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ropoctl

Altruist diet op-ed

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You might want to go back and look at the comments there. There's at least one there which is probably raising a common objection many people may have related to life spans people used to have and which you would probably come off more convincingly if you addressed.

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The article does an excellent job of critiquing the health nuts, but I don't think I agree with the alternative it is suggesting. It seems to be built on the premises that:

  • the only things that taste good are the food groups favored by the Atkins diet, and that all the foods recommended by the Atkins diet taste good; and
  • the only things that are healthy to eat are the food groups favored by the Atkins diet.

I dispute both premises.

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The article is specifically referring to the Primal or "Paleo" diet actually. The Atkins diet is a similar diet but not the same.

As far as taste, generally red meats, butter, cream, cheese, and other animal fats are seen as foods that taste good but should be avoided due to their alleged negative health impact. The alternatives given are lowfat, or vegetable based fats. Generally, to me, butter tastes a zillion times better than Margarine, and anyone I know that thinks margarine tastes better is highly obsessed with the idea that butter is unhealthy.

The fact of the matter is, mankind evolved eating a certain diet, which consisted of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Our bodies are not designed to eat the modern day diets that include grains, whole or processed, vegetable oils, and fruit juices packed with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

So, whether a nice piece of steak with a side of asparagus sounds tasty or not to you, it is the way to eat healthy.

I enjoy having four to six slices of bacon and scrambled eggs in the morning with absolutely no guilt. I cook the eggs in the bacon fat, and boy is it yummy. If that doesn't sound like a delicious meal to you, then you've probably been programmed to think so by years of thinking that all that fat is going to give you a heart attack.

That's the point of the paleo diet.

As far as "Since when is it obligatory to not be fat?" Weight loss is not the goal of the Paleo or -any- diet. The goal is to -be healthy-. On the Paleo diet you can -be healthy- without sacrificing good tasting food.

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The article is specifically referring to the Primal or "Paleo" diet actually. The Atkins diet is a similar diet but not the same.

As far as taste, generally red meats, butter, cream, cheese, and other animal fats are seen as foods that taste good but should be avoided due to their alleged negative health impact. The alternatives given are lowfat, or vegetable based fats. Generally, to me, butter tastes a zillion times better than Margarine, and anyone I know that thinks margarine tastes better is highly obsessed with the idea that butter is unhealthy.

So "Paleo" diet is to eat as much as you want, as long as it tastes good?

What is that based on? Palaeolithic man did not eat as much as he wanted, and he did not live a long and healthy life. He ate what he could find, and he died young.

I enjoy having four to six slices of bacon and scrambled eggs in the morning with absolutely no guilt. I cook the eggs in the bacon fat, and boy is it yummy. If that doesn't sound like a delicious meal to you, then you've probably been programmed to think so by years of thinking that all that fat is going to give you a heart attack.

That's the point of the paleo diet.

I don't think all fat is going to give me a hearth attack, never have. So I have no use for this point. Does this mean that I can now move on, "Paleo" diet has nothing to offer me?

As far as "Since when is it obligatory to not be fat?" Weight loss is not the goal of the Paleo or -any- diet. The goal is to -be healthy-. On the Paleo diet you can -be healthy- without sacrificing good tasting food.

Are you saying that I can eat as much as I want, as long as it tastes good, and it doesn't contain grains and corn syrup, and I'm going to stay healthy? What about obesity, is that healthy?

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Here is a link to exactly what foods are good and bad according to the Paleolithic diet: http://www.paleonu.com/get-started/

As for your assertion that paleolithic man died young, please provide a source? We have plenty of evidence that post-civilization grain-fed man died young, from many different anthropological finds around the world. However I do not believe there are sufficient such finds to assert an average life expectancy of paleolithic man. If you have one, I'd like to see it.

