science. Science is cold, hard facts. That’s why science-deniers don’t like it, they want to feel special and unique, homeopathic theory is the perfect example of this.

    Many people here are scientists or medical professionals, other include those who’ve benefited from science or who’ve been hurt by sCAM. If we agree (and you’d be surprised at the disagreements that pop up here) it’s because when a scientific consensus has been reached then arguing is fruitless. Science is science, facts are facts, that’s it.

  105. #105 Khani
    March 28, 2013

    #95 You mention terror of saturated fat; I see more irrational terror of carbs, lately. Either way, a fad diet is a fad diet, whether it involves cutting out all carbs, all fats, all vegetables, all fruits or eating only grapefruit.

  106. #106 Denice Walter
    March 28, 2013

    Include in that ‘ irrational terror of carbs”** a profound horror of ((shudder)) wheat. And even worse, sugar ( but honey is great… go figure)
    .
    To round out a list of culprits amongst woo-topians:
    -some believe that the living essence of food is destroyed if it is heated over about 115 degrees F ( raw food)
    - vegans eschew any animal products- some avoid leather shoes, belts, bags as well***
    - natural food fanat.. uh, mavens demand organic, non-GMO fruit , vegetables, cereals, free range meatsand poultry( non-hormone), raw milk and cheeses.
    - paleo- well, we’ve already done that
    - GFCF diets disallow any gluten and casein
    - fermented foods as healthy

    The woos I survey usually fall into neat categories:
    Null- vegan, raw, fermented, GFCF
    Adams- raw, natural foods
    Paleo- Mercola (blood typing diets divide paleo from grain)
    anti-vaxxer ‘recovering’ diets- they hate gluten and casein; may do raw and fermented. Any port in a storm, I suppose.

    ** movie title? If only.
    *** vegan designer, Stella MacCartney used to only do cloth or faux leather shoes etc.
    Not sure about her current dietary status and product line. I was not and am not a fan: I was only in her store to scoff.

  107. #107 Melissa G
    March 28, 2013

    I swear, if I hear the word “groupthink” applied to a comment thread that isn’t meeting someone’s minimum standard of disagreement one more time, I’m going to doubleplusvomit.

  108. #108 Militant Agnostic
    Where the deer and the antelope play until they get hit by a car.
    March 29, 2013

    @Herr Doktor Bimmler

    So basically it’s the True Scotsman Diet.

    No thanks, do you have any idea how tough a True Scotsman is? Plus, would you want eat anything that ate haggis?

    And

    I may have previously mentioned my Carrion Diet book — based on the theory that our hominid ancestors occupied a scavenger niche, competing with hyenas — promoting the virtues of roadkill cuisine.

    A few years one the free rural weeklies that clog our mailbox ran an article on the large number of deer being killed by cars. The accompanying photograph showed a deer lying in front of pickup truck in a ditch. The caption explained that truck was not vehicle that killed the deer. It contained a pair of hunters who had shot one deer earlier and were waiting for Fish and Wildlife to release the road killed deer to them. Last week I saw an undamaged pickup truck sitting in the ditch by a dead deer and I suspect the driver was waiting for a Wildlife officer to release the deer to him.

  109. #109 Militant Agnostic
    Where it is always better with cows around
    March 29, 2013

    @Melissa G

    I’m going to doubleplusvomit</blockquote

    Maybe you should lay off of the "High Meat".

  110. #110 Krebiozen
    March 29, 2013

    I watched Horizon ‘The Truth About Taste’ last night (a bit poignant for me as a chronic sinus problem has destroyed my sense of smell and thus taste) and one of the scientists interviewed made an interesting point. He said we don’t have any mechanisms for dealing with easy access to excess amounts of food, because this didn’t occur until very recently, and we haven’t had time to evolve any. So a true Palaeo diet would probably fit Michael Pollan’s maxim, “eat, not too much, mostly plants”, which is the most sensible thing I have ever read about diet.

  111. #111 herr doktor bimler
    March 29, 2013

    Sadly, there are those advocating much, much worse, such as literally rotten meat, euphemistically called “high-meat”.

    The benefits of the extra bacteria from “high-meat” include better digestion, and increased concentration, energy-levels and improvement in mood.

    Well, yes. It’s not rotten, it’s only pre-digested… Nature’s cookery. I have also heard the theory that “There is no such thing as stale bread, there is only Nature’s toast”.
    Possibly this is the way to tenderise the True Scotsmen.

