January 18, 2014

"Michael Pollan explains what’s wrong with the paleo diet."

What do you mean by "wrong"? All Michael Pollan is saying is that people doing the paleo diet don't know exactly what our ancestors in evolutionary times ate and in what proportions. 

But prehistorical inaccuracy only makes the diet "wrong" if: 1. You adhere to a philosophy or moral code that demands not only that you attempt to ape the apeman but also that doing the best you can yet falling short is a violation, or 2. There is no independent scientific support for the healthfulness of the collection of foods that have been identified under the label "paleo."

I'm not really criticizing Pollan here. He didn't write the headline. It's pointing out the obvious that we don't know that the paleo diet is correct, not that we know it's wrong. Here's his book "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation," which is oriented around making us feel good about (some of) the food that civilization has made for us.
One problem with the paleo diet is that “they’re assuming that the options available to our caveman ancestors are still there,” he argues. But “unless you’re willing to hunt your food, they’re not.”

As Pollan explains, the animals bred by modern agriculture — which are fed artificial diets of corn and grains, and beefed up with hormones and antibiotics — have nutritional profiles far from wild game.
Can you "beef up" beef? It's already beef. You can "humanize" a human being. But you can't bird up a bird, porkify a pig, or enlambate a lamb.

Here's one of my favorite songs:

41 comments:

harrogate said...

The Kinks! So good. I was just listening to *Misfits* this morning and damn. That record still sounds so great after all these years.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Which is why many of the proponents of the diet stress eating free range, organic, lean animals. Grass fed beef that hasn't been dosed with antibiotics for instance. The problem with that though is that such a diet is much more expensive than factory raised animals.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I just happened to watch that same Kinks video last night on a whim.

rhhardin said...

My dog is on the paleo diet.

Purina One free fed
Breakfast egg yolks (2)
Lunch rice, chicken and peas
Dinner chicken

I share my stuff, except the Purina One is hers.

Anything that sounds like a chicken packet rustle or smells like bacon brings the dog to the kitchen. It's time for good food again.

The idea is that morsels of good stuff make the Purina One unpalatable enough so that she doesn't overindulge.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ray Davies smiles like the Joker.

Shouting Thomas said...

The Paleo diet is a literary conceit.

Several of my writer friends are proponents. Their arguments are literary metaphors.

No doubt... ceasing stuffing yourself to bread, cake and spaghetti will lead to weight loss.

So, if you want to adhere to the diet, you will lose weight.

jr565 said...

As a historical diet, the Paleo diet is a gimmick. But as a diet itself, its pretty sound. That's the way you probably should be eating.

David Davenport said...

One weakness of the paleo diet, is I understand this diet, is that its proponents assume that all Paleolithic era peepul and their descendants evolved to eat the same diet.

In particular, the paleo diet ignores the fact that some populations have evolved to be lactose tolerant, that is, milk and cheese tolerant, while others have not. Adults of Northern European descent thrive on the stuff, while Eat Asians may not.

In this respect, the dare-to-be-different paleo diet is actually very pee cee.

jr565 said...

As to Apeman, its one of many great Kinks songs. Even on lesserKinks albums you can find one or two songs that are completely catchy.

Rusty said...

David Davenport said...
One weakness of the paleo diet, is I understand this diet, is that its proponents assume that all Paleolithic era peepul and their descendants evolved to eat the same diet.

In particular, the paleo diet ignores the fact that some populations have evolved to be lactose tolerant, that is, milk and cheese tolerant, while others have not. Adults of Northern European descent thrive on the stuff, while Eat Asians may not.

In this respect, the dare-to-be-different paleo diet is actually very pee cee.

Very.
It doesn't account for periods of want or scavenging week old carcases.
Parkman noted that the plains indians, after a successful Buffalo hunt, would often consume 30 pounds of meat or more in one sitting. Much of it raw.

Paco Wové said...

He didn't write the headline.

Figures. Grist is one of the organs of the sniggering idiot lefty tendency, which for some reason has it in for the paleo diet.

David Davenport said...