As for obesity, eating on the paleo diet will very likely make you thinner. If you are bodybuilding, it will help your muscles grow as well. I was simply commenting on no1729's assumption that the goal of a diet is to lose weight. That is a narrow view of dieting in general. Overweight may be a superficial incentive to go on a diet, however the goal of most diets is to provide sustainable lifelong health.

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As for your assertion that paleolithic man died young, please provide a source?

Maybe you should've googled it before presenting us with expert opinion on health. Or, if you don't have time to google it, at least stop questioning a perfectly valid argument without any knowledge of the subject whatsoever. According to the best estimates (deduced from the structure of scheletons found) in the late paleolithic era (30.000 to 9000 BC, before agriculture) people lived on a roghly 50/50 plant/animal diet, and the average life expectancy of males was 35.3 years, and of females 30.0 years. And no, I'm not gonna provide you with any sources. It's your claim that a diet based on what people ate 20.000 years ago is a good idea, you provide links proving that they lived longer because of the absence of grains. Perhaps during your research you'll actually realize how weak the argument that paleolitic men were healthier because of the absence of grains really is, on your own. (and if you do link to some argument, please make sure they mention and account for the end of the last global ice age, and the effect of that on wildlife, which coincides with the end of the paleolitic period)

Here's an example of an argument, that I found, in my research, just as an incentive for people to not take this stuff for granted:

The Old Testament mentions the travails of childbirth as one of the curses inflicted on women after the fall. It seems the bad effects of leaving the Garden of Eden (Hunter Gatherer world) and having to “earn thy bread by the sweat of thy brow” (agriculturalism) was noticed long ago. I’ve often thought that the Garden of Eden story was an allegory for the transition from wild man to civilized man. The ancients knew that this path was cursed.

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According to the best estimates (deduced from the structure of scheletons found) in the late paleolithic era (30.000 to 9000 BC, before agriculture) people lived on a roghly 50/50 plant/animal diet, and the average life expectancy of males was 35.3 years, and of females 30.0 years. And no, I'm not gonna provide you with any sources.

Even if those figures are accurate (and I have no reason to doubt that they are), you have to be careful with something like average life expectancy. Remember that high infant mortality is usually responsible for those figures being low, both in the past and in the modern era. Back in paleolithic times if you made it to age 1 you were extremely fortunate, and if you made it to age 5 you were probably good to go for a long time. Adulthood wasn't nearly as dangerous as early childhood and people did regularly live into their 40s and 50s.

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I couldn't figure out what is being called altruist in this article. If this is identifying as altruistic anything that's not 'paleo' then there's a big problem with that. I think it's great that many Objectivists are forming diet and fitness groups, most of which are firmly behind the paleo movement, but that doesn't make one diet or another Objectivist.

I have no idea what the best foods are to eat; I can only go on what I observe from my own body changes and energy levels, as well as generalizing on other peoples' eating behaviors that I can observe--this, of course, is even less scientific. From that type of evidence, my skinny ass will continue to eat a diet of moderation consisting primarily of less-refined grains and vegetables.

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Even if those figures are accurate (and I have no reason to doubt that they are), you have to be careful with something like average life expectancy. Remember that high infant mortality is usually responsible for those figures being low, both in the past and in the modern era. Back in paleolithic times if you made it to age 1 you were extremely fortunate, and if you made it to age 5 you were probably good to go for a long time. Adulthood wasn't nearly as dangerous as early childhood and people did regularly live into their 40s and 50s.

Sure, but was that consistently higher than in post agriculture periods, when infant and child deaths were just as frequent? I'm yet to see any evidence of that. The only positive for paleolithic man is bone density and size, which is about 5% higher. (That is due to a more varied diet, not necessarily the absence of grains from the diet. These days, even a completely animal product free vegetarian diet, which is extremely rare, can contain the minerals needed for healthy bone development. Pretty much no one in the West is living on only one or two types of grain, the way some of those agrarians did in the Neolithic and bronze ages)

And yet, the diet Jack linked to seems to focus religiously on what an ancient humans would've done, for no apparent reason except that they were ancient. (eat only twice a day; absolutely no grains, legumes, milk or any dairy products; going out in the midday sun-after all who cares about skin cancer; even interval running instead of jogging--because they were supposedly chasing animas in small intervals?)