    My knowledge of the “Paleo diet = carrion” thesis is limited to a 1992 article in Sci.Am. by Blumenschine & Cavallo, “Scavenging & Human Evolution”. Though E. O. Wilson was on the case much earlier than that, and IIRC, Fig. 26.5 in ‘Sociobiology’ shows a group of Homo habilis driving hyenas away from a carcass.

  112. #112 Krebiozen
    March 29, 2013

    Possibly this is the way to tenderise the True Scotsmen.

    The best way, I find, is to lock them in a room for a few days with nothing to eat but a drawer full of porridge. This gets rid of the haggis taste that some find objectionable.

  113. #113 elburto
    March 29, 2013

    Hmm. I wonder where Lena is with her scientific proof that all chronic illness can be cured by not eating grains.

  114. #114 AdamG
    March 29, 2013

    I wonder where Lena is with her scientific proof that all chronic illness can be cured by not eating grains.

    Same place as Margaret the Student, I’m sure…the Hotel Cognitive Dissonance.

  115. #115 elburto
    March 29, 2013

    Oh I hear it’s a lovely place, such a lovely place. You can stay there, but you can never leave.

  116. #116 Denice Walter
    March 29, 2013

    @ Kreb:

    True, we haven’t “any mechanisms to for dealing with easy access to excess amounts of food” but we do have culture, science and fashion to tell us that eating too much is outre or selfish, not healthy, not fashionable.

  117. #117 Melissa G
    March 29, 2013

    Daaaaarn youuuuuuu AdamG, for I will be singing “Welcome to the Hotel Cogni’veDiss’nance” by the Eagles all freaking weekend now!!!! :D

  118. #118 Denice Walter
    March 29, 2013

    @ Melissa G:
    To enhance your Eagles reverie- true life visual images:

    A few years ago, I arrived in SF after ( what seemed like) a 15 hr bumpy flight. The gentleman who accompanied me was feeling a bit ‘under the weather’ so we stopped at a divish bar in Chinatown: it was gaudily deocrated in faux chinoiserie a la a 1950s movie- dragons and lanterns, mostly gold, red carved columns; as I was sitting at the bar amongst the aged drunkards and youthful stoners, a tarty- looking barkeep squeezed into a teal silk dress asked me what I wanted … as I thought about it suddenly- what comes over the sound system but:

    “Welcome to the Hotel Cali- fornia”

  119. #119 herr doktor bimler
    March 30, 2013

    the Hotel Cognitive Dissonance
    I was under the impression that the bell hop’s tears keep flowin’ And the desk clerk’s dressed in black.

  120. #120 Narad
    March 30, 2013

    To enhance your Eagles reverie- true life visual images

    The Eagles had one good album, the first, and should not be spoken of otherwise. I got a copy of H— C— as part of my youthful joining of the Columbia House scam record club, and I regret it to this very day.

  121. #121 Melissa G
    March 30, 2013

    Bah, Narad, ACCEPT the miracle of Joe Walsh into your life, or burn in, er, Classic Rock Hell. Also, c’mon, One Of These Nights was AWESOME, and gave rise to “Journey of the Sorcerer,” which of course went on to be the theme of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you heretic! ;)

    Denice, did you go so far as to order the pink champagne on ice? :D

    herr doktor– “…And they tell you, eat High Meat or you’ll have a heart attack”!

  122. #122 Chemmomo
    Wait, we're mixing up the bands!
    March 30, 2013

    Melissa G: don’t you mean freezein Classic Rock Hell?

    I can’t complain but sometimes I still do.

  123. #123 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 30, 2013

    Chemmomo – As long as life’s been good to you so far…

  124. #124 Krebiozen
    March 30, 2013

    @Denice,

    True, we haven’t “any mechanisms to for dealing with easy access to excess amounts of food” but we do have culture, science and fashion to tell us that eating too much is outre or selfish, not healthy, not fashionable.

    I have long been fascinated by the interplay of nature and culture around attitudes to food and notions of ideal body weight and size. The cultural factors you mention appear to have a hard time overcoming our hard-wired attraction to sweet and fatty foods, and sometimes have catastrophic consequences such as anorexia and bulimia.