From Wikipedia:

Most mammals normally cease to produce lactase, becoming lactose intolerant, after weaning,[4] but some human populations have developed lactase persistence, in which lactase production continues into adulthood. It is estimated that 75% of adults worldwide show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood.[5] The frequency of decreased lactase activity ranges from 5% in northern Europe through 71% for Sicily to more than 90% in some African and Asian countries.[6] This distribution is now thought to have been caused by recent natural selection favoring lactase-persistent individuals in cultures in which dairy products are available as a food source.[7] While it was first thought that this would mean that populations in Europe, India, Arabia and Africa had high frequencies of lactase persistence because of a particular mutation, it was later shown that lactase persistence is caused by several independently occurring mutations.[8]

Fernandinande said...

From John Hawks:

"Neandertal self-medication
...
In 2012, this team of authors reported on their examination of the dental calculus of the El Sidrón Neandertals. They found some evidence for plant food consumption, in line with results from other Neandertal sites. But additionally they found chemical traces of other interesting things:

Evidence of oil shale or bitumen. Bitumen was used by Neandertals at other sites as an adhesive for hafting stones...

Alkyl phenols and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons consistent with exposure to wood smoke or smoked food.

Chemical residues consistent with consumption of yarrow and chamomile, including bitter-tasting and appetite-suppressing compounds.

A very low level of proteins and absence of lipid components suggested that the diet of these individuals was protein-poor during the time they were forming calculus."

acm said...

Grist is one of the organs of the sniggering idiot lefty tendency, which for some reason has it in for the paleo diet.

--------

Paleo does seem to be very popular in libertarian circles. So does its close cousin, Atkins-style low-carb. I imagine lefties hate Paleo and Atkins because they both start out with the same premise---The government (author of the Food Pyramid) is wrong and harmful.

EMD said...

Pollan is correct, but who really cares?

SGT Ted said...

Paleo is just the latest scientifically dubious food fad.

It isn't grounded in the evolutionary reality that our ancestors diets have since evolved from the paleolithic, changing as their cultures and peoples moved around and interbred, taken over or exterminated by other groups of humans, or disease and natural disaster and evolved cultivation practices.

Paleo is a simpltons reaction to modern processed foods that ignores all the human dietary evolution since the paleolithic period to make itself valid.

David Davenport said...

during the time they were forming calculus."

You're saying that Newton and Leibniz didn't get enough protein?

//////////////////

So does its close cousin, Atkins-style low-carb. I imagine lefties hate Paleo and Atkins because they both start out with the same premise---The government (author of the Food Pyramid) is wrong and harmful.

Almost all fad diets claim that the Establishment's idea of a proper diet is wrong. I suppose that the Left doesn't like the paleo diet because it isn't vegetarian.

I think the paleo diet idea is flawed for another reason.

William said...

It's not the paleo diet that's healthy, but the paleo lifestyle. Chasing down the woolly mammoth keeps one fit and healthy, provided you don't get too close to the tusks.

tim maguire said...

Speaking of Apeman, the first meat our earliest ancestors ate was probably apemen. At least if modern chimps are anything to go by, which they probably are.

donald said...

There are no lesser Kinks albums.

John Lynch said...

Humans have evolved since we were mostly hunter-gatherers. Evolution works much more quickly than most people realize. Modern humans have been around 100,000 years or so. Over 10% of that time there has been a large number of people practicing agriculture. That's long enough for selection to happen. For instance, many people are lactose intolerant because their recent ancestors didn't raise cows.

Our diet is what our diet is. Trying to figure out what we ate millennia ago isn't very helpful. There are seven billion people alive now, and we should be able to observe them and see what diets are most healthy. The present is what matters.

traditionalguy said...

Call it a Pre-History Diet if you must. Whatever it was kept people alive through an Ice Age.

Look at the Blood Type Diet. It has has a better track record at picking a good diet than an assumption error that treats everyone as if their tribal descent is one type digestive system.

O types thrive on beef.
B types thrive on dairy and fish.
A types thrive on veggies.

Inga said...

Acm, you would be wrong in your assumption.

jr565 said...

donald wrote:
There are no lesser Kinks albums.