Why don't we instead figure out what the best diet is based on science, and call it the scientific diet? How does this Paleolithic thing make any sense to anyone?

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Why don't we instead figure out what the best diet is based on science, and call it the scientific diet? How does this Paleolithic thing make any sense to anyone?

I get how it makes a little sense but only in the context of it being a reaction to prior attacks against fats and meats. What I don't get is people who are religiously following the plan, committing the same mistakes that prior movements made. It's one thing to experiment with a diet and even get behind it, but it's quite another to act like the diet is the proven holy grail of health and fitness. Then there are the facts of this 'evolutionary diet' that you pointed out that show that most paleo diets aren't quite paleo. Even if it were, because of the proven evolution of society and population--and the way it eats--such a diet would be unattainable by many people on this planet. :P We should have told the Indian's during the Bengal Famine that they couldn't eat those nice legumes because they weren't good for their health.

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I knew any argument about diet or exercise was going to turn into a back and forth about sources and a bunch of people saying 'well I've been eating X for years so I'm gonna keep eatin' it.' I have no interest in further engaging in debate on this. All I'm here for is to further clarify the point being made in Ropoctl's original post, and show a cool link to the way to get started on the paleo diet. In fact, here are a few more, for those interested in researching the diet for themselves:

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/

http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/

Whole health source is a blog by a neurobiologist and heart scan is by an MD specializing in the heart. They both have had many posts that I've enjoyed reading while researching the paleo diet and its impact on health.

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Sure, but was that consistently higher than in post agriculture periods, when infant and child deaths were just as frequent? I'm yet to see any evidence of that. The only positive for paleolithic man is bone density and size, which is about 5% higher. (That is due to a more varied diet, not necessarily the absence of grains from the diet. These days, even a completely animal product free vegetarian diet, which is extremely rare, can contain the minerals needed for healthy bone development. Pretty much no one in the West is living on only one or two types of grain, the way some of those agrarians did in the Neolithic and bronze ages)

And yet, the diet Jack linked to seems to focus religiously on what an ancient humans would've done, for no apparent reason except that they were ancient. (eat only twice a day; absolutely no grains, legumes, milk or any dairy products; going out in the midday sun-after all who cares about skin cancer; even interval running instead of jogging--because they were supposedly chasing animas in small intervals?)

Why don't we instead figure out what the best diet is based on science, and call it the scientific diet? How does this Paleolithic thing make any sense to anyone?

You seem to have missed the point of the paleolithic diet. The principle isn't ancient, but evolved.

Man, like all animals, evolved over millions of years -- man adapted to the foods naturally available to him. On the other hand, agriculture, grains, synthetic fats, vegetable oils etc. are all recent developments - man has not had enough time to evolve to process these foods.

Of course, un-evolutionary does not mean the same as unhealthy: it is perfectly plausible that in the future, we may engineer a food type that sits well with our existing nutritional requirements. However, it does mean that we should treat all new foods with some caution, since they do not have the biological guarantee that comes with the foods we evolved to eat. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that all of the foods deemed unhealthy in the paleolithic diet are, in fact, unhealthy. Several sources have been cited, but some more of my favourites are:

Free The Animal

Dr Diana Hsieh's posts on food

Weston A. Price foundation

There are probably more than enough links on those. I am convinced that the Paleolithic diet *is* the scientific diet.

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I, personally, have been hugely overweight and miserable about it for years, so I decided to give the paleo diet a try. I've been on it for a month and a half now, and I'm really enjoying it. I feel good, I have more energy, I'm not STARVING the way I was on other diets (in fact, I usually eat once a day and I'm never REALLY hungry at that, I just get to an "I could eat" stage after a while) and I'm losing weight without really feeling it. (I can button the sleeves on my jacket again!)