    I find it interesting that in some parts of Africa the fattiest meats are more valued than the lean, and larger women are regarded as more attractive than thinner ones ( the Hima of Uganda, for example, fatten their women up in special huts before they are considered suitable for marriage), in contrast to the perpetually popular half-starved look favored in Europe and America.

    I may have related here before that a svelte female Nigerian friend of mine had several sisters, all much larger than her. In Nigeria her sisters received all the male attention and she was largely ignored. When the family moved to the UK, the situation was reversed. I remember at a wedding party her sisters sat rather glumly playing wallflowers while she was whisked off her feet by a succession of men (including me, I must confess) who wanted to dance with her.

    Adopting only a Palaeolithic diet without the rest of the lifestyle is unlikely to bring the putative benefits. Palaeophiles should really live on berries and roots for a week, then run for half a day before gorging on meat for a few days and then starving for another week.

  125. #125 Denice Walter
    March 30, 2013

    @ Narad:

    I am also not a fan… except for that song. It has been apropo background music more times than once.

    @ Meliisa G:

    Unfortunately, no. The only time I have ever drunk anything pink was when a youngster** next door made Cosmopolitans for me.
    However, she has vacated the premises and the gays now in residence don’t hand out drinks across the balconies. They just smoke. Mostly cigarettes.

    ** a young guy inherited a large, posh condo next door- which he can’t afford- and rents out rooms to various 20-something hipsters. Thus, a constantly changing cast of characters.

  126. #126 Denice Walter
    March 30, 2013

    @ Krebiozen:

    It’s interesting to observe how ideals have evolved for body types which can be done in an entertaining fashion through surveying European art ( including class differences) over the centuries at museums as well as observing actual clothing from past eras. Although we do see more lushly endowed females ( Rubens, Renoir, Titian),
    there are also some who might fit right in today- perhaps Reynolds, Gainsborough- obviously Singer Sargent. Needless to say, classical sculpture can show a similar athletic ideal- even amongst goddesses.

    I’ve personally seen lots of clothing from the Victorian era- both sides of the pond- and early 20th century clothes, which include the innovations post WWI, courtesy of Mlle Chanel.

    I’ve been often shocked by the scale of the clothing and shoes for adult women – and even men. They were small.

  127. #127 elburto
    March 30, 2013

    @Denice – Pink Kangaroos are a great cocktail, delicious!

    And gay men who don’t drink? Wow. I’d love to meet them.

    The other Ms Elburto and I don’t drink, not one drop.* We are the object of much fascination from our gaybloke friends and our fellow sensible shoe wearing women. You’d think we’d professed a penchant for cannibalism or recreational root canals. So much of the ‘Scene’ revolves around pubs, bars and booze, so we don’t bother.

    Hell, even doctors don’t believe us.

    Doc: “How many units of alcohol do you drink per week?”

    Me: “None”

    Doc: “No, not this week, every week”

    Me: “I just told you none, zero, I don’t drink”

    Doc: “Well what’s an average week like?”

    Me: “…”

    One particular ar$ehole of a consultant quizzed and questioned me for ten bloody minutes on my alcohol/cigarette/recreational drug use. When I’d told him repeatedly that I didn’t indulge in any of them he glared at me, took out his dictaphone and said into it “$Patient is 28 years old, presents with $symptoms and claaaaims she does not drink, smoke, or take recreational drugs”

    He made sure, of course, to roll his eyes at the sarcastic “claims” part of his little monologue.

    It’s usually just pure classism, judging me by my accent/location. The stereotype of working class north-easterners is of hard drinking, chainsmoking halfwits. Anyone not living up to that (which is most of us!) is judged as a liar, or in denial, by outsiders. I suppose it’s like Texans or Appalachians in the US, judged by their accent or background.

    *Nothing ideological or religious, just that I use fentanyl and that’s way better than booze, and free! Other Ms elburto has Crohn’s disease and alcohol causes really bad GI bleeds.

  128. #128 Shay
    in the old Northwest Territory
    March 30, 2013

    Texans? We expect them to chaw tobacco.

  129. #129 Joseph Hertzlinger
    March 31, 2013

    The advocates of paleo and vegan diets are in agreement on a number of items: Anecdotes trump data and health problems are all the fault of the Establishment.

