The Paleo Diet: Claims Versus Evidence - Discussion

I was scrolling through my facebook profile this past weekend when I noticed an interesting post. I coach with a friend of mine at the university, and he posted a link to an article that discredited the Paleo diet. My friend is a very smart guy. He's even working towards his masters in Exercise Physiology with an emphasis on nutrition. So rather than be closed-minded I took a gander on his great find. Unfortunately, rather than learn something new I saw a lot of base-line misunderstandings. The author of this article, Alan, also spoke at the NSCA conference recently against low carb dieting. I can't say that one way is better than another, but  I can say that low-carbing has its benefits. Below I will post the link to the article for your own reading pleasures, and then below that I will post my rebuttal to this article. If you disagree with me feel free to comment below. I hope another good discussion comes from this.
I laughed at this one. The main reason people dislike the
paleo diet is due to the people who do the paleo diet.

Alan might have misinterpreted the notion on some of the Paleo guidelines. He seems to be attacking the psycho-religious group who take everything on faith.

Alan ignored the fact that ever since tool making came about, so did the increase in animal proteins. Neanderthalensis, whom were bred out by homosapiensis, had a nearly 100% animal meat diet. When homosapiens began eating higher quantities of meat their sizes increased overall. This occured during expansion into Eurasia. Plant based material, like cellulose, cannot be broken down in the human gut while humans contain ample amounts of amylase to break down proteins.

Alan also made the claim "there are several origins of disease not stemming from inflammation" but then did not cite or explain his point. I think his case would have been more sturdy if he cited any of these diseases.

Furthermore, his claim for lectins was that ,"it is based on in vitro and animal data." He suggested that because it has not been conducted in healthy functioning adults that it is not plausible. However, this scenario is comparable to the two types of hypertrophy assumed to happen in adults: through individual fibers expanding, and through them replicating. It has never been observed that muscle cells replicate in humans, but it has been widely accepted. Observing these things in humans would require cutting into humans and taking organ tissue, examining it, waiting for an extended period of time, and then cutting out the rest of the tissue to examine changes.

He also bashed phytates and lectins (PL) for their inflammation properties. Some of the more advanced paleo theories are not claiming that the main culprate of PL is not due to the overall inflammation, but to the chemical-mineral binding properties of these enzymes. Lectins are shown to bind to the intestine wall and hinder nutrient absorption, and phytates are shown to hinder the absorption of calcium magnesium iron and zinc (David L J Freed (1999) Do dietary lectins cause disease)

As for dairy I totally agree. If your not lactose intolerant drink from the utter. 

Only the super-religious avoid nightshades. The rest of us understand the very low quantity of phytates and lectins is outweighed by its benefits. 

As for O3 and O6 the controversy is not just limited to supplementing with fish oils. Most sincere paleo advocaters recommend getting better O3's from every day foods. Animals that graze on grass and in fields rather than caged feed lots naturally have higher levels of Omega 3s in their meat. Eating this way not only adds to the overall consumption of O3s but also to the betterment of animal treatment. Not to mention the benefits of reduced cancer, and improved cardiovascular fitness from having a higher O3 to O6 ratio (Simopoulos AP. [2012] The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.)

Alan then names several societies that emphasize eating plants and grains over meats, only to neglect the country with the most annual cardiac problems in the world, India. India is a primarily vegetarian country, just saying.

I'll conclude by saying that Alan made several leaping assumptions without following current paleo theory. Do i think that there is one diet for everyone? No. Do I think that avoiding certain foods could improve mineral absorption and function within most of the population? Yes. 

I will never Nazi push this down any ones throat, however, to claim that it is all fallacy is, well, fallacy in itself.

If you disagree with me, and don't feel that I have provided enough cited sources for my arguments I have comprised a brief "e-book" above with more in depth detail on my view. Let the friendly discussion begin.


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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.