That, and my consistent and unpleasant stomach/intestinal problems cleared up instantly and have not come back--unless I do something like have a piece of bread, which I can feel IMMEDIATELY and takes a day or two to clear back up again.

This is, by far, the best diet I've ever been on. I don't adhere to it religiously (I have a can of pop every now and then, for instance), but it's the only diet I've ever tried where I feel BETTER when I STICK WITH IT. This is a huge change from the miserable hunger, shakes, obsession with food, exhaustion and physical pain that came with every OTHER diet I've tried over the years.

Your mileage may vary? Of course. But this works for me.

Btw, hamburger patties with pepper-jack cheese on sauteed baby portabella mushrooms = yum

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You seem to have missed the point of the paleolithic diet. The principle isn't ancient, but evolved.

Man, like all animals, evolved over millions of years -- man adapted to the foods naturally available to him. On the other hand, agriculture, grains, synthetic fats, vegetable oils etc. are all recent developments - man has not had enough time to evolve to process these foods.

Why is the Mesolithic period and everything past it considered considered as evolved? How can you tell me that agriculture is a recent development? Granted, it's more recent than the end of paleo, but 10,000 BCE is far from recent. However, this is not to say that you're wrong in suggesting the possibility that newer, synthetic foods may be unhealthy.

Additionally, what exactly is being considered evolved about the diet of paleo period beings? If I'm not mistaken, it's the digestive system that's being identified as having evolved--adaption to available foods over time. Of course, this is a fact most no one will disagree with; however, this fact says nothing about what these hominids ate. As far as I know, science is still trying to determine what the beings from this period ate and in what proportion; therefore, I find it very misleading to use the label "evolved diet."

Interestingly, however, what we can consider as having evolved, for better or worse, is the human diet. Over time, with the growth of agriculture and technology, the human population has exploded because of the increase in nutrition. This diet, of course, was even 'evolving' in the paleo period. Where did agriculture come from--why were food products grown to begin with--if not from humans planting food that they had already been consuming; doesn't the fact that agriculture was created have some weight on the importance to the diet of early humans of the staples being grown?

Of course, un-evolutionary does not mean the same as unhealthy: it is perfectly plausible that in the future, we may engineer a food type that sits well with our existing nutritional requirements. However, it does mean that we should treat all new foods with some caution, since they do not have the biological guarantee that comes with the foods we evolved to eat. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that all of the foods deemed unhealthy in the paleolithic diet are, in fact, unhealthy.

I agree with much of what you say, but I must disagree that paleo is necessarily healthy. Actually, I would argue that paleo is less healthy than diets that evolved after that period died. From a more sociological perspective--if that's even an accurate usage--the paleo diet is unattainable for our population and productive lifestyles. Furthermore, taken to its conclusions, returning to the hunter-gather method would result in massive death and would constitute a return to the primitive.

Several sources have been cited, but some more of my favourites are:

Free The Animal

Dr Diana Hsieh's posts on food

Weston A. Price foundation

There are probably more than enough links on those. I am convinced that the Paleolithic diet *is* the scientific diet.

Concerning the Freetheanimal link, statistics can't tell everything; however, what I'd like to see are statistics and evidence promoting the eating heavy saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol; and then show me the evidence for blaming fruits and vegetables, or eating less of them. Furthermore, I'd like to comment on the author's analysis of the LDL figures for people admitted with CAD. CAD is the result of the plaque buildup--which is made of cholesterol-- so it happens over time. Just a guess, but these people admitted are probably on medication to normalize their cholesterol counts; however, if one were to show a graph depicting those who are diagnosed with CAD, the LDL counts would probably be quite high.

As for the Weston link, I visited that site many months back, and the BS flag was immediately raised. It could be the general layout of the site, which looks like it was developed by the same people who develop the penis enlargement and teeth whitening fraud sites, or it could be the absurd statements used as evidences in their crusade against soy products. For example: "In Japanese Americans tofu consumption in mid-life is associated with the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease in later life," and "Japanese housewives feed tofu to their husbands frequently when they want to reduce his virility."