  130. #130 Scottynuke
    March 31, 2013

    @elburto –

    It’s even tough for straight males to be nondrinkers simply by personal choice, I tellya. My only reason is that my taste buds simply cannot abide alcohols. To avoid ostracization when I wore a uniform, I had to tell my fellow servicemembers I lacked the liver enzyme to break down alcohol — “You can force me to drink, then I’ll get drunk and die.” Luckily I never came across a medic willing to call my bluff. :-)

  131. #131 Denice Walter
    March 31, 2013

    @ elburto:

    I’m not really a big drinker and never have been- it’s mostly an in-joke because one of my ancestors became known for his gin** and the profits from his expertise have stealthily crept down through the generations to benefit many- including myself. I find alcohol production an interesting historical and cultural achievement- worthy of study.

    There are a few other odd connections to alcohol in my family as well- my aunt married a poor relation of a famous Irish distiller. Someone else was an importer.

    You see, many woo-mavens hate alcohol. So what’s not to like?

    ** my second last name is NOT Gordon, -btw-.

  132. #132 Khani
    March 31, 2013

    I just tell the truth–I don’t drink because alcohol usually makes me sleepy and less fun.

    Now if someone wants to buy me some espresso shots instead of booze, that might produce the effects people usually have in mind anyway.

  133. #133 Renate
    April 1, 2013

    Never been a big drinker myself, though I have to admit I drink a glass of wine occasionally and I have been drunk some times, when I was much younger. I used to do voluntary work as a lighting-technician and didn’t drink when I had to work, which people seemed to think being weird. I mostly drank cold cocoa, or tea. No coffee for me and no smoking. I really hate smoking.

  134. #134 Tony Mach
    April 11, 2013

    @Woefully Undereducated
    Ireland
    March 25, 2013

    “I regularly mix with high level athletes or coaches as well as people starting out and trying to lose weight. The paleo diet has long been a mild irritation for me. On the one hand, of course someone following it is more likely to lose weight. It forbids so many common food types that eating excessive calories while on it would be uncomfortable and monotonous. i suspect this is mainly behind its success stories and its the reason Im reluctant to point out its dubious logic to people who are finally losing weight.”

    You suspect, but you don’t know. I can tell you that following a Paleo Diet curbed my *HUNGER* and *NOT* my appetite. Let that sink for a moment, and then reconsider what you have written.

    While I suffered from ravenous and murderous hunger before I changed my diet, my hunger is now an indicator from my body saying “please eat something”. Now I eat twice a day, until I am “full” (satiated is the word, I think). Furthermore, while I could easily overeat with the foods I ate before (e.g. stuff myself with pasta with an homemade cheese sauce), this is simply not possible with Paleo, no matter how delicious and juicy the meat, no matter how tasty the potatoes fried in lard are, no matter much I like salad (and I do like salad very much). So yeah, being “irritated” with something you have no first hand knowledge is the right word – because an factual criticism it is not.

    It seems to me that many people rather want to attack an “Paleo Fantasy” that exists in their heads instead of critically examining the reality of Paleo Diet.

    And by the way, what is wrong with the scientific method? Remove evolutionary novel foods, see if it help, re-challenge, see if problems return, and then remove again, see if it helps again. Simple experiments, beyond the realm of today’s medical science. I know, a revolutionary thought to do an experiment to learn about reality, but maybe this is my “Science Fantasy” I harbour…

    (And on hand Paleo helped me immensely with my health – like flipping a switch – on the other hand the medical profession with teeth and claws is attacking Paleo strawmen instead of doing simple experiments to see if there might be something to the notion that evolutionary novel foods could cause disease. So if it were up to those supposedly advocating medical science I’d still suffered from ill health. So I am terribly sorry if I don’t take you seriously.)

  135. #135 Narad
    April 11, 2013

    Remove evolutionary novel foods

    no matter how tasty the potatoes fried in lard are

    *Koff*

  136. #136 herr doktor bimler
    April 11, 2013

    I could easily overeat [...] this is simply not possible [...] no matter how delicious and juicy the meat, no matter how tasty the potatoes fried in lard are

    Mythbusters episode!

  137. #137 Krebiozen
    April 11, 2013

    So Palaeolithic man ate french fries? Who knew?

  138. #138 MIRose
    April 11, 2013

    To improve my health I have been told by family and friends not to eat grain dairy and potatoes. I was also told to get more iron for fatigue even though my hemoglobin level was 14.5, more B12 even though that level is high and to get my thyroid tested (I already had) . When it comes to nutrition everybody thinks they are an expert even if they don’t know anything.