There were a few.

Bruce Hayden said...

Speaking of Apeman, the first meat our earliest ancestors ate was probably apemen. At least if modern chimps are anything to go by, which they probably are.

While other apemen may have been in their diet, I think that other primates were probably more prevalent. Chimps apparently love monkey. The problem with their eating chimp meat is that they mostly, for good reason, don't eat the members of their own tribe, but prefer to dine upon the members of other tribes. What this seems to mean are organized incursions into adjoining turf, and woe be it for any chimps (normally male) that they find away from their tribe. Not all that different from the actions of gangs in our society, except that humans usually stop at the killing of members of other gangs, and don't go the next step of eating the slain.

Bruce Hayden said...

O types thrive on beef.
B types thrive on dairy and fish.
A types thrive on veggies.


Do you have some research to back this. I hear all the time that I should eat less beef, and more veggies by my partner. She is an A, while I am O. Need some ammunition next time she tries to feed me some of that dark green stuff.

Maybe we could add that for our chimp ancestors, the males eat more meat, and often a lot more meat, then the females. The males hunt, while the females gather and take care of the young, and often apparently the males eat at least some of their kills before they return to the females with the rest. If any of this has continued with us to the present, then I have just one more argument why I should be able to eat beef while she should be content with her veggies. Any help here with additional ammunition would be appreciated.

jr565 said...

Bruce Hayden wrote;
o you have some research to back this. I hear all the time that I should eat less beef, and more veggies by my partner. She is an A, while I am O. Need some ammunition next time she tries to feed me some of that dark green stuff.

Is eating for blood type similarly bogus? I've heard that it's valid and also that there is no real difference.
One of the problems with the whole diet debate is that there may not be a right anwser only a bunch of hypotheses that may prove right or partially right, and noone really knows anything.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't really care if the blood type research is bogus or not - I just need the ammunition. I will let her try to find counter ammunition.

Alex said...

Gluttonous Americans use the farce of "paleo diet" as an excuse to scarf down hormone-laden meat 24 hours a day. Vegetables nowhere to be seen on their plates. Vegetables are for sissie men.

SteveR said...

Paleoman had a life span of about 25 years. I wished I'd known that when I was young because all that Pizza is extending my life.

Alex said...

Now this guy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFlzcumOTQQ

Is the real face of paleo in 2014! Go for it Uh-merica, you can all be morbidly obese and proud of IT!

zyz65 said...

"unless you’re willing to hunt your food, they’re not.”

In our supermarket we can buy elk, venison, reindeer, and wild boar meat. Named joints cost a bit more than beef, but in frozen sliced form they are quite affordable.

Alex said...

What is Pollan's real agenda here? He's one of the urban elitist hippie types that can afford all this wonderful artisanal, organic, locally-sourced food and deems to judge to masses who live in food deserts.

southcentralpa said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zVxA6yipv4 heh.

southcentralpa said...

heh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zVxA6yipv4

traditionalguy said...

Try Amazon for blood type diet books.

Or try it yourself with the pamphlets of foods for types listed by category. Each type has "foods category which is good. Then each type has medicines category which are health givers. Then each type has poisons category which are a hindrances.

It works for me. Type O is 65% of Americans. We are from hunter tribes that binge eat the beef we hunted and rest up a few days.

The type Bs Mongolian tribes do best on dairy and lamb.

The type A City dwellers tribes love veggies, fowl and fish.

All types thrive on lamb. All types do well on beer. All types are hindered by pork.

Alex said...

southcentralpa - Gary Taubes. PWNED.

Taz Man said...

It's not about temporary fad diets. It's about adopting healthy and sustainable eating habits.

http://makingandtaking.com/3-reasons-most-diets-dont-work-3-solutions/

SGT Ted said...

Vegetables are for sissie men.

Except for Guy Veggies, like garlic and onions.

SGT Ted said...

"Blood type diet" is bullshit too.

I am A- and thrive on high meat, moderate veggies/carbs diets.

The bullshit people buy into about diet is almost pathological.

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