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Why is the Mesolithic period and everything past it considered considered as evolved? How can you tell me that agriculture is a recent development? Granted, it's more recent than the end of paleo, but 10,000 BCE is far from recent. However, this is not to say that you're wrong in suggesting the possibility that newer, synthetic foods may be unhealthy.

This is why I'm not "religious" about adhering to the diet, and I certainly don't try to eat like a primeval hunter-gatherer. (It's silly to even think that all populations of humans should have exactly the same optimal nutritional requirements, anyway. I'm a ghost-pale northerner, I'm rather distinct from people who once hunted the African Savannah.) The parts of paleo that are useful, to me, is the recognition that eating saturated fat is not bad for you and that carb-loading IS. It's a radically different concept from most diets where you avoid fats like the plague in favor of unsatisfying food that serves to fuel your desire to overeat.

Yesterday my housemate and I went to an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner. Now, there was a day when I could make three, even four trips to the buffet and just inhale plateloads of pasta and bread and not feel satisfied until I was literally too full to stuff down another bite, especially since it'd been more than 18 hours since I'd eaten ANYTHING. Yesterday I made one trip, for a plateload of rich meats and various vegetables, and I didn't want to eat any more even though the shrimp and sausage in cajun sauce was actually really good.

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This is why I'm not "religious" about adhering to the diet, and I certainly don't try to eat like a primeval hunter-gatherer. (It's silly to even think that all populations of humans should have exactly the same optimal nutritional requirements, anyway. I'm a ghost-pale northerner, I'm rather distinct from people who once hunted the African Savannah.) The parts of paleo that are useful, to me, is the recognition that eating saturated fat is not bad for you and that carb-loading IS. It's a radically different concept from most diets where you avoid fats like the plague in favor of unsatisfying food that serves to fuel your desire to overeat.

Yeah, and I wasn't really saying that everyone who promotes paleo wants to return and live like humans from that period, but I did think it was essential point to make, highlighting the need for variation, etc... Actually, I'm not sure that I've ever known a promoter of the diet to advocate going totally paleo. Most use qualifiers or redefine the word. For example, Diana Hsieh generally uses the term "paleo-ish" if I remember correctly.

The point you make about regional environment affecting diet is actually one that I've seen on the internet. Concerning the diet of paleo beings, Wikipedia gives an entry of how Africans would have had different proportions of food types (meat & veg) than extreme northern beings, which makes a lot of sense to me.

I don't really try to stay away from either carbs or fats; however, I am a promoter of a complex carb diet. Strangely, I actually enjoy very fatty meats, even the fat itself, while most people seem repulsed by it and put it to the side--it just has a good flavor to me. However, even though I think sat fat foods should at least be a part of a diet, I don't go out of my way eat them and definitely keep it relegated to a small part of my daily diet. For example, I usually eat one egg every morning (two if I make an omelet), cooked in butter, and I would have no problem eating a slice or two of bacon if I had the supplies. I recognize the benefits of eggs, but I also know the risks of them; I'm not sure that bacon has much nutritional value, but it tastes good :thumbsup:.

The foods I stay away from are primarily simple carbs and heavily refined carbs. As a general rule, if a carb food doesn't have a good amount of fiber in it, then I am more hesitant to eat it. Minus the focus on fiber heavy carb foods, staying away from simple and refined carbs is just one of the many similarities between my general diet* and the paleo-ish. So, I want to make it clear that I recognize benefits of the paleo diet and have said as much on other forums, like NoodleFood. Generally, I just try and argue that carbs are not evil and are beneficial, and likewise that fats are not necessarily evil either.

*this term is used because, like I said, I don't follow the diet religiously. Alcohol is not a part of the diet, but it's a part of mine :D

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