  139. #139 LW
    April 11, 2013

    Paleolithic man ate potatoes? I thought they were well past that stage when they reached the Americas.

  140. #140 AdamG
    April 11, 2013

    And by the way, what is wrong with the scientific method? Remove evolutionary novel foods, see if it help, re-challenge, see if problems return, and then remove again, see if it helps again. Simple experiments

    Unfortunately, Tony, this does not qualify as an experiment, or even as a use of the scientific method. How do you define “evolutionary novel food?” How do you control for the effects of simple caloric restriction?

    Ultimately, paleo simply boils down to yet another fad diet consisting of lists of ‘ok’ and ‘not ok’ food. The difference is that it’s couched in human-evolution-themed pseudoscience, which gets me particularly up in arms as the evolution of human diet is something I’ve published on in the past.

    Like most fad diets, there is zero evidence that paleo’s specific way of separating ‘bad foods’ from ‘good’ ones provides any dietary benefit beyond what’s gained from simple caloric restriction or changes to basic nutrition.

    the medical profession with teeth and claws is attacking Paleo strawmen instead of doing simple experiments to see if there might be something to the notion that evolutionary novel foods could cause disease.

    What strawmen are these, exactly? You didn’t actually bother to point any out. What, exactly, would these ‘experiments’ look like? I think you’ll find that either your ‘experiment’ wouldn’t tell you what you think it would, or that it’s already been done to no effect.

  141. #141 Narad
    April 11, 2013

    Paleolithic man ate potatoes? I thought they were well past that stage when they reached the Americas.

    Plus, Europe was only populated by Homo sapiens after a comparatively recent migration from South America.

  142. #142 Chris,
    April 11, 2013

    From Doubtful News, this link about Paleo Trends:
    http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/palaeo-trends

  143. #143 JGC
    April 11, 2013

    How is feeling ‘ravenously and murderously hungry’ anything other than an indicator from your body saying ‘please eat something”?

    And you’re really arguing that it’s impossible to overeat steak and potatoes?

  144. #144 Denice Walter
    April 11, 2013

    Additional paleo-woo:

    ( courtesy of Peter Adamo’s “Eat Right for Your Type” website)-
    The most ancient type is O, the Hunter- ” the ancestral prototype was a canny, aggressive predator… essential in every society even to this day… leadership, extroversion, energy.. a mesomorph.. benefits from regular exercise…
    “In Japan, blood type has been linked with personality”. Right.

    In other words, we Os rule.

    Type A ( Agrarians) developed alongside agriculture and can tolerate grains and milk products.
    Type B ( Nomads) are mixed, as are ABs.

    On a more realistic note, you can find geopgraphic distributions of blood types via: Modern Human Variation: Distribution of blood types.

    Seems those canny predators are all over the place. Including western Europe.

  145. #145 AdamG
    April 11, 2013

    Denise, Paleo blood-type woo is a particular favorite of mine, as most of the time it’s just pure fantasy. It’s not even true that O is the oldest allele!

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15104652

  146. #146 Denice Walter
    April 11, 2013

    @ AdamG:

    Hilariously, if you peruse the maps of distribution, you’ll discover that that type O – which is supposed to have developed prior to agriculture – shouldn’t be able to tolerate dairy- is 60-80% of western Europe. … where dairy is somewhat popular. And cream, butter and cheese production are long established artforms.

  147. #147 Narad
    April 11, 2013

    And you’re really arguing that it’s impossible to overeat steak and potatoes?

    I’ve seen a paleo convert take down 5000–7000 calories of pork belly without batting an eyelash.

  148. #148 Melissa G
    April 11, 2013

    Denice W.– I knew it! Your last name is Beefeater, isn’t it. ;)

  149. #149 Khani
    April 12, 2013

    #134 What you describe is not the scientific method, I’m afraid. There are no control subjects, no blinding and worst of all, the sample size (1) is not adequate.

  150. #150 herr doktor bimler
    April 13, 2013

    And cream, butter and cheese production are long established artforms.

    How far back does the butter-sculpture tradition go?

  151. #151 Krebiozen
    April 13, 2013

    Some probably useless potato history trivia from my earlier incarnation as a social anthropologist: potatoes were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago, somewhat after the end of the Palaeolithic era. The first potatoes very probably contained high levels of toxic glycoalkaloids, which had to be removed before they were safe for consumption. Native South and Central Americans still either freeze-dry bitter potatoes which removes toxins before ingestion, or consume them with clays that adsorb toxins after ingestion. See the work of Timothy Johns, for example this paper (PDF).

  152. #152 sheepmilker
    April 13, 2013

    HDB, according to Wikipedia, 1536!

    I know, I was surprised too. Up here, the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto has some stellar butter sculptures every year.

  153. #153 Denice Walter
    April 13, 2013

    @ Melissa G:

    No, it isn’t.
    It isn’t “Gordon” either or else I’d certainly make sure everyone knew it ( poetic allusions etc). And I’d get to say, ” No relation to Jay”.
    Not that I dislike him or anything.

    @ herr doktor bimler:

    Dairy food production IS an artform. Cheesy art is not.

    Please- I just spent several hours schmoozing amongst the hipsters this very day… galleries, wine, cheese and Third World cuisine..
    we tried to decide wholeheartedly if some particular *objets* were meant to be ironic, cynical or just stupid.
    For some incomprehensible reason, the galley owners seem very pleased with me and appreciate my presence, commentary and escorts.
    Never buy anything either.

  154. #154 Melissa G
    April 13, 2013

    Heh! Well, to be fair, I only said “Beefeater” to be on topic. BECAUSE PALEO! … and. er. beef. And they eat it a lot… yeah, I’ll get my coat.

  155. #155 Sondra Dellaripa
    United States
    April 15, 2013

    I have followed a Paleo lifestyle since January of this year. I work out twice per week. I’m not addicted to exercise. In the last three months I have lost 12 pounds and collectively about five inches overall body mass (mostly in my extended belly). I have less aches and fatigue. I essentially have cut out all processed foods (which in my book do not even qualify as food but chemical alternatives – think Soylent Green- and i have cut out sugars which spike my insulin levels. I have also elimiated all dairy and grains.
    I eat fresh, grass feed, organic meets, farmed fish, eggs organic vegetables (some of which I had never tasted before but i am a BIG fan, like spaghetti squash), organic fruits, whole seed, nut, fruit and animal oils. I can’t think of anything unhealthy about this lifestyle, compared to the Average American diet of high fructose corn syrup, colorings, additives, cereals, mystery meat products, antibiotic and steroid injected chickens, mercury laden fish. Its all we hear about in the media, the obese American, and yet, when some of us begin to do something about it, we are shunned. For every point made in this article there are an equal number of points supporting the lifestyle I have chosen. Maybe a more balanced approach to reporting might be in order.

  156. #156 Lawrence
    April 15, 2013

    @Sondra – I’ve also been working out for the past three months & lost at least 20 pounds (and I am eating healthier – but mostly just eating less).

    It has nothing to do with “Paleo” as it is just being smart about diet and exercise.

  157. #157 Shay
    April 15, 2013

    I can’t think of anything unhealthy about this lifestyle.

    I can’t either except that the average family can’t afford it.

  158. #158 Cvrai
    April 29, 2013

    So many people commending the value of exercise for their weight loss but where are the studies that show exercise has a dramatic effect?

  159. #159 Krebiozen
    April 29, 2013

    Cvrai,

    So many people commending the value of exercise for their weight loss but where are the studies that show exercise has a dramatic effect?

    You mean studies like the ones examined in this systematic review?

    The results of this review support the use of exercise as a weight loss intervention, particularly when combined with dietary change. Exercise is associated with improved cardiovascular disease risk factors even if no weight is lost.

  160. #160 pomoc drogowa
    May 6, 2013

    When I initially left a comment I clicked on the Notify me whenever new comments are added checkbox and now each and every time a remark is added I receive 4 email messages with the identical comment.

  161. #161 gingerbread
    May 21, 2013

    “Paleo is not low carb. It is not high carb. It is not low fat. It is not high fat. And Cordain is not the Emperor of Paleo”.

    So basically it’s the True Scotsman Diet.

    The fact that most people following paleo diet eat low carb, doesn’t mean that paleo diet is low carb. It can be no carb like traditional Inuit diet or high carb like traditional Kitava diet. Paleo diet is simply about exclusion of grains and dairy. However some people are adapted to digest milk, so they don’t need to follow this most scrict paleo recommendations in 100%. Moreover some dairy products are even recommended by more liberal “cavemen”, e.g. kefir.

    Asking how we know about “paleo” diet and “paleo” people health is quite foolish and europocentric, like if all hunter-gatherers magically disappeared with the end of Paleolith.

    Sure, there is a lot of b.s. in paleo community, but diet itself isn’t rather one of them. My favourite one is about skin cancer and “toxic chemicals” in sunscreen. Fair skinned people writing proudly about how much time they spend in e.g. California sun without any sunscreen and questioning UV – skin cancer relation is worth at least double face palm if not triple one.

  162. #162 ron
    champaign, ill
    June 9, 2013

    This is one link that leads to many others — Zuks book is it’s own critique and “should have been a blog post in 2010 instead of a book on 2013.”

    http://freetheanimal.com/2013/03/paleofantasy-%E2%80%94-critiques.html

    I love orac, but putting paleo into cam belies very typical physician understanding of nutrition.

    ron

  163. #163 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 10, 2013

    ron – You’ll note Orac’s statement above that

    One notes that, although the Paleo Diet is not, strictly speaking, always sold as CAM/IM, the ideas behind it are popular among CAM advocates, and the diet is frequently included as part of “integrative medicine,”

    His major critique seems to be that the rationale given by some for the various paleo diets is

    CAM and the Paleo diet share this fear of modernity as an underlying assumption even as their advocates use and misuse evolution to “prove” their worth. This is nothing new, and the rationale behind the Paleo diet is nothing more than, as Zuk has put it, the evolutionary search for our perfect past.

    If there is another, science based rationale for the paleo diet that you are referring to, then please share.

  164. #164 ron
    June 14, 2013

    “If there is another, science based rationale for the paleo diet that you are referring to, then please share”
    …i don’t think so…the only science based rationale for paleo is evolution, and its associated sciences. imo, Zuk’s presentation is lightweight, and pejorative in use of “paleo fantasy” as opposed to paleo hypothesis or paleo musings. Her notions of swift evolution are keystone cops funny. That link to her proof of paleolithic cancer is embarassing. And then orac seems to legitimate Zuk’s musings and put paleo and woo together “until they die.”
    As a follower of paleo diet and a dbl-bypass survivor — I find far, far greater fantasy in the lipid hypothesis and statination of …our nation.

  165. #165 AdamG
    June 14, 2013

    the only science based rationale for paleo is evolution

    Sorry ron, but as an evolutionary biologist I can tell you that Paleo is a distortion of actual evolutionary theory. Most of paleo’s claims about ‘ancestral health’ or ‘ancestral diet’ are blatant misinterpretations of the data and theories in current human genetics.

  166. #166 ron
    June 14, 2013

    Adam — I can’t begin to argue these points at your level as an evolutionary biologist.
    And i don’t have much appetite for lenthy back and forth and a duel of links…
    But if you could point out to me, in the simplest of terms, what the distortions between paleo and “actual” evolution are…i would welcome the enlightenment.

    where are the distortions?

    Are the evolutionary bottlenecks distortions?
    Are the long periods of glaciation distortions?
    Are the many huge species hunted to extinction… distortions?
    Are the 2000 paintings of animals and no plants on the cave walls in Lascaux — are they distortions?
    Is the comparison of our digestive tract with other carnivores…a distortion?
    Is the expensive tissue hypothesis a distortion?

    —————————————-

    At the 18:00 mark — is physical anthropologist Peter Ungar’s statement that unlike our predecessors, our teeth are evolutionary adapted to handle meat — is that a distortion?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjM47L_hnE&feature=youtu.be

    ——————————————–

    all the best,
    ron

  167. #167 Passerby
    June 19, 2013

    I can’t speak for the whole Paleo community – I just eat it, I don’t really socialize over it – I can say that not all Paleo is based on this kind of fuzzy approach. Maybe I just happened on less woozy sources from the get-go? My intro to Paleo was, iirc, this page
    http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2010/3/28/the-only-reasonable-paleo-principle.html

    And as regards the side-discussion of whether any studies had been done on feeding cats raw meat vs cooked-with-carbs: I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe someone else already pointed it out Pottenger’s Cats? It was this study by a vet, iirc, back in the 1930′s comparing generations of cats fed raw meat vs those fed cooked meat. The preview on the book’s Amazon page contains the whole summary, but if you don’t want to read the whole thing, yeah, I’d say he pretty conclusively proved raw meat is better for cats.

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